March 26 – Warming and sunny. I attended a Heart and Soul Slice of the Pie get-together in Hotchkiss. Not a big crowd but we had some good discussions. One good observation was that in the Valley we all seem to be generally respectful of one another, particularly when we talk face to face. Liberal, conservative or whatever, we are all on the same river.
March 27 – The Hotchkiss Planning Commission met and decided that it is time to hold a public hearing on the long-in-the-works Sidewalks and Trails plan that I have been facilitating. The hearing will be at the April 24 regular meeting of the commission. 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
March 29 – The Paonia Town Council held a special meeting to approve applying for a grant to help pay for a new water treatment plant on the upper water system.
March 30 – Hotchkiss Trustee Dustyn Foster and I spent the afternoon chain sawing more pieces for the downtown planter project. Giant mine cribbing timber Lincoln Logs.
March 31 – Easter Sunday. I ran the entire Coal Road/Barrow Mesa loop for the first time this year. There were only a couple of mud holes on the Coal Road to get around. The afternoon was spent at Rain and Gary Klepper’s Pitkin Mesa farm and medical complex, being fed homemade pie and green tea and going over the 2013 NFMAD budget.
April 1 – I delivered the first mine timber planter kit to Hotchkiss FFA/Vocational Agriculture teacher, Freya Bass, and her students. Eight more to go. The weather has finally clicked over into feeling like true spring. A special NFMAD meeting was held in the evening at Hotchkiss Town Hall. Rancher, Zach Hotchkiss, was appointed to fill the fifth seat on the NFMAD board of directors. Chris Tschinkel of Paonia was hired as the 2013 field manager along with two field techs. April 3 – I attended the Hotchkiss Chamber meeting early this morning.
April 4 – Lisa Wolf Johnson reported on Facebook that she had spotted the first wild asparagus of the season today. Important news. Lovely warm day. I delivered one more mine timber planter kit to the High School Vo-Ag /FFA class and on the way back to town picked up a last load of donated boards from the Todd Enterprises sawmill.
April 5 – Cooler and blustery in the afternoon with rumours of rain, although I didn’t notice any in Hotchkiss.
April 6 – Much cooler overnight this morning, while walking around Paonia waiting for Representative Millie Hamner to arrive, I saw new gym equipment being moved into the old laundromat building on Third next to the coffeehouse. I assume this will be the new gym we’ve been hearing about. Handy for burning off those beer calories.
April 8 – In the evening the scheduled Heart and Soul meeting was put off until the 15th so I got to avoid the scramble between there and the regular NFMAD meeting at Hotchkiss Town Hall.
April 9 – Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement Committee met at the Coal Train Coffeehouse. Flower planting day was set for May 4th. April 10 – Busy, very cold, day. Snow fell overnight making some area roads slick. There was a 4 hour NFMAD Mosquito 101 class all morning, and I covered Hotchkiss municipal court in the afternoon.
April 11 – Another cold day with a hard freeze overnight. The NFMAD board, and expert Gale Jirik, toured mosquito breeding problem areas in and around Hotchkiss. The Hotchkiss Town Council met in the evening and donated to both NFMAD and downtown improvement.
April 12 – A blustery day but warmer. I finally mailed my taxes off.
April 13 – Dustyn Foster stopped by the bookstore and spent the afternoon and early evening doing the notching work on two more planters to be delivered to the Hotchkiss High School FFA students to assemble. Mary Hockenbery and Susie Kaldis reported in from Pueblo where they and other locals from the North Fork Creative Coalition were attending a statewide Creative Industries Conference. Pictures of the Hotchkiss DTI planter project were included in their presentation.
April 15 – Tax Day. Another hard frost overnight with temperatures in the 20’s. I attended a Heart and Soul community advisory team meeting in the evening. Some interesting discussion about future planning took place. A weird dust storm containing dirt from the deserts to the west moved in and obscured the mountains in haze leading some to think it was smoke. Then concerns came up that the dust on top of the recent snows would speed the spring melt. Not a good thing.
April 16 – Sub-freezing overnight again but warming up nicely during the day. Reports of lost apricot and cherry crops trickled in. A sad, but not an unusual, occurrence in the Valley.
August 17 – It was a little warmer overnight but then snow arrived and it quickly looked like February in the Valley again. Although the flakes came down for most of the day much of it melted off quickly in Hotchkiss while lingering in higher parts of the Valley.
August 18-19 – More well below freezing temperatures. A low of ten degrees was reported from Redlands Mesa. April 20 – Herald deadline day dawned warmer but overcast.
April 23 – Cold in the morning again and snow was reported in Paonia and up valley. Then the sun came out. I attended the Paonia Town Council meeting in the evening as a member of the NFMAD board. After board president Rain Klepper gave a detailed presentation of the whats and whys of this year’s mosquito control challenges the Council was very supportive of our direction.
April 24 – Overnight temperatures plunged again, well into the 20’s in Hotchkiss. The Hotchkiss Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Town’s proposed Sidewalks and Trails Plan. The only member of the public present was trustee Lindee Cantrell’s daughter. A draft sign ordinance was also discussed.
Business News and Other Rumours
Getting ready for the summer season in Hotchkiss. Larry Jakubiak of the North Fork Valley Restaurant and Thirsty Parrot Pub has been busy over the past month installing an outdoor food and drink patio in the rear of the building. The patio features eye catching, wonderfully rustic/shabby-chic elements that will blend well with the Town and Chamber’s planned alley park improvements. The patio should be open early in May and should be popular during the Sheepdog Trials weekend.
Rumour (and reality) has it that a new gym is opening in the old Clock Laundromat building next to Backcountry Coffee in Paonia. Check it out. Downtown Paonia is really looking great lately.
Here is an interesting history note from Sharon Remmerde of Hotchkiss. As almost everyone knows, the building that currently houses the Revolution Brewery in Paonia was previously the Episcopal Church but what you may not remember is that prior to that it was the Paonia Christian Science Church. The Paonia Christian Science group was led for a long time by Mr. and Mrs. Julian Joyce. Ironically, Christian Scientists do not drink alcohol. North Fork Christian Scientists now drive to Delta for services.
Speaking of Christian Science, Christine Driessen, a teacher and practitioner of Christian Science healing, will be giving a lecture entitled, “Healing with Scientific Certainty through the Christ” on Sunday afternoon, June 9, 2013, from 2 to 4 PM at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center Conference Room.
If your church has some North Fork specific news or a public event coming up North Fork Church Reflections columnist LaFawn Hamm Brown can be contacted at email@example.com
In an improvement that will interest many, the Hotchkiss Fire Department’s May 11th Mother’s Day Breakfast will feature locally produced foods from the following companies: Hotchkiss Meats, Closer to Heaven Farm, Hardin’s, Leroux Creek Foods and Big B Juices. Serving begins at 6:30 a.m. Be there or be underfed.
Although I didn’t grow up in Hotchkiss (I grew up 70 miles away in Fruita) I really enjoy the You Grew Up in Hotchkiss, Colorado Facebook page. On the page a lot of mostly former townies reminisce and remind the rest of us here what we should be grateful for.
Says one native exile: “All of the reasons I wanted out (of Hotchkiss) as a teenager, I wanted to go back for when I became a parent. It was a great place to grow up. I miss it terribly.”
February 27 – Sunny and clearing after a couple days of occasional light snow. Don Foster reported that it was five degrees on his porch in downtown Hotchkiss this morning. It was up to 24 degrees by 10 p.m. according to the First State Bank drive-up’s clock/thermometer.
The repeating State champion Paonia High School wrestling team was given a parade down Grand Avenue Christie Young reported that she found a skunk scratching at her Crawford house’s door last night apparently wanting in where it was warmer. Christie declined to extend an invite.
March 3 – A good soaking rain fell overnight in Hotchkiss.
March 4 – Rain, and hail up to about a half inch size, and then sunshine. The month of March in other words.
March 5 – Sunny but colder overnight.
March 6 – The Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce met in the morning to discuss, among other things, a planned April 20th electronic recycling event at the Delta County Fairgrounds. This will be a great opportunity to dispose of all of that old computer related stuff piling up in the garage. Our Crawford correspondent, Christie Young, reported that she had submitted her resignation from the Crawford Town Council and will also be stepping down as our regular Crawford area reporter.
March 7 – There was a special North Fork Mosquito Abatement District meeting held at the Paonia Public Library. The resignation of Board President Chuck Gille was announced and accepted. Rain Klepper is the new board president and I am the new secretary. The board continued to plan for the 2013 season.
March 8 – A wet, rainy, muddy day across the Valley.
March 9 – The rain turned to snow during the early morning hours here in Hotchkiss. For most of the rest of the Valley it already had been snow. March… A bird report today from Jane McGarry on FB: “Five bald eagles, six golden eagles, including one sitting on the nest, and a pair of ravens on and near their nest … not bad for a snowy drippy drive around the valley at 4 p.m.” Eagles hang out in the cottonwoods to the north west of Hotchkiss Town Hall almost every morning.
March 11- The regular North Fork Mosquito Abatement District meeting was held at the Paonia Public Library in the evening. Nothing too earthshaking beyond just a bunch of newbies (including me) trying to get a firm grip on what needs to be done.
March 13 – The Hotchkiss Municipal Court was interesting centering as it did on a group of HHS seniors who apparently think that adult level irresponsibility should start a bit early. It was a warm sunny day
March 14 – The Hotchkiss Town Council held and meeting sitting with the Hotchkiss High student council at the school. Part of the discussion included talking about policy regarding recreational marijuana. The spring-like weather continued.
March 15 - George Brauneis, who was working with some horses in the Pumpkin Hollow area south-west of Paonia, reported that it had been temperate enough that adult mosquitoes had hatched out.
March 16 – West Elk Mine engineer, and town council member Dustyn Foster, and I spent the day cutting and fitting together the first prototype mine timber planter for the upcoming Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement spring project. Dustyn will now train the Hotchkiss FFA students who will sand, drill and assemble the planters. The biggest challenge will be how to move an assembled planter, which will weigh about 1,000 pounds each empty. Rain fell off and on all day with a drenching downpour in the early evening. Several early St. Patrick’s Day dinners were held in the evening.
March 17 – An overcast, but pleasant, day.
March 19 – Heart and Soul held a get-together in Crawford for trustees from the local towns.
March 20 – Deadline day at the Herald and I spent the day working on the paper while taking the occasional break to chainsaw more mine cribbing timbers into a street planter pieces. One man stopped by the bookstore to get the plans
March 21 – Heavy rains in the early morning made local gardeners and hay farmers smile. High winds, blowing dirt, rain and hail off and on during the day.
March 22 – Cold overnight and then warmish and then blustery. March. There was a car-in-house incident on Willow Drive in Hotchkiss that involved the resident accidently driving through the wall of his house. He then tried to back out of the living room creating a lot of smoke from spinning his tires. Hotchkiss Fire Department and other agencies responded quickly. Another fire was reported east of Hotchkiss. It is a bad time to be burning ditches with high winds rising late in the day.
March 23-24 – Overnight temperatures plunged overnight for several days in a row with daytime temperatures staying chilly.
March 25 – I attended a Hotchkiss Chamber officers meeting in the early morning. The skies cleared and the sun began to warm things back up.
Business News and Other Rumours
In early March the Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia was awarded $5,000 from National Jewish Health’s Clean Air Projects. They will be partnering with them and CU Boulder to start a baseline air monitoring project in partnership with local schools.
Backcountry Goods in Hotchkiss has purchased the old Hotchkiss Pawn (old town hall) building at 2nd and Bridge. They plan to eventually open a retail shop there while also being open in their current warehouse location in the old Hotchkiss Firehouse on Main Street one block north.
According to information sent out to screen advertisers, Regna Jones will no longer be leasing the Paradise Theatre after June. According to the announcement she is moving to the Roaring Fork Valley. The owners of the building have it on the market. Hopefully there will be a smooth transition to a new owner and operator. Maybe you?
