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State entomologist: Lake Christine Fire burn area ripe for Douglas fir beetle infestation

The Roaring Fork Valley forest has largely escaped the bark beetle outbreaks that have plagued many parts of the Colorado mountains in recent years, but that could change because of the Lake Christine Fire.

Colorado State Forest Service entomologist Dan West said the valley already is dealing with pockets of Douglas fir beetle infestations. He expects the problem to expand this year once beetles discover they have a smorgasbord of moderately scorched, living trees within the Lake Christine Fire perimeter.

"It's almost a one-two punch with those fires," West said Tuesday.

First, the fire itself chars acres of trees. Then, surviving but stressed trees become more susceptible to attacks by insects. Douglas fir, spruce and other species weakened within the fire area will likely be targeted, he said.

"I have a feeling that's going to be a hot spot for years to come," West said, regarding beetle activity.

The Douglas-fir beetles attack the largest trees first. They continue year after year until they either exhaust suitable food sources or the trees are able to fend them off. Drought stresses trees and makes them susceptible. Average and above-average precipitation makes them more resilient.

West said it would be nearly impossible to clear all the moderately stressed trees that may be ripe for beetles from the burn area. Before the partial government shutdown, the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District was working on a plan for hazard tree removal and a salvage timber sale on Basalt Mountain. An extended shutdown could delay the project.

The Colorado State Forest Service performs an aerial health survey of the forests every year in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service. They monitor forest health on millions of acres.

The 2018 survey showed spruce beetle outbreaks in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout central and southern Colorado are the most glaring statewide problem.

"Since the year 2000, spruce beetle outbreaks have caused tree mortality on more than 1.8 million acres in Colorado, and approximately 40 percent of the spruce-fir forests in Colorado have now been affected," said a report by the state forest service.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, the Douglas-fir beetle is "hands down" the biggest issue, West said.

In Pitkin County, there were an estimated 1,400 acres of forest affected by Douglas-fir beetles in 2018. That is up from 590 acres affected in 2017, according to West.

In Eagle County, the Douglas-fir beetle invaded the Fryingpan Valley and areas around Basalt Mountain, which took the brunt of the Lake Christine Fire's wrath. The Douglas-fir beetle affected 1,500 acres in Eagle County in 2018, mostly in the Roaring Fork watershed. That's up from 500 acres the prior year.

"It's on the march," West said. "It's moving into new areas."

He sees the potential for large growth of the Douglas-fir beetle infestation within the fire scar in 2019 and then branching out, potentially for decades to come. It will be the 12,588-acre fire's lasting legacy.

But West said it's not all "doom and gloom" for the Roaring Fork Valley, a place he regularly visits. The forest overall is healthy because of age and species diversity and differing elevations, West said.

"I see more green than red and dead," he said.

He feels optimistic the health can be maintained and strengthened through proper management, such as forest-thinning projects.

Additional information can be found about the health of Colorado's forests at http://www.csfs.colostate.edu.

scondon@aspentimes.com

City of Aspen dialing in 5G capabilities

It's time for the densification of Aspen, elected officials agreed Monday.

Densification is a key element to enable 5G mobile networks, which is the next generation for wireless communications that city officials expect will land here soon.

And when it does, the city should be ready in terms of technological infrastructure and legalities to regulate providers who will come in wanting approvals for small cells, said Paul Schultz, the city's IT director.

Small cells are essential to 5G networks because they can transmit very large amounts of data short distances, which helps address users' insatiable appetites for more devices and faster speeds.

But instead of large-cell towers mounted on top of buildings or disguised as fake trees, small cells involve more antennas in places like light poles or chimneys, or underground.

When providers like Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or AT&T come to the city for approval for their small-cell 5G networks, officials will have several elements to consider that are not currently in the land-use code.

So the IT department and Assistant City Attorney Andrea Bryan have been working together to update the code and formulate regulations.

