| AspenTimes.com

Market forces at work for City Market’s longtime manager retiring after four decades

After 43 years in the grocery business, John Hailey has been counting the days to his retirement this fall. Now, he’s just got one more Monday left before he checks out as Aspen’s favorite grocery store manager.

Hailey, who has been the store’s general manager at the Aspen market since 1998 but has served in many other roles here and at other stores since the late 1970s, officially retires on Dec. 3.

It’s hard not to run into Hailey in the narrow aisles of the 12,500-square-foot store, and he’s quick to greet customers by name and throw out one of his famous one-liners.

“If you eat, usually I will see you,” he said with his signature grin. “My day is a series of probably 200 two-minute conversations and that’s wonderful, you know, because you get a little bit of everything.”

On Nov. 12, his 18th day left of work, Hailey was stationed near the entrance of the store when a customer walked in.

“Hi Sara Sara,” he said.

She replied self-consciously with a matted head of hair, “How’s my hair?”

“How do you want me to answer that?” he laughed.

She smiled back, slipped her stocking cap on and began her shopping.

He’ll explain to his employees how to “rotate the stripes and change the seeds in the watermelons,” and tell his customers who might be nibbling on something as they shop, “We are going to weigh you now and then on the way out, and charge you the difference.”

When prices get slashed on sale items and are put into the “woohoo!” section, Hailey will say, “We aren’t here to make money, just friends.”

A native of Tennessee who comes from a family of similar humor, Hailey summed up his long tenure at City Market by quipping with his Southern drawl that, “I sold groceries for the last supper.”

Hailey’s humor is just part of his presence in the store.

If a customer doesn’t know where an item is, Hailey is quick to point them in the right direction, and if the store doesn’t have something he’ll try to get it.

“We usually have someone stop in El Jebel (at the City Market) every day and pick items up,” he said.

When asked how he handled the more demanding class of customers who are outside the regular local clientele over the years, Hailey responded in his usual positive manner.

“You tend to remember the negative comments that you get but if you really take a close look at it, the positive ones are probably 99 percent and the negative ones are 1 percent,” he said. “I think the important thing to do is listen with an open mind and react to the things you need to react to.”

Lisa Harris, who has worked at City Market for 36 years, said Hailey always manages to be upbeat and positive.

“We are going to miss him a lot,” she said. “He’s the only guy who comes running when you call for help, everyone else ignores us.”

Hailey recently received a letter from Gov. Jared Polis, commending him for his tenure and service.

That was the doing of Aspen resident Joel Sax, who was able to get a proclamation from the governor regarding Hailey’s contributions to his work and the community.

“He is the best,” said Diane Moore, Sax’s wife. “While we are happy for him and his upcoming retirement, he is irreplaceable.

“It is rare to meet someone with such a positive outlook on life. He is always willing to help everyone in the store. And he has a wicked sense of humor. … We have shared so many laughs with him over the years. We feel very fortunate to have been able to get to know him, and are happy he will be staying in Aspen. There is something special about John’s southern charm.”

Hailey, 65, said it’s the people that he loves most about his job.

“I think that everybody who comes to the grocery store, it’s a chore for them and you know if you can have a couple light-hearted moments, maybe it’ll make your day a little better,” he said.

Hailey has seen many bizarre things in what can be a wacky resort town at times.

There’s the woman who called 911 because the person in front of her had more than 15 items in the express lane, or the cocaine left on the self checkout scanner that fell out of a customer’s wallet or the lady who came in every morning wearing a full-length mink coat in the middle of the summer.

“I started talking to her and I got to know her name and one morning I said, ‘Elizabeth I’m curious why do you wear that coat in here every morning?’ She opened her coat and said ‘cuz I got my pajamas on under here.’”

The famous customers he’s encountered recently have been music legends Ringo Star and Joe Walsh, football player Brett Favre of Green Bay fame and Draymond Green from the Golden State Warriors.

“But my most favorite famous celebrities are Jill St. John and Robert Wagner,” Hailey said. “They are so nice and pleasant and it’s been a real pleasure to see them all the time.”

There have been three big lottery winners during his time at the Aspen store — a $500,000 and a $100,000 winner in recent years. About a decade ago another $100,000 ticket was sold but it was never claimed.

