2011 is history; welcome, 2012
Seldom, if ever, does a year end that is described as uneventful, tranquil or slow. A year is always filled with things that happen, with conflict, with joy and grief and it always goes by too quickly.
Maybe, when one is really young, he or she said, “Mom, it is taking too long to get there:” a trip, a birthday or Santa. Mostly we don’t want a trip to end and can’t believe we’re having another birthday or Christmas and the angst that comes with it comes way too soon.
2012 was not primarily peaceful. It grew ugly when people who would not identify themselves threatened and harassed town employees, resulting in Mayor Sumaya Abu-Haidar to resign. The residents of Nederland became divided over whether or not to continue with Phase 2 of the sidewalk project.
Extreme weather, record breaking rain and wind damaged much of the town, flooding Second Street and then blowing over century old ponderosa pine trees onto roofs, cars and power lines in Old Town.
Most survived and some reached the end of their time on earth and will be missed. Nederland watched the meteoric rise and finish of the girls’ cross-country team, winning four consecutive state championships. Old and new events were abundant. Every week there were celebrations, concerts, dances, dinners, awards, sports events and a huge backyard to enjoy nature in. Most of all, the news was filled with people who work together, meet, meet, meet and try to figure out what will work for the town and what won’t.
One of the biggest projects this year was Envision 2020, a series of public meetings to gather input about where Nederland should be a decade from now. Included in these meetings was the subject of recreation in the area, education, government, business, open space and commercial space, the shores of Barker Reservoir and all the issues that have to deal with the inevitable growth of this small town.
The idea was to create a future together, but some of the meetings turned into a sounding board for factions who either did want or didn’t want the sidewalk project to be continued. The sidewalk project became symbolic of the polarization of the population about the identity of the town.
Late in the summer a group of citizens calling themselves the Silent Minority zipped their lips with neon duct tape and marched along the highway where the proposed sidewalk would be. One resident pushed a wheelchair in honor of her father. These people were in favor of the Nederland Downtown Development Authority’s sidewalk proposal. Along the way, they ran into another group of protestors who represented those who were against the sidewalks.
In the beginning of the year, late January, there was a cold spell and warnings went out to homeowners about keeping their pipes from freezing, about keeping their cars running and safety tips for younger and older people as well as pets. In February, a 30-degree-below-zero cold snap, one of the coldest spells in recent history, resulted in popped pipes all over town. Nederland Fire Protection District volunteers helped residents find their water shutoffs and mop up when the ice let go of the frost-clogged pipes. The Nederland Post Office turned into a pond, the Town Hall, B&F Mountain Market, Eldora Mountain Resort and the Mountain People’s Co-op all suffered from burst water lines.
A massive bull moose was hit and killed on Highway 119 near Los Lagos Lake. A Wildlife Crossing sign was put up in the area as a cautionary warning and a tribute to the big guy who was well known by local residents.
After the holidays, Nederland Public Works Utility Operator Mark Clift announced that the new water treatment plant had been up and running without a hitch over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. The old equipment was taken apart and a new plant turned on over Thanksgiving. “The automation transition system switch went smoothly,” said Clift.
Two local dogs became dangerously sick after ingesting a pile of marijuana residue that was dumped on the side of the road. Sunny and Sasha Ramey were ill but survived with help from a local veterinarian, who said he is seeing more and more of this occurrence. Apparently local grow facilities are disposing of the byproducts of their marijuana processing in a convenient, but irresponsible manner.
The AT&T tower south of Nederland added Verizon G4 to its capability, making it possible for many more cell phones to receive service in the Nederland area. Boulder Canyon, however, is still a dead zone.
In April, a moist, heavy, three-foot snow storm dumped on Nederland and the children frolicked during their snow day as parents dug out. As is the case in the spring, the sun melted the mass of snow within days.
In May Nederland Elementary School Principal Debbie Benitez handed in her resignation, saying she was moving on with her career. She had been the NES principal for four years and been in the education field for 28 years.
During the summer, the hiring committee reviewed applicants and narrowed the field to three possibilities. After a public meet and greet and a final round of Boulder Valley School District Board of Director interviews, Jeff Miller was chosen to lead NES. He and his family moved to Nederland and have been welcomed into the community.
In June, the wedding month, Nederland Town Hall employees held their first ever marriage, with Deputy Clerk Teresa Meyers reading the vows and pronouncing the couple man and wife. Nicolette Barone and Jason Holderead said “I do,” in front of Town officials, residents and a bunch of assorted strangers. There is a $50 charge for the ceremony.