"We are concerned about the aesthetics of them," Schultz said, adding public safety also is a factor. "Quite frankly, this stuff is coming … the FCC is pushing it as fast as possible."

5G will work alongside 4G networks, which is what wireless users rely on today. But as more devices come online — think smart cars — more capacity will be required.

Bryan said the city has received inquiries from providers on what its 5G capabilities and regulations are.

While the city is adapting to the changing landscape, state and federal laws governing wireless providers are shifting as well and mandate that municipalities review applications within a specific timeframe, Bryan said.

"This is coming. When, we don't know, but we want to be prepared," she said. "We think it's sooner rather than later."

Aspen City Council on Monday agreed that 5G infrastructure is a priority for staff to focus on, which Schultz said he expects to be a multi-year process.

"I'm glad it's a priority and that our leadership recognizes the importance of it," he said.

He and Bryan will meet with council in a work session next week on the issue.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Frisco officer-involved shooting near Whole Foods leads to arrest

The suspect implicated in an officer-involved shooting in the Whole Foods Market parking lot in Frisco on Monday night has been identified as 33-year-old Derek Perry Baker of Loveland.

At about 7:30 p.m. on Monday officers with the Frisco Police Department and Colorado State Patrol responded to a disturbance in progress at the Whole Foods, according to an arrest affidavit. Dispatch told the officers that the man, later identified as Baker, told witnesses that he had a gun, and pretended to pull a gun near the cashier stations inside the store.

Hugh Carey, a photographer for the Summit Daily News, was inside the store with his girlfriend when the commotion began. Carey said they witnessed Baker enter the store and throw an "air-punch" behind the back of an individual walking away from him. Carey said that Baker then walked to the cashier stations, and though he couldn't hear what was being said, that's when panic appeared to set in.

"In the cashier's area people starting jumping, like jumping out of the way," said Carey. "There were raised voices that I couldn't understand, and one woman who was sitting a few tables from us ran out of the store, knocking over a chair. She said something about somebody with a gun in the store."

It was at that point that Carey and his girlfriend left the store, and saw patrol vehicles arriving on scene. A store manager at the store said he and his employees are not able to comment on the incident.

Once officers arrived on scene, witnesses directed them to a silver Chevrolet Impala in the parking lot. Officers yelled at Baker to stop, and he returned a profanity before driving off, according to the affidavit. Officers were able to box Baker in using their patrol vehicles, and exited their cars with weapons drawn due to report that Baker may have been armed.

According to the affidavit, Baker allegedly kept driving forward toward one of the officers, who fired two shots through the windshield. At that point Baker yelled that he was shot, and stopped his vehicle. Officers pulled him from the car and handcuffed him.

Baker was shot in the left forearm, and medical personnel arrived on scene shortly after to provide treatment. The report notes that Baker seemed "confused and unaware of his surroundings" following the shooting. He was transported to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and later released into police custody.

Baker has been initially charged with three felonies, including attempted vehicular assault, menacing and vehicular eluding. He also was charged with disorderly conduct. District Attorney Bruce Brown noted that as details continue to emerge from the altercation, the charges could be modified in the coming days. The District Attorney's Office typically has seven days to file charges, but Brown said they might ask for an extension.

"Because of the complexity of this case, the likelihood is there will be numerous interviews and forensic testing," said Brown. "This type of incident takes several weeks to reach final conclusions. We'll look at if from every possible perspective, and we will file charges in a fashion that reflects those determinations."

Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman said that he couldn't comment in detail about an ongoing investigation, but said that the officer who discharged his or her firearm has been placed on leave pending the investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

A CBI spokesperson said that investigations into officer-involved shootings typically involve a number of witness interviews and forensic examinations of the scene, a process that can take days or weeks.

Baker is scheduled to appear in Summit County Court on Jan. 22.

Alpine Bank rolls out interest-free loans during government shutdown

Alpine Bank, which is based in Glenwood Springs, is ready to give federal employees in Colorado the paycheck they missed.

