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Police ID skier killed at Winter Park as 25-year-old man from Massachusetts

The skier who died Saturday at Winter Park Resort has been identified as Francis Raymond Ermilio, 25, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

According to Fraser Winter Park Police, ski patrol was notified of a missing skier around 5 p.m. Saturday and initiated search protocols. Ermilio was found around 7:30 p.m. in the trees near the White Rabbit trail.

A Monday news release says Ermilio was found unresponsive with face and head trauma. Rescue efforts were made at the scene before transporting him to the Denver Health Winter Park medical center at the base of the mountain. He was pronounced dead at 8:24 p.m.

The preliminary investigation found Ermilio was not an experienced skier but was wearing a helmet. Evidence at the scene suggests that he lost control on White Rabbit, an intermediate trail, and skied into a forested area before colliding with several trees.

The Grand County Coroner’s Office is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Letter: Voters were right to reject jail plan

My hat’s off to Grand County voters, who showed far better judgment than did their elected officials in overwhelmingly voting down Detention Center 1A as proposed by the county commissioners at the inducement of the Sheriff. Some 64% of them told the County on Nov. 5 that the prospect of raising sales taxes at the cash register to build a nearly $30 million meatball wasn’t a good idea.

Indeed, it might be time to build a new jail, but leave it to government to come up with the worst scheme possible. No wonder they shrouded it in secrecy for more than a year and allowed scant public input.

The commissioners ought to be embarrassed that they bought into a grandiose plan that would have put an additional financial burden on shoppers and retailers, and ashamed that the result would have eroded an entire neighborhood of family homes in tiny HSS, the County Seat, causing enduring hardship for most all who live nearby.

I’m not letting anyone off the hook here. My opinion is the commissioners fell for the sheriff’s visions of grandeur that were spurred by an architect in Denver. In a perfect world, the county manager and staff would have steered them toward a wiser course. But the manager is new to the job, so I’ll give her a pass.

Not so, the Board of Trustees in Hot Sulphur Springs, where I’ve lived for 13 years. In the year that planning was underway, not one detectable gesture of opposition, official or unofficial, was made by the board, in whose hands lie the welfare of their neighbors.

As a retired newspaperman, it’s hard to criticize the media for choosing what it covers, but none of the three newspapers here published a single “enterprise” account about this hard-to-ignore project. My definition of an enterprise story is basically one in which the newspaper eschews the self-serving handout and at least asks follow-up questions. Only one paper printed my opinion column regarding the issue.

However partial, it was the only journalistic attempt at fully defining the proposal. I’ll be paying attention to what the commissioners do next. They lost the first round in a landslide, which I’d interpret as their constituents’ forceful comment against not only the new jail’s cost, but source of funding, location, physical structure, planning process, and translucency in government.

— Richard H. Johnson, Hot Sulphur Springs

Grand County’s real estate transactions Jan. 12-18

Grand County’s real estate transactions from Jan. 12-18 were worth more than $11.2 million combined.

• Lakota Flg 3, Tract C, Lot 31 – Charles and Nancy Banks to Jenny Ismert and Kevin Griglak, $1,740,000

• SEC 33 TWP 2N R 76W Partial Legal – See Document – Todd and Amanda Hammerlund to Esco Sand Gravel LLC, $1,278,815

• Columbine Condos Unit 10 – Jeffrey and Virginia German to Benjamin Gentry and Amanda Carter, $235,000

• Ranches at Devils Thumb Lot 3 – Ranches Devils Thumb Inc to Michael Martin, $1,525,000

• Hideaway Townhomes As Built Lot 23 Partial Legal – See Document – David J Barker Family Trust and Nicole H Barker Family Trust to JKR Investments LLC, DCB EX LLC, $800,000

• Hideaway Station Unit RU TE 301 Bldg E; Hideaway Station Unit RU TE 301, Bldg E, Parking Space R301 – Winter Park Development Co LLC to Peter Kriekard and Sheila Sullivan, $664,900

• Hideaway Station Unit RU TE 302 Bldg E; Hideaway Station Unit RU TE 302, Bldg E, Parking Space R302 – Winter Park Development Co LLC to Kenneth and Hannah Berumen, $629,900

• Hideaway Station Unit RU TE 401 Bldg E; Hideaway Station Unit RU TE 401, Bldg E, Parking Space R401 – Winter Park Development Co LLC to David and Michele Steed, $674,900

