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Top stories of 2012
From Silverton Standard, the place where you can write!
Posted on December 27 2012, 12:15am by Mark Esper in Local News category
The Silverton Standard's top stories of 2012
 Criss Furman/Silverton Standard & the Miner
Past school board president Cliff Pohlman, left, current school board president Paul Zimmerman, center, and past school board president George Foster cut the ribbon at the new entrance to the Silverton School on Sept. 21, signalling completion of an $11.8 million overhaul of the school.
Top Five Stories 
of 2012
1 — Silverton School reopens as a modern state-of-the-art facility after an $11.8 million renovation and restoration project.
2 — The EPA drops its proposal for Superfund designation for a cluster of mine sites contaminating Cement Creek.
3 — Chris Tookey is elected Silverton Mayor. Tracy Boeyink and Cassandra Papp join the Town Council.
4 — San Juan County voters approve 1 percent countywide sales tax for emergency services.  Scott Fetchenhier elected county commissioner.
5 — The Silverton Standard & the Miner is designated a national historic site in journalism and is featured on the NBC “Today Show.”
Some highlights from the year that was in Silverton:
January 5 — Eleven death certificates were issued in San Juan County in 2011, including six for the victims of two plane crashes.
This compares with just four death certificates in 2010.
January 12 — Town Hall officials say the time has come to launch a comprehensive effort to revitalize downtown Silverton.
And they’re preparing to launch a “community-driven” process to come up with specific projects for making the historic downtown district a more attractive place for visitors.
Town Planning Director David Michaelson said that in the past it appears that a lot of ideas have been put on the table but without “a comprehensive effort to make things fit well.”
January 19 — A 25-year-old Denver woman was killed Saturday morning, Jan. 14, at Silverton Mountain Ski Area, after falling and sliding some 1,500 vertical feet, according to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim was identified as Sydney Elizabeth Owens. She was on a guided ski tour skiing the Riff Run at about 10:06 a.m. when the accident occurred.
Emergency personnel at Silverton Mountain rendered assistance but were unable to revive Owens, according to the sheriff's office.
It was the first fatal accident in 10 years of operations of Silverton Mountain Ski Area.
January 26 — Aggressive sheep guard dogs used by ranchers in the high country around Silverton are a clear and present danger, not only to backcountry hikers, but also to the economic well-being of the town.
At least that’s the opinion of some Silverton Town Council members, who voiced their concerns Monday night, Jan. 23, in a meeting with Forest Service District Ranger Matt Janowiak.
“People don’t want to see the dogs out there,” said Mayor Terry Kerwin.
Janowiak explained that the Forest Service has been working with ranchers to take steps to avoid clashes between the dogs and backcountry users. 
February 2 — Anyone hoping to build a trophy home in rural San Juan County may have to rethink their plans and settle for a modest cabin instead.
New cabins or homes in San Juan County above 11, 000 feet in elevation would be limited to 750 square-feet under new backcountry development standards approved unanimously by the San Juan Regional Planning Commission last week.
But the proposed regulations would allow property owners to add another 250 square-feet if they demonstrate sensitivity to the viewshed impacts through use of materials, siting, and height limitations, or if the property owners provide public benefit such as trail access, or retiring development rights on another mining claim.
February 9 — San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputy Hollis Troy Holland died of a heart attack Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, while snowmobiling near Molas Pass. He was 57.
Holland was also a deputy for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
He was reported missing Wednesday evening by his wife, Patricia. His snowmobile and body were found at about 8:30 p.m. that night by an Air Care medical helicopter from Farmington, N.M.
February 16 — San Juan County officials are beginning to draft plans for a campground at the 40 acres the county now owns at the northern end of the Eureka townsite.
“This could be a tremendous facility,” said County Planning Director Dave Michaelson. “It could be Molas Lake’s little sister, if you will.”
The county acquired the land — along with another 22 acres at the southeast corner of the abandoned town site — in a trade with Sunnyside Gold Corp. that was finalized last year. 
The tract along the Animas River has long been used by campers in the summer.
