Special white buffalo was acting average

Dear Johnnie: I was dismayed by the report of a “tussle” with another buffalo at the Tupelo, Miss., park that was severe enough for the white buffalo named Tukota to be put to death.

How did this rare (1 in 10 million) Colorado-born, 10-year-old white buffalo — especially revered in North American Indian spiritual culture — ever become lost sight of, unprotected or not treasured above all else?

Do you have any other information about the entire story? — Sharon

Dear Sharon: It turns out that Tukota the white buffalo did not see things the way you see them. He viewed himself not as something to be treasured above all else but as a regular buffalo.

Tukota the white buffalo got his name from his home in Tupelo, Miss., and the names of Sioux tribes -- Lakota, Dakota and Nakota. (Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo, Courtesy photo)

So, even though the owner of the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo gave Tukota his own fenced pasture with his own harem of cows, Tukota busted into the next pasture where there were more cows — and other bulls. It was Oct. 1, during breeding season.

“He was determined to get to the other cows and busted out and got mixed in with the other herd,” Dan Franklin told me. “They’ll fight to be the prominent bull. It was six bulls fighting.

“He wasn’t fully developed,” Franklin said, “but he thought he was.”

Franklin said the fence that the white buffalo broke — which consisted of two sets of electrified wires — had held him for 10 years.

The park’s staff took Tukota to the veterinary school at Mississippi State University. Franklin said “they did what they could,” then returned him to the park with a 50/50 chance of survival.

“We worked with him a week and a half,” Franklin said. “He was so banged up. We were giving him pain medicine and lifting him up three times a day to get him to walk around.”

But Tukota developed pneumonia. “We (determined) that he wasn’t going to get any better,” Franklin said. “He was suffering.”

So, on Oct. 12, with the Tupelo park veterinarian giving him a “zero chance of survival,” Tukota was euthanized.

Since I had Mr. Franklin on the phone, I thought I’d ask him how he got into keeping buffaloes at his park. “Ted Turner got me into it,” he said.

Are you serious? I asked.

“At the time (1999),” he said, “there were 200,000 buffalo in the whole world. I called Ted Turner and asked why he was fooling with them. He said, ‘We’ve got to do our part.’

“So, I went ahead and got my first bull, from (Gunnison) Colorado, and I got the cows from Canada.”

I’m guessing that’s when the word buffalo was added to the park’s name. At one time, the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo had 380 buffalo, but Franklin has sold off breeding pairs throughout the years. It now has 42.

Posted in Curiosities | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Is affordable housing smoke-free? Maybe

Dear Johnnie: I moved here from out of state looking for an apartment that was low-rent, senior and smoke-free. I found the ideal place in Longmont. I was assured that it was smoke-free, which was a top priority for me due to allergies.

It took most of my savings to make the move here, and I love my apartment, but it is not smoke-free. It is supposed to be regulated by HUD, but nothing is being done about the smokers. The smoke is very strong in the hallways and in my room. Some other renters have the same problem and say it is useless to complain as nothing can be one. Is this true?

I cannot afford to move again because of health issues, and I have no money left. I’d appreciate if you can help me find out. At $5 a pack for cigarettes, I don’t think it’s fair for these smokers to get a break on rent while I and others have to smell their habit. — Gasping

Dear Gasping: This, in part, depends on who assured you that the apartment was smoke-free and what that person meant by it. If the manager of the complex assured you that the building was smoke-free, then you have good reason to complain.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development encourages landlords to make their properties smoke-free, but there is no requirement that affordable housing be smoke-free. That’s up to the property owner.

I spoke with Michael Reis, director of the Longmont Housing Authority. He told me that buildings owned or operated by LHA or the Longmont Housing Development Corp. are — or at least should be — smoke-free. So, if you are in an LHA or LHDC property, contact the site management, he said. “Everybody is made aware of the rules upon move-in, and we enforce it.”

However, Reis told me, there are dozens of affordable-housing landlords in town. So without knowing where you live, it’s impossible to know what the rules are for your complex.

So, I recommend that you find out who owns the property you live in, and contact the manager, despite those who say it’s useless to do so. If it is a Longmont Housing property, call Hudson Real Estate at 303-442-6380.

By the way, Reis said residents are allowed to smoke outside the buildings.

