In Brief: Can’t get to those potholes fast enough; airport operations company touts carbon neutrality; rural towns threaten to sue Postal Service |

In Brief: Can’t get to those potholes fast enough; airport operations company touts carbon neutrality; rural towns threaten to sue Postal Service

Staff Report

Brutal weather, CDOT staff shortage hamper pothole repair

City of Aspen officials on Tuesday pointed to continuous snowfall and large temperature swings for what they called “accelerated pavement deterioration.”

While city crews are responsible for patching flexible and rigid pavements within city right-of-way, they also participate in an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide patching assistance on the Highway 82 corridor, officials said.  

Due to extreme staffing shortages, CDOT has not been able to provide typical maintenance services within their right-of-way. City staff is working to mitigate these challenges, they said.  

According to city officials: 

  • City crews are prepped and ready to begin cold-patching operations during nighttime hours and will continue patching operations as needed throughout the remainder of the winter. 
  • Warm asphalt patching operations will occur as weather permits in coming days. 
  • Staff is investigating any other assistance CDOT can provide to address pavement condition on the Highway 82 corridor. 

Staff will also monitor side streets for temporary repairs. To report road damage, visit Aspen 311 Connect. 

Contender for Aspen FBO touts carbon-neutrality milestone

Signature Aviation, the world’s largest private aviation terminal operator, announced this week that it has achieved carbon neutrality for 2022 across its global network of more than 200 FBO locations.

Signature said its investment covers greenhouse-gas emissions from all of its ground equipment, vehicles, facilities, electrical, and natural-gas heating and buildings (known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions). It also announced a commitment to maintaining carbon-neutral operations for every year going forward.

Company officials said they began with reducing their own emissions through electrification of vehicles, energy efficiency, and on-site solar power across its facilities, as well as grid-based renewable energy and then with carbon offsets for the remaining emissions.

The offsets investment came from the Elk Creek Mine project near Paonia, they said, adding that as the company continues its investment in reducing its own emissions in future years, it anticipates that offsets will contribute a smaller amount of its investment in carbon neutrality.

Signature Aviation is one of seven companies that have submitted an application for the FBO lease at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.

“We recognize the significant challenges and responsibilities for the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, and we look forward to meeting those challenges, if we are the successful respondent, as the world’s most environmentally-focused private aviation terminal operator,” said Tony Lefebvre, chief executive officer of Signature Aviation.

Rural communities posture in threat to sue Postal Service

Seven rural western Colorado communities are exploring possible legal action against the U.S. Postal Service in an attempt to fix longstanding problems that have crippled mail and package delivery to their residents and businesses.

With the backing of six other municipalities — Avon, Buena Vista, Parachute, Silverthorne, Snowmass Village and Steamboat Springs — the town of Crested Butte has retained the services of Kaplan Kirsh Rockwell LLP (KKR), a Denver-based law firm to explore possible legal claims against USPS. They aim to force both near-term action and long-term policy changes to fix what may be the most broken region in the nation when it comes to mail and package delivery.

“Standing outside in line for one to three hours or receiving mail — including prescription medication and disability payments — that is two or even eight weeks past its postmark is not an acceptable level of service, here or anywhere in the country,” said Crested Butte Town Manager Dara MacDonald.

Lawyers at KKR in Denver and Karp Neu Hanlon in Glenwood Springs, which provides regular legal services to many of the communities, are currently researching two avenues for a potential lawsuit — violations of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and the crippling Last Mile Delivery contracts that the USPS has with major internet retailers.

For small, rural post offices, those contracts can be overwhelming and cripple regular mail service. Many do not have the staff or facilities to manage both the packages and the regular mail.

So far, USPS has refused to discuss the contracts with town leaders in places like Crested Butte and denied a Freedom of Information Act request for the Amazon contract.  

Basalt Education Foundation hires outdoor education coordinator

The Basalt Education Foundation announced the hiring of Desiree Pimentel as the non-profit organization’s first outdoor/experiential education coordinator.

According to the foundation, she will work with the three schools’ leadership and faculty to support their current offerings and expand programming as requested. The position will tailor support at each school, providing needed hours and organizational skills to help with existing programs at Basalt’s middle and high schools while working with Basalt Elementary school to grow programming.
The foundation board conducted a community-wide search and chose Pimentel to bring a balance of creative ideas and organizational expertise, according to the foundation.

