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PHOTO: Vail opening day ends with moose crashing après

As Vail’s 2019 opening day concluded, a moose came to après outside the Vail Chophouse in Lionshead.

Education conference at Beaver Creek hopes to create ‘ripple effects’ for rural communities

BEAVER CREEK — What do Hooks, Texas, Del Norte, Colorado, and Brownsville, Tennessee have in common?

One thing is their struggle to provide quality afterschool academic and enrichment programs for their community’s young people.

For the first time ever, rural and resort educators from around the nation were able to collaborate, discuss these issues, and share wisdom at the PwrHrs Rural Afterschool Education Conference. The three-day conference, which began Wednesday and wrapped Friday, was hosted by the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365 at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek.

More than 250 people from 26 states attended the event.

“The impact of this event will have ripple effects for a long time to come. Everyone I spoke with was passionate and engaged, and dedicated to ensuring a better future for the young people in their community,” said Sarah Johnson, the vice president of education and the arts for the Vail Valley Foundation. “It’s heartening to know that everyone who came will be able to go back to their community not only with what they’ve learned here, but with a new network of connections.”

Only about 30 percent of a student’s waking week is spent at school — and that’s only in wintertime. Add in summer break and holidays, and it’s more like 20 percent of the awake time that a young person is in the structured, learning environment provided by the school day.

This means that many of the events and activities that shape a young person’s life take place during the remaining 70-80 percent of the time.

When school lets out, not all children have the same set of choices. Leaders in the field are exploring the best way to provide quality out-of-school programs and therefore a better future for all our young people. In addition, there is a need to make sure that everyone, no matter their social, cultural, or economic background, has equal access to these programs.

For rural and resort areas, special problems arise. Rural afterschool and summertime educators must find ways to overcome long distances, a lack of infrastructure, and limited funding options in order to make out-of-school programs viable and successful.

Bestselling author shares her story

A highlight of the event was the presentation and discussion that arose from Sarah Smarsh, National Book Award Finalist who spoke at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Thursday as part of the conference. Smarsh delved deep into her life of poverty growing up in Kansas, experiences she chronicled in her best-selling book, “Heartland: A memoir of working hard and growing up broke in the richest country in the world.”

The conference also included more than 30 sessions on topics ranging from the social-emotional health of young people to how to better create and leverage community partnerships.

Participants also left with concrete tools to help them share ideas and resources with their respective communities. With help from Grove International, artist Malgosia Kostecka created a remarkable “graphic recording” of the event — a visual representation of the content and discussions of the conference that is being digitized and distributed to participants.

From Texas, to Wyoming, to Tennessee to right here in Eagle County, educators and nonprofit organizers from 26 states came away with a multitude of ideas and tools that will help create enriching environments for young people in rural communities around the country, during the critical time spent out-of-school.

To learn more about the discussions and outcomes of the conference visit www.youthpower365.org.

Having trouble accessing VailDaily.com? Here are a few workarounds

We’ve been hearing from lots of readers who tell us that when they try to access VailDaily.com, they are receiving this message instead: DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN.

We have identified the issue; the problem is that it’s mostly out of our hands.

CenturyLink has been experiencing distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on their Domain Name System (DNS) servers. DDoS attacks happen when a targeted system’s bandwidth is flooded in a malicious fashion by an outside group.

These attacks have come at some very inopportune times — like election night or during a breaking news event — when readers are clamoring for information. Trust us, we’re frustrated, too.

So, if you are a CenturyLink customer in Eagle County, this is why you are experiencing this issue. All we can offer at this point are workarounds, and there are two:

1) If you are using a mobile device, turn off your Wi-Fi and use cellular data to access our site.

2) Change the DNS server on your computer. Changing your DNS will not only help you access our site; it is arguably a safer way to browse the internet. Read more at https://1.1.1.1/dns/. You can also use Google’s Public DNS Service. Those instructions are available at: https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns.

We appreciate your support and patience throughout all this.

