Aspen Public Radio

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.

Your Morning News - December 23rd, 2014

Dec 23, 2014

Pitkin County is Taking Proposals on Glassier Open Space

Pitkin County is asking for proposals with what to grow on a parcel of open space. The Open Space and Trails Department is considering people interested in leasing land for agricultural use at the Glassier Open Space. That’s near Emma in the Upper Roaring Fork Valley. Open Space and Trails Employees will be doing a site visit in January to show the land to potential farmers.

Your Evening News - December 22nd, 2014

Dec 22, 2014

Travel Trouble Due to the Weather

The heavy winter storm walloping Aspen is bringing headaches to airport travelers. The trouble started yesterday when just one flight landed at the airport out of 32 scheduled. Six outbound flights were able to depart.

Today, the vast majority of flights have been canceled. Although, American Airlines managed to successfully land one inbound flight from Los Angeles. It’s not just snow causing difficulties – the wind is also an issue.

United is sending busses from Denver – based on demand. The airline’s also offering vouchers for other ground transportation options. The rental car fleet is slim at airports throughout the state.

Avalanche Alert Up Through Tomorrow Afternoon

There’s an avalanche warning for the Aspen Zone of Colorado’s backcountry terrain. So far it’s scheduled to continue through Tuesday afternoon as heavy, wet snow with the latest system making it easier for avalanche to happen.  

Avalanche danger has risen dramatically in recent days with high winds also playing a role. In many locations there is a heavy, slabby layer of snow that could fracture, causing snow to slide downhill.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says natural avalanches are likely today along with ones triggered by activity farther away. CAIC experts recommend against being in the backcountry through tomorrow afternoon. Travelers who do venture out should avoid being on or under steep slopes as well as gullies below treeline.

Your Morning News - December 22nd, 2014

Dec 22, 2014

“Let It Snow!”

The Roaring Fork Valley is getting a generous helping of white gold heading into a busy

holiday stretch. Wintry weather and new snow have arrived just in time for one of the busiest tourism times of the year. Snow starting this weekend is projected to continue and helped with the Aspen Skiing Company opening more terrain on Saturday at all four resorts.

Your Evening News - December 19th, 2014

Dec 19, 2014

Colorado’s Unemployment Picture

Colorado’s unemployment rate continues to drop. New figures by the Department of Labor and Employment show the rate dropped to 4.1% in November. The national unemployment rate is 5.8%.

The last time the Colorado unemployment rate was as low as 4.1% was in January of 2008. The largest job gains were in the trade, transportation and utilities, financial, mining, logging and information sectors. Month-over-month declines were felt in the leisure and hospitality industry, as well as construction.

Governor Hickenlooper lauded the news but said more work needs to be done. He says his office wants to come up with “creative and effective ideas that will help support those still looking for work.”

Over the year, the unemployment rate fell from 6.3% in November 2013 to 4.1% last month. Total employment year-over-year increased by 117,000 and the number of people unemployed decreased by about 60,000.

Your Evening News - December 18th, 2014

Dec 18, 2014

Nebraska & Oklahoma Sue Colorado Over Pot Legalization

The Attorney Generals of two neighboring states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Colorado’s legalization of recreational pot. Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit stating Colorado's Amendment 64 and implementation is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says Federal law prohibits the production and sale of marijuana. At the same time, he says Nebraska taxpayers are paying for an increase in marijuana-related arrests.

“It’s frustrating to have a sister state reaping tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and sending the problem side of it to us.”

In a statement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he’ll defend the state's legalization of marijuana. He says he believes the lawsuit is without merit and that the primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana instead of the choices made by Colorado voters.

Your Morning News - December 18th, 2014

Dec 18, 2014

Basalt Downtown Discussion Continues

The committee that’s been discussing redevelopment in downtown Basalt will present its recommendations to elected leaders today. The 10-member Downtown Area Advisory Committee has met regularly since October. The group’s goal is to help Town Council determine plausible redevelopment scenarios for key pieces of land.

The group went over some of the ideas generated during an unconventional planning process called “Our Town.” In September Town Manager Mike Scanlon said committee members would approach the ideas objectively.

"That’s what having this committee allows us to have. It’s a group of people that can take a more measured approach to the different ideas.”

Some Basalt residents have said they’re counting on the process to come up with a plan to boost a struggling downtown. Some businesses have moved from the quaint downtown to the more modern Willits area.

Your Evening News - December 17th, 2014

Dec 17, 2014

Snowmass Ski Area Changes Under Review

The White River National Forest released a draft Environmental Assessment for changes at Snowmass Ski Resort.  The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District reviewed what’s being called winter recreation enhancements proposed by Aspen Skiing Company. They include the replacement and realignment of the High Alpine Chairlift, and boosting snowmaking. The changes could also include glade and trail projects. Official notice will be published in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. The comment deadline will be thirty days later.

Your Morning News - December 17th, 2014

Dec 17, 2014

Aspen Still Debating Mark Hunt Plans

Aspen planning officials could not come to an agreement last night about whether to recommend a possible new lodge. It's one of two similar lodges proposed by Chicago developer and Aspen transplant Mark Hunt.

The meeting was already a continuation of a discussion earlier this month. Last night, Hunt and planner Mitch Haas presented the proposal again: a three story lodge with rooms under 200 square feet, to fill Aspen’s affordable lodging gap. Called Base 1 it would Include a rooftop terrace and basement amenities like a bowling alley open to all. It would be located across from City Market and Hunt explains why he sees that as a good spot.

“We have our busiest retailer across the street. There’s a gym, there are offices, there are condominium buildings that actually operate like hotels. And yeah, there are residences there. But I think it’s a very eclectic part of Aspen.”

Of about a dozen public comments, the vast majority were in favor of the proposal. But concerns about design and requested exceptions led commissioners to hang up the towel for the evening. Stan Gibbs is Commission Vice Chair, and feels the building does not fit the commercial guidelines for the lot.

“There’s a lot of residential and affordable housing around there, and I think a big building has compatibility issues.”

Hunt and Haas did not comment afterwards, but were visibly frustrated during the meeting. Commissioners will take up the issue again at the beginning of January. A city planner at the meeting last night said the proposal would still be on track to go before City Council later next month. That’s when Council will also consider a similar lodge by Hunt, called Base 2.

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.

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