Thursday, Jan 17, 2003  content presented by Telluride Today .com About The Watch

Headlines (click headline for full story )

Making the Connection in Telluride; Women's Business Network Hosts Party

TMVS Names Neil Hastings Its New Group Sales Director

Online Ticketing to Telluride Events Now Online

St. Michael's and Mountain School Students Learn Together on the Ski Hill

Somers Wins Crucial Ruling in Discrimination Suit Against School District

Silverton Mountain: A Big Bet on Controlling Big Terrain

Dolores County Voters Veto Rico School District Annexation Question

TSSC Freestyle-Trained Reed Takes Third in World Cup

Real Estate Drops in 2002, Though Some Segments Remain Strong

Medical Center Board Hears Protests Over Nurses’ Treatment and Weighs a Response

Housing Authority Raises Limits on Buyers Assistance Program

Your 2002 Tax Returns Could Fund Local Watershed Initiative

Broomball Team Slot Opens Up

Beavers Break Open Winter Season With Triple Wins Over Gunni and the Butte

Full Stories

Making the Connection in Telluride; Women's Business Network Hosts Party, Jan. 22 at St. Patrick's Church Hall, By Martinique Davis


Calling all local women entrepreneurs, artists, volunteers, and more… the Telluride Women’s Network is hosting its third annual Business Women’s Networking Cocktail Party this Wednesday, Jan. 22.

“It’s a good opportunity for women in the community to meet other women and talk with each other about their special interests – from business, to art, to non-profit work,” says event organizer and women’s network board member Jeanne Knope. “It’s an especially good time to network, and it gives women the opportunity to support other women in the community in all their ventures.”

The cocktail party is just one of the women’s network’s many yearly events, aimed at providing women in the Telluride community with social opportunities to connect with other local women.

Greer Garnar, president of the women’s network, explains.

“The goal of the group is to enhance the connections between women in the area, through social functions, networking activities, outdoor activities, and more," she says. "The purpose of the Telluride Women’s Network is to create a viable and diverse community of women dedicated to business, social, recreational, and educational associations within the community.”

Some women’s network programs include the Telluride book club and the dining and home activity group. 

The women’s network sponsors five events throughout the year. The September membership party puts a focus on bringing new members to the group, while the December holiday Party, spring ski-in, ski-out party, and July BBQ parties put more of a focus on simply getting together and having fun in a relaxed social setting.

The January networking party, as Garnar explains, is a chance for all women in the community to get together and exchange business cards, talk about different interests, and share their skills and hobbies.

The women’s network started more than ten years ago, when a handful of local women decided to throw a party and invite all the women in town, newcomers and oldtimers alike. Startled at the huge number of women that showed up, around 75 in total, the women’s network founding members, including Sheri Flatt, decided to put a group together that would address the needs of women in this small community.

After its founding in 1988, the group decided to become a non-profit organization.  Their first project was to raise money to plant trees around town, in locations where trees had once stood.

The women’s network ended up planting trees at the Telluride Historical Museum, the Telluride Schools, and the Wilkinson Public Library – an undertaking the community was much impressed with.

The group soon dwindled in numbers, until a drive to reinvigorate the program was kindled in 1998. Carol Clancy served as president of the organization for the next two years, followed by Carol Kammer for one year.

Garnar was sworn in to her two-year term as president last July.

She says of the organization: “It’s a wonderful way to connect with other women, and feel like a part of the community.” She adds, “As a psychologist, I am aware of the importance of women’s connections. I hope that more women will look into getting involved with the Network – and not just new women in town, but women who have been here a while as well, to add diversity and strength of connection. We are always hoping to broaden our horizons, and are open to new ideas and directions.” 

The cocktail party will take place in St. Patrick’s Church Hall, from 6 to 8 p.m. this Wednesday. Knope stresses that all women in the community are invited, though reservations should be made with Knope at 728-8016. Cost for the event is $20.


TMVS Names Neil Hastings Its New Group Sales Director, By Elizabeth Covington


Three months after Mountain Village Metro Services announced that it was turning over its Telluride Conference Center group sales activities to Telluride and Mountain Village Visitor Services, TMVS has announced it has hired a new group sales director.

Neil Hastings, the director of sales and marketing at the Wyndham Peaks Resort, was appointed by the TMVS board to head the new group sales department. In his new position, Hastings will market and sell lodging properties and conference facilities throughout the Telluride region, including the Telluride Conference Center

"He is a great salesman and wants to get back to selling," TMVS Executive Director Dawn Ibis said this week. "If sales is your schtick, the versatility of this job is attractive."

Hastings brings to the position 20 years of experience in resort sales and marketing. For the past 16 months he has been director of sales and marketing for the Wyndham Peaks Resort. Prior to that he was director of sales and marketing for the Sheraton Tamarron Resort, which is 10 miles south of Durango Mountain. He moved to the Tamarron job after working for 10 years as director of group sales for Walt Disney's World Swan and Dolphin Resort, a mega-hotel in Orlando that has 2,225-rooms and 300,000 square feet of meeting space. Orlando runs neck and neck with Las Vegas for having the most hotel rooms of any other city in the country, Hastings pointed out.

"I am excited about the move to TMVS,” Hastings said. “This is an opportunity to sell all of Telluride, to sell the destination. I am not leaving the Peaks because I don't like it there. This opportunity fits because of who I am."

Hastings’s twenty years of experience means he has the knowledge, the expertise and the contacts necessary to bring group sales to the region, he said. In his new position he will be charged with finding lodging and conference facilities for all types of groups, including professional associations, social and fraternal organizations, continuing medication education conferences, as well as more informal gatherings such as family reunions.

"We are unbiased and neutral," he said, when asked how the new department would make sure all properties within the region have an equal shot at booking groups. "Our bottom line is to get groups to the region. Our job is to qualify the groups and help them figure out where they want to go and what they want. We will do that on an equitable basis."

Hastings said he looks forward to the job as a new challenge and as an opportunity to build a new effort.

"I've done big tasks before," he said, "and I relish a challenge."

Taking over regional group sales is a good thing for TMVS, said Ibis. "The Mountain Village wants more group volume and TMVS thinks it could take on regional sales and book groups into the region,” she explained.

By increasing group sales in the region, Ibis hopes to create compression, a marketing theory that says the greater percentage of occupied rooms in an area, the more lodging properties can charge for their rooms. Currently, the region's annual average booking rate is 30 percent. Compression does not start to take effect until bookings average 60 percent, Ibis said.

As part of transferring groups sales activities, as well as conference center bookings, to TMVS, Mountain Village agreed to help fund the new department by giving TMVS an anticipated $170,000 in lodging tax revenues and business license fees that Mountain Village will collect in 2003. The funding shift takes Mountain Village back to 1999 when the $10 million conference center opened and Mountain Village diverted that same revenue stream to help fund a sales and marketing department for the conference center.

Hastings said his intention is to stay permanently in the area.

"I have a home here. My children like it here. I am passionately in love with Telluride and the San Juans," he said.

Hastings assumes his new post on Feb. 10, when he will join sales marketing manager Wendy DeVoll who has been on the job since the first week of January.

