2007, Year in Review: People and stories that shaped Grand County
December 31, 2007
Some stories make us laugh. Others make us angry. Some inspire us. Most years, there are stories that do all of the above. Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the stories that were news in Grand County in 2007.
Plea deal reached in electrocution death
The electrocution death of a Granby teenager the previous summer concluded with a plea agreement and an immediate sentencing at the district court in Hot Sulphur Springs.
Charles Haddock, 77, pleaded guilty to reckless manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old Ian Raftshol. The teenager died as a result of being electrocuted by a 110-volt wire that Haddock was accused of placing under the water of a golf course pond.
The incident that took Raftshol’s life took place June 19, 2006, at the Roadside Golf Course on Highway 30. The live wire was placed in the pond by Haddock to deter beavers. When Raftshol’s dog jumped into the pond and became entangled in the wire, the teenage boy went in after him and received the fatal shock.
School board president faces charges
The president of the East Grand Board of Education was officially charged with providing alcohol to graduating seniors.
Grand County sheriff Rod Johnson announced that Mark Bujanovich has been served a summons for six counts of criminal violation for providing alcohol to a minor. The violation is a class one misdemeanor.
The charges leveled against Bujanovich stemmed from the Sheriff’s Department investigation of an alcohol party that took place June 2, 2007. The party was reportedly for graduating seniors of Middle Park High School in Granby.
Fraser, Winter Park combine departments
The towns of Winter Park and Fraser decided to combine building departments, creating a one-stop shop for both towns.
The new building department was to be up and running March 1.
Although Winter Park has had its own building department for years, Fraser handles its building permits through the county’s building department. But with two major developments launching in Fraser, the time appeared ripe for Fraser to sever its agreement with the county and either create its own building department or consolidate services with Winter Park.
Minnesota town wants ‘icebox’ title
International Falls, Minn., passed a resolution calling for the town of Fraser to step off its “pretended claim” of being the nation’s “Icebox.”
Although Fraserites say their town has used the nickname since 1956, International Falls officials claim that there is proof the slogan has been used there since 1948.
At a town board meeting, Fraser’s Board of Trustees announced the town does not intend to retreat from its lunge toward the “Icebox” trademark. Fraser had applied for the official right to the trademark a month before with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
When International Falls found out about the move, it challenged it, even though it had let the trademark lapse more than a decade ago.
The story of the trademark hit the national media circuit, appearing on National Public Radio, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Newsweek.
Fire hits Fraser home
A home in Fraser caught fire, and the tenant rushed inside the burning house to save her pets.
The home, located on Little Pierre, caught fire one morning, and when one of the tenants, a woman named Christy Paddock, returned home after dropping off her husband, she saw that the residence was engulfed in flames. She immediately called 911, but then attempted to go in the building to rescue her dogs and cats.
One dog and one cat managed to survive, but three other pets perished. The fire caused major damage to the home, but structurally, it was still in good shape. Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth said he believed the fire occurred in the corner of the house by the breakfast counter where the electrical appliances were.
Rape suspect still at large
Members of the Fraser/Winter Park Police Department are still searching for the man who raped a woman in Fraser on April 30.
But based on a conversation between the victim and the suspect, police believe the man knew who the woman was. The rape took place at Wapiti Meadows while the woman was outside her unit.
Evidence was sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in hopes of finding DNA from the suspect. He was described as being about 6 feet tall with dark, black or brown hair that reached just above his shoulders. The young woman claimed she had never seen the attacker before and had no idea of his identity.
Town rejects leash law
A Fraser dog leash law bit the dust in a 5-2 vote of the town board. The leash law action item created standing-room only in the small boardroom.
Several dog owners voiced concerns about overzealous enforcers citing dog owners for innocent actions such as playing Frisbee with dogs if the leash law were to pass.
Trustee Vesta Shapiro, who says she is frequently harassed by loose dogs in town, was devastated by the decision. “How many years will it be before I can walk around this town safely?” she asked fellow trustees.
Voters pass recreation district proposals
The Community Enhancement Project ballot questions 5D and 5E passed, 1,038-932 and 1,031-933, respectively.
“We won! We did it!” exclaimed Cyndy Flores, the executive director for the district.
The passage of the issues means the Fraser Valley Recreation Metropolitan District will move forward with the four projects it proposed in the ballot question:
– A new irrigation system and clubhouse at Pole Creek Golf Course;
– Running water and a concession stand at the Fraser Valley Sports Complex;
– And construction of a recreation center.
Leash law ‘no,’ dog catcher ‘yes’
The town of Fraser has found a dog catcher.
