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Limelight Hotel in Snowmass to host village’s first part-time job fair

Over 15 employers will be hiring on the spot for part-time, seasonal, peak-season only and on-call positions on Tuesday in Snowmass.

From 3 to 7 p.m., businesses including the Timberline Condominiums, New Belgium Ranger Station, High Q marijuana dispensary and more will be at the Limelight Hotel Snowmass looking to bring on new employees during the first-ever part-time job fair.

The fair is ideal for people looking to supplement their full-time job with a part-time position, on-call or substitute work, and also is a good fit for people looking to come back to the workforce from retirement or to earn money while home during school break, according to a Snowmass Tourism news release.

The release also states employers will be looking for candidates with talent, flexibility and a desire to both make some extra income and be a part of the Snowmass Village winter experience.

For more information, visit www.gosnowmass.com/jobfair.

Update: Gas leak clamped, people cleared to return to Base Village area

People evacuated from Base Village due to a natural gas leak Tuesday morning were given the all clear to return to the area just before 1 p.m.

According to Snowmass Village Police Chief Brian Olson, the gas leak coming from a meter near the Treehouse Kids Adventure Center parking lot was clamped around 12:45 p.m.

After checking the safety of the clamp and gas levels in the Base Village area, evacuated residents, guests and employees were given the OK to return, Olson said.

About 175 people were evacuated from the Base Village area Tuesday morning after the gas meter broke near the Treehouse center.

According to alerts from Pitkin County, residents and businesses in the area were asked to leave buildings and people were not allowed to “access or start a car in the parking garage.”

Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responded to the leak, along with technicians from Black Hills Energy and officials from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department, Snowmass Village and Basalt police departments, Olson said.

Public safety officials first received a call at 7:30 a.m. about the audible gas leak, and people were evacuated from all Base Village properties, including the Limelight hotel, Capitol Peak, Hayden Lodge, Lichenhearth, and Tamarack properties.

Carriage Way was closed from Wood Road up to Daly Lane at the Snowmass Mall, and a check in area for evacuees was set up outside of the Base Village parking garage entrance.

Carly West, Black Hills Energy community affairs manager, said company’s team will continue to investigate the cause of the gas leak, but can assure customers that the area has been made safe.

Aspen Skiing Co. applies to replace Big Burn chairlift at Snowmass

Aspen Skiing Co. wants to replace one of its workhorse chairlifts at Snowmass Ski Area and has asked the U.S. Forest Service for permission to do so.

Skico is looking to swap out the aging Big Burn detachable quad chairlift with an updated lift of the same type.

The application was submitted Aug. 13, and White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams signed an acceptance letter Thursday, triggering the agency’s review. The critical criteria for review are “purpose and need” for the new lift.

“The Purpose of the Big Burn Lift replacement is to replace the aging, existing high-speed detachable-grip quad chairlift — that has served Aspen Skiing Co./White River National Forest guests well for the past 33 years — with a new high-speed detachable-grip quad chairlift that incorporates the most current state-of-the-art components and technology,” the application by Skico Director of Mountain Planning Victor Gerdin said.

“There is a need for this proposed action because it has been determined the existing lift can no longer provide, due to its age, reliable and consistent access to some of Snowmass Mountain’s most popular intermediate terrain,” the application continued.

The Big Burn Chairlift was among the first generation of high-speed quads that Skico installed at its ski areas. It replaced a slow, fixed-grip double chair that had lines of legendary length. The high-speed lift debuted for the 1986-87 season and was an immediate hit.

It was relieved of some pressure when Skico replaced the slow, old Sheer Bliss chairlift with a high-speed quad, providing alternative access to Big Burn terrain.

The aging Big Burn lift’s “haul-rope” failed a recent inspection and requires replacement prior to the 2019-20 season, Gerdin wrote. That emphasizes the need to get it replaced, he said.

The replacement lift is proposed in the same alignment as the existing lift.

“The lift’s bottom terminal will move approximately 250 feet up the line to improve circulation and lift loading behind the bottom terminal,” Skico’s application said. “The top terminal will move slightly uphill or downhill to improve circulation in the unloading area.”