Hotchkiss is Happening! The east side of the Subway building in Hotchkiss will soon feature a mural painted by Hotchkiss High School students The design will feature a rural scene with an anthramorphic bulldog eating a sandwich.
It’s probably going to be another hot summer in the Valley and although it may seem early now is the time to get your family’s season passes to the North Fork Pool. Do it now and save some serious money.
There will be women’s soccer pick-up games at Paonia Town Park football field on Monday nights at 6pm starting April 1st (no fooling). All skill levels!
The Market at The Living Farm Cafe is looking for unique, locally made products to sell in their market on consignment. They would like to have as many local artisans represented as possible. If you are interested in selling your product in the Living Farm Cafe Market, please contact Marilyn at 970 227-8365
Interesting water fact from our North Fork Realty columnist, Mike Jackson: Question: Can you sell shares of the Stewart ditch and for how much? Answer: The water can be sold up the ditch but not down, which limits the number of potential buyers.
I believe that water comes out of a gate in Apple Valley (in Paonia) and runs through a pipe and under the RR tracks near the LDS church and to the park etc… “I think”. The value is likely in the $1,500 to $3,000 (per share) range.
First State Bank to Open Delta Branch – West Promoted to Acting President of Hotchkiss Branch The First State Bank of Hotchkiss, formed in 1930 by the merger of North Fork State Bank and First National Bank of Hotchkiss, served the banking needs of Delta County for 80 years before merging with sister banks, Paonia State Bank, Crawford Country Bank, and Colorado Mountain Bank in 2010 to form the First State Bank of Colorado.
The Bank currently has offices in Hotchkiss, Paonia, Crawford, Westcliffe and Fountain… and on April 1st will add a new full-service branch in Delta at 564 Main Street, across from the Elks Lodge. Chuck Vincent, who has served as the president of the Hotchkiss branch since 2010, will now serve as the market president for the new Delta office. Vincent has over 35 years of banking experience – most of it in Delta – and is excited to serve the Delta community once again. Kelley M. West, the Bank’s Vice President and Cashier has been promoted to acting president of the Hotchkiss branch of First State Bank of Colorado.
After 16 years, the Old River Road Trading Post near Paonia is re-emphasizing their original mission and emerging as the Trading Post Farm Food Hub. They will be providing the North Fork Valley with a point-of-trade facility where farmers and community members bring their products, time, resources and talents together for exchange.
Says owner Addie Cranston: “We are committed to lower prices to make buying locally affordable for all. Our new structure (in which everyone who shops at our store is a member by suggested donation) allows us to provide all products at wholesale prices.”
New this month, are two fresh voices. First, the return of Rebecca Miller of the Paonia Wellness Center, writing a monthly column about local health issues and practitioners. Second is North Fork Church Reflections by LaFawn Hamm Brown, a column about the history and many community services provided through our local religious institutions.
The month of January finished up with a few days of a very warm thaw followed by several inches of snow and days of colder temperatures. But it did seem that the hump of a hard winter had been broken.
On the gas lease front there was a lot of celebrating as the 20 BLM parcels were deferred from being leased for now; the key word being deferred.
Then, right on the heels of that, Citizens for a Healthy Community won their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding the release of the names of the parties who nominated the parcels and set off the controversy. The BLM has 30 days (to mid-March) to comply with the court order.
Facebook, YouTube etc… Local social and Internet based media has definitely made an impact in the Valley over the past couple years. Of course the Herald itself is online but sometimes it is the threads in Facebook that get people talking the most.
For example, after a link to a Herald story was posted about the Paonia Town Council discussion regarding hiring (or not hiring) a Town Manager all heck broke loose on the local Facebook network. One long time local, pseudonymed as “Peony Moon,” took a few whacks at the Council and Town staff and several ex-trustees came to their defense while a Trustee’s spouse, Cathy Wissbeck, stirred the pot.
Current Trustee, Corrine Ferguson, joined in to eloquently explain her point of view and Town Clerk Barbara Peterson was upset enough at the tone of Ms. Moon’s accusations to threaten to have her attorney send a letter explaining the grounds for slander. Just another one of those Paonia things accelerated by the new social media age.
February 1 – There was an open house and presentation at the Hotchkiss Public Library in honor of long-time librarian Rhonda Duclo’s retirement. After 30 years on the job, she and Marley plan to do some travelling but she will still be around and busy. Sunny day.
February 4 – The North Fork Heart and Soul CAT team met at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss to go over public input gathered during the first year of the planning process.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to see and hear some of the stories being collected by Heart and Soul so far, including video interviews conducted by kids for KVNF’s Pass the Mic project. The first presentation will be March 9, 3 p.m. at the Paradise Theatre.
February 5 – A sunny, wonderful, late winter day across the valley. The remains of the accumulated snow at the lower elevations continue to diminish.
February 6 – The big news of the day was the deferment from leasing of the 20 BLM parcels. The Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce met in the early morning
February 9 – While the northeast U.S. received an epic blizzard the lower area of the Valley was delivered just a dusting of snow. About a half-inch in Hotchkiss. Several inches in the higher areas.
February 10 - A busy afternoon in Hotchkiss with State Senator Gail Schwartz hosting a meeting at Memorial Hall, followed by Randy Udall appearing at the annual meeting of the Conservation Center. A presentation about industrial hemp by the Colorado organization Hempcleans was a highlight of the Schwartz open house.
After several years of their name getting longer and longer the NWCC pruned back to the Western Slope Conservation Center. (WSCC). That acronym sounds a little like the old wiss-erk if you say it fast. More snow fell across the Valley overnight.
February 11 – More light snow overnight.
February 12 – I chaired the Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement meeting in the morning and attended a three-hour work session of the North Fork Mosquito Abatement District in the afternoon.
February 13 – Hotchkiss Municipal Court in the afternoon. Only two cases but also two interesting stories.
February 14 – Valentine’s Day and also the time for the regular meeting of the Hotchkiss Town Council. The meeting included a public hearing on the proposed sidewalk ordinance. There were no public comments unless you count mine.
February 15 – Sunny, but cold. The Hotchkiss Library held a nice book sale at Memorial Hall that continues tomorrow. I bought six good-sized boxes full.
February 16 – I spent the late afternoon hauling away the remainders of the Hotchkiss Library book sale as I’ve done most years for the last 20 plus.
February 18 – Although at 9 a.m., during my morning run, the mud on the Coal Road was still hard-frozen, the rest of the day felt like early spring.
February 19 – The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District (NFMAD) held a work-oriented special meeting at the Hotchkiss Town Hall.
Out at Cynthia and Ira Houseweart’s Princess Beef on Roger’s Mesa they hosted a Know Your Farmer evening.
February 20 – The Hotchkiss Town Council held a work session this evening to discuss the funding parts of the draft sidewalks ordinance. It was also reported that trustee Dustyn Foster’s wife had given birth to an 8 pound 2 ounce baby girl, Mary Margaret Foster.
The new DMEA payment center at the Hotchkiss Chamber’s Visitor’s center next to the Hotchkiss Inn opened today with an on-site celebration. Cloudy, but warmer. Then, snow began falling in the evening.
February 21 – A sloppy snowy day as the valley got a generally gentle taste of the Midwestern blizzards.
February 24 – The busy Hotchkiss Crawford Historical Society held their annual meeting and program at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss and featured a presentation on the early white settlement history of Black Mesa.
February 25 – NFMAD held their regular monthly meeting at the Hotchkiss Town Hall.
Business News and Other Rumours It has been announced that after a month off, workers at Oxbow’s Elk Creek mine were called back to construct permanent seals to an area that experienced a heating event. As of press time it was expected that general mining production operations at Elk Creek would resume very soon.
Meanwhile Oxbow’s winter coal exploration/mapping drilling continues on Oak Mesa above Hotchkiss.
The Rose, gently worn clothing and other fun stuff emporium, in Hotchkiss has a new owner as of February 11. Robbie Winne, mom of the old (young) owner, Elsie Winne Edstom has taken over and says she is enjoying her new role as the boss.
Exile Makes Good. Ken Taylor, who served over the years as a wrestling coach and teacher at Poudre and Rocky Mountain high schools, received the Sonny Lubick Coach of Character Award on January 23 at the CHAMP awards ceremony held in Fort Collins, Tayor is the son of June and Fuzzy Taylor of Hotchkiss.
Taylor, 63, was a math and science teacher and wrestling coach from 1975-1990 at Poudre High School and has been the coach at Rocky Mountain since 2001. He was also named the Colorado Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1981, 2005 and 2010. He retired from teaching in 2004 but continues to coach.
Grandma Jo’s Attic, “a unique boutique,” is now open at Cedar and Bridge Streets in Hotchkiss.
Steve Leighton of Paonia Physical Therapy has announced that he is opening a small gym in Paonia. He expects the business to be operating by March 1st or so. He would like to eventually open a much larger facility if he can find and rent an affordable 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft. space in town.
From the Boulder Daily Camera in a column on energy production and water use across the west: “And we should book reservations to Paonia and the North Fork River Valley to celebrate that area’s successful pushback against fracking lease sales that were just withdrawn. Public outcry works and “America’s Tuscany” of organic foods, as Paonia is now known, deserves tourist dollars so they need never miss fracking revenue.” Enjoy. I thought we were America’s version of Provence.
The Hotchkiss Shortstop suspended gas sales for a few days at mid-month while they converted their fuel area from Phillips 66 to a Shell station, complete with new signs and pumps. With the new digital gas price sign it is a lot less trouble to change things.
History bit: One of the things about the Town of Hotchkiss that adds to its unique flavor and personality is long tenures of its employees. Town Clerk Marlene Searle has been on the job some 31 years and Public Works Director Mike Owens has been with the Town 28 years. Municipal judge Lynn French has been on the local bench for three and half decades. While not an employee, Town engineer, Joanne Fagan, has been working with the Town for over 20 years and has been crucial to the infrastructure improvements made over the last decades.
Colorado Horticultural Supply in Paonia now has a new name and new owner. Jimmy Lowe has purchased the business and it is now CoHort Supply. They are still located at 124 Grand Avenue in Paonia.
Cold, COLD and cold. That was the theme for much of January. Not that much snow fell in the lower valley but what did, lingered due to the steady nights of below zero temperatures and chilly days.
In Hotchkiss the severity of winter can be judged by the extent of the mini-glaciers that form in the shade in front of the old Hotchkiss Hotel and the post office. This was also the month that the Oxbow Elk Creek Mine was temporarily closed to deal with a “heating event” that caused high levels of carbon monoxide.
Concern about the proposed gas leases continued despite there apparently being no interest in leasing the surrounding private lands.
Then late in the month came word that more lawsuits are in the offing concerning the confinement chicken farm issues on Powell and Redlands Mesa. The weather may be cold but the local politics are heating up.
December 25 – Christmas in the North Fork was white this year and snow accumulations in the mountains crept up to about three-quarters of average for the time of year. December 26-27 – The big storm that caused major problems in the mid-west and south passed over the Valley creating a definite feeling of winter, but nothing too extreme. People who had to drive to work out-of-valley found the roads slippery on several consecutive mornings. In Hotchkiss the total accumulation was only a few inches.
December 29-30 – Cold but with most lower North Fork area roads and highways melted clear of snow and ice.
December 31 – New Year’s Eve. 2012 wrapped up with a storm that brought snow off and on through most of the day. My daily early morning run/jog was slowed down to a shuffle.
January 1-4 – The New Year began with the Valley seeing the coldest overnight temperatures since the early 1990’s. In Hotchkiss lows down to 17 below zero were reported with similar or even lower temperatures throughout the area. The side streets on Hotchkiss stayed entirely ice covered for several days The Hotchkiss Chamber had their first meeting of the year on the 2nd with budget and downtown improvement issues as the main topics.