“Somebody once asked me what I would do if I won the Powerball or lottery and I said, ‘I’d buy that house across the street and walk to work,’” Hailey laughed.

Carlos Garcia, assistant store manager who has worked with Hailey for 22 years, said it will be hard to replace his boss.

“He leads by example and is a trustful guy,” Garcia said. “It will be big shoes to fill and wear.”

Kroger Co., the parent company that owns the City Market supermarket retail chain, hasn’t announced Hailey’s replacement yet.

Hailey’s seen some change over the years.

He worked at City Market when the all-natural Snoberries store was in the basement.

He was part of the team that switched the entire store’s inventory from price labels to bar codes.

Self checkout stands went in and online shopping services have become available.

And then there was the remodel about a decade ago that had the entire store under construction.

“That was challenging to operate. … We found asbestos in the ceiling and we had to build a platform eight feet off the floor,” he said. “That was a long winter, but it was actually fun being able to get through that because the customers were surprisingly resilient and they just went with it.”

Hailey said he wouldn’t change a thing about his career.

“The thing that I take away the most for the years of work here are the relationships I’ve made with customers and employees — they are pretty special,” he said. “I think the people who live here are the heart and soul of this place.”

They become like family, Hailey said, pointing out a woman at the service counter who had breast cancer. Hailey explained that he put her mother up at his house during her treatment.

He said he is going to miss the daily interactions with people, and will likely find himself a part-time job.

Hailey said he plans to fill his days with learning how to play the guitar better, take some Spanish classes, hit the casino and horse track, and get in better physical shape.

“I’ll probably take a month off and then I’m going to do something, work somewhere,” he said. “The book is open.”

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Aspen Misc.: Nov. 17, 2019

Kent Denver dashes Roaring Fork soccer’s title hopes in 3A championship game

COMMERCE CITY — For 50 minutes of play in the 3A state high school soccer final Saturday, it seemed quite possible Carbondale’s Roaring Fork Rams just might pull off the seemingly impossible.

But a four-goal scoring barrage by Kent Denver over a 15-minute span in the second half saw it all come crashing down.

In the end, the second-seeded Sun Devils were state champs for a second straight year by virtue of a 5-0 shutout over No. 5 Roaring Fork, and the Rams were relegated to runner-up.

“We were right there with them that whole first half, pretty much neck and neck, and it really felt like we had a good chance,” Rams senior Lucas Schramer said as he left the field at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.

“Then, we just let a couple slide, and it all seemed to come right at once,” he said.

All at once is right, as Kent Denver senior forward Pace Billings broke it open with just over 30 minutes showing on the second-half clock to give the Sun Devils the 1-0 advantage.

After Rams junior goalkeeper Noah Wheeless made several impressive saves, Kent Denver pushed the ball into heavy traffic in front of the net, when a ricochet gave Billings a wide-open shot just inside the left post.

Not 15 minutes later, it was all but over, as Billings had scored two more goals, the second off a Sun Devils’ corner kick, for a hat trick on the day.

“That first half, to shut them out, I was so confident in our team,” Wheeless said. “My defense was on lock, but the offense was struggling a little bit with just two shots on goal. Their defense is just really tough.”

After the Rams dialed up some offensive pressure in the first three minutes of the second half, the momentum turned Kent’s way.

“They just found the gaps in my defense and started playing to their wings and coming in close to the two-hole,” Wheeless said. “They were just right in my box, and there was nothing I could do.”

Nonetheless, “I love my team, and I’m proud of how we played,” he said.

Kent senior Max Hewitt added another goal just over a minute after Billings’ third, and then senior Layton Purchase added the fifth goal with seven minutes left to play.

The Rams had several scoring opportunities in the first half, including a header shot from senior Dylan Webster off a free kick in the 31st minute that sailed just high over the crossbar. Two minutes into the second half, Webster had an open shot that went just wide left.

Roaring Fork coach Nick Forbes said it’s one more big step for a program that’s made the final four of the 3A playoffs the last two seasons.

“We’re going to keep building, and we’ll see you again next year in the same game,” he vowed, while crediting the Kent Denver program.

“From back to front, they’re just a really strong program,” Forbes said. “It’s hard coming from a public school and matching those resources and a program that’s so established.”

