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Thousands of dollars stolen at Run Rabbit Run race in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Run Rabbit Run racers were not the only ones to pull a fast one Saturday.

Thousands of dollars in cash were stolen from the race’s merchandise tent, money that race organizers had planned to give to nonprofits.

As Race Director Paul Sachs was announcing the awards ceremony at Steamboat Resort, volunteers realized the cash bag had gone missing from the tent where organizers were selling race merchandise. Sachs said the volunteer working the merchandise tent looked one way, turned back around and found the bag was gone.

Sachs said there is no way to know for sure how much cash was taken, but he estimated it was somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000.

That money was intended for numerous nonprofit organizations that helped put on the race. Volunteers from a number of organizations volunteer at aid stations and serve in other roles during the race. In return, race organizers donate profits from registration fees and merchandise sales to the nonprofits. These organizations include youth sports organizations, early childhood learning centers and scout troops.

“We put this on for the runners, and we give everything else to charity,” Sachs said. “It’s money that’s not going to be available for the charities that we donate to.”

Sachs interrupted the awards presentation with an announcement asking the crowd for tips, but nobody had seen what happened. After the audience heard about the theft, several people wrote checks to the organizations Run Rabbit Run planned to support.

"It was very disheartening,” Sachs said. “We hope somebody might do the right thing and let us know if they know what happened."

Between donations and the money generated by registration fees, Sachs said the race will still be able to give about $35,000 to $40,000 to nonprofits as well as donations of food to youth organizations and clothing to LiftUp of Routt County.

Revenue from registration fees also allowed the race to pay out about $62,000 in prizes to runners.

Without any suspects, Steamboat Springs Police Department Sgt. Rich Brown said the police are investigating a crime with no leads. The amount of cash stolen would carry felony level charges if prosecuted.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Steamboat Police Department at 970-879-4344 or Routt County Communications at 970-879-1144.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

Pitkin joins forces with four other counties to urge local legislators to restore Forest Service district funding

With one of the worst wildfire seasons in state and national memory continuing to unfold into the fall, local legislators in northwest Colorado are pleading federal representatives to push Congress on restoring funding for U.S. Forest Service districts with forestland in their counties.

The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) sent Sen. Michael Bennett, Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Scott Tipton a letter last month, urging the Colorado delegation to put pressure on the rest of Congress to restore funding that has been slashed over the past few decades.

The council represents five counties — Garfield, Jackson, Eagle, Summit and Pitkin — and the cities of Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs. Among the signatories to this letter were Summit’s own commissioners Karn Stiegelmeier and Dan Gibbs, as well as Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula, Frisco Mayor Gary Wilkinson and Dillon Mayor Carolyn Skowyra.

The USFS funding cuts have coincided with worsening wildfire seasons and drought, with increasing amounts of local, state and federal resources being incinerated in wildfires every year. Fires have also shifted a large amount of resources away from important USFS duties like forest management and seasonal ranger patrols, which are meant to prevent forest fires.

“The escalating cost of fighting fire has imperiled the operational effectiveness of the USFS in recent years,” the letter said, “and impaired the organization’s ability to manage the national forests as premier public assets and multi-use natural resources.”

Aside from fires, national forests have to also deal with a huge increase in visitors every year. White River National Forest, for example, sees 15 million visitors a year, making it the most visited national forest in the country. Back in 2008, the WRNF had seven full-time seasonal employees, but has only a single full-time seasonal ranger this year. The funding for the district has been decimated from $270,000 in 2008 to $40,000 in 2018.

“It is distressing that the #1 most visited National Forest in the nation, which sends $24 million in revenues from skier area fees annually to the federal government, can only afford to fund one seasonal ranger to manage one of the busiest recreation programs in the country,” the letter said.

The letter points out how local towns and counties have been spending their own money to pay for federal employees to work the forests due to a lack of federal funds. Summit County and local towns raised $135,000 this year to pay for a four-person team of seasonal forest rangers and overtime for trained sheriff’s deputies on dispersed campsite patrols. As successful as that venture was, the letter states that this “bake sale” approach to funding forest service rangers is unsustainable.

