down Iraq resolution
Following an impassioned discussion, the Durango City Council
voted 4-1 against a resolution opposing war in Iraq. Comments
seemed split down the middle during last Tuesday’s discussion
and council member Virginia Castro was alone in her “yes”
The resolution was brought before the council by the Southwest
Colorado Peace and Justice Coalition. Similar resolutions have
been approved by municipalities throughout the country.
Both Mayor John Gamble and council member Joe Colgan spoke
out against aggression in Iraq. However, both said the council
is responsible for governing the city of Durango, not national
Castro encouraged the resolution based on local issues –
namely that war would hurt tourism and the potential bankruptcy
of the home front.
Following the meeting, she expressed her disappointment in
“I think that the citizens of this community have an
opportunity to express their views in a representative democracy,”
Castro said. “The elected officials need to be responsive
to the citizenry.”
Castro said that while comments on the resolution were evenly
split, a majority of Durangoans oppose war in Iraq. “The
number of people that spoke may have been equal in number,”
she said. “However, the majority of people in attendance
and the majority of e-mails received at City Hall were in support
of the resolution.”
Prior to the meeting, Mayor John Gamble said the resolution
had generated as many phone calls as any issue in his political
County planning director departs
In the midst of the biggest development boom in La Plata County
history, the county’s director of planning services has
left his post. Joe Crain surprised his coworkers when he departed
last Friday during a critical time. The La Plata County Planning
Department is nearing the end of a moratorium on growth in the
Grandview area, is in the process of revamping its land-use
code and is working busily to develop a pilot transferable development
Because personnel issues are involved, mum is the word at the
La Plata County offices, and there is no word whether Crain
resigned or was terminated.
A La Plata County news release briefly stated, “La Plata
County and Joe Crain, Director of La Plata County’s Planning
Department, have announced Mr. Crain’s departure from
employment with La Plata County effective Feb. 28, 2003. As
the matter involves personnel issues, both parties have agreed
to make no additional comments at this time. Michael Scannell,
county manager, has appointed Nancy Lauro as interim director
of planning effective March 4, 2003.”
Crain’s will not be the only empty desk at the planning
department. Stacy Patton, senior long-range planner, has resigned
on good terms to pursue another job opportunity. Her last day
of work is March 12.
Students arrested for counterfeiting
Two Durango middle-school students have been arrested on charges
of counterfeiting. The bills are actually good likenesses and
the U.S. Secret Service is involved in the investigation.
According to a La Plata County Sheriff’s Office release,
Investigator Shelly Williams arrested one male juvenile on Feb.
21 and seized equipment including computers, hard drives, scanners,
printers and software. The juvenile allegedly made $1 and $10
bills and distributed them to friends at the school. Two of
the bills were found in the school’s bank and turned over
to the Secret Service.
Three days later, a second juvenile male was arrested on a
charge of forgery for spending known counterfeited money.
Corporal Dick Mullen said the bills are good likenesses.
“They look fairly good,” he said. “When they
get mixed in with a cash drawer, they could be hard to spot.
The grade of the paper is probably the biggest giveaway.”
Mullen added that the Sheriff’s Office isn’t sure
if or how many of the fake bills have leaked into the Durango
community. “The kid’s mom isn’t letting him
talk, so we have to go on the blind on this,” he said.
“But the Secret Service is involved.”
Finalist for FLC presidency withdraws
The two finalists interviewing for Fort Lewis College’s
vacant presidency have been narrowed down to one. Phillip David
Creighton withdrew his name as a candidate after accepting another
offer. Creighton had been the president and chief executive
officer of Eastern Oregon University.
“Dr. Creighton has withdrawn his name for consideration
as president of Fort Lewis College,” said Board of Trustees
Chairman Peter Decker. “He has accepted an offer from
another institution in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Creighton
was a highly qualified candidate who was sought after by other
institutions. This is evidence of the quality of our presidential
Creighton had been scheduled to interview on campus this week.
Michael B. Levy, distinguished professor at Georgetown University
and former senior advisor to the secretary of the treasury,
will be interviewed on campus March 20-21.
The new president will succeed Robert Dolphin, Jr., who has
served in an interim capacity since July 1, 2002, when Kendall
Blanchard resigned as president to return to the classroom as
a professor of anthropology.
Canyons of Ancients vandalized again
Vandals have hit another archaeological site in Canyons of
the Ancients National Monument. Last month, three signs were
discovered damaged at the Painted Hand site, where volunteers
had worked to upgrade parking and install signs to help manage
visitor impacts. The signs were installed in 2001 by volunteers
from the San Juan Mountains Association.
“This destruction is an insult to all the local people
who work so hard to preserve and protect these resources,”
said Ruth Lambert, SJMA cultural program director.
Two trail signs reading, “Fragile Area, Please Stay On
Trail,” and a parking-area sign were damaged. One of the
trail signs was found and reinstalled; the other signs were
not repairable and will have to be replaced. The vandalism occurred
sometime in January or February.
Painted Hand is a unique Ancestral Puebloan site that features
a standing tower perched on a boulder. It gets its name from
hands that were painted on a boulder by its ancient inhabitants.
Bureau of Land Management law enforcement is investigating
The perpetrators face federal charges of vandalism to government
property, which can carry up to a one-year prison sentence and
a $100,000 fine.
Vallecito track survives the winter
Despite an announcement that the area would be closed for salvage
logging, the nordic ski track surrounding Vallecito Reservoir
will continue to be groomed as long as conditions allow. The
Pine River Valley Nordic Ski Club will maintain 10 kilometers
of ski trails along the eastern edge of the reservoir and ski
season will not be cut short this winter by the need to remove
burned trees in the vicinity.
Last November, the Forest Service reported that the ski season
would be shortened by a need to cut and remove burned trees
in the area, which was burned in the Missionary Ridge Fire this
Logging operations were set to begin shortly after the first
of the year, and the Forest Service said it planned to close
the track to skiing at that time. However, the damaged trees
will not be removed until sometime in late spring after the
ground has dried from snowmelt.
The Forest Service asks that skiers stay on the groomed trail
to avoid hazardous standing and downed trees and refrain from
skiing in burned forested areas in windy conditions.
Vallecito provides a free (donations requested), groomed track
and is one of the only dog-friendly nordic skiing options in