Winter Park approves crushing permit amid concerns from neighbors
Despite opposition from residents of Winter Park’s Snowblaze neighborhood, council approved on Tuesday a special-use permit for the Roam development to crush rocks on-site downtown.
The Roam development, which started construction earlier this year and will be comprised of over 1,000 housing units and 70,000 square feet of commercial space, asked the town for a permit to crush rocks until Nov. 15 at its 14 acre site along US Highway 40.
“The more we move the material, the bigger the impact, the more noise, the more dust and disruption,” explained Jeremy Straley, owner of Mountain States Snowcats, which is contracted to do the work for Roam.
However, surrounding residents felt the operation shouldn’t be approved because of concerns about noise, dust and safety. Steve Burton spoke to these concerns at the meeting and wondered why the rock-crushing site couldn’t be moved farther from the neighborhood.
“It’s unsightly, we’ve got noise, and obviously, it’s a nuisance to the neighborhood,” Burton said. “If they had proposed it for the one location down the road, south of Beavers Village Lodge, then I wouldn’t be here today.”
Eight more public comments opposing the permit were received via email, all of which cited concerns about noise and dust.
According to Straley, though, crushing the rock on-site will have the least impact when it comes to noise, dust and environmental concerns.
“The two locations we have here were lined out by the engineers due to wetland mitigation,” he said. “The loudest thing that we do, actually, is loading the trucks, (while) loading the crusher is quieter.”
He also noted that the sites on the property where the rock-crushing will take place were identified as the spots that would have the least environmental impact on the surrounding wetlands.
It also limits the travel associated with the work, since the rocks won’t need to be hauled anywhere and, once crushed, will be used as structural fill on-site. About 50-100 of the larger boulders will be used for landscaping.
Town planner Mara Owen emphasized the permit comes with 10 conditions the developers must meet throughout the duration of the work, including restricting crushing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., screening the work from view, having a dust mitigation plan and only working during appropriate environmental conditions.
She added that the town has approved three other special-use permits in the downtown area, including one for Mountain States Snowcats at the Headwaters Center, and had no issues with those projects.
Ultimately, council approved the permit unanimously on the grounds that it is the best option with the least impact.
Accused wilderness snowmobiler’s plane is now at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean
David Lesh, the snowmobiler who became infamous over the summer for boasting about sledding in wilderness areas, crash-landed his plane in the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday.
Lesh and his passenger were not hurt in the crash.
The incident was caught on video by pilot Owen Leipelt, who was filming as Lesh skipped the aircraft across the water about four miles off the California coast in Half Moon Bay. After filming the crash, Leipelt momentarily lost Lesh, but Lesh had his phone and was able to call Leipelt.
In recounting the incident to KGO-TV reporter Amanda del Castillo, Lesh described retrieving his phone before securing a PFD.
“Got the door open right away, piled out, grabbed my phone, grabbed some stuff to float with, and we stood on the wing as long as the plane was floating,” Lesh told del Castillo.
Lesh then recorded selfie videos of himself and his passenger floating in the Pacific Ocean and getting rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. He also recorded the plane sinking, saying “There she goes, I wonder if there was something in the fuel?”
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, saying that it “typically takes up to a year” to determine the cause of an accident, SFGate.com reported on Tuesday.
In July, Lesh was criticized by snowmobilers after he was accused of snowmobiling in wilderness areas with no snow near Aspen.
Social media users said the snowmobiler who was photographed riding through an area with no snow near the Upper Lost Man trail on July 3 was obviously Lesh as, a day later, Lesh posted pictures of himself in the same outfit, riding a sled with the same custom paint work in the nearby Independance Pass wilderness area where snowmobiles are not allowed.
In addition to breaking the law, the snowmobilers caused damage to sensitive root systems and vegetation in the area, said Ecologist Dawn Barton, who witnessed the snowmobilers riding through the area with no snow on July 3. Barton said they were being “environmentally unconscionable.”
The incident prompted The Colorado Snowmobile Association, United Snowmobile Alliance and Backcountry United to issue a joint statement, condemning the snowmobilers actions.
