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Your Morning News - January 23rd, 2015

Jan 23, 2015

Pitkin County Cites a Drone Pilot

Law enforcement in Pitkin County responded to their first ever-incident yesterday of drones being flown in an area where they’re not allowed.

Two people were flying a drone near the Winter X Games venue around 3:30 in the afternoon. The drone was within the general flight path of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, which is illegal. The operator of the drone was charged with reckless endangerment and the drone was confiscated.

Meanwhile, ESPN was granted special permission by the FAA to fly drones for the X Games in a specified area, away from spectators.

Hunt Answers Aspen Questions at Sold Out Event

Downtown developer Mark Hunt made his first public appearance last night, aside from city public hearings, in front of an audience of nearly one-hundred concerned residents. They peppered him with questions, curious about the man that controls 15 buildings in the commercial core. Members of the business community, long time local residents, and newcomers sipped wine at BB’s Kitchen in downtown Aspen. They asked about Hunt's intentions for his real estate portfolio. In a mostly jovial environment, attendees also asked about how Hunt’s plans could change the character of this historic town.

A recent transplant from Chicago, Hunt said he is not in Aspen to ruin the town, but to enhance it. He proposes to do that through new development at some properties and what he characterized as “spit shining” other ones. Hunt explained some aspects behind his affordable lodge project on Cooper Avenue across from city market. He believes that providing public amenities like an underground bowling alley is better than parking spaces. And that’s why he’s asking for exceptions from the City of Aspen land use code.

Aspen Public Radio learned yesterday that Hunt wants to separate out a second affordable lodge. The two had been proposed simultaneously.

“Well, listen, first of all I’m not pulling it. I’m putting it on ice so to speak. You know, listen, I got excited. I’m out there trying to be part of the solution of providing additional beds and affordability, designing something for the next gen and you know, quite frankly I think that putting both out there was too much.”

Hunt is scheduled to go before City Council on Monday to ask for that extension. Council is expected to also review the Cooper Avenue lodge proposal.

EPA Chief Talks Climate Change in Aspen

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told a small crowd in Aspen yesterday action on climate change is needed now. Administrator Gina McCarthy timed her visit with the Winter X Games to reach a younger crowd.

Standing next to the ski gondola, McCarthy emphasized how action on climate change is critical to economies like Aspen’s.

“Having snow here is an important thing. It’s not just important for the athletes that come here and for the families that come, but it’s an economic issue for this local community.”

McCarthy’s visit was in conjunction with Protect Our Winters, a climate change advocacy group. McCarthy was joined by the head of the Aspen Skiing Company and X Games athletes. Snowboarder Alex Diebold visited McCarthy in Washington last fall, to urge action on climate change.

“I think this is a really cool opportunity to have her come out here and witness what we’re doing. X Games is one of the most premiere events in winter sports and we have a lot of the top athletes from around the world here, and those athletes have a broad reach.”

McCarthy’s agency is implementing President Obama’s Climate Action Plan which calls for reducing pollution from power plants and cutting energy waste in homes and businesses.

Aspen Local and X Games

One competitor in this year’s Winter X Games is Alex Ferreira. The 20-year-old Aspen local who hopes to continue his positive streak. Last year, the freeskier took home bronze.

Ferreira competes in freeskiing halfpipe. This is his third X Games. Earlier this season, he scored in the top five in two separate events. He says competing in the X Games is a unique experience.

“It’s the mecca of freeskiing and there’s a vibe to it. When you get your first X Games invite, it’s like a dream come true. It’s a crazy feeling, it’s really cool.”

Ferreira trained with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and will compete against one of his best friends, another valley local, Torin Yater-Wallace. Ferreira’s first event is Friday evening. If he does well there, he’ll move onto the finals on Sunday afternoon.

Carbondale Elementary School Seeking New Principal

The Roaring Fork School District has begun a national search for a new elementary school principal. That’s after the top official at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale announced plans to step down at the end of this school year.

Principal Heather Cremeans submitted a letter of resignation earlier this month. It comes in the middle of the district’s efforts to turn around the school. Rob Stein is Chief Academic Officer for RE 1.

“If you rank all the ratings of the schools in Colorado, and look at Crystal River, it’s kind of hovered in that bottom fifth for a number of years. And what we want for all of our schools and all of our children-- and I’m sure what the community wants-- is to be in the top fifth.”

A big challenge is the gap in test scores between native English speaking kids and children who have another language at home. Cremeans would have been principal for two academic years.

Sixth Pot Shop Opens in Aspen Core

Aspen’s sixth pot shop is opening in time for the X Games. Stash used to be located in the Aspen Business Center. Now, it is opening right next to City Market. Co-owner Garrett Patrick says the new spot was supposed to open with the beginning of the New Year. Patrick says it’s taken longer than expected to set up the new location, largely because of requirements from state and local government.

“You know, all the rules and regulations, we have to get our landlords to approve stuff, and get insurance that they want for our business.”

There were also complications from a dispute over a rental agreement in another building. Previously Stash had been a medical marijuana shop until it went recreational last March.