Friday, April 27, 2003  content presented by Telluride Today .com About The Watch

Today's Stories

Town of Telluride

Town Manager Harrington Takes Post June 9…Biodiesel Bus Back on Route

Town Briefs


A request by KOTO radio to secure Aug. 8 and 9 for a "world class event," according to KOTO Special Events Coordinator Janice Zink, was approved 5-0 by Telluride Town Council this week. Though Zink will not reveal who the "world class" band is, she promised a good show. Zink and KOTO were directed by council to work closely with a wedding scheduled for Aug. 8 and 9, as well as with the 30th annual Telluride Chamber Music festival, which will be held from Thursday through Sunday of that same week. Telluride Tech Festival is reportedly also looking at those dates for their event. Through an apparent misunderstanding KOTO was originally awarded the wrong dates from the Telluride Commission on the Arts and Special Events. "I apologize for bringing this to council so late," said Zink. "They set their tours and I try to grab available dates. It is too hard to guess the tour schedule a year ahead of time. That is just the nature of the beast."



Within several days of receiving an offer for the position of Telluride Town Manager, Jay Harrington, who currently serves as town manager for Pagosa Springs, accepted the offer made by Telluride Town Council.

Harrington starts as town manager on June 9. He will receive a base salary of $96,500, as well as $20,000 in compensation for housing.

Interim Town Manager Steve Ferris will serve in that position for two weeks following Harrington's start date, unless Harrington decides to ask Ferris to stay on for various ongoing special projects.


Last week the Telluride Town Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting United States armed forces personnel, as well as their friends and families.

The resolution, was initially drafted by Telluride second homeowner Ned Powell at the request of Town Councilmember Stu Fraser. Powell is current president of the United Service Organization, and past acting Undersecretary of Veteran Affairs under President Clinton.

"A number of people had approached me and made comments about 'Do we support the troops? Is that what these resolutions are about?,'" Fraser said. Prior to the U.S.-initiated war in Iraq, council passed a resolution opposing such a war.

The resolution states that the town council "acknowledge[s] the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and express[es] its appreciation for those individuals who are enlisted in the armed forces of our Nation for their willingness to risk their lives in service of this Nation and the basic fundamentals upon which it was founded." Council also expressed its support of the families of armed services personnel.

While last week's resolution passed unanimously, Councilmember Jenny Russell objected to initial language which "stated or implied that what our troops were doing in Iraq was in defense of our nation," said Russell. "I can support the people who are over there doing what has been asked of them by the President. I don’t support the action, but I do support the people."


The few who remaining in town for the first weeks of off-season may have noticed that the 1983 Bluebird biodiesel-converted bus was off the streets for a week or two.

After a stint in the Telluride Public Works shop the bus was out and running the Telluride-to-Mountain Village circuit on Wednesday.

Though the bus experienced a problem related to retrofitting its engine to run on veggie or biodiesel fuel instead of diesel fuel,  the matter was not unexpected, explained Charris Ford. Ford is the founder of Grassolean, Inc., a company that is promoting and manufacturing biodiesel and which worked with the town to secure a $17,500 Colorado renewable energy grant to convert the town bus.

According to Ford, when an engine begins running on biodiesel the vegetable oil has a "solvent action" on the engine and it cleans out a significant portion of the accumulated petrol sediments. Those sediments end up in the fuel filter, Ford explained.

In addition the installation of a heat exchanger pipe in the fuel tank (the pipe warms the fuel and keeps it from gelling in cold weather) may have loosened some sediments into the tank, explained Town Transit Manager Jack Fay. Though public works mechanics cleaned out the fuel tank after the installation, some sediment remained and ended up in the fuel filter.

The clogging was anticipated and public works was prepared with replacement filters, said Transit Manager Tom Gabarron. With the repairs completed, the bus was returned to Telluride streets this week.

Though the bus is currently running on 50 percent biodiesel and 50 percent petro-diesel, public works anticipates increasing the percentage of biodiesel as the "bugs get worked out." The bus is the oldest in the town’s fleet.

Gabarron, who participated in writing the grant for the project, said he hopes to use the bus "extensively" this summer and that he is looking forward to running it over Bluegrass and Mountain Film weekends.

"It shows what we are about as a town," he said. "That we are taking steps to clean up the air in the valley."

Since 1995 the town has used a propane-powered bus during summer months.


The Telluride Historic and Architectural Review Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission continued their respective meetings, April 3, to review the Telluride R-1 School District’s planned Middle/High School addition of classrooms and an auditorium.

