Aspen Public Radio

Your Morning News - February 4th, 2015

Feb 4, 2015

Spring Elections Starting to Ramp Up

Municipal election campaigns in towns on both ends of the valley are in full swing. In Aspen, yesterday marked the beginning of election season. It was the first time nominating petitions could be picked up by potential candidates. They need 25 signatures from registered city voters to make the ballot.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, only city planning and zoning commissioner Keith Goode had picked up a petition. He will run to fill one of two City Council seats that are open. They are currently held by Adam Frisch and Dwayne Romero. The mayor’s seat, held by Steve Skadron, is also up for grabs. Frisch and Skadron have said they plan to run. Romero is still considering it.

Aspen City Clerk Linda Manning explains why the dates for submitting petitions changed this election.

“The nominating petition period has been extended to longer than what is normally expected. In the past elections, potential candidates wouldn’t pick up their nominating petitions until April. For this election, because it is a mail ballot election, all of the dates get pushed forward. So the nominating petitions starts today, Feburary 3, and at council’s direction, will be extended until March 9.”

In Glenwood Springs, the ballot has been finalized for this spring’s election. It includes eight candidates. Two out of four open seats will be contested. Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Kathy Trauger, former Aspen Councilman Tony Hershey and West Glenwood resident Kathy Williams have declared their candidacy for the at-large seat. In addition, there will be a three-way race for the Midland Ward 1 seat currently held by Ted Edmonds, who is running for re-election. He is being challenged by Steve Davis and Rus Arensman.

The other two seats that are up, in Wards 3 and 4, look to be uncontested. The incumbents are Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba.

The election in Glenwood Springs will be held April 7th. In Aspen, ballots will be counted on May 5.

Your Evening News - February 3rd, 2015

Feb 3, 2015

Lance Armstrong Cited for Hitting Parked Cars

A former pro cyclist is expected in court soon following two tickets issued for allegedly hitting two parked cars on Aspen’s west end in December, leaving the scene and trying to get his girlfriend to take the rap. The Aspen Police Department says Lance Armstrong concocted the story because he didn’t want to attract media attention. Anna Hansen is not expected to be charged after recanting her false statements to police. The Aspen Daily News reports Armstrong has hired Denver attorney Pamela Mackey. She represented NBA star Kobe Bryant in the 2003-04 sexual assault case he was facing in Eagle County. Armstrong has not spoken to authorities about the incident. It happened after he attended a party at the St. Regis, where he reportedly consumed alcohol.  Armstrong is expected in court on March 17th.

Your Morning News - February 3rd, 2015

Feb 3, 2015

Aspen Talks Health & Human Services Funding

Aspen City Council continued a conversation last night about funding health and human service organizations. Right now, the City doles out $400,000 annually to various charities.

The council’s conversation centered around whether additional dollars should be pulled from another pot of money and if the method currently used for choosing worthy organizations should continue. Right now Pitkin County decides where the money goes.

Mayor Steve Skadron suggested pulling additional dollars from a tax dedicated to the Wheeler Opera House.

“This is how I think it should go: should new incremental money come into our pool of contributions, I believe that money should have a focused outcome. I think the focus should be on uniquely Aspen problems.”

He’d like to support seniors in need, substance abuse, mental health and suicide. The conversation will continue later this month, when councilman Dwayne Romero is present.

Your Evening News - February 2nd, 2015

Feb 2, 2015

Phone Scam Targets Aspen Residents

Aspen’s Police Department issued scam alert today. Law enforcement has heard from residents about calls from people saying they’re with federal agencies.

People running the scam say they are with the IRS or other offices. Some leave voicemails like this one received by an Aspen resident.

“This message intended to contact you regarding an enforcement action, executed by the United States Treasury. Ignoring this will be an intentional second attempt to avoid an issue of your appearance before a magistrate judge, or a grand jury.”

The scam is similar to one making the rounds across the country over the last year.

The Aspen Police Department is warning residents to be cautious about any calls that involve money and are allegedly from a government agency.

Residents in the El Jebel area reported a scam last month where a caller pretending to be with the Eagle County Sheriff’s office demanded money and promised to get rid of a fake warrant.

