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News in Brief

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Carbondale chef Susie Jimenez is the next local to have a chance at the big time, when she debuts on the Food Network’s No. 1 series, “Food Network Star,” which will begin airing in June.

Jimenez and the other 14 finalists will compete for their own Food Network show by proving they have the culinary skills, and the on-camera talent, to an all-star selection committee that includes the show’s host, Bobby Flay.

The other finalists are from areas all over the country, including fellow Coloradoan Howie Drummond of Highlands Ranch.

According to the network, in the two-hour season premiere, the finalists get their first taste of Los Angeles with challenges staged at Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the city’s Original Farmer’s Market.

The show will begin airing on June 5 at 7 p.m. MST and will culminate on Sunday, Aug. 14.

Find more details, videos and interviews with the finalists at http://www.foodnetwork.com/star.

CARBONDALE – The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority probably won’t learn for another week whether it will receive a $25 million federal grant for expansion of its bus system even though Congress finally approved the 2011 fiscal year budget.

RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said Thursday that a lobbyist working for the bus agency felt the Federal Transit Administration would receive the funding “to make it possible for us to get our grant.”

RFTA’s proposed grant is part of the New Starts Program, which “isn’t taking a hit” in the compromise budget approved by Congress Thursday, Blankenship told the RFTA board of directors at a meeting in Carbondale.

RFTA has prepared a plan that will add buses, improve and add park-and-rides, and reduce riding times between major points between Aspen and Rifle. Voters between Aspen and New Castle approved a sales tax increase to handle some of the expense of the expansion. The federal grant is a critical revenue stream for the broader project.

Blankenship said he hopes to learn more about the fate of the grant as early as next week.

CARBONDALE – The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will ask Garfield County to perform a thorough review on a proposed recycling center along Catherine Road so it can assess how the popular Rio Grande Trail will be affected.

RFTA’s board of director’s voted Thursday to send a letter of concern to Garfield County, and dispatch staff and board members to a Garfield County commissioner meeting on the topic Monday.

The recycling center is proposed at the former Mid-Continent Resources coal loading facility along Catherine Road. Garfield County will consider Monday whether to allow a recycling center as a use by right, or require any such proposal to go through the regular, thorough review process.

RFTA board members said at their monthly meeting in Carbondale Thursday they want the more thorough review so it can study how truck traffic to the recycling center would affect cyclists and pedestrians on the trail. Trucks would have to cross the trail.

“That’s perhaps one of our heaviest-used sections of the trail,” said Bruce Christensen, a board member from Glenwood Springs.

RFTA board chair and Pitkin County Commissioner Michael Owsley said the transit agency’s interest is to provide a safe trail that’s isn’t impacted by new industrial uses. There are tens of thousands of trail riders each year. Probably all of them recycle, Owsley said, pointing out the potentially conflicting interests.

Board member and Basalt councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt said RFTA needs to speak out on the issue. “I think it’s our business, definitely our business,” she said.

CARBONDALE – Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen attended his last meeting as a member of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s board of directors Thursday after serving eight years.

Christensen cannot run for his Glenwood Springs post again because of term limits. As a result, he must relinquish his post on the RFTA board, which is reserved for elected officials from its member jurisdictions.

“Serving on RFTA is one of the joys and privileges of holding elected office,” Christensen said. The bus agency is a rare example of valley-wide cooperation, he said.

In a brief good-bye address he acknowledged the high quality of the RFTA staff. He warned the other members of the board of directors that his replacement from Glenwood Springs might be someone in line with the fiscally conservative philosophy that’s dominating politics across the country right now.

“The Glenwood Springs City Council has taken a very strong turn, in my opinion, to the right,” Christensen said.


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