DNF election scrapped for now

Looks like Durango Natural Foods members will not be heading to the ballot box in December after all. There is a new wrinkle in the effort to recall the co-op’s Board of Directors stemming from a flap over a proposed merger.

The board announced last week that the Dec. 3 recall election of the co-op’s board has been shelved because the petition process that triggered it ran afoul of co-op bylaws. The board is relying on free legal counsel from local law firm Shand, Newbold and Chapman, which was done at the behest of some members.

According to a letter sent Nov. 6 to petition leaders Pat Blair and Root Routledge, the petition process failed to adhere to co-op policy in a number of ways. For starters, the bylaws state mediation is the preferred method of resolution to any dispute between the co-op and members that cannot be resolved through informal negotiations.

“The clear intent of the bylaws is to require mediation of disputes rather than subjecting DNF to the types of procedures, such as the one you propose, that tear at the very fabric of the organization,” stated the letter.

The letter goes on to state that the bylaws do not allow for the appointment of an interim board or the management of the affairs of co-op, as requested by the petition. It also argued that the release of sensitive financial information regarding the proposed merger could be detrimental to the co-op and give competitors an edge.

The letter states that the recipients had three days to respond, but as of Wednesday they had not. DNF Board President Geoff Wolf said although the three-day deadline had passed, the board’s door was wide open. “The board’s looking forward to sitting down and working out a solution and doing what’s best for the co-op,” said Wolf.

He added that the upside to the controversy is that is has ignited a new interest among co-op members. “The good news is it’s kindled a new energy among owners to particate,” he said. “We’ve got a great conversation going.”

To add to that conversation, Wolf urges members to attend next Monday’s board meeting, which will feature CE Pugh, chief operating officer of the National Co-op Grocer’s Association. “He’ll talk about trends for food co-ops, what consumers want and what to be looking for to broaden our vision,” he said.

The meeting goes from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the Animas Room at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. For more information, go to durangonaturalfoods.coop.

SCAPE receives $60,000 grant

The program that helps local businesses get off the ground has received a boost of its own. This week, Region 9 Economic Development District announced that its Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs, aka SCAPE, was awarded a $60,000 grant as part of USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant. SCAPE is the only Colorado organization to receive rural enterprise funds in the 2014 fiscal cycle.

The grant will help support the SCAPE program, which offers mentoring, office space and investment funds to new business ventures. Since its start in 2013, the program has graduated six business ventures creating eight jobs and leveraging $465,000 in investment. The program goal is to create and develop high-growth, job-creating companies in Southwest Colorado.

“SCAPE is an additional tool in the tool box that identifies the emerging businesses that need intensive mentoring and capital investment to put them on the growth company track,” Region 9 Assistant Director Laura Lewis Marchino said in a news release. “We greatly appreciate USDA Rural Development for its support of such an innovative project in a rural area.”

Business proposals for the next SCAPE program, which starts January 2015 are being accepted until Nov. 23. For more information about SCAPE, go to www.goscape.org or contact SCAPE Director Elizabeth Marsh at emarsh@goscape.org.

Meeting held on Dryside pipeline

The Dryside could be getting a little wetter with the help of a proposed water pipeline, and local residents are being asked to weigh in on any possible environmental consequences. The pipeline, which would bring water from Lake Nighthorse to Lake Durango, will be discussed at a meeting hosted by the Bureau of Reclamation at 6 p.m., Tues., Nov.18, at the Durango Recreation Center.

The public meeting will provide information on the La Plata West Water Authority’s proposal to build a 4.6-mile raw-water pipeline from Lake Nighthorse to Lake Durango. The pipeline, which would cross private and BuRec lands, would help meet current and future domestic water needs in the western part of the county.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, BuRec is required to disclose the environmental impacts of the proposal in an environmental assessment. The public is welcome to submit any comments or concerns that should be considered in the environmental review process.

All comments will be considered prior to preparing the final EA. Comments can be submitted by email to prieger@usbr.gov or mailed to: Phillip Rieger, Bureau of Reclamation, 185 Suttle St., Ste. 2, Durango, CO 81301.n

County Planning Commissioners sought

The La Plata County Board of County Commissioners is seeking a few god men and women to serve on the county Planning Commission. Planning commissioners act in an advisory role, offering recommendations on land-use issues to the county commissioners.

This position is advisory and is not monetarily compensated. However, reasonable mileage expenses will be reimbursed and a meal provided. Applicants must be county residents. For a more thorough job description, go to www.co.laplata.co.us or pick one up at the Information Desk at the La Plata County Courthouse, 1060 E. 2nd Ave. Applications are due Nov. 21. For more information, call (970) 382-6219.

Heating bill help for low-income residents

The La Plata County Department of Human Services is again partnering with Discover Goodwill of Southern + Western Colorado to administer the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, or “LEAP.”   This federally funded program assists low-income households with utility costs for their main heating source. To qualify, applicants must be responsible for paying heating costs directly to an energy provider, fuel dealer or as part of rent. Eligibility and benefits are determined by factors such as household income, type of dwelling, family size and fuel type.

Applications are available at the La Plata County Department of Human Services, 1060 E. 2nd Ave., La Plata Electric Association, local libraries and at many community agencies and fuel vendors.

LEAP eligible households may also qualify for the Crisis Intervention Program (CIP), which provides assistance with the repair or replacement of a home’s primary heating source such as a furnace or wood-burning stove. For CIP assistance and applications or more information on LEAP, call (866) 432-8435 or visit www.colorado.gov/LEAP.

Missy Votel

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