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20001191Montezuma-Cortez High School graduates process into Panthers Stadium. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)Montezuma-Cortez Class of 2023 graduates after years of tribulationsClass of 112 students endured changes in administration and remote learningMembers of Montezuma-Cortez’s Class of 2023 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, stepping into the future while also looking back fondly on the fun memories they created.Several hundred family members and friends filled Panther Stadium for the ceremony in breezy, comfortable weather. Everyone in attendance celebrated the achievements of the Class of 2023, who faced challenges related to the pandemic, as well as difficult changes in school administration.Fittingly, the class motto reflected the graduates’ ability to keep a sense of humor through it all, using a quote from author A.A. Milne: “We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.” And when it was all over, the Montezuma-Cortez baseball team received a police and fire escort through town on Main Street as they headed to Greeley to play in the state tournament Friday.Keynote speaker and PE teacher Jarrett Watkins addressed the challenges the 112 graduates faced and congratulated them on their accomplishments.20001533 Physical education teacher Jarrett Watkins was the student-selected speaker for the 2023 graduating class. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)20001665Valedictorian Talon Johnson delivers his address. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)20001395Graduating senior Micah Hoffman was this year's salutatorian. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)20001232The M-CHS choir sings the national anthem. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)20001411Ute Mountain Ute tribal member Kathryn Jacket shares a blessing with the graduates. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)60004000 Celebratory confetti rains down on graduation attendees. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)20001310Graduates ceremonially turn their tassels in front of a cheering crowd. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)20001333Caps are gleefully tossed into the air. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)“In these few short years, the educational system has been forever changed,” he said. “Against all odds you have prevailed.”He spoke of the power of the students’ accomplishments and their impact on the high school and the community.Watkins expressed gratitude for the support the community has shown the high school this year through articles, flyers around town, and turnout to events.“Any wisdom I have comes from the mistakes I have made, rather than my achievements,” Watkins said. Instead of giving the graduates advice on what to do, he told them what not to do.“Don’t expect that when you leave high school that you should have it all figured out,” he said. He spoke of his own unique life path, spending 10 years in and out of college and working several jobs.Watkins encouraged graduates to listen to the advice they receive from their elders, as they only wish them the best.“Don’t look for the easy way out,” he added.“Y’all are my kids. So now I get to stand here like a proud dad,” Watkins said, as he congratulated the class of 2023 on their accomplishments.Valedictorian Talon Johnson thanked teachers, mentors, and families, and encouraged fellow students to remember their education and growth.“Your dedication, guidance and support have played an invaluable role in shaping us into the individuals we are today,” Johnson said, addressing teachers and mentors. “We owe our success to your efforts.”Parents and families were also met with Johnson’s gratitude. “Your belief in us has propelled us toward this moment of achievement,” helping the students “to persevere through the challenges we faced,” Johnson said.He reminded his fellow graduates that “education is not limited to the classroom,” but instead “is the amalgamation of knowledge, experiences, and character development.”Graduation marks a new beginning and opens up opportunities for students to make a change and become the leaders the world needs, and Johnson’s words encourage students to do what they can.“I believe that each and every one of us has the power to create a positive impact. Whether it’s through our chosen careers, volunteer work, or simply being a compassionate friend, we can make a difference. Let us harness our knowledge, skills, and passion to address the problems of our society,” Johnson said.Dream, understand the power of action, and strive for a more prosperous world, he added, but also don’t forget the bonds made and memories created.“Cherish the friendships that have blossomed here, for they are the foundation of our support system in the years to come.”Johnson concluded by congratulating his class and pushing them to “embark on this new chapter of our lives with courage, determination and compassion.”Salutatorian Micah Hoffman reflected on the journey these graduates have embarked on the past four years and reminds the crowd to embrace their unique identities and honor their roots.“We have learned that life is a delicate balance between staying true to oneself and adapting to the winds of change,” Hoffman said. “It is a balance that requires self-awareness, courage and a willingness to grow.”Everyone’s passions, dreams, and values are unique, Hoffman stated, and these are the foundations of their lives.“Our rural upbringing has given us a strong sense of community and defined the values that we hold dear. It has shaped our characters, teaching us the importance of honesty, hard work, and integrity,” he added.Individuality adds valuable diversity to the world, Hoffman added while he encouraged his fellow graduates to embrace this individuality.“Be proud of where you come from and the journey that has led you to this very moment,” he said. “However, as we move forward, we cannot ignore the inevitability of change,” Hoffman urged. “It is through change that we grow, learn, and become better versions of ourselves.”Hoffman reminds the crowd that they are capable of dealing with change, as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the class of 2023 throughout their high school experiences.Hoffman encouraged graduates to go for their dreams, even when life gets difficult. “Let us carry with us the wisdom we have gained, the friendships we have forged, and the memories we will cherish,” he added.Hoffman concluded by thanking family, friends and teachers for supporting him and his fellow graduates, and congratulating the class of 2023.After the ceremony, parents, friends, teachers, and students all mingled on the field, chatting, laughing and taking photos.Nathalia Erlandson watched her son Simeon graduate. “I’m proud of my son. He’s going into the Navy.” She expressed how many challenges he had faced and overcome in high school.Montezuma-Cortez High School graduates process into Panthers Stadium. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)11912000The M-CHS choir sings the national anthem. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)12322000Ute Mountain Ute tribal member Kathryn Jacket shares a blessing with the graduates. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)14112000M-CHS interim principal Jennifer Boniface serves as master of ceremonies. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)16422000Native American Tribal Council Education Liaison Selwyn Whiteskunk shares advice with graduates. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)12262000Colorful caps adorned the heads of graduating seniors as they prepared to receive their diplomas. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal) 13322000Lyndreth Wall, Re-1 board member and Native American Tribal Council Education Liaison, speaks to M-CHS graduates. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)14522000Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, First Lady of the Navajo Nation, congratulates students on their perseverance through four years of high school. Blackwater-Nygren also served as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives from 2021-2023. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)14862000 Physical education teacher Jarrett Watkins was the student-selected speaker for the 2023 graduating class. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)15332000Graduating senior Micah Hoffman was this year's salutatorian. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)13952000Valedictorian Talon Johnson delivers his address. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)16652000Graduating senior Iinanibaa Willito Cordova walks to the stage. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)13812000A celebratory graduate. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)15782000 A happy graduate. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)13392000Montezuma-Cortez Middle School counselor Robyne Cote poses with her son, graduating senior Caden Cote. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)13332000 Celebratory confetti rains down on graduation attendees. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)40006000Former Re-1 school board member Jack Schuenemeyer poses with his granddaughter, graduating senior Gillian Schuenemeyer. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)40006000Creative caps offer life lessons to fellow graduates. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)11602000An artistic cap. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)13552000Graduates ceremonially turn their tassels in front of a cheering crowd. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)13102000Caps are gleefully tossed into the air. (Erika Alvero/Special to The Journal)13332000Maya LaMunyon watched her younger brother Evan walk across the stage to receive his diploma.“I’m super-proud of him for how far he’s come,” she stated. Evan graduated with an Honors Diploma.Emotions ran high all evening, as friends say goodbye to one another and family members prepare to part with their graduates. Celebrations are in order for this class of 2023.In Greeley, the Panthers will play No. 4 Coal Ridge (25-0) Friday, at 11:30 a.m. at University High School. The winner of that contest will advance in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament to a 2 p.m. game, also at University High School, against the winner of No. 1 Eaton (25-0) and regional surprise No. 25 Peak to Peak (12-13).
