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Garfield County commissioners worry Latino vote will be split in state Senate redistricting

A new alternative Colorado Senate districts map offered by Garfield County commissioners last week would keep the county whole with other counties included in the final Legislative Redistricting Commission staff plan.
Garfield County/Courtesy

A proposed new Colorado Senate district map that splits Garfield County in two would also dilute the county’s Latino voice when it comes to state legislative issues, county commissioners contend.

The commissioners are making one last attempt to convince Colorado’s Legislative Redistricting Commission to keep the county whole in drawing new state Senate districts.

One concern has to do with keeping not only the county in general, but its Latino voters, whole.

“Garfield County’s population is 32% Latino, and the majority of our Latino population lives in the Colorado River Valley,” an Oct. 6 letter from the commissioners to the Redistricting Commission states.

“To split Garfield County, in particular the community of New Castle in SD8, dilutes Garfield County’s Latino population electoral influence. We believe this is in direct conflict of the Voting Rights Act,” commissioners contend in the letter.

A third Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission staff plan released last week puts all of Garfield County’s municipalities, except New Castle, in the proposed new Senate District 5 with Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County.

Also included in that district would be Gunnison and Hinsdale counties, and parts of Delta and Montrose counties.

The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission third staff plan, as presented Oct. 5.

Meanwhile, New Castle and the less-populated northern and western reaches of Garfield County would be in the new Senate District 8 with the rest of Eagle, plus Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Grand, Gilpin, Clear Creek and Summit counties.

A second counter-proposal offered by Garfield County commissioners last week went before the Redistricting Commission for consideration at a pair of meetings Monday and Tuesday. A final plan is expected this week.

Garfield County’s latest offering follows the latest staff plan for the most part, but it removes the small Roaring Fork Valley sliver of Eagle County in favor of keeping Garfield County whole in that district.

The staff plan is “just not something we can live with,” Jankovsky said of his efforts to shift population centers in a way that keeps the county whole.

“(The county plan) keeps two political subdivisions in Colorado whole,” the letters says of Garfield and Eagle counties. “Our proposal is more equitable, and better reflects communities of interest, economies and race.”

The Redistricting Commission has attempted to keep the greater Roaring Fork Valley communities from Aspen to Parachute together in the new state House and Senate districts that are being drawn up.

In fact, a proposed map of the new Colorado House districts forwarded to the Colorado Supreme Court for final review Tuesday puts Garfield, Pitkin and the Roaring Fork portion of Eagle County in a redrawn House District 57.

Garfield County has not formally contested the house plan. But, while keeping the Roaring Fork Valley together in one house district might make sense, that model doesn’t work for the Senate districts, Garfield County commissioners contend.

The local Latino advocacy group Voces Unidas de las Montañas has been involved in the redistricting process, and also has criticized the senate map’s separation of New Castle from the other Garfield County and Roaring Fork Valley communities.

New state legislative and congressional districts are drawn every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. Census, in order to adjust for any population changes.

The new congressional districts are now before the Colorado Supreme Court for final approval, along with the House plan sent Tuesday. The new senate district plan is forthcoming.

County commissioners indicated during their regular Monday meeting that a legal challenge to the state legislative districts is possible if Garfield County remains split.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

Aspen elected officials want city to move faster on neighborhood traffic issues

Afternoon traffic around 1:30 p.m. is backed up as the exiting lanes merge into one in downtown Aspen on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

After months of complaining by residents in Aspen’s West End neighborhood about vehicle gridlock on Smuggler Street during afternoon rush hour, Aspen City Council has agreed to funding a traffic study to better understand vehicular movement that may lead to calming measures.

The study will consider a four-way stop sign at Fourth and Smuggler streets, as well as examine turning movements by cars, and pedestrian and bicycle activity, said City Engineer Trish Aragon during council’s Tuesday work session on the 2022 budget.

