| AspenTimes.com

The Drop-In: Christmas Eve turns on Ajax

 

Glenwood Springs airport future balances on edge of two ballot questions

The fate of the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport rests squarely on the voters’ shoulders.

Voters are being asked whether or not to raise Glenwood Springs’ property taxes by four mills for 20 years, generating approximately $1.2 million a year to pay for airport improvements and a tunnel under the runway, which could connect South Midland Avenue to the South Bridge Project.

A second ballot question asks voters if the city should take on $8 million in debt to fund the South Bridge tunnel, new airport hangars, a new Fixed Base of Operations (FBO) and bringing the airport’s fueling facilities up to code.

If approved by the voters, about $5.5 million raised through taxes and bonds could be used to fund the runway tunnel, and approximately $7 million could go to airport improvements, such as a new FBO, hangars, a fuel farm, perimeter fencing, taxiway lighting and seal coating for the runway every five years for the next 20.

If the voters approve the debt question without the mill levy, the city could have the authority to borrow for the purposes described in the question, but it would not have access to additional airport revenues to repay the debt, Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon said in an email. The outcome would reduce the amount that could be borrowed, Hanlon explained.

If the voters approve the mill levy but not the debt, the city could collect the revenue stream and use it for the projects outlined in the tax question, including repayment of debt; however, Glenwood Springs would not have the authority to issue debt as defined by the TABOR amendment, he said.

‘Poison pill’

The ballot questions, however, don’t explain that voting no on both could be the end of the airport as most users know it.

Without funding for a tunnel under the runway, the city might cut the runway short to build traffic lanes to connect South Bridge with South Midland Avenue and 4 Mile Road — which council members have acknowledged publicly.

During a City Council meeting Sept. 2, Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman said, “If you want to keep the airport runway, then vote for this.”

For a majority of council members, the futures of South Bridge Project and the airport are intrinsically tied.

Airport users, on the other hand, want the funding questions kept separate from determining the facility’s future. Often using terms such as “our airport” and “the city’s bridge project,” many airport users feel overlooked in the process of deciding the city-operated facility’s fate.

So much so, they circulated a petition to amend the city’s charter, making it impossible for the city to make major decisions about the airport without consent from the voters. The petition was ultimately rejected by City Clerk Ryan Muse on the grounds it did not have enough valid signatures to meet the statutory requirement for holding a special election, according to city documents.

 

A plane sits at the south end of the runway at the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

When Mayor Jonathan Godes pitched the idea of airport improvements funded by a proposed tax, which would need voter approval, he did so without consulting the city’s airport commission, on which he serves as council liaison.

Several airport commissioners said they learned about the proposal only after the council decided to move forward with adding the tax questions to the November ballot — 60 days before the election was scheduled.

“The first time I heard about the tax and bond questions was the day after it was presented to council,” said Dave Merritt, the Glenwood Springs Airport Commission chair. “I was blown away. It was not needed or wanted by anyone at the airport.”

Council Member Tony Hershey said leaving the airport commission out of the ballot question proposal process was a bad-faith measure by council, and he called the ballot measures a “poison pill” for the airport.

Business or pleasure?

Some people view the airport as a hobby hub for retirees with money and time to spare, but for some airport users, the runway is as integral to their business model as a computer or phone.

Pinedale Natural Gas owner Steve Shute, 65, started his natural gas-distribution business in Glenwood during the ’90s. After working for a large natural gas company, he discovered a niche market in rural communities commonly overlooked by large corporate distributors.

His first customers were in Wyoming, and he spent a considerable time driving for work. During one such trip to Pinedale, Wyoming, Shute’s car was totaled in a collision with a Black Angus bull that had entered the roadway.

Shute’s 34-year-old son, Joel, was a child at the time, but he remembers the incident as the turning point from flying being a passion for his father to a business necessity.

“If you had looked at the car, you wouldn’t have believed he survived the crash,” said Joel Shute, who now works and flies with his father.

Nowadays, the Shutes serve about 10,000 customers scattered throughout Kentucky, California, Wyoming and Colorado. While they have employees at some of their distribution sites, they are a small business and do much of the work themselves.

Joel Shute said they wouldn’t be able to continue doing business if they had to rely on commercial flights, which don’t connect to the small, rural communities they specialize in. And driving is not a feasible alternative, he explained.

