Highlights from the

Herald Democrat

15 Years Ago

Fire extinguished in

three minutes

December 1, 2005


An attic caught fire in a residence in the 400 block of East 6th Street Monday, and was extinguished with minimal structure damage and no injury to the resident or pets.

The tone came at 11:34 a.m., according to Fire Fighter John Ortiz, and Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue engine one was on scene at 11:36 a.m. To fight the fire, the fire crew attached a large diameter hose to the closest hydrant.

“Within three minutes of being on scene, the engine crew was able to extinguish the fire,” said Ortiz.

The resident was out of the structure as the fire truck arrived on scene, and two dogs, three cats and two birds were also saved from injury.

A continued search of the residence found no overhaul, or extension, of the fire.

Because the electricity and gas were turned off for the crew to enter the house, the American Red Cross assisted the residents in finding shelter for the night, according to Ortiz. The utilities were to be turned on again sometime Tuesday.

The Leadville Police Department assisted with traffic control during the rescue, and the Leadville Street Department brought and spread sand for a safer fire scene, said Ortiz.

LLCFR would like to remind everyone, since the weather is getting colder, to take extra time to check that all auxiliary heating sources are installed properly and that they are checked by certified technicians on a regular basis.

Be sure that all heating sources have at least three feet of clearance around them. When using heat tape, be sure that it is inspected each time it is used. Only use it for short durations and do not leave it unattended.

Contact the fire department at 486-2990 or at info@leadvillefire.org with questions.

Climax fate still unknown

by Marcia Martinek

Herald Editor

December 8, 2005


The feasibility study on reopening the Climax Mine should be completed this month, but it’s unlikely any decision will be forthcoming for a while.

Ken Vaughn, manager of mining communications for Phelps Dodge, Inc., Climax owner, told the Herald that the study, or “pre-study” as he termed it, was likely to be followed by several months of internal review before a decision is made to start the mine up or set the concept aside.

Typically a study of this sort comes up with a number of options, and Phelps Dodge will then decide which options should be studied further, Vaughn said.

Phelps Dodge announced in May 2005 that it was undertaking the study on reopening the Climax Mine. The companies selected to do the study were Samuel Engineering, Inc., of Greenwood Village, and Knight Piesold Co. of Denver.

At the time, Jay Cupp, Climax manager, said the study would include costs to reopen the mine, technology needed, numbers of people needed and any new equipment. It would look at both open pit and underground mining.

The study was precipitated by an increased need for molybdenum and an increased price for the metal in the world markets.

Vaughn said the moly market was still strong.

On Tuesday, the price of molybdenum was $30 a pound, down some from the $37-a-pound price in May. The per-pound price has been as high as $40 in 2005. It was around $5 or $6 at the start of 2004.

Phelps Dodge currently mines molybdenum at the Henderson Mine in Colorado, where production has increased dramatically over the past few years, up from 18.6 million pounds in 2001 to a planned 32 million pounds this year.

A Cornella star shines once again

December 22, 2005


The star is once again shining over what was once Cornella’s West Side Grocery and now is the West 6th Gallery.

The original star was erected at the end of World War II to celebrate the safe return of three special soldiers who were stationed at Camp Hale.

The story of the star began with the immigration of Angelo Morganari from San Lorenzo in Banale, Trentino, Italy in the late 1880s. Angelo married, settled in Leadville and had three daughters, Mary, Lena and Barbara.

Two of these daughters, in an unbelievable scenario, married two unrelated members of the Cornella family, ironically from the same province in Italy.

Lena married Max Cornella and Barbara married Earnest Cornella. Between them the couples had six children, including Angie Cornella (daughter of Max and Lena) and Sylvia and Columbya Cornella (daughters of Barbara and Earnest Cornella).

These young ladies went on to marry. Angie married Percy Newston, Sylvia married Harold (Jim) Stoner, and Columbya married Benjamin Kern.

They met these young men who were stationed at Camp Hale. As referenced earlier in the story, these solders were the inspiration of the original Christmas star.

To celebrate the safe return of the daughters’ husbands from World War II and all the military who served our country, the patriotic Cornellas, Max and Earnest, erected the original star in 1945. This tradition continued yearly until sometime in the 1980s when the star became unsafe and unusable.

