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Storytelling is based on the word, being an honorable person of integrity is based on your word.
– Jesse Williams  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 8 August 2020  

None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar   None Community Photos   None Did You Know?  
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  Faces of Black Forest
  From a hotelier to a welder
  By Leslie Sheley

   Weston Paas has been a blacksmith for 10 years; he owns Heart’s Fire Forge in Black Forest. He is also the grand champion of History channel’s, “Forged in Fire,” which aired in February.
   Paas said the History channel reached out to him two years ago when they saw his work on Instagram. He declined at that time because he didn’t think he had all the skills he needed, specifically knowing how to do a Damascus pattern on welded steel. He taught himself the technique and eventually contacted them; and they accepted him for the seventh season of the show.
   The competition lasted two weeks, most of which was in New York City, Paas said. They worked with different types of weapons. After the type of weapon for the competition was revealed, the participant had limited hours to finish the project.
   In the first two rounds, they had to turn hatchets into Japanese woodworking knives, he said. In the final round, they had to craft a Zulu war axe, which is a ceremonial weapon — a status symbol rather than a functional weapon. “They’re (the Zulu war axe) just a thin piece of metal on a little stick, and I had to build one that would sustain chopping a door in half,” Paas said. He was in South Africa and Zimbabwe in the 90s with his family, and they actually brought back a hatchet sized Zulu war axe, he said.
   Paas won the competition.
   The History channel kept the winning axe, which might be used as a prop in a future movie, he said. Paas won $10,000, and donated a portion to the Wounded Warrior Project. He said his grandfather was in the U.S. Navy during WWII, and he has friends who are veterans. “I’ve done a lot of things off and on with Wounded Warrior and this was a good opportunity to give back,” he said.
   Paas also sponsored a veteran who wanted to take a class at the Kilroy Workshop in Colorado Springs. Occasionally, he said he rents space at the workshop when he needs big, heavy machinery for his projects. Paas also teaches there every Tuesday. (Because of the coronavirus, the school is closed until further notice.)
   With two different degrees, Paas refers to himself as a jack of “a lot of trades.” He graduated from the University of Hawaii in Manoa with a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing and tourism. He also received a culinary arts degree from Western Culinary Institute, now known as Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, in Portland, Oregon.
   As a native Coloradan, Paas grew up in Basalt and graduated from Aspen High School. His family was in the hotel business for three generations, and he would have been the fourth generation. In 2007, Paas said he took a year off to do something different while their hotel was under construction. He went to New Zealand to work at Allan Scott Family Winemakers; during that time, he took a day blade and knife making class — his first experience with blacksmithing. Paas said when he went back home in 2008 to work at the hotel, the great recession had changed everything. The family business was shuttered forever.
   Today, Paas is a general blacksmith and welder, and makes fireplace surrounds, stove hoods, firewood storage shelves, signs; plus custom projects and weapons. He said he is mostly self-taught, learning by trial and error; but he acknowledged that he learned from other blacksmiths as well.
   Paas said he is available to help others interested in blacksmithing or metal work. Paas also recommended taking classes at Kilroy’s Workshop.
   Nine years ago, he married Ginny Ferguson. “It’s my sister’s fault we met,” he said, laughing. “My wife was my sister’s big sorority sister at Pepperdine.” The couple has two children: a 10-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter.
   They moved to Colorado Springs almost six years ago for Ginny’s work; and, wanting to live outside of the city, Black Forest seemed like a good choice since her parents lived at Cathedral Pines. “I love the whole area, the trees; it feels like we’re out of the city farther than we really are,” Paas said. “The people and community are great; they’re always making me laugh. It’s a fun place to be.” He said he also likes living on 2.5 acres so his kids and dog have plenty of space to run and play.
   Paas said he is a fan of the outdoors and has always spent time camping, hiking and fishing; and snowboarding and skiing when he was younger. “When all of this (coronavirus) blows over, my family is hoping to go on a camping trip in Utah this summer,” he said. Right now, he and his wife take turns helping the kids with online school, Paas said. “The last month has been interesting; it’s slowed my business down a little bit, but it’s all about finding that new normal.”
Weston Paas won $10,000 in a History Channel competition with a winning axe, and he donated part of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project. Photo by Leslie Sheley
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  Bringing back the farmers market
  By Leslie Sheley

