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Vail Christian hoops knock off Meeker, 70-51

EDWARDS — Vail Christian boys’ basketball considers games against Meeker to be quite the rivalry.

The Cowboys probably don’t think much about the Saints because, well, they’ve been pounding Vail Christian regularly for nearly the last 20 years.

That may be changing as Vail Christian won its third straight against the Cowboys, 70-51, on Saturday night in Edwards,

“For the last decade, they’ve been the class of our league,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “They’re well-coached and always disciplined, no matter what their talent level.”


The Saints started slowly, the effect of a late night getting back from Rangely. However, that’s life on the Western Slope. On offense, Vail Christian wasn’t doing a good job of finding the lanes to the rim and, on the other side of the court, the defense was a bit leaky.

Give Meeker coach Klark Kindler and the Cowboys a little credit, too, for that slow start. Meeker came out in a 2-3 zone with a lean (wisely) toward the Saints’ Alec Moritz.

Kuhns, who’s coached 20-plus games against Meeker, had never seen zone from the Cowboys. Well played Coach K.

One way to score when you can’t drive to the hoop is to shoot over everyone, and Moritz did that to the tune of 29 points. That’s generally useful.

“We have to cut to the basket,” Moritz said. “We needed to start moving. Once we started moving, we got the open shots in the second half, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Meanwhile, Jamison Lee struck early and often with 19 and was sporting stylish light purple sneakers.

Defensively, the Saints call on Hayden Sticksel. He got Meeker’s Cole Rogers. As Sticksel took care of things there, Vail Christian settled down on the defensive end.

“You have to get around picks, get in his face,” Sticksel said. “You can’t give them an inch of breathing room.”

Seniors and sophs

While the Saints seniors lead, the sophomores are following.

“We kind of skipped a grade,” Moritz joked.

Sophomore Connor Downey did a nice job in the paint with eight points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Jesse Gonzales finished a 24-11 second quarter with a 3-pointer.

Meanwhile, the Saints defense tightened with senior Kaleb Williams even taking a charge during the second half. And Vail Christian was off and running.

Vail Christian, which was ranked No. 7 in the rating-percentage index, the ranking brought to you by Head of School Steve O’Neil, moved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the 2A Slope.

Vail Christian girls basketball put forward a strong effort in a 57-40 loss to Meeker on Saturday.

Maddie Ellsworth had a big night with 15 points, while  Abby  Kuhns finished with nine and Grace McCurdy seven.

The Saints are at Basalt for a pair of nonconference games on Wednesday.

Vail demonstrators participate in Women’s March 2020

VAIL — Participants attached protest signs to ski poles and hockey sticks Saturday at the 2020 Women’s March.

The group marched from Vail Village to Lionshead chanting slogans that summarized their efforts, including “this is what democracy looks like” and “Cory Gardner’s got to go.”

Knowing demonstrations were happening across the country, Vail organizer Bobbie Ruh said she didn’t want to be a part of a town that didn’t have one. About 65 people participated.

“I promised my daughters I’d be active for them, so that’s why I’m doing it,” she said.

Veteran and Republican participants

Ruh said she is a retired attorney and registered Republican from Littleton who became politically active following the Columbine Shooting in 1999.

“We lost friends at Columbine,” she said, speaking on behalf of her daughters.

Ruh’s husband, Jim Ruh, participated as well, holding a sign that said “Veteran against Trump.”

Jim Ruh said after returning home from Vietnam, he immediately sought out higher education at the University of Michigan.

“My first day of law school, nine hours back, I met my wife,” he said.

Jim Ruh said he was demonstrating to support Bobbie, their two daughters and three granddaughters.

Bobbie Ruh speaks to a crowd gathered in Vail on Saturday for the 2020 Women’s March. The group walked from Vail Village to Lionshead displaying signs and chanting slogans.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Now living in Edwards, Bobbie Ruh said she often feels disconnected from the political process.

