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Elk hunt lottery for Sky Mountain near Aspen set March 28

A portion of Sky Mountain Park again will be open to limited hunting in the fall, but a lottery to choose five hunters is set for March 28.

The hunt, for cow elk only, will take place during the fourth season — Nov. 15-19. To qualify, hunters must have a Colorado hunting license and a tag allowing them to hunt for a cow elk in the fourth season in Game Management Unit 43.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails holds its lottery in March so winners can put in for a fourth-season tag in Unit 43 and be ready to go. Open Space and Trails will check with Colorado Parks and Wildlife in June to make sure the chosen hunters have the proper tag.

Again this year, Open Space and Trails will draw three alternates — hunters who may get a chance at the Sky Mountain Park hunt if any of the chosen participants backs out. Hunters who were drawn last year will not qualify this year.

This is the sixth year a limited hunt has taken place at Sky Mountain Park in an effort to manage the elk population that uses the open space as winter habitat and a migration corridor. Last fall, two hunters on the property were successful in bringing down a cow elk.

To enter the lottery, hunters must provide their name, mailing address, phone number and date of birth by noon on March 27. Email the information to janet.urquhart@pitkincounty.com. Only hunters who supply all of the required information will be entered in the drawing.

Aspen School District hosting 2 public forums on climate, culture this week

Two community focus groups regarding the climate and culture of the staff at Aspen School District will be held this week.

The one-hour discussions are set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Aspen High School seminar room and 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Pitkin County Library community room.

The forums, which are open to the public, are being held by the Aspen School District Board of Education and the Denver consulting firm Wilson Foxen.

“The goal of the community focus groups is to improve transparency and understanding by communicating the scope, status and time lines of the climate and culture study,” according to a statement from the Aspen School District. “It will also provide opportunities for individuals who are not part of the ASD workforce to offer input and perspective related to the current climate and culture study.”

Those who can’t attend the meetings but would like to have input can email the Board of Education at aspenboelistens@gmail.com.

U.S. Forest Service taking applications through Wednesday for seasonal jobs

The U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region is accepting applications for temporary jobs through Wednesday.

Positions are available for the 2019 field season throughout national forests and grasslands in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska. The positions are in areas such as fire, trails, forestry, engineering, wildlife, recreation, fisheries, archaeology and administrative support.

The White River National Forest included an announcement that it has seasonal positions available in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Meeker, Eagle, Minturn and Silverthorne.

Temporary job opportunities are available online at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r2/jobs. Job seekers can apply through USAJOBS from March 4 to 6 at www.usajobs.gov.

Aspen Chapel Gallery partners with River Bridge on art show

The Aspen Chapel Gallery will open a 13-artist exhibition on Wednesday, April 20. Titled “Flower,” he show is a partnership with River Bridge Regional Center, which provides services to child abuse victims, their families, and the community in a supportive environment through a child-centered approach

The gallery will host a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The show is up through April 7.

“When I came up with the name ‘Flower’ it wasn’t in the literal sense, more the idea of ‘to flower,”” curator David Warner said in an announcement. “The show I believe will be a mix of expected flower images and some that push the limits of both the theme and the form art can take. I wanted to partner with River Bridge because I feel that the work they do helps children and families to open up, ‘to flower.’”

The exhibition includes works by Kelly Alford, Tim Brown, Curt Carpenter, David Floria, Shelly Franklin, Mike Lindsay, Carol Loewenstern, Glenn Rappaport, Jill Sabella. Mindy Vernon, David Warner, Greg Watts, and Brad Zeigel

It is sponsored by O2 Aspen, and Donna and Tom Ward. A percentage of the sales will be donated to River Bridge.

Conundrum Hot Springs overnight permits are available starting Friday

Overnight camping permits at the Conundrum Hot Springs for the first half of the summer will be available starting Friday, the White River National Forest supervisor’s office announced Wednesday.

The permits for April 1 through July 31 will be available for reservation starting at 8 a.m. Friday. Reservations must be made at www.recreation.gov. Details on how to reserve a permit can be found at the site by searching “Conundrum Hot Springs Permit,” according to the Forest Service.

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District implemented a reservation system last summer because of overcrowding and resource damage near the popular hot springs southwest of Aspen.

“The permit reservation system has been a great success and we are excited to kick off another season at Conundrum with this next round of reservations,” said Katy Nelson, trail and wilderness manager for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. “We’re thankful for the public support. We had excellent compliance rates last season, decreased natural resource impact and overall, we’ve restored and secured a high-quality wilderness experience for visitors. We’ve come a long way at Conundrum.”

The overnight permits for Aug. 1 through Nov. 30 will be available starting June 15. Overnight permits for Dec. 1 through March 31, 2020, will be available starting Oct. 15.

Retired Marine will share insights on 10th Mtn Division at presentation in Aspen

Retired Marine Col. Thomas Duhs gained respect and some insight into the famed U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division during his years of military service in cold-weather operations between 1981 and 1992.

