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SpeakUp ReachOut presents film about suicide, veterans, and alternative ways to heal

Anthony Anderson and Tom Voss, two Iraqi War Veterans walked 2,700 miles across seven states over five-and-a-half months to heal themselves from suicide ideation and to raise awareness of the moral injury veterans face when they come home from a war zone. Their trek is documented in the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Almost Sunrise: Hope is on the Horizon.”
Special to the Daily

The next event in SpeakUp ReachOut’s suicide prevention educational series is the virtual screening of “Almost Sunrise: Hope is the Horizon.” The Emmy-nominated documentary created by Iraq veterans Anthony Anderson and Tom Voss is a feature-length movie about resilience and recovery.

Haunted by combat experiences, Anderson and Voss embark on a meditative pilgrimmage (a 2,700-mile walk) to help them deal with suicide ideation caused by moral injury. Moral injury is the damage done to a person’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses or fails to prevent acts that conflict with his or her own moral beliefs, values or ethical codes of conduct.

The goals of their trek are twofold: to learn to heal for themselves, but also to raise awareness about the staggering rates of suicide among veterans in the United States.

During their “Almost Sunrise” journey, Voss learns about mindfulness-breathing techniques at the Project Welcome Home Troops Power Breath Meditation Workshop. The new skills learned at the workshop help his overall mental health improve and gave him a renewed sense of connection and purpose.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there is a great deal of overlap between moral injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“PTSD is an invisible behavioral health issue that affects many people, not just veterans,” said Pat Hammon, an RN and Eagle County’s Veteran Service Officer. “It can result from any major trauma such as a severe car accident or a house fire. But, it is most commonly known for its frequent occurrence in combat veterans. ’Almost Sunrise’ is very informative about the effects of PTSD on veterans and their families. The information shared will be helpful for all citizens to be sensitive to, especially since we all need to be more aware of suicide prevention in our community.”

The 97-minute documentary will be screened virtually (via Zoom) on March 31, at 6 pm. SURO encourages veterans, family members and anyone interested in learning more about the effects of moral injury and alternative methods of healing to attend this free event.

After the movie, there will be a panel discussion moderated by SURO. Panelists include Voss and Anderson from “Almost Sunrise” as well as local veterans Commander Reed, Cory Diss and Toby Baldwin. There will also be an opportunity for questions from the audience.

SpeakUp ReachOut, founded in 2009, exists to prevent suicide prevention in the Eagle River Valley through training, awareness and hope. Visit speakupreachout.org to learn more. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call The Hope Center of the Eagle Valley at 970-306-HOPE (4673) or Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255.

“Almost Sunrise: Hope Is on The Horizon“

Cost: Free virtual documentary screening

When: March 31 at 6:00-8:30 pm (veteran panel discussion to follow movie screening)

Who should attend: Veterans, those who support veterans, families of veterans and anyone interested in learning about resilience and hope as it relates to mental health issues

Register: Visit speakupreachout.org/educational-events/almost-sunrise to register, which is mandatory

Eagle County police agencies, Catholic Charities, partner on coat drive

Catholic Charities and the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Alliance are sponsoring their 10th Annual Fall Coat Drive. Over the last several years, this coat drive has distributed over 4,000 coats to local kids and families in need. 

This year, the coat drive will be for kids’ coats and outer winter gear only. Coats are being collected through Oct. 30 at the following locations:

  • Vail: Vail Police Department, 75 South Frontage Road.
  • Avon: Avon Police Department, 0001 Lake Street.
  • Edwards: Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Substation in the Mountain Recreation Edwards Field House, 450 Miller Ranch Road; UW Youth Closet, 439 Edwards Access Road, Edwards (behind Subway).
  • Eagle: Eagle Police Department, 200 Broadway.

The community is encouraged to donate clean coats in good condition. Families in need of kids’ coats can come to the Youth Closet beginning Nov. 2 during regular operating hours, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday, as well as Monday evenings from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The Law Enforcement Immigrant Alliance, an initiative founded and facilitated by Catholic Charities, consists of representatives of the immigrant community who meet on a regular basis with the heads of law enforcement in Eagle County. They provide resources and information through education and outreach to build trust and collaboration with the immigrant community.  

