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Aspen’s pedestrian mall gets recognition for being a ‘great public space’

As city officials contemplate how to update and redesign the pedestrian malls in Aspen, the three-block thoroughfare has been named one of the country's "great public spaces" by the American Planning Association.

It was selected because of its emphasis on pedestrians and as a place to gather, according to an announcement made last week.

Designees are selected annually and represent the gold standard for a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement and a vision for the future.

"Public spaces serve a number of functions within a community, from gathering places to recreational venues, and to satisfy these varied community needs requires thoughtful collaboration and planning," said Cynthia Bowen, president of the planning association. "Aspen's pedestrian mall is a national example of how public spaces effectively create a sense of place that creates access and opportunity for all."

That ideal is on the forefront of city planners' minds as they continue their work, which will lead to an overhaul of the Cooper, Hyman, Mill and Galena pedestrian malls.

Aspen City Council this past spring signed off on a conceptual design that includes moving the bathrooms at Wagner Park, reconfiguring outdoor dining spaces and removing the fire pit on Galena Street.

Mayor Steve Skadron said he understands the complexity and importance of protecting downtown Aspen's greatest asset.

"Our malls are vibrant, inviting and beautiful; they calm our busy downtown and they create a gathering place for both locals and visitors," he said. "Aspen wouldn't be Aspen without our pedestrian malls."

The overhaul won't begin until at least 2020 and is necessitated by the aging infrastructure underneath the bricks, which were laid more than 40 years ago.

Utility lines for water, gas, telephone, electric and storm water need to be replaced or upgraded. Simultaneously, city officials say the surface needs to be redone so it meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. So the historic bricks, which are in limited supply, will likely be replaced with replicas that can provide an even surface.

Jack Wheeler, the city's capital asset director, said he plans to go in front of council in 2019 to discuss next steps and the challenges of the project.

How it's done and how long it will take will be the subject of community debate. City staff has proposed doing the work in phases, or the mall can be shut down for an entire summer.

"It's a big conversation with the community," Wheeler said.

He is currently working on a master plan, along with a construction feasibility analysis and budget.

The malls were constructed in the late 1970s after great community debate, and a few stops and starts. The initial idea for the pedestrian mall started in the early 1960s, with a couple of experimental street closures.

When the majority of the community finally decided to close the streets to cars, a $1.2 million budget was set for the mall's construction.

A total of 315,000 bricks were acquired to pave the three blocks that would form the mall. All of them came from St. Louis, which was in the process of tearing up and replacing streets that had been paved in the early 20th century.

Purchased for $0.40 each, the bricks cost the city of Aspen a total of $126,000.

They were shipped to Aspen by train and stored in the Rio Grande yard, according to the Colorado Cultural Resource Survey on file with the city.

Those bricks will likely be replaced with replicas that can provide an even surface.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Vote to save the Tabor. Leadville’s iconic Tabor Opera House the only Colorado site selected for national preservation campaign

LEADVILLE — You, yes you, can help save the Tabor Opera House, one of Colorado's iconic historic sites, and all you have to do is click your mouse.

Leadville's Tabor Opera House is the only site in Colorado and one of only 20 across the country selected for the 2018 Partners in Preservation: Main Streets National Historic Preservation Awareness campaign.

If you click consistently — and you can vote once a day — the folks at Save the Tabor can win $150,000 toward rehabilitating their national icon.

Vote through Oct. 26. Pretend it's a Chicago election and vote early and often. It's not complicated: The one with the most votes wins the money.

That $150,000 would go with $500,000 from the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures Historic Preservation Fund awarded to the city of Leadville and the Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation. That'll get them started on the first phase of restoration.

But they still have a long way to go. That first phase will cost $1.5 million. It'll cost between $8 million and $10 million total to restore the Tabor to its full glory.

"We are thrilled that this preservation competition will bring awareness to Leadville's historic district and, if we win, the funds earned will help us preserve the facade of the Tabor Opera House for generations to come," said Stephanie Spong, Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation board president.