“Most of the pilots out here use their planes for business in some way,” Joel Shute said. “We probably only have 3-4 people who do it solely as a hobby.”

Flying out of the Rifle Garfield County Airport is not an option for Glenwood users, either, Steve Shute said.

“There are about 60 planes here,” he said. “We have several hangars and more than 30 tie-downs (for storing planes outdoors). Rifle has zero hangars and about 22 tie-downs.”

A recent airport commission appointee, Joel Shute said the ballot initiatives — specifically the improvements they propose to fund — did not reflect the users’ needs or wants.

“This tax proposal is a ruse,” he said. “It’s only purpose is to kill the airport.”

Weaving in South Bridge

Merritt does not own a plane, nor is he a pilot, but he’s lived by the airport for decades and currently serves as the airport commission chair.

“Living out by the airport, I appreciate it,” Merritt said. “I wanted to serve on the commission, because I want it to be a good organization and amenity of the city.”

A self-described “govvy geek,” Merritt is an engineer, who is passionate about encouraging good governance through serving on boards and commissions. He served on the Glenwood Springs City Council from 2001-09 and dedicated 12 years to the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

For Merritt, improving the airport and funding the South Bridge Project are both important and beneficial to Glenwood Springs residents, but he said they should be approached separately.

“The tunnel is supposed to be a piece of the South Bridge Project, not the airport,” Merritt said. “As an enterprise fund, the airport is self-sufficient. It does need some of the items on the city’s list, but we have a number of options for funding those.”

During the council’s Sept. 2 meeting, airport commission members suggested letting private donors build hangars at the airport. Merritt also said Classic Air Medical has expressed an interest in building a new FBO at the airport and sharing space with city staff.

Gary Vick, a pilot and part-time Glenwood Springs resident, said the city is putting the cart before the horse by trying to fund a tunnel under the airport before securing the rest of the money needed to complete the South Bridge Project, which is estimated to cost about $57 million.

The city reserved $20 million in bonding capacity from the Acquisitions and Improvements Fund for South Bridge, Glenwood Springs spokesperson Bryana Starbuck said in an email. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority committed $4 million in Destination 2040 funds for construction, but Glenwood Springs is requesting the funding be shifted to right of way acquisition. If the RFTA request is approved, Starbuck said approximately $37 million in commitments will still be needed for the South Bridge, Starbuck said.

If approved by voters, the mill levy could raise about $1.2 million annually for the airport, based on current property values, for 20 years, or about $24 million — nearly double the estimated $12.5 million needed for the proposed improvements, repairs and tunnel construction. Vick said the math doesn’t add up.

“As the properties increase in value, it will generate even more money,” he said. “It seems like an undefined way to get some extra tax money, but the question language doesn’t really define what they would use it for.”

The tax question states the increased mill levy would be used to fund the airport’s operational and capital costs, listing some projects. While the tax question language indicates it would be used for airport projects and the South Bridge tunnel, it also states the additional monies would not be limited to the projects listed in the ballot question. The bond question states the city could increase its debt to pay for one or more of the following: South Bridge tunnel, new airport hangars, a new FBO and a fuel farm.

“The city is going to say if the tax doesn’t pass, the people don’t support the airport, so they can do whatever they want,” Vick said. “I can’t speak to the motives of the council, but I can say what I think the result will be. The citizens are going to reject (the tax increase), and the city is going to use that as justification to close (the airport).”

‘Do you want to keep the airport?’

Although a majority of council members voted to put the tax and bond questions on the ballot, multiple members spoke against the move.

Council Member Ingrid Wussow said she did not support the ballot questions, because she didn’t think they were worded honestly.

“The way the questions are written, we’re asking people if they want to fund airport improvements, and in turn, the South Bridge,” Wussow said. “When really, we’re asking, ‘Do you want to keep the airport?’”

By not including the airport commission in the process of selecting improvement projects and putting together a funding plan, she said the council missed an opportunity to serve both the airport users and the community at large.

“I’m disappointed,” Wussow said. “We on council are not subject matter experts in every field. We have boards and commissions so that we can have passionate community members helping to inform our decisions.”

Godes said he voted for the tax and bond questions because airport maintenance and improvement have long been neglected.

