| VailDaily.com

As more Coloradans encouraged to get outside, summer visitation will serve as test for winter in Vail

Governor Jared Polis on Monday encouraged Coloradans to get outside, signing an executive order titled “Updated Safer at Home Executive Order to Transition to Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors.”

The Executive Order encourages high-risk individuals — people over 65 or with underlying health conditions — to start enjoying Colorado’s outdoor spaces at a safe social distance, in addition to staying at home as much as possible.

Previously high-risk Coloradans had been asked to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

“Colorado has millions of acres of accessible federal land, municipal parks, State parks, State and county open space, and other accessible areas that allow for stronger Social Distancing in our great outdoors,” the Executive Order reads. “Coloradans should Stay at Home or in the great outdoors away from others as much as possible and continue to limit social interactions, remain at least six feet from others not in their household, and wear non-medical facial coverings in public.”

Lifts turning again

The order is the latest in a series of measures aimed at making more outdoor activities available in Colorado as the state relaxes pandemic restrictions.

Last week, as the state ban on ski lifts was lifted, Polis said that no Coloradan, and certainly not the governor, could have fathomed there would ever be prohibition on riding chairlifts in the state.

“Very difficult action to take,” Polis said of his March 14 order to close ski areas across the state. “But thankfully we took it, and that helped prevent the exponential curve.”

The chairlift ban expired May 25, and by May 27 Arapahoe Basin had reopened to a limited number of skiers and snowboarders.

Vail Resorts announced the company intended to take its time in getting the lifts turning again, and despite keeping Breckenridge open to skiers all the way to June 9 last season, this season there would be no reopening of the ski lifts.

“The more we looked at it, the more we did not think it was the right timing to reopen,” Vail CEO Rob Katz said in a statement on May 21. “We know there would be tremendous enthusiasm to get back on snow one last time in North America. But we also know that enthusiasm would carry its own impacts, on us and on others — something we think will be more manageable for everybody in July, at which point we want those resorts fully focused on their new approach to summer operations.”

Katz said the company hopes to resume summer lift service by late June or early July.

In Eagle County, summer operations at Vail Resorts could serve as a good test scenario for winter operations, said Eagle County Public Health Director Heath Harmon.

Relative safety

While Vail Resorts is the largest employer in Eagle County, all workplaces will have to be extra cognizant of the health of their employees.

“Our guidance is encouraging businesses who identify two COVID-19 cases to temporarily close those businesses and rapidly contact public health for cleaning, mitigation, employee screening and reopening guidance,” said State Epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy “We think that early closure of these businesses is really an important strategy to control transmission that could potentially occur following an outbreak in a workplace in particular.”

In a letter titled “Be Safe: Our approach to reopening,” Katz said the way the company thinks about safety has been at the top of his mind at the moment.

“That culture of ‘safety first’ is part of the fabric of every one of our operations,” Katz wrote.

Polis also addressed the notion of safety, saying what’s safe for one person isn’t necessarily safe for another.

“We’re issuing guidelines using science to make (activities) as safe as possible, though … depending on what you think as an individual, it may not be safe enough for you,” Polis said.

It’s a statement echoed by Eagle County Emergency Manager Birch Barron.

“Safe or not safe is probably an unsafe way to think about this virus,” said Barron said. “This is a really tricky virus, and really what we’re looking at is levels of risk, and is an increased level of risk acceptable if the consequence of not doing that is too high. This is not an exact science… if something is open and allowed, that does not make it safe. There’s no such thing as zero risk in this environment.”

Communication will be key

The summer could also bring the need for quick communication between Vail Resorts and other businesses and Eagle County should a second wave of coronavirus infections hit.

Harmon said having communication channels dialed in with be the key to a successful transition into a tourist welcoming phase in Vail.

Vail Resorts has been participating in weekly calls with the county’s Joint Information Center and business task force, said county communications manager Kris Widlak.

But Harmon and Widlak say the county has yet to hear from Vail Resorts regarding its summer plans.

“It’s a conversation we look forward to having with Vail Resorts, in terms of how are we helping to communicate with workers, while at the same time we’re having this communication and collaborative meetings with our business community as a whole, making sure that we can communicate better with guests,” Harmon said.

