|Tuesday, Aug 5, 2003 content presented by Telluride Today .com||About The Watch|
Reigning "A" League Softball Champs Celebrate
One Big Win, Two Trophies
Billy Ball Takes Home Season and Playoff Victories
By Elizabeth Heerwagen
In a classic battle between longtime "A" league rivals, sixth-year "A" champion Billy Ball stood up to challenger Fat Alley Thursday night and took home the coveted "A" League playoff championship.
While Billy Ball has dominated the Town Park "A" League for almost a decade, the team's seemingly impenetrable winning streak has not been for lack of competition. During the regular season Fat Alley won once against Billy Ball and fought close games in other meetings. Fat Alley also boasts several big batters, such as Teddy Errico and Andrew Schwartz, whose strong hits have cleared the tall cottonwood trees beyond the fence and threatened to end Billy Ball's winning streak.
On Thursday night, after agreeing to a pre-nup that the night's winner would take home the regular season trophy (the two had matching season records), as well as the playoff trophy, the two teams went head to head.
With winner-takes-all on the line, Billy Ball wasted no time in putting runs on the scoreboard. In his five times at bat Henry Lystad struck five hits, including two hit-like-a-champion home-runs. Continuing to push up Billy Ball's side of the scoreboard, Tom Hess and Steve Margetts added a home-run each and put B.B. easily ahead with a wide 15-4 lead.
Behind but not out, Fat Alley started the sixth inning with a burst of energy and edged within two runs of Billy Ball by inning's close.
The Billy Ball squad was a "little complacent" and too comfortable with their lead, said venerable pitcher George Gage after the game. Gage added that he was not surprised by Fat Alley's comeback. "I expected some hits from a great team like Fat Alley," he said.
Taking their turn at bat at the top of the seventh, Billy Ball was uncharacteristically unable to muster an offensive drive, and the reigning champions turned the batter's box over to Fat Alley; the barbecue-fueled underdogs need a mere two runs to steal the championship trophy.
The slim margin seemed to fire up the Billy Ball bench and pulling on their championship trousers, the six-peat champs shut down a Fat Alley's hope for a win.
With two outs on the board, Fat Alley could not hold on and the game ended with a great play by Billy Ball outfielder Ben Embry and catcher Midnite. On a hit to right center field, Billy Ball rookie Embry caught the ball and made "the most miraculous throw I've ever seen," said a bubbly Gage. Sailing in from outfield, the on-target throw virtually landed in Midnite's mitt and with ball in hand Midnite tagged out Eric Saunders before that Fat Alley player slid into home plate.
The play put a close, but clean, victory in the lap of Billy Ball.
According to Gage, that Billy Ball team members are generally older – Gage being 20 years older than most Fat Alley's players – makes the big win "feel especially good." Gage credited the success of Billy Ball to a tight chemistry between team members. Derogatory comments are not part of team strategy, he said, emphasizing the strong camaraderie between players. The team has played together for seven years and "there is never any negative criticism, just positive and helpful hints," he said.
Local Road Riders Finish Strong at Mt. Evans Hill Climb
Motivated by Armstrong's Maillot Jaune?
Though the big lungs and altitude-ready legs of Telluride cyclists were challenged by the unrelenting 28-mile climb, Tellu-cyclists brought home a number of top-placed finishes.
Pete Dahl, competing in his first race after knee surgery, completed the course just under the two-hour mark with an impressive time of 1:58:15 and earned an 11th place finish. Racing in the pro men division, Dahl said he was "delighted to know that [he] could still be competitive" a short three months after knee surgery. Dahl plans to compete in a five-day stage race in Estes Park at the end of August, and hopes a good performance there will salvage his shortened season and help him snag the attention of a sponsor for next year.
Dahl recommends the Mt. Evans climb to anyone because it "has got to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet," he said. If you are not consumed by the strenuous climb, the scenery is amazing as the road climbs from brush woods, to ponderosa pines, to alpine tundra, and ends at Mt. Evan's rocky summit, Dahl said.
Riding in the 35-plus category, James Guest was equally impressed by "how cool it was riding above tree line," and taking in the panoramic views and two sparkling blue lakes along his way to the top.
Rico rider Christy Kopasz took home fifth place among professional women. With a successful early season at the Ironhorse and Elam races under her belt, Kopasz has been riding and climbing well; she finished with a time of 2:25:01.
