2011 A Year in Review; business, crime, community news, school district decisions, and more
December 29, 2011
JANUARYKremmling Memorial Hospital is undergoing a name change. District officials elected to change the hospital’s name to Middle Park Medical Center, Kremmling Campus, to create a more uniform identity for Grand County-based medical facilities. The new medical center in Granby will also be called the Middle Park Medical Center, Granby.Meanwhile, the KMHD family practice clinic in Kremmling, Mountain Valley Medical Center, will simply be referred to as the family practice clinic at Middle Park Medical Center, Kremmling. The facilities are sharing the adopted slogan “Keeping Life Grand,” and district administrators are working on choosing a logo to further brand health care services in the county.Granby firefighters respond to a fully involved structure fire at 505 E. Pine Drive, Granby, shortly before 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30. The fire started in the garage and quickly spread to the house. The home, which according to neighbors has been a long-term rental home, was unoccupied at the time, neighbors said.Grand Adventures’ snowmobile guides are taking a spin on the stage of calendar fame. The calendars are selling like “hot cakes” and raise money for the Grand Foundation, which makes grants to numerous local nonprofit organizations. Photographer Steve Willis (Mr. August) took the guys out into the cold and snowy elements over the course of several weeks, making them “bare it all.” OK, well only one guy (Rockin’ Rob Keith – Mr. February) actually bared most of it.Third-generation funeral director with 26 years of service, Mark Shearon, reopened Grand County’s only funeral home, under its new name “Grand County Mortuary.” The funeral home had been closed for longer than a year until Shearon purchased the foreclosed Foran-Schoenfeld Mortuary from Grand Mountain Bank and updated the interior.A new real estate empire has sprouted in Winter Park and Granby. Positioning themselves for a market turnaround, a team of 15 of the county’s most successful real estate brokers joined under one roof. This group of 15 brokers sold a combined $60 million worth of Grand County real estate in 2010, in the middle of the decade’s worst market. Owner/broker Lance Gutersohn of RE/MAX Peak to Peak explained that it was never part of his master plan to bring such a powerful team together. “It just happened,” he said.State education cuts and dwindling federal bailout money funneled through the state forced the East Grand School District to consider drastic measures to preserve its reserve and balance its budget for the 2011-2012 school year and beyond. The closures of both Fraser Elementary and Grand Lake Elementary schools were placed on the table.As many as 41 rescuers were looking for snowboarder Jeff Miller, 26, of Fraser, last seen on the west side of Berthoud Pass on Monday, Jan. 17. Miller and his dog Beau, who both died after being caught in an avalanche, were found on the third day of the search. The dominant message delivered in a packed meeting room of the East Grand School District was “save our community schools.”A newly released Administrative 2011-2012 East Grand Schools Budget Recommendation allows for the district to dip into the district’s reserves by 28 percent, or $500,000, “to provide time for our community to obtain other adequate, timely, guaranteed, sustainable funding sources such as a mill levy override and/or town or county sales taxes, all which can be used to offset the district budget shortfall,” states a rough draft of the recommendation.The Latin community in Grand County has been affected by the bad economy in recent years, as many Hispanic families who came here searching for work had to leave when they did not find job opportunities.FEBRUARYThe Grand County criminal justice system is feeling the effects of the recession … in some unexpected ways. Case filings, jail bookings and 911 calls have been on the decline since 2007 in Grand County, a sign – perhaps – that people have left the area. “We don’t think we have less crime or less happening,” said Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson. “We think it’s less people.”Near the conclusion of a four-hour East Grand Board of Education meeting on Feb. 1, the East Grand School Board gave direction to Fraser Valley community representatives Ron Nelson and David Michel to investigate the possibility of a sales-tax increase tailored to supporting community schools.The Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation district is wrapping up construction on its new $2.265 million ice rink, “The Icebox,” although the rink had its grand opening in early January and skaters have been hitting the ice there since Thanksgiving.Extreme cold temperatures wreaked havoc on water pipes, causing expensive damage in homes and public buildings. The Grand County Library District suffered damage in three of its branches, with the Fraser Valley Library bearing the worst of it.Winter Park Town Council approved budgeting $75,000 to “buy a year” for Fraser Elementary School. The money would be given as a charitable contribution, most likely to the East Grand Education Foundation, a donor-advised fund of the Grand Foundation. The Town of Grand Lake is pledging $20,000 to the East Grand School District to help keep schools open and ultimately improve education. Using budgeted funds the town ended up not using to support the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce during its fiscal crisis last fall, the town is pledging to redirect the $20,000 to schools.Sliding land at the closed Grand County landfill near Granby still plagues Grand County officials. Engineers KRW Consulting of Lakewood and Ground Engineering of Commerce City have been studying the property, concluding the land where trash is located is moving downhill about 