Your Morning News - February 2nd, 2015

Feb 2, 2015

Pitkin County Library Plans to Move During Expansion Work

Later this month the Pitkin County Library will begin its multi-million dollar expansion project. In order to save time and money, the plan is to move about one-third of the collection to the old Aspen Art Museum.

Head librarian Kathy Chandler is hoping that a new tenant for the museum space will not be ready to move in by April. That’s when she wants to move library operations to the empty building on North Mill Street.

“Possibly we will move everything out and then and let the contractor have at the building...because they will be able to do the work a lot more efficiently if they don’t have to work around the staff and the public and the collection...but a lot of it has to do with timing.”

Chandler is waiting to hear from Aspen City Council on when it plans to select one of five local nonprofits to become a tenant in the old museum space. If the timing works, the library would take it over temporarily. The remaining collection would be moved to storage possibly at the parking garage in Snowmass Village.

“So if things just go absolutely perfectly we would move part of the collection down to the art museum...we would bring a lot of the children’s collection and then the most popular, newest parts of the adult collection down to that building and... we are hoping we can store a lot of the rest of our materials in kind of dead storage.”

The existing library would be open in a limited capacity during construction. The expansion will add 5,108 square feet to the building. Chandler expects the project to be complete by the end of summer in 2016.

Your Evening News - January 30th, 2015

Jan 30, 2015

AVSC Ski Coach Charged with Child Sexual Assault

One of the alpine ski coaches at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club has been arrested. Bill Montage is facing multiple counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and aggravated incest. He was arrested yesterday. AVSC says the charges are not related to any minors at the club or in the Aspen area

Your Morning News - January 30th, 2015

Jan 30, 2015

Garfield County to Online Auction Surplus

Garfield County hopes to make some extra cash from surplus equipment like cars or furniturde. The County is in its first round of an online auction for no-longer needed items. Chief Procurement Officer Jamaica Watts explains that Eagle County and other comparable governments are already using the service.

“The public can go on and register, they can put in bids, they can put in proxy bids. We can actually watch it in real time and know what’s going on. It’s kind of like eBay.”

Garfield County can also make sure the price doesn’t go below what the items are valued at. Officials believe this will be more affordable, effective and transparent than the previous method of storing items for long periods of time, and selling at a regular auction.

Setting it up online is technically free, but does require staff time. Buyers also pay an additional 10% of the price to the County. Garfield County is in the middle of its first auction. Watts says the response has been bigger than expected, so far, with multiple bids for several vehicles.

Your Evening News - January 29th, 2015

Jan 29, 2015

Frisch Seeks Re-Election to Aspen Council

Adam Frisch announced yesterday that he plans to run for re-election this spring for a city council seat. Frisch, who is 47, first ran for the four-year term in 2009. He lost that election but won in 2011, garnering more than 45 percent of the vote. Nominating petitions, which require 25 signatures for a candidate to make the ballot, are available beginning Tuesday. Former housing director Tom McCabe also has announced his candidacy for a council seat. Current mayor Steve Skadron and former councilman Torre have said they plan to run for the two-year term. The election is May 5.

Your Morning News - January 29th, 2015

Jan 29, 2015

Petition to Control Aspen Development Gaining Signers

A group of Aspen residents gathered at a private home last night to sign a petition about controlling development in town. If it gets enough signatures approved, the proposal would go on the May ballot. It would require voter approval on any new development that doesn’t follow the land use code. Participant Doug Wilson explained why he believes it’s a good idea to keep exceptions to a minimum.

“In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s we worked really hard to come up with the building code that we have today, and it’s made the town retain so much of it’s delicious nature and I’d like to maintain that in the future.”

Wilson is one of a small army of people gathering signatures around town to support the ballot measure. As of last night, they had about five hundred. Bert Myrin worked with about 10 people to put together the proposal. While hosting last night’s event, he said preventing exceptions would level the playing field for developers and residents.

“It’ll create a less divisive community, because everyone will know what the expectations are for the size of the box and the impact it’s going to have on the neighborhood.”

If it’s up to voters to focus on exceptions, Myrin believes that allow City Council to focus on other important issues.

Organizers hope to submit a thousand signatures next Tuesday. Election officials require about three hundred to put a measure on the ballot.