Feeling strong on race day, John Haggerty who raced in the men's 35+ category surged to the front of the pack and took home third in his division, rolling across the summit finish line in 2:02:43; though his finishing time was impressive, Haggerty just missed his personal goal of finishing under the two-hour mark.
Joe Mastoras, racing in the 35+ division as well, arrived at the summit in 2:13:25 and took home 25th place.
A competitive race would not be complete without a
slew of mechanical problems, and such was the case for Todd Hopgood and
J. Michael Brown. Hopgood was racing strong, hanging with the pack in
the 35+/ 4 category until he got a flat tire. Though the tire change
lopped about ten minutes off his time, Hopgood managed to finish in a
respectable 2:39:46. Hopgood crossed the finish line among friends,
however with James Guest coming in just before him at 2:32:32 and in
16th place, and Bill Ward finishing just behind in 2:40:43.
"At the start I went to clip in my pedal and I couldn't clip in and everyone is yelling at me," said Brown of the ill-fated start. " I pulled over to dink with it and decided it was busted." So having made the seven-hour drive across the state in order to race in an event he had not ridden for 15 years, he decided pedal or no he would climb the hill. "I rode with one pedal upclipped and was desperately trying to sprint and catch up with the almost 60 riders in my category," he said.
While the broken pedal slowed him down, Brown
finished with a solid time of 2:46:38. Racing in the 45+ category as
well, Rob Johnston, another Rico rider, completed the course in 2:32:55.
The riders enjoyed good weather until the tail end of the race, rain, hail and wind collided with the mountain and made the long descent tricky and, possibly as painful as the push upwards, when large hail balls hit riders on their way back to Idaho Springs.
"All hell brought loose," said Brown of the descent. "Hail was hitting between slits on helmet, like ball-peen hammer to my helmet. There is never a dull moment in world of bike racing."
In addition to being a grueling test of lung and strength, the race has an interesting history. Began 1962 as a personal challenge among a handful of Colorado bike racers, the hill climb was dominated for many years by Bob Cook, an emerging star who held the course record from 1975-1980 (from 1975-1977 he held the record as a junior). In 1981 the race was named in honor of Cook who died of cancer at the young age of 23.
M.V. Hosts Bouldering Competitions Every Wednesday
Preceding 6 p.m. Sunset Concert in Mountain Village Core
“We are overwhelmed with use,” Telluride Mountain Guides’ Peter Walker says of the newly opened Mountain Village Boulder he built for last year’s 360 Degree Bicycle and Bouldering Competitions.
Because of the manmade boulder’s unusual nature, it took the better part of a year to come up with an insurance policy, so boulderers could start working through “boulder problems.”
“Problem” is the correct terminology for bouldering, explains Walker, an aficionado of the sport since 1976; it was, he adds, developed by bouldering guru John Gill. “He is the absolute godfather of the sport,” Walker says admiringly. Gill, he adds, developed problems “that even today have not been replicated by modern boulderers.”
That fact is probably best explained by this bouldering koan: “If it’s too easy, it’s not a problem,” a sentiment that applies nicely to life in general.
Bouldering rivals running in terms of gear requirements: All that’s needed are a pair of
shoes and a chalk bag. Because renting such basics seemed more trouble than its worth, Paragon Sports’ J. Michael Brown donated a selection of shoes and chalk bags for boulderers.
Aspiring boulderers must first check in with the “monitor” at the site, and sign a document promising “only to boulder when a monitor is present; to follow the monitor’s directions at all times; to never be above or below another boulderer; and that bouldering is a personal choice,” requiring a “personal responsibility.” The intent of the waiver and careful monitoring is to make sure that “we never get a four year old kid under a 350-pound man,” Walker explains.
Everyone who has ever considered bouldering is invited to compete, rain or shine, every Wednesday between now and the end of the summer.
This Wednesday’s Sunset Concert, beginning in the Mountain Village core at 6 p.m., features T.S. Monk. Like the bouldering competition that precedes it, the concert is free.
Fin de Sičcle: Theme for 30th Annual Chamber Music Festival
This year marks the 30th Annual Chamber Music Festival and, as is true with most thirtieth birthdays, this one marks a significant change in direction.
For starters: The standard Thursday night dinner concert in Town Park is on – with the important addition of box dinners from Wildflour, for those with enough foresight to have reserved them.
Then too: It’s the Town Park concert’s first time without a piano.
