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Your Evening News - December 19th, 2014

Dec 19, 2014

Colorado’s Unemployment Picture

Colorado’s unemployment rate continues to drop. New figures by the Department of Labor and Employment show the rate dropped to 4.1% in November. The national unemployment rate is 5.8%.

The last time the Colorado unemployment rate was as low as 4.1% was in January of 2008. The largest job gains were in the trade, transportation and utilities, financial, mining, logging and information sectors. Month-over-month declines were felt in the leisure and hospitality industry, as well as construction.

Governor Hickenlooper lauded the news but said more work needs to be done. He says his office wants to come up with “creative and effective ideas that will help support those still looking for work.”

Over the year, the unemployment rate fell from 6.3% in November 2013 to 4.1% last month. Total employment year-over-year increased by 117,000 and the number of people unemployed decreased by about 60,000.

Welcome to Valley Roundup – a review of the top news stories in the valley in the past week.

This week, development can often seem like three-dimensional chess – we’ll get the latest on Mark Hunt’s lodging plans for Aspen.

A wider runway is on the horizon for the Aspen Pitkin County Airport. But, if citizens need to vote on it would it get approved?

Rifle remembers the life of Air Force Captain William DuBois as he is laid to rest.

Glenwood Springs will get a review of air quality near downtown.

Could an antique chair lift derail Aspen Mountain’s world cup racing plans?

How many weed shops are too many… one… six… sixteen?

And, I’ll have a conversation with a familiar name in the valley, and voice you hear often on this program, who is taking a leadership role in the Aspen Public Radio news room.

Joining me this week are Curtis Wackerle, Managing Editor of the Aspen Daily News and Randy Essex, Editor of the Glenwood Post Independent.

Marci Krivonen

A committee charged with brainstorming redevelopment ideas for downtown Basalt presented their findings on Thursday evening. The Downtown Area Advisory Committee met with Town Council, the Planning and Zoning committee and scores of interested citizens. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

The volunteer committee has been meeting regularly since October and pouring over ideas from the community and a map of downtown Basalt. Basalt is considering redeveloping several key parcels, including some riverfront acreage.

Your Morning News - December 19th, 2014

Dec 19, 2014

Basalt Reviews Downtown Redevelopment Ideas

A committee charged with brainstorming redevelopment ideas for downtown Basalt presented their findings last night. The Downtown Area Advisory Committee met with Town Council, the Planning and Zoning committee and scores of interested citizens.

The volunteer committee has been meeting regularly since October, pouring over ideas from the community and a map of downtown Basalt. Basalt is considering redeveloping several key parcels including some riverfront acreage.

The committee came up with concepts rather than concrete suggestions. Moderator Paul Anderson says the idea was to explore how the community would feel with a certain level of development.

“They took a very broad-brushed look at what Basalt could be and what could bring the most vitality as a result.”

Still, the committee did nail down some details including where it would like to see commercial and residential development. On the map, the committee members pinpointed nine areas including a multi-story development where the old Clark’s Market building is standing.

“That building, that would be a perfect place for a sub-grade parking structure, or some kind of a focused solution to parking that would centralized, and then on top of that could be a performing arts center, or some kind of civic experience and then surrounded by interesting restaurants, boutiques, breweries and coffee shops.”

The committee also prioritized connecting the town to the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers, improving Lion’s Park and allowing density to drive revitalization.

Town Council member Bernie Grauer questioned a few proposed changes.

“There’s no Wiley annex and there’s no town hall. Where did it go? And, how do we pay for it? That’s a big question in my mind.”

On the committee’s map, green space and open plazas replace town hall and the Wiley Arts Center. Committee members reiterated the plan is just an idea and nothing’s set in stone.

The Town Council will use the committee’s recommendations when it considers development ideas for the parcels. It will likely serve as a guide for developers interested in pursuing projects downtown. One developer, Lowe Enterprises, is already brainstorming ideas like a boutique hotel for one of the parcels.

Your Evening News - December 18th, 2014

Dec 18, 2014

Nebraska & Oklahoma Sue Colorado Over Pot Legalization

The Attorney Generals of two neighboring states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Colorado’s legalization of recreational pot. Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit stating Colorado's Amendment 64 and implementation is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says Federal law prohibits the production and sale of marijuana. At the same time, he says Nebraska taxpayers are paying for an increase in marijuana-related arrests.

“It’s frustrating to have a sister state reaping tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and sending the problem side of it to us.”

In a statement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he’ll defend the state's legalization of marijuana. He says he believes the lawsuit is without merit and that the primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana instead of the choices made by Colorado voters.

Good afternoon and welcome to Mountain Edition.

Schools in the Roaring Fork Valley get graded- some of the best and the worst in the state are here.

Basalt has its first menorah lighting to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah.

Aspen’s new Airport Director takes the helm as County Commissioners decide how to widen the airfield.

New owners at Krabloonik aim for a kinder, friendlier era and they are receiving a “thumbs up”, so far, from a group whose aim is to make sure the sled dogs are well cared for.

Your Morning News - December 18th, 2014

Dec 18, 2014

Basalt Downtown Discussion Continues

The committee that’s been discussing redevelopment in downtown Basalt will present its recommendations to elected leaders today. The 10-member Downtown Area Advisory Committee has met regularly since October. The group’s goal is to help Town Council determine plausible redevelopment scenarios for key pieces of land.

The group went over some of the ideas generated during an unconventional planning process called “Our Town.” In September Town Manager Mike Scanlon said committee members would approach the ideas objectively.

"That’s what having this committee allows us to have. It’s a group of people that can take a more measured approach to the different ideas.”

Some Basalt residents have said they’re counting on the process to come up with a plan to boost a struggling downtown. Some businesses have moved from the quaint downtown to the more modern Willits area.

Elise Thatcher

The dogs at an embattled dog sledding operation have seen a lot of change in the last year. The owner of the Snowmass Village-based Krabloonik Fine Dining and Dogsledding was charged with animal cruelty in late 2013, and some dogs were seized. Others were adopted out. One constant has been new manager and now owner Danny Phillips and his wife Gina. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher took a tour and filed this report.   Editor's note: At the bottom of this article you can hear our interview with Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs, a group that's helped improve conditions for the sled dogs.

Your Evening News - December 17th, 2014

Dec 17, 2014

Snowmass Ski Area Changes Under Review

The White River National Forest released a draft Environmental Assessment for changes at Snowmass Ski Resort.  The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District reviewed what’s being called winter recreation enhancements proposed by Aspen Skiing Company. They include the replacement and realignment of the High Alpine Chairlift, and boosting snowmaking. The changes could also include glade and trail projects. Official notice will be published in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. The comment deadline will be thirty days later.

Today on CrossCurrents, Laura Thielen from Aspen Film with a preview of this year's Academy Screenings.

From the Aspen Film website:

Spend your holidays with Aspen Film! Every winter we celebrate the movies everyone will be talking about this awards season. From starry features to fresh independent voices, this beloved mountain tradition has something for everyone. Where movie lovers and film industry professionals gather to see some of the best films of the year.

http://aspenfilm.org/

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