Public leans toward safer Junction Creek Road

This week, La Plata County gauged public input on widening Junction Creek Road in order to make pedestrian and bicycle traffic safer on the busy corridor. According to Rick Routh, county engineer, comments varied wildly at Monday’s open house, but most were in favor of widening the road.

Sugnet Environmental Inc. recently completed a year-long transportation study, which was jointly funded by the county and Great Outdoors Colorado. The study looked into the options of adding trails along either side of Junction Creek Road as well as widening the road. In the end, it concluded that environmental and private property issues prevent any possibility of building trails adjacent to the roadway and recommended widening the road a total of 3 feet to accommodate bicycle lanes.

Routh said a veritable pandora’s box was opened Monday with discussion ranging from wildfire and emergency access to Colorado Trail parking problems.

“We heard a lot of different issues that people brought to the table that don’t pertain to what they were trying to do with the study,” he said.

Routh said that the study concerned itself with safety issues on Junction Creek Road up to the Turtle Lake/Falls Creek intersection. With respect to widening that stretch of road, he said comments have been predominantly positive.

“Adding up the e-mails and letters I’ve received, definitely the preponderance are in favor of addressing the safety issue,” said Routh.

The county will continue gauging public comment on widening the road until the end of the year. At that point, the engineering department will look for direction from the Board of County Commissioners.

“This is very, very conceptual here,” said Routh. “The next step after the public comment period is to schedule a commissioners meeting and then ask for direction.”

The period for public comments closes Jan. 1, 2003. Interested parties can read a copy of the study at the La Plata County Courthouse or online at Comments can also be e-mailed to

Needham tennis court incident turned on its head

It’s not clear just who was victimized in an incident at the Needham Elementary tennis courts late last week.

According to Durango Police reports, on Nov. 21, 19-year-old Lonora Stollar alleged that a man had pulled a gun on her and her 14-year-old friend and threatened their lives. The two were standing near the tennis courts. Officers later apprehended 29-year-old Justin Holiday on suspicion of felony menacing.

However, after combing the neighborhood, officers failed to find the missing firearm, and during repeated questioning Holiday denied ever having the Glock 9mm. Consequently, on Monday, Nov. 25, investigators reinterviewed the victims and determined that there was never a gun. Stollar was charged with false reporting to authorities, a Class 3 misdemeanor.

The 14-year-old victim is not being charged because the investigators believe she was intimidated into going along with the story. If convicted, Stollar could be fined up to $750 and/or placed in jail up to six months.

Charges against Holiday will remain as investigators believe he did make a verbal statement toward the two victims that he “could kill” them. However, because of the new development in the case, the District Attorney’s Office will probably reduce the current charges to a lesser offense.

Sheryl Ayers sworn in early

Following the Nov. 5 endorsement of La Plata County voters, Sheryl Ayers got an early start in her new job as county commissioner last Monday. Ayers has been officially appointed to fill the shoes of Fred Klatt, who is departing early because of illness.

Klatt had stated that he waited until after the election to step down in order to make the appointment process clear-cut. Per legal requirement, the Vacancy Committee for La Plata County’s Republican Central Committee had the responsibility for filling Klatt’s seat, and on Nov. 21 it tapped commissioner-elect Ayers.

Randy Hubbs, chairman of the central committee, said the decision was easy because of Ayers’ election.

“It is unfortunate that Fred was not able to finish his term, capping an exceptional period of public service,” said Hubbs. “We are fortunate to be able to appoint Sheryl following her endorsement by the La Plata County voters. What normally would have been a very difficult process was made easy by the events of Nov. 5.”

Ayers was officially sworn in Monday and is serving in her capacity as county commissioner for District 1. On Dec. 6, a reception will be held to honor Klatt’s service, which includes tenure as a commissioner since 1990 as well as service on the Durango City Council from 1984-1988 and a year as Durango’s mayor in 1987.

Adventure race proposed for Purgatory next summer

Gravity Play Sports, a local sports-marketing and event-production company, has proposed two races in the vicinity of Durango Mountain Resort for next summer. The San Juan National Forest is currently soliciting public comment on an Adventure Race and a 100-mile mountain biking race.

The “Adventure Xstream” race, proposed for June 14, would incorporate trail running, mountain biking, rappelling and paddling for a total of 60 miles. The 100-mile mountain bike race is proposed for Aug. 23.

Will Newcomer, president of Gravity Play Sports, said he anticipates between 150 and 200 competitors for each event. He added that his group hosted a race in Durango two years ago and was scheduled to hold one last year, but the fires cancelled it. Newcomer classifies his adventure race as a sprint race over a single day. Last year, Telluride hosted a five- to seven-day expedition race that drew criticism for environmental impact.

“Adventure racing has kind of gotten a bad rap partly by race directors not abiding by their permits,” said Newcomer.

He said that in the past three years of hosting races in Moab, Vail and Durango, Gravity Play Sports has never gotten any negative feedback.

“We incorporate leave no trace ethics into our race rules and do as much as we can to have low impact,” he said.

Written comments on the events can be mailed to Pauline Ellis, District Ranger, Columbine Ranger District, P.O. Box 439, Bayfield, CO 81122, before Thursday, Dec. 12.

Shared kitchen considered

La Plata County could break new ground if an ongoing study is favorable. The county is currently looking at the feasibility of creating a shared-use community kitchen as an economic development tool.

A shared-use commercial kitchen would be a fully-licensed, insured and equipped food preparation and packaging facility. Food production space would be available for rent to caterers, bakers, chefs, growers, producers and other food-related entrepreneurs. The kitchen also could provide educational opportunities, training and start-up help for new businesses.

“This is exactly the kind of project that we need in La Plata County,” said County Commissioner Josh Joswick. “It is an economic development tool, and we need to understand how we can best use it to create new businesses, support existing businesses and make our community more self-reliant.”

Currently, a team led by Cameron Wold, a Colorado University Professor and author of the publication Establishing a Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen, is conducting a study on the feasibility of such a kitchen in La Plata County. The study is beginning its investigation with the La Plata County Fairgrounds kitchen as a test-piece. For more information or to take part in the study, call Greg Vlaming at 247-4355 or by e-mail at





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