“We used Randy’s piano,” program director Roy Malan explained in a phone conversation Sunday, referring to Randy Brown, who died earlier this year, and for whom the August Chamber Music Festival was an annual highlight.
And because Brown loved trout fishing as well, Malan said, the closing piece of the festival, Franz Schubert’s La Truite, Quintet for Piano and Strings, will be performed in her honor.
Instead of a piano: “We will have a harp,” he said, as well as a clarinetist, in the ensemble.
Wednesday night brings a pre-Chamber Music Festival open house, at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, on main street, 6-8 p.m. “The public is invited,” says Festival co-organizer Dorothy Steele, as are whoever of the grand total of 14 visiting musicians (and numerous local musicians as well) participating in the festival.
The Wednesday night party will offer a platform for Festival Director Malan to explain the concept behind this year’s festival, which he touched on briefly in the Sunday conversation – albeit tentatively.
“I’m talking for the first time ever on a cell phone,” he explained. “It’s quite shocking.”
Malan, who cheerfully admits to being a Luddite (defined by the dictionary as the member of a group “characterized by opposition to increased industrialization or the introduction of new technology”), has orchestrated this year’s Chamber Music Festival around a fin de sičcle theme, focusing, of course, on how it affected composers at the turning from the 19th to the 20th century.
Specifically, the program attests to “the limits to which melody and harmony were pushed by Arnold Schoenberg,” he explained, limits perhaps best-illustrated by Schoenberg’s Verklaerte Nacht (Transfigured Night). Schoenberg’s influence on his fellow composers, Malan went on to explain, was every bit as significant as was William Morris’s influence on Great Britain’s Arts and Craft movement. For starters: The modern music involved “a throwing out of forms that seemed to be tied to the elite” critical mass of concertgoers, to such an extent that they stopped turning out “symphonies and sonatas with those hifalutin’ titles.”
Early on the Schoenberg bandwagon: Erik Satie, whose Sports et Divertissements will be performed opening night, along with Kuruka Kuruka; Pagodas; Improvisations on a Japanese Theme; Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano; and Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp.
Although Schoenberg’s Verklaerte Nacht is not on the program, its effect on composers from Claude Debussy to Hugo Wolf to Claude Debussy is chronicled, in a four-night program divided into four categories. The categories are The Asian Influence and France (Friday, Aug. 8); European Impressions (Saturday, Aug. 9); Myths and Legends (Friday, Aug. 15); and Humor and Nationalism (Sat., Aug. 16).
The Thursday Town Park night concert will feature local musicians as well as visiting professionals, including the Telluride String Quartet, with Danny DeSantis, Val Levy-Franzese, Sydney Denman and Mary-Beth Mueller. Malan’s co-director, Robin Sutherland, will not be here this year, due to health problems in his household. The Thursday night program is never announced in advance; it begins at 6 p.m.; all are welcome, and it is free of charge. In the event of rain, it will move to under the tent in Town Park.
Fourth Annual Telluride Tech Fest Friday-Sunday at the Nugget
As if in counterpoint to the Luddite/anti-technology fin de sičcle theme of this year’s 30th Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Fourth Annual Telluride Tech Festival Honoree Tod Machover, whose Hyperscore software program opens up the joys of composing music to all users, will give a lecture/demonstration of the program Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Nugget Theater.
Machover, a professor of music and media at the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was recently dubbed “America’s most wired composers” by the Los Angeles Times. Hyperscore allows users of all ages to experience “a quantum leap” into the joy of creating music, according to the New York Times, “rather as if one could speak in a foreign language simply by deciding what one wanted to say, and using one’s body in a natural way. Hyperscore users compose music by moving colors and graphic elements around on a computer screen – something Machover will guide audience members in at his Saturday, Aug. 9 speech at the Nugget. Children 12 and under get in for free; adults are asked to pay $5.
Tech Festival Public Presentations
An Evening with Jill Tarter, director of SETI, and Bruce Murray, Chairman of the Planetary Society, Nugget Theater, 6:30 p.m., $5
Astronomy Viewing of Mars with Jill Tarter and Bruce Murray, San Sophia Gondola Station, 10 p.m. Bring your telescope; free.
Tod Machover, Director of Music at MIT Media Lab, leads an interactive musical presentation, Nugget Theater, 5 p.m., children 12 and under free.
Astronomy viewing of Mars with visiting astronomers, San Sophia Gondola Station, 10 p.m. Bring your telescope; free.