The opera house has been used continuously since it was built in 1879.

However, it's under constant threat of demolition because of deferred maintenance, weather, crumbling bricks, water and fire risk.

The legend lives

Some say the highest spot in America's highest city is the balcony of the legendary Tabor Opera House.

Perspective like that must be preserved.

A few years ago, the good people of Cloud City started asking what was going to happen to their beloved Tabor.

Their Tabor, because people feel that way.

Sharon Bland's family owned it for 61 years since Sharon's mother, Evelyn Livingston Furman, bought it in 1955 and operated it until she was 84 years old.

Sharon and her husband, Bill Bland, ran it for a while, but finally couldn't do it any longer.

Judy Hinton chaired Leadville's Historic Preservation Commission. She connected former Leadville Mayor Jamie Stuever with Dana Crawford, an historic preservationist in Denver.

They chatted with the Blands and decided the city of Leadville would be the perfect buyer.

Steuver brought the proposal to Leadville City Council. The decision was not without debate, but the council took the bull by the horns to try to raise the money to buy the Tabor. That was October 2015.

A BIT ABOUT EVELYN

Evelyn Livingston Furman moved to Leadville when she was 20 to work as the nanny for the family of a geology professor who was working on a mining venture.

Before long, Leadville's legends captured her heart, especially those involving the Tabor Opera House.

Evelyn married Gordon Furman, a miner, and they lived in a mine shack near the Matchless Mine just above Baby Doe Tabor, who was happy to regale them with opera house stories.

Evelyn bought the Opera House from the Leadville Elks Club in 1955 to keep some guy from leveling it and paving that piece of paradise to put up a parking lot — which is exactly what he wanted to do.

She was a schoolteacher and offered her life savings, around $10,000, but it was only half of what she needed.

A local bank loaned her the rest, with the condition that she and her husband put their furniture and appliance store there.

"Everyone in town and everyone in the family thought she was crazy. But when she got something in her mind, she moved forward with it," Sharon said.

Sharon was 12 years old when they started giving tours for 25 cents each. Tours are now $10 and run every day except Monday. The opera house closes October through May because warm fuzzy feelings are not enough to heat it through a Leadville winter.

BUILT IN 100 DAYS

Mining magnate Horace Tabor built the massive three-story Tabor, known as "the most perfect place for amusement between Chicago and San Francisco" in 1879 in 100 days.

In the late 1880s, Peter McCourt established the Silver Circuit as a way for acts to travel the region and perform in various opera houses and theaters. McCourt managed the Tabor and was Baby Doe Tabor's older brother.

The Tabor Opera House has hosted entertainers such as Oscar Wilde and Harry Houdini as they made their way from Denver to San Francisco on the Silver Circuit during the mining heyday. Singer Judy Collins played there, and it has been host to countless local events.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Contractor spills 1,300 gallons of jet fuel at Aspen airport

A contractor at the Aspen airport spilled more than 1,300 gallons of jet fuel Friday, though it was contained and did not reach water sources, an official said Monday.

The spill occurred after an Atlantic Aviation employee failed to follow protocols and did not check a fuel tank at the fixed base operation area before he began filling it, said Jonathan Jones, Atlantic Aviation general manager.

While it is difficult to estimate exactly how much fuel spilled, Jones said Monday his best guess was that it was about 1,325 gallons total.

Rick Balentine, Aspen fire chief, said he did not know about the spill until he was asked about it Monday.

"Something of this size, we should have been called immediately," Balentine said, noting that fire officials will investigate what happened.

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, whose agency also was not notified, agreed.

"I do think someone should have alerted the Fire Department and the Sheriff's Office about it," he said Monday. "I hope they notified Environmental Health."

Karen Koenemann, Pitkin County public health director, said the county's Environmental Health Department was not told of the spill, either.

