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“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
– Vesta M. Kelly  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 12 December 2018  

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Bill Radford

  Faces of Black Forest
  Rebuilding from the ashes
  By Bill Radford

   Fran Rutherford was on an Alaskan cruise with her husband, Larry, when they first got word of a fire back home in Black Forest.
   
   It was just, according to a news report, 15 acres. Firefighters, they figured, would have that under control in no time.
   
   "When we got to Juno, there was a message on my phone to call our daughter,” Rutherford said. “We didn't suspect anything. So I called her, and she was crying. She said, 'Mom, your house burned.'''
   
   That is how they found out their home had been lost in the devastating 2013 Black Forest fire –- an inferno that killed two people, destroyed almost 500 homes and scorched more than 14,000 acres.
   
   Rutherford was used to moving around –- first as the daughter of a National Park Service employee with assignments in various spots, including Yellowstone National Park; then, as the wife of Larry, who was in the U.S. Air Force. After Larry Rutherford’s last assignment brought them to Colorado, his home state, they stayed after he retired. They moved to their home in Black Forest in 1996.
   
   "Our kids wanted animals," Rutherford said, and they were drawn to the quiet and solitude of the forest. "It was kind of the rural life but close enough to Colorado Springs to give us the amenities of the city."
   
   Now, their home of almost 20 years was gone.
   
   Since the authorities were not allowing people to go back to the fire zone, they stayed on the ship, but their tourist days were over.
   
   "We started our recovery immediately," Rutherford said. "My husband was a logistics officer in the Air Force. He spent his whole career planning for emergencies. So when this happened, he kicked in immediately and started making lists of things we had to do and contacting our insurance agent and everything."
   
   They got a helping hand from the ship's captain. "I sent a letter to the captain requesting that we be given priority disembarkation," she said. "When those ships dock, it can take hours for the people to get off. Not only did he arrange that, but he sent a note back and said you will have free access to our telephones and our internet to take care of business. It's very, very expensive to do that on a ship. He provided all of that for us, so we got started right away."
   
   Nothing, though, could truly prepare them for the devastation they encountered when they returned home.
   
   "It was almost unbelievable," Rutherford said. About all that remained was the chimney and a burned but intact concrete statue of the virgin Mary.
   
   The decision to rebuild was not automatic. The Rutherfords asked their adult kids what they wanted them to do. "And they said, 'We'd like you to build on the same spot. That place has so many memories for us and our kids.'"
   
   And so they rebuilt. The process took 14 months. They moved into the new house on Aug. 1, 2014. While the new house isn't identical to the first, the footprint is the same. "We chuckled because the first night we stayed in this house, even with all the lights off we could find our way through the house because the floor plan is the same,” Rutherford said.
   
   Rutherford chronicled their experience in "Rising From the Ashes: Disaster Recovery for the Homeowner," which was published this past summer — five years after the fire. Rutherford is no stranger to writing; she has written study guides for students and teachers of classical history and literature.
   
   She primarily wrote the book to help others by documenting the process of disaster recovery. "All homeowners need to be aware of the possibility of a disaster striking," Rutherford said, whether it is a hurricane or a tornado or a wildfire. In their case, she said, "We flew by the seat of our pants, but we sure could have used help. The insurance company provided some help, but not a lot of hands-on information."
   
   Rutherford said she has received positive reactions from readers. "Fran Rutherford’s 'Rising from the Ashes' is not only a must read for anyone who has suffered a casualty loss but is a book that all property owners should have in their possession," according to an online review.
   
   In the book, Rutherford also provides "pre-disaster advice" — tips that could make recovery easier, including an extensive home inventory checklist. It is easier to record ahead of time everything you own for insurance purposes than to try to build that list from memory later, she said.
   
   "Our insurance company was pretty good, but they don't give you the tricks to get the maximum back on your policy," Rutherford said. "If you are insured for $400,000 for whatever, you want to get every penny of that. And the insurance company doesn't tell you how to do that. I tell you how to do that."
   
   ("Rising From the Ashes" is available on Amazon.com, disasterrecoverybook.com and other online booksellers.)
  
Fran Rutherford, a longtime Black Forest resident, is author of "Rising From the Ashes: Disaster Recovery for the Homeowner." Photo by Bill Radford
 
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Bill Radford

  Local food truck gets national crown
  By Bill Radford

   The Black Forest Chew-Chew Gastro Truck is a winner again –- this time on a nationally televised stage.
   
   The Black Forest-based food truck, which specializes in international street food, has earned the People's Choice Award for two years in a row at the Small Business Week food truck cook-off in Colorado Springs. Now it has been crowned the champion of "Food Truck Fan Fight," which aired last month on Food Network.
   
   The victory came on the show's pilot episode. "We hope the show gets picked up as a series," said Chew-Chew owner Deanna Johnson, who was profiled in the June issue of The New Falcon Herald.
   
   The first round was filmed at Stanley Marketplace in Denver. Johnson and her "all girl" team took on four other food trucks and emerged as one of two finalists, thanks to their signature bulgogi steak tacos. Filming of the second round, in Breckenridge, was suspended when Johnson's husband, Dodd, tragically died in a freak accident back at home. That was in January. Filming was rescheduled for March in Denver.
   
   That second and final round took place during the St. Patrick's Day Parade, where the Chew-Chew and the other finalist, J Street Food Truck of Denver, had to come up with a new dish featuring beer. An Irish street taco — named the Ragin' O'Hagan after Chew-Chew manager Sarah Wynn's grandmother — propelled the Black Forest team to victory. They won "bragging rights, of course," and a huge, 3 1/2-foot-tall trophy that, once engraved, will be carried around on the truck, Johnson said.
   
   To follow the food truck's further culinary adventures — and learn where to get that award-winning food — visit https://www.facebook.com/bfchewchew/.
  
The award-winning Black Forest Chew-Chew Truck is now recognized nationally!
 
The first round of the Food Network’s food truck competition took place at the Stanley Marketplace in Denver. Johnson and her team were pitted against four other food trucks; and, thanks to their signature bulgogi steak tacos, they emerged as one of two finalists.
 
The Chew-Chew Gastro Truck’s team won the “Food Truck Fan Night” competition, which aired Oct. 18 on the Food Network: (from left to right), Lauren Bennett, Deanna Johnson (owner of the Chew-Chew truck), Sarah Wynn and Zoe Ahrens.
 
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  AARP Black Forest - October celebration
  Submitted by Stanley Beckner

   The Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 October meeting was a celebration of good food, fellowship, community service, education and the 47th anniversary of Chapter 1100 — with some spooky characters present.
   
   After a delicious lunch and large “birthday cake,” Ray Rozak, chapter president, presented a donation check from the chapter membership to Bryan Spinner of Hope Restored, a faith-based 501(c)3 charity with volunteers based in Colorado Springs. Their mission is responding to disasters and training others to clean up following disasters. The donation will be used for equipment maintenance and operation. Hope Restored, incorporated in 2011, operates entirely on donations and has responded to the needs of more than 1,000 victims of fire, tornado and flood disasters in the Black Forest area and throughout Colorado and across the nation as well.
   
   Stephanie Bevan, community relations and marketing representative from the Rocky Mountain Health Care Services, presented a program outlining the Colorado Springs organization’s operation and how it folds into the national PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) model. She also answered questions on eligibility and how the services are funded. This organization is the presenting sponsor at the Senior Resource Council’s Nov. 17 holiday dinner dance at the city auditorium in Colorado Springs. The event is open to all seniors; reservations are necessary. AARP Chapter 1100 will provide volunteer services in preparation for the event.
   
   Lavonne Hidy, Chapter 1100 awards committee chairwoman, presented “Special Longevity Badges” to several chapter members. Electa Beckner received a badge for being a chapter member for 20 years. Carolyn Jawarski received a badge for 15 years; and Ray and Lin Rozak, Chuck and Shirley Karlstrum, Lavonne Hidy and Rosemary O’Connell each received badges for 10 years of continuous service.  
   
   Those members who tried to spook everyone with their Halloween costumes were judged by fellow members. It was a close contest with several unique and unusual attires. The winning costumes were worn by Herb Guild and Lavonne Hidy — both received a certificate for a free pie.
   
   The next Chapter 1100 meeting will start at noon Nov. 14 in the Fellowship Hall of the Black Forest Lutheran Church at 12455 Black Forest Road. All are welcome. For more information, call Ray at 719-495-6767.
  
Stephanie Bevan: Stephanie Bevan, community relations and marketing representative from the Rocky Mountain Health Care Services, discusses the aspects of the PACE program in Colorado Springs.
 
Showing off their Halloween costumes are (from left to right) Pat Guild, Lin Rozak, Linda Siebe, Herb Guild, Ray Rozak, Anna Skinner, Lavonne Hidy, Rita Fitzpatrick and Anita Wolfe. “Mr. Bones” sits front left.
 
Chapter 1100 longevity badges are presented to (left to right) Chuck Karlstrum, Shirley Karlstrum, Electa Beckner, Ray Rozak, Lin Rozak, Rosemary O’Connell and Lavonne Hidy. Carolyn Jawarski is not shown.
 
Ray Rozak (left) presents a donation check to Bryan Spinney for the Hope Restored Charity, which helps individuals who need assistance following disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes and tornados.
 
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The next meeting of the Black Forest Women’s Club is Nov. 8 at the Black Forest Lutheran Church at 12455 Black Forest Road. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m.; the meeting begins at 10 a.m.
    
   The November program features a presentation by Rita Fitzpatrick, a member of AARP, who will provide information on becoming a caregiver.
    
   The Black Forest Women’s Club supports local charities and Wolfred School children at Christmas time. Visitors and guests are always welcome. Any questions, call 719-495-3846.
  
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  New choir in Black Forest
  By Leslie Sheley

   Dixie Shipp-Napier, director of the Black Forest Academy of Music, established in 2006, is also the director of a new choir in Black Forest — The Black Forest Choral Society.
   
   The Black Forest Academy of Music offers private lessons, class lessons in theoretical subjects, ear and sight training, vocal and choral music, performance opportunities, an international certificate program and local and studio events, according to its website.
   
   The new Black Forest Choral Society is “an eclectic group with all experiences of singing abilities and all ages,” Shipp-Napier said. “I try to help each member bring up their singing level and learn new skills.”
   
   The Choral Society launched in August 2018 with just six members — the group has now grown to 11 and is looking for more participants. The Black Forest Choral Society will be performing along with students from the Academy of Music at the Black Forest Community Club Christmas Potluck on Dec. 2. Shipp-Napier said they plan to do more concerts and perform at various venues and events in the area.
   
   The Choral Society meets Thursday evenings, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at 5380 Shoup Road in Black Forest. For more information, contact Shipp-Napier at 719-575-9969 or dlshipp1@me.com.
  
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