Western Slope Roundup: Life going to the dogs

In Montezuma County this year, independent candidates for county commissioner are taking on Republican incumbent Gerald Koppenhafer. Alfred Hughes of Mancos and Paul Young of Cortez have successfully petitioned their place on the ballot, according to the county clerk’s office.


Montezuma, population 25,000, is in the Four Corners region of the state. There are 7,083 registered Republicans, 4,188 Democrats and 4,845 unaffiliated voters in the county. With those kinds of registration numbers, apparently the Dems weren’t able to dog any candidates into running.


Meanwhile, over in Montrose, once upon a time people flocked to a popular bath house downtown, which housed the "Iron Mike" artesian well because the waters supposedly had healing powers for rheumatism, Bright’s disease and kidney trouble. That bath house has come and gone, but water from the 120-year-old Iron Mike was available to the public — all you had to do is bring the container. However, recently the well has been shut down because the city discovered its pipes were too close to sewer lines and in noncompliance with Colorado’s drinking water regulations.


Because it would be too expensive to upgrade the well piping system, the city is now considering alternate uses for the water. The artesian well water flows at a consistent 71 degrees, so it may be a source of geothermal energy to cool and heat city hall, but those plans are far in the future.


With 53 million pet dogs in the United States, more cities are setting aside areas where owners can unleash their dogs and allow them to roam. At the annual convention of the Colorado Municipal League in Steamboat Springs last week, participants learned that dog parks can be an asset to communities, but it takes a little pre-planning. From a story in the Steamboat Pilot, landscape architect John Birkey said dog parks should be part of recreational master plans and placed near other recreational uses such as ball fields or children’s soccer fields.


Birkey also said to have a successful dog park, it’s better to manage the grounds like a farmer who rotates his fields — divide the park into two parcels, letting one section recover from doggie doings. To eliminate possible problems with aggressive dogs, cities can build special fenced area called bullpen to segregate some dogs from others.


No word about cat parks yet, but then, no one has figured out how to keep cats within a fenced area.


And finally in Gunnison, the Gunnison County Contractors’s Association filed a suit against the county over a fee, levied in 2006, on residential and commercial construction projects and targeted those revenues to pay for affordable housing. The contractors are claiming such a fee is actually a tax and therefore must go before the voters for approval.


An association spokesman told the local newspaper the reasons for the lawsuits were based on TABOR: First, taxes have to go before the voters, and second, there was no connection between affordable house issues and the fee. Currently the county levies fees for development from $710.50 to $37,637 for residential developments and $1,990 per 1,000 square feet for commercial or industrial buildings.


Looks like the county and the builders are headed for a dog-eat-dog fight.

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