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public health

“It wasn’t us. It wasn’t our product. It wasn’t our area.” cHuck HANAGAN — executIve dIRectoR oF the FaRm SeRvIce agency oFFIce In Rocky FoRd

drug deaths overtake crashes

Toll from drugs has doubled in last decade Los Angeles Times —

pHotos by JERILEE bENNEtt, tHE GAZEttE

Many of the Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown by Eric Hanagan will go unharvested. He says that his business has been hurt because of listeria found on melons from Jensen Farms in Holly, nearly 90 miles east of the Hanagan farm.

‘LISTERIA HYSTERIA’ Rocky Ford farmers say cantaloupe scare has unfairly ensnared them by barbara cotter —

The cavernous shed on Eric Hanagan’s property in Swink holds the bounty of a recent harvest from the sprawling fields nearby: bins of brilliant yellow and orange squashes; boxes of vine-ripened tomatoes; vats of watermelon; and sacks of green chiles. OTERO COUNTY •

Noticeably absent are the musky, orange-tinged melons that are the crown jewel of this agricultural area along the Arkansas Valley. Instead, he’s letting the last of his Rocky Ford cantaloupes languish in the fields. “Why pick ’em?” he asks rhetorically. “I’ll just have to throw them out in a few days.” In most years, consumers swoon over the supersweet Rocky Ford melons, snapping them up at farmers markets, roadside stands and grocery stores. But this year, a listeria outbreak has put a chill

LOS ANGELES • Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States, a Los Angeles Times analysis of government data has found. Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety. Public health experts have used the comparison to draw attention to the nation’s growing prescription drug problem, which they characterize as an epidemic. —

SEE druGS • PAGE 7


Accidental child poisonings are on the rise. Page 7

the bad is bound to come with the good.

on the hot commodity, and even though the source of contamination was traced to cantaloupes grown on a farm near the Colorado-Kansas border two counties away, farmers in and around Rocky Ford say they’ve been hurt by reports that “their” cantaloupes are the culprit. “It wasn’t us. It wasn’t our product. It wasn’t our area,” says Chuck Hanagan, Eric’s brother and executive director of the Farm Service Agency office in Rocky Ford. But when a much-heralded melon and a town share a name,

Unprotected fame

Cantaloupe is the most famous crop in the Otero County town of Rocky Ford. A sign at the edge of town welcomes you to the “Sweet Melon Capital.” Rocky Ford High School students are the Meloneers. National Public Radio did a report a few years ago on the small town with “some of the sweetest cantaloupe in the world.” One publica—

sEE sCaRE • PagE 5

air races

deadly crash highlights the danger of the sport Supporters say there’s inherent risk in flying By MARTIN GRIFFITH ANd SCOTT SONNER

fallen fire fighter memorial service

‘this is how we cope. this is how we mourn.’ Bagpipes, prayers, drums mark deaths by Jakob RodgeRs —

Gordon Butler Jr. has prayed a lot in the past 20 years. In the late 1980s, he prayed his sister, Pamela Butler, would take a desk job. She became a Colorado Springs firefighter. “I wasn’t thrilled with the idea because I wanted her to be safe,” Butler said. On Saturday, he bowed his head once more — this time as a firefighter presented the family a flag honoring Pamela Butler’s cancer-shortened life. With bagpipes, drums and solemn prayers, hun-

dreds of people packed Memorial Park for the annual Fallen Fire Fighter memorial service. Butler and 86 other fallen firefighters had their names added to the International Association of Fire Fighter’s Wall of Honor this year. “This is how we cope. This is how we mourn,” said Harold Schaitberger, union president, during the service. “We know how to do this all too well, because we do this all too often.” A procession of motorcycles and firetrucks rumbled from Briargate to the park before the service. As always, the names of each firefighter were read — marked by the sound of

see memorial • Page 2

RENO, NEv. • It’s like an Indianapolis 500 in the sky. Thrill-seeking pilots zoom by at speeds up to 500 mph as spectators “ooh” and “aah” at the sight of jets, vintage planes and highperformance aircraft whizzing past with their wingtips nearly touching. Even the sounds are awe-inspiring — the deafening roar of airplanes that are sometimes just a few hundred feet away from spectators. But the consequences can be deadly. The air race in Reno where a vintage plane plummeted from the sky and killed at least nine people has drawn scorn over the years as critics assailed the event as a recipe for the kind of disas—


Eighty-seven firefighters were remembered at the annual memorial service Saturday at Memorial Park. Phyllis Cash hands a tissue to her husband, O.P. Cash, after they received an encased flag in honor of their son, Paul Cash.

sEE cRash • PagE 7


In West Virginia, a pilot is killed in an air-show crash. Page 7

New music director caballe-domeNech kicks off the PhilharmoNic seasoN. a review

weather, local 4 High 75, Low 48 The next couple of days are splashed with sun.

in sports

in business

in life

cu imposes its will in a win

Buying home a fading dream

Planking is peaking

The economy has made renting an increasingly popular option.

Lie facedown like a board, get photo taken, upload.

Colorado State scored a touchdown on a trick play in the second half, and Colorado coach Jon Embree challenged his team. CU responded with an impressive time-consuming drive, sealing the 28-14 win at Sports Authority Field in Denver.

Vol. 140 • No. 179 Copyright © 2011 Freedom Colorado Information, Inc.

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a bell acknowledging the end of their shift — as the crowd stayed silent . But 10 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the service carried a slightly different feel, Schaitberger said. Several families from New York decorated the black granite wall with roses and pictures of firefighters lost in the 9/11 attacks. Tears welling in her eyes, Patricia Hess looked on in silence. Her husband, Lt. Robert Hess, spent the first two days after 9/11 at ground zero, combing through the wreckage for his fellow

The Associated Press —

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