“We have always treated this airport differently than any other city facility, because the users have a private club and have always hung their hat on the idea that the airport doesn’t cost the city money — until now,” he said. “The South Bridge tunnel and the airport are interrelated, because if we did not have to have a runway that can accomodate small, private aircraft, we would not need a tunnel that costs $5.5 million.”

Without a runway, Godes said the airport could still serve as a helipad and refueling station for firefighting efforts and Classic Air Medical, a privately owned medical transport company that serves hospitals around the Roaring Fork Valley.

“Unequivocally, this council, the citizens, the hospital and the firefighting community understand the absolute necessity to always have helicopter operations at the Glenwood airport,” he said.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.

Primary hunting draw applications, park visitation up statewide

Primary draw applications in Colorado are up by 74,593 applications from last year, according to data from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“What I can tell you is hunting applications were up, hunting license sales last year were up,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.

“Everything in the COVID era, from a wildlife standpoint, is up.”

Hampton said the state is also seeing a 30% increase in park visitations over the last year.

“We continue to set a record for the number of people applying for licenses,” Hampton said, noting that what those applications translate to for the actual number of hunters in the field won’t be known until for several months.

Hampton surmised that some of the increases in primary draw applications could be due to Colorado hunters applying in-state versus going to hunt in other states with family due to COVID-19.

“Some of these increases could be due to other states restricting access for hunters,” Hampton said. “Hard to say if one thing is pushing the numbers or if all factors are driving it.”

In a more localized update, Hampton explained the impacts the Grizzly Creek Fire could potentially have on Glenwood Canyon’s wildlife.

“Fires have an impact, but the impact of fire in terms of big game hunting tends to be access not animal mortality,” Hampton said.

Hampton explained how wildlife in the western United States has evolved a resiliency to wildfires.

Hampton said the state was able to track collared elk during the Cameron Peak Fire.

“We were able to work with the firefighting groups and forest service and (Bureau of Land Management) to bring in their mapping and overlay the fire progression maps with the elk movement data from these collars,” Hampton said. “It was fascinating to watch. But these animals move out of the way of the fire and move right back behind it.”

During the Grizzly Creek Fire, Hampton said Glenwood Canyon’s bighorn sheep hung out along closed sections of Interstate 70 during the fire, in addition to seeking refuge in the Colorado River.

The burned areas left behind by the Grizzly Creek Fire may seem scorched, but Hampton said fire left behind an ideal setting for vegetation growth in those areas.

“If people go up in that burn area there’s a lot of green up,” Hampton said. “The canopy is gone, the sun is hitting those areas and what grows there is extremely nutritious for those big game animals that work their way back in there. There’s some long term benefits for big game.”

However, there are negative implications for the canyon’s aquatic life.

“There are some very big concerns for fisheries in areas where that ash drains into rivers and streams,” Hampton said.

Depending on how quickly the snow melts, ash can either absorb into the ground or run into the drainages, creeks and streams.

“Ash can contain both toxic chemicals, especially in areas where homes and outbuildings may have burned,” Hampton said.

“Anything with chemical composition, or even some bushes when they burn will have toxic elements in terms of being a fish.”

Hampton explained how fine ash particles in heavy quantities can cement in water beds, killing off the invertebrates and insects in the rocks that fish rely on for food.

“If it’s thick enough, if the water becomes muddy, the fish can suffocate from it,” Hampton said.

The ash’s impacts on the rivers and streams in Glenwood Canyon are something the CPW is watching very closely.

Hampton said the CPW is working closely with a team that includes area water managers, utility providers and federal agencies that’s monitoring the aftermath of the fire and making sure water sources are being protected as much as possible.

“That muck can clog diversion structures and irrigation structures,” Hampton said.

“It can be a real problem for municipal water supplies. We’re king of working to take care of all those things too.”

Primary Draw Applications
2020 2021 Percent Increase
Pronghorn 86,913 91,540 5.32%
Elk 215,207 246,602 14.5%
Deer 211,968 228,087 7.6%
Goat 23,388 27,338 16.88%
Sheep 31,192 35,919 15.15%
Moose 45,412 52,823 16.3%
Desert Bighorn 4,398 4,917 11.8%
Fall Bear 30,873 36,718 18.93%
Overall 649,351 723,944 11.48%

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.

One suspect in Basalt assault, kidnapping case pleads not guilty

One of the two suspects in a Basalt assault and kidnapping case rejected a plea offer Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges he is facing.