Starting Wednesday, Alpine Bank will offer interest-free loans to furloughed federal employees in Colorado who missed out on a paycheck due to the partial government shutdown. Alpine has set aside $5 million for the current loan program.

Alpine, which has 40 locations across Colorado, has offered similar short-term loans during previous government shutdowns in 1996 and 2013. But because of Alpine's recent expansion and the historic length of the current budget impasse in Congress, this time the program could have a much larger impact.

"When our neighbors need our assistance, we will be there to help," Alpine Bank founder Bob Young said in a statement issued Tuesday. "This is the third time in the past 25 years that we have implemented this type of support to our valued federal employees. As always, we are honored to help."

"We've helped hundreds of people during a couple shutdowns previously, so we knew there were folks who needed it," Glen Jammaron, vice chairman and president of Alpine Bank, said during a Tuesday news conference in Glenwood Springs.

News of Alpine Bank's renewed efforts was first reported late last week. Press conferences also were called Tuesday to formally announce the program at branch locations in Grand Junction and Denver.

Alpine believes that around 50,000 federal employees in their service areas have been affected by the furlough. According to the Department of Labor and Statistics, there were 54,000 federal employees in Colorado in 2017.

Alpine is offering the loans to people in the communities they serve, and hopes other financial institutions will do the same.

"It is Alpine Bank's hope that other banks across Colorado and throughout our nation will also step forward to help federal workers in their own communities," Jammaron said. "There are other efforts around the country, but this is the only one I'm aware of in our area."

To receive the instant, interest-free loan, employees are asked to bring both their Colorado and federal IDs to an Alpine Bank branch, along with a federal payroll statement.

"We know some federal employees are having trouble getting to their (payroll) statements because of some access issues, so bring a bank statement, (or) anything that demonstrates what your pay is," Jammaron said.

Those who don't have an Alpine account will have to open a checking account with the bank to receive the equivalent of one-month's net salary. Repayment of the loan is due six months after the shutdown ends.

As of Monday evening, Alpine had opened 132 accounts for federal workers ready to receive a loan. Those loans will add up to roughly $500,000, Jammaron said.

"In our previous programs, we've had very little losses even though there's no collateral," Young said. "I'm amazed at how good the credits have been. That tells us that we can do it again."

tphippen@postindependent.com

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, bus drivers’ union at odds over pay scale

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority management and a union for year-round bus drivers are fighting over the interpretation of a wage scale covering the next three years

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1774 filed a grievance Jan. 10 alleging that RFTA isn't honoring terms of the collective bargaining agreement the two sides approved in June.

"We made a proposition and they signed off on it," said driver Ed Cortez, president of the local union chapter, which represents about 160 drivers.

RFTA hasn't formally responded to the grievance yet but CEO Dan Blankenship said Monday management was "totally taken by surprise" by the union's claim. RFTA felt the contract approved in June was clear-cut and included a wage scale that was fair to both sides.

"As clear as it can be stated, RFTA management did not agree to the union's interpretation of the wage scale in June 2018," Blankenship wrote in an email to The Aspen Times. "However, we are committed to following the dispute resolution steps set forth in the (collective bargaining agreement) to get the matter resolved as amicably and rapidly as possible."

Eligible drivers voted 65-22 in March 2015 to join the union. In December that year, they voted 76-0 to ratify a three-year contract their representatives negotiated with management. That covered numerous issues, including wages, from 2016 to '18.

The two sides negotiated a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement that was ratified by the union members and the RFTA board of directors in June. That covers 2019 through 2021.

The old contract created a wage progression that moved drivers into the upper end of the pay scale after 12 years. Cortez said that was a mistake on the union's part because the pay was too low for drivers early in their tenure.

"We wanted all drivers above the poverty level, which is about $36,000," he said.