Posted in Housing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An early left is not right

Dear Johnnie: I drive County Line Road south from Ninth Avenue to Colo. Highway 119 on a regular basis, planning to turn left onto Colo.119.

Just north of the first parking lot entrance for McLane, there is a left-turn lane marked to access that entrance. A little farther south, there are double left-turn lanes marked for turning onto Highway 119, and many drivers enter the parking lot left-turn lane and continue south to the left-turn lanes for Highway 119.

Looking at the markings, to me it appears drivers wanting to turn left onto Colo. 119 should wait and pull over when the dual left-turn lanes appear.

I would appreciate clarification on the proper driving etiquette in this area, as there is a significant potential for accidents. — Confused County Line Road Driver.

Dear Confused Driver: You are correct. Southbound drivers wanting to turn left onto Highway 119 should enter the double left-turn lane only after they have passed the McLane entrance.

The marked access to McLane’s entrance was added specifically because the company contacted the city about confusion at the left-turn entrance into their parking lot, city transportation engineer Bob Ball wrote to Johnnie in reply to your question.

Confused, your question got me thinking about other left-turn situations, specifically along streets such as Main and Hover, where a continuous center lane runs for blocks. How close to or far from a turn should a driver enter that lane?

“Along roadways with two-way left-turn lanes, cars should enter the left-turn lane in advance so that they can safely stop, yield and turn left,” Ball said in response. “Drivers should normally not drive in the two-way left-turn lane for unnecessarily long distances past several driveways. The risk of entering this two-way left-turn lane too far in advance is that another driver may also enter to turn left at another entrance before their entrance, which leads to accidents, blockage, etc.”

To the reader who called me about hidden stop signs: I took a look at the stop signs around Prairie Fire Circle and, just as you reported, found that some were almost entirely hidden by foliage (at least before it snowed, they were).

This stop sign along Prairie Fire Circle is almost entirely concealed by a tree.

I also noticed that all of these stop signs controlled traffic on residential courts, where there is little traffic and speeds are low.

So, I asked Bob Ball about this situation. He said that city crews will lower or move the signs and prune the trees.

“There are recommended distances for visibility of regulatory signs (such as stop, yield, etc.) based on travel speeds,” Ball said, “so your observation about a few of these courts comes into play since cars are probably traveling about 10 mph at a few of these. Even though there are very low volumes on many of these side streets, it is still very important that the stop signs are present and visible at all of these public side street approaches.”

I trust that the city can correct this problem without severely pruning the trees. Dressed in their fall colors, they are beautiful, and the homeowners nearby must value them.

Ball also said the city will install new stop signs at a few low-volume side streets where there currently are no signs.

Dear Johnnie: There has been a spate of break-ins in our neighborhood. The most recent was through the front door while the residents were away. Apart from the suspicion that the house had been under observation for a while, it might have been avoided had the porch lights been left on. Rumor has it that under some ancient law, the city meters these lights separately from the rest of the residence and pays for those lights. Can you advise if this is true? — Don

Dear Don: As with many rumors, this one is partially true.

Yes, electricity is delivered unmetered to porch lights in some neighborhoods, generally in areas of central Longmont that don’t have streetlights. This is a remnant of the system the city used decades ago.

Don, if the city is paying for your porch light, you probably would know about it. But if you aren’t sure, call 303-651-8386.

Posted in Streets, traffic signs, signals | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

City will pick up broken limbs

Dear Johnnie: I have finished cleaning up all of the broken tree limbs in my yard from the snowstorm. I don’t have a pickup truck to haul these tree limbs down to the recycling center. During the next few weeks, the city is scheduled to pick up leaf bags if I leave the leaf bags on the curb in front of my house. If I leave the tree limbs in front of my house with the leaf bags, will the city pick up the limbs? — Mean Joe Greenpeace

Dear Johnnie: As a result of this morning’s snowstorm, every yard in our neighborhood is full of broken tree limbs, some of which are quite large. Will the city be sending trucks out to collect tree limbs from the curbs, or do we all need to find/hire someone with a pickup and chainsaw to haul the branches to Eco-Cycle? — Hoping for Help

Dear Mean Joe and Hoping for Help: The city of Longmont has heard your cries.

“To help with cleanup efforts, the city of Longmont will be conducting a special tree branch

Senior arborist Ernie Wintergerst trims broken limbs from a silver maple tree on the 1000 block of Longs Peak Avenue in Longmont on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. (Richard M. Hackett/Times-Call)

collection in residential areas,” the city announced in a news release Thursday.

