Sunday, March 12, 2017

Badge Number 1 for Monument Police Department

Town names street for first police officer

By Rob Carrigan,

Dozens of well-wishers turned out in chilly, gusty weather Saturday morning to shake long-time Monument Police Officer Kevin Swenson’s hand and help the town rename a road after him. The road, which has been there for probably 125 years or more, meanders west off of Mitchell Road leading to Monument Lake.

Swenson was the first officer here in the Town of Monument’s separate Police Department, and served for nearly 34 years from Jan. 18, 1978, until Dec. 13, 2011. His badge number was 1. Police Chief Al Karn, who recently passed away, was the first employ of the department after the separation from a single force under El Paso County Sheriff for Monument, Palmer Lake and Woodmoor, arriving only a year before Swenson.

A few hours after the dedication and ribbon cutting of the new road, many in attendance were planning to gather about 100 yards away in memory of Karn, at Cy Cybil’s barn. Karn passed away earlier this month and Swenson paid tribute to his former chief prior to the dedication of the road.

Rick Tudor, who said his badge was Number 2, was also in attendance, even though he now lives nearly seven-hours driving distance away Thermopolis, Wy. City officials, former officials, citizens, business owners and city employees blocked the roadway temporarily, cut a red ribbon in honor of the event, and unveiled the new street sign.

“It has changed a lot,” said Swenson Saturday about policing here in town from the time he started in the late 1970s. “I knew all 365 people in town of Monument at the time.”

In fact, he said, he even delivered welcome packages to any newcomers for a longtime that included a new phone book, map and some other stuff.

“It was much more of dealing with people on a one-to-one basis then,” he said of his early duties and described himself as a “Citizen’s Officer.”

“We, at times, would would give someone who had too much to drink at the bowling alley a ride home, so they wouldn’t try to drive it.”

They could be short-staffed back then, necessitating some creativity.

“We actually would park a car on Front Street sometimes with “Officer George,” a dummy in the driver’s seat. “It was alright for a short period,” he said. “But we got a lot of calls about ‘Officer George’s’ welfare if we didn’t move him pretty often.”

He counts among his firsts at the department, writing a grant for the department’s first computer (remembering it a K-Pro of some kind) and the first Intoxilizer to check for inebriation, the first Radar gun, and was even one of the first bicycle officers.

Swenson was the first officer here in the Town of Monument’s separate Police Department, and served for nearly 34 years from Jan. 18, 1978, until Dec. 13, 2011. His badge number was 1. Police Chief Al Karn, who recently passed away, was the first employ of the department after the separation from a single force under El Paso County Sheriff for Monument, Palmer Lake and Woodmoor, arriving only a year before Swenson.

“When we first started, we were working out of the trunk of the patrol car,” he said, later sharing part of a laundry mat, small trailers, various other office setups, and finally the current police department in town hall.

He has a number of memorable arrests to recall including the time he noticed someone climbing through the broken glass door of a Chinese restaurant in the strip center near King Sooper on Baptist Road. “That led to a high-speed chase and shots being fired at me, before they finally ditched the car.”

He has other stories involving chasing cattle off the Interstate, and military vehicles, complete with M-16 mm machine guns and lives saved and people who have turned their lives around. Swenson served under six different Chiefs and probably close to 30 different mayors, he said.

For the last few years, his struggle has been with his health, forcing his retirement. First suffering emergency gallbladder surgery and complications, that kept him hospitalized for eight months, and in and out of the hospital for nearly two years. Then finding out that he had stomach cancer, he has been on experimental Chemotherapy for four years.

Interestingly, however, the journey has brought him around almost full circle.

“After being a mechanic in the Air Force for 6 years, 8 months, 28 days, during Vietmam, I did several things here in Monument from 1975 to 1978. After discharge, I was a lifeguard out at Monument Lake. They had a roped off area for swimming there with a slide on a floating platform. That is where I started training in first aid, CPR, and became EMT, drove an ambulance for a while.” Because of the that the road to the lake has particular significance.

  1. Kevin Swenson cuts the big red ribbon.
  2. Friends and family gathered to wish Swenson well.
  3. Current Chief Jake Shirk shaking hands.
     4.  Former employees traveled from afar to help rename the road.