“These communities will always be good neighbors (to the forest service), but as markets rise and fall, it cannot be said for certain whether such financial capacity will continue,” the letter said.

The letter ends by imploring Colorado’s federal representatives to advocate with the congressional appropriations to restore funding to five key management areas — the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, the Pike and San Isabel National Forest, the Gunnison National Forest and the White River National Forest. The letter also urges the Colorado delegation to consider amending or replacing the Ski Area Retention Bill with a broader solution, as it is not enough to keep up with the increasing demands on local resources.

“These lands are enjoyed by people from across the country,” the letter said.

“A well-funded Forest Service is a federal responsibility.”

Sean Beckwith: Snowmass After Dark

Welcome to Snowmass After Dark, a place where you get a parking spot but not a bar stool to watch football before 3 p.m. The ostensibly family-friendly resort village turns into a weekend-only resort in September before becoming a life-sized walking-mall model until ski season. For all of the fuss over everything — from pot shops to the bathroom tile at Base Village — the town seems to be OK being irrelevant during potential busy times in order to keep the residents happy and the unsavory element away.

What if, though, the town took a heel turn. Instead of trying to be the Wilson to Aspen's Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, they acted more like Tim "The Cocaine Dealer" Allen. Instead of yelling, "Think of the children," they yelled, "Think of the money." What if they ripped the freak flag from its Gucci-designed flagpole in Aspen and flew it high atop Club Commons?

The only way to make all of this new development worthwhile is to utilize it. Limelight in Snowmass is building a climbing wall, which will double as exercise and as a vantage point to scout empty patios for a drink afterward. Fake rocks and a pizza don't make a community center, but you know what will definitely attract people? Casinos. "Twisted" your knee skiing? No problem, take a seat at the tables. As far as I can tell there's minimal environmental impact from a few decks of cards. The town is already ground zero for Mardi Gras and spring break and, with a few more ticks on the fun dial, could capitalize on the best part of the worst part of society.

Instead of trying to complement Aspen, Snowmass should compete with it. Let Aspen have the Food & Wine Classic because Snowmass is bringing the Cheetos and Cheeba Carnival to town with enough bongs and Birkenstocks to give Mayor Markey Butler a panic attack.

What's the point of building all of this development if the only time locals use it is when they remember "Oh, hey, we could go to the new Limelight," before realizing it offers the same fare you can get in Aspen. The mall is there but I couldn't find a place to watch football before 3 p.m. even with Cidermass, Septemberfest and the hot air balloon festival in full effect a couple of weeks ago.

The family-friendliness of Snowmass has the town in a rear-naked choke but the hand wringing isn't stopping. The odds of any of what I proposed happening is zero, but what if a marijuana organization wants to put on an event in town? Snowmass has the space and infrastructure to do so in the summer, especially.

The backlash would be astronomical. I can see the letters to the editor headlines now: "Satan seeps into Snowmass," "The delight of the darkside: Devil's lettuce takes over Snowmass" and "Hippies: An epidemic." This isn't entirely about marijuana; it's more about acknowledging this facade of wholesomeness. There are bras and panties right off the Village Express lift. The Venga Venga patio looks like a scene out of "Bad Moms" during apres. Church groups and families alone aren't enough to vindicate the Base Village development, just like this op-ed isn't going to spontaneously combust — even though the people, who want both to happen, want it very bad.

If you're willing to spend millions of dollars on Base Village, wouldn't you want some aspect of enjoyment for adults without children beyond the three times a year when Base Camp is popping? Those in charge surely know that bars remain open after kids go to sleep. Despite popular opinion, sunset is not the formal curfew of Snowmass. No one is advocating for casinos and strip clubs — well not realistically, at least — but some restaurants and bars in Snowmass might like a little business past 9 p.m.

One of the most popular acts in Snowmass during ski season is magician Doc Eason at the Stonebridge Inn. I know because guests constantly ask me about him. Grown folks, desperate for something to do, laud his adult-friendly routine that comes out after children are put to bed. While he's fantastic for parents handcuffed to the hotel lobby, magic isn't exactly catnip for young people.