The coverage and photos of the parties “operating snowmobiles without visible snow in a Designated Wilderness area does not reflect the Colorado community of tens of thousands of snowmobilers in any manner,” the statement said. “Rather this behavior is exactly the opposite of the community represented and is deeply troubling.”
The statement also said the groups are working with the Forest Service to identify and prosecute the parties.
“We are fully cooperating with law enforcement efforts from the U.S. Forest Service and are helping to identify the individuals in these pictures and ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Jones said in the statement. “Our organizations work diligently with public land agencies to ensure access and responsible recreation and as such, we do not condone behaviors that damage the natural resources of Colorado.”
Q&A with Andrew Romanoff: US Senate candidate says Hickenlooper won’t change the game plan
Andrew Romanoff is a Democrat who’s running for U.S. Senate in Colorado in 2020, and he lays out his priorities, endorsements and a host of other information on his campaign website, AndrewRomanoff.com.
In a trip to Grand County this week, Romanoff stopped by the Sky-Hi News and answered a few questions about the county, the race for Congress and the possibility former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper might enter the fray.
Sky-Hi News: What brings you to Grand County and how has your trip been so far?
AR: It’s spectacular obviously, like every time I come here. It’s not my first trip to Grand County and it won’t be my last. I got invited by some of the local Democrats to speak at an event (Monday night) and then we did a series of events yesterday in Granby, Fraser and Grand Lake.
I think my only regret is when you’re running for office, you don’t have much time to enjoy the other parts of life. Someone told me running for office is a labor of love, except for the love part … I’m not complaining. It’s just, I think, days like this, it might be nice to actually get outside.
SHN: Especially on the campaign trail, I can imagine you’re probably staying pretty busy even though the primary is a little less than a year ahead.
AR: Yeah, it’s about 10 months and 11 days away if you’re counting, which I am. It’s a long road and the campaign is all consuming. I’m trying to meet as many voters as possible. I’m trying to run the kind of campaign that reflects the kind of legislator I was, the kind of senator I hope to be, and to be blunt the kind of senator that Cory Gardner is not.
We’re trying to be as transparent, accountable, responsive as possible, hold as many public events as possible, post them all online so anybody can come, and the opposition does… The opposition has hired a guy to follow me around the state with a video camera… I asked him what do you hope to get out of all these shots and he said, because the camera was rolling, ‘Well, we’re just waiting for you to say something you regret.’”
So, that’s the game. If you are open and honest, and meet your constituents, and answer their questions, and act like I believe a public servant should — remember who’s paying your salary when you serve in office; I’m not yet — then you put yourself at risk of a gaffe. If you take the other approach, and you just hide out, and refuse to answer anything, and say nothing, and try to run out the clock in this campaign, then I guess you’re better protected from that kind of exposure, but that’s a heckuva way to serve in public office.
SHN: You’ve won four terms to the Colorado House of Representatives, two as speaker, but more recently you lost the 2010 Senate primary to Michael Bennet and the 2014 race for U.S. House to Mike Coffman. What makes you think this bid for U.S. Senate is going to turn out differently?
AR: Well, Cory is not named Mike. Look, I’ll give you a serious answer. Most people will tell you politics is about timing. I was proud to win the first races and proud to win two terms as speaker of the House, as you said. At the end of the day, voters are going to have to decide whether they like the direction Washington is going or not.
I served with Cory Gardner in the state House for four years. I got to know him and to like him as a person … I’m not going to attack his character … but I think his record is fair game … I guess the other thing I’d say is one of the things I’d like to do in the course of this campaign is give voters not just something to shoot at but something to shoot for… How do you build a clean-energy economy? How do you make it possible for everybody in America to get health care they can afford? How do you create the single finest system of public education on the planet? How do you reform our immigration system? We have a lot of issues we’re talking about that reflect the voters’ priorities.
SHN: How do you distinguish yourself from the other candidates in the race?
AR: That’s a fair question. I bring to this race a record of legislative leadership that distinguishes me from the other candidates. I led the Democrats in Colorado to our first majority in 30 years, our first back-to-back majority since the 1960s and got recognized along the way as the best legislative leader in America.