Class of 112 students endured changes in administration and remote learning
Farmington police officers’ attorney addresses Second Amendment issuesRight to defend self, family versus property will be a factor in officers’ defense1358831Luis Robles, attorney for the Dotson family, cited U.S. Supreme Court decisions that differentiate between the right to defend self or family and defending property or items when discussing the defense of officers involved in the April 5 shooting death of Robert Dotson. (Still image from the Dotsons’ Ring camera footage)The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state; the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”The amendment as written allows people to keep guns and to use guns to protect themselves and their loved ones; however, it does not allow individuals to shoot trespassers. This was one of the arguments coming from Albuquerque-based attorney Luis Robles, who is representing the three Farmington Police Department officers involved in the April 5 shooting death of Robert Dotson.The officers went to the wrong address on a domestic violence call for service. The address from dispatch was 5308 Valley View Ave. They responded to 5305 Valley View, which was Dotsons’ home. Dotson came to the door with a gun, and the officers fired their weapons, killing him.Shon Northam, attorney for Dotson’s family, previously said the police officers “had no business” being at the Dotson home. He further said the officers “were trespassing and breaking the law when they entered onto the Dotson property.”Robles referred to it as the “fundamental misunderstanding” of the Second Amendment. “You can protect yourself and the people in your home, but you can’t protect your property,” he said.0VideoYouTube480360“Folks think they have unfettered rights,” Robles said. “Rights have limits. License is the ability to do whatever you want. When people think they have a right, they think they have a license that they can do no wrong.”The U.S. Supreme Court has handled cases dealing with individuals entering a person’s property or even stealing a person’s property, and Robles said the court made it clear:“You can protect the people in your life from immediate serious bodily harm, but you can’t protect your stuff from being stolen by shooting people dead,” he said.Robles’ argument hinges on the belief that police officers Waylon Wasson, Daniel Estrada and Dylan Goodluck went to the Dotson home by mistake but were leaving when Dotson opened his door and raised a handgun. The Dotsons’ Ring video camera showed this happening about midnight April 5. It also showed that the officers realized they were at the wrong house then shows them backing away.The question has been raised by Northam as to how the three police officers ended up at the wrong house, and why they approached the wrong house, when Officer Goodluck could be heard in the police vehicle saying the address for the domestic violence call was on the left across the street from the Dotsons at 5308 Valley View.“The trainee, Officer Goodluck, was not in the vehicle with Officer Wasson. Officer Goodluck was in a vehicle with Officer Estrada. Officer Wasson used his mobile data terminal’s mapping system,” Robles said. “The image that he had on his terminal put the pin on the side of the street and the location of the Dotsons’ house. The pin was not where the call was.”7491048Luis Robles argues that the difference between defending self and family and defending property will play a part in determining culpability in the shooting death of Robert Dotson. (Courtesy)It was an “overreliance on technology” that led the officers to the wrong home that night. Goodluck, who once worked as a Domino’s Pizza deliveryman, was on his phone, using Google maps to find 5308 Valley View, but he followed Wasson to 5305 Valley View, the wrong house. “Officer Goodluck relied on Officer Wasson because he was a trainee,” Robles said.“It was not as if Wasson showed up at the wrong house – technology took him there,” Robles said. “They realized they were at the wrong house, and they were going to leave.”When asked about the mapping system discrepancy experienced by the officers and the issue may be avoided in the future, FPD spokeswoman Shanice Gonzales said the department was still investigating.“While the state investigation is ongoing, we are conducting our internal investigation,” she said. “We are aware of the mapping system discrepancy, and once the investigation is complete, we will analyze the facts of this case. We are too early in our investigation to comment on what measures may be taken.”Robles, who has handled hundreds of police-involved shooting cases, said officers go to the wrong address more often than people realize. This has become more prevalent with the growing reliance on cellular phones. According to Robles, AT&T and Verizon have said not to rely on their pinging signals. “They are not a reliable way of knowing in real time where a cellphone is,” Robles said.Robles questioned why Dotson did not look at his Ring camera footage or out his front window before opening the door with a gun.“Those blinds are open – someone can look out and see what is going on out there – the most old-school way of looking out his window to see who is at the front door,” Robles said. “If the Domino’s delivery person got a call and showed up at the Dotsons’ address – does this society want Mr. Dotson pointing a gun at the pizza delivery person, because he went to the wrong house? You don’t get to point a gun at these people because they made the mistake at knocking at the wrong door.”40323024Robert Dotson’s home at 5305 Valley View Ave. Farmington police mistakenly went to Dotson’s home instead of the dispatched address across the street, and in an encounter about midnight April 5, fatally shot him. (Debra Mayeux/The Journal)The New Mexico State Police department is investigating the officer-involved shooting. “This investigation remains active and is being led by the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau,” said New Mexico State Police Lt. Mark Soriano, public information officer. “At the completion of the investigation, all of the reports and evidence will be submitted to the New Mexico attorney general for their review.”
