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Aspen Times Q&A with Railroad Earth’s John Skehan

The members of Railroad Earth had only played a handful of live shows around their native New Jersey and recorded five demo songs before they improbably landed a gig at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2001.

That show introduced the band to Colorado, and soon to the masses of passionate followers of string music and improvisation. Railroad Earth’s rocking approach to bluegrass and their freewheeling concerts have made them the kind of band that music lovers orient their lives around.

The band returns to Aspen for a two-night run at Belly Up on Jan. 28 and 29. I spoke to Railroad Earth mandolin player John Skehan during one of the band’s previous wintertime multi-night runs in Aspen:

ANDREW TRAVERS: You do a lot of these multi-night runs, and some hardcore fans are sure to hit all the Colorado shows. How do you craft the arc of performances over multiple days?

JOHN SKEHAN: You do end up in a mindset, where rather than a first set and second set you’re looking at Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the overall arc. We change things up night to night, as much to keep ourselves on our toes as to keep the audience interested.

AT: The Railroad Earth connection with fans and audiences is uniquely intimate and personal. Is that something you guys consciously wanted to cultivate? Or did it just kind of happen on the road?

JS: It just kind of happens. We’re very blessed to have that kind of audience that really wants to be with you and see where you’re going to go. It keep us from doing the same thing night after night. They want to take the ride with us. And this scene that we’re in, and that we share with so many of our other brother bands out there, you’re blessed because you have a segment of fans that make live music a big part of their lives. It’s not, “OK, I’m going to go to the Enormodome to see Sting once a year.” They plan their vacations, their lives, their weddings, around going to hear live music. They make it a sacrament of their lives. We’re lucky to share that with them.

AT: Your song “Colorado,” from the first album, where did it come from and what inspired it?

JS: Colorado has been an interesting recurring theme throughout our existence. That came from a banjo riff that Andy [Goessling] had, and it kind of began to come together as we were first trying to figure this thing out. We recorded a short disc of demos that got passed around and we got enough positive feedback on that that we were able to go out and buy a crappy beat up old red van and tour, which led us to go, “Let’s take these five or six songs and add five more so we have something to tour with.”

Part of that initial tour was this big and scary thing that happened: we got a slot at Telluride. So of course one of the lyrics is, “Down the rocks run the cool rushing waters,” thinking about being on that stage in Telluride and looking out to the one end of town where the canyon ends and there’s that beautiful stream running down it. So it was just, well, I guess we’re bound for Colorado.

AT: That first show in Telluride gets talked about like it was really the genesis of Railroad Earth as we know it. Coming out of that show did the band find its identity?

JS: No. I don’t think we had any idea. We were just swept up in something, saying, “What is this thing?” It’s one thing to go in a studio and do some local shows to tune things up and experiment with songs. In that first year and beyond we were just learning what this thing is.

AT: Your progressive bluegrass style fit in with the tradition of Colorado bluegrass — New Grass Revival and Leftover Salmon and company. Do you approach a Colorado show any differently than elsewhere?

JS: I think we’ve always just done what we do. Colorado is receptive to it. Especially in the early days, we didn’t set out to be a bluegrass band or a rock band with bluegrass instruments — we were just working with this body of songs that Todd [Scheaffer] had come up with and that we had contributed to. We were just lucky that Colorado is a place you can come out with bluegrass instruments, put drums behind you, and do some more exploratory improvisation in that context and nobody looks at it as completely bizarre or anything.


Approvals spark new life into downtown JAS Center project

Nearly three years after Aspen City Council cleared the founder of Jazz Aspen Snowmass to launch a jazz performance and education center downtown, Jim Horowitz said he expects the project will get rolling before the year is over.

JAS announced this week that developer Mark Hunt has received the entitlements and approvals and is actively seeking a building permit to begin construction. Horowitz said he anticipates work to begin in 14 to 16 weeks once the permit is pulled.

“These approvals are for the special perimeter, core and shell of the JAS Center,” the announcement said. “No longer a matter of ‘if,’ only ‘when’ construction begins.”