“Before a decision is made on the West End council will ask us what those impacts are,” she said, adding the $32,000 budget request includes ongoing engagement with the community. “What we hope to gain is understanding that if you do something in the West End how will that affect Main Street, how will that affect other streets like Francis, or Seventh Street or Eighth Street?”

Council members said they were concerned that by doing a full-fledged study it will delay action, and they want to move forward with improvements quickly.

Councilman John Doyle suggested that the city put a four-way stop at Smuggler and Fourth streets as a starting point.

“Can’t we just throw the West End people a bone?” he said. “They did vote us in to get stuff done.”

Mayor Torre said while the number of vehicles going through the neighborhood as an alternative to congested Main Street has decreased now that offseason has arrived it won’t last long.

“Once we start those days we’re going to start having the neighborhood in here again and asking us why we haven’t done anything,” he said, adding that he supports some of the recent suggestions made by residents, including promoting a “Stay on Main” campaign.

Councilwoman Rachel Richards said perhaps the four-way stop could serve as a “living lab” as opposed to a study.

“Let them see and feel and all of their neighbors see and feel what the potential impacts are, for good or for ill, before having to tell them that nothing is really going to happen until summer of 2023,” she said.

Richards expressed the same kind of sentiment when it comes to the planned improvements on heavily used Park Avenue, which includes a sidewalk on the east side, along with a realignment of the road where it’s the narrowest.

But the project is not budgeted until 2023, which prompted Richards to ask for a placeholder in the capital asset management plan in 2022 for engineering.

“I would really like to see these things advancing more quickly and the commitment well known,” she said. “I don’t want to find ourselves at the council table constrained next year or (the engineering department) constrained in the amount of work you are doing because of what is allocated, and that’s really a concern for me because I think these are issues that are really bothering people on a day-to-day basis and is irritating them.”

City Finance Director Pete Strecker said the challenge is the amount of internal staff time for a growing number of projects, and the availability of external or contract workers during a time when there is a national labor shortage.

“I’m a little less concerned about the monetary aspect of a placeholder,” he said, “we can certainly bring that to you at a moment’s notice.”

Richards and her fellow council members said they would support finding additional staff for the engineering and community development departments.

“I want to see these projects completed,” Councilman Ward Hauenstein said.

Improvements to Park Avenue have been discussed since the mid-2000s and more recently by the current council since 2019.

“I think the expectations from our community for quicker responses are growing, especially in some of these problem areas that we and prior council’s have been working on before,” Richards said.

City Manager Sara Ott said she perceived council’s discussion as a philosophical one outside of the specific request as part of the engineering department’s 2022 budget recommendations.

“I generally do not do placeholder budgets because, particularly in a community of ours that has the resources, so it is not an issue to make appropriations to deliver things, it’s not slowing us down from delivering services,” she said. “What’s critical to this timeline certainly is financial resources and the capacity of other contract labor but also some agreement on what is the process for decision-making on these because I believe that is something that is slowing down the delivery of some of these capital projects to neighborhoods and that process needs to be refined and articulate in moving forward.”

csackariason@aspentimes.com

How low will Ruedi Reservoir go?

Ruedi Reservoir is currently about 80% full at 82,359 acre-feet. The Bureau of Reclamation is projecting the reservoir could fall to 55,000 acre-feet this winter, which could cause impacts to Aspen’s hydroelectric plant. (Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism)

Water levels at Ruedi Reservoir could fall so low this winter that the city of Aspen could have difficulty making hydroelectric power and those who own water in the reservoir could see shortages.

That’s according to projections by the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the reservoir near the headwaters of the Fryingpan River. At the annual Ruedi operations meeting Thursday, officials estimated the reservoir will fall to around 55,000 acre-feet this winter, what’s known as carry-over storage. According to Tim Miller, a hydrologist with the Bureau of Reclamation who manages operations at Ruedi, the lowest-ever carry-over storage for the reservoir was just over 47,000 acre-feet in 2002, one of the driest years on record. Last year’s carry-over was about 64,000 acre-feet.

