NORBA returns for finals go-around

The National Off-Road Bicycling Association will be holding its finals at Durango Mountain Resort this summer. A regular NORBA event was held here last summer.

Kendra Holmes, director of the Ironhorse Bicycle Classic, said the finals will be held Aug. 15-17. Unlike last year, when the cross-country races were held in town, both the downhill and cross-country venues will be held at the resort, she said.

“Last year we had a split venue, and while it was good for the spectators, it was hard for some of the participants and the teams,” she said.

She did say a biking event will be planned for downtown Durango.

“We’ll do some sort of downtown race, such as a crit (criterium) or a team trial,” she said.

Holmes said landing the finals in Durango was a bit of a surprise – albeit a welcome one.

“NORBA called with dates for a regular race to be held at DMR, and we looked at them and said they wouldn’t work,” she said. “NORBA called back 30 minutes later and said ‘We want you so bad, we’ll give you the finals.’”

Holmes said the finals aren’t expected to conflict with any of the area’s other planned summertime activities.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “It’s great for Durango.”

Fort Lewis College to tighten belt

Fort Lewis College will take more steps to adapt to a continuing decline in state revenues. State agencies, including higher education, are being severely impacted, and the college expects additional statewide budget cuts this year.

“During these difficult times, we are most appreciative of the caliber and quality of the Fort Lewis College faculty and staff,” said Interim President Robert Dolphin, Jr. “We are confident that, by working together, we will be able to ensure that our students continue to receive a high-quality education.”

According to Vice President for Business and Finance Steve Schwartz, declines in the state economy require Fort Lewis College to make budget cuts that exceed the levels for which it had planned. All unfilled classified and exempt staff positions were frozen “without appeal” as of Jan. 6. College administrators also are preparing for possible lay-offs. This plan includes several steps that must be accomplished over a period of months. Layoffs are considered the most serious of budget reductions and will only be considered after all other means of reductions are accomplished. Academic deans are working on reducing the academic budget, and all faculty searches are suspended pending further analysis.

All of these budget cuts will become permanent in the 2003-04 academic year.A0

Resort faces chairlift lawsuit

A lawsuit is charging negligence on the part of Durango Mountain Resort after a 12-year-old girl fell 28 feet from a chairlift more than two years ago.

According to the suit, a lift attendant raised a seat on Chairlift No. 3 (the Hermosa Park high-speed quad) at the last minute as Alexi Hubbell, of Durango, attempted to board. Hubbell was unable to get out of the way of the chair quickly enough, and her coat allegedly became stuck on the chair and she was dragged away. She then apparently hung from the chair and shouted for help but the lift continued to move forward and was not stopped. She then fell 28 feet to the ground and fractured the vertebrae in her lower back.

With the suit, Hubbell’s parents are seeking medical and rehabilitation expenses, fees for physician services and lost income. No specific dollar amount has been mentioned.

Matt Skinner, the resort’s spokesman, said standard procedures outlined by the State Tramway Board were followed exactly. He added that the resort does not comment on pending litigation.

Teens suspected in school break-ins

Five Durango teen-agers are believed to have broken into Needham Elementary School early on the morning of Friday, Jan. 3. The break-in is believed to be connected to burglaries of other area schools, according to a Durango Police report.

At 2:49 a.m. on Jan. 3, Officer Megan Martin observed a suspicious vehicle parked in the lot at Needham Elementary. Officer Martin made contact with the vehicle’s driver and its two occupants, and items were seen in the vehicle suggesting suspicious activity.

More officers then responded to the school and after an investigation determined that Needham had been forcibly entered and there was damage to the inside of the building. Two other juveniles were then located and arrested a couple blocks away from the school.

The juveniles ranged from 14 to 16 years of age and were charged with Second Degree Burglary and Criminal Mischief. The investigation is continuing, and it is believed that this burglary is related to other recent burglaries of local schools, which included the break-in and theft of roughly $4,000 of fund-raising money at Animas Valley School.

There was approximately $897 of damage done to the inside of Needham and an unknown amount of damage to the numerous air vents that were destroyed when entry was gained to the school. All five teen-agers were released to their parents and are under house arrest.

Anyone with information on the burglaries is asked to call Investigator Rita Warfield or Investigator Dan Shry at 385-2930.

DOW regional office opens in town

The Division of Wildlife created a new fourth management region in southwest Colorado to better manage the state’s wildlife resources. The new office is headquartered in Durango at the DOW’s fish hatchery and began operating on Dec. 1.

Tom Spezze, who has had a 22-year career with the Division of Wildlife, was named regional manager of the new region. Spezze will be responsible for organizing the redistribution of DOW staff and resources in the southwest region.

“Creating this hub in the southwest will allow better communication with landowners, ranchers, the Southern Ute Tribal Council and sportsmen about issues that affect the southwest corner of the state,” Spezze said. “Our goal is to provide the most efficient and effective representation to all constituents in southwest Colorado.”

Before the southwest region was created, the DOW’s management structure was divided into three management regions: northeast, southeast and west. The decision to create the southwest region was made by an eight-member DOW work group drawn from the agency. The group recommended a fourth region because of the substantial challenges posed by the large geographic area, varied constituent base in the west region and the wide variety of wildlife.

The southwest region will include the San Luis Valley east to the top of the Sangre De Cristo Range, south to the New Mexico border, west to Utah, north to the Delta-Mesa County line and back east to the top of the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass. The San Luis Valley, Durango, the Four Corners area, Montrose, Delta, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Cedaredge and the Gunnison Basin also will be in the new region.

Study shows excess gas in region

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey has announced that the San Juan Basin contains more than twice as much undiscovered natural gas as was once believed.

The San Juan Basin is defined as a 7,800-square-mile area covering southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico. The USGS study found that there are 50.6 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas in the basin. Previously, estimates posted the amount of local untapped gas at 21 trillion cubic feet.

Mark Pearson, executive director of San Juan Citizens’ Alliance, said the finding is not that shocking. “I don’t think it comes as any surprise that there’s a lot of gas here,” he said. “I think we’ll be living with the impacts of oil and gas extraction for many years to come. We can only hope that the oil and gas industry will clean up their act a little.”

Pearson also noted that there’s a difference between recoverable gas and reserves that are beyond reach.

“There’s a difference between what’s technically in place and what’s actually economic to extract,” he said. “I think the USGS is just guessing at what’s potentially in the ground. I don’t think they’re making a differentiation.”

A release by the USGS said only that 92 percent of the newly discovered reserves are “unconventional.” The USGS could not be reached for comment on what exactly that means.






News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index