“I wish I could do more,” she said. “I write Cory Gardner, I write my senators … I think the Republican party has lost its voice of moderation, and it needs to get it back, and I personally think we need more people who feel like I do to join the Republican party and work at the primary level and the caucuses to get rid of these Trump (supporters).”

Women’s rights

Other demonstrators were less nuanced in their criticisms. Participants made references to the president’s involvement in crime, including hush money payments made to X-rated film star Stormy Daniels, as well as the numerous allegations of sexual assault that have been made against President Donald Trump.

Marching in her ski boots, Avon resident Kaile Wilson held a sign that said “sex offenders cannot live in government housing,” with a drawing of the White House and an asterisk citing the code of federal regulations statute she was referencing.

Activists take to Bridge Street in Vail Village on Saturday during the 2020 Women’s March.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Dr. Patricia Qualls, who was visiting Vail from California, said she was most concerned about right-wing efforts to roll back abortion rights. She said while much of her political worldview had been shaped by her experiences working with children in Romania in the early 1990s, she only recently became politically active again in the U.S. and wanted to participate in the Vail march while she was in town.

“Guys telling young women what they can and cannot do … it takes me back to those orphanages (in Romania),” she said. “I got complacent again, and took democracy for granted.”

Members of the group said they also plan on gathering on June 5 in the Wear Orange demonstrations, which seek to raise awareness about gun violence in the U.S.

VIDEO: Snowboarding Overlook Trail at Beaver Creek, a popular summer hike

Vail, greater Eagle County traffic alerts on busy Saturday following snowstorm

(12:08 p.m.) I-70 has reopened in East Vail. Please drive safely.

(11:30 a.m.): The right lane of I-70 at mile marker 179 near East Vail is blocked in the westbound direction. Expect delays and use caution in the area.

Avon reverts to ‘Heart of the Valley’ tagline, skipping Columbus Day, nixing puppy sales

Avon is going back to its old marketing tagline and skipping Columbus Day. Those decisions came out of the Jan. 14 Avon Town Council meeting with Jake Wolf, Chico Thuon, Tamra Underwood, Amy Phillips, Scott Prince, Jennie Fancher, and Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes present.

Issue: Columbus Day

What they talked about: Switching the federal holiday to a floating holiday

Who they talked to: Town Manager Eric Heil said instead of having the second Monday in October as a holiday, Town Hall will remain open and town staff members can choose a different day as a holiday, “and as long as it works with the schedule and is approved by the supervisor.”

How they voted: An unofficial poll revealed a 4-3 split on the council in favor of switching the federal holiday to a floating holiday.

Among those in favor: Councilwoman Tamra Nottingham said she liked the town manager’s recommendation.

Among those against: Councilwoman Jennie Fancher said renaming holidays is not what the council was elected to do.

Issue: Dogs and cats in pet stores

What they talked about: Prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats at future pet shops in town.

Who they talked to: Joyce Cohen, an animal advocate from Breckenridge, said the only major pet store chain that sells puppies and kittens is called Petland, and it does not operate in Colorado. “I urge you all to Google Petland and animal abuse and you will be absolutely horrified,” she said. “It is only effective … to enact these ordinances preemptively.”

How they voted: 5-2 in favor of giving direction to town staff to craft language which would prohibit the sale of dogs or cats in pet stores, with an exception for adoption events.

Among those in favor: Councilwoman Amy Phillips said health concerns about cat and dog breeding that have been brought to light recently are mind-boggling.

Among those against: Councilman Scott Prince said the town does not want to limit itself by having a rule that has an unintended consequence.

Issue: Heart of the Valley and Endless Possibilities taglines

What they talked about: Using the town’s previous tagline, “The Heart of the Valley,” rather than the current tagline, “Endless Possibilities,” adopted in 2014.

Who they talked to: Avon Communications Manager Liz Wood said: “The Heart of the Valley” helps with her effort to have people recognize Avon’s geographic location, and she had not been using “Endless Possibilities” much in her recent branding efforts.

How they voted: A vote was not necessary, but no one from the town council spoke out against reverting back to the “Heart of the Valley” tagline.