Duhs used his own experience training troops and his research into the official regimental history to co-write two books about the 10th Mountain Division. Now he’s working with people in Hollywood to try to bring the story to a broader audience.

“I asked myself, ‘This is such a good story, why isn’t it a movie?’” he said of the mountain troop’s history.

There are numerous history books and some film documentaries on the 10th Mountain Division. Duhs felt the story could be presented in a more engaging way, though still historically accurate.

He teamed with Kris Tualla, a published author of romance novels, to write two fact-based novels about the mountain division. “Sempre Avanti Always Forward: A Novel about the Tenth Mountain Division in WW II” came out about one year ago and “Ice and Granite: The Snow Soldiers of Riva Ridge” followed about six months later.

Duhs, 70, will make a presentation at Pitkin County Library on Tuesday about the 10th Mountain Division. The lecture will be at 5:30 p.m., followed by a book signing. He will sell the books for $15 apiece or $25 for both.

“I can’t wait to get there again and go to the Jerome for an Aspen Crud,” he said, referring to the milkshake with whiskey that was a favorite of visiting 10th Mountain soldiers. He also plans to refresh his memory of Aspen Mountain since he last hit the slopes there in 1968. He settled in Colorado Springs upon retiring after 30 years in the Marines.

Duhs has compiled numerous stories of soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division through attending their presentations or via informal visits and interviews over the years. He believes he is able to connect with them because of his experience in military cold weather operations, which included training troops in skiing, climbing, stream crossing and similar skills — just like the 10th Mountain soldiers experienced at Camp Hale, 40 miles from Aspen near Tennessee Pass.

He said one of the greatest compliments he received was when an old-timer from the 10th Mountain told him, “If you were a young guy in 1941, you would have been one of us.”

The hero of the Sempre Avanti book is a composite of the experiences of four actual soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division.

His lecture starts with “the singing slides” — a preamble that features 100 or so historical photos of the 10th Mountain Division with a background of the troops singing the division’s songs.

He will discuss how Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole convinced the U.S. War Department to form the winter combat troops and how he went about recruiting soldiers and building the division.

He will talk about the 10th Mountain Division’s military record, most famously in Italy, and how returning troops were so important to the formation of the U.S. ski industry.

He invited a special guest, John Tripp, a 10th Mountain veteran from Carbondale, as well as a handful of local residents who are descendants of 10th Mountain soldiers.

The Aspen presentation is free for the public. He is hopeful his writing and research will eventually provide the grunt work for a movie or mini-series.

“We have something that I think will be very appealing and it will be the best thing since ‘Band of Brothers’ or ‘Saving Private Ryan,’” he said, referring to a mini-series and movie, respectively.


Aspen, Roaring Fork school districts cancel classes for Wednesday because of snowstorm

The Aspen School District and the Roaring Fork School District have canceled classes for Wednesday because of an overnight snowstorm and more snow expected through the day.

District officials sent out notices just before 5:30 a.m. Wednesday via email, phone calls and text messages.

It is the second time in less than a month that the Aspen district called a snow day. Classes were canceled on Jan. 18, which meant a four-day weekend for local students because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday that weekend.

Wednesday’s alert said: “Pitkin School Alert for Aspen School District, Basalt Schools, Wildwood School, Aspen Community School, Aspen Country Day: School is canceled for today.”

The Roaring Fork district’s message said: “Due to inclement weather conditions — especially towards the Glenwood Springs area — all Roaring Fork Schools will be closed today, February 6. The Roaring Fork Schools use a thorough process to assess conditions. Any decision to cancel school is based on student and staff safety. Please expect school to resume tomorrow.”

The Pacific storm has been rolling across the western United States and Aspen area remains under a winter storm watch until Thursday morning.

According to the Aspen district policy: “When schools are closed all scheduled activities in the school building are canceled and sports events and practices are postponed.”

Colorado Democrats to honor Aspen resident Howard Wallach

When there were no candidate forums for the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors election in the spring of 2016, Howard Wallach organized one himself.

When Pitkin County Democrats staged rallies in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the Oval Office, Wallach, as chairman of the organization, helped engineer the effort to draw speakers and marchers.

Informally known as “Howie,” Wallach also has moderated debates and done the dirty work — the seemingly endless phone calls and meetings, working his party’s booth at the Aspen Saturday Markets, hosting fund-raisers and candidate meet-and-greets at his Aspen residence, door-knocking during campaigns, organizing caucuses and hitting the road for conventions — that goes with heading the county’s Democratic party.

“Howie is the only person besides Mick Ireland that does more door-to-door than me,” said Blanca O’Leary, the former chair of the county Democrats whom Wallach succeeded.

On March 9, the Colorado Democrats second Annual Obama Dinner, to be held at Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel, will honor Wallach, as well as Eagle County Democrat Party leader Joy Harrison, with the Rural Outreach Award.