My campaign and I bring a broader base of grassroots support. We don’t take money from special interest groups, but we’ve got more individuals chipping in — 90% of them from Colorado — than any other campaign … I think the last thing I’d say is I’ve laid out online and in conversations with voters across the state a much more aggressive agenda on issues that matter. Specifically at the top of the list (are) the climate crisis and health care reform because these are literally life and death struggles.
Maybe once upon a time in America, if we had taken action, say on the climate crisis 20 years ago, we could afford incremental reform now. But we didn’t do that then and we can’t now.
SHN: What other issues do you think will resonate the loudest with Grand County voters?
AR: We’ve had a conversation here in Grand County over the last day or two about the cost of health care because you’re paying higher premiums specifically here than other parts of the state, and the Western Slope generally is paying higher premiums than the rest of the country, as you know.
I spent the last four years running a mental health organization… and I found families, especially in the Western Slope, who wondered why they were paying for health coverage when they couldn’t find a provider who would take it… high on the list of domestic priorities.
SHN: What should Grand County voters know about you before they go to the ballot?
AR: That I’m willing to stand up to my own party. I’m a Democrat. I was raised that way, but I’ve never thought that my party was always right and the other party was always wrong. I think that attitude is arrogant and it accounts for some of the paralysis we see in Washington… It brings me no joy to reach that conclusion because the problems we face as a country are too big for one party to solve on its own so we need two functioning political parties in America again.
SHN: How would former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper change the complexion of this race if he decides to jump into it?
AR: You know, somebody once told me there are two kinds of politicians in the world — those who want to be somebody and those who want to do something. I’m running for the U.S. Senate not for the glory or the groupies — I’m still holding out for that — but to get some things done.
There are going to be another hundred candidates who enter the race between now and next June, and it’s not going to change my thinking or my approach because I feel like — and politics doesn’t reward modesty — but I feel like I’m the best qualified person to represent this state in that capacity, and I will bring to this job both a set of legislative skills and sense of urgency that I think is missing.
I’ve talked to my team about this. I don’t see where (Hickenlooper) changes our game plan. I will tell you, at my advancing age, I’ve decided to focus on the things I can control, and John is not one of them so we’ve got a game plan and that’s what we’re going to follow.
Pearl Dragon thankful for support as restaurant reopens to constant crowds
Grand County residents craving General Tso’s chicken or Szechuan beef can quiet their rumbling stomachs at the newly re-opened Pearl Dragon in Granby.
Since Pearl Dragon reopened at 52 N. Fourth St. last week, there hasn’t been a day the Chinese food restaurant wasn’t packed with people at the tables and waiting in line for takeout.
Every night, they’ve sold out of food, said Lin Long, the owner.
In fact, the restaurant has been so popular it is currently only offering dinner service in order to keep up with the demand on a small staff. Long said this is only temporary while they hire more workers.
“We were leaving at midnight every night, so then we had no choice but to close for lunch so we can prep for dinner,” she explained.
Earlier this spring, the restaurant closed its doors at its former location off US Highway 40 to move into a larger and more reliable space. In the more than four months Pearl Dragon was closed, Long and her family completely redid the interior of the new space.
Its new location can fit five more tables, and the kitchen is twice as big, which is key considering the restaurant staff hand cuts about 200 pounds of meat per day, along with all the vegetables and other ingredients needed for the day.
Long said she’s grateful for all the support from the community and especially people’s patience when it comes to the restaurant being short-staffed.
Talking to patrons in line for a table or to pick up takeout, they were more than willing to wait.
“Lin remembers everybody,” said Shelby Peterson, who lives in Grand County. “She’s always happy and accommodating. Plus the food is delicious.”
Other customers echoed the sentiment, highlighting the service and the staff’s ability to treat everyone like family.
Long’s sister and business partner Soi said loyal customers have even been dropping off gifts for the reopening.
“We just really want to thank them for their outpouring of support and love,” she said.
