The LCSTARs page was established to recognize the achievements of team members who have gone above and beyond the necessary requirements to be a professional search and rescue person. They are truly an inspiration to other team members. It is also about getting to know our fellow team members and getting a peek at what makes them tick and some insight into the diverse kinds of people that join the SAR community and what they find so captivating about their experience.
When I think of Jim Powers, my first thoughts are of his near-constant grin and his bemused chuckle. That's not something you can say about most of the dentists or lawyers most of us know——and Jim is both a dentist and a lawyer.
Jim Powers had a former life as a Californian. Upongraduation from dental school he went into the navy and took care of the teeth of the marines at Camp Pendleton. Two years later he started in private practice in San Jose, which he continued until 1997 when he moved here to Fort Collins. Meanwhile, he'd always been intrigued by 'legal stuff' and found himself in a place in his life where he "needed a really good diversion." Some people needing a 'diversion' would take up crochet or raquetball——Jim decided to go to law school and enrolled in the Santa Clara University night program. He quickly realized that his training in dentistry had been quite the opposite of legal training: Gleaning "scientific facts and coming to a clear conclusion, versus using the facts and obfuscating." It only took one law school test for him to realize that he'd gotten into a very different world! Upon receiving his J.D. he practiced law part-time for a year and a half while continuing with his dental practice.
We have the Jared Atadero search to thank for bringing Jim to us. "It caught me," Jim says, and he read and listened to all he could about the mission and felt frustrated at his inability to be of help. A neighbor of his, Eric Neilson, then with Emergency Services, told him about LCSAR, and Jim drove his application to our office just under the wire for the deadline that year. He'd never done any real camping or backpacking before. But he was interviewed by Dave Bigelow and Steve Carr, a meeting that he describes as "an hour-plus of pure enjoyment," and he was accepted into the BASART class of 2000. "It was all new, from buying the backpack on." He admits to a fear of heights, but says that the instruction was so great that rappelling the first time was "no problem."
When Jim isn't doing BASART coordinator things (he held the post for two years, and recently handed it over to Ron Alexander) or otherwise involved with SAR activities, he spends as much time as possible with his wife, Margie, a talented landscape artist, and their 3 children——Josh, 15, Jessica,11 and Joe, 5. Jim also has 2 grown children, Kathy and Leslie, both of whom now live nearby (Berthoud and Winsor) and he also now has a 20-month-old granddaughter, Sophia.
Jim is very involved with the Ridgeview Classical Schools here in Fort Collins, where his 3 youngest are now all students——he is on the Accountability Committee there, as well as on the Board of Directors, and is impressed by the selflessness and drive of the school's founder. He struggles to balance the pull of family time, LCSAR, and the school, at the same time hoping some day to get back into other pursuits, especially flying. He used to fly a Twin Cessna and a Mooney and had gained his instrument flying license. You may catch him occasionally gabbing with Mark Sheets about this shared passion.
With all that Jim has going on, he feels frustrated that he can't be more a part of the mission side of our team. He is grateful for the sensitivity of his LCSAR teammates who understand the balance he is trying to keep. "We have a great group," says Powers. He's spent a lot of time with flying groups and dental groups and school groups and there is always the "negative ego stuff." Jim enjoys and appreciates the fact that most people see LCSAR as a way to be the best they can be, without having to put someone else down or stand on someone else's shoulders to do that. "Of all the organizations I've belonged to, this one—most of the time—does not lose sight of what we're here for.
Everything is seen through the filter of 'is this going to be better for the subject?'" And Jim Powers clearly enjoys studying the people and interactions around him. He is able to look at the big picture and see that the team has a slightly different personality each year. "The whole dynamic is so interesting," he muses. "There are a lot of really great people, such a great group of resources." And, "Mike Fink is an enigma. Quiet, thoughtful, very good at everything he does, and very hard for me to read. I wouldn't want to play poker with him!"
And there "is a certain part of the anonymity thing that I like," says Powers. "It doesn't matter how many letters you have after your name. What matters is: Are you thoughtful? Are you caring and are you willing to be a team member?" He points out that one of the things he learned from a consultant who helped his dental practice is very applicable for a group such as ours: If you have a complaint, bring it up but be sure to also bring two possible solutions as well.
Jim's favorite aspects of being with LCSAR? "Getting to know the people, and continuing to learn. There's always something to master, always a challenge."