Right to defend self, family versus property will be a factor in officers’ defense
36002222Mancos graduates pose before heading into their commencement ceremony on Sunday. samg@the-journal.comMancos grads are encouraged to author their own livesMancos’ 30 seniors graduate with plans to impact the worldThirty members of Mancos High School’s graduating class handed sunflowers to family, friends and other important people in their lives as a thank-you during their commencement ceremony on Sunday.The flowers were received with tearful hugs and happy smiles as graduates walked through the auditorium thanking the influential people in their lives.36002249Attendees snap photos of the graduates as they walk into commencement. samg@the-journal.comAt the start of the commencement ceremony, Principal Ed Whritner congratulated the graduates, saying he knew they would have a lasting impact on the world in whatever field they chose.He told them that their graduation wasn’t the beginning of a new chapter in their story, but rather starting the beautiful and impactful book of their lives. Before their graduation day, he said they were more of a co-author of their story, but now “you become the sole author of your story,” he said.He said when looking at the graduates, he saw thinkers, authors, athletes and more.“I see strong people with warm hearts and great minds,” he said.As they spread their wings and head out into the world for the first time, he encouraged them to “keep striving toward a bright future with hope” and to find their purpose.“Keep crafting a story only you were born to write,” he said.Dean of students, health teacher, PE teacher, middle school track coach and high school football coach Josh Gardner was chosen by the students to be the commencement speaker and gave a speech that made the seniors and those in attendance laugh and tear up.Josh Gardner, who was chosen as students to be the keynote speaker, addresses the graduating class. Gardner shared memories of each of the graduates, as well as sharing advice.36002566samg@the-journal.comGraduates listen to Gardner’s speech. (Bailey Duran/Special to the Journal)34565184Gardner started by joking that he would be more comfortable if he were in Adidas sweatpants, gym shoes and a long-sleeve T-shirt.“In their middle school days, Shelby was breaking pacer push-up records and whooping boys in PE class,” Gardner shared.“I had Sophie Eschallier, Ayden Matthews and Lilly Figueroa in class together. I’m pretty sure there was enough brain power to cure cancer or do something just as amazing as that,” he said.Gardner also spoke of Kenyon Rosales, saying that he taught him that “a young man born into the world with the odds stacked up against him can conquer anything with hard work and determination” and that he will “forever miss” Bryan Higgins’s breakfast burritos.He also shared that Benny Lewis had once fixed his daughter’s bike in the school parking lot.The graduating class was also there for Gardner during a difficult time.“When my sister was withering away and dying from cancer,” he said, “I was struggling to show up to work every day; I desperately needed something thing to hold onto. It was Soren, Echo and Alex’s constant laughter that helped me hold on. It was Mitchell telling me that he loved my old PE class that made me feel good. It was Audrey’s smile, every single time she passed me in the hallway, that made me stop being angry at God for taking my sister. Man, what a special group of seniors we have here today!”In his speech, he also gave the seniors seven pieces of advice for navigating the world. He told them to take life one step at a time and have faith, remember that success is not the amount of money you make, take risks, be thankful and kind, never stop improving yourself, look in the mirror and tell yourself something positive about yourself every day and love is the key to a fulfilling life.“God bless you seniors, and good luck out there in this great big world. Go make it a better place,” he finished.Superintendent Todd Cordrey said he was proud of the graduates for all their accomplishments.“I am happy to share that we are proud of our graduates for all their vast accomplishments. They are well supported by their parents, MSD staff and a caring and engaged community … Our graduates are prepared to influence our town and county and the larger society they live in. The Mancos School district is proud of the 2023 graduates for their perseverance, dedication to excellence, and for living the Blue Jay values,” he said.Salutatorian Riley Cannon told her fellow seniors that is has been 15 years since they started wishing to grow up, and she couldn’t believe that day was finally here.18282400Salutatorian Riley Cannon addressed the graduating class.samg@the-journal.comShe said she hopes she and the other graduates will learn to enjoy and be content in the present, and stop wishing away their days.“When we were three, we were dreaming to be five so we could go to school. When we were five, we were dreaming to be 13, so we could be teenagers. When we were 13, we were dreaming to be 16 so we could drive on our own. When we were 16, we were dreaming to be 18 so we could graduate and be an adult. Now, here we are … I could continue to explain the process of us wishing we were older, but I challenge you to change that mindset,” Cannon said.She spoke of the emotions she was feeling, as well as the disbelief that graduation day was finally here before encouraging her class to continue chasing their dreams.“This class is going to become nurses, doctors, engineers, welders, lawyers, space system operators, firefighters, veterinarians, national park officers, physical trainers and so much more,” she said. “I cannot wait to see what each and every one of us accomplishes in our lives. Never stop chasing your dreams, it does not matter how big or small they may be. … Even when the odds were against us, we persevered and did what many thought may be impossible.”Valedictorian Sophie Eschallier thanked her family, friends, teachers and classmates for cheering her on during her time in school, and said she would cherish the closeness she was able to share with her fellow seniors during their school years.“When I first transferred here in fourth grade, I was struck by the close bond our class shared. And now, nearly nine years later, after countless adventures from mystery field trips and playground games to hikes down the Grand Canyon and homecoming floats, that sense of community remains unchanged. Though the journey leading up to this day was difficult, I know that the friends, memories and connections we made along the way are ones that will remain with us for a long time,” she said.34565184Valedictorian Sophie Eschallier encouraged her class to commit to being lifelong learners, along with sharing her gratitude for the class’s closeness. (Bailey Duran/Special to the Journal)Eschallier urged her classmates to never stop learning in life, noting that it is a skill that will serve them well throughout their college years, careers and for the rest of their lives.In life it seems that the only constant is change, and being a lifelong learner is not simply an advantage, but a necessity. This mindset enables us to adapt, to thrive and to make a meaningful impact in a world that is in perpetual motion. It empowers us to navigate through the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead with curiosity, resilience and a hunger for knowledge. Einstein once remarked, ‘I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.’ I hope that we can all strive to be a little bit more curious, no matter what our goals may be,” she said.Mancos’ graduating class receiving their diplomas and flowers to give to family and friends. (Bailey Duran/Special to the Journal)34565184518434565184345651843456518434565184345651843456Mancos’s graduating class received their diplomas to the cheers of those in attendance. (Bailey Duran/Special to the Journal)518434565184345651843456518434563456518434565184345651843456518451843456After Eschallier’s speech, the seniors took turns walking across the stage to receive their diplomas. Their accomplishment was met with cheers, hugs and excitement as they closed the door on their high school years, picking up the pens and spreading their wings as they walked out of the auditorium to begin their next adventure and to begin writing the story of their lives.