January 5 – Sunny but with still well below zero temperatures overnight.
January 7 – It was warmer enough today at mid-afternoon in Hotchkiss to create puddles of water.
January 8 – The overnight low in Hotchkiss was still a degree or two below zero but it did break 30 during the day. Balmy.
There was a good, productive meeting of the Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement Committee this morning. Thanks to everyone who attended. And a HUGE thank you to Todd Enterprises of Hotchkiss and Alan Todd for volunteering (we didn’t solicit this) to donate half of the price of the $1,300 worth of mine timbers for the 10 new 2013 planters. Wow! A nice way to kick off a new season. Make sure you think of and thank Todd’s when you need rough cut lumber, firewood, house logs and more. And NF Heart and Soul will be writing grants for us! Double wow! Downtown Improvement is compiling a list of volunteers that would help plant, maintain and water flowers/pocket park areas through the season. Also people with power tools and carpentry skills. Community pride is happening in Hotchkiss. Right? Call me at 872-2664 or contact Mary Hockenbery 872-3448.
In the evening I attended a dinner meeting of the Heart and Soul group at which the first year of the economic planning project was reviewed. Kudos to Dava Parr of Fresh and Wyld Farmhouse Inn for the great food and conducive atmosphere.
January 9 – The Hotchkiss Municipal Court lasted all of six minutes.
January 10 – The Hotchkiss Town Council met and among other things approved the Chamber Downtown Improvement concept for the 2013 summer season. They also matched Todd Enterprises generous donation of $650 for the mine timbers for the new planters.
January 11 – Overnight temperatures warmed enough to allow a dusting of snow in Hotchkiss. A display of Danny Cotten’s collection of enlarged local historical photos opened at the Creamery Arts Center. The display will be up through February 2nd. I discovered that a water pipe at the bookstore had frozen and damaged a joint, producing a leak, which appeared when things thawed a little.
January 12 – The overnight low in Hotchkiss dropped to just below zero once again. My morning runs are now limited to the time and distance it takes for my face to really start to feel seriously numb, usually only a couple of miles.
January 14 – The shake-up at the North Fork Mosquito Abatement District continued. New leader, Rain Klepper continues her push to transform the district from personal philosophy based science driven to best science and best management practices, directed.
Another light snow fell in the early morning hours but the main roads were fairly clear by midday. The low was still near zero. Conversation today: “When it is ever going to get warm again?” “Spring.” January 15 – Below zero again this morning in Hotchkiss.
The Leroux Creek Area Planning Committee met in the evening for the first time in a year and a half to approve the sketch plan for the Coal Money Subdivision on Rogers Mesa.
January 16-17 – The sunshine felt nice during the day but overnight lows were still near or below zero across the Valley.
January 18 – 19 Sunny and a teeny bit warmer overnight but still near zero for the lows. Highs in the 30’s.
January 21 – A busy day with a Hotchkiss Chamber officer’s meeting in the morning, a Town of Hotchkiss meeting with BLM officials in the evening along with Memorial Hall Congress happening a few blocks away. State BLM director Helen Hankins and Barb Sharrow of the Montrose office met with all three town councils on Monday and Tuesday to try and allay fears regarding the upcoming oil & gas lease sales.
Business News and Other Rumours
Local advocates of responsible gas drilling, Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC), alerted locals in early January that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was preparing to adopt new drilling rules. The COGCC regulates drilling on private lands throughout the state. CHC wrote in an e-mail and on their website that, although the COGCC’s setbacks from occupied homes have been increased from 150 feet, to 350 feet, and finally to 500 feet in the latest draft rules, that still isn’t enough. They asked for a 2,000 foot setback. Gas industry spokesmen and property rights advocates say that a larger setback would be unreasonable and would be a “taking” of private property. In the end the commission adopted the 500 foot setback along with other strengthened rules.
On January 3 the USGS reported a mild 2.8 earthquake with an epicenter about 5 miles east of Paonia, which would put it in the general vicinity of the West Elk Mine.
FYI: In light of the Town of Hotchkiss recently legalizing the keeping of a miniature goat I thought it would be a good time to review the animal statute for the Town of Paonia: Ordinance 86-100 – Keeping Animals in Town “It shall be unlawful, due to the purpose of regulating sanitary conditions within the corporate limits of the Town of Paonia, Colorado, and to conserve and protect the public health and safety, for any person to keep any horses, mules, cattle, burros, swine, goats, sheep, rabbits, ducks, geese, turkey, pigeons, roosters, more than twelve (12) fully grown chickens, more than two (2) dogs in excess of twelve (12) weeks of age, or more than four (4) cats in excess of twelve (12) weeks of age, in any pen, yard, enclosure, or at any place within the corporate limits of the Town of Paonia. In addition to other penalties provided, any violation hereof is hereby determined to be a nuisance and the same shall be abated as such on the order of the mayor.”
The Town of Paonia also requires the licensing of cats as well as dogs. The former provision doesn’t seem to be enforced. Hotchkiss doesn’t license cats, just dogs, and Crawford has no licensing or animal number limits.
As of January 8th Hotchkiss now has a new men’s barber shop named The Barber Shop and operated by Chuck and Scott Neilsen. The shop is located at 101 West Bridge Street in part of the old Hotchkiss Hotel space formerly occupied by the Ark II antiques and collectibles shop. Second door from the corner.
North Fork winter sign language: Hearing me spinning my tires trying to get unstuck from the Houseweart Vet Clinic parking lot on a morning after zero temperatures and fresh snow, Dr. Bill opened the shop door and held up four fingers.
Translation: I should shift the old Blazer into 4 wheel drive. And thanks to Bill and Betty for all of their patient, beyond the call of duty, work on our old diabetic wiener dog, Wanda.
2012 was quite a year in the North Fork, starting off and ending with a metaphorical bang. The bad news is that the BLM gas leases are back on the table tempered by the good news that no one has proposed any private lands drilling in the Valley proper.
By the time you read this, Oxbow Mining hopefully was able to drill enough exploratory coal resource wells on Oak Mesa to decide whether or not to apply for mining permits in 2013. If so this could extend the life of the mining industry in the Valley by another 30 years. Fingers crossed for all of our mining families.
The Delta County Commissioners began their North Fork year embroiled in a lawsuit over industrial scale chicken farms and ended by denying a proposed gravel operation too near homes in Crawford.
In the midst of all of this the organic/natural farming/wine industry in the valley continued to grow in new and creative ways with a shining example being the new Living Farm Cafe and market in Paonia.
Then, also on the economic development side of things the Heart and Soul planning process spent its first year of two getting people to talk about where they would like things to go (or stay) and the Town of Hotchkiss and the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce moved to a more visible expression of hope for the future, planting flowers throughout the business district.
December 1 – The first of December and it is toasty warm outside. It hasn’t rained or snowed for the better part of November and there is dust rising from the gravel roads around the Valley. Weird, but on the other hand every winter of my 23 here, have been different, some ups and downs but mostly progressively milder.
Listening to KVNF on a Saturday afternoon which features, among other things, John Hartford’s Granny Won’t You Smoke Some Marijuana. A recycled musical reference to the recently successful State vote.
December 3 – Some light rain fell overnight but a winter storm generally missed the Valley.
I attended the Heart and Soul CAT meeting in the evening. The planning topics were pretty dry but the apple pie that was served was tasty.
December 4 - The Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement Committee met at the Coal Train Coffeehouse in the morning. A good plan was sketched out for preparing for the coming year’s work.
December 5 - The Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce held its monthly member meeting in the morning. If you’re a Chamber member or on their mailing list please take the time to send the yearly renewal notice back with your dues. The Chamber volunteers really do a ton of work that benefits every local business.
Clouds began to move into the area.
December 6 - Overcast but no rain in the Hotchkiss area overnight.
December 7 – A light rain fell overnight while the temperatures remained unseasonably warm.
December 8 – Another beautiful fall-like day. The North Fork Children’s Christmas Party for disadvantaged kids was held at Memorial Hall. A major, well supported annual undertaking.
There was a 7 acre field fire near 2900 Road on Redlands Mesa in the afternoon. A malfunctioning electric fence and very dry conditions were the causes.
December 9 - Some snow fell in the higher areas of the Valley including a reported 5-6 inches at Crawford. It missed Hotchkiss though except for a few random flakes.
December 10 – The first real snow! The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District met in Paonia and adopted a 2013 budget and continued planning for a more positive new year. Then one of the board stalwarts, Rosemary Bilchak resigned for personal reasons.
December 11 – The steering committee for writing the Hotchkiss Watershed Protection Plan met at Hotchkiss Town Hall and discussed how wildfire could be bad for the Town’s water supply.
Very cold but the sun came out in Hotchkiss and melted a lot of the snow.
December 12 – 12-12-12… A bit grey and overcast. I covered the Hotchkiss Municipal Court session in the afternoon. Judge French spent quite a bit of time explaining what a “no contest” plea means.
December 13 - It was warmer overnight and the daytime temperatures in Hotchkiss neared 60 degrees. Any snow exposed to the sun quickly disappeared.
The Hotchkiss Town Council met in the evening and considered a somewhat lengthy agenda including three or four things I’m involved in including downtown improvement, the Hotchkiss Chamber, and a new sidewalks ordinance I drafted for the Planning Commission.
Of course everything was overshadowed by the consideration of a variance allowing a homeowner to keep a pygmy goat in her yard. Miniature goats are way cuter than sidewalk ordinances.
December 14 - The Hotchkiss Fine Arts Association show opened at the Creamery Arts Center in Hotchkiss while over at Memorial Hall the Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators presented an evening of ghost investigation stories.
The Blue Sage Center presented the Nutcracker in Paonia. A lot to do on a rainy/snowy Friday night.
December 15 – While snow fell in higher areas of the Valley it rained most of the night in Hotchkiss, only turning to a very light snow at sunrise.
December 16 - A light snow was falling most of the morning in Hotchkiss but much of it quickly disappeared. An atmospheric day with the surrounding mountains and mesas completely misted over from time to time.
December 17 – A portentous day with the BLM gas lease EA protest period expiring and then the Delta County Commissioners denying the proposed Crawford gravel pit. There were rumors of airborne pigs in the area.
December 19 - The first “good” snow of the season in Hotchkiss with a few inches in the early morning leading to a lot of slippery streets.
December 20 – After a snowy day yesterday the skies cleared overnight and the temperatures around the valley dropped way down.
and Other Rumours
It was a good month for resurrected restaurants in both Hotchkiss and Paonia.
Paula’s Restaurant opened for business in Paonia on Thursday December 6th. The owner is a well known local cook Paula Olsen. Paula’s is located in the historic north Grand Avenue building formerly known as The Casa and Casa Victorian. I hear (and read) a lot of good reviews of the food.
Then in Hotchkiss, PJ’s Neighborhood Pub opened in the former Campo Fresco space in the equally historic Hotchkiss Hotel building. Owner/chef Peter Knapp has over a quarter century in the restaurant business in California and Wisconsin and is offering an eclectic menu along with libations in a cozy cosmopolitan atmosphere. More information is available on both a Facebook page and a website.
Just in time for winter. Thanks go out to the Board of Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss for installing the new energy efficient windows. Board members Paul Schmucker and King Robertson caught me at the post office one morning and wanted to make sure that kudos were sent out to Oxbow Mining and the 7X Cattle Company for the donation of $25,000 that made the improvements possible. That, and a hard working Memorial Hall Board. Money well spent Oxbow! Thanks!
Also, if you belong to a local in-Valley social or civic organization make sure you send a voting representative to the annual Memorial Hall Congress in January. And please ask your organization to donate more than the minimal five-dollar membership fee. The best thank you to the board for all of their hard work would be a nice check made out to Memorial Hall and sent to P.O. Box 911, Hotchkiss CO 81419.
