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Eagle will share its CARES Act funding with local nonprofits providing COVID-19 relief

EAGLE — After reimbursing its direct expenses, the town of Eagle now wants to help out local organizations with their COVID-19 response efforts.

Earlier this month, local governments divvied up $4.7 million in federal dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The Eagle Town Council reviewed the town’s past and projected COVID-19 expenses and then chose to disburse a portion of its $99,188 in CARES funding directly to nonprofit organizations in the community. As a result, the town now has $46,000 in immediate funding available to assist nonprofit organizations that serve Eagle residents.

“There are probably dozens of needy organizations out there,” said Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed. “Hopefully we can direct the money to people who are doing work for COVID relief.”

Even before they opened up funding to the community, Turnipseed noted the town had already figured out one novel way to address COVID-19 needs. Eagle purchased a pig at the Eagle County Junior Livestock Sale and then donated the meat to The Community Market. And, while the food bank program is an obvious candidate for COVID-19 relief dollars, Turnipseed said the Town Council opted to reach out to learn about other community needs.

“It was obviously a conscious decision on our part,” said Turnipseed. “At least it gives us some information about groups that are out there.”

But the there is a quickly approaching deadline for groups to ask for help.

Applications available

The deadline to request aid from the town of Eagle is The deadline for this letter is Aug. 19. To apply for a portion of the available funding, community organizations are asked to follow these steps:

  1. Write a one-page letter to the town of Eagle describing your organization, the role you play in service to residents of the community, and the specifics of the request. Please describe how the requested funds will be used to help those impacted by COVID-19. Please include the following documentation along with your letter:
    • Verification of 501c(3) status
    • 2019 financial statement, P/L or other format showing your financial position
    • A summary of your organizational structure
  2. Email the request letter to Bill Shrum, assistant to the town manager at bill.shrum@townofeagle.org.
  3. At its meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 25, the Eagle Town Council will review the requests and make funding decisions.
  4. Funding must be distributed to the non-profit recipients no later than September 1, 2020. Recipients will be contacted, and appropriate documentation must be provided to the town prior to disbursement.

“The town of Eagle greatly appreciates the community support provided by nonprofit organizations that serve the residents of Eagle and have been crucial resources during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” said Shrum in a written statement. “The town of Eagle is committed to the residents of Eagle, the business community, and to assisting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information about Eagle’s efforts, operations changes, and resources for navigating the impacts of COVID-19, go online to www.townofeagle.org/covid-19.

Frontier Airlines CEO preaches safety of air travel, calls for more people to return to the skies

Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle wants Americans to fly during the pandemic.

It’s critical for saving airline industry jobs and supporting the broader economy that relies on travel, the Denver-based CEO said.

“I think it’s just really important that people start to understand what’s unsafe and flying on an airplane, that’s not unsafe,” Biffle said in an interview with The Denver Post. “It’s actually one of the safest things you can do outside your home. I think as soon as that starts getting out, we’ll start getting some traffic back.”

Biffle highlighted Frontier’s COVID-19 safety protocols. Planes are regularly fogged with disinfectant and masks are mandatory onboard. Frontier mandates temperature checks for all passengers, the only U.S. airline that has taken that step, Biffle said. All of the airline’s jets are outfitted with HEPA filters to pull contaminants out of the air.

On May 3, the airline stopped all in-flight food and beverage service so passengers won’t have an excuse to take their masks off, according to spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz. Bottles of water are available for purchase.

Read more via The Denver Post.

Coronavirus complicated efforts to lower Colorado’s health care prices. But one idea is still moving forward.

Back in February — six months and untold mental eons ago — the biggest issue in health care in Colorado was lowering its price.

Hospitals were raking in record profits, state lawmakers were champing at the bit to do something about it and ambitious plans to rewrite chunks of the health care playbook dominated the legislature’s early days.

Like with many best-laid plans, the coronavirus pandemic has largely upended those efforts — most of the proposals met quiet ends at the Capitol and hospitals’ profits have turned into what they claim will be multibillion-dollar losses this year. But supporters of an innovative new model for negotiating prices with hospitals continue to push forward and say they have been making important gains in recent months — advances they say might have been even larger if not for the pandemic.