Mancos’ 30 seniors graduate with plans to impact the world
40004627SunRay Park and Casino track announcer Eric Alwan lowers his binoculars as the field draws closer to the finish line during the third race of the day April 28. (Steven Bortstein/Tri-City Record)sbortstein@tricityrecordnm.comAnnouncer Eric Alwan paints pictures with wordsLongtime track announcer reflects on 30-plus year career FARMINGTON – Sports require a number of things.In addition to athletes, there needs to be officials to provide a sense of order and a field of play on which to conduct the games.There also needs to be a voice. Someone to keep the athletes, the officials and the field of play in the spotlight.Longtime racetrack announcer Eric Alwan has been one of the leading voices of horse racing in New Mexico for nearly 30 years, including the past 15 at SunRay Park and Casino.The job of being a track announcer is equal parts storyteller, prognosticator and the deliverer of sometimes bad news to bettors and horsemen who might be on the wrong horse at the wrong time.“There are innumerable things that can happen within the body of a race, and you have to be fast enough to adapt to those things and still go on with the rest of the race,” Alwan said. “You only get good at handling those things with experience.”0VideoYouTube480360Alwan started his journey as a racecaller in 1989 at Bluegrass Downs in Paducah, Kentucky. Admittedly, it was a trial by fire.“I had no clue of the magnitude of the things you needed to know to call a race,” Alwan said. “I was young, and it was the first job in racing I could get after college.”Alwan, now 58, called his first race in New Mexico in 1994 at Sunland Park and later at Ruidoso Downs, home of the All American Futurity, the richest quarter horse race in the world.In 1999, Alwan called his first All American Futurity before taking over the role as full time track announcer at Ruidoso in 2001 and 2002. In the years between his first call and being thrust onto the national spotlight with the All American, Alwan learned one of the most important lessons of being a premier track announcer.“Memorization of everything is the first thing you have to really learn,” Alwan said. Memorization includes such things as studying the horses and jockeys as they come onto the track. There’s a skill in learning the colors of the saddle cloths draped over each horse, the different silks worn by jockeys, the running styles of each horse. All of these happen sometimes eight, nine or 10 or more times a day, and every race has its own story to be told. “Once the memorization challenge gets a little easier, you can be more descriptive and add more texture or drama to your call,” Alwan said.39163124SunRay Park and Casino track announcer Eric Alwan poses for a photo between races April 28.sbortstein@tricityrecordnm.comThe job is unique. There’s not exactly a school for track announcers, and no matter how great a memory you might have or polished you might sound on the microphone, the competition for these jobs are stiff, and the opportunities aren’t easy to land.According to the Daily Racing Form, there are more than 300 racetracks across America. Some announcers, like Alwan, serve as announcer at more than one track in a specific region. “It’s like a fabric that has to be woven. These jobs don’t grow on trees,” Alwan said. “You are constantly under the spotlight, and you only get good after you’ve done this for a long time.”Not only do horsemen rely on accurate calls of the races for the equine athletes under their care on the track, but more discerning eyes, particularly fans and bettors, watch and listen to every call of every race, leaving little to no room for error.47303162A look at the program pages used by SunRay Park and Casino track announcer during his live calls of the racing program. The shaded-out numbers represent saddle cloth colors used by horses during the racing day.sbortstein@tricityrecordnm.com“Accuracy is obviously very important,” Alwan said. “Speaking clearly, being able to enunciate and describe things as they happen is something that comes with the job.”Alwan, who graduated from Rice University in 1987, was brought up in the business of horse racing thanks to his father Richard, who served as director of marketing at both Sunland Park and Ruidoso Downs.Alwan learned how detailed the business of horse racing was working in the press boxes at those tracks as a teenager, keeping up with track statistics and supplying that information to newspapers and local television stations.“With very young eyes, I saw some of the greatest quarter horses of my generation, and that excitement was what fascinated me,” Alwan said. “People would come to the tracks in droves, and that captivated me.”In addition to calling quarter horse racing, which requires precision, accuracy and all within the span of sometimes between 17 to 20 seconds a race, Alwan has flourished in calling thoroughbred races, which requires an entirely different set of skills.“You don’t have a break like in a baseball game or a football game where there’s time between plays,” Alwan said. “And throw in the possibility of something extraordinary during a race and it’s an entirely different kind of call.”Alwan now serves as track announcer at SunRay Park as well as Albuquerque Downs. In addition to calling the races on a daily basis at Sunland Park near El Paso, Alwan also serves as the racetrack’s director of marketing. “You have to adapt and reinvent yourself,” Alwan said. “I was captivated by it. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Longtime track announcer reflects on 30-plus year career
Video shows snowboarder caught in avalanche on Quandary Peak in Summit CountyBoarder was able to deploy air bag to stay on surface of the slide27251541A snowboarder who became caught in a small avalanche about 11:30 a.m. April 29, 2023, on Quandary Peak in Summit County. (Screenshot)A snowboarder who became caught in a small avalanche on Quandary Peak on Saturday was not seriously injured, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, but the recreationist captured footage of the slide on video.Around 11:30 a.m., the snowboarder triggered the small wet slide in the Quandary Couloir on the northernmost aspect of the mountain at about 12,500 feet, according to a Colorado Avalanche Information Center field report.“Although quite scary because of the potential for injury taking a ride that long, fortunately for us it was a good outcome,” said Colorado Avalanche Information Center director Ethan Greene.0VideoYouTube480360The slide echoes a recent pattern of small avalanches running long distances, Greene said, as warm weather softens snow causing it to slide longer distances over hard surfaces beneath. The snowboarder was able to deploy an air bag to stay on the surface of the slide, he said.