Vail Opening Day 2019: New experience, nice snow surface, uncrowded runs, longish lines

VAIL — A new early-season experience awaited guests Friday for Vail Mountain’s Opening Day, and the snow surface received rave reviews.

Skiers and snowboarders got their first look at Vail’s new snowmaking system; immediately noticeable were the 80 or so fixed location cannons lining the sides of the runs like trees.

Vail native Cesar Hermosillo, who boarded the first gondola up the mountain on Friday, said it felt like a whole new ski resort at both Vail and Keystone this season.

“Amazing what they got done over the summer,” he said.

Hermosillo was joined by Jennifer Natbony, Tyler Moore, Liz Westbrook, Thomas “Trailer Tom” Miller, Jeff Bosboom, Dr. Kelly White, Jason Waldman and Tuck Stafford.

While it was Hermosillo’s ninth “first chair” experience, and there have been too many to count for Trailer Tom, Stafford enjoyed his first in 2019.

Atop the Gondola, they were greeted by several open runs, both groomed and ungroomed. The terrain was serviced by Chair 4, and while lines backed up during the day, the runs themselves remained uncrowded as there were several to choose from.

Longtime local Steven Teaver, a beverage director at the Four Seasons, returned to snowboarding Friday after a long hiatus due to a broken elbow.

“Felt good to get back on the board,” he said.

Visiting from Texas, Eric Beauchemin said his group of six friends picked Vail to ski because it was open and located in a convenient location between their other two destinations of Aspen and Estes Park. He said they also found lodging to be more affordable than expected as the resort transitions out of offseason early this year. Beauchemin’s group toured the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness on Thursday, skied Vail on Friday and plan to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday.

“This time of year is nice because you can ski and still do the parks,” he said.

Other skiers and snowboarders on Vail Mountain were awaiting more events throughout the weekend.

Visiting from Summit County, Zach Griffin said he was pleasantly surprised in the snow surface at Vail as it skied better throughout the day. After a long day of riding Vail, Griffin said he planned on participating in the Groove Silverthorne Rail Jam on Friday night in Summit County.

Longtime Vail snowboarder Bob Aubrey took time between runs at Vail to promote his new short film, “Trees,” which was set to debut at the Altitude Bar and Grill on Friday. The short film was shot in the Vail area and features log sliding legend Shaun Cypher.

Man arrested for racial harassment at Dillon thrift store

DILLON — A Fairplay man was arrested for harassment following an alleged racist diatribe against employees at a thrift store in Dillon last week.

Duane Andrew Jones, 52, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of harassment and bias-motivated crime as a result of the incident, along with a petty offense charge of disorderly conduct.

At about 4:50 p.m. Nov. 6, Dillon Police Department officers were dispatched to the Summit Thrift and Treasure store in Dillon, a nonprofit thrift store on Fielder Avenue that helps to support the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, on a report of a customer causing a scene inside.

On arrival, officers contacted a man, later identified as Jones, in the parking lot. Officers reported that Jones was animated in his demeanor and was making statements that he was being “harassed by Mexicans,” according to a police report.

Inside, employees had a different story. The store’s cashier said she recognized Jones when he entered the shop — he’d allegedly made a disturbance earlier that day at the store’s Breckenridge location — and went to the back to warn her manager.

The store manager told police that she walked to the front of the store when Jones was ready to check out, and that’s when the conflict began, according to records. Jones allegedly showed her a picture on his phone of “his people building the wall to keep all of the Mexicans out” along with a number of other derogatory remarks aimed at Mexicans.

Store employees said Jones then left the store without paying for a hat. The manager followed him out to photograph his license plate before returning to the store. Jones followed her back into the store and threw the hat at her, according to the report. According to the cashier, Jones continued to make pejorative and racist comments before leaving, including threats along the lines of “I’m coming for all of you.”

Witnesses reported that people in the store were “stressed and frightened” by the incident, and store employees locked the door and called the police once Jones left. According to the report, Jones got in his truck and continued to circle the parking lot until police arrived.