  1. Swenson, prior to his retirement.
  2. Kevin Swenson, early in his police officer career.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Just a few things I inherited from my granddad

Three generations: Dr. Lars Olov Bygren, with son Magnus and grandson Ludvig in Stockholm.
Umeå University photo

You are what your grandfather ate

By Rob Carrigan,

Rain or shine, good times or bad, my grandfather always answered same way.
When anybody asked him, “How is it going?” or “How are you?” or “How do you do?”
His answer was always the same: “Still eating.”
He had other little endearing comments and sayings of course (for example, calling black table pepper the Sioux word for fly poop).  But “Still eating,” was his trademark and it reflected his hardscrabble existence as a homestead rancher on the Western Slope of Colorado.
Owen Carrigan, my granddad, filed his first Colorado homestead claim 1914. After subsequently 'proving up' on that, and additional filings, he ran cattle, sheep and other livestock and harvested alfalfa hay for nearly half a century on Morapos Creek near the Hamilton turnoff, between Craig and Meeker. Prior to that, he hailed from Minnesota country, by way of the Dakotas. He came here to escape Asthma and finish recovering from a broken leg he suffered when a horse fell with him while punching cows for a Texas-owned outfit in the Dakotas.
His mother, my great grandmother, Minnie Buce Carrigan, wrote the popular book “Captured by the Indians, Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Minnesota.” It is an account of the murder of her father, mother, two sisters, and her subsequent captivity among the Sioux after the 1862 uprising and her later experience as an orphan. In the book, she describes her life as a young German immigrant girl prior to her capture and the ten weeks she lived with her captors until being freed by the United States Army.
I guess that was why I was fascinated by a recent Radiolab piece airing on National Public Radio.
"Lars Olov Bygren, a professor at Umeå University in Sweden, grew up in a remote village north of the Arctic Circle. It wasn't an easy place to be a kid, and he has cold, hard data to back him up: book after book of facts and figures on the lives of generations of the town's residents, from their health to their financial success, to detailed records on the boom and bust years for crops. The numbers tell a story of wild swings in fortune — feasts one year, harsh winters and famine the next. Looking at all those records, Olov realized he had a natural experiment on his hands. Along with Sam Kean, Olov explains the bizarre ripples through time that he discovered ... ripples that are totally unexpected, and honestly, sort of terrifying," says the podcast Radiolab.
The village, according to Time Magazine's John Cloud article in 2010, is both unique in its record keeping and it's isolation.
"Norrbotten is so isolated that in the 19th century, if the harvest was bad, people starved. The starving years were all the crueler for their unpredictability. For instance, 1800, 1812, 1821, 1836 and 1856 were years of total crop failure and extreme suffering. But in 1801, 1822, 1828, 1844 and 1863, the land spilled forth such abundance that the same people who had gone hungry in previous winters were able to gorge themselves for months," according to a recent
Back in the 1980s, Dr. Bygren, a preventive-health specialist, now at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, began to wonder what long-term effects the feast and famine years might have had on children growing up in Norrbotten in the 19th century —and not just on them but on their kids and grandkids as well," said the Time Magazine piece that I read as research after hearing the Radiolab podcast.
So Dr. Bygren drew a random sample of 99 individuals born in the Overkalix parish of Norrbotten in 1905 and used historical records to trace their parents and grandparents back to birth. By analyzing meticulous agricultural records, he and two colleagues determined how much food had been available to the parents and grandparents when they were young.
"For instance, Bygren's research showed that in Overkalix, boys who enjoyed those rare overabundant winters — kids who went from normal eating to gluttony in a single season —produced sons and grandsons who lived shorter lives. Far shorter: in the first paper Bygren wrote about Norrbotten, which was published in 2001 in the Dutch journal Acta Biotheoretica, he showed that the grandsons of Overkalix boys who had overeaten died an average of six years earlier than the grandsons of those who had endured a poor harvest. Once Bygren and his team controlled for certain socioeconomic variations, the difference in longevity jumped to an astonishing 32 years. Later papers using different Norrbotten cohorts also found significant drops in life span and discovered that they applied along the female line as well, meaning that the daughters and granddaughters of girls who had gone from normal to gluttonous diets also lived shorter lives," the Time Magazine story said.
Basically the data suggested that a single winter of overeating as a youngster could begin a biological chain of events that would lead one's grandchildren to die decades earlier than their peers did.  
In essence, "you are what your Granddad ate," to some extent.
The findings were particularly pronounced in what your ancestor ate in the formative years time frame of 9-11 years old.
That must have been about the time Owen Carrigan, "Granddad" as I knew him, starting cowboying from Dakotas to Arizona, and Texas. And he might have developed the "Still eating" signature response from the sporadic nature of a trail chuck wagon existence.
For my part, that could be either good or bad. But either way, if you ask how I'm doing, I will tell you. "I am still eating."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Rules of engagement and remaining civil in an uncivil world