Here’s a weird number thing on December 12, 2012 (12-12-12) AT 12 p.m. the Paonia Message Board on Facebook had 1,111 members.
The High Country Shopper’s annual baking contest issue rated a mention on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show “headlines” segment. The reason? David Jacobson’s’ award winning Dill Dough Bread. The judge’s loved the bread but apparently no one actually said the name aloud.
On December 13th word came via the local anti-gas development activists that Federal judge Richard Matsch had ruled that the proposed settlement between federal regulators and Gunnison Energy and SG Interests, relating to allegations of lease bid collusion, was inappropriate and rejected. The choice now is to either make a new deal or to go to court. SG Interests stated earlier that it was ready to go to court.
Activist Ed Marston, of Paonia, who was mentioned in the decision, characterized the ruling as a “great decision.”
The decision was dated 12/12/12.
Here’s a couple of dates to remember from Karen at the Hotchkiss Crawford Historical Society. Historian and collector Danny Cotten and other members of the pioneer Cotten family will present a talk on January 19 at 1:30 p.m. at Hotchkiss Memorial Hall.
The HCHS Annual Meeting and Presentation will be happening on Sunday February 24 at Memorial Hall at 2:00 with Tom McLeod and Larry Knott talking about the people, places and events on Black Mesa.
And don’t forget that the new North Fork History photo history book is available all over the Valley including at the museums in Hotchkiss and Paonia along with Wills Gallery and Books in Hotchkiss and Paonia Farm and Home in Paonia.
And finally the winners of the Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce Holiday Lighting Contest: The Marta family continues their winning streak while their next door neighbor snags second place making it a clean sweep for the Northridge Meadows neighborhood. The business winners are familiar as well.
First: John and Billie Marta – 583 Juniper
Second: Michelle Hundler – 567 Juniper
First: Cowboy Collectibles
Second: First State Bank of Colorado Drive up
In a bit of deja-vu back to last year at this time it appears that many Valley locals will be spending the heart of the holidays reading the 270 page BLM environmental assessment about the 20 proposed gas drilling leases and crafting letters of protest to the federal agency.
Meanwhile in the Crawford area the natives are restless about a proposed gravel mining operation to be located near rural residential homes. This issue comes close on the heels of a long drawn legal fight about land use compatibility related to industrial scale chicken operations in the Hotchkiss area.
And in a startling about-face the North Fork Mosquito Abatement District may have headed off a negative public opinion upheaval by moving from rigid ideology to consideration of adoption of successful best management practices. Stay tuned on that.
Local government and law enforcement will be looking at what the statewide legalization of recreational marijuana may mean. And… Some local farmers wonder if they will now be able to plant industrial hemp, which as of the 2013 crop year will be legal to grow. Sort of. Currently most products made from hemp (oil, fabric items etc.) are imported from Canada.
October 29- Chilly overnight followed by a nice sunny day.
An older Ford pickup ended up upside down off the side of the Coal Road at the edge of town this morning. No one hurt.
In Paonia several people reported that someone had gone through their unlocked vehicles during the previous night stealing small things.
October 31- Halloween passed in Hotchkiss without any apparent serious incidents.
November 1 – The Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce, after a break of a few years, held an annual meeting at the Hotchkiss Library and Memorial Hall.
Congratulations to Business of the Year – The Rose, Citizen of the Year- Carrie Coats, and Non- Profit of the Year – Hotchkiss Lion’s Club.
The neighbors of the two Hotchkiss area, confinement chicken layer operations received a small victory today. Judge J. Steven Patrick signed an order allowing for the recovery of costs from Delta County by the plaintiffs.
November 3 – A beautiful warm Saturday after an extra cold night.
November 5 – The beautiful fall weather continues.
November 6 - Election Day arrives to the relief of many in the Valley. Millie Hamner of Summit County becomes our new State Representative and Mark Roeber the newest District 3 County Commissioner. Marijuana and industrial hemp were legalized statewide, which should have some interesting local ramifications.
De-brucing of a possible impact fee levied on new subdivision of property in the unincorporated county was also approved. Presumably this means that voters are okay with impact fees themselves, which would assure that new development would pay its own way. That is one of the goals of the County’s Master Plan.
November 7 – The Hotchkiss Chamber met on the morning after the election with very light attendance since many had stayed up late the night before. The Chamber now has a record 100 members.
November 8 – The Hotchkiss Town Council met in the evening. They passed an ordinance cutting the amount of required off-street parking required for new uses located in the two blocks on either side of the downtown core area.
November 9 - A gentle rain fell overnight dampening down some of the dust. The Sisters of the 11th Moon exhibit opened at the Creamery in Hotchkiss.
November 10 - Rain in Hotchkiss and snow just a few hundred feet higher including in the Crawford area. The Hotchkiss Bulldogs football team defeated Limon after a slow first half. Final 47-26. Hotchkiss is happening! Snow at night.
November 11 – Snowfall in Hotchkiss and across the valley overnight.
November 12 – The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District (NFMAD) board met in Hotchkiss and heard more from Hotchkiss Mayor Wendell Koontz. New member Rain Klepper may prove to be just the breath of fresh air and thinking that the District and board has been needing after a rough 2012 season. I was impressed.
November 14 – Hotchkiss Municipal Court was convened in the late afternoon. Then there was a meeting at Hotchkiss Town Hall in the evening concerning the development of a Source Water Protection Plan for the Town.
Sunny and cold in the shade. On my morning run up old cemetery road I counted no fewer than 40 deer in fields, ravines and on the road.
November 15 - The Delta County Planning Commission considered the Jensen gravel pit proposal near Crawford. Lots of concerned neighbors attended. In the end, on a split vote, the Commission voted to send the proposal on to the Board of County Commissioners.
November 16 - Here we go again. The BLM released the final environmental assessment of the North Fork gas lease proposal, which is now termed the February 13, 2013 gas lease proposal. Much the same as before minus some 2,000 acres. Removed were the small parcels next to Hotchkiss High School, Jumbo Mountain and a portion of a parcel containing part of the Town of Paonia’s water supply.
November 17 – Hotchkiss was Happening today with two craft shows (Chamber’s and Senior Citizens) and a football game. The Hotchkiss Bulldogs doggedly hung on until late in the game when Cedaredge finally pulled it out 16-12. Great job and a great season.
November 20 – the Hotchkiss Fire Department (Thanks, John Sell Jr.) reported a pre-Thanksgiving traffic accident on Hwy. 133 about 3.2 miles north of Hotchkiss. There were no serious injuries requiring transport to the hospital.
Business News and
Lynea Schultz-Ela, the secretary for the Hotchkiss Lion’s Club corrects a typo in our last issue. The Hotchkiss Lion’s Club meets on the 1st and 3rd Monday morning of each month at 7:30 a.m. (not p.m. as stated.) I’m always writing p.m. for a.m.
Another small town cat story: I got a call on November 5th from the Hotchkiss Post Office asking if I was missing one of my black cats. Someone there had met my cats and thought that a stray hanging around the PO might be one of mine. I went and checked and met a wonderful, lover of a chubby black tomcat but not one of mine.
Thanks for checking with me though. The Hotchkiss P.O. crew always goes well beyond the call of duty.
We welcomed the new Boss Cellular store to Hotchkiss this month. The store is located at 246 East Bridge Street next to House of Flowers and Subway. They offer cellphone repairs, smartphones and service on the Sprint network.
Sandra’s Detailing is now open, sharing space with Brett’s Automotive just south of Hotchkiss on Highway 92.
Way to go Hotchkiss High young women’s cross-country team! They won the State championship in their division in late October and got a Hotchkiss-sized parade down Bridge Street.
Ed Marston reports that he was looking forward to attending the dedication of the three-megawatt coal-mine methane (electrical) generator at the Oxbow Mine on Friday, Nov. 9, until he got a call from Tom Vessels of Vessels Coal Gas, a partner in the project, saying that William I “Bill” Koch, was dis-inviting him, allegedly for opposing the Bear Ranch land exchange. Ironically Marston has been a strong advocate of using coal mine waste methane to generate electricity and has worked to make it legally doable.
“This first small step toward putting methane to use is a victory for everyone in this valley and it deserves celebration” Marston wrote in an e-mail sent out to supporters.
Marston is a nationally known environmental writer, the former publisher of the High Country News and a past president of the Paonia Chamber of Commerce.
Other strong supporters of using mine methane have included NFRIA- WSERC Conservation Center and State Senator Gail Schwartz. Methane (natural gas) has about 20 times the impact of CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
The open house to celebrate the methane-electric generator project was covered widely in the regional press.
In other Bill Koch related news, during October a judicial appeals panel in New York dismissed a lawsuit that Koch had brought against Christie’s auction house in which he had claimed that a $100,000 bottle of wine he had purchased was counterfeit. The panel ruled that Koch had waited too long to file the suit and the statute of limitations had expired. As well as collecting Western memorabilia, Koch is a noted wine collector.
Oxbow Mining began drilling on Oak Mesa using two separate rigs at the beginning of November and hope to have the planned 24 coal exploration holes completed by January 1. The results of the drilling will tell the company whether the quantity and quality of coal is present as they had hoped. If that and other factors turn out there could possibly be a new coal mine on Oak Mesa as early as 2017.
Paula Olsen of Paonia has announced that she will be reopening the Casa Victorian restaurant at the end of November. Preparations for opening included a “saging” ceremony to insure a fresh start for the building.
The Citizens for Animal Welfare and Shelter (CAWS) will be hosting a silent auction of new housewares, donated by a high end department store, at Memorial Hall on Sunday, December 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All proceeds go to help local animals.
Quotes of the Month
“I really love the people of this valley and their stupid cows.” Crawford woman on Facebook, later explaining that she wasn’t being sarcastic, but literal.
September 27 – The October Herald was sent off to our printer.
It the evening I read a new Anthracite story for a huge audience at the Blue Sage in Paonia as part of the Harvest of Voices evening. It was an honor to be invited and great fun to do it. Some 15 of the latest Anthracite stories are on-line on www.merchantherald.com under the Culture tab.
Depending upon how you counted either HOV kicked off the 12th Annual Mountain Harvest Festival or the first run of the Fashion Show at the Paradise the evening before did.
September 28 - After some rain and threats of frost the temperatures seem to be rising again. It was CSA week 15 pickup day at Turkey Hill. One week to go until the end. Lots of tomatoes and an iconic screaming orange pumpkin. (The whole series about CSA eating during the 2012 season is online at the Herald website under Food and Wine.)
September 29 – The Big Day at Mountain Harvest with an evening of wall-to-wall multiple venue music in Paonia. I spent the evening canning tomato sauce.
September 30 – Mountain Harvest wraps up in Paonia. It does occur to me that we are now a couple weeks too late for an early frost in Hotchkiss as some had predicted.
October 5 – The last weekly produce pickup Friday at the Turkey Hill CSA farm. It’s been a fun summer
October 7 – The first hard frost in Hotchkiss. The squash, tomatoes and peppers gave up the autumn ghost overnight. Arugula, spinach, Egyptian onions and radishes live to produce another day.
October 8 - The Paonia Town Council met in the morning to review the 2011 budget in a secret, closed to the public session but decided not to do that since neither the Town Attorney nor the mayor was present.
Trustee Larry Wissbeck later commented on the Paonia Message Board on Facebook: “I think is widely known that “substantial” money has been embezzled from Paonia. In time, charges will be filed and either a plea or trial will ensue. In the course of “receiving” the audit the auditor, the trustees, the District Attorney and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations are exercising an abundance of caution to assure that coming legal matters are not compromised. You know, all those niceties about facing your accusers, presenting witnesses, defending against the charges before a jury of your peers. (Surely you’ve seen at least one episode of “Law and Order.”)