10 feet per year. There are two slides, say county officials, one at the top that was contained with a $4 million investment in 2007, and another on the lower part of the landfill that includes trash storage.Longtime Fraser Valley resident David Riddle, 48, died while snowboarding out-of-bounds near Winter Park Resort on Friday, Feb. 11.Grand County officials have filed for “Recreational In-Channel Diversion” (RICD) water rights on the Upper Colorado River. Appropriated on Dec. 21, the 2010 water rights, if realized, may give Grand County traction with future water cases affecting the Fraser and Colorado Rivers, according to county officials. A recreational in-channel diversion allows for a call in a certain place and time for the benefit of “boating, rafting, kayaking, tubing, floating, canoeing, paddling, and all other non-motorized recreational uses” as “part of (the county’s) ongoing effort to improve water-based recreational and economic opportunities for its citizens and the general public,” states the water rights application.The 2010 U.S. Census numbers show Grand County’s population at 14,843, up 19.3 percent from a population of 12,442 people in 2000. That made Grand County the 13th fastest-growing county out of Colorado’s 64 counties during the past decadeTrustees for the town of Granby unanimously pledged $20,000 in town funds toward the community campaign to support schools.MARCHThe Grand County Planning Commission is sending forward its opinion that future medical marijuana facilities should be located in tourist and business zones of the county. Town of Grand Lake officials opposed allowing such businesses in the tourist zone.The East Grand schools community is on the verge of meeting its $500,000 funding goal to support schools in the 2011-12 school year. As many as 11 public, private and nonprofit donors – including five towns and the county – have pledged or are awaiting board approvals to pledge – money to keep schools open next year to buy time for a campaign aimed at finding sustainable funding for schools.The Blue Valley Ranch near Kremmling, owned by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul T. Jones II of Greenwich, Conn., is donating $805,000 to Grand County with the aim of improving safety on US Highway 9 south of Kremmling. Accidents involving deer, elk, icy conditions or speeding vehicles are a frequent occurrence along the Grand County stretch of the highway. The donation will fund preliminary work of the Colorado Department of Transportation that should get the highway project “shovel ready.”Grand County commissioners unanimously voted to give schools a greater percentage of Forest Reserve funds. The decision could mean about $170,000 in additional Forest Reserve funds to the East Grand School District, and about $57,000 to the West Grand School District.Grand County commissioners have come out against federal oil and gas leasing on properties nominated for the Aug. 11 competitive oil and gas lease sale. Meanwhile, Town of Kremmling officials wrote a letter in support of potential leases.Community activist, political cartoonist and longtime Fraser Valley resident Marianne Klancke died in her sleep at home March 4. She was 58.The YMCA of the Rockies should be paying property taxes for both its Grand and Larimer county locations, according to a Board of Assessment Appeals decision. The case was the latest in a series of property-tax appeals the YMCA has been involved in since 2005. If Grand County’s success in the case were to stick, the YMCA in Grand County would be required to pay about $1.98 million in property taxes dating back to 2002, according to Grand County Treasurer Christina Whitmer. But the YMCA is already planning to take the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, according to YMCA spokesperson Holly Collingwood.The East Grand Board of Education agreed to keep community schools open next school year, accepting the East Grand community’s $500,000 in pledges. Unanimously, the board voted on March 15 to partner with the community and “spend up to, but not in excess of, $500,000 of (the East Grand School District’s) general fund reserves should an alternate long-term funding solution to backfill the district’s general fund deficit not be secured.”A helicopter team was deployed to Berthoud Pass on Friday when a massive avalanche was suspected of burying one or more skiers, whose multiple tracks entered the avalanche zone but were not found to exit. After an hour-long extensive search on the north side of School of Mines Peak, conducted by a certified snow tech, dog handler and rescue dog and with the use of avalanche beacons and a Recco device, no victim was found.Three schools in Grand County were awarded with the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award. West Grand High School, Indian Peaks Charter School and Grand Lake Elementary School demonstrated the highest rates of “student longitudinal growth” based on CSAP scores, measured by the Colorado Growth Model. As many as 153 schools in Colorado, out of about 1,788 schools in the state in 2010, received the award.The widow carrying out the legacy of her late husband Howard Lacy, Grand Elk Golf Course investor, is crusading to find a way to preserve the 18-hole signature course and clubhouse, the only course in the county not supported by a taxing district.APRILFor the first time since 2006, the largest employer in Grand Lake will be in full operation starting summer. The Grand Lake Lodge cabins are being updated, and management is starting to accept applications to fill the 80 to 100 positions available to run the 55-acre resort property, partially surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park and overlooking Grand Lake. Regency, Hotel Management bought the Grand Lake Lodge on Dec. 21, 2010.The West Grand Community Educational Foundation awarded Roxane White “Citizen of the Year.”Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin contains 142 percent of the average water content for this time of year, meaning it’s a “pretty robust year” for snowpack, said Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District spokesperson Dana Strongin. In fact, in an April 5 “Runoff Update,” Northern blogged: “Some of us are using words like ‘epic’ to describe the West Slope snowpack.”The Fraser Planning Commission began its process for annexation of the 295-acre Byers Peak Ranch into town during a public hearing on March 23. The ranch, which is immediately adjacent to the south side of historic downtown Fraser, includes Colorado Adventure Park and is bisected by the Fraser Valley Parkway. It is currently located within the unincorporated county and zoned for residential use.Since snow started falling in October, it has hardly relented. In the third week of April alone, 22 inches of snow has graced the slopes at Winter Park Resort. Thanks to La Nia, the ski area is reporting season totals of more than 375 inches, nearly 90 inches more than last year’s total and better than the 10-year average. Skier numbers at Winter Park were up overall from last year. Yet, tourism-dependent retailers and restaurants are looking at revenue numbers that have remained flat or fallen off from 2010.Organizers have scaled back the number of shows at the Granby Flying Heels Rodeo Arena due to declining sponsorships and decreasing spectator numbers. Two years ago, the rodeo hosted as many as eight shows during the early summer at the arena. Rising fuel costs, limited sponsorships, declining gate numbers and a need for greater participation in the nonprofit Flying Heels Arena Association have led the rodeo club to reduce that to two shows during the upcoming season.A nearby business is challenging the town’s approval of a new electronic sign at the Fraser Valley Center (Alco Plaza). Rocky Mountain Chalet owners David Lutz and Diane Wettersten claim the town illegally permitted the new sign without the required public process.Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who as former mayor of Denver helped to instigate Colorado water talks, praised water negotiators for their efforts during a roll-out event at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash. The long talked-about list of “enhancements” to protect West Slope rivers was officially announced after five years of negotiations among as many as 34 parties, including those with agreements with Denver Water, those tied up in litigation with the utility, water users and permittees. Negotiations were made possible with the help of professional mediator John Bickerman of Washington, D.C., who is also mediating negotiations between the West Slope and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, with its pending Windy Gap firming project in Grand County.MAYIn the proverbial final 100 meters of her high school career, Samantha Berggren is one of Middle Park High School’s most decorated athletes. Already a state title holder in her three chosen disciplines – cross-country running, Nordic skiing and track – Samantha has the chance to crown her achievements at this year’s state track meet, May 19-21, with state titles in all three sports during her senior year.The education ad hoc committee formed to explore long-term funding solutions for the county’s school districts reached a consensus last week that now is not the time to ask voters to approve a 1 percent sales-tax increase. Fourteen of the 16 ad-hoc committee members voted against putting something on the November ballot. Two members abstained.Spring flooding is likely in areas from the headwaters of the Colorado River all the way to northern Utah. That was the message shared at the “State of the River” meeting on May 4 at Mountain Parks Electric in Granby. “Everything to Lake Powell is above 100 percent,” said Don Meyer of the Colorado River District, in an overview of May 1 forecasts for probable runoff volumes.Because of a shift in the East Grand School District budget outlook for the next two years, closing the Fraser Elementary school may be off the table this year, but closing Grand Lake Elementary School is still a budget option, according to a frank discussion school officials had with Grand Lake Town Board members on Monday. East Grand Superintendent Nancy Karas explained this perspective through district budget numbers. “If you were a manager in this business, would you keep this business open?” Karas asked town stewards, referring to current budget projections that show Grand Lake Elementary with just 49 students next year. Each student would cost the district $11,373 to educate, which is $4,940 over the state funding level and the highest cost per-student out of all district schools.Grand Lake Trustees discuss spearheading a way to better market the town’s squeaky clean tap water.The area’s lakes and rivers are yielding big catches during the spring thaw. Anglers from Granby and Grand Lake are reporting whopper lake trout being taken from shallower waters now set free from winter’s hold.The Colorado Division of Wildlife has not found any confirmed evidence of Zebra mussel life in the Three Lakes Area since microscopic organisms were found a few years ago. “There hasn’t been a positive test result since 2008,” said local DOW Aquatics Biologist Job Ewert, who heads up local efforts to control the invasive species.The high school auditorium was an appropriate venue for the high drama that took place, May 17, during a five-hour-long East Grand School District board meeting – a meeting centered on the possible budget decision to close Grand Lake Elementary School. Many of the 100-or-so people in attendance wondered how they’d missed a step. Wasn’t there just a successful community-wide effort to save the schools? Why then is Grand Lake a target again? With an unpredictable future, the district