Former director of sales and marketing for the Telluride Conference Center John Burchmore applied for the job in November, but withdrew his application in mid-December, Ibis said.


Online Ticketing to Telluride Events Now Online, By Marta Tarbell


<>, a Telluride-specific ticket-selling website, is now open for viewing on the internet.

Although organizers planned a March start-up date, the site could sell tickets online as early as February, and could accommodate ticket sales for the Telluride Repertory Theatre's March production of Godspell.

The site already lists events ranging from Telluride Jazz Celebration's Winter Concert Series (Stanley Jordan, Jan. 22-23) to the Telluride Wine Festival to Dance in Telluride's still-in-the-planning-stages summer presentation of two weekends worth of performances from the Colorado Ballet.

"If we can get buy-in, we think it adds to the stability of the non-profits" by offering a viable box-office presence online, said Telluride Foundation President and CEO Paul Major, to the fifty or so representatives of Telluride region non-profits gathered at Wilkinson Library Monday afternoon to hear the presentation,

Organizers hope to secure a physical box-office site sometime in May.

Individuals buying tickets on the website will pay a four percent surcharge; organizations represented on the website will pay credit card charges for all tickets sold. Eventual profits will be divided among participants, Major added, with "royalties" going to the Glen Group, the builder of the site.

The New Hampshire-based Glen Group, a onetime advertising agency that's now a "convergence marketing firm" with a strong emphasis on website production and design, has established a presence over the last year in Telluride. Local projects include the Telluride Ski Co. website, which debuted last year; the Telluride Foundation's website; and websites for Allred's, the Telluride Ski and Golf Club, the Telluride Youth Soccer Club and, as of this week, ASAP.

Except for a $5,000 startup "seed amount," according to Glen Group President and CEO Nancy Stolen Clark, her 24-employee firm will get the Telluride box office project up and running gratis – work that she estimates as having "an $80,000 retail value."

In payment, the firm will eventually receive royalties from the site, although the precise details of that arrangement are not yet available.

"We didn't go into it as a moneymaker," Clark said in an interview after the Monday meeting, but rather because it is "a really good thing for the community."

The Glen Group plans to create "a photo gallery" for individual events, and is, in Clark's estimation, foremost an information-distribution service for Telluride.

Once the website is running, she added, "We may use it as a model to take to other communities" – not Colorado ski resort communities, she emphasized, but "maybe to island communities.

"We are very loyal to Telluride," Clark said.

Dance in Telluride board member Dan Garner, the local point-person for the up-and-coming ticket-selling site, says he got involved after fielding numerous complaints about ticket-purchasing difficulties for Dance in Telluride performances. As he spoke, Garner gestured toward the screen displaying Dance in Telluride information about the Colorado Ballet. Dance in Telluride is negotiating with the ballet, "one of Colorado's oldest and most successful arts institutions," for Aug. 8-10 and Aug. 15-17 performances (see related story, page TK).

That deal has yet to be signed off on, Garner said in a telephone conversation the next day, but it is being structured as a "partnership" between Dance in Telluride and the Colorado Ballet. Space for the August performances has already been reserved at the Telluride Conference Center.

Telluride Mountain Village Visitor Services Executive Director Dawn Ibis pronounced herself pleased with the Glen Group's progress – observing, however, she would still like to see opportunities to "up-sell" on each page.

Telluride Council on the Arts and Special Events Chair Ron Gilmer expressed concern that the site does not yet offer specific seat assignments" – something Garner agrees should be forthcoming in the website's design, in an effort to facilitate getting "the volume that we need to make this financially viable."

Major added his hope that all ticket-selling organizations would use the site.

"We're going to take a pretty hard look at organizations" declining to take advantage of what it offers, he said, and asking: "'Why aren't you participating?'"

"That will probably be me," piped up the Ah Haa School's Anne Troshynkski, whose organization delivers a far-flung and far-ranging schedule of classes, meetings, lectures and events year-round, fielding questions from teachers and participants on a regular basis.

Garner is scheduled to meet with Troshynkski sometime next week.

"This can't work for the Telluride AIDS Benefit," said Telluride Council on the Arts and Humanities Chair Ron Gilmer, "unless it's majorly changed to allow assigned seating" – something Dance in Telluride would like as well, Garner indicated.

The website is being designed so that users can go from a given organization's website to <> in just one click. "They really won't think they're leaving your website," Garner explained.

In a conversation after the meeting, Major explained that his relationship with Nancy Clark dates back to his days with Booth Creek, where the Glen Group "did some website design."

With most website designers, he said: "You either get the technical people or the art people, and you need a combination," which the Glen Group provides. With all of the business the firm is conducting in Telluride, he added: "They're practically locals."


Watch Education St. Michael's and Mountain School Students Learn Together on the Ski Hill, By Martinique Davis


Though the eight students from the St. Michael’s Association for Special Education

School made up only a small fraction of the crowd gathered in the Telluride Adaptive Ski Program headquarters in Mountain Village on Tuesday morning, their excitement was palpable.

Student Sean Parker paused while tightening his snowboard boots to tell me that this was his first time in Telluride.

Classmate Trina (“just Trina," no last name) sat beside Parker grinning. When I asked if she was excited about going skiing, she nodded her head vigorously and grabbed my hand. 

“Is this your first time ever to go skiing?” I asked.

“Yes! Yes!” she said, smiling even wider than before.

A TASP instructor tried to attach a lift ticket to St. Michael’s student Elwanda Cook’s jacket, but she could barely sat still.

“We got to ride in a big bus!” she exclaimed, throwing her hand up in the air and moving it over her head like an airplane. Her instructor from St. Michael’s explained that she meant the gondola. She and her classmates were "very" impressed on their first ride, Cook said.

It was their beaming smiles, however, that said everything about exactly how impressed the St. Michael’s students were with hitting the slopes in Telluride.

Trina, Cook, Parker, and five other St. Michael’s students traveled to Telluride on Monday night for a “ski field trip,” joining with TASP and student volunteers from the Telluride Mountain School for two days of skiing and snowboarding on the Telluride Ski Area.

Joe Pacal, who teaches vocational gardening and woodworking at St. Michael’s and who used to be a ski instructor with the Telluride Ski and Snowboard School, said that his students rarely get the opportunity to participate in such activities as skiing and snowboarding.

“This trip is such a great opportunity for them to get out and experience other things.  Many of them never even have the opportunity to get off the reservation, so something like coming to Telluride really is a big deal to them,” Pacal said.

This is the second year that students from the St. Michael’s Association for Special Education school have made the four-hour trek to Telluride from Window Rock, Ariz., to participate in TASP’s ski and snowboard lessons. TASP Vice President Ed Fuller explained that Telluride’s connection with St. Michael’s stemmed from a Mountain School field trip to Window Rock three years ago.

After the trip, Mountain School students invited students from St. Michael’s to visit Telluride, and teamed up with TASP to offer ski and snowboard lessons to St. Michael’s school students who accepted the invitation last year.

Fuller says everyone involved had a great time last year, and this year seemed to be the same.

