« Return to this article

Know the West

Dear Friends


Remember the Alamo

Tim Sullivan, who survived an HCN internship last fall, has known for a long time that his home state, Utah, is a little different than the rest. He called the office recently with the latest evidence.

"I'm very worried about the Mexican Army coming across our borders," Bob Scott, a World War II veteran, recently told the Utah Legislature. Scott wasn't the only Utahn alarmed by a recent bill that would abolish the state militia, a branch of the National Guard. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that one speaker testified to having heard that Mexico would overthrow the Southwest within five years, while another accused the bill's sponsor of being in cahoots with Mexican officials.

Last we checked, the only invasion from Mexico was in the form of immigrants who are making Utah home and doing a great deal of work in the state's booming service economy. Tim is now living in the heart of that machine, in Park City, where he's landed a job with the twice-a-week Park Record. His beat will be developer-besieged Summit County.

Former intern Kayley Mendenhall is covering a different kind of invasion for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, where she's working as a general assignment reporter for former HCN senior editor Ray Ring. Kayley just wrote a story about the hundreds of snowmobilers who take over West Yellowstone, Mont., each winter. One local doctor tells her that the gateway town averages four to five snowmobile accidents each day.

And from the urban jungle, we heard recently from Andy Lenderman, an intern in 1997, who now reports for the Albuquerque Tribune. Last fall, Andy won the New Mexico Press Association's first place prize for in-depth reporting. His winning story was about a group of business executives who were trying to raise $10,000 as a bonus to convince the local school superintendent to stay. The superintendent was in the midst of a heated contract battle with Albuquerque Public Schools, a district that suffers from high dropout rates, mediocre test scores, a teacher shortage and a growing achievement gap between Anglos and other students.

"New Mexico is a poor state and the schools reflect that," says Andy. "I had 31 front-page stories in a row during this contract battle. It was a nightmare."

A year in review

This issue includes our annual index for the year 2000. Now that we are on the Web (www.hcn.org), the staff wonders if readers still find it a useful tool. Please feel free to give us some feedback - by mail or e-mail.


Reader Roger Piozak from Boulder, Colo., dropped by the office in October, to find, amazingly, an empty HCN headquarters. We'd have been none the wiser had Roger not dropped us a note with a photo of himself out front under the sign. We're not sure if it was a weekend or if we were all playing hooky, but here's hoping we're here to say hello next time.

Subscribers Greg and Wendy Perry stopped by in December. They live in Zuni, N.M., where they teach high school biology and third grade respectively, and were on the way to Basalt for their honeymoon to do a little cross-country skiing. The Perrys got turned on to the paper when they inherited the mailbox - and the subscription - of ex-Zuni teacher Ken Holmes. After reading the paper for free for nearly a year, they sent in the renewal notice and a check. Bill Freudenburg came through recently, as he has every year since the late 1970s, to revisit the site of his first major research project. Now a professor of rural sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Bill earned his Ph.D. studying the energy boom towns of Paonia, Craig, Meeker and Walden, Colo.

Even Caterpillar tractor salesmen read HCN. Craig Seal from Carbondale, Colo., stopped in to renew his subscription after visiting his clients at the coal mines in our North Fork Valley. We asked Craig if he'd bring one of his big machines over for HCNto use in the Backhoe Rodeo, a 4th of July traditon here in Paonia. We're not holding our breath, but we'll see what rolls over McClure Pass next summer.


After a year of trying to teach the HCN staff modern accounting methods, business manager Janet Kauffman is bidding us farewell. Janet says working for HCN wasn't all that different from working for former Soviet Bloc countries - in both places, she says, the accounting systems were outmoded, and both places required a translator ("Accrual? What's that?" "What do you mean you need a purchase order?").

"You've come a long way in a year," she tells us encouragingly. "But I don't have the patience for you guys."

Perhaps it says something about this crew that Janet has accepted a new job teaching accounting in, of all places, Kosovo. "It's the same job I did here," she says. "I'll be trying to get a financial statement that's recognizable to the rest of the world."

We wish Janet the very best.

Finally, we hear longtime military environmental watchdog Grace Potorti has retired as executive director of the Rural Alliance for Military Accountability (HCN, 3/15/99: Locals work to tame the Air Force). In her farewell letter, Grace says RAMA will continue without her. "My best to all of you," she signs off. "May you continue to Kick Butt and Take Names."