FLC announces presidency finalists

There may be an end in sight to the ongoing search for a new president for Fort Lewis College. The school's Board of Trustees has announced three new finalists for the job.

The finalists include Brad Bartel, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Fla.; Joseph C. Burke, president of Keuka College in Keuka Park, N.Y.; and Elaine P. Maimon, provost at Arizona State University West in Phoenix and vice president at Arizona State University.

"The search committee for the president of Fort Lewis College has spent a great deal of time and careful consideration in reaching a determination of the final candidates," said Board of Trustees Chairman Peter Decker, adding that the latest search drew more than 50 candidates. "We feel these candidates will provide those qualities necessary to guide Colorado's premier liberal arts and sciences college."

The candidates will begin arriving on campus for interviews next week and a public reception will be scheduled for each one.

The new president will succeed Robert Dolphin, Jr., who has served in that capacity since July 1 of 2002 when Kendall Blanchard stepped down to return to the classroom as professor of anthropology. Dolphin will retire at the end of the current academic year.

DMR retires Hermosa water rights

As part of its agreement with Colorado Wild, Durango Mountain Resort recently began the process of retiring its conditional storage water rights in Hermosa Creek. DMR says the move will protect the Colorado River cutthroat trout and help preserve the Hermosa Park drainage.

Hermosa Park lies to the north of DMR's backside terrain, and Hermosa Creek runs down the center of the drainage. DMR's water rights included 15 separate allocations in 14 reservoirs in Hermosa Creek and Hermosa Park, totaling 1,351 acre feet of water. This represents about 15 percent of the annual discharge from the watershed above the reservoirs.

"The Hermosa Park area is spectacular, and we're glad to have a hand in preserving it for future generations," said DMR CEO Gary Derck.

Once DMR retires its senior rights, the 1,351 acre-feet of water included in these rights will remain in the stream as a part of the Colorado Water Conservation Board Instream Flow Program, benefiting fish and the riparian ecosystem. "The Five Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited is very supportive of DMR's move to abandon the water rights senior to CWCB's in-stream flow rights, and we appreciate the efforts by DMR to help preserve this habitat for the Colorado River Cutthroat, one of three cutthroat species native to Colorado," said Buck Skillen, president of the Five Rivers Chapter.

This retirement is part of a broader agreement DMR reached with Colorado Wild regarding the resort's master plan expansion. Upon DMR's request, the Colorado Water Conservation Board examined the issue and voted unanimously to support DMR's retirement of its Hermosa Park conditional storage water rights by writing "a letter stating that the (Colorado Water Conservation Board) encourages the Division of Water Resources and/or the water court to accept the abandonment of these water rights."

SWAT Team apprehends gunman

Late last week, a north county stand-off between local officers and a barricaded gunman ended without incident. La Plata County Sheriff's Office patrol deputies and SWAT Team members took a 46-year-old man into custody Friday withoutincident after the man held a woman at gunpoint.

That morning, workers at Tamarron Resort heard a man and woman arguing at one of the condo units on the property.When the workerslooked inside a window of the condo, they saw a man holding a gun to a woman's head and contactedsecurity personnel. When security attempted to contact the man, he threatened to hurt them if they did not leave. During this encounter, the woman, identified as 35-year-old Durango resident, was able to flee the condo.

La Plata County Sheriff's deputies arrived shortly thereafter and established a perimeter around the condo, evacuated Tamarron workers, and attempted to contact the man who was said to be in the residence and in possession of at least two handguns.The man would not answer the phone and could be heard making loud noises inside the condo. The La Plata County Sheriff's SWAT Team arrived along with a negotiator team which continued over a two hour periodto make contact with the man.

Eventually, the man came out and was taken into custody without incident. He was not armed when arrested buttwo handguns were found just inside the residence.

Arrested was 47-year-old Bruce Ward of Phoenix. Heand thevictim had been living together.Ward was booked into La Plata County Jail for Felony Menacing and Third Degree Assault.Evidence of possible heroin was collected at the scene.

Officers net crystal meth arrests

Big city crime continued to plague the area last Tuesday. Following a high-speed pursuit, the Southwest Drug Task Force netted an arrest that could stem the local manufacture of methamphetamine.

Officers were contacted bya local business regarding a suspicious person trying to buy a quantity of iodine, whichis used in the manufacture of the drug.La Plata County Sheriff's deputies were given a description of the vehicle and eventually spotted it that afternoon 18 miles south of Durango. A deputy who observed that the vehicle was impeding traffic and had a cracked windshield, conducted a traffic stop, and neither the driver nor the female passenger claimed to have driver's licenses. When the deputy walked back to his car to call dispatch, the suspect vehicle fled the scene.A high-speed pursuit covered about 5 miles with speeds near 90 miles per hour and ended when the driver jumped from the vehicle while it was still moving and ran up a hill. He was apprehended by deputies a short time later. A Search K-9 unit from the Ignacio Police Department was called to the scene and alerted on what appeared to be cocaine in a small case in the suspects' vehicle.A recipe for methamphetamine was also recovered.

Jeffery Dwayne Walker, 39, of Farmington, is being held on charges of Felony Criminal Impersonation, Vehicular Eluding and Possession of a Controlled Substance. He also is wanted in Texas on charges of Tampering With Evidence and in Teller County, Colorado, for Theft and Criminal Mischief. JeriBasham, 49, also of Farmington, was being held on local charges ofFelony Criminal Impersonation and Possession of a Controlled Substance. She also was being held on a warrant out of San Juan County, N.M., on charges related to check fraud.

Hunters see lackluster first season

The first of Colorado's four big game seasons has ended, and locally and in most areas of the state, biologists have not seen the expected high harvest rates. Hot, dry weather has helped many of the 350,000 elk that inhabit Colorado avoid hunters, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Officials said that the area surrounding Durango, Dolores and Pagosa Springs is experiencing hunting pressure equal to previous years. Scott Wait, terrestrial biologist in Durango, reported a harvest that seems to be dispersed. But he went on to say that meat processors are reporting business to be on par with last year's record numbers.

The DOW noted that Colorado's elk herd is the largest in North America and is over objective in some areas of the state. For hunter success to increase, Colorado's backcounty will need to receive some snow as hunters head out for the second big game rifle season this weekend.

BLM grants boost wildfire education

The Bureau of Land Management has awarded grants to four local organizations to use for promotion of fire education and completion of defensible space demonstration projects.

"We are excited about working with these groups to promote fire safety and healthy forests. The on-going drought and recent busy fire seasons have shown us that we have a great deal of work yet to do to protect our homes, forests and other resources," said Allen Farnsworth, San Juan Public Lands Center fire specialist.

The Fort Lewis College Office of Community Services will use the grant funding to produce a 30-minute video on a defensible space project from start to finish. The video will be locally produced and highlight some of the questions local homeowners face when designing and completing defensible space projects.

The City of Durango will use the grant to complete defensible space work on city-owned land as part of its Fire Wise Durango program.

- compiled by Will Sands





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