Can we befriend civility and decent behavior?

Before his sixteenth birthday, George Washington, the first president of the United States, had copied out by hand, ‘110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,’ according Foundations Magazine.
“They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. Presumably they were copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by young Washington's schoolmaster. The first English translation of the French rules appeared in 1640, and are ascribed to Francis Hawkins the twelve-year-old son of a doctor,” said the magazine in 2013.
The rules proclaim respect for others and in turn offer us, as a group, the gift of self-respect and heightened self-esteem.
I have been thinking about that considerably lately, as I have attended local meetings in which, on occasion, the rules go by the wayside. And civility takes a back seat in the corner of the room as chaos rules the day. The meetings become less than productive.
Take for example recent Lewis Palmer District 38 school board meetings, where chaos had become dominant enough to collectively compel the entire administrative staff of the district, in a letter delivered en masse, to call for an end to what they described as “many instances of inappropriate behavior” and a need “to protect our teachers from further public attacks.”
I have seen similar regressions at town board meetings, political debates, and even the occasional newspaper staff meeting.
And when I take a look to national news and political affairs, the divide that separates us sometimes appears to be great, if not insurmountable. But behaviors might be, at best, ranked as sub par.  
Richard Brookhiser, in his book on Washington wrote that "all modern manners in the western world were originally aristocratic. Courtesy meant behavior appropriate to a court; chivalry comes from chevalier – a knight. Yet Washington was to dedicate himself to freeing America from a court's control. Could manners survive the operation? Without realizing it, the Jesuits who wrote them, and the young man who copied them, were outlining and absorbing a system of courtesy appropriate to equals and near-equals. When the company for whom the decent behavior was to be performed expanded to the nation, Washington was ready.”
Before Washington’s time, figuring out how to be civil in uncivil world, was always a challenge.
The ancient Romans called it pugna veborum, or “the battle of words.”
As Ron Chernow of the Wall Street Journal pointed out however, even the founding fathers of our country insulted each other, on occasion.
“[Thomas] Paine even wondered aloud whether Washington was 'an apostate or an imposter; whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any.'”
Chernow explained, “Such highly charged language shouldn't surprise us. People who spearhead revolutions tend to be outspoken and courageous, spurred on by a keen taste for combat.”
Samuel Adams' “Vindex” letters, anonymously written to Boston newspapers before independence, stand out for their complete lack of civility, notes Thomas R. Eddlem from The New American.
Adams, who was partner in his family’s malthouse and hailed from a long-line of maltsters, knew how to produce ingredients for great beer, and in some corners, is credited with the fomentation of the American revolution.
Thomas Jefferson had pardoned pamphleteer Joseph Callender after he had been arrested and imprisoned under the Sedition Act during the administration of John Adams. But that didn't stop Callender from attacking Jefferson as a tool of the French revolution and alleging (probably accurately) that he had fathered a child out of wedlock with his slave Sally Hemings.  
What has developed, over time in America, is an ability to shut up and listen.
To give others a chance to at least state their opinions, whether we roll our eyes or not.
Positive contact between groups improves our chances for cooperation and provides a forum for less demonization of those with whom we differ. We also have a better chance in that instance of finding common ground.
I can’t tell a lie. If Washington, and his 110 or so rules can help us from a descent into chaos, I’m all for it. Civility and decent behavior, in company and conversation, could easily be our friend.