• Columbine Lake Addition Lot 30, Block 7 – Derek Votaw and Alexandra Stofflet to Johnnie McNary, $390,000

• Tabernash Block 3, Lots 11,12,13 – Tabernash Warehouse LLC to Chillcoots Business Center LLC, $825,000

• Clubhouse Cabins & Village at Saddle Ridge Lot C63 – Keith Mulford and Sarah Abruscato to Metro 21 Real Estate LLC, Stark Assets LLC, $9,000

• Summit at SilverCreek Bldg 3, Unit 3203; Summit at SilverCreek Bldg 1-C, Unit 3203 – Albert and Carole Sundine, Marianne Morrison to DTH Holdings LLC, $180,000

• Village at Riverside 1st Flg, Grand Elk Ranch & Club Lot A6 – Welcome Realty LLC to Stark Assets LLC, $8,000

• Timber Run Condo Unit 3, Bldgs 2,3, Weeks 13,14,25 – Barry and Sally Rundquist to Sally Rundquist Living Trust, $500

• Lakeside at Pole Creek Townhomes Unit 6A – Claudia Bonomo to Blake Chambliss Jr, $600,000

• Village at Buckhorn Grand Elk Ranch & Club Lot 1, Block 3 – Michael Tritt to Rene and Christopher Capron, $322,000

• Sunset Ridge Filing #1, Lot 21, Block 2 – Randall and Beverly Everson to Johannes Tammeling and Michele Wilson, $138,000

• Zephyr Mountain Lodge Condo Unit 2502 – Eric and Sandra Schano to Todd Worthington, $560,000

• Indian Peaks Bldg C, Condo Unit 102, Week 51 – Zulfikar and Shamim Esmail to Ryan Nichols, $3,000

• Gudgel Subdivision TRT 9; Willhite Subdivision Lot 16 – Donald and Gladys Nelson to Jacob Bakker, $390,600 • Hi Country Haus Bldg 22, Unit 13 – Richard and Amber Ferriss to Amelia Deleon, $315,000

Mountain lion hunting expands near Aspen; hope is to lessen conflicts with humans

When a mountain lion has been treed by hunting dogs, the animal looks distinctly catlike: powerful, annoyed and, yes, bored.

Whit Whitaker and other winter sportsmen have hunted mountain lions in the Roaring Fork River valley for decades, but until this week, a small triangle of land above Aspen has been off limits.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission voted Wednesday to open the tract of land — officially called Game Management Unit 471 — for lion hunting. The change gives hunters more flexibility and range, and is designed to push the big cats away from town and reduce encounters with humans.

Whitaker gets up at 4:30 a.m. on snowy mornings to look for mountain lions in fresh powder. Last Saturday, a friend and fellow hunter, Ron Christian, called Whitaker after he spotted promising tracks near Woody Creek.

“I’m saying this is a 120-pound female,” Whitaker said, laying three fingers inside pawprints found along the side of the road.

This cold, gray morning is perfect for the hunting of mountain lions. Whitaker, Christian and another friend, Jay Sills, let their five hounds smell the prints and then set them loose to follow scent through the snow and scrub oak up a rocky drainage.

The hunters followed, using GPS trackers on the dogs’ collars. About 540 yards from the road, the movement stopped. The hounds forced a mountain lion to perch about 30 feet up a skinny aspen tree.

“It’s not going to like that tree,” Whitaker said.

QUOTA SYSTEM DICTATES HUNTING

The dogs barked furiously around the base of the aspen, and Whitaker scooted under the branches for a closer look under the mountain lion’s tail. Sure enough, it was a female, about 120 pounds. She was stretched across several branches, glaring down toward the dogs and humans.

Once Whitaker confirmed the lion was a female, the hunters didn’t even discuss the next step; it was understood they wouldn’t be pulling out their guns.

Females maintain the population and care for the young. They’re smaller, and most hunters want the biggest male they can find. Also, mountain-lion hunting is based on a quota system. This game unit, 47, has a one-lion quota, so when someone kills a lion in here, the season is over.

“I like chasing them, I like seeing them. I typically don’t fill my tag,” Whitaker said. “That’s another reason why I don’t like to shoot them — because I don’t want to stop hunting. Even if you don’t intend on harvesting them, you can’t pursue lions in that unit once the quota is filled.”

