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As of 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7

In Colorado

  • 264,618 cases, (up 4,037 from yesterday)
  • 14,904 hospitalized, (up 36 from yesterday)
  • 1,873,788 people tested (up 15,447 from yesterday)
  • 2,776 deaths from COVID (up 52 from yesterday)
  • 2,403 Outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities

In the region

  • La Plata County: 1,800 cases (up 24 from yesterday), 7 deaths
  • Montezuma County: 869 cases, 6 deaths
  • Archuleta County: 338 cases (up 14 from yesterday)
  • Dolores County: 35 cases, (up 5 from yesterday)
  • San Juan County (CO): 20 cases (up 1 from yesterday)
  • San Juan County (NM): 6,906 cases (up 119 from yesterday), 250 deaths,
  • San Miguel County: 268 cases, (up 1 from yesterday)

Videos & Photos

Snow arrives in Durango0VideoYouTube480360Weather forecasters were expecting up to 6 inches of snow from a winter storm that began Sunday night and was expected to continue until Tuesday afternoon.
Weather forecasters were expecting up to 6 inches of snow from a winter storm that began Sunday nigh...
Backcountry Winter Safety0VideoYouTube480360Related Article: Instead of luring tourists, Colorado ad dollars to target backcountry safety
Related Article: Instead of luring tourists, Colorado ad dollars to target backcountry safety ...
Snowy DurangoText before first image.1290726
Text before first image.
SJBPH weekly update0VideoYouTube480360Related Article: La Plata County to move into Level Orange
Related Article: La Plata County to move into Level Orange
When seconds count, Durango firefighters hit the brass pole $18,000 ‘tool’ is part of $3.2 million expansion of Station No. 3 950 1350 Durango Fire Protection District Chief Hal Doughty slides down a new fire pole installed Friday at Station No. 3 in north Durango. The station on County Road 251 (east 32nd Street) is undergoing a major expansion and remodel and is about 80% complete. The crew moved into the building in October. false 0 Video YouTube 1280 720 In the race to douse a blaze or save a patient’s life, firefighters at Station No. 3 in north Durango have a new tool – a brass fire pole. The $18,000 pole is the first in town and was installed Friday at the station on County Road 251 (east 32nd Street), which is undergoing a $3.2 million expansion and remodel, said Deputy Chief Randy Black. Compared with taking the stairs, sliding down the pole takes about half the time. The pole also pays homage to the past, said Fire Chief Hal Doughty. 950 1269 Durango Fire Protection District Chief Hal Doughty demonstrates the fire pole that was installed Friday at Station No. 3 in north Durango. The pole is the first in the district and is one of many design details intended to make the station functional. The station is undergoing a $3.2 million expansion and remodel. false “We want to have a station that is efficient and functional. We want a station that can be the cornerstone of the community and something the guys can be proud of,” Doughty said. “That brass fire pole is something that is from our past; historically, it’s a significant factor for firefighters, and we felt it was important to include in this project.” Fire poles, a longtime staple of fire stations, have declined in popularity because they can cause injuries and tend to be particularly hazardous to ankles, Black said. But Durango Fire has taken precautions to ensure the new pole is safe, he said. The fire pole is in a dedicated room behind a locked door. Only trained staff are allowed to use it, and a landing pad 8 inches thick was installed around the bottom of the pole to protect ankles, he said. 950 1423 Durango Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Randy Black slides down the fire pole installed Friday at Station No. 3 in north Durango. The pole cuts down on the amount of time it takes to get from the second story to the first story of the building. false The pole is one of many design details intended to make the fire station function well during emergencies. Another example is a button near the front door that staff can use to trigger an alarm system when medical patients drive up to the station for care. Patients in cardiac arrest, overdosing or with other emergencies sometimes drive up to the station, he said. The updates are all part of a remodel expected to be finished in December, Doughty said. The station was expected be finished in October, but it was set back by the winter weather, electrical lines that had to be buried and other construction delays, Doughty said. Doughty said he is encouraging the contractors to finish by the end of the year, but he wants to maintain the quality of construction. “What we don’t want to do is hurry them to the point we don’t get the result we are looking for. ... We are planning on using the station for the next 50 years to protect this community, so a few days is kind of a non-factor compared to the next 50 years of service,” he said. mshinn@durangoherald.com
