News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Two hikers who got lost after going off the Ute Trail on Thursday were located and brought to safety by members of Mountain Rescue Aspen.

According to a news release, the hikers called the sheriff’s office at approximately 8:45 a.m. Two hours later, rescuers made contact and returned the hikers, who apparently had gotten into a steep area of loose rocks and did not feel comfortable coming down, to the trail. They were back on Ute Avenue by noon, a press release says.

Seven members of Mountain Rescue participated in the effort.

ASPEN – Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson have made a $5 million gift to the Aspen Music Festival and School, the organization announced.

The money will fund the redevelopment of the Music Festival’s Castle Creek campus, and the building of a rehearsal facility to replace the current Opera Hall.

Conceptual drawings for the new building, to be named the Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson Rehearsal Hall, have already been made by the Basalt firm, Harry Teague Architects.

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Edlis is a trustee of the Aspen Music Festival. Edlis and Neeson were also significant donors for the recent renovation of The Aspen Institute’s Paepcke Auditorium. The two, who live in Aspen and Chicago, are also supporters of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

BASALT – Sales tax collections by Basalt businesses fell 3.4 percent in April compared to the same month the year before, according to Town Finance Director Judi Tippetts.

Her report shows sales tax revenues were $220,810 in April this year, compared to $228,576 in 2009. Both years were down significantly from the 2008 mark, before the recession hit the Roaring Fork Valley full force.

Automotive services, lodging, general retail sales and sporting retail sales all managed increases in April compared to 2009, the report shows. But Basalt’s biggest revenue generator, retail food stores, took another beating. Sales were down 4 percent for the month. Restaurants with bars, another major portion of Basalt’s economy, were down 3 percent in April.

For the fiscal year-to-date, December through April, Basalt’s sales tax revenues are down almost 7 percent, Tippetts’ report says. Sales tax revenues are $1.32 million this year through April, compared to $1.41 million last year over the same period.

Sales by retail food establishments are down 8 percent year-to-date. Restaurants with bars are up 10 percent for the year, despite April’s poor performance. General retail stores have experienced a 4.5 percent drop in sales so far this year.