Skico is considering chairs with retractable “bubble” covers to provide additional passenger comfort on the lift, Gerdin wrote. The lift is somewhat exposed, particularly on stretches without trees. The capacity will remain at 2,200 passengers per hour.

The lift replacement was among the projects outlined in the 2013 Snowmass Mountain Master Development Plan, which was approved by the Forest Service. That will streamline review of the specific proposal.

Skico’s application didn’t identify when the lift would be replaced, if approved. Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan said earlier this week it was too soon to tell if both the Big Burn lift replacement at Snowmass and the Pandora’s terrain expansion at Aspen Mountain would be pursued at the same time next summer. Skico is seeking approval from Pitkin County for Pandora’s and other projects on Aspen Mountain.


Colorado Springs man dies after competing in Spartan Snowmass

A 50-year-old Colorado Springs man died Saturday of suspected cardiac complications while competing in the Spartan Snowmass races.

Kenneth Crochet allegedly “went down” due to the suspected cardiac issue around 1 p.m. at the obstacle course racing event in Snowmass, Pitkin County Deputy Coroner Michael Buglione said Thursday.

Spartan Race spokesperson Jonathan Fine said the Snowmass event’s licensed medical team responded to the incident according to protocol. He could not provide any additional details of what happened to protect the privacy of Crochet and his family.

Buglione said Spartan Race medical staff brought Crochet from the race course to an ambulance, which transported him to Aspen Valley Hospital. Crochet was pronounced dead at 1:56 p.m. Saturday, Buglione said.

“This is the first fatality associated with (Pitkin County) summertime competitions I’ve handled,” Buglione said.

According to Crochet’s Facebook page, he had competed in a number of Spartan races around the country the past two years. He also posted after competing in the 2018 Tough Mudder race in Snowmass.

A definitive cause and manner of Crochet’s death is still pending, as Buglione said he is waiting to receive a toxicology report from the Jefferson County Regional Crime Laboratory in Golden.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Aspen wilderness rangers report ‘a lot of snow’ on trails above 11,000 feet

Hikers in the high country around Snowmass and Aspen should still expect to encounter “a lot of snow” above 11,000 feet, according to forest rangers.

Wilderness Ranger Jerome Olp of the Aspen-Sopris District was the first employee of the Forest Service and one of the first few people to hike the popular Four Pass Loop this season. He made the journey July 12 to 15.

“Expect wet feet the entire loop,” Olp wrote on the Four Pass Loop Facebook page. “Trails are muddy and often have running water on them.”

Hikers who venture on muddy trails, on the Four Pass Loop and elsewhere, have the responsibility to stay on the trail and not create new routes.

Olp advised hikers to count on the loop taking more time than usual due to travel on sun-cupped, soft snow for a good share of the trip. It’s also easy to get off course.

“Route finding is necessary as 60% of the loop is under snow and avalanches,” Olp wrote.

His picture of the West Maroon Pass area resembled winter more than summer. Olp said he anticipates there will be significant snow on the Four Pass Loop and other high-elevation trails well into August. However, there are a lot of opportunities to explore on lower-elevation trails. Anyone who has ventured out can attest the wildflowers are magnificent.

Shelly Grail, recreation manager in the Aspen-Sopris District, said there are a variety of challenges on trails throughout the district.

“West Maroon Pass is challenging to navigate because of snow. Yule is challenging because of avalanche debris,” she said. A bridge washed out July 2 across Hell Roaring Creek on the Avalanche Creek hike.

Grail advised hikers and backpackers to check the White River National Forest’s trail and road conditions report before venturing out. The report is divided into districts of the forest. Wilderness rangers update observations each Tuesday. The report is found at www.fs.usda.gov.

The latest report advises people that “backpacking over the passes will not be accessible until late July to early August.” Hikers should expect snow, downed trees, mud and high, cold, swift river crossings.


In Vail, U.S. secretary of the interior talks to western governors about cooperation

VAIL — While protesters nearby — but out of sight — voiced their displeasure, United States Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and a dozen western governors talked about how to cooperate.

Bernhardt was the first main speaker at this week’s meeting of the Western Governors Association, being held this year at Vail’s Hotel Talisa.

