|Swap Shop: Mike Posy and Karina Madden
survey the boats for sale during the annual gear swap at
Four Corners Riversports on Saturday afternoon./Photo by
Write-ins elected to mosquito district
Voters turned out in unprecedented
numbers for last Tuesday's Animas Mosquito Control District
election. When the count was done, two write-in candidates, Paul
Sugnet and Tony Whittle, were victorious.
Sterling Schaaf, manager
of the Animas Mosquito Control District and the election judge,
said that in past years, there were not even enough candidates to
merit a vote. "I've never had a vote in the past," he said. "It was
an excellent election. There were over 725 voters."
Write-in candidate Tony
Whittle took in the most votes at 434, closely trailed by fellow
write-in Paul Sugnet. Travis Stills and Dean Mullen earned 305 and
290 votes respectively. Glenn Hieronymous trailed with 25 votes.
Stills and Mullen both ran on a platform of integrated mosquito
control and minimized spraying of pesticides. Hieronymous called
for an immediate end to spraying.
Following the election,
Sugnet commented that he had not run with a specific agenda in
mind. "I wasn't really running on any particular platform," he
said. "I think there's been way too much made about spraying vs. no
spraying as opposed to an integrated approach to mosquito control.
I'm interested in the best control we can get."
He added, "I think
everyone on the board is of the same mindset."
Sugnet said his interest
in being on the board stemmed from his ownership of the 123-acre
Animas Meanders Ranch north of Durango and his efforts at mosquito
control on the property. He stressed that this control has not been
limited to spraying.
"For me, I'll be
starting from ground zero," Sugnet said. "I know quite a bit about
wetlands. I don't know much about the mosquito district and how
they operate. I do know that they've done a good job."
Stills, who finished the
race in third place, said he campaigned with Mullen not to end
spraying but to open the district to public oversight. With this in
mind, he considered the election a success.
"I think the election
was a very big deal," he said. "The folks who are concerned about
reining in the mosquito control manager Sterling Schaaf and reining
in the board that oversees the district made some great
Stills did say that two
write-ins receiving the most votes did seem suspicious. "To have
that many people turn out and vote for a write-in shows an
incredible mobilization effort," he said. "One could and should
learn from their tactics."
residents to continue to call in "no spray" requests and document
abuses. He said that efforts to open the Animas Mosquito Control
District and the Florida Mosquito Control District will
"We basically had the
political machinery of Durango working against us," Stills said.
"But I think it was a very successful run and a very good start.
There's still a lot of work to do on this and it's moving
Plant charged with new violations
An area power plant is facing a new
lawsuit based on alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Charging
that the San Juan Generating Station near Farmington has made
consistent violations, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club
filed notice last week that they intend to sue the Public Service
Company of New Mexico (PNM).
In the spring of 2002,
the groups filed an earlier suit against PNM for violations at the
plant. In spite of the challenge, violations have continued at the
plant, according to Rick Moore, Associate Director of the Grand
"Since we filed our
original case in 2002, PNM has continued toexceed its pollution
limits at the San Juan power plant," he said. "This notice letter
will allow us to pursue PNM's violations between May 2002 and the
present to protect not only the people living in the region but the
skies above them."
The notice alleges that
PNM has continued to violate the limits set forth in the plant's
permit since the filing of the 2002 complaint. It charges that PNM
knowingly purchases and burns coal in the plant's boilers with an
ash content exceeding the design specifications of the
"We have recently
learned in our current litigation that PNM has not operated the
plant in a manner to minimize air pollution," Moore added. "The
decision to burn high ash content coal combined with frequent
increases and decreases in load causes excessive amounts of
unhealthy pollutants to be discharged and is simply
Prescribed burning gets under way
Prescribed burning has begun in the
region, and residents from Dolores to Pagosa may see smoke
The Pagosa Ranger
District began hand igniting the Fawn Gulch Burn, 5 miles northeast
of Pagosa Springs Tuesday. Plans are to burn a little more than 100
acres a day for the next three days.
The Columbine Ranger
District completed a control line around the 2,000-acre Bull Canyon
Burn area early this week and began aerial ignitions. The Ute
Mountain Tribe began aerially igniting of the North Thomas Burn,
south of Mesa Verde National Park.The Dolores Ranger District
also completed 255 acres of burning at Beaver Railroad on
"We realize that after
some of the big fires in the last couple years that it is very
frightening to see smoke in the air, but we hope it will reduce the
chances of having to endure three to four weeks of continuous smoke
from a wildfire," said Pam Wilson, Fire Information Officer for the
San Juan Public Lands.
Candidate calls for audit of A-LP
A Democratic contender for the U.S.
Senate has called for an investigation into cost overruns
associated with the Animas-La Plata project. On April 29, candidate
Mike Miles announced that he would support a General Accounting
Office audit of A-LP.
For the last two years,
construction has been under way on the water project immediately
south of downtown Durango. Last fall, it was revealed that the
Bureau of Reclamation's original cost estimates for the ambitious
project were 50 percent short of the reality and that costs would
increase by $162 million.
Miles explained his
support for an audit, saying, "Government policy requires more
transparency, not less. The lack of transparency in this case plus
the apparent fiscal mismanagement suggests a government audit would
Miles is currently the
underdog for the democratic nomination for Sen. Ben Nighthorse
Campbell's seat. He is going head to head with Colorado Attorney
General Ken Salazar for the nomination and gaining
compiled by Will