A piece of rebar gets ready to do some heavy lifting in
south Durango./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
Two democrats vie for Joswick's seat
Democrats have joined the race for one
of the two La Plata County Board of Commissioners seats that will
be up for election this November. This week, Wally White and David
Black both declared their candidacy for the seat held by Josh
Joswick. Term limits prevent Joswick from running for reelection.
Republican William Holmes has also announced his interest in
filling Joswick's shoes. Commissioner Bob Lieb's seat also is up
for election, but the county clerk's office has yet to receive any
candidate affividavits for the seat.
Grandview resident Wally
White recently rose to prominence as the founder of the Friends of
Grandview, a group watch-dogging the Southern Ute Indian Tribe's
Three Springs Development. White has served on the La Plata County
Planning Commission, the Florida Mesa District Planning Commission,
the County Predator Control Committee and was a 1991 graduate of
Leadership La Plata. White said that growth is the issue that most
influenced his decision to go for the seat.
"Certainly, the growth
and transportation issues facing the county are at the top of my
list," White said. "Other interests and concerns that I have are
health care and the idea of a health district, oil and gas rigs of
course, living wages and affordable housing."
Bayfield resident David
Black is also an advocate of sustainable growth. Black currently
sits on the La Plata County Planning Commission and the Bayfield
Planning Commission and also is a graduate of Leadership La Plata.
Black said he is most concerned about growth, health care, a
housing authority, open space and continuing the discussion of
transferable development rights. Black added that the planning
process is key to all of these issues.
"I'm big on planning,"
he said. "I think it's important to elect someone who believes in
the integrity of the planning process."
Whether White or Black
gets on the ballot for Joswick's seat hinges on a decision by the
La Plata County Democratic Party. That decision will be made during
the caucus on April 13.
Organic garden gifted to Manna
Fort Lewis College students are
currently working to enhance the offerings of the Manna Soup
Kitchen. A sociology class is in the process of installing an
organic vegetable garden outside the soup kitchen. The effort began
last semester and is intended to improve Manna's self
"Our hope is to get it
started and hand it off to the Soup Kitchen," said Fort Lewis
College student Dedra Wallace.
Thus far, seeds have
been ordered and vegetable beds have been created. This month, the
group will work to build a fence around the plot and is looking to
the community for support.
"We do have a small
budget to work with, but we're looking for community support,"
Wallace said. "The next project will be building a fence around the
plot this March."
Wallace added that the
plan is to have the project eventually network the community with
the everyday clients of the Manna Soup Kitchen. With this in mind,
Wallace said that the group is seeking volunteer labor,
contributions and donations of supplies. For more information, call
Grant jumpstarts power plant project
Efforts to convert the abandoned 1893
Durango Power Plant into the Durango Children's Museum moved
forward this week. The State Historical Fund recently granted
$210,000 to the Children's Museum of Durango to help renovate the
structure located at the corner of Main Avenue and Camino del
The construction project
will attempt to preserve various aspects of the landmark's
traditional structure by removing the stucco to reveal the original
brickwork and reconstruct certain architectural features such as
the wood-framed window panels.
"Our first goal is to
rehabilitate the original interior and clean up any hazardous
ground materials," said Jama Kolosick, the project's fund-raiser
The City of Durango will
also begin a powerhouse project of its own in late spring. "The
city is intending to replace the existing roofing on the building,"
said City Engineer Greg Boysen. "It's more of a stabilization of
the building, however, we are using a more historical roofing
The city has agreed to
donate the powerhouse to the Children's Museum, assuming certain
funding goals are met by the museum. Plans are for the historic
structure to become the Durango Discovery Museum, which will offer
hands-on learning experience highlighting the scientific and
technological innovations made in the area.
"The Children's Museum
does have to meet some funding requirements by this summer," said
Assistant City Manager Greg Caton.
However, Caton added
that the project has strong positive momentum. He noted that
Kolosick and Mayor Virginia Castro will be in Denver this week to
request another $300,000 grant for the project.
"I think everything's
very positive but they still have a lot of money to raise," Caton
said. "We continue to work very closely with them and think they
have a nice plan."
The total cost of the
powerhouse renovation is estimated at $5 million.
"We hope to raise enough
money through grants and local dollars from the community to
complete the project over the next three years," said
Kolosick said initial
construction should begin this April.
Average wildfire season forecasted
Above-average moisture this winter
should make for an average wildfire season, according to current
projections. However, drought is persisting throughout the West,
and precipitation over the next few months will be the final
"It's a little hard to
predict anything until we see what happens over the next few
months. A lot is dependent on the moisture we get in April and
May," said Pam Wilson, fire information officer for the San Juan
Current projections are
for the 2004 fire season to mirror last summer. Wilson noted that
in spite of appearances, last summer was actually fairly active
with firefighters battling 500 wildfires in the area. Still, it was
nowhere near the record 2002 fire season, which was highlighted by
the Missionary Ridge and Valley fires.
Wilson concluded that
there is cause for optimism because of the good winter, but added
that the drought and beetle kill continue to impact the
"We're still playing
catch up after five years of serious drought, and there are a lot
of dead trees out there," she said. "There's a strong probability
of an active fire season."
compiled by Will Sands
& Mary Jane Carroll