Robert Zubrin, director of the International Mars Society speaks about “Mars Direct: Humans to the Red Planet in a Decade,” Nugget Theater, 11 a.m., $5
Houck Replaces Medical Center Director Erickson – Temporarily
Rick Houck, M.D., longtime board member of the Telluride Hospital District, has stepped up as interim administrator – “please emphasize the word interim,” Houck said in a quick phone call Monday, his first day on the job.
“And please remind readers that we have an excellent women’s health care practice here,” he added, already transitioning from board member to pitchman, “and that we will be looking into pediatric care” as part of the district’s mission to develop a solid family-practice orientation on the non-emergency side of the Telluride Medical Center.
Houck replaces Executive Director Linda Erickson, who resigned last week.
District Board Chair Stephen Wald told staff members about Erickson’s resignation at a Monday morning meeting. “She came at a pivotal time,” he said of Erickson’s nine-month tenure, which began soon after Montrose Memorial Hospital’s last-minute announcement it would cease managing the facility, effective Jan. 1 of this year.
Wald went on to praise Erickson for working hard to “maintain high standards” for the facility.
Erickson told staff she was confident they would continue on the path toward making “the Telluride Medical Center a top notch medical facility,” emphasizing that “with the support of the community, you will succeed.”
During Erickson’s tenure, the facility has added Board Certified emergency doctors, increased staffing of professional employees at all levels, renegotiated supplier and insurance contracts, remodeled the medical facility in order to install the new CT Scanner, implemented an in-house billing system, met federal guidelines and improved its overall quality of service.
Houck will not receive a salary. “I abstained from that vote,” he said, when the board voted to keep him on as a volunteer for now.
“They want to see how good a job I’m doing, first,” joked Houck, who was managing partner of an 80-person obstetrics and gynecology practice in Phoenix before moving to Telluride full time in 2001.
Wald was not joking, however, when he said of Houck’s stepping up to the plate: “I am thrilled we had someone on the board of Rick’s stature, who is capable of taking us into the future” while a full-bore search for a permanent administrator is mounted.
MONIKA CALLARD – Doing what she loved best. (Photo by Doug Berry)
Jan. 2, 1946 – July 30, 2003
‘She Was Simply Beautiful, Both Spiritually and Physically’
On July 30 at 5:40 p.m., Monika Callard passed away in Tucson, Ariz., after a ten-month battle with cancer. Fortunately, she passed very peacefully, in her bed, with her sister, Terry; husband, Bob; nephews, Werner and Grady; brother-in-law, Steve; son-in-law Jim and two of her very best friends, Marcia Millar and Annie Savath.
She was 57 years old, born on Jan. 2, 1946, in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She is preceded in death by her parents, Gustav and Susan Gardner, as well as her brother, Tom Gardner.
She leaves behind her husband, sister, brother-in-law, nephews, son and daughters-in-law – Ruth Callard, Jim Callard, Jeff Callard and Gene Farris – as well as nine Callard grandchildren.
Having lost all but a handful of family members in the Nazi holocaust, Monika and her immediate family escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1950, on the even of the communist takeover. After a long odyssey – including stops in Austria, England and Canada – they immigrated to the United States in 1957 and settled in Norwich, Ct., where Monika graduated from the Norwich Free Academy in 1964.
Monika moved from New York City, where she studied film, to Telluride in 1972, and joined her sister and brother-in-law in opening the Senate Bar and Restaurant. She met Robert Callard in Telluride; they were married in 1975.
Monika relied on her family’s European culinary background, and soon gained fame with her wonderfully creative fare. She went on to polish her innate skills in Paris, with the master chefs of Le Notre Cooking School. Upon expanding her knowledge, she opened Telluride’s first gourmet takeout, called Monika’s. Her pastries, bread and baked goods became a mainstay for the Telluride community. She closed Monika’s in the mid-80s, and started a catering business, literally blessing thousands of people with her incredible fare at countless events, including festivals, weddings, and parties. Her wedding cakes were particular favorites, and not only beautiful to behold, but more important from her perspective, incredibly delicious In 1997, with her partners Karen and Mike Levitas, she opened Wildflour at the base of the gondola, where she continued her tradition of providing the highest quality and most creative fare the Telluride Valley has had to offer.
