Kudos & Kindness (Jan. 3, 2021)

Black Hills workers show how it’s done

Major, major kudos to Black Hills Energy for “getting it done.” Their massive army of fleet-footed technicians worked multiple 18-hour days to accomplish the seemingly impossible logistical task of restoring gas to thousands of housing units in super-short order under the most complicated, unprecedented and difficult winter/holiday conditions.

BHE showed up at our East End house Tuesday. Put their heads down. And patiently and politely spent the time it took to get us “re-lit.”

Being from the Front Range, they were shocked at Aspen property values and the gigantic fleet of gazillionaires’ private jets visible from the highway. Who wouldn’t be?

Great wealth has helped create a world-class resort/ lifestyle experience and an often embarrassing elitist bubble — a bizarre servant-served community that exposes the cracks in our so-called “great” democracy.

Regardless, BHE’s real people had our backs, kicked butt and “got it done.”

With great respect and a gigantic warm thank you …

Bill Lipsey



Warm thanks to responders in gas outage

The heat is on! A giant thank-you to all of the workers of Black Hills Energy and to all of the people in Aspen and Pitkin County fire, police and sheriff’s departments.

You all came together to help our community get through a very difficult and scary couple of cold days with no gas to fuel/heat our buildings and homes. Everyone who showed up put themselves at risk, during this pandemic. Everyone who showed up put themselves out there to help their neighbors and spent countless hours pushing to fix the problem. Thank you all for your time and your energy. Please know that you are all appreciated!

Megan Harvey Bourke



True pros on Aspen Mountain

Hats off to the lift operators of Aspen Mountain! After 17 days of skiing this month, I am very impressed by the universally courteous and cheerful attitude of these men and women doing their best to get us up the mountain. It’s not an easy job, made harder by the new rules of the pandemic, and these folks are some of the best client-facing employees Aspen Skiing Co. could hope for. They are truly a breath of fresh — albeit mask-filtered air — in an otherwise challenging season. Many thanks and keep up the great work!

Michael Katz



RFTA gratitude

As chair of the Roaring Fork Transporation Authority board, I would like to give a heart-felt thank-you to past board members Jacque Whitsitt, Markey Butler and George Newman for their years of service on the RFTA board during my tenure.

Over the years, RFTA has accomplished many objectives. RFTA is the largest rural transit service in the nation transporting over 5 million riders, not including the X Games and Maroon Bells. This, however, was dramatically changed with current pandemic. Their leadership was instrumental in RFTA’s success. Jacque’s leadership led to the BRT, George and Markey led the successful Destination 2040 and to obtain over 24 million in federal grants.

Wishing all of you continued success in your future endeavors.

Art Riddile

Chair, RFTA board

Mayor, New Castle


Letter to Future Self

Dear Future Self,

The idea of the American Dream differs greatly from person to person. Some people believe that it is a widespread idea of freedom, while others think more personally about family or future dreams.

Personally, I believe that the American Dream is to have equality throughout the world. Especially with the recent events regarding the Black Lives Matter movements, we need to work together and treat all people as equals regardless of gender, race, sexual identity, or any other difference.

There are many examples of inequality going on throughout the world. One of these is in education. Women make up more than two-thirds of the illiterate people in the world. Another case of inequality is in jobs. As of September 2020, the rate of unemployment for white workers was at 7%, considerably lower than the 12.1% rate of unemployment for workers of color.

While some people might just shrug it off as something coincidental, a study performed in Chicago and Boston proves differently. The conductors of the interview created identical resumes with the only change being the name. Some resumes had “white-sounding” names such as Carrie or Emily, while others had “black-sounding” names such as Lakisha or Aisha. The results showed that the resumes with “white-sounding” names were more likely to receive a call-back for an interview than the resumes with the “black-sounding” names. These statistics show that even if we call our societies “advanced” or “progressive,” we will never be truly equal until we get rid of inequality and fix these problems that are devastating people because of it.

Another part of the American Dream to me is helping people and trying to make the world a better place through kindness and helping others. Many people and many countries around the world are not nearly as successful or fortunate as America. I think that, as Americans, it is our responsibility to help others inside and outside of the country. For example, women in sub-Saharan Africa combined spend around 40 billion hours a year gathering water. This leaves many of them unable to get jobs or be able to go to school. Additionally, the water that they travel far to get often isn’t clean. Around 743 million people living in rural areas in 2008 relied on unimproved water sources. If these people just had a well closer to them, then they wouldn’t have to worry about water. If people would just donate money to or physically help people, then the world would be so much of a better place. So many people could be helped or saved from dying preventative deaths.

So, to future me, I hope that the world is a better place. I hope that the massive gaps between genders, races, wealth classes, etc. have been shrunk, if not completely eliminated. I hope that you are making a change in the world. However small it is, it makes a difference. And if you aren’t, maybe start now.

Just try to do something good every day. Give food to a homeless person you see on the street, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or even just take the time to talk to a stranger. The butterfly effect works in strange and wonderful ways and you never know what could grow from one tiny seed you plant in the ground. If once a day is too much at first, that’s O, start smaller. Try once a week doing slightly bigger things. Make a day of doing good. You could even find a group of people to do good with. Just make sure you do something. You never know how far the ripples can spread if you never take that leap into the water. But even if you don’t change the world, I’m proud of you and I just hope that you are happy with your life.

Lily Markalunas

Greenville, South Carolina

Lily Markalunas is the 14-year-old granddaughter of Aspen resident Jim Markalunas, who submitted this piece on her behalf.