At The Durango Herald, we tell the stories of our community each and every day. We’re thrilled to help share the stories of your neighbors, coworkers and family in person with Durango Diaries.

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Episode 6: Raising extraordinary children

Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018

More and more parents and caregivers are seeing and celebrating their children’s uniqueness. We notice when they have unique ways of learning, unique strengths, special talents and creativity. We also see blind spots and foresee challenges they may face that other kids won’t. We try to consider and imagine the possibilities. Then make the best choices we can to raise them, nurture them, equip them for the future and challenge them to be the exceptional person that only they can become. Five parents tell their stories of raising kids at Durango Diaries. The speakers include: Andy Corra, father of Wiley, 15, who fell nearly 40 feet from a pedestrian bridge earlier this year while visiting Salt Lake City. At the time, Wylie was a freshman at Durango High School, known for his skills in outdoor sports. He has been kayaking since he was 2 and was on the high school cross-country team. But his main sport is Nordic skiing. Two weeks before his accident, Wiley placed third at the 2018 US Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Junior National Championships. Janet Kuss, mother of Jeff and Eric, likes to say she doesn’t know much about parenting, but she knows about grief. Her son, Jeff Kuss, died in a plane crash June 2, 2016, while training for an airshow with the Blue Angels in Smyrna, Tennessee. “He wanted to fly since he was a baby,” she said. “He could barely sit up and he would choose the fat, plastic planes over everything else.” Eric still lives in Durango and works at Durango Glass. Jim Judge, father of Mike, Jay and Shana. Judge, like other parents, said all of his children are gifted and exceptional in their own way. But Mike Judge has a little more name recognition. He is the Emmy-winning animator who created “King of the Hill,” “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “Silicon Valley,” and the feature film, “Office Space.” Mike Judge is now working on a new animated series called “Tales from the Tour Bus.” Mike Judge was born in Ecuador, raised in Albuquerque and majored in physics at University of California, San Diego. “He was kind of an average kid growing up,” said Jim Judge, who taught archaeology at Fort Lewis College from 1990 to 2003. Priscilla Blevins, mother of Kaylee and Christopher, lost her mother before her children were born. But she passed on her mother’s values to Kaylee and Christopher, who share a unique bond. Anyone who follows mountain biking has likely heard of Christopher Blevins, but they may not know Kaylee Blevins plays a key role in her brother’s success. Jennifer McConnell is a mother of four children, including Everett, 11, who tests in the 99th percentile of intelligence for his age. Though he is exceptionally intelligent, he is often misunderstood. He has struggled in school because of a number of emotional challenges, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and autism spectrum disorder. She’ll talk about what it’s like to have a twice exceptional child.

Episode 5: Media insight: Youth suicide series
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018
A panel of Herald reporters and editors will discuss the solutions-based project looking at youth suicide in La Plata County that ran in The Durango Herald in late September and throughout October. Mary Shinn reported the youth suicide prevention series based on the model of the Solutions Journalism Network. She is the special topics and the health reporter for the Durango Herald. Mary started working for Ballantine Communications in 2013 and covered Mancos town government for The Journal. She joined The Durango Herald in 2014 and has covered Durango city government, health and business. Sarah Flower is an alumna of Fort Lewis College and has been working in broadcast journalism in the Four Corners since 2001. She has worked at KDUR, KSUT, Four Corners Broadcasting and KSJD in Cortez. Sarah is currently project editor for a solutions journalism grant with KSJD and four other radio stations across the Western Slope. She is also the office manager at KDUR Community Radio at FLC and hosts a weekly public affairs program "Off the Rim." Shane Benjamin is a graduate of Fort Lewis College with a degree in mass communication. He has been in journalism for 19 years, working as a reporter and editor. He joined the The Durango Herald in 1999 as a reporter and covered city government, county government, education and cops and courts. He contributed to the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire coverage that won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism in the category of public service. Amy Maestas is executive editor of The Durango Herald. She has worked as a journalist for 30 years in various positions and publications in the West. She joined the Herald 22 years ago as a reporter. From 2016-17, she was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. David Buck is a graduate of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He began his journalism career in 1997 at The Glenwood Post in Glenwood Springs. David arrived at The Durango Herald in 2001 and worked for seven years as news editor on the papers copy-editing desk. After a two-year absence, he returned to the Herald in 2010. He is an assistant city/digital editor and guiding editor of solutions journalism stories.

Episode 4: Anne Hillerman
Friday, Oct. 12, 2018
Anne Hillerman talks about writing the mystery series her father, best selling author Tony Hillerman, created in 1970. The fourth in her re-envisioning of the mysteries, Cave of Bones, debuted as No. 8 on the New York Times best-seller list for combined hardcover and e-book sales. She lives and works in Santa Fe. Frank Lister is the owner of Time Traveler Maps which creates companion maps for the novels written by Tony and Anne Hillerman. Lister lives in the Mancos Valley.

Episode 3: Durango cuisine scene
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018
Durango, Colorado, chefs talk about what drives them. Katie Burford worked as a journalist for 13 years in the U.S. and Latin America before leaving the field to start a business making ice cream. Her shop, Cream Bean Berry, turned 5 years old this spring. She has two boys, Leo, 12, and Rex, 10, who eat a lot of ice cream. She is working on a book about her experiences titled Rocky Road. Marcos Wisner began his restaurant career in high school working internships at Carvers and East by Southwest. After high school he landed a job in New York City at Masa, followed by a job as a chef de partie for Jean George. Marcos has worked at Eleven Madison Park, Noma, The Restaurant at Meadowood, a pop-up dinner series he created and his own food truck, The Box. He is the owner of 11th Street Station, a food truck collective and bar. Sean Clark joined the Steamworks Brewing Co. team in 1995 as part of the original crew. He began his foray into food at the age of 16 as a part time job in the restaurant business. After college, he became certified by the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He’s the driving creative force behind El Moro Spirits & Tavern and is the executive chef and managing member of both Steamworks and El Moro.