At 55,000 acre-feet, the elevation of the water is about 7,709 feet. That’s about 2 feet lower than Aspen officials would like.

“We don’t like being below 7,711,” said Robert Covington, water resources/hydroelectric supervisor for the city.

That’s because the hydro plant needs a certain amount of water pressure to operate. The higher the water elevation, the more water pressure there is.

According to Covington, power providers Xcel Energy and Holy Cross Energy sometimes temporarily and quickly shut down the hydro-electric plant when there are problems with transmission lines or they need to do repairs.

“It’s very common for these types of plants to automatically shut down,” Covington said.

The problem is that restarting the plant requires a larger amount of water than the 40 cubic feet per second that is roughly the minimum amount required to operate the plant efficiently.

“It’s very difficult for us to get back online, so we end up pushing more water through for a very short period of time,” he said.

If Aspen has to shut down the plant because flows are too low, the city could purchase more wind power to maintain its 100% renewable portfolio.

“When we go lower on hydro, we go with wind, which is generally the most cost-effective,” said Steve Hunter, utilities resource manager with the city.

This area on the shore near the Marina Campground is a popular put-in for stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers. The Bureau of Reclamation is predicting the reservoir could fall to 55,000 acre-feet this winter. (Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism)

Shortages to contract holders

Another consequence of low carry-over storage means that Ruedi will start out even lower next spring when the snow begins to melt and the reservoir begins to fill again. That means if there is below-average runoff again, some contract holders who own water in Ruedi could have to take shortages, something that has never happened before, Miller said.

There are 32 entities that have “contract water” in Ruedi, which the bureau releases at their request. This is water that has been sold by the bureau to recover the costs of building and operating the reservoir. The contract pool is separated into two rounds, and contract holders will take a previously agreed upon shortage amount depending on which round they are in.

“If we get another similar type of runoff this year, there will be shortages most likely to the contract pool,” Miller said.

But there are still uncertainties in predicting how low the reservoir will go. The biggest of these is how much water will be released for the benefit of the endangered fish in the 15-mile reach of the Colorado River near Grand Junction.

There is a 10,412-acre-foot pool available for the fish, but in dry years entities that store water in Ruedi will sometimes coordinate to release more fish water in the late summer and fall. This would draw down the reservoir even farther. It’s still not clear how much water will be released this fall for the four species of endangered fish.

“The release defines the carry-over,” Miller said.

Despite initial bureau forecasts in April that Ruedi could probably fill to its entire 102,373-acre-foot capacity, Ruedi ended up only about 80% full this year. July 11 was the peak fill date at 83,256 acre-feet and an elevation of 7,745 feet.

“It was probably a little over-optimistic,” Miller said of the April forecast. “But at the time our snowpack was average. It was a reasonable forecast given the conditions.”

Anglers dock at Ruedi Reservoir on Aug. 5. Bureau of Reclamation officials project that low carry-over storage combined with another low runoff year could lead to shortages for water contract holders.(Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism)

As climate change worsens the drought in the Western U.S., Ruedi is not the only reservoir to face water levels so low that they threaten the ability to produce hydroelectric power. Last month, the bureau began emergency releases from Upper Basin reservoirs, including Blue Mesa on the Gunnison River, to prop up levels in Lake Powell and preserve the ability to produce hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam.

Aspen Journalism covers water and rivers in collaboration with The Aspen Times. For more go to www.aspenjournalism.org.

Business Monday: When I-70 closes, Craig takes in visitors; is it ready?

Signs around Craig that point out the city's attractions, like this one at Yampa Avenue and Victory Way, have received positive feedback, according to Visit Moffat County.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Interstate 70 is more than 60 miles south of Craig across rugged terrain.

But when the east-west thoroughfare that bisects the state is shut down due to mudslides in Glenwood Canyon, the impact is felt close to home.

Craig residents couldn’t help but notice the increased traffic last week, but even on lighter days, businesses take note of the uptick in out-of-town guests.

