Latest News – July 12

Local Businesses Struggle With Power Outages

Local business on the west and southwest side of Leadville have been dealing with a series of power outages that seem to have no solution in sight. Yesterday,  Mt. Massive Golf Course (MMGC) reported that they have experienced at least six major power outages, ranging in length from 6 hours to 20 minutes.  

“This is the – at least – 6th major power outage we’ve had this season,” said Craig Stuller, Manager at MMGC on Wednesday. “Today  is the 4th (outage) in the last five days.” And while hitting balls on the greens may not be driven by electrical current, many other things at the golf course are: from computers, to telephones to the water pumps used in the irrigation system and club house plumbing.

Mt. Massive Golf Course: From power plays to power outages!

“We live off the revenue we make in July,” explained Stuller. “So when you can’t answer the phone, when you can’t book tee times, when you can’t run credit cards, it’s difficult to do business.”

Fortunately, in anticipation of more outages, Stuller brought in his portable generator, which allowed them to power the computers and phones. “But, we’re unable to cook, unable to use our bathrooms,” he added.

While Stuller expressed his understanding of mechanical and electrical difficulties, he added that “Xcel (Energy) has not been forthcoming with any information. It’s extremely disappointing.”  And the golf course is not alone. While unofficial reports of nearly 500 customers being affected by the recent outages were unconfirmed, it was apparent that Saturday’s Discount Store on Highway 24 South of town was also “in the dark.” Many customers stepping through the door Wednesday afternoon noted the unusually dark conditions. Saturday’s owner Frank Nickel and his staff were busy tending to customers whose gas fill-up stopped mid-stream  or quickly swiping credit card transactions in between power surges.

While calls to Xcel’s Public Relations Department were not returned – although they are generally responsive – a quick stop along Highway 300 where the Xcel Energy truck was parked didn’t yield much results either:

Leadville Today: What’s going on?

Service Tech Guy:  Wish I knew. Pretty frustrating. It’ll hold for five minutes and then pop.

So while they’re hard at work, no solution was been reached. Could the “disconnect” be related to all those new towers Xcel Energy recently installed up and over Hagerman Pass? Regardless, the result for local businesses is dealing with the double whammy of an increase in customer traffic while struggling to “close the sale” due to lack of power.  

From No Lights, to Stop Lights at Sinkholes

Yesterday’s trek to the scene of a collapsed century-old+ train tunnel (aka “the sinkhole”) on Highway 24 west of Leadville, resulted in some interesting discovery. There were plenty of engineers on site, in addition to CDOT crews and a few construction folks thrown in to operate the big equipment.  

But the stop light is green!

And there was lots of activity, but the traffic lights installed at the location seemed a bit of overkill. Later, one of the crew members explained that the stop lights had been installed during the “one-lane-open” stage of the situation earlier in the week.  It’ll be interesting to see what kind of solution they come up with for the now-enormous gaping hole on one of Leadville’s main routes into town. No word, how far they got in the solution stage yesterday, but looked like they were busting things up pretty good, in order to get things back on track.

The sinkhole that could . . . become an old train tunnel! Photo: Stuart Gardner/CDOT

 A hopeful quick fix to the situation would not only provide relief for regular commuters and re-directed visitors, but there’s also a few upcoming events that could be greatly affected by the closure of Hwy 24. On the immediate horizon is the Courage Classic Bike Tour, scheduled for July 21-23. The first leg of the tour starts in Leadville, then heads out on Highway 24 to Minturn, eventually over Vail Pass to Copper Mountain.  That’s 2,000 re-directed cyclists if Hwy 24 isn’t resolved and re-opened in about 10 days! 

And if that isn’t enough for organizers to deal with, earlier this week another major sink hole revealed itself. This one is smack in the middle of the Lake County High School practice field.

“Unsinkable” Leadville: This sinkhole in the middle of the LCHS practice field appeared earlier this week.

So what does that matter to the Courage Classic? Well, this field is one of the areas for tent camping during bike-tour events. The school district is working on this glitch with coordinators and ultimately riders will have an alternative place to pitch their tents.

But who knows what an old mining town like Leadville could do about that big sinkhole on Highway 24 – does anybody out there have any experience plugging up an old Glory Hole?

CDOT: Git ‘er Done!

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