Jay Sills, left, and Whit Whitaker, right, are local hunters who use dogs to pursue mountain lions. They determined that this lion was a female and did not kill her.
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Aspen Journalism

COMMISSION AIMS TO REDUCE CONFLICTS

There are four hunting units (43, 47, 471 and 444) in the valley, but only three (43, 47 and 444) had allowed mountain-lion hunting. The season runs from mid-November to the end of March.

Now, the Parks and Wildlife commission has voted to open the fourth unit (471) and allow more flexibility in the quota system.

Next season, instead of each unit having an individual limit, three units — 43, 47 and the newly opened 471 — will have a combined quota of up to seven lions.

Officials say this could spread out hunting over more of the mountain lions’ range and increase the harvest in areas where conflicts between humans and the predators are on the rise.

Matt Yamashita, the area wildlife manager with Parks and Wildlife, said he’s getting more calls about human encounters with lions close to town and homes.

“A lot of these ones are being reported as not afraid or less afraid of humans, more tolerant of people — and that’s a red flag for us as well as managers,” Yamashita said.

Mountain lions have a large range and follow their prey species — elk and deer — throughout the year. The newly opened unit, 471, is bounded by Castle Creek Road, Highway 82, and the Continental Divide — think Richmond Ridge toward the pass. Mountain lions there probably move in and out of adjacent hunting units — sometimes that just means crossing a road — as they track their prey.

Yamashita said he’s not expecting to see many mountain lions killed in unit 471 because of the high elevation, deep snow and limited access, especially in the winter, the season for lion hunting. Still, local hunter Christian said it’s worth checking out.

“There’s a lot of mountain lions on 471, but I don’t know if they stay there in the winter,” Christian said.

No one really knows that. Hunters haven’t been allowed in there to scope it out, and it’s difficult for biologists to get a handle on population estimates of stealthy, wide-ranging predators such as mountain lions.

The most recent management plan for mountain lions in this area was completed in 2004. It estimated a total of about 300 lions in the Roaring Fork and Eagle river valleys. But hunters such as Whitaker, who has been hunting in the area for 20 years, say it’s clear that the lion population is growing.

“I’ve seen more females and females with kittens or multiple kittens, which tells me it’s a healthier population,” Whitaker said. “We’re finding lion tracks in areas where, in 20 years, I haven’t seen lion tracks.”

CPW officials say it’s an agency priority to draft a new plan in 2020 that reflects the realities of mountain lion biology.

U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Colorado’s presidential electors case. Here’s why the state thinks it will win.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear Colorado’s appeal of a federal court ruling  that allows presidential electors to ignore the will of the people and back whichever candidate they want.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold last October petitioned the court to hear the case, hoping to avoid potential legal and political chaos come November. Griswold has said the outcome affects “the very foundation of our nation.”

Weiser praised the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the case is “ripe for review” and that he’s hopeful the panel will rule in Colorado’s favor and not fundamentally alter the Electoral College, the U.S. system of electing presidents.

The situation dates back to 2016, when then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams removed a presidential elector who refused to vote for Hilary Clinton — even though Clinton won the popular vote in Colorado. In August, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver, ruled that the removal of the elector, Micheal Baca, was unconstitutional.

Baca, one of Colorado’s nine electoral voters, tried to cast his ballot for then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, instead of Clinton as part of an attempt by a handful electors across the country to block Republican Donald Trump from becoming president. But the 10th Circuit found that Colorado didn’t have authority to remove Baca as an elector, eliminating the state’s ability to bind electors to follow the will of Colorado voters. 

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Food insecurity fundraiser bets on when fridge falls through frozen pond

A local nonprofit is betting that a painted refrigerator wearing a duck inner tube is attention-grabbing enough to raise money and awareness for food insecurity in Grand County.

The Fraser River Valley Lions Club partnered with Mountain Family Center to host the “Drop Hunger” fundraiser, which involves putting a refrigerator on a frozen pond and collecting bets about when it will fall through the ice.

Whoever gets closest to the actual time the fridge falls, down to the minute, will win half of the betting pot, while the other half will go to Mountain Family Center’s food programs, such as the food pantry and totes program.

On Thursday, East Grand Fire, the Lions Club and representatives of Mountain Family Center gathered at the Lions Ponds in Fraser, next to Safeway, to move the fridge onto the pond.