Dinner and a movie is impossible in Snowmass as currently constructed. East West Partners, the developers and operators of Building 6 in Base Village, proposed an exhibit for fossils; rows of theater seating for concerts, speakers and movies; and a restaurant and bar space on its property. That, along with the new Limelight, is seemingly a step in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see how the space is used. Will there be any effort to create this alleged community space or will it be a multimillion-dollar, misguided monument to family values? Because there's more than just families in a community and it's hard to turn a profit on chicken fingers and Cherry Cokes.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times and a front desk attendant in Snowmass. Reach him at sbeckwith@aspentimes.com.

Meredith C. Carroll: What’s the difference between branded vans parked on Main Street and sandwich boards?

The Aspen City Council refrained from taking a bite out of sandwich boards at Monday's meeting due to the potential implications of a 3-year-old United States Supreme Court "content neutral" ruling that deemed all signs created equal. It could well be that Aspen's right to know about the clam chowder special at Annette's Bakery or (another) Noori's moving sale is just as fundamental as, say, the latest Red Mountain price drop on a Coldwell Banker listing. But rather than incur the wrath of establishments they deem unworthy of an extra advertising goose, council members may ultimately make their 2017 ban on sandwich-board signs permanent.

The good news is the outcome will have no bearing on the businesses increasingly taking their show on the road and eschewing traditional downtown retail space. Aspen is accustomed to being excluded from such big-city conveniences as Amazon delivery via drone, and Drizly, which is the life-saving service that transports alcohol and related accessories on-demand in case of a dinner party emergency. Yet, even though Aspen is deprived of Fresh Direct and Uber Eats, it perhaps holds the distinction of being the only city in America where vaginas can get a nip and tuck to go — or rather, where a vaginal nip and tuck will come to you.

It's hard to miss the bright green tricked-out Mercedes sprinter van advertising "advanced IV therapy concierge" services, plus tattoo removal and "intimate rejuvenation," that's conspicuously parked just inches off Main Street a few blocks east of the S-curves. While it's unclear what, if any, magic happens in the actual van, what is abundantly clear is that vaginas are at the forefront of local and visiting minds. If they weren't before, they will be as soon as they pass Fifth Street.

Of course, Aspen is no stranger to catering to the whims of its guests and residents. Visiting from sea level and short of breath at 7,908 feet? Choose from any number of oxygen delivery companies to breathe some air into your home, fractional or hotel. Are you so heavily in vacation mode that even popping into town for ski rentals is too much work? If the mountain won't come to you, Ski Butlers will deliver gear for you to go directly to the mountain.

Did you arrive in Aspen but your luggage didn't (that's rhetorical, by the way)? Suit Yourself offers an array of ski clothing that it says will make you "look like a local" (including a one-piece suit that looks as if it's probably fresh off the back of someone at the Highlands closing day bash — that is, this year's bash plus all the other bashes dating back to the '80s, too).

If you've got a sick or disheveled dog and dealing with traffic, construction and sky-high parking rates isn't Spot's thing, you can summon a veterinarian or even a mobile dog-washing service to your home (although not Mutt Cutts, because they're based out of Providence, obviously).

Didn't travel with an Exersaucer or forgot the Pack 'N Play? Mountain Baby Gear will rent, deliver, set up and retrieve everything your baby desires on demand (except perhaps the dirty diapers). Was your nanny's ticket to St. Barth's nonrefundable? The Aspen Babysitting Co.'s got your kids covered for only slightly less than the cost of room, board and tuition to a private liberal arts college.

Some local restaurants deliver, including Little Ollie's and Hickory House. But if you're looking for most everything else, A La Car will fill your belly while draining your bank account: the delivery menus are marked up compared with each restaurant's eat-in prices, plus there's a 20 percent service fee tacked onto the bill and none of this includes the driver's tip.

Not all only-in-Aspen mobile businesses advertise, including politicians, movie and rock stars who will come to your home and nonprofit events. Then there are the drugs. After all, if you can't get snow delivered in Aspen, where can you? (That's also rhetorical.)

