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MONTROSE

SUNDAY September 4, 2011

VOL 129, NO. 38

$1.50

MONTROSE, CO 81401

www.montrosepress.com

State's investigation into illegal tire dump Council to hear expected to be finished in matter of weeks golf course report, BY KATI O'HARE DAILY PRESS WRITER

‘This is why we have regulations

State health officials plan to wrap up an investigation into a large illegal tire dump in Ouray County by the middle of the month with an eye toward possibly filing charges against the land owner after many of the tires wound up in the Uncompahgre River. The Ouray County Sheriff's Department got a report of "hundreds" of tires floating down the Uncompahgre River near the Billy Creek area after a July 26 flash flood. The department is working with the state Health Department to investigate the situation. "It's an unapproved disposal place," said Jeannine Natterman, a public health officer for the Health Department. "This is why we have regulations because they (tires) end up in the wrong areas, like a river." The July 26 flash flood caused an ordinarily dry arroyo to turn into a raging stream and eventually carried many of the tires into the Uncompahgre River. "In that arroyo is where the tires had been buried, or just plain dumped," Natterman said. "The tires were then carried into Burro Creek about a mile down, where they went into Cow Creek and then into the Uncompahgre River." State officials say the land where the tires were dumped is owned by Butch Gunn, and their investigation could lead to

because they (tires) end up in the wrong areas, like a river.’ Jeannine Natterman Public health officer for the state Health Deaptment ▲ charges being filed against him. A report on the situation was filed with the state Health Department on Aug. 9, and staff members from the department's Grand Junction office visited the site on Aug. 12. Natterman said it "seemed to be common knowledge" that a tire store in Montrose was using Gunn's property to dispose of its used tires. "We have regulations that the fees collected (by businesses such as the tire store) for tire disposal is meant to go to the disposal of the tires," Natterman said. "He was charging a fee but SEE TIRES, PAGE A3

Back from the brink

JOEL BLOCKER / DAILY PRESS

Lara Ammermann, a pitcher for the Montrose High School softball team, nearly died six months ago as a result of blood clots in both of her lungs.

MHS pitcher survives brush with death, returns to diamond BY MATT LINDBERG DAILY PRESS SPORTS EDITOR

Lara Ammermann stepped into the pitching circle on a hot Aug. 23 afternoon, unsure if she could pitch the way she was accustomed to in the Montrose High softball team’s season opener. Those doubts proved groundless, as Ammermann was triumphant, leading her squad to an 8-5 victory over Palisade High that day. The Lady Indians hurler smoked her competition by throwing 44 strikes out of 70 pitches, totaling eight strikeouts. After her post-game team meeting, Ammermann walked over to her mother, who greeted her with a big hug and smile. That warm exchange between the two was an indication the game was about far more than the team’s first win or impressive statistics for the Montrose High junior. For her, it was all the proof she needed that anything is possible. Six months ago, Ammermann nearly died from blood

clots in both of her lungs. Her recovery was long and difficult, requiring her to battle against the odds. But by late August, she had demonstrated that she could still do what she loved most: pitching in softball games. “I think my mentality is much different,” Ammermann said recently. “I’ve always loved pitching, but I learned that you should appreciate everything you get because you never know when or if it will be taken away. You should be thankful for every minute you’re on the field.”

In the beginning Ammermann's ordeal started a few days after Christmas last year when she found herself suffering from severe chest pain and gasping for breath, just barely making it through the Montrose girls basketball squad’s conditioning drills.

Published for the Uncompahgre Valley and Lee Fortner of Montrose

COMICS . . . . . . . . . . .A12 OBITUARIES . . . . . . .A13 FOCUS . . . . . . . . . . .B1-4 CLASSIFIEDS . . . . . .C1-4

BY KATI O'HARE DAILY PRESS WRITER

A quarterly report from the Montrose Land Company, the fiscal agent for the Black Canyon Golf Course, is expected to serve as one of the highlights of Tuesday's City Council meeting. The report ▼ Details is due to be presented at Tuesday at the City Council Chambers the council's in the Elks Civic’s regular Building, 107 S. work sesCascade Ave. sion that • 6 p.m. City Counstarts at 6 cil work session. p.m. in the • 7 p.m. Council regcouncil ular meeting. chambers at 107 S. Cascade Ave. The council has supplied the company with two separate payment of $12,500 to help fund the costs of managing the citydeeded "back nine" of the public golf course. The payments are part of a five-year contact that originated in 2008, requiring the city to fund the course up to $50,000 based on need. The council's regular meeting agenda did not show a request for funding from the land trust, but such a request could still be added to the agenda at the start of the meeting. Also during the work session, real estate agent David Kienhotz will conduct a river property discussion with council. The council only has a few items to address during its regular meeting. There will be a public hearing on the rezoning of the property at 1915 N. Townsend Ave. Property owner James Smith wants it rezoned from general commercial to general industrial so he can expand his business. The property lines falls just outside a 100-foot river buffer requirement set by the city, which raised concerns from some councilors during their August meeting. The council will consider the rezoning request, but both the city and the property owner want to maintain the back section of the property near the river as commercial so that industrial development can't take place too close to the river, according to earlier council reports. The property was zoned industrial until the previous owners had it changed to commercial in 2009, according to the city. A discussion of the annual Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism Gala also is among city council's discussion for Tuesday. For the full agenda, visit www.cityofmontrose.org and click on "archive center." To comment on this story, visit our website at www.montrosepress.com.

