Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley
Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the pristine beauty of the night sky over the region, was founded by Smokey Jack in the late 1990s, with the goal of raising awareness within the region about the dark night sky as a resource both valuable and invaluable – worth preserving, in other words, for its economic considerations as well as its own beauty.
The club has succeeded so well over the intervening years that the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff were jointly recognized in March 2015 as Colorado’s first International Dark-Sky Community by the International Dark Sky Association. Educational programs aimed at schools, service clubs, businesses and local government, combined with outreach to area residents to help with instructions and financial assistance to put in dark sky-friendly lighting, were part of the effort that culminated in the town councils of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff each voting unanimously to enact outdoor lighting ordinances.
Jim Bradburn, the club’s president and a retired architect and amateur astronomer, credits the efforts of a lot of people, including fellow Dark Skies board members Steve Linderer, Sam Frostman and Ed Stewart, Main Street Manager Karen Loucks Rinedollar, and Cliffs Edge owner Cathy Snow, for making the designation possible. He also points out that the dark-sky tourist trade will boost economic development year-round, since “winter skies are even better for observation than summer ones!” – By Elliot Jackson
Man Found Guilty of Animal Cruelty
A Howard man, who owned at least 20 dogs and four cats, was found guilty on March 17 of 57 counts of animal cruelty.
Sentencing for William Goode, 58, is scheduled for May 13. He was arrested on July 12 on cruelty charges after refusing to allow Fremont County sheriffs access to his home. The animals, described as “very skinny, dehydrated and ill,” were discovered after he was evicted from the residence.
Citizens’ Initiative Wins
A special election for a ballot measure was held March 24 in Salida. A citizens’ initiative, 2014-28, beat out a city council alternative, 2015-02, by a vote of 977 to 870 “yes” votes. The initiative designates that 75 percent of a 1 percent sales tax increase, which passed as Amendment 2A in 2008, will be spent only to improve city streets and wastewater infrastructure under streets.
Tabor Hotel Reopens
The landmark Tabor Hotel in Leadville reopened on March 7 after a yearlong renovation. Originally opened in 1885, the four-story brick building was nearly demolished in the 1980s to make room for a parking lot. Instead, it was refurbished in 1993 into lower-cost housing units.
In 2014, the building was purchased by the Kansas-based Overland Property Group, which, along with the Neenan Company of Ft. Collins, did an extensive renovation. It now contains 37 residential units, a leasing office and common spaces.
Cañon Couple Found Dead
A Cañon City couple were found dead in their home on March 15 after not being heard from in a week. Larry Kelly, 48, and Amanda Potter, 31, died from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning. A gas-powered generator was discovered in a back room.
Monarch Suspects Caught, One Dies
One man died and his female accomplice was arrested after a standoff in Moffat County, where a wildlife officer and a sheriff’s deputy were briefly taken hostage near Dinosaur.
The two, James Brent Damon, 46, and Georgie Louise Hand, 43, were wanted in four states when they were discovered parked on a hillside above U.S. Hwy. 40. Among the crimes they were connected with was a string of vehicle burglaries in late January near the Old Monarch Pass area on U.S. Hwy. 50.
• The Colorado House has voted to end the state’s ban on backyard rain barrels. The bill allows homeowners to collect up to 110 gallons of rain in barrels.
• A proposal to regulate the sale of a powdered alcohol called Palcohol in Colorado has been sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper. Adding water to the product creates the equivalent of a shot of vodka or rum.
• The Colorado Rockies have a new Double-A affiliate, the Hartford Yard Goats, based in Connecticut.
• A group of Coloradans is currently petitioning to keep Colorado on daylight savings time year-round. They have until Aug. 26 to collect about 98,000 signatures to put the measure on the November 2016 ballot.
“I was an emotional wreck. … But my son looked at me and said he wanted to go back and win the tournament.” – Ben Adair of Buena Vista, whose son, Ben IV, was rescued from an ice drift after an accident at Twin Lakes, just before the start of an ice fishing tournament. Ben IV survived the ordeal and went on to bag more than 20 fish over the weekend. – The Mountain Mail, Feb. 24, 2015.