Pimentel served on the foundation board for two years and as member of the Taste of Basalt Committee. She is a nearly 20-year employee of Aspen Skiing Co. and currently the culinary executive assistant at The Little Nell. At Skico, she gained hands-on experience with purchasing, managing budgets, inventories, and supplies. She also completed National Outdoor Leadership School certification in Leadership, Environmental Ethics, Skills Practicum, and as a Leave No Trace

She has a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University and is a graduate of Basalt High School. She is a mother of two, with one child at Basalt Elementary School and one child entering kindergarten there in the fall.

Campaign finance complaint vs. Garfield County sheriff dropped

A complaint alleging campaign finance violations filed against Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario was dismissed last week, the sheriff’s office announced in a news release.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold made the decision on Feb. 22. It constitutes final agency action on the part of the Secretary of State’s Office.

The complaint was originally filed by David Wheeler, president of American Muckrakers PAC, Inc., on Sept. 2, 2022. American Muckrakers is a North Carolina political-action committee registered with the Federal Election Commission.

Vallario, using his position and email account, was specifically accused of encouraging voters to support ultra-conservative Silt Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and call out her opponent in last year’s primaries, Don Coram.

The sheriff’s office said the allegations were unsubstantiated and used to harass Vallario over his support of Boebert. This is supported by the Secretary of State’s findings that “while the PAC is involved in high-profile federal congressional races, it does not appear to be involved in any state-level campaigns,” the release states. 

“Except for the campaign of Sheriff Vallario, which was obviously a state-level campaign,” the release states.

The sheriff’s office also called the allegations against Vallario politically-motivated and frivolous, saying Vallario “was confident that he had committed no violations,” and that “he remained steadfast in his confidence that the outcome would be dismissal, as it was.”

“I’ve been an elected official for 20 years, and this is not my first rodeo,” Vallario said in the release. “I am fully aware of my boundaries within the law. It is unfortunate that people from out of state do not understand, nor take the time to become educated on Colorado law.”

Vail has biggest ski day of season Saturday

The town of Vail allowed 541 cars to park for free Saturday on the South Frontage Road, the highest car spillover total yet recorded this ski season.

The next highest road count occurred on Jan. 28, when 461 cars were parked on the frontage road.

Saturday’s spillover was the third day in a row in which the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures had filled. It was a snowy day, with Vail Mountain reporting 6 inches of fresh snow at 5 a.m. Morning crowds, which were cued up in advance of Gondola One’s 8:30 a.m. scheduled opening, were lined up along Bridge Street all the way to the Covered Bridge in Vail Village.

Six inches of fresh snow had also been reported on Thursday, and Friday’s morning report showed 2 inches on the snowstake.

Park City electeds fight for local control of housing

There’s a housing crisis in Utah. State legislators and the governor have indicated they see increasing supply as part of the solution and implied Summit County doesn’t play well with developers. 

But the County Courthouse, arguing for local control, says those on Capitol Hill don’t understand what it’s like to live in the Park City area.

“It’s hard to really believe this idea of fixing Utah’s housing crisis, this notion that they had to pass this legislation, S.B. 84, to fix a housing problem is simply pretext,” Summit County Council Chair Roger Armstrong said in an interview after Wednesday’s work session with Dakota Pacific Real Estate developers. 

Craig lurches toward riverside rec project

The Yampa River Corridor Project has pushed back its timeline to break ground, but the delay is giving city officials more time to seek additional grant funding for the project, which aims to boost outdoor recreation in Craig and improve the city’s river infrastructure. 

The river project, which has been in the works for several years, was anticipated to break ground in fall 2022 after the city received a $3.3 million Economic Development Administration Assistance to Coal Communities Grant for the project. However, as a part of the EDA funding, additional approvals and permits were required, which delayed the project’s start. 

Melanie Kilpatrick, the city’s executive assistant who has been managing the project, said the delay has given the city more time to secure additional grant funding, as well as resources for grant administration. 

Spotted owl proposed for threatened list in Sierra Nevada

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the California spotted-owl population in the Sierra Nevada as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency has determined that the California spotted owl is comprised of two geographically- and genetically-distinct population segments, the Coastal-Southern California population and the Sierra Nevada population. The agency is proposing to list the Coastal-Southern California population as endangered and the Sierra Nevada population as threatened.

As part of this proposed listing, the Fish and Wildlife Service is including a rule for the Sierra Nevada owls that exempts the prohibition of take under the Endangered Species Act for forest-fuels management activities that reduce the risk of large-scale, high-severity wildfire.

“Our goal is to help the California spotted owl recover across its range,” said Michael Fris, field supervisor of the agency’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife office. “Ongoing collaboration with a number of partners will result in positive conservation gains and put this species on the road to recovery.”