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News briefs

Staff report

Skico employees award $91,915 in grants

A planning effort designed to determine how to limit and manage the number of people visiting Conundrum Hot Springs and the Four Pass Loop received a $10,000 assist from the Aspen Skiing Co.’s employees’ Environment Foundation.

The foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to the White River National Forest for its Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness High Use Initiative. The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District wants to implement a permit system to the wilderness hot spots because it says they are suffering environmental degradation from all of the visits.

The foundation awarded $91,915 to 15 organizations or causes in its fall 2015 grant cycle. The largest grants were for $10,000 for the wilderness initiative and to Conservation Colorado Education Fund to increase Colorado’s renewable-energy standards.

“Grants to improve the health of the Roaring Fork River, support communities opposed to inappropriate oil and gas development, cultivate future environmental stewards and ensure popular hiking and biking trails remain in sound condition were also funded,” the foundation said.

The foundation has awarded $2.8 million in grants to 469 projects since it was started. Donations by Skico employees are matched in whole or in part by Aspen Community Foundation and the Aspen Skiing Co. Family Fund.

Applications for spring 2016 grants are due March 1. Those interested in receiving an application can email Matthew Hamilton at

Winterskol kicks off, Chamber presents business awards

The annual Aspen Chamber Resort Association Businesses of the Year Awards were presented to two local businesses at the 2016 Helen K. Klanderud Winterskol Dinner and Celebration held at the St. Regis Resort on Wednesday.

The 2015 Business of the Year was presented to Aspen Expeditions Worldwide. The ACRA Business of the Year is awarded to the business that has shown profitability, growth and sustainability along with a commitment to community service.

The 2015 Non-Profit of the Year was presented to Habitat for Humanity. The ACRA Non-Profit of the Year is awarded to the local nonprofit organization that has developed a close partnership with the Roaring Fork Valley community as a means to achieve its mission.

The 2015 Molly Campbell Service Award was presented to Kathryn Koch, who was recognized for her for her passion, dedication and leadership to the Aspen community. Koch volunteers her time by sitting on numerous community and citizen boards.

Defy Ordinary Awards are presented to individuals for their outstanding passion, leadership and commitment to the Aspen community. This year’s recipients are Bill Tomcich, Chuck Frias and Christine Benedetti.

Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, is the community liaison to the airline industry and is instrumental in securing air service into Aspen.

Chuck Frias, owner of the eponymous Frias Properties, has been active in all facets of Aspen real estate brokerage, management and development.

Christine Benedetti is marketing director for the Aspen Historical Society, a freelance writer, and arts and entertainment editor for the Aspen Daily News. She serves on the boards for the Wheeler Opera House, Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ The Band and the Next Generation Advisory Commission.

Aspen Club to close in April for 8 to 10 months

Aspen Club and Spa CEO Michael Fox emailed members Thursday announcing the Club’s closure in April for 8 to 10 months.

“As we have been finalizing all of the construction details, we have had to make some tough decisions about construction sequencing and how we provide a level of service and experience that you deserve through this process. This has been a moving target that we have finally nailed down. The original construction timeline allowed temporary closures in different areas of the Club while leaving it partially operational. Unfortunately, after going over all possibilities with construction phasing, challenges with the structural integrity of the existing building during construction and the prospect of delivering a poor experience for our members, guests and employees, we had to make a hard decision.”

The full closure of the club is scheduled to begin April 1.

The club negotiated with the following partners: O2, Shakti Shala, Bleeker Street Gym, Aspen Rec Center, Red Brick, Snowmass Club, Snowmass Rec Center and a few others still being finalized, who will grant access to their facilities and programs/classes with Aspen Club membership. Members will continue to pay discounted dues of $90 per month to the Aspen Club to utilize any and all of these partner facilities.

Members should contact the club with questions.

Free home improvements for income-qualified residents in the Roaring Fork Valley

The Community Office for Resource Efficiency is expanding the scope and scale of its income-qualified program to provide free home-efficiency services to more local residents. The program also will be extended beyond Pitkin County into Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley. Call 970-925-9775 or visit http://www.energysmart to learn more and apply.

CORE’s income-qualified program, which was offered beginning in 2014, provided as much as $2,500 in free efficiency upgrades for low- to- middle-income homeowners in Pitkin County. Last year, 27 families participated. This year, CORE received a grant from Energy Outreach Colorado, a nonprofit based in Denver, enabling CORE to expand the service territory into Eagle County, and to provide improvements of as much as $3,000 per home to 40 homeowners as well as renters in 2016.

Energy Outreach Colorado has created a new initiative, Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy program. It is partnering with Energy Smart Colorado and utilities providers to launch CARE in counties where there is an Energy Smart office, including Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield, Moffat, Summit, Lake, San Miguel and Routt counties. Utility partners include Holy Cross Energy, Xcel Energy, SourceGas, Atmos Energy, Colorado Natural Gas, San Miguel Power Association and Yampa Valley Electric Association.

To participate, residents must make less than or equal to 80 percent of area median income and must be a customer of one of the participating utilities. For example, a household of four in Pitkin County could qualify with a total household income of $78,000 or less, and that same family in Eagle County could qualify at $68,960 or less.

The upgrades are determined based on the home’s needs, which are identified by an energy analyst. Upgrades could include a furnace or boiler tune-up and safety check, insulation and air sealing, a high-efficiency refrigerator, high-efficiency water heater, LED light bulbs or a programmable thermostat all free to the resident. These upgrades can improve comfort and safety for residents and help them save money.

According to a State of Colorado Report, the average Colorado household saved $435 per year after weatherization services were performed.

If you or someone you know could be eligible, contact 970-925-9775 extension 501 or email for more information.

New grief and loss workshop at the Aspen Chapel

The Aspen Chapel is pleased to present a free four-week class led by Lexie Potamkin for anyone who is experiencing grief and loss. This could include the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job or even a dream or expectation.

Potamkin explains that the class is designed to be a place of healing where participants will gain the tools to let go of their pain, anger and sense of hopelessness and thereby discover how to open their hearts and begin the healing process.

In this class, participants will explore guided meditation, healing ceremonies and have the opportunity to share personal experiences or even just the experience of letting go by crying. Potamkin further explains that the healing process begins when we begin to let go, and it is her hope that this class will provide people the opportunity to do just that in a safe and confidential environment.

A Heart in Darkness will meet on Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Aspen Chapel starting Tuesday through Feb. 9. This class is free and open to the public.

For information about the class, contact Nicholas Vesey at 970-925-7184 or