|Alaska or Bust: Despite recent
dumpage in the San Juans, some local skiers are still dreaming
of the great, white north./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
Mercy gets final nod
The Durango City Council unanimously
granted final approval to Mercy Medical Center last Tuesday. The
expanded medical facility will be the focal point of the Southern
Ute Indian Tribe's 2,293-unit Grandview development and plans to
break ground this month and open in January 2006.
Ellen Roberts, chair of
the Mercy Medical Center Board of Directors, said the council's
decision opens an exciting chapter for the region.
"Without a doubt, we are
very excited to be able to move forward because we truly believe
this is going to help improve the region's access to quality health
care," she said. "We also look forward to being a good neighbor to
the people in Grandview. That all sounds superficial but we really
Roberts noted that the
hospital is aware that it is changing the dynamic of Durango and
will work to minimize adverse impacts, including to the already
crowded U.S. Highway 160 corridor.
"We're definitely aware
that we're going to be impacting the development and direction of
Durango, and we want it to be done in the best possible way," she
She also added that
Mercy will work to be a good neighbor in Grandview. "It's not lip
service," she said. "We want to be truly integrated in the
environment out there."
Meanwhile, Mercy has
been working with city and county staffs and the La Plata Economic
Action Development Partnership (LEAD) to come up with a plan for
the current hospital facility.
"The hospital has been
in conversation with the city, county and LEAD and we're trying to
work together to get a comprehensive view of what downtown Durango
might look like, particularly after the hospital leaves," Roberts
said. "We are in favor of doing something fiscally responsible with
the building that does not compromise the community."
Vision for downtown takes shape
Downtown Durango is sparking interest
on another front. Efforts to retain vitality in the Central
Business District are currently being made by the La Plata Economic
Action Development Partnership (LEAD).
Bobby Lieb, of LEAD,
explained, "In the grand scheme of things we have a very successful
Central Business District and basically we want to keep it that
way. With the Missionary Ridge Fire, we had two years that showed
us our vulnerability. It's very important that if we want to keep
the heart of our town, we need it to be economically
In February, LEAD hosted
a public visioning session to get ideas for keeping the heart of
Durango viable. Lieb said that there is an abundance of good ideas,
and now it's just a matter of developing a game plan.
"There are a gazillion
great ideas on what we should do to help it, but no game plan,
prioritization or assessment of the resources needed," Lieb said.
"What we hope to do is identify those priorities and put them in a
On Friday, March 5, a
second gathering will be held at 8:30 p.m. at the Durango Community
Recreation Center. A preliminary sketch of a new umbrella
organization to represent all downtown constituencies will be
presented, and overall objectives will be discussed.
"Basically we'll throw
the proposal up there and let people throw darts at it and give
their input," Lieb said.
For more information,
contact LEAD at 259-1700.
In a related and
surprising move, Wal-Mart announced this week that it has launched
a Business Directory program with the purpose of promoting the
downtown business community.
"At Wal-Mart Durango we
share the philosophy that success in business starts by building
strong and healthy communities," said Russell Parker, store
director. "By creating programs that contribute to the success of
our local small businesses, everyonewill win."
A printed directory of
downtown businesses will be distributed at Wal-Mart and other key
locations, and an on-line directory is available at
Study finds housing costs
In spite of popular perception, a
recent Colorado State University study reports that the costs of
living and housing in La Plata County are actually average for the
state of Colorado. The study also showed that the local gap between
wealth and poverty is smaller than in all but 15 other
Elizabeth Garner, a
co-author of the study, noted that the cost of living and housing
is average in La Plata County and slightly above average in the
City of Durango. Garner also said that an average cost of living
does not necessarily point to easy living, and that the study did
not consider local wages.
"It's all relative," she
said. "If you've got a lot of jobs in La Plata County that are
servicing the tourism industry, they tend to not have the highest
income level. It might make it tough for those employees to afford
Garner also explained
that the study looked at income distribution within the counties
and La Plata County scored very well. "La Plata came out as
average, which is really good," she said. "That means you have a
nice distribution of income rather than extremely high incomes or
very low incomes."
Garner also said that
the study is a year old, and with escalating local property values
is rapidly becoming dated.
Silverton boarding school coming
The Rocky Mountain Adventure Academy
is planning to open its doors in Silverton, and Dr. Bruce
Kienapfel, who formerly supervised schools in Ouray, is hedging his
bets that parents from throughout the country will cough up $25,000
for yearly tuition, room and board at the new school.
The Rocky Mountain
Adventure Academy is described as a "10-month, co-ed, academic and
outdoor adventure experience for teen-agers from the United States
and all over the world," according to a report in the Telluride Watch . The story continued that the
Silverton School Board has embraced the idea of importing students
but will not make a financial contribution.
Felon breaks out of
Authorities are currently searching
for an inmate who escaped from Hilltop House Community Corrections
last Sunday night. Nineteen-year-old Joseph Castro, of Ignacio,
left the facility without permission. He had served three months of
a three-year sentence for felony burglary of the Youth Build
program in Ignacio.
Castro is described as a
Hispanic male who is small in stature with very short brown hair.
He is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighs 150 pounds, and his
distinguishing features include: "KRIME" tattooed on his upper
right arm, a tattoo of a woman on his lower right arm, a tattoo of
a little boy with a hat on his lower left arm, a tattoo of a cross
on his right hand and a scar on the middle finger of his right
Anyone with information
on the whereabouts of Castro is encouraged to call the Durango
Police Department at 385-2900.
compiled by Will