Smile! An untitled watercolor by Chelsea Phillips hangs on display at the DHS Art
Splash student exhibit on Friday evening./Photo by Todd Newcomer.

Telluride ski area changes hands

The papers were signed last Wednesday in a deal that transferred a majority of ownership of the Telluride Ski Area into new hands. Sony heir Joe Morita sold a majority stake of the ski company to the Newport, Calif., father-son team of Chuck and Chad Horning.

The Hornings closed on substantial real estate holdings previously owned by Morita in Mountain Village.Wednesday also marked the final step in their acquisition of resort operations. The Hornings said that customer service will be the ski area's future focus.

"We are pleased to enter a new era of ski operations with Joe Morita and the community of Telluride," said Chad Horning.

During the remainder of this season, there should be no major changes in the day-to-day operations of the resort. "Our intentions are to honor the unique characteristics that define Telluride," Horning said. "We want to preserve Telluride's authenticity,charm and casualatmosphere."

Smoke-free push gains momentum

Durango businesses that allow smoking are becoming fewer in number as a voluntary smoke-free initiative moves forward. In the past six weeks, three restaurants have gotten rid of their ashtrays in the name of employee health and customer happiness.

These recent additions to a growing list of smoke-free establishments can be traced back to a meeting in early December, 2003. At that time, a group of local restaurateurs and business owners met and discussed the merits of a Durango-wide ban on indoor smoking. While no conclusion was reached, dialogue began, and the Palace Restaurant, Ore House and Farquahrts have all instituted voluntary smoking bans since the first of the year.

Char Day, tobacco prevention manager with the San Juan Basin Health Department, said that awareness of smoking's danger, particularly second hand smoke impacts on employees, has continued to grow. "It seems that the more people become aware of the dangers of second hand smoke, the more business owners are working toward making their establishments smoke free," she said. "The best thing of all is that customers are really supporting these decisions."

Day said that the five new restaurants that have opened in Durango recently all made the choice to be smoke free. She also said that Scoot 'n Blues is testing the smoke-free waters and had a cigarette-free night last week.

"We're about to reach critical mass," Day said. "About 85 percent of our establishments are smoke free now. Ten years ago, around 10 percent were smoke free."

County and tribe sign agreement

With a mind to dramatic development in the Grandview area and in an effort to enhance intergovernmental cooperation, La Plata County and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe signed an agreement two weeks ago. The two bodies have entered into a memorandum of understanding concerning impacts to county roads caused by Southern Ute gravel trucks. These impacts are likely to grow as the tribe moves forward with its 2,211-unit Grandview development.

The agreement provides for the tribe potentially picking up the cost of some maintenance on county roads. In May of last year, the two bodies entered into a similar agreement on accessing county roads from tribal property.

County Commissioner Bob Lieb commented, "Strengthening the important relationship between the tribe and the county benefits all community members."

Tribal Chairman Howard D. Richards, Sr. shared Lieb's feelings. "The tribe is interested in the impacts that its gravel operations have on the condition of the roads ... and this evidences the tribe's commitment to work cooperatively with the county to mitigate or prevent those impacts," he said.

Durango to weigh in on wolf plan

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is developing a wolf management plan for the state and will be hosting a public forum in Durango next week. The plan is based on the recent reintroduction of gray wolves in adjacent states and the probability that the wolves will migrate.

"Wolves are a controversial species, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to express their opinions about wolf management in Colorado," said Gary Skiba, multi-species coordinator for the DOW.

Colorado is part of the gray wolf's native range, but wolves were eradicated from the state in the mid-1930s. Wolves have been reintroduced in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona, and they can travel long distances and may eventually migrate to Colorado.

On Thursday, March 4, the DOW will hold a Durango public forum to gauge public sentiment. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the FLC Chemistry Building, Room 130.

FLC Environmental Center honored

The Fort Lewis College Environmental Center has received another award for its efforts. The Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE) recently presented the center with the Higher Education Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. The center also was recognized with the Colorado Environmental Leadership Award a month ago.

CAEE Assistant Director Ali Goulstone Sweeney commented, "The committee was impressed that a small campus can offer such a variety of activities that reach out to faculty, students and the general public. Through education, waste reduction and ecological awareness efforts, the Environmental Center is making a difference in environmental awareness and conservation."

Michael Rendon, the center's director, remarked, "It is really great that the Environmental Center is being recognized at the state level. We are making a positive difference in our community, and people are taking notice."

New county bridge in need of name

La Plata County broke ground Monday on a new bridge that will create a more direct connection between U.S. Highway 160 and La Posta Road. Now the county is asking the public to help name it. The bridge will cross the Animas River just south of Home Depot and is expected to be completed by September.

The county is looking for a "meaningful" name for the bridge and nominations should be 250 words or less and should describe the reason for the suggestion. Prior to April 30, typed nominations should be submitted to: The Board of County Commissioners, 1060 E. Second Ave., Durango, CO 81301.

compiled by Will Sands





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