Among those in favor: Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes said she has never liked the “Endless Possibilities” tagline.

Woman accused in fatal Colorado Highway 9 crash pleads not guilty; trial date set for June

Lindsey Leigh Ward, 31, the woman who allegedly caused a fatal crash on Colorado Highway 9 while driving drunk last summer, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

At an arraignment hearing Wednesday morning in district court at the Summit County Justice Center, Ward entered pleas of not guilty on four charges of vehicular homicide stemming from a crash in August that killed Colorado couple Benjamin Mitton, 41, and Nichole Gough, 43.

At about 5:25 p.m. Aug. 30, Colorado State Patrol troopers and Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a double rollover near mile marker 84 on Highway 9, just north of Blue River, according to police records. The initial call noted that there were potential ejections from one of the vehicles, along with possible fatalities.

Medical personnel confirmed that two individuals, later identified as Mitton and Gough, were pronounced dead at the scene. Law enforcement officers also reported seeing the couple’s black jeep sitting on its passenger side door. The driver of the other vehicle, later identified as Ward, was loaded into an ambulance for treatment.

On scene, officers questioned multiple witnesses, who alleged seeing Ward driving southbound along the highway, before losing control of her Subaru and hitting the other car in the northbound lane. Ward’s car continued a little farther south down the road before dropping down a steep embankment, according to the report.

Ward agreed to participate in voluntary roadside maneuvers as part of a standardized field sobriety test, but she was only able to complete a horizontal gaze nystagmus — a test to look for involuntary jerking of the eyes caused by substance impairment — before officers ended the test, noting that Ward was extremely emotional, unsteady on her feet and struggling to follow instructions.

Ward was taken for treatment to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, where she underwent blood draws and a preliminary breath test. Soon after, medical personnel at the hospital advised law enforcement that Ward was cleared for discharge, and she was booked at the Summit County Detention Facility on charges of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and failure to drive in a designated lane. She posted bond in the amount of $15,000 and was released the next week.

In September, the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office formally charged Ward with two counts of vehicular homicide DUI, a Class 3 felony, and two counts of vehicular homicide reckless driving, a Class 4 felony. If convicted on all charges, Ward faces up to 24 years in prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

At the hearing Wednesday, Ward pleaded not guilty to all charges, setting the stage for the case to go to trial. Chief Judge Mark Thompson set the dates for a weeklong trial from June 22-26. Ward is next scheduled to appear in court for a motions hearing April 28.

Man injured in 2016 Summit County police shooting pleads guilty to assault

BRECKENRIDGE — More than three years after being shot by a Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy in a tense altercation, Nathaniel Steven Leisz has pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge.

Leisz, 36, appeared in custody Thursday afternoon at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge for the long-awaited adjudication of the case stemming back to Christmas 2016. During the brief hearing, Leisz accepted a plea agreement to a felony charge of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

Just before midnight Dec. 25, 2016, officers with Breckenridge Police Department responded to the Breckenridge Animal Clinic on a report of a stolen vehicle. The reporting party told officers that he left his truck running while he went to pick up his linens from the laundromat behind the clinic and that it was gone when he returned, according to police records.

About five minutes later, deputies with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office were traveling south on Colorado Highway 9 in Frisco and observed a truck matching the stolen vehicle’s description heading north near Peak One Drive. They caught up to the vehicle in town and initiated a stop near the intersection of Summit Boulevard and 10 Mile Road. The driver, later identified as Leisz, pulled into a parking spot on the south end of Christy Sports.

The situation escalated quickly, according to records. Officers with the Frisco Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol arrived to assist on the call. Officers reported that when they ordered Leisz to show his hands, he apparently got out of the car and began yelling “shoot me” and holding a knife to his head.

Officers made several unsuccessful attempts to subdue Leisz, including shooting him with multiple Taser cartridges and a bean bag round fired out of a shotgun, according to reports. Leisz then dropped into a “fighting stance” and rapidly approached the officers.

