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Private club executive at Snowmass cited for harassing text messages

A manager within the Aspen Skiing Co. is facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly harassing a former co-worker at the Roaring Fork Club and threatening to prevent him from working in the private club industry.

Greg DeRosa, who is the project manager at Skico's new private, membership-only Snowmass Mountain Club, was arrested and issued a summons by Basalt police Sept. 3. He appeared in municipal court Nov. 2 and the case has been continued until next month.

DeRosa, who lives in Carbondale, did not return calls and messages seeking comment.

The charges stem from a report made by the alleged victim, Vincent Russo, who worked with DeRosa at the Roaring Fork Club over two years ago, according to a police report filed by Basalt Officer Aaron Munch.

Russo told Munch that DeRosa was texting him Aug. 29 of this year, saying that he was going to prevent Russo from finding a job.

He provided a string of text messages from DeRosa to police; The Aspen Times obtained the texts.

They read in part (with expletives deleted), "Hey sh–bag I just took you out of the running at Windermere (sic)…I know lots of people in this business and they respect the hell outta my opinion…told the truth…yer a piece of sh–drunk! Have a nice life a–hole!"

(Wyndemere Country Club is in Florida.)

Russo then responds, "Ok, who is this?"

DeRosa writes back, "Your worst nightmare for finding a job at another private club."

Russo says, "Your not worth my time Greg."

To which DeRosa responds, "Don't worry now that I know you're looking the word will spread fast regarding what you really are and there's not a damn thing you can do about it because it's true. Have a drink on me a–hole!!"

According to the police report, Russo stated DeRosa blames him for the loss of his employment from the Roaring Fork Club.

In his report, Munch referenced a portion of a text that shows DeRosa says he was let go by the Roaring Fork Club board of directors in 2016.

Russo, the club's former executive chef, told the Times last week that DeRosa, who was the general manager and his former colleague, learned he was looking for a job and then intervened.

"I interviewed with a club in Florida and he caught wind of it," Russo said last week. "He was messing up my livelihood and tried to blackball me."

Russo said he felt intimidated enough to go the police.

"He's well-connected and you never know if they are going to take his word for it," Russo said.

He now works at a private club in Carmel, California.

DeRosa, who didn't return three voicemails left on his cellphone and his office line at Skico, has worked for the company since February 2017.

Russo said DeRosa reached out to him after he was served the summons.

"He told me he wasn't out to get me and can we meet for a cup of coffee and put this to rest," Russo said.

Russo doesn't plan on doing that. He has retained Aspen attorney Daniel Becnel and plans to sue DeRosa in civil court for defamation.

Becnel confirmed that this week. He added that he is waiting for the criminal case to conclude before filing the civil lawsuit.

"We are preparing for tortious interference against Mr. DeRosa for his actions toward Mr. Russo's future employment," Becnel said Monday, adding the text messages crossed the line. "You don't think of someone who does these types of things."

Officer Munch wrote in his report that the things said in the texts were "disturbing" and "crossed the line."

The report provides some insight into DeRosa's alleged motivations.

"DeRosa stated he was upset with Russo talking about him for a long time to many people in public," Munch's report reads.

DeRosa is working to open the exclusive Snowmass Mountain Club this winter as part of the new Base Village.

Skico offered a limited statement about DeRosa and the harassment charge against him.

"While this activity took place outside of our workplace, we are aware and engaged and managing our employees," reads a statement issued by Jeff Hanle, Skico's vice president of communications. "We do not comment on personnel matters nor will we discuss ongoing litigation."

Basalt Town Attorney Jeff Conklin said Tuesday he has been in conversations with DeRosa regarding a plea deal.

DeRosa is scheduled to appear in Basalt municipal court Dec. 7.


River Valley Ranch Golf in Carbondale gets new owner

The River Valley Ranch Golf Course in Carbondale found a new owner last week who hopes to shape the property into something more in line with the community's character.

Crystal Outdoors LLC, managed by Dan Coleman, acquired the golf course Nov. 15, according to David Myler, the attorney representing the transaction.

The purchase concludes several months of consternation from the RVR neighborhood and the larger community over the future of the golf course, after the former owner said the golf course would close permanently if he couldn't find a buyer.

