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for people who care about the West

Dear friends


Ray Ring and company

High Country News now has an Editor Emeritus, an Editor, an Associate Editor and, as of July 6, a Senior Editor. This last is Ray Ring, who has spent the past 10 years or so writing novels and free-lance newspaper and magazine articles in Tucson, Arizona.

Altogether, Ray has lived and written in the intermountain West for 20-odd years, starting out in Colorado before going to work for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson as a columnist and investigative reporter. Later, he was a regular contributor to Outside magazine. He has had three novels published, including Peregrine Dream, a mystery revolving around a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The move north involves familial role reversal. For the last decade, spouse Linda Platts has gone off each workday to the Arizona Daily Star to write and edit copy and pull in the regular paycheck while Ray rode the free-lance winds. Now Linda will have more time to care for Molly, 8, Henry, 4, and Carlos the cat and pet rats Mary and ZeeZee, while Ray goes off each workday to write and edit. They've rented a farmhouse on 20 fallow acres with some cottonwoods, and speculate there might be a skunk about.

Passers through

Steve Nemore, a supervisor with the federal Bureau of Land Management's smoke jumpers, stopped by during the first detectable rain here since the fire on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs killed 14 firefighters July 6.

"We're still in shock," he said of the tragedy. "I think it's something we'll remember forever. You don't get very intense about it until something like this happens. You go along with such success for so many years." Based in Grand Junction, Colo., Nemore lives during his time off in Boise, Idaho. He has been a smoke jumper for 23 years.

Pat and Jacky Sollo, Boulder residents who summer in Frisco, Colo., stopped by with surprising news: HCN was their destination that day. We showed them the office and then talked to Frank and Charlotte Klein, formerly of Carlisle, Pa., who just bought a house in the Durango area, into which they will "eventually" move.

The writing team of Bob and Pat Cahn of Leesburg, Va., came through on their way from Boulder to Canyonlands. Bob is a longtime environmental writer; Pat became his collaborator after holding various positions with the federal government.

Anchorage, Alaska, subscribers Nolan Hester and Mary Engel, both journalists, stopped in during a reacquaintance tour of the West. They were heading for Berkeley, Calif., to new jobs in publishing.

On their way from Salt Lake City to the Gothic Valley for some hiking, Fred and Bessann Swanson, with 2-month-old Ellie, stopped in to chat. She is a physician and he is a free-lancer.

New York editor Carol Houck Smith toured the office with writer Chris Merrill and poets Ryan Turner and Mary Morris, and their guide, Laura Davis of Paonia; they were on their way to a nearby writers' workshop at the high-altitude Pomotawh Naantam Ranch. A half-dozen HCN interns and staffers joined the group later that week to hear writer James Galvin read from his book, The Meadow. Galvin charmed the group by looking more like a cowhand and saying first off, "It's not that I'm stupid, I'm just slow." Asked about that opening comment later, Galvin said, "I live with a woman (writer Jorie Graham) with more firepower upstairs than anyone I know. I just try to catch her on the curves."

Geography professor Robert Moline and wife Jan visited from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. He plans to use HCN in a course about the American West.

We love showing librarians our morgue, newspaperese for the narrow room in which we store back issues of HCN, and that's what we did with Michael Durgain, a library technician, and Connie Gilmore, a school librarian, from Cottonwood, Ariz., a town of 6,000. Both are graduates of the University of Wyoming.

Heading to New Mexico were Lin Alder and Megan Barker, students at Utah State University's College of Natural Resources.

Subscribers Roberta Hissey and Paule Teffeau of Denver made HCN one of their stops while traveling through western Colorado with their grandchildren, and geography professor Don Sullivan, from the University of Denver, brought five students through during a fast-moving workshop on the state's physical history. The group traveled to Grand Mesa, drove over twisty Independence Pass and descended 900 feet into the Black Cloud, a working gold and lead mine at Leadville.

Ecologist Miles Hemstrom said hello to HCN, and goodbye to Colorado. He's on his way back to the Northwest to become Forest Service regional ecologist for Oregon and Washington. He had been an ecology group leader for the agency in Lakewood, Colo.

Looking dusty but happy came a group of six teenagers from the Student Conservation Service. David Williams, 25, their supervisor, said they had just spent three weeks in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, where they built almost two miles of trail.

Sheboygan Press reporter Dawn Belleau and her artist husband, Don, enjoyed an HCN tour while visiting former Press reporter, Marion Stewart.

Barbara Aiton, from Englewood, Colo., who told us she has worked in advertising for almost 50 years, came by with her daughter, Carol Pierce, of Paonia. Carol is one of HCN's unsung heroes: Every two weeks, until recently, she shepherded HCN camera-ready pages over McClure Pass, in all kinds of weather, to our printer in Glenwood Springs - each return trip, lugging a ton of freshly inked issues.

Eugene Rodriguez and Eva Mesmer of Boulder stopped on their way to Gunnison National Forest. Eugene, who volunteers at the community-run Left Hand Bookstore in Boulder, said he had decided to stop reading the store's copy of HCN and to subscribe. The pair intended to visit old friends living in summer cabins on the Gunnison Forest. Coincidentally, those friends - Chris and Ann Hohenemser, Kurt Hohenemser and Bill and Veronica Sutherland - are also HCN subscribers and had stopped in earlier in the week.

Writer Herrick Roth of Denver - who says he is "going on 79" - wrote to say that a tight budget had caused him to drop $400 worth of subscriptions. But he enclosed a check renewing his HCN subscription and included a gift to the Research Fund.

An emendation

Gene Moser, a county commissioner from Park City in Summit County, Utah, writes to say that the article "Utah kids benefit from state land reform," in the July 25 issue, contained a misleading statistic: "In Utah, where spending per student ranks lowest in the nation ..." According to Gene, Utahns spend 9.3 percent of their personal income on education, compared to 6.6 percent for the rest of the nation. The two apparently conflicting statistics coexist because there are so many children per family in Utah.