By all means, Aspen City Council should continue holding the community to high aesthetic standards, although it should also consider the inequity of disallowing sandwich-board signs for some businesses when others can offend, er, have a presence, at the bargain price of simply parking (which may be the only time ever that parking in Aspen could be characterized as either simple or a bargain).

Follow Meredith Carroll on Twitter @MCCarroll. More at MeredithCarroll.com.

City of Aspen’s deal with developer valued as much as $5M less than what’s offered

An appraisal on a building the city is under contract to buy puts a valuation $3 million to $5 million less than what a developer is proposing to sell it for.

The city of Aspen hired Randy Gold, MAI, SRA, of Aspen Appraisal, in August to evaluate the $23 million proposal made by Mark Hunt to the municipal government.

He has offered to provide 21,442 square feet of turnkey, developed office space in a building yet to be developed at 517 E. Hopkins Ave.

The city went under contract with Hunt for the property in July and due diligence expires in December.

Gold concluded that the market value of that deal is worth between $18 million and $20 million.

Gold's Aug. 7 oral presentation to City Manager Steve Barwick, Assistant City Manager Barry Crook and Public Works Director Scott Miller included his scope of work, methodology and analysis of the proposed project.

Barwick said Tuesday that he could not go into details about Gold's presentation, which was shared with Aspen City Council in executive session last month.

But Barwick noted that Gold did a "thorough and complete analysis, and not just the value of the land but how much this deal is worth to the city," Barwick said.

Part of that deal is Hunt paying as much as $100 a square foot for interior finishing; the city would pay the rest depending on its build-out specifications.

All of it will be contingent on Aspen voters this fall choosing to have city offices in that Hopkins Avenue space, along with 5,500 square feet on the top floor of 204 S. Galena St., which also is owned by Hunt.

Combined, the deal would cost the city $32.5 million.

Barwick said he is hoping to have appraisal on the Galena Street space within two weeks.

What won't be part of the appraisal is Hunt's other part of the deal, which is to remodel the current City Hall Armory building. Hunt proposes to do it for around $12 million.

The city estimated it can do it for $15.8 million, although Barwick said a lot of contingency is built into the city's figure because the Armory is an old building, is historically designated and the scope of work is not yet known.

Hunt's proposal will be known as "Option A" on the ballot.

"Option B" is the city building its own office space at 427 and 455 Rio Grande Place, which was approved by ordinance in 2017.

It's estimated to cost $26.1 million and could be as large as 40,000 square feet, according to the city's preliminary figures.

Both options involve remodeling the current City Hall.


Panelists in Aspen promise there is a ‘way out’ of addiction

Addiction experts who spoke Tuesday in front of close to 300 people in Aspen said there is a way out of chemical dependency but it takes deep personal work, commitment, courage and, most importantly, asking for help.

"I think the key message today is: encourage those who suffer that it's OK to ask for help, even if it's more than once," said William Moyers, vice president of public affairs and community relations at the Hazelden/Betty Ford Foundation.

Moyers, who also is an author and son of veteran journalist Bill Moyers, told the group of recovering addicts and therapists who filled the ballroom at the Hotel Jerome that his path of addiction started here in Aspen in 1975.

As a teenager, he mowed the lawn at the Aspen Institute and began smoking marijuana, which was his gateway drug that eventually led to crack cocaine.

"This is ground zero for me," Moyers said, adding that once he found that high, it was over for him. "I didn't have to work so hard anymore. … I found that answer."

Years later, Moyer found himself at a crack house. That's when he went to treatment — twice — in 1989 and then again in 1991.

A few years later, he found himself at another crack den in Georgia when he was working for CNN.

"I surrendered," he said. "Surrendering is not giving up, it's about giving in and it takes great courage to give in.

"Sobriety is not the end; it's the beginning."

However, Moyer found himself struggling again in 2012 when he got hooked on pain meds from a series of dental procedures that had him in chronic pain.

"Pain meds are the Trojan horse of addiction in America," he said. "I was going down a slippery slope and I wasn't on top of it. When I hit rock bottom, I was sober and I had to ask for help. … I had to learn to live without opioids and live with chronic pain."

