Talked to long-time Ouray resident Bud Zanett this week. He was recalling that this month marks the 99th anniversary of Rosa and John Zanett's arrival in Ouray. They were his grandparents,
John came to the states in 1910 and Rosa in 1912, and the two were married in Ohio and came to Ouray lured of mining.
The couple lived on 2nd Street, and back then options were limited as to where you could live. Those of Italian descent - not the rich folks - weren't "allowed" to live on the east side of Ouray.
Bud said it caused quite a stir when one of his relatives purchased the house next to the courthouse in the 1930s.
There must have been a lot of wildlife or other critters on County Road 1 and County Road 24 when crews striped the center line recently. It looks like the striping truck was constantly dodging something as it was painting because there isn't a straight line to be found.
Word to the wise: don't drive according to the wavy lines or you'll be pulled over and made to perform a sobriety test.
Recently, some Ouray business folks got together to talk about raising the Lodging and Occupancy Tax, or changing it from a flat rate to a percentage, or creating a new taxing district, or any other ideas that could be shuffled about to raise more money to promote the city.
Concerns from the conversation included:
"The city has tinkered with the idea of switching the tax to a percentage basis, which is how most municipalities, and even states, ring up dollars from visitors. Setting a rate at say, 5%, would nearly double the Ouray lodging tax intake.
“But such a major shift in policy raised the hackles of the entrepreneurs who have to extract and administer the money — the innkeepers and hoteliers. Early on, they came out with the positions that: 1. they opposed new room tax money going straight to the city with no strings attached; 2. they already feel some price resistance from room renters; 3. there exists some “leakage” where some short-term rentals that should be paying LOT aren’t; and 4. they favor the flat per room method over a switch to percentage.
“Additionally, many in the hotel business feel that they are singled out and over burdened as tax collectors. They have a point, but just about anywhere in this country, that’s a fact of life. The logic posits that tourists and travelers add demand to the local infrastructure, so they can help pay for it."
That was actually a Plaindealer editorial from 2007, when a proposal was on the table to increase the Ouray LOT. Then, the purpose was to use the money to build affordable housing. Now, the purpose is to use the money to enhance and promote Ouray's adopted title of Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado.
Then, as now, the issues and concerns remain static.
While doing quick research on Rotary Park, I was led to a book written in 1958 by Frank A. Rice entitled "The Mines of Ouray County." The folks at the Ouray County Historical Society loaned it to me, and Beecher and I scanned it for any mention of Rotary Park. Turns out, Rice mentioned Rotary Park in another work, but a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum, as they say.
We ran across the following excerpts in Rice's book, which demonstrate that mining wasn't always all work and no play.
Writing about an area on Cutler Creek, he wrote: "In prohibition days one of them drove a tunnel a short distance into the mountain. But it was believed that the real purpose of the tunnel was to distract attention from a still in the vicinity."
Writing about the Ruby Trust, he noted: "During prohibition days there was another lease, but it was generally believed that the output was measured in gallons, rather than in tons."
And finally, if the hooch didn't kill you, Rice recounted this story about the Virginius Mine: "A snowslide demolished part of the boarding house, killing several men. Charlie Armstrong…was buried in the wreckage but escaped injury. Reaching town several days later he found a newspaper account of the slide with his name listed among those lost. He used to joke about being one of the few people privileged to read his own obituary."
Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at 970-325-2838 or email@example.com