Once again, the shooting range on Magnolia Road became a heated issue as Big Springs residents complained of the use of semi-automatic firearms and close calls of shots fired near hikers. Two wildland fires in Lefthand Canyon were started by gunshots in shooting/four-wheel drive area and shooting was temporarily banned while the fire was being investigated.
Magnolia residents joined with Allenspark residents to plead with the Boulder County Commissioners to ban shooting in these public areas. The commissioners agreed it was a valid issue and admitted that times had changed and the old shooting rules were not, and they would look into finding other more appropriate shooting areas.
Local Nederland resident Garry Sanfacon announced his intention to run for departing Will Toor’s seat on the Boulder County Board of Commissioners. He stepped up his campaign over the summer and will be pledging commitment to environmental issues, especially the beetle kill, fire mitigation and insurance realities that were revealed after last year’s Fourmile Canyon fire.
Just as summer set in, the skies opened in July and poured a record amount of rain in a one-hour period. North Boulder Creek overflowed its banks and flooded homes along its drainage path to the reservoir inlet. Culverts backed up and crept through doors that were at the water level, like Blue Owl Bookstore.
The burnt out hillsides of the Gold Hill, Fourmile Canyon area turned into mudslides that buried cars and filled homes with sludge. Fourmile Canyon was closed to the public for weeks while emergency workers fought the topsoil washed down the gulches.
A massive effort to revegetate the burn area resulted in volunteers raking and seeding and helicopters dropping straw mulch to hold the soil to the land. In the fall, volunteers harvested the ripened grass and plant seeds to continue the replanting of the ravaged soil.
After two successful seasons of having a sort yard on Ridge Road, a public meeting took place to get input from residents, some of whom had objected to the sort yard proposal. The residents suggested that the sort yard be available longer as the amount of beetle kill wood is amassing. Some residents say the downed pine trees in the area from November’s heavy winds will soon become a hazard, and there is nowhere to go with the branches and slash.
In good news the Nederland to Mud Lake hiking trail has been completed, thanks to the Nederland Parks and Open Space Advisory Board. The trail has informative signage and beautifully landscaped borders.
Another year brought another round of public meetings with mountain folks protesting the Gross Dam Expansion. Travis Bray of Denver Water hosted several of the meetings to answer questions, most of which became accusatory criticism of errors in the Environmental Impact Study.
Protesting the U.S. Post Office’s proposal to shut down the Ward facility, a group of mountain residents and Colorado Senator Jeannie Nicholson met at the Ward Church to listen to Marcella Rivera explain why economics is the culprit. A horse and rider, depicting the old Pony Express, delivered petitions to Rivera to keep the Post Office open.
When residents heard that the Post Office had decided to close the historic building, the Citizens to Save Historic Ward Post Office requested an investigation into the closure certification saying it contained inaccurate information. They have asked that the USPS reissue the Proposal to Close with the correct information included and to place a moratorium on rural Post Office closures.
An independent film maker chose Nederland as the location for the film, “Fishing Naked,” which starred will-known Twilight Saga actors and even some local talent. The crew and cast stayed at Arapahoe Ranch for about a month and brought in substantial business to restaurants, bars and local contractors to help with the spaceship and other set construction.
The first snowfall of the year, Oct. 13, resulted in a fatal accident on the Toll Road when a railroad worker slipped into the creek and couldn’t get out of his vehicle. In November, excavation for the new wastewater plant began. Len’s Excavating brought out its heavy equipment and started the construction that will make the Nederland sewer ponds go away forever. The project is expected to be completed by December 2012.
A night-long blast of 92 miles-per-hour winds blew over thousands of trees in the mountain area of Boulder and Gilpin Counties in November. Nobody was injured, but countless roofs were damaged, cars crushed and power lines were knocked down. The cleanup and removal of hazardous trees lasted well into December. Many of the trees in Old Town Nederland were more than 100 years old.
A fire at the St. Malo’s Community Center destroyed much of the building, but local firefighters saved the west wing lodging area. A handful of employees had been living at the center at the time and all got out of the building safely.
As the Christmas season winds down and 2012 begins its relentless countdown to 2013, more weather events, continued fire danger and controversy amongst residents will occur. Also will be help for those who need it, a caring community to help raise the children and the endless opportunity to see beauty in our own backyard.