February 23 — Cabins above 11,000 feet in elevation will be limited to a maximum of 750 square feet under land-use regulations adopted unanimously by the San Juan County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
But the board refused to go along with a planning commission recommendation to limit home sizes below an elevation of 11,000 feet to 2,000 square feet.
And the proposed regulations would allow property owners above 11,000 feet to add another 250 square feet to their structure if they demonstrate sensitivity to the viewshed impacts through use of materials, siting, and height limitations, or if the property owners provide public benefit such as trail access, or retiring development rights on another mining claim.
March 1 — The Silverton Standard & the Miner won 12 awards at the Colorado Press Association convention in Denver on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The Standard was judged the best small newspaper in the state for photography and design.
The awards are based on circulation class. The Standard competes with weekly newspapers with circulation of less than 1,750. Judging this year was done by Michigan Press Association members.
March 8 — Silverton Town Clerk Brian Carlson says nomination petitions submitted by 10 candidates for Town Council have been accepted, as well as two candidates for mayor.
“I have reviewed nomination petitions, and have found none to be deficient,” Carlson said. 
The following candidates have been found qualified for the April 3 ballot: 
For town trustee positions: Kevin Baldwin, Tracy Boeyink, Gary Davis, Mark Garvin, Matt Gotthainer, Malcolm MacDougall, Cassandra Papp, Barbara Renowden, and two incumbents, John Schertz and David Zanoni.
Three town trustee seats will be filled in this election. Voters can choose up to three candidates.
For mayor, Jim Lindaman and Chris Tookey are on the ballot.
March 15 — A Durango man was sentenced Tuesday to four years probation and must register as a sex offender after a jury convicted him late last year of unlawful sexual contact.
Keith Harper was found guilty Dec. 1 of groping two women while giving them a snowmobile tour Feb. 24, 2011, in the Cascade Creek area, about 25 miles north of Durango in San Juan County. The jury returned a “not guilty” verdict in the case of a third woman who accused him of inappropriate sexual contact.
March 22 — All 10 candidates for the three vacancies on the Silverton Town Council and the two candidates for mayor took part in the Candidates Night Forum on Tuesday, Feb. 20, hosted by Silverton high school students.
The Town Hall conference room was packed, with more than 10 percent of the town’s 586 registered voters on hand.
March 29 — A rooftop patio at the Montanya rum bar was approved unanimously by the Silverton Town Council on Monday, but with restrictions on use and occupancy.
The change needed Town Council approval as a “use subject to review” since the Town Code requires such a hearing before approving “any (business) use or activity not conducted within an enclosed building.”
Town Planning Director David Michaelson said the proposal has gone through an extensive review, including a hearing before the historic review board which is charged with making sure the town’s historic downtown is not compromised.
About one-third of the roof will be used for the deck, which should be open this summer.
April 5 — Chris Tookey was elected mayor of Silverton Tuesday, April 3, defeating Jim Lindaman by a margin of 250 to 156.
Elected to the Town Council were Tracy Boeyink and incumbents David Zanoni and “Outback”  John Schertz.
 Of the town’s 586 registered voters, 416 cast ballots, a turnout of 71 percent.
With the election of Tookey, the Town Council must now appoint someone to serve the remaining two years of her term as town trustee.
While Boeyink and Zanoni won easily, Schertz was re-elected by just one vote, with Cassandra Papp and Barbara Renowden each getting 141 votes.
An avalanche near Ophir Pass on Friday afternoon, March 30, killed a 34-year-old Crested Butte man, according to San Juan County Coroner Keri Metzler.
The victim was identified as John Knox McEwen Frank.
San Juan County Undersheriff Kristine Burns said it was “a huge slide,” that ran for about a mile. The slide was reported at about 2:45 p.m. near the San Miguel and San Juan county boundary.
April 12 — Silverton School teacher Cassandra Papp, 33, was appointed to the Town Council in a 4-2 vote Monday night, wrapping up the final stage in this year’s election.
Papp had received 141 votes in the April 3 Town Council race, the same as Barbara Renowden, 65. That was one vote less than John Schertz who won the third Town Council seat up for grabs in the election.
But with Town Trustee Chris Tookey being elected mayor, the council was tasked with appointing a replacement to serve out the remaining two years of her term.