Be assured that the Trustees are anxious to let the sun shine on this matter. For the time being our legal counsel is urging patience. Some details will be available when the audit becomes a public document. Others when charges are filed by the District Attorney. And yet others in a court of law. Not to worry, we’ll have years and years ahead for gossip and bitter recriminations.”
The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District board met in the evening and appointed a naturopath/chiropractor and an organic farmer to the board.
A determined contingent from Hotchkiss attended and were not shy about expressing dissenting opinions. Mayor Wendell Koontz was particularly forceful.
Sunny and warm after a frosty night.
October 11 – Hotchkiss Town Council in the evening. A new discussion of how to make sure the town’s sidewalks stay in good repair began.
Congratulations to Stacy and Nathan Sponseller (former Herald co-publisher) on the birth of their daughter Jillian Rees Sponseller born today. 8 pounds 2 ounces and very healthy.
October 12 – The Hotchkiss Homecoming parade and game were a cold, wet squishy affair with rain pouring down for most of the day.
October 13 – More rain overnight and snow on the mountains.
October 14 – Sunny and warm across the valley. Lots of fall beauty. I spent part of my afternoon chopping wild locust brush out of the alley park next to the Buffalo Collection building as a prequel to the Downtown Improvement Committee sprucing it up a bit before winter. The brush was run through my chipper-shredder to become mulch rather than being sent to the dump.
October 17 – One of those iconic movie-perfect fall days. Bright leaves on trees and crunching underfoot coupled with blue-blue skies.
October 18 – An extra hard frost in Hotchkiss that iced up windshields and made the late beet’s leaves droop a little.
October 21 – Doug Gill of Paonia acted as my Sunday morning tour guide of the Deep Creek forest access that bisects the two parts of Bill Koch’s Bear Ranch. (See page 3 story.
October 22 – An unseasonably warm fall day.
The Delta County Commissioner re approved the two confinement chicken operations including Western Slope Layers on Powell Mesa that has been in business since April.
October 23 – Still beautiful and warm.
The Hotchkiss Council met to discuss the 2013 budget. Among the highlights was a general agreement to include $2,800 of Downtown Improvement and $3,000 for mosquito spraying if NFMAD refuses to provide service to the town and there is a health threat.
Before settling in for an evening’s work the Council enjoyed a meal of very tasty pizza from the West Elk Inn.
There was a morning cattle truck wreck on Highway 133 below Redstone that closed the highway for a couple hours.
October 24 - The Hotchkiss Planning Commission met to work on a full agenda including the Downtown Improvement Plan, Sidewalks and Trails Plan, new sidewalks ordinance and a proposed tweak to the zoning codes. Trustee Marlin McCracken announced that he was resigning from the Planning Commission. A new trustee will be appointed to take in place.
Overcast with a threat of rain.
October 25 – The clouds passed during the night, temperatures dropped, and the day dawned bright and sunny.
We now have three boxes of local Golden Delicious apples awaiting the saucing kettles.
Business News and Other Rumours
The 2011 Town of Paonia audit was finally released on October 22 showing $401,063 in “employee fraud” for the year with $297,482 – General Fund, $23,757 from Capital Improvement Fund, $54,465 from Water Fund and $23,359 from Sewer Fund. The total number was also listed as an asset since the Town will presumably recover the funds, plus an additional $224,000 from 2010, from their insurance company. (See story on cover fold.)
Charges against the Town’s former financial officer, Kristin Chesnik, were filed by the District Attorney’s office on October 23.
It was reported in the regional and national media that Oxbow/Bear Ranch owner Bill Koch is being sued in federal court over allegedly illegally detaining and conducting an interrogation of an employee while at Bear Ranch. Koch’s spokesman, Brad Goldstein, denies the charges and says that Koch had dismissed and filed suit against the employee and others back in March alleging participation in a theft and kickback scheme.
Paonia Cat News. File under cats seldom are lost. A posting and reply on Facebook. October 8.
Post: “My co-worker found this cat (pictured) last night. It was hanging around Louie’s (restaurant downtown) for some time last night. It’s very friendly. If anyone knows the owner of this cat please contact me.”
Reply “This is my cat. I live behind Louie’s, (on) Onarga…please bring back.”
Citizens for Land Use Compatibility (CLUC) the group of neighbors that oppose confinement layer chicken operation in areas of east Redlands and western Powell Mesa, report that they have filed a motion with the District Court asking that the Delta County Commissioners be found in contempt not either issuing a cease and desist order to Western Slope Layers or issuing a new finding in the re-do of the facility’s change of use review.
Carl Johnson of Paonia has announced that he has opened a new business, Johnson’s Plumbing and Heating. 527-5425.
Welcome to Hotchkiss, C & F Builders who have opened an office at 241 West Bridge Street. That is the former home of Landmark Surveying.
Also, Randy Fisher’s North Fork Accounting is now open in a brand new office next door to the North Fork Medical Clinic in Hotchkiss. That’s the striking, renovated building that was last Bangs- A Day Spa.
KVNF Public Radio almost reached their fall fundraising goal of $55,000. At drive’s end the total was approximately $51,000. Not too shabby.
Don’t miss the 9th Annual Hotchkiss Chamber Arts, Crafts and Business Fair at Memorial Hall on Saturday November 17 from 9 a.m. until 4 or so. There is also a second fair and lunch happening at the Hotchkiss Senior Center Town Hall on the same day with the same hours. Double your enjoyment of the season’s kickoff and visit both.
Who Ya Gonna Call? And in honor of Halloween I need to mention a unique business of sorts based in Hotchkiss, Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators. Hector Zeferino is the founder and chief investigator and if you need an investigation give Hector a call at 872-4426. According the HPI Facebook page a investigation may be happening soon at the Bross Hotel in Paonia. Good time of the year for it.
As summer metamorphosed into autumn the Valley’s farmers concentrated on the harvest and getting another cutting of hay baled and stored in between the rains. The process of moving cattle out of the high country began, with hunters and autumn tourists moving in to take their place. Snow began to dust the high mountains.
And in Hotchkiss we debated mosquito control as the cool nights reduced the numbers of the insects rapidly. August ended with two members resigning from the mosquito abatement district board. The four-year cease fire in the decades long Mosquito War was threatened as rumblings about petitions filled the air at the Hotchkiss Senior Citizens Center. NFMAD board members crossed their arms and remained stubborn. Mayor Koontz and the Council finally called in a tactical strike and hired a private company to fog the Town.
Nearby the Chicken Farm Wars continued and libertarians debated neighbors of Western Slope Layers and the County Commissioners tried to figure out how to keep out of the line of fire while conducting a court-ordered second review of the previously approved chicken operations. Feathers flew and there was much flapping of wings.
On the more positive side the downtown improvement plan moved along nicely in Hotchkiss and Paonia prepared for another Mountain Harvest Festival, an event that has become a much anticipated seasons-changing celebration. And, after some discussion, it appears that Cherry Days may move from being run by the Chamber back to a general community group.
August 28 – I spent the evening at a special board meeting of the North Fork Mosquito Abatement district. Board president Kevin Parks, an amazingly gentle and gracious person, had called the meeting to make the case one last time for majority reasonableness. He asked that they authorize the immediate fogging of mosquito West Nile Virus hot spots in Hotchkiss and received no support other than that from Mike Heck. Parks then resigned and was joined by Heck.
August 29 – Another day, another newspaper-related computer crisis avoided for the moment. My tomatoes don’t seem to be ripening very fast compared to other peoples. August 31 – Week 11 for the community supported agriculture program at Turkey Hill Farm that I signed up for this year. Tomato season is in full swing at the farm if not in my own small garden yet.
September 1 – Cool nights but still up into the 90’s during the day.
September 4 – The County Commissioners held a new public hearing on the two confinement chicken layer operations on Redlands and Powell Mesas that they had previously, conditionally approved. A district judge voided their previous ruling after the neighbors filed suit.
September 5 – The Hotchkiss Chamber met in the morning to discuss the looming arrival of the Colorado Grand sports car rally along with talking about downtown improvement. Then, in the evening Hotchkiss Mayor Wendell Koontz hosted a public meeting on the mosquito control issue. Koontz was disappointed in the Mosquito District’s lack of response to West Nile Virus within the town area. The Town Council voted to spend up to $1,000 to hire a private company to fog specific areas of the town. And in the Hotchkiss is Happening department, today the last bit of the House of Flowers old building was demolished to make way for a small parking lot.
September 6 – The Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement Committee met in the morning to home in on a specific project(s) that can be accomplished in the next year and be budgeted for by the Town. It looks like movable wooden planters in the downtown corner no-parking areas will be built and installed for the 2013 summer season. Mosquitoes aren’t the only local insects to worry about. Sarah Sauter of Paonia reported she made a trip to the emergency room today after being bitten by a black widow spider.
September 8 – Much of the Town of Hotchkiss was fogged for mosquitoes in the evening. Before the operation an informal standing-out-in the -yard -bare-armed survey revealed not many of the insects present. Conversation on the subject was fast and furious on the Facebook Hotchkiss, Colorado Message Board. An example of the emotion copied verbatim: “move back to where u came from we were all fine till all the out of staters move here and try to take over our little town I have lived here my whole life and have not had any problems till all these new people moved here and try to get ther ways!! if u dont like it leave we wont miss YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! will bring u all the bites we have THANK YOU NOW MOVE BACK to where you FROM”
September 10 – I started the day with that annual fall activity that I’ve done for 23 winters now, hauling a load of firewood from Todd’s sawmill on the edge of town. There was a well-attended NFMAD meeting at Hotchkiss Town Hall in the evening. Strong opinions were expressed.
September 11 – The somber anniversary of 9-11. The County Commissioners held a constituent’s meeting at the Delta County Fairgrounds in the evening.
September 12 – Hotchkiss Municipal Court in the afternoon.
September 13 – NF2020 Heart and Soul arranged for a webinar in the afternoon for local planners who may be interested in software that can illustrate multiple future development scenarios. The software looked a little out-of-scale for Hotchkiss’ current downtown planning needs. The Hotchkiss Town Council meeting in the evening lasted only about 40 minutes but was interesting.
September 14 – The Colorado Grand charity vintage sports car rally stopped in Hotchkiss for lunch and left a couple of nice checks behind to benefit the community. A good number of locals showed up to admire. The Creamery Arts Center had its monthly exhibit opening in the evening. The event included a fundraiser for the Save the Barn project. There was a raffle for half a beef as well as a silent auction of children’s artwork featuring the 120 year-old Enos Hotchkiss brick barn that was damaged in a windstorm several years ago. Architect Bob McHugh of Paonia has been heading up the effort to restore the landmark building.
September 15 – It was reported that two Hotchkiss High young women finished first and second at the Eagle Valley Cross Country Invitational, Natalie Anderson and Jenni Cellis respectively. Anderson set a course record in her effort.
September 16 – It looks like the 2013 phase of the Hotchkiss downtown improvement project may have a coal mine pride flavor with plans being made to use locally Todd Enterprises produced mine timbers for the planters and assemble them with genuine mine bolts donated by the West Elk Mine. Town Trustee Dustyn Foster, who also works at the mine, is doing the design work.
September 18 – The slab firewood business looked to be busy out at Todd’s sawmill as I took the truck out for another load. I see more color in the cottonwoods along the river.
September 22 – Officially the first day of autumn, which locally began several weeks ago.
Business News and Other Rumours The North Fork “read of the month” is The Dog Star by former local, Peter Heller, now living in Boulder. It, like the work of Paonia novelist Paulo Bacigalupi, is a story of a near dystopian future, but very different.
Jill and Jan VanDenBerg and others are a little hot that the Rogers Mesa Domestic Water Company allegedly sold a water tap to a local landowner despite the man not having owned his property prior to 1990, a qualification that has been in place for many years. The RMDWC has reportedly turned down several others in recent years citing the same disqualification. There was also a period where no taps were offered for sale at all. In years where they were offered persons wanting to buy a tap had to enter an annual lottery where names for the quota number of taps to be sold that year were blind drawn. Reportedly the man duly entered a lottery and was awarded the right to buy a tap despite not meeting the time-of-ownership requirement. Water continues to be a touchy subject in this area––almost as touchy as mosquito control.