“Bringing a group such as St. Michael’s school students to Telluride to participate in our adaptive ski program is yet another part of TASP’s outreach program,” he said. “[TASP] can help build character and enhance the lives of people that are less advantaged than we are, by offering them the opportunity to enjoy the freedom and independence that skiing can bring.”

The eight St. Michael’s students weren’t the only students learning about personal freedom and physical independence this week – ten Mountain School students also joined in the field trip fun, offering assistance to TASP instructors and volunteers on the mountain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I think it’s cool that we can work with kids like these, who we’ve never met before and who come from such a different background,” Kenya Strong, a fifth-grade Mountain School student, explained. 

She said that she and her classmates also had the opportunity to take out TASP’s ski equipment, like bi-skis and mono-skis, on Monday.

“Trying out the bi-skis and stuff was fun, but it was important too because we got to learn about how it would feel to be handicapped,” she said.

Fuller and the entire adaptive ski program crew, as well as the Mountain School students, anticipate making the St. Michael’s Telluride ski field trip a yearly event.

Special thanks goes to Bear Creek Lodge, who donated accommodations for all eight St. Michael’s students and their four teachers, Pacal added.

Somers Wins Crucial Ruling in Discrimination Suit Against School District, By Elizabeth Covington


Former Telluride High School Spanish teacher Carlos Somers won a first round last week in his lawsuit against the Telluride R-1 School District, when District Court Judge Charles Greenacre ruled that the school district must comply with a Telluride ordinance that prohibits discrimination against a person for their sexual orientation.

Somers, who is openly gay and taught on and off at the school for more than ten years prior to his dismissal, brought his action for discrimination against the district last spring when the District School Board, at the recommendation of District Superintendent Mary Rubadeau and Middle/High School Principle Steve Larivee, voted against renewing his contract. In addition to charges of discrimination, Somers has also claimed violation of his First Amendment right to free speech and his Fourth Amendment right of free association. He also has claimed that he was a tenured teacher, not a teacher on probation status, and thus could not be summarily dismissed by the district. Under the state's education laws the a probationary teacher is one who has not completed three full years of continuous employment and who has not been reemployed for a fourth year.

"This is a landmark decision," said Somers's attorney Bob Korn, adding that the judge's order affirms Somers's position that the school board is not above Telluride's ordinances. "They spin they put on why they fired him is horrible."

When Somers’s contract was not renewed in May of last year, the administration's recommendation to the board contained charges of inappropriate language in class, as well as open insults to school staff, and to Larivee in particular. At the time board members said they simply voted to approve the recommendation that Somers be non-renewed. Somers’s non-renewal precipitated an outpouring of letters of support from his students.

Telluride voters approved the anti-discrimination ordinance in 1993, in a show of support for Aspen, Boulder and Denver, which already had such laws on the books, in response to the statewide campaign to pass Amendment Two, prohibiting local governments from enacting laws protecting gays. Though state voters approved Amendment Two, both the Colorado and U.S. Supreme Courts later found it to be unconstitutional.

"That ordinance is finally doing something and coming to light," said Korn.

The district's attorney Christopher Gdowski did not return calls for comment.


Silverton Mountain: A Big Bet on Controlling Big Terrain, By Elizabeth Covington


This is the second in a two-part series looking at Silverton Mountain. On Tuesday, Jan. 14 the Watch ran Part One, which described a day of skiing at Silverton in early December 2002.


Starting from scratch to build, permit and operate a ski area, even a small one, in the current climate of cautious public lands managers and seemingly out-of-control litigation is no easy task. The Telluride Ski and Golf Co. spent a dozen years securing a U.S. Forest Service permit to open Prospect Bowl. What was to be Catamount Ski Area near Steamboat Springs never opened, in part because of the daunting, and expensive, task of landing the right federal permits.

When Aaron Brill arrived in Silverton in 1999 to launch Silverton Mountain, he envisioned a hometown mountain, a one double-chairlift operation similar to New Zealand's club fields or small ski hills in Montana, such as Missoula's Snowbowl or Libby's Turner Mountain.

To Brill the vision is clear: Silverton Mountain will be a ski hill where skiers and snowboarders who are passionate about riding steep and deep snow will congregate, a place to ski and ride. Silverton's website further makes the point: Brill and his fiancé and co-owner Jen Ader are snowboarders, not golfers; they are here to ski and ride.

The path from vision to an up-and-running project, however, has been a slow and rocky. Since the 30-year-old Brill bought his first mining claim in the summer of 1999, he has been tunneling his way through the local and federal permitting process, working with San Juan County and the Bureau of Land Management office in Durango and negotiating a minefield of issues, including maintaining public access to public lands and answering questions about public safety on a mountain forged out of avalanche terrain.

Last winter, Brill opened the ski area with a conditional permit from the Bureau of Land Management, the federal permitting agency for the project. That permit allowed a maximum of 40 skiers a day on the mountain and required each skier to carry a shovel and probe, and to wear an avalanche beacon.

This winter's permit, an annual, winter-only permit, allows 40 skiers per day and requires paying customers to ski with a guide. Additionally, all ticket holders are required to carry a beacon, shovel and probe poles and hear a safety talk before boarding the lift.

By next winter Brill hopes to secure a permanent permit that will allow unguided skiing for a maximum of 475 skiers, or more than ten times the current maximum, per day.

Brill first submitted an application in 1999; at the time the agency required an environmental assessment. In December 2001, the BLM, concerned about the various impacts of the ski area, required Brill to submit an environmental impact statement, a more involved report that will look at all types of impacts the ski area will have on the area, including impacts to the environment, public safety, the local economy, and wildlife habitat.

According to Brill the jump up to an EIS was a "technical issue," and not required by the National Environmental Protection Act. The BLM asked for it because "they are worried about safety," he said. "That is the only issue they had. They want to paper the issue so they cannot be sued."

The BLM, however, maintains that the EIS is required and needed to look at a broader spectrum of issues, only one of which is public safety.

"NEPA is not just an environmental analysis," said Richard Speegle, BLM project manager for the permit. "It is also about cultural, economic and social issues. In this case public safety is the main issue. The entire area is in avalanche terrain, so much more so than other resort areas." In addition to public safety, BLM wants a closer look at the ski area's impact on lynx habitat, its impact on neighboring private lands, and as well as it impact on public access to public lands, Speegle said.



Supporters of Brill's venture welcome the economic shot-in-the arm that Brill might bring to the area.

"The positive side is that the ski area will help add to the winter economy," said Speegle. "The school has only 40 kids and is about to shut down. About 90 percent of the land in [San Juan County] is in federal management. We are a huge player in the county's economy."

Even Brill's vision of attracting a Toyota truck-driving-clientele, as opposed to the Land-Rover-set, would be a boost for the area’s failing economy. Since the Sunnyside Gold Corp. closed down in 1991, Silverton has suffered one of the highest unemployment rates in the state; and due to low enrollment, the district is threatening to close Silverton's Elementary School. This past summer, when the train from Durango was threatened by the Missionary Ridge fire and shut down for several weeks, Silverton businesses experienced a 20 percent drop in summer sales; summer sales are their primary, and in some cases only, source income for the year.