The grocery store was vacant for many years following the death and retirement of the original Cornellas.

The West Side Grocery was purchased by George and Ali Lufkin in 2003. Many of the Leadville population who remembered the star asked the new owners when they were going to put the star back up.

That’s when the second and third generation of Cornellas got involved—Donna and John Cornella and their three sons.

Donna grew up over the grocery store, and the star is part of her Christmas memories. Donna, whose maiden name is also Cornella, is the daughter of Don Cornella, another son of Lena and Max. (In respect to our readers, and to add to their confusion, please note that John is not related to the grocery store Cornellas, but to the other Cornellas that still live in San Lorenzo in Banale, Trentino, Italy.)

The present Cornella family decided they wanted to be involved in revisiting the family tradition and placing a new star above the old family store. Donna and John’s middle son, Shawn, built the star, and on Dec. 11, Shawn and his other two brothers, John and Shane, along with their father John Sr., erected the star on the roof of the old building.

“After 63 years, I finally went up on the roof (of the store) for the first time; it was something I always wanted to do, but was forbidden because of safety,” said Donna. “I lived my dream.”

The Cornella family wants the community to know that their contribution to putting the star back up on the building is not just to revisit the tradition of the family. It is shining again as a symbol of hope for love and peace around the world, to thank all the service men who serve this great country, and as a beacon of light to bring them home safely.


Eileen Schermann, program director for the Advocates, has lived in Leadville since she was five years old.

When she was a child, Christmas always took place at her grandmother’s house (Ina Nagel at 328 W. 7th St.).

The entire family would gather for dinner, which consisted of both turkey and ham, and then they’d play pool and exchange gifts.

Following that came some serious poker-playing for the adults, while the kids were just content to play with one another.


A memorable Christmas for Amy Morrison was one while she lived in Denver and before she was married to her husband, Jim.

He had just had back surgery, so he was laid out on the couch at her mother’s house unable to move, said Morrison.

Her mother was in the kitchen attempting to make a pecan pie.

“It wasn’t dark enough on top, so she put the pie on the top [rack to] broil,” said Morrison.

Jim had a hard time not laughing when the pie came out in flames, she said.

“I hate it when that happens,” said Morrison’s mother.

Her mother had mishaps all the time, said Morrison, but this was the first time her husband-to-be actually believed her.


Maryellen Thoren relates how Christmas trees fit into the Thoren Christmas traditions.

“Christmas trees have always been important to us and especially to my late husband, Don. Don grew up in New York City, so being out in the woods wasn’t something easy for him to accomplish. Once he became an adult and moved away from “the city,” he became very involved in outdoor sports. Still, we bought Christmas trees.

“Then we moved to Leadville, and not only did we have a yard full of trees—none of which he was willing to cut—but we also had the opportunity to buy a permit to go into the woods to cut one down. The first year here, he went with the Lions to help them, but did not buy one of those. He had to go out and get his own. We bought the permit, but then went out of the country to return on Dec. 24. There was so much snow that we could not get far off the road and cut down a tree that was barely acceptable.

“Then came the next year, for this had become a family tradition. (Doesn’t take long for a tradition to be born in this family!) Once again, it was cut down trees for the Lions, but go out on our own for our tree. Into the woods went my mother, Donald and I looking for the perfect shape. We found it and cut it down. Then it was time to get it to the car, which was a Subaru station wagon. It wouldn’t fit in, so home we went for something to wrap it in and lots of rope while one of us stayed to guard our treasure. Supplies in hand, we wrapped the tree and tied it to the back to drag it the short distance home.

“Now one would think that two college graduates who were also engineers would have figured out that, while in the woods the tree did not look very big, our cathedral ceiling was no match for the heavens! Guess what? We weren’t smart enough, and when we got home, we discovered that we had to cut six—yes, six—feet off the tree to erect it in the house!

“Year three, I sent Donald and my nephew alone for the tree with orders to make sure it would fit, and they came home with a Charlie Brown tree, so I made them go out and buy one from the Lions. It wasn’t until year four that we finally got it right and were able to go into the woods as a family, find a good tree that would fit and bring it home!”

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