HCN contributing editor Michelle Nijhuis has won a 2012 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award in the magazine category. Michelle's story "Crisis in the Caves," published in the July/August 2011 issue of Smithsonian magazine, reported on white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has decimated bats in the northeastern U.S. and is poised to spread across the continent.  Congratulations, Michelle!

VISITORS
Acclaimed musician and composer Michael Gulezian, from Tucson, Ariz., dropped by the office on one of his frequent visits to our hometown of Paonia, Colo. Michael says he's wanted to move to Paonia for 20 years now because of the "clean water, blue sky and beautiful people." In the meantime, we enjoy hearing his acoustic guitar songs on our local public radio station, KVNF.

Longtime subscribers Eileen and Forrest Yelverton, from Lyons, Colo., stopped by with their friend, Brooke Greene, who was test-driving a car here. They shared stories about their archaeological excavations in Mexico, and thanked our interns for all the "free" work they do.

Brian Kokernot, a new Paonia resident by way of Austin, Texas, came through headquarters the day before Thanksgiving. Although our pre-holiday staffing was sparse, Brian tried plopping on an exercise ball (a number of them bounce about the office) and offered a discourse on the merits of our local independent grocer, Old River Road Trading Post. Welcome to town, Brian!

FAREWELL TO THREE BRAVE WESTERNERS
On Oct. 21, George Stanley McGovern died at the age of 90 in Sioux Falls, S.D. A tireless advocate for human rights, McGovern was born in Avon, S.D., flew combat missions in World War II, and served in the U.S. House and Senate for more than 20 years. In 1972, he campaigned as the Democratic nominee for president, only to be defeated by Richard Nixon. After leaving Washington, McGovern taught at several universities, served as a United Nations ambassador, and in 2000, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The fiercely independent "prairie populist" was described by conservative writer David Brooks as "the most decent politician in America."

Just a day later, another iconic South Dakotan left us -- Native American activist Russell Means died Oct. 22 at age 72. Once the leader of the American Indian Movement, which pressured the federal government to honor tribal treaties, Means helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee. That confrontation started a protest movement that drew international attention to the plight of Native Americans. A member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, he acted in some films and TV shows and made unsuccessful bids for the Libertarian presidential nomination in 1988 and for the New Mexico governorship in 2002. Means often said, "I'm coming back as lightning. When it zaps the White House, they'll know it's me."

Jerry Nivens, the New Mexican activist featured in our Nov. 28, 2011, issue for his work in urging the state's Environment Department to protect groundwater from pollution by megadairies, died Nov. 14 after a battle with leukemia. He is survived by his wife, Rogelia Nivens.

CORRECTION
Our Nov. 26 story "Banking for public benefit" should have indicated that legislative attempts to establish state-run banks have been made in 20 states, nine of which are in the West. HCN regrets the error.