$18,000 ‘tool’ is part of $3.2 million expansion of Station No. 3
Rosie the Riveter memorialized in Durango More than a dozen local Girl Scouts, leaders and gardeners gathered for rose garden dedication 1600 1042 Local Girl Scouts, gardeners and leaders, gather for a photo Saturday in front of the National Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden dedication ceremony at Durango Public Library. The garden is located within the Durango Botanical Gardens on the northeast side of the library. false Shelly Hartney was in sixth grade in 1945 when the United States and Allied powers defeated Nazi-occupied Germany, imperial Japan and the Axis powers. She grew up in a wealthy neighborhood and felt drawn to service by the Girl Scouts of America, Hartney said. She joined for a year, or so, in middle school before the girls in her troop became more interested in boys than regular meetings. She got accepted into Northwestern’s engineering program in Chicago after high school and dropped out when she became more interested in a boy than her schoolwork, Hartney said. “I had four babies in four years,” she said. “I had to stay home, but we needed money.” 600 671 Shelly Hartney, with Colorado Girl Scouts of America, attended the National Spirit of ’45 Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden dedication ceremony on Saturday at Durango Public Library. The garden is located within the Durango Botanical Gardens on the northeast side of the library. false When the kids started school, Hartney said she left the home in search of work somewhere she could get paid for it. She worked in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while her children were in high school and moved to Durango after they graduated. She worked administering grants at Fort Lewis College. She lead her girls, and many others in Durango, through Girl Scouts for years. Her children have grown into successful women, she said. Hartney, like many other American women, were “standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Julie Westendorff, chairwoman of the La Plata County Board of Commissioners at a dedication of the National Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden in the Durango Botanical Gardens. 0 Video YouTube 1280 720 Girl Scouts wearing vests joined more than a dozen community leaders, gardeners and residents Saturday for the dedication ceremony northeast of Durango Public Library. Volunteers tended the garden for months before the dedication, which made Durango the second city in Coloradoto receive the national recognition, said Judy Winzell, co-chairwoman of the National Spirit of ’45. The other is in Fort Collins. A third is planned for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The United States Congress designated March 21 as “National Rosie the Riveter Day” on that day this year. The U.S. Senate is considering a bill to create a Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded “to the women in the United States who joined the workforce during World War II, providing the aircraft, vehicles, weaponry, ammunition and other materials to win the war, that were referred to as ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ in recognition of their contributions to the United States and the inspiration they have provided to ensuing generations.” 1300 920 Theresa Anderson attended the National Spirit of ’45 Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden dedication ceremony on Saturday at Durango Public Library and had this photo of her mother, Susan Evelyn Kramek, a Rosie the Riveter, receiving a $50 war bond at the Willow Run Factory in Detroit where she worked during World War II. false The women of the Greatest Generation broke social barriers when they left work at home for labor in a factory and created the social fabric that allowed Durango and La Plata County to be led, at least in figure, by women, Westendorff said. Melissa Youssef, mayor of Durango, encouraged the Girl Scouts attending to embrace confidence and standing up “if you see something wrong,” she said before singing the “Rosie the Riveter” song from the World War II era. But women today face many of the same barriers to the paying workforce that have been around since Hartney was young, she said. How much time should women spend at home with children when they’re not in school? she asked. And when the children go to school, how should women re-enter the workforce and at what cost to home life? “Rosie the Riveter has drifted away, so it’s great to see a memorial. But who was she?” Hartney said of the figure that embodied a generation women who worked in what, at the time, were considered “male jobs.” “How did she change society?” she said. bhauff@durangoherald.com
More than a dozen local Girl Scouts, leaders and gardeners gathered for rose garden dedication