“You can push small wet avalanches in previously dry, recently wind-drifted snow,” the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said in a Facebook post linking to the video. “While most of these avalanches will be small in size and only several inches deep, in continuously steep terrain, a ride in one could produce a very bad outcome.”The incident occurred the same day that another backcountry user died in an avalanche on Bald Mountain. Several other small avalanches triggered by backcountry users were reported to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center over the weekend as well.Also at Quandary, a skier triggered another small avalanche in the Cristo Couloir but was uninjured, according to a Colorado Avalanche Information Center field report. The small wet slide “could have easily tripped up a skier,” according to the report, and it slid about 100 yards.For those headed out in the backcountry, it is best practice this time of year to leave early in order to be at the bottom of the mountain by noon or earlier, Greene said, while also reminding backcountry users to travel with a partner and carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel.Check the avalanche forecast before leaving, he added, and choose a route that matches the conditions.“The good news is we’re sort of moving back and forth between moderate and low avalanche danger right now,” Greene said. “A lot of the avalanches we’re seeing are pretty small, but small avalanches can still be dangerous if they push you off a cliff.”
Boarder was able to deploy air bag to stay on surface of the slide
Land of Enchantment car show draws crowds of car enthusiastsNorthern New Mexico Streetrodders boast long history in San Juan County40323024The Land of Enchantment car show hosted about 200 entrants, with 31 vehicle classes ranging from classic restored vehicles to street lowriders. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)Nearly 200 entrants showed off their ‘sweet rides’ at the 39th annual Land of Enchantment Car Show, held Friday through Sunday, April 20-3O, at McGee Park in Farmington. Northern New Mexico Streetrodders president Danny Bost said the show was one of their biggest and most successful.A large crowd roamed the McGee Park pavilion, admiring the vast array of classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. The three-day event featured a swap meet, a silent auction, raffles, vendors and live music.From antiques, hot rods, dragsters, motorcycles, lowriders and both old and new trucks, the array of colorful vehicles drew a large crowd. The event featured 31 classes for vehicle owners to enter, including muscle cars, several street rod classes, antique and restored vehicles, custom vehicles and classic Mustangs and Camaros.Best in show was awarded to Sam Gonzales for his 1938 Dodge. 30722304Denver Dennison, owner/driver of a 1968 Camaro dragster. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)Stephanie Dennison said the car show was “excellent.” She and her husband showed their 1968 Camaro dragster, with its Brad Anderson blown 466 cubic inch Hemi motor. Stephanie and Denver Dennison run Thumper n’ Company Racing and Repair in Bayfield.Denver Dennison, who built the dragster, said it cranks out 4,500 horsepower. He hits the drag strips in Albuquerque, Phoenix, Denver and Paris, Texas, and has blasted through the ¼ mile in 3.56 seconds at a top speed of 210 mph. About the car show, Denver said, “I love it. It’s great to see all the people out again.”Chris Bell showed his 2017 Camaro, with a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter motor that will “push out about 275 horses.” He said he chose that motor for both economy and performance, and he gets about 50 miles per gallon with its eight-speed automatic transmission in his daily driving. “Oh yeah, we’re having a blast,” Bell said of his time at the car show. “It’s always fun.” His Camaro was entered in the modern custom class. He and his kids completed the car’s paint job and airbrushing. Bell said there was a story behind the custom paint job. The hood featured his family and the sides represented several friends who suffered from PTSD or depression and committed suicide. “The special paint job depicts the demons they dealt with as they tried to get right in their heads.” 40323024Chris Bell and his children created the custom paint job on his 2017 Camaro as a tribute to his deceased friends. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)Larry Whaley and his wife, Joyce, drove their 1941 Ford pickup from Albuquerque. “I started on it in 2009 and finally got it running in 2014. Whaley drives the restored truck to car shows around the country. “On the way back to Albuquerque, the speedometer will roll over to 43,000 miles,” Whaley said. They’ve been to Fort Worth, Texas, and plan a 1,000-mile trip to Springfield, Missouri in two weeks.Whaley chose a small block 350 cubic inch motor for the Ford because he knew he could get parts anywhere. “I wanted to drive it, and I knew that if I broke down in Timbuktu, somebody’s going to have a part for a Chevrolet engine,” he said.He’s been to two cars show in the Four Corners this year and was in Aztec last fall for a show. “I’ve won a few trophies … but, you know, the cars are neat, the people are neater,” Whaley said with a chuckle.30722304Larry Whaley and his wife Joyce, drove their 1941 Ford pickup from Albuquerque for the car show. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)John Braatz said he came down from Durango primarily to see Kirk James Blues Band perform, but he was keeping an eye out for El Caminos because his son has a 1980 model. He wanted to see what others had done with theirs.Michael McCallister, who played bass in the Kirk James Blues Band at the car show Saturday, said he has played off and on with Kirk for 23 years, but been a part of the band more consistently for the last two to three years.“It’s an incredible set of cars … I was blown away. I’m a closet car guy, oh yeah, big time. I’m a big fan of the 70s muscle cars – Challenger, Charger, Nova – all that kind of stuff,” McCallister said.“It was a blast playing, great crowd … good reception for the blues – perfect for a car show,” he said. The band played renditions of artists from The Allman Brothers Band, Jimi Hendrix and others.Based in Durango for many years, Kirk James is a Dallas native. He plays Texas-style blues with distinctive phrasing mixed with bottleneck slide. Over the years, he has headlined regional venues and opened for Los Lonely Boys, Eric Johnson, Al Di Meola and John Lee Hooker.Local band, Twisted Rebels, also performed, playing classic hits by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana and others.Over 200 classic and contemporary vehicles were on display at the 39th annual Land of Enchantment car show in Farmington. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)403230243024403230244032302440324032302430244032