While a significant portion of each meeting was consumed with discussion about the scope of each body's review of the plans, both commissions directed the R-1 Board of Education to minimize the impact of the addition. Specifically, it was request that the visual impact of the fly tower be minimized. At its last meeting Telluride Town Council directed the School Board to build a fly tower no greater than 60-feet in height.

Additionally, P&Z also directed the applicant to minimize impacts of the building and its construction on the neighborhood. Specifically, the applicant is to minimize parking and circulation impacts.

HARC will meet again on May 14 to review the matter and P&Z will meet on May 28.

The school is scheduled to break ground on the project on May 9 and during the two-week spring break they began relocating underground utilities.


Claims for Defamation and Quashing Free Speech Rights Added to Somers Case

Mediation in Denver Fails

By Elizabeth Covington

The case brought by former Telluride Middle/High School Spanish teacher Carlos Somers against the Telluride R-1 School District and Board of Education appears to be further from resolution this week, after a mediation in Denver to settle the case failed, according to Somers' attorneys Bob Korn and George Allen.

"The Telluride R-1 District was not willing to discuss our paramount concern, which is return of Carols Somers to teaching in the Telluride Middle School and High School," Korn and Allen wrote in a press release.

Moreover, Somers recently expanded his case against the school district and the board by adding claims of defamation and requested compensatory and exemplary or punitive damages against the defendants. In his original complaint Somers asked only for equitable relief in which he requested to be reinstated as the high school Spanish teacher.

Somers based the additional allegations on a Utah case law arising out of a complaint brought by a lesbian teacher against the Nebo School District in Spanish Forks, Utah.

"In the mediation we cited recent decision of both the Utah State Supreme Court and the United States District court in Salt Lake City, holding that a lesbian teacher in Spanish Fork, Utah has a constitutionally protected free speech right to tell students her sexual orientation," Somers' attorneys wrote in a press release.

"This decision was written by Bruce Jenkins, a conservative judge on the Utah federal bench," said Allen. "This case comes out of the most conservative school district in the most conservative county in the most conservative state. It is a basic equal protection case, which says if you are not telling your straight teachers they can't discuss their social life with their students, then you can't impose that restriction on your gay teachers. Jenkins recognized that."

Attorney for the district Chris Godowski disagrees.

"First at issue in the case is Somers' performance," he said, "which includes conduct which I would characterize as unprofessional. There were a lot of things that Somers said that we have concerns about.

"What is clear in the Spanish Forks case is that speech in the classroom is not constitutionally protected," Godowski said. "In the Spanish Forks case the conversation with the teacher was outside of the classroom environment. That is clearly not what is going on in the Somers case."

Godowski added that the claims for damages brought in the amended complaint are "clearly designed to intimidate [the defendants] and to scare them from testifying openly and honestly because they will be worried about Korn and Allen on their tail with a groundless and frivolous lawsuit."

The amended complaint, which was filed on April 8, also added as defendants in the action school board members, Mary Wodehouse, Jenny Patterson, Paul Ruud, and Becky Padilla, as individuals, as well as "Student Does and Parent Does." The student and parent Does are the student and his or her parents who allegedly reported to Telluride Middle/High School Principal Steve Larivee that "Somers had said that he could, if he wanted, earn money as a homosexual prostitute." The original complaint named the district board as a group. 

In May 2002 the school board approved a recommendation by R-1 Superintendent Mary Rubadeau and Middle/High School Principal Steve Larivee not to re-hire Somers, who is openly gay and who has been openly gay with his students. Though Somers had taught on and off at the school for a total of eight years, the district claims he was not a tenured teacher and therefore, the district was not obligated to renew his contract. In his complaint Somers claims he was a tenured teacher and is subject to the protections of the law.

Under Colorado law, a probationary teacher is a teacher who has not completed three full years of continuous employment and has not been reemployed for a fourth year.

In the amended complaint Somers also requested the judge to bifurcate his request for reinstatement as the high school Spanish teacher and expedite that part of the case. Somers emphasized that there is currently an opening for a Spanish teacher at the high school and there is an opportunity for him to be reinstated.

Somers' reinstatement was apparently a primary request of Somers and his attorneys at the mediation.

"Our next step, since mediation failed, is to ask Judge Greenacre to bifurcate the case and try the equitable remedies on an expedited basis," Allen said.

30th Bluegrass Festival Lineup Announced

This year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival commemorates thirty years of music and magic on the Telluride Town Park stage with some of the world’s finest performers, both old favorites and new faces.