Pup shot, left for dead, has new home on La Plata County ranch Gil was found whimpering under a tree in Arizona 1600 1019 Gil “the wonder pup” was shot in his spine on the San Carlos Reservation of Arizona, where he was found whimpering under a tree in a rainstorm before being brought to a veterinary clinic. true 950 1223 Gil was outfitted with a wheelchair to give him mobility. true 950 1142 Gil gets massages and pain medication to help circulate blood and help with the pain he experiences in his spine. true 1300 853 Kim Kelly, Gil’s first foster mom, had mixed emotions adopting Gil to his new home in Hesperus. “I’m not gonna lie, I have a different emotion every five minutes,” she said. true RED MESA – Gil “the wonder pup,” a paraplegic dog from Arizona, completed his journey to find a “forever home” when he arrived last week in southwest La Plata County. Gil’s journey started more than 400 miles away on the San Carlos Reservation where a family found him whimpering under a tree during a rainstorm. An unknown person had shot Gil point-blank a couple of weeks earlier, and Gil was in bad shape. The young pup’s underside had been ravaged from crawling across the ground, and he suffered gastrointestinal issues. His outlook didn’t look good. The family surrendered Gil to a local veterinarian; he was likely to face euthanasia. His journey gained momentum when a woman adopted him from the veterinary clinic. Donations poured in to assist Gil and his foster owners on the road to recovery, including surgeries and supplies. Whoever shot Gil got him in the spine, removing any chance of Gil walking on his own again. He now walks with the help of a wheelchair made just for him. 1600 1127 Gil joins a ranch in the Hesperus area along with other animals, including dogs and livestock. Alena Alvarez-Mroz adopted him while searching for a disabled rescue dog to join her family. true Although Gil’s foster owner, Kim Kelly, wanted to keep him, she knew her lifestyle wasn’t suitable for Gil in the long-term, and that eventually when he was healthy she would put him up for adoption. She took him to adoption events and advertised online. She eventually found Gil a home this summer when Alena Alvarez-Mroz, a New Mexico woman who recently moved to a Colorado ranch, found him advertised on Facebook. Alvarez-Mroz said meeting Gil for the first time was an emotional mix: she said it was a dream come true, she but also felt scared and nervous. Gil, believed to be about 2 years old, isn’t the only four-legged resident at the Hermosa ranch; he joins seven other dogs, chickens and alpacas. His new home allows him “freedom” and an open area to run. The 40-acre ranch features a gravel driveway and dry, long grass surrounding the house. 0 Video YouTube 1280 720 Alvarez-Mroz takes Gil for walks on the property six to eight times a day. She reports he is assimilating well to his new environment. She takes him out to the main road where he can use his wheelchair easier. “He really picks up speed,” Alvarez-Mroz said. Gil has been fascinated by a ferret and a cat that share the ranch with him, his new owner said, adding that it may be a reaction to his survival on the reservation. 950 1280 Before leaving Tuscon, Arizona, Gil gained a fan base that even held a going-away party for him. His new adventures can be followed on Facebook and Instagram. true “I don’t know if he knows that there’s something different about him,” Alvarez-Mroz said. Gil tires out more quickly than the other animals, but he plays with them just the same. Before arriving to Hesperus, Gil underwent surgery to remove the bullet and “intense” physical therapy, and continues to face challenges. Kelly said his current condition is where he will be for the rest of his life. Gil’s injuries rendered him bowel and urine incontinent, and he requires help from his owners to go to the bathroom. Alvarez-Mroz must squeeze on his bladder and check his colon several times a day. Alvarez-Mroz said she has been rescuing animals for many years and wanted a disabled dog, so she purposely searched for one. 950 1119 Gil continues to face medical issues and is expected to develop arthritis later in life because of the pressure he exerts on his legs. true Kelly expects Gil to develop arthritis later in life, because he exerts so much pressure using his front legs. Alvarez-Mroz said to improve his circulation, she massages his spine. She also rotates his hind legs as if he were pedalling a bicycle to promote blood flow to those legs. Kelly said Gil experiences pain in his front limbs and around his spine and takes pain medication twice a day. But for Alvarez-Mroz, Gil is just another rescue, with a couple more issues than normal. “He’s young, resilient, he’s inspiring,” Alvarez-Mroz said. Kelly said his new home on the ranch is exactly what her and her group of volunteers were looking for. They wanted a place for Gil to have room to move and live with other animals, particularly dogs. “I think we all wanted something ... like a ranch,” Kelly said. “So I think we were kind of all putting that out into the universe trying to hope for something like that.” For now, Gil will spend his days at the ranch, but Alvarez-Mroz said she will eventually take him for walks in downtown Durango. He also has earned an impressive following in Arizona including on Facebook and Instagram where people can keep up with the his adventures. “This is the end of his road,” Alvarez-Mroz said. “A new beginning, a new chapter for him.” bmandile@durangoherald.com