Ed Marston reports that he finally got his name in the New Yorker magazine, but not as an author. He was mentioned in a story in the September 10 issue regarding the Bill Koch/Bear Ranch land swap and the local resistance to the idea.
In need of free legal counsel? On the first Wednesday of each month from 1 to 2 p.m. free legal consultations are available at the Delta County Annex in Hotchkiss. No appointment is needed.
Hotchkiss bid a bittersweet farewell to colorful downtown anchor business The Ark II, which closed on September 15th after 22 years in the east end of the Hotchkiss Hotel building. An auction will be held at Memorial Hall on October 7th. The old Quilt Patch location is available for rent beginning on October 1. That Hotchkiss business, a touchstone for the local quilting and sewing community, closed last month ending a long run for a business that began in the 1990’s as DC Fabrics.
FYI: How many registered voter signatures does it take to force a recall election. Surprisingly few on the local level. According to the State constitution in order to recall an elected official in Colorado, petitioners must collect signatures equal to 25% of the total vote cast in the last election for the targeted office (for the specific official being recalled). Petitions must be circulated within 60 days. And you have to wait until the official has been in office at least six months.
Local Facebook Suggestion of the Month:
“I have a way to settle the Oldtimers vs Newcomers debate… a tomato war! Maybe do a double elimination type tourney; first-year citizens fighting five-year citizens, ten-year citizens vs 20 year citizens,etc. Work up to Ute tribe members vs first settler families with the winner being able to proclaim themselves the ‘true citizens’ of the North Fork.”
Posted by Dave Shinn on the Paonia Message Board.
Yes, the long running debate about the right and wrong way to express your opinion that flared up at Paonia’s Cherry Days continued during the month. The North Fork 2020 Heart and Soul project saw the debate as an opportunity to get people talking honestly and continued collecting stories at local events including the County Fair and even at the local “constitutionalists” August 11 “Liberty Fest” in Paonia Town Park.
The 2010 Town of Paonia audit was finally released this month revealing $224,583 attributed that year to “employee fraud.” And that was just for 2010. The amount is expected to be recovered from the Town’s insurance carrier. See Diana Matus’ report in the Paonia news section.
August 3 – The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District held a special meeting in Paonia and reversed an earlier decision “not” to spray the Fairgrounds before the Fair. Board member Rosemary Bilchak, the member who switched her vote to join Kevin Parks and Mike Heck, termed the spray decision “political.”
August 4 – The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District, after being threatened by Delta County to hire the Delta Mosquito District to do the job, fogged the worst areas next to the Fairgounds in preparation for the Fair. (Trapping data from the following Monday showed a drop by about two thirds in the total insect numbers present.)
August 5 – The first day of the Delta County Fair. There was a lot going on back in the horse arena.
August 8 – Hotchkiss Municipal Court featured a trial of a young man who failed to understand that leaving your dog out in the heat with no water or shade is maltreatment.
August 9 – Demolition Derby Day at the County Fair. A nice shower cooled things down for the evening.
On the downside a vehicle missed the turn on the west end of town and ended up in the Hotchkiss Rentals yard.
August 10 – The first rodeo day at the Fair.
August 11 - The big day at the County Fair. The Parade took place in the morning and the week of events mostly wrapped up with the evening’s second night of local ranch rodeo.
One interesting parade entry was a political candidate. State Representative Millie Hamner sang a live version of God Bless the USA from the bed of a pickup while showing good humor (for a politician) by also wearing a t-shirt that said “Vote for Me.” Hamner, who has a very good singing voice surprised many who had just been treated to a dancing church group featuring a man lip-syncing to another popular country song.
There were a few disappointed remarks about the tone of the political rhetoric posted on some floats.
In the early morning well before the parade, runners, including me, gathered at Hotchkiss High School to run 5 kilometers up, over and down the dobe hills. Thanks to Dave Knutson for making it an enjoyable race by carrying on an interesting conversation over the whole course despite my own gasps for air and monosyllabic answers. We tied for 4th and each won our respective “old guy” divisions. HHS track star Natalie Anderson won overall.
August 12 – Thanks to Nathan Sponseller I was able to attend the last day of the Food, Farm, Wine and Film festival in Paonia. A nice time at the Paradise Theatre and Black Bridge Winery.
A little rain in the evening.
August 13 – A light misty rain made my morning run pleasant. Heavier rains were reported up-valley past Paonia.
The NF Mosquito Abatement District board met in Hotchkiss for a change and approved sending a letter to the Delta Mosquito District demanding a list of documentation related to DMD’s fogging of the Fair Grounds at the request of the County.
August 15 - A sunny day mostly, with a haze of smoke from regional fires hovering over the valley.
August 16 - The Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement Committee met in the morning and walked the three blocks of the downtown core area and discussed what could go where.
The Hotchkiss Town Council toured the area of the future Leonard McCullough Memorial Trail and decided at that evening’s meeting to shoot for the moon and expand the project.
August 17 – The smoke from distant fires is still with us. A possible coal train car on fire was reported east of Hotchkiss but apparently it wasn’t.
Later in the day an empty coal train collided with a silver mini-van at a Paonia crossing resulting in the death of the driver, Carol Basford, 87 of Paonia.
Week nine in my CSA membership season. Tomatoes are coming on like a runaway train.
August 18 – The local libertarians’ and “constitutional patriots” Liberty Fest was held at Paonia Town Park today.
Meanwhile there was a “Gathering of Creatives” put on by the North Fork Creative Coalition held at the Yoga Tree in Hotchkiss. Busy day.
Sadly, today was also the last day of business for The Quilt Patch in Hotchkiss.
August 22 - Hotchkiss police responded to a call in the early morning hours reporting that a woman had beaten her husband with a baseball bat. See page 6 for story.
The Hotchkiss Planning Commission met in the evening to discuss the ongoing Downtown Improvement Plan, a sidewalk and trails plan and the writing of an annexation policy.
Business News and Other Rumours
Great news! The neatest laundromat around, the Ultramat in Hotchkiss, is open for business again under new ownership. Whew… you don’t realize how important this type of local business is until it closes for a few weeks.
No, the Hotchkiss Town website wasn’t hacked by anti-government types. Several locals including members of the planning commission were startled to see an on-line poll (that would lead one to think that) appear on the home page for the Town ( www.townofhotchkiss.com ) asking, “Do zoning, building codes, and other regulations affect growth in Hotchkiss?” The answer suggested by some is that if those factors were the determining factor for growth or the lack of it then Crawford, which lacks most land use regulation including zoning and building codes, should be booming.
The wide range of recreational activities in Paonia is impressive. One example is the ongoing opportunity to play “Ultimate Frisbee” on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. at the Paonia Town Park. All skill levels are welcome.
North Fork 2020 Heart and Soul/KVNF Pass the Mic program for kids officially kicked off on August 14, According to a FB post, “the Heart & Soul “Pass the Mic” activities will play a central creative role in the our youth engagement strategy over the next 18 months and will be split into two different activities that work with different age groups in the Valley: the first activity consists of interviews and video production projects with high school students representing all three towns, and the second is a youth media camp. All the audio and video presentations that result from these camps will be aired on KVNF, available on local websites, and shared at numerous local events.”
Crawford based travel, nature and environmental writer Craig Childs has a new book coming out on October 2nd. The title: Apocalyptic Planet – Field Guide to the End of the World. That’s the end of the world as we know it, not the seven headed dragon kind. According to the book’s promo:
“The earth has died many times, and it always comes back looking different. In an exhilarating, surprising exploration of our planet, Childs takes readers on a firsthand journey through apocalypse, touching the truth behind the speculation.”
Excerpts at www.houseofrain.com
The owners of the Hotchkiss Trading Company, that great little old tool and antique store located next to the West Elk Inn, have announced that they will be closing this fall. Over the month of September there will be lots of great deals on some very cool stuff. So stop by and do some early holiday shopping.
Speaking of businesses closing we’ve had several in Hotchkiss this year, all small family-owned retail shops that have either closed or like the Hotchkiss Trading Company or the Ark II which will close by November. And four are antiques and collectibles shops. Remember when Hotchkiss’ Bridge Street was known as Antiques Alley? Anyway, believe it or not, none of the shops has closed as a direct result of the slow economy although selling a small retail business has been a challenge.
On the other hand Hotchkiss has seen an almost equal number of new businesses open including two restaurants and a retail/service business. So it may just be part of the cycles of commerce turning round and round and new business opportunities presenting themselves. Have you thought about opening a small antiques business or something similar? Now may be the time and Hotchkiss has the prime location space available. Downtown Hotchkiss has the highest traffic count of any spot in the Valley and the Town and Chamber are planning a beautification project. Time to get inspired!
Wonderful Rain, Chickens in Hot Water and a Guy in Front of a Tank
While the midwest’s grainbelt states remained in severe drought, the North Fork and immediate region of Colorado were blessed with a rainy July that set gardens, lawns, hay and weeds to growing.
The biggest story of the month was probably the neighbors of the Powell Mesa and prospective Redlands Mesa confinement chicken layers operations winning their lawsuit against Delta County. The County now faces a planning conundrum. Can rural residential subdivisions and industrial CAFO agriculture ever be compatible as required by the County’s master plan? Maybe not…
June 26 – I attended Paonia Town Clerk Barbara Peterson’s presentation of portions of her Masters in Political Science thesis, which outlines how she intends to revise the Town’s Comprehensive Master Plan.
It was announced that today the Citizens for a Healthy Community has filed suit, via an environmental law firm, against the BLM demanding release of the name of the party who nominated the central North Fork lands for gas drilling. The lands have been temporarily withdrawn from auction leasing.
June 27 - About a tenth of an inch of rain fell overnight in the valley, enough so that it smelled nice on my morning run and enough to raise the humidity during the 95 plus degree day.
June 28 - With everyone on edge about fires in the region a small fire was reported on Oak Mesa above Hotchkiss but was accessed and extinguished quickly by the Hotchkiss Fire Department.
June 29 - Some traffic from I-70 near the Pine Ridge Fire was being diverted through the Valley. Engine #4 (the new brushfire truck) from the Hotchkiss Fire Department and a crew were dispatched to help on Pine Ridge.
Rain fell for a few minutes during the early evening while high winds cancelled out any positive effects from the moisture. Temperatures were still rising into the 100 degree range.
July 1-2 – Hot and hotter. Delta County issued a citation letter to Western Slope Layers, the controversial chicken confinement operation, giving them 30 days to fix a list of violations.
July 3 – A report was heard of a Cherry Days carnival worker being badly beaten by local youths.
July 4 - A teeny sprinkle of rain in the evening. I made it to Paonia for the parade this morning. The highlights were the Zombie Librarians, Paonia Clown Band, and former Town trustee, Sid Lewis, standing in front of the Bill Koch-owned American Legion entry tank with a protest sign for all of ten seconds.
Then in the evening a real rain made everything smell wonderful.
July 5 – Overcast and humid with a little rain here and there. The heat wave had finally broken.
July 6 – Word came that the neighbors of the Powell Mesa chicken farm (and one proposed on Redlands Mesa) won their lawsuit against the County. The County was ordered to re-do the review process and make new finding of fact.
And in a second lawsuit ruling Rosemary Bilchak and Gordon McAlpine of Hotchkiss won their lawsuits against a neighbor, Jim Hopper, who was spraying malathion that drifted onto their property — an organic farm. The judge ruled that Hopper can spray his own property for mosquitoes, but only within a 150 ft. of the property line on a calm day. A permanent injunction was issued. Hopper must also pay his neighbors’ legal expenses.