Most of the property that will be redeveloped is on the second level of 416, 420 and 422 E. Cooper Ave. and above the old Red Onion space. It will be called JAS Center @ Red Onion.

“There is a valid land use approval in place to proceed with a renovation of the building that will provide a venue for JAS,” said city planning director Amy Simon in an email. “We can’t confirm how long the permit review will take. It depends as much on the applicant and the quality of their permit submittal as it depends on our review time.”

JAS has had a contract in place since 2018 to purchase the property from Hunt, who will be responsible for getting the bulk of the redevelopment completed.

“We went under contract for this four years ago and just by the time we had the design and what we had wanted to build, COVID hit, and everything went into hibernation,” Horowitz said. “And it’s only been in the last six months that it’s really started to heat up where people are willing to have these conversations.”

Horowitz said the JAS Center will be a “four-in-one project. It’s four uses under one roof.”

A supper club and jazz cafe, event space, a recording studio and classrooms for the organization’s music education program will be the main features of JAS Center. The project calls for 9,500 square feet, as well as a 600-square-foot terrace overlooking the Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall.

The venue will adjust according to the seasons, Horowitz said, noting a supper club will be fully operational during the winter and summer. JAS will produce events as well as outside groups.

“It’s either going to be our show or it’s going to be some kind of event, but the event most likely will have music also,” he said. “It’s always going to be open. And in the evening during prime time, it’s either going to be JAS Cafe or it’s going to be some kind of event. That’s most of the winter and summer usage.”

JAS Cafe, which is part of the organization’s programming, is a series of jazz performances. The rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum is the venue for JAS Cafe this summer.

The JAS Academy also will prosper with the new venue, Horowitz said of the organization’s all-scholarship music education program led by artistic director Christian McBride.

“This building will be a godsend for that program because right now, we’re nomads,” Horowitz said, “and we bounce around with different facilities we rent. This place is a classroom, a music hall and a studio all under one roof.”

The center will be a “turnkey special events venue,” where people can dine, listen to speakers and hear music, Horowitz said. The venue could accommodate anywhere from 100 to 300 people for events ranging from public concerts to private wedding receptions, he said.

During the slower times of the year for tourism, the facility will be available to local music education programs for recitals and events.

“This is going to be a cauldron of energy in the core,” Horowitz said, adding that they’re taking a “truly historic building and reimagining it for public purposes.”

Securing the entitlements and approvals for the redevelopment also will help fuel the JAS “Keep the Music Playing” fundraising campaign to support the project, Horowitz said. So far JAS has received $16 million in commitments “from a blend of longtime friends of the organization and a lot of new ones, which is a great, great sign,” he said.

“The $16 million that came through the quiet phase where we were testing the waters is what’s particularly encouraging,” he said.

Those pledges put the non-for-profit organization $9 million away from meeting its $25 million goal, which is the amount needed to complete the project’s buildout and acquire the physical property JAS Center will occupy, Horowitz said.

“This truly is a transformational moment for JAS along with a handful of individuals, organizations and events, which changed JAS forever,” Horowitz said in a statement. “We’d also like to thank Mark Hunt for giving JAS this incredible opportunity to establish a permanent home and unique community asset in Aspen’s core. … The timing for JAS Center is right and the time is right now.”

The Hunt-owned Red Onion space on the ground level is being separately redeveloped, but on a much smaller scale than the JAS Center, for a future restaurant to be owned and operated by Samantha and Craig Cordts-Pearce. The Aspen couple also run five other restaurants in the area.

Though a notice of stop-work order remained in plain view on the front entrance to the Red Onion as of Wednesday, the city deactivated the order two weeks ago, according to Simon.


Writers on the Range: Never hike without this perfect accompaniment

I have long been known to have pet peeves about the debris hikers drop along trails, but one piece of litter has become more annoying: the ubiquitous facial tissue.

