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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 11 November 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar  
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Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  Wind turbines linked to increased cortisol levels?
  By Lindsey Harrison

   The Golden West Wind Energy Center, located in Calhan, Colorado, has been fully operational since October 2015. The wind farm, owned by NextEra Energy Resource, includes 145, 453-foot tall industrial turbines that have allegedly negatively impacted the health of residents (and their animals) living within the area of the wind farm.
   Cindy Cobb, a resident who lives near the wind farm, has reported dizziness, nausea and headaches since the turbines became operational. Cobb said her animals are suffering as well and most recently, she received confirmation that her miniature horse has developed Cushing’s disease.
   “Cushing’s disease happens in older horses, like 15 years and up,” Cobb said. “This horse is 9 years old.”
   According to a report by Patrick M. McCue, DVM, PhD, for the Equine Reproduction Laboratory for Colorado State University, in April 2009, “Cushing’s disease occurs when the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that normally controls the function of a specific portion of the pituitary gland, decreases.”
   The lack of dopamine results in an increase in the size of the pituitary gland and the production of a hormone that ultimately causes an overproduction of the cortisol hormone, the report states. “Mares with Cushing’s disease often have reproductive problems such as a complete failure to cycle, irregular estrous cycles, estrus suppression and reduced fertility,” the report states.
   According to documents received by The New Falcon Herald, Cobb’s miniature horse has a cortisol level of 127 picograms per milliliter, while the “normal” range is between 18-25 picograms per milliliter.
   A 2004 study by Karyn Malinowski, PhD, dean of outreach and extension programs at Rutgers Equine Science Center, showed the following: “In the short-term, cortisol release is beneficial to the horse to help it cope with a stressor. However, chronic stress and subsequent release of cortisol has been implicated in many deleterious conditions, including aggressive behavior; decreased growth and reproductive capability; inhibition of the immune system; and increased risks of gastric ulceration, colic, and diarrhea.”
   Cobb said the horse that was diagnosed with Cushing’s and another mare have failed to get pregnant since the wind farm began operating. The other mare had a stillborn foal, which the NFH reported on in May 2016; since then, the mare has not come back into heat, Cobb said.
   “We have had her (the mare) for 10 years, and every year before this she has had a baby,” she said.
   Aside from the issues with her horses, Cobb said she has had a total of 38 animals die since October 2015. Included in that count are 10 great Pyrenees puppies that were stillborn in various litters over a recent three-month span, she said.
   Gavin Wince, a former resident who used to live within the wind farm’s footprint, said he and his wife had their cortisol levels tested after the wind farm had been operational for a few months. “The results came back with elevated cortisol levels,” Wince said. “The test results were examined by a local medical practitioner, and they noted that the results were higher than would be expected from ordinary or elicited levels of stress. The medical practitioner was concerned and thought the test results suggested some kind of external stimulus.”
   Mark Waller, District 2 representative of the EPC Board of County Commissioners, said he has spoken with some of the families near the wind farm that claim their health is in jeopardy because of the turbines. Waller said he asked the families to send proof of their claims to the BOCC. “They said they were going to use the information in pending litigation so they could not share it with us,” he said.
   Waller said he encourages the families to follow the civil “cause of action” route against NextEra so the issue can be legally resolved. “Their course of action is to go before a judge and have a trial and have the courts determine liability,” he said. “It would be wrong for the BOCC to make those liability determinations.”
   The families should be able to live safe, happy lives but there is only so much Waller and the other commissioners can do, he said. If the Cobbs were to present their medical findings to the BOCC, the board could discuss them and possibly take some action; however, Waller said he believes the matter belongs in civil court.
   Cobb said she has contacted an attorney in Nebraska who is interested in taking their case. Meanwhile, she said she just wants her rights enforced. “I want my rights to live and sleep in my house enforced,” she said.
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  The benefits of yoga
  Black Forest instructor weighs in
  By Breeanna Jent