Papp was appointed in a 4-2 vote, with council members David Zanoni and “Outback” John Schertz voting against her joining the Town Council.
Ronald “Ron” Distel, 73, of Montrose, passed away late Friday afternoon, April 6, 2012, at the Valley Manor Care Center in Montrose.
Ron was born in Silverton on March 15, 1939, to John and Eugenia (Fedrizzi) Distel. 
April 19 — Fritz Klinke still has a dream. A dream to rebuild at least part of the old Silverton Northern Railroad that used to run from Silverton to Animas Forks.
Klinke, 71, has support from the San Juan County Historical Society for the project, and the county commissioners are also on board.
But Klinke told the county commissioners last week that the project remains on “a low simmer right now.” 
The historical society is trying to seek funding for a feasibility study. That report should provide a clearer picture as to the costs involved and the potential economic impact of rebuilding a 2.5-mile portion of the line from the power plant north of town to Howardsville.
April 26 — The Environmental Protection Agency has something to say to Silverton:
“We heard you loud and clear,” said Mark Hestmark, acting office director for ecosystems protection and remediation at the EPA’s regional office in Denver.
“We are going to set aside the whole Superfund listing in the interest of continuing to collaborate with you and the Animas River Stakeholders Group, as we have for the last 17 years,” Hestmark said last week in a meeting with town and county officials.
The EPA has been studying what to do about a cluster of abandoned mines in the Gladstone area that are blamed for leaking heavy metals into Cement Creek, impacting water quality on the Animas River. The agency suggested designating the area as a so-called Superfund site would provide funding to address the problem
But the Silverton Town Council and the San Juan County commissioners have refused to back Superfund listing, expressing concerns about the stigma often associated with such a designation.
May 3 — Silverton’s two high school seniors received their diplomas Tuesday night, May 1, in a bittersweet ceremony full of laughter, along with some tears.
In their graduation addresses to fellow students, school staff and the public in a crowded Town Hall assembly room, both Nesbly Amaya and Nikole Aikin recounted how the last few years have been transformative experiences.
 “I am really happy to graduate from this school but I am really sad because I won’t get to be with the rest of my friends anymore,” Amaya said in her tearful speech. “I have found many people who pushed me to make better decisions.
“I will leave memories and my heart in Silverton School,” Amaya said. “Sometimes I will be happy, sad or mad, but I know that my future was made there.”
Aikin, who with her family moved to Silverton in 2009, said the town and school “has changed me for the better.”
Former Silverton resident Wallace Leroy Grey, born July 25, 1925, died on May 1, 2012.
May 10 — The historical marker for the Silverton Standard & the Miner newspaper was unveiled and dedicated Saturday, May 5, in a celebration attended by about 100 people.
The marker was presented to the Standard by the Society of Professional Journalists, making the Silverton Standard the only Colorado newspaper to receive such a designation.
May 17 — After being pre-empted twice due to live coverage of other news events, the NBC “Today Show” finally aired its story on the Silverton Standard newspaper on Wednesday, May 16.
“The phone has been ringing off the hook all morning, and I am trying to get tomorrow’s newspaper finished,” said Standard editor and publisher Mark Esper in an interview with the Standard’s editor and publisher. “But I’m not complaining. This is great publicity.”
Reporter Bob Dotson and his video crew for the “American Story” segment on the “Today Show” visited Silverton for four days in March.
The focus of their story is the community effort to save the historic weekly newspaper. Several Silverton residents appear in the video which can be viewed on the msnbc.com Web site. 
Clyde John Cerniway passed away peacefully May 18, 2012, at his home in Grants, N.M., after a long illness. Born Nov. 8, 1925 in Durango, he was the youngest son of Frank and Clara Cerniway. 
May 24 — Bev Rich, chairman of the San Juan County Historical Society, is pretty much fed up with FERC.
And she’s not alone.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been making it very difficult for the historical society to get its tiny hydroelectric generating facility at the Mayflower Mill online.
For instance, the agency is requiring detailed architectural drawings of the small shed that houses the generator itself.
“And they need a new survey of where the shed actually sits on the property,” Rich said.