“It’s a heavy lift,” said Robert Smith, the executive director of the Colorado Business Group on Health. “We’ve absolutely been slowed down by the COVID crisis.”

Smith has been working to set up a so-called health care purchasing alliance, a group that brings employers and individuals together — basically, the purchasers of health care services — and uses their collective leverage to negotiate better deals from both health care providers and insurance companies.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

On the front lines: How firefighters combat wildfires

Wildfires can be enigmatic.

Fire officials are well aware of the variables that dictate how a wildfire will behave: the moisture levels in fuel sources that have been adapting to changes in the climate, the direction and speed of the wind, and the severity of slopes along the landscape.

But even the slightest change in conditions can alter a fire’s path and intensity, creating an entirely new outlook on the situation as emergency workers rush to gather intelligence and adjust their suppression tactics.

For some firefighters, the dance serves as a reminder that what they’re up against is an uncompromising and devastating force of nature, and it isn’t to be underestimated.

“It’s an interesting thing — and it only comes with experience — to see Mother Nature rage like that and to be comfortable with it,” Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District Capt. Derek “Goose” Goossen said. “We’ll try to predict what she’s going to do today. But really, she’s going to do whatever she wants. Nine times out of 10, she’s going to say, ‘Screw you, humans.’

“We’ll look at the tactics we use and the strategies we can try and see what kind of effect we can have on a force like wildfire. It’s intriguing to see that struggle between humans and Mother Nature, to watch the arm wrestle that happens and see who comes out on top. Sometimes we win. Usually we lose.”

Defending the wildland-urban interface

Modern developments in firefighting tactics and technologies are providing officials a fighting chance. And when you’re battling Mother Nature, it helps to be proactive.

Experts say that some of the best tools they have against wildfires are preventative: educating the public along the wildland-urban interface about best practices in fire safety and creating fire breaks in sensitive areas.

“There’s an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Jeff Berino, former chief at Summit Fire & EMS and a fire investigator. “The more we can do to raise the awareness and prevent the fire from happening in the first place is a win. Common sense is a lot of that, but when you look at what’s causing wildfires, it’s mostly humans.”

Berino pointed to programs offered in Summit County — like the chipping program, home defensible space audits and wildfire preparedness classes offered by the fire districts — as necessary efforts to help get community members ready for potential fires.

Hazardous fuels reduction projects also have become more frequent over recent years, essentially serving to break up the continuity of fuel sources in an effort to reduce the risk of wildfires in the wildland-urban interface and provide firefighters with safer environments to engage fires.

Locally, officials have lauded projects like the U.S. Forest Service’s efforts near the Wildernest and Mesa Cortina neighborhoods in 2011 — when 300- to 500-foot-wide fire breaks were cut — that helped to protect about $1 billion in property during the 2018 Buffalo Mountain Fire.

This fuel break helped spare the Mesa Cortina neighborhood from the Buffalo Mountain Fire near Silverthorne in 2018.
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com

Other efforts are ongoing. At the end of March, the Forest Service approved the Peak 7 Hazardous Fuels Reduction project, which will treat about 522 acres of forested land near Breckenridge, creating 400- to 600-foot-wide community protection zones in areas identified as high risk.

“I think it’s critical,” said Ross Wilmore, wildland fire specialist with the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District. “Defensible space measures really give firefighters a chance. It gives them some time and space to work with. … If you’ve got a homeowner that has done defensible space work on their property, and we’ve done a little fuels reduction on the national forest land, that’s the best of both worlds. We have room to work on public land, and what’s behind us is a tactically advantageous situation.”

Deciding on a response

Officials think of wildfires on a scale of 1-5 based on a number of variables including size, fuel type, complexity and values at risk.

Type 1 fires are the most severe, often requiring hundreds or even thousands of personnel on scene for firefighting operations and logistics work to manage shelter, water, food and more. A Type 5 fire likely could be managed by a single engine within a day. Berino said most wildfires in the Summit County area are Types 4 or 5.

