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Survey says: More details about workforce housing project in Grand Lake coming Tuesday

The results are in for Grand Lake’s Art Market Study, a recent survey designed to help guide a workforce housing project for artists and creative types, with a rollout set for next week.

Grand Lake was one of only a handful communities in the state to be awarded a project spearheaded by Artspace and Space to Create Colorado. The program is designed to stimulate Colorado communities and economic development by offering affordable housing and workspace for people involved in creative industries, not just artists.

Earlier this year, the Art Market Survey was distributed to get a read on what kind of project would be most needed locally. With the results in, Grand County Economic Development Director DiAnn Butler said the response was overwhelming with more than 200 surveys returned for a town of about 500 people.

“The response was really positive, so (the developers) are excited to move forward with the project,” Butler said.

Now, representatives from Artspace and the Space to Create are scheduled to present the survey results from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday at the Community House in Grand Lake as they address the next steps for project.

Butler said the developers and town are entering the pre-development phase, which includes items like nailing down a site, producing some designs and securing funding.

“It’s everything before they get the project shovel ready, so it’s an exciting time right now because it’s becoming real,” Butler said.

There’s no need to RSVP for the free results presentation, and there will be refreshments and snacks available on site. For more about the program, go to www.ArtSpace.org. For more about next week’s rollout in Grand Lake, email Butler at dbutler@co.grand.co.us.

Living legend: Craig’s John Jepkema seeks world record as oldest man to hike Grand Canyon rim-to-rim

Craig resident John Jepkema has seen it all in his travels on foot.

From walking all throughout Craig and Moffat County, trails in Palisade and Utah, and three trips rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon — six times total at the bottom of the Canyon, Jepkema has always had his walking boots on.

His last trip rim-to-rim in October was a historic one though. Jepkema, at 91 years old, become the oldest man to ever complete the trip, setting a Guinness Book of World Record in the process.

Jepkema completed the backpacking trip in October with Craig resident Ann Wagner, 70, and Loveland residents Craig Mortensen, 68; Pete Bergmann, 66; and John Whinery, 66. During the trip, the crew documented Jepkema’s journey for the record, allowing him to submit an application to the Guinness Book of World Record for the rim-to-rim hike.

“It was special this time because we were able to document it for the record,” Jepkema said. “It’ll be a few months before we get confirmation back that it’s the record, but we know for sure I’m the oldest to do it.”

At 91, Jepkema spent 5 days hiking from the North Kaibab Trailhead at the North Rim to the Bright Angel Trailhead at the South Rim. Training for four months leading up to the hike, Jepkema started seriously training in July and walked roughly 5-8 miles a day, five days a week, allowing him some recovery time.

Despite needing to walk around town to train, Jepkema was quick to point out that

With his age and the record open, Jepkema decided to go for it.

“I’m pretty competitive by nature,” Jepkema said. “I knew it was an open record, so I decided to go for it.”

The backpacking trip through the wilderness over the 5 days allowed for plenty of time to socialize with the rest of the group, making for a good time for all.

At the end of the walk, it wasn’t the accomplishment that struck Jepkema. It was the amount of people lined up to take pictures with the nonagenarian hiker.

“That was pretty special,” Jepkema said. “I am not sure how many lined up to take photos, but it had to be between 20 and 30 people.

“I wasn’t expecting that, but it certainly boosted my ego,” he added with a laugh.

Now that the record is set, Jepkema says he’ll take a break from hiking to possibly get back into competitive shooting, something he’s done for more than 70 years.

Jepkema shoots a .22 pistol and mainly attends matches in Denver.

“I started competitively shooting with some friends years and years ago and just kept at it,” he said. “It will be nice to get back into that.”

International Ski Federation bans fluorinated ski waxes

VAIL — In November, officials at the International Ski Federation’s autumn meeting in Germany voted to ban fluorinated ski waxes for the 2020-21 season, citing negative environmental and health impacts.

“The use of fluorinated ski waxes, which have been shown to have negative environmental and health impact were banned for all FIS disciplines from the 2020–21 season,” reads a news release. “A specialist FIS Working Group led by FIS Experts Atle Skarrdal (Alpine Skiing) and Pierre Mignerey (Cross-Country) including the ski and wax industry will be formed to establish regulations and control procedures.”

