Purgatory mulls early opening
In light of recent snows, Durango Mountain Resort is giving serious consideration to opening early this season. The resort currently boasts a 36-inch base at mid-mountain--ample snow to open the resort.

Rumors this week swirled around DMR firing up the lifts and opening a substantial portion of the mountain this weekend. However, on Wednesday, resort officials were still uncertain.

“We are seriously considering opening early,” said Matt Skinner, communications manager. “It’s up to logistics, weather, safety and, at the very base of it all, snow.”
Skinner said that the resort is looking at whether the existing base and snowmaking can hold up if it stops snowing. However, he said there are “excellent” conditions on the mountain. “We’re way ahead, maybe a month ahead, of last year,” he said.

The resort had planned to open Nov. 28., Thanksgiving Day.

Klatt officially resigns from post
After 12 years of service, La Plata County Commissioner Fred Klatt officially resigned his post last Friday for health reasons. More than 20 people gathered at a news conference and praised Klatt’s service.

Klatt, who suffers from post-polio syndrome, noted that his resignation was timed around the recent election of Sheryl Ayers as his replacement. “I would not want to leave office in a manner that would reflect adversely on any small positive legacy I might hope to leave behind. I have also felt a compelling need to recognize that voters elected me to three terms, 12 years in office, not 11 years, and I have not taken that responsibility lightly,” he read from a prepared statement.

He concluded by reading, “I will close by simply thanking the citizens of La Plata County for their friendship, for their trust and for their confidence, and by apologizing to those same people for not having the energy to take this ‘all the way.’”

Klatt’s replacement must be selected by the Republican party by Nov. 30. Klatt heartily endorsed Ayers and said he hoped the party would appoint her to fill out the remainder of his term before officially taking over his post in January.
A tearful Ayers remarked, “Even a part of Fred Klatt is better than a whole of other people. The reason I’m full of a little trepidation is that I hope I can serve the people nearly as well as Fred Klatt.”

Fellow Commissioner Bob Lieb also praised Klatt. “You’ve mentored me here, and I will always be thankful,” he said. “This county owes you an immense amount of thanks for the hard work you’ve put in.”

At the close of the conference, Klatt said that he hopes for more active public participation in future county politics. “I would love to see more participation,” he said. “In our budget hearing, we looked at a $60 million budget, and not one member of the public was here.”

Task force nets more meth busts
An anonymous tip led to the arrest of six adults on methamphetime-related charges Nov. 7. Members of the Southwest Drug Task Force received a tip that meth sales were taking place from a room at the Spanish Trails Motel. Task force officers further investigated the situation and obtained a search warrant for the room.

Upon execution of the warrant, investigators found approximately one ounce of “glass,” a potent form of methamphetamine. The street value of that one ounce is approximately $4,000. Three people were arrested upon returning to the room for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. They were Patrick and Brandy Palmer, former Durango residents now living in Phoenix, and Lisa Gann, of Phoenix.

Investigators then arrested three additional people after they arrived at the motel room on charges of criminal attempt to possess methamphetamine. They were George Sauer and Dale Wonderling, of Durango, and Jill Hawkey, of Cortez.

Local hunters experience success
With the third big-game season coming to an end, harvest rates for deer and elk across the state have been good, but not quite as high as Division of Wildlife biologists would have liked. The DOW said a good harvest would be critical this year because of the drought and a below-average season last year.

John Ellenberger, state big-game manager, believes that overall the harvest has been substantially better than last year, but even with the additional licenses issued, there still will not be the high numbers of elk harvested needed to cull the state’s elk herd back down to optimal management levels.

“My assessment is that I don’t think that even as good as the harvest has been, it probably won’t be as good as we had hoped,” Ellenberger said. “The elk harvest looks like it will be substantially better than last year, probably more than 50,000 animals, but it would take exceptional harvest rates during the fourth and late-season hunts to reach the 60,000 that we had in 2000, which we wanted to reach this year.”

While both the first and third seasons have had excellent harvest rates for elk and deer, the second season saw warm, dry weather that lowered harvest rates similar to the 2001 level. The Durango, San Juan Basin and Dolores areas have providing good hunting. Weather conditions and high numbers of elk are allowing hunters to consistently fill their tags, according to Ellenberger. Rifle season concluded this week on Nov. 13.

-compiled by Will Sands





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