Kent coach Arty Smith also commended the Roaring Fork program.

“Coach Forbes did a great job; they were well-organized and obviously we couldn’t break them down in that first half,” Smith said. “They just always had an answer for anything we threw at them.”

Patience paid off for the Sun Devils, though, who forced the Rams to open it up after the first goal and were able to create the follow-up scoring chances.

“But boy, Roaring Fork, that is a very good soccer team, and they’ve got a lot to be proud of,” Smith said. “They showed a lot of heart and a lot of spirit, and I’m sure they’re going to be back.”

The championship game marked the final game in a Rams uniform for seniors Schramer, Webster, Connor Brennan, Johnny Delgado, Frankie Harrington, Aidan Foote and Sawyer Shook.

jstroud@postindependent.com

A game years in the making: Roaring Fork soccer to play for state championship

The state championship-bound Roaring Fork High School boys soccer team has something to prove this season.

After graduating most of a senior-heavy team last year — and after bowing out of the state playoffs in the semifinals that year and the quarterfinals the year before that — the 2019 contingent of Rams are out to make a name for themselves.

“I feel like a lot of the guys this year kind of came out of their shell,” senior Connor Brennan said Thursday as the team went through final drills in preparation for a 3A title game matchup with defending state champion Kent Denver on Saturday morning.

Game time is 11 a.m. for the No. 5 Rams versus the No. 2 Sun Devils at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.

INTO THEIR OWN

“We only had three non-senior starters last year, and so we really had to step it up this year and show that we were just as good as the seniors who left,” Brennan said. “It feels really good to finally get there; like all the effort and work we put in over the past few years is finally coming together.”

It’s also been a building process for seventh-year coach Nick Forbes who, after four straight years sending a Roaring Fork team into the playoffs, has the Rams playing for a state title.

“This team has showed some pretty incredible perseverance,” Forbes said of a varsity squad that has almost as many underclassmen starting as juniors and seniors.

The Rams’ 2-1 win over No. 1 Salida in the semifinals on Wednesday was a great example.

Scoreless through more than 75 minutes of play, Roaring Fork suddenly found itself down 1-0 with time ticking away.

But the Rams, thanks to the foot of sophomore Ross Barlow, tied it with just over a minute left in regulation.

Then, Barlow’s penalty kick in overtime was golden, giving the win to Roaring Fork and a shot at the state title.

“To carry through that way shows the perseverance,” Forbes said.

YOUNG TALENT

Barlow and senior Dylan Webster have been the team leaders all season on the scoring front, with 18 and 14 goals, respectively.

But a good bit of the Rams’ scoring also came from freshman Emiliano Magana, who netted eight goals.

“It’s great to play with this group, and it makes me a better player and helps me improve my skills,” Magana said. “The coaches here are really good, and my teammates keep me motivated to get better.”

Forbes hands it to the All-Valley Select Soccer Club for developing young players and helping to feed the area high school teams.

“They keep pumping out talent, and we keep profiting from that,” Forbes said. “It’s pretty awesome as a coach when you have well-developed players, because the coaching becomes less instructional and more about how to use these players to best get results.”

Solidifying the Roaring Fork team effort has been a staunch backline and middle field that controls the tempo and limits its opponents’ scoring chances. The Rams have an impressive goals-against average this season of just 1.1, and junior goalkeeper Noah Wheeless has recorded 65 saves on the season.

Senior Johnny Delgado transferred to Roaring Fork last year, but had to wait it out on the junior varsity squad during the Rams’ 2018 semifinal run due to the Colorado High School Activities Association transfer eligibility rules.

“This has been my dream, and it’s been everyone’s dream since eighth grade that when you get to high school you can play for a state championship,” Delgado said.

“It’s been a huge team effort … and I’m proud of all the effort.”

TALL ORDER

The Rams know they’ll have to be on top of their game to dethrone perennial soccer powerhouse Kent Denver.

“No doubt, they’re one of the best in the state, and we need to be really focused,” Brennan said.

Forbes remembers that two of the Sun Devils’ top players were sophomore sensations two years ago when Roaring Fork lost 3-1 to Kent Denver in the 3A quarterfinals.