A used tissue lying boldly in the middle of the path could indicate a person who does not know better. But, a tissue stashed under a rock demonstrates that somebody knows it should be carried out and is attempting to hide the evidence.

While wearily picking up the umpteenth piece of used paper along a trail recently, I had to wonder why hikers don’t use handkerchiefs or that incredibly versatile outdoor equivalent, the bandana. 

Westerners know bandanas as a square of imprinted cotton material used as neckwear or a hatband. A friend says they’re also great dinner napkins because they never need ironing.

Bandanas are used to blow one’s nose or wipe the sweat off one’s face. Sometimes, the same bandana is employed for both purposes, though, for some reason, that seems to freak people out. We are, after all, talking about hiking, an activity in which one can go days without a change of underwear or a bath. Also, ladies — the lowly bandana can be used as a pee rag to avoid leaving unsightly wads of toilet paper along the trail. Dangling one’s pee rag on the back of a pack allows ultraviolet light to kill the nasties. 

A bandana is usually cotton but can also be nylon, wool, microfiber, silk or fleece. It can be red, navy blue, yellow, magenta or puce — you name it. Bandanas can boast maps of the area, cattle brands, illustrations of edible plants, flowers or cloud formations. Some people may aspire to carry a bandana sporting lavender paisley delicately embroidered onto a chartreuse background — why not?

A bandana can be used as a muffler to keep your neck warm, a scarf to keep your head cool, a hat to keep the part in your hair from being sunburned or two tied into a belt keeps your pants up. It can be turned into a snare to catch small animals, a fishing line, a hammock for squirrels, a filter for drinking water or a necktie for your next formal party. 

Bandanas can be used to tie down your hat, so it won’t fly away in the wind. They can secure your bottle of milk or wine cooling in the river (so it won’t get washed down into the rapids) or your hiking buddy, so he can’t interfere while you ransack his pack for chocolate (which, incidentally, was tied to a tree with a bandana, so it wouldn’t fall over).

They may be used as an arm sling for a broken clavicle, a tourniquet in case of bleeding, padding for splints when re-setting a bone or a gag to muffle the screams as one re-sets the bone.

Several bandanas can be tied together to make a tarp, a ground cloth, an air mattress to be used with extreme haste or maybe an impromptu prom dress. They can be cut into pieces and used to play checkers. They can be folded up and used to patch your jeans. They can be unraveled (or raveled) and woven into a macramé belt. They can be lined with foil and used to boil water.

Two can be tied together and used as a bikini bottom while one’s pants dry. They can be used to hold your hair back while you hike, your food while you day hike or over your face while you hold up a train.

If soaked with water, bandanas can be used to lower the body temperature of a heat-exhaustion victim or twisted into a “rat tail” and used to painfully snap someone who is stashing their used facial tissue under a rock.

All in all, a bandana is something no hiker should ever be without. A bandana is truth, beauty and a little bit of Rit dye. And, once you join the ranks of bandana lovers, you, too, can sing the Chiquita Bandana anthem: “bandana, bandana, bandana is good enough for me.”

Marjorie “Slim” Woodruff is a contributor to Writers on the Range, writersontherange.org, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. She is a Grand Canyon educator who also cleans up trails.

Cidermass returns to Snowmass Village with some Juice

Cidermass returns to the Snowmass Village Mall on Saturday for its fourth year, and it promises to be “an afternoon of tastings, music and good cheer,” according to Reed Lewis, Cidermass founder and owner of local spirits shop The Daily Bottle. He said that while cider has been around for a while, it was later to enter the Colorado market and “has exploded in the last two years,” so Cidermass is sure to be full of fun for all of drinking age.

Cideries will set up tastings along the mall, and in addition to Colorado cider makers, libations will be represented from five other states this year, including neighbors from Wyoming and New Mexico.

“People in the business are finding us and joining us for the first time this year,” said Lewis.

So even if you’ve been to the event in the past few years, expect some new tasting and new tunes for 2022. And just because you’ve had cider doesn’t mean there’s nothing new to see or try, either, according to Lewis.