High Country Stampede Rodeo wraps up season
The High Country Stampede Rodeo in Fraser closed out the 2019 season on Saturday. Event and yearend results are as follows:
2019 Season Results
Junior Rodeo Buckle Winners
9-13 Barrel Racing — Taylin Harthun
9-13 Pole Bending — Brooke Marrou
9-13 Goat Tying — Ashley Smith
9-13 Breakaway Roping — Foster Krempin
9-13 Team Roping — Foster Krempin
14-18 Barrel Racing — Taylor Marrou
14-18 Pole Bending — Elizabeth Smith
14-18 Breakaway Roping — Wyatt Day
14-18 Team Roping Header — Wyatt Day
14-18 Team Roping Heeler — Elizabeth Smith
Junior All-Around Saddle Winners
9-13 — Foster Krempin
14-18 — Elizabeth Smith
Bareback Riding — Travis Wheeler
Breakaway Roping — Tish Linke-Krempin
Saddle Bronc Riding — Gavin McAllister
Mixed Team Roping Header — Tish Linke-Krempin
Mixed Team Roping Heeler — Tony Krempin
Open Team Roping Header — Tony Krempin
Open Team Roping Heeler — Foster Krempin
Ladies Open Barrels — Dalene Harthun
Ladies Local Barrels — Bailey Martin
Ladies Pole Bending — Kelly Palmer
Bull Riding — Travis Wheeler
Performance All-Around Saddle Winners
Ladies — Tish Linke-Krempin Men — Travis Wheeler
High Country Stampede Rodeo
Aug. 17 Event Results
BOUNTY BAREBACK — Travis Wheeler
TIE DOWN CALF ROPING — 1. Chris Downey, 10.63.
SADDLE BRONC — 1. Gavin McAllister, 73.
RANCH BRONC RIDING — 1. Jake Tervort, 68.
LADIES OPEN BARREL RACING — 1. Taylor Marrou, 18.049;
2. Kayla DeSanti, 18.721; 3. Amy Grey, 18.78; 4. Dalene Harthun, 22.463; 5. Raven
LADIES LOCAL BARREL RACING — 1. Bailey Martin, 18.758; 2. Julie
Martin, 19.252; 3. Emma DeSanti, 19.609; 4. Paige Miller, 22.394; 5. Hope
9-13 JR/SR TEAM ROPING — (Points and pay to juniors only) 1.
Foster Krempin (heel), 9.38.
14-18 TEAM ROPING — (Points and pay to seniors only) 1.
Elizabeth Smith, 17.27.
Study suggests high-speed transit system to mountains could provide economic benefits
A high-speed transit system through the mountain corridor could serve as a major economic boon to communities on the Western Slope, according to a new study recently published by Development Research Partners.
A high-speed transit system — likely in the form of a train that would carry passengers and light freight between Denver International Airport and Eagle County Regional Airport — was listed in the 2011 Record of Decision issued by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration as a potential long-term solution to dealing with congestion on Interstate 70.
“High-speed transit is one of three components of the long-term plan for the I-70 mountain corridor that was issued by the Federal Highways Administration and the Colorado Department of Transportation,” said Margaret Bowes, director of the I-70 Coalition, a nonprofit organization representing 28 local governments and businesses in the area. “While funding remains a challenge, this study provides valuable information for communities along the corridor and for CDOT and local transportation planners to take into account when considering the financial feasibility of a high-speed transit system in the mountain corridor.”
Visitors are a huge part of the economy on the Western Slope. In 2018, an estimated 25 million visitors came through the I-70 mountain corridor to recreate, more than 9.2 million of which were out-of-state visitors.
According to the study, about 85% of all visitors use I-70, adding about 6.7 million vehicles to the roadway every year — about half of all traffic. A high-speed transit system, which is hypothetically expected to carry about 5.4 million passengers a year, could mean as many as 4.2 million additional visitors, resulting in almost $550 million in additional spending each year on things like lodging, restaurants, entertainment and retail.
The study presupposes the additional spending would be able to directly support more than 4,600 new employees in mountain communities, totaling more than $150 million in wages each year.
One of the issues a high-speed transit system could help address is the high number of individuals commuting into the mountain corridor to work from their homes on the Front Range.
In 2017, about 40% of employment in the mountain corridor was in the leisure and hospitality industries, according to the study. But employment in the area has grown at only about half the rate of the metro Denver region since 2001 due to factors including limited residential development, high costs of commuting along I-70 and a lack of workers.
A high-speed transit system connecting metro Denver to the mountain corridor could help enlarge the available workforce in western areas of the state. The study notes that only about 45% of workers in the corridor also live in the mountains and almost 30% of workers are coming from the metro Denver area.
