TheDoe’sNose: A deer takes a pause from its daily business to scratch an itch along County Road 214 south of Durango./ Photo by Todd Newcomer.

9-R project faces unexpected costs

Efforts to expand facilities throughout the Durango 9-R School District got hit with an unexpected extra bill recently. An additional $1.6 million must be spent in order to retrofit existing buildings with sprinkler systems. The money will have to come from cuts in other parts of the project's $84.5 million project.

In November of 2002, voters approved an $84.5 million bond issue to cover upgrades, renovations and additions to each of the facilities in the school district. The district had set aside $1 million for sprinkler installation in new buildings. However, in July of last year, the school district was notified by the Durango Fire and Rescue Authority that existing buildings would also have to be retrofitted with sprinkler systems as well because of a "a distinct hazard to life."

Deb Uroda, 9-R director of public information, said that the notice came as a shock. "According to the existing building code, you do not have to retrofit existing buildings unless the fire marshal declares a distinct hazard," she said. "It is interesting to note that there was no distinct hazard prior to the bond issue passing"

Since the notice last July, the district has worked to find ways to cover the new expenses and has received a $600,000 Energy Impact Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. However, for the remaining $1 million, cuts will have to be made in each of the projects. Uroda stressed that there will be no sacrifice to quality.

"It's more a matter of making a few rooms a little smaller or using different material on some of he walls," she said.

Search turns up snowboarder alive

A 22-year-old male snowboarder was found uninjured but hypothermic just before midnight on Sunday, Jan. 25, by members of the San Juan Sledders working with La Plata County Search and Rescue. Missing since Sunday afternoon, Phil McGovern had ridden out of bounds off of Durango Mountain Resort's western boundary and into the Elbert Creek drainage. He was discovered approximately 5 miles west of the resort.

McGovern had been last seen at about 10 a.m. on Sunday when he left from Lift 1 near the top of Durango Mountain Resort. A friend reported him missing to DMR patrol at the end of the day, and a further search by resort personnel failed to locate him. The La Plata County Sheriff's Office was then notified.

La Plata County Search & Rescue and San Juan Sledders responded to the area and, combined with DMR Patrol personnel, searched the western edge of the ski resort. Eleven members of DMR's patrol and 24 members of La Plata County Search & Rescue and San Juan Sledders teamed up for the search on snowmobiles and skis.

"Full marks go to La Plata County Search and Rescue, the San Juan Sledders, and the Durango Mountain Resort patrol for their efficiency in coordinating efforts and conducting the search," said DMR Ski Patrol Director Scott Clements. "With the cold temperatures and blowing snow, McGovern is a fortunate individual."

Lt. Dan Bender, of La Plata County Sheriff's Office, concurred, saying, "With weather conditions being what they are up there, it is quite possiblehe would not have survived the nighthad he not been found when he was."

It appeared that, while snowboarding in a densely wooded, out-of-bounds area, McGovernbecame disoriented and eventually entered the Elbert Creek Drainage.Once there, the deep snow and rugged terrain prevented him from finding his way back.

It is unlawful to go beyond ski area boundaries except at designated access points, and violators can be prosecuted. Those who require rescue can also be charged for cost of the search and rescue. It has not yet been determined whether McGovern will be prosecuted or charged for the costs. His riding privileges at DMR have been suspended.

Mercy makes stride in cardiac care

Mercy Medical Center took a big step toward improved cardiac care last Friday when two patients received implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). The surgically implanted devices are used to shock the heart back into action if it suddenly fails or beats abnormally and can also electrically pace hearts that beat too slowly.

"ICDs have allowed many people to live longer," said Dr. Chris Peters, a cardio-thoracic surgeon who helped implant the devices. "I'm glad we can bring this procedure to the region. It's yet another link in the continuum of care we can provide through Mercy's growing heart program."

The titanium-sheathed devices are inserted under the skin in a patient's chest and contain a battery, microprocessor and other circuitry. Two wire leads connect the device to the patient's heart, monitor the heart's activity, and transmit electrical stimulation when necessary.

"What many people don't know is that the heart's electrical system can be permanently damaged by a heart attack, which is caused when the blood supply to the heart is restricted or cut off for a period of time," said Dr. Bruce Andrea, a cardiologist who also helped implant the devices. "ICDs monitor, pace and jump start hearts with faultyelectrical systems."

Peters and Andrea estimate that 80 to 100 patients in Southwest Colorado could benefit from the devices. As of August of last year, approximately 80,000 patients in the United States had defibrillators implanted.

Forest Service seeks artist-in-residence

The San Juan National Forest is accepting applications for the Aspen Guard Station Artist-in-Residence Program through March 1. The residency program, now in its 10th year, is open to painters, writers, poets, musicians, photographers, sculptors, performers, dancers and other artists.

Those selected for residencies will stay at the historic Aspen Guard Station for one to two weeks during the summer or fall of 2004. The rustic log cabin, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, is a former ranger station set in an aspen grove 12 miles north of Mancos. In return for their residencies, artists donate a piece of artwork portraying their stay at the cabin and share their talents with the public through exhibits, performances, open houses or workshops.

Representatives of area art associations will choose six finalists and one alternate by May 1. Selection will be made solely on the basis of merit, without regard to sex, race, creed, religion, national origin or physical ability. However, because of its historical nature, the Aspen Guard Station does not meet American Disability Act standards.

Application brochures are available in Durango at the San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, and the Durango Arts Center, 802 E. Second Ave. For more information call 247-4874.

-compiled by Will Sands





News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index