The lineup of artists includes: Vince Gill, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Sam Bush and his band; The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; String Cheese Incident; Martin Sexton; Emmylou Harris & Spyboy; Susan Tedeschi; Leftover Salmon; Mary Chapin Carpenter; Shawn Colvin; The Waifs; Hot Rize; The John Cowan Band; Edgar Meyer; Mike Marshall; Peter Rowan; Tony Rice; Yonder Mountain String Band; Keller Williams; Nickel Creek; Alison Krauss & Union Station; BoomChicks; Kasey Chamber; Tim O’Brien Band; Alison Brown Quartet; The Horseflies; Mountain Heart; Open Road; and The Hackensack Boys.

Festivarians can also take in the Bluegrass scene outside of the festival grounds. Workshops and performances take place on the outdoor stage at Elks Park and at the Sheridan Opera House, while the nights sizzle with after-hours performances at many bars around town.

Each year thousands of people pilgrimage to the San Juans to hear some of the best Bluegrass music around. This year is no exception.

The 30th Anniversary Bluegrass Festival takes place Thursday, June 19-Sunday, June 22. Tickets are $170 for a four-day pass, or $55 for single-day tickets. If you can’t make Bluegrass, check out RockyGrass in July and The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in August, both in Lyons. Visit <> or call Planet Bluegrass at 800/624-2422 for tickets and information.


Town of Mountain Village

Charges Brought Against Owners of Poachers Pub

Overserving Complaint Filed in Death of Russian Immigrant

Misdemeanor charges for violating a Colorado liquor law prohibiting overserving to a bar patron were filed last week in the accidental death of Russian national Aiviars Japins, 27, a resident of Big Billies in Mountain Village. Charges were filed against Poachers Pub owners Adam Singer and Keith Block, as well as bartender Ramona Bruland who was working the night of Japins' death. The charges were filed following a formal investigation by the Mountain Village Police Department that concluded that Japins had been at the bar in the hours leading up to his death.

Japins died of hypothermia on March 28, after losing his way walking from the Village core to his apartment. He had apparently attended an end-of-season party at Poachers Pub. Japins was found collapsed on a ski run the next morning, approximately 200 yards west of Mountain Village Blvd. Low temperatures the night before were recorded at 0 degrees.

An autopsy placed the victim's blood alcohol content at 0.382 and also showed the presence of cocaine in his system. According to Mountain Village Deputy Chief Chris Broady, a driver can be arrested on a presumptive driving under the influence (DUI) charge with a blood alcohol content of just 0.1.

"He was approaching four times the legal driving limit," commented Broady.

According to the Mountain Village Police Department, contributing factors to Japins' death included excessive alcohol, cocaine, inadequate dress for weather conditions and the fact that Japins lost his eyeglasses shortly after leaving the pub. Mountain Village Police suspect that Japins' losing his eyeglasses caused him to become disoriented. According to a report issued by San Miguel County Coroner Bob Dempsey, random-patterned footprints around the spot where Japins was found indicated he had become confused and lost his way.

State laws prohibiting overserving alcohol provide that if a bar tender overserves a bar patron, the licensee, as well as the management of the bar, are responsible for the consequences.

According to Broady, overserving means serving alcohol to a patron "who is visibly intoxicated at the time of service."

No charges have been filed in connection with the cocaine detected in Japins' blood. However, Broady confirmed that an investigation of the matter is ongoing. In addition, the case will "probably be sent to the state liquor board for their review," said Broady. "I'm not sure whether they will take additional action."

According to Mountain Village Town Clerk Linda Check, there is no record of a previous violation to Poachers Pub’s liquor license. Three years ago residential neighbors to the bar did file complaints for late-night noise. That problem was addressed by the bar's landlord, Mountain Village Metro Services Board, which in October 2000 directed the bar to close at midnight, two hours earlier than its regular 2 a.m. closing. That directive was lifted in February 2002, after the bar successfully addressed the noise issues.


House Fire in Ilium Determined Accidental

Dislodged Propane Tank Leaked Fuel That Started Fire

By Elizabeth Covington

Telluride Fire Department and Colorado Bureau of Investigation investigators determined Wednesday that a late Monday afternoon fire, which consumed a residence in Ilium Valley, was accidental, according to Telluride Fire Protection District Fire Marshall Jim Boeckel. Investigators hired by the homeowner's insurance company were also on the scene and, according to Boeckel, agreed with the others that the fire was accidental. The owners of the residence, located at the south end of Ilium Valley, live in Texas.

Reported at 4:55 p.m. on Monday, the fire had "totally engulfed" the two and a half story approximately 1600-square foot frame home by the time the first Telluride fire engine arrived on the scene at 5:07 p.m. A mountain biker passing by the residence first spotted the flames and reported the fire to a neighbor who phoned 911. A local caretaker who was staying at the house hadn’t been there since Sunday evening. The house burned virtually to the ground and was a total loss. Included in the loss were a number of possessions belonging to the caretaker.