needs to protect all budget options, the superintendent said. Some citizens in attendance called for a change in district leadership.Middle Park’s Samantha Berggren won her fourth-straight 3A girls 400-meter dash at the Colorado State High School Track & Field Championships at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood. Berggren also won the 800 and 1600-meter events, bringing her total number of state track titles for her career to nine. The East Grand Board of Education voted 4-2 to close Grand Lake Elementary School as a budget-slashing measure despite impassioned pleas to keep the 32-year-old school open.JUNEWith the Colorado River flowing at about four times its normal level, several groups of private boaters ran into trouble near Radium. There was one rafting death in connection with high water.Grand Lake’s Lakefront Park has been rededicated as “Gene Stover Lakefront Park,” named after the late Stover, who served as mayor of the town from 1984 to 2004.As water levels in the Upper Colorado and its tributaries rise to historic levels, ranches, businesses and residents along those waterways are scrambling to protect their property and safety. The river basin snowpack is sitting at a whopping 277 percent of average for early June, with a much later start of the runoff than in average years.Matthew O’Neill, 51, of Kremmling, was arrested without incident Tuesday, May 31, by special agents with the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, after being charged for sending a letter containing white powder to the Colorado Department of Revenue. More than 500 state employees were evacuated from the Revenue building as a precaution. The Denver Fire Department HAZMAT team field tested the powder in the envelope, discovering it was sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), a nonhazardous substance.West Grand School District, which serves about 445 students from kindergarten to 12th grade, adopted a budget with $3.87 million in expenditures for the 2011-2012 school year. The budget reflects $505,000 in cuts, stemming from $124,000 in sunsetting tax overrides, a $110,000 increase in fuel, utilities and insurance expenditures and a $272,000 loss from reduced state funding and declining enrollment.Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National park opened Monday, June 6 at 10:15 a.m. for the season.Workers put the finishing touches on the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre’s new 291-seat performing arts building in Grand Lake in preparation for opening night June 10.The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is looking into the cause of a June 13 fire at JJ’s Isolation Peaks Motel on U.S. Highway 34 near Grand Lake that destroyed nearly half the building.About 2,000 cyclists as part of the 26th annual Denver Post Ride the Rockies Bicycle Tour will be making their way from Steamboat Springs to Granby by way of U.S. Highway 40 and will be departing Granby the following morning.The Grand Huts Association met its $300,000 funding goal this year and is well on its way to constructing the remote high-elevation Broome Hut on Second Creek on the west side of Berthoud Pass.Real property valuations in Grand County have declined overall by 18.04 percent, according to the latest reassessment taxpayers found in mailboxes in May.Water is cascading over the Granby Dam spillway at a rate of about 1,400 cfs, converging with the waterway below in a fantastic, arching display.Although Middle Park may be on the downhill side of flood fears as of June 29, it’s expected rivers will be flowing high well into July.JULYThere are more than 500 single family residences on the market across the county, and only 22 of them are bank-owned. In the past six months, 90 houses have sold across the county; 34 of those were foreclosure sales.Strong winds aloft collided with thunderstorms, causing what is known as microbursts, or straight-line winds. The weather station at Middle Park High School in Granby took a reading showing winds of 83 mph. Damage was widespread from Granby to Grand Lake, primarily affecting roofs, trees and lawn furniture. The U.S. Forest Service Sulphur Ranger District, which keeps close tabs on osprey nesting in the area, reported that at least four osprey nests were lost in the storm on the eastern shore of Lake Granby.A hiker on the Knight Ridge Trail along the north side of Arapaho Bay on Lake Granby was injured when a falling tree hit her, just before the intense storm in the Granby area on Thursday, June 30.As Colorado’s state House districts are rearranged to fit the 2010 Census results, Grand and Jackson counties could be lumped with counties on the northern Front Range. This is the latest outcome concerning Grand and Jackson counties in the process of reapportionment, which is taking place in Denver.St. Louis Creek was gushing down the streets of Fraser on Wednesday after a heavy downpour on July 6, pushed the usually diminutive waterway even farther out of its banks. Wednesday’s streamflow set a new record for the date, with 353 cubic feet per second coursing past the gauge. The record of 278 cfs was set in 1957.Grand County commissioners are in the process of redrawing districts to account for population changes in Grand County.This year’s mountain runoff is expected to shatter all-time record inflows into the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. With 334,000 acre-feet of water entering into the system from April 1 to present, this year’s inflows are poised to surpass the record water levels of 1984, according to Northern Colorado Water Conservancy spokesperson Brian Werner.A new plan for Orvis Shorefox property was unveiled to Granby town officials. The new plan calls for “an extension of the town of Granby,” with smaller, more attainable homes built surrounding the ponds and with views of the Colorado River. But no homes would be