Participating agencies include Catholic Charities, Vail Police Department, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Avon Police Department, Eagle Police Department, Salvation Army, Bright Future Foundation, YouthPower365, Eagle County School District and several community members.

Eagle County Paramedic Services names operations manager

Steve Vardaman has been promoted to Operations Manager at the Eagle County Paramedic Services. Vardaman previously served as a Paramedic Supervisor. 

“The operations manager is a critical role here,” Eagle County Paramedic Services CEO Jim Bradford said. “Not only does the ops manager work closely with all our field providers and supervisors, but he is also integral in helping us maintain our stellar customer service. (Vardaman) has been an invaluable asset to our organization for almost two decades; we’re thrilled to be able to promote him to this position.”

Vardaman started his career with the paramedic service in 2002 as an EMT, completed paramedic school in 2003 and has been a paramedic supervisor since 2013. In addition, he works as a paramedic ski patroller for Vail Resorts, is a certified Critical Care Paramedic, a BCCTPC Certified Flight Paramedic and a State of Colorado POST-Certified Reserve Sheriff’s Deputy. He’s also one of only 19 IBSC Certified Tactical Paramedics in the state. 

“I am so fortunate to work with such a talented, motivated and dedicated staff,” Vardaman said. “I look forward to serving with our many healthcare and public safety partners to continue providing high quality Emergency Medical Services to our community.”

For more information, go to eaglecountyparamedics.com or call 970-926-5270.

Avon opens first outdoor concert venue in Eagle County following COVID-19

AVON – Nottingham Park on Wednesday became the first outdoor venue in the county to take the leap back into hosting concerts.

With four sections that allow 175 people each, and 50-feet between each section, event organizers think they pulled off exactly what their job title describes, a well-organized event.

“Everybody is showing gratitude and practicing being responsible, so I feel good about going forward,” said town of Avon special events manager Danita Dempsey. “I’m super thankful for the community, how well behaved everyone is.”

On stage, the Burnsville Band also showed gratitude to the town of Avon for hosting them, asking the crowd to give it up for the town and thanking everyone for staying distanced from each other.

“We filled the park,” frontman Steve Burns joked.

624 allowed

In fact, attendees had not quite reached the calculated 624 people maximum capacity of the venue, which is based on the 89,900 square foot area in front of the stage.

The town of Avon had 16 people working the event, many of whom roved the event explaining to guests that there’s no gathering in the walkways, and encouraging people to wear their masks when they’re moving around in the walkways.

Police chief Greg Daly said he had a few cops making walk throughs and observed no issues.

A cleaning crew went through the venue once per hour cleaning all touch points in the venue.

Also, event workers were carrying surfboards, which was cool.

“We wanted a visual to let people know how far to stay apart,” Dempsey said.

John LaConte | jlaconte@vaildaily.com

‘Somebody had to be first’

Jake Wolf, a member of the Avon Town Council and a musician himself, walked to the event from his residence nearby, and said he was honored to be a resident of the first town in Eagle County to host an outdoor concert venue following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Somebody had to be the first one to do it,” he said. “I’m glad it was us.”

The Avon Live concert series will continue July 1 in Nottingham Park with Beau Thomas, a six piece ensemble from Summit County and Eagle County.

Guests may bring their own food and alcohol as there will not be any food or beverage concessions during events. Aluminum is preferred as glass is not allowed and single use plastic is discouraged.

Shows are free, but a maximum capacity of 624 will be enforced while Eagle County remains in the blue phase of pandemic restrictions.

For 4-H kids in Eagle County, the shows will go on

While the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo has been canceled, one of the fair’s premier events, the junior livestock auction has not.

“Agriculture is unpredictable. It can vary from year to year,” said Jenny Leonetti with CSU Extension in Eagle.

Like so much of the world, this year’s junior livestock auction will move online. An outfit called stockshowauctions.com will handle it. The company just did the massive Houston livestock show.