The union wanted a progression that topped drivers out at an hourly wage after eight years, then made those at the upper end eligible for an annual bonus. RFTA wouldn't go for that aggressive of progression, but approved a 10-year progression plan. The sides also agreed that the hourly wage for each year of service would go up by 2 percent annually. In other words, the pay for a driver in the third year of service will be 2 percent higher in 2020 than it is in 2019.

However, as the first pay period of January rolled closer, the union and RFTA management realized they had different interpretations of what was approved.

The dispute is over the method used to calculate years of service. RFTA management believed the collective bargaining agreement that was approved in June calculates years of service based on how many full years have been served as of Jan. 1 each year. Therefore, a person hired in April 2012 would be in the year six of service wage for 2019. In January 2013, that driver would be considered having less than one year of service. In January 2014, they would be considered operating on one year of service.

Union representatives told RFTA on Jan. 3 they interrupted the agreement differently. They said their proposal would mean a driver who was hired in April 2012 was starting the seventh year of service in 2019.

Under RFTA's interpretation, the driver hired in April 2012 would be calculated as six years of service and see pay increase from $22.86 per hour to $24.85 this year, an increase of 8.7 percent.

Under the union's interpretation, the driver would be considered at seven years of service and eligible for a pay increase from $22.86 to $25.68 per hour, an increase of 12.3 percent.

In essence, RFTA's interpretation shortchanges service time by some number of months while the union's interpretation accelerates it. Blankenship said RFTA prefers not to use an actual hiring anniversary to determine years of service to keep payroll issues simpler. Cortez declined comment when asked if a driver's hiring date could be used to solve the dispute. He noted January is used at RFTA's insistence.

Blankenship said in an interview RFTA management never would have advised approving a contract that compressed the top pay to 10 years from 12 years if it had realized the union was interpreting the years of service differently.

He said there is no reneging on RFTA management's part.

"We just wouldn't do that," he said.

Instead, it's simply a difference of opinion over what was approved.

"There was no intention to mislead anybody — not the union, not the drivers, not the board of directors, not the public," Blankenship said.

Cortez said the union representatives made their intent clear in negotiations.

"We thought, 'Wow, this is really good, this was really easy. Let's hope the rest of (conditions) go like this,'" he said.

Cortez said drivers were alerted to the wage dispute late last week.

"They're angry. They called you. I didn't call you," he noted.

A driver alerted The Aspen Times about the dispute. RFTA management received enough requests about pay for 2019 from drivers that it sent a memo to them Monday that includes a matrix that shows pay over the next three years.

There is a procedure in place to resolve contract disputes. When the union files a grievance it goes to RFTA's director of operations, who has 10 days to respond. If the union finds the response unsatisfactory, it can appeal to the direction of human resources, who gets 10 days to respond. If the union still finds the response unsatisfactory, the dispute would go to a third-party arbitrator.

Cortez said he hopes the dispute can be resolved through RFTA management and the union talking. If not, arbitration and possibly a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board will be explored, he said.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Aspen will have new interim city manager as tenured Steve Barwick resigns amid controversy

Within the next two weeks, Aspen City Council plans to sign a separation agreement with City Manager Steve Barwick and ink an employment contract with Assistant City Manager Sara Ott to replace him on an interim basis.

That was the direction given Monday as council navigates through making Barwick's departure as smooth as possible for the community and the 300-plus employees who work for the city.

Barwick, who was asked to resign by a majority of council last week, said he will likely be gone from his 19-year job by March 1 but will give a three-week notice regardless.

Council has agreed to his payout terms, which include a severance of a year's salary at just over $195,000, as well as one year in the home he purchased from the city, health insurance for him and his wife for six months through COBRA, valued at almost $9,400, and whatever vacation and sick time he has accrued.

Barwick will have to sell the home he bought from the city in 1995 for $210,500 within three months if he gets a new job. The same goes for the insurance; if he receives insurance from a new employer the city will stop paying the COBRA payments. If he gets a new job and is on a probationary period in which insurance does not kick in for a month or two, the city will continue to pay COBRA.

