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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.

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.

New mobile app, Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty, virtually turns an empty house into a home

The integration of technology into business processes has created more opportunities for industries across the board ­— and real estate is no exception. By using cutting edge technology, real estate agents can help their buyers and sellers overcome difficult barriers to closing a sale. One of those challenges is often a failure to envision an empty house as a home. Sotheby’s International Realty recognized this physical and emotional disconnect and created a solution.

Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty is a revolutionary augmented reality mobile app that allows one to see rooms in a home virtually staged as they are being toured. Potential buyers can visualize what an empty home will look like fully furnished just by holding up and looking through their mobile devices.

The first real estate brand to launch and implement a virtual staging AR app, Sotheby’s International Realty places high importance on striving to be a leader in adopting the latest technologies and tools to better serve its sales associates and most importantly, its clients. Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty was built with ARCore, Google’s AR software platform, and is powered by roOomy, the leading virtual staging technology platform which specializes in 3D/AR/VR content creation and application development.

“The Sotheby’s International Realty brand once again sets the new standard for the use of technology to seamlessly improve the buying and selling process,” said Kristen Muller, senior vice president of marketing and communications for LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. “The Curate app can completely reposition a home in a potential buyer’s eyes, creating an emotional connection and allowing a buyer to envision the house as their home. This is an invaluable tool to agents, home buyers and sellers.”

The app features capabilities that simply wouldn’t be possible with physical staging. Real estate agents and sellers can collaborate to create an appealing interior design with different aesthetic options ranging from modern to rustic, to more traditional styles.

What’s more, if the client is unsatisfied with the virtual staging, simply change it. There’s no hassle of moving furniture, making Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty the easiest option for dressing up a vacant home. Since many homes in the resort communities are secondary or seasonal homes, physically staging a home from out-of-town can be too cumbersome for some sellers. That’s where virtual staging becomes a must.

“Vail and Beaver Creek is a second-home market,” said David McHugh, a broker for LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. “90% of my buyers don’t live there. And that’s really where we embrace technology, to get in front of those people. It saves them time.”

Not only can users explore the virtually staged homes in augmented reality, but they can also purchase the furniture used in the virtual interior designs by simply tapping the items on the screen to get more product information and a link to shop on the retailers’ website. Retail partners include Sotheby’s Home, Pottery Barn, and Perigold, to name a few.

Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty is available now for download in the App store or the Google Play Store. To learn more, contact Amanda Molitor at 303-486-3770.

To discuss buying or selling a Vail Valley residence, contact a real estate professional today by visiting resorts.livsothebysrealty.com or calling 970-476-7944.

LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, the exclusive Board of Regent for the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, has 23 office locations in the resort communities of the Vail Valley, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, and Telluride, also including Denver Metro and the surrounding areas. For more information, call 970.476.7944. To service all of your real estate needs visit resorts.livsothebysrealty.com.

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.

Eagle County hires new transit department director

Eagle County has hired Tanya Allen as the new director of the ECO Transit agency. Allen joined the county Nov. 12.

Allen comes to the county from the city of Glenwood Springs, where she served three years as the transportation manager. Her responsibilities included long- and short-range planning related to the city’s transit, bike, and pedestrian systems among other duties. Prior to working in Glenwood, Allen had an 11-year career as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State, representing U.S. interests abroad and managing diverse teams of both U.S. and foreign staff.

In her new role, Allen will oversee the operation of the Eagle County Regional Transportation Authority and will be tasked with implementing ideas to improve transit service and multi-modal access for county residents and visitors. The authority collaborates with other transportation entities and organizations across the region and state.

“Tanya brings a passion for public transportation, with a view of transit as an enabler of opportunity and an environmentally sound investment,” Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll said. “We are very excited to have her on board.”

Vail begins seasonal paid parking in structures

Paid parking in Vail’s public parking structures and outlying lots will begin at 6 a.m. Friday to coincide with the opening of Vail Mountain. Parking passes are available for purchase from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday throughout the season, with the exception of Thanksgiving and other holidays, on the lower level of the Vail Municipal Building at 75 South Frontage Road. Bring proof of eligibility as restrictions apply. 

Coinciding with the opening of Vail Mountain, Vail Transit is adding service to West Vail, Lionsridge Loop and Ford Park to supplement the early-winter season prior to the implementation of the full winter schedule. Dec. 9, which will include express service to and from West Vail every 15 minutes via the Sandstone underpass during morning and evening peak. In addition, summer service to Ford Park via Vail Valley Drive on the in-town route will be discontinued until Memorial Day Weekend.  

For information on parking pass sales and descriptions, call the parking sales office at 970-479-2104 or visit the town’s parking portal at www.vailgov.com/parking/winter. For information on bus schedules, call 970-479-2178 or go to www.vailgov.com/bus-schedules.