Mufasta Muhammad elected to proceed to trial in April after rejecting an offer from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to plead guilty to a reduced charge of one count of felony assault. His attorney, public defender Kevin Jensen, said the offer required a stipulated sentence of seven to 10 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Prosecutor Johnny Lombardi said the offer actually carried a 10-year sentence.

“Either way, we reject the offer,” Jensen said. “We’re rejecting that offer and setting for trial.”

Mufasta Muhammad

Lombardi said a trial would likely take seven days. Muhammad and his roommate, Daniel Wettstein, are accused of holding a man against his will and beating him at the Willits townhome where Wettstein and Muhammad were living in at the time.

A night of partying allegedly turned violent Aug. 27. The alleged victim escaped through a second-story window the next morning and called for help. The Basalt Police Department and multiple other law enforcement agencies responded and surrounded the area with weapons drawn due to the violent nature of the episode. Wettstein surrendered without incident. Muhammad gave up hours later after a SWAT team responded to the scene.

Muhammad was charged in September with three counts of assault in the first degree, one count of second-degree kidnapping, two counts of assault in the second degree, robbery, menacing, violation of bail conditions, possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance, conspiracy — controlled substance, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, violation of a protection order and false imprisonment. All charges are felonies except the last two.

Wettstein is facing 10 felony charges for assault, kidnapping and menacing. He has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and is seeking treatment for addictions in a Las Vegas program for U.S. military veterans. Muhammad has remained in Eagle County Jail since his arrest.

Eagle County District Judge Paul Dunkelman ordered Muhammad to appear Jan. 6 for a formal advisement of the charges and a bond hearing. He asked Lombardi to file information before that hearing that shows how many years Muhammad would be in prison if convicted of the charges. Meanwhile, he wants the plea offer left on the table.

Assault in the first degree was enhanced as a crime of violence, so that charge alone would carry a mandatory sentence of 10 to 32 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, according to the conversation between attorneys at Wednesday’s hearing. Dunkelman wants Lombardi to spell out the full range of sentences on all charges and if they would be served concurrently or consecutively.

Muhammad is being held on $25,000 bond. Lombardi noted that Muhammad also has a felony case pending in Garfield County for second-degree assault in an unrelated matter.

Jensen disclosed that Muhammad also had a deferred judgment in a felony burglary case at the time of the alleged crimes in Basalt.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Defendant in Basalt assault case is military veteran suffering from PTSD, motion says

A suspect in an alleged brutal assault in Basalt received permission from a judge earlier this month to travel out of state for treatment in an addiction program for U.S. military veterans.

Daniel Wettstein was accepted to the Desert Hope Addiction Treatment Center in Nevada for a 90-day inpatient program, according to a motion filed by his attorney, Michael Fox.

“Desert Hope Addiction Treatment Center has a Salute to Recovery specialized program where they offer co-occurring disorder treatment to military veterans whose lives changed to become unmanageable due to substance use and mental health challenges, such as PTSD,” the motion said.

Wettstein was arrested Aug. 28 after multiple police agencies surrounded his residence in the Willits Townhomes in Basalt. Police were called to the scene after a bloodied and allegedly beaten man jumped out of a window in the residence and called for help. He told responders there were weapons in the residence, so they responded with caution.

Wettstein surrendered without issue. His roommate, Mufasta Muhammad, didn’t come out of the townhome until after a SWAT team was on the doorstep.

Wettstein is charged with three counts of assault in the first degree, one count of second degree kidnapping, two counts of assault in the second degree, three counts of menacing and one count of false imprisonment.

He bonded out of Eagle County Jail shortly after the incident. A condition of his bond was he cannot leave the area without permission. The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office didn’t oppose his motion to travel to the treatment center. A judge approved the request Dec. 10. Wettstein departed to Las Vegas to attend the treatment program Dec. 11. He pledged to submit a waiver of extradition to ensure he will return to Colorado for resolution of his court case.

The motion said he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after serving multiple tours abroad over four years.

“Over the course of his military career, he received medals and accolades, namely the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, and the Army Service Ribbon,” the motion states.

After leaving the service and “returning home” in 2011, Wettstein was diagnosed with and treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the motion said. After this arrest this year, he restarted drug and mental health treatment at the Grand Junction Veterans Administration Medical Center and tried to get into an inpatient treatment program.