Marilyn Teverbaugh, a 35-year town resident, was recently hired on as Fraser’s new dog catcher. She is currently undergoing a training and development program that will have her patrolling by the beginning of 2008.
The decision to hire a dog catcher came about this summer when the board of trustees contemplated enforcing a mandatory leash law. The board voted against it, but the debate highlighted the growing concern by residents about dogs roaming the neighborhoods unattended.
Umpire settles insurance squabble
An insurance-settlement umpire ruled on the value of the old Granby Town Hall, destroyed by the late Marvin Heemeyer during his 2004 bulldozer rampage, settling a three-year score with the town’s former insurance company, CIRSA (Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency).
Granby’s board members authorized the town-hired appraiser, JHL Constructors of Denver, to accept the umpire’s recommended settlement of $299,729, an amount added to the previous award of $940,577 for the building itself, a former school-turned-town hall and library.
But the town plans to seek further recompense, such as for an elevator that conforms with Americans with Disabilities Act standards installed at a cost of around $200,000 in the new building.
“The umpire ruled that (the elevator) is not a valid replacement cost item,” Mayor Ted Wang said.
The old building did not have an elevator. The town also wants to be paid for certain furnishings or “personal property” that ultimately would have been replaced in the old building.
“We’re going to continue to pursue that,” Wang said.
Snowstorm wreaks havoc
A snowstorm ended up stranding visitors and caused several road closures and downed trees. Nobody was hurt, but Grand County was forced to go into a state of emergency due to icy roads and high winds.
Two shelters were set up ” one at the Fraser Valley Elementary School and the other at East Grand Middle school. Close to 150 people stayed at the Fraser location at one point. Visitors were stranded due to the closing of U.S. Highway 40, I-70 and Berthoud Pass.
But with the help of local police departments, the East Grand Fire department and county and town officials, what potentially could have been a community’s nightmare ended up being a decent weekend.
BLM oil and gas lease postponed in Grand County
The Bureau of Land Management announced that Grand County parcels were taken off of the oil and gas lease sale map, at least temporarily.
“All of the parcels in Grand County were deferred,” said Jim Sample, a BLM public affairs spokesperson at the state office in Lakewood.
The reasons were twofold, he said. “The overall concern expressed by residents of Grand County was that people didn’t feel like they had enough information or had seen the notification.”
The BLM also realized the parcels overlapped into a special recreation area of the upper Colorado River, one considered to have “heavy use.”
“I’m really glad that they want to understand a little more what our issues are,” said Scott Linn of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, which filed a protest.
“With the looming impacts of the Windy Gap firming project and plans to take more water out of the river, without knowing that, we felt like they couldn’t fairly evaluate our situation,” he said.
All 22 of the parcels in Grand County, equating to nearly 31,000 acres, were pulled completely from the Nov. 8 sale to allow for more “public outreach.”
The acreage could still be re-released as early as the next sale in February, Sample said, or postponed for a year or longer, depending what comes out of environmental analyses and other studies related to the protests.
YMCA fire quickly contained
A wildfire that broke out at Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies was quickly suppressed by local firefighters despite gust winds that threatened to drive it out of control.
The blaze scorched an estimated 50 acres of grass and timber. Although he fire burned around several of the YMCA’s family reunion cabins, none of the buildings was seriously damaged.
Teens were eventually convicted of setting the fire.
Landfill slough a costly slide
Grand County had an “earth moving” experience in 2007.
When the snow melted last spring, a significant portion of land on the hillside above the proposed expansion portion of the Granby Landfill started to move.
The initial cost of mitigating the land slough at the Granby Landfill was in the neighborhood of $1.66 million; in end, the landfill problem cost the county about $4 million.
Engineers from Grand County and the consulting firms of Ground Engineering and KRW determined that water had been introduced into a geologic plane underneath the existing landfill. Movement of the existing landfill had been recorded and verified by movement of power poles and cracking in the maintenance building expansion joints and stem wells.
Monitoring by Ground Engineering also confirmed the movement of earth under the existing landfill.
The solution to the problem was to divert the water from the shear plane into Coyote Creek and to construct a berm to stop the slide. There would then be frequent monitoring to determine if the slide had stabilized.
Kelley Trucking moved 1.4 million cubic yards of dirt in 63 days.
Grand County reported it can get at least five more years of use from the existing landfill, barring any complications with the stability of the land. In that time, the county plans to evaluate costs and timeframes to decide if landfill operations should continue at the Granby expansion site, if the landfill should be expanded at the Kremmling Landfill, or if it should be relocated to another Kremmling site.
Privatization of the landfill is another option that could be considered.