A fire crew tied the fridge to a firetruck’s ladder using rope and lifted it over the pond before gently setting it on the ice.

East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth estimated the fridge is about 80 feet out from the road and sitting on a roughly foot-thick layer of ice.

The refrigerator was painted by Middle Park High School students in Echo Zoyiopoulos’ art class and touches on the town of Fraser’s “Leaving Planet Earth” motto.

Interested gamblers can make bets at Mountain Family Center or at the Grand Foundation, as well as online, starting this week. The Lions Club will also have pop-up locations where the public can place bets.

Murder suspects bound over to stand trial on 1st-degree murder charges

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The three suspects arrested in connection with the death of Elliot Stahl will stand trial on first-degree murder charges, and they will continue to be held without bond. Judge Michael O’Hara issued the ruling Friday, Jan. 17, at the conclusion of a four-day preliminary hearing.

The three defendants — William C. Ellifritz, 26; Brooke L. Forquer, 21; and Skyla M. Piccolo-Laabs, 23, all Craig residents — face separate trials on charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

The “heart of the case,” said Deputy District Attorney Alexandra Jennings after all evidence had been presented, is the fact that “Elliot Stahl, 26 years old, is no longer here.”

Much of Friday’s hearing focused on the two charges related to robbery, which prosecutor Jennings argued was a motivating factor in Stahl’s murder.

“They knew Stahl had money,” Jennings argued. “They knew they weren’t going to Denver. They knew they were going to take the money and leave him [Stahl] in Steamboat, at best. When that plan didn’t work, they resorted to murder.”

Stahl’s wallet, its content and his cellphone were never recovered. Nor was the knife believed to be the murder weapon.

“Stahl was going around looking for a ride to Denver, and the purpose for the ride to Denver was a drug run,” Jennings said

According to testimony, Forquer agreed to drive Stahl to Denver in her car for $100 in the early morning hours of Oct. 13, 2019. She and Stahl were accompanied in the car by Piccolo-Laabs and Ellifritz. Forquer received the $100 before they left Craig, according to investigators.

But it was their plan to trick Stahl, Jennings said, arguing the three defendants were in agreement they were never actually going to take Stahl to Denver. And it was once Stahl learned of this deception that it “upset him and instigated the altercation” that ultimately led to his death, she said.

“Rather than go to the hospital or get any help (after the stabbing), they decided to take him to a remote location in Routt County and unceremoniously dump his body on the side of the road,” Jennings said.

O’Hara was asked to consider an argument of duress for Forquer and Piccolo-Laabs, based on their assertions that they were threatened and forced into cooperating by Ellifritz.

But O’Hara said several facts led the court to conclude they were not “unable to get away from him.”

Forquer’s defense attorney Erin Wilson argued that Forquer was not complicit because she would have had to have known Ellifritz planned to commit the crime of murder.

“There is quite honestly no evidence Ms. Forquer or Ms. Piccolo-Laabs knew if Mr. Stahl had any money. And if he did, how much,” Wilson argued.

Ellifritz’s defense team argued the statements from Forquer and Piccolo-Laabs contained lies and inconsistencies, and they said the women were motivated by self-preservation.

The court acknowledged numerous lies in both Forquer’s and Piccolo-Laabs’ statements, O’Hara said, but the court also determined parts of their statements to be true.

Marshall Breit, the attorney representing Piccolo-Laabs, argued that Piccolo–Laabs didn’t share any of Ellifritz’s intent to commit a crime. He said there was no evidence Piccolo-Laabs had “any idea what Mr. Ellifritz intended to do.”

Whether or not any of the defendants had prior intention to harm Stahl, O’Hara said once Stahl was injured, they didn’t try to get him help.

“The court finds the death of Mr. Stahl was facilitated by the acts and omissions of Forquer and Piccolo-Laabs, which resulted in the death of Mr. Stahl,” O’Hara said.

Both women admitted to stabbing Stahl at the direction of Ellifritz, noted O’Hara, and it isn’t known exactly how those wounds contributed, or didn’t contribute, to his death. The coroner was not able to establish a time of death, O’Hara said, and was not able to estimate how long Stahl lived after sustaining the fatal wound, allegedly inflicted by Ellifritz.

O’Hara acknowledged the sequence of events did not fit neatly into “a classic example of robbery” that entails a person using force to demand possessions from a victim; however, O’Hara disagreed with the defense attorneys’ reasoning that a robbery did not happen.

