|Eating Out: A black lab awaits
its owner while escaping the long arm of the dogpolice
law outside a downtown restaurant recently. /Photo by Todd
Senior V-P steps down at DMR
Bob Kunkel has announced that he plans to resign from his position
as Senior Vice President of Durango Mountain Resort but has
agreed to maintain a long-term outside contract relationship
with the resort.
“I made a commitment to help the resort improve its operations,
establish a new brand image and improve its relationship with
its customers, its staff and the community of Durango,”
said Kunkel. “I feel I have done that, and now it is time
to step aside and let others take the day-to-day operations
of the resort further down the road to realizing its full potential.”
Kunkel added, “These last few years at the resort have
been very exciting, but at times I was stretched an inch deep
and a mile wide. Now I can focus on a limited number of strategic
initiatives that are critical to DMR succeeding in its next
phase of growth and development.”
Kunkel intends to re-establish his consulting business and
maintain an office at the downtown DMR facility, from which
he will serve other tourism, recreation and service-industry
clients in the area.
A-LP blasting stalled until mid-May
With blasting and major excavation planned near downtown, Durango
residents are going to get a strong taste of the Animas-La Plata
project in coming weeks. Construction on a large pumping plant
across from Santa Rita Park has been delayed approximately one
month, and heavy work including morning dynamite sessions is
set to kick off mid-May. Local residents can expect blasting
nearly every morning for the entire summer.
As planned, A-LP will take water out of the Animas River and
pump it up to a reservoir 2.5 miles south of Durango in Ridges
Basin. Construction on the project got under way early last
summer in the expansive natural bowl of Ridges Basin. This summer,
construction will take place a little closer to home at the
base of Smelter Mountain.
Across from Santa Rita Park, crews will work to excavate a
hole that will eventually be 60 feet deep, 200 feet long and
40 feet wide. Currently, site preparation is taking place including
the creation of roads, erection of safety fencing and initial
topsoil removal. However, much of the excavation will be accomplished
with explosives, and Pat Schumacher, A-LP projects manager,
said that Durango should expect blasting nearly every morning
throughout the summer.
“Once they get down to bedrock they’ll have to
begin blasting,” Schumacher said. “I think they’ve
got between 60 and 70 blasts planned, which means if they go
nearly every day it could take most of the summer.”
Schumacher said the current date for the dynamite work to begin
is set for Monday, May 12. Plans are for blasting between 5
and 6 a.m. in the morning with detours on Highway 3 around the
intersection of Santa Rita Park and U.S. Highway 550.
Construction of the pumping plant is expected to take five
years. When completed, the pumping plant will lift water from
the river up through an inlet pipeline into Ridges Basin.
Overdrawn LPEA makes large cuts
Last week, La Plata Electric Association, the energy cooperative
serving La Plata County, took steps to return to profitability.
In an effort to get LPEA out of the red, three administrative
positions have been laid off, the group’s advertising
budget has been slashed by one-third, and 23 other employees
will be offered early retirement options.
David Waller, LPEA spokesman, said that the cuts are expected
to save the co-op $1.3 million. Last year, LPEA ended the year
$1.05 million in the hole.
In addition to the cuts, LPEA passed on a rate increase to
customers around the first of the year. The 10 percent hike
was the second increase in nine months and primarily covered
rising power costs. A portion of the increase also will cover
$5 million in debt accrued by Wesodi, an LPEA fiberoptics subsidiary.
“We’ve had two rate increases from Tri-State in
the past year that we’ve had to pass on to our members,”
Waller said. “Hopefully the members will take it more
easily if they see that we’re doing everything we can
to reduce our expenses.”
Waller added that part of the reason LPEA ended the year so
deep in the red was Wesodi’s losses. He said that the
company plans to be profitable this year. “There is hope
that the association will be profitable this year,” Waller
said. “We’re doing everything we can to reduce our
Campbell works to spur drilling
A proposal spurred by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.,
could make it easier and more cost effective for Indian tribes
to develop their natural resources. This week, the U.S. Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended its energy bill
to include provisions designed to spur energy development on
Indian lands, including the substantially developed Southern
Ute Reservation. Opponents charge that it would allow tribes
to skirt EPA regulations.
“The Senate Energy Committee took concrete steps to help
tribes overcome the obstacles to energy development on their
own lands,” said Campbell, a member of the Energy Committee
and chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs.A0
The provisions would create an Office of Indian Energy Policy
and Programs; authorize financial, technical and capacity-building
assistance; provide for liberal land leasing; and requires public
participation on environmental and related matters.
Campbell suggested that the amended bill would help tribes
and reduce dependence on foreign oil. “With our country
importing 57 percent of our energy supplies from abroad it makes
sense to increase production at home and that includes Indian
energy,” he said.
Not surprisingly, a number of tribal organizations are in support
of the change including the 50-member Council of Energy Resource
Tribes (CERT), the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the DinE9 Power
Authority and the Cherokee Nation.
City water flush stirs up residue
Durango residents who notice a slight brown tinge in their
drinking water in coming weeks need not worry. The city of Durango
is in the process of its annual water main flush, and the discoloration
is residue from the pipes.
“Every year we do a spring flushing and exercising of
the valves in the water system,” said Public Works Director
Jack Rogers. “Sometimes that stirs up a little rust in
Rogers advised that people who notice discoloration run their
taps until the water clears. The spring flush is expected to
take the next three weeks and will impact most areas of town.
“There will probably be some disturbances in all parts
of town except the newer sections,” Rogers said.