“They’re good players, and they have the resources behind them,” Forbes said. “So, that perseverance is going to be huge. If we can hang in there and show them what we can do, that’s going to be key.”

A strong contingent of Carbondale fans also plan to make the trip over to Denver for the big game. That support has also been part of the team’s success, Forbes said.

“It’s a real testament to our community,” he said. “There are a lot of bonds that connect us demographically, with our Latino and Anglo cultures. This town does a really nice job of bringing those cultures together and bridging those gaps. And that shows in our team.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

Ranch embezzlement trial in hands of Garfield County jury

For nearly a month, a Glenwood Springs jury has heard arguments alleging Charles “Zane” and Charla Farris stole up to $1 million from the Garfield County ranch they managed.

The jury will begin deliberations Monday after the complex trial concluded Friday with closing arguments from defense attorneys and prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege the Farrises treated Bear Wallow funds as their own and reaped the benefits.

The trial included testimony from the ranch’s former owner and Waffle House chairman Joe Rogers Jr., investigators, tax experts and local ranch vendors. The Farrises did not testify.

A large part of the evidence is recordings Rogers secretly made over three days in 2016 when he confronted the Farrises for the alleged fraudulent transactions. At multiple points, both the Farrises said they were wrong to make many of the questioned transactions.

“They said they did it. We showed you the records that prove they did it,” prosecutor Ben Sollars said during closing arguments.

Regarding one transaction, Charla told Rogers in the recording, “You’re right, we should have not paid that.”

Sollars pointed to a number of other times the Farrises assumed responsibility for the transactions.

“According to them, it’s all on them, and they can’t blame Joe,” Sollars said.

The Farrises are charged with theft of between $100,000 and $1 million from the ranch, but the jury has the option to find the couple guilty of stealing lower amounts.

The couple also is charged with tax evasion and theft of livestock.

According to the defense attorneys, the improper transactions were both outright mistakes and purchases they thought benefitted Bear Wallow.

One theory of the defense is that Rogers had given permission for the Farrises to pay for certain personal items as bonuses to avoid payroll taxes.

“This isn’t about income, this isn’t about W-2s. This is about a ranch that is shutting down, and about finding another way to survive. During that time Zane and Charla commingled everything,” Sollars said.

Andrew Ho, Charla’s defense attorney, argued that there was no intent to defraud Rogers. Many improper transactions were mistakes, and the jury had a duty not to punish mistakes, Ho said.

“We’re not expected to be robots. We’re expected to make mistakes, and again, mistakes aren’t crimes,” Ho said.

Ho also argued the theory that Rogers used the Farrises as scapegoats to avoid liability in a potential audit that could have, according to Ho, revealed under-the-table business practices at Bear Wallow.

“The entire prosecution in this case, the entire theory, is premised on the idea that Bear Wallow Ranch was a normal, above-board business,” Ho said.

Ho brought up a memo that said the ranch would pay for a truck that Zane would use, as a bonus, and another from Rogers’ wife Fran Rogers, who initially discovered the Farris’ suspected theft.

Zane “worked his butt off for the benefit of Bear Wallow” and tried to save the ranch money, his defense attorney Kathy Goudy said.

The Farrises “believed their expenses were paid for by Bear Wallow” as a “quid-pro-quo” for their hard work, Goudy said.

Many of the allegedly fraudulent transactions involved the Farrises paying businesses they owned for Bear Wallow work, or paid for repairs and appliances on property the Farrises owned.

Those checks were sometimes miscoded and entered in the books Charla maintained for the ranch with different amounts.

“You’re aware of what you’re doing when you’re hiding things in the books,” Sollars said.

Sollars said it defied logic to view the miscoding of those sorts of transactions as mistakes.

“Every mistake they make benefits (the Farrises), personally. They don’t ever make a mistake that benefits Bear Wallow,” Sollars said.

Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority can hire receiver on Mulcahy sale, judge rules

A local judge’s order Friday gives the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority permission to hire a receiver to administer the sale of outspoken resident Lee Mulcahy’s house at Burlingame Ranch.

The written order, delivered by Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin, means APCHA can enlist the national firm Cordes & Co., which has offices in Greenwood Village, to sell the single-family home Mulcahy has refused to relinquish.