The collection program begins Nov. 14 and will follow the current leaf bag collection schedule. Each residential area will have only one collection, and you have to follow certain rules.

“Tree limbs must be curbside the week prior to your collection week. Branches will not be collected from alleys. Any materials brought to the curbside after the collection date will not be picked up by the city, and the property owner or tenant may be subject to municipal code violations.”

Here are the collection dates, according to the city:

If your regular trash collection day is Monday, have your branches and limbs curbside before Monday, Nov. 14.

If your regular trash collection day is Tuesday, have your branches and limbs curbside before Monday, Nov. 21.

If your regular trash collection day is Wednesday, have your branches and limbs curbside before Monday, Nov. 28.

If your regular trash collection day is Thursday, have your branches and limbs curbside before Monday, Dec. 5.

I called to ask what they meant by having limbs “curbside the week prior to your collection week.” After being on hold about minute (I think they are quite busy over there), Kenny answered. He told me that the branches and limbs could be collected at any time during the week that is set aside for your trash pickup day.

So, if Wednesday is your trash day, your branches and limbs can be picked up at any time the week of Nov. 28. So set them out before that week begins, because they might get picked up as early as 7 a.m. Monday. Or they could be picked up as late as Friday or Saturday of that week. Crews will get to it when they can, because each collection day has 3,000 to 5,000 customers.

Of course, residents also may bring their tree branches to the city tree limb diversion site at 140 Martin St. The facility will have extended hours, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice.

“Residents must bring their latest utility bill reflecting the waste management fee to access the site,” the city said in its release. “If you have any questions, please contact the city at 303-651-8416.”


Dear Johnnie: There has been a spate of break-ins in our neighborhood. The most recent was through the front door while the residents were away. Apart from the suspicion that the house had been under observation for awhile, it might have been avoided had the porch lights been left on.

Rumor has it that under some ancient law, the city meters these lights separately from the rest of the residence, and pays for those lights.

Can you advise if this is true? — Don

Dear Don: As with many rumors, this one is partially true.

Yes, electricity is delivered unmetered to porch lights, generally in areas of central Longmont that don’t have streetlights. This is a remnant of the system the city used decades ago.

Don, if the city was paying for your porch light, you probably would know about it. If you aren’t sure, call 303-651-8386.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What is listeria? And what can I do about it?

Dear Johnnie: I am thoroughly confused and disappointed about the information that the public is getting about listeria.

The TV reports tell us to wash cantaloupe with soap and water, and dry the skin before cutting. We are told if the cantaloupe lies in the fridge, listeria is there, too, so clean the fridge. Clean with what? Just soap and water? Clorox? What?

So, if listeria is on the fridge shelf and I lay an onion, tomato and green pepper beside it, do they also have listeria?

In this Sept. 28, 2011, file photo, cantaloupes rot in the afternoon heat on a field on the Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo. Pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at the farm's cantaloupe-packing facility were probably to blame for the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. Government investigators found positive samples of listeria bacteria on equipment in the Jensen Farms packing facility and on fruit that had been held there. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

When we buy cantaloupe in the store, is it on our hands and in the cart? When we choose the onion, tomato and green pepper, are we transferring the listeria to the produce?

What really is listeria? How did it end up in the Jensen farm, but not a neighboring farm? How do we know if it is or is not at the farmers market or in my garden?

What exactly does listeria do to a person to kill them? Destroy the brain, the blood, the what? The public is getting no real details or information.

Now listeria is in some romaine lettuce from California. I wash my lettuce, but not with soap.

Who is trying to keep the public in the dark? The government?

This was not a deliberate act by Jensen farms. It happened. But how did listeria choose that farm? — Confused

Dear Confused: I believe that your 15 questions are a record for a letter to Johnnie. Good thing they all are legitimate questions.

I’ll answer your questions and concerns mostly in the order you brought them up.

You can clean your refrigerator “the way you normally clean your refrigerator,” said Ann Zander, family and consumer science agent at the CSU Extension office in Longmont.

“You can use water with a little bit of baking soda, or vinegar with baking soda,” she said. “You don’t have to go the soap route.”

The point is to wash the bacteria away. No need to leave a soapy film behind.

