The top stories of 2014 |

The top stories of 2014

Following are the top stories from the Sky-Hi News in 2014.


Tragedy marked the beginning of 2014 with the aftermath of the New Year’s Eve death of 28-year-old George Dirth of Fraser, the victim of an avalanche on Willow Creek Pass.

More bad news followed when on Jan. 2, it was revealed that a 19-year-old Fort Collins man had died from injuries suffered in a Dec. 19 accident at Winter Park Resort.

Fraser trustees passed an ordinance authorizing location of recreational marijuana stores in town, making Fraser the only Grand County municipality where retail marijuana sales are permitted.


Broncos fans across Grand County grieve over their favorite team’s 43-8 shellacking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.

Intrawest Resort Holdings Inc., which operates Winter Park Resort, Steamboat Ski Resort and other areas sells more than 15.6 million shares of stock in an initial public offering.

Brittany King-Graham escapes form the Grand County Jail but was tracked down within about an hour, partially with the help of a Fraser-Winter Park officer and his police dog, who later in the year received an award for their efforts.

Ride the Rockies announces that Winter Park will be the first overnight stop on the iconic bicycle tour.

The Colorado Court of Appeals rules that an in-bound skier death from an avalanche at Mary Jane was the result of a risk inherent in the activity, thereby indemnifying ski resorts in most similar deaths.


District Court Judge Mary Hoak rejects a proposed plea deal for Lucas Paul Ackerman. Ackerman stood accused of driving while intoxicated and hitting and killing a pedestrian following the previous year’s Fourth of July festivities in Grand Lake.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service reports Middle Park snowpack at more than 140 percent of average, with snowpack in certain areas of the region approaching 200 percent of average.

Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson, in office since 1993, announces his bid for re-election.

Two-term Grand County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner announces that he will not seek re-election. Grand County Planning Director Kristen Manguso and longtime county resident George Davis announce their intentions to fill his vacant seat.

Nik Seeman of Winter Park wins the 2014 Junior National Aerial Champion title at Park City, Utah.

A group of concerned citizens calling itself “Citizens for Transparent Grand County Government” makes itself known by demanding Grand County conduct a financial audit in the wake of revelations that some $500,000 has gone missing from the Building Department.

Challenger Brett Schroetlin earns a place on the primary ballot running against Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson.

Kristen Manguso’s bid for county commissioner receives a boost as she makes the ballot while George Davis does not.


Katy Soles, Cody Clayton Taylor, Andy Miller and Jane Mather are elected to the Fraser Board of Trustees, ousting Steve Sumrall and Vesta Shapiro in the process. Meanwhile, Robin Trainor is elected to the Granby town board, and in Winter Park incumbent Katie Riemenschneider is unseated as Nick Kutrumbos, Chuck Banks, Barbara Atwater and Mike Periolat are elected.


The Kremmling Memorial Hospital District enters into a management agreement with Centura for the company to provide management and leadership.

The East Grand Board of Education mulls selling the former Grand Lake Elementary School building.

The town of Granby drafts an ordinance prohibiting commercial activities related to recreational marijuana within the town.

A series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 kicks off.


The town of Granby marks the 10th anniversary of Marvin Heemeyer’s infamous bulldozer rampage that destroyed 13 buildings on June 4, 2004.

More than 500 Ride the Rockies bicyclists ditch their bikes and opt instead for a bus ride as winter weather descends on Berthoud Pass.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation looks into allegations of a Grand County EMS employee stealing narcotics from the agency.

Charles LaBrake replaces Ken Coatney on the Granby town board after Coatney accepts a job in Denver.

14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey announces he will move to dismiss all felony charges against Lucas Ackerman in relation to the July 4, 2013, DUI accident that left a pedestrian dead.

Challenger Brett Schroetlin shocks the GOP establishment in Grand County by defeating incumber Sheriff Rod Johnson in the Republican primary, 1,207-1,056 votes.


A faulty shell causes an explosion that truncates Grand Lake’s much-anticipated annual Fourth of July fireworks show.

William Fliris, 67, of Lusk, Wyo., drowns after coming out of his boat while floating the Colorado River between Pumphouse Recreation Area and Radium

Lucas Ackerman is sentenced to one year in jail for driving under the influence in relation to an accident that caused the death of a pedestrian on July 4, 2013.

The Grand County Planning Commission denies a special use permit for a proposed marijuana grow operation near Granby, citing concerns over odors and the facility’s proximity to the town of Granby, which wrote a letter saying it would annex the property and deny the facility if the commission approved the application.

Grand County Undersheriff John Stein announces his write-in candidacy for sheriff, challenging Republican primary winner Brett Schroetlin during what would become a rancorous four-month contest.

A recreational marijuana grow and retail operation is proposed for the vacant former Highland Lumber building in Tabernash.

Citizens for Transparency in Grand County Government accuse Commissioner James Newberry of “double-dipping” on his mileage reimbursements from the county and the Colorado River District.

Fraser residents Eric Van Herwaarden and Philip Naill become the first same-sex couple to marry under what would turn out to be a temporary allowance of marriage licenses in Denver County. The licenses later were permitted statewide under subsequent court rulings.