“It’s cider festival, but just like Food & Wine doesn’t have just food and wine, we’ve invited some distilleries as well, to keep it from being one-dimensional. We just keep building it a little bit each year. I imagine the crowd will be a little bit bigger. You’ll see some old favorites and some new representation,” he said.

Tastings take place from 1-4 p.m., and select vendors include Shilling, Talbots, Colorado Cider Co., 10th Mountain Distilling, Marble Distilling and Whistling Andy Distillery, to name a few of the 20-25 vendors on tap.

And despite the national presence and the fact that the event is sure to attract cider heads from out of town, both Lewis and Rose Abello, tourism director for Snowmass, appreciate that this is an event with a Roaring Fork Valley flavor.

“This was Reed’s brainchild. To me, I love the fact that one of our great local vendors has all this passion behind this event. It’s nice to have a locally spearheaded festival,” Abello said. “Ciders have really taken off, and to be able to have a cider tasting of this magnitude right in our backyard is a great opportunity for our locals and visitors alike.”

“People come from all over but it’s really a locals’ event,” Lewis echoed.

In addition to the sweet and sour sips from around the country, ticketholders can also look forward to some locally curated live music. Lewis called the genre “mountain music” and said it will be a collaboration between several valley musicians who have come together to form the band Juice, which seems fitting for a cider shindig.

“We like to do events for the community, not to the community,” Abello said, emphasizing the fact that this motto is constantly repeated amongst the members of the Snowmass team as they’re putting together the calendar of events each season. “We like to do events that appeal to locals, as well as visitors.”

Cidermass is $45 in advance and $55 at the door. A commemorative glass is included with your tastings and, as always, Lewis would like to remind people that in addition to the familiar friends, local vendors and local musicians, local (and free) public transportation is available, so remember to carpool or hop on a shuttle or bus to get yourself home.

Cidermass glasses.
Hal Williams Photography Inc
Cidermass in Snowmass in 2018.
Hal Williams Photography Inc

Bringing soul to the bandshell: Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed brings his dynamic sound to Basalt

Eli “Paperboy” Reed has played juke joints in Mississippi, served as minister of music at a church in Chicago and taught gospel to at-risk youth in Harlem. 

On Aug. 24, he will bring his soulful, dynamic sound to Lions Park in Basalt for the third and final act in the free summer concert series hosted by The Arts Center at Willits, in partnership with the town of Basalt.

“We wanted someone that was energetic and upbeat, would be a lot of fun outside and really get people on their feet,” TACAW executive director Ryan Honey said.

The concert is intended to generate community excitement surrounding the town of Basalt’s new bandshell planned in Basalt River Park.

“It’s an opportunity for us, while we have people’s captive attention, that we can talk about it and get people thinking about it and excited for next summer,” Ryan Mahoney, Basalt town manager, said.

The new bandshell, which is part of the second phase of construction for Basalt River Park, will be open for events such as the free summer concert series next summer, according to Mahoney. The second phase of the park’s construction will also include the construction of a water-misting feature and a climbing feature on the bandshell itself, Mahoney said.

“The whole intent was to create an activity center and vibrancy in that town park,” Mahoney said. “When we went through the public process for the River Park, we saw that park being the main feature of the downtown, really tying the river into the town center. We thought that having this bandshell would help our ability to provide for activities, shows, things like that to get people down there.”

In the future, with Basalt’s plans to redo other areas, such as town hall and Lions Park, Mahoney said there may not be a need for the new bandshell. But in the short-term, “it’s going to really help to be a catalyst for getting what we intended out of the park, which is a lot of use from it,” he said.

The town of Basalt worked with TACAW to determine how the new park and bandshell design could support music events.

A previous summer concert at The Arts Campus at Willits.
Courtesy of The Arts Campus at Willits

“The town, to their credit, has recognized for some time that live performance is a great way to connect the community, drive economic activity, create community cohesion,” Honey said.