In 2016, the Norwegian Federation implemented a similar ban for all U16 racers to act as a test case for the FIS, the governing body for professional ski racing.

Wax is an integral part of the sport, helping racers glide with extra speed on race days. Recently, more environmentally friendly ski waxes have come onto the market, including in Colorado. “Sensitivity to the environment is fortunately at the front of people’s minds,” founder and CEO of eco-friendly MountainFlow Wax Peter Arlein said in a September interview. “When you think about the different types of waxes and some of the chemicals found in waxes and how they go onto the snow and then percolate down to the ground and into our groundwater systems — it’s a real concern both for wild habitat and human water supplies.”

Racers have a year to test before the new rules go into effect.

Library Corner: Does your weekend look, feel like this?

The clock ticks. Looking for matching gloves. Looking. Looking. Found them! One isn’t dry yet. New pair. Zip up the bibs. Put on the helmet. Grab cell phone.

My phone didn’t get charged last night. Must make sure to plug it in. Load everything and everyone into the car. And we’re off.

Make sure everyone is dropped off at the right spot and has all their equipment. Phew! Head back home but wouldn’t it be nice for just a moment or two of peace? Instead of heading home, I head to the Fraser Valley Library to sit down in a comfy chair, let the sun warm me all the way through, and absentmindedly flip through a few magazines.

Deep breath. On my way out, my phone vibrates, and I remember. Donate to Grand County Library Foundation for Colorado Gives Day as a thanks for a bit of calm in an otherwise hectic day.

Grrrrr … I forgot when I purchased the Nutcracker tickets for a Sunday matinee what the ski traffic is like on Sundays. Our 1.5 hour drive down to Denver just turned into 2.5 hours.

No worries. Click onto Libby. Download “Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception” eAudiobook so everybody can listen to a G-rated adventure story. Check my holds — “Where the Crawdads Sing” is getting closer. While I have my phone open, I may as well go to ColoradoGives.org and make my donation to Grand County Library Foundation, so I don’t forget later.

Cup of coffee in hand, chair moved to the window and feeling the sun stream over me. Just a week ago the house was full of friends and family here to enjoy Thanksgiving, the mountains, and time together.

GCLD’s Access Grand was greatly appreciated for the passes to Snow Mountain Ranch and a visit to Cozens Ranch Museum. I better make sure my donation to Grand County Library Foundation is scheduled now for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 10.

The list could go on, couldn’t it? Perhaps it is the tech support you received for a project using Excel. Or it is Storytime, your main social outing for the week. Maybe it is the cyber-security class that helped you make your data more protected. No, wait! It is the safe place you have your children go to after school.

For some, it is where you wait for the delivery of the stack of books for this week’s reading. It could be the place you go for discussion on foreign policy or a talk about a great book. Perhaps it is simply that Grand County Library District is one of the reasons that Grand County is home.

Whatever the reason, consider Grand County Library Foundation when you donate on Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 10. The Grand County Library Foundation is committed to sustaining our libraries for the future by enhancing the financial health of Grand County Library District.

Presented by Community First Foundation and FirstBank, Colorado Gives Day is an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy through online giving. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of an incentive fund, which increases the value of every dollar donated. Grand County Library Foundation is also a proud member of Grand County Gives, a coalition of more than 20 nonprofits working together to raise awareness for the many amazing nonprofits in Grand County.

Schedule your donation here.

Brower: Local oversight helps Grand’s food-based businesses

It’s easier these days for entrepreneurs going into retail food-based businesses to get the information and advice needed to safely open their doors.

Easier, that is, than it was two years ago when the restaurant and retail food health inspectors for the county worked for the state and usually lived in the Front Range. Under that scenario, there were delays in getting inspections, inconsistencies in the work between different inspectors and just problems in general.

But the county wised up and now it has its own, in-house environmental health specialist for consumer protection and retail food. This has been good news because many of the entrepreneurs I work with in Grand County are in the retail food business, by which I mean restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and even food trucks. There are about 200 such establishments in the county.

