Last week, we introduced you to Frank McDonald, self-proclaimed mayor of Stoner, Colorado, who announced plans to transform the two-person town where he lives into an entertainment destination infused with the spirit of Amendment 64. Since that story and another profile, however, McDonald says he's been jailed and harassed -- in retribution, he thinks, for his Stoner dream.
As we reported, Stoner is located in what McDonald describes as "a little valley in the middle of nowhere near Rico on your way to Telluride." It consists of nine buildings, not counting the "little hunter's shack up on Stoner Creek" occupied by the town's only other resident -- an old lady named Mary Jane.
According to McDonald, the structures include an eatery, a general store, several cabins (well, three of them are trailers) that need to be remodeled or refurbished and 35 RV spots. But what the average observer may consider a ramshackle assemblage McDonald sees as a destination music venue: Mary Jane's at Stoner Grill, Bar and Events Center. He anticipates bringing national acts to the spread, which could host up to 4,000 people in an atmosphere that's both cannabis- and family friendly.
McDonald moved to Stoner from Missouri, where he was the CEO of a product development company. After the end of his marriage -- his wife was his business partner -- and a bout with cancer that he treated with cannabis oil (he's a medical marijuana patient and a passionate advocate for the plant's healing properties), he made the bold decision to buy Stoner.
He's been developing the property for the past two years or so, but he hasn't gotten as far along as he'd like due to a series of setbacks. Some were health-related; he went through kidney surgery. Others related to fate; he survived a serious traffic accident. But he says he's also been the victim of persistent vandalism and burglary, suffering forty separate incidents, by his estimate, that make him think someone in the area doesn't like his ideas for the future of Stoner. But he says the Montezuma Sheriff's Department, the main law enforcement agency in the area, hasn't taken the reports seriously.
Continue for the latest developments in Stoner, Colorado.
According to McDonald, the situation came to a head in the past week or so, after our previous post and an article in the Durango Herald publicized his vision. He was arrested on warrants relating to two citations (one from late October, the other from early November) for driving without a seat belt -- because, he says, his kidney surgery prevented him from buckling. McDonald also says he ponied up for the tickets, yet he was jailed for an entire day before being released. Afterward, paperwork was found showing McDonald had indeed paid his fines -- although he maintains the authorities still thinks he owes $14 -- and the charges against him were dropped.
Who does McDonald blame for these matters? He names Mark Rodgers, a local business owner (he owns Shiloh Steakhouse in Cortez), a well-known conservative who sold him the property and still holds the note on it. McDonald believes Rodgers doesn't like his Stoner plans and is trying to force him out, using as pretext the fact that he's late on a payment that was due in mid-October, and calling in political favors with the sheriff's department to keep the pressure on.
Ridiculous, counters Rodgers. True, he did phone the sheriff's office about McDonald last week, but only because he feared the mayor was vandalizing the property himself and he wanted to protect his investment. "He had made statements to both neighbors that adjoin the property that he was going to burn the place down," Rodgers says. "And they'd also seen him busting out windows; he was mad and throwing stuff through them."
McDonald concedes that he was mad and yelled during a recent visit by deputies, but vehemently denies either vandalizing or burglarizing his own stuff.
As far as McDonald's plans for Stoner, Rodgers says he doesn't care what he does with the town as long as his acts within the confines of the law and keeps up with his payments -- and while he declines to go into detail about how late on the latter McDonald might be, he confirms that money is owed.
Continue for the latest developments in Stoner, Colorado.
Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell echoes Rodgers's story. He says his personnel had no choice but to pick up McDonald on the outstanding warrants, since they were required to do so by law -- but he scoffs at the idea that the action had anything to do with harassment based on what he wants to do with Stoner.
On the topic of all those vandalism and burglary reports, Spruell confirms that McDonald has called many times, occasionally with bizarre stories -- like "dead bodies on the property and in the walls." (McDonald says some bones turned up by one of the buildings and in a batch of cement after one of the vandalism sprees.) However, subsequent investigations suggested that, in Spruell's words, McDonald had been "reporting untruths" -- an assertion that the mayor rejects, too.
Whatever the case, McDonald is free at this writing, and he's determined not to be run off.
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"These guys aren't going to push me out of there," he says. "They have no clue who they're messing with. I'm ten feet tall and bulletproof." After a laugh, he revises this boast: "Okay, I'm five-five and dodge well. But I'm a fighter, and I haven't done anything wrong. And I'm not going anywhere."
He hopes Stoner will be open for business in the spring of 2013. If you're interested in investing, contact McDonald through his Facebook page.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Amendment 64 approved: Mason Tvert celebrates, John Hickenlooper talks Cheetos."