Once a plume of smoke hits the skyline, emergency workers immediately go to work assessing the blaze. A decision could be made to manage or try to steer the fire if it’s determined to be in a safe place. But fires that threaten human lives, structures and other valuable assets like watersheds draw an immediate suppression response.

The first conversations take place around intelligence and tactics. If a wildfire has shown signs of growing, officials will call in a multimission aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art infrared and color sensors, which can provide a detailed perimeter of the blaze and point out hidden hot spots.

“They’ll be orbiting at 20,000 feet above the fire, and I’ve had one radio me for a quarter-sized hot spot,” Goossen said. “I couldn’t see anything hot; I was sticking my fingers in the ground to look for it. The (multimission aircraft) told me to walk 20 feet to the north, turn left and walk 5 feet. … Sure enough, there was a little spot fire starting underneath some bushes.”

Depending on the reconnaissance gathered, more air support could be called in to try to stymie the wildfire’s growth quickly. Generally, firefighters can engage flame lengths of 3 to 4 feet or up to about 12 feet with fire engines.

The main goal in wildfire suppression is to place containment lines around the entire fire, essentially putting it in a box where surrounding fuel sources have been removed or otherwise treated. Firefighters compare their maps to the images they’re receiving from the multimission aircraft and carefully choose where they’re going to try to create containment lines and battle the blaze. Of course, given the dynamic nature of wildfires, there’s always a Plan B and C.

“There’s a decision tree on where we’re going to try and stop the fire,” Berino said. “And there are always backup plans in case it escapes our box. There’s a critical-thinking aspect of this where we have to stay ahead of what the fire is going to do, to think about where it’s going to be in two days, three days or a week.”

Air show

Once a fire hits the crown, or if it’s already bearing down on a residential area, firefighters look to the sky for help.

It could take hours for additional firefighters to arrive from other jurisdictions or for local responders to hike into the forest and position themselves in the right areas. But aircraft can start to head off the fire in a matter of minutes, dropping slurry to serve as the first containment lines.

“We can get aircraft to drop slurry on the fire and start that box long before we can get the dozens or hundreds of firefighters we need on the ground,” Berino said. “We may have crews coming from the Front Range, Grand Junction or Glenwood, and that’s going to take several hours. We can get aircraft here in the 20- to 30-minute range.”

Slurry is a mixture of water and inorganic compounds that form a clay-like substance that inhibits combustion. Berino said single-engine air tankers can drop between 400 and 600 gallons of slurry, while DC-10s and the 747 Supertanker responding to major fires can dump about 12,000 to 20,000 gallons at a time.

A wildland firefighting plane drops slurry on a fire along Tenderfoot Trail on Sept. 18, 2017, in Dillon.
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com |

Responding helicopters — again given a type rating — dump buckets of water directly onto hot spots in the fire to help cool things down.

With a multimission aircraft flying high overhead and tankers and helicopters skimming the treetops, there’s also an air attack supervisor circling in the sky providing directions to aircraft and advising firefighters on the ground of upcoming slurry drops.

Building containment

The aircraft’s efforts are mirrored on the ground below, where officials and firefighters have been running through checklists in preparation for engaging the fire.

Lookouts have been put in place with binoculars to keep an eye on other firefighters and report changes in fire behavior. Communications have been opened between fire crews and aircraft. Escape routes have been planned, and safety zones have been designated.

Firefighters also will have to make a decision to engage a fire directly or indirectly. An indirect attack essentially means officials are choosing to engage the fire on their own terms, allowing it to burn to a fire break, road or some advantageous natural feature where they can set up engines and water lines to help douse the flames.

In a more direct attack, firefighters most frequently will use a technique called anchor, flank and pinch. The idea is to find an anchor point near the back of the fire — called the heel — that would be difficult to burn over, like a cliff, road or wetland. From there, it’s all about building containment lines along the fire’s sides, always trying to keep downhill with the wind at their backs.  