That he is delivering a widely perceived needed boost to the local economy has not spared Brill's development from controversy.

One of the biggest questions is whether Brill and his team can safely control the snowpack. Some critics have pointed out that offering a “steep and deep” ski area in the San Juans, a mountain range with one of the most dangerous snowpacks in the world, is at best a risky venture and at worst an unmanageable project.

"In order to allow unguided skiing we have to meet industry standards for safety," Brill said. In fact, Brill's avalanche control plan requires repeated skier compaction throughout the winter.

"It is tough for us now," said Brill of the current plan that relies almost exclusively on explosives. "It will be easier when we have more skiers. The key to controlling a Colorado snowpack is compaction. Early in the season we bootpacked the starting zones of our runs. The key in the future will be to ski the mountain all year and not let a weak layer develop."

Heading Brill's snow safety team is Pat Ahern, a ski patrol veteran who worked at Telluride, Breckenridge and A-Basin before going to Silverton Mountain. At Telluride, Ahern was second in command for snow safety. Assisting Ahern is Aaron Rodriquez, another former Telluride patroller, as well as a former Loveland patroller, and two others who learned their trade interning with Ahern last winter. The area will also bring in seasoned patrollers from other areas, Ader said, as needed after a big storm.  

The area has six zones and will be opened zone by zone, as the snow safety team is able to control each area, Ader explained. Opening the mountain one zone at a time allows snow safety to ensure that each area is safe and ready for skier traffic. It also provides skiers new untracked terrain days after a storm. Moreover, management, Brill and Ader, will open those areas only when the snow safety team certifies they are ready, Ader said.

Some also question whether Brill’s 1,600 acres of permitted terrain and 365 acres of private land is enough to offer the “untracked” promised on the mountain's website. If a skier wants steep and deep, they should go heli-skiing or backcountry skiing where one can always find new, unskied terrain, suggested one local ski guide.



Maintaining public access to Colorado Basin, a traditional backcountry ski area for locals, has also been a thorn in Brill’s side.

Prior to Brill’s development, the lower end of Colorado Basin saw regular backcountry skier traffic. There, folks skied public and private land. When “No Trespassing” signs appeared on Brill's private land, some were incensed; while not all the land skied was public, locals had long treated it as though it was public.

"The areas skied in the past were really private property," said Brill, in defense of his signs. "Now that we have more personnel on the mountain and are using explosives, it is better to keep the private areas closed all the time. People were irritated they couldn't ski on private land."

The controversy escalated when the signs were torn down by a local ski posse and a group of local skiers claimed that Brill and the snow safety team threw explosives to close to where the group was skiing. The controversy was escalated, not quieted, when in February the BLM completely closed access to the area, shutting down nearly 1,000 acres of public land for the rest of the winter.

This year in an effort to balance public access and public safety, the BLM provided an access point to the south end of Colorado Basin, under Storm Peak. The hitch is the BLM lands are reached by 1.8 miles of a county road connecting with the Cement Creek Road. Under a permit with San Juan County, Brill can close that access road when he is conducting control work above. To date he estimates he has closed the county road for three days out of every week, a closure rate that is still too much for some.

When this reporter mentioned to Ader that a friend and I had skied on Red Mountain the day before and we were impressed with the size of the terrain, she responded quickly: “You see, there is plenty of room around here, and we haven’t really squeezed people out of the backcountry.” 

To monitor the issue of public access, as well as issues of snowpack control, the BLM hired snow ranger Dennis Hogan. Hogan will be on the area nearly every day, working with Brill and his snow safety team on avalanche control work and monitoring the closure of the county road.



No one doubts that Brill faces an uphill battle in making Silverton work. Whether he is controlling serious avalanche terrain, balancing public access with public safety, or assuring his investors that the area will receive a permanent permit, his job is a demanding one. Many agree, however, that the idea of a ski mountain built for skiers has its appeal.

As one Silverton resident who preferred to remain unidentified said, "In concept this is a really good idea. Skiing for skiing's sake. The question is whether they can get a handle the avalanche safety and public access."

In spite of the uphill slog, the vision has not lost its appeal for Brill. We get emails every day from folks 15 to 70 years old who love the skiing here, he said, and we are already getting repeat visitors.


Dolores County Voters Veto Rico School District Annexation Question, Telluride and Rico Vote 'Yes', By Elizabeth Covington


Despite winning strong support in Telluride and Rico, an effort on the part of Rico parents to annex their town to the Telluride R-1 School District failed on Tuesday, rejected by a large majority of voters in Dove Creek.  The reorganization plan needed the approval of a majority of voters in both affected school districts in order for it to have been approved.

Voters in the Dolores County RE-2(J) School District decisively voted down the measure, by a vote of 136 to 238. Voters in the Telluride R-1 School District supported the measure by margin of 233 to 154; Rico voters also supported the plan, 76-22.

Had the plan been approved, school-age children in Rico would have been assured a spot in the rapidly filling Telluride schools, a security they currently do not enjoy. Approximately a dozen Rico children currently make commute with their working parents to attend school in Telluride. However, because they do not reside in the Telluride school district they are not assured a desk in Telluride's schools, if and when those schools reach capacity.

Under the reorganization plan, Rico and the immediately surrounding area would have been annexed to the Telluride school district; Rico property owners would have remained obligated on the outstanding Dolores County bond for that district's new high school; Rico property tax owners would have also added to their property tax burden an obligation for the Telluride district's three outstanding bonds. Additionally, had the plan been approved, the Dolores school district would have transferred ownership to Telluride of the Rico elementary school building and an adjacent park, which was closed in the 80s due to low enrollment.

The space crunch in the Telluride is real Telluride School District Superintendent Mary Rubadeau told The Watch last week. "The Telluride Elementary School is totally full," she said.

Though they lost this vote, Rico parents have vowed to pursue other alternatives to make sure their children have access to the Telluride schools, said Rico parent Nicole Pieterse. Pieterse, an attorney in Telluride, provided pro bono legal work to the Rico Reorganization Petition Committee and helped draft the reorganization plan.

"We are meeting next week and are going to review all our options, including achieving this through state legislation," said Pieterse. "I don't think that Dolores County will ever want to let us go. Rico overwhelmingly said, 'yes.' Telluride voted for us by a good margin. We want to keep moving forward."


TSSC Freestyle-Trained Reed Takes Third in World Cup


Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club Freestyle Team-trained aerialist Kate Reed reached her first World Cup podium Sunday, finishing third in the World Cup aerials event in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

She was joined on the podium by Jeret (Speedy) Peterson, of Boise, Ida., in the sunny but bitter cold weather. Peterson, in his first World Cup of the winter, was second to Canadian Jeff Bean while Reed finished third behind Olympic champion Alisa Camplin of Australia.

It was the first World Cup aerials event since the opening weekend Sept. 7-8 in Australia. The contest starts the North American tour, which includes the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National with two aerials meets and a moguls contest this weekend in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the 2003 World Championships Jan. 29-Feb. 1 on the Olympic venue at Deer Valley, Utah. Reed, who graduated from high school last spring, stuck impressive landings on her full full and lay full jumps.