And while Eagle County’s junior livestock auction isn’t that size, it will feature 153 animals — more than ever, Leonetti said. It’s scheduled for July 25 and will run most of the day.

“We’re thankful we’re able to have it. Many counties are not,” Leonetti said.

‘The value of hard work’

4-H teaches life skills like adaptability, Leonetti said, especially when life takes some unique twists and turns as it has this year.

“They learn responsibility, dedication, the value of hard work and teamwork, caring for something besides themselves,” Leonetti said.

The kids usually leave their animals at the fairgrounds all week, washing and primping the animals for their shows. This year they won’t. They’ll arrive at the fairgrounds, show their animals, then load them in the trailers and take them home.

“The biggest difference is the camaraderie. The kids don’t get to be together and neither do the buyers,” Leonetti said.

The junior livestock auction will be live. That doesn’t change. But how the kids approach the buyers changes, said Trent Eichler, part of a multi-generational 4-H family.

The Eichlers head to shows almost every weekend, so their animals are used to traveling. The first couple times can be stressful for animals and people. After that, everyone gets used to it. Their pigs, for example, stroll over the back of the truck and appear to wonder why you’re taking so long to let them in the back, Eichler said.

The Eichlers competed in Weld County a couple weeks ago with 1,200 other kids. They were home this past weekend, then next weekend they’re in Eaton, then Loma, then Rawlins, Wyoming.

Eichler loves it because he gets to spend time with his children and grandchildren. His grandchildren love doing it, and they also win their share of events.

“They win a little money and work harder,” Eichler said smiling.

They’re already familiar with both ends of online auctions. They bought a couple pigs from Ohio and other animals from far-flung places.

They’re in it for the long haul. They’re starting to look for next year’s animals, Eichler said.

For the online Junior Livestock Auction the kids submit pictures, video and a short bio. Buyers scroll through all of that day’s animals and bid. If someone tops their bid they’re notified and, just like a live auction, you must decide what to do with that information.

You can also donate to 4-H if you want to support the program, Leonetti said.

Everything will be sent to Mountain Meat Packing in Craig. They’ll deliver the meat by mid-August, frozen and ready for your freezer.

Some animals were bought and registered online last month, some earlier in the spring. Kids with steers have had them since last fall.

“They were committed before the coronavirus. You just bow your neck and go on,” Eichler said.

Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail reopening Friday

VAIL — The Colorado Snowsports Museum will be reopening after months of COVID-19 induced closure.

Like many openings, the museum’s will be limited, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday.

“We’re thrilled to be reopening and welcoming people to town,” museum director Jen Mason said.

There will also be discounts in the gift shop and a few restrictions upon entering, Mason said.

Patrons will need to wear a mask and gloves — the museum can provide the gloves — because of the touch screens.

The museum will also be restarting its Vail History Tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, beginning May 16. The tours start at 11 a.m. and cost $5.

Because they’ll be limited to eight people, you’ll need to make a reservation, Mason said. You’ll also need a mask for the tour and they’ll be social distancing.

The Colorado Snowsports Museum is located at the north end of Vail’s Bridge Street in the Vail Village parking structure. It has been around since 1976.

The museum is a repository of not only Vail’s history but also the history of snowsports and its surrounding culture. Among the focal points are the famed 10th Mountain Division and the Snowsports Hall of Fame.

CMC kicks off virtual commencement season

EDWARDS — Commencement season is still Carrie Besnette Hauser’s favorite time of year, but like everyone else, the Colorado Mountain College president will celebrate from a distance.

CMC always kicks off commencement season, and like every other school, they’ll host virtual celebrations.

How that works

CMC students were mailed a package containing a mortarboard and tassel, a letter from Hauser, alumni swag and other items. Graduates are supposed to enter information and photos to CMC’s commencement website. That website goes live at noon Friday.

Once it’s live, it will be open to the public. The broadcast is scheduled to be available at least through the summer. CMC is asking graduates to pull together “watch parties” of friends and family members and to post photos on social media with #cmcgrad2020 or www.Colomtn.me/gradphotos.