Mahoney is well aware of the beneficial impact the free concert series can have on the community.

“Our goal is to hopefully get acts that bring out more people because ultimately, the series is meant to not only provide a cultural event for folks, but then hopefully, before and after that cultural event, get people (who are) already out of the house to go patronize our businesses, be able to see people maybe they haven’t seen in a while,” Mahoney said. “It’s really all about creating communities.”

Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed
Courtesy of The Arts Campus at Willits
Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed
Courtesy of The Arts Campus at Willits
Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed
Courtesy of The Arts Campus at Willits

Locally based book explores AI, ancient wisdom, climate challenges, healing and more

“We’re all in this together; the healing of our communities and our shared planet earth begins with our own internal healing.”

That’s Aaron William Perry’s main message in his new book: “Viriditas: The Great Healing Is Within Our Power.”

The visionary eco-thriller opens in New York City, where the main character, Brigitte Sophia, is being chased through Central Park by sinister, paramilitary men who are hell-bent on getting their hands on the code Brigitte has just cracked, regarding deep artificial intelligence. She’s forced to flee to Colorado, ditching all her technology so she can’t be tracked. Along the way, she must rely on a strange, enigmatic friend of a friend, who she initially doesn’t like (but you know how love stories go). He takes her to local regenerative farms, wilderness areas and eventually to Sustainable Settings Ranch, where she’s exposed to new concepts, including permaculture, biodynamics, esoterica and indigenous and ancient wisdom.

“All of this is just the set up for the reader, leading into the third and final part of the story, in which a massive, transformational and hopeful revelation is shared with humanity about these perilous times we’re all living in together,” Perry said.

Initially, Brigitte resists slowing down and listening to anything that “isn’t scientific,” but gradually, she begins to break down and wake up, becoming the “reader’s guide to understanding what might be possible in all this unfolding we’re participating in on the planet,” Perry said on a podcast with Brook LeVan, co-founder of Sustainable Settings.

“She’s like a lot of us, disconnected from traditional wisdom,” he said, adding that throughout her journey, she “drops out of urban consciousness and her head into her body, into her heart.”

With the survival of the species at stake, Brigitte is on an urgent mission to restore the environment, as the book moves from science fiction/technology thriller into a visionary statement about healing the planet.

Cover of ‘Viriditas,’ published by Earth Water Press in Boulder.
Courtesy photo

“Achieving a future of stewardship, regeneration and sustainability is not a mere question of technological, biological and fintech fixes but is a matter of the heart and of culture and of human consciousness — i.e., our psycho-spiritual wellbeing,” Perry said about the message of the book. “The main theme, ultimately, is healing … and love.”

The book blends esoteric, spiritual and indigenous wisdom with real places and people, like LeVan (a fictionalized character in the book), who are working on sustainable solutions. It also exposes readers to regenerative, advanced food production techniques.

“There are people working on these alternative solutions, but they are very small, and they are marginal,” LeVan said on the podcast, adding that Perry “brings us into these other possibilities that are active.”

“While friends say, this is like science fiction, I say, ‘It’s kind of like science fiction, but it’s more like science reality,’” Perry said on the podcast. “The science is actually indeed starting to catch up with the esoteric and spiritual traditions that have been around for years and years.”

Perry views his book as “the culmination of a lifetime of devotion to restoring our planet Earth while doing the hard work to heal and grow personally and the joyful work of creating more resilience within our communities.” His background includes sustainable agriculture, energy, finance, business development and immersion in global history and indigenous cultures.

He’s also the co-founder of Viriditas Society, a new body within the Y on Earth Community’s Ambassador Framework, that brings together a global network of “earth-tenders,” or healers, land stewards, community activists and more. Medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen coined the term “Viriditas,” meaning “the green healing life force of the Divine that flows through the plant kingdom.” The society “is grounded in humble action, spiritual science, ceremonial practice and the potency of gathering and celebrating in the fellowship of community,” Perry said.