Yes, listeria can be transferred from one fruit or vegetable to another. And it can be transferred from fruit to your hands, to the handle of your shopping cart, to other fruit, and so on.

“Listeria is all around us,” Zander said. “You cannot smell it or taste it, but it is all over.”

Dr. Patricia Gill, infectious disease specialist at Longmont Clinic, was more specific. “Listeria is a bacterium found in the soil and in animal feces and contaminated water.”

As we learned this week, FDA investigators believe the listeria came not from the field at Jensen farm but from the farm’s packaging facility. Used, dirty equipment and hard-to-clean floors could have harbored the bacteria, they said.

And yes, listeria can be at the farmers market and in your garden, too, Zander said.

“Raw milk may also become contaminated,” Gill wrote to Johnnie, “resulting in infection in those who drink unpasteurized milk or eat soft cheeses. Improperly processed deli meats and hot dogs may also become contaminated.”

Listeria survives refrigeration, even freezing, she said.

Listeria affects you if you ingest it.

“From the intestine, it enters cells, multiplies and spreads to other cells,” Gill wrote. “People who have normal immune systems usually have few symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, mild fever) as their immune systems stop the organism from spreading beyond the GI tract. People who are immunocompromised are often not able to arrest the spread of the bacteria, which then gets into the bloodstream (blood stream infection, sepsis) or spinal fluid (meningitis.) These more invasive infections can cause death. The list of people with immune compromise is long: elderly, newborns, pregnant women, HIV infection, transplant patients, people on immunosuppressive medications like cancer chemotherapy or medications for autoimmune illness or inflammatory bowel disease.”

This all sounds scary, I know. But, as Zander said, “(listeria) is not something to be afraid of. It’s something we can do something about.”

You can wash. Wash your fruits and vegetables under running water, Zander emphasized. This carries away the microorganisms. No need for soap. With a rough-skinned fruit such as cantaloupe, use a scrub brush. Wash your kitchen surfaces before and after preparing food. Wash your hands. Wash. Wash. Wash.

Confused, there’s no government conspiracy. Just people trying to track down a microscopic organism, which is not a simple thing to do.

Posted in Health | Tagged , | 106 Comments

Tale of house’s disappearance is no yarn

Dear Johnnie: I always enjoyed looking at the adorable Victorian style house on the corner of Terry Street and Second Avenue, and even had whimsical ideas of buying it someday to house a yarn shop. When I saw it gone I was so sad! Was it intentionally razed or was there an accident? And it appeared as if it might have been burned. This inquiring mind wants to know! — Donna

Dear Donna: I had grown so used to seeing that house on the corner that I quit looking. Your letter alerted me to its disappearance.

Bricks, flagstone and the remnants of charred trees are all that remains of a house that once stood at the southeast corner of Terry Street and 2nd Avenue. Bedding is seen in the background. The house was known as a place where homeless people would stay. (Johnnie St. Vrain/Times-Call)

The closest business to the site is a welding shop, so I stopped by and asked them if they knew what happened to the house. The owner had thought about razing it, they said, but decided to allow the fire department to use it as a training house.

So, after adding drywall to create a more realistic interior, firefighters burned it over the Labor Day weekend.

I confirmed this with Assistant Fire Chief Scott Snyder. He didn’t know the particulars of the training done at that site but said that often firefighters will ignite pallets inside the rooms of a training house so that they can practice their skills with real flames going up around them.

He noted that currently firefighters are doing non-fire training in two old houses near the intersection of Coffman Street and Longs Peak Avenue.

Donna, I suggest that you open your yarn shop in a different location.


Dear Johnnie: I read the advice not to recycle clamshell plastic in the paper (Monday) morning. This advice directly contradicts advice we saw earlier this year from what I consider a reliable source (Johnnie St. Vrain, 2/2/11, who cited Marti Matsch from Eco-Cycle), namely that they can be recycled if they are bundled as a group and wrapped with a rubber band so as to be three-dimensional.

Is this earlier advice no longer valid? Or may we continue to bundle and band those plastics into 3-D objects?

We are active recyclers, but over the years it gets very frustrating when contradictory information is given out from (what should be) equally reliable sources, or even the same source.