And so far, he has. Moyer has been sober for 24 years.

He added that addiction is a cunning, baffling and patient disease.

"Ours is an illness that waits," he said. "I had to find a way out of the sanity of my own thinking."

Moyer, along with Dr. Mel Pohl and Claudia Black, Ph.D, were part of a panel organized by local nonprofit A Way Out.

The speakers were part of a community discussion on solutions to the opioid epidemic, the effects addiction has on family, trauma's role in fostering addiction and getting past addiction and becoming well.

During the Q&A portion at the end of the four-hour discussion, the high rate of suicide and substance abuse in the Roaring Fork Valley was brought up almost immediately. The notion that no one is really talking about it so the problem continues is real, audience members noted.

Black, who specializes in family systems and addictive disorders, said it's imperative that adults stay connected with kids and realize that suicidality is pervasive.

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It stems from depression, self-loathing, self-sabotage and the person being ashamed of whom they have become, Black added.

In her presentation, she outlined a portrait of addiction in the family, overlaying how adverse child experiences can fuel generational repetition and how people can improve the traumatic response and its effects.

"Addiction in the family is one of the most horrible things ever and it's the most treatable illness," Black said. "Don't underestimate the role you play in someone's life, and validate them with power and treatment."

Moyer said it's imperative to keep trying to help those who need help, even if they don't realize they need it.

"Don't let your loved ones get to rock bottom," he said.


Pitkin County to prompt valley-wide recycling changes, looking to end drop-off sites

Changes coming to Pitkin County's recycling program likely will have a ripple effect on communities throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and businesses in Aspen.

A new county waste ordinance that commissioners could address next month will require all county residents to pay for curbside recycling, said Brian Pettet, the county's public works director, and Cathy Hall, county solid waste manager.

In theory, that ends the need for drop-off recycling sites such as the Rio Grande Recycling Center in Aspen and others in Redstone and the Basalt area, they said. It also would end the need to subsidize Snowmass Village's recycling efforts, Hall and Pettet said.

"If the board approves (mandatory recycling), the need for those drop-off facilities goes away," Pettet said. The money to operate them would likely be better spent on other diversion programs that focus on things such as food waste and construction debris, he said.

The drop-off recycling sites are expensive to operate and aren't as efficient as curbside recycling, so county staff are recommending that commissioners stop funding them by next year, Hall and Pettet said.

If Pitkin County goes to mandatory curbside recycling — which may occur as soon as January — other valley communities are likely follow suit, Hall said. Glenwood Springs is looking at the idea, Basalt will likely follow Pitkin County's lead and Carbondale has already adopted a curbside recycling ordinance, she said.

"You will start seeing it down the valley," Hall said Tuesday. "Everybody will require curbside recycling."

Pitkin County's current waste ordinance only requires trash haulers to offer residents the option of paying for single-stream, curbside recycling, Pettet said. Between 70 percent and 75 percent of county residents currently opt to recycle, Hall and Pettet said.

"The board has given a philosophical thumbs-up to pursue the mandatory program," Pettet said. "Whether you recycle or not, you will still pay the fee (if the ordinance changes)."

In addition to requiring all residents to recycle — or at least pay a recycling fee ­— the new ordinance probably will charge residents by volume for landfill garbage, meaning that the more trash generated the larger the trash bill, Pettet said. That is meant to incentivize recycling, he said.

The county currently pays or co-pays for recycling drop-off sites in Aspen and Basalt, while the Redstone site is staffed twice a month by volunteers, Hall said. Pitkin County pays for all recycling in Snowmass Village, she said.

Hall and Pettet recommended Tuesday that commissioners transfer responsibility for the Rio Grande Center in Aspen to the city and completely stop paying for the operation of the site by 2020. In addition, they proposed closing the Redstone site in February, stopping the recycling subsidy to Snowmass Village in 2019 and phasing out the county's financial responsibility for the Basalt/Willits site in 2020.

