injures safety volunteer
In an unusual twist, a Durango Mountain Resort volunteer charged
with controlling skier and snowboarder speed was struck by a
speeding snowboarder last Saturday. The Mountain Safety volunteer
in his 50s was taken to Mercy Medical Center with what was believed
to be a broken femur, according to DMR Spokesman Matt Skinner.
“We had a 21-year-old snowboarder collide with an over
50-year-old mountain safety volunteer,” said Skinner.
“The on-hill diagnosis was that he may have had a broken
An added twist was that the snowboarder was skiing illegally
with his roommate’s pass. The La Plata County Sheriff’s
Office cited the snowboarder for theft of services and reckless
Skinner said that according to the Colorado Skier Safety Act,
the volunteer will have to seek reparations on his own. “Under
the Skier Safety Act, collisions as such must be settled between
the two parties,” he said.
Skinner would not release the name of the snowboarder.
FLC education chair to step down
In the wake of a pending lawsuit, an investigation into a civil
rights violation and the resignation of seven staffers, the
dean of the Fort Lewis College Education Department has announced
that she will retire. Virginia Engman said her decision to leave
the position is not related to the recent turmoil.
“I’m retiring because I can,” Engman said.
“I want to spend more time with my husband and do some
Engman’s retirement will take effect June 30, but she
said she will stay on for another six to 10 months on a transitional
Fort Lewis College’s teacher education program has traditionally
been considered one of the college’s greatest assets.
The program touts itself as having national pre-accreditation
with the Teacher Education Accreditation Council as well as
approvals from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and
the Colorado Department of Education.
However, late last year, five grievances were filed against
dean Engman, seven staff members resigned, and a civil rights
investigation was under way. Engman did not comment on these
issues because of potential legal ramifications.
Durango Kmart to close its doors
The blue-light will be going out permanently at the Durango
Mall. The Kmart Corporation announced that it will close 326
under-performing stores nationwide as part of its Chapter 11
financial objectives review. Durango’s Big Kmart is one
store that has been targeted.
A store in Gallup, N.M., also will be closed, as will Colorado
Kmarts in Alamosa, Colorado Springs, Greenwood Village, Denver
In light of the bankruptcy and efforts at reorganization, Kmart
said that it considers the value of its common stock to be highly
speculative and cautions equity holders that the stock may ultimately
be determined to have no value.
Environmental health study begins
Durango’s San Juan Basin Health Department has been selected
from more than 30 nationwide applicants to participate in a
program to assess the environmental health of the local community.
This PACE–EH (Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence
in Environmental Health) program will assemble a team of interested
individuals with a concern for living and working in a healthy
environment. A community environmental health assessment tool
will be devised to develop and implement a community action
“What we’re trying to do over the course of the
next eight months is form a PACE team composed of stakeholders
throughout La Plata County,” said Wano Urbonas, the department’s
environmental health director. “Then we’ll go through
a series of tasks in trying to look at a comprehensive overview
of the environmental health needs and desires of La Plata County.”
Urbonas said these needs could range from everything from air
and water pollution to West Nile Virus and food safety. “We
don’t want to decide,” he said. “We’re
looking to the community to tell us what its needs are.”
Eventually, the community action plan will be presented to
the county commissioners.
Beginning in February, PACE-EH team meetings will be held the
second Monday of each month at the health department and are
open to the public.
Lynx program gets financial boost
The Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation has committed to
raising $500,000 over the next two years to be used by the Colorado
Division of Wildlife’s lynx reintroduction project.
“The lynx project is a great opportunity for people who
want to make a difference to see the results of their effort
and contributions within their lifetime,” said Karin Ballard,
executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation.
The money will help fund the project in the future, as an additional
180 lynx are released in the San Juan Mountains in an effort
to establish a viable breeding population. The project is expected
to cost $2 million over the next three years. The remaining
funding will come from Great Outdoors Colorado and the DOW Nongame
Check-off fund. The money will help fund the importation of
lynx from Canada to Colorado, their care in a Del Norte holding
facility where they are brought to the best possible condition
before they are released, and research necessary to ensure that
the lynx recovery project succeeds.
Four lynx captured in eastern Canada arrived in Colorado earlier
this month, the first of up to 50 lynx the DOW will reintroduce
in the San Juans this spring.
Durango police begin bar education
In an effort to continue stringent DUI enforcement in 2003,
the Durango Police Department is taking an educational effort
inside Durango’s bars. A couple of nights a week, one
or two Durango police officers will be working inside local
drinking establishments with the sole purpose of DUI education.
All but a few local bars agreed to permit the education efforts.
These short, voluntary presentations will be geared toward
explaining DUI laws, intoxication and awareness of the ramifications
or the prevention of driving while under the influence of alcohol
Sgt. Doug Embree said that in spite of past efforts, Durango
remains “one of the top producing DUI cities in Colorado.”
During 2002, DUI enforcement efforts by the Durango Police
Department resulted in 489 DUI or Driving While Ability Impaired
(DWAI) arrests. Fifty-four of those arrests were a result of
accidents that involved 11 injuries. One recent DUI-related
accident resulted in three fatalities.
Colorado skier visits up dramatically
In the first of three reports tabulating skier visits for Colorado,
skier visits increased 18.35 percent over last year to a total
of 2,912,801, according to Rob Perlman, President and CEO of
Colorado Ski Country USA.
Contributing to the best first-period results in more than
five years was the above-average snowfall throughout in November,
which allowed many of the resorts to push up their opening dates
and offer additional terrain and facilities. The abundant snowfall
continued during December, while resort operators saw an increase
in season pass sales as the result of the pent-up demand for
more typical snow conditions than have been seen in recent years,
Additionally, the resorts worked collaboratively during the
early season to promote the state’s optimal snow conditions
in a strong public relations effort. Several resorts also surpassed
records in terms of skier visits during the first part of the
“Although our first period results are on pace with 1997-98,
which was a record season for the state at nearly 12 million
skier visits and 12 percent ahead of our five-year average,
we are cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the season,
looking at the current economic and politicalA0landscape,”
Destination resorts, like Durango Mountain Resort, saw an 18.27
jump in skier days as compared to a 19.52 percent increase for
Front Range resorts.