Dozer rampage roots run deep

GRANBY Predictably, more details have arrived concerning the volcano known as Marvin Heemeyer who erupted in a bulldozing rage through downtown Granby.

Initial reports had traced his rampage to a rezoning that accommodated a concrete batch plant next to his muffler shop. But new reports in the Sky-Hi News paints a picture of a man with a penchant for assembling rain clouds.

That first large piece of evidence goes back to 1992, when Grand Lake, where Heemeyer lived, was proposed for legal gaming. It came down to a statewide vote, but there was plenty of local squabbling as well. Sky-Hi News publisher Patrick Brower recalled that Heemeyer became so agitated with any opposition to gambling that he got into a shouting match with the Sky-Hi News reporter, a man distinctly his elder.

The story of the batch plant also goes back to 1992, three years after Heemeyer had moved to the area. Heemeyer bought his two acres from the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency set up to handle the assets of failed savings and loan institutions. He bought the two acres for $42,000 but later agreed to sell it to the Docheff family, which wanted the property for a concrete batch plant, for $250,000. They agreed, but then he wanted $375,000 and at some later point wanted a deal worth approximately $1 million. All of this was well before the rezoning proposal hit town hall.

"I just think he set things up to the point where you would have to say no.'" said Susie Docheff in an interview with the Sky-Hi News. "He probably set you up to say no' just so he could get mad at you."

Meanwhile, early defenders of Heemeyer contended he made a point of not hurting anybody during his bulldozer rampage. But the sheriff's department argues that the fact nobody got hurt was more luck than intent. He fired many bullets from his semi-automatic rifle at Cody Docheff when Docheff tried to stop the assault on his concrete batch plant by using a front-end loader. Later, Heemeyer fired on two state troopers before they had fired.

Heemeyer also fired 15 bullets from his .50-BMG rifle at power transformers and propane tanks. "Had these tanks ruptured and exploded, anyone within one-half mile of the explosion could have been endangered," said the sheriff's department. That included 12 police officers and residents of a senior citizens complex.

As well, the sheriff notes that 11 of the 13 buildings that Heemeyer bulldozed were occupied until just moments before the destruction. At the town library, for example, a children's program was in progress when the incident began.

Mtn. Village lots go for $1.5M

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE As first conceived, Mountain Village was to have been largely a pedestrian-only development adjacent to the ski slopes of Telluride. That vision has been largely abandoned over the years, but ground has recently been broken on a subdivision called The Ridge, where the 24 single-family homes will be accessible only by gondola (and then on foot or by golf cart) or snowmobile. These are not inexpensive lots, as the five that have already been sold went for $1.5 million each. The homes will be up to three stories high, reports The Telluride Watch .

Ski descents of Tetons offered

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. The first ski descent of the Grand Teton took place 33 years ago. Since then, an estimated 200 people have skied it.

Now, Exum Mountain Guides has begun offering guided descents of the peak, in the process "pushing the envelope of guided North American ski mountaineering," in the words of the Jackson Hole News and Guide .

Cameron Romero, a 37-year-old ski instructor from Park City, paid $1,300 for the two-day guided trip. He is an accomplished skier and mountaineer of his own, having summitted the Grand Teton 20 times. Two years ago, he tried to ski the peak, but lost his way. As well, he had already chalked up several notable but easier ski descents of his own in the Tetons.

"It's kind of difficult to find partners for something like this, so when I learned of this opportunity I wanted to continue my education," Romero told the newspaper. He also had skied with his guide, Doug Coombs, in Alaska.

Part of what Romero hired is local expertise in tracking snow conditions. "You have to hit the timing just right, down to the hour. Living in Park City I can't judge that. It's like harvesting French wine grapes you have to pick them at just the right time."

Tom Turiano, an Exum guide and also a historian of ski mountaineering in the Tetons, said he welcomed the advent of commercially guided trips on the Grand Teton. He said the danger of wet-snow avalanches on the peak in spring and summer is significant. 'm worried that a lot of people don't know when to turn around. If you're going to do it, use a guide."

No matter how good the skier, Exum will require belays on certain sections of the descent. "Exum belays people climbing up, and we'd certainly belay them going down," explained Exum co-owner Al Read.

Exum has guided climbers in the Tetons for decades, but the difficulty level is increasing. "Years ago, people just wanted to be guided up 5.6 or 5.7 routes, and now they want to be guided on a 5.10. This is an extension of that," said Coombs, the guide, who is considered one of the most skilled ski mountaineers in the world. During winter, he guides in the Alps.

Dog poisoning plagues Jackson

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Jackson Hole has been plagued this year by the poisoning of dogs. Twenty-six dogs had been killed or sickened by the pesticide Temik as of mid-June. Authorities speculate that laced hot dogs and hamburger meat is being spread by someone who is angered by loose dogs, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide .

"We are a county that loves our dogs and seeks diligently to protect our wildlife," wrote Bill Paddleford, a Teton County commissioner. "Stop your skewed and disgusting form of terrorism against animals."

Open space outprices real estate

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah In the unincorporated area of Utah's Summit County, open space preservation is paying better than development. The Park Record says that a deal has been finalized that ensures 219 acres owned by the Rasmussen family for a century will be dedicated as open space. The land is being purchased for $1.4 million with money from a bond approved three years ago by voters in a recreation district.

The Rasmussen family had wanted to develop the land with one unit per acre, but after the mandated open space and other public improvements, they would have been able to get only 16 homesites. Calculating the infrastructure costs, they figured they could get more money from the open space fund and still end up with a tax credit.

Meanwhile, the Summit County commissioners are considering whether to ask voters in November to approve a $10 million bond for the purchase of recreational open space. If the bond is approved, one developer tells the newspaper, more developers will opt for a deal for open space rather than try to deal with the county's stringent regulations.

Ski pioneer Dick Durrance dies

ASPEN Given its relative size, it would seem that skiing is as an old industry, like steel mills or railroads. That's not the case.

The first commercial ski areas in the West were not created until shortly before World War II, and the real flowering of the industry did not come until after the war especially in the 1960s. Some individuals from those early years remain active even now.

But they are dropping rapidly now. Among the latest to pass on is Dick Durrance, who died recently at the age of 89. His biography is like a history book, with important stops at Sun Valley, Alta, and then Aspen.

Ironically, he was a native of Florida and did not see snow until age 11. But while living in Germany during the '20s and '30s, he became what skiing historian Morten Lund calls America's first world-class alpine competitor.

In 1939, during his senior year at Dartmouth, Durrance was hired at Sun Valley, where he designed and cut the first trail on Mt. Baldy. He also raced so proficiently that railroad tycoon Averell Harriman named a peak after him. In 1941, he began his film career, making two ski films about Sun Valley. Then moving to Utah, he took on the fledgling Alta resort. In 1945, he was in Denver, designing and testing Groswold skis. He also helped found Arapahoe Basin, which began operations in 1946. And finally, in the summer of 1947, he arrived at the new ski resort of Aspen, where he was the third general manager.

At Aspen, Durrance immediately cut several trails, says ski historian Lund, including a beauty named Ruthies Run. A few years later, he made the first-ever feature-length American ski racing documentary, called "Ski Champs." He continued as a filmmaker for another 50 years with great success.

compiled by Allen Best






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