Northern New Mexico Streetrodders boast long history in San Juan County
Family seeks murder charges in Farmington police shooting, chief’s resignationLegal team demands justice, plans to sue police department after death of Robert Dotson1056596Officer 1’s bodycam footage shows the 5305 Valley View Ave. address as the three officers approach the home of Robert Dotson on April 5. (Screenshot from bodycam footage)The family of Robert Dotson, 52, has hired a legal firm in California to represent them after three Farmington Police Department officers went to the wrong house on April 5 and shot and killed Dotson when he came to his door reportedly armed with a gun.Shon Northam and Mark Reichel are asking for the resignation of Farmington Police Chief Steven Hebbe and requesting the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office bring second-degree murder charges against the officers involved.In addition, the Northam, who was a special prosecutor for the state of California, is requesting the U.S. District Attorney of New Mexico to bring federal charges against the officers involved, claiming a federal civil rights violation.“For quite some time the residents of Farmington have been keenly aware of the wild use of force by the Farmington Police Department, with no accountability or justice provided for the victims,” Northam said. “We demand that changes. We want what happened to Robbie to also result in a better community for everyone in Farmington.”In a March 2023 Citizens Police Advisory Commission meeting, it was reported “use of force” by officers increased in the past year, rising from nine in January 2022 to 10 in January 2023 and from five in February 2022 to nine in February 2023.Officers’ use of force also increased, rising from 18 in January 2022 to 22 in January 2023 and from 12 in February 2022 to 13 in February 2023. The “application of force” also increased, rising from 24 in January 2022 to 29 in January 2023.There were no cases of impact weapon use by officers in January 2023 or in February 2023.Dotson’s legal team said Ring camera footage showed a 10-second delay from officers laughing and joking near Dotson’s front door to Dotson opening the door. “Robbie was immediately blinded by flashlights. Instead of telling Robbie that it was the police at his door in the dark and close to midnight, the officers instead yelled ‘(expletive) shit’ and ‘hey’ and ‘heads up’ and then the officers opened fire murdering Robbie Dotson,” according to the news release.“We are calling for the resignation of the police chief based on the obvious malfeasance in running the department. We also demand the City Council investigate the extensive amount of excessive force claims against the police department, and in fact, corruption within the department to cover up their constant malfeasance,” said Northam.The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and being conducted by New Mexico State Police.403230245305 Valley View Ave., where police attempted to mistakenly make contact with the resident regarding the reported domestic violence situation, was where Robert Dotson, 52, was shot and killed. “State police are still putting everything together. We don’t want to run off of speculation,” District Attorney Rick Tedrow said. “We want the investigation to be complete before it’s reviewed. That is a best practice for all investigations.”Tedrow said his office takes officer-involved shootings seriously. “We want all the evidence when it’s complete and then, do a thorough review at that time.”Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes was contacted for comments regarding Northam and Reichel’s requests of the police chief and Farmington City Council. He has yet to comment.The family has established a website, Justice for Robbie, and Facebook page that will provide updates on the progress of the case. 0VideoYouTube480360
Legal team demands justice, plans to sue police department after death of Robert Dotson
Silverton photographer captures photos of elusive lynxFewer than 250 of the threatened species live in Colorado15001200Silverton photographer Wesley Berg encountered a rare Canada lynx near Silverton on April 11. (Courtesy of Wesley Berg)Everything lined up just right last week for Silverton photographer Wesley Berg. It would have been enough just to have seen a Canada lynx in the wild – a rare encounter, given that fewer than 250 of the threatened species are estimated to live in Colorado.But not only did he encounter a lynx on April 11, he was equipped with his camera and an 800 mm telephoto lens.And not only did he see a lynx and have the proper equipment to photograph it, but the animal spent an hour in his presence, warming in the morning sun, leaving Berg ample time to observe and take pictures. 15001200Despite a successful reintroduction effort in the early 2000s, Colorado’s population of Canada lynx is estimated to be between 150 and 250 animals. (Courtesy of Wesley Berg)“That’s one of my goals when I photograph wildlife, that doesn’t happen very often, is for the animal to kind of ignore me,” Berg said. “That’s kind of the ultimate experience for a wildlife photographer in my opinion.”Berg last saw a pair of lynx nearly seven years ago, while backcountry skiing near Silverton. At the time, he was only able to quickly capture a few photographs with a small point-and-shoot camera. The sighting piqued more of an interest in wildlife photography, and he began to casually pursue opportunities to find the animal when he could. Over the last seven years, Berg has occasionally tried to follow lynx tracks. But the elusive mid-sized carnivores are hard to find. They are small, quiet and typically travel alone. And, even after a successful effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the early 2000s to reintroduce lynx to the San Juan Mountains, the estimated population sits between 150 and 250 animals. 0VideoYouTube48036012001500Silverton photographer Wesley Berg said spending an hour with a lynx, which largely ignored him, was the “ultimate experience” for a wildlife photographer. (Courtesy of Wesley Berg)Last week, Berg was out near Silverton trying to track down a family of moose when he spotted the cat about 100 feet away on the opposite side of a creek bed. “I often get surprised and run into something I didn’t expect,” he said. But Berg spent over an hour, watching the animal nap and bask in the sun. CPW spokesman John Livingston said the agency often snaps photos of lynx with game cameras, but said it is relatively rare for civilians to find them.He added that people mistake bobcats for lynx. Bobcats are far more common, spotted, and generally smaller than lynx, while lynx have longer tufts on their ears and long, straight hind legs. rschafir@durangoherald.com