Myler confirmed that the sale was finalized, but would not disclose the sales price. The Garfield County Clerk and Recorder had not yet registered a deed as of Monday.

Myler also had represented Dale Rands, the previous owner of RVR Golf, since he acquired the property six years ago from the Crown family, owners of Aspen Skiing Co.

"The No. 1 item on the agenda is to figure out if we can get the golf course open for next season," Myler said.

Crystal Outdoors is funded in part by several silent investors who are familiar with the area, Myler said. Coleman, a contractor and home builder, and his wife, Wynee Coleman, rent a home in the RVR neighborhood.

The RVR Golf Course fell on troubled financial times this year. Rands told the homeowner's association during the summer that it would have to shut down unless the neighborhood subsidized the golf operations or allowed residential development on part of the property.

The golf course is open to the public, but is privately owned and operated, and development is restricted under the town of Carbondale's planned unit development. RVR Golf asked town officials in July for the chance to rezone a portion of the course, specifically the driving range at the entrance to the community near Highway 133.

The town determined that it would not consider rezoning the property unless at least 50 percent of the RVR neighborhood supported it. The HOA conducted a survey, and 76 percent of respondents said they strongly opposed rezoning the area. More than 40 percent of respondents said they did not golf at the RVR course at all.

The Colemans shared a one-page document with the RVR Golf Advisory Committee on Nov. 12 that describes Crystal Outdoors' vision for the course.

"Our passion is to work together to create a wonderful plan that all RVR can enjoy," the document said.

Among the goals listed for the project are an upgraded restaurant that would be open year-round, to build a flagship entrance near the driving parcel and to work with the community to find the best combination of amenities.

Possible uses besides golf include walking trails, a dog park, playground and cross-country ski trails in the winter.

The vision document said the amenities must be sustainable and not dependent on subsidies from the community.

Gary Lesser, HOA board member and head of the Golf Advisory Committee, said he isn't certain what aspects of the Coleman's plans would require rezoning. Renovation of the restaurant, which is already part of the property, would not require rezoning, but other development might.

Any changes will be evaluated on long-term sustainability, whether it will affect the nature of the neighborhood and how it will affect property values, Lesser said.

The HOA is open to considering formal proposals, Lesser said, but in the end must do what the community wishes.

"We may have slightly differing interests. Our interest is doing what's right for the RVR community, that's all we're chartered to do," Lesser said.

Aspen Skiing Co. buying land for more employee housing

Aspen Skiing Co. is under contract to buy a piece of land in the midvalley to build multi-family housing for its employees.

That was the news delivered Monday by David Corbin, Skico's vice president of planning, to Aspen City Council as part of the company's annual update to elected officials.

When asked by Councilwoman Ann Mullins what Skico was doing on the housing front, Corbin responded by saying the company is hoping to add 120 to 130 beds, which goes toward the overall goal of 600 in the next few years.

"We are pursuing a midvalley opportunity very aggressively," he said, adding it would be very near transit. "It's a transit-oriented idea, basically.

"Our estimates are that you can actually get into town from this location faster than some of our employees in Snowmass can get into town," he continued. "So we thought this is very promising and are hopeful we can get it done."

Corbin said after the meeting he expects to know whether the deal will close in the next two to three months.

Skico is the largest employer in the valley and already has roughly 700 beds in its housing inventory.

Also as part of the company update, Mike Kaplan, Skico's CEO and president, reported that occupancy numbers show the first half of the season is softer than the second half.

"This isn't surprising; we are seeing some softness in international business," he said, adding last season's dismal snowfall is partly to blame for early bookings being down. "Most of that is currency, but of course it's a little bit of snow hangoverness to be expected.

"I think the main message here is it's important that we build momentum and we really can't be complacent."

But at the same time, Skico is not a on path toward what Kaplan referred to as "industrial tourism."

"We think that would be a big mistake for us," he said. "We think emphasizing volume over quality and authenticity would violate that mission and really homogenize the experience."

That is one just one way Skico differentiates itself from other ski resorts, Kaplan said.

He explained the company is focusing on how to grow skier visits responsibly. One strategy is to attract guests during off-peak times of the season and not just during the busy times.

