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Voices of the past awards in Gardner

by Gretchen Sporleder Orr

GARDNER-  The annual Voices of the Past awards were presented Wed. Jan. 21 at the Gardner School.  Eighteen seventh and eighth graders participated, and seven awards were given.  The first place winner of $30 was seventh grader Dakota Blair for his interview of Kent Mace.  The second place prize of $25 was won by eighth grader Leah Frye for her interview of Nancy Moore recounting the early days at Redrocks.  Third place went to Ann Roland who took home $20 for her story about Jan Cisneros.  Fourth place winner LaRae Quintana wrote about Lucille Martinez’ unfortunate experiences with sheep as a young girl.  She received $15 for her effort. Kevin Kleinschmidt interviewed Marjorie Figal and took the fifth place prize of $10.  There were two honorable mention winners of $5 each, Randy Sharp for his interview of Hubert Archuleta, and Frank Pizzo for his story about Julia Marchant. 

    We at the Huerfano Journal are proud and delighted to have been asked to co-sponsor the annual Voices of the Past awards ceremony along with Kent and Gayle Mace of Collector’s Specialty Woods, Gayle Mace Realty and the Community Banks of Southern Colorado. 

    It has been my personal experience that being exposed at a young age to the fascinating history and rich cultural legacy of Huerfano County, can have a life altering impact.

    I am a 1981 graduate of John Mall High School.  In the summer after my senior year, I had the opportunity to perform in the play Huerfano.  The play was written by Sydney Goldfarb, a professor of history at CU Boulder, and was directed by Huerfano’s own Lars Kampmann.  It was based upon oral histories collected by volunteers throughout Huerfano County, much like the students of Gardner School do each year for Voices of the Past.   Cast members were from all parts of Huerfano County, were elementary school aged through retirees, and came from all walks of life.  Vignettes of Huerfano’s early days included the experiences of a newly arrived, non English speaking Italian man newly arrived on the train to work the coal mines, to the members of the Georgia colony.

    Although my family has been in Huerfano County for nearly 135 years on my fathers side and more than 80 years on my mother’s side, it took this play to make me really think about my family’s and our county’s heritage.

    When I went off to Dartmouth College that fall, I kept on thinking about it.  I came home on breaks from and gathered data from the courthouse to take back to school for my research papers.  At some point during my college career, I decided that I would move back to Huerfano County as an adult, and build my future here, hoping to do my part to carry on the legacy we have here in Huerfano County.

    It is my sincere hope that each of these students that are involved in the Voices of the Past project, gain a similar experience from learning about our rich past, and similarly decide to return home as adults, to do their part to build a bright future for our county.

Voices of the Past

by Dakota Blair

    I chose Kent Mace as my Voices of the Past because in the years that he has been here he has led an interesting life and has been a positive impact in the Gardner community.  Kent Mace was born on April 23, 1954 in Pitkin County, Aspen, Colorado.  Kent grew up with four siblings; three brothers and one sister.  Two of the brothers, Alan and Bruce, still live in Colorado.  His third brother passed away at a young age while on a search and rescue mission on the Maroon Bells.  Kent and his wife Gayle Mace, have lived in Malachite for over 30 years.  During those 30 years Kent has been a 3rd generation wood craftsman, an ambulance director, a “protector” of Malachite spring, a director of a private farm school, and is currently an owner of a specialty woods company and a partner of an internet company. 

    Kent says one of the best things about living in this area is the nature around him.  Nature has played a part in one of the most interesting experiences in Kent’s life.  That would be his experience as a director of a sustainable farm school.  Sustainable farming means you farm with nature (i.e. using manure as natural fertilizer, teams of horses for plowing, cows for making dairy products and raising and butchering his own meat.)

    Kent and Gayle have two kids, Alana and Amos, and one grandson, Stuart.  Alana and Amos helped make the bricks that they used to build the house with.  Kent still resides at the farm schoolhouse and has been in the specialty woods business for over five years.  I respect Ken a lot for his efforts in helping make the Gardner area what it is today, such as saving the spring so that the community has water and helping to bring the internet into the valley.

    This is the first place winner for the 2009 Voices of the Past.  The Journal will be printing more of the students’ interviews in future editions.

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