If the bundling and banding method is allowable after all, Tee-Cee’s Tips should issue a correction. If not, then it looks like Eco-Cycle should get everyone on the same page. (And JSV should probably publish a revision.) Thanks. — Carolyn B-G

Dear Carolyn: Let me take you back to the column of April 22, 2011, when Johnnie stated that “the recycling industry is continually changing, and so are lists of accepted materials.”

This is one of those times.

“In an attempt to figure out how we could recover this material,” Marti Matsch wrote me, “we tried a pilot education approach asking folks to rubber-band the materials together in an effort to, as your reader rightly says, keep the material 3-D and prevent it from being flattened. We weren’t sure how it would work, so we never added it to our official guidelines. We apologize for the confusion, but we have learned through this pilot approach that the rubber-banding is not a solution for the large scale. So unfortunately we are calling this pilot a failure and looking at other ways, including equipment upgrades, where containers that flatten easily can be handled. Our apologies and our thanks to your readers for so carefully following the guidelines.”

So, Carolyn, because the recycling industry is always changing, we’ll continue to answer these questions.

Posted in Curiosities, Recycling | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Beginning in the ’60s, the city put light on a pedestal

Dear Johnnie: Why do so many Longmont neighborhoods have old man-high light posts all along the sidewalk? Was there some construction period when they were popular? Are there any neighborhoods where they are still actively used?

Who pays for the electricity and maintenance? — Curious John

Dear Curious John:Those lights are called pedestal lights. The city has so many — about 9,000 of them — because in the 1960s, the city transitioned from powering porch

A street lamp on the east side of Lonmgont near the 400 block of Alpine Street on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. (Joshua Buck/Times-Call)

lights to installing these lights along streets. Their installation continued into the early 1990s.

“They contain the customer service connection point and the electric meter,” Deborah Cameron wrote to Johnnie. Cameron is the customer services and marketing manager for Longmont Power & Communications. “Pedestal installations provided a front-lot underground alternative, and effectively replaced the overhead back-lot service entrances that were installed throughout older portions of Longmont.”

The pedestal lights are owned, maintained and operated by the city, Cameron said.

Hello, Johnnie St. Vrain: I have lived here for more than 50 years. At one time I used to go to Safeway at 17th and Hover and create my own salad from a salad bar they once had. No more.

I want to know where a person can find a good salad bar in Longmont to create their own salad? I know of no such place. Can you help? — Salad Bar Hunt

Hello, Salad Bar Hunt: In answering your question, I risk leaving out a restaurant or store that offers a salad bar. So, if someone out there operates a salad bar that isn’t mentioned in this column, please forgive me.

I don’t know how long ago Safeway had a salad bar, but it was before the time of the person I spoke with over at the Safeway. Regardless, he confirmed that Safeway does not have what would be a considered a “salad bar.” Potato salad. Yes. Olives. Yes. But not leafy greens and croutons, with kidney beans, red onions, baby corncobs and fake-bacon bits.

At least, I think that’s the kind of salad bar you’re talking about.

I asked Johnnie’s Facebook fans what they thought, and several replied: Mad Greens, over on Clover Basin Drive. Another bemoaned the loss of Souper Salad.

S.B., I don’t know what exactly you’re looking for, but you can find salad bars in restaurants that serve other foods, such as pizza places and all-you-can-eat buffets. And, if you’re up for other types of salad, grocery stores still have a wide variety.

Or you could buy a head of green leafy lettuce and all the fixings yourself, then invite a friend over.

Posted in Longmont history, Streets | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Storm drain has neighbor worried for kids

Dear Johnnie: I live over on Sparrow Hawk Drive. Behind my house is a storm retention area. It’s nice, with grass, and kids love to play there.

However, the drain on it is missing a grate. This summer after a rainstorm, kids went out to play and a kid dropped a big Tonka truck in the water. It was quickly devoured by the drain. He decided he would try to go after it. In my horror, I started yelling at them from my porch.

This could have been a tragedy. How do I get the city to replace the grate over the drain before a tragedy occurs? Seems like a easy fix. Thanks — Concerned Resident

Dear Concerned Resident:I checked out the drain for myself and determined it to be about 18 inches in diameter. Also, there is nothing in the drain’s appearance that makes it

Drains in storm retention areas generally are the responsibility of homeowners associations. This one, at the edge of the Quail Crossing neighborhood, has an opening about 18 inches in diameter. (Johnnie St. Vrain/Times-Call)

appear as if it lost a grate.