Kaplan also said Skico supports an expanded airport and runway to accommodate a new fleet of regional jets that have larger wingspans. And no — there is no conspiracy between Skico and the FAA, or private jet owners to bring in bigger airplanes as some have suggested, Kaplan added.

Other highlights this year include the development of the decades-long stalled Base Village in Snowmass, Ski Magazine naming Aspen/Snowmass the "Best in the West," and new restaurants opening in Aspen.

"It feels pretty good," Kaplan said.

Christian Knapp, Skico's chief marketing officer, reported that the company's "Give a Flake" campaign has been well-received, especially on social media platforms.

There have been close to 4 million digital media impressions on Facebook, Instagram and pre-roll video, along with over 2,300 people targeting a member of Congress using Skico's Twitter widget, with close to 6 million impressions.

As a result of its campaign, calls have been made to climate deniers in Washington, D.C., as well as climate champions. Knapp said Skico's climate change campaign has produced more attention and action, with letters sent to senators on the issue.

He also reported that its Mountain Collective and Ikon passes are selling well this season.

Corbin updated council on Skico's master plan for Aspen Mountain, which includes expanded terrain and snowmaking capabilities along with renovations to the Sundeck, the old Ruthies restaurant and a small expansion to the Aspen Mountain Club.

The last master plan was done in 1997-98. Skico currently is obtaining final approval on its master plan from the U.S. Forest Service and Pitkin County.

Kaplan began the presentation with Skico's guiding principles, which is to "live passionately" by awakening the spirit, elevating community and honoring place.

He told council that it's incredibly powerful to operate from those values, and it's what differentiates Aspen/Snowmass from the competition.

"We are more than just getting up on the mountain," Kaplan said, adding it's about gaining self awareness and knowledge, as well as getting in touch with the spiritual side and what's happening in society.

"It's a great way to create mind space."

He also noted that it's a delicate balance for the company to advocate for environmental stewardship but be fiscally responsible.

But at the end of the day, "it's really about empathy," Kaplan said. "Treating people how they'd like to be treated."

All four council members — Councilman Bert Myrin was absent — voiced their appreciation for the city's relationship with Skico, and particularly its social message campaigns.

Mayor Steve Skadron said it's "beautiful and accurate." Councilman Adam Frisch said it's "brilliant and relevant."

"I feel warm and fuzzy inside," Councilman Ward Hauenstein said.


Bankruptcy part of school district’s check into HR director

The Aspen School District's updated background check into Elizabeth Hodges, its criminally convicted human resources director, also is focusing on her personal bankruptcy case, which includes fraud allegations and references to a $30,000 loan the district provided her.

"After my weekly review with legal counsel regarding this matter, legal counsel continues to review court filings including those in bankruptcy court," Superintendent John Maloy said in an email late last week to The Aspen Times. "As the district would with any employee who has had allegations made against him or her, we want to respect the employee's due process rights. It is my hope that legal counsel (will) complete its review of this matter within a few days or weeks after the Thanksgiving break and we can bring closure to this matter sooner rather than later."

Maloy's reference to the bankruptcy concerned Hodges' Chapter 7 declaration in February in the U.S. District Court of Colorado in Denver. Her bankruptcy petition lists her largest debt as $1.1 million, the result of a civil court judgment delivered by a Missouri judge in November 2016.

Filings in the bankruptcy case also cite a $30,000 loan the school district provided to Hodges in March 2017. As of Monday, Hodges' bankruptcy case had yet to identify the loan as an official debt.

"We will be amending the bankruptcy to list the debt," Hodges' bankruptcy attorney, Phillip J. Jones of Grand Junction, said in an Oct. 31 email to the Times. "I still need to do a title search to determine the secured/unsecured status. The intent was to make it a secured debt."

Maloy, in a Sept. 27 email to The Aspen Times, said Hodges "was provided an approved loan by the employee housing loan committee in March 2017. According to district policy, any employee that completes an application and qualifies for his/her loan request may be approved. Credit checks are not done on employees."

Because the school district provided Hodges a home loan, that would make the district a secured creditor in the bankruptcy case, meaning it could claim an interest in Hodges' Carbondale home if she defaults on the loan. Should the loan be deemed an unsecured debt, the bankruptcy court could rule Hodges does not have to reimburse the district.