“There will have to be a contract signed and approved between APCHA and the receiver, so that will have to be negotiated,” said APCHA counsel Thomas Smith, adding there is no time-line on the hiring date of the receiver.

APCHA plans to use its right to purchase Mulcahy’s deed-restricted worker housing. According to an attachment to Seldin’s order, Cordes & Co. would enter into a contract with APCHA to list the property for sale at “the maximum sale price of $995,000. … If APCHA exercises its right to purchase the property in accordance with the deed restriction, the receiver shall negotiate with APCHA a commercially reasonable purchase and sale contract in accordance with generally accepted real estate standards.”

How smooth the transaction plays out, however, remains to be seen because of Mulcahy’s relentlessness in the court system dating back to when APCHA sued Mulcahy in December 2015. Mulcahy has claimed that APCHA has unfairly singled him out for not meeting authority’s ownership requirements of working 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.

But it’s APCHA that is the problem, Mulcahy has said while offering a litany of reasons why he believes city government, the local justice system, the print media, Aspen Skiing Co., several nonprofit organizations and others have conspired to oppress him over the years.

Because he is an artist, work hours aren’t necessarily documented, making it impossible to prove his time on the clock, Mulcahy has said. Because he is outspoken against his former employer Skico and local government, APCHA has had a bias against him, Mulcahy has said. Because he is a Republican, APCHA’s connection to the liberal forces at Aspen City Hall is another reason they want him out, he has said.

None of those claims, however, have mattered to APCHA, and because Mulcahy has ignored Seldin’s order to sell the home, APCHA in July took measures to hire a receiver.

Its first effort didn’t work out, because Mulcahy successfully demonstrated there was an appearance of a conflict of interest by APCHA when it sought Seldin’s permission to appoint Basalt attorney Tim Whitsitt as receiver to oversee the property’s listing and sale. At a hearing in September, Seldin agreed that Whitsitt and Smith had a personal history over the years, and said APCHA would have to find another receiver.

In Friday’s order, Seldin said Cordes & Co. is a reputable, neutral firm that has previously handled receivership cases in the local court system.

“It has extensive experience in the field and understands its obligation to this court, and not to either party,” the order said.

Mulcahy contested the hiring of Cordes & Co. in an Oct. 30-dated pleading, saying the court should allow him to question the firm’s receivers, under oath, about potential alliances with Smith.

In another court filing, Mulcahy identified three different receivers he would support to handle the sale of his home, prompting Smith, in a Nov. 8 pleading, to say he “has no standing to propose a receiver to act on his behalf. If Mulcahy wants any control over the disposition of his property in accordance with the judgment of the court, he simply needs to comply with the judgment.”

Seldin’s order said Mulcahy can discuss his concerns with Cordes & Co. — but not in his proposed open hearing — “and if it produces credible concerns of bias, he may bring those to the attention of the court.”

Under the order, Mulcahy must allow the receiver into his residence when given 24 hours notice. Mulcahy also “shall take no action to impair the title of the property, the condition of the property, or the improvements located theron, or its value.”

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Big shake-up possible on Basalt council with four of seven seats up for grabs

Basalt appears destined for a huge shake-up of its Town Council in April with as many as four of the seven seats potentially turning over.

Mayor Jacque Whitsitt cannot run again because of term limits. She has served two four-year terms and said she will not run for a council seat in April.

The seats of council members Auden Schendler, Katie Schwoerer and Jenn Riffle also are up for election. They have each served one four-year term and could seek another term.

Schendler and Riffle said they are not inclined to be candidates for the April 7 election, but they reserved the right to change their minds. Schwoerer said she will decide in early 2020 whether to run again for council. Schwoerer said if she runs, it will be for council and not mayor.

Schendler said he is not planning on running for council or mayor.

“That said, I will be watching the development of the race,” he said recently, “and I reserve the right to get in if I can be of use.”

Riffle also left the door open a crack. She said her decision ultimately will be determined by the candidates who pull petitions to run.

“It’s been and is an honor to represent the town of Basalt, especially with the far-out list of accomplishments achieved in the past (three-and-a-half) years,” Riffle wrote in an email to The Aspen Times.

