News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

County commissioners on Wednesday approved a motion to settle with 87-year-old Lada Vrany, a longtime rancher living on county lands.Under the agreement, the county would pay Vrany $954 per month to perform maintenance on the property but he would be forbidden to rent the land to tenants, as he did in the past. The agreement also prohibits Vrany from irrigating or otherwise working the land.The county owns the land and will rent to Vrany on a year-to-year basis.”I don’t like it,” Vrany said, but he signed. He said the agreement pays him the same as Social Security, which he said is not a livable income in pricey Pitkin County.”There is no way you can make it here on $900 a month,” Vrany said. He agreed to the deal because his friends advised him that “something is better than nothing.”

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis received a check Wednesday from Forstmann Little & Co. for the amount he requested to cover the Iraqi president’s visit to the company’s annual conference .The final tally to feed and house security forces Sept. 15-16 came to $64,358, and the firm wrote a check for that precise amount.”I’m gratified,” Braudis said. “I appreciate it.”

Pitkin County commissioners gave Elam Construction the go-ahead Wednesday to expand its gravel-mining operation at its longtime Woody Creek site.Opponents of the project said the company’s nearly 20-year plan to mine the new area will be noisy and create dust.Elam wants to mine a hill adjacent to its 50-year-old Woody Creek gravel pit. Miners plan to level the hill in stages. The company provided 800 photos from sites around the mine to show what the 20-year progression of the project would look like. The proposal first went before the Woody Creek Caucus last month, and the company asked for input on two strategies for the mine: one coming from the west, the other from the east.”It’s going to be huge,” said Gail Braun, whose Woody Creek home abuts the operation. Braun said the project has a very direct effect not just on her life but on everyone. The visual impact alone will be noticeable from Snowmass, she said, and she is concerned whether the company will follow through with proposed restrictions.John Elam, a part-owner of the family business, said he wanted to do what’s right. He said the agreement calls for annual review, and he will do what he has agreed to do.”Nobody likes to see a [gravel] pit in their backyard,” Elam said. “But there is a need for it.”Much of the gravel from the mine goes to building roads, driveways and buildings in Pitkin County.Commissioners heard from members of the Woody Creek Caucus and neighbors of the project. The board amended the Elam proposal to include limiting hours of operation from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. (some residents asked for 8 a.m.-5 p.m.), and an annual review will focus on screening for the project. The board also required a study of the area’s flora to guide replanting when the job is done.