Aspen Public Radio

Your Morning News - December 22nd, 2014

18 minutes ago

“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.

Your Morning News - December 16th, 2014

Dec 16, 2014

Aspen Planners Consider Mark Hunt Proposal on Lodging

Planning officials in Aspen are considering whether to allow certain exceptions for one of the development projects Mark Hunt is involved with. The Chicago businessman has purchased more than a dozen properties in town in recent years.

The project would be built on Main Street, where a Conoco gas station is now. Aspen’s planning and zoning commission is reviewing a laundry list of exceptions that Hunt is asking for. Aspen Senior planner Sara Adams says one is canceling what’s called impact fees.

“So that comes to a total of about $91,400, roughly, in impact fees.”

Hunt is also requesting a height increase, more than doubling the amount of floor space, eliminating the required two to three affordable housing units while leasing more than twenty parking spaces in the Rio Grande Parking Plaza rather than building more parking for guests.

The proposed building would be three stories tall with a gable roof and a rooftop deck. The rooms would be on the smaller side. Hunt has said the effort is to boost the affordable lodging in Aspen. Again, city planner Sara Adams

“First floor is retail, restaurant, lodge lobby. Second and third floor are all lodge rooms. You know a hundred and seventy to a hundred and eighty square feet, average size, bunk beds.”

In the basement there would be amenities like a bar and a Turkish steam bath. The proposal is goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight. Members will decide what recommendations to make to City Council which will consider the proposal. Another Hunt development that’s very similar will be considered in January.

ACS Gets High Marks in State Rankings

The Aspen Community School is one of the top-ranked schools in the state according to a new analysis. The school near Woody Creek ranked 6th out of 500 middle schools. The organization Colorado School Grades releases its report card annually on nearly 2,000 public schools. The group uses data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula developed at the University of Colorado Denver to come up with its rankings. The formula looks at a school’s academic achievement, academic growth and gaps in education. In 2014, the Aspen Community charter School received an “A-plus” for grades six through eight. Other schools in the Roaring Fork Valley received grades. The Aspen High School scored a “B-plus” and Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale received a “C,” as did Glenwood Springs High School. Bridges High School in Carbondale was one of the lowest scoring high schools in the state. A link for the full list can be found here.

Your Morning News - December 15th, 2014

Dec 15, 2014

Captain Dubois Remembered in Rifle

About 900 people attended the funeral in Rifle yesterday of Air Force Captain William Dubois. The New Castle native died December 1st when his F-16 crashed in Jordan on a mission to attack ISIS targets. The Post Independent reports airplanes from an air force base in Nevada blasted over Rifle High School in a missing man formation to honor the 30-year-old. Dubois was twice named the top fighter pilot in his class. The funeral was held at the high school where Dubois graduated in 2003.

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