Estimates of exactly how much fuel spilled Friday morning varied widely throughout the day Monday and into the evening hours.

Fil Meraz, director of operations at the airport, initially told The Aspen Times that 200 gallons spilled about 9 a.m. Friday as a tanker truck was filling one of the four 25,000 gallon fuel storage tanks at the airport's fixed base operation area.

However, Balentine said later that a report submitted to the state by Atlantic Aviation notes that "perhaps 1,000 gallons" of fuel spilled after a staff worker filling the tank didn't notice it was full. The report says fuel escaped out a side vent, into rocks and soil and eventually onto an asphalt area, Balentine said.

He declined to release the report to the Times.

State regulations require petroleum releases of more than 25 gallons, including spills from fuel pumps, to be reported to the state oil inspector within 24 hours. Jones said the incident was reported Friday. A spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed Monday the spill was reported.

Later Monday night, Meraz explained that the 200-gallon number was the amount of fuel initially reported to airport officials by Atlantic Aviation. Upon further investigation, Meraz said he learned that 200 gallons was the amount that was cleaned up, though the semi-truck fuel tanker actually emptied far more fuel.

Jones said he didn't know where the initial estimate of 200 gallons came from. It may have been the amount of fuel that spilled out of the fuel tank containment area and onto the road where fuel trucks park and was cleaned up by an emergency hazmat team from Grand Junction, Jones said.

The remaining 1,125 gallons soaked into the containment area of the tank farm and will need to be cleaned up by another, non-emergency hazmat team as soon as possible, he said.

The emergency hazmat team checked the storm drains and confirmed that fuel did not reach any water sources, he said.

"All appropriate authorities were immediately notified of the incident," Jones said in a written statement. "Atlantic Aviation employees took immediate action to contain the spill and engaged a professional hazmat spill response team on Friday to ensure the area is properly contained and mitigated."

The jet fuel spilled into a containment area designed to handle fuel spills, Meraz said.

The rocks and soil in the spill area will be cleaned up and replaced by Atlantic Aviation, he said.

Meraz characterized the spill as "medium"-sized and said he's never seen a similar situation in 25 years of working at the airport. At $7.90 a gallon — the price listed by Atlantic Aviation for jet fuel Monday — the 1,325-gallon spill was worth $10,467.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency does not have to be notified of fuel spills unless they enter water ways, said Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, a spokeswoman in Denver.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Lawsuit: Deteriorating Snowmass-area house plagued by landslide zone

The sellers of a Snowmass Village-area home are being sued on allegations they did not disclose to the buyer that the residence is in a landslide zone.

Roger Hollowell, a longtime area ranch manager, filed suit against sellers Steve and Robin Meyer of New Jersey on Friday in Pitkin County District Court.

Hollowell bought the 3,550-square-foot home, located on Medicine Bow Road and built in approximately 1978, for $950,000 in August 2014. He bought the home, however, based on "false and misleading representations" made by the Meyers, who did not disclose the property's latent defects, the suit alleges.

"It's put me and my family in a horrible position," Hollowell said Monday.

The Meyers could not be reached for comment.

"A central issue of this dispute is that Mr. Hollowell invested most of his life savings into this property," the suit says. "As he discussed with Mr. Meyer, Hollowell intended on investing an additional $250,000 into a remodel of the home. After which, he would either sell or remodel the property before the note came due. During the remodel, he would raise his children in the home, which would allow them to be educated in the prestigious Aspen school district. That dream, which was disclosed to Mr. Meyer before Mr. Hollowell purchased the property, is now unrealizable."

Hollowell learned that the house was on shaky ground in spring 2016, when "the symptoms of the defect began manifesting themselves in the home after a relatively strong spring runoff. Stairs bent. Floors swelled. And walls started to crack," alleges the suit, which also notes the Meyers remodeled the home in 2009 to "cosmetically cover up symptoms of the defect in the home."

The purchase contract also stipulated that the Meyers were required to disclose any of the property's latent defects, the suit says.

