« back

Another Month in the Valley: Cold, Snow and Local Politics

February 5th, 2016

Filed under Another Month in the Valley, Community, Featured, News

1.31.16 Hotchkiss Hotel snow WEB

A snowy day at the Hotchkiss Hotel building in Hotchkiss –  Tom Wills Photo

Another Month in the Valley

By Thomas Wills

“No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.” Mary Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Shelley – author of Frankenstein)

                Corrections to the January issue:  LaDonna Gunn, who previously worked for the District from 2007 to 2012 under Annette Choszcyk, has been hired to be the District’s North Fork regional coordinator, not as a replacement for Choszcyk as I erroneously reported. According to Library Board member Katie Gnauck and a subsequent press release, Choszcyk’s vacant position is yet to be filled and the job search had only just begun as of early January.

According to Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce President, Nathan Sponseller, as of early January the proposed Hotchkiss Farm to Fiddle Festival has not formally asked the Chamber to act as their fiscal agent, and the board has not voted on the issue.  The non-profit fiscal agent has since been determined to be Outdoors Alive and donations/sponsorships may be made by calling Marsy Moore 872-4277 or Lynda Cannon at (970) 201-7558. The event will be held on the last days of the Delta County Fair on August 12 and 13 in the downtown core area. It will feature live music, and outdoor recreation expo, a farm and food expo along with a juried art show and arts and crafts booths.

Winter or “WINTER!” writ larger snow-wise compared to the last decade or so of very light winters in the Valley. But, keeping it in perspective, even this Valley winter was moderate compared to that in other places such as Gunnison, Creede or the upper San Luis Valley (8,000 feet) where we lived when I was born.

January Journal

December 25 – A very white Christmas across the Valley with moderate to heavy snows; from a few inches in Hotchkiss to a few feet at Somerset and above Crawford.

December 26 – More snow. It looks like the El Nino driven moisture from the Pacific has arrived on schedule.

December 27 – We had seventeen people at Hotchkiss Methodist this morning and Crawford Methodist reported 10 hardy souls on a very cold day. After a well-attended Christmas program service followed by a full house Christmas Eve candlelight one, people were possibly feeling a little churched-out for the holidays.

December 28 – Temperatures plunged Valley-wide overnight. It was between five and eight below zero in the Hotchkiss area.

December 29 – The January Herald was printed today.  Cold, but not quite as cold as yesterday.

December 30 – New Year’s Eve-Eve.  A respite from the bone chilling cold of the last few days with more snow arriving. We are building up a very healthy snowpack in the mountains and can now start to worry about it melting off too early or too fast.

December 31 – Sunshine during the day but cold-cold. I went down and shoveled off the steps and sidewalk at the Methodist church so it could thaw before Sunday, and delivered ice melter.

January 1 – Cold.  Several degrees below zero in Hotchkiss.  I spent the day doing invoices and subscriptions and trying to figure out the Merchant Herald’s website, which may or may not cease to function now that we have canceled our too-expensive arrangement with a maintenance company. Steep learning curve coming up.

January 2 – Overnight temperatures about the same on the first business day of the New Year. It was reported that temperatures in the Arctic were warmer than the North Fork.

January 3 –Several local supporters, including myself, met with State Bernie Sanders campaign coordinator Josh Phillips.  Over lunch at Pat’s Bar and Grill we all received an education on how the pros do politics. Whoa! Lots of computers, databases, and psychology along with old fashioned volunteers phone-banking and knocking on doors. Unfortunately there will only be a single regional field coordinator for the whole of the Western Slope, which has been pretty much left on its own until now.  Now things get real.

January 4-5 – The temperatures rose sharply with water and slush in the streets of Hotchkiss at mid-day. Those sewer line workers in Hotchkiss are certainly earning their wages, working through these conditions.

January 7 – An inch of mooshy wet snow that coated the trees and bushes fell overnight in Hotchkiss.  Mary Hockenbery was busy collecting signatures for her petition to plan the question of commercial marijuana before the Hotchkiss voters. I signed it. Democracy is good. Patrick Webb came by to get a signature for his Hotchkiss Trustee candidate petition. It looks like we will have a contested election in Hotchkiss in April.

