Sledworks and Silverton at odds over zoning

Things could be going downhill for Mountain Boy Sledworks. A zoning dispute may lead the Town of Silverton to shut down the local institution in coming weeks. Whether the sled-building company constitutes a craft or light industry is currently at the heart of the disagreement.

Mountain Boy Sledworks has produced hand-made wooden sleds in Silverton since 2002 and ships the locally produced items all over the world. However, the small company was issued a Stop Work Order on Oct. 1 after Silverton building inspector Dee Jaramillo witnessed a minor renovation in Mountain Boy’s downtown workshop. On Oct. 15, the Town of Silverton went one further, noting that use of the shop space – which Mountain Boy has occupied for a year – constitutes a zoning violation. At issue is whether or not the sled company represents a craft or industry. The answer is obvious to Brice Hoskin, owner of Mountain Boy Sledworks.

“From my point of view, they’re basically making it up as they go along,” he said. “In this exact zone, there have been both a ski factory and a snowboard factory, and there are currently several places doing fairly heavy woodworking.”

According to a report in the Silverton Standard, Town Planner Adam Sickmiller considers Mountain Boy “a fabricating, manufacturing and assembly facility” and such a facility is not permitted downtown. “All that the town officials are doing is looking at the situation at hand and applying the codes that have been adopted, and there are appeal processes they are welcome to,” Sickmiller told the paper.

However, Hoskin alleged that the town may actually have a grudge against Mountain Boy. Hoskin also owns the Montanaya Distillers, which operates a bar and distillery in downtown Silverton. When the business started last year, the same building inspector cited the business for several violations, which Hoskin appealed to the Town of Silverton.

“During that process, we went to the town and said what the building inspector was saying was unreasonable,” he said. “The town agreed with us.”

Mountain Boy Sledworks is currently in its peak production period of the year and is continuing to build kick-sleds in spite of the Stop Work Order. “Throughout this process, we’re doing everything we can to act legally,” Hoskin said. “The town says we’re defying them, but we’ve talked to the lawyers, and the lawyers say ‘go ahead and keep working.’”

Hoskin is also in the process of finalizing his appeal, which must be received by the Board of Adjustment by Nov. 5. He is hopeful that the Town of Silverton will see fit to keep Mountain Boy sliding. However, his confidence has also been shaken.

“In this time period, I’ve basically watched the reputation of Silverton go from business friendly to business hostile,” Hoskin said. “I think that’s really a shame.”


Cyclocross season returns to town

Mud, sweat and gears return to Durango this weekend. The Fort Lewis College Cyclocross Series leaves the starting line Nov. 1 and runs through the series finals on Dec. 6.

Cyclocross races fill cycling’s fall and winter shoulder seasons with precarious and often muddy courses negotiated on skinny but knobby tires. Barriers and obstacles are also thrown into the mix, forcing riders out of the saddle and adding a steeplechase component to the two-wheeled discipline. Cross courses are often sadistically difficult, and crashes, cold and injury are all offshoots of cyclocross culture.

The local cross season will kick off in fine form Nov. 1 with Nightcross, a special nighttime race at Dennison Field football stadium on the Fort Lewis College campus. Cash and other prizes will go up for grabs in the Nightcross race, and racers will also start earning points toward the overall series. In the coming weeks, the FLC Cyclocross Series will travel to other venues around the Four Corners, first to Dolores, then Cortez and Aztec before returning to Durango.

Registration for Nightcross begins at 4 p.m. at the stadium and runs up until 15 minutes before the start of each race. The Men’s B and Women’s Open races start at 5 p.m., Kids and Mountain

Bike races are set for 6 p.m., and Men’s A and Men’s 40+ get under way at 6:30 p.m.

Local riders looking for a little work on their cyclocross skills are also in luck. FLC Cycling Head Coach Matt Shriver will host a cyclocross camp Nov. 5-7, and cyclocross practices are also scheduled for each week. More information on the Cyclocross Series can be found at: ?p= 238. Riders interested in cross camp can contact Shriver at:  


Canada lynx killed near Silverton

Local Canada lynx have gone back into the cross-hairs. The Colorado Division of Wildlife announced this week that another lynx has been illegally killed near Silverton.DOW personnel located the carcass, which appeared to have been dispatched by someone using a bow and arrow, on Oct. 7 in the Kendall Mountain area. The lynx was a radio-collared male that was born in 2005.

This is by no means the first time a lynx has been illegally killed in the region. In 2006, the first cat was shot twice by a high-powered rifle in the Hermosa Park area about 35 miles north of Durango. Later that year, a second lynx was shot at close range with a shotgun on a road just north of Silverton.

In spite of these setbacks, the DOW is continuing to reintroduce lynx into the San Juan Mountains, and more than 200 lynx are believed to be alive in Colorado’s southern and central mountains thanks to the effort that began in 1999.

However, the agency is also eager to see the illegal killings come to an end. Any person with information about this recent incident is encouraged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Callers can remain anonymous and a reward is available to anyone providing information leading to a conviction of this crime.


H1N1 flu claims first local lives

Swine flu claimed its first local lives last week. The deaths of two Montezuma County residents as a result of H1N1 were announced Oct. 26. It was unknown at the time if either patient had underlying health conditions.

“Every year there are people who die from seasonal flu,” said Lori Cooper, Montezuma County Public Health Director. “These deaths remind us all that flu – H1N1 or seasonal – is a serious disease.”

Marc Meyer, Pharmacist and Infection Control Specialist at Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez, said that most people seen in the emergency room with flu-like symptoms have been sent home. The few that have been flown out to other hospitals have had underlying health conditions. “It is important that if someone is sent home and their condition worsens to call their doctor to determine if they should come in again,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control report that influenza is unpredictable, and high levels of H1N1 activity may continue for several weeks. Even after swine flu activity peaks, it’s possible that other waves of seasonal influenza may occur.

Vaccination for H1N1 has begun in Southwest Colorado, but so far supplies are small and vaccines are being given to priority groups determined by the CDC guidelines. More doses are expected each week.

– Will Sands




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