   Black Forest is going to have its own farmers market this summer. Market managers Theda Stone and Elva Barr announced that Backyard Market is partnering with the Black Forest Community Center to provide 19 weeks of produce, crafts and more to the Forest; something that hasn’t happened since 2010.
   The Black Forest Community Club chartered the Backyard Farmers Market as an outreach program after polling the community about what kinds of activities and events they were interested in. Stone said, “We’re excited about this as it will be different from most markets people have been to. We’re modeling after the market at Woodland Park and markets I’ve been to out East.”
   Their mission is to support a healthier community by providing an opportunity for local farmers, food producers and artists to sell their products directly to the consumer in an educational, friendly and community oriented environment, Stone said.
   The market will offer a kids’ corner, where they can make a small craft project and earn market bucks to shop at the market to buy their own produce. There will be a Young Entrepreneurs booth to provide an opportunity for young people to sell their wares. And a sustainable living booth will provide demonstrations and education.
   They contacted the marketing and business departments at Pikes Peak Community College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for an unpaid summer intern to help with vendor relationships, social media and other responsibilities. “We’re very excited to provide this opportunity,” Stone said.
   She said they’ve done research within the community on what kinds of booths are preferred and what farmers would like to see and not see at the market. For example, they learned it is common to find a booth at a farmers market where the owner has bought their produce from a store, not their own farm. Stone encourages consumers to look at websites to make sure vendors actually have a farm.
   “It’s all about being transparent and building a relationship between the farmers, crafters and community,” Stone said.“It’s not just about going to the market to buy a cucumber, but more like, I’m going there to see Sal who sells me my vegetables. It’s about eating healthier and learning how to be more sustainable for our environment and the beautiful Black Forest we live in.” She said their goal is to build a relationship among farmer, crafter and consumer. They plan to showcase the vendors on their website, and allow consumers to click on a link and go right to the vendor website.
   Stone said farmers’ markets are considered an essential business, product or service; and, as long as they keep proportions of food to crafts in a certain range, they will be allowed to proceed, even if Colorado is still in quarantine when the market is scheduled to open. She said normally, a farmers market proportion would be 50 percent food, 50 percent crafts; however, with the quarantine, those percentages are 75 percent to 25 percent. Stone said if Colorado remains in quarantine, customers can order on-line or drive up and order, and they will load the box in their car.
   Since the Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild spring show was cancelled, Stone said they will also have five or six booths each week at the farmers market that will showcase arts and crafts. She said the booths will be separate from the actual farmers’ market.
   Stone said they are looking for sponsors. The market will provide a great opportunity for businesses to advertise and introduce themselves to the community in a more personal way, she said.
   The market will be held every Saturday (except the Fourth of July) from May 23 to Oct. 10. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the market will be located behind the Black Forest Community Club. Check out the Facebook page or the website at or updates and information.
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  BF seniors discuss stay-at-home activities
  By Leslie Sheley

   Gwen Burke, Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 member and an Edith Wolford Elementary School Cover Girl volunteer, said she is enjoying the quiet and staying home. “I miss volunteering at school, of course. I’ve lived in Black Forest since 1956 and so I’ve always been prepared with extra supplies, especially in the winter when we can get bad weather. I’ve been doing a lot of praying for everyone. I have a son who cooks and helps me out and my neighbors call to see if I need anything, so I’m doing OK.”
   “We have been staying at home like ‘old people’ are supposed to do,” said Stanley Beckner, also a Black Forest AARP member. “My wife has been able to work in the yard on nice days, and I take a lot of walks. Staying at home has been pretty easy since all our usual activities and group meetings are cancelled through the end of April. So far no sign of ‘cabin fever’, as they say in Alaska. It has, in fact, been pretty restful! It has given us time to do things in the house like catch up on reading, viewing CDs and movies we haven’t seen in a long time. 
   I’ve done a lot of things on the computer I’ve been putting off, like working on genealogy research. We have also had some good email exchanges and telephone conversations with our kids and friends. TV has been somewhat of a bust however; no sports for me, and all the news seems to focus on the coronavirus epidemic. Gas is cheap, but nowhere to go! We have visited the grocery store about once per week. I found some dust masks in my shop, so we are good to go with that. Bottom line; we are faring well.”
   Carlene Peters, long time St Francis Hospital Medical Center volunteer, said, “We’re not too worried about anything. My husband and I are well and fortunately in good health. I go shopping for us and get prescriptions and wear a mask. I still have my nursing license, so I could go to work if need be. I’ve been doing a lot of house cleaning and all the things everyone is doing while staying at home; I have several bags to take to the arc Thrift Store when this is over!”
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  The Black Forest Slash & Mulch opens
  By Donna Duncan (long-time Slash Mulch volunteer)

