Dear Friends


Mixing our media

Centuries from now, when historians dig through HCN's fossil record, they may discover that this week's cover story was a metamorphic moment in the paper's evolution into a multimedia endeavor.

The genesis for the story was a recent board meeting, where board member, rancher and Idaho state senator Brad Little told staff that large-scale dairy farms were causing quite a stir in Idaho's Magic Valley. A few weeks later, editor Paul Larmer called Boise-based freelancer Steve Stuebner to see if he was interested in the story. He was, and so was Radio HCN producer Adam Burke, who had a freelance radio correspondent - Guy Hand, also of Boise - ready to do the story, as well.

So we connected Steve and Guy, who didn't know each other, and soon they were on the road together, loaded down with notepads and tape equipment, headed toward the dairy farms and the activists who are trying to push government to regulate them. For the most part, things went smoothly, though there was a glitch the first time they interviewed someone together. It seems that Steve has the endearing habit of periodically saying, "Um Huh," in affirmation of fine commentary from the interviewee. That works for the print journalist, who is scribbling down notes and trying to make the interviewee feel comfortable, but not so well for the radio journalist trying to get clean sound. A brief timeout between the two reporters rectified the problem.

To finish the collaborative tale, Guy and Steve both took photographs for the story and several of Guy's recorded transcripts were pillaged for sidebars. You can read and hear both print and radio versions of the story on our Web site,

On the road again

We're used to looking out our office window on Paonia's main drag and seeing bicycles with panniers bulging from both sides or cars piled high with outdoor gear. But parked nearby was a van whose roof supported a couple of kayaks plus one bicycle, and whose inside contained nearly everything needed to sustain life. There was a shelf of books over a window, a desk for two, expandable bed, kitchen stuff and portable stove, and even an emergency bathroom. The proud owners of this rig are Ann Vileisis, a former High Country News intern from 1991, who has written a book on wetlands, and her peripatetic husband, Tim Palmer. He is a photographer and author of 13 books, including the most recent, The Heart of America: Our Landscape, Our Future. The couple were enjoying Paonia's sudden burst of spring, but after a couple of days, the open road beckoned. Tim is researching population and immigration policy, while Ann said she's been looking into food and our strange habit of manipulating what's natural into something "convenient."

Reader and campaigning local politician Bill Patterson stopped by the office in late March. Bill has served six years on the Montrose city council and is a rare Western Slope Democrat, who thinks he has a legitimate shot at winning the race this fall for the 58th District of the Colorado House of Representatives. He is the founder and co-owner of TEI Rock Drills, a company that sells drills to the construction and mining industries worldwide. The most pressing issues in Bill's estimation: keeping growth in urban areas; providing affordable preventative health care; and promoting a diverse and robust economy.

HCN board member Luis Torres has thrown his hat in the ring as a candidate for county commissioner in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. Luis has a long history of community activism and organizing, but has never run for office before. In addition to being one of the nicest guys in the world, Luis is a true progressive who has fought against large-scale mining and logging operations, and for sustainable community forestry and planning.

We were thrilled when the local Delta County School Board picked HCN's Writers on the Range editor Betsy Marston to fill a vacated board seat. Though the Marston children are grown, Betsy has kept an active hand in education, as a board member for the three-county Partners nonprofit, which matches kids with adult mentors, and by volunteering as a "Reading Buddy" at the local elementary school. One of the most controversial questions facing the board: Should Paonia and the other small communities in the North Fork Valley continue to have their own lightly populated middle and high schools - Paonia High School graduates around 50 each year - or should they merge?

Business of the Month

High Country News was happy to be selected "Business of the Month" for March by the Paonia Chamber of Commerce. The selection got us a nice writeup and photo in the local papers, and during our open house one evening, we welcomed our new next-door neighbor on Grand Avenue, Colorado Homestead Ranches. It's a cooperative of local ranches in the North Fork Valley of western Colorado, and all raise cattle without any artificial additives. The ranchers, including Jim and Sue Ayer, Steve Kossler, Chad Campbell, Susan and Norm Smith, and Karl Burns, are turning their meat locker next door into an inviting retail store as well, where we've already bought bison-burgers and smoked salmon. Next, we think we'll try the lamb.

Come listen in Paonia

Everyone is invited to Paonia on Sunday, May 5, to hear author/activist and regular Writers on the Range columnist Mary Sojourner read selections from her new book of essays: Bonelight: Ruin and Grace in the New Southwest. The benefit reading for High Country Newstakes place at 3 p.m. at the Blue Sage Center, on Grand Avenue in downtown Paonia. A brief review of Mary's book can be found on page 6.

Environmental summit

Folks who would like a chance to hear Interior Secretary Gale Norton and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman speak should check out the Second Environmental Summit on the West, co-sponsored by the Western Governors' Association and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 24-26. Panel and small group discussions will highlight collaborative solutions to issues such as water shortages and open space planning. Call 303/623-9378 or register online at

Get well, Diane!

For the past decade, this paper has been enlivened by the wit and whimsy of staff artist and proofreader Diane Sylvain. In recent years, she has produced a steady stream of of maps, drawings and cartoons while coping with a worsening back problem, stemming from a fall years ago. In early April, Diane decided to undergo an operation in an attempt to relieve some of the pain and gain more mobility. We will miss Diane and her work for the next six weeks or so, but the wait will be worth it when she comes bounding like a deer into the office later this spring.

April Fool

Our April 1 story on page 4, "Drought pinches Colorado River reservoirs," incorrectly identified Frank Young as "Thomas Attcity." Our apologies to both men.

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