“The efforts to get into a Veteran-sponsored inpatient program were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and for Mr. Wettstein’s unrelated health issues,” the motion said.

Wettstein was scheduled to appear in court Monday for a preliminary hearing. Fox entered a waiver of the hearing on Friday. That waiver is an admission by Wettstein that sufficient evidence exists to establish probable cause that he committed the crimes charged, the waiver said.

In another development in the case, a judge signed an order requiring the District Attorney to preserve all physical evidence collected from the alleged victim in the case. The evidence includes blood samples taken from the scene and metabolic panel testing at Valley View Hospital.

The blood samples “are critical to Mr. Wettstein and his defense,” said a motion by Fox.

Fox contended that laboratory results showed that the victim had alcohol and cocaine in his system. It also indicated he had allegedly used methamphetamine, which he denied when interviewed by a prosecutor in the Wettstein case. Wettstein’s attorney wants the alleged victim’s blood preserved to determine how much meth was alleged in the victim’s system.

“(The victim’s) consumption of methamphetamine and the extent of his consumption weigh heavily upon the reliability of his account of the events which took place on Aug. 27, and upon his overall credibility,” the motion said.

It continued that they plan to have an independent evaluation and testing performed on the blood samples. A judge signed the order in October.

scondon@aspentimes.com

 

One man’s quest to battle Aspen-area opioid crisis

 

Jeff Teaford poses for a photograph in the Treehouse in Snowmass Village on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

Longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident Jeff Teaford believes he’s got the right stuff to help people addicted to opioids — he himself was addicted to painkillers for 12 years while battling chronic pain.

Teaford, 58, said he conquered his addiction to Vicodin four years ago. With the help of recovery professionals, he now is sharing his story and messages of hope with those facing similar struggles.

Helping others, he said, is a way of healing himself.

“I believe I can do this based on my story,” Teaford said. “I believe in this so much that I need to make it happen. Whatever I do, it needs to matter.”

Teaford had scoliosis as a child and went through corrective surgery on his spine in the 1960s that he labeled barbaric compared to modern procedures. It left his back shaped like a canoe, he said.

Jeff Teaford presses his hand against the left side of his back to show the atrophied area where Scoliosis affected him and lead him to an opioid addiction.

He’s been active as an adult. As a ski instructor he got used to a cycle: aggravate his back, get a 10-day prescription for painkillers, return to the slopes too soon, repeat.

He said he averaged two or three Vicodins per day, sometimes more when the injury was fresh. He didn’t have any trouble keeping a prescription filled. Doctors took a look at his back and could see he needed help.

“People who start out with legitimate uses, as opposed to recreational, they cover up so much stuff for so long,” Teaford said. “Now they’ve got pain in their neck, their shoulders and this Vicodin seems like it covers it up. I think that’s why people just seem to stay on it. It seems harmless enough.”

He also learned that Vicodin took the edge off reality, the highs as well as the lows. Of course, it dulled the pain.

“When I would take Vicodin, I would realize I still had the pain, I just didn’t care anymore if it hurt or whatever. That’s what Vicodin did for me. Everything was just the same.”

After 12 years he realized he needed to make changes, for the sake of his family and himself. He stressed that he is not a professional so he doesn’t want to offer medical advice. He quit cold turkey, which isn’t necessarily safe for everyone. While it was not easy, he was determined. Once he was off painkillers, he was enlightened.

“It’s exactly like coming out of a fog,” Teaford said. “I think part of the reason that people get stuck on it is this fog is like a state of mind where you’re lost. It’s the ultimate lost to me. That ‘lost’ is the fog.

“Once you come out of it, the first realization is you can’t believe you were like that for that long,” he continued. “How did you keep a job? How did you stay married? How do your kids even want to talk to you anymore?”

At about the same time he was battling his addiction, he learned he had diabetes. He adopted a lifestyle overhaul that featured a better diet, hydration and intense exercise that provided a natural painkiller. He also learned that aspirin was enough to help him deal with the pain “99.99 percent” of the time. He avoided narcotics when aspirin didn’t work.

