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Chris Clements


Chris Clements is KSJD's news reporter. He previously covered literary arts as a reporter for The Chautauquan Daily in Chautauqua, New York, and recently graduated with a degree in English from Arizona State University. At KSJD, Chris has collaborated with KUNC (northern Colorado NPR) on water conservation stories, and had his spots regularly featured on NPR's national newscasts.

  • Concerns are being raised in Cortez about how – and when – ongoing emergencies are communicated to residents, especially after recent shootings in town. On September 15, a fight broke out near Empire Street that resulted in one bystander being shot and transported to a hospital. It came after another report of shots fired the week before. However, in that case, nobody was injured. Last week, Cortez Police Chief Vernon Knuckles held a community update in Montezuma Park where several residents voiced concerns about not receiving notifications of the shootings through Montezuma County’s Nixle alert system. Cortez police have issued warrants for four suspects they believe were involved in the shooting, but have only made one arrest in connection to it so far.
  • A new bond initiative on the ballot in Dolores in this November’s election would fund renovations for the town’s secondary school campus. Earlier this month, the Dolores School District RE-4A board voted to move forward with the bond initiative, and established the Dolores School Campaign Committee as a separate group to craft the proposal and generate community support. Maegan Crowley is a member of the school board and the campaign committee, and a resident of Dolores. She says the enhancements to the secondary school are badly needed, especially after intense flooding this past spring damaged roads and infrastructure throughout town. The bond proposal, which would consist of $11.2 million funded through increased property taxes, would include flood mitigation at district facilities, as well as improved drainages and the raised elevation of some buildings.
  • Earlier this month, a meeting was held in White Mesa, Utah, on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, to remember the centennial of the town of Blanding’s attacks on the tribal community. From March 22 to April 29, 1923, Mormon settlers and townspeople from Blanding began a five-week assault that included the theft of Ute lands and children, and the murder and imprisonment of many White Mesa Utes. Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk is a former Ute Mountain Ute tribal council member and the cross-cultural programs manager for Montezuma Land Conservancy. According to Lopez-Whiteskunk, the attack on White Mesa was brought on, in part, by the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed any American to put in a claim for up to 160 free acres of federal land.
  • Environmental groups that work to protect the Black Mesa region in northeast Arizona say that Peabody Energy has not done a sufficient job of reclaiming the now-defunct Kayenta coal mine, and shouldn’t be refunded millions of dollars in bond money. Recently, the coal company Peabody Energy applied for the release of $17.3 million, part of a larger bond held by the Office of Surface Mining, or the OSM, for parts of the Kayenta Mine that have undergone some phases of reclamation. The office is under the Department of the Interior, and is tasked with ensuring coal mines adequately restore land damaged during strip mining. The bonds were posted with the OSM by Peabody to be returned only after the mine lands had been reclaimed to certain standards. In late August, the OSM held a public meeting on the bond release at the Navajo chapter house in Forest Lake where some community members also raised concerns about the long-term impact of mining on local water resources.
  • For months, fraudulent sober living homes have targeted tribal communities across the western United States, including the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Navajo Nation, coercing vulnerable Native American people into coming to facilities in Phoenix. A victims’ advocate says grassroots organizations like hers have been relying on social media to connect Native families looking for loved ones who’ve ended up living unhoused in Phoenix because of this scheme.
  • Last weekend, a community group held its second annual suicide awareness walk in downtown Cortez. The organization, RISE Southwest, was founded by Cortez residents Derek Streeter and Corin Wolf, who decided to start a suicide awareness walk in Montezuma County after the death of Streeter’s brother. According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Montezuma County has a higher rate of suicide than the state average, with 10 suicide deaths reported in 2022. Streeter says events like the walk on Saturday – which comes during National Suicide Prevention Month – can help remind people that they’re not alone. And ahead of next week’s 2023 United Nations summit on climate solutions, youth in New Mexico will call attention to the state’s challenges related to fossil fuels.
  • The city of Cortez is participating in a grant from the U.S. EPA to identify so-called brownfield properties for potential reuse and revitalization. Brownfield sites are properties where expansion or development may be complicated by the presence of pollutants or hazardous waste. In 2022, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment awarded Cortez, Firestone, Longmont, and Lyons a collective $2 million brownfields grant to cover the costs of initial site assessments and studies. Some properties in Cortez – like KSJD’s own Sunflower Theatre – have benefited from brownfield cleanup and community revitalization in the past. And a preliminary settlement was reached late Tuesday in a lawsuit over alleged transparency violations in the Colorado State House of Representatives.
  • The creative writing department at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, will hold a virtual writing discussion on Wednesday led by freelance journalist Cyrus Norcross. Norcross is a writer and creative writing student from the Navajo Nation whose reporting has so far focused on missing and murdered Indigenous people. At the Zoom discussion, he says he’ll read from a memoir-in-progress about his time as an activist at the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The memoir traces Norcross’s progression as a writer starting with his time at the Standing Rock protests, an experience that inspired him to pursue a career as a journalist, he says. The event will go from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday. And Democrats in the Colorado Senate chose a new Majority Leader last week.
  • A new seed store and bakery is opening its doors in Cortez for the first time on Saturday. Pueblo Seed & Food Company sells seeds that originated in and are adapted to the desert Southwest, as well as curated seeds from different arid regions all over the world. The company’s farm is located in McElmo Canyon on land protected by a Montezuma Land Conservancy easement, and grows crops like heritage wheat, rye and barley. Nanna Meyer, a baker and co-owner of Pueblo Seed & Food Company, says that she hopes the store will help provide a return to food culture for the residents of Montezuma County after years of isolation during the pandemic. And a new Colorado gun-control law that’s on hold due to a court challenge won’t be going into effect anytime soon.
  • Kathleen Curry, a Democrat from Gunnison, announced this month she’s running for Colorado House District 58. Curry previously served three terms as a representative in the State Legislature, changing her party affiliation in 2009 from Democrat to unaffiliated. She later lost reelection. Curry told Colorado Politics that when she left the Democratic Party in 2009 she was frustrated with the party system in general. In June, Curry changed her voter registration back to Democrat and subsequently began a bid for House District 58. If elected, Curry says changing her party affiliation will help her constituents, in part because of the realities of where the legislature is at in terms of party control.