Cortez had a busy year, full of changes and new beginnings.
Proposed Main Street medians spark debateThe Cortez City Council and other departments announced several plans this year that received mixed reactions from citizens. Although it was ultimately delayed until 2018, the city announced in 2017 its plan to install medians on four blocks of Main Street, as part of an effort to make downtown safer for drivers and pedestrians.
The plan drew many negative comments on social media, and on The Journal’s website, where an unscientific poll showed almost 80 percent of readers were against the proposal.
Construction bids for the medians will go out in January, and the project is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day. City Manager Shane Hale said the Colorado Department of Transportation has agreed to pay half the cost of several sidewalk ramps the city plans to install as part of the project.
Proposed regulations would impose penaltiesThe Cortez Planning and Building department also received negative feedback for proposed changes to the land-use code, including the possibility of penalties for carports and store signs that don’t conform to city regulations.
The new land-use code, which the city has been working on for about two years, is still a work in progress.
School district mill levy fails in November electionThe Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District spent several months advocating for a mill levy override, which the board said would have raised money to fund teacher wages, new school buses and other improvements. A ballot question about the override was defeated in the November election, a few days after a letter to the editor that criticized the question’s wording for being too ambiguous received hundreds of online views.
New buildings spring up around townSeveral large construction projects in Cortez were finished in 2017. The grand opening for a new City Hall, located in the former Journal headquarters on Roger Smith Avenue, was held on March 17. In September, a $9.5 million building was completed to house the new Montezuma County Combined Courts. Across the street, the spacious new Osprey Packs headquarters opened its doors in the same month.
Meanwhile, Southwest Memorial Hospital made progress on its own renovation with the opening of a new emergency services building. A new hospital wing and other renovations are expected to be completed next summer.
Cortez man charged with killing his motherJeremiah Damron, a 36-year-old Cortez resident, was arrested July 20 after the body of his mother, Kristie Damron, was found beaten and burned outside his home near County Road G. He was charged with first-degree murder on July 28, but in an Oct. 17 hearing, he was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial. A report on his competency from the Colorado Mental Health Institute is due by Jan. 16, when Damron is scheduled to appear in court for another hearing.
Cortez residents march for women’s rightsAn estimated 504 people braved a snowstorm on Jan. 21 to join the Women’s March for Unity in Cortez. Organized by the Montezuma Alliance for Unity, the march was held to show support for women’s rights and other causes, in solidarity with similar marches that occurred the same day across the country.
T-ball fight results in criminal charges against nine adultsOne of The Journal’s most-read stories online dealt with a fight between several Cortez adults at a children’s T-ball game in Parque De Vida in June. The fight was filmed by a spectator and received tens of thousands of views on Facebook. A total of nine adults and one juvenile were eventually charged in connection with the incident.