Though local investigators initially described the scene as "odd," they later determined the cause to be accidental. "A propane tank had rolled down the hill and we didn't know whether it rolled before or after the fire," said San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters of one of the odd pieces of evidence first seen by investigators.

"There are some things I'm seeing that I don't understand," said Fire Marshal Boeckel on Tuesday afternoon about why local authorities called in the CBI investigators. Boeckel has 31 years experience fighting and investigating fires.

Local authorities called in fire experts from the Montrose and Grand Junction offices of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. CBI experts, who brought with them Erin, a black Labrador retriever trained to sniff accelerants, together with local fire department experts and private investigators hired by the insurance company, examined the burned site all day Tuesday and Wednesday.

Late Wednesday afternoon Boeckel explained the investigators' line of reasoning:

"The propane tank rolled down hill from its original location," he said, "and when it rolled, it broke a fitting on the tank. When it came to rest upside down, the opening was pointing down. When that happened the propane [which is under pressure in a sealed tank and thus in liquid form] was released from the tank.

"If you had been there, what you would have seen would have been almost like a ground fog. When propane contacts the air and it goes from a liquid to a gas. That change causes refrigeration of the air, which condenses the air and turns it white. It looks like a white fog bank."

The seemingly innocuous white cloud was a cloud of propane gas that started the fire.

"The prevailing winds blew the gas cloud against the house and under a carport," Boeckel continued. "Under the carport was the door to the mechanical room and where there were vents to allow fresh air into the mechanical room. Instead of fresh air the mechanical room got propane.

"Most likely the source of ignition was the pilot to the hot water heater," Boeckel said.

As the propane bled out of the tank and turned to gas it mixed with air, which, mixed in the right proportion, becomes flammable. The correct proportions occured somewhere close to the structure, Boeckel said, and the leaking propane fed a now growing fire.

Boeckel and the investigators estimated that there were 600 gallons of fuel remaining in the 1,000-gallon tank.

In reviewing the efforts of the investigation team, Boeckel described their work as "putting together a jigsaw puzzle." The team found the door with the vents under the rubble and from there started to put together the scenario. Also on the scene was a state inspector with propane gas expertise.

"Pretty much everybody had a comfort level with it and we eliminated other possibilities," Boeckel said of the team's conclusions. "Each person had a little bit to contribute to determine what the sequence was. It takes time to put it together. You have to match what you are seeing with your theory. It has to fit the evidence."

Work to eliminate other possibilities included using Erin to sniff for accelerants. While Erin was led through the entire scene, she did not indicate any traces of accelerant.

Dogs like Erin are trained to sniff out fuels with a hydrocarbon base, Boeckel explained. They are first trained with gasoline and then their repertoire of scents expands from there. In some cases, dogs have indicated accelerants where mass spectrometers have failed to show an accelerant. 

The fire department has concluded its investigation, however, Boeckel refrained from commenting on what caused the propane tank to roll downhill.

"That is a civil matter," he said.


Chair Rock Moved To Accommodate High School Long and Triple Jumps

With the help of Webb Crane Service of Grand Junction and crane driver Mel McCurley, the Telluride High School Track and Field Team will soon have a regulation-sized long and triple jump runway.

Last week Webb Crane, which was in town to move the railroad car from its Colorado Avenue home to make way for a new Scott White Contemporary Art gallery, lifted and moved the 112,000 pound boulder a few yards east out of the way of the end of the track and field runway.

Prior to moving the rock, high school track athletes were forced to practice their jumps at a disadvantage, setting their marks shorter than other school competitors.

Over a month ago track and field coaches received permission from the Telluride R-1 School District to move the rock and began looking for help. Webb Crane agreed to assist as a community service with no charge to the school.

With the Chair Rock moved, the track and field team joins the ranks of other Telluride groups who will soon enjoy regulation size venues. As a result of private fundraising, the Lizard Head Hockey Team will soon have a National Hockey League regulation-sized, 110-foot rink in the to-be-built Town Park Pavilion. The to-be-built Telluride Middle/High School performing arts center, as well, will have, at a minimum, a 60-foot fly tower, a height that will allow the theater to attract professional touring groups.



Ridgway, A Surprising Home to Exotic White Camels

By  M-E Spirek

Take a drive down Ouray County Road 24 to Allan and Terry Deutsch’s ranch and you will find an unusual and spectacular site. Mixed amongst a group of llamas you will see white camels.