Kadie Taft is the county food inspector. She now has 1.5 years of experience under her belt. She’s a graduate of Middle Park High School. I’m hearing good reports on her responsiveness and helpfulness in a field where business owners can be frustrated by the unexpected and burdensome cost of certain food health requirements.

In my last eight years of working with Grand County entrepreneurs who want to open food-based businesses, I have learned to encourage them to contact a health inspector before they move ahead with restaurant renovations, a new food truck or even the construction of a new restaurant.

Once an aspiring restaurateur has signed a lease on a facility or has purchased a place, he or she can call Kadie to ask her for a free pre-inspection during which she will give real world advice on safety and good design that could prevent many headaches in the future.

A common problem I’ve seen crop up when restaurateurs get too hasty include not understanding hot water requirements. Sometimes people aren’t aware of the demands for mop sinks and wash sinks and the need for clean water for cleaning and use in food. The type of counter top materials are important as well, along with demands the state standards require with deep fryers and sprinkler systems.

All these issues can create expensive solutions. But it’s much better to know about the standards and issues before construction or remodeling begins. A pre-inspection ahead of time will greatly help with this.

I have had clients who had to delay openings and then borrow money because of unexpected health department issues, caused in two instances by different inspectors from the state with different interpretations of the rules. With Kadie here, conflicting interpretations that can cost money are a thing of the past.

“I’m here to help minimize risk,” she says. “Once they have the lease or bought the premises, I’m happy to walk through to see what they need to do … to make sure there are no surprises at the end.”

While sometimes I might hear grousing from owners about the expense of meeting health regulations, I am personally happy these regulations, and local inspections, are in place. I want to know the food I eat in local restaurants with my family is safe. But I also want local food establishment operators to understand and implement the regulations as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Kadie helps with that through her responsiveness and empathy for the plight of restaurant owners and food truck operators, but always with the public interest in mind.

“Get in touch with me sooner rather than later,” she says.

Her number is 970-509-0161. She can also be reached through the Grand County Department of Health link for retail food establishments on Grand County’s website.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.

Reeves: Friday School begins in December this year

Great Happenings in East Grand Schools the week of Dec. 6.

• At the national cross country race Nov. 23, Mark Simmons, MPHS Class of 2016, raced to a 60th place finish. He ran a smart race overall and he passed 198 runners. He finished with a new 10k PR of 31.07.

• The MPHS Knowledge Bowl Team had its first meet of the season at North Park on Nov. 22. Participating schools included Steamboat Springs, North Park, and Rangely. Out of eight teams, Middle Park took second, fourth and fifth place. Our A team scored 105 points, second only to the Steamboat Springs A Team. It’s the first time we have scored over 100 points at a Knowledge Bowl meet in several years. Even our C team of two freshmen and two juniors took fourth place, beating out two other A teams at the meet.

• Fourth grade at GES will be participating in a SOLE Live Stream on Monday. We will have a Zoom meeting as classes and continue to learn about adaptations.

• Computer Science Week starts Monday. MPHS technology students will be participating in Hour of Code with an emphasis in Python. Try out what our students will be working on by visiting hourofcode.com for free tutorials.

• Friday School will begin in December and have monthly themes this year. We will meet from 8:30-11:30 a.m. on Fridays at Granby Elementary. Call or email your school office if you wish to sign your child up. Friday School is designed for fourth through eighth grade students. During this time students will participate in Project Based Learning curriculum. Students will have a guest mentor from the community to kick off each project. Students will plan, design and create a project to help solve a problem that the mentor describes to students. At the end of every month students will present their work to the mentor and/or community member. Students will use technology, hands on materials, and other resources to support their learning and project making. This is a free opportunity. For questions, contact your school.

• Fourth-graders at GES are beginning their nonfiction unit. They are studying how to tell a story with pictures during Interactive Read Aloud and will begin their nonfiction writing unit in December.