“We’ve got some areas where we’ve been successful in working in planning in advance, and I think we look forward to those future conversations in terms of how we can do that better with Vail Resorts as well,” Harmon added.

Widlak, on Friday, said the county expects to have a conversation with Vail Resorts about summer operations as the company continues to refine its plans. The conversation has been requested by Vail Resorts, Widlak said.

“We’ve had a high level of communication and coordination so far, and certainly expect it to continue,” she said.

Vail Valley streamflows may peak in the next few days

A just-about-average snow year in Vail is melting quickly into local streams.

Streamflows are running significantly higher than normal right now, and could peak this week. That’s bad news for water supplied later in the summer. But there are encouraging signs for local businesses that use those streams.

At Timberline Tours, owner Greg Kelchner said he’s been somewhat surprised that the company has had trips booked every day recently. Those parties are small — usually just four or six people. But, Kelchner said, that’s more business than he expected just a month ago.

Kelchner founded Timberline Tours in 1970. He’s familiar with wet years, dry years and every kind of season in between. The company has over the years acquired permits for streams all over the northern and central mountains.

Right now, the Eagle River from about Wolcott to Eagle is “great,” Kelchner said.

The flows are “high, but not too high,” he added.

Adapting to conditions

Runoff season usually isn’t great for fishing, but those companies also know how to adapt.

At Minturn Anglers, Nick Keogh said that company is leading trips every day. Given current flows, guides taking fishing enthusiasts to higher elevation streams, lakes or the tailwaters where dams empty into rivers.

Again, a company has to be ready for what comes.

Kelchner said the best way to judge the state of runoff isn’t so much by looking at data from various gage stations, but looking at the water.

Streams running with a lot of sediment are virtually opaque. That water means runoff from high elevation snow is “fully engaged,” Kelchner said. When the river is running high but more clear, runoff season is nearly finished.

At this point, runoff season seems just about at its peak.

Diane Johnson of the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District said she expects the peak to come this week, or soon after. The weather forecast for Vail this week calls for warm temperatures and little chance of precipitation.

Snowpack fading fast

The winter just past had virtually-average snowpack at Vail. Snowpack at Copper Mountain and Fremont Pass, the closest measurement sites to the headwaters of Gore Creek and the Eagle River, respectively, snowpack was significantly above average. But all three sites are melting quickly.

At Vail, the measurement site is melted off, about a week sooner than average. The Copper Mountain site should be melted off by early June, a couple of days later than normal. The Fremont Pass site, the highest-elevation site among the three, should be melted off by mid-June, a few days earlier than normal.

All that adds up to what could be a dry summer, Johnson said.

The district has already ramped up its messaging to customers about outdoor water use. That use takes the most water from streams, since virtually all inside use makes it back into the Eagle River.

Johnson said the district’s message to users is constant in wet years and dry: Use water efficiently.

“We live in a semi-arid place, with landscapes that are reflective of where we live,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that she’s received more calls about water bills than usual this spring — perhaps a result of people spending more time at home.

The district has tools to help users with their water use, Johnson said. That could be important in the next few months.

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

AVID graduates are avid about improving their lives

The walk across the commencement stage is the same distance for everyone. The road leading to it is longer and tougher for some.

Erin Park and Sam Bartlett get that. They teach Advancement Via Individual Determination classes, more commonly known as AVID — a program that helps students who are motivated to go to college and beyond but need someone to light the way. Some didn’t know English when they arrived in Eagle County. Most are the first in their families to consider college.

“They knew they had to work to make things better. They couldn’t just wait for things to get better,” Bartlett said.

Working toward their dreams

AVID is a system. Like most successful systems, it works if you work it, Bartlett said, adding that “work” is the operative phrase.

“You need to find the right kids who show determination and are willing to make some sacrifices,” Bartlett said.

The AVID program recruits students who are motivated and serious about their academic futures. The class helps provide the skills needed to be successful with the ultimate goal of attending college.

Park said their goals and dreams are like most graduating seniors’ — aiming toward careers in things like engineering, business, nursing, medicine, the U.S. Marines …

In Eagle County Schools, AVID classes can start as early as sixth grade. The students stay with it as they enter high school. The class and their teachers stay together four years. Park and Bartlett have been with this year’s classes since the students were freshmen.

