OOPS … Having an unusual Tuesday County meeting the same day as the Telluride Town Council proved a Faustian bargain for The Watch last week, and we missed some important stories: 1) A unanimous vote by the Board of Commissioners to protest the most recent gas leases (and the public pillorying of the U.S. Forest Service for contemplating gas drilling in occupied Gunnison Sage Grouse habitat and Norwood’s municipal watershed – high theater) … 2) San Miguel County’s decision to drop out of Club 20 (i.e., not paying their annual dues of $300) – something that Gunnison, San Juan and Archuleta counties have already done (call it Club 16?) … and 3) the County pledging 80 percent of federal Secure Rural School Act monies (instead of the usual 5 percent) to the two local school districts (Norwood and Telluride) resulting in over $70,000 of new dollars for local students … A pretty productive session for county government.
A PRIVATE FAMILY MATTER … Victor Rivas Rivers came to Telluride to speak at the invitation of the San Miguel Resource Center a few months back. A riveting and inspiring storyteller, he recounted his nightmare growing up. I was stunned. And motivated. I bought his book (Atria Books, New York, 2005). And wrote several poems about the physical violence that passed for “discipline” when I was a child – like getting whipped with a leather belt on the bare butt … Of course that was nothing like the abuse Rivas suffered all through his youth. And yet he went on to become successful as an actor and a spokesperson for ending domestic violence … I think the Rivas memoir ought to be required reading for all males in American society (according to RAINN, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six women and one in thirty-three men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime) ... Our own San Miguel Resource Center is hosting their annual Chocolate Lover’s Fling as an annual benefit for the campaign against domestic violence Feb. 7th at the Telluride Conference Center … 7:30 to midnight with DJ Harry … Dress like a beautiful bride or a corpse bride, dig out that old bridesmaid's dress, come as a groom, minister, wedding crasher, or shotgun wedding participant … Tickets go on sale Jan. 7th for $40 through Jan. 31st. at Two Skirts, www.tellurideticket.com, or SMRC offices.
RUMOR MILL … No, not the Paradox Valley uranium processing mill, which is on hold after the drop in the price of uranium and the drying up of capital markets, but the word-on-the-street (as a former short-time local journalist, who’s migrated to Ouray these days, used to say) has it that the impending sale of the Back Narrows Inn in Norwood to a Mountain Village developer for employee housing has fallen through. While that’s probably both good and bad (depending on your perspective), it’s a relief that we aren’t seeing Mountain Village cannibalizing Norwood’s hot beds for workhouse housing that’s needed in the Telluride Region, but for which the local developers (in league with local governments) have not provided … But Norwood needs some growth to be a viable independent community, and the Mountain Village desperately needs workforce housing. And so the two maybe ought to be talking to each other, if only to clarify what they both need and how, if at all, they might help each other.
GOODBYE THE ZEPHYR … I’ve had my quibbles with Jim Stiles (“Junior,” as his Kentucky pa calls him). But who hasn’t? The man is a walking confrontation. A cactus-hugging curmudgeon of neighboring Moab for nigh on 30 years, and publisher (for the last 20) of one of the quirkiest, most contentious community-building media organs in the Southwest (“clinging hopelessly to the past”) … Well, you can kiss the hard copy good bye. Stiles just published his last self-indulgent, factually fascinating, luridly illustrated compendium of personal rant, nostalgia, reprinted historiana, Ed Abbey worship, hot air, a fresh breeze and some really first-rate writing by a host of slickrock lunatics and hermit fanatics … We all love the damn thing, and read it almost religiously. But there’ll be no more printed issues to peruse in bookstore, bike shop or food coop on the other side of the La Sals … That’s the bad (good?) news. The good (bad) news is that it’s going international and cyberspacial, and this coming April Stiles is warning that he will be posting a new Planet Earth Edition at firstname.lastname@example.org
XCEL-ERATED …Or maybe we should just say, x-rated? … The Front Range utility that runs Trout Lake and the historic Ames hydro-electric station, Xcel Energy, was forced to shell out $2.6 million in settlement of a scandalous case of corporate shenanigans brought by Ritter’s rejuvenated (which is to say, no longer industry-dominated) Colorado Public Utilities Commission staff. It seems that Xcel had been selling more so-called “wind power” to customers via its Windsource program than it actually had been producing … Don’t you just love them energy companies?
SPEAKING OF POWER … Did anyone see the headlines in last week’s Denver Post about the fires that ravaged Boulder, “One blaze likely started with a downed power line” … That’s the same cause of those disastrous fires down in Southern California last year … When is the industry going to face the music and see the undergrounding of powerlines as a safety issue, and something they ought to be doing as a cost of business, not saddling the costs on the backs of citizens in counties where utility lines are sited?
DENVER … Took a trip to the Mile High capitol city last Thursday to schmooze with legislators and meet with one of Ritter’s cabinet, after an on-the-way Wednesday meeting in Montrose with Forest Supervisor Charlie Richmond … Starting the new year by getting the political lay of the land in Colorado, as we shift from a once-red state to a bright if curious blue (Sen. Michael F. Bennet?) … Not enough room in this column to explain the details. Maybe next week.
THE TALKING GOURD
shoots from the woods,
his pure blackness stunned
to molten silver
in the evening sun.
And another, right
behind the first,
glides along the road
into the dark woods,
– Mike Adams