The study predicts that by reducing congestion and commuting costs, commuters from the Front Range could comprise about 4.2% of high-speed transit users, translating into an additional 1,560 workers traveling to the area for work, more than $130 million in additional corridor output and a $64 million increase in wage and salary income.
There are currently a little over 117,000 people living in the I-70 mountain corridor, though the population is expected to grow by about 1.4% a year through 2028. A high-speed transit system likely would allow for further increase in population, spurred by the aforementioned economic growth predicted in the study and increased employment opportunities brought on by greater demand for goods and services from visitors, according to the study.
Assuming the distribution of workers remains similar, with about 45% of the workforce living in the corridor, the forecasted growth in new employees spurred by the transit system would mean more than 2,000 new workers living in the corridor.
Based on the number of workers per household, the total increase in population would be around 3,350, taking in an estimated income of more than $71 million, according to the study. The new residents would spend an estimated $31.5 million in the mountain corridor each year, which would support an even further increase in the employment base of another 208 workers.
Between the growth in workforce caused by increased visitors to the area, easier commuting from the Front Range and new employees moving to the Western Slope, the study predicts as many as 6,428 new employees expected to earn about $230 million a year in total if a high-speed transit system were built.
Development and travel impacts
With a substantial increase in visitor and resident spending with the potential introduction of a high-speed transit system, there also would be impacts on development across the corridor.
The study predicts that population growth would necessitate the construction of about 1,360 new housing units, valued at just less than $640 million. Additionally, an increased demand for goods and services could drive more than 2 million square feet of commercial development, valued at $516 million.
A new transit system also would affect travel costs, with potentially major time savings and lower vehicle fuel and maintenance costs. The study predicts a total of $12.7 million in travel time saved per year, with commuters from the metro Denver area receiving the highest benefit with almost $8.5 million saved.
Demo Derby: Kremmling teen didn’t win, but he’s revved to drive again
Sixteen-year-old Mason Lemon was a hometown favorite at Saturday’s Get Smashed Demolition Derby in Kremmling, perhaps because the young driver only got his license about nine months ago.
Judging by the volume of the grandstands, the teen from Kremmling was one of the crowd’s picks to win as he competed with a black 1994 Chevy Astro in the derby’s first-ever classification for minivans.
The teenager almost didn’t make it, though, because he barely arrived in time for the event, said Amber Lemon, his mom.
Mason admitted that the Astro, which he got from one of his neighbors, came together at the 11th hour, and perhaps a little later. But he said the work he and his team did to get it ready was comprehensive.
“We did way too much to it,” Mason said. “We completely stripped it, put a roll cage in it, wired it, put a gas tank in it and ran fuel lines…”
On Saturday, Mason didn’t win the event, but he came away hooked on the derby.
“Yes,” his mom was nervous watching her son drive, she said, but after all the work he did, she thought it was well worth it.
“They spent many nights (building the van),” Amber Lemon said. “Like the last five nights, they’ve been sleeping in the shop. They were doing it with pure determination — they got it done.”
After the wrecked vans had been cleared from the ring, Mason and his friends climbed on top of his and posed for triumphant photos, his third-place finish seemingly far from mind.
As for the van, Mason said he’s going to keep it for another derby, though he really wants to bang steel with the trucks and in the fully welded classification.
“I want to do all the classes except compact,” he said.
Mason recalled growing up watching his uncle and Chuck Martinson, who also ran in Saturday’s derby, and has known since he was 5 or 6 years old that he wanted to drive in one someday too.
Now that he’s done it, Mason can’t wait to do it again.
Put on by the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo, Saturday’s demo derby awarded drivers cash prizes in multiple classes. Entertainment came from the many wrecks and, while cleanup crews did their work, a live band, acrobatics from Candela Collective Performance Troupe, and children’s games. Fireworks capped off the night.
For his reckless abandonment, Kelly Faylor won the highly coveted Most Aggressive Driver (MAD) Dog Award.
Compact Class — 1. Jordan Lutz; 2. Hannah Sheldon; 3. Scott Webber; 4. Anja Ley; 5. Andrew Oliver. Flag: Craig Claunch.
