Good afternoon, Montrose.

One of the best expressions of our local summers: the “Olathe Sweet” sweet corn is in.

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Butter Side Up……No group was impacted more negatively by the pandemic than the restaurant industry. Longtime restaurants were shuttered, hospitality workers cast off into unemployment — the whole magilla.

The recovery is on, yet the challenge is finding and hiring necessary staff. One upside: stories of “paying it forward” never seem to be overcooked. Always welcomed, like the one recent experience from Ridgway’s best-known restaurant, the True Grit Café.

A tourist couple stopped in July 11 and after one of them wisely ordered the chicken fried steak, the bill came to $61. They asked the wait person how many people were working at the moment – 11. So, they had a formula – an $1,100 tip with a warm note. (The note and bill are on the TGC’s Facebook page. Along with two job openings.)

“It was a beautiful thing,” said owner Tammee Tuttle. “God steps up and refreshes you and refills you.” The couple was from Denver and had family in Durango and Montrose.

“It’s been hard to find staff. Most of us are doing doubles (work shifts),” added Tuttle, who was doing a double herself and multitasking: running the cash register and tending bar. “The tourists are here in force and there’s not enough people to take care of them. We’re asking our customers to be patient.” Last Saturday night, Tuttle said, a customer left a $100 gratuity.

The True Grit Café — in the heart of Ridgway facing the 129-year-old serenity that is Hartwell Park — has been around since 1985. Part of the building was used in the 1969 movie, ‘True Grit,’ from which John Wayne won an Oscar. As a good many know, it was filmed in and around Ouray and Ridgway.

A Florida native, Tuttle bought the TGC Aug. 28, 1996. She and her co-proprietor, Don Latham, serve “cowboy cuisine.” (I’ll call it comfort food. Not many places with fried okra on the menu.)

Ridgway’s summers are typically busy. There are Thursday concerts in the park, a farmer’s market on Fridays and other festivals. These acts of kindness pay dividends most of us never see.

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Nobody Asked Me, But……The Notebook’s amused at how the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of US 550 and Chipeta Road is now “expedited.” As in December 2023. The county and the city are on board with an inter-government agreement. The city committed reserve funds, speeding up the process, instead of putting it off until the next budget session.

CDOT’s a player because it’s their right-of-way and their permits. Design and engineering will be completed by next April. Then, construction begins September-October 2022. Given the current escalation of construction costs, the project will likely come in at more than $100,000, which will be split by the county and city.

CDOT took 10 years to prep and paper-work the ongoing Little Blue Canyon-US 50 project between Montrose and Gunnison before it ever moved a rock. That renovation has another two years left. I’m told 30 months or so to put in a traffic signal is about the norm.

It’s a worrisome place, this Chipeta intersection. At certain times of the day, drivers have to keep their wits while crossing or they’ll be a customer at the local ICU. Dodging a T-bone from a boat-pulling RV trying to get upsteam while heading south; or, from someone flying low and coming into town from the other direction. Those folks seemingly don’t touch the brakes until they’re at the Oxbow Crossing stoplight.

Glad it’s been fast-tracked.

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Good Music, Memories……I ran into Kenny Mihelich last week at City Market, south. Kenny was a key member of the great party band, the Rockadiles from Telluride. Kenny could lay down a driving, fat bass line while nailing the vocals, ala Jack Bruce (Cream).

The Rockadiles played everywhere — weddings, retirements, birthday parties and even funerals. They had the weekend gig for many years at Dennis Weaver’s Big Barn in Ridgway. Likely a dose of romance was sparked from the crowded dance floor because the Rockadiles were smooth-clean tearing it up on stage.

Dennis and Geri Weaver greeted you at the door and kept order. (Who’s going to mess with ‘McCloud,’ right?) Some band members – Rusty Weaver (guitar), Tom Bonfietti (keyboards), Ruthie McCain (vocals) – have continued to live hereabouts. Kenny says he’s “retired” from the construction biz, but plays regularly with the Ridgway band, David Nunn and the Bad Habits.

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Winning Typo……Chris Dickey sold his former newspaper, the Gunnison Country Times, June 1. Chris was a terrific publisher. The GCT also published one of the best-ever typos. Which was published again in the New Yorker magazine, no less. To wit:

“North District officers delivered an emergency massage to a hunting party near McClure Pass,” so reported the Times.

(No word if there were scented oils, subdued lighting or New Age music.)

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