   For thousands of years, people worldwide have turned to yoga to better themselves both physically and mentally. Originating in ancient India, people continue to practice yoga for its health, relaxation and spiritual benefits.
   There are more than 100 different types of yoga, according to “The Benefits of Yoga,” an article posted on the American Osteopathic Association website. Most types of yoga focus on meditation, breathing control and assuming postures (called asanas) to stretching and flexing various muscle groups, the article states.
   With so many choices available, there is a yoga practice for everyone.
   Board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor Natalie Nevins, DO, told the AOA, “Whether you’re a couch potato or a professional athlete, size and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style. The idea is to explore your limits, not strive for some pretzel-like perfection. It is a great way to get in tune with your body and your inner self.”
   In the United States, the 5,000-year-old practice has remained popular since its introduction in the Victorian era but has steadily gained popularity since the early 2000s.
   In his September 2010 article titled “35 Moments: A Timeline of Yoga History,” published in “Yoga Journal,” Eric Shaw described how Hindu teacher Swami Vivekananda advocated for the practice of yoga to western audiences during his European and U.S. tours in the 1890s.
   Following a second so-called “yoga boom” in the 1980s, yoga’s popularity has continued to increase in the United States.
   In 2016, “Yoga Journal” and “Yoga Alliance” collaborated to release the 2016 Yoga in America Study, which showed that the number of yoga practitioners in the United States increased to more than 36 million, up from 20.4 million in 2012.
   Data collected from Ipsos Public Affairs for this study also showed that annual yoga spending on classes, clothing, equipment and accessories rose to $16 billion, up from $10 billion in 2012.
   Study results showed that 72 percent of yoga practitioners in the U.S. are women; men account for 28 percent of practitioners.
   “There are mental and physical benefits to yoga, but for those with a spiritual practice, there’s also spiritual benefits,” said Heather Boucher, owner of Black Tree Yoga Center in Black Forest, Colorado. “It’s definitely a mind, body and spirit thing.”
   Boucher, a 500-hour registered yoga teacher who has lived in Black Forest since 2000, teamed up with her husband, Bobby, to open the yoga center in the 113-year-old log cabin on the corner of Black Forest and Shoup roads in May.
   “Yoga works from the inside out. It’s all about energy,” Boucher said. “The goal of the asanas is to get the energy out of the body so we can open ourselves up for new energy. Yoga is about the journey of the self. If someone wants to get to know themselves better, yoga is a good way to get back to themselves. At first, it’s physical, and later, mentally, the magic happens.”
   Yoga has been shown to alleviate chronic pain, arthritis and headache. Other physical benefits include increased flexibility; increased muscle strength and tone; improved respiration, energy and vitality; weight loss; cardio and circulatory health; and prevention from injury, according to the AOA.
   Boucher, who has been teaching yoga for seven years, said many of her students are rehabilitating physically.
   “Most people seem to come to yoga because they’re dealing with some sort of injury that they’re trying to work through or something physical they’re trying to alleviate,” Boucher said, adding that she started yoga to ease the pain of a back injury.
   But, in her experience, yoga transcends the physical; ultimately, it teaches lessons that can be used off the yoga mat, she said.
   “Yoga is mostly uncomfortable,” she added. “It teaches us to sit with that discomfort. If we can handle it here on our mat, then we can take that out to the world. It’s a good skill.”
   Boucher said yoga can also help manage and/or alleviate stress, which has been shown to have devastating effects on the body and mind.
   The calmer the mind, the better, Boucher said. Meditation and breathing exercises generate mental clarity and calmness by relaxing the mind, sharpening concentration and centering attention, she said. Yoga also promotes self-awareness; thereby, preventing injury as one becomes more in-tune with his or her body and its needs, Boucher said.
   “The best thing as a teacher is seeing students get better at their poses and realize themselves … . The biggest compliment as a teacher is hearing (a sigh of relief), because you know (your student is) in the moment and just being.”
   To view the full 2016 Yoga in America Study, visit
   For Black Tree Yoga’s class schedules and pricing, visit
Heather Boucher, owner of Black Tree Yoga Center in Black Forest, Colorado, is a 500-hour registered yoga teacher who opened the yoga center with her husband in May. Photo submitted
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  Teen depression in the U.S.
  By Breeanna Jent