Then there is the 30-day public comment period “from every federal agency you can think of and downstream Indian tribes,” Rich said. “It’s just ridiculous.”
May 31 — Mary L. Andersen, who served as San Juan County Clerk and Recorder for many years, passed away May 16, 2012.
Mary was born and lived in Silverton until her retirement from public service.
Kent Taylor of Austin, Texas, owns several high-alpine mining claims in the San Juans and he is tired of sharing his land with sheep herds and their guard dogs.
Not only has he threatened to fence off his claims on the tundra, he’s asked the San Juan County commissioners to either put up gates or livestock guards on adjacent county roads. But the commissioners earlier this month said Taylor is on his own.
In a letter to the commissioners, Taylor declared:
“I am hereby prepared to start putting up fences, Not sure of Barb-wire, wooden, or electric with solar power, or a combination.  This letter is being used to serve as any possible remedies for keeping the sheep and their destructive behavior and the dogs off the property.”
June 7 — It’s of course still a far cry from a regional medical center, but basic health care services available in Silverton have dramatically expanded in recent days.
The San Juan County Public Health Department and the Silverton Clinic now have an operating X-ray machine.
It’s believed to be the first time X-rays could be taken in Silverton since the 1960s.
The first operational X-ray involving a patient was taken on Thursday, May 31.
Terri Brokering, director of the county health service, said the patient had a broken bone in his hand.
By being able to have the X-ray done here, “the guy probably saved $400,” Brokering said.
Meanwhile the Silverton Clinic is in the process of moving from the Carriage House to offices adjacent the county health department suites in the old Miners Union Hospital. The facility will include waiting rooms, exam rooms and a minor surgery room.
June 14 — For the first time since probably the 1930s, there is a functioning store at the Eureka townsite. The population of Eureka was reported as 197 in the 1930 census, but only seven persons remained in the 1940 census. The north end of the townsite is now owned by San Juan County which is developing a campground there. It’s operated by Bob and Terri Brokering of Silverton, who also opened this “Country Store” and campground office. The camping fee is $10 per night, plus $4 for each additional vehicle per campsite. Terri Brokering said she currently has 30 campsites delineated, plus some overflow space for the Fourth of July. And day use remains open to the public throughout the area. The County plans to seek a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to further develop the park and campground. As for the store, so far plans are for operating in the summer only.
June 21 — With no end in sight to the hot, dry weather over the San Juans, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have upgraded fire restrictions, effective Wednesday, June 20.
And Silverton Fire Chief Gilbert Archuleta said Wednesday that unless we get some rain, the town’s Fourth of July fireworks show will have to be canceled.
“We won’t make a decision on the fireworks until June 30,” Archuleta said. That’s when the fire department has to start setting up equipment on Shrine Hill for the huge fireworks show.
“If there’s no moisture by the 30th, we’ll have to cancel the show,” Archuleta said.
Shortly after noon Wednesday, a small fire was reported near the Pittsburgh Mine along the railroad tracks approaching town.
The fire department responded quickly but the train crew had managed to extinguish the fire, attributed to cinders from the locomotive.
June 28 — With wildfires flaring up around the San Juans and a total ban on outdoor fires looming, the Silverton Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to cancel the town’s famous Fourth of July fireworks show.
Town Administrator Jason Wells noted that under Gov. Hickenlooper’s executive order of June 14, fireworks have already been banned statewide. While the executive order allows county sheriffs to exempt fireworks shows and other banned activities, San Juan County Sheriff Sue Kurtz indicated she was not inclined to do so.
Kurtz pointed to weather forecasts that feature more of the same hot, dry, windy conditions.
 “I would suggest we make the decision now (to cancel the fireworks show) and get on with things and get the word out,” Kurtz told the Town Council on Monday. She said there were at least 13 wildfires burning in Colorado as of Monday night.
Mike and Sallie Barney of Silverton would like to announce the birth of their daughter, Katherine Fields Barney. “Kate” arrived June 25, 2012 at 2:35 a.m. She weighed 6lbs 7oz and was 18-1/2 inches long. 
July 5 — Slowly but surely the old rail cars are coming together, being restored after years of sitting in rail yards or remote sidings.