• East Grand Middle School was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the Nathan Yip Rural Education Partnership Program. Principal Jenny Rothboeck wrote the grant based on work completed by students and staff. Last spring East Grand Middle School (EGMS) staff taught multi-grade level, project-based learning classes. Seventh grade science teacher Rachel Kindsvatter and Courtney Lincoln, who leads district assessment and project-based learning initiatives, facilitated a class for students on how to best utilize former computer lab space. Students’ ideas ranged from a CO Industry Maker Space (ski tuning, snowboard waxing, fly tying, etc.) to a High Tech Maker Space (flight simulator, 3D printing, programming, etc.) to a Crafting & Creative Maker Space (art supplies, recycled materials, etc.). Kindsvatter will be leading a group of students who will be in charge of planning, designing and creating these spaces using these grant funds.

• ESCO, the main contractor for River Run/Smith Creek has donated many items of winter clothing, coats, hats, gloves and a few pairs of boots to our school and Mountain Family Center. Thanks to ESCO for helping take care of our students.

• First-graders at GES are learning about celebrations and traditions. Students will be interviewing their families to learn more about some of their traditions. Students will then prepare a presentation and share with their classmates.

Responding to local concerns, Fraser OKs crosswalk lighting, more reflectors on US 40

Following the completion of the pedestrian safety improvement project on US Highway 40 in Fraser, the town plans to install additional features to boost safety and downtown walkability.

On Wednesday, the town board approved a resolution to purchase solar-powered crosswalk lights for the new medians installed earlier this summer, an estimated $76,000 expense.

“Over the last year, there’s been a significant improvement to safety along US 40 out there but … since then we’ve heard from the public and also the board, so to be responsive to that, we’ve gotten some prices for lighting improvements,” Public Works Director Russell Pennington said.

He added that the costs for purchasing the lights and installation were already in the town’s budget and going solar helps keep costs down because the town can avoid installing electricity in the medians.

The lights will go up at all three crosswalks in downtown Fraser, at Park, Fraser and Byers Avenues. 

Pennington said the timing for installation will be based on the weather, but the town is aiming for an April or May installation. The project also depends on approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The public works department will also be putting up more reflectors on the curved sections of the road and reflecting tape on the poles in the medians.

Trustee Andy Miller was happy to hear the town is taking steps to address the concerns voiced by residents.

“It would be nice to have them lit this winter, but that’s a pretty tough challenge in the middle of wintertime with traffic and weather,” Miller said.

In other business:

• Fraser’s town board approved its 2020 budget by a vote of 5-2. Trustees Ryan Barwick and Parnell Quinn voted against the budget.

• In conjunction with the 2020 budget, the board also approved the town’s financial policies, which outline how much the town should have in reserves.

• The town board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Headwaters Trails Alliance for a trails economic impact study. The town committed $5,000 to the study, which will determine how outdoor recreation impacts the county economically.

Need a lift? Winter Park Resort will have two more open this weekend

Two more lifts will open at Winter Park Resort this weekend.

The resort announced on Friday plans to open Challenger Chair and Sleeper at 10 a.m Saturday, thanks in part to 5 inches of snow in the last 24 hours. The resort is also working to open new terrain for the weekend.

Last week, Winter Park opened the Mary Jane territory and four other lifts. As of Friday, the resort has 13 of 23 lifts running with 53 of 166 trails open and 75 inches of snow for the season.

According to OpenSnow.com, Friday and Saturday will be mostly sunny with temperatures in the upper 20s to low 30s. A storm is supposed to bring between 4-8 inches of snow Saturday night to Monday afternoon.

Sunday could bring thicker snow with warmer temperatures and forecasters say the softest and deepest snow will be found Monday morning.

West Grand’s Emma DeSanti commits to Black Hills State University

Flanked by her coaches, classmates and parents, West Grand senior Emma DeSanti signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for the Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota.

The signing ceremony Wednesday in Kremmling marked a milestone for DeSanti, whose coaches and parents said she has wanted to play at the next level for years now. For DeSanti, the scholarship to join the Black Hills Yellow Jackets was just the ticket.

“I just love the school,” she said. “Educationally, they are a good fit for me.”

DeSanti explained she hopes to go into an entrepreneurial study and was impressed by Black Hills’ business program. 

“This has been her goal for about three years now, and to watch it start to happen has been very rewarding,” said Michele DeSanti, Emma’s mom.

