News in brief | AspenTimes.com

News in brief

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to support Pitkin County ballot question 1A, which proposes the extension and increase of the Healthy Community Fund property tax.

The question is on the Nov. 1 ballot. It proposes increasing taxes by up to $464,000 annually, resulting in a total levy of $1.94 million to support the fund, from which money is distributed to a host of area health and human services agencies and various nonprofits. The tax increase would begin in 2013, and the tax would be extended for five years. It is currently slated to expire at the close of 2012.

“It’s how we support our community. It’s how we support our health and human services,” said David Ressler, CEO of Aspen Valley Hospital and a member of the ACRA board, voicing support for the tax.

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland urged the board to formally support the tax measure; members agreed with little discussion.

According to literature on 1A handed to board members, the cost to taxpayers will be about $5.55 per $100,000 of residential property value starting in 2013 – an increase of $1.30 per $100,000 over what is collected currently.

ASPEN – A lawsuit blaming the Aspen Skiing Co. for the collapse of a platform on Aspen Mountain on July 4, 2010 has been dismissed.

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Court filings show that the suit, which Donny Bellm of Aspen and Redstone resident K. DezaRae O’Flannery filed, was dropped Sept. 6. No money exchanged hands, said Denver attorney Michael S. Beaver, who represented Skico in the matter.

The lawsuit said that the two were on uploading platform, which sits at the top of Lift 1A, when it collapsed. Both were injured as a result of the accident. The suit, which was filed June 3 in Pitkin County District Court, did not provide details of the injuries.

In a subsequent court filing Skico argued the plaintiffs were trespassing and not invited guests. Skico argued that the suit be dismissed, but a judge denied that request.

The plaintiffs and defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the suit can’t be re-filed at a later date.

Denver attorneys Chad Hemmat, who filed the suit, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

ASPEN – Several Aspen hotel operators reported strong booking activity for the coming winter during Tuesday’s Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors meeting.

Winter reservations at the Aspen Square Condominium Hotel are well ahead of pace, compared to last year at this time, said board chairman Warren Klug, who manages the hotel.

Klug said he isn’t sure whether the uptick represents repeat business from visitors who are booking earlier this year, or new business.

“January is astounding,” he said.

“Astounding. Yeah, that’s a good word for it,” said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.

Deals that, for example, offer a fourth night free with a three-night booking, are key, several lodging representatives said.

“I want to stand out front and say, ‘Will somebody please pay full price?'” Klug said, half jokingly.

Bookings for December through February at The Little Nell are up compared to last winter, said general manager John Speers.

Reservations at The Gant condo complex are up modestly for the winter and up noticeably for January, according to Donnie Lee, general manager there.

Both Klug and Lee reported strong international interest, particularly from Australia.

ASPEN – Aspen Film has announced the Audience Award winners from its recent Aspen Filmfest 2011. The 33rd annual Filmfest ran Sept. 21-25, and featured 20 films, with screenings in Aspen and Carbondale.

“50/50,” a touching comedy about a young man with cancer, earned the Audience Favorite Feature, with the French comedy “The Women on the 6th Floor” as runner-up.

The Audience Favorite Documentary honor was shared by “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” about the man whose dream on being a “Sesame Street” puppeteer came true; and “Wild Horse, Wild Ride,” about a horse-training competition.

Additional festival highlights included a talk by actors Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones after the screening of their film, “Like Crazy,” on opening night; appearances by the makers of “Wild Horse, Wild Ride,” “Somewhere Between,” “These Amazing Shadows” and “Building Hope”; the participation of some 900 students in the Filmmakers to the Classroom and Schools to the Theater programs; and the presentation of “In Darkness” as a Special Preview.

Upcoming Filmfest events include Academy Screenings, Dec. 20 through Jan. 1; and Aspen Shortsfest, April 10-15.

BASALT – Basalt High School invites midvalley residents to help celebrate homecoming with events starting Wednesday.

The Powder Puff Football Game and Brut Volleyball games will take place at the high school. The Powder Puff football games will feature girls from the high school grades, and boys will play in the Brut Volleyball game. The football games start at 6 p.m. and the volleyball starts at 7.

There will be a soccer game and a softball game both at 4 p.m. Thursday. A dodgeball game will begin at 6:30 p.m., and there will be a community bonfire from 7:30-9 p.m. outside the high school.

The Homecoming parade will take place on Midland Avenue at 1:15 p.m. Friday, followed by a community pep rally at the middle school right after the parade. There will be a tailgate party at 5 p.m. in the high school parking lot with food from Smoke Modern Barbeque.

The homecoming game against Roaring Fork will kick off at 7 p.m.