Hall said the national increase in single-stream, curbside recycling has triggered a decrease in the number of recycling drop-off centers. Glenwood Springs, for example, closed its drop-off center last year, she said.

Particularly irksome for commissioners Tuesday was the Rio Grande site located next to Aspen's skateboard park.

The county paid $213,000 to operate the site in 2017 and the city paid nothing. And while city staff help operate and clean the site, a 2015 informal county survey indicated that 57 percent of Rio Grande users are city residents or businesses, Hall said in a recent interview.

The city has had a mandatory curbside recycling program since at least 2012.

Between 100 and 200 people a day use the Rio Grande center, which is located on city-owned property, during the busy season, Liz Chapman, specialist with the city of Aspen's Environmental Health Department said recently. And while she cast doubt on the accuracy of the county's survey three years ago, she said a 50-50 split between city and county users was a "reasonable" estimate.

Businesses in Aspen's downtown core, in particular, appear to use the site frequently, along with property management companies, so something would have to be done about commercial recycling for Aspen if Rio Grande closes, Pettet said.

"Every year, Food & Wine is a problem," Hall said Tuesday. "We have to call Waste Management to empty the bins. Each bin is $50 a trip."

Commissioner Rachel Richards said it's time for Aspen businesses to chip in for recycling.

"Times have changed," she said. "I don't think the county can subsidize city businesses that don't want to schedule recycling pickup at their businesses.

"People need to take responsibility for their own waste."

Commissioners have tried repeatedly over the past few years to get the city to help pay for the recycling center to no avail, said Pettet and Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. Specifically, the Aspen City Council has twice declined to contribute in the past seven years, Pettet said.

"We are not able to have a conversation with them," Peacock said Tuesday. "We haven't been able to get on (the City Council) agenda for five years.

"It's a challenging issue. We are struggling with how to move forward."

The contract with Waste Management, a private hauler, for the Rio Grande is set to expire in February and a new contract could be in the $300,000 to $400,000 range or higher, Pettet said. That's partially because recycling is an expensive process and partially because China just banned imports of most mixed paper and plastic recycling, he said.

Pettet told commissioners he'd like to see the city take the lead on negotiating that new contract, which the county would pay 50 percent of in 2019. The city would take sole responsibility for the site in 2020, according to Pettet's recommendation.

If the city again declines to help pay for Rio Grande, the county would then have to reassess its options, including possibly closing the site, Clapper said in a recent interview.

"That would be a tough thing to do … when you're a county that's been as pro-recycling as Pitkin County," Clapper said. "I want to push a serious discussion with the city of Aspen on this."

On Tuesday, Clapper reiterated that request for a discussion with the city, saying it was clear that downtown Aspen businesses are significant contributors to the Rio Grande.

Commissioner Rachel Richards said she'd also like to see the city start paying for at least part of the Rio Grande.

"If they don't want it to remain, they should give us a clear message on that," Richards said.

She also suggested extending the life of the Redstone drop-off site for six months to see how the new curbside recycling program is working.

Commissioner George Newman feels there's enough time before the Waste Management contract expires in February to bring the city, county and public together to deal with the Rio Grande Center.

"I think we need to begin and get some decisions made," Newman said.

Aspen council members heard from Chapman, who helps manage the Rio Grande site, about the county's plans for Rio Grande on Monday during their regular work session.

"It will significantly impact us," Chapman said.

City Manager Steve Barwick told the council the issue is complex and expensive and that he thinks a work session with county commissioners on the subject should happen.

"It will be a large hit to the general fund," Barwick said. "It took us by surprise."

Commissioners on Tuesday asked Pettet to bring them the new waste ordinance so the first step in the process could begin. That ordinance is currently undergoing review by the county lawyers and may be ready by next month, Pettet said.


Carbondale’s True Nature hosts events about gender awareness

True Nature Healing Arts in Carbondale is hosting a pair of events this week and over the weekend around gender issues and coming of age.

This Thursday, the studio at the corner of North Third Street and Colorado Avenue hosts free community event called "Gender Diversity" in the newly completed kiva.

"It will begin with a documentary and then move to a panel discussion," explained owner Deva Shantay in a statement.

