What are the odds of moving to La Plata County and finding out that your birthday coincides with your favorite event in your new home?
Hope Hamilton has lived here for a number of years, and every year she blows out her birthday candles while enjoying the refrains of the Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
On Thursday, Heather Bryson, who owns the Gable House Bed and Breakfast, held a gathering of her own for Hamilton’s big day.
Ann Gates, a friend of Hamilton’s, works at Old Tymer Restaurant and met some ladies who were here for the weekend. Because Gates couldn’t attend the party, she asked them to stop by and sing for the birthday girl. Gail Starr, who plays the guitar, brought a copy of her CD, “Keepin’ the Campfires Burnin’,” and two friends, Susan Hammon from Bayfield and Betty Jean Reilly from Arizona to sing along.
As they arrived down the sidewalk singing “You are My Sunshine,” Bryson and Hamilton wondered “Who are these people?”
The special guests stayed for three hours and were the life of the party, Hamilton said, adding that they laughed and laughed. Part of the fun was that Hamilton brought a bunch of her mother’s old hats, and the guests took turns trying them on.
Saturday morning they all met at the Strater Hotel to watch the parade, eat lunch and attend several sessions of poets and singers.
Once again, Hamilton was reminded how much she loves this time of year and the friends she has made here.
Happy 73rd birthday, Hope.
Mother Nature is making these October birthdays a little chillier than usual – Karen Harms, Carol Nokes, Mike Eberspacher, Cody Crossno, Molly Zink, Paige Balzer, Evelyn Ramey, Kathy Pierson, Marilyn Summers, Kendall Mimmack, Roger Haney, Tom Helm, Shaelin Bassett, Caroline Munger, Nancy Wiedemann, Nancy Bray, Preston Knight, Ashley Creyer and Therese Teiber.
In a month famous for pink ribbons everywhere, you may be wondering about the purple ones running up and down Main and East Second avenues.
They are the symbol of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the ribbons are courtesy of Alternative Horizons. It’s the first year the nonprofit has done anything like this.
Statistics show incidents of domestic violence increase when people are under economic pressure, and this is a time in our history when we are under more pressure than at any time in the last 70 years.
A.J. Diamontopolous, who handles outreach to the press and community for Alternative Horizons, tells me that the statistic is holding true for them, and they are seeing a noticeably higher number of people, women and men, seeking help to be safe in their homes from the people they love.
So as you see those purple ribbons, remember that before some people can reach out for help, sometimes they need someone to offer them a hand to let them know that help is available. That part is in our court every day of the year, not just in October.
Some of you who are reading Neighbors right now are having an easier time of it than others, not because of education or literacy levels, but because of learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
Dyslexia, which affects somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of our population, ranges in severity from poor spelling to a total inability to read, according to the National Institutes of Health. It has nothing to do with intelligence – in fact, many people with dyslexia have above average intelligence, but have problems decoding the symbols on a page we call the alphabet and words. It is neurobiological, so it’s just how a particular brain works.
The 2-year-old Liberty School in Durango specializes in working with children who have dyslexia and is showing great progress. Matt Kelly, the chairman of the school’s board who has dyslexia himself, actually attended one of the first schools that focused on the condition while growing up in Puerto Rico. The school’s director was Joyce Bilgrave. Fast forward a few decades, and now Bilgrave is the director of the Liberty School, and Kelly’s son Malcolm, is learning techniques to cope with his own dyslexia. (Dyslexia often has a strong genetic component.)
On Sept. 25, the Liberty School held its first of what it hopes will be an annual tradition of honoring local people with dyslexia who have succeeded while dealing with the learning disability. The event was held at Purgy’s at Durango Mountain Resort, and it established the Dyslexia Hall of Fame.
Lisa Schuba, the principal of Animas Elementary School, was the first of the four inaugural inductees. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master’s in education from Lesley University in Massachusetts. Schuba has found that her journey with dyslexia has helped her to understand the frustrations of her students and work more effectively with their parents.
Quinn Harris is a Durango High School graduate who went on from there to earn a Bachelor of Science from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. For a while, he worked for Voss Scientific on defense contracts in microwave and optical work, and is now back in Durango with his own company, Qutek, specializing in computer programming and consulting.
Rod Barker, another Durango native, earned his bachelor degree in business administration and has been the president and chief executive officer of the Strater Hotel since 1983. Barker hasn’t let his dyslexia get in the way of not only running a successful business but also making his mark on the tourism business both locally, in Colorado and the nation.
He has been the chairman of the Durango Business Improvement District and the Colorado Tourism Board,
Colorado’s delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism and is a charter member of Historic Hotels of America. He is the dyslexic father of a dyslexic son, Jeremy, who is a college student.
The final member of the inaugural Hall of Fame Class of 2009 is Dr. Edward Jackson, who earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine and a Ph.D. in Oriental medicine at Santo Tomas University. Jackson is the founder of Four Corners Neurocare in Durango, which educates the public about the benefits of lifestyle and nutrition therapy.
From 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, a seminar called “Understanding Dyslexia” will be held at The Hampton Inn, 3777 North Main Ave.
RSVPs are requested to Mimi Thurston at 759-1778, Kelly at 749-0644 or by e-mailing RMida.email@example.com.
Members of the Durango High School Class of 1959 would like to invite friends to join them at the opening reception of their 50th reunion between 7 and 11 p.m. Friday at the Ballroom at Fort Lewis College. There will be a nominal price.
The class was the first to graduate at FLC, with the ceremony held in the gymnasium, which now holds the pool. The remodeled Ballroom is just open, so it will be an opportunity to check out the joint.
So if you were a teacher or in an adjoining class, take this chance to catch up with old friends and students. I’m going up to see if I can learn a few good stories from those days.
It’s not often that one starts a new job and a week later ends up in the newspaper for having helped to save the day. But that’s what happened to Dale Sanders, who had just started as the chief information officer at the Health Services Authority in the Cayman Islands when a malicious computer virus known as the “Conflicter” struck.
Sanders, a member of the Durango High School Class of 1978 and the Fort Lewis College Class of 1982, is the son of Ruby and the late Doyle Sanders.
His skills were invaluable during the crisis, which took a complete emergency shutdown of all major systems to isolate and eradicate the “Conflicter.”
Now Sanders has his work cut out for him as he helps the organization build a stronger and more secure system.
Enjoying freshly pressed apple cider for their anniversaries are Miles and Holly Newby and Art and Katie Cahill.
Special anniversary greetings go out to my friends Bob and Nancy Conrad.
The San Juan Symphony got off to a splendid start on Sunday with this year’s theme of “Once Upon a Time.” Musical Director and Conductor Arthur Post created a program about “Lovers and Dreamers,” that was equal parts fun and mesmerizing (thanks to guest artist Rachel Barton Pine on her “ex-Soldat” Guarnerius violin.)
Watching Post conduct Zoltán Kodály’s “Háry János Suite” was a show in itself, as he jumped up and down and swept his arms across the orchestra. The grins on the musicians’ faces alone were worth the price of admission, but the music was also a perfect way to kick off the theme.
Post announced that the dragon whose visage will grace programs, posters and other promotional materials has now been officially named after a contest that ran for the past month. He/she (How does one tell with a dragon?) is now “Major Scales,” courtesy of 10-year-old Kaylie Johnson of Farmington, the daughter of Mark and Melanie Johnson.
She received $100 for her efforts from KSJE-FM radio