SEE AMMERMANN, PAGE A4

INSIDE THE DAILY PRESS LOCAL . . . . . . . .A2-5,8,14 OPINION . . . . . . . . . .A6-7 STATE . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A8 NATION . . . . . . . . . . . .A9 SPORTS . . . . . . . . . . .A10 WORLD . . . . . . . . . . . .A11

rezoning request near river

Nation: Congress popularity suffering Page A9

TODAY’S WEATHER It will be sunny all day! High 85, Low 55 See details, Page A13

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A4

LOCAL

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2011

MONTROSE DAILY PRESS

AMMERMANN: Mother, who’s also a registered nurse, immediately startled by daughter’s wheezing you have for your child, and in moments like that, you would take their position in a second. Lara was so strong.” Lynette said she had to reassure her daughter that everything would be OK, despite not knowing if she would survive. After nearly a week in Denver, Lara's condition seemed to stabilize, and the Ammermanns returned to Montrose on Jan. 8.

FROM PAGE 1 Those drills, Ammermann said, consisted of running sprints and laps, in addition to the completion of 17 so-called "suicide" drills in 17 minutes at the end of the two-hour practice. A suicide is an endurance test in which athletes start at one end of court, touch the foul line, return back to the baseline and repeat the same when reaching half-court, the opposite foul line and baseline. “I kept thinking ‘Why is everyone else doing this so much easier?’ ” Ammermann recalled. “I was so tired, and I couldn’t breathe.” Knowing how poorly she felt, Ammermann said she spent the remainder of practice taking breaks to recover when necessary while still participating in drills as much as she could. When practice was over, she went home but said her symptoms remained the same. Ammermann's mother, Lynette, arrived at the house a bit later and was immediately startled by her daughter’s wheezing, which she heard as soon as she entered the home. Lynette Ammermann, who is registered nurse, checked her daughter’s lungs and heard minimal air exchange. She then rushed her daughter to Dr. Timothy Sullinger and Dr. Julie DeVita-Bailey's family clinic, where Sullinger diagnosed the girl with reactive airway disease secondary to bronchitis. RAD is an asthma-like syndrome developed after a single exposure to high levels of irritating vapor or smoke, which causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Lara was put on Nebulizer treatment, Prednisone and antibiotics, and given an inhaler before being sent home. But only a few days later, she would find herself at Montrose Memorial Hospital. On Sunday, Jan. 2, she took a walk around the block with her younger brother, Ethan, and decided to try jogging. Soon after she picked up her pace, Lara blacked out, and 7-year-old Ethan saw his older sister fall face first into the snow. “I don’t remember falling,” she said. Lara came to a few minutes later, but fell back down, which prompted Ethan to race home for his mother. “I was so dizzy and so confused,” Lara recalled. “I couldn’t remember how to use my phone, and I didn’t feel good at all.” When Lynette arrived at Lara’s side, she said her daughter was “as blue as could be,” barely conscious, and her eyes had basically rolled into the back of her

Her own prison But less than 24 hours later, Lara found herself back in Montrose Memorial hospital’s emergency room as familiar symptoms, such as relentless chest pain, returned. Under the care of DeVita-Bailey, Lara stayed in MMH’s intensive care unit for three days. She continued to take Warfarin, a type of blood thinner, and was not allowed to participate in any kind of athletic activities for the next six months while she took the drug. If she got hit or fell, there was a high risk she could bleed to death internally.

JOEL BLOCKER / DAILY PRESS

Montrose High's Lara Ammermann reaches to catch a throw while playing first base during a recent practice. head. Lara was rushed to the emergency room at MMH and diagnosed with massive bilateral pulmonary emboli in both of her lungs — also known as blood clots. The clots were causing right heart strain, as a restricted amount of blood was flowing into her heart, Lynette said. Lara quickly was put on the blood thinners Lovenox and Heparin to prevent further clots.

Fearing death By early afternoon on Monday, Jan. 3, Lara and her mother were flown to Denver Children’s Hospital, and Lara’s father made the five-hour drive from Montrose to meet his family. When Lara arrived by plane, doctors started her on Heparin and 48 hours of tissue plasminogen activator. TPA is a protein that helps the breakdown of blood clots. In addition, she had to undergo three blood infusions, an ultrasound of her legs and a cat scan of her head, among other tests. Over the next few days, Lara saw several more doctors and was given a variety of blood thinners. One night, her chaotic situation overwhelmed her, which resulted in a sobbing Lara asking her mother if she was going to die. “I don’t think I fully understood how close I was to dying up until that point,” Lara said. Said Lynette: “There is no greater love than what

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Lara Ammermann pitches during a little league game. By March, Lara was allowed limited activity, at first walking a few steps at a time and then progressing to a quarter of a mile. She also gradually made her way back to school and saw her local doctor for checkups. “All of the school officials and counselors were so gracious and accommodating to her,” Lynette said. Lara made a point to attend every basketball practice, though she couldn’t play. The night before a scheduled doctor’s appointment in April, the reality of not being active sunk in with her. “I cried because I didn’t know if I ever was going to be play softball again or do anything I used to do before it all happened,” Lara explained. At her doctor visit the next day, Lara was given the go-ahead to start throwing pitches without a batter, and she quickly took advantage of that opportunity. For one to two hours each day, Lara locked herself in the garage and pitched to a net five to seven feet away. She also threw to her father, Craig, whenever possible. "Lara's always been self-motivated," Craig said. "She doesn't need to be told to practice. She'll be the one to come ask me to catch for her." Although she missed her summer softball season, Lara regularly trudged to her family's garage from April through June, maintaining her lonely routine and continuing to throw pitches into the net to prepare herself for a return to her high school team. “I worked at it forever," she said. "I did that so when the moment came that I could play, I was going to be ready. Not being able to play basketball all season and not pitching to a live batter was the worst. It wasn’t good, because I felt normal. Except my blood wasn’t. I felt trapped.”

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SEE AMMERMANN, PAGE A8

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Back from the brink