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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.”

Plasma from recovered Vail Valley COVID-19 patients needed to help victims

If you recovered from COVID-19, doctors might want your blood plasma to help those still suffering.

Vitalant, the nation’s second-largest independent blood provider, on Wednesday began collecting “convalescent plasma” donations from recovered COVID-19 patients in Ventura, California. Vitalant works with nearly 1,000 hospitals across 40 states and hopes to scale up the effort.

Vail Valley resident Dr. Nadine Lober and Dr. Alma Juels, assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, are helping coordinate efforts to collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients in the Vail Valley.

Plasma is rich in antibodies that may help COVID-19 sufferers fight off the virus, but it is an experimental treatment, Lober explained.

“If you can give plasma with these antibodies, your donation could help multiple people who are in the ICU right now,” Lober said.

As of Thursday evening, Eagle County had 452 COVID-19 cases.

Who can donate plasma

Not just anyone can donate convalescent plasma. The FDA is guiding blood centers on how to qualify these donors. 

According to Dr. Samantha Mack, this region’s Medical Director for Vitalant, you must meet four criteria:

  1. You need to have a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis or a test demonstrating SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. You need a copy of the test result.
  2. You must be symptom-free for at least 14 days.
  3. You’ll need a nasopharyngeal swab for COVID-19 that comes back negative.
  4. You have to qualify as a regular blood donor. Visit Vitalant.org for more information on general blood donation eligibility.

If you’re a Vail Valley resident, Lober is helping to coordinate qualification of donors. Email her at covid19vail@gmail.com.

Vitalant will only accept medically-referred donors who have recovered from COVID-19 and have shown no symptoms for two weeks.

This ensures that only fully recovered individuals are donating, Vitalant Communications Manager Liz Lambert said.

Two hours to save lives

It takes about two hours for the whole donation process, Lober said. The sooner recovered COVID-19 sufferers meet those four criteria, the sooner they can be qualified to donate plasma.

Vitalant is working with several hospitals, including some in Denver, to qualify donors and collect convalescent plasma. Once donor eligibility is confirmed, Vitalant will work with those hospital partners to collect and process the plasma for treatment in patients with active, serious COVID-19 infections.

COVID-19 claims the lives of two Eagle County men

EAGLE COUNTY — Eagle County Public Health and Environment has reported two more deaths of Eagle County residents from COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to four.

A man in his 80s died during the evening of March 29. Another man, Bruce Church, 83, died at 10:18 a.m. Monday. The man who died Sunday had underlying health conditions, Eagle County public health officials said. Church did not, his family said. The two patients were at separate hospitals.

Church tested positive last Thursday before his death Monday morning, his family said. He lived in the Vail Valley for 25 years, rode his road bike 50 miles at least four times a week, and skied consistently.

“He was healthy and this virus hit him like a freight train,” his family said.

“We are saddened to report the loss of two more community members due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to their family and friends,” said Heath Harmon, Director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment. “As we grieve, I want to urge our residents to take the necessary precautions to help protect our loved ones.”

Many of the precautions come in the form of the social distancing orders in place throughout the state. The current state of Colorado public health order prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside of a residence. Further, the orders apply to playgrounds, picnic areas, and other similar areas conducive to public gathering.

“These measures are important to protect our grandparents, our kids, our neighbors, and our friends,” said Harmon. “We still have a ways to go before we turn the corner on this disease in our community and we should be prepared for these restrictions to be in place for several more weeks.”

The measures taken within a home if someone is sick are equally important as the measures taken in the community. The state public health orders state that “individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate until their symptoms cease.” Isolation means that a person with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or any other symptoms that may be consistent with COVID-19, should stay home for seven days from the start of symptoms and 72 hours until fever-free, whichever is longer. In addition, they should not have contact with other household members, keeping six feet distance when possible, and wearing a mask to help prevent exposures to household members during this time.

Residents should not be leaving their homes except for the critical activities listed below. In addition, when out in public for these activities, people must maintain the minimum six feet safe distance from others.

  • Obtaining food and other household necessities, including medicine
  • Going to and from work if you are a critical employee
  • Seeking medical care
  • Caring for dependents or pets
  • Caring for a vulnerable person in another location
  • Participating in outdoor recreation

For more information about COVID-19 in Eagle County, follow One Valley Voice on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OneValleyVoice and visit www.ECEmergency.org.

Residents may also contact the CO HELP Hotline at 1-877-462-2911 to ask specific questions about COVID-19. 

Eisenhower tunnel traffic numbers tell a stark COVID-19 tale

EAGLE COUNTY — Sometimes numbers really do tell the whole story.

Case in point: Three graphs compiled by Margaret Bowes, director of the I-70 coalition. In the days since COVID-19 shut down the state’s ski resorts, there has been an 80% decline in Friday westbound traffic at the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels. Sunday eastbound traffic is down 74%.

“We all know the cause,” said Bowes. “Usually decreasing I-70 congestion is a good thing, but not under this scenario.”

Beyond the obvious, there’s really not much more to offer, Bowes said.

“It is fascinating to see how much traffic our tourism-based economy draws,” she said.

Personnel at the Colorado Department of Transportation are watching the numbers, but aren’t sure what practical insight they can offer. Elise Thatcher, communications officer for the CDOT Northwest Region, said there are many factors at play with the data.

 “There is less traffic, however, we don’t have enough information to provide an analysis of all the factors contributing to the reduction and by how much,” Thatcher said.

“What we can definitively say is Colorado’s highways are open, including at every state border, unless a road is closed for construction or weather-related safety issues. We are working closely with the commercial freight industry, to make sure they’re able to transport food, health care materials and other critical items,” Thatcher said.