“We’re trying to put together a train for the 315,” said Jerry Hoffer, referring to the recently restored Engine #315. “But as long as it’s been taking us to do it, it’s probably not going to be a very long train.”
The pieces are being dismantled and reassembled at the old Silverton Northern engine house near the depot. The site is being developed into a railroad museum.
On Monday, Johnny Camp of J&J Sandblasting and Painting, was working on the latest arrival, a disassembled 1902 high-sided gondola that had been sitting at the Tacoma siding for years.
 “It’s amazing how the old timers built these things so well,” Camp said. He was blasting off perhaps a century of rust and grime from the body bolster and draft gear of the high-sided gondola.
July 12 — Silverton’s Fourth of July not only lacked fireworks this year.
It also lacked many visitors who stayed away due to the high fire danger that forced the cancelation of the town’s famed fireworks show.
Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce director Rose Raab said that for the first five days of July, the number of people stopping at the Visitors Center was down 25 percent compared to last year.
“We were getting 300 or 400 (people) a day, rather than 400 or 500,” Raab said.
And another prime economic indicator for the town’s Fourth of July, the Ducky Derby, also showed signs of weakness.
Raab said the fundraiser for the chamber netted only about half of what it did last year.
July 19 — “Literally thousands of tons of material” were deposited along a several-mile stretch of Hinsdale County Road 30 on the Shelf Road above Sherman Townsite during four separate mud slides that occurred Thursday afternoon, July 5, according to Hinsdale County Road and Bridge Supervisor Robert Hurd.
Despite the immense scale of the slides — the debris trail from the second changed the course of the Lake Fork River — there were no injuries or property damage except for one banged and dented Jeep which was parked on the side of the road below the second slide. At no time was anyone caught in the slide or stranded.
July 26 — The effort to reactivate the Pride of the West Mill in Howardsville has taken a “gigantic” step forward, according to officials with Colorado Goldfields Inc., the dormant mill’s owner.]
The staff of the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety on Friday, July 20, recommended approval of an amendment to Colorado Goldfields’ permit for the mill that sets the stage for its reopening.
“We’ve talked for four years now about economic revival in Silverton and creating 200 or 300 new jobs,” said Colorado Goldfields President Stephen Guyer of Lakewood. “I think we’re through the door to make that happen.”
With town staff warning that weekly rental units “are beginning to saturate the Silverton housing market to a point of being perceived by some residents as problematic,” the Town Council voted unanimously Monday night, July 23, to impose a 6-month moratorium on new applications.
But that will not apply to the two applications already in the pipe, town officials said.
Residential weekly rentals are prohibited in the town unless a “use subject to review” is approved by the Town Council after a public hearing.
Concerns have been raised over the impact of the weekly rentals to the integrity of residential neighborhoods, depletion of workforce rental properties, and parking problems.
John Clauson, 41, of Silverton and Buena Vista, died on Wednesday, July 25, 2012, of pneumonia after a battle with acute leukemia.
August 2 — A huge crowd converged on the Bent Elbow Tuesday night, July 31, to help Silverton Postmaster Donna Perino celebrate her retirement.
Donna moved to Silverton in the second grade.
“Before that my family had traveled around a bit,” Perino said. “We lived in Cortez for a while. My dad worked in construction.”
She graduated from high school here in 1970 then went to college in Boulder for a year.
Moving back with her husband, Larry, she started working at the post office at age 25, 34 years ago.
Wilma Louise Bingel, 88, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. 
A former Silverton resident died Wednesday, Aug. 1, in a one-vehicle crash on Molas Pass.
Sean Christopher Kirk, 46, of Durango, apparently lost control of his 2001 Chevrolet pickup around 3:20 p.m. while headed southbound.
Frank Matthew Hitti was born April 1, 1920 in Durango, the son of Matthew and Anna (Shry) Hitti. He passed away on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 at his Dolores home at the age of 92.
August 9 — Two objectors to a plan to reactivate the Pride of the West Mill in Howardsville have dropped their complaints, clearing the way for approval of a conditional permit for the mill.
The Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board had scheduled a hearing for today (Thursday, Aug. 9) in Denver to consider the objections, but that hearing has been canceled. With no objections, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety’s staff approval of the project takes effect.