The broadcasts are being tailored for the students’ home campuses, including their keynote speaker and a student speaker from their campus.

Then they’ll hear what they’ve been waiting and working for, reading their names and the degrees or credentials they’ve earned. A member of the elected CMC Board of Trustees will confer diplomas and certificates, and their campus student speaker will lead their classmates in turning their tassels.

The whole thing kicks off with speeches from Hauser and Angie Paccione, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

Spirit remains the same

The delivery shifted from in-person to online, but the occasion’s spirit has not, Hauser said.

“This is a time when everyone who has supported that student in reaching an important life goal — their families, their friends, the faculty who have taught them and counselors and other staff who have guided them on their journey — get to cheer and celebrate with them,” she said.

The 2020 academic year is different than anyone could have imagined, Hauser said. Every college and university in Colorado has been impacted by efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Classes moved online; some students moved back home while a handful of others stayed quarantined in their residence halls. And virtually every commencement ceremony in Colorado has been canceled outright or postponed.
“We have all found ourselves persevering through this unforgettable year,” Hauser said.

Celebrating Women’s Suffrage

Along with the graduates, CMC’s commencement celebrates the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Commencement speakers include a state Supreme Court justice, a lieutenant governor, the heads of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the Department of Agriculture, founder and CEO of a well-known outdoor products company, and directors of several powerful nonprofits.

Their recorded CMC commencement speeches will be incorporated into a video project for the “Bold Women. Change History.” initiative organized by History Colorado and the governor’s Women’s Vote Centennial Commission.

Lauren Y. Casteel, chief executive officer of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, will be the featured speaker for CMC’s Edwards/Vail Valley campus. When Casteel joined The Women’s Foundation of Colorado in February 2015, she became the first person in Colorado to lead three separate foundations.

Foundation donates $1M for restaurant worker relief

The Colorado Restaurant Association and the Colorado Restaurant Foundation have announced that the foundation’s Angel Relief Fund has received a $1 million contribution from the Kemper family foundations to establish a new fund called the Independent Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.

Independent restaurants are suffering disproportionately in the COVID-19 crisis, and employees of these businesses are most likely to need gap funding. The Independent Restaurant Workers Relief Fund will provide grants solely to restaurant workers from Colorado-based, independently owned and operated restaurants who have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus. 

One-time grants from the Independent Restaurant Workers Relief Fund range up to $1,000 per individual, and are available to restaurant and food and beverage hospitality workers whose last place of employment was a Colorado-based, independently owned and operated restaurant or small restaurant group, and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Quarantined under doctor’s care.
  • Unable to receive government assistance.
  • Unemployed, underemployed, or furloughed.

“The Kemper family foundations have contributed to help food banks and social services agencies to meet the needs of our friends and neighbors as COVID-19 has been catastrophic for many in our communities,” said Mariner Kemper, co-trustee of the foundations. “As this public health emergency continues to develop, and shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders close or limit restaurant operations, my family wanted to also give where we could provide more direct support to people whose livelihoods have been impacted. We’re happy to work with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation to get much-needed financial support to workers from Colorado-based, independently owned and operated restaurants. We’re grateful to the Anschutz Foundation, a major contributor to the fund, and it is our hope that others will join us by donating at https://corestaurant.org/foundation/angel-relief-fund.”

Mary Mino, President of the Colorado Restaurant Foundation, said, “We are extremely grateful to the Kemper family foundations for their generous contribution. The Angel Relief Fund has been and continues to be a source of funding for hospitality workers experiencing hardship. In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve focused our fundraising efforts on helping workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or otherwise unable to obtain government assistance. This contribution allows us to have a much wider impact, and bring relief to several thousand unemployed, underemployed, and furloughed restaurant employees across the state.”

Grants made through the Angel Relief Fund can be used for housing, transportation, mental health, medical, child care assistance support and more.

To apply, go to the Angel Relief Fund’s web page. Individuals wishing to support restaurant and hospitality workers can donate to the Angel Relief Fund at its website. Contributions are tax deductible and go to help industry employees in need. 