Inside the West Grand gym, Emma DeSanti posed for photos with her family, then her coaches and later her classmates. After the photos had all been taken, West Grand volleyball coach Kim Bodemann described Black Hills’ volleyball program as a strong, close-knit group that works much like a family. 

She would know. DeSanti’s signing is the first for the Mustangs volleyball program’s since Peyton Bodemann decided to join the Black Hills squad three years ago. Having coached DeSanti and with a daughter on the team, Bodemann said she thinks DeSanti could step into a big role very early.

“She’s got a chance to play there,” West Grand volleyball coach Scott Terryberry agreed. “(Black Hills) could be really good next year.”

Given that DeSanti signed with Black Hills, Mustangs fans could see her on the court again in near future. Black Hills plays in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and regularly faces a handful of Colorado schools.

“They are in this area all the time, so we can go see her all the time,” Terryberry said. “It will be short road trips.”

This season, DeSanti helped the Mustangs finish 23-6, 11-1 in the West Slope League while winning regionals and making the state tournament. In doing so, DeSanti was named the Mustangs’ Player of the Year and the Western Slope League’s Co-Player of the Year, in addition to being selected to play in the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports Class 2A All-State Volleyball game.

Also, DeSanti just made another all-state list, this time presented by CHSAANow.com, ColoradoPreps.com and MaxPreps. If you ask her parents though, the best part of this season wasn’t all the stats and awards their daughter racked up; it was the teamwork they saw on the court.

Four Mustangs earn all-conference honors

Mikayla Shearer and Emma DeSanti received all conference honors while Mustangs coaches were revealed as the coaches of the year. Also, Mustangs sophomores Maddie Probst  and Alex Schake were all-conference honorable mention.

“It just came down to the coaches recognizing we had a number of quality players,” Coach Scott Terryberry said, adding that the league was full of great players and the Mustangs were fortunate to have such a deep squad.

Steamboat Resort’s new gondola to reopen Thursday

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Good news, skiers and riders: Steamboat Resort’s gondola is set to reopen Thursday.

This comes more than a week after the new, $15 million gondola broke down a day after it opened. A mechanical malfunction occurred after-hours on Sunday, Nov. 24, temporarily stranding several employees.

Mark Bee, president of Doppelmayr, the Austria-based company that manufactured the gondola, announced the reopening date in a statement on the resort’s website Wednesday. He said crews with Doppelmayr and the resort have been working around the clock to replace the main gearbox, the part of the gondola that failed. 

Bee said crews have taken steps to improve the overall design of the gondola to eliminate a vibration that caused the problem. They also have conducted numerous safety tests, Bee said in the statement. He added the backup systems functioned properly, which allowed the employees stuck on the gondola to be safely unloaded. 

Getting an exact timeline on when the gondola could reopen has been difficult due to uncertainty over when replacement parts would arrive and repairs completed, according to Loryn Duke, director of communications at the resort. For example, closures on Interstate 70 due to a rockslide Friday, Nov. 29, complicated the transportation of several parts from Denver. 

Thunderhead Express has served as the alternative chairlift to get guests to upper terrain on the mountain while the gondola has been broken. 

New terrain

Owing to recent snow storms and the resort’s snowmaking efforts, new lifts and trails have opened in recent days.

On Wednesday, Four Points became the latest chairlift to start shuttling guests up the mountain. Six new trails opened, including Buddy’s Run, Calf Roper, Hurricane and the upper portions of Rainbow, Nelson’s Run and Twister. That brings the total number of open trails to 38 and the number of open lifts to six, according to the resort’s website.

Guests can grab refreshments at Four Points Lodge, which also opened Wednesday.

Skiing and riding conditions on the new terrain are good for the early season, according to Duke. She cautioned people to be cognizant of the risks associated with early season conditions, such as unmarked hazards and icy spots.   

Snow is in the forecast, which could open additional terrain. Local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth expects 3 to 6 inches of accumulation by Thursday evening, according to his forecasting website snowalarm.com.

Snowmaking crews have been working nonstop to buttress the natural snowpack on the mountain, Duke said. Guests should be cautious of any snowmaking equipment that may be on or around trails. 

Guests can grab refreshments at Four Points Lodge, which also opened Wednesday.