   More than 7 percent of people age 12 or older in the United States suffer from depression, according to a National Health Center for Health Statistics report titled, “Depression in the U.S. Household Population, 2009 –- 2012” released in December 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
   And it’s a harrowing statistic.
   The study by Laura H. Pratt, Ph.D., and Debra J. Brody, M.P.H. found that between 2009 and 2012, 7.6 percent of Americans surveyed age 12 or older suffer from depression. That includes 5.7 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 who suffered from moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the last two weeks. Four percent of teenage boys exhibited symptoms of depression, compared to 7.4 percent of girls.
   The CDC on its website defined depression as a “serious medical illness and important public health issue” characterized by “persistent sadness and sometimes irritability.” It was recognized as “one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide for both men and women.”
   But teens especially can have difficulty navigating their depression, requiring adult guidance to understand both the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing during this time in their life, according to the Mental Health America website.
   “When teens’ moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention — adolescent depression. Parents or caregivers must take action,” states an article posted to the Mental Health America website titled “Depression in Teens.”
   Signs of depression
   While there are several types of depression, Major Depressive Disorder is characterized by several diagnostic criteria as identified by the American Psychiatric Association.
   According to the CDC, these symptoms include, but are not limited to, persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and depressed mood; loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable; change in weight or appetite (either an increase or decrease); insomnia or difficulty sleeping; feelings of fatigue or lack of energy; and thoughts of death or suicide.
   Lori Jarvis-Steinwert, executive director at NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) Colorado Springs affiliate, said that sudden abnormal changes in a teenager’s behavior can be an indicator of depression.
   “It can be hard to know if this is normal teenage behavior or if they’re exhibiting signs of depression, but anytime anyone … stops showing interest in things they once loved, that’s a large sign,” Jarvis-Steinwert said. “Signs include disengagement or detachment from others in their life; if they isolate themselves; if you notice a change in sleeping patterns; if they’re crying uncontrollably; or if they’re acting in any way that is especially very unusual. If this is a chronic condition, there’s probably an indication that there is some sort of challenge for them.”
   Causes of depression
   Issues at school, in their home life, their social life or even on social media can all be causes of depression in teens, Jarvis-Steinwert said.
   “One thing that can happen in teens is, there’s this sense because of social media that it looks like everyone else’s life is better,” she said. “Teens can compare their lives to the perception of other people’s lives that they see on the Internet, and they get this idea that their lives are out of balance.”
   Sexual identity is another large cause of depression in young people.
   Jarvis-Steinwert said, “Kids, especially those who are really involved in a faith-based community of people, can struggle terribly with their sexual identity,” Jarvis-Steinwert said. “They may feel very isolated and may not feel like they have anyone to talk to.”
   Effects of depression in teens and young people
   There are many effects that depression, particularly long-term, can have on those who suffer from the illness.
   The Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado on its website identifies several effects of clinical depression, including heart disease, sleep and mood disorders, substance abuse, a sense of worthlessness and thoughts of suicide or death.
   Jarvis-Steinwert said encouraging teens to talk about issues in their lives can make all the difference.
   “Many young people especially can be afraid to talk about their depression because they minimize their issues or think they’re trivial,” she said. “The bottom line is, if it’s important to you, it’s OK to call (for help). It’s better to address an issue before it becomes a crisis.”
   How and when to seek assistance
   Several organizations and resources exist for teens and others suffering with depression. Locally, NAMI’s Colorado Springs affiliate has implemented a program called “Ending the Silence.” A classroom presentation targeted to middle- and high school students, it offers a general introduction to mental illness.
   Donna Grojean, a Falcon, Colorado, resident, coordinates outreach and scheduling for the program.
   The two-part program begins with a slideshow describing the signs and conditions of various mental illnesses, and finishes with a presentation by a young adult under 30 years old who lives with and manages mental illness.
   “The presenters talk to the kids about how they’ve recovered, how to stay in recovery and their coping mechanisms,” Grojean said.
   “There’s quite a stigma around mental illness, and I think this helps erase that. These kids are seeing someone living with a mental illness, and it’s not the type of person who is normally portrayed in the media as having a mental illness.”
   Nationwide, the Ending the Silence campaign has reached more than 230,000 young people, Grojean said. Locally, the program has reached 292 students in the last year.
   Teens are also encouraged to talk to professional counselors, said Kirk Woundy, who manages NAMI’s “Below the Surface” campaign to connect teens and younger people to the Colorado Crisis Services support line through texting.
   “For people who are a little older, the idea of talking about such a personal or intimate topic like depression may seem a little counter-intuitive,” Woundy said. “But that’s quite different for teens. Our focus group of young people told us that they do everything by text. It doesn’t seem strange to (teens) at all. That’s how they communicate.”
   When teens text the hotline, they are connected to masters-level clinicians specially trained to communicate via text, Woundy said.
   The Colorado Crisis Services hotline is for everyone, he said.
   “You do not need to be in a crisis to take advantage of this resource,” Woundy said. “This is meant to give people who need to talk an outlet before they get to a crisis situation. They will not turn anyone away.”
   Jarvis-Steinwert encouraged parents to seek help for their children if they believe their kids may be suffering from depression, especially in a situation where depression and other mental illnesses run in the family.
   “Parents shouldn’t minimize what they think could be serious symptoms,” she said. “Trust your gut. You know your child better than anyone else. Mental illnesses are genetically based biological imbalances. ... If there is a genetic history of depression ... that is all the more reason to pay attention and take your child’s symptoms seriously.”
   The National Institute of Mental Health encourages teens living with depression to ask for help early on. Teens are encouraged to talk to a parent or guardian; talk to a counselor; talk to a doctor; call a helpline; or contact 911 in times of crisis or when experiencing urges to self-harm.
   The Colorado Crisis Services support line is available 24/7 statewide for those who need to talk. Call 1-844-493-8255, text “TALK” to 38255 or visit
   Interested teens may also participate in the Teen Depression Study, a research study which aims to understand the causes of depression in teenagers. For more information or to register, visit and click on the Teen Depression Study link.
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  A quick look at Seasonal Affective Disorder
  By Breeanna Jent