Gil was found whimpering under a tree in Arizona
Trove of archaeological ruins unearthed south of Durango Well-preserved Native American artifacts are in path of realigned Highway 550 1600 1067 Researchers have found an extensive site of Native American ruins on top of Florida Mesa as part of the realignment of U.S. Highway 550 south of Durango. Archaeologists have only a few months to study the site before highway constructions begins. true A large, extensive network of Native American ruins was recently discovered just outside Durango on top of Florida Mesa, and it’s kind of blowing archaeologists’ minds. “As an archaeologist with 30-plus years’ experience, I’m really excited by it,” said Dan Jepson, a cultural resource manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation. “This research is a wonderful opportunity.” Robin Cordero, a human osteologist with the University of New Mexico, is helping analyze human and animal bones collected on the site. He can’t wait to get to work. “The preservation there is just exquisite,” he said. “It’s a dream site to work on.” Richard Wilshusen has surveyed hundreds of Native American ruins in his 40 years as an archaeologist. The size and scope of the site impressed him. “What is blowing people away is they didn’t think the site would be nearly as big as it is,” he said. “It’s a wonderful surprise.” There’s only a short window, however, for archaeologists to have a field day with the new find. The ruins were discovered as part of the surveying for the realignment of the U.S. Highway 550 interchange, to finally connect the “Bridge to Nowhere” to somewhere. Road construction will destroy the site, but not before researchers try to unlock some of its mysteries. 797 1189 true Some ‘remarkable structures’ To prepare for expected population growth in Durango, it was decided years ago that U.S. 550’s route south of Durango to the top of Florida Mesa, known as Farmington Hill, was too steep and dangerous for increased traffic and would have to be improved. The proposed $100 million solution was to create a new interchange, a little farther east of Durango, that would feature a system of roundabouts and bridges that would travel to a flatter grade on Florida Mesa, requiring at least 2 miles of new road across mostly private land. As part of federal and state laws, CDOT, the agency leading the project, was required to survey the proposed footprint of the new road, which lies mostly as farm lands, for any historic or archaeological sites before construction can begin. 1928 1248 The Colorado Department of Transportation intends to break ground in spring 2020 for the final phase of the realignment of U.S. Highway 550, south of Durango. true Surveyors had a hunch the area was rich with Native American artifacts for years, but several well-noted delays with the interchange project staved off the portion of the research that requires a full-scale archaeological dig. It wasn’t until last fall and this spring that the extent of the site was realized. “That’s the mystery of archaeology: We don’t know what’s under the surface until we put a shovel there,” Jepson said. “But once we started to excavate, we realized we had some rather remarkable structures there.” Ruins from the year 800 Charlie Reed is with Alpine Archaeological Consultants, the company contracted by CDOT to lead the excavation of the sites. He said the first step in tracking down signs from the past is a simple walk, looking for telltale signs such as broken pottery, scattered cobbles or depressions in the ground. Given the size and scope of what researchers suspected was on top of Florida Mesa, enhanced radar technology was brought in to better pinpoint the locations of the buried ruins. 1600 1223 Jessica Kenmore, left, and Denise Hoth, both with Alpine Archaeological Consultants, log items that have been discovered during an excavation of pit houses at a site near Farmington Hill. The Colorado Department of Transportation contracted the company for the archaeological dig in the area of the U.S. Highway 550 realignment. true “Then we start by hand,” Reed said. Since beginning last fall, archaeological digs have turned up a vast expanse of ruins left behind from Native Americans who inhabited Durango around the year 800. Slowly, vast ceremonial sites, large pit houses and living quarters have been unearthed for the first time in hundreds of years. “One of the pit houses are one of the larger structures we’ve seen in the region,” Reed said. “These projects come along rarely.” Shells and fish bones found CDOT hopes to break ground on building the new section of U.S. 550 in spring 2020, so there’s a limited time researchers can spend with the ruins. The layout of the structures are mapped for archival purposes, and crews painstakingly dig around the ruins, collecting artifacts to be sent off to a lab for further research. The findings, Reed said, help researchers piece together what life was like for people who once lived there. 