Officers placed Jones under arrest on the grounds of a bias-motivated crime, a misdemeanor. According to the Colorado criminal code, “a person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin … by words or conduct, knowingly places another person in fear of imminent lawless action directed at that person or that person’s property …”

Jones also was arrested on charges of misdemeanor harassment and disorderly conduct, a petty offense, and taken to the Summit County Detention Facility.

Dillon Police Chief Mark Heminghous said racially motivated crimes like this are rare in town, noting the most recent incident he could recall was an act of vandalism at the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in 2016, when a swastika and other inflammatory symbols were spray-painted on the building.

But Heminghous emphasized that racial harassment is illegal and said anyone who experiences it shouldn’t hesitate to call the police.

“We continually hear about incidents second- and third-hand,” Heminghous said. “But we’d like to hear about them firsthand. I’d encourage people to call us at the time when things like this take place.

“Everyone should be aware of their surroundings, and when you encounter people like this, call the police. We want to come take care of these incidents. It’s illegal, and we want to be able to address those incidents when they take place.”

Co-founder of Steamboat pot shop promoted to COO of international cannabis company

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The co-founder of Steamboat Springs’ first marijuana dispensary has been appointed second in command of one of the world’s largest cannabis companies.

Kevin Fisher, previous owner of Rocky Mountain Remedies on the west side of Steamboat, now serves as the chief operating officer for Parallel, a global company with headquarters in Georgia. His goal as COO is to expand markets across the world and develop new ways for customers to consume marijuana.  

Fisher and his business partner, RMR co-owner Ryan Fisher, announced their decision in July to sell their shares of the dispensary to the owners of Green Cross Colorado LLC, which operates eight dispensaries around the state under the chain name, Tumbleweed. Kevin Fisher said they expect to close on the deal in the next week or two. 

Fisher left RMR to serve as the executive director of Parallel, which changed its name from Surterra Wellness in October. His promotion to COO comes as the company looks to grow its footprint and customer base.

Parallel currently operates in four states, including Massachusetts, Nevada, Florida and Texas. The company also has international operations in Hungary and Colombia. Fisher said Parallel is in the process of trying to expand business in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where medical marijuana is legal but not recreational marijuana. 

Across the country, Fisher said people are warming up to the use of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational purposes. He argues the substance is less harmful than, say, pharmaceutical drugs or alcohol. 

“There is a certain proportion of the population who seek an escape from the human condition,” he said. “We believe cannabinoids are the safest way to get that escape.”

Growth has not come without setbacks. A recent mysterious lung illness, which has been attributed to nicotine and marijuana vaping devices, has killed at least 40 people across the country and sickened thousands more.  

Marijuana vape sales tanked nationwide amid the scare, with some states reporting as much as a 60% drop in sales. Massachusetts, one of Parallel’s domestic markets, announced a four-month ban on product sales in September. 

Fisher said his company, which offers a broad range of marijuana products, has not been hit as hard by the drop in vape sales, which account for about 20% of Parallel’s business. He stood by the safety of his company’s vape devices, arguing well-made vapes in the legal market are not the problem. 

Federal officials have come to similar conclusions.

On Nov. 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report linking vaping illnesses to vitamin E acetate. According to the CDC, this is a sticky, honey-like substance added to some illicit vaping cartridges to dilute the marijuana oil and increase profits. Most of the people who have fallen sick obtained vapes illicitly from friends or on the street, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement urging people to stop using vaping products until more research is done.

According to Fisher, Parallel’s vaping cartridges abide by strict regulations and use only a marijuana distillate, which he said makes it “the same thing as smoking regular cannabis.”

Looking to the future, Fisher aims to bring innovations to the way people consume cannabis products. He has been researching ways to speed up the effects of certain edibles, which can sometimes take hours to take full effect. That makes it hard for people to get the dose they want and sometimes, can cause consumers to over-indulge.