The documentary is from National Geographic with Katie Couric, called "Gender Revolution." It discusses the different genders such as trans, cis, non-binary and intersex.

"It's a wonderful introduction to learning about gender," Shantay said. "We will then transition to a panel discussion where I will have seven individuals sitting on the panel who all have experience in one way or another in this field. It will be an incredible thought-provoking educational event."

Donations from the Thursday event will raise money for a camp at True Nature this Friday through Sunday, called "This is Me: A Gathering for Families with Transgender Children in the Rocky Mountains."

"This is an intimate camp experience for families with transgender children to come together, interact, learn and grow," Shantay said.

Partners include Carbondale Arts, which will have the Roseybell makerspace bus on hand, and Smiling Goat Ranch.

Imprecise Aspen signage one of the town’s charms

Recently, Aspen city officials were embarrassed by the substitution, in official documents, of "Cooper Street" for the correct "Cooper Avenue." Musing on the error, I wonder if the responsible person at City Hall wasn't dealing, unconsciously, with the basic incongruity of having, in parallel, avenues (Hopkins, Hyman, Cooper) on one side of Main Street and mere streets (Bleeker, Hallam, Francis, Smuggler) on the other. I say "mere" in connection with streets because, in the general pecking order of urban thoroughfares, avenues rank higher.

Aspen's imprecise signage doesn't stop there. There's "Garmish" for the correct "Garmisch," and also the fact that, proceeding westward on Francis Street, one goes directly from Third Street to Fifth Street, leaving poor Fourth in the dust. Finally, just yesterday, driving upvalley from the Aspen Business Center, I saw one sign reading "Maroon Bells" and another "Maroon Belles." Which is it?

Reflecting on such incongruities, I find myself reassured, and not a little charmed, by the knowledge that Aspen officials are just as bumbling as all the rest of us and, just like all the rest of us, prone by nature to error and inconsistency.

Donald Wilson

St. Louis

Valley Life for All: Meet Camy Britt, who is conquering her fears

Editor's note: The Aspen Times, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, is presenting a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who have different abilities. Twenty-seven percent of Americans experience some disability. One hundred percent are a part of our community. Each has a story.

Camy Britt is able to conquer most fears. She likes to ride her bike and hike. She is the vice-chair of the Valley Life for All Board of Directors. Her voice will change you.

Camy was born with a chromosomal syndrome that results in developmental and emotional delays in some areas. The biggest challenge for Camy is the huge peaks and valleys in what she can do. We can all relate to the challenge of facing our own fears that she talks about in her story. Camy gives us a good pep talk about how to overcome our own challenges.

Here is Camy's story, in her own words:

I got invited to a Halloween party when I was 7. I wasn't sure I wanted to go because I had this feeling someone was saying, "No, it's unacceptable." But really, my friend was the one who invited me. I knew it wasn't just someone saying, "OK, this is the party, you have to go to." I was able to say, "I'm not going to be shy. I'm not going to be fearful. It's all going to be OK."

My friend taught me a couple of tricks. The first trick was to tell myself this is something you don't need to be fearful of because she is the one inviting you, not yourself. The other trick was not to be as shy because it is the same as fearful. To just be comfortable in that type of situation is something that some people need to conquer.

The party was actually a great time because all my friends were there. They were able to see that I wasn't shy. I wasn't fearful of being there. I really thank this person for inviting me because she taught me to face my fears and to be able to socialize. She taught me to become a really good person and also to be a really good friend to other people. It also taught me not to be so fearful of my own fears and be able to conquer them and say, "I can do this!" without being so fearful. She and I are still friends today.

Recently, I was at the pool, and I looked at the slide and said, "Are my feelings going to be fearful going down the slide?" But no, I was actually able to conquer that fear and say, "It's not going to be scary. It's going to be very easy. You're not going to drown or anything."

I want to pass along to people to say to yourself, "I can get over this and not be so fearful." Realize if there is someone out there who is shy and be able to say, "It's OK, you can overcome your fear."

Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. We want to hear your voice. Request a training or join the conversation at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all.