Characters of Teller County: Proceeds from gambling built a lot of Woodland Park

Bert Bergstrom
When Woodland Park's legendary figure "Big Bert" Bergstrom died on March 12, 1986, more than 500 people filed past his casket a few days later at Woodland Park Saddle Club Arena in the center of town.
A fitting tribute for the founder and main benefactor of the Woodland Park Santa Claus Club, the man who donated the ground for the Saddle Club itself, and the owner of several area gambling dens and houses of ill repute.
Even today, stories swirl around in the thin mountain air about the "big Swede" with heart of gold and a community conscience, along with the far-reaching illegal operations to help finance them.
“Through the generosity of Bert Bergstrom, new rodeo grounds were made available in the fall of ’49. The new grounds are located in the center of town, south of the business section. With the co-operation of the people of the county and active members of the Saddle Club, the new grounds are being completed with a race track and a grand stand to be built later,” reported the View.
A few years ago, in a conversation with Oscar Lindholm, who was 93 at the time, Bert Bergstrom was remembered as a “big, rough, tough Swede, saloonkeeper at the Ute Inn, 231 pounds, that could drink quite lot of beer.”
Oscar acknowledged, at the time, he could go through a fair amount of beer himself. But Big Bert and Oscar were not alone, especially when the Stampede was in town.
“… With the casino blaring away, all the local night spots lit up (and others?) and the square dance at the school ‘fillin’ up the floor’, Everybody had a GOOD TIME,” according the 1950’ article in the paper.
Cowboys and spectator alike agreed, “It is the best arena in the state and so beautifully situated with Pikes Peak and the breath-taking mountain scenery in the background,” reported the View.
Gabe Brock, longtime owner of the Crystola Inn, remembered and  verified gambling in Woodland Park in the late 1940s and the early 1950s.
"He had 75 slot machines and I had 75 slot machines. We pooled them and put them out all over the county. We had sanction from Teller County Sheriff. We went along there for about four years without any trouble. We would rake a little off each week and with that we build the Woodland Park Community Church. The VFW was in trouble,  and Bert bought them a building behind the Ute Inn," remembered Brock, as quoted by Marron of the Courier.
The Eldorado Club, which later became Preschool in the Pines, was also one of Bert's gambling clubs, Brock told the paper.
"The proceeds from gambling built a lot of Woodland Park," he said, but it all ended in 1952 when a new mayor closed things down, according to Brock.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Discovery Canyon Campus students medical learning experience



Local 5th graders learn the systems and medical practices

Photo information:
1. Fifth-graders, working alongside professionals, try to stem the tide of fake blood.
2.  Dr. Tiffany Willard, trauma surgeon at Memorial Hospital.
3. Trauma patient needing help breathing and maintaining a pulse.
4. "Now let's try to sew up the incision." 
5.  "Stick your fingers in there and see if you can determine what is causing the continued bleeding."
6. All systems working together.

Photos and story By Rob Carrigan,

You could cut the excitement in the room with a scalpel.
Six weeks of learning the various systems of the body. Specialization in one of those systems. A renowned local trauma surgeon with instructions for you, at your fingertips. All the trappings of the Trauma room.
The couple of dozen, or so, 5th graders could barely contain themselves.
In what could become a bedrock foundation — or at least a good start in their medical career — the fifth-grade medical students at Discovery Canyon Campus (DCC) Elementary answered question after question (correctly) on systems of the body.  Dr. Tiffany Willard, a trauma surgeon at Memorial Hospital, guided their new-found expertise toward understanding how it all works together at Discovery Canyon's makeshift operating room last week, on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22.
About 42 minutes into that discourse, one young 'doctor' spoke of that excitement and anticipation.
"I really just want to get started," she said.
Willard, guiding the 5th graders in the same manner as the medical student residents and trauma professionals accompanying her from Memorial Hospital, finished her real-world example.  
She was careful to make sure the experience was as genuine, and hands-on as possible as she related real life and death situations from the trauma room. Her first-hand experience suggests that drugs and alcohol account for a large percentage of trauma cases she sees everyday.
“Now is the time to at least start talking about making good choices and being safe. Taking care of your bodies,” Willard said.
But plenty of trauma treatment experience was part of the drill. Shoulder-to-shoulder with medical residents, wielding real "sharps," as they cut into, poked around in, and stitched up  wounds to try to stop bleeding. They administered chest compression, ventilated, and tried to stabilize their patients.
The fake blood flowed. And appeared on gloves, and masks, and a shoe or boot — here and there.
"It's made of water, and little cornstarch and food coloring," Willard explained when asked by her students.
Still, the sight of such copious amounts can make you a little 'green,' faint, or dizzy.
What is hardest thing she has to do? Yet the most important.
No, it is not the gore.
"I love blood and guts. It's what I do for a living. I like being able to help." she said.
"Talking with the parents or loved ones when something bad has happened," is most important, however, says Willard, and the proper way to do that was even part of the lesson.
"Introduce yourself, shake hands, strong grip, single pump, eye contact. Direct, but with empathy. No judgement," were some of the instructions and practice.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Characters of Teller County: School board, shopkeep, rancher, mother, wife