Decisions about recycling and the stability of the landfill will play a roll in the ultimate decision the Grand County Board of Commissioners make on the future operation and location of the Granby Landfill.
Recycling up for grabs
Valley Recycling owner Karen Bloomfield closed the Fraser Valley recycling center.
Bloomfield announced that due to the lack of financial support, her bins would be pulled from the East Grand fire station site, forcing recyclers to haul materials to Granby or Grand Lake.
The recycling operator said she had personally spent $31,000 to keep recycling alive in southeastern Grand County for 16 months, emptying 384 bins consisting of more than 1,000 tons of recyclable materials.
Meetings among Grand County towns and the county are ongoing in an effort to develop a long-term recycling solution.
Grand County lacks in OB-GYN services
“You should see people’s eyes when I tell them, ‘You’re not having a baby in Grand County ” not unless it’s an accident,’ ” said Maternal Child Health Coordinator and Prenatal Nurse Ellen Stone.
It’s an inconvenient truth that forces mothers to decide between the least harrowing of routes when planning their prenatal care and delivery.
Even with all the planning, there is still an occasional baby born at home or on the way to the hospital, or at a Grand County hospital not equipped for neonatal intensive care.
In a 2005 survey to assess health care needs and issues in Grand County, conducted by The National Association of Counties and the federal Office of Rural Health Policy, in conjunction with the Grand County Rural Health Network (GCRHN), the question was posed: “What additional health care services do you feel are needed in Grand County?”
The response cited most frequently was “specialty services,” according to the Rural Health Network, followed closely by “OB-GYN services.”
“The majority of persons interviewed indicated they currently utilize OB-GYN providers in the Denver area,” said Dorri Penny, executive director of GCRHN.
The topic remains sensitive, according to Ellen Parri, chief of nursing at the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District. Although she remains optimistic that someday Grand County will attract a full-time OB-GYN and anesthesiologist, the number of expectant mothers in Grand County discourages it.
With an average 150 pregnancies in the county per year, and no guarantee that all of them would choose care in Grand County, “it’s a matter of numbers,” Parri said.
There are just not enough births to keep the highly specialized staff that would be needed to ensure the health of both baby and mother, and it doesn’t help that the practice of obstetrics has among the highest malpractice insurance premiums, according to Parri.
Newspapers change ownership
The Sky Hi News, Winter Park Manifest, Middle Park Times, Grand Lake Prospector and the Daily Tribune became part of Colorado Mountain News Media.
CMNM includes a dozen award-winning daily and weekly newspapers, including the Aspen Times, Vail Daily, and Summit Daily News. The company is part of Swift Communications, a family owned company based in Reno, Nev.
Bill Johnson, who acquired Grand County newspapers nearly 30 years ago, said he had bitter-sweet feelings about selling the papers.
Friends of Grand Lake seek water-quality standard
Leading a grassroots water-quality push is retired mechanical engineer Dr. John Stahl, a full-time resident of Grand Lake’s south shore and president of the Greater Grand Lake Shoreline Association.
For the past two years, he has immersed himself in water data, connecting shreds of evidence that point to a flaw in the water-moving system. He is building a case for what many already suspect.
This natural lake, in effect, has been used as a filtration system ” a sort of glacier-carved sanitation pool ” for water collected and sent to East Slope users. Because of this unintended role in the Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) project, Grand Lake’s water quality is declining with visible algae blooms and excess weed growth.
The lake’s water-quality decline is due to the decreasing depth of Shadow Mountain Reservoir, the water from which is pumped into Grand Lake, compounded by an overall nutrient-rich water system that supplies food to flourishing algae.
In 1937, the U.S. Senate incorporated the protection of Grand Lake in its Senate Document 80, saying that the C-BT must “preserve the vistas and future rights in irrigation … as well as to preserve the fishing and recreational facilities and the scenic attractions of Grand Lake, the Colorado River and Rocky Mountain National Park.”
“And to us, this (Grand Lake degradation) is not preserving the scenic attractions,” Stahl said.
“It’s taking lake water that looks beautiful and turning it into poor quality reservoir water,” Stahl said.
The Bureau of Reclamation maintains the system, and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is responsible for moving water.
Because Grand Lake is the largest natural lake in Colorado, the state’s Water Quality Control Division has stated that “a site-specific water quality standard that establishes a water clarity goal” for the lake “is worthy of consideration.”
Bob Scott honored as Grand Lake Citizen of the year
“Service to others is the only rent we are asked to pay on this life,” said Bob Scott, Grand Lake’s Rotary Citizen of the Year.
The Rotary chose Scott for his exceptional service to the quality of life in Grand Lake.