“We’ll construct hand lines on one or both of the flanks, and eventually we’ll try to steer those hand lines together to pinch the head of the fire and put it out,” Goossen said. “… That’s really hard to do in heavy timber, because you can’t outflank a fire with that much energy, and it could be starting spot fires. Usually, we’ll back way off and try to construct a really bolstered line days ahead of the fire.”

Summit County firefighters practice clearing brush during a wildfire training exercises at the High Country Training Center in April 2018 in Frisco. 
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com

Hirscher definitely back on track after win

In ideal conditions, firefighters can bring in bulldozers to clear out trees and other vegetation quickly, but in forest terrain, it’s often up to hand crews carrying chain saws to do the dirty work.

In regard to spot fires — ignitions outside the perimeter of the main fire caused by flying embers — firefighters are constantly on the lookout. Crews will pump water along the containment line, through an engine or something more portable, and pretreat the opposite side of the line to prevent spot fires and keep the main blaze from jumping the line. There also are regular patrols of firefighters walking back and forth in a grid to catch any ignitions.

“People think firefighters are always staring at the flames,” Goossen said. “But we always have our backs to the fire. We’re on the line looking for spot fires. We know the main fire is coming to us, and we don’t care. We care about embers flying over our heads. … If you don’t spot them, all your efforts are for nothing.”

If other tactics fail, officials can always fight fire with fire.

In a process called back-burning, firefighters will find an area within the inner edge of the fire line and light their own fires using drip torches to try to expend fuel sources before the wildfire reaches the area. In more severe cases, firefighters will even perform heli-torch operations, dropping small pingpong-ball-like incendiary devices to start more widespread fires below.

“If you’ve got a big crown fire where you can’t really get near it and retardant isn’t going to make an impact, what you tend to do is back off to a distance and find an area that’s comprised of less intensely burning fuels,” Wilmore said. “It really does two things: burning out the fuel between you and the control line you’re constructing, and allowing firefighters to work in a fuel type they can manage in terms of heat and fire intensity.”

Once a fire has been contained and starts to lay down, slowly burning down whatever remaining fuel sources still have flames, firefighters will do some final mopping up of the area, taking to grid formations again to methodically check for remaining hot spots to put out.

And while mechanical or handmade containment lines, slurry drops and back-burning are all effective in their own right, the tactics tend to work best together.

“We generally try to get a combination of air, engines and hand crews,” Berino said. “Very seldom is it one thing but all three in concert together: the aircraft to knock it out of the trees and to slow down the head of the fire, the engines providing water to protect structures and hit hot spots, and firefighters on the ground with hand tools and hose lines.”

Logan Blakenship, superintendent of the Craig Interagency Hotshot Crew, communicates with firefighters working the Dice Hill Fire on July 21 south of Kremmling. 
Photo by Jason Connolly / Summit Daily archives

The human element

For the firefighters working on a wildfire, the experience can be physically and mentally draining.

One of the core values of wildland firefighters is physical fitness, requiring someone to be able to climb a mountain with 70 or more pounds of gear without sacrificing situational awareness at the top.

The living conditions also are less than ideal.

“It’s an unhealthy, hot, dirty environment,” Goossen said. “There are 13 known carcinogens in wood smoke, and we don’t use any breathing apparatus on wildfires. It’s very common to get smoke headaches for days on end if you’re on the front line. And you get black boogers. …

“Sometimes you get good meals, and sometimes you’re just getting MREs just to keep you going. It’s typical for us to work 16-hour days. You go to sleep tired and wake up at 6 in the morning and do it all over again for 14 days straight.”

Others expressed that wildfires were a source of stress for themselves and their families.

“When I was younger, it was more fun than it becomes as you get older,” Summit Fire & EMS engineer Frank Towers said. “I have a wife and a couple young boys. That definitely takes a toll on you. You’re not there to help with home life. It’s not just a sacrifice I’m making, but my wife is having to work double time to pick up the slack. Knowing that can definitely wear on you. You miss your family when you’re out there.”

Some even warned of long-term mental health effects.

“There’s a bond that you build among firefighters that’s based on shared experience, shared hardship, shared challenges,” Wilmore said. “Those bonds are very strong. But all that hardship and stress and fatigue comes at a cost. I think we’re beginning to understand that cost.