As well-known as Monika was for her cooking, she was equally respected for her generosity and ability to embrace, accept and make everybody she encountered feel loved and welcome, regardless of the circumstances. Her selflessness and incredible work ethic serve as a model for all of us. She lived her life offering and demanding the best, never willing to compromise her high standards and principles. She was simply beautiful, both spiritually and physically.
She fought very hard, but in the end, it was her time to move on to a bigger kitchen, in heaven, where she can continue to spread joy and pleasure to everyone she meets. We will miss her more than we know, but we will always have her smile, energy and love to remember her by.
The Beauty of Simple Ideas to Explain Complex Phenomena
Chemical Vibrations Are Subject of Pinhead Town Talk
By Nana Naisbitt
As far as Professor F. Fleming Crim and his lab are concerned, there are only a handful of attractive molecules. They buy them by the “mole” from businesses like Aldrich Chemical, which traffic in tens of thousands of distinct molecules.
A mole, like a “dozen,” is a very specific number of molecules, only much larger, 6 x 1023 to be exact. And the volume of a mole depends upon the substance. A mole of air molecules for example is about the size of a bread box. A mole of water is a fraction of a Dixie cup.
This week’s Tuesday Town Talk will be given by a renowned physical chemist, F. Fleming Crim, a John E. Willard and Hilldale Professor of Chemistry Professor at the University of Wisconsin. His lecture, entitled “Good Vibrations: Using Lasers to Direct Chemical Reactions” will be held Aug. 5 from 6-7:15 p.m. at the Wilkinson Public Library in the Program Room. A $5 donation is welcomed.
Crim has learned how to control the vibration of the molecules he purchases (or occasionally makes), using lasers, a technology which has transformed the world’s understanding of chemistry and the practice of chemistry itself. Crim will describe how vibrations control chemical reactions and why it is important to understand how molecules vibrate.
Overall, physical chemists want to know the fundamentals of how molecules behave and likewise Crim is interested in the pure academic pursuit of trying to better understand how the world works.
“I study the physics of molecular reactions, simple motions we can understand, like the vibrations of molecules,” he says. “We can take our intuitive understanding of classical systems, like balls rolling down hills, or kids in a skate park, to understand some of the workings of molecules.”
He asks questions like: What motion carries atoms across a barrier? “To get a picture of this, you can think about climbing a mountain,” he says. “There is a minimum altitude one must climb to get over a mountain. But you must walk in the right direction. The same thing describes chemical reactions. In other words, there is a ‘critical configuration’.”
“Scientists have ‘pictures’ of how molecules behave,” continues Crim. “These pictures are mental constructs or models. We don’t have movies of molecules vibrating, but the more detailed we can go experimentally the more we can test our models. We want to know if the experimental results fit into our ‘picture’ of how chemistry happens.”
His chief interest is to understand how chemical reactions occur. As simple as the problem sounds, his research in chemical dynamics is complex. He studies the fundamental details of chemical reactions in gases and liquids by creating highly energized molecules and following their behavior.
He uses three basic steps in his research. Using specific “preparation” techniques, he makes molecules vibrate, then sends in a reactive atom, and finally tries to detect the products of that reaction.
Lasers help steer specific chemical reactions. “The interactions of molecules and light are very specific. Scientists can’t control molecules with a pair of tweezers (although some people are coming close), so we use lasers. Lasers spit out a very narrow range of color (wave lengths), and short pulses (every 10 nanoseconds – one ten billionth of a second) which we use to our advantage.”
The importance of understanding chemistry generally cannot be underestimated. “The late Richard Feynman once said,” Crim recalls, “that if there were a cataclysmic event, and he could only pass on one piece of knowledge to future generations, it should be the atomic hypothesis – that everything is made of atoms, everything is atomic in structure.”
Chemistry can be described simply as molecules losing atoms or gaining atoms. They break bonds and make bonds. One rearrangement can make a huge difference in how a substance behaves.
Crim finds beauty in chemistry’s understanding of this behavior: “The beauty of chemistry, first of all, is that simple ideas explain complex phenomena. And secondly, that we can build models that are quantitatively predictive. And we can use a few organizing principles, like the conservation of energy and the conservation of momentum, to describe phenomena like, why salt melts ice in the road, why the sky is blue, and why water expands when it freezes. We chemists are attracted to this simplicity.”
Crim is in town for a week, participating in a Telluride Science Research Center workshop, along with 25 other scientists, to talk about how molecules vibrate. “TSRC gathers real experts in highly specialized fields,” he says, “which makes a confluence of ideas a possibility and can trigger new work. We have an opportunity to examine ideas more critically here than in any other forum.”
Professor Crim is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and a Max Planck Research Award recipient.
Early in his career, Crim worked in private industry at the Western Electric Company and in government at Los Alamos National Laboratory. For the past 25 years, he has been a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching. John Frederick, the president of TSRC, notes that “Crim is s very clear, very enthusiastic professor, and a great public presenter.”
This season’s Town Talks finale, “Antimatter – Can It Take Us to the Stars?” will be given next week by Nicholas Digiacomo, physicist and entrepreneur, formerly with Los Alamos and CERN, on Tuesday, Aug. 12, from 6-7:15 p.m., at the Wilkinson Public Library in the Program Room.
For more information visit <www.telluridescience.org> or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 970-369-0585.
is the executive director of the Pinhead Institute.
Jenkins Finishes First in 14th Running of Sneffels Highline Race
Other Runners Rewarded with T-Shirts, Pizza and a Race Well Run
At the starting line runners relaxed and chatted with friends, but the tone changed quickly from "fun run" to challenging when bakery staff sounded the "Ready, Set, Go." With that each runner putting forth his or her best effort pushed uphill to the Aspen Street and the Jud Wiebe trailhead.
As they climbed the steep west side of the Wiebe, runners breathed hard and the chatting quieted. A lead group quickly established itself and Kip Jenkins, Tim Cannon, Kari Distefano, Brian Miller, and Aaron King surged ahead.
This year, the course took a counter-clockwise path
and at the Mill Creek and Sneffels Highline trails intersection runners
started up the steep Butcher Creek drainage. After several miles of
relentless climbing, the runners arrived above the treeline in the open
and flower-filled meadows of Pack Basin.
Renown for its lush and varied wildflowers, the
upper reaches of the Highline trail have exploded with lush green
foliage and a wide spectrum of colors this year. By sharp contrast last
year's run was colorless; the usually vivid wildflower display was
stunted by the drought. In Mill Creek Basin runners splashed through
stream after stream on the west end of the basin the course began to
roll up and down.
The last stretch of the run followed the Mill Creek waterline trail for two miles over gently rolling flats above the Hwy. 145 spur. After 13 miles of steep climbs and descents, the flat terrain created a difficult, but fast, finish to the run.
Kip Jenkins, the race winner, seemed to have no
trouble with the course with a finishing time of 2 hours and 11 minutes.
Jenkins was closely followed by Tim Cannon and Kari Distefano who both
ran strong races.
Jerry Green, who has participated in every race since the event's inception, was received by a warm applause when he rolled across the finish line in front of the bakery steps four hours or so after the start.
Though runners receive no paper bib with a number, no high-tech chip timing, and no aid stations, they are amply rewarded with T-shirts imprinted with the bakery's logo, pizza, and cold beverages. For most the greatest award for many, though, was completing the loop, a race where, as Chuck Kroger stated, "every one who is a finisher is also a winner."
Does the Telluride Airport Need for Future Viability?
Jets at Issue
The clash between opponents and proponents of the proposed airport expansions is in some ways a classic battle over growth. But like many such battles, this debate has complicating factors, in this case safety for existing levels of traffic. Much of the debate that will take place on Wednesday before the San Miguel County commissioners will be to sort out the growth versus the safety issues.
On Wednesday the commissioners will decide whether to approve a special use permit requested by the airport authority board for a $50 million upgrade of the airport runway and to approve the airport master plan, which contemplates another $50 million in improvements. In May the County Planning Commissioner recommended approval of the special use permit and of the master plan.
Proponents say if the $50 million, five-year construction project to expand the runway does not happen, regional jets – which they say is the future of commercial aviation – will not be able to fly to Telluride. Moreover, the runway, with its center dip and short length, is not as safe as it could be, making the improvements a critical safety issue.
are not convinced. An improved airport will irrevocably change the
character of region, they say. The safety of the runway could be
improved without extending its length and building very large and highly
visible retaining walls. Moreover, new jet service is not necessary for
the economic health of the region, they say, and it will only bring
increased noise levels for everyone, not just airport neighbors.
its application for a special use permit the airport board seeks to
lengthen the runway from 6,870 feet to 7,000 feet; reduce the grade of
the runway by filling the middle and lowering each end; and increase the
width of the safety area on each side of the runway to 250 feet and the
safety area at the each end of the runway to 1,000 feet. As proposed,
the increased length of the runway, together with the increased
1,000-foot safety areas would require retaining walls on both ends of
the runway. The
west wall would be 200 feet long by 115 feet high and the east wall
would be 700 to 900 feet long by 130 feet high.
addition, if approved, the master plan proposed by the airport
authority board envisions acquiring land north and south of the airport.
Land to the south would remain open, while land to the north could be
used for future development including a new terminal and parking
facilities. Hangars and a helipad, as well as other structures, are
proposed for the south side of the runway. In addition the master plan
also contemplates suggested changes to the county land use code
including fair disclosure agreements at the time of rezoning requiring
disclosure of the airport noise situation to prospective buyers, as well
as a plat note on new subdivision plats advising prospective buyers to
contact local planners and airport officials for information about noise
levels impacting the property.
proposed improvements are necessary to improve the overall safety of the
runway, maintains airport manager Dick Nuttall. If the improvements are
completed, the FAA rating of the airport will meet the D-III standard, a
jump up from the current B-III standard that would allow regional jets
to land at the airport. However, as a vital side benefit, the longer
runway will also likely make the difference in an airline’s decision
to fly regional jets to the remote airport, Nuttall said last week in an
reason is that a longer runway will allow regional jets to carry a
larger payload, a pilot’s standard calculation for how much
passengers, baggage and fuel weigh. Whether and in what season airlines
will schedule routes to Telluride remains to be seen, however, and
airport neighbors and other community members have been asking whether
allowing regional jets into the airport benefits the community in
proportion to the cost of the project.
though it is FAA money, it is coming out of our pockets every time we
fly," said Kate Clayton, a resident of Deep Creek Mesa who has
suggested at several public meetings that the airport board compromise
the proposed expansion. "The size of this proposal doesn't make
economic sense to me."
But according to Nuttall, the changes are necessary to make the runway safer and more efficient for the existing mix of aircraft. For example, the Gulfstream IV, a private jet, currently flies into the airport. (Private planes of that size are allowed to land at the airport, while commercial craft cannot.) Comparable in size to the Gulfstream IV is the Canadair regional jet, or Canadair RJ 200, a 50-passenger jet used by airlines for regional routes. With the proposed improvements, the Canadair 200 would be able to serve Telluride, Nuttall says.
fact, the number of commercial operations at the airport is not likely
to increase dramatically, according to Nuttall.
doesn’t always happen because we think it is going to happen,” said
Nuttall in an interview last week. In fact, commercial operations for
2003 to date have dropped by 24 percent. In 1994 there were 4,466
landings and take-offs by commercial airplanes at the Telluride airport;
by comparison, in 2000, 2,492 commercial planes landed and took off at
the airport. Last year, 2003, “we closed out with 3,488 airline
operations,” Nuttall said.
to the Airport Master Plan, that number of commercial operations is not
forecast to increase all that much. “We are only talking about an
extra 600 operations forecasted in 20 years,” said Nuttall, pointing
to the master plan’s estimate for 2020.
number of total operations is forecast to increase to 25,000, however,
in the year 2020, a jump from 14,360 recorded for 2002.
the longer runway is not required by the FAA for the D-III rating, the
extra 130 feet is needed in order to make the airport commercially
viable for airlines considering whether to fly regional jets to the
calculating where to schedule regional routes, airlines calculate the
number of paying passengers each plane will carry. While a plane might
have 50-seats, whether those seats can be filled with passengers and
their bags placed on board depends on a number of factors prescribed by
the FAA, weight being a primary issue.
of altitude and thin air, a regional jet flying into the Telluride
airport can carry less weight than the same plane flying into a
sea-level airport. Moreover, when the air heats up in the summer, the
same plane can carry even less weight (as it heats, the air thins, and
the plane has less lift at the same speeds).
a regional jet flying from Denver to Telluride can carry a maximum of 18
passengers in the summer and 40 passengers in the winter, if it were
landing on the current 6,870-foot runway, said Nuttall, pointing to
Table M in Appendix B of the airport master plan.
longer trips, say Los Angeles to Telluride, where the plane is required
to carry more fuel, it would be able to carry even fewer passengers than
on the Telluride to Denver route.
airline is not making money with 18 passengers,” says Nuttall.