While Hollowell hired a professional inspector to scrutinize the home before he bought it, the "inspection could not and did not uncover the defect," the suit alleges.

The property's condition had been known to previous owners as far back as 1987, when an individual bought the home at a reduced cost because the sellers disclosed that it was in an active landslide zone, the suit says.

The Meyers, who bought it for $350,000 in 1996, knew of its defects and managed to have the county reduce its assessed value by 10 percent in 1998 because of the defects, the suit says.

The Meyers also told their neighbors about the reduced property taxes, admitting they have "full knowledge of the defect and its effect on the property," the suit says.

Hollowell made a $250,000 down payment when he bought the two-story, wood-frame home, while the Meyers financed the remaining $700,000, the suit says.

Hollowell said he is current on his mortgage payments. He said he hasn't put the property up for sale because "I would take a huge loss."

Hollowell is aiming to have the deal rescinded or force the Meyers to tear down the house and build a new one. The second scenario, Hollowell said, is iffy because there are no guarantees that a new foundation is sustainable because of the slide zone on which it would be built.

"The house is twisting and twisting apart," he said.

Hollowell lives there with his wife and three children.

He also expressed frustration that the defect was revealed to previous buyers but not him.

"The disclosure was made to previous owners," he said. "I'm surprised that doesn't get attached to the property."

The suit was filed by Benjamin Johnston of the Glenwood Springs law firm Balcomb & Green PC.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Football power rankings going into Class 2A WSL play

The high school football season is about to get much more interesting with the start of Class 2A Western Slope League play this week. Basalt (4-0) and Aspen (3-1) have looked strong in non-league, but the next five games will test the mettle of each as they both hope to return to the state playoffs.

Basalt, the two-time reigning WSL champs, opens league play Saturday afternoon at Moffat County (2-2). Aspen heads to Delta (3-1) on Friday night. This is a good time to remind everyone that the 2A WSL landscape is much different from the past two seasons. Gone are Steamboat Springs and Roaring Fork and in are Delta and Rifle, two of the strongest programs year in and year out this side of the Rockies. So, to get ready for what should be quite the battle for WSL supremacy, here are my power rankings as we go into the first week of league play.

1. Rifle (4-0)

Ranked No. 4 in Class 2A this week by CHSAANow.com and currently No. 6 in RPI, this is the team everyone is chasing. The Bears have been nothing short of a powerhouse under longtime coach Damon Wells, including double-digit wins in three of four years from 2011-14.

Rifle went 9-3 a season ago in Class 3A, and so far has barely been tested this fall. The Bears' best win is arguably last week's 27-14 victory over rival Glenwood Springs, although the Demons don't look overly intimidating this season. Rifle senior Tanner Vines is the real deal, having rushed for 567 yards and six touchdowns through the first three games (the Glenwood stats weren't yet added to MaxPreps).

2. Basalt (4-0)

Ranked No. 6 this week and with an RPI of 3, the two-time league champs are still that until someone takes the crown away. If defense wins championships, then count the Longhorns a contender. Through four games, BHS had given up only six points to Battle Mountain, a 47-6 rout. The team has shut out Olathe, Pagosa Springs and Paonia.

Beating Rifle will be everything for Basalt. The teams play Oct. 19 in Rifle, the second-to-last game of the regular season. They are not strangers, having played a non-league game each of the past two seasons. Rifle won 48-34 in 2016 and 34-14 in 2017. However, both those games were in the season-opener for Basalt, so maybe seeing the Bears later in the season will be beneficial for the reigning champs.

3. Aspen (3-1)

Admittedly, Aspen is playing much better than expected. The Skiers sit just outside the top 10 and have an RPI of 14. Their only loss came at defending state champion Bayfield, currently No. 3 in 2A.