The honor, according to the Colorado Democrats’ website, is given “to individuals who have gone above and beyond to help the Democratic Party build and strengthen outreach relationships with diverse communities across Colorado, particularly outside of the Front Range.”

Wallach, 72, said he is appreciative of the recognition, but he’s also not a one-man show. His wife, Betty, also is committed to her husband’s party’s efforts and is a mainstay behind the scenes and in the public.

“Betty does an enormous amount of the work, all of the communications, all of the organizing and the paperwork,” he said. “Her title is administrative vice chair and she really is the administrator.”

Howard Wallach preaches collaboration: “I like being with Democrats, working with Democrats, talking to Democrats. I get the award, but it’s nothing if I was doing this by myself.”

He heaps praise on such individuals as Carl Heck, a firebrand liberal who is “an incredibly reliable partner,” he said.

He refers to Ireland, another Aspen Democrat and also former mayor, city councilman and county commissioner, as “the scholar of elections in Pitkin County. He knows more about data and campaign strategies and all the doors that I knock, they’re in consultation with him.”

Other key people with the Pitkin County Democrats include its outreach director, Gladys Martinez-Augello, treasurer Patty Kravitz and secretary and second vice-chair Wes Graham.

“That’s the team,” Wallach said, adding that their son, David, also plays a part.

“It’s a seven-day-a-week job,” Wallach said, “and it doesn’t let up.”

The rewards come at the ballot box, whether it’s when a Democrat is elected or when voter turnout is solid, such as the November midterms in which Pitkin County had a 65.2 percent showing. That was the best showing for a non-presidential election year this decade, and Wallach also points out that 84 percent of residents who received ballots voted.

On Election Day, Nov. 8, Pitkin County’s electorate was 38 percent registered Democrat, 17 percent Republican and 43 percent unaffiliated, according to the county’s election department.

The county’s blue hue was on display that day, when 72.6 percent of the vote went to Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in her race to unseat Rep. Scott Tipton from District 3. She lost.

Nearly 74 of county voters supported Jared Polis in his successful bid for governor, while Jenna Griswold benefited from 72.3 percent of county support while unseating Wayne Williams as state secretary. All three are Democrats.

Democrats in other state races carried at least 70 percent of the tally in the Pitkin County midterms.

“That’s what this award recognizes,” Wallach said.

The work is all volunteer.

“No one gets a penny,” Wallach said, noting they often spend their own money for their cause.

The party doesn’t wield the same level of influence in the city because council candidates don’t run on their party affiliation, unlike county commissioner candidates.

“We help them to the extent they’re willing to be helped,” Wallach said. “But we don’t do endorsements.”

He added: “We support Democratic values — local jobs, affordable housing, stuff like that.”

Wallach is up for re-election Tuesday as party chair; he said he is running unopposed.

“There’s a limit to how long a person can do this crazy thing,” he said.

O’Leary, who as a member of the Colorado Democrats organization nominated Wallach for the award, said “it’s super well-deserved.”

“Normally the Democrats on the Western Slope aren’t very acknowledged for their hard work,” she said.

Wallach’s dogged persistence on the campaign trail and his grassroots work make him the ideal recipient, O’Leary said, calling him “one of the hardest-working Democratic Party County chairs in Colorado.”

Wallach said, “Betty says all politics is personal. It is also a contact sport, especially around here. It’s one vote a time, it’s one person at a time, it’s one discussion at a time, one issue at a time. You have to be able to stand and talk to people, or sit and talk with people.”

Wallach, who has been the party chair since February 2015, is a retired teacher from Brooklyn, New York.

“I think this award, which is for rural organization and goes to a Brooklyn boy, I get a real kick out of that,” he said.


City of Aspen hands out $1.5 million in grants

The city of Aspen announced Tuesday its awarding of $1.5 million in grants and in-kind support to various nonprofit organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley for 2019.

The money comes from the city’s general, Wheeler, and Parks & Open Space funds, and represents a $113,935 increase over the amount distributed in 2018.

The categories of grants include arts nonprofits, general nonprofits, health and human services nonprofits and specific environmental projects supported by the Parks and Open Space fund.

The city’s grant distributions included $400,000 in cash funds and $16,000 in in-kind donations to the arts, $474,200 in cash funds and $103,000 in in-kind donations to general nonprofits, $33,000 to environmental projects and $467,850 to health and human services.

The 2020 application process begins in May. For more details, contact Julie Gillespie at julie.gillespie@cityofaspen.com or visit www.cityofaspen.com/383/Grants.

Vaping discussion today for parents and students

The topic of vaping will discussed from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today at Aspen High School Commons.

Hosted by Youth Zone, Aspen Family Connections and Aspen School District, the event will include a presentation from Youth Zone’s Kenny Hamburg about the perils of vaping.

The workshop is recommended for parents and high school students. Eighth-grade students may attend the event with a parent.