According to U.S. Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen: "It was a good breakthrough. Kate's jumping huge and it's nice to she's getting a piece of it [success]. There's always home cooking and we've got Lake Placid and World Championships, so it's going to be great…

"I just needed to stay really focused and I knew top-three was in my range and in my head as a focus," Reed said.  "I just wanted to come out here and do the two best jumps I could and see where they put me.

"I was really relieved it was over and I had landed," she continued. " I knew I was going to land and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less today. I knew I could land. I’ve landed lay full a million times before, and there was no reason to not land it today.

"It was a little chilly with the wind but the wind wasn’t affecting me much.  The sun came out and I knew it was going to be a good day."

Her podium appearance followed an off day, another cold day in the Laurentians west of Montreal. "We were afraid the weather was going to be really bad [Saturday] so that’s why we didn’t jump but I kept my focus mentally.  I jumped in my head so I wasn’t really taking the day off."

The World Cup schedule resumes today with the first of two aerials events in Lake Placid.


Real Estate Drops in 2002, Though Some Segments Remain Strong, By Seth Cagin


There is no arguing with the numbers. The dollar volume of real estate sales in San Miguel County last year was dramatically down from the year before, from $430.9 million in 2001 to $319.2 million in 2002, a 26 percent drop, according to statistics compiled by Judi Kiernan of Telluride Consulting.

Making matters worse, last year’s drop comes on the heels of an equal drop from $546.2 million in sales in 2000 to 2001’s $430.9 million. 

But if there is no denying a dramatic 42 percent drop in sales from the year 2000’s record numbers, the situation may not, in fact, be as sobering as it appears. Real estate professionals interviewed this week pointed to a number of positive numbers in last year’s results, including strong sales of single-family homes in both Telluride and Mountain Village, and some said they believe the market has bottomed out. Unless, as several cautioned, there is a renewed weakness in the national economy or an international cataclysm in Iraq or Korea. 

“I think there are a lot of people who were happy to have their money in San Miguel County real estate this past year, compared to high-tech stocks or even blue chip stocks,” said Jim Lucarelli of Real Estate Affiliates of Telluride. “I think this is still a very healthy market that still compounds at a good yield.”

Indeed, as Kiernan pointed out, despite the market correction of the past two years, San Miguel County still shows a compound annual growth rate in dollar volume of seven percent over the past ten years and six percent over the past five years. And while it is definitely a buyer’s market, as compared to 2000 when buyers were bidding asking prices up, and currently there is downward pressure on prices, prices have not dropped significantly, several brokers said. Instead, sellers are holding to their prices and buyers are exercising caution; that produces fewer transactions.

Another important consideration in evaluating the market, Kiernan said, is to remember that year 2000 has proven to be an anomaly, a spike that could not have been repeated if only because sales that year consumed so much inventory that there wasn’t enough left for an immediate encore.

“I think it is a very positive sign that people are holding on to the properties they bought then,” Kiernan said. “It shows they are not speculating, but bought them to keep them.”

Back in January 2001, while reviewing the results from 2000, most local real estate professionals said that they expected and would in fact welcome a correction. They got one, a 21 percent drop in dollar volume, and at the end of 2001 were able to take comfort from the fact that sales in 2001 were actually still ahead of 1999, suggesting that if you back out the anomaly year the growth of the market was steady.

There’s no such comfort now, with 2002 sales the lowest since 1998, when $256.7 million in real estate sold in the county. But there is another mitigating factor. The biggest drop in sales between 2001 and 2002 came in San Miguel County, where sales dropped more than fifty percent, from $185 million in 2001 to $92 million last year.  There were two enormous sales in the county in 2001, however, which skewed the numbers, one the bulk sale of land at Sunnyside Ranch and the other a sale of property from one Aldasoro family member to another to settle a lawsuit.  While both sales truly occurred and must be counted, Kiernan explained, both were one-time events that don’t necessarily say much about the rest of the market. If you back both sales out of the year-end figures for 2001, the drop in total sales in the county from 2001 to 2002 was not 26 percent, but just 17 percent.

Meanwhile, Kiernan noted, sales in the Town of Telluride were actually up from 2001 to 2002, from $96.2 million to $100.3 million. And while sales in Mountain Village were down 15 percent overall, sales of single-family homes in Mountain Village were close to the 2000 record levels, with 21 transactions worth nearly $60 million in 2002, compared to just 14 sales worth $44.3 million in 2001.

The resurgence of sales in Mountain Village single-family homes “is one of the brightest points about the market,” said Buzz Fedorka of Peaks Real Estate. The relatively large inventory of high-end homes on the market in Mountain Village is “a direct result of the resort’s maturing,” Fedorka explained, with more homes that were constructed a few years ago being turned over.

If there is a large inventory available in Mountain Village, the opposite is true in Telluride, where the market is characterized by a lack of supply to meet the strong demand, both for single-family homes and for lower-end condominiums. Many of those less expensive condos have sold to locals taking advantage of record-low interest rates. Meanwhile, single-family homes in Telluride are pushing the $1,000 per square foot level, Lucarelli said.

“People are buying either where they see value or an irreplaceable product,” explained Lars Carlson of Peaks Real Estate. “I wish I had fifty condos in town under $400,000.”

There is no question, he added, that the slower economy and slower real estate market have forced real estate brokers to work harder to make sales. Over the holidays, Carlson and virtually every broker in town was busy showing properties, but people were “shopping but not buying,” Carlson said.

“I think it’s great,” he added. “It makes work more exciting. But it’s definitely a lot harder to get people to write up an offer. You know, with Iraq and Korea and the stock market, people are waiting. Once those issues are resolved, they will come back.”

Steve Butts of Telluride Properties reported that his office has been exceptionally busy the last three months. “We’re seeing more buyer interest than we saw a year ago,” he said. “I think we’ll have a pretty good year. There are a lot of offers and counteroffers going back and forth. The next two weeks, we’ll see what goes to contract.”

Rosie Cusack of Exclusive Vacation Properties said that she is getting a number of appointments set up now for February and March, and that people are coming to town with the express purpose of looking at and buying real estate.

On a more sobering note, George Harvey of Harvey and Associates, said that Telluride is down more than Aspen and Vail. “I don’t feel good about that,” he said. But one possible reason is that “we had more of a spike in 2000 than they did.”

“I am encouraged that lodging reservations are up so far this winter and for the rest of the winter,” Harvey added. “The first movement in a resort market recovery is in lodging and restaurants and retail, and all of those signs are positive right now. Colorado statewide outperformed the rest of the country in the last sixty days.”

Harvey was willing to venture a prediction that “last year was the bottom and we’re moving in a positive direction.”

“There are probably some of the best buyer purchases of the last five to seven years available right now,” he added. “Two years from now there are going to be a lot of people who wish they’d taken advantage of it.”


Council Weighs Continued Support of Dance in Telluride, Village Briefs



Next summer, dance performances in Telluride could be provided by the Denver-based Colorado Ballet, a change from last year when Mountain Village hosted three national touring companies and the five years before that when the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago was here on a summer residency.

