The Bureau of Land Management's announcement of an August 2012 mineral lease sale, which would have opened the door to oil and gas exploration in the North Fork Valley, sparked outcry from area residents and ongoing coverage throughout the year. A group called Citizens for a Healthy Community was formed, and with the NFRIA-WSERC Conservation Center, hosted community meetings about the proposed development of 22 parcels on 30,000 acres of land surrounding Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford and the Paonia Reservoir.
In response to thousands of letters, BLM first extended the comment period and then announced it was deferring the sale. "This is a tremendous victory for the people of the North Fork Valley and it's proof that we can have an impact," Daniel Feldman, chairman of the board of directors of CHC, said following the May 2 announcement.
BLM stated it would conduct additional analysis of the proposed lease parcels based on public input. In December, 20 of the 22 parcels were again put up for lease. BLM removed about 9,000 acres from the proposed sale, which will take place in February 2013.
"This was a bad idea last December and it's still a bad idea today," said CHC director Jim Ramey. Community members vowed to again pull together to oppose the leasing of the lands.
The Bear Ranch Land Exchange was a hot topic in 2012, and without a resolution in sight it will continue to be closely followed by DCI readers and reporters alike.
At a forum held in early January, representatives from Bear Ranch and Western Land Group explained the proposed land exchange, which would allow Bear Ranch to acquire over 1,846 acres of public land currently managed by BLM. Congressional approval will ultimately be needed to allow the federal land exchange. Opponents decried the "outside money and power" exercised by ranch owner William Koch. One opponent said it's clear the wealth and power of one person is capable of acting in a way that threatens the access of the 99 percent. Still, the plan has its supporters.
The third top story of 2012 is actually a cumulation of several stories detailing changes in leadership at the school district, hospital, U.S. Forest Service, Delta County and City of Delta.
Shortly after the first of the year, school superintendent Mike McMillan resigned and an interim superintendent stepped in while a nationwide search for a permanent replacement was conducted. In the end, longtime district employee Caryn Gibson was given the job. She appointed two former high school principals as her assistant superintendents, setting off a chain reaction that resulted in 11 new administrators in Delta County schools for the 2012-13 school year.
At Delta County Memorial Hospital, administrator John Mitchell was terminated and replaced first temporarily, then permanently, by chief clinical officer Jason Cleckler. Justin Clifton was named Delta city manager after Joe Kerby left for a managerial position in La Plata County. Longtime county administrator Susan Hansen retired in September and Robbie Vaird LeValley, a 23-year employee of CSU Tri-River Area Extension, was named new county administrator. Scott Armentrout arrived on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests on Sept. 10, coming from the Sierra National Forest where he was the forest supervisor for the past two years.
The City of Delta was again in the news, as slow, but steady progress was made on getting the city's proposed alternate truck route off the drawing board. Right-of-way acquisitions were finally completed, a new contractor was selected, and a groundbreaking ceremony took place for Dec. 7. Hamon Contractors expects construction to begin in earnest after the first of the year and to continue for about 15 months. Updates can be found online at confluencedrive.com.
Elections were plentiful in 2012, beginning with municipalities and special districts, and finally culminating with the November general election. At the county level, a new county commissioner will take office in January, another was re-elected, and term
limits for the county sheriff and county coroner were lifted.
Approval of Amendment 64, which allows the recreational use of medical marijuana, will generate news stories throughout the year as municipalities decide whether to permit retail marijuana sales within their jurisdictions. Regardless of any changes in state law, the U.S. attorney maintains growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Other newsworthy events in 2012 included the farmworker housing complex which opened in January. Many units are occupied by members of the Karen community, who immigrated to the U.S. from Byrma.
Farmworker housing opened in January and was soon occupied by members of the Karen community.
On Rogers Mesa, neighbors protested a new commercial egg laying facility while Cedaredge residents rejoiced over the construction of a new elementary school and the remodel of the historic high school. Orchard City observed its centennial year with a series of special events over the summer. The summer turned out to be hot and dry, prompting bans on open burning and the postponement of Delta's 4th of July fireworks display. While Delta County escaped the widespread damage caused by fires on the Front Range, 15-year-old J.D. TenNapel was injured trying to warn his neighbors of flames spreading rapidly through a residential area north of Cedaredge. He recovered from his injuries and was recognized by several organizations for his heroic efforts. Despite the dry conditions, it was a particularly risky summer for West Nile Virus. Delta County reported a total of 31 confirmed cases and one death.
Local elementary, middle and high school students excelled academically, in sports and in marching band competition. Proud parents and grandparents cut out each photo and news article to place in their children's scrapbooks.blog comments powered by Disqus