Organizers hired private security to ease concerns about the 8th annual Iron Horse Motorcycle Rally buy it wasn't enough to convince the La Plata County Sheriff's Office to reduce the number of deputies assigned to the Labor Day weekend event at Sky Ute Downs on the reservation. "We are hoping next year that this will reduce the impact on the sheriffs deputies once we have established that this is really going to work," said rally president, Warren "Easy" Bernard. Sheriff Duke Schirard said none of his deputies was allowed time off during the weekend. "... There are going to be a whole lot of people out there having fun, and a whole lot of people making money, and it isn't going to be the sheriff's office." A book and release desk was at Ignacio where people could post bond and be fingerprinted. Suspects who were incarcerated were taken to the La Plata County Jail or, if that was full, to the tribal jail. TeBrink and Schirard both said the fact that there has never been a "major incident" associated with the rally is a testament to good planning by rally organizers. Rally attendance was expected to reach 30,000 this year, up from 26,000 in 1999, Bernard said.
Some tribal members who believe their children aren't well served by public schools have an alternative this year. The Southern Ute Indian Academy, a private school funded by the tribe, is scheduled to open Sept. 5, though only 36 percent of the school's capacity has been filled. The building will serve 3- to 9-year-old tribal members. A building to serve children up to 3 years old will open in mid-September. The school is slated to expand its offerings to include 9- to 13-year-olds in fall 2001 pending tribal approval, said Diane Millich-Olguin, the tribe's director of private education. Tribal leaders said the school is a necessary alternative for tribal members' children enrolled in the Ignacio School District. The school, which will use the Montessori teaching method, has a classroom to teach the Ute language and a fine arts room to teach American Indian dance and other cultural arts. "If we don't do anything about it now, we can only expect the same type of pattern to occur for years: tribal member students not graduating from high school," said tribe Chairman John E. Baker Jr. Millich-Olguin said the school has hired enough teachers, including a Ute language teacher, to cover 60 students.