“Mostly I’m seeing a bunch of faces I don’t normally see,” said Danny Griffith, owner of J.W. Snack’s along Victory Way.

Victory Way is also U.S. Highway 40 and is a critical detour route for travelers when I-70 is closed.

“Some of them are mad as hell because it’s 150 miles out of their way,” said Dennis Otis, owner of Cool Water Grille, another prominent restaurant facing the highway. “We pick up some lunches — (Thursday) morning I picked up a couple breakfasts, but it’s not as much as the guys who do dinners.”

Cool Water is only open until 2 p.m., so it’s not able to benefit quite as much from the traffic uptick as a place like J.W. Snack’s or others, but even Otis gets a bump in business.

“It’s pretty busy at lunch,” Otis said. “I was off (Wednesday), but they said it was pretty tight. I was up to my eyebrows driving in it instead.”

It begs the question: Is Craig ready for this sort of thing when it happens? Can the city provide sustenance to the unfamiliar faces passing through — and see a micro business boom in return?

“We’re always ready to let people know what we have to offer,” said Theresia Bohrer of Visit Moffat County. “I’ve had several people tell us they came back after their little trip through, that it was great and they’re going to tell their friends.”

The primary effort Visit Moffat County is making to capture passers through, Bohrer said, is signage. The new blue signs around town that point folks to Craig’s attractions are at the front of that effort.

“We have gotten some feedback,” she said. “Several people say they can see our signs and it took them over to what the signs pointed out.”

It’s hard to measure the impact of the signage beyond anecdotes like that. But what’s certain is Craig is making an effort to put on a good face for unexpected guests.

“Seems like people on the main drag have tried to make their businesses look nice,” Griffith said. “We’ve gotten some help from the city even to increase the curb appeal.”

That comes in the form of Small Business Grants, provided by the city to businesses in city limits for one of two reasons: aesthetic improvement or capital investments.

“The grant started in 2019,” said Melanie Kilpatrick, who facilitates the grant program as executive assistant to the city manager. “It does seem like businesses within the downtown area have taken advantage of the program the most. It definitely is open to businesses citywide though.”

Kilpatrick said the funding, which totaled $85,000 this year, is tapped out for 2021, but that there’s already a waitlist of a “handful” of businesses who would like to apply or reapply next year.

“You can do facade improvements, which is the most noticeable, most visual impact, or you can get economic development for capital improvements, like the brewery was able to get funding in 2019 to purchase equipment, and now they’re brewing beer in the Craig Taproom.”

Craig’s unique location will likely continue to drive unexpected traffic, said Cool Water Grille’s Otis, so it behooves the city to continue to improve its front-facing appearance. That includes those coming from north to south along Colorado Highway 13, he said.

“We’re at a crossroads,” Otis said. “I wish they’d make (Highway 13) four lanes from I-80 to I-70. That would help.”

Mountain Fair at 50: Toasting five decades of arts, fun and music


One can visit the Carbondale Mountain Fair for a couple of hours on the last weekend in July and get a sense of what the unique gathering of townsfolk and visitors is all about.

Or one can literally “do” Mountain Fair for the better part of the three-day festival and play their own little part in the big show.

It’s that latter group of longtime locals, and former residents who make the annual pilgrimage back each summer and traveling vagabonds, that have helped define the spirit of the fair for 50 years.

“I think what is different here is that there is a spirit that you don’t find at any other fair,” longtime Mountain Fair and Carbondale Arts director Amy Kimberly said this week amid preparations for the big event.

“It is the community celebration, where people come together and kind of create this special space for the weekend,” she said.

Mountain Fair celebrates its golden anniversary the weekend of July 23-25 in and around Carbondale’s Sopris Park.

Carbondale Arts, which organizes the event and serves as its primary beneficiary, has already been gearing up for the celebration for weeks.

A collection of 50 years of Mountain Fair memorabilia — ranging from the many iconic Mountain Fair T-shirts and other collector’s items to newspaper articles documenting the annual event — is on display at the R2 Gallery at the Launchpad on Fourth Street in downtown Carbondale telling the story of its vibrant history.