“We do it because it’s fun,” says Allan, who has been raising the white and tan Bactrian camels for more than 30 years. “I also have a USDA federal zoo license, so I supply zoos,” he explains. The Deutsch’s Ridgway ranch is a zoo in its own right as it attracts visitors from all over.

“We socialize them and give them a name as soon as they are born,” says Terry. As a result the camels are very easy going, inquisitive and happy to be the center of attention, she says.

“They eat out of our hands and they come when we call and insist on helping us with any chore we have to do in their pasture.” 

Although camels are reputed to be ornery, mean creatures, Terry quickly dispels this notion, particularly among socialized camels. They only spit when they are threatened, and their only natural enemies are tigers and people, she says.

The Deutsch’s five resident white bulls are a unique breeding group in that they each come from different bloodlines. Only recently removed from the endangered species list, there are only about 400 Bactrian camels in North America.

Bactrian camels are unique because they are the only Camelidae species that generally paces –the fore leg and hind leg on one side move forward simultaneously and alternatively with the other side. Consequently, they don’t exactly provide a smooth ride.

Unlike slow-moving cattle and intensively grazing goats that crop plants down to the roots, camels are economical feeders that never overgraze vegetation. No matter how rich or poor the quality of the vegetation, camels take only a few bites from one plant before moving on. With their complex, three-chambered stomachs, camels ruminate, or chew their cud, and they have tough mouths that allow them to eat hard, sharp objects like thorns. Their normal diet consists of a variety of plant materials, including grasses, herbs, leaves, fruit, vegetables, thistles, burdock and an occasional willow patch.

They’re happy as long as they have access to salt at all times, say the Deutsches, who feed their camels good quality timothy, brome hay, supplemented by a rolled corn alfalfa pellet. And, of course, carrots and apples. 

The only remaining living species of camels are the Dromedary (Arabian or one-hump) and the Bactrian (two-humped). Indigenous to the mountainous, rocky regions of Central Asia, Mongolia and China, no other domestic animals are so well adapted to the environment and as equipped to survive, reproduce and work in harsh environments. Gengis Kahn reportedly rode a white camel across the Gobi Desert and Napolean rosde a Bactrian camel on his treks over the Alps. 

To protect themselves from blowing sand and harsh conditions, camels have bushy eyebrows, a double row of long eyelashes, and hair inside their ears. During nasty dust storms they tightly close their nostrils and lips to keep out flying dirt and sand.

The two-humps of the camel are its most distinctive feature. The masses of tissue store fat that may be drawn upon during times of stress or during breeding. Water is stored in one and a half gallon sacks around the camels’ stomach. When water is available, they drink only to replace the water they have lost. If the camel has used up all its water, it will need to drink about 30 gallons to fill up, but this takes as little as 10 minutes. 

Camels breed from December through April and have a gestation of approximately 14 months. 

Females give birth to one baby weighing 90 – 120 pounds. An adult male camel can weigh up to a ton and measure over sseven feet at the top of his humps. Life expectancy is 40 to 50 years.

Although they are still used as beasts of burden, the wool of Bactrian Camels is becoming increasingly popular. They produce two distinct types of fiber that protect the animal from the elements. The long coarse outer hair sheds snow and rain, while the fine undercoat, or down, provides insulation against extreme temperatures. The fineness of camel down is sometimes compared to cashmere.

The Deutsches’ camels have a pretty good life. They’ve starred in many community events and, of course, nativity scenes. Most people are taken aback when Smokey Joe or Kramer gently nuzzle them in the face. Four of the Deutsches’ camels traveled to Utah this March to take part in a documentary film titled “Book of Mormon I,” which will be shown in theatres this coming July.

Because the Bactrian camels are so sociable, it is easy for folks to visit with them. The Deutsches welcome spectators, but request that people do not feed the camels. A recent feeding incident caused one camel to become extremely ill. After more than a thousand dollars in vet bills and a month of recuperation, the Deutshes decided to move the white camels to a less-accessible pasture. For a small fee the Deutshes will give a private or group tour to any interested visitors. Call ahead for an appointment at 626-5502.









Letters to the Editor

Noticias en español



If you want to know everything that’s going on in Telluride, we invite you to subscribe to The Telluride Watch. Subscription Form

Subscriptions are only $40 a year, $65 for two years or $28 for six months. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover and AMEX. 

All Rights Reserved.  Copyright 2002  The Telluride Watch.                                        All Contributions Property of The Telluride Watch.    

Archive Stories












Opinions        Opinions are not of The Telluride Watch or Telluride The Opinion section of this website is from readers of the Telluride Watch. We do not comment on opinions, please contact the Telluride Watch if you would like to respond.