Council votes 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” vote.

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 affairs.

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 the vote.

“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 career.

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 rights program.

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 candidate pool.”

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 incident.

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 summer.

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 the county.






News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index