In Brief: Glenwood has new city manager; new worries about COVID subvariant; water leak shuts off Minturn restaurants

Staff Report

Glenwood Springs chooses city manager at last

Beverli Marshall is set to become the new Glenwood Springs city manager.

“I am honored for the chance to serve the people of Glenwood Springs and sincerely look forward to working with City Council and staff to ensure we serve this community with excellence,” she said in a news release from the city.

The formal announcement came following an executive session at the beginning of Thursday’s City Council meeting. Marshall will officially begin her role as city manager on March 20 and has signed on for a two-year contract, according to the release. 

Contract terms include an annual salary of $215,000, plus a $2,000-per-month housing allowance, according to the contract approved as part of City Council’s consent agenda on Thursday.

Marshall, who will be running the day-to-day operations and administration of the city, has vast experience in government services, management, budgeting, finance, strategic planning, and organizational development.

“Drawing from my introductory conversations with community members, it is clear to me that there is a lot of passion and opportunity to work collaboratively for the present and future of Glenwood,” she said in the release.

Holding multiple, high-level CEO positions in public-sector jobs in California, she began her extensive career in housing and finance in Alaska and California. 

On Dec. 8, 2022, the city announced three new finalists for the position in its extended city-manager search and held a community meet-up on Jan. 5.  

Finalists Doug Gerber and Rachel Oys, along with Marshall, were named in the second round that was initiated after council decided to continue the search. In September 2022, council chose to reject the first round of finalists, citing that they did not think they had the experience they were looking for. 

State, Eagle County health officials watch new COVID subvariant

There’s a new omicron subvariant bringing COVID-19 waves across the world and country. The XBB.1.5 subvariant — nicknamed the “kraken” — is quickly becoming the most dominant strain of the virus, and it’s already arrived in Colorado and Eagle County.

“We’re going to continue to keep an eye on the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant, which is something that we’ve been seeing for several weeks taking hold in the northeast part of the U.S.,” said Heath Harmon, Eagle County’s director of public health. “What is now starting to happen is we’re seeing that variant and subvariant moving south and west. We know that it’s already here in Colorado and in Eagle County, and so, as this takes hold, we would expect to see an increase of COVID-19 infection over the next several weeks.”

Current COVID-19 infections in the community, while lower than in the first half of December, are “more elevated” than the levels the community saw in the fall, according to Harmon.

Chris Lindley, Vail Health’s chief population health officer, said that, while Eagle County has “not yet seen a significant wave,” there has been a “slight uptick in COVID hospitalizations.

“At this time, we are not worried about additional COVID hospitalizations. We are only averaging one or fewer COVID patients hospitalized per day at Vail Health,” he said. “However, we are monitoring staff illness every day and are prepared for additional staff illnesses with COVID, (especially) during the next four to six weeks.”

These hospitalizations remain “stable and lower than the state average,” he added. 

As local public-health and health-care professionals prepare for an increase in community transmission of COVID-19 as a result of this new subvariant, the wave is not expected to look like the original omicron variant spike last year.

“This particular subvariant is more infectious than any previous variants that we’ve seen thus far, and so, that will definitely lead to increased transmission,” Harmon said. “However, there are a few silver linings with this, in that we don’t see this causing more severe illness, and some of the treatment with antivirals that we have currently in place continues to be effective.”

Water leak shuts down all the restaurants in town

A Thursday water main leak in Minturn kept the town’s restaurants closed Friday and into Saturday.

Minturn Town Manager Michelle Meteer said the leak occurred near the intersection of Main Street and Cemetery Road. The leak was in an old, unused service line but affected water supplies for the town north of Cemetery Road. Virtually all town businesses are in that area.

Water service was restored Thursday about 6 p.m., but all users were asked to boil water.

The boil advisory resulted in the shutdown of all the town’s restaurants.

Officials at town hall are posting information and updates on the town’s website. Officials are also taking a close look at the 119-year-old town’s water system.

The capped-off line that sprung a leak Thursday is one of an unknown number of similar lines. Those “ghost” lines — all of which are decades old — should be removed completely rather than capped, Meteer said. Town officials in the summer of this year will seek to find and update as many of those old lines as possible.

Snowfall at Tahoe may approach record for January

The Lake Tahoe Basin has experienced, what has felt like, nonstop snow in January, leading people to call this a historic winter. While snowfall records have fallen this season at Truckee-Tahoe, the region still needs quite a bit more snow to match the best January on record and also winter as a whole.

Snowfall measurements vary around the basin, depending the path of the storms and the location the measurement was taken. The National Weather Service in Reno has an average snowfall in the Tahoe Area for the first 19 days of January at 84 inches. 

The Natural Resource Conservation Service, which collects measurements from several SNOTEL sites around the basin show a snow depth of 96 inches at the Palisades site, 104 inches at the Ebbetts Pass site, and 105 inches at the Mt. Rose site.

The UC Davis Central Sierra Snow Lab, which is located on Donner Pass, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday, Jan. 17, that they’ve measured 165 inches of new snowfall.

“There are records falling, which is crazy because it’s not even the end of the month,” said Bryan Allegretto, Northern CA/NV forecaster for OpenSnow.

Actor run over by own snowplow near Lake Tahoe back home

Actor Jeremy Renner says he is out of the hospital after being treated for serious injuries from a snow plow accident.

In response to a Twitter post Monday about his Paramount+ TV series “Mayor of Kingstown,” Renner tweeted, “Outside my brain fog in recovery, I was very excited to watch episode 201 with my family at home.”

He was run over by his own 7-ton Pistenbully snow groomer in Nevada while trying to use it to free a relative’s vehicle on a private road near Lake Tahoe on New Year’s Day, authorities said.

The accident left him in critical condition with major chest trauma and other injuries, according to a Renner representative.

Authorities are still investigating but have said there were no signs that he was impaired and no indication of any foul play.

The 52-year-old two-time Oscar nominee plays Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has a recurring role in the “Mission Impossible” franchise.

Utah having best winter in decades

Commuters traveling through Parleys Canyons, skiers taking advantage of fresh powder at area resorts, and officials working at the state level are all in agreement: Utah is having an exceptional winter. 

There are historic and record-breaking snowpack conditions across the state, which have contributed to making this season one of the best winters in nearly 20 years, according to Jordan Clayton, a supervisor with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Utah Snow Survey. The snowfall has aided in Utah’s recovery from the drought, helping to eliminate exceptional drought conditions throughout the state, and is expected to provide much-needed relief to reservoirs this spring.

“We’re nowhere near the end of winter, but, for this particular date, we haven’t seen snow water equivalent totals this high, from a statewide perspective, since 2005. This is notable because 2011 was an outstanding winter. And, it’s still possible that our peak snowpack won’t be as high, but, as of today, we are beating 2011,” Clayton said.