along the Colorado River in order to protect the riparian corridor. Near the entrance along Highway 34 and along a portion of Highway 40, the plan calls for a noted departure from what was originally envisioned on Shorefox land: roughly 12 acres of an RV park, something the new developers said they heard was sorely needed in Granby given the attraction to public lands in the area.Winter Park Resort announced this week it is ending shuttle bus services to Meadow Ridge, part of Winter Park Ranch and neighborhoods in the Ptarmigan vicinity near Fraser. The “Red” and “Purple” lines of the free “Lift” shuttle are being eliminated as a cost-saving measure, according to Winter Park officials.A Grand County jury found former Granby resident Kristen Schoen not guilty of accidentally killing her boyfriend with a shotgun in Granby last year.Parshall’s “downtown” business district, many say, would be rather hollow without the small building boasting “U.S. Postal Service, Parshall, CO 80468.” Parshall’s post office is on list of 70 post offices in Colorado and 3,700 post offices nationwide that are being studied for possible closures. The U.S. Postal Service hopes to save $200 million as it faces up to a $9 billion deficit in response to the impacts of internet and digital communications.AUGUSTGrand Park developer Clark Lipscomb is asking the Town of Fraser to support installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of First Street and U.S. Highway 40 near Winter Park Market and the recreation center. The town would have to make the application for the light to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Lipscomb’s development would pay for it.The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is not pumping through Adams Tunnel until Sept. 6, and water clarity advocates are so far pleased with consequences. “The clarity has so much improved over anything we’ve seen in August over the past 50 years,” said Three Lakes Watershed Association President Canton O’Donnell of Grand Lake. The 250-member organization has advocated for better water quality in Grand Lake for at least 20 years.The town of Granby is exploring gun laws after a meeting-goer accidentally dropped his loaded subcompact semi-automatic pistol while publicly speaking to the board of trustees.Grand Lake students will have access to an activities bus when the school year begins. Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District board members vote unanimously on Aug. 2 to allocate $11,868 for a bus that would transport Grand Lake students home after Granby’s after-school and sports programs.Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) was called out late Sunday afternoon, Aug. 14, to assist an injured climber in the Indian Peaks Wilderness above Crater Lake. Ben Hargen ,29, of Fort Collins had fallen and broken his arm and ankle on the Peck Glacier, one of several high alpine hanging glaciers in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.Top finishers from July’s Tour de France race through Kremmling on Saturday, Aug. 27. The first through third finishers, Cadel Evans of Australia and brothers Andy and Frank Schleck of Luxembourg, are among 128 pro riders in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, a similar but shorter race than the Tour de France. Riders race through the mountains during seven days in six different stages, starting in Colorado Springs and ending in Denver. For stage five, riders start in Steamboat Springs and travel through Kremmling on to Breckenridge, where they will end for the day.In the wrap-up of the East Grand School District’s 2010-2011 fiscal year, the district averted worst-case-scenario projections, largely due to area property owners and developers catching up on delinquent property taxes. Because of factors including a property-tax surplus and saving in expenses, the district may find itself with an additional $804,000 in its final 2010-11 fund balance.A bear at the Green Ridge Campground on Shadow Mountain Reservoir helped himself to lunches inside a school bus. The bear had been reported previously in the area as having gotten into trash containers and coolers left outside by campers, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Mike Porras.The East Grand School District has new administrators in four of its five schools.A first-ever rowing regatta is taking place on Grand Lake.Grand County commissioners vote unanimously to spend roughly $6.6 million on a tie-back system to stop the ground from moving at the Granby Landfill, which has been out of commission since April 2010.A Mountain Parks Electric Inc. billing mistake is setting back the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District by about $106,000. Joe Pandy, general manager of Mountain Parks, attended the Aug. 23 Recreation District board meeting to explain to board members why the district’s electricity bill is actually double what it has been billed since the Grand Park Community Recreation Center opened in January of 2010. For each of the last 18 months, the electric co-op had under-billed the recreation district by more than $5,000. News of this was a “bomb” dropped on the district, said Scott Ledin, director of Parks and Recreation for the district.An Oregon couple flying their 1979 Cessna 210 single-engine airplane into the Kremmling airport lost control on the runway and took out 140 feet of the airport’s wildlife fencing. The plane sustained significant damage to its prop, nose, front landing gear and both wings when it traveled off the south side of the runway for approximately 1,200 feet on its wheels, hit the fence at the end of the airport and came to a stop on County Road 396 on the other side. Neither the pilot nor his wife, save for some minor bruising, was injured.SEPTEMBERGrand Lake Town Manager Shane Hale accepted the position as manager of the city of Cortez. Employed as Grand Lake’s