So I checked with city water utilities supervisor Jim Engel. He told me that the drains on most of the retention areas in the city are the responsibility of the homeowners associations in those neighborhoods. Such is the case with yours. It’s owned by the Quail Crossing Residential Association. I looked it up and found its contact person, Kevin Lucas with Foster Management. He went to the retention area and confirmed that the drain is on HOA property.

“Homeowners with any questions, comments or concerns should contact the HOA management company at 303-532-4148 or attend a scheduled HOA board meeting to speak directly with the board,” he replied to Johnnie after seeing the drain for himself. All HOA board meetings are open to homeowners/residents of the community, he said.

Kevin said that in 2006, the HOA board initiated the installation of the trash racks on the stormwater culverts throughout the neighborhood, as the city had not required the developer to install them.

“All culverts larger than 18 inches were fitted with trash racks at that time,” he said.

Jim Engel confirmed that there is no rule requiring that grates be placed on drains above a certain size, although generally grates are placed on drains larger than 18 inches.

C.R., I trust that you can take it from here.

Dear Johnnie: My wife and I are like other couples in their senior years who over time have collected valuable items such as jewelry, gold , silver and platinum. Most have been in security boxes or buried under clothing in dresser drawers. Most are really dated and would not be worn today.

We have offered them to our daughter and granddaughter, and both refused because of their style. They advised us to sell them now that prices for gold are high. The problem we have is a basic distrust of taking them to those companies that advertise in the papers that they buy coins, jewelry, etc., for fear that they will shortchange us as to their value.

Do you have any recommendations on how to find legitimate and honest appraisers willing to be fair in their transactions with us old-timers? — D.A.

Dear D.A.: Imagine you were buying jewelry, gold, silver or platinum. What would you do?

You would shop around. Without implying that you would be shortchanged by one of the companies that comes into town for a weekend, I can let you know that there are local businesses that purchase gold and other valuables from people like you. So you have the opportunity to have your valuables appraised by someone locally. Through your own legwork, you can determine for yourself who would give you the best price.

Then, next time a company comes into town telling you they’ll give you top price for gold, you can find out by asking them what they would pay you for yours.

Granted, precious metals prices are always changing, so what Company A would give you one week might differ from what they would give you the next week. And that doesn’t take into account what Company B might do.

Also, you can check with the Better Business Bureau to see if a gold-buyer has been the subject of legitimate complaints.

D.A., I hope this helps. Of course, you do have one other option. You could hold on to the valuables. It’s your choice.

Posted in Parks | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Who’s right about the right of way?

Dear Johnnie: I was hoping to get a little help from you. This morning I was at a four-way stop at Third Avenue and Sunset Street. It was headed north on Sunset and wanted to turn right and go east on Third.

I waited my turn and started to go, when a motorcycle headed south on Sunset, turning left to go east on Third cut me off. The motorcyclist yelled and flipped me off several times, and we went on our way. I went to the DMV website and read the rules for a four-way stop and it stated that the first person to the intersection has the right of way. If two people come to the intersection at the same time you yield to the person on your right.

So what do you do when the person is across from you and you get to the intersection at the same time? Nowadays, four-way stops are treated as the two opposite cars go at the same time. And in my situation, I think I had the right of way turning to my right. Please help me to figure this out and inform/remind your readers as to how you handle four-way stops.

Thank you so much! — Stoppin’ and Goin’ in Longmont

Dear Stoppin’ and Goin’: If you and the motorcyclist reached the intersection at the same time, then you had the right of way.

According to the Model Traffic Code: “Unless there is an official traffic control arrow signal regulating the left turn, the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left within an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway shall yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

As I’ve noted before, being right doesn’t do much good once there’s been an accident. Safety is the responsibility of every driver. Yes, that goes for the motorcyclist. Even if he believed he had gotten to the intersection first, his concern should have been seeing that both of you got through the intersection safely, rather than pointing out to you — in his special way — that you were wrong.


Dear Johnnie: The new Lykins Gulch trail connecting Airport Road to the St. Vrain Greenway is great, with one exception — the last 100 feet or so of the trail, where it connects to the Airport Road sidewalk, was left unpaved. This makes for a very dangerous access to the trail, especially coming from the north on the Airport Road sidewalk. Why was it left unpaved? — Bike Rider

Dear Bike Rider: Because that’s where the trail will tie in to an underpass under Airport Road.