In response to the proposal, Aspen’s City Council is looking at whether to change the land use code before the election. Mayor Steve Skadron said in a heated discussion Monday that he opposes having voters decide what development is appropriate in town.

Your Evening News - January 28th, 2015

Jan 28, 2015

CMC Holds Local Associates Level Tuition to Zero Increase

Tuition for locals will be the same at Colorado Mountain College this academic year. The board of trustees approved a zero increase on associate-degree-level courses for those who live in the district. Those who are in-state but out of district will be an extra $6.50 per credit hour at the associates-degree level while residents of Chaffee, Grand and Jackson Counties will pay $6 extra per credit hour. The biggest increase comes for those paying out-of-state tuition, who will see a $56 per credit hour increase. A news release from CMC says the school remains one of the most affordable in the state. At the same time, the board of trustees are expected to work over the next few months on comprehensive and strategic plans to improve student access and achievement through changes to the school’s financial aid programs.

Your Morning News - January 28th, 2015

Jan 28, 2015

Glenwood Hot Springs Responds to Bacteria Complaint

The Glenwood Hot Springs says it is keeping up with making sure one of its pools is safe to use. The business told Aspen Public Radio last night that routine maintenance already does a good job preventing too much of a certain kind of bacteria.

Last summer, the therapy pool at the Hot Springs tested positive for a bacteria that can cause what’s called hot tub rash. It is dangerous only for people with weaker immune systems like cancer patients. John Bosco is Chief Operations Officer with the business.

“The levels shown in the test results are, it’s arguable, whether it’s a level that’s deemed very dangerous or whether it’s not. The state does not currently have any requirements for testing and monitoring.”

Garfield County officials agree that the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Lodge has measures in place to keep the water clean. Josh Williams is Environmental Health Manager.

“I mean their monitoring and tracking of that is above and beyond the required testing is for bacterial contamination. Which is a good indicator that they take it very seriously.”

Garfield County says the bacteria are naturally occurring, though also the leading cause of hospital infections. The possibility of high levels at the Glenwood Hot Springs recently came to light after a local resident publicly complained this week saying government officials aren’t doing enough to prevent the bacteria from being dangerous. She had originally complained last year of ongoing severe intestinal sickness.

Your Evening News - January 27th, 2015

Jan 27, 2015

Customer Airs Concerns About Glenwood Hot Springs

Garfield County officials are not asking the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Lodge to change sanitary measures after a bacteria complaint.

Last summer, the therapy pool at the hot springs tested positive for a bacteria that isn’t regulated by the state or federal government. It’s one of the causes of hot tub rash, but is dangerous only for people with weaker immune systems, like cancer patients. Josh Williams is Garfield County environmental health manager and explains his review of the hot springs’ regular efforts to keep facilities clean.

“I mean their monitoring and tracking of that is above and beyond the required testing is for bacterial contamination. Which is a good indicator that they take it very seriously,” says Josh Williams.

The possible issue of bacteria recently came to light after a local resident this past fall complained of ongoing severe intestinal sickness. She publicly complained this week, saying government officials aren’t doing enough to prevent it from happening again. Garfield County says the bacteria is naturally occurring, though also the leading cause of hospital infections. Aspen Public Radio is waiting for comment from the Glenwood Hot Springs.

Your Morning News - January 27th, 2015

Jan 27, 2015

Aspen Approves Molly Gibson Lodge Plans

Aspen City Council approved a proposal to redevelop the Molly Gibson Lodge, last night. That includes building two single-family homes on a vacant lot next door. The plan is to demolish the existing lodge and replace it with a new three-story structure. City Council member Art Daily echoed a general sentiment among officials.

“I think it’s really very important to our community, this reconstruction of the lodge. I like the balance. And the single family homes, I think that they actually fit the context of the neighborhood in which they’re being placed.”

The new lodge will have 68 rooms and one affordable housing unit.

Council members decided to wait until the coming months to review lodging proposals from downtown developer Mark Hunt. Hunt is proposing two affordable hotels, but some council members and residents have raised questions about whether they’re a good idea.

