Aspen Public Radio

Your Evening News - January 5th, 2015

Jan 5, 2015

2 Elk Resuced, 1 Dies in Icy Pond

Law enforcement and firefighters responded to a call Monday morning, of three elk trapped in a frigid pond near Aspen.

Rescue crews in wetsuits worked for over two hours using chainsaws to cut a wide escape route in the ice. The elk were trapped in a pond on private property off of McLain Flats Road. Eventually two elk, a bull and a cow, were able to escape. The third elk drowned.

Kevin Wright with Colorado Parks and Wildlife says he’s concerned about the health of the bull elk that didn’t scamper off, but rather sat along the pond once he was freed.

“They expended so much energy just swimming around in circles and trying to get out - just basically pure exhaustion. He looks awfully “shocky” to me. We’ll see if he’s able to get up, move off and make it.”

Parks and Wildlife will continue to monitor the two elk. Meanwhile the property owner was fined for placing two bales of hay next to the pond where the elk were feeding before they broke through the ice.

Your Morning News - January 5th, 2015

Jan 5, 2015

Avalanche Injures Aspen Mountain Guide

A skiing tour guide for Aspen Mountain Powder Tours will not be returning to work today. The employee injured his knee when he was caught in an avalanche just outside Aspen Mountain’s ski area boundaries on New Year’s Day. That was in a location where the cat skiing operation is allowed to operate. Jeff Hanle is spokesman for the Aspen Skiing Company which owns and operates the powder tours. Hanle says the company does not plan to release the employee’s name.

“We don’t ever release an injured person’s name. There’s HIPAA laws and rules that don’t allow us to do that in most cases. And in this case the employee did not want to be identified. So we’ll respect his decision.”

Hanle says he’s not aware of any similar accidents in previous years.  Aspen Mountain Powder Tours will operate as usual today. The area of the avalanche had been closed after the incident last Thursday, but could be in use this week or later in the season as avalanche conditions permit.

Your Evening News - January 2nd, 2015

Jan 2, 2015

Basalt & Development in 2015

2015 promises to be another action-packed year for development planning in downtown Basalt. Town officials say last year was about “setting the base.” Now, things may start taking shape.

Town officials and community members have been envisioning what may be built on about thirteen public and private acres downtown. Last month, a committee charged with coming up with ideas presented its findings to Town Council.

Now the elected leaders will consider next steps. Town Manager Mike Scanlon says there’s a lot to go over.

“What do we want to do in terms of formalizing all this work that was done in 2014, into a planning district? Do we want to go to a form-based code for the downtown area? Do we just want to establish a special downtown area district? And then, how do we start taking some of those public pieces and work on them? So, getting the parks to a standard and a quality that we would expect.”

Already, a development group has shown interest in building on 2.3 acres downtown. Lowe Enterprises told town officials it envisions building a boutique hotel and some residential units.

Your Morning News - January 2nd, 2015

Jan 2, 2015

Lift 1A Closed for Up to 10 Days

The Aspen Skiing Company has closed Lift 1A at the base of Aspen Mountain for repairs. The Aspen Times reports the 43-year-old lift will be shut down for a minimum of eight to ten days while the company deals with a broken part in the lift’s gear box.

The International Ski Federation has asked the Ski-Co to upgrade the chairlift and surrounding base if it wants to continue to host World Cup races. A company spokesman told the paper the latest mechanical problem does not give credence to calls that the lift is antiquated. In June the Federation announced Aspen will hold the World Cup Finals in March of 2017.

Your Evening News - January 1st, 2015

Jan 1, 2015

I-70 Closures Start Tonight

The Colorado Department of Transportation will begin a series of closures on Interstate 70 starting tonight. The agency will close the road in both directions at Idaho Springs from 9pm to 6am for the next four nights.

The closure may slow travelers either leaving the Roaring Fork Valley or heading this direction. Motorists will use the on and off ramps in both directions at Exit 240 to detour around the closure. CDOT is completing abutment work and initial girder setting for a new bridge over the Interstate.

The work was originally scheduled for last week, but winter storms postponed it. The agency is looking to take advantage of favorable weather this week to do the work. A CDOT official says the main goal of the closure is to ensure traffic is flowing freely during peak travel times. There may be some traffic delays.

Your Morning News - January 1st, 2015

Jan 1, 2015

Except Airport Delays

For lodging, tonight is the last of the busiest seven days of the year for Aspen and Snowmass bookings. That means people flying out of the Upper Valley could see long lines starting tomorrow.

Once the New Year’s Eve celebrations are over, travelers hit the road or the airport to return home. Bill Tomcich is President of Stay Aspen Snowmass, the resort’s main booking company. He says New Year’s Day through January 5th will be a mass exodus.

“You can actually check in as soon as four hours before your scheduled departure, you can go out to the airport and check your bags, and then come back into town for lunch and don’t worry about cutting it close for your flight if there’s a large line.”

Travelers catching the first flights of the day are recommended to arrive when the airport opens at 5am. The last seven days have had several flights canceled or rerouted because of winter weather. Tomcich says airlines have been better equipped this year to make up for those hiccups, by adding ground transportation and diverting more often to Grand Junction instead of Denver.

Your Evening News - December 31st, 2014

Dec 31, 2014

New Year’s Fireworks

It is New Year’s Eve. That means fireworks in Aspen. There will be two shows – 8pm and Midnight. The City of Aspen is reminding pet owners that if your dog is afraid of loud noise that you keep them indoors during the fireworks. The displays will light up the sky above Aspen Mountain for about 15 minutes both times this evening.

