When the law can make things less safe
ROAD SAVVY … Any bright neophyte driver knows the first rule of the road – Be Safe. But following that rule on Norwood Hill could get you into trouble … The big danger there is rockfall. So, many of us regular commuters keep as far away as possible from the toe of Norwood’s eroding sandstone cliff-face – preferably straddling the centerline (if no one’s coming uphill) at ten miles above the posted speed limit, one eye on the slope and one on the road, Or, cutting across lanes on hard curves looping into the hill … For years, my kids would the “Rock-in-the-Road” game, where I’d have to swerve all over the pavement to avoid old rockfall (only rarey rocks in the act of falling – although a five-pounder did catch my Amanitamobile once)… If you drive down that stretch of road in the full sunlight of the pre-noon hour, particularly after spring rains or winter snows, you can almost hear the geologic freeze/thaw, if you roll your window down. Snap of rock. Tumble of stones. Piles of them like grizzly-gutted humpies scattered on a B.C. streambank … I have a friend who was driving home from Telluride the other day and caught a boulder on her hood. It shattered the pickup’s windshield and smashed up the passenger side of the cab (where her daughter had been riding shortly before). It’s stories like those that have some of us breaking the law to be safe … Currently, most of us know that it’s in violation of the vehicle code to cross lanes on curves, straddle the centerline or drive faster than the posted speed. State police do have personal discretionary latitude not to ticket someone for driving to avoid dangerous conditions, but the law itself doesn’t exactly give them much leeway. And their job is to enforce the law, not allow its avoidance … But I have to tell you. Keeping to one’s lane all the way down Norwood Hill midday under blue skies after rain or snow is dangerous, legal and probably stupid.
SOLUTION? … It’s not good policy to criticize things without giving some recommendation for a fix. So, try this on for size -- let’s run a bill that reduces law enforcement duplication, saves the state valuable tax dollars and increases local control. Plus, is a funded (not unfunded) state mandate … Sound too good to be true? Maybe not. What if we left state highway patrolling of traffic to local law enforcement – particularly county sheriff departments? We’d reduce our state patrol numbers (saving a bunch of money) and limit them to a smaller force to patrol freeways, federal highways and counties unwilling to take on a state highway traffic role … But to pay for the task, the money from the sheriff-enforced traffic stops would go half to the state and half to the county of origin … Local deputies can appreciate local hazards, so the bill would allow counties to recommend speed limit changes to the state more in line with local usage and safety, rather than by-the-book speed limits regardless of special conditions … I’ve talked with Sheriff Bill Masters in the past, and he (I think) has expressed the wish that his officers could have primary law enforcement authority within county boundaries, and not have duplication on state highways with state patrol officers. As a locally elected Green official, I like the idea of devolving government authority down to the local and regional level (where people actually live) … Of course, not all counties (or sheriffs) might like this idea. So, we should make the law permissive, allowing counties that want to do this the choice, and those that don’t the continued service of a shrunken state police force… Now we just need to find a populist legislator (working for the people) willing to carry a bill like this.
TROUT TOURNAMENT … My friend and neighbor Jerry Pike and the Norwood Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9398 is hosting a first annual Trout Fishing Tournament up at Ridgway Reservoir this weekend, Saturday, June 11th, beginning at 9 a.m. Colorado’s DOW has contributed a tagged fish. Should someone land the tagged trophy fish, the prize is $10,000. In addition, adults can vie for $1000, $500 and $250 awards for the largest non-tagged fish landed. And the kids prizes are $100, $50. and $25. Ticket prices run $35 for adults and $10 for kids (ten and under) – available at Sam’s Service and the Norwood Hardware on Wright’s Mesa, at the Mountain Village Police Dept. and at the Ridgway Reservoir -- the day of the event … It’s all a benefit for three great VFW projects. One, providing wheelchair accessible hunting sites for disabled veterans, building trails on donated land. Two, supporting Norwood Christian Ranch, who offer veteran chaplains and their families free two-week retreats. And three, aiding the Norwood College/Vocational Scholarship Fund. Three worthy projects. Big prizes. Supporting our sons and daughters in the nation’s armed forces … For more info and (important) tournament rules, call Jerry at 327-0234 or 970.417.9237
LIBRARY SALE … Mark your calendars. Get great books for a great price in the Wilkinson Public Library parking garage June 10-11 (Fri-Sat) 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., June 12 (Sun) noon-5 p.m., Jun 18 (Sat) 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Jun 19 (Sun) noon – 5 p.m … For more info, call Nancy Landau of the Friends of the Library at 369-4355 (and if you’re not a FOL member, you should be – support lifelong learning)
DOLORES RIVERFEST … Invited down to the 8th annual local event to emcee, it was a pleasure to share good music, good food, and warm (if smokey) weather with lots of wonderful fellow Coloradoans. This wasn’t so much a tourist draw, as a local chance to celebrate the Dolores River, to learn about lots of great groups doing good work in the watershed, and to have a good time. The Greater Dolores Action folks put it on. Lots of great activities for kids. Raffles and giveaways for adults. Raft rides. A water parade. And some rocking music … Paonia based singer/songwriter ace Russ Chapman kicked things off with a lively round of original songs. Elizabeth Rose got the ear juices flowing with her great vocals and piano. Exciting Afrobeat Miniion brought out the crowd’s inner dancers. As did Albuquerque-based The Tijerina Band. Even Dolores’s own Lindell’s did a turn … But it was the headliner finale that overshadowed everything before it – the Flobots. Brer Rabbit & Jonny 5 were in dazzling shape (they played Red Rocks the next day). Their band was tight, in synch and hot. Bass. Violin. Drums. They’d come two years before and the kids of the Dolores remembered. They sang along, crowded the stage, waving hands, conveying bodies overhead in front, as the Flobots danced and gyrated, hip-hopped and told their slam poet stories to a wild, Dionysian beat of voice & drum, string and strung … Hell, it was the best show I’d ever seen from backstage. I bought all three of their CDs.
THE TALKING GOURD
Blue Fleece Pullover
Too hot pouring concrete
I yank it off,
toss over a rock,
Next morning picking it up
a mouse runs out!
Chewed its way in
under the right armpit
with another hole six inches away.
Probably had to pee
during the night.
From Skid Marks and Snow Geese
(Larkspur Press, Kentucky, 2011)