REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

Noted Gunnison Sportsman Passes Away

GUNNISON- A former Western State College professor who was also the first-ever recreation director for the City of Gunnison died January 10 after a brief illness.

Ken MacLennan was considered a pioneer of sport in the Gunnison Valley. As a student at WSC in the 1950s he was well known for his talents on the intercollegiate ski teams. In 1961 he became the city’s first recreation director after having trained with the U.S. Olympic biathalon team, according to the Gunnison Country Times.

MacLennan was also involved with the creation of Jorgenson Park and the Cranor Hill Ski Area. Additionally he helped Lake City locate a town ski hill and was a volunteer and organizer with the Gunnison Nordic Club.

He was also a coach at WSC for nearly 18 years and retired in 1996.

Salazar Announces New BLM Policy

A new directive intended to protect wilderness characteristics on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands was announced in December by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The policy, dubbed “Wild Lands,” will help designate local lands in a similar fashion to wilderness designation. The BLM has not had any comprehensive national wilderness policy since 2003 when then-Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton revoked wilderness management guidelines as a result of a lawsuit filed by the State of Utah and other parties.

According to BLM officials, Wild Lands designation can be made and modified through a public administrative process, according to the Gunnison Country Times. The order also directs the BLM to maintain an inventory of public lands with wilderness characteristics. Salazar claimed the new policy would not “lock up” public lands from other uses but would provide “a clear policy for the management of public lands with wilderness characteristics.”

Two Die in Plane Crash

WESTCLIFFE – A plane crash near the Custer-Huerfano county line killed two people on January 9.

Dr. Michael O. Welton, 66, and Roswitha Marold, 70, both of Waterloo, Iowa, were en route form Phoenix to Pueblo when the single-engine Piper Malibu crashed into a small creek on the Eastern side of the Sangre de Christo mountains near the Rainbow Trail.

Ground searchers discovered the plane on January 10 and the remains of the victims were recovered the following afternoon, according to the Wet Mountain Tribune.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but authorities say that a snowstorm in the mountains may have limited visibility for Welton, who was piloting the aircraft.

Navigating the Weeds

Salida City Council members tabled until Feb. 1 the question of placing medical marijuana on a special election ballot. Currently there are six dispensaries operating within city limits, all operating within state regulations and collecting sales tax revenue.

The state mandated the Feb. 1 deadline for municipal decisions on special elections for dispensaries, according to Salida Mayor Chuck Rose. He estimated a cost of $5,000 to $10,000 to hold a special election.

The City of Gunnison is looking to ban dispensaries and growing operations, but only to keep local control over the issue, according to the Gunnison Country Times.

Gunnison City Attorney Rod Landwher explained that his office has begun drafting an ordinance banning dispensaries within city limits that operate under a retail sales model. He explained that the state will enact final rules and regulations for the licensing of dispensaries, possibly as early as March 1. One of the provisions of the state law is that it will override local moratoriums, with the new state rules going into effect unless local rules have been adopted before that time, or if a ban has been instated.

Gunnison intends to put the question of dispensaries and growing operations within the city limits on the ballot this May. If voters vote for dispensaries, city authorities would lift the current ban and enact local regulations for their operation.

In Buena Vista, two local pastors filed an initiative petition back in December 2010 requesting prohibition of dispensaries and cultivation of the product, according to The Chaffee County Times.

In August of 2010 the town approved an ordinance regulating dispensaries.

The filers of the petition were Charlie Stoumbaugh and Brian Dengler, pastors at Cornerstone Church in Buena Vista. If the petition receives enough signatures and is deemed valid by the town clerk, trustees have the option of approving or denying the prohibition. If it is denied, the question of prohibition will be put on a public ballot sometime this coming year.

Notable Quotes

“I think it’s outstanding what they did … They have as much to lose as the rest of us, even more. Beats the hell out of a Texas oil man getting it.” – Nathrop resident Harold Palmer, reacting to the news that a Young Life subsidiary obtained the geothermal lease on the 799-acre parcel near Mount Princeton. – The Mountain Mail, Jan. 10, 2011.

“They pick you up and it seems cool, but once they start talking you realize you might be in deeper than you thought … There’s definitely some out-there characters who would make you think twice about what you’re doing.” – Western State College grad Ben Bowman, who enlists his thumb for transportation when his van won’t start. – Gunnison Country Times, January 13, 2011.