Take out that 20-8 Bayfield loss where the only points came on defense, and the AHS offense is once again looking like a juggernaut. AHS put up 38 on Meeker in the season opener, 48 on Cedaredge in its home opener, and ran over Grand Valley 54-16 last week. Keep this up, and the Skiers could be a surprise contender for the WSL crown. Aspen plays at Rifle on Oct. 12 and closes out the regular season Oct. 26 in Basalt.

4. Delta (3-1)

The other 2A WSL newcomer, the Panthers don't quite feel like the team that won no less than eight games each year from 2012 to 2016, which included a 12-2 campaign in 2015. The 2017 season was certainly a major disappointment for the proud program, going only 4-5 overall.

However, sleeping on the 2018 team would probably be a mistake. They sit just a spot outside the top 10 in 2A and are No. 9 in RPI. The Panthers' only loss came 28-22 at Salida in Game 2. The Spartans are currently 5-0 and No. 7 in the state. I don't want to make too much out of the first league game, but Friday's matchup between Aspen and Delta is an elimination game of sorts in the WSL race.

5. Moffat County (2-2)

As competitive as the first four teams in the WSL are, I feel there is a bit of separation with the bottom two. The Bulldogs are never an easy out, but they did just lose their past two games to Battle Mountain (36-14) and Pagosa Springs (49-20), two teams Basalt ran over. Meaning, anything less than a Basalt blowout on Saturday in Craig would be an upset.

Still, this is a Moffat County football program with a proud tradition. They have a first-year coach in Jamie Nelson who is still getting situated. The Bulldogs finished only 4-5 a season ago after going 5-4 in 2016. They last made the playoffs in 2015.

6. Coal Ridge (1-3)

Another team with a first-year coach (Paul Downing), the Titans have their work cut out for them. They were a feisty bunch in their one and only season under Bob Frederickson in 2017, going 5-4 after a 1-8 season in 2016. However, getting past one win this fall looks challenging.

Coal Ridge has played some of 1A's tougher teams in non-league, its only win a 45-7 rout of Hotchkiss. Losses came against Meeker, Paonia and Olathe. The Titans are certainly missing graduate Jacx Powers, an absolute animal who rushed for 1,601 yards as a senior a year ago.

Now, about those other sports…

— How about a quick nod to Aspen volleyball, which went 5-2 at a tournament in Phoenix over the weekend. They were the only team from Colorado and finished fifth in their division. Now 8-2 overall, the Skiers will play Thursday (Sept. 27) at Delta (9-3 overall) in a critical early-season league game. Aspen then plays this weekend at another tournament, this one hosted by Battle Mountain.

— If you're into key league games, Tuesday’s (Sept. 25) doubleheader between Basalt softball (9-3-1) and Delta (15-2) is huge. Actually, it's basically for the league championship. Delta is 8-0 in league play and Basalt is 5-1-1 with the regular-season wrapping up in early October. The teams split their two games (not played on the same day) last season, finishing in a tie for second behind Meeker in the league. Meeker is pretty well locked into the No. 3 spot this season. Tuesday’s doubleheader between the Longhorns and Panthers is in Basalt, with game times scheduled for 2 and 4 p.m.

— Keep Saturday night open, as Aspen soccer (2-4) will host Basalt (2-5) at 7 p.m. under the lights on the AHS turf. This game never disappoints, even with both teams struggling to find wins this season. The Skiers first play Tuesday at Moffat County, which they should win, while Basalt is at Coal Ridge Tuesday in a bit of a must win for both teams.

— Oh, and in case you forgot, the Aspen boys golf team is headed to the state tournament early next week (Oct. 1 and 2) in Boulder. But more on that later.​

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Lunch laps

Lunch laps, I've discovered, are not just for winter.

In summer and fall, I've found it's almost better to get out of the office, the house, wherever I find myself inside for that quick breath of fresh air than it is in winter (though winter lunch laps do offer a chance of soaking in some rays as the days get awfully short).