600 749 Shells from the Baja region were recently found at an excavation of a Native American ruin, leading researchers to believe tribes that inhabited the region had a trade network far and wide. true At one of the sites, shells from the Baja region were discovered, leading researchers to believe the tribe’s trading network was far and wide. And at another, fish bones were found on the floor of a pit house, a rather remarkable discovery that shows the tribes fished out of the Animas River. What’s learned in the field, and during the ensuing months in the lab, will be compiled in a report that will be made public, likely within a year or so, Reed said. “There’s a lot more to be learned,” he said. Cordero said in the almost 20 years he has studied ruins in the Southwest, he has never seen an open air site so well preserved, a result of the type of soil in the area. And that is going to help when he takes the human and animal bones recovered into the lab for study. Bones tell a story, he said. By looking for particular signs and markings, researchers can tell if an individual lived a strenuous life with a lot of physical activity, if they experienced periods of starvation or if they had certain illnesses. “The skeleton keeps a great record of the life history of an individual,” he said. “With that, we can start telling the story of who this person was and how they lived. And when you get enough stories together, you get a population and a better idea how a group used the landscape.” ‘Our eyes have just opened’ Evidence of human settlement in the American Southwest dates 13,000 years, but it is the well-preserved sites from ruins at Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument, occupied from around 700 to 1250 by the Ancestral Puebloan people, that tend to capture the public’s fascination. The ruins found around Durango, which tend to fall a little earlier than Mesa Verde in the Pueblo I period from about 750 to 900, however, have been subject to less study, historically, said Wilshusen, who is now an affiliate faculty with Colorado State University in Fort Collins. While structures and hints of lifestyles tend to hold a lot of similarities, there are distinct differences. Wilshusen said the site being uncovered on Florida Mesa, for instance, shows the first attempts of Native Americans settling into villages. 1600 1050 Rydell Tsosie, left, and Chris Greubel, both with Alpine Archaeological Consultants, work in a pit house during an excavation. Structures on site will be documented before demolition, and artifacts will either be housed in a museum or sent to tribes. true “It’s really the beginning of the first villages we see in the Southwest,” he said. “And it’s the beginning of something that later manifests itself in the larger villages we see out in Mesa Verde or Sand Canyon several hundred years later.” Wilshusen said archaeologists’ understanding of Native American people has drastically evolved over the years. While it was once thought there was a clear, linear boom-and-bust trend, it’s now understood life for the early people was much more complicated, with population fluctuations and a lot of movement. By the late 800s, early 900s, for instance, many of the people living around Durango left. Stress factors, such as drought or internal conflict, could be the cause, or maybe people started moving west to be closer to the cultural center of Mesa Verde. “Now, it’s a much more human story,” Wilshusen said. “Our eyes have just opened to what a rich picture we have of this landscape in the 800s.” Honoring those who came before us As more people move to the Southwest, it’s inevitable the conflict between preservation and development will arise. 1600 1145 Denise Frazier and Nick Simpson, both archaeologists, with Alpine Archaeological Consultants, screen dirt at an archaeological dig. Researchers have been finding all kinds of artifacts they will use to put together the lives of the people who once inhabited the Durango area. true That’s why federal and state laws aimed at protecting these sites are so important, said Bernadette Cuthair, director of planning and development for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, one of four tribe’s being consulted during the U.S. 550 project. But it’s not always easy when a project requires the complete destruction of a ruin or site. “Honoring those people that have come before us is very important to the Native American community,” Cuthair said. “It is something we hold to our heart, as far as respecting and being mindful of their ways in the past.” And, the aim of archaeologists does not always fall in line with the desires of tribes.