Those decisions Monday night came after a heated debate about how City Concil should respond to a proposed ballot initiative. The locally organized effort would strip power from Council and put it in the hands of voters for development that wouldn’t follow land use code. In response, council members decided to consider making some changes this Spring to Aspen’s land use code.

Your Evening News - January 26th, 2015

Jan 26, 2015

Sick Mountain Lion Put Down in Carbondale

The Carbondale Police Department says it put down a sick mountain lion this past weekend. The department says it received a call that the big cat was lying under the bridge on North Bridge Drive on Saturday afternoon. The Tom Cat was about a year or two old and could only move its head. After contacting the Division of Wildlife, the cat was put down. The mountain lion was not believed to be suffering from a communicable illness. It was mangy, malnourished and had sores over its body. The Carbondale Police say the cat could have been hit by car. The department reminds motorists that if they hit an animal in an accident, they should notify their local police.

Your Morning News - January 26th, 2015

Jan 26, 2015

2015 Winter X Games in the Record Books

The 19th annual Winter X Games in Aspen wrapped up yesterday. Event owner and organizer ESPN reports this last weekend saw the largest single day crowd in the history of the winter games. That was on Saturday when 48,500 spectators packed the base of Buttermilk Mountain over the course of the day.

As for hometown athletes, Aspenite Alex Ferreira medaled, Sunday. The 20 year old freeskier won bronze in the Men’s Ski SuperPipe. Longtime snowboarder and Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug took home gold this weekend with his Special Olympics teammate.

This winter was the first time the X Games featured a dual giant slalom snowboard race.

Your Evening News - January 23rd, 2015

Jan 23, 2015

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.

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.

Your Evening News - January 22nd, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

Mark Hunt to put “Base 2” Plans “On Ice”

Developer Mark Hunt is asking Aspen City Council to extend the review of his affordable lodge proposal on Main Street until at least March 9. Hunt will go before council on Monday, when elected officials were set to review his two lodge applications. But in somewhat of a surprise move, Hunt has separated out what’s known as Base 2. What will be left is Base 1, another affordable lodge proposal on Cooper Avenue. Hunt says his decision to delay Base 2 is to see if Base 1 can stand on its own merits and is ultimately what the community wants.

“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 will hold a question-and-answer session with community members at BB’s Kitchen tonight. The event is hosted by Aspen Business Events, an offshoot of the Aspen Business Luncheon. The 5 p.m. gathering sold out the day it was announced earlier this week and was expanded to include close to 70 people.

Your Morning News - January 22nd, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

Garfield County Air Study at Midpoint

An ongoing study measuring air emissions from natural gas operations in Garfield County is about half complete.

Doctor Jeff Collett of Colorado State University delivered an update to the Garfield County Commissioners Tuesday. The County and “industry partners” are funding the $1.8 million study. Field work started in 2013. Researchers are working with companies like WPX and Encana to measure emissions from drilling, fracking and flow-back operations.

So far, Collett says the study has produced 16 successful experiments that are being analyzed. There have been challenges.

“The amount of new wells going in has decreased with the decrease in the price of natural gas. And some constraints in terms of site suitability. A lot of the development of new wells now happens at topographically complex sites. So these have slowed measurements a bit over what we would have opened.”

Collett hopes to produce a total of 24 successful experiments by the end of 2015, when the study is slated to be complete.

Your Evening News - January 21st, 2015

Jan 21, 2015

Aspen Reviewing Powerhouse Plans

The five finalists to fill a city owned building in Aspen will find out in March whether they’ve been chosen. The City is in its final stretch of its process to find a tenant for the Old Power House.

The finalists for the space include a brewery, a science center, a media “powerhouse,” a performance and event center and a proposal called “The Gathering Place.”

Right now, the groups are answering a series of questions such as how they would use the building, whether it’ll create center of community and if there’s a market for the services offered. Assistant City Manager Barry Crook says City Council prioritized the criteria.

“How would you produce a memory making experience that would have a visitor relating their visit to others in an enthusiastic way? Why is this location necessary to your plan? How would you activate the grounds, integrate it with the existing trail system and the river?”

The previous tenant, the Aspen Art Museum, paid just a dollar a year in rent. City Council hasn’t decided whether a new tenant will be charged the same price. Council is scheduled to choose a new tenant by the end of March.

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