Category Archives: 2004

War is hell — and it’s not fought by angels

Gee, I wonder why they hate us. Last month an embedded TV cameraman taped a U.S. Marine executing an unarmed insurgent in a mosque during the all-out assault on Fallujah. Broadcast first on NBC Nightly News, the video showed the … Continue reading

Published in David Long, December 2004

Pie in the sky?: The Mesa Verde tram

For three decades, locals have dreamed of an aerial tramway that would whisk tourists from the Montezuma Valley to the top of Mesa Verde, attracting visitors and pumping new dollars into the economy. But that dream looks like a money-losing … Continue reading

Published in December 2004

John Salazar: A moderate in the Third District

John Salazar, a state legislator and San Luis Valley potato-seed farmer, was elected Nov. 2 to replace Scott McInnis as U.S. representative for the sprawling Third Congressional District, which includes Pueblo and much of the Western Slope. Salazar and his … Continue reading

Published in December 2004, Election

Is it time to pay for a walk in the woods?

Soon, taking a hike on public lands could land you in jail under a provision that was inserted at the last minute into the nation’s Omnibus Spending Bill. The rider, inserted late in November by Republican Congressman Ralph Regula of … Continue reading

Published in December 2004

Decision expected soon in Echo Basin feud

It was a hearing to decide whether more hearings were needed. In the end, the Montezuma County commissioners decided to continue the original hearing. If all that sounds confusing, it’s just an indication of the complexity of the issues surrounding … Continue reading

Published in December 2004

Greeks have more fun — and the occasional death

When I was first a college student – back in the Second Age of the Middle Earth – I had an experience with some fraternity boys that firmly cemented an opinion already forming in my callow mind: Fraternities and sororities … Continue reading

Published in David Long, November 2004

Election results from around the area

Montezuma County Republicans achieved a sweep of the county commission, with two Republican candidates replacing the term-limited Kent Lindsay, another Republican, and Kelly Wilson, a Democrat. With 13 of 14 precincts reporting, Cortez business owner Larrie Rule had a 54-46 … Continue reading

Published in November 2004

Bullet holes speckle road signs

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, Shot full of bullet holes, blowin’ my mind. . . Driving around very southwestern Colorado, newcomers might conclude they’d made a wrong turn and somehow ended up in a war zone. Evidence of unfriendly fire … Continue reading

Published in November 2004

Notes from a politically challenged election

Let me first apologize for writing about pre-election politics for post-election readers. Understandably, you may all be sighing a collective sigh that your phone lines aren’t ringing any more and political advertising is once more banished to the post-season, I … Continue reading

Published in janelle holden, November 2004

Charges of harassment fly in Mancos

What first appeared to be a series of “hate crimes” in Mancos has proven to be a horse of quite a different color. It began with racist and anti-gay graffiti on the River Walk benches and allegations of verbal harassment … Continue reading

Published in October 2004

Mancos vet wants tougher penalties in land-use code

Gerald Koppenhafer, a Republican, is running for the county commission in District 3, the Mancos district. His opponent is independent Kerry O’Brien. Koppenhafer is a veterinarian. He served on the 12-member working group that created the county’s land-use plan, including … Continue reading

Published in Election, October 2004 Tagged

Independent candidate says LIZ needs teeth

Kerry O’Brien is an independent candidate for commissioner from District 3. His opponent is Gerald Koppenhafer. O’Brien and his wife bought land in the Mancos area in 1989. He has worked for computer firms Honeywell and Digital Equipment in different … Continue reading

Published in Election, October 2004

Group says term limits unnecessary

Three separate questions on the county ballot ask voters to remove term limits for persons in specific county offices. Limits of two terms are mandated by the state for all local and state elected officials — unless the voters in … Continue reading

Published in Election, October 2004

Former mayor seeks commission seat

Democrat Cheryl Baker, former mayor of Cortez, is running for county commissioner in District 2. Baker, a former business owner, has 18 years of experience as a financial consultant. She was interviewed by Gail Binkly on Sept. 19. Her opponent, … Continue reading

Published in Election, October 2004

County seeks half-cent sales tax for roads

Few problems bring complaints from county residents faster than bumpy, pot-holed roads or unsafe intersections. “Probably more than half the calls I get are road-related,” said County Commissioner Dewayne Findley. “Land use and roads are the most pertinent issues I … Continue reading

Published in Election, October 2004

Culture shock in the land of cotton

A friend of mine recently moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., after a two-year teaching stint in China. In August, I went to visit her. I told her I’d help her explore her new home, but frankly, I was a little relieved … Continue reading

Published in janelle holden, October 2004

Kerry should have been a coward

Am I detecting a trend here? Bill Clinton, America’s most famous draft-dodger, philanderer and non-inhaling pot-smoker, was elected president in 1992 over George Bush the Elder, a decorated World War II hero who had survived being shot down in a … Continue reading

Published in David Long, September 2004

Echo Basin controversy coming to a head

Despite a plethora of positive press about its planned artificial-turf golf course, the 600-acre Echo Basin Ranch near Mancos remains a source of apparently unending controversy. Loved as a concert venue, hated by some of its neighbors, the ranch and … Continue reading

Published in September 2004

Dwindling budget hurts higher ed, services

Caught in the jaws of a vise …. Like the shadowy figure in the opening of that ancient TV show, Colorado residents are getting seriously squeezed by a dilemma of their own making — a worsening state budget crunch brought … Continue reading

Published in September 2004

Anglers worried about A-LP’s effects on fishery

The giant sucking sound that will soon be the Animas-La Plata water diversion project south of Durango is expected to impair downstream fish habitat and could threaten one of the state’s most excellent trout-fishing sites. Just downstream of where massive … Continue reading

