It's probably a good thing John Peel is on
the road exploring America, because he would be doing everything in his power to dissuade me from including him in
this piece. But what can I do? I didn't give him a Hometown Hero Award, the Kiwanis Club of Durango
Peel, along with Fred Kroeger and Bob
Tyner, was honored on the Fourth of July by the service club, although the traveler wasn't on hand to accept his
plaque. The motto of the award is ordinary people doing extraordinary things." These three are far from ordinary, but they certainly have done extraordinary things.
There have been a lot of stories about Kroeger in
recent years as the nonagenarian has stepped down from boards and commissions, usually after five decades or more of
service. He didn't get a lot of acclaim during all those years of slogging through state and federal governmental
bureaucracies to try to solve Southwest Colorado's water woes and treaty commitments to the Ute Indian tribes. From
serving as mayor in the mid-1950s to his work on the Fort Lewis College Foundation and La Plata Electric Association
boards to his willingness to lend a hand whenever asked, Kroeger is truly one of the pillars of our
Tyner, another nonagenarian, may not always have
been as visible as Kroeger, but he has been just as tireless. His commitment to service began during the Depression, when he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and helped build the picnic area and trail at what is now Fort Lewis
College. If you've ever enjoyed a concert at Red Rocks outside Morrison, you can thank him, because he helped build
Just as his father had before him, Tyner kept the
records for the Florida Cemetery, in his case for 40 years. A member of the Kiwanis Club for 42 years and a longtime
board member for United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters of La Plata County, Tyner also helped found Bright
Beginnings, a program to help young children. Twenty-eight years ago, he created The Eye & Ear Program to provide
hearing aids and eyeglasses to individuals who can't afford them.
That's what leads us to Peel, who is not a
nonagenarian, who was nominated by The Eye & Ear Program because of the column he wrote in January in The
Durango Herald that essentially saved the nonprofit. The author of the nomination recognized the way Peel takes
on many community issues - from Alzheimer's disease to the purchase of The Commons, which has given local nonprofits
and educational institutions a home.
In their nomination, The Eye & Ear board
members wrote: He celebrates our community's successes, tells stories of its woes and seeks community support; he
carries the voice of those who cannot talk directly to our community - he does it with humor, pertinent facts and
I won't go on lauding him, because Peel's column
and Neighbors run neck and neck for hits on the website, and I don't want to give him too much of a head start! Plus, his desk is right next to mine, so I'll hear about it forever.
Congratulations to all three of you, and thanks
to the Kiwanis Club of Durango for taking the time to notice their contributions.
Will the summer monsoons arrive in time to drown
out these folks' birthday candles? Best wishes go to Jerry Sheldon, Debby Morgan, Bee
Atwood, Priscilla Shand, Phillip Kolter, Mary Hudson, Nathan Clarkson, Madison
Dickson, Chris Atchison, Sam Atchison, Mary Howell, Taylor Begay, Patricia
Padilla, Julie Harris, Ralph Campano, Wyatt Ulrich, Freddie Mickel, Michael
Meyer and Gina Pruett.
Sometimes - OK, most of the time - I am so proud
of this town. Here's a case in point:
During the Fourth of July weekend, the Vazquez
family of Chandler, Ariz., including dad Luis, mom Marilyn and twin 13-year-old boys, was making its first visit to
our proud city. Knowing that they would need to pay for a horseback-riding excursion in cash and wanting to make sure
they had enough for the trip, Luis Vazquez was carrying some serious spending money in his
Of course, the worst happened, and he lost the
wallet, which he realized when reaching for it to purchase movie tickets.
So the Vazquezes did what most of us would have
done: they backtracked their way to every store on their route, with no success.
Instead of going to the movies, they went to
Wells Fargo Bank, where everyone kept telling them not to worry, we don't have crime here. (Obviously, someone hadn't
noticed all the bank robberies and items in the police blotter.) Mr. Vazquez cancelled his debit and credit cards, and then off they went to the next showing of the film.
During the movie, Mr. Vazquez's phone rang, and
he left the theater to answer it. He returned with a big smile on his face. His key from the DoubleTree Hotel was in
the wallet, and the hotel was calling to let him know the wallet had been left at the registration
A kid" had found it in front of a sushi bar on
East Second Avenue (because we happen to have two there, I can't be more specific), and, with the key in hand, the
kid knew what to do. He refused to give his name, saying he wanted the owner to have it back because it has a lot of
money in it." The Vazquez's $1,000 was all there. Because the young man who returned it wouldn't leave his name, the
hotel gave him a water bottle and one of its yummy chocolate chip cookies as a reward.
Not only did the Vazquezes enjoy river rafting
and the beauty of our mountains, they went home impressed by this young man and our community.
Because they don't know his name, they asked me
to give him a virtual hug and a big thank you. So there you have both.
Congrats to Dan Noonan, the chief of
Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, for his election to the chairmanship of the State Emergency Medical and Trauma
Services Advisory Board on Thursday. It's another example of how far Durango has come, because a Southwest Colorado
fire chief would never have beaten out a Front Range colleague when I was growing up here.
For several years, I've been impressed by how our
local craft breweries collaborate on events both philanthropic and promotional, from Red Cross Brew Banquets to the
Pint for Pint" blood drives that began in 2003. They call themselves The Bootlegger's Society and seem to have a lot
of fun working together and coming up with ideas for events.
Now they are formalizing it. The Bootleggers
Society Fund, under the auspices of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, will allow them to
collectively donate moeny to nonprofits, organize fundraisers and obtain a liquor license for beer-related events
through the foundation. It also makes all donations to the fund tax-deductible.
Dave Thibodeau, the co-founder of Ska
Brewing Co., is the chairman of the advisory board for the new fund. He said their hope is that craft breweries in
other communities will be inspired to follow their lead.
Pint for Pint" has inspired breweries around the
country to offer similar programs. People are encouraged to donate a pint of blood and receive a free pint of beer
from their favorite brewery. It became a friendly competition between the breweries, which in addition to Ska include
Carver Brewing Co., Steamworks Brewing Co. and Durango Brewing Co.
The local breweries also have bragging rights
when it comes to the environment. They have received national recognition for their commitment to purchase 100
percent of their electricity from a renewable resources. Each brewery also has implemented other green
The Bootlegger's Society Fund was established
with an initial $1,000 raised at the Spring Tonic event held at Carver's. The fund will increase with money raised at
several upcoming events: all four Evenings on 8th held each Wednesday in September, Ska's 15th anniversary
celebration and Oktoberfest.
It's great to see local businesses collaborating
for good causes during these tough times.
It's farewell to former Fort Lewis College
professor Daniel E. Black, who has moved to Houston to live with his daughter, Sharon. Black was known
for being active with the La Plata County Democrats. He served as treasurer for a number of
Black would love to hear from friends. His new
address is Daniel E. Black, 12203 Normont Drive, Houston, TX 77070. He can also be reached via e-mail at
Enjoying barbecues and produce fresh out of the
garden for their anniversaries are James and Tina Trump, Brad and Susan Stamets, Timothy and Lisa Duffy, Michael and Ann Murphy, Jim and Margie Winkelbauer
and Steve and Debbie Williams.
Here's how to reach me:
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