“There’s long-term mental health suffering that firefighters and other emergency workers go through, and we need to provide more support for people that in their fire careers see something that keeps them up at night or just experience the stress of going out to fires over the years and suffering small traumas over and over again. … This is a stressful job, and it does exact a toll on you.”

And of course, there’s always the risk of serious injury or death. In the United States alone, there were at least 160 wildland fire fatalities between 2008 and 2017 according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

“To those that say they’re never scared, baloney,” Berino said. “The key is staying ahead of the fire and having respect for what it can do. There are times when the hair on the back of your neck goes up. There are times when the fire is just marching to its own tune, and you have to just respect that. It’s not a time or place to be a hero. It’s just not.”

Editor’s note: This is part three of a four-part series about wildfires. Part four publishes Aug. 15.

Trails near Vail, around the forest seeing more trash

Ellen Miller spends a lot of time on the trails around Vail. She’s seen a lot more people on those trails this year — and a lot more trash.

Miller, a volunteer trailhead host for the town of Vail, said on her Friday hike up to Deluge Lake and back down past Gore Lake, she found toilet paper, plastic water bottles, a pair of socks and a number of face masks.

“It really infuriates me,” Miller said. Her guess, she said is that a number of new trail users simply don’t know how to get out and back without making a mess.

A need for education

Miller has been sufficiently annoyed to send emails to town of Vail officials, urging more education.

Councilmember Jen Mason brought up the subject at the Aug. 4 meeting of the Vail Town Council. A frequent trail user herself, Mason noted that on a recent hike she’d filled the bags she usually takes to handle her dog’s waste with trash from others.

“That’s never, ever happened before,” Mason said.

Like Miller, Mason believes there’s a new group of hikers this summer who may not be familiar with trail etiquette.

Mason said she hopes education can help encourage people to bring out what they take on a trail. She’s encouraging the town to put up trail etiquette signs to remind people to pick up after themselves.

“For now that’s what we can do,” she said.

More use, more trash

Trail trash isn’t just a Vail phenomenon.

White River National Forest Public Information Officer David Boyd said trails across the area are seeing more use, and more trash.

“There’s a big increase in people not packing out trash, and illegal and abandoned campfires,” Boyd said.

Like Miller and Mason, Boyd speculated that the trail litter may be due in part to newer forest users who may not understand that Mother Nature won’t pick up after you.

Sometimes good-hearted people will go out with a bag to pick up trail trash. But, Boyd said, he’d rather have users take their own trash.

“We’d like to think that with some education and reminders it’ll get better,” Boyd said. “But it’s tough.”

Miller said she’d like to see more use of Leave No Trace materials given to hikers and other forest users.

“If we’re going to advertise our trails, there needs to be an educational component,” Miller said.

Miller and other trailhead volunteers talk with people headed into the backcountry. Most people are happy to chat, Miler said. Still, too many people leave too much stuff behind.

The Vail Town Council last summer had some brief discussions about working with the Forest Service on the idea of imposing a reservation system on the Booth Creek Trail. That would be similar to the reservation system now in place at the Hanging Lake trail in Glenwood Canyon.

Mason said it might be time to revisit that idea for the trail to Booth Falls.

“The other trails are busy, but (those aren’t) to that point yet,” she said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

United Way of Eagle River Valley has $100K to give away

The United Way of Eagle River Valley is looking to give away $100,000 in COVID-19 relief this month.

According to Rebecca Kanaly, the organization’s executive director, this marks the second, and larger, round of COVID-19 grant opportunities from the local United Way. The deadline for application is Sunday, Aug. 23.

The $100,000 will provide grants up to $10,000 for relatively unsupported programs responding to COVID-19 crisis-related immediate and mid-term needs. Kanaly noted that $37,000 will specifically support people who either live or work in Vail. The town of Vail donated the $37,000 in funding to the United Way and a private family foundation, which has chosen to remain anonymous, matched that grant. Another $30,000 will specifically support local nonprofit organizations that have been impacted negatively by the crisis.

