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
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
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
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
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.