Adeline Hornbeck
She married in 1858 at the age of 25.
Her first husband, Simon A. Harker,  a clerk in the office of Adeline's brother, an Indian trading post located in now what is the state of Oklahoma. 
Simon Harker filed a claim for 160 acres under the new Homestead Act, but his claim was contested. and ended up with 80 acres. In 1861, the family moved to a point north of Denver along the South Platte River. Simon died in 1864, partly as a result of the Cherry Creek flood, leaving Adeline with three small children.
Adeline purchased the 80 acres two years prior to "proving up" the homestead. She then married Elliot Hornbek and to them a son was born. It is not certain what happened to Mr. Hornbek, but by 1875, he had disappeared.
In 1878 at the age of 44, Adeline Hornbek moved to the Florissant Valley on land that was to become part of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.
According to Colorado historian Kenneth Jessen, 
"On her land, she had native grass, water and timber -- ideal for ranching. She cultivated two acres for potatoes and vegetables. She cut the hay from the native grass and had a herd of over 100 cows. She also had horses, pigs and poultry. While raising her four children, she found time to work on the Florissant School Board and at a local store."
At the age of 66 she married for the third time to the much younger Frederick Sticksel, a German immigrant who was working for her.
Adeline Warfield Harker Hornbek Sticksel died five years later. Her children stayed in the Florissant area, and son Elliot Hornbek became a deputy sheriff in Rio Blanco County.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Characters of Teller County: Woods brothers from “Millionaires Row” to " Shangri-La"

Woods Brothers 
The city of Victor, was founded in 1893 by the Woods Brothers and named for Victor Adams who fathered the town of Lawrence, southwest of Victor on Wilson Creek in 1892. The Woods Brothers made their original fortune with the Gold Coin Mine in Victor, which they discovered while digging a basement for a hotel. With some of their fortune they built mansions in Colorado Springs on Wood Avenue and other Cripple Creek district miners followed suit to create a “Millionaires Row” that is still partially intact today.
Despite many other impressive projects in the district, Warren, Harry and Frank Woods’ largest project was probably the power plant that supplied Victor, Cripple Creek and Pueblo with hydroelectric power. Impressive, because such projects are measured against the founding of the town itself, the development of the Gold Coin, United Mines Transportation Tunnel, and other mining interests and the foundation of the First National Bank of Victor and the Golden Crescent Water and Light Company. Southern Colorado Power Company and is a descendant of Pikes Peak Power Company.
The company was formed on Sept. 2, 1899 and was located on Beaver Creek, according to an article penned Kenneth W. Geddes for Pikes Peak Westerners Posse in 1979.
“All in all, eighteen miles of stream were covered. The area is some of the most rugged, inaccessible terrain in Teller and Fremont Counties, and the streams are noted for extreme differences in elevation in short distances,” wrote Geddes.
Original plans contemplated the construction of a dam and three power stations but only the first was ever built and operated. Geddes says that no expense was spared in the construction of the dam and plant and it involved, among other things, the building of its own railroad and the blasting off of an adjoining hilltop with a car of powder. Also the cable car was the only means of accessing the plant other than climbing.
“A trip on the Short Line might bankrupt the English language, but it was almost a prairie run in comparison to the Skaguay cable car trip,” noted Geddes. “The isolation from the outside world created a real life Shangri-La.”