The school district, Maloy said, has provided home loans to staff members "for several years and six employees have been awarded loans in the last five years. The district is proud of the fact that it can provide an option for potential homebuyers to address their family's housing needs while assisting them with the ability to live and work in the Roaring Fork Valley."

Meanwhile, the school district's probe into Hodges started around late August or early September, after it learned the state of Missouri disbarred her in April and a grand jury indicted her on one count of felony forgery in February 2016.

The indictment had been sealed, which explains why it did not show up in the school district's initial background review of Hodges, which Maloy said was conducted in March 2016 and included fingerprinting.

Two to three months after the school's background check, on May 31, 2016, Hodges was served with the indictment out of Kansas City, Missouri.

Less than five weeks later, on July 1, 2016, Hodges began her first day as director of HR after months of on-the-job training. She did not report the indictment to her school district superiors before beginning her employment with the district, based on interviews.

The seven-figure civil judgment, disbarment, criminal indictment, bankruptcy and a bankruptcy fraud case all tie in, either directly or indirectly, to Hodges' estate planning work as an attorney for an elderly Missouri couple in the mid-2010s.

Hodges, whose current annual salary is $132,345, according to school records, did not respond to a message seeking comment. She previously blamed her legal problems on what she said are vindictive heirs to the estate of a deceased couple she once represented.

Hodges is on unsupervised probation through December, after she pleaded the felony forgery charge down to a misdemeanor count of deceptive business practices in December 2016.

The conviction was the result of her selling a deceased couple's Kia Soul to a dealership without reporting proceeds of the sale in their probate case. As an attorney, Hodges helped the couple with their estate planning.

Survivors of the estate sued Hodges in November 2015, and in November 2016 they won a default judgment nearly $1 million — $614,000 along with $378,000 in punitive damages. The higher amount was based how much the heirs claimed Hodges stole from the estate; however, Hodges has maintained that figure was based on rumor and the judge merely awarded that amount because she did not fight the case. The judgment amount has since topped $1.1 million because of interest and fees.

Hodges is trying to discharge the judgment in bankruptcy court, but that has not been a smooth proceeding.

As part of that case, trustee Jared Walters, who is monitoring Hodge's financial picture through the bankruptcy, filed an adversary complaint in June claiming Hodges hid assets by fraudulently transferring 50 percent ownership of her Carbondale home to her wife.

Walters' complaint alleges that June 26, 2017 — some eight months after the judgment — Hodges conveyed her 50 percent interest in a Carbondale home to her wife, Nicole, who owned the other half.

Walters also has an adversary proceeding against the wife, who began working in the school district's special education department this academic year, to stop the transfer of the property ownership.

The complaint by Walters, who declined to comment about the case, also claims Hodges said she transferred the ownership in contemplation of a separation, but she still lives at the home with her spouse.

"Based upon the allegations … the court may infer from (Hodges') conduct that she acted with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud her creditors, and in particular the beneficiaries of estate of Joseph Zaiotti (one-half of the couple she represented), when she transferred her joint interest in the Carbondale property to Nicole Hodges," the complaint reads.

Elizabeth Hodges has denied those accusations in court filings.

Maloy has said the district knows about the bankruptcy case's adversary proceeding.

"The District is aware that a complaint has been filed in the bankruptcy court and that Ms. Hodges' attorney had filed answers denying the claims," he said in the Sept. 27 email.

The matter with Hodges upset some school district parents and in September they launched a committee with the expressed purpose to pressure the Board of Education to remove Maloy from his post. One of their criticisms was that Maloy and Sheila Wills, when she was board president, had shown their public support for Hodges after her legal woes were publicized (both the school district and the Times learned about Hodges' disbarment through an anonymous mailing received in July).

Maloy's email from last week did not respond to the question of whether the school district still supports Hodges. Wills, in an email Friday, said: "As I am no longer BOE president, I do not believe my personal opinion is of any pertinence to your story."

Parents also used their movement as a platform to criticize the school district for what they say is high teacher turnover, though Maloy and others have disputed that; low faculty morale, which Maloy and his supporters have questioned; and dipping academic performances, another matter of debate.

