Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School District officials have issued a stop-work order on the retired high school demolition project after a report that a contractor on the project has been dumping demolition materials at a site south of Cortez, according to Re-1 Director of Facilities and School Safety Jamie Haukeness.
A citizen emailed district Superintendent Lori Haukeness with concerns that contractors on the project were dumping materials from the site in the 25300 block of County Road G, about three miles south of town.
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, Haukeness could not confirm whether unauthorized or illegal dumping had taken place at the site, or whether any particular firm had been involved in illegal activity. She said district administrators had met with owner’s representative Jim Ketter, who is overseeing the demolition project, early Thursday morning to learn more about the situation.
In a letter addressed to Iron Mountain Demolition and Michael Dyer, Lori Haukeness officially ordered stopping all work on the demolition project at 7:55 a.m. Thursday, until Iron Mountain Demolition provides assurance that the firm is in compliance with all contractual and legal requirements. Colorado Springs-based Iron Mountain is the main demolition contractor for the project.
Jamie Haukeness said district officials were planning to visit the site on County Road G to determine the facts.
“We want this to be done safely and follow all laws,” Jamie Haukeness said. “We will require our contractors to do so.”
The alleged dumping site is zoned for agricultural use, according to Cortez City Planner Tracie Hughes.
In an email sent to The Journal, Lori Haukeness said the news was “very concerning” because the district had been informed that debris from demolition would be transported safely to the Montezuma County Landfill, 26100 County Road F.
Montezuma County Landfill manager Shak Powers told The Journal on Thursday that all debris dumped at the county landfill has been processed legally and safely, adding that the loads are regularly tested for asbestos, and all samples have come back clean.
“They all have been delivering what they said they would,” Powers said.
Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said no one had contacted him about the problem Thursday morning, but by 10:30 a.m., deputy Bryan Hill had reported to the scene and said he would be investigating what demolition materials were being delivered to the property.
Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek said she first found out about the issue Wednesday night, through emails from the school district, but by 12:30 p.m. on Thursday she hadn’t heard a definitive answer as to where the high school debris is being dumped.
“It’s very unfortunate that this has happened, because the school district has done everything possible to make sure this project is done in a safe and legal manner,” she said.
Calls to other city officials, including permit technician Cheryl Lindquist, were not immediately returned.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.