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Trying to love your new parking meters

It’s hard to practice, but at least you can read and study the directions before you go use one of these (somewhat) high-tech parking meters. (Action Line)

Dear Action Line: Yesterday, we passed two poor-old tourist couples bent over, squinting at their parking meters trying to figure out how they work. In the past, we had tried numerous times ourselves until someone was kind enough to stop and explain the intricate details of pushing the button (is it before or after you put your card in?) and which way your card has to go in (NOT like the picture shows!). They are the most complicated things ever. Can’t we at least have some readable, understandable instructions? – Quarterless in Durango

Dear Quarterless: Action Line is so excited. You know all those bags of old, gold, out-of-mint Sacagawea dollar coins that you still have from way back in the ’00s? Stop melting them down! These meters accept those! (And, psst, they’re not real gold.)

If that’s not enough excitement, you can keep reading to find out how to work the “new” meters, which the city installed in the last year. Wade Moore, city of Durango parking operations manager, offered “a couple things that can help.”

A city parking officer or a Durango ambassador can always help, and Moore said there is usually one within sight downtown. (Action Line would not say that, but has not been on the lookout, so it might be true.) “The ambassadors are dressed in easy-to-spot red shirts and the parking officers wear light blue and have equipment on their waist,” Moore said.

Some users don’t see or ignore the instruction panel located on every meter. That should help. And the meter itself provides directions as you do things, Moore said. And Lord have mercy on the poor-old senior who doesn’t carry reading glasses with them, Action Line said.

A two-minute video on the city’s website (www.durangogov.org/332/Parking) goes through all possible payment methods, which are coins, a credit card and a “GEM” card the city sells at the Transit Center, 250 W. Eighth St.

Coins are easy. Credit cards go in stripe up and GEM cards go in chip up and to the left. For the credit card, you’ll pull it out before adjusting your payment amount with the up and down arrows, and then hitting “OK.” For the GEM card, you’ll leave it in while adjusting the payment amount.

If you get totally flustered, call 375-4960 and scream at whoever answers. No. Don’t do that. These are real people who are just trying to help.

Well, that’s the best Action Line can do. The rest is up to you. Best advice: Make it easy on yourself and go dig up the Sacagaweas buried in the garden. (By the way, they’re actually copper covered by manganese brass, so they’re not worth as much as you thought.)

Dear Action Line: What happened to the Herald’s live camera view? It showed the same picture for months, then disappeared. And why is the Herald keeping the same Reader Poll up for months? – Outoftowner

Dear Outof: By the area code, it appears you are in the St. Louis area. Don’t you have cool arches and a big wide river to look at there? Why do you need to stare at our tourist-filled streets? Or maybe you’re looking for someone in particular, in which case a private detective might help. (Action Line knows a guy if you’re interested.)

Anyway, let’s answer the second query first.

Your question about the Reader Poll prompted this response from Shane Benjamin, the Herald’s deputy editor:

“Mr. Action Line: What are you talking about? The poll question is updated. I just looked. ... OK, so maybe it wasn't updated, but now it is. Thanks for the heads up.”

Action Line always pictures a deputy carrying a gun. Like Barney Fife in “The Andy Griffith Show.” As far as we know, Mr. Benjamin does not carry a gun, but he does carry some snarkiness that Action Line can appreciate.

Now, as far as the webcams, that’s going to take a little more time.

The Herald recently switched to a new publishing system, and some of the features have been slow to update, including the poll question and the webcams, Benjamin explained. He added that as things get updated, some features are being improved. For example, there’s the snazzy new interactive river flow graphic: www.durangoherald.com/river-flows/graph/

Compare river level years, zoom in on a small time frame. There’s no end to the fun. However, looking at the river graphic during this drought isn’t exactly uplifting. That’s not the Herald’s fault, but some people probably will blame the Herald anyway. That’s life.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. It’s rumored the U.S. mint did actually make a few Sacagaweas with 22-carat gold, so hopefully you’ll know one if you see one.