“All objecting parties … have withdrawn and the applicant, Colorado Goldfields, has consented to the division’s conditions,” said Wally Erickson, of the DRMS Durango field office. “Therefore, the division’s recommendation for approval with conditions … appears uncontested. As such the office has determined a formal board hearing is unwarranted and the division’s previous recommendation for approval with conditions is revised to represent the division’s decision.”
August 16 — With operational costs rising and the ability to retain volunteers diminishing, the Silverton Ambulance Service is hoping to get a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot to boost its funding to keep the ambulances on the road.
Exactly what that ballot question will say has yet to be determined, but Kyle Mesich, ambulance service director, said the agency is leaning toward asking for a 1 percent increase in the countywide sales tax, enough to generate around $100,000 a year.
“We’re starting to get very concerned about what’s going to happen with the organization,” Mesich told the Silverton Town Council on Monday. “We have serious funding issues.”
Mesich said the cost of fuel and medical supplies keeps rising and the ambulance service has had difficulty finding volunteers willing to work for no pay.
August 23 — Three candidates are on the Nov. 6 ballot of two vacancies on the San Juan County Board of Commissioners.
Pete McKay (D-Silverton), incumbent from District 1, is seeking re-election. He is unopposed.
Terry Rhoades (Unafilliated-Silverton), incumbent from District 2, is also seeking re-election. He is being challenged by Scott Fetchenhier (D-Silverton).
County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman, who won re-election two years ago, has two years left on his term.
The county commissioners and candidates are required to reside in their respective districts, but the vote on Nov. 6 is countywide.
Luck, but more importantly, teamwork, probably saved the life of a Silverton man who fell from a cliff Monday and landed beside the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad tracks just south of Silverton.
The victim, Jerry Lyle, 63, was in serious condition Tuesday at Mercy Regional Medical Center.
August 30 — Silverton School has been named one of top 25 coolest schools in the country by Scholastic, the largest distributor of education materials in America’
“Choosing 25 out of nearly 100,000 public schools in the United States was a feat,” the publisher said. “We began by combing through awards lists and reading hundreds of news articles. We reached out to our contacts in the field and spoke to authors, educators, and administrators.
With Silverton School and its Expeditionary Learning model, Scholastic editors said they struck gold.
Walter Lynn McFadden, a former teacher at Silverton, died Aug. 27, 2012 at the family home in Florence, Colo. He was 92.
September 20 — Building a treatment plant to remove heavy metals from abandoned mines along Cement Creek may cost an estimated $6.5 million, and operating it could cost another $910,000 a year, according to a Sunnyside Gold Corp. consultant.
Sunnyside Gold Corp. last October offered to contribute up to $6.5 million to address water quality issues in Cement Creek and the Animas River, including up to $5 million to operate “a cost-effective” treatment plant to process tainted water spewing from the mine portals above Silverton.
But that $5 million for operations would only keep the plant running for some five years, according to the report by MWH Global, of Boise, Idaho.
However, Larry Perino, reclamation manager for Sunnyside Gold Corp., said the report “does not suggest that other less expensive methodologies may not be feasible.”
September 6 — A 16-year-old Silverton youth died in a pickup truck crash Friday night, Aug. 31, on County Road 2 about two and a half miles north of town.
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Chad Martin said Dillon Paxton, 16, was driving southbound in a 1988 Ford F-150 pickup when the accident occurred at about 7:59 p.m.
Martin said Paxton lost control of the pickup and it began to rotate clockwise.
“The vehicle ran off the right side of the road and struck a delineator post, Martin said.
The driver overcorrected and the vehicle then rotated counterclockwise, spinning about 180 degrees and traveling off the left side of the roadway, rolling multiple times down a steep embankment.
It came to rest on its top on County Road 22, which runs along the Animas River below County Road 2.
Jane E. Griner, 96, passed away Aug. 29, 2012 in Pueblo.
September 13 — A 55-year-old Grand Junction truck driver was killed early Monday in a rollover about 3 miles northwest of Silverton.