The Peaks ‘n Pines Quilt Guild on Friday announced winners from its 2019 Quilt Show in Grand Lake.
This year’s Best in Show winner was Susan Nixon for her quilt “365 Challenge 2016.”
The guild also named winners in vintage, bed, baby, lap, wall hanging, art and miscellaneous categories. Three winners were named in this year’s new category “Ann’s Challenge,” which honors the late president of the guild.
The 2019 Quilt Show took place on July 20 and 21 at the Grand Lake Center.
Vintage: 1. Deb Coultas 2. Sue Miller
Bed: 1. Susan Nixon 2. Louise Atteridg 3. Elaine Alleman
Ann’s Challenge: 1. Marianne Hayes 2. Deb Treiber 3. Clare Rutila
Miscellaneous: 1. Deb Coultas 2. Deb Wehmeyer 3. Deb Coultas
2 active wildfires in West Routt near full containment
HAYDEN — Two wildfires in West Routt County have nearly reached full containment as of Tuesday morning, according to emergency officials.
All Routt County fire districts, along with the U.S. Forest Service, hotshots from the Bureau of Land Management and a wildland crew from South Dakota have been battling the two blazes, the latest of which popped up late Monday afternoon.
The Indian Run Fire, which was initially reported Saturday evening, has reached 170 acres, according to Routt County Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat. That fire, located about 16 miles southwest of Hayden, is currently at 85% containment.
The Mill Creek 2 Fire, which was noticed by a pilot from the air late Monday afternoon, has burned a little over an acre and is currently at 80% containment, DeMorat said. It is burning on heavily wooded private land in the area of Wolf Mountain, located roughly 5 1/2 miles east of Hayden, in the burn scar from the 2017 Mill Creek Fire.
Bear jumps out of dumpster, bites downtown Aspen restaurant manager
The manager of a downtown Aspen restaurant was bitten by a bear rummaging through garbage in the alley dumpster late Sunday night, police said Monday.
And while the Steakhouse 316 manager was not seriously injured, the restaurant received a $500 unsecured garbage ticket from the city, its second trash violation in the past two weeks, said Sgt. Rick Magnuson of the Aspen Police Department.
It is the third bear-human interaction in Aspen this summer, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.
The latest bite occurred about 11:30 p.m. Sunday in the alley behind the restaurant after staff members throwing away trash found the approximately 400-pound bear in the dumpster, Magnuson said. The staff told the manager and he went outside to try to scare the bear away.
However, as he clapped his hands to try to get the bear out of the dumpster, another staff member threw a bag of garbage over a fence and into the container, which spooked the bear, Magnuson said. The manager told police he was in the way of the bear’s exit, and it bit him on the back of his upper left thigh as it ran past him, Magnuson said.
The manager sustained two puncture wounds and a ruined pair of suit pants, but declined an ambulance ride to the hospital, he said.
“He called it just a scratch,” Magnuson said.
Messages left Monday at the restaurant and on the manager’s cellphone were not returned.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s area manager was informed of the bite and called Aspen officers back about 2:40 a.m. Monday to report that he couldn’t find the bear, but had taken the manager’s bear-saliva-soaked pants in an effort to later identify the animal through DNA, Magnuson said.
A message left for the wildlife manager Monday was not returned.
In a statement sent Monday afternoon, CPW area manager Matt Yamashita said this is the “exact scenario” wildlife officials have been worried about this summer.
“By attempting to scare the bear out of a dumpster, the man exposed himself to significant danger,” Yamashita said in the statement. “It is likely the bear felt cornered and it reacted aggressively. As we have warned over and over again, this is the exact scenario that can happen when people and bears interact, and why it is so dangerous for bears to be around people.”
This is the third bear attack in the Aspen area this year.
On May 27 a woman hiking on the Hunter Creek Trail was bitten on the leg and sustained two puncture wounds to her thigh. On July 27, a man at the Aspen Meadows Resort sustained scratches to his arm when a near 500-pound bear swiped at him after the bruin did not show fear toward other humans.
Steakhouse 316 received a $250 unsecured garbage ticket Aug. 6 after police officers noticed the dumpster was open that morning, Magnuson said. The business will receive the $500 ticket for Sunday’s nights incident.