Your Evening News - December 16th, 2014

Dec 16, 2014

Aspen Airport Widening Plan Approved

A plan to reconfigure the airfield at the Aspen Airport cleared its latest hurdle today as the Board of Pitkin County Commissioners gave initial approval to an “Airport Layout Plan.”

The County will send the preferred plan to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is requiring the airport to make safety improvements. As most of the commercial aircraft that serve the airport are being phased out their replacements have longer wingspans. So modifications, like a wider runway is needed.

The county commissioners supported a plan that proposes relocating a portion of Owl Creek Road and using about three acres of City open space. County Manager John Peacock says the plan meets FAA safety requirements and most citizens who weighed in, supported it.

“Based on that feedback, we believe “Alternative 8A,” both for the technical reasons and from the feedback we’ve received from the public is the best alternative to submit.”

The project will undergo an environmental assessment. That will look how the project might impact the natural environment and the resort economy. The preferred alternative has a $132 million price tag. County officials say the FAA will pay the lion’s share.

Your Morning News - December 16th, 2014

Dec 16, 2014

Aspen Planners Consider Mark Hunt Proposal on Lodging

Planning officials in Aspen are considering whether to allow certain exceptions for one of the development projects Mark Hunt is involved with. The Chicago businessman has purchased more than a dozen properties in town in recent years.

The project would be built on Main Street, where a Conoco gas station is now. Aspen’s planning and zoning commission is reviewing a laundry list of exceptions that Hunt is asking for. Aspen Senior planner Sara Adams says one is canceling what’s called impact fees.

“So that comes to a total of about $91,400, roughly, in impact fees.”

Hunt is also requesting a height increase, more than doubling the amount of floor space, eliminating the required two to three affordable housing units while leasing more than twenty parking spaces in the Rio Grande Parking Plaza rather than building more parking for guests.

The proposed building would be three stories tall with a gable roof and a rooftop deck. The rooms would be on the smaller side. Hunt has said the effort is to boost the affordable lodging in Aspen. Again, city planner Sara Adams

“First floor is retail, restaurant, lodge lobby. Second and third floor are all lodge rooms. You know a hundred and seventy to a hundred and eighty square feet, average size, bunk beds.”

In the basement there would be amenities like a bar and a Turkish steam bath. The proposal is goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight. Members will decide what recommendations to make to City Council which will consider the proposal. Another Hunt development that’s very similar will be considered in January.

Creative Commons/Brad Flickinger

The Aspen Community School is one of the top-ranked schools in the state, according to a new analysis. The school near Woody Creek, ranked six out of 500 middle schools.

The organization Colorado School Grades releases its report card annually. Nearly 2000 public schools are ranked. The group uses data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula that looks at academic achievement, academic growth and gaps in education.

ACS Gets High Marks in State Rankings

The Aspen Community School is one of the top-ranked schools in the state according to a new analysis. The school near Woody Creek ranked 6th out of 500 middle schools. The organization Colorado School Grades releases its report card annually on nearly 2,000 public schools. The group uses data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula developed at the University of Colorado Denver to come up with its rankings. The formula looks at a school’s academic achievement, academic growth and gaps in education. In 2014, the Aspen Community charter School received an “A-plus” for grades six through eight. Other schools in the Roaring Fork Valley received grades. The Aspen High School scored a “B-plus” and Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale received a “C,” as did Glenwood Springs High School. Bridges High School in Carbondale was one of the lowest scoring high schools in the state. A link for the full list can be found here.

NOTE: Kent Haruf passed away in December 2014.  This interview was recorded in May 2013. 

Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Award, a Stegner Award, a Frank Waters Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. His novel Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in his native Colorado.  His most recent novel is Benediction.

In 2002, Robbie Wade passed away from a skateboard accident. He was 19 years old and was an organ donor. His accident profoundly affected his family and the Aspen community. Robbie's father, Bob Wade, speaks about Robbie's decision and the impact his story has had on the community and organ donation awareness. Beth Slater, the Executive Director of the Chris Klug Foundation also contributes.

Learn more about organ donation and the Chris Klug Foundation at www.chrisklugfoundation.org.  

Your Morning News - December 15th, 2014

Dec 15, 2014

Captain Dubois Remembered in Rifle

About 900 people attended the funeral in Rifle yesterday of Air Force Captain William Dubois. The New Castle native died December 1st when his F-16 crashed in Jordan on a mission to attack ISIS targets. The Post Independent reports airplanes from an air force base in Nevada blasted over Rifle High School in a missing man formation to honor the 30-year-old. Dubois was twice named the top fighter pilot in his class. The funeral was held at the high school where Dubois graduated in 2003.

Glyn Johns

Dec 14, 2014
Julia Wick

Glyn Johns

From the book's website:

Born just outside London in 1942, Glyn Johns was sixteen years old at the dawn of rock and roll. His big break as a producer came on the Steve Miller Band’s debut album, Children of the Future, and he went on to engineer or produce iconic albums for the best in the business: Abbey Road with the Beatles, Led Zeppelin’s and the Eagles’ debuts, Who’s Next by the Who, and many others. Even more impressive, Johns was perhaps the only person on a given day in the studio who was entirely sober, and so he is one of the most reliable and clear-eyed insiders to tell these stories today.

Your Evening News - December 12th, 2014

Dec 12, 2014

Fracking Fluids Study

Scientists are trying to learn a lot more about effects of oil and gas drilling and a new report is looking chiefly at fracking fluids.

Researchers with Colorado State University looked at the most toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Scientists reviewed all the existing research to see how those chemicals travel in the natural environment, how long they last, and whether they post a risk to human health. They found that most of the more toxic chemicals are also used in other industrial and commercial work. More than half are particularly dangerous to humans, or could be over time. And they’re most likely to pollute the environment during surface spills.

Scientists also came up with recommendations for urgently needed research. One example is what happens to the chemicals when they’re injected deep into the ground.

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

This week the White River National Forest released an oil and gas plan. But, does that settle the matter on drilling in the Thompson Divide?

The City of Aspen continues to refine a new lodging incentives ordinance. At the same time, the council is asking the city management to give them better information.

The State of Colorado is not messing around when it comes to regulations and medical pot shops.

Could Aspen’s Little Annie’s return from the grave… again?

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