On his journey to get clean, Teaford started sharing his story with medical professionals. One, in particular, urged him to reach out to people leading opioid treatment efforts in the Roaring Fork Valley. Teaford was introduced to Jarid Rollins, project director of the Community Opioid Treatment Strategy Project, a nonprofit started by Midvalley Family Practice in Basalt. The nonprofit’s goal is to plan opioid prevention, treatment and recovery from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. It didn’t create new bureaucracy. It’s finding ways to get more resources for existing groups to help with the mission.

IF YOU NEED HELP

Mind Springs Health

Patient hotline: 970.201.4299

Mindspringshealth.org

Midvalley Family Practice

Community Opioid Treatment Strategy Project

Patient line: 970-927-4666

Midvalleyfamilypractice.org

A Way Out

Email: director@awayout.org

awayout.org

Aspen Hope Center

Patient hotline: 970-925-5858

ourhopecenter.org

Aspen Strong Foundation

aspenstrong.org

Colorado Crisis Services

Patient hotline: 844-493-8255

coloradocrisisservices.org/substance-abuse/

Rollins invited Teaford to attend a group session for addicts. “Before I knew it, I was a little part of the program,” Teaford said.

He listened to other patients, eventually shared his story and believes his words resonated with at least two of the six other attendees.

“I’ve been told by a couple of people that I really helped them,” he said.

Rollins said it is important to get people who have gained the upper hand in their addiction to speak to those in the thick of the battle. He said Teaford’s story is particularly valuable for people who became addicted to opioids while getting treated for chronic pain. An extremely high percentage of valley residents are taking painkillers as a result of injuries from their active lifestyles, he said.

Teaford also attended a meeting of professionals discussing strategy for prevention and treatment. He shared his story and that led to an introduction to Maggie Seldeen, a peer recovery coach for Mind Springs Health in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Like Rollins, she said Teaford can play a valuable role in helping others struggling with addiction. There is a stigma about addiction to drugs and alcohol as well as treatment for addictions. It’s important for people to hear success stories from peers. She likes how he mixes humor and seriousness to convey his message.

“We really believe in the power of storytelling,” she said.

Teaford will be exposed to a broader audience Monday on Carbondale public radio station KDNK’s public affairs program “Chemical World.” Seldeen and her friend Kenna Crampton will interview Teaford for the show and an accompanying podcast. The radio show will air Monday at 4:30 p.m.

Seldeen said she has read excerpts of a book Teaford is writing about his life and found herself alternating between laughing and crying.

“I think it’s very relatable,” she said of his story.

Rollins, Seldeen and Teaford all believe opioid addiction is a growing concern in the Roaring Fork Valley, as it is in most of the country.

“The COVID epidemic has certainly overshadowed the opioid epidemic,” Rollins said.

But out of sight, opioid issues are raging. There were 17 overdose deaths in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties in 2019, pre-pandemic, according to Rollins.

Teaford believes the magnitude of the addiction problem will become clear after the pandemic subsides.

“I think people are probably self-medicating pretty hard right now,” he said. I think this message is going to matter more than ever very soon.”

A key to Teaford’s recovery was avoiding a blame game and focusing on getting better.

“The first thing that needs to be done in order for someone to even start down the road is forget about the manufacturer being at fault,” he said. “They are making drugs to make money and help people. Forget about and let off the hook the doctors. These guys are just doing their jobs, for the most part. Third, you have to let yourself off the hook.

“There is a common thread, I believe, where you blame yourself — if you were just a little stronger, if you weren’t so weak, you could do this,” he continued. “That was what worked for me. I just decided it was nobody’s fault. It just was.”

He also believes intense exercise can be therapeutic. He hopes to start a “recovery gym” in the valley. It is a concept that has caught on elsewhere.

“You get through an addiction, you’ve got someplace you can literally go work out to the point of discomfort so you’re producing your own painkillers within your own body,” he said.

Teaford has resided in the Roaring Fork Valley for 25 years. He lives in Rifle and works in building maintenance for Aspen Skiing Co. in Snowmass Village after retiring as a ski pro. He credited Skico officials and his family with being incredibly supportive of him in his struggles. Now he sees it as his time to shine in helping others.

“It would be great if I could be a Tony Robbins because there are hundreds of thousands of people if not more that need to hear it,” he said, referring to the self-improvement guru and motivational speaker. “If I could just get people excited about understanding, about a guy that figured it out.”

scondon@aspentimes.com