January 8 – County Commissioner Bruce Hovde called to say that his wife Nancy will be running for his term-limited commissioner seat. Busy lady and very qualified.  Hotchkiss Trustee, Larry Jakubiak, (and former mayor) stopped by to get me to sign his candidate petition.

January 9 – A little more snow in the Valley.

January 10 – A relatively warm day with temperatures above freezing. I made it to church (Hotchkiss United Methodist) where Pastor Amos was recovering from a bad cold. It was “Remember Your Baptism” Sunday. Happy Birthday to Dot Clay of Hotchkiss (now at Horizons Care) who was 98 today.

January 11 – Hotchkiss Neighborhood Watch held its monthly meeting with Deputy Gates Shaklee.  Not much in the way of criminal activity possibly due to the cold.

January 12 – An early morning visit to North Fork Family Dentistry in Hotchkiss where they took impressions to add a tooth to my partial. I must be getting older. It is great having a convenient, friendly full service dentist facility here in town. Two-day service on getting the partial back from the lab.

Very cold in the morning, but a sunny winter day across the valley.

January 14 –  A busy day.  I managed to get in a couple mile run in the early morning. Municipal court in the afternoon with a couple a saddish stories.  Then, on to Dr. Matt at the dentist’s to get the partial back and adjusted perfectly, and a quick filling as well. Very low stress as usual. Then trying to get some new art some at my bookstore studio before heading off to the Town Council meeting to deal with the marijuana vote issue. That went surprisingly smoothly with the council, with one exception, agreeing that a $900 election cost was better than a $5,000 election that would probably also keep the town divided for most of the summer.

Personally, I see cannabis as something that is already here, being grown all over town and the county and easily and cheaply available. Highly regulated commercial businesses would not add much to the existing impacts and would add jobs, draw tourists to the town, plus make up for a little of the lost tax revenue from the declining mining sector. Not a fix for anything but a small piece in rebuilding a stable local economy.

January 15 – More snow in the morning.  About two inches in Hotchkiss.

January 16-17 –  A little more snow across the Valley.

January 19 –  A little more wet snow fell overnight in Hotchkiss with a lot more at higher elevations adding to the accumulations in the mountains.

January 20 – The Valley awoke to more snow in what has almost become a daily ritual. The Hotchkiss Town Council, of which I am a member, met to craft a second question for the April 5 municipal ballot asking for permission to add an additional tax to marijuana and marijuana products sales if the primary question of approving commercial cannabis in the Town passes.

January 23 – Another gathering of Bernie Sanders supporters at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss; this time to hear an address from Bernie via the Internet and receive inspiration for the last few weeks of the campaign prior to the March 1 caucuses.

January 25 – In driving Jane to Dr. Meilner’s office in Paonia at 1:30, we went from a few scattered snowflakes in Hotchkiss to an all-out blizzard in Paonia. Then a half hour later the sun came out; the road were wet but clear and even dry back in Hotchkiss.

I stopped by Town Hall and talked to Jane Berry and Cindy Jones about the upcoming elections. Nine candidates for three trustee seats and one for mayor and no, the rumour about Paonia also doing a marijuana question on the April ballot is untrue. If people want to ask that question again Berry says it will take citizen’s-called special election.

January 26 – The Hotchkiss Planning Commission held a public hearing on changes to the mobile home and mobile home park regulations.

Business News and Other Rumours

The 2016 presidential election has been tagged as the most important in a generation or more. Regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican make this the year you attend your precinct caucus on the evening of March 1.  Location lists are available on the Deltacounty.com website (and are printed in this paper) and if you are major party affiliated you should be getting an information card in the mail from the County Clerk’s office.

And speaking of elections, municipal elections for all three North Fork towns are scheduled for April 5 (mail-in counting day). According to Hotchkiss Town Clerk, Marlene Searle, you need to be an established resident of one of those towns 22 days prior to the election, and a registered voter, in order be able to vote in their elections. All in all it is a good idea to be “registered” as early as possible, but due to changes in the law, according to Searle and County Clerk’s office, you can actually register right up to election day, just be prepared to prove the residency requirement and if you wait until the last few weeks you will have to vote manually at the courthouse rather than mail-in.  You can also register or change your address on-line at www.govotecolorado.com.



2.15 Gambles - winter.indd


Bross in-story WEB 4-14.indd


Odisea  Ad

Tags: ,