town manager for longer than seven years, Hale accepted the position on Aug. 30.The Kremmling Memorial Hospital District has brokered a deal with Centura Health to purchase the St. Anthony Granby Medical Center for $2.6 million. Effective Jan. 1, 2012, Centura Health will transfer operations and assets of the longstanding medical center to the Kremmling district “with no interruption of service,” according to statements released from both Kremmling Memorial Hospital District and Centura.Those who argued against Grand County being part of an East Slope Colorado House district can claim a tentative victory, with the final vote of the state reapportionment committee clustering Grand County with Eagle and Summit counties. The map still faces approval from the Colorado Supreme Court.The closure of schools and cutbacks in programs and faculty across the state has prompted the sole ballot issue in the 2011 November election. Proposition 103 proposes to increase the state’s personal income tax rate, the corporate income tax rate and the statewide sales and use tax rate for calendar years 2012 through 2016. At the end of the five-year term, the taxes would return to 2011 levels. Proponents of the measure are hoping to raise an estimated $2.9 billion to support public education across the state.Kirk Klancke of Fraser is featured in the October edition of Field & Stream as one of the magazine’s “2011 Heroes of Conservation,” which highlights individuals involved in grassroots projects to preserve the land, water and wildlife vital to sportsman’s pursuits. Selections are based on factors including leadership, commitment, project growth and results. Along with five additional honorees, Klancke will be celebrated at a Field & Stream gala event in Washington D.C. on Oct. 11, where he will be presented with a $5,000 conservation grant.Those who rent out their homes to vacationers in unincorporated Grand County may be subjected to paying a $20 annual registration fee with the county. During a “Short Term Rental Regulation” hearing on Sept. 20, commissioners opted to allow nightly rentals in all zones of the county, subject to a list of supplemental regulations in the zoning codes on top of an annual registration with the county.Longtime Granby town trustee and former mayor Ed Raffety moved to Denver after 44 years living in Grand CountyProperty owners are building about half the number of single-family homes in the county compared to last year, according to the latest report from the Grand County Building Department. But overall home projects – such as new garages, additions, decks, finished basements and detached garages – are on the rise, with more county building permits over last year.OCTOBERThe Lariat Saloon (The Rope) has been closed since Sept. 9, and although Grand Lake has seen its share of business closures, few others have reverberated through town quite the same. The establishment was shuttered for various reasons as the business sits in probate following the unexpected death of 30-year Lariat Saloon owner Stover, who died one year ago yesterday, Oct. 4.Grand County officials have fine-tuned zoning laws to define sexually oriented businesses. Adult arcades, adult book and video stores, adult cabarets, adult motion picture theaters, adult peep booths, adult photo studios and “sexual encounter establishments” now have a place within the county’s zoning regulations.The East Grand School District’s Oct. 1 enrollment count reflects 1,277 students in the district, which is a decrease of 48 students from the 2010 October count.A large bear rumored to have been frequenting neighborhoods in the vicinity of County Road 8 in the Fraser Valley was legally shot and killed by a hunter on Sept. 27. The bear’s girth was measured at 5 feet, with a length 7 feet from nose to tail. The bruin weighed 600 pounds dressed out and stood up to 9 feet tall. His skull size was 20.75 inches.Apparently, those who live in the Kremmling area could jump this ship we call the United States of America and board the once sovereign and abandoned “Republic of Texas.” Some retirees in Texas are working to resurrect the foregone Republic of Texas, and the western end of Grand County falls within its boundaries, they say.The Granby Board of Trustees on Oct. 11 unanimously agreed to rescind the $20,000 pledge the town made to the to the East Grand Education Foundation in February. “The East Grand school board president called me to ask the trustees to rescind the pledge because they weren’t in dire need of it,” said Mayor Jynnifer Pierro. “Tax money came into the school district so there was no need to fund it.”There will in fact be a shuttle route through the Meadow Ridge area this ski season thanks to Brian Lence, president of Vacations Inc. and Condominium Management Company in Winter Park, and others. From months of meetings, calls and emails is a restored “new line.” It will be operated by the same company, First Transit, using the same buses. The finalized route will be announced soon and the shuttle is scheduled to start Nov. 16.A former Granby Police officer, Jose Sanchez, 36, who was convicted in May of engaging in “sexting” with a 16-year-old Middle Park High School girl, was sentenced in District Court to 90 days in jail and five years in an intensive sex offender supervision program.December 2011 marks the centennial of the birth of the ski industry in Colorado. The first ski area west of the Mississippi River was established right here in Grand County with the 1911 Hot Sulphur Springs Winter Sports Carnival. Skiing had a long history throughout Colorado for utilitarian purposes well before this event. Furthermore, there had even been friendly competitions on Norwegian snowshoes (the name given to skis in the 19th century).This year’s Grand Lake Citizen of the Year recipient is Judy Jensen, owner/operator of Cabins Quilts and Stitches and President of