Around Grand Lake, he has donated service to Catch the Spirit, Grand Lake Friends of the Library, the Grand Lake Variance board, the Grand Lake Chamber, the Grand Lake Arts Council, the historical society and the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre.
On top of all that, if a friend takes ill or is injured, Scott has been known to rush to his or her bedside with a heating pad and a remedy.
But Scott is most recognized as Grand Lake Lodge’s premier “Lodgeling,” where he has worked with its owners, the James family “in too many roles and positions to list,” said Lodge President Reed James, who nominated Scott for the citizen award. It’s at the Grand Lake Lodge where Scott has met countless vacationers, finding their way into and out of Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Pink, rainbow, peach, chartreuse, royal blue and cobalt blue, he’s fun to be around,” James said in his own tribute to Scott.” Bob Scott has color, and Grand Lake is all about color.”
McElroy Field will stay put
The Grand County Airport in Kremmling will stay at its current location for at least the next five years. That was the conclusion agreed on by the Grand County Commissioners at a public hearing.
Every five years, Grand County, which is the lead agency for the airport, is required by the Federal Aviation Administration to do an evaluation of the facility. As part of the review process, the county directed airport consultants to conduct a feasibility study and explore other locations for the airport. Two sites located in Troublesome Creek Valley were considered.
The consulting firm discovered, however, that relocating the airport to Troublesome Creek Valley would be more expensive than developing the current site. Therefore, commissioners agreed that future improvements to the airport, called McElroy Field, will occur at its current location.
Pole yard catches fire
A fire burned at the Ranch Creek pole yard, located one-half mile north of U.S. 40 on Highway 125.
Roughly 20 acres of sage brush were burned the first day of the fire; the sage brush fire was extinguished, but firefighters were still battling a large fire on Ranch Creek at press time.
No injuries were reported, and no buildings or residences were being threatened by the fire, according to the article. Highway 125 was closed twice during the day due to poor visibility caused by the smoke. The official cause of the fire had yet to be determined.
Planning Commission OKs pellet plant
In June, the Kremmling Planning Commission approved an application to operate a wood-pellet manufacturing plant within the town of Kremmling.
The application was for a permitted use by special review, and was approved by a split vote among the planning commissioners.
Mayor Thomas Clark, who sits on the Planning Commission, said there was a list of conditions that the applicant, Mark Mathis, will have to meet. The conditions include the need to obtain Federal Aviation Administration approval before the plant can operate, a highway access permit from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the necessary permits from the Colorado Department of Health.
Arson suspected in State Bridge fire
Arson is believed to be the cause of the blaze that burned down State Bridge Lodge on June 2.
According to Detective Brandon Beaudette of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the fire was set intentionally, possibly to cover up a burglary that took place prior to the incident.
The fire started sometime between 2 and 4 a.m. The lodge was built in 1890 and has been a concert venue for thousands of concert-goers.
Lightning causes wildfire
A lightning-caused wildfire burned in July in the Buffalo Park area north of Kremmling, in the Routt National Forest.
The fire was about 15 acres and burned into the Sarvis Creek Wilderness.
As of July 3, the fire had not been contained. Forest Road 100 was closed between Sarvis Creek Trailhead and Silver Creek Trailhead.
Skate park dedicated at ribbon-cutting
A open house and ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new skate park in Kremmling.
More than 200 people attended the event, which officially opened the new facility. The park was in constant use after the open house, the Middle Park Times reported.
County approves second pellet plant
In response to an appeal by the town of Kremmling and a competing pellet plant manufacturer, the Grand County Board of Adjustments voted unanimously to allow another wood pellet plant just outside the town limits of Kremmling.
The board established that such a plant is a “use by right” in the county’s business district.
The town of Kremmling’s concern was that applicant Forest Energy would be able to run its operation unchecked and without the same guidelines as the neighboring plant located in town.
Rob David’s pellet process would refine raw beetle-killed logs into renewable, densified wood fuel source.
Pepsi distribution plan closing
The Pepsi Distribution Warehouse in Kremmling announced it will close in early January.
The warehouse, located at 1003 Eagle Avenue, has been a part of the community since 1963. Five employees work there.
Jeff Dahncke, director of public relations for the Pepsi Bottling Group headquartered in Somers, N.Y., said all the employees of the Kremmling facility were notified of the warehouse’s closing at the end of November.
“It’s always a tough decision to close a facility,” Dahncke said. “Ours is a people business, and we value our employees a great deal. Their hard work and dedication are what makes our company successful.
“Full-time employees in Kremmling will be given the opportunity to relocate to other positions within the company, and we’d be delighted to keep them,” he added.