Also this summer community radio station KDNK presented a series of podcasts reflecting on five decades of the Mountain Fair.

Laurie Loeb is considered the “Mother of Mountain Fair,” having brought a traveling artists’ chautauqua to Carbondale in 1971, which ultimately evolved into Mountain Fair.

Loeb, in the first KDNK segment that aired June 29, described the fair as a coming together of the many different types of people who inhabited the small town at that time, from the hippie newcomers to the old-timer ranchers and hard-edged miners who had been in Carbondale for many years.

“The essence of the fair has not changed, in my opinion; that feel-good, positive energy of people getting along together despite any differences,” she said. “That still remains, and that’s the heart of the whole thing. … It is a celebration of life.”

The radio series features numerous longtime locals who’ve come and gone, and even old interviews with people who have since died, talking about the uniqueness of Mountain Fair through the decades.

The series can be found at KDNK.org.

MOUNTAIN MEMORIES

Camp Bonedale was the place to be in the middle days of Carbondale Mountain Fair. This relic is on display as part of the Launchpad R2 Gallery exhibit.

Among the voices is longtime local videographer Terry Glasenapp, who was asked by former fair director, the late Thomas Lawley, to document Mountain Fair through film and into the early days of digital video from the late 1980s through 2003.

“I would be there all weekend long with my camera nonstop,” Glasenapp said, describing his early shoulder-held VCR and Beta recorders.

He also collected boxes and boxes of local newspaper clippings and other memorabilia that are part of the R2 exhibit.

“I never realized how those newspaper articles and photos really captured the story until I started going through them,” he said.

Glasenapp attended the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 and came to Carbondale in 1976. He said Mountain Fair has always had that same sort of free and open-to-all spirit.

“What it is about Carbondale Mountain Fair is that it’s open to everybody, all ages, all sizes and all colors, across all spectrum of people,” Glasenapp said. “It’s also the hundreds of volunteers who put their hearts into it and help make it a free event.”

Today, his own grandchildren enjoy the drum circle and the wide array of children’s activities that the fair offers.

He remembers one special musical moment shortly after he began filming the fair when John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame was playing and sang the folk anthem “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” A member of the local band Sirens of Swing at the time, Elva McDowell, wrote an extra verse to the song talking about “Colorado Mountain people” that was sung that night for the first and probably the only time ever.

Another time in the early 1990s McDowell and the Sirens were singing the 1960s classic “White Bird,” toward the end of which a white dove was released from beside the stage and swooped over the crowd before flying off toward Mount Sopris, he recalled.

LIKE A PHOENIX

When the world shut down last year due to the global pandemic, including festivals across the country, Mountain Fair plugged along in its own special way.

Rather than a big gathering in the town park, organizers took it to the streets with a traveling stage carrying local bands to the people outside their houses, and a mini arts booth showcase with a limited number of people allowed in at a time.

“We wanted to make sure we had a 49th Mountain Fair so we could have a 50th this year,” Kimberly said.

“Last year turned out to be an incredible experience, as nerve-racking as it was going into it. But the traveling band wagon was so well-received that we’re actually doing it again this year,” she said.

There may be some lasting benefit to some of what had to be done last summer in the way of social distancing that could improve Mountain Fair in future years.

Instead of packing all of the arts and crafts and food vendors into Sopris Park this year, as had been the practice in the past, they are being spread out this year to include side streets and parts of downtown Carbondale.

“Maybe that’s something that we need to look at anyway,” Kimberly said, noting the fair has kind of outgrown Sopris Park over the years. “We don’t know, but this is giving us an opportunity to try some new configurations and see what involving the downtown a little more will feel like. We’re hoping that people feel comfortable when they come to the fair, and not as crowded.”

That’s not at all to say people can’t socialize, she said.

“Our saying this year is, ‘From one year of social distancing to 50 years of socializing.’ That’s a huge part of the Mountain Fair,” Kimberly said.