Bernhardt was slated to give a keynote address to the group — a full ballroom of sponsors, staff, security and media — but chose instead to hold a question and answer session with the governors.

Addressing deferred maintenance

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis led the questions, first with compliments on the feds’ involvement in the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan.

Polis also asked about how the feds and states can work together to address a massive backlog in deferred maintenance at the nation’s national parks, most of which are in the West.

That backlog is “unsustainable,” Bernhardt said, adding that his department has proposed using revenue generated on public lands to fund $12.6 billion in deferred maintenance at the nation’s parks.

“We need to actually do it,” Bernhardt said. “We need the support of the American people.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert asked about the prospect of moving some Department of the Interior functions — particularly the Bureau of Land Management — out West.

Moving west?

Bernhardt said the department is examining the possibility of moving some staff from Washington, D.C., to a spot closer to where most of the nation’s federal lands are located.

Bernhardt said that could create “greater accountability” between the agency and its constituents.

After that evaluation, Bernhardt said Congress will be informed. Legislators would have to approve and fund any potential move.

While most of the session was a relatively pleasant back-and-forth, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown asked about the status of protecting the Bureau of Land Management property in that state that has been classified as having “wilderness characteristics.”

Bernhardt said he isn’t familiar with the case and promised to get back to Brown with an update.

The U.S. Territory of Guam is federally administered by the Department of the Interior. Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero asked Bernhardt about restoring federal funding to the territory’s Medicaid program. Bernhardt promised to update that governor, as well.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem told the audience that Bernhardt has been responsive in his short time in office, noting that he has given governors his personal cell phone number.

She also asked Bernhardt what the governors — most of whom have been recently elected — should know about dealing with the federal government.

Bernhardt said there’s a lot of opportunity to collaborate with states, and that the federal agency has some flexibility in rules and regulations, if states want it.

“We’re open to doing things differently,” Bernhardt said. “If you have an idea, we’re open (to hearing it).”

On the other hand, Bernhardt said just about any federal action is open to litigation, so agencies have to explain in detail why they acted as they did.

While there are limitations, “there are a lot of things we can accomplish,” Bernhardt said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

Ride the Rockies Tour cyclists to use Aspen-area trails for June event

As director of this year’s Ride the Rockies bicycle tour, Deirdre Moynihan is more than a little worried about the conditions on Independence Pass this year.

“There’s avalanche damage,” she said after the May 21 meeting with Pitkin County commissioners. “There’s all the snow. Can we provide the right level of support?”

This year’s Ride the Rockies Tour will spend three days in Pitkin County, bringing about 2,000 riders to the Roaring Fork Valley from June 11 to 13. They are scheduled to arrive from Buena Vista via Independence Pass their first day in Pitkin County, which is a Tuesday.

The bicyclists will travel into Aspen on Highway 82, and head through the city to the Golf Course Trail to the Owl Creek Trail and into Snowmass Village for the night.

The Pass usually opens the Thursday before Memorial Day, though that won’t happen this year because of the mountains of snow. Crews did clear a path all the way to the Pass summit from the Aspen side late last week, though the Colorado Department of Transportation postponed helicopter-based avalanche mitigation efforts until May 24 because of the latest snowstorm, said Tracy Trulove, CDOT spokeswoman.

Moynihan said she has a backup plan in case the Pass is impassable, but she’s still waiting to see what happens.

“CDOT is working very, very hard (to open it),” she said. “We’re going to go forward as if we’re going to do it.”

Ride the Rockies — this year’s event from June 9 to 15 will be the 34th annual — is a weeklong bike tour that takes a different route through the state each June.

The last time it came through Aspen was 2016, when riders also spent three days in the area. The ride began in Carbondale that year, traveled to Aspen, then over the Pass to Copper Mountain.

At that time, Pitkin County commissioners had to decide whether allow riders to use the Rio Grande Trail or route the bikers down Highway 82. The trail was eventually approved, though two commissioners at the time lobbied for the highway in favor of keeping the trail clear for tourists and locals.

Commissioner George Newman, one of those two commissioners, tried again May 21 to convince his colleagues to utilize the highway instead of the trail. Newman said he thought the highway would be the safest place for the riders because downvalley traffic in the morning is light and the road has a wide shoulder.