Partnering with the Colorado Ballet, Dance in Telluride Chairman Bob Erie told the Mountain Village Town Council on Tuesday, could help sell tickets and fill both the Telluride Conference Center and local lodging on two August weekends, because the ballet company would help market the program.

“Last summer was not a good year for us,” Erie acknowledged, noting that drought, forest fires and a national economic downturn did not help. Dance in Telluride has concluded that it must actively market packages that include both ballet tickets and lodging, he said.

Though the town has invested a total of $400,000 in Dance in Telluride over the past several years, substantial financial help this year will not come without difficulty.

“The town is already operating with a deficit budget, and is cutting into reserves,” noted Mayor Dave Flatt.

On the other hand, said Councilmember Linda Rodgers, “I hate for us to not work with an organization that has worked with us and that we’ve invested in heavily.”

“I hate to pull the plug, too,” Flatt rejoined, “but I hate to go further into debt from our standpoint.”

If Dance in Telluride does receive government funding, the economic value it returns to the town should be closely tracked, said Councilmember Davis Fansler.

Council agreed to form a committee to meet with Dance in Telluride and other Mountain Village entities, including Mountain Village Metro Services, which owns the conference center, and the Telluride Foundation, which supported Dance in Telluride last year, to attempt to find a way to subsidize next summer’s proposed dance performances.



Is a three-foot-wide planter big enough to grow evergreen trees that can screen a 16-foot high fence? Alternatively, is an eight-foot-wide berm required to do the job? Or could the fence, intended to screen “unsightly” light industrial activities on a lot in the Meadows neighborhood, be effectively landscaped with aspens or shrubs or in some other way?

Seeking to answer those questions, the Mountain Village Town Council overturned the town’s Design Review Board on Tuesday in finding that a proposal to help clean up the Meadows by substituting a retaining wall and three-foot-wide planter for an eight-foot-wide berm is indeed adequate to meet a “compliance plan” aimed at cleaning up the neighborhood. Council conditioned its decision, however, on a requirement that a landscaping plan be submitted for approval as part of the final development plan for the lot.

The decision came in the course of an appeal of the DRB decision by developer John Horn, who is seeking final approvals for a 22-lot affordable housing subdivision.

Reducing “unsightliness” in the Prospect Plaza area has been on council and Mountain Village Metro Services agendas for the past couple of years. In July, the property owner agreed to a “compliance plan” that includes screening the lot containing light industrial uses from the view of neighbors with a tall fence atop a four-foot high berm. The lot was subsequently subdivided and the master plan for affordable housing on the undeveloped portion of it was approved.

Sticking to the original compliance plan would have required two of the affordable housing lots to be reduced in size, Horn said, and would thus have an unnecessary negative impact on affordable housing.

Thirteen of the 22 lots are under contract.



Violators of parking regulations in Mountain Village will no longer face the possibility of jail time, following the approval on second reading of amendments to the town’s traffic code on Tuesday. Fines could be as large as $1,000, however.

Council also approved amendments establishing rules to govern parking regulated by the town’s new meters.



The rent structure for some units at the Village Court Apartments will be changed to a flat rate, from the current variable rent structure based on income. The variable rates are reducing the occupancy rates, Mountain Village staff told the Mountain Village Town Council Tuesday. A flat rate structure would produce about the same average rents, but could increase occupancy, improving the bottom line.



Mountain Village saw nearly $55 million in construction valuation in 2002. Nearly $22 million worth was in single-family homes. The $55 figure compares to about $80 million in construction in 2001 and a budgeted figure of $72 million.

At year-end, Mountain Village was about 59 percent built-out, with 1,306 units undeveloped out of 3,159 possible units in all categories, including single-family, condominiums and hotels.


Medical Center Board Hears Protests Over Nurses’ Treatment and Weighs a Response, By Marta Tarbell


A raging controversy that has played out in letters to the editor and in street talk over the past several weeks reached the Telluride Medical Board of Directors on Wednesday, as the board faced a roomful of citizens asking why two nurses have been fired as part of the Telluride Medical Center’s transition from management by Montrose Memorial Hospital to self-management.

The new local management on New Year’s Day did not offer employment to Donna Kolar and Dawn Hartenburg, two RNs who had been with the medical center for a total of about 13 years. That decision followed weeks of meetings about how to restructure the center’s operations into separate family medical practice and 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week emergency services, which Telluride voters agreed to subsidize in November.  As part of that restructuring, the nurses’ job descriptions and schedules were changed, which they protested to the board in December.

"I would never have voted for an increase in funds to the medical center had I known you were going to take local residents’ jobs away and put them out of work,” Jerry Cope told the board Wednesday. "If you continue this pattern at the Medical Center, I will avoid using your services," he added, and sat down to applause.

Lou Fanning described herself as a regular visitor to the center, and said: "Ninety percent of the time I've seen the nurses," who have given everything from IVs to injections to dressing changes. "A medical assistant can't do that."

"Dawn saved my leg" from amputation due to a staff infection, she added. "We need nurses on the family practice side," she said firmly. "I would not have voted for the mill levy," she added, had she known it would lead to RNs' dismissals.

The medical center’s newly hired executive director Linda Erickson explained that plans to hire a "triage person" at the front desk of the family practice clinic will "delve more deeply" into patients' presenting problems, and match them up with medical personnel accordingly.

But rehired RN Cathy MacMillan disputed Erickson's contention that the ER was adequately staffed.

"We are not fully staffed," she said, citing as an example last Sunday, when three patients with chest pains came to the facility and "one of them waited 40 minutes.

"That's not quality care," MacMillan said.

Telluride Middle High School Guidance Counselor Sandy McLaughlin told the crowd that she was there to offer moral support for longtime friend Christine Tschinkl, a part-time RN for nine years at the medical center, who declined the new administration's offer of on-call duty only.

"Where is the due process?" McLaughlin asked the board. Turning to Kolar, who sat in the front row of the audience, she said: "Donna. Is it true – you walked in ready to work" on Jan. 1 "and were told you didn't have a job?"
Kolar nodded.

"How dare you treat people like that?" McLaughlin demanded of the board. "It's not fair to do that. How dare you do this to them?"

"Before the last year or two, I wouldn't go to the medical center," said family practice patient Chris White, explaining that he was unhappy with care he received there "in the early 90s." A recent injury sent him back and he was treated by the now dismissed RNs who " asked if I needed them to come up and make me dinner."

"This town is like a family to me,” White said, “and this town stands behind these women completely."

"If that had happened to me, I would be devastated," said Mandy White, standing next to him, referring to the RNs' dismissals.

Donna Kolar asked the board about its noticing practices for its monthly meetings.

On advice from attorney (and Telluride Mayor) John Steel, board-member Alexandra DuJardin said, notices were posted at the medical center and at Rebekah Hall.

That's not enough, said Kolar, according to "the official bylaws of the Telluride Hospital District," which call for 24-hour advance noticing in the town's paper of record.

"It is a violation of the open meeting law to not have publicized this board meeting" as well as the fact that at meeting's end, the board planned to go into an inadequately noticed executive session, Kolar charged.

(DuJardin explained after the meeting that the board is in the process of changing its bylaws.)

