Marty Durlin

Contributing Reporter

Marty Durlin contributes freelance news features, including coverage of Delta County Commissioner's meetings and local governmental issues.

Marty  is a writer, reporter and playwright currently living in Paonia, Colorado. She contributes to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News, and is a Delta County native. Her prestigious works include the plays, "Babbit", "Pollyana", and the completely original musical, "Beautiful Radiant Things". Marty was General Manager of KGNU Community Radio in Boulder, Colorado for more than 20 years.

Ways to Connect

At a recent Delta County Commissioners meeting, the Cocker Kids Foundation received kudos from Delta County Health and Human Services Director Chuck Lemoine.  Lemoine first talked about how, in a meeting years ago with Joe and Pam Cocker, the County came to be an agent for the Foundation.

Jim Brett

Recently, the Paonia-based Citizens for a Healthy Community, along with nearly 30 other organizations, wrote to the Bureau of Land Management, requesting that the agency comply with a recent legal ruling and release the names of all lease parcel nominators to the public. KVNF’s Marty Durlin has more.

Since Delta County Commissioners gave conditional approval to Western Slope Layers’ cage-free chicken farm in August 2011, the hen-laying facility on Powell Mesa has been in and out of district court and the commissioners’ hearing room ten times. At issue: the compatibility of the facility with the surrounding neighborhood; its impact on neighbors’ health and real estate values; the ability of the county to properly monitor the situation; and what regulations actually apply to the facility. A similar hen-laying operation is proposed for Redlands Mesa.

North Fork Merchant Herald

Delta County Commissioners recently approved a $15,000 study to be performed by Ken Kolm Hydrologic System Analysis that will provide a baseline for the state of groundwater in the North Fork Valley.

Environmental Health Director Ken Nordstrom presented a contract for commissioners to sign, launching the second phase of a groundwater study for the county. The first phase covered the Oak Mesa area and the second will address the North Fork.

Marty Durlin

Nearly 500 species of birds make their way through Colorado or live here year-around – and chances are local birder and author Evelyn Horn knows them. In the second report of a two-part series, KVNF’s Marty Durlin talked to Horn about the general decline of birds in a world where human population and activity is on the rise.



I asked her what she could say about the state of birds, whether climate change is impacting them, and certainly human activity as Evy has talked about. How would she characterize their condition?

Anyone familiar with Paonia knows that the streets are in bad shape, especially along one four-block stretch on Third Street between Grand Avenue and the public library.

It’s not only the streets that are bumpy in Paonia. The last year has been an up-and-down ride for Paonia’s mayor. From the BLM’s decision to offer and then withdraw lease parcels in the North Fork, to the guilty plea entered by the town’s former employee for embezzling some $400,000 from the public coffers, there has been no shortage of drama. But what about the streets?

Marty Durlin

May 11 was Colorado’s Migratory Bird Day, celebrating the nearly 500 species that live in the state or pass through it. Local naturalist, birder and author Evelyn Horn has spent the past twenty years or so focused on birds. In 1989 she and her husband Al moved from Las Vegas to Eckert and settled near Hart’s Basin, or Fruitgrowers Reservoir, which is controlled by the Orchard City Irrigation District (OCID). People had just been banned from the reservoir because of e-coli, and the absence of human activity made it more attractive to birds.

Marty Durlin

An attentive audience at the DMEA building in Montrose Wednesday night got a glimpse into the inner workings of the 75-year-old co-op as six candidates squared off for three seats on the governing board. The Delta Montrose Electrical Association has about 33,000 customers in Delta and Montrose Counties who elect the nine paid board members who serve three-year terms.


The fight to keep negative impacts of gas drilling out of the North Fork Valley got a boost as community members got a glimpse of the area from a higher plane. On Monday The Western Slope Conservation Center and Eco-Flight offered two tours of the North Fork Valley to graphically show the importance of the North Fork Valley Alternative Plan – a proposal created to provide a rallying point for residents concerned about oil and gas extraction on public lands. The Conservation Center’s director Sarah Sauter explains the purpose of the flights.

Marty Durlin

A few weeks ago on the iseechange report, we covered the story of orchardist Will Beezley’s journals from the 1930s, 40s and 50s that are being transcribed on by local farmer Amber Kleinman. Through reading the journals, Kleinman not only learned about historical farming and weather in the North Fork, but also caught a glimpse of Will Beezley’s life. Now that life has been further illuminated by Beezley’s grand-nephew, Larry Beezley.

On Saturday the Delta Historical Museum hosted a tribute to two sisters for their many contributions to the community.

Nellie Clark and Sula Mathews have lived in Delta since 1932 where they have spent a lifetime of community service -- at the library, the schools, the church, and a variety of other worthy causes. This week Nellie turns 97 -- her younger sister is only 89.


“Hey, can you see the flag in that thing?!”  It’s a question that makes us wince when observing the moon at astronomy outreaches.  The answer is…Maybe if you were aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter… but, all six of the flags are now faded to white, and the first one blew over when the Apollo 11 lunar module blasted off departing the moon.  

From our backyards, the moon, our closest celestial neighbor, is easily observed by the unaided eye  as it moves through its changing phases.  During the next two weeks, the moon will move from new to nearly full.


Brian Cambria

Paonia Fire Chief Mike Byers and his volunteer crew responded to a fire in a shed belonging to Stahl’s Orchards just outside of Paonia about 4 pm Monday afternoon. Twenty-one fire-fighters and seven trucks were involved in fighting the blaze, which took five hours to extinguish.