Gypsum chips in $20,000 toward Sweetwater purchase

GYPSUM — Last month members of the Gypsum Town Council pledged their support to the Save the Lake campaign. This week they allocated $20,000 toward the 488-acre Sweetwater Lake Resort land purchase.

The Eagle Valley Land Trust is leading the local effort to secure funding for the $9 million purchase. The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit land conservation organization that has worked in all 50 states to protect more than 8 million acres of land, has earmarked $6 million for the deal.

The land trust now has a year to fill the $3.5 million funding gap.

“This is an incredibly popular project,” said Eagle Valley Land Trust Executive Director Jim Daus during a Tuesday night presentation before the Gypsum council. “We have more partnerships on this than anything I have ever seen.”

But now it’s time to find financial support to match the philosophical backing. Daus asked Gypsum to step up on that front. He noted that Sweetwater Lake is to Gypsum what Piney Lake is to Vail, Maroon Lake is to Aspen and Sylvan Lake is to Eagle.

“You won’t regret funding this,” he told the council. “Someone has to lead. We hope it will be you and it will be big. We are asking you to maybe even give until it hurts a little.”

Unique opportunity

Daus noted that, for decades, the Sweetwater Lake Resort was a quasi-public amenity. Boats dotted the natural lake, families camped out at lakeside cabins, schoolchildren hiked up to the Ute Cave and the property was a beloved local recreation destination. That changed last year.

After a development proposal to build more than 240 homes and an 80-room hotel and golf course failed, the original investors took over ownership and shut down access to the lake and cabins and listed the property for sale.

“You can’t enjoy the lake the way you used to. If the owners had their way, they would have sold it to a developer and the signs would have stayed up,” Daus said.

But the Denver-based investment group has agreed to give preservation a chance. The Conservation Fund secured a contract to purchase the property from the sellers amidst competing bids from private developers. A partnership consisting of the Conservation Fund, Eagle Valley Land Trust, the U.S. Forest Service, and community partners has the collective goal to prevent the private development of Sweetwater Lake Resort. Eventually, the property would be sold to the Forest Service and integrated into the surrounding White River National Forest.

But that proposed, eventual ownership, was a rub for some of the folks in Gypsum.

Forest Service concerns

“The idea here is good but I am not really thrilled with just handing this over to the Forest Service,” said Gypsum Town Council member Chris Estes.

Estes noted the Forest Service has curtailed local maintenance operations and has not been responsive to the town’s efforts to provide modest improvements at the LEDE Reservoir site.

Daus responded that the Sweetwater site is a private inholding within the White River National Forest, which makes the Forest Service the logical owner. He added that while the property is accessed through Eagle County, it is actually located in neighboring Garfield County. That means the Eagle County Open Space program cannot take ownership of the land. What’s more, Garfield County doesn’t have a corresponding open space program and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is not a viable alternative, Daus said.

“It’s probably not going to be the Forest Service that will be maintaining it,” Daus added. “We think the Forest Service is excited about issuing a resort permit on the property.”

A resort permit could have a 40-year term and it would outline how the property would be operated as a recreational amenity, Daus said. He pointed to Trapper’s Lake as an example of a permitted operation.

Voter approval?

In response to Daus’s appeal, the Gypsum Town Council approved a $20,000 donation. More money may be coming and Gypsum voters may have the opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann noted that a municipal election is planned in April and the town could take the donation request directly to the voters.

Council members voiced general support for that idea, noting that because an election is already planned, it wouldn’t cost anything extra to ask voters if they supported Gypsum allocating money toward the Save the Lake campaign. Specifics of the ballot question language and the contribution amount will be the subject of future discussion.

It’s free to recycle that big box TV at the Eagle County landfill this Friday

EAGLE COUNTY — Environmentally responsible residents who also happen to be fiscally conscious make note — this Friday is your kind of day.

In support of America Recycles Day, household electronics can be turned in free of charge at the Eagle County landfill on Friday. The Eagle County Solid Waste & Recycling Household Hazardous Waste Facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to accept drop-offs.

Normally, electronics disposal at the county facility costs 20 cents per pound.

“Twenty cents per pound is heavily subsidized,” noted Eagle County Hazardous Waste Specialist Joe Walls. “The actual cost is about 40 cents per pound for disposal alone, not including labor or transportation.”

“It’s actually not that expensive to bring electronic items out here,” Walls continued. “I wish everyone would bring their electronics out to be recycled and keep the landfill in compliance with the state’s environmental laws.”

It’s the law

Since 2013, Colorado has mandated that used electronics be diverted from other household trash buried in landfills. Walls noted the Eagle County facility processes between 160,000 and 180,000 pounds of electronic waste annually.