   The Black Forest Slash & Mulch site will open May 2, with several coronavirus-inspired changes. The popular, volunteer-run program supports local wildfire mitigation efforts.
   Residents of El Paso County haul tree slash (limbs, leaves, needles) to the site in Black Forest. The slash is ground into mulch, which participants can either load for free themselves or pay the loader driver per bucket.
   This year, to support social distancing and contact avoidance due to the coronavirus, the program, with the approval of Kathy Andrew, the El Paso County sponsor, has made the following changes. The gate attendant will not collect a fee for each load or punch loyalty cards. Anyone who wants to contribute to the cost of the program or leave donations for Black Forest Cares will find a donation jar and a box to deposit non-perishable food items near the entrance. The attendants will not make change. No paperwork will be required. However, the Black Forest website provides the form that participants fill out in advance. Anyone at the site who needs information about the site or volunteer opportunities will be given the appropriate papers with a grab bar. No tools will be loaned and no milk bones for canine crew.
   Most importantly, no one will be available to help residents unload their slash. While unloading, people are expected to be at least 6 feet from other groups. An attendant will help ensure that loads contain only tree slash. Not allowed are weeds, stumps, roots, lumber, trash or tree limbs longer than 6 feet or 8 inches in diameter.
   The Slash & Mulch Committee (SAMCOM) will evaluate how well the safety procedures are being met on a daily basis. Carolyn Brown, SAMCOM board member and volunteer coordinator, said, “Further changes may be necessary to ensure everyone’s safety as the new changes are implemented. The site occupies a 2.5 acre plot on the edge of the 640-acre Section 16. In the fresh air and sunshine, users should be safe. It is anticipated that it will be a very busy season. With extra time on people’s hands and intervals of warm weather, there is much interest in cleaning up properties.”
   The plan is to keep the site’s schedule unchanged: Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Mulch will be available, and although there is no loading fee, SAMCOM will pay the loader fees. Donations are appreciated.
   The slash and mulch site is located on the east side of Herring Road between Shoup and Burgess roads.
   For more information, call Carolyn Brown 719-495-3127. The Black Forest Slash-Mulch website is at
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  AARP Black Forest
  By Stanley Beckner

   Interested in joining the Black Forest AARP Chapter? Individuals should contact Candace at 314-330-0411 for a chapter schedule and meeting times or visit our website at All are welcome. 
   FIGHT FRAUD, SHRED INSTEAD. Mark your calendar –- June 20 will be the Chapter’s annual free shredding event at the Black Forest Lutheran Church.
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  No fee senior social

   A monthly informal occasion for seniors is the no-fee event. They meet in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road in Black Forest.
   Seniors are welcome at the Black Forest AARP and Black Forest Lutheran Church monthly informal gathering, held at the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road. The social is from 1 to 4 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month, and all are invited to socialize, play games, work on hobbies or to simply sit and talk about “whatever.” Light refreshments are available. For more information, contact Lavonne at 719-494-1276.
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The Black Forest Women’s Club will not meet until further notice, pending the status of the coronavirus.
   The Black Forest Women’s Club meets every second Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m., and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. Parking is in the back; use the ramp and go in the first door on the right. Visitors and guests are always welcome. For more information, contact Carol at 719-640-2893.
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