As they were in 2016, his fellow board members were skeptical.

“Traffic’s going 70 mph (on the highway),” Board Chairman Greg Poschman said. “I’m pretty concerned about the highway.

“I would say we’ve got these great bike trails … (and) I don’t think it would be too much to ask for one day.”

Commissioner Steve Child, a bicycle enthusiast, said he was recently picking up trash along Highway 82 in the Old Snowmass area and would not want to be riding a bicycle on the road in that area.

“I was not comfortable at all,” he said.

Commissioners not only approved use of the Rio Grande Trail, but also Brush Creek Trail and the Crystal Trail along Highway 133.

The June 12 route goes from Snowmass Village to Carbondale, via Brush Creek, the Aspenmass Trail and the Rio Grande Trail. The next day, riders will use the Crystal Trail to head up the Crystal River Valley to around the KOA Campground, where they will take Highway 133 up and over McClure Pass to Hotchkiss.

Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury said she was most concerned about riders using Highway 133. The road is narrow and winding in parts, and residents have complained about inconsiderate riders, she said.

The Pitkin County portion of the course will be minded by Colorado State Patrol officers, Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies, Open Space and Trails rangers, ride officials, local medical personnel and medical staff riding with the tour, Moynihan said. She also said she needs local volunteers, who can sign up on the Tour’s website.

Riders must leave town each day within a two-hour window and are urged to be off the course by a particular time, Moynihan said. No services are available before or after those times, which keeps riders focused on biking rather than having beers at the Woody Creek Tavern, she said.


Roaring Fork Valley’s state representatives say they can put aside party differences

State representatives from the Roaring Fork Valley claimed at a town hall meeting in Basalt last week that they are proof it’s possible to accomplish bipartisan governance in an era of tribalism.

Rep. Julie McCluskie and Rep. Dylan Roberts, both Democrats, invited Rep. Perry Will, a Republican, to attend their town hall gathering. McCluskie’s district includes Pitkin County while Roberts’ district includes Eagle County. Will is the former area wildlife manager for the Roaring Fork Valley who was appointed to a state representative seat late in the session. His district includes Garfield County.

In brief introductory comments, Roberts claimed legislators put aside party differences in the vast majority of issues they debated. Roughly 400 bills were introduced during the four-month legislative session.

“A good, bipartisan town hall here, too,” Roberts said.

Will credited Roberts and McCluskie with helping him get acquainted with policies and procedures as a new representative, despite their party differences.

Roberts and Will were the House sponsors of a bill that will generate money for the Housing Development Grant Fund. The intent is to make funds available to expand the supply of affordable housing in Colorado, particularly in rural and mountain areas.

Roberts and McCluskie visited the Basalt Vista affordable housing project — a partnership between multiple entities in the Roaring Fork Valley — during their visit in Basalt. They labeled it an impressive model on how to accomplish affordable housing.

McCluskie said bipartisanship also was vital to proposing a way to generate much-needed funding for statewide transportation improvements.

She was one of the sponsors of House Bill 1257, which had bipartisan support to seek voter approval in November for transit and education funding. The state government must refund revenues that exceed annual limits by the Taxpayer Bills of Rights, also known as TABOR.

The state will ask voters if it can retain and spent the state revenues in excess of the limits. It doesn’t authorize a tax increase. It allows the state to retain revenue created by growth.

If voters approve that measure, companion legislation earmarks one-third of new funds for K-12 public education, one-third for higher education and one-third for transportation needs.

Colorado voters rejected two proposals to raise taxes for transit solutions in November.

The legislators also said progress was made on health care issues through multiple bills. The issue will remain an area of concern next year.


Artist Sanford Biggers to open 2019 Anderson Ranch summer series

Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s annual Summer Series will feature acclaimed artists Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave and Taryn Simon among others this summer. The Summer Series also will feature Extraordinary Leadership Award Honoree Doug Casebeer in conversation with Brad Miller and Service to the Arts Award Honoree Sarah Arison in conversation with Anne Pasternak.

The nonprofit announced its full lineup last week.