Saturday’s book launch includes a sound healing ceremony, following the tradition of how “nearly all of our indigenous ancestors understood and worked, prayed, played and experienced ceremony with music,” Perry said.

Caressa Ayres, who practices sound healing and the Japanese healing-touch art of Jin Shin Jyutsu, will lead the ceremony.

“Her voice is angelic, and, along with the many magical instruments she plays (crystal bowls, drums, chimes, tuning forks, etc.), Caressa provides an immersive experience for people who often report dream-like states, visions and other extraordinary happenings,” Perry said.

The event will also include a biodynamic soil and water activation ceremony and will talk about how structuring water, ceremony and vibratory influences enhance soil, as well as how patterns of conscious life pervade all reality.

“Whatever the answers are to the mysteries of life, Perry is a visionary futurist who has vast knowledge and real personal experience in promoting personal and social change,” wrote Robert Cloninger, medical doctor and author of “Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being,” in praise of Perry’s book. “His vivid and captivating novel turns the path of self-transcendence into an exciting journey filled with many dangerous and unexpected encounters.”

If you go…

What: Aaron William Perry’s ‘Viriditas: The Great Healing Is Within Our Power’ book discussion, followed by a sound healing ceremony by Caressa Ayres of iFlow Studios, alongside a Biodynamic Land Medicine stir ceremony

When: 6:33 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sustainable Settings, 6107 Hwy 133, Carbondale

Bring: Yoga mat, pillow and other comforts for sound healing experience

Aaron William Perry
Courtesy Aaron William Perry

Grassl: Thriving town or ghost town?

Vote “no” to a proposed short-term rental tax of 24.4%

My family, friends and oh so many tourists have enjoyed all the outdoor, cultural and social amenities Aspen has had to offer for decades. Why do I suddenly feel like a great recipe for small town economic and cultural success is falling prey to high taxation approaches that are sure to cripple Aspen’s economic future and transition it into a ghost town? 

Definition of a ghost town: “A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed or ended for any reason.” — Wikipedia

This summer, I believe Aspen has seen a slowdown in tourism — headwinds like inflation, exorbitant fuel increases have had tourists voting to spend their hard-earned dollars elsewhere.

The additional short-term rental proposed surcharge tax of 13.1% plus the existing tax of 11.3% brings the proposed tax to 24.4%, which is higher than any comparable resort destination listed below (according to Frias Properties):

• Vail: 10.3%
• Snowmass Village: 12.8%
• Park City: 13.37%
• Telluride: 15.1%
• Crested Bute: 20.9%

Are we prepared to give up economic progress and momentum to other resort areas and make Aspen more unattainable than ever before? Not to mention drive tourism down to a point where businesses are likely to close their doors once again as we all witnessed in Aspen during the peak of COVID-19?

This is not progress — it is small-town government overreach in the guise of mitigating community impacts.

Communities start with sustainable, responsible growth and community culture of which the STR tax proposal in Ordinance 9 does nothing to support. 

Additionally, Aspen is already unaffordable for the average income family, making it difficult to evoke diversity across a meaningful scale from homeowner to town employees. Aspen’s future relies on a thriving town versus a town that is essentially saying “stay out.”

Anita Grassl


Bech: Flip of the script

Jon Meacham, a noted historian, has good reason to say that it is a slippery time for U.S. democracy, but his rationale is all wrong. 

Meacham states: “A huge chunk of this country is willing to violate the rule of law out of devotion to a person and a party … above the common good.” 

Yet Jon does not state what rules of law this huge chunk of country is willing to violate. 

I see the same problem, but what I see is the other party willing to defund the police, to blame almost every issue on race, to promote a fictional version (critical race theory) of our nation’s history, to curtail freedom of speech and religion if it isn’t consistent with their view — no freedom of debate if you don’t like the others’ ideas and views, and no freedom to exercise freely your religious beliefs if they don’t conform with this new world view. 