   The seasons have changed; and, for some people, a sense of persistent sadness seems to go hand-in-hand with the change. When does that sadness become depression?
   The National Institute of Mental Health identifies Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression which comes and goes with the seasons, as “a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern.”
   People diagnosed with SAD meet the full criteria for major depression, and their depression coincides with specific seasons for at least two years, according to NIMH.
   On its website, “Psychology Today” stated that 10 million Americans suffer from SAD, a disorder four more times common in women than in men. It typically presents itself between age 18 and 30.
   While winter-pattern SAD is most common, some people also suffer from summer seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms of the disorder can vary depending on the season, according to NIMH.
   The NIMH website states that symptoms of winter-pattern SAD can include low energy; hypersomnia; overeating and weight gain; craving for carbohydrates; and social withdrawal, almost like hibernation. Summer seasonal affective disorder can be manifested by a poor appetite and weight loss; insomnia; agitation; restlessness; anxiety; and episodes of violent behavior.
   “Some people experience symptoms severe enough to affect quality of life, and 6 percent require hospitalization. Many people with SAD report at least one close relative with a psychiatric disorder, most frequently a severe depressive disorder (55 percent) or alcohol abuse (34 percent),” according to “Psychology Today.”
   While the cause of SAD is unknown, it is thought to be related to an increase in the body’s melatonin production –- a hormone found in the body that helps regulate sleep. As the days shorten and nights become longer, the body produces more melatonin, creating feelings of sleepiness and lethargy.
   NIMH also states that people with SAD may have trouble regulating serotonin, a key neurotransmitter affecting mood. They may also produce less vitamin D, which is believed to play a role in serotonin activity.
   Medication, light therapy, psychotherapy and Vitamin D are the four types of major treatment for SAD.
   Those who believe they may be suffering from SAD are encouraged to consult a medical professional or contact a hotline, like the Colorado Crisis Services support line, by calling 1-844-493-8255, texting “TALK” to 38255 or visiting
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  Good oral health is more than pretty teeth
  By Lindsey Harrison