City Attorney Jim True said the separation contract has been drafted and needs to be signed off on by Barwick and his lawyer, which could happen next week.

Ott's contract for interim city manager is expected to be ready for council approval by Jan. 28. It will likely include a start date and an end date, a salary and bestow whatever power is required to be city manager.

Barwick will then fill the role as an adviser to Ott, who has been in her job for a year and a half.

"Steve and I have committed to having it be as smooth of a transition as possible," Ott said.

In the meantime, Alissa Farrell, the city's human resource director, will prepare to issue a request for proposals for a headhunting firm to begin the national search for a permanent city manager, a process that will likely take months.

With a March 5 election in which Aspen voters will elect a new mayor and two council members who will take office in June, the transition of power and attracting the right candidates could get tricky, Mayor Steve Skadron said.

"It is very likely that the decision will be made by a new council," he said.

Whatever recruiting firm is chosen will help council determine what it wants in a new city manager and create a profile for potential applicants.

Councilman Adam Frisch said council needs to rely on Farrell for advice moving forward.

"It's been a long time since this community has had to look for a new city manager," he said.

Council generally agreed that the workload priorities for staff during the transition be limited to hiring a recruitment firm, focusing on day-to-day operations, shepherding a new governance structure for the local affordable-housing program, developing a new 37,500-square-foot municipal office building at Rio Grande Place and dealing with immediate technology issues.

"The reality is we can't do everything," Skadron said of the long transition period.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

‘A culimination’ of missteps led to Aspen city manager’s exit

Perhaps indicative of the city of Aspen's insufficient public outreach on a number of government-led initiatives in the past year is the lack of response elected officials have received from City Manager Steve Barwick, who was asked to resign last week.

A majority of Aspen City Council members said they've rarely gotten a response to their requests for answers via email, phone messages or face-to-face meetings from Barwick.

"A lot of times I wouldn't hear back," Councilwoman Ann Mullins said.

She told The Aspen Times on Friday that she supports Barwick resigning after 19 years on the job but didn't support the abrupt process leading up to it, especially with Assistant City Manager Barry Crook's departure last week.

Crook was placed on administrative leave as a result of employee complaints and after his Dec. 11 tirade in which he called a citizen board that oversees the local housing program "mother f—ing extortionists."

He resigned days after the outburst.

Councilman Adam Frisch said that after not hearing back from Barwick regarding Crook's behavior and receiving no apology or acknowledgment from his office, he asked Mayor Steve Skadron via email Dec. 19 to schedule a performance review for Barwick.

"I sent an email saying we are rudderless and I was worried about the ramifications of Barry Crook's blow up," Frisch said. "I was not looking to take any action but wanted the five of us to have a conversation about the culture and the disconnect."

Then on Jan. 2, Councilman Ward Hauenstein trumped Frisch's request by asking Barwick in a face-to-face meeting to retire.

"He looked shocked," Hauenstein said. "He said, 'Me?'"

Hauenstein said he realized the ineffectiveness of the City Manager's Office when he received no response from Barwick seeking an explanation as to why the city had waited until the eleventh hour to request that the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) be part of a public-private partnership to develop 45 apartments.

At that mid-December meeting, the APCHA board asked for the agency to be financially covered for administrative costs associated with its role in the developments.

That's what prompted Crook's outburst after the meeting, telling APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky that he wasn't going to "let those mother f—ers extort me" within earshot of elected officials.

"The real straw that broke the camel's back was the APCHA thing," Hauenstein said, adding he wanted Barwick to acknowledge what had happened. "The way it was done was upsetting to me. … There was no apology. … I expect a response."

Mullins, Frisch and Hauenstein went before the APCHA board Dec. 19 apologizing for Crook and the city's role in the debacle.

By then, Barwick was on vacation, which he does not need permission to take, but rather informs council and staff that he is going be gone.