At an Oct. 1 board meeting, Maloy said: "We want to be as transparent as possible, so we're in the process of developing a link on our web page where you can find information as it becomes verified on topics such as the HR director's status with the district, our financial condition, salary information and how we stack up against other districts, district performance data, discussions with each principal on math and literacy curriculum changes, facts about our IB performance, teacher turnover … and other topics where there are rumors or concerns."

The Board of Education announced Oct. 25 it would not be renewing Maloy's contract, which is set to expire June 30, 2021. Maloy has said he plans to honor the terms of the contract, and he also has his share of supporters.

The board also plans to hire a third-party party to examine the school district's culture and climate.


Aspen’s housing program holding scofflaws accountable, focusing on compliance cases

With the creation of an enforcement position within the local housing authority earlier this year, all but a dozen or so compliance cases remain out of the 150 that were active when Bethany Spitz took the job almost four months ago.

"It's huge," she said of the effort made thus far in getting people who live in the roughly 3,000 ownership and rental units within the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority compliant with the rules. "A lot of it was following up and taking action on little things like a tenant who hadn't qualified."

There are bigger cases lingering, however. Six notices of investigations have been issued to homeowners, as well as three notices of violations and two appeals from residents to the APCHA board of directors.

Individuals who live in APCHA units are required to provide proof that they work a minimum of 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County, among other regulations depending on what the deed restriction is on a particular unit.

Tenants in rental units are required to re-qualify every two years by providing tax and employment information. Homeowners must do the same.

Prior to Spitz coming on as APCHA's compliance manager, there was not a full-time person dedicated to ensuring that the thousands of people within the program are legally living in their units.

As a result, APCHA has had low response rates, which prompted the APCHA board earlier this year to recommend to city and county elected officials to pass a fine structure for dozens of different infractions that's designed to force people to prove they are in compliance.

"We will go to 100 percent compliance, whatever that takes," said Spitz, adding that the first goal of APCHA is to educate the public on what their responsibilities are when living in taxpayer-subsidized housing.

Spitz said a random audit done in August selected 20 homeowners. APCHA asked them for qualifying information. Only 50 percent of them responded, which necessitated Spitz having to issue notices of violations to those residents in order to get them to comply.

Spitz said next year the goal is to conduct five audits a month for homeowner units.

There also will be a census within the entire program, which will coincide with the planned $1 million Housing Information Management System that is designed to improve the system's data collection, reporting and analytics.

Spitz said a comprehensive database and system will help manage all of the units in APCHA's inventory, and who is living in them.

APCHA operates mostly on complaints, and many of them are anonymous. Those cases are more difficult to prove because it often becomes a he said/she said situation, Spitz said.

The board, which is made up of seven citizens, must make decisions on individuals' appeals after they've been served a notice of violation.

The board earlier this year recommended to elected officials that a hearing officer be charged with evaluating appeals from residents so it can focus solely on policy.

With a stronger emphasis on compliance this year, APCHA has turned over 12 ownership and 25 rental units.

"We are turning over units for qualified people who are living and working in Pitkin County," Spitz said. "And maintaining public trust and the integrity of the program."


What’s the Big Deal: Snowmass condo sale nears $3.8 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: $3.775 million

Date recorded: Nov. 15

Address: 610 Streamside Court, Snowmass Village

Subdivision: Owl Creek Homes Phase VII

Buyer: CJCA Holdings LLC

Seller: David Barnes trustee, David Barnes Trust

Property type: Condominium

Year built: 1998

Livable space: 3,862 square feet

Property tax bill: $13,171.28

Court allows class-action against Aspen towing company

Attorneys for a man suing an Aspen towing company for overtime compensation can start sending notices to other prospective plaintiffs to form a class-action suit, according to a court ruling delivered last week.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix, in an 11-page order issued Nov. 13, cleared plaintiff and former Shaun's Towing and Recovery driver Joseph Durrant to notify current and former employees of the company about the litigation and provide instructions on how to join the class action.

Mix's order supported Durrant's motion describing eligible class members as "all tow truck drivers who worked for Shaun's Towing And Recovery, LLC and/or Shaun Healy, at any time from three years before the date of the mailing of this notice through the final disposition of this case, but did not receive overtime for hours worked over 40 in any workweek."

The notice also must tell prospective plaintiffs they may have to appear in Denver for court proceedings, Mix's order said.