“These amazing talents enjoy coming to the Ranch to engage in conversation with our community because they believe in our mission to enrich lives through art, inspiration and community,” Anderson Ranch president and CEO Peter Waanders said in an announcement. “They love coming to this special place because it is both meaningful and fun. We are excited to host them. It’s going to be a great summer.”

Reservations are required. All events take place in Schermer Meeting Hall on Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s campus. For reservations, visit andersonranch.org. Online registration opens to the general public on Wednesday, May 29.

The full lineup:

July 3, 12:30 p.m.: Sanford Biggers in conversation with Helen Molesworth

July 11, 12:30 p.m.: Paul McCarthy

July 16, 5 p.m.: Extraordinary Leadership Honoree Doug Casebeer in conversation with Brad Miller

July 17, 12:30 p.m.: International Artist Honoree Nick Cave

July 18, 12:30 p.m.: Service to the Arts Honoree Sarah Arison in conversation with Anne Pasternak

July 25, 12:30 p.m.: Taryn Simon in conversation with Kate Fowle

Aug. 1, 12:30 p.m.: Beth Rudin DeWoody in conversation with Maynard Monrow

Aug. 8, 12:30 p.m.: Elliott Hundley

Aug.15, 12:30 p.m.: Lari Pittman

Snowmass Village council shines light on ‘20 by 20’ goal, OK’s nearly $1M for solar project

After a decade in the making, Snowmass Village Town Council approved nearly $1 million Monday night to install solar power at four of the town’s facilities.

And with a few more grants and rebates lined up, the town likely won’t need all of that allocation. The council unanimously approved moving forward and spending $992,886 from the Community Enhancement Funds for the project.

In Snowmass’ sustainability plan, which was adopted in 2009 and updated in 2015, the town committed to reduce its carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020.

Currently, the town has secured $360,000 in grants and rebates toward the solar project, Assistant City Manager Travis Elliott told the council. That money will help cut off nearly six years on the total payback.

“To Travis’ credit, we are going from about $900,000 to $600,000 for the town to contribute,” City Manager Clint Kinney told the council.

The total project will reduce total community-wide emissions by 0.3% and contribute 6.3% of the remaining reductions necessary to achieve the town’s emissions “20 by 20” goal, according to a memo from the town’s Financial Advisory Board.

The project will put solar panels on Town Hall, the public works building, Town Park Station and the recreation center by the end of the year. The Mountain View II housing complex was removed from the project.

After the request for proposals was put out in early March, a committee selected Carbondale-based Sunsense Solar from the four bids it received. Sunsense’s bid came in at $974,085. The goal is for construction to start this summer, Elliott said.

The fifth project is the installation of a hydro-turbine in an existing vault across Brush Creek Road from Town Hall to generate electricity. It’s budgeted for $96,000 and should be installed this year, Elliott said.

There are a few changes from the previous plans, and one of the adjustments is trying to lessen the number of pole/ground panels and put more on top of buildings.

All the panels previously planned as pole-mounted at the rec center will instead be mounted on top of the main building and the gym. The ones on the main building will replace the current thermal panels. That will save money, Elliott said, because the brackets can be reused.

“The bulk of that project will be on the roof of the gym,” Elliott said.

He said the thinking is to lessen the number of ground mounts and go to roof-top mounts. They are looking at options to move the ground mounts planned near the public works building to its roof.

One grant Elliott secured is for $200,000 from the state’s Department of Local Affairs. Another grant is from the Roaring Fork Valley’s Community Office for Resource Efficiency for $110,000.

“These projects set an example for residents, businesses and visitors that the town is taking action,” CORE executive director Mona Newton wrote to Snowmass council.

The 25-year net present value has increased from a negative $40,000 to a positive $220,000, which is mainly because of grants and rebates town staff have secured in the past few weeks, according to an updated cost-benefit analysis. The total payback time has been reduced from 22 years to about 16 years, Elliott told the council.

Councilman Bob Sirkus was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

Councilman Bill Madsen said he would like the town to continue to consider the micro-hydro turbines and “look for more places we can do this.”

“This is not the end. It just gets it going,” McKinney said, “and we can look for other areas to explore in the future.”