Skadron said he had emailed Barwick about Crook's outburst two days after it happened but also did not receive a response.

Barwick explained his non-response via email to The Aspen Times on Monday.

"Once I heard of this issue, I investigated and received Barry's resignation within one hour," he wrote. "I was out of town, on vacation and obviously didn't understand the depth of personal feelings involved. In retrospect, I should have immediately returned from vacation to personally deal with the issue and the resulting relationship challenges."

Mullins said she had been thinking it was a time for a change and with Crook's departure, she thought a longer-term phase out of Barwick would be appropriate.

"I have had issues with Steve but nothing as serious as Barry," Mullins said, adding the culture is too loose and there isn't enough accountability.

But on the other hand, Barwick is an asset and is extremely supportive of staff and loyal to the city, she noted.

Like Skadron, Mullins said she did not appreciate the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to have Barwick step down instead of council having a conversation first.

"I think it's incredibly short-sighted to accept that resignation," she said, adding that it's going to create a workload burden on those remaining in upper management, as well as the fact that it's election season and a busy time of the year.

Skadron said he did not support asking for Barwick's resignation, but the decision had already been made prior to last week's executive session and he couldn't change the outcome, even though he tried.

"It was a done deal even before it happened," he said, adding individual council members made it clear to Barwick that they had lost confidence in him.

So, knowing that there were three votes for him to step down, Barwick made the initial move in executive session, saying he'd resign if a majority of council wanted it.

That allowed him to receive a year's severance at his current salary of just over $195,000, along with a year in his home that will have to be sold back to the city, six months paid health insurance for him and his wife through COBRA and whatever vacation and sick time he has accrued.

CULMINATION OF MISSTEPS

It wasn't just Crook's outburst or the lack of response from Barwick that led to his resignation, but rather a culmination of missteps, council members said.

Councilman Bert Myrin hasn't supported Barwick since he was elected 3½ years ago.

Whether it was giving a department head housing for life, or buying land near the airport at an inflated price, or letting $600,000 to be lost in revenue in a multi-year scam with paid parking on his watch, Myrin lays those actions over the past decade at Barwick's feet, while acknowledging that council also bears some responsibility.

"Sometimes you have to let things collapse to demonstrate to people that it's happening," Myrin said. "It's like a steamroller, … the government can wear you out on every issue and sometimes you have to let the government wear itself out."

He added that his perception is that the city is run with an iron fist and that's why the government continues to have communication problems with the public.

And with the creation of a new director of communications position this year, it reinforces the walls of city government, Myrin said.

"If we involved the community we don't get what we want," he said, adding he believes it's intentional to not bring the public along with city initiatives for fear of pushback.

Frisch said he believes that to be the case in certain instances with recent government projects, including the botched mobility lab dubbed "SHIFT" that was going to be a $2.6 million experiment this summer, which included an $800,000 contract with Lyft that ultimately did not win the support of council because of pressure from local transportation companies.

"Somewhere between the mayor and the city manager there was a breakdown," Frisch said. "When the process broke down it's up to the city manager and one of the mayor's roles is to make sure the thing is baked … if you are going to have a moonshot project, you need a moonshot process and moonshot outreach."

Skadron rebuffed that notion and said ultimately what led to Barwick's termination was politics.

"Sixty percent of council is running for seats," Skadron said, referring to Mullins and Frisch running for mayor and Myrin running to keep his council seat in the March 5 election. "I wonder if this would be different if it wasn't election season. … If this was a year ago, it would be interesting to see what council would have done."

Hauenstein, who is serving his third year on council, said he forced the matter so it wouldn't be an election issue.

"It's broken and we are not getting any fresh ideas," he said. "It's a good time to make these changes."

19 YEARS IS UNIQUE

Skadron said if the majority of council feels that Barwick is disengaged, it can bleed into feelings of a continued lack of public outreach.

Or perhaps it's a function of too much reliance at the council table.