Holding up a file folder, Kolar said: "Here is my personnel file. If you are going to discuss me, I am willing to declare this an open meeting."

"I don't think it's appropriate to discuss personnel issues in front of a full audience," Board President Stephen Wald replied.

"I waive my right to executive session," Kolar said.

"We don't want to waive ours," said Wald.

Marty Rosenthal, M.D., a board-certified emergency room doctor who has worked, on and off, at the Telluride Medical Center since 1984, had the last word.

"I see a bigger issue here," he told the crowd. "The medical system in this country has collapsed," with health-care professionals working in challenging conditions everywhere. The medical center, in Rosenthal's estimation, cannot run effectively "without quality nursing," and has shown, at the administrative and board levels, "a lack of respect for the doctors and nurses.

"You have to treat your employees professionally," he said. As for the doctors: "We cannot work without high-quality nursing," said Rosenthal, who rejoined the medical center staff in October, following a several-year hiatus. Quality health care, he suggested, comes from "the people who work in the trenches," whose commitment is "much more than just getting a paycheck.

"The credibility of the board is under incredible scrutiny right now," Rosenthal pronounced.

With that, the meeting adjourned to go into executive session with Kolar and Hartenburg,

Reached at his home Thursday morning, board member Rick Houck, M.D., said that the board is in the midst of "deciding a nice, happy medium way to deal with this," referring to the still-unhired RNs. "The board is close to making a decision, but has not made a decision yet.

"We are considering all our options."


Housing Authority Raises Limits on Buyers Assistance Program, Hopes to Attract More Participants,  By Elizabeth Covington


In the first half of 2002 the average price of a house in the Town of Telluride was $1.16 million. The average price of a Mountain Village home last year was $2.7 million. A house in the Elk Meadows section of Lawson Hill recently sold for $380,000.

It is an old story: resort workers cannot afford to live where they work. The good news is that the San Miguel Regional Housing Authority's Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance program is making a difference. The program offers local employees loans to help them make the down payment on their first home.

Last week the SMRHA board raised the limit on the allowable purchase price of the home, the annual income limit and the amount it is willing to loan for a down payment. The new limits are $322,700 as a maximum purchase price and $10,000 as a down payment loan. Those limits were increased from $250,000 for a purchase price and $5,000 for the down payment. In addition the annual income limit were increased; to qualify a one-person household income cannot make more than $61,033, a two-person household, $69,733.

Under the program, the down payment is loaned for the term the homebuyer owns the property. When the home is sold, the loan, as well as interest equal to the increase in the value of the home, is paid back. The homebuyer also has the option to pay back the assistance within the first three years at five percent interest. Repaid funds are then recycled to families needing assistance.

"Home prices have escalated and wages are not keeping up," said SMRHA Administrator Laura Duncan. "The last time these limits were set was January 2001."

Though the program began four years ago, until last year funding was sporadic.

The program assisted ten households in 2001 with buying their first homes. In 2002 the program made only three loans.

Now that the program guidelines have been increased, Duncan hopes to help more households this year. In fact, since the changes were made, the housing authority is working with four households, all of whom are expected close in the next three weeks.

"Our board spent a lot of time looking at how to change the program and make it better," Duncan said. "We got together with the lenders and asked them to help us. They helped us understand why we had not seen more participation."

Last year the program took a big step forward when it secured a sizeable pool of money. The region's local governments, Telluride, Mountain Village and San Miguel County, each gave $50,000 to the assistance pool.

"This is seed money for the revolving loan fund, though depending on the circumstance, we might have to ask for more funding in the next year or two,” Duncan said. “As loans are repaid we will always have money to help."

When homes will be sold and loans repaid is a question yet to be answered, Duncan said.

On average households across the country remain in their homes for five to seven years. Locally, however, households have stayed in their homes at the longer end of that standard, Duncan said.

"Our supply is limited and the demand is outstripping the supply," she said. "The evidence is that prices are going up."

The program has been a good one for the individuals that use the program, Duncan said. "And the program overall has been a good example of how we can look to the resources we have locally." In addition to local government support, the Telluride Foundation granted SMRHA funding to cover the administrative and operating costs for 2002 and 2003.

"This program is a good example of a collaborative effort," she said.



State of the Watershed, By Nathan Fey , San Miguel Watershed Coalition Your 2002 Tax Returns Could Fund Local Watershed Initiative.


While doing your taxes for 2002, you may find a new opportunity to voluntarily contribute money toward creating a better Colorado.  This year a portion of your tax refund could provide funding for watershed projects across Colorado and here in the San Miguel River Basin. Take a close look at the Colorado Charities listed on your state income tax return.  The newest addition to the Colorado Charities is the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund, which creates a grant program that will support river and stream restoration projects, and assist local community based watershed groups in planning and implementing watershed protection efforts.

The Colorado General Assembly adopted Senate Bill 02-087 in 2002, creating the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund. The legislation authorizes the fund to be added to the 2003 Colorado Individual Income Tax Refund Check-off Program to give taxpayers the opportunity to voluntarily contribute to watershed protection efforts in the state.  Money collected in the fund will be made available in a grant program established jointly by the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Water Quality Control Commission, in cooperation with the Colorado Watershed Assembly. 

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is the state executive branch agency responsible for state water policy and planning. The CWCB’s mission is to promote the protection, conservation and development of Colorado’s water resources and to minimize the risk of flood damage.

The Water Quality Control Commission is the administrative agency responsible for developing specific state water quality policies, consistent with the broader policies set forth by the General Assembly in the Colorado Water Quality Control Act. The WQCC adopts water quality classifications and standards for surface and ground waters of the state, as well as various regulations aimed at achieving compliance with those classifications and standards.

The Colorado Watershed Assembly is a statewide organization made up of more than forty individual watershed protection groups. More specifically, CWA is an association of Colorado’s collaboration-based watershed groups that work cooperatively with state and federal agencies to resolve watershed related problems.  The San Miguel Watershed Coalition, the local representative organization in the CWA, is made up of local stakeholders with diverse interests, including municipalities, landowners, federal and state agencies, community groups and institutions, and individual citizens. The SMWC is working to find cooperative and innovative solutions to local problems in the San Miguel River Basin, which extends from Trout Lake and the Telluride area 84 miles downstream through Norwood, Nucla and Naturita, to Uravan and the San Miguel’s confluence with the Dolores River. The efforts of the San Miguel Watershed Coalition and the CWA’s member organizations require substantial funding, and the new Colorado Watershed Protection Fund would provide another opportunity to secure financial support for restoration and improvement projects in the state.

The funding from the tax check-off will be available to the San Miguel Watershed Coalition through the granting process. Two categories of grants will be available under the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund program: 1) Project Grants, and 2) Planning Grants. Project Grants will support projects that promote the improvement and/or restoration of the condition of the watershed.  This could include water quantity/quality monitoring, participation in development of implementation of total maximum daily loads (TMDL’s), implementation of watershed related best management practices, flood protection, channel stability, and a wide variety of other riparian, streambank and habitat restoration efforts. These funds are to be used as a match for other grants or non-federal funding requirements, and the suggested maximum is $50,000.

