Dear Action Line: I was walking along the Animas River Trail by Smelter Rapids the other day and looked up to see what looks like an old adobe building with a door and windows on the hillside. Is it some old Ancestral Puebloan structure? – Buy High, Sell Low
Dear High: A quick hike (yep, super bored the other day) revealed the weird structure is just a natural formation. What looks like a door is just a hole. The “window” on the left is a bunch of mud and sticks that some animals slapped together to make nests or something.
Action Line asked, nay, ordered, Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to scramble posthaste up the scree-filled slope, take some samples of the mud and cross-match/type for DNA. Maybe do a little yodeling from the top. He refused. Just flat-out refused.
“Them animals don’t wear masks,” he wrote in an email. “I can’t risk it!!”
Lewandowski was asked, well, OK, but if the structure was a rental, what’s the current rate for a 1 BR/1BA with great views of the Animas River?
He punted on the rates for human rental properties, but did reveal the going price for animals. “The great thing about living in Durango for wildlife is that rent is free,” he said.
As for the weird mud stuck to the sides and which animal put it there, he said, “All kinds of critters live in all types of funky abodes. Could be bats, swallows, mice, snakes – maybe all of the above.”
Dear Action Line: Has the stretch of highway through Grandview had a speed increase without changing the speed limit signs? When driving to work from Elmore’s Corner to the bottom of Farmington Hill, I feel like I’m back on the Garden State Parkway when the speed limit was 55 and everyone went 70. It’s crazy. I usually do 5 over the limit but people still go flying right by me. – What gives?
Dear Gives: “I assume your reader is asking a sarcastic question,” said Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation and who, yes, fully understands the tone of questions typically sent in by readers.
“But just in case, I confirmed with our Traffic Division; there have been no speed limit changes on U.S. 160 in the Grandview area,” she said. “The speed limit ranges from 50 to 55 along that stretch between Elmore’s and Farmington Hill.”
Schwantes said the question was very similar to the one last week about speeders from Elmore’s Corner to Lightner Creek.
Action Line said it might be the same person, and CDOT should change the sign to read “Stay at 50, Sam I am.”
Schwantes said now she could not stop thinking in rhyme and wanted to try haiku instead.
Action Line asked if she had ever been on the Golden State Parkway in New Jersey and ... (repeat ad nauseam).
Dear Action Line: With the construction industry booming despite COVID-19 and our lack of affordable housing, why is the county building department understaffed and so slooooooowwwww?? – Build ’em if you got ’em.
Dear Buuuuuuuuuuild: The La Plata County building department takes its duty to ensure residents’ safety seriously, said county spokeswoman Megan Graham.
“The La Plata County building department takes it duty to ensure residents’ safety seriously,” she said.
“To that end, staff builds a to-scale balsa wood model of every structure proposed in a building permit application, and then stacks free weights on top of the model until it is crushed. That way, we know exactly how safe every structure is and what kind of intense atmospheric pressure it can withstand. These things take time, but safety first.”
And they say those folks in the county have no sense of humor. “They have no sense of humor,” they said.
Graham said, “seriously,” that there is more new construction in the county right now than even before COVID-19.
“We do our best to process building permits as quickly as possible, but sometimes things do get slowed down due to staffing constraints,” she said.
“We don’t want ‘slow’ to be La Plata County’s middle name, though, and if we find ourselves buried in permit applications for an enduring period, we will look at ways to alleviate the backlog – including adding staff to the team.”
Dear Action Line: Why does the city sewer plant still smell like poop? Wasn’t the renovation supposed to make the entry into our town a little more pleasant smelling? Also, why does the gun range smell like poop as well? – Poo-poohed.
Dear PP: Jarrod Biggs, the city’s assistant utilities director, cut to the chase: “It is a sewer plant,” he said.
Biggs said significant upgrades were made to the plant, including clarifiers, ionization devices, digester supporters, activated carbon-air purifiers and other mechanical make-the-air-not-smell-so-bad-ers.
“All of this has improved the smell undoubtedly, but to my original answer, it is and will continue to be, a sewer plant and 100% air purification is a pipe dream,” he said. Then he added “whaaa whaa whaaaaaa,” because he was channeling what’s behind Door No. 3, Johnny.
As for the gun range, gas seeps up there from the Fruitland geologic formation.
“Similar to the wastewater plant, within that coal seam there is breakdown of organic compounds that produce both methane and hydrogen sulfide, which is more commonly known as sewer gas,” he said.
The stretch of the Animas River near the gun range stink has some pretty good fishing, though, he said. “I have braved the sewer gas smell to cast at some trophy trout,” he said.
Dear Action Line: Why are there so many types of train whistles right now? I hear them all the time. – Whistled Out
Dear Whistled: It’s mating season. Things should quiet down soon. Little trains will be at the roundhouse mangers in the spring. So cute.
Email questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Remember: The sewer plant doesn’t stink. It emits “earthy” smells. Also, spell check doesn’t like “whaaa whaa whaaaaaa.”
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