Beyond those earmarks, Kanaly said the grant program is open for all. Individuals, groups, or 501c3 nonprofits involved in COVID-19 response work may apply.  

 “United Way really covers the gamut,” Kanaly said.  “We are generally looking for the under-noticed effort. We want to celebrate our local heroes. Not only the first responders but also neighbors helping neighbors, all those people who are stepping up.”

Wave of need

Kanaly acknowledged that $100,000 is a tidy sum to give away. “But we definitely wish we had so much more,” she said.

To illustrate, she noted that back in March, it only took a couple of weeks for Eagle County to distribute $900,000 in rent relieve payments. “If that had continued, the county would need $1 million every month for people to make rent,” she said.

Back in March, United Way of the Eagle River Valley gave out $30,00 in COVID-19 relief grants:

  • $5,000 to Habitat for Humanity for mortgage relief
  • $5,000 to Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation for rent relief
  • $5,000 to Vail Valley Charitable fund for mortgage/rent relief
  • $5,000 to New Life Assembly of God for rent relief
  • $5,000 to United Way of Eagle River Valley (as fiscal sponsor) for meal delivery from Foodsmiths and Loaves and Fishes
  • $5,000 to Small Champions for rent and food assistance

Kanaly noted that the new round of funding isn’t restricted to rent or food relief requests. For example, a senior citizens group has requested money to purchase computer tablets for local elderly residents who are confined to their homes because they such a vulnerable population for COVID-19. The request noted that the technology would help the seniors stay connected and keep them from feeling so isolated.

“That was definitely a COVID request, but not in the traditional sense,” Kanaly said.

As the organization contemplates how to send out money, Kanaly offered thanks to everyone who donated funds to the effort — from large municipal donations to matching funds to individual gifts.

“People just really wanted the money to go to the people who are suffering right now because of the pandemic,” she said. “Some people actually donated their stimulus checks when they got them. The idea is to get to people who need the help right now.”

To learn more or to apply for a grant, visit unitedwayeagle.org/covid-response-philanthropy-fund.

Vail Town Council continues to work on Booth Heights alternatives

A car has about 30,000 parts. A deal to create an alternative to building housing at Booth Heights in Vail isn’t quite that complicated, but a lot has to happen to make everyone happy.

Town officials in January started looking for ways to not build housing at the 23.3-acre Booth Heights site just north of Interstate 70 at the East Vail interchange.

The outline of a plan includes building housing just east of the Middle Creek Village apartments. That will require finding a new home for the Children’s Garden of Learning, which currently occupies that town-owned site.

The town’s currently preferred alternative for the child care center is to add a third floor to the Vail Gymnastics Center, which is just east of Red Sandstone Elementary School. Other sites are also being examined.

Given the complexity, it’s going to take some time to get a deal in place.

Seeking workable solutions

Paul Graf, a member of the Children’s Garden of Learning Board of Directors, Tuesday asked councilmembers to extend the child care facility’s lease to September of 2022. That would ensure continuity of service while a new home is completed.

That request runs headlong into a key element of a draft agreement between the town, Vail Resorts and Triumph Development. Triumph was to buy the Booth Heights site and build workforce housing there.

That draft agreement called for housing at the Middle Creek site ready for occupancy by November of 2022.

An early version of that agreement came in for a good bit of public scrutiny in July, with several town residents calling for a more simple agreement.

Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said the parties to the Booth Heights/Middle Creek agreement continue to work on details of the proposal.

Robson said the partners “were listening” to public comment at the July meeting.

“We’ll bring a draft back to (the council and the public) when we’ve made modifications agreeable to (council) and the partners,” Robson said, adding there’s no firm timetable to make those changes.

Robson added that town officials have also been meeting with the Children’s Garden of Learning board. The goal of those talks is to ensure there’s no gap in service, Robson said.

Councilmember Kim Langmaid said she’s confident the partners can make the plan work.

“If we all stick with it, we’re going to come out with an end result that looks good for us … If we can work together, and trust one another, we can accomplish all our goals.

