Buy out of Giant creates local gasoline monopoly

A gasoline monopoly is taking shape in Southwest Colorado. A recent merger created the fourth-largest oil refiner in the nation and brought control of many of the Durango area’s gas stations under one company. Whether the high prices associated with monopolies will hit remains to be seen.

Western Refining Inc., a company based in El Paso, Texas, announced recently that it is purchasing Giant Industries Inc. The approximately $1.5 billion dollar deal will make Western Refining the fourth-largest, publicly-traded independent refiner and marketer of oil and gasoline. In addition to its existing oil refinery in El Paso, Western will gain Giant’s refinery in El Paso, two refineries in northern New Mexico and an East Coast presence with a refinery in Yorktown, Va.

Following the merger, Western’s primary operating areas will encompass West Texas, the Mid-Atlantic and the Four Corners region. The company will now have control over 159 gas stations and convenience stores in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Any franchise operating as Conoco, Mustang or Giant will now be solely owned by Western Refining.

Western’s president and chief executive officer, Paul Foster, argued that the acquisition will be a win-win. “This transaction is a win for our shareholders, employees, customers and the communities we serve,” he said. “With Giant, we will significantly increase our refining capacity in fast-growing, high-demand areas and gain an immediate footprint in new, complementary businesses.”

On the up side, Western Refining does have a strong record for safety and conservation.

“As we move forward and grow together, we intend to maintain our record of safety and environmental stewardship that has made us an industry leader,” concluded Foster.

Orio’s faces criminal charges

The party could be over at Orio’s Roadhouse. Last week, the District Attorney filed criminal charges against the Durango bar, which has fought and violated the statewide smoking ban enacted July 1.

Since the ban was enacted, Orio’s has claimed exemption, saying more than 5 percent of its revenue is generated from tobacco sales, and it qualifies as a cigar/tobacco bar. In the first round of the legal battle, Orio’s prevailed. On Aug. 30, District Judge David Dickinson issued a preliminary injunction and prevented District Attorney Craig Westberg from prosecuting based on the fact that the bar did not have an on-site humidor in 2005.

Last week, Westberg approached the situation from another angle and filed criminal charges against the bar for violations of the Colorado Indoor Clean Air Act.

In filing the charges, Westberg noted that Dickinson’s order did not prevent him from pursuing the case. The real question is not the humidor, but whether 5 percent of the bar’s revenues were actually generated from the sale of tobacco products.

“The case will proceed in our adversarial system of criminal justice as would any other prosecution under a new and untested statute,” Westberg explained. “I should add that while this is a minor offense, it is still a criminal prosecution, and the defendant is, under our system of justice, entitled at this point to the presumption of innocence that protects us all.”

Orio’s Roadhouse is currently the only establishment in Colorado electing to fight the ban.

‘CosmoGIRL!’ spotlights Fort Lewis

Fort Lewis College is gettting some unusual ink this month.CosmoGIRL!magazine, a teen version of Cosmopolitan, released its third annual “Guide to the 50 Best Colleges.” The guide, a mini-mag inserted in the October 2006 issue, listed Fort Lewis as one of its top picks for CosmoGIRLS to attend.

Editors at the magazine teamed up with The Princeton Review, which reviews and names top colleges annually. Together, the two looked at the key factors that give girls an advantage upon college graduation. The factors include small class size, prominent female faculty members, strong women’s sports programs, a career center that facilitates internship opportunities, opportunities to hold leadership positions in clubs and activities, and an active alumni network.

The magazine also consulted hundreds of college students, guidance counselors and college admissions experts to select the 50 colleges that provide the best overall academic and social environments for girls.

“We looked beyond schools with prestigious names and high price tags that frequently make the top of other best-college lists and focused on the colleges that really were the best for preparing girls for their future careers,” says Susan Schulz, CosmoGIRL!’s editor-in-chief.

Unfotunately, FLC it did not receive the coveted “Campus Kiss” award – given for Coolest Parties, Nicest Dorms, Best Food, Prettiest Campus and Best Athletic Programs. In making the list, the local college joins heavy-hitters like Stanford, Duke, Middlebury and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as lesser-knowns like Pitzer College, Bard and Earlham College.


Film festival hires new director

Independent film has new leadership in Durango. The Durango Independent Film Festival has hired Karyle Frazier as its new executive director.

Carla Finlay, DIFF Board president, said that Frazier brings a wealth of experience in event planning, festivals, volunteer development and oversight to the festival. “We’re very pleased to have Karyle join the film festival as the executive director,” she said. “Having a full-time employee managing the organization will help elevate our film and media literacy efforts and give us a consistent effort in producing the film festival throughout the year.”

Frazier was the executive director for the Farmington Main Street program for three years and was nominated as an “Upcoming Leader in San Juan County” by the Four Corners Business Journal. Prior to arriving in Farmington, she was a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Volunteer in Blanding and helped to run the Four Corners Indian Art Market at the Edge of the Cedars Museum. Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Frazier now calls Durango home.

The Durango Independent Film Festival came into being last year to replace the original Durango Film Festival. After five years in existence, the first festival defaulted financially. The second annual Durango Independent Film Festival is scheduled to take place during the first week of March, 2007.

– compiled by Will Sands


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January 25, 2024
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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows