Tuesday, Nov 15, 2002  content presented by Telluride Today .com About The Watch

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School Board Briefs, Middle/High School Addition Set to Break Ground in May, THE NEW ADDITION

With their victory at the polls behind them, members of the Telluride R-1 School District Board of Directors took the first steps this week toward making the $10 million addition to the middle/high school a reality that will, according to plan, open its doors sometime in the summer of 2004.

Town of Mountain Village, Pay Parking Plan Raises Questions… Tough Times Force Fewer Gifts…, Village Briefs, FIGHTING FOR PARKING

Mountain Village Town Councilmember Linda Rodgers asked town staff on Tuesday how it is possible that a new pay parking plan for the Mountain Village Core could possibly not cost the town more money for enforcement. Rodgers was somewhat stymied in raising her broader concerns about the new parking plan at the Mountain Village Council meeting – she strongly opposes it – because parking infrastructure in Mountain Village is the domain not of council but of the Mountain Village Metro District.

Town of Telluride, Permit Parking Could Start This Spring… Town Wins a Legal Round Against SMVC…, Town Briefs, MORE METERS, PERMITS

A parking plan in-the-making by the Telluride Planning and Zoning Commission received a yellow light from Telluride Town Council on Tuesday. Along with its conditional approval, council directed P&Z to take the plan to the residential neighborhoods that would be affected.

Town and Jacobson Settle Water Case, Settlement Paves Way for Improving Bridal Veil Water System 

The Town of Telluride and Eric Jacobson, operator of the Bridal Veil Hydroelectric Power Plant settled Wednesday – the day trial was schedule to begin – a nearly decade-long water case initiated in 1996 by the town. The settlement, announced in a town-issued press release late Thursday, clears the way for the town, in cooperation with Jacobson, to begin improvements on the Bridal Veil water system.

September Sales Tax Figures Keep Pace With Last Year  

There's good news on the Town of Telluride sales tax front. Town Finance Director Lynne Beck reports September 2002 sales tax revenues came in at $325,848 – a slight increase over September 2001 sales tax revenues $320,083.

Sales tax revenues are "basically remaining steady," Beck says, a plus for the town given the slow economy.

Watch the Sky, When You Wish Upon a Star…, Weather-Permitting, Monday Night's Leonid Meteor Storm Will Dazzle, By Ramona Gaylord

 Highlight the evening of Monday, Nov. 18 on your calendar. Grab your friends and lovers, a really warm jacket, mittens, hat, some hot sake or hot chocolate, and a comfy chaise-lounge. Park your chairs close together for warmth and face them east, looking for where the skyline is as unobstructed as possible.  Find the darkest corner of your yard and place yourself in a pool of moonshadow, because the moon will be nearly full that night.  And leave your telescopes behind: This celestial show is best appreciated with the naked eye.

Arts and Entertainment, Heartbeat Brings in Thanksgiving

 Hail in this season of Thanksgiving with Heartbeat, Telluride’s own all female a cappella singing group. The group performs new and favorite music Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church (301 N. Spruce) as part of the Telluride Homegrown Performance Series. Donations will be taken at the door. The group also performs in Norwood at Ah Haa West, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.

Watch Sports, MVP Winner Padilla Takes Skills and Talent to All State Game in Denver, By Martinique Davis

 For the third year in a row, Telluride High School’s flourishing varsity volleyball program has borne yet another regionally-recognized athlete.

Telluride High School senior Chelsey Padilla recently received the Most Valuable Player of the Year award for the San Juan Basin League, a highly coveted award that not only a tribute to Padilla’s high-level skills but also reflects on her reputation as a respected player throughout the entire region.

Watch Education,  School Board Briefs,  Middle/High School Addition Set to Break Ground in May,  THE NEW ADDITION

With their victory at the polls behind them, members of the Telluride R-1 School District Board of Directors took the first steps this week toward making the $10 million addition to the middle/high school a reality that will, according to plan, open its doors sometime in the summer of 2004.

Meeting with the board on Monday, architect Don Weidinger described what happens next for the 650-seat auditorium and 12-classroom design-build project that is set to break ground in May.

First come meetings, to which end Weidinger had a jam-packed schedule over the course of the week, ending with a Friday "mini-design charette with all the groups who expressed interest" in the project prior to the election.

"We need to establish the baseline," former board member and contractor Bill de Alva emphasized, to set up parameters for the design and engineering and then the building schedule for the project.

A design-build contract, Weidinger explained, specifically "describes all the risks and responsibilities" his firm assumes "through the entire process of design and construction."

In other words, it guarantees "what we deliver to you on a set date for a set amount."

To that end, he told the board: "We have to be really diligent about all aspects," from meeting with Town of Telluride officials at the outset to getting civil, electrical and mechanical engineering work anchored in time and place.

"First let's make sure we're all in agreement about where it's going," said Boardmember Dirk DePagter, a builder and developer, before the actual "sticks and bricks" start coming into play.

"I don't want to hear: 'You guys ran too damn fast for us to give any input'" from irate taxpayers, emphasized DePagter.

Of perhaps more immediate concern, DePagter asked: "What are we going to do with Chair Rock?" on the school grounds. Without a relocation plan firmly in place, he joked: "People are going to start raising hell," with the attendant risk of having "Gary Bennett show up with a bunch of dynamite."

 ESL CONTINUES TO GROW

With the threat of Amendment 31 ended following this month's elections (it would have mainstreamed ESL students into regular classrooms after less than a year of instruction), ESL instructor Kathleen Morgan cautioned the Telluride School Board on Monday that increases in the district’s ESL populations show no signs of abating.

"Five years ago, there was maybe one Hispanic kid in a classroom," Morgan told the board at Monday's meeting.

What a difference five years makes, as her charts from 1995-2003 showed, in a jagged, rapidly ascending skyline. Today that one Hispanic student "is one of several."

In addition to Spanish, students are coming into the system speaking Navajo, German, Russian, Chinese, Moldovan, Urdu and Vietnamese. The total number of students serviced by ESL, year-to-date, is 63.

More certified staff, more interpreters, more training of existing staff and "money, money, money" will be necessary to keep the district's ESL classes running, Morgan predicted. She emphasized the mounting need "to do outreach to parents" as well.

 TWO PRINCIPALS TO REPLACE LARIVEE?

"It seems like we're so small, we should be able to do anything," Boardmember Jenny Patterson observed in response to a proposal to replace outgoing Telluride Middle/High School Principal Steve Larivee with two “teaching principals.”

"I wanted to bring you this idea, which has come from the faculty," District Superintendant Mary Rubadeau told the board.  The proposal is for a separate middle school and high school principal, each of whom would teach classes in addition to handling administrative duties.

Boardmember Dirk DePagter worried the two-principal concept could set into motion an "inherent conflict" and "would not be to the benefit of the school culture.

"I'd rather see one person be responsible for a single campus," he said, adding that keeping "teachers and administrators separate" to date has "worked very well.

Characterizing the notion as "neither fish nor fowl," DePagter said: "I really like the current system we have, with one single individual, and the buck stops there. I know who to talk to.”

Rubadeau told the board she had worked with many teaching principals. "Steve Smith was a teaching principal," she said, referring to the Telluride Elementary School principal with whom she worked in Alaska. One advantage of that structure is that "it's hard to get one person who really has the background" in both middle and high school, and inevitably, a middle-high school principal will come having "specialized more in one than the other of the two arenas."

School Board President Mary Wodehouse observed that the "chance to develop a separate middle school culture" might be welcome, and that the middle school does "feel a little overshadowed by the high school." In addition, the two principals could handle dress code issues "so the teachers don't have to deal with it" so much.

"I can just hear the phone calls I'm going to get," said Boardmember Becky Padilla, whose first response to the idea mirrored DePagter’s.

Pointing out that anyone in school administration "has been in the trenches" of teaching, Rubadeau sounded wistful as she said: "We want to be in the classrooms – that's really where the joy is."

As teaching principals, their course load would be minimal, she said, adding she has already found $30,000 worth of coursework now taught by special assistants that could be folded into the two-principal model.

 IN BRIEF

Fifth grade classes are working on their Fall Shakespeare production with Ashley Boling and Angela Watkins of the Telluride Repertory Theatre. This year's production will be The Tempest. … The elementary school's Character Education Committee has adopted a Virtue of the Month program. This month's virtue is Caring. The students selected for October's Kids Who Care program are Jordan Gardner, John Rex Fuqua, Hunter Swenson, Mia McLaughlin, Conner Courter, Kristyn Stewart, Stephanie Blakeman and Abby Altshuler's entire kindergarten class. … Nine fifth-grade students were invited to participate in the Rocky Mountain Talent Search; to qualify, students must score within the 85th percentile on their CSAP and/or MAP tests. … Telluride Middle/High School Students of the Month are Austin Davis (sixth grade), Hoot Brown (seventh grade), Terese Broderick (eighth grade) and Sarah Lamb (eleventh grade). Lamb is the Rotary Student of the Month, and will attend a Rotary meeting/dinner with Superintendent Mary Rubadeau, and a $25 check. All students receive one free movie pass to the Nugget Theater, sponsored by the student recognition program.

Town of Mountain Village, Pay Parking Plan Raises Questions… Tough Times Force Fewer Gifts…, Village Briefs ,FIGHTING FOR PARKING

Mountain Village Town Councilmember Linda Rodgers asked town staff on Tuesday how it is possible that a new pay parking plan for the Mountain Village Core could possibly not cost the town more money for enforcement. Rodgers was somewhat stymied in raising her broader concerns about the new parking plan at the Mountain Village Council meeting – she strongly opposes it – because parking infrastructure in Mountain Village is the domain not of council but of the Mountain Village Metro District.

The Metro District Board of Directors in October voted to implement pay parking in the Mountain Village Core. That action stirred strong objections from Mountain Village merchants, who dispute the contention that the pay parking will make it easier for their customers to get to their stores by discouraging commuters from taking up the available close-in parking.

The new pay parking plan will be implemented by means of the same type of meters now in use in downtown Telluride and at the Telluride Regional Airport. Pay parking would be implemented in the upper gondola station parking lot at 25 cents an hour, and in the Blue Mesa, Core Parking and Shirana Building parking lots at 50 cents an hour. Mountain Village would still permit free parking in 375 spaces in the lower gondola parking lot.

Councilmember Rube Felicelli agreed with Rodgers that Metro District’s decision to implement pay parking in the core created a public relations disaster, fostering an impression that the town is unfriendly to commerce.

Mayor Dave Flatt argued to the contrary that the installation of meters in downtown Telluride had been successful in making more, not less parking available, and that the Metro District Board expects the same result. Mountain Village Police Chief Dale Wood said that he does not expect an increase in enforcement costs to the town.

TOWN FINANCIALS

While sales tax revenues in Mountain Village fell this summer, lodging bookings appear to be rebounding for December and January, Mountain Village Finance Director Steve Wilson told the Mountain Village Town Council on Tuesday.  Sales tax revenues for the year will be below last year, he said. Building fees are off significantly as well, leaving the town with a surplus ahead of last year but behind budget.

Whether bookings are as strong as they could be is a matter of some dispute. Jim Thalman of the Inn at Lost Creek and Rick Houston of the Franz Klammer Lodge told council that their hotels have vacancies during the prime Christmas and New Year’s week because there are no airline seats available.

LIMITED CHARITABLE GIVING

In a tight budget year, the Mountain Village Town Council decided to give only $15,000 in charitable funding out of $106,295 in requests. Council agreed to give $5,000 to the San Miguel Resource Center, $5,000 to the One to One mentorship program and $5,000 to the Telluride Adaptive Ski Program.

Eight other organizations that made requests were not funded at all. The Juvenile Diversion program was funded to the tune of just over $2,500 through the release of search and seizure funds.

Council also agreed to contribute $5,000 to the Fen Oversight Committee, if both San Miguel County and the Town of Telluride match the contribution, to help the committee seek still additional funding for its continued operation.

Town Councilmember Rube Felicelli, who is a member of the Fen Oversight Committee, which was formed as a condition of granting approval to the Telluride Ski Area Expansion in Prospect Basin, explained that snow grooming over a portion of the fens last winter had an impact this summer, stimulating more vegetation. Ongoing study will help determine if the changes are beneficial or not. 

Council also agreed to assist with a pledge made by Mountain Village Metro Services to contribute refrigeration equipment, at an estimated cost of $300,000, for the new ice rink in the Town Park Pavilion in the Telluride Town Park. Metro Services made the offer to the Town of Telluride last year, Town Manager Kathy Mahoney explained, but has been caught by surprise by the rapidity with which the new Telluride Town Council accepted it. The Mountain Village Council agreed it would budget $50,000 in each of the next two years to go toward the pledge, if it proves necessary.

After making the changes, council adopted next year’s lean budget on first reading.

A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION

The Mountain Village Town Council on Tuesday approved new zoning on Lot 166AR, converting 30 condominiums and two units of affordable housing to 14 single-family homesites and one deed-restricted homesite.

The proposed replat had been strongly contested by neighboring property owners, concerned that because the replat moved structures to a different portion of the lot, the homesites would be highly visible.

But the developer successfully negotiated peace with the neighbors, and, with no fewer than five attorneys in attendance, council was able to approve the rezoning.

BACK TO TMVS

Funding for the sales and marketing for the Telluride Conference Center was formally transferred from the Town of Mountain Village to Telluride and Mountain Village Visitor Services this week. The town had been devoting a portion of lodging tax and business license fee dollars to conference center marketing. Those funds will now go directly to TMVS.

The plan to redirect 100 percent of lodging tax and business license fees back to TMVS has been in the works for several months.  Mountain Village assumed control of conference center marketing from TMVS when the conference center opened three years ago, but has concluded that TMVS is currently well-equipped to undertake the sales activity.

FEES FOR BEARS

The Mountain Village agreed on Tuesday to a modest increase in garbage collection fees to pay for the town’s recent purchase of bear-resistant trash containers.

Town of Telluride, Permit Parking Could Start This Spring… Town Wins a Legal Round Against SMVC…, Town Briefs, MORE METERS, PERMITS

A parking plan in-the-making by the Telluride Planning and Zoning Commission received a yellow light from Telluride Town Council on Tuesday. Along with its conditional approval, council directed P&Z to take the plan to the residential neighborhoods that would be affected.

The parking plan grows out of the town’s longstanding effort to encourage commuters to park in the town’s new West End parking lot, on Lots 34/34B, freeing up downtown parking for shoppers and parking in residential areas for residents.

As proposed the plan would establish two new residential permit parking zones; allow a limited number of out-of-town commuters to purchase permits to park in the residential zone; extend the existing “O” parking zone west on Pacific Avenue to Davis Street; and install additional meters in the accommodations one and residential and commercial zone districts.

“I generally am opposed to these types of plans,” began Councilmember Dawn Ibis. “I am also concerned about sign pollution. This town used to be cute and quaint and now it has more and more regulations. I want to see more simplicity built back into the program. I also want to see an off-season variance.”

Ibis also expressed concern about the proposed increase in code enforcement personnel as well as the need for a nearly full-time clerk to administer the new permits.

“I hate to continue making parking more difficult,” Russell said. “But I feel strongly that the previous town council made a commitment to voters: ‘if town purchases Lots 34 and 34B, then there will be permit parking in the neighborhoods.’ I think there is enough room in Lots 34 and 34B and am opposed to out-of-town commuters being allowed in permitted [residential] places.”

Approximately 3,500 commuters drive to town every day, said Special Projects Manager Lance McDonald. Of those, thirty percent are not construction workers, and of that thirty percent, about half, or 500-600 commuters, park for the day on the street. The West End lot will hold 450 vehicles. 

Council directed P&Z to begin discussions in the residential neighborhoods, to address signage "pollution", and “the confusion of living in a ticket-oriented world,” said Telluride Mayor John Steel. Council also asked P&Z to refrain from implementing the neighborhood permitting system for out-of-town commuters until it is determined whether there is adequate space in the intercept lots and to consider a code variance during the off-season.

Telluride voters in November 2000 voted to approve bonding to acquire the 4.1-acre Lots 34/34B for the express purpose of building a parking lot there. The vote was the culmination of years of debate about how to control traffic and where to put parking in Telluride. The parking facility was funded with several million dollars in federal funds, as well as with a 15-year, $125,000 a year contribution by the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., money that must go to parking close to lift access for day skiers.

Council anticipates implementing the first phase of the parking plan spring of 2003.

VALLEY FLOOR UPDATE

In the most recent legal fistfight in the Valley Floor condemnation action, the District Court handed down a partial victory to the Town of Telluride. The court dismissed SMVC's claim that the town breached a contract between the town and SMVC. The court did not rule on four other claims brought in the same action.

The contract in question is a 17-year old agreement between the town and Cordillera, SMVC's predecessor in interest to a portion of the Valley Floor. In the contract the town agreed not to block development on Cordillera's property by refusing to provide sewage treatment services. SMVC's complaint alleged the town's effort to acquire the Valley Floor through condemnation represents a "constructive refusal" by the town "to provide sewage treatment service to any development contemplated by Plaintiffs on the South Side of the Valley Floor."

The court found that SMVC was a successor to the assets held by Cordillera, i.e., its real property, but not a successor in interest to Cordillera's business interests, such as the contract. Therefore, the court reasoned, SMVC does not have standing to pursue a claim for breach of the contract between Cordillera and the town.

The court did not rule on SMVC's four other claims and directed town to file a motion for summary judgment within 30 days. The outstanding four claims, including a town motion for attorneys’ fees and costs, will be postponed until the motion and SMVC's response have been filed.

 WATER SETTLEMENT

The town's decade-long effort to secure its water rights in Bridal Veil Basin ended in a settlement agreement late Tuesday night, just hours before the town and the sole remaining objector in the case, Eric Jacobson, operator of the Bridal Veil Hydroelectric Power Plant, were scheduled to go to trial.

Terms of the settlement were not available at press time. 

Town and Jacobson Settle Water Case , Settlement Paves Way for Improving Bridal Veil Water System

The Town of Telluride and Eric Jacobson, operator of the Bridal Veil Hydroelectric Power Plant settled Wednesday – the day trial was schedule to begin – a nearly decade-long water case initiated in 1996 by the town. The settlement, announced in a town-issued press release late Thursday, clears the way for the town, in cooperation with Jacobson, to begin improvements on the Bridal Veil water system.

The town settled with other objectors in the water change case last month.

The town sought to develop a water system in Bridal Veil Basin because it is currently dependent on in-stream flows from Mill Creek and Cornet Creek. Because the Bridal Veil system includes significant storage systems, notably in Blue Lake, its use for municipal water will allow the town greater flexibility in managing the river.

Under the terms of the settlement, the town and the Idarado Mining Company, which joined the town in bringing the action, will control 1,225 acre-feet of storage space in Blue Lake. The lake holds a total of 3,900 acre-feet. The remainder of the storage space in the lake was granted to Jacobson.

Additionally the settlement modified the 1988 lease between Jacobson and Idarado by relaxing certain restrictions on the rate of flow allowed through Jacobson's plant.

Idarado was granted the right to use water, if needed, for reclamation purposes or for other uses on Idarado property.

September Sales Tax Figures Keep Pace With Last Year

There's good news on the Town of Telluride sales tax front. Town Finance Director Lynne Beck reports September 2002 sales tax revenues came in at $325,848 – a slight increase over September 2001 sales tax revenues $320,083.

Sales tax revenues are "basically remaining steady," Beck says, a plus for the town given the slow economy.

Anticipating September figures, she says: "I had actually thought we might drop," as sales tax figures did elsewhere, even though September 2001, of course, marked the start of an economic downturn set into motion by last year's terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Of course, she points out, September in Telluride means "two festivals" – Telluride Film Festival and Blues and Brews." Of the relatively steady sales tax revenues for two years now, she interprets: "It says we still have the visitors" coming to town.

Beck also points out that year-to-date sales tax figures for August 2002 were down 0.33 percent from year-to-date August 2001 – not -3.3 percent, as the Watch mistakenly reported in an interview with her last week. That year-to-date lag decreased at the end of September 2002, dropping from –0.33 percent to –0.13 percent, Beck reports this week.

Watch the Sky, When You Wish Upon a Star…, Weather-Permitting, Monday Night's Leonid Meteor Storm Will Dazzle, By Ramona Gaylord

 Highlight the evening of Monday, Nov. 18 on your calendar. Grab your friends and lovers, a really warm jacket, mittens, hat, some hot sake or hot chocolate, and a comfy chaise-lounge. Park your chairs close together for warmth and face them east, looking for where the skyline is as unobstructed as possible.  Find the darkest corner of your yard and place yourself in a pool of moonshadow, because the moon will be nearly full that night.  And leave your telescopes behind: This celestial show is best appreciated with the naked eye.

If our weather permits and the heavens cooperate, we will be able to observe a spectacular event Monday night, when the Earth will be passing through a thick river of comet dust. This dust, its particles rarely larger than a grain of sand, causes what we call “shooting stars,” or meteors – streaks of light in the heavens. The light is caused by friction that occurs when the grains enter Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds. The grains of dust are blown from a comet by the solar wind when the comet swings near the sun in its orbit through our solar system.  Once this dust is expelled, it stretches into a ribbon of debris traveling nearly in the comet’s orbit, but meandering slightly in space. Such a dust trail can survive a dozen or more revolutions around the sun on its own. The gravitational influence of the planets widens and scatters the trail, eventually erasing its identity. What is left is a diluted river of particles surrounding the comet’s orbit.  

When Earth encounters this diffuse river of particles, it creates a meteor shower. If it is an incredibly rich shower of meteors, astronomers call it a meteor storm. A good meteor shower may typically have one or two meteors a minute. A meteor storm can have a hundred or more a minute. 

There are several annual meteor showers that vary in their intensity, based upon several factors,  including the density of the comet dust trail, the position of the Earth in its orbital pathway, the intensity of moonlight on the given evening of the shower, and the angle at which the dust grains strike the earth’s atmosphere. The meteor showers are named after the area or constellation from which they appear (to us on Earth) to arise. The annual meteor shower that occurs in mid-November is called the Leonid meteor shower, originating from the constellation Leo. This meteor shower usually produces ten meteors per hour, although it varies year by year. (Last year at my parents' house in Denver, I was able to see about fifty magnificent bright Leonid meteors, despite the big city light pollution.) We even saw a brilliant fireball streaming right over Golden. 

The parent comet that creates the Leonid meteors is called Tempel-Tuttle. It was discovered by Tempel in 1865 and then again, independently, by Tuttle in January 1866.  Its 33-year orbit takes it from just inside the Earth’s orbit to beyond the orbit of Uranus.   

The Leonids helped astronomers understand the connection between comets and meteors after two spectacular storms in1833 and 1866. The more impressive 1833 storm frightened people in eastern North America. There are many descriptions and even some paintings that I remember seeing in astronomy books when I was a child. The pictures and descriptions are fascinating.  They show Leonids raining down like snowflakes in a blizzard.  Many folks thought it was the end of the world.  The lesser storm of 1866 came shortly after the discovery of comet Tempel-Tuttle. Astronomers were the able to link the two when they found they shared the same orbit.

The Leonids did not storm in 1899 and 1933, disappointing and perplexing eager observers. However, in 1966 the Leonids raged again, mostly in western North America. Scientists have since determined that most years we see the meteors from the more diffuse stream.  Show-stopping meteor storms occur when Earth passes through one or more of the threads of debris within the main river. These main rivers are left like a trail of breadcrumbs during one of comet Tempel-Tuttle’s journey around the sun.

The Leonids are one of the most impressive meteors for a couple of reasons. First, no other meteor shower’s debris comes as close to the Earth’s orbit as that of the Leonids. Second, because Earth and the Leonids are moving in opposite directions, the Leonids slam into our atmosphere at tremendous speeds of up to 159,000 m.p.h. They are among the fastest and brightest of falling stars. 

Beginning on the evening of Nov.18 and through the morning of Nov. 19, our planet will collide head-on with two Leonid dust trails. The first of these trails was shed in 1767, which was seven orbital revolutions ago. The second was shed in 1866, four revolutions ago.  

Meteors from the first stream will peak around 11 p.m. EST, or 9 p.m. Telluride time.  This will be an ideal time, especially for those of us with children. Weather-permitting, the sight of countless Leonids streaking through the sky should be absolutely unforgettable. Then, more than six hours after the first storm’s peak, Earth will plunge into the second dust trail of 1866.This will occur at about 3:30 a.m. MST (or Telluride time). Only dawn will end the spectacular show.

Everyone wants to know how rich the display will be. This is not an easy question to answer. Recently, scientists have developed a better dust-trail model, but there are always many parameters to take into consideration, and our weather conditions will play a major role. David Asher and Rob McNaught, of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland, estimate that the 1767 stream will produce 1,000-2,000 meteors per hour, if the conditions are ideal.  They predict the 1866 trail will net 3,000 or so! Other astronomers have even greater estimates of 4,000-5,000! Whatever the rate, I am going to be outside and looking up that night!

Past experience shows that the storms have small windows of peak activity, only an hour or so long. The storm’s most spectacular display may last only 15 minutes long, with the falling stars coming in brief bursts.  For backyard observers, differences among the rates are moot. The proper course of action is easy – be outside and be ready. And don’t give up on partially cloudy skies! I went outside last year at midnight and it was cloudy, but by 2:30 a.m. it had cleared off beautifully.

We are blessed to live in Telluride for this event (and for many other reasons). Our town has excellent conditions for stargazing, with its nearly pristine dark skies (not many street lights or outdoor house lights), our clear air (fewer pollution particles – leave your cars parked if you live in town, your kids can walk to school), our higher elevation (less of an atmosphere to look through), and lastly, our cold atmosphere (cold air is more stable than wavy warm air). 

Please don’t turn on any outdoor lights on the eve of the Nov. 18 – as a matter of fact, make it a habit to use outdoor lights as seldom as possible. Light pollution has become a global crisis. Many folks are unaware that light is a form of pollution. Indeed, more than half the people in the world have never seen the Milky Way because the city lights have drowned out all but the highest magnitude stars!  Imagine the loss to our children and to mankind itself.  Ponder the inspiration that clear starry evenings have brought to Shakespeare, Van Gogh, Galileo, Archimedes, all the indigenous cultures in the world and to your children when they sleep beneath the heavens! It is an unnecessary tragedy.

Astronomers around the world lament the loss of the planet’s dark skies. Concerned scientists and citizens have created the Dark Sky Association in an effort to educate people and city planners and to help them change their ways of thinking about darkness and to provide useful information on non-obtrusive lighting. On the Big Island of Hawaii, where the world’s most powerful telescopes rest atop Mauna Kea, astronomers were able to convince the entire island to change all street lights to low intensity, covered sodium lights. People are very aware of the situation and respect this philosophy. If you fly into the Big Island in the evening you will notice how subtle the lights appear. It has made an incredible difference for the astronomers and it remains the absolute best place in the world to observe because there are no other big cities within 2,000 miles.

We live in a small, safe town; many who live here have left the big city for the rural life, which includes dark nights. Outdoor lights rob us of our gorgeous slice of heaven.  Teach your children to embrace the beauty of darkness, the natural counterpart of a sunny day.  If you absolutely believe that you need to have outdoor lights, the best option is to have a low-pressure sodium light that only comes on when needed. That way you can save electricity, keep the small town small, and make your neighborhood amateur astronomers and nature lovers happy.  

November 2002 really is your last chance for big-time Leonids until around 2033. Don’t let this rare opportunity slip away. Happy stargazing, and may all your wishes come true! 

 Gaylord is an avid naturalist and a temporarily non-teaching science teacher in Telluride.

Arts and Entertainment, Heartbeat Brings in Thanksgiving

Hail in this season of Thanksgiving with Heartbeat, Telluride’s own all female a cappella singing group. The group performs new and favorite music Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church (301 N. Spruce) as part of the Telluride Homegrown Performance Series. Donations will be taken at the door. The group also performs in Norwood at Ah Haa West, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.

The women of Heartbeat hope that by making a cappella music together on a regular, non-stressed basis, the harmony of their voices translates into their own lives as well as into the lives of those who hear them. The group strives for challenge – trying new styles of music and performing in new venues – and also for excellence. Above all, the group has fun and celebrates their voices, their community and life on earth.

The group has been together in various constellations of singers since 1994. The present group includes Donna Burd Fernald, Judy Kohin, Nancy Kurtz, Rhonda Levine, Ulli Sir Jesse, Debbie Stevens and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. There is no leader.

“There are seven leaders,” says Fernald. “We all have different strengths to bring to the group.”

The evening features several pieces commissioned as part of the homegrown series. “Why We Still Sing When Other Choirs Dissolved” was written by Trommer and put to music by Sir Jesse. “Sorrow Song” was composed by Rose Morse, a singer in Bedrock. And “I Surrender” was written by local songwriter and performer Alana Jewel.

“We’ve got lots of surprises planned,” Trommer says. “Some songs you’ll recognize from the radio and some we’re sure you’ve never heard before.”

Heartbeat has opened for the Telluride Jazz Celebration for three years, and in 2000 opened the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. This year they performed at Bluegrass in Elks Park. Other performances include the Sand Island Bluegrass Festival, multiple appearances at KOTO’s Night at the Opera, the bike path tunnel, the elementary school stairs and the Telluride Post Office.

Watch Sports, MVP Winner Padilla Takes Skills and Talent to All State Game in Denver, By Martinique Davis

For the third year in a row, Telluride High School’s flourishing varsity volleyball program has borne yet another regionally-recognized athlete.

Telluride High School senior Chelsey Padilla recently received the Most Valuable Player of the Year award for the San Juan Basin League, a highly coveted award that not only a tribute to Padilla’s high-level skills but also reflects on her reputation as a respected player throughout the entire region.

“What coaches are looking for when they’re voting for a MVP is somebody who makes a big difference on their team. It’s somebody who is good offensively and defensively, can pass well, and is generally an all-around strong player. They’re looking for someone who is dominant – and Chelsey is definitely dominant,” says THS volleyball coach Fawnda Rogers.

Padilla’s award is her ticket to the All State Game this weekend in Denver, where she will meet up with Colorado’s fifteen other regional MVPs to play together in a heavily watched “Best of the Best” game.

Scattered throughout the stands at the All State Game will be numerous college scouts from Division 2A colleges throughout the nation.

“I see really incredible talent from Chels. I hope she has the moxi to walk onto the court and try out at any school she wants to,” says Rogers. “I can see her playing wherever she wants [for college]. She could become incredible, and be a really strong force on any 2A team.”

From Padilla's perspective, she says she is just looking forward to playing with a team of the state’s strongest players. Of winning the award she says: “I was shocked when I found out, especially since there are so many other good players in our league,” including Dolores’ Tracy Everett, Sarah Nielson, and Jennifer Cross. 

Everett, who also received the regional award, will be traveling with Padilla to play in the All State Game.

“I’m happy Tracy will be coming with me. I think we make a good pair to represent the San Juan Basin League,” she says.

Padilla is the third Telluride volleyball player to receive the regional award in the last three years; last year player Sydney Melzer garnered the title, and in 2000 player Kelli Hart won it. Rogers says part of the secret behind the high school's recent year's sweep of the league's highest awards has to do with the team’s drive and dedication.

She explains of all the players in Telluride High School’s volleyball program: “They’re all proud to have real successes, and such a positive program – girls want to be a part of that.”

Padilla agrees that part of the program’s strength lies in its extremely dedicated players as well as its skilled coaches – Rogers and Head Coach Ian Evans. “Our coaching has definitely helped us become such a strong team,” Padilla says. “Also the fact that we’ve all been playing with each other since middle school, and there is a lot of drive to win within the team.”

Joining Padilla in the regional spotlight this year are teammates Inga Johansson and Rhea DePagter, who were chosen as First Team All Conference Players; Second Team All Conference Player award winner Kimber Hall; and Michael Arnold, who received an All Conference Honorable Mention.

Winning the MVP award was rewarding says Padilla. “It really showed me that all my hard work paid off. I worked really hard this year, and now I feel really satisfied and proud that I did.”

Rogers, who in the last fifteen years has coached volleyball in California, as well as in Telluride, says she is also proud of Padilla’s career accomplishments at THS. 

“I’ve coached a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of athletes, and I can only name a handful of girls that have the heart and drive that Chelsey has – and that is what it takes to bring it to the next level. That next level is not easy, it’s a lot of pain and hard work and heartache, but a lot of humor too, and Chelsey has all of that.”

Padilla admits that she would not likely have made it this far athletically without the support she has received during her time at THS. On the long list of people she has to thank, Padilla includes her coaches and THS volleyball fans: “The fans have been incredible – all four years I’ve always seen the same people coming out and supporting the team. Ian and Fawnda also definitely believed in me, and I also have the coaches from Dolores, Mancos, and Norwood to thank, for always talking to me at games, and always thinking so highly of me.”

Padilla travels to Denver today, and meets Colorado’s other MVPs tonight at the MVP Banquet Dinner. She then takes her skills to Broomfield High School’s volleyball court on Saturday, when she will have time to get to know and practice with the other All State players. The big All State Game takes place Sunday. Good Luck, Chels!

 

 

 

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