After a promise not to be pot hunters, the San Juan Basin Archaeological Society was granted its charter by the
Colorado Archaeological Society in 1979.
It is now the largest chapter in the state, with more members than Denver and other cities on the Front Range.
On Thursday, nearly 70 members held their annual holiday party at the Fort Lewis College Ballroom and let it double
as the celebration of 30 years of learning and stewardship. Current President Andrew
Gulliford served as the master of ceremonies.
And though it was a bitter night with icy roads and sidewalks, 95-year-old longtime member
"font-weight: bold;">Robert Beers was determined to join the fun. He has attended so many SJBAS events and
field trips, he can't pick a favorite.
John Sanders, one of two charter members in attendance, clearly has been the
go-to guy for all of those three decades. He wrote the newsletter for 25 years, guided innumerable field trips and is
famous for bringing his sense of humor to the organization. It seemed appropriate that it was also his birthday, and
he got a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday," complete with a cake, courtesy of his wife,
"font-weight: bold;">Shaila Van Sickle.
Sanders told quite a few stories and named names at the event. The society is the brainchild of former FLC student
Chuck Barkway, who ran a small paragraph on the society page, aka Neighbors
in 2009 parlance, of The Durango Herald, wondering if people might be interested in such a society.
About 60 people showed up to say yes, indeed." That had decreased to about a dozen when it came time to officially
organize and request the charter.
Former President John
Viner brought a copy of that original charter, with about 30 names - 10 were
required - including four Barkways, eight Ellises and assorted other family groups.
Guy Tomberlin was recognized for all the field trips and river runs he led in
the early years, and was hailed for his extensive knowledge of interesting sites to visit across the Four Corners.
Jill Tripp, the other charter member at the party, remembered that for one of
the first field trips organized by members, they ran an announcement that there was space for only 30 people for a
trip to Chimney Rock, and it would be first come, first served. When members arrived at the parking lot of the
Montgomery Ward store, now south City Market, about 60 people had beaten them to it and made their own list. One
official member made the list, and that led to the policy of members-only field trips.
Other past presidents whose accomplishments were recognized included Michael Moore,
Ernie Cotton, Bud Beebe, Ralph Blanchard, Andy Simon, Dorothy Newell and
"font-weight: bold;">Bruce Polich.
The group's stewardship of many of the Four Corners' rich archaeological treasures has been a continuing theme. For
many years, an ad hoc spin-off organization called the Friends of Falls Creek carried out several seasons of site
monitoring at the rock shelters. Their interest in that area led to a report: The Scattered Artifacts of Falls
Creek: What They Are, Where They Went, Where They Are Now and How They Got There."
Members have moved artifacts to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores and put in annual work days at the Ute
Mountain Ute Tribal Park. They have assisted a number of archaeologists, from Phil
Duke at FLC to Gary Matlock with the Bureau of Land Management and
U.S. Forest Service and Kristie Arrington with the BLM, with stabilization
and documentation of a number of ruins. The SJBAS has lobbied for preservation, written grants and given talks to
classrooms and area service clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis.
And through it all, they themselves have been pursuing their own interests in history, ranging from dinosaur fossils
to Basketmakers, ancestral Puebloans to modern-day Navajos and Utes, to Mormon settlements in Utah and across the
The group has about 10 meetings a year, most with guest speakers, and they arrange around 20 field trips a year. They
have gone as far away as Copper Canyon in Mexico and as near as an upcoming visit to the re-creation of former Sen.
Ben Nighthorse Campbell's office at FLC.
To learn more about the society, visit its Web site at www.sjbas.org. New members
are always welcome.
My thanks for the update and the hospitality - I had attended a couple of the lectures the society co-sponsored with
the Professional Associates of FLC's Life-Long Learning Series, but had no idea how active the group is. It was an
Happy birthday wishes go out to these folks whose birthdays fall right between Thanksgiving and Christmas -
Jimmy Robinett, John Benner, Fred Ellis, Samantha Caldwell, Daphne D'Agostino, Zeke
Baumgardner, Dale Lyon, Taylor Forsythe, Shirley Spangsberg, John Condie, Ian Ellingson-Condie, Laurie Hakes, Janet
Huth, Kathryn Lavengood, Nick Salter, John Sanders, Nick Branson and Doug
The sun was shining after two days of snow and wind, and it was inviting enough for 10 women to brave county roads to
Nancy Macho's house for a day of testing one's vocabulary and enjoying
The perennial hostess set up tables for Scrabble and Upwords and made sure there was plenty to eat and drink. Guests
arrived to coffee, tea, scones and a granola bar featuring slivered almonds, fresh strawberries and yogurt. Then it
was time for a couple of rounds of play before everyone adjourned to the sunroom for lunch.
Macho had prepared two utterly divine soups, one with shrimp and roasted red peppers and the other white bean. She
baked zucchini-pecan and pumpkin-cranberry breads as an accompaniment. And if I thought having the others partake of
the vino available would give an edge to the abstaining yours truly, I was sadly mistaken. While my vocabulary is
pretty good, strange combinations of letters and funky boards made breaking 100 a big success at Scrabble. (Watch out
for Marcia Baxter if you ever find her across the Scrabble board from you -
she is a w-o-r-d s-h-a-r-k!
Guests made a contribution to the Durango Friends of the Arts for Macho's hospitality, having fun and raising $300 at
the same time. My fellow wordsmiths were Cheryl Bryant, JoAnn Trimberger, Joan
Sippy, Susie Ammann, Geri Swingle, Mary Orsini, Jane Mercer and Cindy
Stop by Wells Fargo Bank on College Drive today to drop off nonperishable food and blankets for Project Merry
Christmas. Four Corners Broadcasting and its staff spend every Saturday before Christmas on the drive to help our
more fragile neighbors and friends.
Project Merry Christmas is planning to serve a record number of families this holiday season - 300. Toys (with the
batteries if needed) and cash also are very welcome. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I heard on KIQX-FM (101.3)
that one lovely woman had dropped off a check for $1,000. Whether you can give $1 or $1,000, you can make a
I'd like to extend my personal thanks to all of La Plata County's generous residents and to
"font-weight: bold;">Ward Holmes, Bruce Anderson, Tom Little and all the Four Corners folks who take the time
to make other people's lives better.
You are why I love this place.
Congratulations go out to Katie Branson, who represented our part of the
state at the Miss Colorado USA 2010 pageant and came in second runner-up. Branson competed in Denver during Halloween
weekend and did us proud.
She works for Thrive Chiropractic and has a proud older sister, Brandi
Jurica, who wanted me to let everyone know about her baby sister's accomplishment.
While people are driving a little more sanely now that they've gotten their snow-wheels, I want to keep all my
readers. So, please, take your time, allow extra space between you and the car in front of you and be thoughtful of
the drivers around you. Monday and Tuesday were a little frightening, with all kinds of vehicles going the speed
limit, probably because they thought their four-wheel-drive vehicles made them invulnerable.
We're all in this together.
Stealing an extra kiss under the mistletoe for their anniversaries are Tom
and Lois LaQuey and Mike and
For information on upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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