Marty Durlin

Local farmer Jere Lowe thinks he has a better framework for regulating recreational marijuana than anything the Colorado Legislature has come up with. In fact, he wrote his own alternative plan, and emailed it to state legislators and the governor last week.

Will Beezley was an orchardist and farmer who lived up Steven’s Gulch just outside of Paonia. In the 1930s, 40s and 50s, he kept a daily log of his tasks, along with the weather and conditions. The brief entries offer a glimpse of his work on the land and his chase with water. The journals are now in the hands of Paonia resident Amber Kleinman, who has been selecting and posting entries for ISeeChange at She was interviewed by KVNF’s Marty Durlin, who asked her first about the process of transcribing the journals.

Update: Pass is officially "open". CDOT is alternating single-lane traffic around slide, and says to  "Expect long delays,  especially between 7AM and 7 PM during cleanup work." Read their official statement here.

The closure of Highway 133 south of McClure Pass due to a rockslide will likely last throughout the week. Falling boulders including one rock as big as a dump truck forced the closure Sunday morning.

Last weekend young dancers took to the stage of the Paradise Theater in Paonia for a song and dance tribute to Michael Jackson. The show, called "The Songs of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop", was a tribute to Michael Jackson presented by Paonia Players. Featuring local singers and dancers of all ages, the performance was produced by Merrily Talbott, director of Paonia Players, an organization that supports theater, dance and vocal education and performances in the North Fork Valley.

Amber Kleinman

Paonia resident Amber Kleinman has been reading through the daily journals of William Beezley, an orchardist and farmer who lived up Steven’s Gulch in the first half of the 20th century. Recording selected entries for and comparing them to current weather and conditions, Kleinman – a small-acreage farmer who keeps a journal herself -- has gained a new perspective.

On last week, Marilyn Stone noted that she hasn’t heard the chorus of leopard frogs she usually hears by this time of year, and wondered about the effect of a nearby wetlands that dried up last fall. KVNF’s Marty Durlin has some answers from a scientist who studies leopard frogs.

Marty Durlin

At 4 pm on Tuesday, April 16, the Blue Sage in Paonia will present a practical session to help people deal with a topic no one wants to talk about. Jean Ceriani is trying to tell us something. As a healthcare provider, she’s seen how the body wears out, gives up, or is wounded beyond repair. But most of us can’t seem to communicate with one another about this most basic fact of our existence – that it will end.

Listen to Western Slope Skies, a report on the night sky by the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.  

Marty Durlin

For the past 20 years, Brent Helleckson and his family have been building a wine business on Garvin Mesa. They’ve constructed a home, a wine cellar a tasting room, and added to the vineyard. In those two decades, they also became a part of the North Fork community. When the Bureau of Land Management proposed 30,000 acres of leases for gas development in the North Fork Valley, Helleckson felt the threat to his winery as well as all agriculture and tourism-based industries.

Don Foster

About a month ago on, Don posted a photo of a fellow with a big semi-load of bales – but they weren’t hay, they were cornstalks. The use of forage other than the traditional alfalfa and other grasses is becoming a necessity for some ranchers. 

Drought has made it more common now, but Judd Rodman has been harvesting cornstalks for cattle feed as far back as 1990. Based south of Paonia, he employs five people who help him harvest, bale and deliver cornstalk all over the Western Slope.

Listen to Western Slope Skies, an astronomical report created by the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.

Marty Durlin

Here in the North Fork Valley, healthy bee colonies continue to swarm and thrive. But there are threats. Back on March 6th, fourth-grader Noah McDaniel reported to iSeeChange that he’d seen his first bee of the season during recess at Paonia Elementary. Now, a few weeks later at Caren von Gontard’s farm on Lamborn Mesa, the bees are – well, busy.

2012 was a bad year for West Nile Virus in Western Colorado. Mesa, Montrose and Delta Counties accounted for nearly half the confirmed cases in the state. In Delta County, the 22 cases included the death of an 82-year-old man from Orchard City.

On Monday, Delta County Commissioners honored Gordon O’Brien by giving the Veterans Service Office in the County Courthouse his name. O’Brien ran the office in the basement of the Delta County Courthouse for 24 years, before handing the job off to Brian Ayers a decade ago. At a reception for O’Brien, Ayers talked about how O’Brien had inspired him.

Andrea Robinsong, who took these these photos at the Escalante State Wildlife Area west of Delta, has been reporting on the Sandhill Cranes in the area since they began arriving in early March. Both Andrea and Evelyn Horn have been counting birds at Fruitgrowers Reservoir in Eckert and the Escalante area where they rest and feed before flying north.

Evelyn has been keeping track of the numbers of cranes at the reservoir, and here is what she reports:

Marty Durlin is bursting with news about new baby animals – spring brings calves,  lambs and kids.  KVNF's Marty Durlin reported on one of the stories about Emily Hartnett, who lives on Garvin Mesa with her chickens, goats and cats. It’s a rustic life that begins by dawn and ends late in the day. On Friday one of her six adult goats, Alba, gave birth to two male kids. Instead of the soft, protected place Emily had prepared for her, Alba chose to deliver next to an old tractor embedded in the dirt in the middle of the goat yard.

A dedicated troupe showed up to tramp around the Paonia River Park yesterday and mark another step in its transformation from an in-stream gravel operation into a thriving fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands, swimming and boating area, and riverside park.