Episode 2: Local authors
Friday, Sept. 14, 2018
Though they tackle varied genres, local authors Chuck Greaves, Anna C. Swain and Scott Graham’s are all driven by a common influence: the location and stories of Durango and the Four Corners. These three storytellers are joining together this week to share their stories of inspiration during Durango Diaries, The Durango Herald’s twice-a-month speaker series. Chuck Greaves may be best known for his crime fiction series featuring Jack MacTaggart, but his stand-alone novels, like “Hard Twisted,” available under the name C. Joespeh Greaves, provide insightful literary takes on true crime. Greaves has been a finalist for most of the major awards in crime fiction. Anna C. Swain launched her book career during sleep-deprived late night feedings of her newbornAt the urging of her husband, Swain wrote down her rhymes launching a path in self-publishing with the children’s book “Animas Animal Adventures.” Scott Graham is the author of the National Park Mystery series, featuring Chuck Bender and his wife, Janelle Ortega. The most recent in the series,“Yosemite Fall,” was released earlier this summer. In addition to his fiction novels, he is the author of five nonfiction books.

Episode 1: Firefighters
Friday, Aug. 31, 2018
Local firefighters share stories of what they experience while battling fires. Storytellers include: Kara Chadwick, supervisor for the San Juan National Forest, began her U.S. Forest Service career in 1985 working on fire and timber crews in Montana and Idaho for the Kootenai National Forest. She's been in the Durango area for more than four years. Lorena Williams is a wildland firefighter. She has spent 14 seasons with the U.S. Forest Service in capacities ranging from wilderness and recreation to heli-rappel and dispatch. She currently works at Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch on the San Juan National Forest. Greg Childress serves as a captain with the Durango Fire Department. A veteran firefighter, he helped battle the 416 Fire this summer.

Episode 10: A Portrait of the Artist
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Creating art is difficult, time-consuming and a labor of love. Durango artists share why and how they continue to pursue the craft.

Episode 9: Motherhood
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Motherhood is tricky, funny and and oh so rewarding. For Mother's Day, local mothers and daughters share tales of motherhood and of growing up with a great example.

Episode 8: Immigration
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Immigration is a hot-button topic in today’s political environment. Local immigrants and those who work with related support systems share their stories.

Episode 7: Craft Beer
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Craft brewing has a long history in Durango, Colorado. Brewing experts share their years of experience brewing (professionally and at home), judging beer and growing hops.

Episode 6: Hozhoni Days
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Today’s speakers include Fort Lewis College professors Dr. Kay Holmes and Dr. Kathleen Fine-Dare and FLC students Miss Hozhoni Natalia Sells and Wanbli Ota president Alyssa Tapaha, discussing the popular event put on by the college.

Episode 5: Skiing in the San Juan Mountains
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
One of the best parts of living on the Western Slope is the easy access to plentiful skiing opportunities. Residents discuss the history of skiing in the San Juans and how our local slopes came to exist.

Episode 4: Legal marijuana and teenagers
Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018
Raising teenagers is never simple, but things get a bit more complicated when they are told not to use drugs in Colorado, a state where recreational marijuana use is legal for adults.

Episode 3: Love Stories
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018
For Valentine's Day 2018, two Four Corners couples share their stories of falling in love at first sight and a couples counselor talks about some of the tricky situations he's seen in his years helping couples.

Episode 2: Snowdown
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018
Snowdown, Durango's original winter festival, takes a huge team to put together each year. Those who work tirelessly to put on the playful event discuss the magic behind the scenes and how it all comes together.

Episode 1: Home in Durango
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018
In our inaugural episode of Durango Diaries, we take a look at the history of Durango, what residents are doing to improve day-to-day life and a look at what our future holds.

Episode 7: Future of farming and agriculture (click here to add this to your Facebook events)
6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018
Florida Grange, 656 CO 172, Durango

Daniel and Hana Fullmer are local farmers. Daniel started Tierra Vida Farm in 2015 after working on various farms and learning from expert farmers and in 2017, Hana began helping run the farm. Prior to farming, she worked as a practicing functional medicine nutritionist.

J. Paul Brown has been a rancher all his life and is well know for his sheep that are herded through Bayfield twice a year. He has held numerous public offices, including that of state representative.

Kate Greenberg is the Western Program Director for National Young Farmers Coalition where she organizes young farmers, advocates for supportive policy and promotes land, water and climate stewardship.

For more information, email

Episode 8: Future of farming and agriculture (click here to add this to your Facebook events)
6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29
Marvel Grange, 2147 Co. Road 133, Hesperus

Daniel and Hana Fullmer are local farmers. Daniel started Tierra Vida Farm in 2015 after working on various farms and learning from expert farmers and in 2017, Hana began helping run the farm. Prior to farming, she worked as a practicing functional medicine nutritionist.

J. Paul Brown has been a rancher all his life and is well know for his sheep that are herded through Bayfield twice a year. He has held numerous public offices, including that of state representative.

Davin Montoya was born with agriculture in his blood and a deep connection to the land. The rancher has spent his career growing his cow herd and ranch.

For more information, email

Season 3 is coming, mark your calendars for Feb. 6, 2019