|Whinney and Friends: A sculpture
and former Durango resident Joyce Parkerson is adorned with
wreaths outside the Durango and Silverton Railroad Depot.
Parkerson passed away last Thursday, Dec.19, of complications
from ovarian cancer.
She was 55./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
Dry Fork closure raises eyebrows
An Indian summer and increased awareness about the Perins Peak
State Wildlife Area may have been responsible for recent concerns
about a gate closing Dry Fork Road and access to the Dry Fork
Trail. Since Nov. 15, a gate and “road closed” sign
have been in place on the spur off of Lightner Creek Road, County
Road 207. However, a Division of Wildlife official said the
closure is a routine one.
Dry Fork Road accesses the Perins Peak State Wildlife Area,
which is managed by the Division of Wildlife. It also accesses
the Dry Fork Trail and Hoffhein’s Connection, both of
which connect to the Colorado Trail and the Junction Creek drainage.
DOW Area Wildlife Manager Tony Gurzick said that while he had
heard concerns about loss of access, the closure is a routine
step to protect wintering wildlife in the area.
“The Dry Fork trailhead is seasonally closed,”
he said. “We close it at the end of big game season, and
it doesn’t reopen until April 1.”
Gurzick said that the gate has been in place for a few years,
and the closure has been ongoing for decades.
“The gate’s been there for several years, and we’ve
been closing that area since the 1960s,” he said. Gurzick
added that people are likely concerned because of the attention
a proposed extension of the Colorado Trail has gotten lately.
He noted that the trail is still open but must be accessed from
the Junction Creek side.
DOW planes flew over the area earlier this week, and Gurzick
said that 400 elk were wintering right around the trailhead
and gate. He said spotters counted a total of 1,200 elk inside
the wildlife area.
“The reason for the closure is so that we’ll have
an area where the elk won’t be harassed, even inadvertently,”
The gate and closure may violate a U.S. Forest Service easement
on Dry Fork Road. However, Richard Speegle, of the San Juan
Public Lands Center, was unavailable for comment.
LPEA to sell struggling subsidiary
Tired of nursing struggling subsidiaries, La Plata Electric
Association has announced plans to sell its beleaguered line-installation
company, Western Energy Services of Durango Inc. (WESODI). David
Waller, LPEA spokesman, said the sale may be required by Rural
Utility Service, a USDA branch.
“It’s part of an exit strategy that’s required,”
LPEA recently took on $5 million in debt incurred by WESODI
and will be writing off the amount as a loss. An additional
nearly $8 million in debt was assumed from Fast Track, another
telecommunications subsidiary formerly known as REAnet. To make
matters worse, LPEA investments in fiber-optic cable tumbled
by 88 percent recently, losing $8.7 million in value.
Waller said that these financial woes will not affect LPEA’s
role as the local electric coop. “The big devaluation
is not going to affect our service or our reliability,”
He added that there should also be no future rate hikes.
“It shouldn’t affect our rates after the upcoming
increase,” he said. “We don’t foresee any
more increases in the near future.”
For the second time in nine months, La Plata Electric Association
will be raising residential rates after the first of the year.
The 10 percent hike will primarily cover rising power costs,
but a portion of the increase will cover the WESODI debt. Residential
customers’ monthly electric bills will increase by $5.90
beginning in January. Currently, the average residential bill
comes in at $59 per month. The rate jump will add increased
revenues of up to $4.3 million for 2003. Approximately 38 percent
will go to cover LPEA debts.
LPEA last raised its rates by 7 percent in March 2002. Prior
to March’s jump, LPEA had not raised rates since 1990,
and during the 1990s, the electric cooperative twice decreased
FLC play earns eight awards
Fort Lewis College theatre students and staff were honored
with eight awards recently for their production of “The
Air Inside the Rose” at the Kennedy Center American College
Theater Festival, which took place at San Juan College in Farmington.
Students Jill Davis, Eagle Young and Caleb Creel were nominated
for the Irene Ryan Award. The Irene Ryan Award is given to up-and-coming
actors and once nominated, actors compete at a regional level
for scholarships. Davis and Young also were recognized for excellence
Associate Professor of Theatre and Women’s Studies Kathryn
Moller received honors for excellence in both directing and
choreography. Costume designer Ginny Davis received an award
for excellence in workshop presentation.
Moller said the Irene Ryan nominations were the most notable
awards they received. “A Fort Lewis College student has
never received an Irene Ryan nomination,” Moller said.
“These awards will help give Fort Lewis College recognition.”
County to swear in new coroner
The La Plata County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously
last Thursday to appoint Dr. Carol Huser, of Durango, to fill
the vacant post of county coroner.
The post was vacated after former coroner Dick Mullen decided
in September not to run for reelection.
According to a La Plata County release, Huser is currently
certified by the American Board of Pathology, the Anatomic and
Clinical Pathology Board, and the Forensic Pathology Board.
She is in private practice in forensic pathology locally, is
a deputy coroner and has lived in the area since June of 2001.
The county coroner is normally an elected position and is responsible
for heading investigation of deaths.
Huser will be sworn into office Jan. 14.