On the main stage, the 50th Mountain Fair will also feature some of the more famous bands from past years, including Saturday and Sunday closers, respectively, The Motet and Band of Heathens.

A grand artistic procession from downtown to Sopris Park is set to kicks things off at 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 23, followed by the traditional drum circle led by Loeb to start the festivities.

The Friday night music lineup includes the return of several past Mountain Fair performers in the form of Tierro Band with Bridget Law, featuring founding members of Elephant Revival, Kan’Nal and Jyemo Club.

A retro slide show is set to close out the show on Friday night.

Saturday and Sunday bring the traditional competitions that are a big part of the fair, including wood splitting for both men and women, the 14-mile Sopris Runoff foot race, limbo contests for adults and kids, and pie and cake judging.

A throwback to years past will also be a tug-of-war competition between the Carbondale police and fire departments.

NEWCOMER’S PERSPECTIVE

The winning 50th Carbondale Mountain Fair poster and T-shirt design by Larry Day.

It’s notable that this year’s Mountain Fair poster and t-shirt design winner is a relative newcomer to town, sketch artist Larry Day, who captured the essence of Mountain Fair with several magical strokes of the pencil.

Day admitted his first Mountain Fair was just a few years ago. What struck him was the “chaos,” as he first described it.

“Maybe that’s not the best way to say it, but the one thing I really noticed being an outsider coming here from Chicago is that there was just a lot going on,” Day said. “Mountain Fair just seems to have its own voice.”

So when he decided to submit a concept for the 50th anniversary poster and T-shirt design, he settled on a scene depicting a couple seeking out a little peace and solitude in the middle of Sopris Park, surrounded by this grand festival of dancers, drummers, musicians of all sorts, circus-style performers, ax-wielding wood choppers … everything Mountain Fair encompasses, including Loeb in the image of an octopus leading the drum circle.

And not just people, but animals, too — which is curious because pets are not allowed in the park.

“It’s just this mix of chaos and humor that I thought captured the spirit,” Day said. “Even though I’d only been there once, I just took it all in and observed a lot of what the fair is all about.”

jstroud@postindependent.com.

IF YOU GO …

What: Carbondale Mountain Fair

Where: Sopris Park, Carbondale

When: Friday, July 23 through Sunday, July 25

How much: Free

Details: Full lineup of musical acts, contests, competitions, artists, food vendors at carbondalearts.com

International and women-directed films win Aspen Shortsfest 2021 awards

ASPEN SHORTSFEST 2021 WINNERS

Audience Award: ‘Close Ties to Home Country,’ Akanksha Cruczynski, USA

Best Animation: ‘O Black Hole!’ Renee Zhan, UK

Best Comedy: ‘Affairs of the Art,’ Joanna Quinn, UK/Canada

Best Documentary: ‘We Have One Heart,’ Katarzyna Warzecha, Poland

Ellen Award: ‘We Have One Heart,’ Katarzyna Warzecha, Poland

Best Drama: ‘Marlon Brando,’ Vincent Tilanus, The Netherlands

Best Short Short: ‘The Fourfold,’ Alisi Telengut, Canada

Best Student Short: ‘Plaisir,’ Molly Gillis, France

Youth Jury Award: ‘Plaisir,’ Molly Gillis, France

Vimeo Staff Pick Award: ‘Sinking Ship,’ Sasha Leigh Henry, USA

Accepting the Aspen Shortsfest Audience Award in a live-streamed event on Saturday night, “Close Ties to Home Country” director Akanksha Cruczynski quipped, “I come from a poor single-mom family in India and to realize that my women ancestors had to be plowing fields and breeding children so that I could be here and pleasing audiences is significant.”

Across the nine categories awarded in the ceremony — capping a virtual film festival that ran April 6-11 showcasing 80 shorts selected from some 3,000 submissions — female directors and international films dominated the field. Winners in five jury-selected categories now qualify for Academy Award consideration.