Likewise, the nuclear family is to be denigrated if it gets in the way of honoring those who have lifestyles or their gender identification which is not consistent with those religious beliefs and which are no longer shameful, but to be celebrated.

There are two systems of justice — one for Democrats and another for Republicans, particularly supporters of Trump. This is hypocrisy by those who are rulers because “no one is above the law” except those who are rulers. 

Why didn’t Trump order the raids on Hillary or Hunter? Because Republicans, even Trump, follow the rule of law. 

Why do the Democrats call for changes in our political rules — filibuster, number of Supreme Court justices, voting rules when they can’t get their way through the lawful democratic processes?

Is it any wonder that huge chunks of the country are opposed to these progressive ideas and to the acts of many who make our cities unsafe and individuals fearful of speaking out? 

To blame this huge chink of the country on one person sounds a lot like the quote that suggested that half of Americans are deplorable. What is deplorable is the use of power to create fear and to result in the curtailment of rights of those — even those with whom we disagree.

Power corrupts and, in this case, the Democrat Party has become corrupt. This great country will return to the rule of law, limited government, property rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone — even those with whom we disagree.

Doug Bech

Houston and Aspen  

Rawles III: Will project happen?

Yes, one problem in Pitkin County, and the various other municipalities located within, is that the various elected officials making decisions seem to only come from those receiving subsidized employee housing. It is a very limited strata of who actually lives and pays taxes in the valley.

More unfortunately, they seem to to see things through their own very limited prism. The threat to pull advertising was predictably heavy handed. Does it potentially open those commissioners, or worse, the municipalities they represent to legal liability?  

Now that Doronin has bought the parcel, I have my doubts as to whether this project even gets built. It may well be that the purchase funds are only being “parked” there from unknown sources. I believe Aspen Times readers would like to know if the purchaser is actually spending any money on the project and/or showing any signs of moving forward to completion of the project as approved.

There are certainly well established deadlines that must be met, and the people in Pitkin County Planning and Zoning certainly would know what’s going on.

Benjamin W. Rawles III

Richmond, Va.

Obituary: Bayard Young Hovdesven

May 4, 1933 – August 8, 2022

Bayard Young Hovdesven passed peacefully on August 8,2022 with his wife Marilyn at his side. Bayard was born in Mercersberg, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1933 which was his father’s birthday. He was 89 years young.

Bayard lived many places in his youth with his father being a music professor in different college towns. He attended Elon High School in Burlington, NC. He then attended Elon College where his father was teaching at the time. After college he served in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany. Upon his return from Germany, he earned his MBA at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was then hired by Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan. Later he worked in the finance department for TWA in Manhattan. A perk of working for TWA was free first class air travel. Bayard discovered Aspen in the late 60’s and would make weekend trips from NYC to ski in Aspen. In 1971 he made Aspen his home.

Upon arriving in town, he bought an Original Curve condominium and promptly left on a trip around the world. Bayard was intrigued with real estate and worked for Colorado Country Real Estate where he pursued his new passion. Eventually, he started his own company, Bayard Hovdesven Realty. He bought, sold and developed properties all over town. Bayard and his business partner Guy Grover purchased the Clyde and Pat Vagneur ranch on McLain Flats in 1978. Bayard desired to preserve the ranch’s vast open space and his vision resulted in a low density development in what became White Star Ranch, where he resided for 43 of the 50 years he lived in Aspen.

Bayard was an avid skier, golfer, tennis player and off-the-trail hiker. Mountain biking was in the mix at one time. Physical fitness was a priority for him. Christmas time at age 80 , he hiked up and skied Highlands Bowl with Marilyn and a family of close friends. A day to remember. Bayard held a season ski pass for almost 50 years. He read local and national newspapers daily along with several weekly business periodicals. Always staying current with what was going on in the world.

