He was one of the good guys

Johnny Lowe passed away last week. He was one of the good guys.
Johnny and his wife spent a lot of time in their second home just outside of Ridgway. He was a retired real estate developer. But he was also a man of faith with a sense of humor that wouldn't stop.
Johnny came in to the Plaindealer office every year to change his subscription address. Thirty minutes later I would feel like I just chewed the fat with my best friend.
I'll never forget the first invitation he gave me, to play low-stakes poker with a group at a local establishment.
"You play poker for money at a local establishment?” I asked.
"Sure we do," he said. "We'd accept your money any time."
"What would you do if the sheriff walked in and saw you gambling?” I asked.
"We'd accept his money, too," he said.
All our best to the Lowe family. We'll sure miss Johnny.


Carving a path to Bucket of Blood

Still sifting and meandering through history after our Dec. 27 history edition.
I was trying to find out exactly where Ohlwller Park was situated in Ouray. I'm pretty sure it was at the southeast corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue, and I probably need to just go spend a little time in the Ouray Library and ask Maureen and folks there if any maps exist showing the park.
My interest was drawn because I was searching papers from the 1800s for early baseball tidbits. The past few days I've been struck by the same thing that must have inflicted Hall of Fame player Rogers Hornsby. When asked what he did during the offseason, he said, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
As I sifted, I came across an article in the June 27, 1884 Solid Muldoon noting a game of baseball to be played at Ohlwiler's Park "between the Juniors and Seniors, the stakes being one keg of beer."


Theatrics in Lake City

Lots of nice comments about our Dec. 27 issue of the Plaindealer, which was a compilation of select articles — at least one from every decade — spanning the past 140 years.
Best story came from a Ouray city councilor who said a local resident told her that he knew there was a crazy miner living in the hills, and the article in the paper only confirmed his fears.
"Did you see the date on that article?” he was asked.


Sizing up our 2018 predictions; making new ones for 2019

Last year, on Jan. 4, Beecher and I made our predictions for Ouray County for 2018. How did we do?
Here are what our predictions were, along with outcomes, as we saw them:
1. The strong economy would make it difficult to lure seasonal workers to the county.
Outcome: We only know what we hear. Several business told us they struggled. The Ouray Hot Springs Pool was looking for help a lot. Our employment advertising revenue was not as much as the prior year, which may mean less searching or more giving up.
2. Water, or lack thereof, would affect recreation, agriculture, calls on water and increased wildfire risk.
Outcome: Look no further than the Bull Draw and 416 fires to understand how dry we were. Ask any rancher who had their grazing access restricted to BLM land if they thought it was dry. Go back and look at the summer-long water restrictions put in place by each municipality.


Celebrating Ouray Trail Group

We received a note from Bob Risch, president of the Ouray Trail Group, that offered some trail usage numbers.
The group recently counted all the signatures from 42 trail registers throughout the county and found that 56,829 hikers registered at trailheads in the county in 2018. The U.S. Forest Service, according to Risch, estimates that only one-third to one-half all trail users will register before hiking, so usage numbers could be as high as 150,000.
Ouray Perimeter Trail is the granddaddy of all trails, with 27,591 hikers signing in, which represents a 21 percent increase over 2017 and nearly double the number who signed in four years ago.
The next most popular hike in the county is the trail to Blue Lakes in the Sneffels Wilderness, where 7,693 visitors registered in 2018.


The “River of Lost Souls” just got the EPA’s stamp of good health

I was driving home Tuesday night, and as I leveled out on Log Hill I was reminded we're about to get a celestial visitor on Dec. 16.  
As I was heading down Ponderosa Drive, ahead of me in the night sky was the constellation Orion, spread like a giant butterfly in the clear night sky.
I know it's a hunter from Greek mythology, but the three stars of the hunter's belt always looked to me like a butterfly's body, with the hunter's shoulders and legs representing the wings.
The reddish star in the constellation, Betelgeuse, is the ninth brightest star in the night sky and is one of three stars that make up the Winter Triangle. Procyon and Sirius — the brightest star in the night sky — make up the other two points of the triangle.


STR discussion open until closed

During the past two Ouray City Council meetings the subject of short term rental regulations has been on the agenda for discussion.
The topic has been weighed for about a year by a citizen committee appointed by council, and that committee's recommendations were given to the Ouray Planning Commission for further discussion and refinement before it presented a final recommendation to council.
It was that recommendation, addressing rental restrictions by zones, safety considerations, parking, sewer and water usage and other issues related to short term rentals that brought out a few dozen people to each of the past two council meetings to speak.
Arguably, the most contentious recommendation was the cap on STRs. There are currently 124 STRs registered with the city, and the planning commission recommended adding 15 to that total for a cap of 139.


Potent numbers at the five-year mark of legalized marijuana

There sure is a lot to wade through in a recently released report from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a drug-prohibition enforcement program run by the U.S. office of National Drug Control Policy. The program, which is focuses on Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana, published a 94-page report entitled "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5." It has published the report each year since marijuana retail sales were legalized in Colorado.
Here are some of the findings:
• Since recreational marijuana was legalized, marijuana related traffic deaths increased 151 percent while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 35 percent;
• In that same time, traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 in 2013 to 138 people killed in 2017, which equates to one person killed every 2.5 days compared to one person killed every 6.5 days;


Don't shoot your house guests

For holidays, I like to take the easy way out and have someone else write my column. Usually, I turn to the historic pages of Ouray County newspapers past. Here is my choice, not because it's a heartwarming Thanksgiving story but instead because it gives a snapshot of the area 130 years ago.
If unexpected guests come to your home this holiday season, don't do what Charles Crosthwaite did in 1888, high above timberline in Ouray County.
Crosthwaite was accused of murder and sat in jail awaiting trial over the holidays. The Solid Muldoon Weekly, published this account on November 16, 1888:
A San Juan Prevaricator
Crosthwaite, who is lying in jail here in Ouray awaiting the trial for the murder of Johnson has written a letter to his former home which we take from the Colwater (Mich.) Courier. As a way-up liar he has no equal West of Eli Perkins. Hearken:


First man on Moon landed here

Thanks to all our readers and friends for the emails and phone calls expressing your sentiments regarding my column last week. Very much appreciated.

Need a Jeep? You're in luck. This year's winner of the annual Ouray Jeep Raffle is selling the grand prize, as was posted on social media. No price given, but you can bet she at least wants to cover the taxes.


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