The Polish immigration documentary “We Have One Heart,” directed by Katarzyna Warzecha, won both the Jury Award for Documentary and the Ellen Award (honoring Aspen Film founder Ellen Hunt, who died in January).

Ellen jury member Steve Alldredge said “Ellen Kohner Hunt valued originality, and she valued high artistic merit. Polish director Katarzyna Warzecha has achieved both by mixing animation with found footage to create a highly original family odyssey in a film with humor, love, and a lot of heart.”

In her acceptance speech, Warzecha called “We Have One Heart” “a movie about love without borders.”

Molly Gillis’ “Plaisir,” about a young American working on a French farm, also won two prizes — Best Student Short and the Youth Jury Award, selected this year by a group of high schoolers in Aspen and across the United States. The Youth Jury citation declared “This film should be shown to young adults because it provokes self-reflection and forces you to think about challenging yourself through uncharted territory.”

All but one of the films recognized in the Shortsfest awards was directed by a woman, significantly bucking the industry’s long-established gender inequity and lack of recognition for women behind the camera.

The Jury Award for Short Short went to the inventive 8-minute “The Fourfold” by Mongolian-Canadian director Alisi Telengut, who blended animation with plant-life for the film. The U.K.-produced space opera “O Black Hole!” about a woman who turns herself into a black hole won Best Animation, the jury citing it as “strange in the best possible way.” And “Marlon Brando,” a Dutch film about queer friendship, won the jury’s Drama prize for director Vincent Tilanus.

The annual Vimeo Staff Pick Award went to Sasha Leigh Henry’s surreal relationship drama “Sinking Ship,” which is now streaming on the popular Vimeo Staff Pick page as a result.

The animated “Affairs of the Art,” the latest from British two-time Academy Award nominee Joanna Quinn, won the jury’s Comedy award.

“We haven’t seen it with an audience yet,” Quinn said in her acceptance speech, “so we didn’t know if people actually laugh. That’s great.”

Echoing the sentiment of many winners beaming in to the virtual awards ceremony on the Eventive festival platform, Shortsfest programming director Jason Anderson said, “It’s been a fantastic festival despite us being unable to gather in person.”

Aspen Film, the year-round film society that produces Shortsfest, also recently announced that its 42nd Aspen Filmfest will run in-person at the Wheeler Opera House Sept. 21-26.

atravers@aspentimes.com

Skye Skinner named executive director of the Art Base

The Art Base announced in late November that Skye Skinner had accepted a position as the Basalt-based nonprofit’s permanent executive director.

Skinner has been consulting in the areas of fundraising and strategy with the Art Base since 2018, and has been its interim executive director since March 2020.

“It’s been quite the journey these past months, navigating both the pandemic and a leadership change, but thanks to generous support and program participation the Art Base is thriving,” Skinner said in the announcement. “I am honored to join the team, with a focus on ensuring the long-term sustainability of this important community asset.”

The announcement comes as the Art Base moves forward with its purchase of the Three Bears Building in Old Town Basalt, where the organization will move from its current home in Lions Park. The deal secures a permanent home for the nearly 25-year-old arts nonprofit, realizing a long-held goal.

“Skye is the right leader at the right time for the Art Base,” Art Base board president John Black said in the announcement. “She is well respected in the Roaring Fork Valley for her work in the nonprofit sector, and we’re fortunate to have her join us during this exciting chapter.”

Skinner’s roots with the Art Base go back to its formation as the Wyly Community Art Center in 1996, when she worked with founding director Deb Jones.

Skinner was born and raised on a homestead in Alaska. She moved to Aspen in 1978 to live with her mother, longtime Aspen Times columnist Su Lum. A graduate of Aspen High School, Skinner spent 22 years in leadership at Compass (the nonprofit that operates the Aspen and Carbondale Community Schools), the past 12 years as executive director.

Her resume at Compass includes leading an $11 million fundraising campaign to rebuild the Woody Creek school campus. In 2017, Skinner resigned from Compass to work as a strategic consultant for nonprofits.