Briefs: Mobile Junction January 15, 2009

Ex-teacher now learning about dinosaurs

• For eight years, Raymond Bley was an elementary school teacher.
For 30 years after that, he was an elementary school principal.
Now, at the age of 76, he’s well into a career as an ancient tooth hunter.
In the summer he quarries Jurassic-aged rivers, lakes and ponds. In the winter he sifts through the 5-gallon buckets of rock he has mined. This treasure hunt concludes in the confines of a dinosaur-bone-strewn laboratory in the heart of Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum.
“What we are trying to do is have a collection of teeth and bones of life that lived 150 million years ago in the late Jurassic period,” said Bley, who has volunteered at the museum for nine years. “It is exciting to find teeth and bones you have never seen before.”
What he hunts in the rock he needs a microscope to see. Tiny teeth and bones of frogs, lung fish, lizards, mammals, turtles and crocodiles are painstakingly extracted with the help of an electric drill.

Dog towers over Clifton

• Steve Alford says his hot dogging days of climbing towers are behind him.
“I used to do that for a living,” he said. He was pointing more than 200 feet skyward to his co-worker, Mack, atop a communications tower at the intersection of 32 Road and Interstate 70 Business Loop, in Clifton. “I’m too old for that now.”
In his mid-50s, Alford likes to keep his feet on the ground and his Harley at his side.
Harley is Alford’s assistant, a 4-year-old Labrador/German shepherd mix.
Harley was at his master’s side Tuesday morning as Alford hoisted up a replacement for a faulty transmitter. Keyon Communications customers may have noticed that the transmitter repair job zapped wireless Internet connections in Clifton and eastern Palisade.
Harley has never climbed a tower, and he’s not so good on a ladder, but anytime they are working on a single-family home’s roof, Harley somehow finds his way up, Alford said.
But “pretty much” whatever job Alford’s on, Harley’s there.
“He’s the tower dog,” Alford said.

Kite protects visitors from foul balls

• A few fellas got together and decided to fly a kite at Fruita’s Little Salt Wash Park. With any luck it will be flying for years to come.
The giant blue and yellow kite is the new roof to a playground. Actually, with the corkscrew slide and jungle gym nestled between a couple of baseball diamonds here, northwest of Ottley Avenue and Pine Street, it’s more like a shield for fly balls.
“It’s foul ball protection, primarily,” said Dave McCollough, project manager for the city of Fruita.
As the kite was erected over the play equipment, by W.D. Yards, McCollough snapped a few pictures. The kite marks a halfway point for the 23-acre park’s construction.

Jackalopes are lucky, if you can find one

• Debbie Edie has never seen a jackalope in the wild.
The elusive creature, a mix between a jackrabbit and an antelope, has lent its name to her liquor store in Fruita. A dead, stuffed jackalope sits behind the front counter. The heads of two others are mounted on opposite walls.
What’s up with all the jackalopes, Debbie?
“I don’t know. I bought the store from another person,” she said.
The jackalope has brought her good luck, so she has kept the name and the jackalope trophies.


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