Your Evening News - January 9th, 2015

Jan 9, 2015

Easier Complaint System for Oil & Gas Operations

It’s now easier to file a complaint about oil and gas operations. Colorado regulators today announced a streamlined complaint system they say is more transparent.

Regulators say the previous process wasn’t transparent enough and that translated into wasting staff time. Workers were focused on filling out forms and sometimes multiple staff members were working on the same complaint without even knowing it. Dave Kulmann is Deputy Director of Field Operations for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. He says with the tremendous boom in oil and gas activity on the Front Range, there’s been a change in the kind of complaints, too.

“The complaints are more complex. They’re multiple issues within one complaint, so it’s taking longer for us to actually process and resolve a complaint and communicate the results back.”

Kulmann describes the new complaint process as part of the agency’s evolution to do a better job keeping an eye on the industry.

Family Honors Dead Skier with Alpine Race

An alpine racing event will be held in Aspen this weekend that honors a young competitive skier who died after skiing into a mine shaft. Eleven-year-old Wilder Dwight was skiing outside the ropes on Aspen Mountain in 1986 when the accident happened. Since his death, the race has been held annually. This year, his niece will participate.

“My mom has mentioned a lot of stories about him actually skiing and sometimes he’d get a little out of control and get his pass taken away for speeding, and going too fast down some runs.”

Fourteen-year-old Ellie Oates of Aspen has grown up hearing about her uncle. Now she’s racing in the Super-G race series that attracts athletes from around the country. Besides stories of speed, she says her mom has told her about Wilder’s caring side.

“At the start of a race, if some kid didn’t have a pair of gloves my mom would say he’d be that kid to share his clothing. I try to make the best out of that and put that into my idea of life, and helping other people.”

Oates has been racing for two years and says slalom is her best event. The races at Tiehack on Saturday and Sunday are hosted by the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. They’re qualifying events for junior championships.

Snow Sculpting at Winterskol

The snow sculpting portion of Aspen’s Winterskol celebration has a new shape, so to speak. Organizers of the event weren’t able to get enough participants to hold the traditional team competition. So,a Colorado artist will be this year’s lone sculptor.

Anderson Ranch Arts Center has been hosting the so-called “wintersculpt” portion of Winterskol since the mid-1990s. For years, the event drew sculptors from around the Valley and the state. At one time, 15 to 20 teams created snow sculptures downtown. Now, the program is struggling. Last year, just three teams registered. Katherine Bell is the Outreach Manager at Anderson Ranch.

“This year we did decide to give it a rest. We felt that we just didn’t have enough public support. It’s unfortunate, but there’s always time to give something a break and we hope to bring it back.”

The event may not be a public competition this year but Colorado artist Thomas Barlow will sculpt two large blocks of snow starting this morning.

Safeway to Help Smokers Quit in State Program 

Health officials announced today the Safeway pharmacy in Glenwood Springs is part of an anti-smoking effort.

In order to help more smokers to kick the habit, pharmacists will ask all customers about their smoking habits. It’s part of an effort with the Colorado Quitline, a state anti-smoking hotline. Safeway is the first pharmacy chain to take part in such an effort after participating in a similar successful program in California. One hundred Safeway pharmacies statewide are taking part in the effort.

The Colorado Quitline has assisted over 300,000 callers over the past 15 years.