On that note, I've discovered a few nice walks/simple hikes away from the masses who make Smuggler or the Rio Grande their daytime ritual. I can't share them all, nor do I really want you to know, but before the leaves fall off the trees and the season changes for good, I suggest breaking free and checking out one of these three:

The West End: Before bridge construction got back under way, meandering through Aspen's West End was a quiet, scenic stroll. Not so much with all the bright orange cones, flaggers, cars, etc. I'm moving my West End walk down Hopkins, over the Marolt pedestrian bridge and around the open space.

The East End: I like this walk because you can make it as long or a short as you like by heading out of town on Ute Avenue and then along the East Aspen Trail to the Aspen Club site, past the Stillwater Bridge, all the way to Wildwood or farther. There are a few great spots along the way to just stop and listen to the river and the rustling leaves.

Just Outside of Town: At the ABC, take the steep steps down the Stein Trail, around the sanitation district (OK, that's not so pleasant), to the trail adjacent the Roaring Fork River. After a short walk, cross the bridge and connect to the Rio Grande, which is generally not too crowded this far down the unpaved portion. I like this one because you will get your heart pumping coming back up the Stein steps.

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com

Aspen officials want residential streets cleared of trailers, oversized vehicles

Aspen City Council on Monday made moves to restrict parking in certain areas of town in an effort to clear the streets of vehicles that are being stored for long periods of time.

Under the new law, which will be officially approved by council on second reading at a future date, campers, trailers or other kinds of unattached non-motorized vehicles must remain attached to a car or truck everywhere in town.

However, any resident who is eligible for a residential permit can get as many as three permits a year with each one limited to three days to park an unattached non-motorized vehicle.

"I do believe the unattached vehicles (rule) will eliminate a bunch of storage on the street and make people happy," said Mitch Osur, the city's director of parking and downtown services, adding that those who store their boats and snowmobiles on residential streets likely will be unhappy.

Osur said there are between 30 and 40 unattached vehicles regularly parked on residential streets within city limits.

Council also agreed that oversized vehicles — which include the popular Sprinter vans — should not be eligible for a residential parking pass or guest permit. Although drivers of oversized vehicles may still purchase a day pass at the current $8 daily rate to park in a residential zone.

Oversized vehicles are anything over 24 feet long, 8 feet wide, 8 feet high or a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more.

"It's our biggest complaint," Osur said, adding those types of vehicles crop up in neighborhoods in June, July, August, December and March.

"Most cities don't even allow oversized vehicles" to park for extended periods of time, Osur said.

Under the new law, drivers also will only be able to park in a time-restricted zone once a day during enforcement hours.

And, residents will get four residential parking passes, with one guest pass starting on Nov. 15. Right now, it's five plus one guest pass. In 2019 and beyond, it will be reduced to three, plus one guest permit.

And one resident permit will be issued for a single vehicle either owned by a business located within a residential-permit parking zone.

Also, drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) will continue to be able to enjoy breaks on parking restrictions levied on traditional cars.

Both types can park for free in residential zones and are exempt from the two-hour parking restriction, and NEVs will be able to park for free in the downtown core until Dec. 31, 2019.

Councilmen Ward Hauenstein and Adam Frisch were in the minority in allowing NEVs to park in the downtown core for free.

They said if a vehicle, no matter what kind it is, is taking a parking space, the driver should pay the same rate as others.

The changes are part of updating the parking provisions in the city code and will become effective Nov. 15 if council passes the ordinance on second reading.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Cathie Langford

Cathie Langford was a ray of sunshine in the downtown core for the past 13 years, working for the City's Parks Department. All the regular downtown folks, and even some returning visitors, knew Cathie with her long strawberry blonde hair, always on the move. She was unmistakable in her Captain America uniform, which she wore every Fourth of July. A longtime friend of Cathie described her as someone "with a bop in her step."