Published in September 2004

Against all odds

Cutrone’s recovery defies expectations Chris Cutrone had no sense of foreboding as he walked toward the beige sedan on a spring afternoon in 2003. For the Colorado State Patrol technician, a canine specialist who had his drug-sniffing dog in his … Continue reading

Published in September 2004

Rummy’s Iraqi lovebird comes home to roost

“We would not be facing the problems in Iraq today if the technologically advanced countries of the world had seen the danger and strictly enforced the economic sanctions against Iraq.” — Donald Rumsfeld in 2003 condemning the “old Europe” nations … Continue reading

Published in August 2004, David Long

A woman’s best friend: San Juan forest has its first K-9 team

As a law-enforcement officer, Aleta Walker has patrolled public lands in a variety of ways. She’s worked on horseback, motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs, and in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. But until she came to work for the San Juan National Forest, she … Continue reading

Published in August 2004

Rule touts business experience

Larrie Rule and Don Denison are running against each other in the county’s only primary race Aug. 10. Both are seeking to be the Republican nominee who will face Democrat Cheryl Baker in the November election to be county commissioner … Continue reading

Published in August 2004, Election

Road-construction rage in Mancos

An ongoing construction project aimed at improving the intersection of Highways 160 and 184 is creating gridlock both on the road and behind the scenes. The construction, which is about 70 percent complete, has caused detours, loss of income, inconvenience … Continue reading

Published in August 2004

Knight-Frank prepares to serve prison term

Facing prison on a federal charge falsifying a tax return, former Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman Judy Knight-Frank says her experience at the hands of the federal government has been a bitter one. In an exclusive interview with the Free … Continue reading

Published in August 2004

Denison advocates closer watch on county’s money

Don Denison, candidate for county commissioner in District 2 (the Cortez district) is running against Larrie Rule in the Aug. 10 Republican primary. Below is a transcript of his interview with reporter David Grant Long, edited only to remove redundancies … Continue reading

Published in August 2004, Election

Ferreting out the truth about ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’

I’d like to write about “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but I haven’t seen it yet. I feel like I have. Several people I work with gave me first-hand accounts, and I’ve read about 20 reviews. Some reviewers were liberals bashing the film, … Continue reading

Published in August 2004, janelle holden

Yellowbelly (aka Campbell) cooks up ethical stew

It’s get-back time. Retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who prides himself on his Native American heritage, once called me a racist because I ridiculed his position on using Indian monikers for sports teams. You know, like the Washington Redskins, … Continue reading

Published in David Long, July 2004

Letter criticizing MCHS athletics creates stir

Which is more highly prized at Montezuma-Cortez High School — academic achievement or athletic prowess? A letter posing that question was considered so inflammatory it resulted in a student’s suspension. The incident has raised questions about the rights of students … Continue reading

Published in July 2004

Concerns mount about adventure races

The summertime thrills of many dedicated outdoor enthusiasts – paragliding, peak-bagging, trail-running, kayaking and long-distance mountain-biking – are being combined into extreme adventure races that have established a starting line in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and Utah’s canyonlands. The popularity … Continue reading

Published in July 2004

Cheatgrass: Scourge of the West and spreading

In early spring, the green sprouts seem a welcome sight. But by June, when those innocent-looking blades turn to stiff brown stems with sticky seedheads, the true, ugly nature of cheatgrass is revealed. It’s a problem for pets and livestock, … Continue reading

Published in July 2004

Coming soon to a state near you: Global warming

As the conference hall erupted with applause, I leaned over to a colleague and said, “I think the alcoholic intake in West Yellowstone is going to increase rapidly in the next hour.” We had just finished a two-day conservation conference … Continue reading

Published in janelle holden, July 2004

Niggardly Congress ignores ‘compassionate conservatism’

Long ago in a faraway place, I worked at a McDonald’s when burgers, fries, shakes and soft drinks were the whole menu, with hamburgers priced at 15 cents, cheeseburgers 19 cents and shakes and Cokes a quarter. There was no … Continue reading

Published in David Long, June 2004

Wildland Fire Use: Too hot to handle?

Reprinted with permission of Forest Magazine During the summer of 2003, the Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch Center took a call from Vallecito, a small resort community northeast of Durango and surrounded by the San Juan National Forest. Residents had spotted … Continue reading

Published in June 2004

Raising a stink over new sewage plant

The company building a new $10 million sewage treatment plant for the Cortez Sanitation District is suing the district and the engineering firm that designed the project for nearly $2 million more. The third amended complaint of the lawsuit was … Continue reading

Published in June 2004

Debate rages over mercury pollution

This summer, a Division of Wildlife biologist and a state health department researcher will go fishing at McPhee and Narraguinnep reservoirs. Their excursions won’t be recreational. Instead, they will be acquiring samples of fish to test for mercury. The data … Continue reading

Published in June 2004

Age of Innocence should be laid to rest

Enough is enough. The next time I hear the smarmy phrase “women and children” — or even worse, “innocent women and children” — in the context of some past or impending human tragedy, the taut, stretched blood vessels of my … Continue reading

Published in David Long, May 2004

Wilderness advocates make case

Every weekend, hordes of vehicles with green-and-white license plates stream westward on Highway 160, carrying bikers, rock-climbers, boaters, hikers, ORV-ers and dogs, all headed for the canyon country of Southeast Utah. The canyons are a playground for folks of all … Continue reading

Published in May 2004

Telling bikers to take a hike

Cyclists left in limbo by letter from Historic Trust “No mountain bikes if they can’t stay on the trail!” “Bikers are leaving the trail and tearing up the soil.” “Sprocket heads should stay in Durango!” “Stop slandering bikers. Hikers do … Continue reading

Published in May 2004