Your Morning News - December 31st, 2014

Dec 31, 2014

Patrols Set to Nab Overindulgent Partiers

The Colorado Department of Transportation says the annual statewide New Year’s enforcement is underway. CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol and almost 100 local law enforcement agencies are working together to keep those who had too many off the roads. Checkpoints and patrols will continue now through Monday January fifth in an effort to nab drunk drivers. CDOT advises New Year’s partiers to have a designated driver, take public transportation or a cab to keep off the roads following a night of drinking. Last year, just over 500 people were arrested for impaired driving during the New Year’s action.

Your Evening News - December 30th, 2014

Dec 30, 2014

Ski Co to Open Idaho Resort

The Aspen Skiing Company is expanding its operations to Idaho. The ski operator closed on a property in Ketchum and plans to build a new hotel, modeled after an existing one in Aspen.

The Ski Co will develop a new Limelight Hotel close to Sun Valley’s River Run base of the ski area Bald Mountain. The Limelight in Aspen features large guest rooms, an expansive lounge, a lobby restaurant, and adventure programming for guests.

In a statement, the Ski Co’s Vice President for Hospitality Don Schuster says the company feels the timing is right to grow the “Limelight brand” and that downtown Ketchum is an ideal location.

The hotel in Idaho will include more than 100 hotel rooms and eleven free market residential units. The Skiing Company purchased the Limelight hotel in Aspen in 2010 from the Paas/Woolery families.

Your Morning News - December 30th, 2014

Dec 30, 2014

BLM Seems Basalt Mountain Input

The Bureau of Land Management is taking public comment on a plan to reduce fuels for wildfire from the base of Basalt Mountain.

The BLM would target more than 1,000 acres north of El Jebel, near Spring Park Reservoir. Most of it would be treated with prescribed fire. The idea is to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires from entering private property from public lands.

The BLM will hold an open house on the proposal on January 12th at the Eagle County Community Center. Comments will be collected until mid-February.

Your Evening News - December 29th, 2014

Dec 29, 2014

“12 Days of Aspen” in High Gear

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association is hosting its annual “12 days of Aspen” series this holiday season.

The 12 days series has everything from children’s story hour to menorah lighting to Christmas buffet to New Year’s Eve celebrations. One recent event was at the end of Aspen’s pedestrian mall, with a classic American dessert. Jennifer Albright Carney is Vice President of Event Marketing with the chamber.

“We are doing make your own s'mores. So it’s free, open to the public, little holiday spirit.”

Carney explains the idea behind the series is to have some continuity to the holiday season for visitors. Twelve days of Aspen continues through the end of Wednesday.

Your Morning News - December 29th, 2014

Dec 29, 2014

New Castle to Honor Captain Killed in ISIS Fight

The Town of New Castle is planning a public memorial for an Air Force Captain killed in action. William DuBois died in Jordan on December 1st on a mission to attack ISIS targets.

Now, town officials want to memorialize the New Castle native with a monument. Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Leland is leading a committee charged with looking over designs, finding a location and securing financing.

Your Evening News - December 26th, 2014

Dec 26, 2014

Schwartz Takes a Bow as State Senator

State Senator Gail Schwartz is serving out her final days as a lawmaker. The former Snowmass Village resident is term-limited after eight years. Democrat Kerry Donovan of Vail will take Schwartz’s spot at the capitol when the legislature convenes on January 7th.

Your Morning News - December 26th, 2014

Dec 26, 2014

Heavy Traffic on I-70 Expected Today

For residents and visitors using Interstate 70 today, officials are asking travelers to prepare for even more traffic than usual. The Colorado Department of Transportation says the day after Christmas last year was especially busy, along with the Saturday after as well. Traffic counts in the Eisenhower tunnel between Glenwood Springs and Denver peaked at more than 26,000 vehicles heading westbound. The resort booking company Stay Aspen Snowmass says today begins the busiest stretch of the winter holiday in the Upper Valley.

Your Morning News - December 25th, 2014

Dec 25, 2014

Aspen Aims to Save Water

The City of Aspen is looking into how it can save water in the future. The Water Department this week released the latest draft of a water efficiency plan.

The plan is being updated as part of the City’s involvement in a Valley-wide collaboration with water providers in Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The collaborative effort is called the Roaring Fork Watershed Regional Plan.

In the City’s individual plan it looks at future water demands for treated water, should the town’s population grow. It also examines the impact of climate change on water resources. The report suggests focusing on outdoor water efficiency in the future.

The City has been working to reduce the amount of treated water it uses through setting water efficiency goals. The latest plan builds on the work already done. The City is taking public comment on the draft plan until February 27th.

Your Evening News - December 24th, 2014

Dec 24, 2014

Crystal Palace Revue says “Farewell” Tomorrow

A decades old tradition in Aspen is coming to an end. Tomorrow will see the last performances of the Crystal Palace Revue. The vast majority of those performing worked at the Crystal Palace dinner theater in downtown Aspen from the 1960s through the late 2000s. After the iconic business sold, performances have continued during the holiday season. Nina Gabianelli oversees the Crystal Palace Players and explains busy schedules and other commitments make it time to move on.

“We don’t want to just slap something together, and have people not have a positive memory of the crystal palace. We want to make sure that what you remember is what we did best.”

Like in years past, tomorrow evening’s programs will feature satire including politics and the environment and will be held at the Wheeler Opera House.

Your Morning News - December 24th, 2014

Dec 24, 2014

Smooth Travel in the Valley

Flights out of Aspen’s airport are going much more smoothly, according to the resort’s main booking company. Scores of flights were canceled Monday 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.

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.