The warehouse is the distribution center for Pepsi products in northcentral Colorado. It serves the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs, Kremmling, Walden, Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Leadville.
W. Grand’s four-day school week continues
The West Grand School District board of directors voted to continue the four-day school week for the 2007 to 2008 school year.
The Friday School component of the schedule will also continue.
In a survey, 65 percent of the respondents were in favor of continuing the four-day week. The majority of the staff at the district also supported it. Several members of the board of directors also said they would like to see improvements at the Friday School.
E. Grand student numbers up
State funding for the East Grand School District took a jump in response to a district increase in student enrollment.
The East Grand District has a total of 1,364 student, 67 more than just a year ago.
To meet this unexpected increase, the district was forced at the start of the school year to hire additional teachers and other staff members and to order additional supplies.
The Colorado Department of Education provided an additional $332,000 to cover costs of the additional students in the district.
Fifth-graders don’t have to be bused
The fifth-graders from Fraser Valley Elementary will not be required to move to the middle school in Granby next year, under a compromise plan approved by the East Grand Board of Education.
Before a packed audience, the board unanimously approved a reviewed proposal. The new plan modifies the district administration’s original proposal to require all fifth-graders to attend East Grand Middle School staring next fall.
Under the newly approved plan, Fraser Valley Elementary’s fifth-graders as a class will not be required to attend the middle school. The modified version of the original proposal was formulated following strong objections voiced by parents and some staff members of Fraser Valley Elementary.
Most of their opposition centered on the busing of the fifth-graders to Granby, as well as what Superintendent Robb Rankin described as the “loss of present school rituals and traditions” by the move to the middle school.
Slide closes Berthoud Pass
Berthoud Pass was cleared and Colorado Department of Transportation crews removed extra snow by blasting the snow shoots with artillery shells on Jan. 19.
The slide occurred between 10 and 10:30 a.m. and was said to be about 150 to 200 feet wide and 15 feet deep. The slide was a harrowing experience for those involved; the wall of snow off the Stanley Slide encompassed eight people and pushed two cars off the highway. Luckily, only one man was seriously injured with a broken rib.
CDOT was able to clear the road in a reasonable amount of time. The slide made national headlines.
Winter Park says it’s the highest
The town of Winter Park declared itself to be the highest municipality in the U.S. in January.
The Winter Park town council approved 5,214 acres to be annexed into its town boundaries the year before. The annexed property is 12,060 feet above sea level, and is adjacent to Winter Park Resort. It is part of the ski area’s environmental assessment process and the U.S. Forest Service’s special use permit to help complete on-mountain projects such as new lifts and underground utility lines.
Although the annexation had nothing to do with bragging rights, according to Winter Park Town Clerk Patti Garcia, the town decided to embellish a little and claim itself the highest municipality.
Leadville is currently the highest city, and Alma is the highest incorporated town.
HGTV keys presented
Winter Park enjoyed another day in the limelight in March when Home and Garden Television (HGTV) celebrated the “presentation of keys” at HGTV’s dream home in Bridger’s Cache.
The 2007 dream home giveaway sweepstakes came to an end on March 18 when the winner, Bob O’Neill Senior, 69, was announced live on television in a restaurant where he and his wife were having dinner. Bob and Lorie, 48, were presented the keys live at the dream home. Although the recently married couple doesn’t ski (both live in Tennessee), the surprise of winning a $1 million dream home was still a substantial wedding gift. The couple’s six-month anniversary was just a week before the announcement.
The story of the newlyweds captured the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who through a live satellite feed interviewed the winners at the dream home.
Emily Yarborough of HGTV said the Winter Park dream home sweepstakes had a little more than 41 million entries ” 95 percent which were online.
Dennis Saffell, broker and founding owner of Coldwell Banker in Winter Park, said the home has garnered more than 100 million exposures, which in TV land means 100 million people each hearing the word “Winter Park” one time.
Would-be robbers foiled at bank
An attempted bank robbery took place at the Wells Fargo Bank in Winter Park.
On Monday, Sept. 24 at roughly 8 a.m., a female employee arrived at the bank and was walking to the front door when she was approached by two men wearing all black and black ski masks, she later told police officers. The men told her they were robbing the bank and ordered her not to scream, but she began screaming anyway.
She was then assaulted by the two suspects and thrown to the ground, according to a press release by the Fraser/Winter Park Police Department.
The suspects did not use a weapon to assault the woman but allegedly used force with their hands. After struggling with the suspects for a few moments, the woman was able to break free, at which time both suspects ran away. The woman then ran from the bank to a nearby restaurant, where the police were contacted. The suspects have not been found.