the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater Board of Trustees.NOVEMBERColorado House Rep. Randy Baumgardner has leased ranchland in Jackson County, which qualifies him to run again for representative of State House District 57 pending approval of the final state redistricting map. Baumgardner said the decision to lease land in Cowdrey was not one based on his future prospects as a state congressman, but one solely based on agriculture. “The opportunity presented itself to lease a piece of property up there where I can graze more cattle,” Baumgardner said.Tabor Scholl of Kremmling, who runs for the Middle Park High School cross country, finished in first place with a time of 18:37.62, winning the Class 3A girls state championship at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds.U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., recognized Fraser resident Kirk Klancke on the Senate floor in Washington D.C. on Oct. 12 for Klancke’s “commitment to preserving our environment and making Colorado a better place to live, work and play.”Two financial issues involving the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD) and the Grand Park Community Recreation Center were resolved. The IRS made a determination that the interest received by the owners of the bonds issued to build the Grand Park Community Recreation Center is excludable from gross income (tax-free) under section 103 of the Internal Revenue Code. The second financial issue entails the resolution and payment of the electric bill with Mountain Parks Electric Inc. The Board of Directors of MPEI came up with a one-time, net present value pay-off of $62,000, which was calculated on a payment stream of $1,000 per month for 100 consecutive months at a discount rate of approximately 5 percent. In the November election, Grand County voters overwhelmingly rejected a five-year statewide tax increase in support of schools, with 71.14 percent against and 28.86 in favor. Incumbent Brett Davidson garnered the most votes in running for one of three at large seats on the West Grand School Board. Incumbent Dean Billington and challenger Michele DeSanti were also voted in, defeating Michael Lockhart and Jon Ewert. In District 2 of the Fraser Valley area, challenger Donald Scott defeated school board incumbent Joan Evans. In District 4, also of the Fraser Valley, incumbent candidate Chip Besse, who had been recently appointed to the board to fill the seat vacated by Gale Delphia, defeated challenger January Paulk. Taunia Shipman of District 1, who will represent Hot Sulphur Springs area and to the north past Lake Granby toward Grand Lake, ran unchallenged for the available seat left by Mike Thompson, who chose not to run again.Winter Park Resort opened on Saturday, Nov. 12, four days earlier than anticipated for its 72nd season. Forrest Guittar, Andrew Green and Joe Bugos caught the first chair of the season.A team of historic preservationists, Colorado Department of Local Affairs coordinators and Main Street program directors visited Granby to assess its Main Street program successes, perceived missed opportunities and goals for the upcoming year.East Grand School District has become one of five Colorado districts blazing the trail toward education reform. With the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 10-191 last May, a new law in Colorado seeks to measure and quantify teacher performance. The East Grand School District volunteered as the only West Slope school system to put the law into practice, building policies and practices.The IceBox ice rink in the Fraser Valley Sports Complex is scheduled to open at noon Monday, Nov. 21, a delayed opening due to warm weather.A decrease in federal funding means about 44 residents in Grand County may no longer receive LEAP assistance, or Colorado’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, to help with heating bills this winter. The Colorado Department of Human Services reduced the income criteria for the LEAP program from 185 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.The music community and beyond in Grand County suffered a loss in the death of Steve Cormey. The talented artist with a humble, even apologetic, demeanor died in his sleep at his home outside Grand Lake on Friday, Nov. 18, from cancer.The Denver Ski Bus will begin shuttle service on Dec. 3 bringing skiers and snowboarders from Denver and Boulder to Winter Park every Saturday and Sunday during the 2011-201 ski season. The cost is $38 round trip from Denver, and $42 from the University of Colorado Boulder campus. The charter buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, reclining seats, TVs, DVD player, a bathroom, overhead cargo space and space for skis and snowboards.An empty lot in Granby with a dramatic history is undergoing a renaissance. The Gambles lot owned by Cacey and Ronda Farrell was the site where Marvin Heemeyer ended his life in the throes of his June 4, 2004, bulldozer rampage after Heemeyer already had rammed his armored machine into the Farrells’ appliances and hardware store located at the site. Now seven years later, the Farrells are rebuilding a new 4,500 square-foot appliance and vacuum store, which is slated to open by the end of February.Ben Dugan has written the book “Berthoud Pass,” published this year by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America series. The book includes never-before published photographs of Berthoud Pass and Empire from the author’s private collection.Winter Park Resort was hit with winds exceeding 100 mph as a snowstorm moved through Colorado’s northern tier. At 12:05 a.m. Saturday peak gusts were recorded at 109 mph on a wind gauge at T-Cone Weather Station at the top of Parsenn Bowl. Wind from the west caused significant wind throw of trees and minor damage to some buildings, according to resort officials.DECEMBERThe Windy Gap Firming Project Final