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Pages of the Past: Basalt mayor resigns over radar gun controversy

Locations: News Published

From the archives of the Roaring Fork Valley Journal, compiled by Lynn Burton

June 2, 1977

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Basalt Town Hall was in turmoil after the mayor and two town staffers resigned, and most bar owners were upset that the town council had banned minors inside bars for any reason. One bar owner asked whether it would still be okay for her four-year-old daughter to take naps in the bar area. The mayor of three years (plus six as a town council member) cited “personality conflicts” with the other members for resigning. But there was more to it than that, including the police chief’s purchase of a $1,200 radar gun when the department already had one. In a five-page letter to the mayor, the police chief said he respected the “office” of mayor but not the mayor himself. The mayor never did get the information he wanted from the police chief, and had to get it from the town clerk instead. The final straw came when some of the town council members walked out of a meeting when the mayor brought up the issue of the radar gun. “I figured it would just get worse. That’s why I resigned,” he said.

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June 5, 1987

The Valley Journal noted the passing of 87-year-old Dean Smith with an obituary and article by editor Pat Noel. The obituary noted that he lived in the Crystal River Valley or Carbondale his entire life, and jobs included being a “cutter” at the Marble mill in the town of Marble, working on the Crystal River and San Juan railroad, and farming, but his longest tenure was that of Carbondale’s marshal from 1937-1962. The article said Dean lived in a house on Third Street and liked to tell stories from the old days in his yard “ … amid sundry artifacts of days gone by, cords of used wood, street signs, tools, barrels, a cab from a Marble trolley and other so call artifacts of his day.” As town marshal, Dean was also Carbondale’s fire chief, public works director, trash collector, street repairman and water superintendent. On one hand, Smith said the worked under 10 mayors and “they never bothered me much” but later in the article observed, “Hell, those guys (trustees) ran the town like they wanted and they had elections when they felt like it and only started makin’ them regular when the lawyers got on ’em.” He also harbored some bad feelings toward the trustees because they cut down cottonwoods and elms he’d planted in the 1930s and never replanted them. After a long motorcade of family, friends, city officials and police officers down Main Street, “ … a line of cars snaked it’s way up White Hill” where he was laid to rest.

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June 5, 1997

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Town trustees Mike Chamness and Krista Paradise proposed a new form of Carbondale-centric currency called the SPUD (sustainability, prosperity, unity and diversity). Details how the currency would be circulated inside the Carbondale town limits were a bit sketchy in the article, but it seemed to revolve around the concept of exchanging SPUD Bucks in return for time spent working for the buyer or seller. The denominations were in $3, $6 and $12 SPUD Buck increments. The suggested rate of exchange was one SPUD Buck per hour worked. The value of a SPUD “comes from our trust in our neighbors and ourselves,” Paradise said, adding “the currency is actually more valuable than U.S. currency because we know who is backing it.”

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