Former councilman Rob Leavitt said he is “seriously considering” a run for mayor but hasn’t made a definitive decision. Serving on council affects a person’s family because of the time commitment, he said. Therefore, he wants to talk the decision through with his wife and daughters. Leavitt said he will likely reach a decision by the new year.

Leavitt served as councilman in 2012 to 2016 before losing a reelection bid.

Basalt is assured of at least one political newcomer in the race. Glenn Drummond, a member of Basalt’s Parks, Open Space and Trails Committee, said he will “most likely” seek a council seat. He said he wants to get more involved in his community and keep it moving in a positive direction. He was complimentary of the accomplishments of the current council and town manager Ryan Mahoney.

Bill Kane, a former town manager in Basalt, said he is weighing whether to run for office.

“If there were spontaneous demonstrations in the streets asking me to run, I’d do it,” he quipped.

Jokes aside, Kane said he has to consider if he can balance the demands of elected office with his work at Design Workshop. He hopes to reach a conclusion in a few weeks. If he runs, it would likely be for a council seat, though he didn’t rule out running for mayor.

Kane said he is interested in the same issues that probably any candidate will be focused on — downtown vitality, redevelopment of the former Clark’s Market space, securing the future of The Arts Campus at Willits and the ArtBase among them.

The three council members whose seats aren’t up for election in 2020 are Bill Infante, Ryan Slack and Gary Tennenbaum.

Infante has been mentioned in Basalt circles as a possible candidate for mayor but he said Thursday his time is consumed with the business he and his wife, Betina, own and operate. They import and sell Mongolian textiles. He said he often squeezes in trips to Mongolia in between council meetings.

Infante said it is difficult enough to juggle work with his time on council. It would be even tougher finding the time and performing the duties of mayor, he said.

“At this juncture, I don’t think it’s something I’d consider,” Infante said.

It’s his hope that Basalt attracts a diverse field of candidates in gender, age, place of residence and ethnicity.

The campaign season won’t rev up until January, when candidates can pick up nomination petitions.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Stacey Schmela joins Summit 54, a local nonprofit focused on early-childhood education

Stacey Schmela of Aspen joined the Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit organization Summit 54 this week as associate executive director.

Schmela will work with co-founder Teri Caine in all areas of fundraising, donor relations, grant writing, marketing and public relations.

Summit 54 works to improve Colorado’s economy and society through effective, efficient and accountable investments in education. It teams with local schools, administrators and community organizations to identify programs that deliver high-impact results with a strong return on investment and then implement those programs.

The largest local program sponsored by Summit 54 is Summer Advantage in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The program is entering its ninth year and has served more than 5,000 kindergarten through fourth grade students in the Roaring Fork Valley. Summit 54 is the result of a partnership with the Roaring Fork School District and Summer Advantage USA.

More on the organization’s efforts can be found at summit54.org.

“We are delighted to welcome Stacey to the Summit 54 team,” Caine said in a statement. “She has a passion for helping under-served children and wants to make an impact in our valley.”

Schmela graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in journalism. She moved to Aspen 23 years ago. She and her husband have three sons.

Vail, state patrols checking for tire chains

VAIL — Tire chains are your friend, especially if Interstate 70 is snowy and slick and you’re a trucker trying to make a deadline.

The Vail Police Department and Colorado State Patrol also are your friends. They spent several hours Wednesday making sure commercial vehicles rolling through town were carrying tire chains, which Colorado law requires. Between October and May, all commercial vehicles must carry tire chains between Dotsero and Morrison.

“If there is a chain law in effect, someone is checking,” Vail police officer Nick Deering said.

Mass vs. velocity

Vail police cars and Colorado State Patrol cruisers were lined up at 250-yard intervals in the chain-up area near the East Vail exit — 250 yards because an 80,000-pound vehicle needs room to stop. As they pull off the highway you get a sense of how big a big rig really is. Get in the way, and you’ll get a physics lesson in mass versus velocity.

“Mass always wins,” Colorado State Trooper Jake Best said.

The trucks were stopped for less than one minute, including the time it took to exchange pleasantries and check to make sure the drivers were carrying chains and the foul weather gear they’re supposed to.

“Obviously they have a job to do and deadlines to meet. We don’t want to hold them up too long,” Deering said.