Durrant's complaint, which was filed in December in the U.S. District Court of Denver, claims he worked as a driver with Shaun's Towing from August 2015 until February 2016, earning $13 an hour plus 30 percent commission. The suit claims he wasn't paid for "the required rate of time-and-one-half for all hours worked over 40 each workweek."

The suit makes claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Colorado Minimum Wage Claim Act and the Colorado Wage Claim Act.

Durrant has alleged he and other employees were paid for two weeks of work regardless of the number of hours they logged. Some workers put in as many as 96 hours a week, Durrant alleges.

The defense has countered that Durrant cannot recruit "similarly situated employees" to join his suit because drivers could be required to cross state lines as part of their job, while Durrant did not.

Durrant and other employees "are exempt from receiving overtime compensation under the FLSA as they are subject to the Motor Carrier Act Exemption," the defense argued. The defense asked that the class be restricted to drivers who only worked within state lines, but Mix ordered the class could include all drivers.

The Motor Carrier Act exempts employees who work overtime, provided they are involved in interstate commerce through driving activities, from receiving time-and-a-half pay.

Mix's ruling said the defendants failed to provide information to the court supporting that distinction.

"Defendants have offered no basis for differentiating between employees who worked solely in Colorado and those who worked in Colorado but also transported motor vehicles across State lines," the magistrate judge's order said.

However, Mix said that argument can be brought up again after the discovery portion of the litigation.

At this stage of the case, Mix also noted that the plaintiffs only need to demonstrate a "modest showing" that Durrant and other class members were victims of labor law violations by Shaun's Towing.

Shaun's Towing started in 2005 and serves the entire Roaring Fork Valley.

Corpus Christi, Texas, attorney Clif Alexander, who represents Durrant, and Shaun's Towing lawyer Michael P. McGovern of Knoxville, Tennessee, could not be reached for comment last week.


House bill drops legal protections for gray wolves; Colorado’s Tipton in favor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled House passed a bill Friday to drop legal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, reopening a lengthy battle over the predator species.

Long despised by farmers and ranchers, wolves were shot, trapped and poisoned out of existence in most of the U.S. by the mid-20th century. Since securing protection in the 1970s, wolves have bounced back in the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.

About 5,000 wolves live in the lower 48 states, occupying less than 10 percent of their historic range.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the wolf’s status and is expected to declare they’ve recovered sufficiently to be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The House bill would enshrine that policy in law and restrict judicial review of listing decisions. The measure was approved, 196-180, and now goes to the Senate, where prospects are murkier.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., said farmers in Wisconsin and other states are “one step closer to having the legal means to defend their livestock from gray wolves.”

States should be responsible for managing wolf populations, “not Washington bureaucrats,” Duffy said.

Among those voting in favor was Colorado’s 3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton, who represents western Colorado.

“Without an effective method of managing the species in place, the gray wolf poses a threat to livestock as well as other native species habitats,” the Republican congressman from Cortez, who was elected to a fifth term over Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the Nov. 6 election, said in a prepared statement.

“It is long past time that the gray wolf be officially de-listed, so state agencies can responsibly manage the population, better tailor management plans to meet the unique circumstances and conditions in each state, and ensure they continue to thrive in a healthy and balanced ecosystem,” Tipton said.

Environmental groups and many Democrats slammed the bill as a last-ditch effort by Republicans to push a pro-rancher agenda after losing control of the House in this month’s midterm elections.

“This final, pathetic stab at wolves exemplifies House Republicans’ longstanding cruelty and contempt for our nation’s wildlife,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmental group.

“The American people overwhelmingly support the Endangered Species Act and the magnificent animals and plants it protects,” Hartl said. “We don’t expect to see these disgraceful anti-wildlife votes next year under Democratic control of the House.”

Livestock industry associations representing ranchers who have to contend with wolves scaring and attacking cattle and sheep supported the bill. They said in a letter to Congress that wolf populations have recovered to the extent that the animal would have been removed from the endangered species list if not for “activist litigants” who “used the judicial system to circumvent sound science and restore full ESA protections to these predators.”

A spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service said the agency is completing a review of the wolves’ status in the lower 48 states and expects to make a recommendation in coming months. The agency did not take a position on the House bill.

Comments from Colorado 3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton news release were added to this AP report by Aspen Times staff.