Vail Board of Realtors Foundation now accepting scholarship applications

Applications are now being accepted for the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation Scholarship program. The program is available to any Eagle County residents enrolling in or returning to college, university or accredited academic institution in the fall of 2020 as a full-time student.

Twelve scholarships of $2,000 each were awarded in 2019 to students attending institutions around the United States. Past recipient Claire Krueger attends the University of Notre Dame and shared that she has used the scholarship to its very fullest.

“It’s allowed me to just focus on school and my extracurriculars rather than stressing about the other little things,” Krueger said.

“Thanks to the ongoing support of our local Realtors, the Vail Board of Realtors Foundation will be able to award even more scholarships than the previous years,” said Bev Trout, Realtor and Scholarship Committee chair. “The Vail Board of Realtors created the Foundation and it has been a tribute to see it fulfilling its mission. ” 

“Our members believe it is important to give back locally and support our community,” said Association Executive Erica Kirk. “This scholarship is the perfect example that highlights that believe and mission.”

The number of scholarships and award amounts are based upon the budget and determined by the qualifications and number of applicants each year. Applications must be submitted to the Vail Board of Realtors offices in Edwards no later than Friday, June 19 by 5 p.m.

Go to www.vbr.net or call 970-766-1028 for information and scholarship application materials.

The Vail Board of Realtors Foundation was established in 1996 with the mission of assisting the community and association members with need-based financial assistance, not-for-profit support, education, and disaster relief.

Bob Lazier, a Vail pioneer, dies at 81 after battling COVID-19

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily will soon publish a more complete tribute to Vail Pioneer Bob Lazier.

Vail pioneer Bob Lazier spent 22 days in the hospital fighting COVID-19 before succumbing to complications from the virus at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Diane, Lazier’s wife of 58 years, kept a journal of all the things his doctors and nurses at Lakewood’s St. Anthony Hospital told her while Lazier fought for his life in isolation.

“He fought a very, very valiant fight. It’s so like him,” Diane Lazier said. “He’s the toughest 81-year-old you’ve ever seen.”

One of Lazier’s nurses cried when she called the family around 1 p.m. to say he was going. Family members all gathered around and got to talk to him. That nurse was holding his hand and had moved the bed so the sun was on his face, Diane Lazier said.

“He had a big personality and an incredible amount of energy, full of life,” Diane Lazier said.

Lazier is the seventh Eagle County resident to die from the virus, a county official confirmed Saturday night.

“One of the saddest parts is that the coronavirus cheats people of being with their loved ones,” Diane Lazier said.

Life moves fast in Lazier Land

Bob Lazier was a race car driver, entrepreneur, hotelier, builder and lover of life. He became one of Vail’s first major contractors, building 16 commercial properties in 17 years.

His passion and obvious talent for driving fast pushed him into professional racing. He finished 19th and was named Rookie of the Year in the 1981 Indianapolis 500, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” His sons followed him into Indy car racing. If you’re a Lazier, spectacles are for racing in, not for watching.

A couple of years ago, Bob became the oldest person to win a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while racing in a pro-am event.

Vail pioneers

Vail opened Dec. 15, 1962, and Bob and Diane rolled into town two weeks later. They were on their way to Alta, Utah, where Bob was going to teach Diane to ski. They planned to swing through Aspen to track down a friend who owed Bob some money, Diane recalled.

They drove their Morris Minor station wagon into a gas station at what was then the outskirts of town, and what is now the main Vail roundabout. It was brutally cold that week in Vail, the temperature rarely getting above 30 below zero, not too bad for the northern Minnesota natives.

As they stood in the cold with their German Shepard named Animal, a pair of twin girls stormed out of the Vail Village Inn shouting, “I’ll never work for that blankety-blank man again!” Diane Lazier recalled.

She said she and Bob looked at each other and said, “There are two jobs available in Vail.” They both got jobs and stayed.

They worked hard and took a couple of chances as pioneers will. They built the Wedel Inn where Vail’s Austria Haus is now, and later the Tivoli Lodge, which the family still owns and operates.

Some of this material came from Dick Hauserman’s book, “The Inventors of Vail.”