Your Evening News - December 23rd, 2014

Dec 23, 2014

Bad Flu Hits the Valley

Health officials in the Roaring Fork Valley are warning people to be wary of the flu as a certain strain is being seen in the Valley and throughout the country. Also, flu season has arrived earlier and with a bigger punch than last year.

The strain of flu circulating is called “H3N2” and, for the most part, a flu shot doesn’t protect you from it. This year’s flu shot has defense against other strains. But, it is only slightly effective with H3N2.

Pitkin County Public Health Director Liz Stark says her office has seen a significant spike of cases in the last two weeks. But, so far, there have been no hospitalizations from flu.

“This particular strain of the flu is hitting the very young and the older population hardest this year. In other parts of the state and the country, the hospitalizations that have occurred, most of them are occurring in children less than six months of age or in people over age 65. So, at the first sign of those symptoms, it’s a good idea to go to your physician or health care clinic and get tested.”

She recommends washing hands vigilantly and staying home from work. Some anti-viral medicines like Tamiflu can minimize symptoms and decrease the duration of the flu.

Big Snow, Big Job

It was all hands on deck at Pitkin County’s public works department this week when a major snowstorm blanketed the upper Valley with up to two feet of snow in some areas.

On Monday Pitkin County’s Public Works department put its regular plow drivers on the road as well as other available staff. In the biggest storm yet this year, the drivers cleared snow from more than 300 miles of road. Public Works Director Brian Pettet says drivers saw the most snow in the Upper Frying Pan.

“We got between a foot to two feet of snow and all of it was extremely heavy, which made it challenging to move off the roads. And then, the amount of wind we received in the afternoon made visibility an issue.”

The department plows roads like Owl Creek, McClain Flats and Upper River Road. They plow to any home that’s permitted in the county to give homeowners access.

Smooth Travel on the Eve of Christmas Eve

Flights out of Aspen’s airport are going much more smoothly, according to the resort’s main booking company. Scores of flights were canceled yesterday and Sunday, leaving many passengers stuck in Denver, Grand Junction, and elsewhere. Bill Tomcich is President of Stay Aspen Snowmass. He says many of those travelers are now in Aspen faster than they would have in recent years.

“What used to be a two or three day catch up to clear all of the standbys who were distressed because of their canceled flights, has now taken less than a day.”

That’s because airlines are fine tuning daily schedules much more precisely than before. Tomcich and others have fingers crossed for not too much snow on Friday and Saturday to allow for many more visitors to arrive.

More Farmland Opens

Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails Department is opening up more land to agricultural producers. This week it began accepting proposals from farmers looking to use the Glassier Open Space near Emma.

The land available for agriculture is just over 150 acres and has been divided into six lease parcels. Gary Tennenbaum is Assistant Director of the Open Space program. At this point, he’s unsure what will be grown there.

“We’ve had a lot of great ideas, but we’ll see during the proposal period what people can really do.”  

The county will collect lease proposals until January 23rd and then make a decision. The county leases other parcels of open space to ag producers. The idea is to protect the Valley’s rural culture and provide farmers with affordable land.