The number of people who live in town has eclipsed 1,400. Officials are planning short-term fixes to infrastructure systems, as well as looking at long-term issues that will impact the town for years to come.
“Sometimes people think we are stagnating, but we’re growing,” said Town Administrator Andrea Phillips said. “It’s not a huge boom, but it’s some nice, steady growth.”
Following is a roundup of the Mancos news from 2106, and a look ahead to the new year.
Trustees pass livestock regulationsAfter discussing the issue for years, the board of trustees got down to nitty-gritty details in October and passed an ordinance regulating in-town livestock.
The ordinance allows town residents in any zoning district to keep up to 12 chicken hens, 12 quail, 12 rabbits and one rooster without a permit. Structures housing animals must be set back 30 feet from the property line. No beehives are allowed.
A total of 15 animals will be permitted on a property, including cats and dogs. Residents may keep up to five adult dogs on their property before requesting a kennel permit.
Animal structures are considered accessory structures and must follow setback rules in the land use code. Existing structures that do not conform will not be required to be moved unless they become a nuisance. Odors, manure and noise also are addressed in the ordinance and must be kept under control.
Residents have until mid-January to comply with the ordinance.
New mayor, trustees are electedEllen “Queenie” Barz was elected mayor of Mancos in the town’s April 5 election, winning 169 votes to opponent Will Stone’s 75. She and Stone previously served as town board trustees. Barz took over the mayor’s seat from Rachael Simbeck.
Barz grew up in Mancos and previously worked for the Cortez Journal, as well as for car dealerships and insurance agencies. She moved back to Mancos in 2000 and now works for Hospice of Montezuma. She had served on the town board for eight years before becoming mayor.
Ed Hallam, Matthew Baskin, Craig Benally, Lorraine Becker and Fred Brooks were elected as trustees, joining Michele Black on the board.
Hallam served as mayor of Mancos from 1988-1999 and has lived in Mancos for almost 40 years.
Benally is a customer service manager for a temporary employment agency. He is a lifelong resident of Southwest Colorado and has spent the past two years in Mancos with his wife and two children.
Brooks worked as a registered nurse for 36 years in the Four Corners region before retiring and moving to Mancos in 2014.
Becker, a retired government worker who has lived in Mancos since 2005, was appointed to the board in January after board member Darrel Ellis died in November 2015.
Though Baskin won the second-highest number of votes, he resigned in late May because of time constraints with other commitments, including his full-time job as a long-term care ombudsman and pursuit of a master’s degree.
Cindy Simpson was appointed in late June by the board to replace Baskin. She works for the Colorado Department of Transportation and was a Mancos trustee in the mid-2000s.
Hallam, Benally and Simpson will serve four-year terms on the board. Becker and Brooks will serve two-year terms. Gina Roberts, a write-in candidate, missed out on a board seat, taking 19 votes. A total of 265 votes were cast in the Mancos municipal election.
Park spraying angers residentsMancos Trustees decided on June 8 to break the town’s organic parks management plan to take care of weeds at Boyle and Cottonwood parks.
At a July 27 board meeting, trustees authorized parks manager Terry Jennings to work with Premier Weed Management and Consulting to spray for weeds in the 13-acre Cottonwood Park and 6-acre Boyle Park. The parks were sprayed on Sept. 6 and 7.
At two September board meetings, trustees heard from a handful of residents who were upset by the decision. One resident said the town could have better informed residents of its spray plans. She said she had lost trust for the town and didn’t think the trustees had enough respect for kids’ health.
Mayor Queenie Barz said the town faced pressure from the state to take care of the weeds but could not guarantee that it would not spray again.
Air monitored near Western ExcelsiorLocal, state and federal officials continue to monitor the air quality in southwest Mancos, near the Western Excelsior plant.
Environmental Protection Agency representative Kyle Olson installed an E-BAM air quality monitor near the plant on Nov. 17 that collects data about airborne particulates.
Data from the E-BAM monitor will be compared with data from a smaller, pre-existing Dylos monitor to determine whether the Dylos is giving accurate readings, Olson said.
Though processing at the Western Excelsior plant might be contributing to dust in the air, it could be coming from other sources, including dirt kicked up from the town’s unpaved roads, Phillips said.
Information from the E-BAM could help determine if further action or regulation is required.
A committee of town residents and officials has been formed to discuss the ongoing air quality issues.
Renowned archaeologist Florence Lister diesFlorence Lister, a prominent archaeologist in the Southwest, died Sept. 4 at her home in Mancos. She was 96.
Lister, who grew up in California, encountered archaeology in the late 1930s when her father returned from a trip to New Mexico with some relics from a pueblo site. Fascinated, she enrolled the University of New Mexico and majored in anthropology.
Eventually, she married Robert Lister, a Harvard graduate who helped start the anthropology department at the University of Colorado Boulder and traveled with him when he went to run the field school at Mesa Verde National Park.
Lister also authored or co-authored more than 40 published works, translating the language of archaeology into a new vernacular.
She was an active writer and lecturer until her death, according to Mark Varien of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Lister is survived by two sons, Frank, in Mancos, and Gary, who lives with his wife, Barbara, in Estes Park, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
School plans campus improvementsMancos School District will pursue a bond issue next year, as well as several grants, to fund school improvements.
School staff members devised a master plan for the campus that includes upgrades to the school buildings, athletic field and parking areas.
A Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant would provide a large portion of the funding for the project. Money from the competitive Colorado Department of Education grant can be used for building schools or upgrading buildings. The district would put up 43 percent of the BEST funding, and CDE would match with the remaining 57 percent.
The district also is pursuing a $110,000 Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) School Yard Initiative grant, which would fund a new playground and outdoor learning area for the elementary school.
Another GOCO grant could be applied to improvements at the athletic field. The Safe Routes to School grant program promotes walking and biking to schools, and could be another funding option for the district.
District officials will find out if Mancos has been awarded the School Yard Initiative grant in April.
Plans for the playground include a 12-foot-tall net climber, a group swing, a water table and a wet sand digging area. A new dining terrace would be built south of the cafeteria, and a hill would be regraded for sledding.
The playground also would connect to the Mancos River walk, and an outdoor classroom would be constructed near the river. A foot bridge would be built across the river, connecting to a property the school district recently acquired on the south side of the river.
Election: Library wins big in NovemberMancos voters approved a mill levy to supplement the Mancos Public Library’s budget in November. The vote was 1,207 to 630, with 65.7 percent of voters approving the levy.
Library board members expect a $95,000 increase to the budget as a result of the increase.
The board cut about $83,000 from the library’s budget over the past five years.
Library officials also plan to refinance the district’s $1.5 million in debt next year. Library director Lee Hallberg said he hopes that will take place by March.
In the town’s April municipal election, voters decided to opt out of Senate Bill 152 by a vote of 214-36. Opting out of the bill will give the town more options for how to use its 3,300 feet of fiber optics line. Phillips said the town is working with Montezuma County and the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments for how to develop that fiber network.
Plans for 2017Town officials plan several infrastructure projects in the new year, including improvements to the water line system, design and planning for the Main Street bridge and improving the U.S. Highway 160 corridor.
The Paths To Mesa Verde trail project will continue in the planning phase. Officials also are working with the Bureau of Land Management to develop the Aqueduct Trails area, a 1000-acre property northwest of town.
The board also is looking at long-term issues that will affect the town for years, such as housing, which is a big need in the area, Phillips said. A comprehensive housing study will be done next year.
“With a small group we’re doing a lot of good work,” Phillips said. “I’m proud of our staff and elected officials.”
The Durango Herald contributed to this story.