Grand County approves a rezone of the former Highland Lumber property in Tabernash, paving the way for a large marijuana grow and retail facility.

A small lightning-caused wildfire breaks out south of Granby. Cool, wet weather helps contain the fire to a few acres.

Lake Granby spills due to snowpack runoff and wet weather. The impoundment remains full or close to it for months in what some observers suggest is the most protracted period they’ve seen.


Leaving no doubt that it is an election year, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Mark Udall and his challenger, Rep Cory Gardner, all make campaign swings through Grand County.

A 14th Judicial District panel working under the auspices of the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation recommends that Grand County Judge Ben McClelland, in office since Sept. 2007, not be retained by voters.

The Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals grants YMCA of the Rockies a full property tax exemption, relieving the organization of a $200,000 annual property tax bill. Attorneys for both Grand and Larimer counties announce they will appeal the decision.

A small wildfire breaks out north of Grand Lake, but fortuitous winds and weather keep the blaze contained.

The U.S. Postal Service announces that it intends to slash hours at the Hot Sulphur Springs Post Office to cut costs.

Kayaker Elizabeth McVay, 38, of Boulder County, dies while floating Gore Canyon on the Colorado River below Kremmling.

The remains of Patricia Wallace, a 74-year-old hiker from Lafayette who went missing in July 2012, are discovered by hikers in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

The Bureau of Land Management authorizes a whitewater park below Gore Canyon on the Colorado River.

The amount of water stored in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project hits its highest level ever for late August.


A couple from Las Vegas, Nev., walk away from their aircraft after it crashes and rolls while attempting to abort a landing at Granby Airport.

Rocky Mountain National Park officially commences its year-long celebration of the Park’s centennial.

The town of Winter Park adds up its tax collections from July and finds out the total was the highest for the month in town history.

Rocky Mountain National Park and other national parks across the nation release a proposal to increase entrance and other fees.


The East Grand School District announces plans to provide Chromebooks to most students in the district.

The Fraser Board of Trustees approves a license for Serene Wellness Fraser LLC, which becomes the first recreational marijuana retail outlet in Grand County.

A contract is approved for the addition of two new traffic lights and the extension of the four lane stretch of U.S. Highway 40 near the town’s border with Winter Park.

William C. Robinson is sentenced to 10 years in prison for a crime spree that resulted in the recovery of about 2,250 stolen items from his residence.

Matt Willprecht and Kevin Siegrist obtain the first same-sex marriage license granted by Grand County since court rulings cleared the way for same sex marriage in Colorado.

Paul Kitterman of Kremmling mysteriously disappears from a Broncos game in Denver, sparking a frantic man hunt, only to turn up a few days later at relative’s home in Pueblo.

Siblings Tabor and Tyler Scholl of Kremmling win Colorado State Championships in their respective age divisions in cross country running.


After months of heated campaigning, GOP primary winner Brett Schroetlin defeats write-in challenger John Stein in the race for Grand County sheriff by a more than 2-1 margin. Meanwhile, county voters vote not to retain County Judge Ben McClelland.

Winter Park Resort kicks off its 75th year of operation.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issues a proclamation naming Nov. 15 as Gerald F. Groswold day in honor of the former Winter Park Resort CEO.

State Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs is chosen by fellow Republicans to be the Majority Whip for the upcoming legislative session.

Rumors come true when a bankruptcy court authorizes the liquidation of assets owned by Alco, which will eventually entail closing of the Alco store in Fraser, Grand County’s only department store.

Rocky Mountain National Park announces that, through mid-November, the Park has had a record number of visitors for the year so far at 3,63,804.

Grand Lake entrepreneur Elmer Lanzi buys a couple of buses and announces his intention to start tours to Rocky Mountain National Park.


The town of Fraser approves a second retail marijuana outlet and the owner promptly announces that he intends to purchase the shopping center where the closing Alco department store is located.

Grand Lake trustees agree to send a letter to Grand County in support of establishing a 4-meter clarity standard for Grand Lake, the state’s largest natural lake.

Grand Lake Manager David Hook retires Dec. 31 and the town hires Jim White of Minturn to replace him.

The Granby town board annexes a piece of unincorporated Grand County near the town to prevent a marijuana operation from locating there. The owner of the proposed operation threatens to sue the town.

The Grand County commissioners agree to change the name of the Granby Airport to include “Emily Warner Field” in honor of the former Grand County resident who became the first commercial airline pilot in the United States.

The new Lunch Rock restaurant opens at Winter Park Resort. The 16,000-square-foot, $8.5 million facility sits at 11,200 feet on the mountain.

Wildlife biologists harvesting eggs from kokanee salmon in Lake Granby collect the lowest number of eggs, 72,000, since 1999. They cite high water, too many mysis shrimp and predation by lake trout.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation issues a record of decision for the Windy Gap Firming Project, largely clearing the way for more water diversions from the Upper Colorado River through the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

The Northern Water Conservancy District announces plans to install a hydroelectric generating plant on the Lake Granby dam.

Grand County rejects a request from some citizens to place a moratorium on commercial marijuana facilities in the county.

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