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“From an archaeological standpoint, yes, it’s important and possibly a learning tool,” Cuthair said. “But for us, it’s a connection to our past. That’s really important to us. And we have to take care of it in the right way.” The Southern Ute Indian Tribe declined to comment for this story. Calls to the Hopi and Pueblo of Laguna tribes were not returned. Ernest House Jr., a Ute Mountain Ute member who served as director for the Colorado Commission for Indian Affairs for 11 years, said a major turning point was in 2007 when state protocol was developed that gave tribes greater control and input when historic sites are discovered. This protocol is particularly important, House said, when human remains are found. “They’re our ancestors, and there was care taken to make sure they had a proper burial,” he said. “So when they are uncovered, that burial is not complete and that individual’s spirit is left between various worlds. The tribes want to make sure they are back in the ground in a timely manner.” A balance of progress, sensitivity Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman for CDOT, said any human remains and artifacts associated with a burial will be returned to the tribes so they may reburied, honoring their traditions. All other artifacts unearthed, she said, will be recorded and housed at the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum, near Dolores. The ruins, however, will be buried and destroyed as U.S. 550 rolls through. 0 Video YouTube 1280 720 “We have really tried to foster a good relationship with the tribes,” CDOT’s Jepson said. “It’s the nature of the business, really, having to balance the positive parts of historic preservation with progress. Not everything can be saved.” Wilshusen, too, lamented the impending loss of the site, but heralded the opportunity to study a site that would otherwise still be buried underground, unknown to researchers. “In a way, maybe we’re like the ancestral people – they would often build on top of old sites,” he said. “And it’s not that they didn’t have regard for the previous site. Maybe it was the best location for them, and they had to make that decision. I think it’s the same way for us.” jromeo@durangoherald.com
Well-preserved Native American artifacts are in path of realigned Highway 550
Drivers battle in demolition derby Smoke, dirt and destruction add up to afternoon of mangled mayhem 1300 860 Paul Krueger driving the Basin Towing and Repair, Greenery, car gets hit as he hits the Target Rental car Saturday during the 2019 La Plata County Fair Demolition Derby at the fairgrounds. false 1600 1067 Troy Brady uses a saw to cut away the fender around the tire of the Basin Towing and Repair, Greenery, car after the first heat Saturday during the 2019 La Plata County Fair Demolition Derby at the fairgrounds. false A crowd packed all three stadium stands Saturday watching cars and trucks smash into each other at the 22nd Demolition Derby at the La Plata County Fair. Smoke billowed and dirt flew as drivers crashed their vehicles into each other in an effort to be the last vehicle running. At least one car caught on fire, and another hit a competitor so hard the small concrete wall between the crowd and the drivers jolted and moved. Event organizers said the derby is always the fair’s biggest moneymaker. It’s not clear why it trends so well with locals. 1600 1022 Fans react Saturday during the 2019 La Plata County Fair Demolition Derby at the fairgrounds. false “I don’t know if it’s the aggression – it’s loud, it’s noisy,” said Lynn Dobbins, one of two superintendents for the demolition derby. About 27 drivers took their chance in the arena for the opportunity to legally drive like a maniac. “When can you get into 30 car accidents in one day and not go to jail?” said Thomas Haderthauer, a driver in the derby. This was Haderthauer’s second year as a driver and his fifth year being a part of the derby. For him, the best part of participating and being on the track is the “open-air freedom.” 0 Video YouTube 1280 720 When all was said and mangled, three winners took home the title of champion, one in each category: Cars, mini cars and trucks. Paul Krueger and his team took home first place for the car category. “It makes it worth all the time and effort,” Krueger said. It took about 80 to 100 hours to get the car prepared for the derby, he said. Saturday was Krueger’s second time winning in the Durango derby – he claimed his first win two years ago. 1300 905 Stanley Moreno, left, took home first in the mini car division and Paul Krueger, right, took home first in the car division during the 2019 La Plata County Fair Demolition Derby at the fairgrounds. false In the mini car division, Stanley Moreno brought home a win for himself and his sponsors – CJ’s Diner, Fender Menders of Durango and No Rivers Concrete – who helped make his day at the derby possible. Saturday was his first time winning; last year, his car died immediately. Moreno said he will definitely be back in the arena next year. “It’s awesome man, it was a blast,” he said. Ralph Brawley took his second win in the truck category. This was his 12th time participating in a demolition derby. “It is so hard to win, a lot of it has to do with luck,” he said. Brawley said about 100 people came out to support his team this year, adding that sponsors make driving in the derby possible. His team brought two trucks, one car and one mini car to the derby. As with many of the drivers, Brawley comes out for the adrenaline, he said. 1300 867 Ralph Brawley drives south of the arena after winning the truck category Saturday during the 2019 La Plata County Fair Demolition Derby at the fairgrounds. false This year, he attempted to flip another truck over the concrete barrier, leaving the orange and white truck disabled by the side of the track. Despite the heat, audience members of all ages came out to witness the mayhem. Jordan Osborn of Durango said Saturday was his first time at the derby. He said the best part for him was seeing cars smashing and on fire, enjoying the food and spending time with family. “It’s like bumper cars for adults,” he said. The La Plata County Fair will end Sunday. A cowboy church will start at 8:30 a.m. and exhibits are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. bmandile@durangoherald.com
