The Durango Herald asked online readers to rank which local stories are of most interest to them going into 2019.
Local residents have no shortage of newsworthy stories to ponder. To name a few: an election that will name two new Durango city councilors, unresolved policies intended to address homelessness and the pending trial of Mark Redwine, who has been charged with killing his 13-year-old son, Dylan.
We presented readers with 14 stories expected to make headlines this year. We also allowed readers to submit their own ideas for stories they think will be most noteworthy.
Survey participants were asked to rank stories on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being least interesting and 5 being the most interesting.
According to survey results, the story that had the most interest was the exceptional drought gripping Southwest Colorado.
In a close second place was whether La Plata County commissioners will approve zoning or a new land-use code in 2019 that will help guide future development in the unincorporated parts of the county – something some rural landowners have opposed.
And in third place was how La Plata County will deal with its declining property tax revenue.
The survey also asked readers about the long-term impacts of the 416 Fire, which scarred more than 54,000 acres north of Durango last June and July and led to debris flows that destroyed private property and choked local waterways.
Participants ranked the long-term impacts as being the fifth most interesting story for 2019. But several people said an official cause of the fire is the story that most interests them this year.
The U.S. Forest Service has previously said it expects to name a cause during the fall or winter 2018-19, meaning we should have an answer any day now.
The full list of stories and their rankings are:
1. La Plata County is in an exceptional drought. Will El Niño deliver any relief?2. Will La Plata County commissioners approve zoning and/or a new land-use code?3. How will La Plata County deal with declining property taxes?4. How will government leaders deal with homelessness?5. What are the long-term impacts from the 416 Fire burn scar?6. Will La Plata Electric Association pursue a buyout with its wholesale energy supplier, Tri-State?7. Will the Environmental Protection Agency move forward with a quick-action plan to address mine pollution around Silverton?8. Will new development help lower rental prices in Durango?9. Will a jury trial be held in the murder case of Dylan Redwine?10. What suicide-prevention efforts will be started in 2019 and will they make a difference?11. Who will be selected as the next manager of La Plata County?12. Who will seek election for two open seats on the Durango City Council?13. Will the Durango School District Board of Education renew Superintendent Dan Snowberger’s contract in January?14. Will steel slabs with laser cutouts be installed at the DoubleTree intersection, the former location of the Arc of History?