Court enters river trail dispute
A court decision now appears to be necessary to realize an Animas River Trail connection. This week, the owner of the property on which the China Restaurant sits responded to a legal complaint filed by the city of Durango in August. At that time, the city alleged that Louis Cummins, the property’s owner, had refused to negotiate the sale of the necessary easement.
The Animas River trail currently is interrupted in the middle at the Main Avenue bridge. Over the past year, the city has been working to buy property from Terri D’s, the VFW Post and the China Restaurant in order to complete the connection. In total, the connection would cost $2.3 million and include a tunnel under Main.
Millissa Berry, city planner, said “Terri D’s and the VFW have come to the table, but the China Restaurant has had nothing to do with it.”
Cummins has not only refused to come to the table, he has rejected a city appraisal of the property. Consequently, the city is now considering condemnation of the property, which is legally allowed if a public benefit exists and a fair price cannot be agreed upon. Cummins’ attorney has replied that the city’s posturing amounts to a private property taking.
“The city would like to end up paying for the land,” said Berry. “But he’s had no dialogue with the city, and that’s why it’s coming to this condemnation.”
The city has asked for a quick court decision on its complaint with Cummins.

Locals fight back & foil robbery
One armed robbery suspect is in custody and two more are being sought following a break-in and attempted robbery at gun point Tuesday night, according to the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office. At approximately 8:20 p.m, a man living in the 1900 block of Florida Road, just outside the Durango city limits, answered a knock at the door to find a man pointing a gun in his face and two other men holding what appeared to be tire irons.
The three suspects forced their way into the home and ordered the two residents, Clifton Bozella and Rio Ramirez, both 24 years old, to lie on the floor and not look at them or they would kill them.`A0Initially, the three suspects had their shirts pulled over their faces. While the man with the gun and another suspect went upstairs and began ransacking rooms, the third suspect stood over the two residents with a tire iron.
At that time, there was another knock at the door and a friend of the residents, 25-year-old Joseph Spillyards,`A0walked in and was confronted by the man with the metal bar. A fight ensued between Spillyards and the suspect, and Bozella and Ramirez joined in.`A0The other two suspects ran downstairs and, after a brief fight, fled out the front door,`A0with the gunman firing one shot back at the victims. Nobody was hit by the bullet.`A0The victims released the third suspect because they were concerned that the man with the gun might return, and then they called 911.
A short time later, Cpl. Frank Sandoval of the La`A0Plata County Sheriff’s Office stopped a man on foot along County Road 240, or Florida Road. That man was identified by the victims and arrested. Sandoval requested Durango Police officers, who arrived on scene, to search along the road for a weapon, and they recovered a 9mm semi-auto handgun. A spent 9mm cartridge also was recovered near the victims’ front door. The man arrested was the same man that the three victims initially fought with.
After he was treated at Mercy Hospital in Durango, the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Max Angel (also giving the`A0name Max Dorian) was booked into La Plata County Jail on felony charges of`A0robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary. His bail was set at $25,000.
Authorities continue to look for the other two suspects.

New biker rally in the works
A new group is negotiating with the Southern Ute Tribe to hold a motorcycle rally in Ignacio next Labor Day weekend. The event would not necessarily be affiliated with past Iron Horse motorcycle rallies.
Mike Olguin, a member of the Tribal Council, commented only that negotiations were under way. “We’re in the process of talking with a new group, and that’s about as far as I’ll go in order to not jeopardize negotiations,” he said.
An unofficial Iron Horse rally took place this year, after the event, which began in 1993, was cancelled. The reason for the cancellation was the inability of the tribe and rally organizers to come to terms with the tribe’s request for more money.
A formal announcement on negotiations is expected in coming weeks.

Charter doubles Dallas flights
Durango Mountain Resort announced this week that one of its ski charters would be doubling the number of flights it brings to Durango from Dallas during two key winter months. This increase comes on the heels of American Airlines dropping direct service from Durango to Dallas.
Adventure Tours USA, a Dallas-based company specializing in all-inclusive vacations, will increase service from two regular weekly nonstop flights between Dallas-Fort Worth and Durango to four in February and March. The company has been offering ski charters to Durango for 24 consecutive years.
“We are very excited about the increase in nonstop flights to Dallas-Fort Worth,” said DMR Marketing Director Scott Fortner. “Adventure Tours has been one of our most consistent partners, and Texans love Durango.”
The additional flights come at an opportune time. On Sept. 6, American Airlines flew its last direct Durango-Dallas flight, a mainstay that fluctuated between 36 and 136 seats. Of the additional Adventure Tours’ flights, La Plata County Airport Manager Ron Dent commented, “That’s good news to us.”
While the new flights will provide an obvious tourism boost, the loss of the American flight may not have been detrimental to tourism, according to Dent. “There were many days when the plane would be full and not a single pair of skis would come off,” he said.
The Adventure Tours USA flight includes 122 all-coach seats. Dent added that Continental continues to offer 50 seats a day to Houston.

City OKs luxury townhomes
In a split vote, the Durango Planning Commission ignored the advice of the City Planning Department and approved plans for luxury townhomes in north Durango last Monday. Nancy Sellers, owner of New Country Auto Center, plans to tear down Christina’s Grill & Bar and the Silver Spur Motel and place 21 townhomes on that property and a vacant lot behind it.
City planners had argued that the development was too dense and would not provide an adequate buffer between the single-family residential community along Bennett Street and multi-family units to the south toward 32nd Street.
“That area had historically been seen as a buffer between the single family area and the multi-family to the south,” said Millissa Berry, city planner.
Several neighbors also spoke in opposition to the project. However, planning commissioners eventually posted a split vote in favor of the townhomes. The project will now go before City Council for approval.
As for the future of the Silver Spur and Christina’s, Berry noted, “According to the plan, they’ll basically be scraped.”

Police nab purse snatcher
A 44-year-old Shiprock man suspected of preying on little old ladies was apprehended Oct. 23 by the Durango Police Department. Peter Henderson Yazzie has allegedly been stealing purses and wallets from elderly women since April.
Durango Police began an investigation in July into incidents of women older than 60 shopping in grocery stores having their wallets or purses stolen. Yazzie would allegedly enter a grocery store and look for a woman over 60 who had left her purse in the shopping cart while she shopped. He would then follow his target around until he had the opportunity to steal a wallet or purse.
On July 15, the lead investigator, Rita Warfield, obtained an arrest warrant for Yazzie, but police were unable to locate him until last week, when he was arrested exiting north City Market. Yazzie was placed in La Plata County Jail on charges of theft from at-risk adults.Warfield declined to comment on the number of purses that Yazzie stole beyond “quite a few.” Warfield is asking that anyone who lost their wallet or purse while shopping at a grocery store in the Durango area between Jan. 1 and Oct. 23 to contact her at 385-2930.





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