In fact, construction work on the Lykins Gulch Pedestrian Underpass is under way, and it’s expected to be complete by the end of November. By the time I get this answer to you, you might know this already. As of this week, cyclists and pedestrians are being detoured south from the Lykins Gulch trail along the Niwot Ditch access road to Rogers Road, then west along Rogers Road to Airport Road.

Posted in Parks, traffic signs, signals | Tagged , | Leave a comment

From Spencer Street, no path that leads to righteousness

Dear Johnnie: I have a question regarding the intersection of Spencer Street and Colo. Highway 66.

In July, Faith Community Lutheran Church, at 9775 Ute Highway, changed its entrance to line up with Spencer Street. Now, one can go straight across Highway 66 from Spencer Street to the church. However, the city has not changed the striping on Spencer Street. There are only two lanes striped — one with a right-turn arrow and one with a left-turn arrow.

Shouldn’t they now add a straight arrow to the right-turn lane? I was sitting there waiting

The entrance and exit for Faith Community Lutheran Church, across from Spencer Street, for Johnnie St. Vrain. Thursday Sept 15, 2011. (Lewis Geyer/Times-Call)

to go straight across, and the guy behind me kept honking at me, as it was clear for me to turn right. He didn’t know that the reason I had no turning light on was that I wasn’t planning to turn, but was waiting for both lanes of Highway 66 to clear to allow me to cross. With no straight arrow he assumed there was no option but to go right.

Thanks for checking on this. — Confused Church Member

Dear Confused: I think there was a communication glitch.

I asked city transportation engineer Bob Ball about this question.

“Unfortunately, we were not aware that the church was making this change until after this entrance was realigned,” he wrote to Johnnie.

I checked with Faith Community. Stacia — the very friendly and helpful administrative assistant who answered the phone — said that because the church is on the north side of the highway and not in city limits, the church worked with the Colorado Department of Transportation on the change. “Our understanding was the CDOT was supposed to inform the city,” she said.

She did note that the city put in the street lights along the realigned entrance, so at least one city department knew it was happening.

Regardless, both Bob and Stacia confirmed with me that the city is planning to change the markings at the north end of Spencer to align with the new church entrance.

So, Confused, it appears that the city provided a light unto your path, but it did not make your path straight.


Dear Johnnie: The accident between a motorcycle and Subaru recently at 17th and Harvard prompted me to drop you a note, and maybe you can help the community.

There is no crosswalk on 17th between Hover and Airport. This is a very long stretch on a major road in Longmont with no official crossing place.

I’ve called the city a few times over the years and have always been told there isn’t really a need.

With all of the pedestrian-activated crosswalks in other towns where there isn’t a true “intersection,” I don’t know why Longmont can’t do something.

Kids on both sides of 17th attend Westview. When they ride or walk to Westview for school, there is a crossing guard at 17th and Airport. However, a lot of kids from the north side of 17th have sports practices at Longmont Estates, Westview, Pratt Park, etc., and there is no crossing guard when they go to practice. This doesn’t include the folks who walk, or kids in the summer and on weekends who visit friends on the other side of the street.

On Hover, you can officially cross at 21st, 17th, 15th, Ninth and so on.

While there are police who nab speeders every day on 17th, there is nothing done to help folks cross the street.

Can you find out why there is no crosswalk at this major intersection? — JL

Dear JL: I believe that the answer to your question can, in part, be found in the question itself.

What’s the difference between Harvard Street, and 21st, 17th, 15th and Ninth avenues? Answer: There’s no traffic light at Harvard. In fact, there’s nothing to stop traffic on 17th from Hover Street all the way to Hygiene.

So, as city Bob Ball noted, “with traffic speeds along 17th Avenue and the turning traffic at Harvard Street, we do not believe we can mark a safe crosswalk at this intersection.”

Basically, traffic along 17th at Harvard is such that someone trying to cross, even on a marked crosswalk, would be endangered. So, the city has not placed a crosswalk there.

Granted, someone crossing 17th at Airport Road faces the same dangers, but having a crossing guard helps. Placing the crosswalk and crossing guard at that intersection allows all students who live north of 17th to follow the shortest path to the school.

A traffic light would help the situation at Harvard and 17th, but Ball stated that “this intersection does not meet warrants for installation of a traffic signal at this time.”

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