Colorado Buffaloes fire football coach Mike MacIntyre after six-game skid

BOULDER — Two years after he was named AP coach of the year, Mike MacIntyre's run at Colorado ended Sunday when he was fired amid a six-game skid in his sixth season.

"It was a difficult decision because Mike is a knowledgeable coach and he has really elevated this football team since 2013," athletic director Rick George said after asking quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper to serve as interim head coach for Colorado's final game next weekend.

George lauded MacIntyre's dogged focus on character, classroom and community service but said, ultimately, his program just wasn't successful enough on the scoreboard.

"What this came down to was that I wanted to see more consistency with winning seasons," George said. "Mike had an amazing 2016 season. We really hoped that that kind of achievement would be continuous, but unfortunately that didn't happen."

MacIntyre was voted AP college football coach of the year after leading the Buffaloes to a Pac-12 South title and 10 victories in 2016. That was his only winning season at Colorado, going 20-40 overall and 6-38 in the Pac-12 in the other five.

MacIntyre is due about $10 million from the five-year extension he signed after that 2016 season.

As his extension was being finalized, MacIntyre fell under scrutiny over his improper handling of domestic abuse accusations against former secondary coach Joe Tumpkin by a former girlfriend. Tumpkin called the defensive plays during the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, 2016, and resigned a month later. MacIntyre's contract extension was held up for a few months by the Board of Regents.

After an outside investigation, MacIntyre, George and Chancellor Phil DiStefano were reprimanded, with DiStefano serving a 10-day suspension and MacIntyre and George ordered to make $100,000 donations to domestic violence causes.

George said he had no regrets over signing MacIntyre to that extension. "He deserved it and his staff deserved it," George said.

The Buffs slipped to 5-7 last season but began this year with five straight victories and moved into the AP Top 25 again.

"Six weeks ago, we're 5-0 and the talk of the country," George said. "That's where Colorado should be every year and every season, we should be the talk of the country. But we're not there and that's why I made the decision."

The Buffs have lost several starters in the program's worst rash of injuries in 33 years, none more impactful than a turf toe that sidelined star sophomore receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. for a month.

Colorado tied a program futility mark by blowing a 28-point second-half lead against Oregon State last month. The following Monday, George went to MacIntyre and told him he still had his support.

"But as the next three weeks went by my gut told me I needed to … bring on new leadership," George said.

He made the move now, he said, to inject some energy into the team because it can still earn a bowl berth with a victory Saturday over California: "We've still got a lot to play for."

Following Colorado's 30-7 loss to Utah on Saturday, MacIntyre maintained his belief that he'd keep his job in Boulder, where his son, Jay, was one of several seniors celebrated in pregame festivities.

"I don't feel like it's my last game," MacIntyre said. "We've got one more, hopefully we can win that and go to a bowl game."

MacIntyre, who had taken a photo of a bison heading into a storm into his weekly news conference with buzz already building about his job being in jeopardy, said Saturday the nature of coaching is being asked when you'll leave whether you're winning or losing.

"I could've left (for) three good places, and stayed," MacIntyre said. "That's just the way it is. When you're losing, they want to get rid of you. You never can win as a head coach on that and I understand that."

Asked if he now figures he should have parlayed his success in 2016 into another job elsewhere, MacIntyre said: "No, I shouldn't have left, that's why I stayed. A lot of people told me to leave, just like a lot of people told me not to come here. I wanted to come here.

"My family loves it here. I definitely feel like this program has (progressed). You all saw it before I got here, it was abysmal. I feel like we've come a long way. This has been a tough stretch, there's no doubt about it. But no, you don't second guess anything like that, you do what you feel like is the right thing to do at the time."

MacIntyre then quoted senior receiver Kabion Ento, who spoke up after Saturday's loss, saying, "We've got one more to win one more."

A day later, that was no longer the case for MacIntyre but for Roper, his close friend of 20 years.

"We all understood when we got into this profession what this profession is like," Roper said. "But it doesn't make these days any easier when they happen."

The Drop-In: Aspen Mountain Opening Day (video)

What a great opening day on Aspen Mountain!  Check out the fun on the hill in this episode of the Drop-In with bonus footage at the end with the new Aspen Mountain Manager.