Holiday break

  • Jerry Lunsford and Paonia resident Alison Elliot visited HCN during Lunsford's tour of the West.

    Kimberly Hirai

While you snuggle up with your last issue of High Country News for 2011, our editorial staff will be taking a two-week publishing break to catch up on editing, writing, reporting and other projects, and, of course, spend time with family and friends. Expect your first issue of 2012 around Jan. 25. We wish you very happy holidays, fat with good food and good company.

Former HCN intern Andy Lenderman stopped by our office in November and discussed how his adopted state of New Mexico is faring during this recession -- in a word, poorly. Andy should know: He worked for a decade as a reporter with the now-defunct Albuquerque Tribune and the Albuquerque Journal, and most recently served as the public information officer at the New Mexico Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, an oversight agency for the distribution of federal stimulus funds. He says the state has been propped up by $3 billion in stimulus money, as well a strong oil and gas industry in the north, but has been challenged by the departure of its senior political rainmakers -- including former Gov. Bill Richardson, former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, and the soon-to-depart U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman -- who consistently raked in oodles of federal dollars for energy projects.

Longtime subscribers Adi Vongontard and his mother, Chrilo, dropped by in late November. Chrilo was visiting Paonia from rainy Bainbridge Island, Wash., to spend Turkey Day with her son, "eat too much," and soak up some Western Slope sunshine.

Bivalve, Calif., "mayor" Jerry Lunsford dropped by in December while visiting Paonia resident Allison Elliot. The only resident of his unincorporated community, Lunsford lives in an off-the-grid home. He was in the midst of an ambitious six-week tour of the West with "the best girlfriend I ever had" -- his 6-year-old Australian shepherd.

Tom Bell honored
In early December, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union honored HCN founder Tom Bell with the organization's 2011 Media Excellence Award.

Bell -- a World War II veteran and rancher  with degrees in wildlife biology -- founded High Country News in his hometown of Lander, Wyo., in 1970 to cover environmental issues and encourage good stewardship.

As longtime HCN readers know, Tom eventually retired and the paper moved to Paonia in the early 1980s, where it's since blossomed into a full-color magazine. "But (Bell's) vision ... lives on," RMFU writes. "High Country News is essential reading for anyone in the Rocky Mountain region who cares about public policy, land use, and protecting the heritage of working land. The quality of the newspaper defines excellence, and RMFU wishes to thank Tom Bell for the vision and grit that he applied to protecting our natural heritage from corporate exploitation." Thank you, RMFU! We can't speak for Tom, but we're sure blushing.

Due to an editorial error, an errant "w" was included in Joe Gutkoski's last name in the story "Clean water conundrum" in our Dec. 12 issue. Our sincere apologies, Joe!

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