July 7 – Another nice soaking evening rain. Almost everyone (especially farmers and gardeners) enjoyed it a lot with the possible exception of the vendors and carnival people (and ticket holders) at the Paonia Town Park on the next to last evening of Cherry Days.
Minor flash flooding was reported near Minnesota Creek at Paonia while some areas got very little rain at all. Up to two inches fell on parts of water-starved Fruitland Mesa according to at least two residents with rain gauges reporting on Facebook.
A fire was reported in Paonia at the Apple Valley Storage units. Arson was suspected.
July 8 – Warm and humid.
July 9 – The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District board met at the Paonia Town Hall.
The skies cleared this day and heat began to return.
July 11 – At their early morning meeting, the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce discussed downtown improvement among other topics.
Hotchkiss Municipal Court in the afternoon. The highlight there was a young man (NASCAR may be in his future) energetically trying to beat a careless driving rap and save his license.
I cooked up a batch of local rhubarb in my solar oven. (Thanks, Betty W.)
July 12 - The Hotchkiss Town Council met and among other things ratified the revised Hotchkiss Community Master Plan.
Hot and humid again.
The “Beemers” BMW Top of the Rockies motorcycle rally began to arrive in Paonia. This year is particularly bittersweet due to the absence, after several decades, of the late Ellen Smith, who was always the local organizer, host and sort of den mother for the event.
July 13-14 – Sort of an arty weekend in Hotchkiss with a Creamery Arts Center monthly exhibit opening on Friday and a Hotchkiss is Happening! Art Walk on Saturday afternoon. I had planned to work on the Hotchkiss 1925 mural but a heavy rain put the kibosh on that.
July 16 - In the light of recent heavy rains, Delta County lifted their outdoor burn ban. A little more rain fell across the Valley.
July 17 – The Hotchkiss Chamber’s Downtown Merchant’s Committee met and started planning for… Christmas? Well, planning for the second annual Hotchkiss Hot Bucks program during the holidays.
July 18 – While the Crawford Town Council met downstairs at Town Hall, upstairs the board of the Crawford Mesa Water Company faced some unhappy members whose water service has been spotty as of late.
July 25 – The North Fork 2020 Heart and Soul advisory team met at the fire station in Hotchkiss to talk about what the H&S process has done is its first 7 months and where it is going.
Business News and Other Rumours
Of course some of the biggest news in land use planning in the Valley over the past month was first the County citing Western Slope Layers on Powell Mesa for a list of violations of their conditional use permit. And then, a few days later a district judge ruled that the Delta County Commissioners improperly approved that facility and another on Redlands Mesa. The County will now have to repeat the review process. They are apparently not planning to appeal the ruling.
In related news, according to neighbor, Dr. Susan Raymond, the 15,000 chickens at the Western Slope Layers facility on Powell Mesa began using their outside run on June 23. They probably found it a bit warm out there.
The Living Farm Cafe on south Grand Avenue in Paonia is now open for breakfast (7 days a week) and for dinner Wednesdays through Mondays. According to co-owner Lynn Gillespie the new business employs 20 local people.
Congratulations to Revolution Brewery for being the Paonia Business of the Year. It was awarded the honor during Cherry Days. Is it just me or does it seem like the whole Valley is happening?
No, the black and gray helicopter cruising at low altitude over the valley on July 11 was not the CIA or the Feds looking over the “medicinal” portion of your garden. The copter was doing previously announced inspection work of the electric lines and poles for DMEA.
Julie and Butch Lange’s Taco Hut in Hotchkiss is now open (as of July 23) at 3rd and East Bridge Street next to Carquest. The Lange’s used to operate Butch’s Cafe in Paonia. The business features Mexican themed fast food and more along with a welcoming outdoor patio.
Hotchkiss continues to HAPPEN with two additional new businesses: The Ludgig Family’s Rocky Mountain Locksmith is now located in the west end of the Hotchkiss Shortstop building at Oak and Bridge.
Also, Mike Jackson (page 26) reports that Randy Fisher’s North Fork Accounting is opening an office in the old Bangs day spa building, immediately west of the North Fork Clinic.
On the things changing side, the Ultramat in Hotchkiss has temporarily closed while an ownership transition takes place. Be patient please.
June 2012 Journal
The two main topics of conversation in the North Fork Valley area right now are the weather and water. People who own agricultural property with inadequate irrigation water are getting schooled this summer in the meaning of “inadequate.” Without rain in three months the ground drinks up amazing amounts of liquid or on the other hand it may be so hard that water runs off.
It’s not a relaxing year to be a ditch rider. Everyone quotes this or that Internet weather site claiming that the monsoon rains are just right around the corner. Maybe they are…
June 6 – The Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce board and members met in the morning to discuss the last minute arrangements for the Ride the Rockies stop in Hotchkiss along with the continuing Downtown Improvement Plan process.
June 7 – Planning commission members from Hotchkiss, Paonia and Cedaredge, and Town council members from Crawford met in Hotchkiss for a Planning Commission training session. The Merchant Herald hosted the second in a series of meetings between Oxbow/Oak Mesa Project and their possible future coal mine facility neighbors on Rogers Mesa/ Leroux Creek and Redlands Mesa.
June 9- A big day for Pioneer Days up in Crawford with a parade, melodrama and entertainment, including fireworks over the lake. The Hotchkiss Chamber’s Downtown Merchants Committee organized Bikes on Bridge Street that morning, an all-ages decorated bike and costumed rider parade around town. I had fun filming and editing a YouTube video of the event.
I managed to work on the Town Shops mural for a few hours in the evening ironically repairing the painted sidewalk that had begun to deteriorate somewhat. The Subway restaurant opened in Hotchkiss.
June 10 – Ride the Rockies Day in Hotchkiss. Support trucks rolled in about 9 a.m. with the first riders arriving about an hour later. By late afternoon the population of the town had tripled. The Chamber reported that it served 12 kegs of beer and the Kiwanis served about 600 pasta dinners at $10 a plate. Mid-day temperatures continue to be in the low 90’s with no rain to speak of for over two months. Paonia contributed to the bike-themed day with a “Tweed Ride” to Crawford and Hotchkiss.
June 11 - It was chilly enough early this morning that many of the departing Ride the Rockies bicyclists were wearing light jackets as they left Hotchkiss. Almost everyone was gone by 9 a.m.
June 13 – The monthly Hotchkiss Municipal Court featured one of the more seriously argued speeding cases in recent memory.
June 14 – The Hotchkiss Town Council meeting lasted over two hours and was fairly interesting. Water was mentioned more than once.
June 15-18 – Some teaser clouds appeared here and there but still no rain. Water, and the possible lack of it, is getting mentioned a lot.
June 19 – The Hotchkiss Downtown Merchant’s Committee met at the Coal Train Coffeehouse and tried to get a little better organized. They discussed the next Hotchkiss is Happening event which will be another Art/Business walk on July 14 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Artists will be demonstrating within local businesses.
July 21 – The heat and dry continues. The 7th Street Center, which includes the Yoga Tree/embrace and the Ultramat participated in a business after hours open house this evening. NFMAD reported that a second pool of West Nile positive mosquitoes have been confirmed at K-50 and Back River Road.
June 22 – The Hotchkiss Fire Department responded to an out of control burn on 3400 Road near Adobe Hill. The landowner was issued a ticket for violation of the Delta County Fire ban.
June 23 – Temperatures rose to near and over 100 degrees across the region and a round of wild fires erupted including some to the south near Mancos. The prospect of dry lightening storms has everyone nervous.
June 24-25 – Hot, but with a few clouds drifting around on the margins.
June 26 – Prior to the Town Council meeting Town Clerk Barbara Peterson presented her Master’s Thesis on the how-to’s of revising the Paonia Comprehensive Plan. Excellent job, Barb. Looking forward to watching the process unfold as Paonian’s seize their future.
June 28 – Hotchkiss Mayor Wendell Koontz helped to kick off the Helping Hands Summer Food Service Program at the pilot site located at the offices of the North Fork Pool. The program uses the pool bus to deliver kids who might be missing meals to the lunch site where they can also pick up food to take home. The program seeks to reduce local childhood hunger.
Business News and Other Rumours
The long anticipated Subway Restaurant opened in Hotchkiss on June 9th, the day before the Ride the Rockies bike tour rolled into town.
The Hotchkiss District Volunteer Fire Department reported that a crew and truck (Engine #4) spent several days helping on the huge High Mesa Fire near Fort Collins. They also ended up being pictured in a report from a Denver TV news station.
Julie Lange is hard at work the finishing touches to her new Mexican themed, fast food restaurant – Taco Hut, located on the site of the old Bridge Street Liquors at 3rd and Bridge in Hotchkiss. The business will offer quick drive-up service. Opening soon! Hotchkiss just keeps Happening!
Debbie Faulkner and Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary will be a feature story in the Aug 27th issue of Woman’s World Magazine. Photo shoot for publication happened in mid-June. The story will mainly be focused on their Silver Whiskers Program that places senior pets with senior people. WWM is the country’s largest circulation weekly publication with 1.6 million readers.
High Hay. It is noted by George Brauneis of Spirit Wind Horse Rescue that with the dry weather and the anticipated lack of second cutting ditch water, the local price of hay is now averaging about ten dollars a bale, about double the price last year.
There is a new recycling business centered in Hotchkiss. Mizzyz Recycling Service does bi-weekly or monthly pickup. 872-4070
Bruce Duke III visited Hotchkiss on June 22 and was hosted by the Hotchkiss Crawford Historical Society. The society had a group visit to the Hotchkiss Riverside Cemetery and the Duke family plots followed by an informal lunch at the museum. Duke is the great-great grandson of Edward Duke, the youngest of the three Duke brothers who were among the Town’s primary founders.
And a very happy 65th birthday is wished to Andrea Robinsong of Hanson Mesa on the edge of Hotchkiss. She threw a major party for herself and a whole bunch of friends on Sunday, June 24th that include catering by Delicious Orchards, live locally grown music and even an ice cream truck to moderate the 100 degree day.
The Hotchkiss Chamber Downtown Merchants July 14th, Hotchkiss is Happening event will feature an Art Walk including several local artists demonstrating/displaying their skills at local businesses including me demonstrating at the used bookstore from 12-3. I’ll also be working on touching up the Public Works building mural from 5:30 to about 7 p.m. Also from 12 noon to 3 p.m. that day: Mary Hockenbery and Michelle Reilly at The Rose Laverne Evans at the Trout Store and More. Shannon Castle at Hardin’s Natural Foods. Katherine Colwell at embrace in the Yoga Tree. There will also be artists working at the Creamery Arts Center and the Glass Studio will be open with Joanne Tullis giving demonstrations in glass art.
And I’m late again in noting a new business. The Pierce Agency of Farmers Insurance is now located in the north end of the Coal Train Coffeehouse building in Hotchkiss.
And south-east Hotchkiss may be the dog grooming district with the return of Ruff Cuts, now in the old Bruce’s Auto building joining sPaws next to the Credit Union.
The Dry Month of Elm Tree Seeds
A Good Pledge: “I promise to work safely, for my family, for my co-workers, and for myself.” On a stainless steel Mountain Coal Company coffee travel cup. Not many things are as successful in their efforts to grow and spread as the local Chinese Elms.
This was the month when the elm seeds fell from the trees and were wind-deposited literally everywhere. It was also the month when people squinted at the clouds and sky and muttered about the lack of real rain. There was no real high water in the river and irrigators are wondering exactly how early the ditches will be shut off.
April 25 – As the paper went to press, the Hotchkiss Planning Commission met this evening on how to do the final edits on the revision of the Community Master Plan. Another very warm day with a few clouds floating around.
April 26 – A little rain along with a lot of wind. It was reported from Paonia that the small recycling collection building in the corner of Don’s Market parking lot blew over, scattering aluminum across the street.