"Staff is really good at saying 'yes' to council and maybe council relies on that too much," Skadron said, adding elected officials don't run the city and rely on staff to execute projects.

Skadron said he prefers that Barwick remain in his job because attracting and retaining city managers is difficult, based on other communities that have experienced turnover.

"I support the value of consistency," he said. "There's a whole bunch of good things that Steve has done that he's delivered on."

Former City Clerk Kathryn Koch, who was in her role for 40 years before retiring in 2014, said she has seen three city managers be let go in various forms.

Koch served under seven city managers — more than 25 years of which were just two people — Barwick and Amy Margerum.

"When city councils and mayors turned over, they wanted their own manager," she said.

Barwick's 19-year tenure is unique, observers have noted.

"It's not normal for someone to be in this position that long," Hauenstein said. "He has served at the pleasure of councils and there has never been a council that has had the courage to call him (out)."

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Man arrested for alleged sexual contact in Aspen bar

A man was arrested by Aspen police Saturday night for unlawful sexual contact and third degree assault, both misdemeanors, for an alleged incident that occurred at Belly Up.

Todd Santos, 45, is accused of making inappropriate contact with a 31-year-old woman without her permission, according to Aspen police officer Kirk Wheatley. The alleged victim shoved the man away from her after the contact and Santos allegedly reacted with physical assault.

Belly Up personnel subdued the man and held him until officers arrived, Wheatley said. Several witnesses volunteered information to investigating officers.

Santos provided a Vail address. He bonded out of jail Sunday morning.

Business Monday briefs: Aspen chamber hands out awards; retail sales flat in November

ACRA honors individuals, businesses

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association's Helen K. Klanderud Wintersköl Awards Luncheon, held last week, recognized the Business and Nonprofit of the Year, the Defy Ordinary Award Winner, and the Molly Campbell Service Award Winner.

The following recipients were honored:

• Molly Campbell Service Award — Rick Balentine, Aspen Fire chief and CEO

• Defy Ordinary Award: Tom Yoder — owner, Kemo Sabe

• 2018 Nonprofit of the Year — WE-cycle

• 2018 Business of the Year — Limelight Hotel Aspen

Flat sales in November for Aspen retailers

Retailers in Aspen saw business drop off by 1 percent in November compared with November 2017, according to the city's most recent sales tax report issued last week.

November is considered a slow month for business, accounting for about 4.1 percent of the city's annual sales tax collections.

Retailers generated $29 million in sales in November, broken down by the following industries:

• Accommodations — $5 million, up 1 percent

• Restaurants/bars — $3.8 million, up 3 percent

• Sports equipment/clothing — $2 million, up 29 percent

• Clothing — $2 million, up 7 percent

• Food/drug — $2.9 million, down 1 percent

• Liquor — $512,135, down 1 percent

• Miscellaneous — $3 million, up 8 percent

• Construction — $3.3 million, down 32 percent

• Luxury goods — $986,230, up 13 percent

• Utilities — $3.7 million, up 9 percent

• Automobile — $1.3 million, down 2 percent

• Marijuana — $501,610, up 1 percent

From January through November of 2018, retailers brought in $650.9 million, up 4 percent over the same period in 2017, according to the city.

What’s the Big Deal: Katie Reed Plaza lands $14.8 million

"What's the Big Deal?" runs Mondays and is based on the most expensive property transaction recorded in Pitkin County through 3 p.m. each Friday.

Price: $14,830,265

Date recorded: Jan. 7

Address: 301 E. Hopkins Ave.

Neighborhood: Downtown Aspen

Buyer: 301 East Hopkins Avenue LLC

Seller: Katie Reed Building LLC

Property type: Commercial building with two deed-restricted housing units and historic cottage

Year built: 1995

Total heated area: 20,000-plus square feet

Worth noting: Purchase of what's known as Katie Reed Plaza includes historic cottage building (built around 1890) and larger brick building that has restaurants, office space and housing units. New owner plans to redevelop main building.