In Brief: Concrete truck on Rio Grande; flash freeze west of Glenwood

Staff Report

Concrete trucks on Rio Grande Trail on Thursday

Concrete trucks are scheduled to use the Rio Grande Trail at the Wingo bridge over the Roaring Fork on Thursday, Pitkin County officials said.

Traffic controllers will be present. Work is underway on the piers and abutments beneath the historic bridge, originally built to carry a railroad over the river. It is a joint project of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails and RFTA.

Flash freeze gridlocks I-70 west of Glenwood Springs

The winter storm on Monday evening began right before rush hour, bringing a flash freeze that left many stuck in gridlocked traffic for hours when westbound Interstate 70 closed west of Glenwood Springs. 

“It was the weather plus unfortunate timing,” said Elise Thatcher, regional communications manager for Colorado Department of Transportation.

The freeze came right at sunset, during many people’s commute home from work.

Thatcher said that CDOT crews had completed one round of dropping sand, refilled the trucks and were heading back out when traffic began to back up on I-70 going west from Glenwood Springs.

“With that wave of traffic, there was a bottleneck in South Canyon, and we couldn’t get our plows past everyone to drop the next round of sand,” she said. 

When the road was beginning to clear up again for commuters to make it through, multiple minor accidents began to happen going into South Canyon.

“We did get traffic moving again at about 8 p.m.,” Thatcher said. “Unfortunately, drivers tried to drive too quickly, because they were in a rush. They’re trying to get home, it had been a long day. But with everybody trying to drive too quickly on what was still a really slick section of I-70, that’s when multiple crashes happened just one after the other.”

From there, the trucks weren’t able to get through, either from people being unable to move to let them through or people being unaware that they needed that space to get through. 

The westbound lanes of I-70 ended up being closed from a little after 8 p.m. until about 11:30 p.m., stranding motorists on the interstate and in the West Glenwood roundabouts and extending back into town.

GarCo DA won’t charge officers who fired at suspect in domestic dispute

A Rifle police officer and Garfield County sheriff’s deputy who fired five rounds at a suspect accused of drunkenly inciting a domestic dispute are not being charged with any criminal citations, Garfield County’s district attorney stated in a Tuesday letter.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Jefferson Cheney conducted an investigation that lasted nearly three months after the shooting took place in Rifle. Fellow investigators included Rifle Police Chief Debra Funston, Glenwood Springs Police Det. Kyle McElroy and Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.

In a letter obtained by the Post Independent on Tuesday, Cheney declined to file any criminal charges against Rifle Police Officer Michael Pruitt and Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Lester Gherardini. An affidavit states that Pruitt and Gherardini shot 28-year-old Rifle resident Jacob Noel Cerda on Sept. 24. 

Cheney, however, is charging Cerda with first-degree felony assault on a peace officer, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and misdemeanor prohibited use of a weapon.

“I conclude that both officers who fired their duty weapons at Mr. Cerda were justified in order to defend themselves and others from a (reasonable) belief that Mr. Cerda was about to imminently use unlawful and deadly force,” Cheney said in the letter.

Body camera footage, police reports, photographs, multiple interviews and more were analyzed and used in the investigation, Cheney said. He also said the officers adhered to Colorado self-defense laws. 

“I further conclude that officer Pruitt and Sergeant Gherardini were ‘peace officers’ performing their official duties and at the time each had reasonable grounds to believe that each was in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury,” Cheney said in the letter.

A Christmas poem up in the air

Sopris Lodge at Carbondale is hosting the Sopris Soarers to spread some holiday cheer with an aerial rendition of the classic Christmas poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.

The Sopris Soarers are a local aerial academy and performance troupe based at The Launchpad studios in downtown Carbondale. This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested. 

Visit for more information and to RSVP. Sopris Lodge is at 295 Rio Grande Ave.

Aspen attorney makes partner at Holland & Hart

Holland & Hart announced the election of 24 partners effective Jan. 1, 2023, including Kevin Giles in the firm’s Aspen office.

Serving clients in a range of practice areas and industries across the firm’s footprint, the elected partners also include attorneys in the firm’s Boise, Boulder, Cheyenne, Denver, Jackson, Reno, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe, and Washington, D.C., offices.

Giles, a collegiate baseball player at Georgetown prior to law school, maintains an active litigation practice, representing clients through real estate disputes involving title matters, HOA disputes, construction, and other real estate-related litigation, according to Holland & Hart, who said he’s also a real estate investor.

Eagle County real estate dips toward pre-pandemic 2019

Eagle County’s real estate market this year won’t crack the $4 billion mark in sales volume. But this will be the third consecutive year sales volume has exceeded $3 billion.

Through the end of November, the valley’s real estate sales have slowed somewhat from the frantic pace set in 2021. That’s probably a good thing.

“What the market is doing is getting back to a semblance of balance,” said Michael Slevin, the owner and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. “The last two years were as unique a time in real estate as any I’ve ever experienced.”

The slowdown in transactions is significant — a nearly 30% drop from 2021 through Nov. 30.

On the other hand, the number of transactions through November virtually matches those for the same period in 2019.

That’s the last year before the pandemic, and there seems to be something of a return to those conditions.

Town of Vail asks STR license holders to help out

Earlier this month the town of Vail sent out a letter to 230 homeowners and property managers that hold short-term rental licenses in the town, asking them to help provide winter housing for essential employees of the town.

“The town of Vail is urgently seeking additional housing units for essential workers this winter season,” the letter reads. “The Town is asking all second and primary homeowners to consider a long-term or seasonal lease with the Town of Vail for this purpose. We are asking all property managers to forward the message to clients who might be interested in such a lease.”

Russ Forest, Vail’s town manager, said the impetus for the letter was two-fold. First, the town was desperate to fill seven key and important bus driver positions. But officials hoped the email would cast a wider net for the broader business community and essential workers.

Moffat community college seeks to join CMC

The Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board has formally submitted a request for CMC to conduct a study concerning the feasibility of Moffat County’s annexation into the Colorado Mountain College District. This action is the first step in CMC’s procedure to consider modifications to the district’s geographic boundary.

“The Moffat County college district board’s application begins a well-established and complex process to evaluate whether bringing a new community into the CMC district is feasible and in everyone’s best interest,” said CMC Board of Trustees President Peg Portscheller. “We have received several such requests over the past decade; only the communities of Salida and Poncha Springs have successfully joined the district in recent years.”

After completion of a feasibility study, the CMC Board of Trustees will evaluate whether to put the annexation to a vote. Majorities of electors in both the CMC District and the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District would have to approve annexation in order for Moffat County to join the CMC District. This process is permitted under existing state law and can take several years to complete.