Portrait 2010

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‘Adversity advantage’ Paralyzed woman Boxtel knows attitude is everything

By Dennis Webb

Amanda Boxtel recently participated in a yoga workshop. That might not be so remarkable, except that the Basalt resident’s legs are paralyzed. And her yoga outing experiences serve almost as an allegory for her life since losing her ability to walk. First came her courage and determination in deciding not to let her disability stand in her way. Then came frustration so bad it brought tears to her eyes as she lamented to herself, “Everybody can move their legs. I want to move ...


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Smile! Ficklin & Jolley’s ‘Extracted’ a Steampunk operation

By Erin McIntyre

It all still seems fake for Tyler Jolley and Sherry Ficklin. And that’s saying something for two people who spend a good portion of their time in make-believe worlds, creating characters and plots in their spare moments. The writing partnership has proven to be a successful, fun adventure for both of the writers. The road to becoming best-selling authors has been interesting for the full-time writer/stay-at-home mom and the writer/orthodontist.
 It all started a few years ...


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Making the grade: D51’s longest-serving principal calls Scenic home

By Emily Shockley

The thought of going to the principal’s office would scare most children. Seeing the principal at your door could spark another level of fear. But for Scenic Elementary students and their families, it’s a welcome — and common — sight. Scenic Elementary Principal Doug Levinson has made it a tradition to spend the first three days back on the job each July riding his bike to the homes of his students. About 70 percent of the time someone is home when he knocks on ...


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Brown’s buddy system: Challenger founder loves making new impact every season

By Patti Arnold

Grown men, tough-guy coaches, are reduced to tears. High school and college athletes let down their guard and realize just how lucky they are. Special-needs children laugh and smile and have buddies for life. All because of a little karma — Carma Brown — and the Challenger baseball program. In the mid-1990s, Rick Topper and Bill Rohr got together and decided to try to include special-needs children in a baseball game. Associated Builders and Contractors donated the work to ...


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Carlson sets stage in local theater scene

By Melinda Mawdsley

After seven years of dating, Lyzz Willms thought she knew Bryan Carlson pretty well, so even she was confused when her boyfriend crawled out of a giant plant while the cast of “Little Shop of Horrors” took its final bow. It was Aug. 2, 2013, the last show before closing night of The Theatre Project’s staging of the kooky musical. As the cast turned to thank Audrey II, the oversized plant that feeds on human blood, Carlson, who wasn’t in the show, emerged from the ...


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Keeping score: Dave Lister leaves a mark on scoring table

By Allen Gemaehlich

Dave Lister did not have to think twice about scoring basketball games. He always loved the sports arena and was excited about the opportunity, never mind getting paid. More than 15 years later, Lister is still the official scorer at Colorado Mesa University basketball games, except now he receives a stipend for the work. “It’s fun,” Lister said with a smile. “I have the best seat in the house. “Sometimes, you miss part of the game because you’re ...


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The Conductor: After working on the railroad, Phil McCowen engineers future with Mesa baseball progr

By Allen Gemaehlich

Phil McCowen comes to Colorado Mesa University baseball practice each day simply because that’s where he wants to be each day. He has been a part of the CMU baseball coaching staff since long before any of the other coaches, but he’s never been paid for his time. He doesn’t want the paycheck. The California native, who once had big league aspirations, moved to Grand Junction with his wife in 1978 to work for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. McCowen met Dave Mantlo ...


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King of the Hill? Mike Hill wonders what could have been in 1980 Olympics

By Dale Shrull

As he watched the Winter Olympics on TV last month, Mike Hill remembered another time when Russia was in the Olympic spotlight. It’s not a good memory. Thirty-four years ago, the summer of 1980 was supposed to be Hill’s year. That was the year that would mold him, push him into the Olympic spotlight and possibly be his crowning achievement. It was his year. As a world-class decathlete who competed alongside the most famous decathlete of them all — Bruce Jenner ...


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Mac on the mic: DJ on KEKB 99.9 FM loves working for her listeners

By Amy Hamilton

Mackenzie Dodge is just a waif of a thing, but her personality is as big as a country music star’s tour bus. You’ll never have to guess what’s on the mind of the effusive 37-year-old. It’s easier for her just to tell you. Dodge admits she talks quickly, yet there’s substance to her words. That substance is her excitement spilling out. For more than 10 years, Dodge has been delivering country music on KEKB 99.9 FM with her morning show weekdays from 6 to 10 ...


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Miss Vinje lives and breathes her bold, bright art

By Greg Ruland

Through Vinje’s eyes, art is the heart of the matter. She consumes it and it consumes her in a loop of self-propelling energy. In person, Vinje’s eyes twinkle. Her name (pronounced vin-yuh), like Cher’s or Madonna’s, explains itself. It doesn’t take long to learn she is a form of focused, creative, feminine power that finds a way to express itself — sometimes quite bluntly — all around the world, most recently at last month’s Western ...


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Pershing Devore, a true hero: World War II veteran not afraid to talk about his past

By Gary Harmon

Pershing Devore wears a smile and will say without giving it up that he has left behind the days that took the youthful grins — and, in long and painful fashion, the lives — of so many of his buddies in the opening attacks of World War II. Not that he can abandon the experience entirely. He did commit to paper his recollections of the Bataan Death March and his survival in a Japanese concentration camp. He deflects efforts to resurrect those memories to the pages he wrote ...


Tricks of the trade: watermelon’s colors make it one of Tuz’s favorites

By Dave Buchanan

Ask Willy Tuz about spending hours contentedly turning carrots into edible roses and sculpting pumpkins into ghouls and the subject always comes back to watermelon. “My favorite is the watermelon because there are so many colors,” he said, his eyes lighting up. “Four distinct colors and by shaving lightly and being careful you can get more. “I also like to put a light in one to bring out the red colors.” His preferred working tool is a simple five-inch, ...


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Culinary Carving: Willy Tuz has a special talent for turning fruit into masterpieces

By Dave Buchanan

Like a medium waiting for divine intervention from a higher spirit, Willy Tuz has magic in his hands. Not literally — maybe — but the way Willy Tuz wields a small carving knife, turning watermelons into baby carriages, carrots into roses and apples into butterflies, is nothing short of magic. He sees faces (a local TV host has his face backlit on a pumpkin), baby carriages (a baby shower recently was wowed by a rose-garlanded baby stroller, complete with a cantaloupe baby and ...


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Longtime shoeshine master reflects on his path to Grand Junction

By Dale Shrull

Sammy Hudson works the rag vigorously to get a polished shine. Working the wax into the leather with his hands, he rubs and massages the shoes to get that perfect shimmer. The man in the chair is relaxed, eyes closed, enjoying some down time, letting Sammy do his thing. Watching Hudson’s lean forearms tighten as he manipulates the leather and buffs the shoes is like watching a craftsman carve wood or a sculptor chisel into marble. Hudson’s craft is shining shoes and ...


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After run with sled dogs, Ted Schanen returns to Cedaredge, helps revive wrestling program

By Tim Harty

He lived in a tent on an Alaskan glacier one summer because his life had gone to the dogs. Literally. Six years ago, after several years as a science teacher at Cedaredge Middle School, Ted Schanen responded to the call of the wild and decided to leave teaching in favor of training sled dogs for racing. The career change was short-lived. Not because he and his wife, Lynn, didn’t like what they were doing. Rather, the loss of a loved one led them to re-evaluate where they should be ...


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