This week's Roundup summarizes a community survey about hopes for a new downtown plan; trash, recycling and sewer rates go up; and where to find free COVID masks. This story is brought to you by The Payroll Department and Serious Texas Barbecue
Ska's new Snowdown beer, Love Potion 43 is now ready for the drinking. Durango survey respondents say they want more outdoor patios downtown. And COVID cases surge in La Plata county. You're watching the Local News Roundup brought to you by The Payroll Department and Serious Texas Barbecue. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. Ska Brewing's annual release of a new snowdown-themed beer has hit refrigerator shelves. It's called Love Potion 43 in keeping with the magical mystical snowdown theme. And the company says the beer is magically brewed with apple, cucumber and hibiscus. Ska's has produced a snowdown-themed beer every year since 1995. Visit skabrewing.com for more information. As COVID cases continue to surge this month in La Plata county, San Juan Basin Public Health has free KN95 masks to give away. The masks are available while they last at the health department's office at 281 Sawyer Drive in Bodo park. Masks are limited to five per person. During the two week period from January 7th through the 21st La Plata county saw more than 2,500 new COVID cases reported, four people died. The surge is impacting city and county services, schools and businesses. Health department officials strongly recommend that you wear a well-fitting mask while indoors, get tested, and if you feel ill, stay home. For more information, visit sjbpublichealth.org. The pandemic gave us masks, vaccines and quarantines, and now it's giving us an opportunity to re-imagine what downtown Durango could look like in the future. The city of Durango has launched a re-visioning project called Downtown's Next Step. Inspired by a desire to keep the bump out dining areas along main avenue that appeared during the pandemic. The Durango Community Development department began the process with a vision and values questionnaire on the city's website. The top responses recently were shared with the city council in January. 95% of respondents said visiting restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and other food-service establishment was the top reason they visited downtown. 85% of respondents said they drove to their downtown destination. And when they asked what elements they most would like to see in a re-imagined downtown, 77% of respondents said they wanted more outdoor patios for food service establishments. 57% said they wanted more space for pedestrians and crosswalks. And 53% said they wanted more public plazas and community gathering spaces. Other responses include additional landscaping, a parking garage and pedestrian mall. The questionnaire responses will be used to create a vision statement and objectives to guide development of a conceptual design. A stakeholder meeting will be from eight to 9:30 AM on Thursday, February 10th, or you can visit durangogov.org/downtownmain. City residents will pay slightly more for trash and recycling services and sewer utilities. The Durango city council approved a 2.5% increase in trash collection and recycling fees to cover increased costs of providing services. A residential customer with a 90 gallon trash can will pay about $17 a month and about $12 a month for curbside recycling. The council also approved a 3% increase in the base sewer rate to ensure that it's fund balance meets the requirements of the bonds it issued to pay for the sewer plant expansion. The increase will cost the average residential user about $2 more per month. Take heart however, the city council also is considering a proposal to lower the base rate for residential water by 10%, and to eliminate higher summertime volume rates. See durangogov.org for more information. The number of deaths on Colorado roads has increased by 50% during the past 10 years. The Colorado department of transportation says that the increase was caused by poor driving decisions. During 2021 more than 670 lives were lost on Colorado roads due to a spike in unsafe drivers. A recent see.news release reported that 90% of the deaths were caused by excessive speed, phone distractions or failure to use seat belts. Deaths involving impaired drivers accounted for nearly 30% of the fatalities in 2021, a 22% increase over the previous year. La Plata county saw 11 fatal car crashes that killed 12 people in 2021, more than double the previous year. To learn more, visit codot.gov. The annual Durango Rocks celebration honoring the community's top businesses, non-profits and volunteers may have been postponed because of a surge in the COVID cases in the community, but the Durango Chamber of Commerce recently announced award finalists and that's to be celebrated in and of itself. Finalists for the business of the year are Animas Surgical Hospital, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Kroegers Ace Hardware. Finalist for the small business of the year are the Hampton Inn, Mountain Auto Care, and Southwest Eye Consultants. Finalists for the nonprofit of the year are the Botanic Gardens, the Durango Business Improvement District and the Professional Women's Network. Finalists for the Spirit of Durango Award, are Dietz Market, the Durango Montessori School and Thompson Physical Therapy. Winners will be announced at the annual Durango Rocks event expected to be scheduled sometime this spring. To learn when the celebration will be rescheduled, visit durangobusiness.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Roundup. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.