In Brief: Aspen Thrift Shop distributes funds, New Castle has new police chief

Staff report

Aspen Thrift Shop distributes funds

Once a month, Aspen Thrift Shop Volunteers meet to distribute our hard earned funds. This month, the local non-profit recipients are Connect!, Aspen Film, Community Health Services, Aspen Chapel Gallery, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Advocate Safehouse Project, Basalt Regional Library, Special Olympics Colorado, Shining Stars Foundation, Family Visitor Programs, Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation, and Youthentity.

New Castle has new police chief

Charles Burrows, 60, was sworn in Tuesday evening as the new chief of the New Castle Police Department.

Before an audience of police chiefs from across Garfield County and Sheriff Lou Vallario, New Castle Mayor Art Riddile ceremoniously pinned the badge on Burrows’ chest.

“I want to thank all the gentlemen, police departments that are here,” Burrows said after the ceremony. “It blows me away that everybody showed up because we need some regional integration, and it’s going to happen.

Burrows’ ascent to becoming police chief follow the arrest in July of the former police chief, Tony Pagni, after allegedly being intoxicated and walking around his neighborhood with a semi-automatic rifle and pointing it at a friend.

Pagni, due back in court Dec. 13, was fired, and Burrows was named interim chief of police.

Colorado drops passing score on bar exam

The Colorado Supreme Court announced today that starting in 2023, the minimum passing score, or cut score, on the Uniform Bar Examination required for admission to practice law in Colorado will be lowered from 276 to 270. 

The change is prospective, applicable to candidates for admission beginning with the February 2023 administration of the exam, as well as to candidates from other jurisdictions who seek to transfer their scores to Colorado.

Colorado’s cut score of 276 was instituted in 1985, before Colorado joined the Uniform Bar Examination, and it is now the second-highest cut score among the 41 states that use the exam. Only Alaska uses a higher cut score (280), and only three other jurisdictions use cut scores above 270: Arizona (273), Idaho (272), and Pennsylvania (272).

When Colorado joined and began administering the exam in February 2012, it retained its cut score of 276 on the premise that the scores would correspond to scores under the prior exam. Numerous jurisdictions have lowered their cut scores after initial adoption, including Oregon, which lowered its score twice. In 2018, Oregon lowered its cut score from 284 to 274, and then last year, following a study, it lowered its score to 270. The 41 Uniform Bar Examination jurisdictions have cut scores ranging from 260 to 280, but the largest cluster, 16 jurisdictions, have settled at 270.

Warm fall was good for aspen viewing

Temperate weather this fall extended one of the finest aspen-viewing seasons in memory. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that September was the warmest on record for North America, marking the 46th-consecutive September (and the 453th-consecutive month) with temperatures above the 20th century average.

With climate change, temperatures in the western United States are rising, leading to a shift in seasons. Using data from the US Global Change Research Program, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that winters are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures — minimum temperatures have increased at a rate higher than average maximum temperatures. This means that some of what used to fall as snow instead falls as rain, while snowpack in many areas forms later, is shallower, has higher water content, and melts sooner.

The EPA reports that April snowpack in the Rockies and Cascades shrank an average of 23% from 1955 to 2022. The date of maximum snowpack in Colorado has become increasingly earlier, and snowpack duration has decreased by an average of 18 days. The lead author of a 2022 study predicts that Colorado will experience a 50-60% reduction in snow by 2080.

Ski resorts have invested millions in snowmaking, allowing mechanized-supported snow sports to start sooner and continue into spring. In the 2021-22 season, U.S. ski areas invested almost $98 million in snowmaking improvements to existing systems. Snowmaking represented 10%-20% of resorts’ annual power bills.

Biggest brook trout catch in 75 years, then another

Granby resident Tim Daniel broke a 75-year old record by catching a 23.25 inch-long brook trout that weighed 7.84 pounds in Monarch Lake on May 23 — but, only four months later, Larry Vickers and Matt Smiley of Lake City both caught bigger brook trout a week apart from each other.

Smiley’s 8-pound, 9-ounce brook trout measured 26.25 inches in length, besting Vickers’ 8-pound, 3.5-ounce trout. They both caught their trophy fish in Waterdog Lake, which is in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Lake City in Hinsdale County.

Vickers did not go through the certification process, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife press release, although he did know his trout broke the record. He ate the fish, so the meat would not go to waste.

Smiley set out to catch a record trout Oct. 8 after hearing about Vickers’ catch on Waterdog Lake, and, as he started considering heading back after a day of catching smaller fish, he felt a tug on his line that turned out to be the record trout. Smiley said he is going to keep the fish and have it mounted.

The record trout before Daniel’s came from the Upper Cataract Lake in Summit County in 1947 and was the longest-standing fishing record in the state. The current oldest fishing record is for white bass, which dates back to 1963, while the oldest trout record is now for native cutthroat, dating back to 1964.

Walter the dinosaur might be something new

Walter is a dinosaur whose remains were discovered in Northwest Colorado‘s backyard, and now, after several years of study, paleontologists are asking themselves if Walter is a new species. 

Representatives from the North Carolina State paleontology department will offer a presentation at 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 21, in Dinosaur Hall at Colorado Northwestern Community College, 2801 W. Ninth St. in Craig, with updates about Walter. 

The dinosaur came to be known as Walter after Walter the Great Dane dog was credited for sniffing out the first set of bones that led to the find. It’s regarded as one of the most significant discoveries of dinosaur bones that originated in the local area.

The bones were discovered by Ellis Thomson-Ellis, her husband, Josh Ellis, and their dog, Walter, when the trio were out for a hike south of Rangely in 2014. People are welcome to join the presentation next week to find out what has recently been learned about Walter.


Aspen City Council puts breaks on Old Powerhouse Preservation Project

With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.

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