Airport lands $1.6 in fed funds
The Durango-La Plata Airport will soon be getting a major facelift, thanks to a $1.6 million federal infusion.

The news was announced by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., on Monday who said the Federal Aviation Administration grant money will be used to help repair and maintain the airport’s taxiway and to expand the terminal building.

One grant of $450,000 will be used to rehabilitate the taxiway to maintain structural integrity of the pavement. The second grant, for $1.18 million, will be used to expand and renovate the terminal building to provide more efficient movement of passengers through the gate holding area.

“These grants are important tools for the airport and for the Durango and La Plata County community,” said Bennet. “They’ll allow for much needed additions that will help keep the airport safe and reliable as it expands, which is essential to supporting economic development in the community.”

 In 2011, passenger traffic at the airport set a new annual record for the sixth year in a row, with 175,019 passengers boarding commercial airlines, a 5.7 percent increase from 2010. The recent addition of nonstop American Airlines flights to Dallas-Fort Worth were seen as a major contributor to the increase. Frontier, United and US Air also increased the number of seats available to accommodate the increased demand during peak periods.

Ron Dent, Director of Aviation, said that the increased traffic demonstrates that Durango is truly becoming the regional airport for the area. “All commercial airlines in Durango are now flying jet aircraft exclusively," said Dent. "Security screening is being upgraded by the TSA with the latest advanced imaging technology ... and our customers can also look forward to new self-service airline kiosks, to be installed this year, to help speed their way through the check-in process.

The grants are part of the $3.35 billion Airport Improvement Program by the FAA Reauthorization Bill, which passed Congress earlier this year.

4CORE to give energy makeover
For local homeowners sick over their utility bills and energy usage, a new program announced by Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency (4CORE) may be just what the doctor ordered.

Based on the success of 4CORE’s weatherization program for low-income residents, which has weatherized 528 homes since 2008, the fee-based HomeRx program is for those who don’t qualify for assistance but are interested in home energy efficiency nonetheless.

“Our weatherization assistance program has been a tremendous success and we’ve noticed a great deal of interest in home upgrades from the community,” said Gregg Dubit, Executive Director for 4CORE.

The program will work with local contractors to identify areas for improvement based on individual needs, including air and gas leaks, furnace and appliance replacement, and other energy-saving measures. In addition, HomeRx also addresses health and safety issues in homes and provides links to financing options, including loans through lending institutions, rebates and other incentives.

To help launch HomeRx, 4CORE is hosting the HomeRX Energy Makeover Contest, with the grand prize of a $1,500 "energy makeover." Second prize will be a whole house assessment, valued at $600, and two runner ups will win "walk through" assessments. The grand prize winner will be chosen by a panel of judges based on annual utility bills, potential energy savings and other factors. The second place and runners up will be chosen at random.

Residents can enter via 4CORE's website,, or the 4CORE Facebook page. Deadline to enter is  June 29.

Mesa Verde gets wintertime boost
Snow probably didn't stop the Ancestral Puebloans, and now, it won't stop wintertime visitors to Mesa Verde, either. The park's new winter exploration program, which aims to expand winter options at the park with snowshoe and ski trails to outlying areas, recently received $9,765 through the National Park Foundation's Active Trails program. The goal of the program is to get people involved in parks through trail work, special events and community activities.

"This Active Trails grant will help open up some of the remote areas in this special historical resource for people to enjoy even with snow on the ground," said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. "Developing more recreational opportunities during winter, what has traditionally been the shoulder season for national parks, will help attract tourists, spur economic development in Montezuma and surrounding counties, and inject much-needed revenue into the local economies during slower months."

In Montezuma County alone, Mesa Verde helps generate around $70 million each year in tourism-related revenue and supports about 1,000 jobs.

– Missy Votel