April 27 – Kiwanis Fish Fry Day in Hotchkiss: a longtime tradition that this year was enhanced with Danny Cotten’s giant historic photos and info from Orville Cotten and Chuck Farmer. Reportedly over 400 people were served. A nice rain fell overnight. The BLM’s Regional Resource Advisory Council met at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss this morning and drew a large group of locals to talk about gas development during the public comment period.
April 28 – Sunny but cooler overnight. I wore a sweatshirt on my morning 4-mile run and didn’t get overly warm.
April 29 – Cool overnight, dropping into the 30’s. The Hotchkiss Fire Department responded to yet another “uncontrolled controlled burn” this time along Hwy 133 just east of town. Breakfast was 98.9% local with an omelet made from local eggs, milk, wild lamb’s quarters and green onions from the garden.
April 30 – Overnight temperatures were below freezing causing some local “early bird” gardeners some anxiety.
May 2 – The big news of the day was the BLM decision not to go with their preferred alternative on the gas leases but to defer the lease sale until later while they do more analysis. The DCI’s Kathy Browning also reported today that, according to Bear Ranch’s Rob Gill, the Bear Ranch Land Trade is probably off the table this year since Senator Mark Udall has no immediate plans to introduce the legislation to make it happen. The Hotchkiss Chamber met in the early morning to discuss downtown beautification along with the upcoming Stock Dog Trails and the Ride the Rockies bike tour stop in June.
May 4 – There was a very well-attended Paonia Chamber Block Party on south Grand Avenue in Paonia highlighting the new Chamber office and the Living Farm’s new Cafe and farmers market.
May 5 – Hotchkiss Downtown Flower Planting Day! A good-sized group of energetic people showed up to fill new and old downtown planters with color.
May 7 – Overcast, but only teasing us with unfounded rumors of rain. Dry and windy.
May 9 – Hotchkiss Municipal Court in the late afternoon was routine but the evening Constitutional Patriots Q&A forum for County Commissioner candidate Mark Roeber was entertaining.
May 11 – The Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials kicked off this morning. Lots of yard sales and the First State Bank’s BBQ drew a big crowd at noon. A few clouds dropped a very few raindrops in the evening.
May 12 – The central day in the Dog Trials. I did a few minutes better than I expected in running the Dog Trials 5K. A little over 26 minutes.
May 13 – Mother’s Day and the wrap-up of the Stock Dog Trials in Hotchkiss. A little cloudy and windy in the afternoon.
May 16 – Still no rain. Clouds blew in and blew right back out after extracting some moisture.
May 17 – Cool night and very warm day.
May 18 – Today was overcast which made it a perfect day for planting the rest of the tomato and pepper plants.
Business News and Other Rumors
Every few years the idea of a local currency or a formalized local barter system in the Valley is broached. This time it is the North Fork Trading and Exchange Service (nftes.org) that is being promoted by Aaron “Jerad” Heideman of Hotchkiss and others. The service is basically offering to act as the banker/ bookkeeper in barter exchanges between individuals.
Journey, a new spa and salon owned by Heather Angelovich has opened in the old H&R Block office next door to North Fork Family Dentistry in Hotchkiss.
Debbie Cheesman’s embrace~, a yoga-inspired boutique, opened at the Yoga Tree at the first of May and celebrated their grand opening on the 26th.
Pavlov’s Dogs hotdog stand has opened in Hotchkiss on the east side of the old carwash next to the North Fork Bank Center.
In Paonia, the big-big news is the coming of the Living Farm Cafe and farmers market on the south end of Grand Avenue.
The Paonia Chamber of Commerce also celebrated the opening of their office next door to the Living Farm Cafe. Merchant Herald publisher Gloria Crank will be manning the office on many days.
And… The gas development watchdog group, Citizens for a Healthy Community, recently opened an office at 225 Grand Avenue in Paonia, in the ReMax building.
First State Bank of Colorado Announces Scholarship Winners First State Bank of Colorado is pleased to announce that the winners of the Bank’s annual scholarship contest have been chosen. Nearly forty high school seniors at five high schools vied for the First State Bank of Colorado Scholarship. Each branch of First State Bank of Colorado forms an independent scholarship selection committee and judges the nominations received from the High School served by that branch’s office.
The following local students were selected by their hometown branches to receive the First State Bank of Colorado scholarship: Hotchkiss High School: Tell Hawk Paonia High School: Kayla R. Wilczek Delta High School: Mayra Jimenez Scholarship recipients will receive a $1000 scholarship for use at any two or four year institution of higher learning.
First State Bank of Colorado congratulates the 2012 winners and wishes all graduates the best in their future pursuits!
Special District Elections: Elected to two-year terms to the North Fork Pool, Park and Recreation District board were new members Uli Lange and Randy Spadafora. Incumbents Lisa Cook, Jean Aaro and Teresa Driscoll, who ran unopposed for the available four-year terms, will continue on the board.
An expansion of the Hotchkiss Fire District #4 to include an area in upper Leroux Creek was approved by property owners 22-4. Interior construction finish work was continuing in late May at the soon to open Subway fast food restaurant in Hotchkiss.
Soon… The Bear Ranch Land Exchange may not make it through Congress this session but the company, owned by Oxbow Mining and GEC owner William I. Koch, is still getting its message out to the locals. Another four-color mailer appeared in mailboxes in mid-May. Ranch manager, Rob Gill, via a letter in another local publication, wrote that the proposal is still being fine-tuned including dispensing with the idea of dual trails on the Buck Creek Ranch parcel and limiting the proposed new Jumbo access to recreational users (no commercial gas drillers).
In the letter, Gill accused Exchange opponents of not being truthful.
In the meantime, the environmental assessment on Oxbow’s Oak Mesa exploratory coal drilling was released by the BLM and comments are being accepted until June 13. And, in another sign that Hotchkiss is Happening, the Campo Fresco restaurant in the Hotchkiss Hotel is now open for lunch as well as dinner.
March into spring… March is the month when locals start planting stuff as well as the time when you have to retrieve your windblown trashcans from the neighbor’s yard.
February 28 – Snow fell overnight, turning the nearby hills and the mountains white again. Just a dusting along with freezing rain in Hotchkiss.
February 29 – Leap Day! I sold my old 1985 VW Jetta very quickly. Another teenager in Paonia now has new wheels.
March 1 – In like a lion. A snowstorm moved across the valley and sat there during the day. A truck slid off the road and over the embankment at the top of the east Hotchkiss/133 grade in the morning, closing the road for almost two hours while equipment was brought in to tow the vehicle back up. Probably a good spot for some more guard railing.
Snow in the evening included winds and blizzard-like conditions.
March 2- This day was the deadline for municipal election candidates to get their nomination petition turned in. A few candidates in Hotchkiss were doing some last minute scrambling to get the needed signatures. It looks like there will be a Hotchkiss election for the first time in a decade.
March 3 – Sunshine after a cold night.
March 4 -A sunny day and after church I spent it cutting more firewood and baking a batch of local-wheat rolls.
March 5 – Another beautiful day in the North Fork. The Heart and Soul of Community planning advisory board met for the first time in the evening.
March 6 – North Fork Democrats had their turn to caucus this evening. Light turnout of 17 people for the two Hotchkiss area precincts. Those attending decided that it made a lot of sense to legalize marijuana and tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol.
March 7 – The Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce met in the morning to talk about several things including the upcoming Downtown and Highway Corridor Improvement Plan.
March 8 – The final full Hotchkiss Council meeting with the present trustee line-up. It will be interesting to see who gets elected. The Council approved a new fast food place that will serve Mexican food. It also looks like the Cedar Street Trail is a no go for now.
March 9 – Sunny, warmer and kind of springlike.
March 11 – Another nice day. In Hotchkiss a highlight was the Wearhouse Follies and ice cream and pie social at the Methodist Church in the afternoon. Reports uniformly raved about the humorous good time had at the Follies which featured music and fashions from the Wearhouse Peace Circle Thrift Shop.
March 13 – A Leroux Creek Area Planning Committee review of a two-lot subdivision at the corner of 3100 Road and Hwy 92 on Rogers Mesa was cancelled and rescheduled.
It was reported (with a picture) on the popular Paonia Facebook Message Board that a small SUV drove off into the bushes between Elsewhere Studio and the Flying Fork Restaurant on 3rd Street in Paonia, narrowly missing both buildings.
March 16 – A terrific day that was more like early summer. Great Hotchkiss Library used book sale. I end up buying a lot more than I intended.
A ditch burn on J-80 Road required the Hotchkiss Fire Department before it was extinguished some 8 acres later.
March 18 – A windy, rainy and finally snowy day. An agricultural fire on the eastern edge of Rogers Mesa got out of control in the high winds early today and sent Jim Allen of Hotchkiss to the hospital with third degree burns on his leg, arm, and face. He was ultimately transferred by air to a burn unit in Salt Lake City. No structures were damaged in the fire.
May 19 – And then the sun came out again. And then it snowed some more.
May 21 – Sunny and cool. Frosty overnight.
March 22 – The Conservation Center hosted a well-attended informational meeting on the BLM EA on the gas leases. People have until August 6 to comment on the document.
March 28 – The Hotchkiss Town Council met at 5 p.m. to discuss whether to abandon the Cedar Street trail project or not.
Then the Hotchkiss Planning Commission met at 6:30 p.m. to look at a rough draft of the Master Plan along with kicking off the Downtown and Highway Corridor Improvement Plan.
Business News and Other Rumours
Yvon Gros and Joanna Reckert of the Leroux Creek Inn and Vineyards have announced that the Inn will be reopening as a bed and breakfast this spring. Keep them in mind when you have guests in town.
First State Bank of Colorado Announces Scholarships
In keeping with its belief that an educated community is a strong community, First State Bank of Colorado has announced that scholarship monies will be allocated to one deserving student from each of our branch’s hometown high schools.
Scholarship awards in the amount of $1,000 will be granted to the student from each branch’s hometown high school that, in the scholarship committee’s opinion, has submitted the best application. Each branch will have an independent scholarship committee and the applications will be judged on merit rather than need.
Applications may be picked up at Hotchkiss, Paonia, Delta, Fountain or Custer County High Schools and will be due back to the relevant branch office no later than 5 p.m. on April 13. Applications are also available on line at www.FirstStateBank-CO.com.
The Western Slope Constitutional Patriots (Paonia branch) met at the American Legion Hall on March 13. Among the items on the agenda was the Vision 2020 Program in the North Fork. According to member and local co-organizer, Dawn Ullrey, the NF 2020 program is connected to the Orton Foundation, which is alleged to be connected to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) which allegedly “was instrumental in creating United Nation Agenda 21,” which encourages local sustainability.
We sure do have a wide range of opinions about stuff in the North Fork.
A few days later fliers/letters signed by Ullrey and Lila Wheeler were distributed in Hotchkiss urging voters to choose write-in candidate Lindee Cantrell and four others on the ballot that were termed “conservative.”
According to Stu Carlson of Paonia, several parents and educators in the North Fork Valley are considering the option of creating a new school district that would encompass Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Montessori and the NF Vision school systems. Carlson says that a mounting number of factors have brought to light the need for this consideration including: proximity to the district office, ability to share ideas and implement necessary changes within a timely manner and the distribution of financial resources more directly to educators and programs as dictated by the needs of the North Fork. There is an open Facebook discussion group on the subject at New North Fork School District.
The North Fork will entertain another bicycle tour on September 2 when riders will come in from Gunnison and stop briefly at Paonia. The West Elk Bicycle Classic is a 130 mile, one day ride climbing nearly 10,000 ft. (209 km, 3000m) from Gunnison to Crested Butte circumnavigating the West Elk Mountains in a gran fondo format. The ride is put on by Western State College and will skip Hotchkiss and the section of 133 between there and Paonia by using the back road.