   According to an article published on the American Dental Association’s website Oct. 20, 2014, more than 30 percent of people are not brushing their teeth enough.The ADA recommends brushing for two minutes twice a day, adding that poor oral hygiene can lead to poor overall health.
   Thomas J. Salinas, DDS, a contributor to the Mayo Clinic, wrote on the website, “When you brush your teeth, you help remove food and plaque –- a sticky white film that forms on your teeth and contains bacteria. After you eat a meal or snack that contains sugar, the bacteria in plaque produces acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks can break down tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Plaque that isn’t removed can also harden into tarter, making it harder to keep teeth clean.”
   Megan Smith, regional director for Falcon Dental in Falcon, Colorado, said oral health is the gateway to all the systems of the body. “The disease in an abscessed tooth, for example, could spread to your heart and cause cardiac failure or spread closer to your brain and cause an aneurysm,” she said.
   The ADA website states that the mouth can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. “Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.”
   Smith said about 33 percent of adults have some form of periodontal disease and do not know they have it. The most common reason people develop periodontal disease is because they do not regularly visit their dentist, she said.
   “It is not your grandfather’s dentistry anymore,” Smith said. “A lot of people still have residual fears of the dentist because of family stories. No one sits on you and shoves a needle in your mouth.”
   Medications can also cause oral health issues, making the need for regular maintenance an even bigger issue. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow.
   “Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease,” the website states.
   Leaving periodontal disease untreated can result in a higher risk for developing conditions like heart disease and kidney failure, Smith said. However, many people put off seeing the dentist until they realize something is wrong, she said.
   “We try to help people see that regular cleanings need to be a priority,” Smith said. With the start of the new year, Smith said now is a great time to get a new plan of action in gear because most people’s insurance benefits have renewed.
   “That is where you start,” she said. “You come in, get it (regular appointments) going and fix the issues from there.”
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Janice Tollini

  Perspectives column
  The holidays bring connection
  By Janice Tollini

   Janice Tollini has worked in the health care industry as a clinical psychologist for 15 years. She is now a Talent Management Consultant, and is completing additional graduate training in industrial/organizational psychology. In 2017, she will become certified as an executive coach through the World Coaching Institute. Check out Janice’s website at

   Although this article won’t be read until after Christmas, I am writing it on Christmas Day so my thoughts have a distinct holiday feel. The holidays, regardless of your religious persuasion, are about family. And in saying family I mean both biological and “acquired” family. Either way, the love is the same.
   The holidays involve sharing gifts, family meals, seeing people you haven’t seen since perhaps the last holiday season: traveling and braving the madness of airports to be with those we love. It is understandably a time when people are thinking of family and loved ones who cannot be there and feeling the loss of those who have died. What a contrast in emotions, the joy of family present and the pain of family absent.
   I think in particular of two of my very dear friends, one having Christmas for the first time without her father, the other without her husband. Such a different feeling than my two friends who are having their first Christmas with their first child. Facebook, an excellent barometer of what people are feeling and thinking, is filled with posts from people sending holiday wishes to their loved ones in heaven and pictures from holidays past.
   This was not intended to be an article on grieving, but I cannot help but comment that while people grieve silently throughout the year, the holidays seem to give voice to that grief. In the midst of the caroling and the cookie exchanges and all the celebrations of the season, there is room to honor those we have lost. And the beautiful part is that it does not take away from the holiday cheer, but seems to add a deeper level to it. One of permanency and remembrance, which reminds you of the importance of time spent with loved ones once the trees and lights have been taken down and there is not a Christmas cookie in sight.
   I can’t help but wonder how we could capture that feeling of love and appreciation and extend it throughout the year. How do we make our sense of belonging a part of our daily experience, rather than something we store away with the decorations? How can we maintain a sense of connection to all of those loved ones?
   Technology, of course, has made that easier. We can call from anywhere, email, text, send photos. Or maybe that in-person, face-to-face interaction is what makes the connection real. Time spent together: sharing a meal or sitting on the porch, watching the sunset or even sitting in comfortable silence.
   The reality is that we find a way to connect. Be it a quick “love you” text in the middle of the day, a phone call or a photo posted on Facebook –- we forge connections beyond our ability to physically be together. We offer reminders of our presence even when we cannot be there. Just as our love is able to transcend life and death, we find a way.
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  Healthy minestrone soup

   Try this on a cold, snowy winter afternoon
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained, rinsed (cannellini or navy)
  • 32 oz container reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 medium 8 oz zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups chopped fresh (or frozen defrosted) spinach
  • 2 cups cooked small pasta such as ditalini, al dente (or GF pasta)
  • extra parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

   Crock Pot Directions:
  1. Puree beans with 1 cup of the broth in a blender. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and saute until tender and fragrant, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer to the crock pot along with the remaining broth, tomatoes, pureed beans, parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper. Add the rosemary, basil and parsley, cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Forty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves, rosemary sprig, parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle 1-1/4 cups soup into 8 bowls with 1/4 cup pasta in each and top with extra parmesan cheese if desired.
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