“There are certainly people who will try to avoid paying anything. They will sneak things into the recycling bins or into their garbage,” Walls said. “But I think we have a pretty good recycling rate here in Eagle County.”

Walls believes part of the reason why is a cooperative public and part of the reason why is an accessible recycling option.

“We are one of the few places around here that accept electronic recycling year-round,” Walls noted.

But even though the facility located right next to the landfill is open all year long, and charges a modest fee, free recycling day will bring in substantial traffic. That’s especially true for one particular type of electronic trash — heavy, outdated television sets.

“We are taking those big televisions for the first time this year and I do expect to have a higher turnout than in the past,” Walls said.

While it will be free to drop off electronics on Friday, there are a couple of caveats. First, the event is limited to household electronics. Business waste is not eligible for free drop-off. Second, the event is for Eagle County residents only and proof of a physical county residence will be required. That means each recycler should bring along a utility bill or other paperwork to confirm his or her physical address.

The America Recycles Day event supports the goals of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County community. In addition, the Environmental Policy Statement adopted by the Eagle County Board of Commissioners prioritizes diverting waste and increasing recycling, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting wildlife habitat, conserving water and adopting renewable energy sources.

For more information about electronic waste disposal, contact Jesse Masten at 970-328-3472 or at jesse.masten@eaglecounty.us

Vail Valley chain check is another sign of winter

VAIL — Tire chains are your friend, especially if Interstate 70 is snowy and slick and you’re a trucker trying to make a deadline.

The Vail Police Department and Colorado State Patrol are also your friends. They spent several hours Wednesday making sure commercial vehicles rolling through town were carrying tire chains, which Colorado law requires. Between October and May, all commercial vehicles must carry tire chains between Dotsero and Morrison.

“If there is a chain law in effect, someone is checking,” Vail police officer Nick Deering said.

Mass vs. velocity

Vail police cars and Colorado State Patrol cruisers were lined up at 250-yard intervals in the chain-up area near the East Vail exit — 250 yards because an 80,000-pound vehicle needs room to stop. As they pull off the highway you get a sense of how big a big rig really is. Get in the way and you’ll get a physics lesson in mass vs. velocity.

“Mass always wins,” Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jake Best said.

The trucks were stopped for less than one minute, including the time it took to exchange pleasantries and check to make sure the drivers are carrying chains and the foul weather gear they’re supposed to.

Colorado State Trooper Jacob Best checks commercial vehicles for chains on a chain check Wednesday in Vail. The state patrol and Vail Police Department conducted the checks.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

“Obviously they have a job to do and deadlines to meet. We don’t want to hold them up too long,” Deering said.

There was this one guy, though. He was sitting in the tractor part of a tractor-trailer rig that he had just bought in California and was driving it to points east. He wasn’t carrying chains. He sat in the cab of his bright yellow rig for a couple of hours, looking like a ray of morning sunshine, but not feeling like one. He declined to comment.

A couple of other drivers were not carrying chains. They received enlightenment from the Vail police and the Colorado State Patrol, who extracted promises for better behavior in the future.

Chain-free is not free

Chain-free behavior is becoming progressively more expensive.

The first fine for not carrying chains is $50 and a $17 surcharge.

Not having chains when the chain laws are in effect will cost you $500 and a $79 surcharge.

Colorado State Patrol checks commercial vehicles for chains Tuesday in Vail. If they had chains they were able to go, and if not were issued a ticket for not carrying chains.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Not having chains when you’re supposed to and blocking the highway will cost you $1,000 and a $200 surcharge.

On the other hand, tire chains for your tractor-trailer can cost a few hundred bucks for a high-quality set.

If you’re mechanically impaired, you can hire a service that will sell you tire chains, and even put them on your truck. That’ll cost you up to $500, Best said.

Enterprising capitalists can occasionally be found in chain-up areas selling tire chains to truckers. Their price is whatever the market will bear.

Some truckers claim ignorance, even though they’ve driven past dozens of those large, rectangular information signs along I-70 beginning at the Utah and Kansas state lines, reminding truckers that chains are mandatory, not optional. OK, say it’s dark outside and the reflective information signs escape your attention. Colorado has those huge illuminated signs over the highway repeatedly pointing out that drivers are required to carry tire chains. Some still feign ignorance.

“They say they don’t know?!?” Yes they do,” Best said. “We really prefer not to write those tickets.”

Those on four wheels are not exempt either. Get caught with bald or bald-ish tires and you can be fined $100 with a $33 surcharge. Block the highway because of your bald tires and your fine skyrockets to $500 with a $57 surcharge — about what it costs for a set of really good new tires.