One product line of beverages infused with THC, the cannabinoid that gets people high, is designed to take effect in as little as 10 minutes, according to Fisher.

Amid these changes, Fisher expressed gratitude to the Steamboat community for the support he received as a budding cannabis businessman. 

“It was a very high-risk environment back then,” he said. 

Though most of his work happens outside Colorado, Fisher still calls Steamboat home. 

Asked about potential moving plans, he said, “I’m not going anywhere.”

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

Colorado’s recycling rate improves to 17.2%, but we’re producing more trash than ever

Colorado’s recycling rate has dramatically improved — but read this with a giant asterisk. 

We’re now at 17.2% for 2018, an increase from the prior year’s 12%, according to the latest “State of Recycling in Colorado” report produced by Eco-Cycle and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group. The difference was in how household recycling was tracked by the state between 2017 and 2018 (one includes some industrial debris; one doesn’t).

The other asterisk? Coloradans still generated 1.4 million tons more trash in 2018 than in 2017. 

“We need to stop producing as much waste and then we need to be recycling more as well,” said Kate Bailey, director of Eco-Cycle, the non-profit recycling organization in Boulder. “Our recycling rate is half the national average. We’re still way behind our peer states. There are signs that there’s momentum, and we’re moving in the right direction, but we really need to pick up the pace.”

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

SEE: Live updates from Vail’s 2019 opener

Opening day is here in Vail, and the Vail Daily will be out here all day capturing the action! If you’d like to have your photos featured, use the #VailLive hashtag on Instagram, and refresh this page for updates.

For a list of events happening this weekend, check out Tricia’s weekend picks.

Vail Opening Day 2019 provides blueprint for Vail Resorts’ sustainability efforts

VAIL – These days, on Vail Mountain, all decisions are made with environmental impact in mind.

Those are the words of COO Beth Howard, who is overseeing Opening Day 2019, a new-and-improved Opening Day the likes of which Vail has never seen.

The improvement hinges around a decision to move the Opening Day base area from Lionshead to Mid-Vail, and while it appears to be an obvious choice, it also reflects the latest thinking in the company’s mountain management strategy: Climate change is real, and ski resorts will need to adjust to it.

As a result, the new snowmaking system that allowed for a shift to higher-elevation terrain in the early season is nothing if it isn’t employing top-of-the-line efficiencies.

At Mid-Vail, a new pipe underground connects directly to approximately 80 new guns along the Swingsville and Ramshorn runs. The pipe is 20 inches in diameter, wide enough to allow all 80 guns to operate at full capacity during those crucial moments when conditions are ideal for most efficient snowmaking. Using onboard weather stations, the new snowmaking guns automatically pump more water through the gun as temperatures go down and less water as temperatures go up.

Mountain officials said the water cycle of all the new snow was contemplated carefully, and there are environmental benefits associated with the water storage aspect of snowmaking. With channeling on the mountain allowing for 75 percent of the water use to be non-consumptive at Vail, snowpack on the runs will translate into a source of water storage which will make an important contribution to the spring runoff cycle later on in the year. 

“That’s one of the best aspects of snowmaking … we’re putting it on the hill and storing it,” Howard said. “You have a little bit of evaporation, you have some going back into the soils, and you have the majority of it going back into the watershed.”

Commitment to Zero

Howard said that and every other aspect of Vail management is now focused on attaining the company’s goal of achieving a zero net operating footprint by 2030. Vail Resorts calls the plan their “Commitment to Zero,” and defines it a zero net carbon emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfills and zero operating impact on forests and natural habitat.

“Our Commitment to Zero, we went out with that two years ago, and have really, really focused on that every day, in everything we do with capital investment, operating, how we operate the mountain, recycling, everything,” Howard said.

In addition to the remote sensing and snowmelt control upgrades on the mountain, Vail and Beaver Creek both executed $800,000 worth of energy-efficiency improvements in 2019 following a professional energy audit, according to the company’s second annual EpicPromise progress report, released in October.