A Sheriff’s Office deputy fired three rounds from his gun, one of which hit Leisz in the hand. Officers then were able to take Leisz into custody. He was booked into the Summit County Detention Center and was charged with 10 crimes, including felony counts of assault, aggravated motor vehicle theft, menacing and criminal trespass.

Given the circumstances of the incident, Leisz was placed on a mental health hold and was committed to a state psychiatric facility in Pueblo until he was deemed mentally competent to continue with court proceedings — a standard Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown said included assuring he was able to properly understand the criminal justice process and able to assist his attorney in his defense.

At the hearing Thursday, Leisz pleaded guilty to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, a Class 3 felony. As a result of the agreement, all other charges were dropped. The agreement also stipulated a sentencing range of eight and 16 years in prison in addition to fines and a probation period. According to Brown, Leisz will be given credit for about three years served due to his time spent in the psychiatric facility.

Chief Judge Mark Thompson set a hearing date for sentencing March 30.

Vail Christian basketball sweeps Rangely

It was a delightful trip to Rangely.

Yes, there is such a thing.

Vail Christian girls basketball made it two wins in a row with a 33-25 win over the Panthers on Friday night.

Zoe Barela had a big night with 15 points and seven rebounds. She knocked down three of her six 3-point shots. Abby Kuhns came up with eight points, including some clutch free throws late. Grace McCurdy didn’t score a point, but she had 15 rebounds. After 15 rebounds, one doesn’t have to walk back from Rangely. She probably got the seat of her choice on the bus.

Vail Christian girls basketball moved to 4-4 overall and 1-1 in the 2A Slope with the win.

“We’ve been battling sickness all week and we got a win after a long bus ride,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “Rangely’s a good team, and we’re going to try to keep building on it.”

In the nightcap, the Saints boys drubbed Rangely, 74-45. The takeaway from this one is that the Saints, not the tallest team in the universe, played a big man and used an uptempo game to wear him out.

Vail Christian (6-1, 2-0) led 48-18 at the half and 67-27 after three before taking its collective foot off the gas.

Jamison Lee went off for 24 points. Alec Moritz put up 13 points and also created scoring chances with six assists. Connor Downey came off the bench for six points and eight rebounds.

Both sets of Saints head home Saturday for games against Meeker at 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Huskies hoops postponed

With Vail Pass opening and closing with regularity due to Friday’s snowstorm, Battle Mountain basketball’s games at Summit County were postponed.

No makeup date has been announced.

The Huskies boys are at Fruita Monument on Saturday.

Highway 6 reopened west of Sylvan Lake Rd

UPDATE (07:45 p.m.) Highway 6 has reopened, please drive safely.


A road incident has closed Highway 6 at milemarker 148 west of Sylvan Lake Rd. Both directions are closed. Expect delays and move over for responders.

Obituary: Robert Melvin Cohen

Robert “Bob” Melvin Cohen passed away peacefully with family and friends by his side in Denver on Jan. 11, 2020. Bob was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on Feb. 11, 1954. His love for the mountains and skiing led him to Colorado, where he spent most of his life living in the towns of Vail and Gypsum.

Bob successfully won the battle against prostate cancer but eventually succumbed to the aftermath of the treatment. Bob loved nothing more in life than his family, including his wife, Susie Wilke, and son, Matthew Cohen. He was an avid musician and a jazz enthusiast. Bob owned a successful wine distribution company which led to an infinite amount of genuine friendships around the world. We will miss Bob for his unmatched humor, guidance, perspective on life and his never-ending stories.

Bob was survived by his wife, Susie Wilke; son, Matthew Cohen; brother, State Sen. Richard Cohen (St. Paul) (Jodi); cousins, Emmy Lou Jacobson, James Druck and Cathy Rosenholtz; former wife, Cary Hogan; and stepson, Bryant Bowlby. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Sydney L. Cohen and Barbara R. Cohen; and sister, Cynthia Cohen. Celebration of life will be held Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 at the Singletree Community Center from 12-5 p.m.