The crash resulted in temporary closures throughout the day along a section of U.S. 550 on the south side of Red Mountain Pass while a tow company removed the truck.
The truck driver was identified as Donald Ray Inskeep. The crash occurred about 5:30 a.m. near mile marker 72.7, a few miles northwest of Silverton, said Trooper Jonathan Silver of the Colorado State Patrol.
The 1994 tractor-trailer was southbound down a 4 percent grade on a section of road that has several curves, Silver said. The truck went off the right side of the road and rolled onto its passenger side, he said. It came to rest down a 20-foot embankment in pine and aspen trees.
The Silverton-San Juan Fire Authority has managed to find a decent ladder truck for only $15,000 and on Wednesday morning, Sept. 12, the San Juan County commissioners unanimously voted to fund the purchase from the county’s escrow account for emergency equipment.
September 20 —  Building a treatment plant to remove heavy metals from abandoned mines along Cement Creek may cost an estimated $6.5 million, and operating it could cost another $910,000 a year, according to a Sunnyside Gold Corp. consultant.
Sunnyside Gold Corp. last October offered to contribute up to $6.5 million to address water quality issues in Cement Creek and the Animas River, including up to $5 million to operate “a cost-effective” treatment plant to process tainted water spewing from the mine portals above Silverton.
But that $5 million for operations would only keep the plant running for some five years, according to the report by MWH Global, of Boise, Idaho.
However, Larry Perino, reclamation manager for Sunnyside Gold Corp., said the report “does not suggest that other less expensive methodologies may not be feasible.”
The three candidates for the two county commissioner seats up for election Nov. 6 addressed an audience of about 50 people at Silverton Town Hall Tuesday night, Sept. 18, discussing matters such as zoning, the economy and budget challenges.
Incumbent Pete McKay, a Democrat finishing his third term as a commissioner, is unopposed for the District 1 seat.
In District 2, 5-term incumbent Terry Rhoades, unafilliated, is seeking re-election. He is facing Scott Fetchenhier, a Democrat, for the seat.
September 27 — Students and staff at Silverton School, along with state education officials, construction workers and the community at large, celebrated the grand opening of the newly remodeled building and gym Friday, Sept. 21.
School Superintendent Kim White recounted the long ordeal that began when the 101-year-old school’s old coal-fired boiler gave out in 2008.
“We spent a year and a half without heat,” White said. The school got by with just space heaters for classrooms and big garage heaters for the hallways, “but we made it through.”
“We used space heaters and wore layers of clothes,” recalled sixth grader Blaze Braford-Lefebvre. “It was usually warmer outside in winter than in the gym.”
White said that clearly the old school building, constructed in 1911, needed an overhaul.
The school district qualified for a state Building Excellent Schools Today grant for $9.6 million, but that still left a lot of money needed for the $11.8 million project.
In November 2009 voters approved a 20-year, $1.2 million bond issue by a vote of 234-105 to help finance the project.
Philip H. Dodd, a long-time resident of Silverton and Grand Junction, died on Sept. 19, 2012 at his home in Silverton at the age of 90. He was with his wife of 64 years and his nephew, Lou King.
October 4 — “It’s been a lackluster end of the year, to be honest,” said Al Harper, owner of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
The railroad is the economic engine that drives Silverton’s  summer tourism-based economy.
Harper said that the railroad started the season strong, running about 7 to 9 percent ahead of last year in May and June, but by later in the summer “it really slowed down.”
Harper said that “right now, we’re within 1 percent of last year” in terms of ridership. “It’s an OK year.”
Harper spoke to a couple of dozen Silverton residents Tuesday night at Silverton Town Hall. He makes the annual October pilgrimage to Silverton to discuss issues involving the train.
Long time Silverton resident Vincent W. Tookey died in Dallas Texas on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. He was 93.
October 11 — Long time Silverton resident Vincent W. Tookey died in Dallas Texas on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.  He was 93.  
Bob Nevins started work this week as town and county planning director. He was formerly town planner for Snowmass Village. Nevins has a 25-year career in planning and had been at Snowmass Village for the past seven years.
October 18 — The San Juan County commissioners’ decision last year to deny an improvement permit for a 6,000-square-foot home o
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