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 threatened.

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 relationships."

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 answered."

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 Tuesday.

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 help.

"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




News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index