Bayard and his wife of 34 years, Marilyn, shared a love of skiing and hiking, working outside on their property, as well as attending many of the cultural and music events Aspen has to offer. Car trips were a favorite visiting many National Parks over the years. Hiking in Arches and Canyonlands twice a year during the off seasons was an annual event. He loved the exotic landscape of the Utah desert. On his first visit to Arches one Fall with Marilyn and friends, he hiked to Delicate Arch with a full moon above as the only light. Bayard was hooked. His binoculars were a staple at home and on car trips. He spotted endless migrating birds that would land in summer. Bald eagles, golden eagles, red tail hawks and blue herons were a thrill for him to capture in his view. Every morning looking out from his White Star home he would say ” There is nothing more beautiful than these mountains, we are so fortunate”. Bayard was continuously in awe of the surrounding beauty and never took it for granted.

Bayard was preceded in death by his father Dr. E.A. Hovdesven, his mother Florence Hovdesven and his brother Arne Hovdesven. He leaves behind his wife Marilyn Hovdesven, his children David Hovdesven, Lisa Kaczor (John) and Michelle Hovdesven. 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

A private ceremony with military honors took place on Sunday August 14 at Red Butte Cemetery in Aspen.

Bayard’s sharp wit and dry sense of humor will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him.

Donations can be made in Bayard’s memory to Mountain Rescue Aspen – 37925 Hwy 82 Aspen, Colorado 81611 or online www.mountainrescueaspen.org.

High Points: Rough landings

 This one kind of flew under the radar. Pun intended. 

On Monday afternoon, just about the time the rains came to Aspen, a tweet was sent out by @FlyAspenAirport — that would be the folks at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport — that read: “Update: Small GA Business Jet aircraft veered off the runway on landing. Currently awaiting approval to move the aircraft. We are anticipating the runway to be closed for at least the next hour.”

In fact, the incident shut down the airport for far more than just an hour. It was shuttered overnight canceling a significant number of flights Monday night and into Tuesday morning, due to the spillover. Now the High Point is, obviously, that no one was injured in the accident as said plane “veered off the runway on landing.” 

But what’s up with the private planes sliding off the runway these days? 

Back in February, on Presidents Day, one of the busiest days of the year, a Hawker 800XP jet bound for Austin, Texas, “veered” off the runway on takeoff and forced closure of the airport for about nine hours. And just a couple of days after that another private plane, an Embraer 135 charter jet, “deviated” from the runway also causing a closure. That’s three times in the past six months by my count that some sort of private plane problem has resulted in serious complications for hundreds of travelers. 

And on Monday the problem was compounded by the closure of Interstate 70 at the Grizzly burn scar for three or so hours. I saw at least three Aspen-Denver flights canceled with three more from the other direction that were also waylaid. That’s a lot of people searching for hotel rooms or trying to book rental cars on a Monday to continue their trips into and out of town. 

Of course, we should be grateful that no one was killed or injured in those incidents, as Sardy Field has a history of bad outcomes. It was back in 2014 that a Bombardier CL-600-2B16 Challenger crashed on a windy January day killing one of the two pilots. And in March 2001, a Gulfstream III slammed into the hillside, short of the runway, killing all 18 people on board. 

We all know that flying into Aspen is not for the faint of heart. It was not that long ago that Sardy Field was little more than a gravel airstrip founded by Walter Paepcke and John Spachner in 1946 to allow folks a way to get here other than driving U.S. Highway 6 and Colorado Highway 82 from Denver. Many remember the glory days of Aspen Airways; OK, maybe not that many, but you likely have seen the photos of the planes that flew in here until 1990. 

BuzzFeed, the website, recently posted a story featuring 19 airports around the world that pilots find, well, challenging. Our little strip came in at No. 9 between San Diego and Narita International in Tokyo. Obviously, for very different reasons. 

Anyone who has spent time flying in and out of the Aspen airport, or even driving past the tarmac, knows that private planes rule the roost. I live in the flight path of the takeoffs and one can hear the planes in constant succession as they take their passengers back to wherever it is they come from. There are more flights than ever these days, especially in the peak seasons. 

Let’s just hope that the pilots are up for the job and that there is a little less “veering” going on.