FLOOD INSURANCE … As most folks who live along our riparian corridors probably have become aware, the Federal Government is changing its rules on flood insurance. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 withdraws subsidies and has led to dramatically increased premiums for flood insurance in regions designated special hazard zones by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). As FEMA modernizes its flood maps, it’s expected that more areas will fall into these special hazard zones and more landowners will see sharp rises in their premiums … The National Association of Counties (NACo) is working hard to support the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (Senate Bill 1846). A companion bill has been introduced in the House. If passed, the bill would delay certain premium increases until FEMA can complete an affordability study and Congress can consider the recommendations of that study … Indeed, having federal subsidies so that people can afford to rebuild in special hazard zones after repeated disasters seems like an unwise use of public monies. But changing the insurance rates precipitously will have a decidedly adverse effect in the short run, and ought to be gradually applied, or only in special cases … NACo is urging Congress to “reinstate grandfathering of properties (not policies) that were built to code, have maintained insurance or have not repeatedly flooded, and to implement rate structures that reflect economically reasonable rates” … San Miguel County is a member in good standing of NACo, and participates in its policy-setting procedures. A Colorado commissioner from El Paso County, Sallie Clark, is NACo Second Vice-President and is slated to head up NACo in the coming years. She participated in a Capitol Hill Press Conference in support of this issue on Jan. 7.
POT SHOTS … Finding a safe spot for Colorado tourists to enjoy legal cannabis purchased in local dispensaries can be difficult, especially in most Western Slope communities, where it is not allowed in public, on any federal land or property, or in most hotels. But the historic Melrose Hotel in Grand Junction allows its guests to smoke cannabis in their enclosed outdoor patio, and the local police chief approves … Apparently, an enclosed outdoor area of a public space, like a hotel, is considered a legal site for smoking, if allowed by the property’s management. Would the same apply for an enclosed outdoor patio of any other business? … One would wish Telluride would find some accommodation like that for its CannabiTourists who are bringing a special niche market opportunity to our resort.
BACK TO BACK … Poetry fans get to hear back-to-back poetry readings in our region these days. On First Tuesdays of every month for several years, the Telluride Institute and a lot of partners have been hosting the Talking Gourds Poetry Club. Last week their featured reader was David Rothman, an amazing writer, poet, outdoor enthusiast and professor who serves as Western State Colorado University’s poetry concentration director for the Gunnison school’s new Summer Poetry Intensive and its Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. He has a new book on darkness, which was the Talking Gourd theme this time, and he read from that new work and others to great acclaim from folks in attendance … The Ouray County Performing Arts Guild has started a new Open Bard Poetry Series on the first Thursday of every month at the Sherbino Theater in Ridgway. Last week former Denver Poet Laureate Chris Ransom read from his work, again to great crowd approval … To have two outstanding Colorado poets in one week out here in southwestern Colorado was a real coup. And both reading series encourage folks to bring their own work or the work of others and perform them for the group. First Tuesdays and Thursdays have become poetry time in the San Juan Mountains … Now I have to see what’s cooking at the Bean with its Poetry Brothel series. Stay tuned.
SPEAKING OF POETRY … The Thunder River Theatre Company has announced dates for the 4th annual Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival – March 28-30 in Carbondale. The theme this year is Beneath the Surface. As usual, there will be featured performances Friday and Saturday evenings, with a dozen workshops on Saturday, and the traditional Gourd Circle on Sunday morning. The line-up will be announced soon … The festival named Antonito poet and Adams State professor Aaron Abeyta as Western Slope Poet Laureate last year. I served two years in that position, 2011-2013.
CIMARRON … It’s been a big change watching the venerable liberal activist Priscilla Peters give up Cimarron Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Ridgway. But Eric Palumbo seems intent on keeping up the hot java tradition Peters started. As a Mocha Breve aficionado, I can attest that nobody makes ’em better than Eric … In fact, on a recent trip to Colorado Springs, I did a taste test. Ordered the same “mocha breve” at the Coffee Trader in Montrose (another of my java haunts). Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize the baristas – maybe they were new – but the to-go cup cover hid the fact that the “medium” was two-fingers low, had less half&half and so tasted bitter like a bulldog IPA instead of smooth combed flannel like a chocolate porter … Worse at the Bean in Gunnison. Even less half&half and less chocolate syrup. Extra bitter … For me, Cimarron won hands down on that test round.
GREG HOBBS … Folks may have missed it, but last week’s Talking Gourd piece featured the poetry of Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs (one of the crucial votes on the Valley Floor decision and our reigning state expert on Colorado water law) … Oddly enough, one of Colorado’s most respected political figures (Hobbs) and one of Colorado’s most outré political oddballs (moi) both attended the same Roman Catholic seminary in California back in the day. Greg was a year ahead of me. He went on to Notre Dame, I to San Francisco State and we both end up as poet/political figures in Colorado … Small world.
THE TALKING GOURD