Councilmember Jen Mason noted that some people want the town to move faster on the plan, while others are urging a go-slow approach.

In addition to housing, “We’re taking the best interest of (the Children’s Garden of Learning) and listening to their concerns, she said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

Kanye West will appear on Colorado’s ballot for president

Rapper Kanye West, who is attempting to mount an independent presidential campaign, has been approved for Colorado’s Nov. 3 ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Thursday.

West has filed paperwork to appear on several states’ ballots, but Colorado’s bar is lower than most — candidates must pay a $1,000 fee, submit notarized statements and obtain backing from nine electors who are registered voters in the state. West received help from at least one Republican operative in the state, and his campaign filed the paperworkWednesday.

Election officials still are reviewing paperwork from other potential candidates and plan to release a list Friday of candidates who have qualified, spokesperson Betsy Hart said.

In the last month, West’s sometimes-public struggles with mental health issues have fueled speculation about his bid. His running mate is Michelle Tidball, a self-described “biblical life coach” in Cody, Wyoming, where West has a ranch.

Read more via The Denver Post.

He wasn’t the best skier, but he was Colorado’s preeminent ski bum. Farewell, Charlie Toups.

Charlie Toups was the consummate ski bum. He spent more than 30 years of his life sleeping in cars in snowy slopeside parking lots so he could ski all day.

He wasn’t the best skier. He didn’t have the latest gear. He didn’t ski the hardest lines or boast the prettiest form. But he was out there every day. From the late 1970s to 2010, he lived in ski area parking lots. For many of those years, home was a Volkswagen Beetle. He had ripped out the passenger seat so he could unfold his lanky frame. The Beetle spent many years at the base of Aspen Highlands and more than a decade buried in the corner of the Loveland ski area lot. 

“He had to tunnel down to it. That car was basically a snow cave,” said Halsted Morris, a longtime Loveland skier and avalanche educator who serves as president of the American Avalanche Association. “Not a lot of people went to visit him in there. The smell was a bit ripe, I remember. He was one of the true last ski bums, that’s for sure. I don’t think you’ll see his kind for a long time.” 

Toups crashed his mountain bike near Montezuma on July 27. He suffered a head injury and died at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood a few days shy of his 74th birthday.

Charlie Toups posted this photo of himself with his bike on his Facebook page in 2016 with the words “I AM SPARTACUS!”
Special to the Daily |

Toups worked afternoons in the Loveland kitchen back when the Beetle was buried. At Aspen Highlands, he would wake up at dawn every morning and place his skis first in line at the lift. He would bootpack snow with ski patrol all morning for a lift ticket. At night he would stock shelves at the local grocery. Many remember him grazing from abandoned trays in the cafeteria.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

Vail branch of Mind Springs Health adds new psychiatrist

Mind Springs Health, the largest provider of mental health and addiction treatment in Western Colorado, has announced that Dr. Patrick Sassoon, has joined the organization as a psychiatrist at the Vail location.

Sassoon attended medical school at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, where he also completed his psychiatric residency.  Prior to attending medical school, Sassoon obtained a master of science degree in mental health counseling from Nova Southeastern University in Florida and a bachelor of arts degree in law from Pontificia Universidade Catolica in his home country of Brazil.

Sassoon is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and he has a personal understanding of Latin American cultures and has enjoyed working with Spanish-speaking patients, initially as a psychotherapist and now as a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry.

“We’re very pleased and excited that Dr. Sassoon has joined our Vail office, where he’ll be working with many of our Spanish-speaking residents,” Dr. Will Elsass, Mind Springs Health’s Chief Medical Officer, said.  “Dr. Sassoon is not only tri-lingual and in tune with the needs of our Spanish-speaking community, but he has experience working with telepsychiatry, which has become an essential way to conduct psychiatric evaluations and medication management services during the pandemic.”

All of Mind Springs Health 12 offices throughout Western Colorado offer both in-person and telehealth therapy options for patients.

The Vail office is located at 395 East Lionshead Circle. For more information, call 970-476-0930, or go to mindspringshealth.org.