She was born in Airdrie, Scotland, and was raised in a children's home in nearby Coatbridge, Scotland until she was 19 years old. She trained as a dental assistant before moving to the USA with an American family as their au-pair in 1975. She worked in that role for various families in the Eastern US. She heard about Aspen from one of her families, and she came out and visited. She was smitten by the energy and beauty of our mountain ski town, and decided to make Aspen her home in 1981.

Many will recall her love of dancing and being on stage, as she appeared in various Aspen Community Theater productions, including GUYS AND DOLLS and ANNIE, during the 80's and 90's. She visited Russia in the late 20th Century to visit the Bolshoi Ballet, a life-long dream to see performances by that fabled dance troupe. Others will remember seeing her whiz by downtown astride her jazzy scooter.

She always loved dogs, though she never had her own dog, and has walked, run and sat with hundreds of dogs for people all over town. She had a special way of connecting with dogs, and they loved and trusted her in return. One can see this in the attached photo.

She also worked at various restaurants and grocery stores all over town, including the Explore Bistro, where she became close with Katharine Thalberg and Bill Stirling. Cathie was a favorite with all their dogs, and Katharine and Bill kept a watchful and loving eye peeled for Cathie over those ensuing 30 years.

She succumbed to breast cancer and other cancers, which had spread throughout her body. She greatly appreciated the care givers at the Aspen Valley Hospital, and in her last days her room was jammed with colleagues, work mates and friends. She was a brave and generous soul, who donated her body to scientific research. She also chose to die in her own way, by refusing any "heroic" methods to prolong her life. She was philosophical about accepting the end of her life. "It is getting down to the nitty," as she would say in those final days.

There will be a gathering for friends, colleagues and acquaintances at 5 p.m. Thursday, September 27, 2018 at her beloved John Denver Sanctuary in Rio Grande Park to remember Cathie.

Scammers targeting Vail Valley, gaining access to personal information, funds

EAGLE — Your cellphone rings, and before you check your caller ID, you answer. A recorded voice insists you’re in all kinds of trouble, but it’s nothing that a pile of money can’t cure.

It’s a scam, chances are.

The IRS is not sending “the cops” to arrest you.

You probably don’t need tech support, unless you asked for it.

Your family members are not in jail, and if they are, you need to talk to a detention deputy, not a telephone scammer.

“Scammers have most recently started to call posing as lawyers, bondsman and jailers asking for funds to release a family member ‘in trouble,'” said Amber Barrett, community affairs deputy with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies have received scam reports regarding scams such as phone, tech support, email, virtual reality kidnapping and family members in jail. Scams come in all sorts of contacts, ranging from phone calls to emails and snail mail, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sometimes they’re tough to spot, but they usually involve a stranger trying to gain access to personal information, home computers and financial accounts from which they can steal money, Barrett said.

The Federal Trade Commission advises us to look out for callers who try to create a sense of urgency or use high-pressure tactics.

That’s probably a scammer, the FTC says.

Another favorite scam is someone calling to offer a “refund,” or warranty rebate, Barrett said.

“They’ll ask you if you were happy with their service. If you say you weren’t, the scammer offers a refund. But instead of depositing money into your account, they withdraw money,” Barrett said. Scams are more common now than ever, Barrett said.

Don’t ever provide financial or personal information to anyone over the phone, and notify law enforcement if you receive any type of computer scam or phone call that may be considered suspicious or threatening, Barrett said.

“If something seems suspicious, hang up and call a trusted source for confirmation,” Barrett said.

Group supporting 1A question to host public event

The Helping From the Heart Campaign Committee is hosting a campaign kickoff today at the Mountain Chalet.

The committee is working to support the passage of ballot question 1A to renew the Healthy Community Fund in Pitkin County.

Campaign leadership (Warren Klug, Sue Smedstad, Cooper Means and Seth Sachson), some Pitkin County commissioners, representatives from non-agencies receiving funds from the Healthy Community Fund and supportive citizens will be on hand at noon today to answer questions about the fund, its value in the community and the ballot question itself.

The event is open to the public, and light snacks will be provided.