Environmental Impact Statement was released. The revised environmental impact statement for a project that proposes storage requests up to 87,180 acre-feet from out of the upper Colorado River drainage states that “substantial effort has gone into developing mitigation measures to offset or reduce identified impacts from implementation of the (Windy Gap Firming Project).”Mountain Parks Electric Inc. has gone three years without a rate increase; however, in 2012 it will be increasing rates driven by the wholesale price of electricity. “Ninety percent of our customer base is residential and they will see a $5 to $6 monthly increase, a 4.8 percent increase,” said Joe Pandy, general manager.Former executive director of the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, Brad Taylor, 42, accused of stealing funds from the chamber while overseeing its functions, has abandoned his plea agreement with the district attorney and has entered a not guilty plea.The Confluence Energy pellet plant reopened Friday, Dec. 2, after being closed since a fire on Nov. 29.The Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District board of directors meeting hosted a full house, specifically Fraser residents asking about the future of the TV translator system and future funding. A Thanksgiving week translator outage caused by high winds prompted speculation that the district was ending the service, which it is not. Another issue brought up during the meeting was about the light generated from the Ice Box skating rink at the Fraser ballfields. Frank Mannix of Fraser commented that the light from the ice rink “floods your eyes.” He said he thinks there should be a rule about the light.Grand County will share a Colorado legislative House district with parts of the city of Boulder and the western half of the county of Boulder after all, according to a final decision rendered by the Colorado Supreme Court. Entering into District 13, Grand and Jackson counties will now share a House district with Clear Creek, Gilpin and part of Boulder counties. The court issued its decision despite a 21-page objection plus exhibits Grand County attorneys filed prior to the judgment.Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham of Fraser will not be seeking re-election in November 2012. “It was something I considered very seriously and ultimately decided not to run again,” said the DA, who was elected in 2008.A four-member team from Grand Lake will compete in the February 2012 Iron Dog race, the world’s longest snowmobile race that follows the Iditarod Northern Route of the Historic Iditarod Trail in Alaska. The Grand Lake-area team is comprised of Chris Tarr, 43, Cory Ziegler, 23, Kevin Cox, 48, and Bruce Knight, 56.West Grand High School has been crowned a top-performing school, based on the Colorado Department of Education’s ratings. The school, with 114 students, received both the “Colorado John Irwin Schools of Excellence” award as well as the “Colorado Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award.” In the East Grand School District, The Fraser Valley Elementary School out-performed other East Grand schools in the latest School Performance Framework Report.Mary Jane mountain is ready to open at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 16.The new Ten Mile Family Medicine clinic is ramping up for a Jan. 2 opening, with an open house planned for Jan. 4 and Jan. 6. Located in the specialty clinic building on Ten Mile Drive just south of downtown Granby, the family practice is a new venture of Dr. Jeffrey Lipke of Granby Medical Center and his wife Molly.Father and son William Ahrold, 62, and Jackson Ahrold, 9, both of Denver, were identified as the dead people found in a van off the Trough Road on Dec. 17 after an apparent murder-suicide.The beginning of January marks several changes in the realm of health care in Grand County with the closing of Centura’s Granby Medical Center and the opening of the Middle Park Medical Center and the Ten Mile Family Medicine practice, both in Granby. And yet another change is taking place involving the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District and the North Park Medical Clinic in Walden. Effective in early January, negotiations will be finalized on The Kremmling district’s lease of the North Park Medical Clinic, which provides health care services to the people of Jackson County.In the county’s $41 million budget, the items gaining most attention are the closed Granby landfill pending a major project to stop the land from moving downhill, and water protections.In consideration of the 2012 budget, the Granby town board has agreed to spend up to $40,000 in 2012 to secure a position for an economic facilitator in the town. Marise Cipriani of Granby Ranch has offered to fund $65,000 on top of the town’s contribution to train this facilitator through the Sirolli Institute (www.sirolli.com).Drawn out of his current state House District 57, Rep. Randy Baumgardner says he will run for the GOP 2012 nomination in the newly redrawn Senate District 8, challenging incumbent Republican state Sen. Jean White.Dec. 30 marks the 100th anniversary of the first winter carnival west of the Mississippi. On Dec. 30, 1911, Norwegians Carl Howelson and Angell Schmidt got off the train at the Corona Pass Station atop Rollins Pass to ski down the mountains. About nine hours and 44 miles later, they showed up with 35-pound backpacks and rifles in Hot Sulphur Springs at the Opening Ball of the 1911 Winter Carnival. The next day, the Norwegians built a crude ski jump and, shortly after noon, they gave a jumping exhibition that amazed the spectators. The opening event of the Grand Winter Sports Carnival 100 year Anniversary is the Reenactment Trek on Dec. 30, 2011, exactly 100 years later.The U.S. Postal Service has issued a special collector’s postmark to commemorate the Grand Winter Sports Carnival.