Planning Grants will support the appropriate planning of watershed restoration or protection projects. Planning efforts of this nature include data collection and assessment, analysis of project alternatives, permitting, acquisition of funding for a project, and outreach efforts that ensure the education, involvement and support of the local community. The suggested maximum for this type of grant is $25,000.

In 2002, the San Miguel Watershed Coalition continued working with communities and stakeholders throughout the watershed to identify priority restoration or improvement projects in the watershed. Extensive planning and stakeholder participation is necessary as the coalition moves forward with its priority actions. Funding made available through the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund will help ensure that watershed improvement and restoration efforts will continue in our region. If you have the option, consider the Tax Refund Check-off program.  The benefits from your contribution will make a difference in our communities along the San Miguel River. 

For more information or to get involved in watershed projects contact the San Miguel Watershed Coalition; P.O. Box 1601; 100 W. Colorado Ave Suite 210; Telluride, Colorado 81435; (970) 708-5181


Broomball Team Slot Opens Up


You missed the deadline.  Your team didn’t have enough players.  You couldn’t find a sponsor.

Broomball fanatics and fans – if you’ve been standing on the sidelines all season long wishing you had a broomball team to play on, your golden opportunity may have just arrived.

A new team slot has opened up in the Coed Broomball League, and best of all, the required team dues will be waived for any newcoming team. 

The new team slot opened up after Sanford and Hooker’s was dropped from the league last week, due to two forfeits and two missed referee assignments.

Telluride Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Supervisor Rich Hamilton explains that a new team may join the league mid-season due to the Sanford and Hooker forfeiture, jumping on the broomball game schedule immediately and taking Sanford and Hooker’s record.

All the new team would have to come up with is the $50 forfeit deposit, which would be returned at the end of the season if the team shows up to all of their games.

“It’s on a first come, first serve basis for any new team that wants to join the league and take Sanford and Hookers’ slot,” Hamilton explains.

The new team would enter into the league with a six-loss, no-win record.

In other broomball news this week, the Thunderducks burned Burn One Down 4-0 on Sunday, then defeated Ophir Avalanche 5-0 to keep their lead as #1in the league.

The Digable Planets turned around their two-game losing streak on Sunday, beating Smuggler’s 2-0, but had a harder time against the Pacific Street Chortlers on Wednesday losing 8-2 in the highest-scoring game of the season thus far.

The Cleaners wiped out Ophir Avalanche, who have been struggling with their own losing streak all season long, 2-0 on Sunday.

The TGP Artichokes, slightly behind the Thunderducks in league rankings, put another W on the team record this week, beating the Mojitos 1-0 on Sunday.

The Mojitos picked up the pace on Wednesday, however, beating Smuggler’s 1-0 with a last-minute game-winning goal.

It was the Janitors, holding the #2 slot in league rankings, who showed their broomball domination this week.  Raking in an impressive five goals against Pacific Street Chortlers on Sunday (and six against Ophir Avalanche last Wednesday), the Janitors may prove to be stiff competition for league leaders Thunderducks, Cleaners, and TGP Artichokes.

Broomball actions resumes this Sunday night at 5:30 p.m. at the Town Park Ice Rink.  The first game will see TGP Artichokes against Burn One Down.


Beavers Break Open Winter Season With Triple Wins Over Gunni and the Butte, By Martinique Davis


Telluride’s hockey record just keeps getting better, and the Box Canyon Beavers have traveled miles to add to that record.

Last weekend the Beavers started their season with three games against Gunnison and Crested Butte and returned home with an impressive three-in-a row wins.

“It was a great way to start our season,” said Head Beaver Mo Hannah of her team’s sweep of the competition. The Beavers’ record now stands at 3 and 0.

A posse of 18 Beavers traveled to the Gunnison area on Saturday, ready to skate and take on any competition the Butte and Gunnison had to offer.

Thanks to the all-powerful might of Telluride offensive players Elisabeth Gaz and Mary Alice Wagner, who scored two and three goals respectively, the Beavers easily defeated the less-skilled Gunnison team 5-2 on Saturday evening.

Fired up for first game, Gaz just didn’t quit, scoring two goals in the next game against Crested Butte, and another two goals in Sunday’s second game against the Butte.

Beaver Julie Evans also caught the scoring bug on Saturday night, slapping an in-the-air puck into the goal and scoring the third goal of the evening. Evans' brilliant move was match by a fourth and final goal, landed by teammate and team captain Tiffany Holmen.

The Beavers also snuck in a fifth goal, but questionable “home town” referee call nullified the shot. Nonetheless, Telluride skated away with the game and a final score, Telluride 4, Crested Butte 3.

Sunday dawned another winning day for the Beavers, who skated onto the rink with just the right combination of skill, determination, and confidence to again beat their Crested Butte adversaries, 4-3.

Gaz got the game moving with two flashy goals. Teammate Desiree Rothschild sunk the third goal and tied the game 3-3. Though Crested Butte's offense was fast and skilled, the Butte never had a chance to put a shot in the net. Telluride goalie Barbara Kondracki guarded the goal like a pit bull and shutting down one Butte shot after another.

As the game clock ticked closer to the final minutes, Telluride’s offense smelled a win in the air and picked up the intensity.

With minutes to spare Veteran Beaver Kim Richard, who was cheered on by hubby Gary and children Belle and Mattheau, sunk the game-winning goal to complete the Beavers’ victorious weekend.

 “We played two very fast-paced games against Crested Butte," Hannah said of her team’s performance in Gunnison. "When we got on the ice Saturday night and saw the Crested Butte team practicing before the game, they looked very strong. We were all very psyched that we were able to beat them both times.”

Hannah pointed to key players Gaz (for obvious reasons) and Holmen as two of the many players that made the weekend such a success.

“Tiffany was our big goal scorer last year, but now she’s in the back, doing a great job at 'D',” Hannah said.

She added that the team couldn’t have done as well without the dazzling talent of Kondracki blocking the net, or the support of the 26 registered Beavers’ season-long dedication.

The Beavers have two scheduled practices each week, with Thursdays reserved for scrimmages with the Lizard Head’s Pee Wees team.

Practicing and playing with the whipper-snapper Pee Wees (ages 10-12) has significantly improved the women’s game, Hannah said.

“It’s great to practice with the Pee Wees, and we discovered how much it has helped our game during our game against Crested Butte on Saturday.  Crested Butte is a really fast, aggressive team, but we were able to keep up because we’ve played with the Pee Wees – though they’re only in Middle School, they are really fast and force us to step up.”

The Beavers’ next game is slated for tomorrow night at 6:30 at the Town Park Ice Rink, where they will hold a co-ed scrimmage with the Lizard Head’s men’s team.

Next Saturday, Jan. 25, the Beavers will have a Beaver-Beaver scrimmage in Town Park.

Their next big games will be held during the Winter Carnival, Feb. 1 and 2, in the Telluride Town Park. The Beavers will again meet the Crested Butte women’s team for two matches.

The Beavers then travel to Crested Butte on the 8th and 9th to play in the Southwest Cup.

Their final games of the season will take place in Vail in the first week of March.

“Come out and see us over Winter Carnival!” Hannah said enthusiastically.





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