Western Slope Round-Up: Headless Chickens, Corn Cobs and Other Developments

Let’s take another weekly look at what’s happening on the Western Slope and in Colorado’s Mountain Towns. Don’t miss out on Mike the Headless Chicken and other tales.Yes, Martha. There Was a Headless Chicken
If you missed Fruita’s “Mike the Headless Chicken Festival” last weekend, there is always next year.

From the official website, a birds-eye view of this event:

The Amazing, true story of this famous fowl dates back to September 10, 1945 when Mike, a young Wyandotte rooster, was about to become the dinner of Fruita, Colorado, farmer Lloyd Olsen.

With a sharp ax in hand, Mr. Olsen firmly held Mike, preparing to make the bird ready for his wife Clara’s cooking pot. Mr. Olsen swung the implement, thereby lopping off poor Mike’s head. Mike shook off the event, then continued trying to peck for food.

Mike’s will to live remains an inspiration. It is a great comfort to know you can live a normal life, even after you have lost your mind.

Make sure to mark your calendars for next year in May. Heck, you may want to enter in the 5K “Run Like a Headless Chicken” race or the Chicken Polka Dance Contest.

Vail Buys Critical Employee Housing
The town of Vail had bought several condo properties to eventually become deed-restricted affordable housing, but the demand right now is to rent these units to firemen, policemen and other critical emergency staff who would have to otherwise live down valley.

Vail’s main transportation road is I-70 which can be susceptible to slides, avalanches and other disasters. Employees living outside of Vail could be prevented to responding to emergencies. Therefore, the town has been trying to keep at least 30 percent of its staff within town limits.

Carpenters: Out of a Job? Come to Rifle
The city of Rifle has seen nearly the doubling of 2007 building permits compared to last year’s April figures. Developers have submitted 160 building permits when in 2006, there had been only 85 permits were submitted through April with a total of 223 permits issued for the entire year.

Rifle still has excess capacity in the wastewater facilities and its water supply has enough storage to last Rifle for about the next five years.

The good side: finally there will be some new housing units available in the Rifle area. The bad side: there is no housing for the labor to live in while they are building the new housing. More Man Camps on the way?

Mountain town, Buena Vista Expanding
This sounds almost too good to be true-from an article in the Leadville Chronicle describing the proposed housing development in Buena Vista:

Developers in Buena Vista have begun a riverside subdivision combining recreational opportunities, homes and businesses. “What South Main is about is quality of life,” according to development co-founder Jed Selby. “We intend to have most daily needs met within walking distance.” He said the development, located south of the community center, is planned to include 300 residences, including large and small single-family houses, town homes, condominiums, apartments above businesses and work/living spaces with a residence attached for the business owner. Businesses expected in South Main include shops, restaurants and galleries.

He said they studied the possibilities, and began planning a riverside development as well. “We’re both business majors, and we’re both professional kayakers,” Selby said. “Kayaking is a big component of it. We have built a series of play features in the river. The master plan is to have six (features).” In addition, he said the development is also within walking distance to world class fishing, hiking trails and scenic areas. Inside the development is a centrally located block already landscaped as a park.  “The commercial majority will be around the square,” he said.

Beam me up to Buenay, Scotty!

It’s Still the Wild West Here
Cattle rustlers used to be hanged. Now they are sentenced to community service and a fine.

A ranch hand on the Dallas Divide cattle ranch in Ouray County plead guilty to stealing 10 head of cattle and re-branding them with his brand.

The ranch owner, Jerald Dijulio, was not pleased.

“There’s a code of honor among ranchers,” said Dijulio. “There’s a respect between cowboys and ranchers.”

When the ranch hand snuck cattle out of a corral, branded them with his own brand, and sold them, he broke that code.

  “There’s the cowboy trust,” said Dijulio. “He was dressed like a cowboy, but that’s not how we act.”

The ranch hand now has to do 100 hours of community work and pay a $3,000 fine. The rancher claims he lost 20 head worth $16,000.

Olathe Reorganizes Chamber
Not every town is booming on the Western Slope. Take Colorado’s Corncob City of Olathe in Montrose County. Still a small town of about 2,000 people with a medium household income of just over $30,000, Olathe’s claim to fame is its sweet corn.

Once upon a time, the Olathe Chamber of Commerce boasted over 30 businesses. That has dwindled down to about 10 lately. In a revitalization effort, the local businesses are getting together for a wine and cheese party to rev up interest.

Right now, the town has one main event, “The Olathe Sweet Corn Festival” in August and some people would like to organize another special event to attract tourists.

Maybe they should talk to the Headless Chicken folks in Fruita for ideas.

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Leslie Robinson

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