Smoke, dirt and destruction add up to afternoon of mangled mayhem
Nonprofits rally for restoration in Hermosa Dozens of volunteers and staff took to Hermosa Creek Trail to kill weeds, plant seeds 1600 1057 Elizabeth Tulok, left, Zoltan Tulok and Ziggy Tulok, 8, make seed balls Saturday during “Hermosa Resilience: A Community Event” at the Lower Hermosa Campground. The seed balls, eventually thrown around in the 416 Fire burn scar, are made up of a variety of native grass and flower seeds along with service berry seed, compost, sand and clay. The balls dry rock hard to ward off predation, and then as the monsoon rains fall, the seeds can germinate. false HERMOSA – Lilly and Simon Ruybalid had a long weekend and a lot of options. So, they turned to Facebook to find something to do. The teens like helping – Simon, 15, is a Boy Scout and Arrowman with the organization’s national honor society, the Order of the Arrow. He calls it “a brotherhood of cheerful service.” Lilly, 13, said her brother’s membership with the Boy Scouts of America has encouraged her to serve, and “this sounded pretty cool.” Lilly and Simon marched with about two dozen other people Saturday morning into the Hermosa Creek wilderness armed with shears, hand shovels and paper bags full of native seeds packed into earthen balls molded by local children for “Hermosa Resilience: A Community Event.” Volunteers and staff members with local nonprofits – including the San Juan Mountains Association, Trails 2000, Mountain Studies Institute and Durango Nature Studies – stood on burned earth peppered with charred bark. 1600 1110 About 80 people showed up for “Hermosa Resilience: A Community Event” at the Lower Hermosa Campground on Saturday for stewardship hikes that included pulling weeds and throwing seed balls out in to the 416 Fire burn area and interpretive hikes along with Trails 2000 doing trail work. false Brent Schoradt, executive director with the San Juan Mountains Association, said the idea for “Hermosa Resilience: A Community Event” came in early June over coffee with Mary Monroe Brown, executive director with Trails 2000. As part of the program, Monroe Brown and Trails 2000 led a group on mountain bikes 3 miles in to do trail restoration from damage caused by post 416 Fire runoff. “Everyone was devastated that this beloved place was burning,” Schoradt said of the 416 Fire, which burned 54,000 acres of the San Juan National Forest last year. “We all have a role to play – we hope this is empowering the public in management of our public lands.” Amanda Kuenzi, community science director with Mountain Studies Institute, lead the Ruybalids’ group of 20 – one of three equal-sized restoration squads hiking the Hermosa Creek Trail – into a sunlit, hillside meadow cramped with non-native thistles. Tall ponderosa pines once shaded indigenous grasses, flowers and shrubs in the not-so-far-off-the-trail open space. 0 Video YouTube 1280 720 Kuenzi said the invasive thistle now thriving around Southwest Colorado has impacted pollinators, which in turn has impacted food grown around the region. She showed volunteers how to uproot and shear the 5-foot tall, purple-flowered plants. She encouraged them to toss a few seed-balls – about the size of an extra-large, deformed marble – made of clay, sand and compost to encourage growth of the native grass, flower and shrub seeds inside them. They left the invasive thistle, cut at the root and the bulb, to rot. Local students molded about 1,500 wet seed-balls, with Kuenzi’s help, dried them in the sun and put about a dozen of each in hundreds of paper bags. Columbine District Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service James Simino, who has been on the job three weeks, said it “is really amazing” to see the parking lot full and so many people eager to help. 1600 1108 About 80 people showed up for “Hermosa Resilience: A Community Event” at the Lower Hermosa Campground on Saturday for stewardship hikes that included pulling weeds and throwing seed balls out in to the 416 Fire burn area and interpretive hikes along with Trails 2000 doing trail work. false “Durango is an outdoor mecca, and this really helps me out,” he said. “I hope people get an appreciation for what the Forest Service goes through – it’s a whole lot of work.” Lilly Ruybalid remembers standing on a mountain ledge and seeing fires burning in isolated locations – it looked pretty cool, she said. But when she got back from her hike and later saw the damage done, her first thought was, “what can I do to help?” she said. “Sometimes, fires burn naturally, but this time, it almost seemed like it went too far,” she said. “It’s cool to see life grow, and I want to see it (the Hermosa Creek wilderness) in a healthy place.” bhauff@durangoherald.com An earlier version of this story misspelled Amanda Kuenzi’s name in multiple instances. Also, Brent Schoradt’s last name was misspelled in one reference.
Dozens of volunteers and staff took to Hermosa Creek Trail to kill weeds, plant seeds