REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)
Historic Theater Update
SALIDA – The saga of the old Salida Opera House continues. The structure, which was built in 1889, was deemed unsafe in 2007 and has been the focus of much debate and consternation. Known locally as The Unique Theater, many locals are concerned that the negligence of the current owner will lead to its inevitable demolition and are trying all methods to avoid that scenario.
In early September, the Salida City Council agreed to undertake engineering analysis to determine a course of action, including partial demolition or full stabilization. The buildings owner, Bobby Hartslief of Salcat Properties, was given until August 30 to mitigate the problems with the building but has taken no action and no demolition permit has been pulled.
Karl Hanlon, city attorney, says that any work done on the property by the city to stabilize it should be followed by liens filed against it. A group formed to prevent demolition of the building, Save the Unique, estimates it would cost about $100,000 to stabilize the back of the structure, which is considered to be in the worst condition. They are seeking a stabilization grant and matching money to prevent demolition. A petition was also circulated among downtown business and property owners by the group, asking city councilmen to use taxpayer money to repair and stabilize the structure.
On September 21, city council members authorized Hanlon to seek legal action against Hartslief, allowing the city to “take whatever action at whatever time to protect interests of the community.”
An engineer’s preliminary report on stabilization and demolition costs should be available by Oct. 5.
Frontier Town Sold
ROYAL GORGE – Buckskin Joe, a 50-year-old tourist attraction near the Royal Gorge, has been sold and will be moved to an undisclosed location.
Developed in the late 1950s by the former executive director of the Colorado film commission, the late Karol Smith, along with an MGM studio executive, the Old West replica town served as a backdrop for nearly 20 Hollywood westerns well into the 1970s. Over the years its historic structures became scattered throughout the region.
Along with a miniature railroad, the tourist attraction was sold by Greg Tabuteau of Wetmore for $3.1 million to an LLC represented by a Gunnison law firm. He cited dwindling revenue and a diminished popular interest in Old West culture as his reason for selling the property.
Pioneer Museum Burglarized
GUNNISON- The Gunnison Pioneer Museum was the victim of a theft sometime between 6 p.m. Aug. 30 and 6 a.m. Sept. 3, as thieves made off with World War II flight helmets, a Nazi helmet, a German ammo belt, buckle and grenades, among other items.
The appraised value of the stolen items is just over $6,500. Gunnison Police are offering a $1,000 Crime Stoppers award to anyone providing information that leads to the arrest of the perpetrators.
Windfall for Buena Vista
BUENA VISTA – The town of Buena Vista received some good news in September when it was learned that a sales tax audit by the Colorado Department of Revenue revealed the town would receive $550,000, according to The Chaffee County Times.
The revenue had been maldistributed to other municipalities and communities and had to be returned, according to town treasurer Christine DeChristopher.
Among other uses for the windfall will be street improvements in 2011 and the possible acquisition of an abandoned service station at the corner of U.S. Hwy 24 and E. Main St.
Land Trust Gains Funds
SALIDA -The Land Trust for the Upper Arkansas has an additional $15,000 thanks to Chaffee County Commissioners. They approved a grant to the organization from the Conservancy Trust Fund at a meeting on Sept. 9.
The funds will assist and support conservation easements in the county, working with ranchers and private landowners to help protect their land from forced development.
Teen Treatment Proposal Hits Hurdles
WESTCLIFFE – A proposal to convert a dude ranch into a treatment facility for troubled teens has met with resistance in Custer County, according to The Wet Mountain Tribune.
Neighbors of the 187-acre historic Pines Ranch object to the proposal by Dean and Jodi Rusk citing concerns about the proximity of their own homes to the wayward youth.
The Rusks hope to run an equine therapy program as part of the teens’ rehabilitation. They said sex offenders and those who have committed violent crimes will not be accepted into the program. Those who are accepted would be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the applicants.
A public hearing on a special use permit for the facility is scheduled for Oct. 5.
Man Arrested Twice for DUI
GREELEY – Greeley police arrested a man twice for DUI after he stole the patrol car that he was placed in after first being arrested.
Adam Segura managed to slip out of his handcuffs and drive away in the police car he was placed in while officers were interviewing a witness. He was chased about a mile before being re-arrested, according to The Greeley Tribune.
“The amount of information (applicants) need to give would make any IRS agent blush.” – Bill Smith, Salida attorney, regarding current design guidelines for historic downtown Salida property owners. – The Mountain Mail, September 2, 2010
“A $10 fee for license registration is what we had in 1919. Did we have as many roads in 1919 as we do today?” – Phil Fox, spokesman for Coloradans for Responsible Reform, speaking in Salida to local government officials about ballot measure Prop. 101. – The Mountain Mail, September 3, 2010.
“We are going to have to stop thinking of ourselves primarily as a mining town and learn to cater more effectively to tourists.” – Chuck Williams, Leadville tavern owner discussing the 2009 tourist season. – Leadville Herald-Democrat, September 16, 2010.
“If we can get along, why can’t everybody?” – Bisbee, Az. resident Greg Pike, who is traveling across the country on a modified riding lawnmower along with his dog Booger, his cat Kitty and a rat named Mouser. The cat rides on the dog’s back and the rat on the cat’s. He stopped in both Salida and Westcliffe in September as part of his journey. – Wet Mountain Tribune, September 16, 2010.
Correction: In last month’s news roundup we incorrectly reported that members of the Town of Buena Vista Board of Trustees were concerned about litigation in a brief about regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries. A trustee contacted us and informed us that fear of litigation was never a factor in the decision-making process.
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