Ellifritz is scheduled for arraignment Jan. 23, while Forquer and Piccolo-Laabs will be arraigned March 13.

Elliot Stahl murder timeline

Oct. 13, 2019: Murder suspects Skyla M. Piccolo-Laabs and Brooke L. Forquer admit leaving Elliot Stahl’s body at a location near U.S. Forest Service Road 907 and Routt County Road 7 about 8.5 miles south of Yampa on the way to the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.
Oct. 14, 2019: A fisherman discovers Stahl’s body at around 10:30 a.m. The Routt County Sheriff’s Office responds to the scene and secures the area.
Oct. 15, 2019: Colorado Bureau of Investigation processes the body and the crime scene. That afternoon, an autopsy is performed by forensic pathologist Dr. Michael A. Burson in Loveland.
Oct. 17, 2019: Sheriff identifies the victim as 26-year-old Elliot Stahl, of Steamboat Springs, believes death to be a homicide.
Oct. 19, 2019: Piccolo-Laabs, 23, William C. Ellifritz, 26, and Forquer, 21, all from Craig, are arrested on one count each of first-degree murder and booked into the Routt County Jail around 11:40 p.m.
Oct. 21, 2019: 14th Judicial District Judge Shelley Hill rules the three suspects are to be held without bond.
Oct. 25, 2019: The three suspects are officially charged by District Attorney Matt Karzen on one count of murder in the first degree, a Class 1 felony, along with one count of aggravated robbery, a Class 3 felony, and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class 5 felony. They also were charged with one count of abuse of a corpse, a misdemeanor.
Jan. 6, 2020: First day of combined preliminary hearing and proof evident hearing for the three defendants in Routt County Court.
Jan. 7 and 16: Preliminary hearing continues.
Jan. 17: Preliminary hearing concludes. Skyla M. Piccolo-Laabs, William C. Ellifritz and Brooke L. Forquer are denied bond by 14th Judicial District Chief Judge Michael O’Hara. The original charges stand and the case will now move on to three individual trials.

Read more:

Body of Steamboat man, 26, found south of Yampa; sheriff believes death to be a homicide 

3 people arrested on 1st-degree murder charges in connection to death of 26-year-old Steamboat man

Judge rules ‘no bond’ for suspects in murder of Steamboat man pending filing of formal charges

Suspects officially charged with 3 felonies in connection with Steamboat man’s murder

Murder suspects won’t be back in court until 2020

Preliminary hearing underway for suspects in Elliot Stahl murder case

Skier dies at Winter Park Resort

A skier died at Winter Park Resort after being reported missing on the mountain on Saturday.

According to the resort, the skier was reported missing around 4:45 p.m. Saturday and ski patrol immediately conducted search protocols.

The skier was found in the trees near the White Rabbit trail around 7:35 p.m. and transported to the Denver Health Winter Park medical center. The skier was pronounced dead at 8:24 p.m.

The skier’s identification and cause of death has not yet been released.

Winter Park Resort shared its deepest condolences with the family and friends.

CDOT: US 40 reopens at Berthoud, Rabbit Ears passes

UPDATED at 4:10 PM: CDOT is advising drivers both closures have been lifted and US Highway 40 has reopened on both sides of Grand County. Travel conditions remain hazardous and drivers should expect delays.

US Highway 40 is closed both at Berthoud Pass and near Rabbit Ears Pass on the other side of Grand County.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is advising motorists to expect long delays for both closures. The closure on the eastern side of the county is just east of Winter Park, on the western side of Berthoud Pass.

Meanwhile, the closure on the western side of Grand County is between mile marker 136 and Wolford Rec Road, about 4 miles west of Kremmling.

The closures come after a morning snowstorm brought near white-out conditions to Grand County. Additionally, the National Weather Service has extended a winter weather advisory until 8 p.m. Friday to account for hazardous travel conditions.

Screen-Shot-2020-01-17-at-3.22.42-PM

Winter is here and conditions are bad. Berthoud Pass is closed at the 237 for a stuck semi. Rabbit ears is closing…

Posted by Grand County Sheriff's Office on Friday, January 17, 2020

Chairman of GMB board: Shareholders should reject BayCom’s acquisition of Grand Mountain Bank

Editor’s note: An abridged version of Mike Tompkin’s letter to the editor appeared in today’s edition of the Sky-Hi News.

