Justice dept. mediates racial tension
The Department of Justice has taken an interest in local relations between law enforcement and minorities. Last
Wednesday, the department's Community Relations Service brought numerous stakeholders together for a community
dialogue. CRS typically provides its services when requested or when it believes peaceful community relations may be
Included in the dialogue were representatives from the Colorado State Patrol, Durango Police Department, Fort Lewis
Police Department, La Plata County Sheriffs Office and Southern Ute Police Department. Among the event's sponsors
were the La Plata Unity Coalition and Los Compa`F1eros, a local immigrant advocacy group. Olivia Lopez, director of
Los Compa`F1eros, said she saw the forum as an important first step.
"This is a great opportunity to help change misconceptions that may exist between communities of color and law
enforcement," she said. "We believe at Compa`F1eros that we have to make a strong and honest effort to improve these
Lopez noted that relationships have been steadily improving since the Durango City Council passed the "Safe Haven
Resolution for Noncitizen Residents" last summer.
"We really want to get closer to the law enforcement and become better integrated in the community at large," she
said. "I think this is a good beginning to open doors. And we have a lot of questions that we're hoping to have
CRS is a specialized conciliation service available to state and local officials to help prevent and resolve racial
and ethnic conflict, violence and civil disorder. The group helps officials and residents develop locally defined
resolutions which restore community order and stability. The Department of Justice would not comment on why it had
selected La Plata County for mediation.
Renee Parsons announces candidacy
Five names have now officially landed on the ballot for election to Durango City Council. Renee Parsons, a Durango
resident who rose to prominence as the president of the Friends of the Animas Valley, announced her candidacy
Parsons is a long-time Durango resident who entered the spotlight during the recent River Trails Ranch fight. She
said that she hopes to bring many of the same values she championed during that time to council. In particular,
Parsons cited affordable housing and growth paying its own way as major components of her platform.
"I would provide leadership on affordable housing," she said. "I would be a citizen advocate, and I would stand up
for Durango. I think another issue that's coming before the council is whether growth should pay its own way. How
much more growth do Durango residents want to pay for?"
Parsons added that she hopes to generate more public involvement in the council. "Right now there is a woeful lack of
interest in city politics," she said. "That's sad because it's in our own back yard that we have the only opportunity
to contribute real change."
Parsons concluded by saying that she sees difficult times on Durango's horizon and hopes her independent stance can
"The issues are going to be more demanding and more complex than ever, and they're going to require independent
thinking," she said. "There is no independent voice on the City Council right now."
Four others have announced their intention to seek election to the City Council. They are: Virginia Castro, an
incumbent who has served as mayor; Doug Lyon, a Fort Lewis College professor; David Burke, an information-systems
manager; and Jim Schneider, who works in office equipment sales. There are a total of three seats available including
Castro's, Aaron Tucson's and Joe Colgan's, who is term limited. Candidates have until March 1 to take out and return
a nominating petition. Mail-in ballots will be sent to city voters March 11 and must be returned by April 5.
Upper Animas River traffic grows
Traffic on the Upper Animas River could grow this summer. The San Juan National Forest is soliciting proposals from
commercial rafting companies interested in guiding trips down the remote section of Class V whitewater bisecting the
Weminuche Wilderness north of Durango. An additional 700 user days are expected to be added to the river as a result.
The 700 user days have always been there, according to Carolyn Long, Forest Service outfitter and guide
administrator. They just haven't been used.
"Several years ago, we awarded 700 days on the Upper Animas to a company in Arizona that never used a single day,"
Long said. "We've decided to turn those days back out to the public."
Service days will be allocated in blocks of 50 or 100 days each. All told, there will be approximately 1,000 user
days on the Upper Animas this summer. Because the stretch of the river is remote and rigorous, new applicants will be
carefully screened. However, Long said that existing outfitters will probably apply for additional days.
"We're going to assume that many existing outfitters will go after those days, and they're already familiar with the
protocol up there," Long said. "The number of days isn't quite doubling but it will definitely be somewhat more."
The Forest Service will accept proposals through March 25.
Grant gives boost to museum
As progress continues on the renovation of the Durango Discovery Museum, more grant funding is arriving. The museum
recently received an $84,900 grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund.The City of Durango is providing a $28,100
match to bring the total award to $113,000.
The funds will be used to complete the exterior restoration of the historic 1893 Power House - the oldest known
surviving AC steam plant in the country. Exterior restoration includes: reconstruction of the west tower,
rehabilitation of the east tower, removal of stucco to expose the original brick fa`E7ade, and complete restoration
of the windows.The historic Power House will be the future home of the Durango Discovery Museum, a science and energy
museum along the Animas River.
To date, the Durango Discovery Museum has raised more than $1.1 million. To learn more, visit the Durango Discovery
Museum website at www.durangodiscovery.org.
Rolfer arrested for sexual assault
A Durango Rolfer has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting some of his female clients during body work
sessions. The Durango Police Department arrested 47-year-old Paul Corley on Feb. 17. Rolfing is a form of body
massage focusing on soft tissue manipulation and movement education to release chronic stress/tension patterns.
It is alleged that Mr. Corley sexually assaulted the clients by touching them during sessions that occurred at his
place of business. At this time, two victims have come forward and reported the assaults.
Durango Police are seeking any of Corley's past or present clients who also believe that they were touched
inappropriately. They are asked to contact Detective Rita Warfield, at 375-4736.
- compiled by Will Sands