Fewer than 250 of the threatened species live in Colorado
Video: Chief releases body camera footage of Farmington police shooting Footage shows uncertainty among officers concerning the location seconds before shots were fired30244032Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe spoke about the April 5 officer-involved shooting at a news conference at FPD headquarters April 14. (Debra Mayeux/The Journal)Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe on Friday released records, including footage from body-worn cameras and related 911 calls, from the shooting April 5 that led to the death of Robert Dotson.“The release of these records is consistent with the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records, as well as our desire to be forthcoming and transparent regarding this tragic event,” Hebbe said during a news conference at the Farmington Police Station. “Ultimately, I believe that the footage will help to provide a greater understanding of what transpired.”Bodycam footage showed three officers involved in the shooting. Their names were redacted and will not be released until the New Mexico State Police concludes interviews with the officers, most likely late next week, according to Hebbe. 0VideoYouTube480360“Two of the officers have been with the department for approximately five years. The third officer has been with the department for approximately three years,” Hebbe said, adding that the third officer was a community service officer, who became a police officer nine months ago. All three officers were placed on paid administrative leave for the length of the investigation, per department policy.Farmington officers were dispatched about 11:30 p.m. April 5, to 5308 Valley View Ave. in response to a domestic violence call. The footage began when three officers arrived on Valley View Avenue. They approached the house at 5305 Valley View Ave. When asked about officers approaching the wrong house, Hebbe said, “That’s the worst part of this for us. … I can’t give you that explanation right now. That is part of the interviews and that’s what the state police will be looking at.”Video footage from Officer 1 showed the house number as the officer approached the front of the house. As the footage continued, it showed officers approach the door at 5305 Valley View Ave. Officer 1 knocked on the door and identified himself as Farmington police three times. Between the second and third knocks, the officers discussed the address. Officer 1 asked, “Is this 43 or 5308?” Officer 3 responded, but the audio was unclear. “Is this not 5308? That’s what it said right there, right?” Officer 1 asked. Officer 2 said, “No, it said 5305, didn’t it?” 1056596Officer 1 bodycam footage clearly showed the address 5305 on the residence as he approaches. (Screenshot from FPD body camera footage)Hebbe said it was obvious in the video that officers were at the wrong address.“You know that, that really is something that the officers are going to have to talk with the state police about it and certainly, you know, the results of it are terrible.”Audio on the video showed Officer 1 requested confirmation of the address and dispatch confirmed the 5308 address. Officers backed away from the door and approximately four seconds later, Dotson opened the screen door, and pointed a firearm at the officers. Officers drew their firearms and fired their weapons, fatally striking Dotson.About a minute later, a woman, later identified as Dotson’s wife, appeared at the front door with a firearm and fired at officers, who returned fire. The released footage ended after the conclusion of shots being exchanged.All three officers fired their weapons during the shooting. How many shots were fired by Farmington officers is part of the state police investigation.The Dotson family, along with their attorney, reviewed the video footage at the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office before its public release. “We arranged through the district attorney's office to show the video to them, and that happened yesterday,” Hebbe said, adding that practice was standard procedure. “We have good cooperation with the DA’s office, they will almost always reach out to the family before we release video and let the family see it. My understanding is a number of family members did come including their attorney,” Hebbe said. Hebbe was not present, but both deputy chiefs were there.Farmington police later responded to 5308 Valley View Ave., the location of the original call, at about 2:51 a.m. April 6. Officers spoke to occupants and made a report of the shooting. No one was hurt and no arrests were made.Hebbe said that the shooting will be investigated and state police will try to determine why officers went to the wrong address, but there are several reasons why police might be outside a person’s house at night. “You know if your car’s doors are standing open, and the police officer sees it, we're gonna go up to the house and make contact with you, because maybe your car has been, been burglarized,” he said. “If your garage door’s open, you know we're gonna go up and knock on the door even at two in the morning. I've done that. So there's a lot of reasons that an officer could be out there knocking on the door in this case, you know, I believe that we were just at the wrong address.” “All of us – the men and women of the Farmington Police Department – recognize the severity of this shooting. We will do everything possible to more fully understand what transpired here,” Chief Hebbe said in a news release. “Once again, we wish to express our condolences to the Dotson family and as your chief of police, I wish to convey how very sorry I am that this tragedy occurred. We will continue to provide updates as we are able.”The investigation of the officer-involved shooting is being conducted by the New Mexico State Police and remains active and ongoing. FPD stated in a media release that it is cooperating fully with the state police as the investigation continues.Additional information and records will be released as soon as they are available for lawful release.