In 2019 Vail and Beaver Creek mountains converted lighting to LED, replaced inefficient boilers, updated older and inefficient refrigeration equipment and installed controls on water pumping equipment.

“We’re committed to it and we understand the importance of it,” Howard said. “The natural environment is our product, and we take that seriously.”

Within the statement is an acknowledgement of the fact that Vail Resorts’ profits as a publicly traded company rely upon the natural environment and the public land on which the resort operates, and in saying it, Howard echoes a statement from CEO Rob Katz in undertaking the Commitment to Zero in 2017.

“The environment is our business,” Katz said, in a statement posted on the Commitment to Zero web page. “And we have a special obligation to protect it. As a growing global company so deeply connected to the outdoors, we are making a commitment to address our most pressing global environmental challenge and protect our local communities and natural resources.”

In the EpicPromise progress report, Katz said that by setting bold goals, Vail Resorts has been “driven to think bigger and work more collaboratively with our employees and communities to find creative solutions that will allow us to have a measurable impact on climate change.”

But it won’t be an easy task, Katz said.

In the company’s Commitment to Zero video, Katz ends the piece with a truth the company has long known about such an ambitious goal.

“It’s going to require the innovation, passion and dedication of all of us to get to zero,” Katz says, before leaving us with a familiar brand slogan: “This is what epic looks like.”

Safer, as well

And if environmental sustainability is Vail’s No. 1 concern, it takes the top position in a tie with on-mountain safety.

“There’s nothing as important to us as safety,” Howard said. “That’s one of our core values as a company.”

In moving Opening Day to Mid-Vail, where more runs await first-day skiers, Howard says the resort will provide a safer experience, as well. 

“Instead of having every skill level on Born Free top to bottom, we now have beginner and intermediate,” Howard said, in reference to the Swingsville and Ramshorn runs, which are set to open on Opening Day every season moving forward.

Also, Howard added, “We’re going to activate Golden Peak Day One for our never-evers, so they are not interfacing with more advanced skiers, they can come down the 12-to-One Connector and ski Swingsville, so there’s a progression for early season for all skill levels.”

“Any time you can spread guests out and not interface a beginner with an advanced skier on one or two runs, that’s a real win,” Howard added.

Christmas tree permits now available through U.S. Forest Service offices

National Forest Christmas tree permits are now available for purchase at White River National Forest Offices and community vendor locations. The cost per permit is $10 and permits can be purchased via cash, check or credit card. There is a maximum of five tree permits per person. Trees must be for personal use, not for resale. Permits will be sold starting Friday, Nov. 15, through Monday, Dec. 23.

“Harvesting a Christmas tree is a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to get out on the forest and make lifelong memories. The White River National Forest is proud to be a part of that tradition,” said Rich Doak, Forest Service spokesperson. “We are also grateful to our local community vendors for their assistance with selling permits and helping us provide more opportunities for these experiences.”

In addition to district offices and the Forest Supervisor’s office, Christmas tree permits will be available for purchase at select community vendor locations starting Friday, Nov. 15. The list of vendors is available online by visiting the Christmas tree permit button.

Fourth graders are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit through the Every Kid Outdoors initiative. Fourth graders and family member/guardians can only collect a free tree permit at a Forest Service office by presenting a valid pass or paper voucher printed from the Every Kid Outdoors website:  https://everykidoutdoors.gov/. The mail-order form is not an option for this program and free permits are not available at vendor locations. Only one free tree permit is allowed per fourth grader.

It is your responsibility to know the rules and regulations for Christmas tree harvesting. For more information visit an office location or the “How to Cut and Select a tree” webpage. The Forest Travel Management Plan closes many forest roads prior to or on Nov. 23. Motorized users are responsible for obtaining a Motor Vehicle Use Map to determine where one can drive, ride and recreate. These maps are free and are available at ranger stations or at http://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/whiteriver/recreation.