There was this one guy, though. He was sitting in the tractor part of a tractor-trailer rig that he had just bought in California and was driving it to points east. He wasn’t carrying chains. He sat in the cab of his bright yellow rig for a couple of hours, looking like a ray of morning sunshine but not feeling like one. He declined to comment.

A couple of other drivers were not carrying chains. They received enlightenment from the Vail police and the Colorado State Patrol, which extracted promises for better behavior in the future.

Chain-free is not free

Chain-free behavior is becoming progressively more expensive.

The first fine for not carrying chains is $50 and a $17 surcharge.

Not having chains when the chain laws are in effect will cost you $500 and a $79 surcharge.

Not having chains when you’re supposed to and blocking the highway will cost you $1,000 and a $200 surcharge.

On the other hand, tire chains for your tractor-trailer can cost a few hundred bucks for a high-quality set.

If you’re mechanically impaired, you can hire a service that will sell you tire chains and even put them on your truck. That’ll cost you as much as $500, Best said.

Enterprising capitalists can occasionally be found in chain-up areas selling tire chains to truckers. Their price is whatever the market will bear.

Some truckers claim ignorance, even though they’ve driven past dozens of those large, rectangular information signs along I-70 beginning at the Utah and Kansas state lines, reminding truckers that chains are mandatory, not optional. OK, say it’s dark outside and the reflective information signs escape your attention. Colorado has those huge illuminated signs over the highway repeatedly pointing out that drivers are required to carry tire chains. Some still feign ignorance.

“They say they don’t know? Yes they do,” Best said. “We really prefer not to write those tickets.”

Those on four wheels are not exempt, either. Get caught with bald or bald-ish tires, and you can be fined $100 with a $33 surcharge. Block the highway because of your bald tires, and your fine skyrockets to $500 with a $57 surcharge — about what it costs for a set of really good new tires.

Carbondale organization reducing homelessness

Four years ago, Carbondale realtor Lynn Kirchner realized the need for homeless outreach when she discovered a former client was living on the street.

“I was shocked. This is a person who was very well known; her family is well known, very well respected in the community. So that’s what lit my fire,” Kirchner told the town board of trustees Tuesday.

Within a month, Kirchner organized a community meeting, and more than 100 people showed up.

Since late 2015, Carbondale Homeless Assistance has helped many homeless and near-homeless people in the community, providing basic hygiene, gift cards for food and clothing, and other services through an all-volunteer effort.

Kirchner said she sometimes faces criticism for providing the shower passes. She speaks with people who wonder how she knows that hygiene is what the homeless want.

“To be quite frank, we went and asked,” Kirchner said in an interview. Before coming up with services and asking for donations, Kirchner and other volunteers approached the homeless in the community and asked what they needed.

At the time, there were between 12 and 16 homeless persons living in Carbondale.

“Those 12 to 16 say that hygiene is one of the most important needs. Many were trying to get jobs, and needed a place to shower,” Kirchner said.

A big part of the organization’s work is providing passes to the Carbondale Recreation Center for homeless persons to use showers.

Homeless Assistance has helped five people move into permanent housing and better situations. While the number of homeless in town varies, four homeless men living in Carbondale have no interest in moving indoors.

“Right now, there are four gentlemen that are part of our community that live in the wilderness. They do not want housing; they’re not interested in housing. They appreciate the benefit of showers and assistance from us, but that’s it. They really don’t ask for much from us or want more,” Kirchner said.

When Kirchner started the CHA, the town of Carbondale at the time endorsed the effort, but didn’t commit any support to the organization.

Kirchner believes CHA is in a position now to ask for support.

“We finally have the proof that we are making a difference, and that we are worth supporting,” Kirchner said.

Carbondale trustees appeared to agree.

“Other municipalities have to spend a tremendous amount of money to have any impact on this problem, so I think it is kind of incumbent on a community, through its tax base and through its public governance, to address this in some way,” trustee Ben Bohmfalk said.

Providing complimentary passes for homeless as distributed by CHA could save the organization money and time spent fundraising, Kirchner said. Each year, CHA provides between $1,300 and $1,500 for day passes to the recreation center for showers.

“This is a small amount for a really important service in our community,” trustee Erica Sparhawk said.

The trustees will consider approving those passes for the homeless at a later meeting, which has not been scheduled.