the longer runway, however, regional jets like the Canadair RJ 200 would
permitted to fly from Denver in the winter carrying a full capacity load
of 50 passengers.
when they can take the full 50, [that route] becomes more viable in the
winter,” said Nuttall. “Airlines normally say if you can’t fill 50
percent,” then a route is not commercially viable. “The proposed
length is geared to the winter ski season. It will accommodate
commercial service, and with the current mix provides a safety factor
and efficiency factor.”
are then two reasons for the increased runway, Nuttall said, summing up:
“If the runway is longer, then the plane can take on more fuel and
passengers and that makes it more financially efficient and people
“if the runway is longer, and if the plane is spooling up and going
down the runway, there is more runway to stop” if there a problem
develops. “The same thing with the plane and it is accelerating and
there is an engine problem, then you need so much length of runway to
community members have questioned the region's need for regional jet
has never had commercial service," said Kate Clayton. "They
have an airport" at the ski area, "but you have to be a rock
star to land there" because the charges to land at the private
airport are prohibitive to most. "Almost one hundred percent of the
visitors take a big bus, hotel limo service, a van, or they rent a
car," said Clayton, who called the 1-800 number for visitors to the
ski area and was told that no one flies to the ski area. "They
drive the two and a half hours from Vancouver. Whistler must be doing
something right. People are going there and it has nothing to do with
able to fly there. I don't think the economy is a good argument."
OF A 7,000-FOOT RUNWAY?
there any compromise that could be made? Shorten the runway so the
retaining walls which support the safety areas could be reduced?
is no compromise,” said Nuttall. If the safety walls at either end
were increased to 1,000 feet but the retaining walls were not built, the
runway length would be reduced to 5,500 feet.
option would eliminate existing planes,” said Nuttall. “That is not
a viable alternative.”
the airport board rebuilt the runway to meet B-III standards, including
raising the dip, “you would still have a B-III runway and the regional
jets wouldn’t land and the runway would not be as safe,” said
if the airport were improved to a C-III standard, a safety area of 1,000
feet at each end of the runway would be required and the retaining walls
would have to be built, Nuttall said.
only difference between the two [a C-III and a D-III standard] is the
width of safety areas on either side of the runway,” said Nuttall. A
C-III standard requires 200 feet of safety area, while the D-III
requires 250 feet. The designation does not include a requirement for a
about a fourth alternative, suggested by several community members:
Maintaining a runway length of 6,870 feet and building smaller retaining
walls that would accommodate safety areas of 1,000 feet, but would not
accommodate a longer 7,000-foot runway?
are splitting hairs. It doesn’t buy you much area,” said Nuttall.
“I’m not sure what the engineers would say” given the terrain and
retaining wall design standards there would be no reduction in the sizes
of the retaining walls.
safety concerns have been central to the airport’s board initiative to
improve the airport, one local neighbor Jack Thompson has questioned to
what extent the airport would be safer with extended safety areas at the
ends of the runway and on its sides.
looked into the accident records of the National Transportation Safety
Board to understand what factors were involved in the 25 accidents,
including four that involved fatalities, recorded since the airport
months the board’s sole mission was safety, and it had nothing to do
with regional jets,” said Thompson, a resident of Last Dollar, a
pilot, and former chairman of the Telluride Regional Airport Authority,
in an interview last week. “Now they have made safety a byline and
that was the foremost thing for so long. So I looked up the NTSB
records. The truth of it is” the accidents were predominantly caused
“by pilot error. If they are pleading safety, then show where the NTSB
said the outcome would have been different with a new airport. I don’t
think you will find one.”
want to prevent future accidents,” said Nuttall last week in response.
“The upgrading has everything to do with preventing future accidents.
Three times we had planes off the end of the runway toward Last Dollar
and the only reason they stopped was because of the snow on the ground.
If you have a bigger safety area on Runway 9,” then planes in trouble
will have more space within which to stop before sliding off the mesa.
“Whether it is pilot or mechanical error, the FAA wants to increase
the safety area, and so hopefully the plane will stop before it goes off
the edge," said Nuttall.
you can’t argue that the new and improved airport won’t be safer,
but you can’t quantify safety and the existing airport has not proven
to be unsafe,” Thompson said. “By analogy I suppose you could change
your tires every 10,000 miles and you would be safer, yes. But would it
be cost effective? Most probably not.”
to the Editor
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