I believe it is important for me to explain why I will be voting against the proposed acquisition of Grand Mountain Bank by BayCom Corp.

First, a little background is in order. Grand Mountain Bank has been serving the Grand County community for over 16 years. The planning for Grand Mountain Bank began when WestStar closed their Grand Lake branch in 2001. Funds were raised, and Grand Mountain Bank opened in 2003, with its headquarters in Granby and branches in Fraser, Kremmling and Grand Lake. I’ve been proud to serve on the Grand Mountain Bank Board of Directors for over 16 years, and as chairman of the board for the last three years.

Growth of the bank was good in the early years, but then the recession hit in 2008. Like most of Grand County businesses, Grand Mountain Bank suffered as a result of the recession. But as a result of fantastic management and a solid team of employees, the bank recovered. However, additional capital was needed, and new stock shares were sold. This greatly increased ownership by investors from outside Grand County. Before these funds were secured, we received assurances from our investment advisor, FIG Partners LLC (now a part of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC), that the new investors had a long-term investment horizon.

In particular, FIG assured us that they knew the new investors well, and that the new investors would not insist on selling the bank after a few years if the stock increased in price, as expected. Even though the bank had other options, based on FIG’s representations, we proceeded with the stock sale. The bank issued new shares at $1.70 per share. The bank once again grew rapidly, yet prudently, surpassing even the optimistic financial goals set by the board.

The bank’s management team, led by President Frank DeLay and Vice Presidents Mark Lund and Randy Quillen where instrumental in the Bank’s recovery and subsequent growth. Unfortunately, all three of these outstanding bank employees have been notified by BayCom Corp that their services are no longer needed. I hope the entire county will join me in thanking these three fine individuals for their services. If you don’t know them from the bank, you probably know them from their involvement with Lions, Rotary, Chambers, high school sports and other community organizations and many charities.

One of the reasons that I believe the BayCom Corp offer should be rejected is that the offer price of $3.40 per share is too low. The price is too low because the premium over the book value is too small. Book value per share tells investors what the bank’s book value is on a per-share basis, and is determined by subtracting liabilities from assets, and dividing that number by the number shares outstanding.

Currently the bank’s book value is about $2.70 per share, and therefore the premium of the offer price ($3.40) over book value ($2.70) is $0.70, or about 26%. Premiums over book value can vary widely, but I believe it is too low for a bank as healthy as Grand Mountain Bank. In addition, FIG had estimated the value of Grand Mountain Bank shares at $3.80 just a few months before BayCom Corp made their initial offer.

In addition, the value of the bank is increasing, and as the value goes up, the premium over the book value typically increases, providing a strong incentive to take a longer term view, as FIG assured us the new investors would. Additionally, I believe a more robust marketing of the bank would result in a fairer price. We really only considered two offers, and we did not formally put the bank on the market.

Coincidently, the same day as we began voting on the BayCom Corp offer, The Business Roundtable redefined the Purpose of a Corporation to promote an economy that serves all Americans. In effect, they encouraged businesses to consider shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the community when making corporate decisions. This is a viewpoint that I strongly support.

I believe that Grand Mountain Bank employees would be better off working for a strong local community bank than a large business bank located in San Francisco. In addition, employees who have been terminated would likely retain their jobs.

I also believe customers will suffer as a result of the merger. BayCom Corp plans to discontinue offering home mortgages. They will be offering commercial loans, but so does Grand Mountain Bank. Although BayCom Corp will be able to offer larger loans, this will only benefit business customers who want commercial loans in excess of 2 million dollars. Thus, an extremely small number of Grand County customers will benefit.

I also believe the community will suffer. Our friends and neighbors in Grand County have voted Grand Mountain Bank as their favorite bank every year since it opened. I don’t believe the new bank, headquartered in California, will provide the same hometown service that the current bank does, because current management lives and works here and participates in local organizations, alongside their neighbors. And since it will not offer home mortgages, the community as a whole will have to go elsewhere.

For these reasons, I encourage all shareholders to vote against the BayCom Corp offer.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the entire community for their support of Grand Mountain Bank and its employees for the past 16 years. I would also like to thank the shareholders who helped found and maintain the Bank.

If anybody would like to discuss this matter with me further, please feel free to contact me at mike@grandspirit.com.

— Mike Tompkins, Chairman of the Board, Grand Mountain Bank