Footage shows uncertainty among officers concerning the location seconds before shots were fired
Students take the stage at Totah TheaterTwo-week poetry residency at Navajo Preparatory School culminates in poetry reading30243480Tina Deschenie (right) and Venaya Yazzie also presented poetry at the reading. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)Twenty Navajo Preparatory School students presented poetry written as part of a two-week residency program in February and March with poets Venaya Yazzie and Tina Deschenie at the Saad Ákeé’lchi'i poetry reading Monday, April 3, at Totah Theater in Farmington. There is no perfectly equivalent word for poetry in Navajo, but Yazzie that Saad Ákeé’lchi'i was chosen to represent poetry because it refers to the “aspects of words or expressions that are decorated or adorned.” More than 30 students submitted poetry at the end of the workshops. The poems were compiled into the “Ba’ Hané” bilingual poetry zine, which was highlighted at the reading. Students and attendees of the reading received copies of the zine. Ba’ Hané refers to the act of telling or “talking history,” and the zine serves as a way for students to share part of their history with others. 0VideoYouTube480360Yazzie, who has conducted artist presentations and workshops with Four Corners schools in the past, discussed the idea of a residency and poetry zine with Northwest New Mexico Arts Council President Flo Trujillo. As the former youth services coordinator at Farmington Public Library, Trujillo created “Blended,” a zine for the Teen Zone that was published three times a year. Yazzie said her experience working with Trujillo at the library and the “Blended” zine provided a map to work from for the “Ba’ Hané” zine. The residency and zine production were funded by Navajo Transitional Energy Co., the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation and Northwest New Mexico Arts Council. 38722592Navajo Preparatory students presented poetry written during a two-week residency workshop with poets Venaya Yazzie and Tina Deschenie. Left to right: Venaya Yazzie, Cheryl Wolfe, Sidney Arthur, Nanabah Adakai, Nizhoni Louie-Bull, Christopher Francis, Watson Whitford, Jocelyn Scott and Kalei James. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)During the residency, Yazzie and Deschenie worked with students in Cheryl Wolfe’s junior and senior language and literature classes to write and workshop poems in English and in the students’ native languages. Deschenie, who is fluent in Navajo, assisted students with translations when needed. Yazzie said the goal of the residency was to focus on language and culture in order to “perpetuate them as a cultural people.” A major component of that was encouraging students to write in the language that best expressed their ideas and not limiting them to English. Code switching is a practice most people use situationally to varying degrees, but it is often more pronounced in bilingual speakers. A person code switches when they move between languages or types of language, such as technical phrasing and jargon over everyday terminology. For people who speak multiple languages, which language to use often depends on culture and personal meaning attached to words and ideas. Yazzie said that with Native American languages, it’s difficult to translate particular words into English, so using the native word may be more precise or hold more meaning to the speaker. Yazzie called this mixing of English and Navajo words “Navlish,” and though it is often discouraged when it comes to language revitalization, she did not want to dictate or limit the students’ voices as they wrote. Many of the pieces included in the zine incorporate English and the student’s native languages. Another aspect of code switching that Yazzie acknowledged was the Navajo cultural practice of using different words and language styles depending on the who is being spoken to. She said that Navajo language is gendered, and the Navajo culture also has gendered roles, both of which influence how people speak to one other and what words they use. Allowing students the freedom to express their ideas in a way that reflected cultural norms and personal language styles was an important aspect of workshopping poems. Yazzie said that another area she expected gender to play a role in the workshops was willingness to participate, but she was pleasantly surprised to see male students engaging with the content. In other workshops with students of various ethnicities and cultures, Yazzie said it can be difficult to get male students to participate because poetry is often seen as a feminine art form. 17942744Jude Thomas read his poem “Shee Iiná.” (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)Yazzie theorized that because many medicine people in the Navajo culture are men, there is less stigma about young men participating in poetry. Medicine people sing songs of healing, and singing is a form of poetry Yazzie said, which makes poetry part of the culture. Male students like Watson Whitford jumped right in, contributing two poems, one in Cree and English on the elements of life and a second poem on love which incorporated stylized art into the structure. Marcus Nahalea, a student of Navajo-Hawaiian descent, submitted a poem about Nightmarchers titled “Hauka’I po,” which included the Hawaiian language. During the reading, he explained the poem’s significance and how his heritage has shaped him. Other students paired their poetry with photography, drawings and other mediums, which allowed them to add additional layers of meaning to their work. The students’ eagerness to participate in workshops impressed Begay. She said she didn’t have to tell them what to write or push them one direction or another. “They already had something they wanted to share,” she said. Giving students free rein on topics provided Yazzie and Deschenie with a unique view into what “young generations of Native Americans are dialoguing about in current times.” The result was a diverse range of topics, from the flow of time and life to “rez dogs and cats” to family connections, identity and what the future might hold for the students. Starlit Begay’s poem “Ghéé” drew laughter while Makayla Yazzie’s poem “Shimasaní anigoo, Shinaliíanigoo” brought up deep emotions for the young poet, causing her to take a moment to collect herself and receive comfort from classmates. A surprise addition to the evening’s roster included Navajo Prep student and recent New Mexico State English Expo Poetry Slam first place winner Landon Succo, who read his winning poem in both Navajo and English. Succo also won second place in original storytelling and first place in short stories.30244032Landon Succo read a poem, which won first place at English Expo, in both Navajo and English. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)Yazzie spearheaded compiling the students’ work into the zine. She was given creative control of the formatting and artistic elements, though she said she was grateful for Trujillo’s experience and guidance on the project. Yazzie expressed how pleased she was with the project as a whole. She said Navajo Prep was very supportive of the residency and of organizing the reading event, and that the students driven and focused attitudes made them a pleasure to work. Family, friends and community members attended the reading. Yazzie and Trujillo expressed particular thanks to San Juan County Commission GloJean Todacheene for attending the reading and supporting the students. Both Yazzie and Trujillo hope to see a subsequent edition of the zine and are reaching out to other organizations which might be interested in funding and distributing. Yazzie said she hopes the project encourages students to continue to explore their native languages and cultures, and to share them with others. “I really believe that our children have our language to keep them strong,” she said.
Two-week poetry residency at Navajo Preparatory School culminates in poetry reading