“It allows teachers to build relationships. Once you build that relationship you can help them stay on the right path,” Bartlett said.

Once they’re in they have to meet certain criteria, including grade point average and good behavior.

“We say they have to act like an AVID student. Their teachers should know who they are,” Park said. “Throughout the last four years, I have witnessed this incredible group of students evolve into a family.”

Some students start with the AVID program in sixth grade and stay with it through high school. Students need to show some drive. If they don’t have that drive or are a problem, they can derail others, Bartlett said.

Not always, though. There was this one kid who was defiant and confrontational. They looked beyond that veneer and saw the qualities AVID seeks. That kid is now working with a local veterinarian and is headed to college to study to be a veterinarian.

Already looking ahead

They’re done, but like everyone else their school year didn’t end with a traditional finish. Park and Bartlett hear from their AVID class members all the time.

“I’ve been really impressed. They’re wise beyond their years. They’re all level-headed about this,” Park said.

For the Class of 2020, commencement is not normal.

“I wanted to stand up there and say goodbye to them,” Park said. “Working with this class-turned-family has been the highlight of my teaching career.”

About AVID

AVID is a national program that reaches 2 million students in 7,500 schools across 47 states. They train teachers to help close the opportunity gap and prepare students for college, careers and life.

It started in 1980 amid the chaos of forced bussing on San Diego. Teachers at San Diego’s Clairemont High School had low expectations for students bussed in from disadvantaged areas. Many believed these students could not succeed.

Mary Catherine Swanson, English department head and teacher, was not one of them. She believed if students were willing to work, she could teach them the skills needed to be college-ready.

By 1986, Swanson’s AVID system was so successful at Clairemont High School that it expanded the AVID program throughout San Diego County, and eventually the country.

Minturn road work on Highway 24 resumes June 8

The Colorado Department of Transportation and contractor American Civil Constructors will return to Minturn June 8 to complete the U.S. Highway 24 Improvements project.

Work will be completed on Highway 24 from Interstate 70 to Maloit Park Road (Mile Point 147). Crews will complete the project by marking crosswalks, installing pedestrian railing, finishing up topsoil, revegetation and other punch list items. Major contract items have already been completed.

While crews will be on site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, weekday traffic control will not begin until after 9 a.m. Traffic control may require single-lane closures with flaggers directing alternating through traffic, with potential holds of up to 15 minutes. American Civil Constructors may also shift traffic in certain areas; transportation officials ask motorists to stay alert and watch for the directional cones during work hours.

The construction company will notify businesses and residences prior to work directly in front of their property. Work should be complete by June 26.  

The U.S. Highway 24 improvements project started in 2019 and is designed to improve the existing road surface and advance safety enhancements throughout the corridor. Those safety enhancements include rockfall mitigation, upgraded storm sewer capacity, new guardrail compliant with current standards and improved multi-modal access. In partnership with the state, the town of Minturn funded local improvements including additional sidewalks, new curb, gutter, driveway entrances and ADA enhancements.

For more information, call 970-287-0033 or email publicinfo@accbuilt.com. The project web page is https://www.codot.gov/projects/us-6-24-minturn.

Frontline Fund Colorado helps essential workers by providing gift cards to local businesses

It’s no secret that essential workers have experienced the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they’re treating patients or keeping things running as smoothly as possible. Two Eagle County residents created a new non-profit to help those workers: Frontline Fund Colorado.

Frontline Fund Colorado was founded by Carrie Calvin and Jill Coyle, spouses of local firefighters, and sells merchandise with local flair: stickers that say “Eagle County Strong,” tees with mountains and pine trees, koozies and water bottles with bike chains. All proceeds from merchandise sales are used to purchase gift cards from local businesses and given to front line workers.

The “Eagle County Strong” stickers are just one of several products consumers can buy. Funds from all purchases are used to purchase gift cards, which are donated to essential workers.
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“We wanted to create something people wanted to wear, were proud to wear, that also pumped the dollar through our local economy and to those who need more support during hard times,” said Coyle.

The fund is using a broad definition of essential worker in order to help as many people as possible. Coyle said they want to help any individuals and immediate families who have been “negatively impacted because they are mandated to continue working to provide necessities we need in order to live during a pandemic.” That includes workers in the following industries: grocery, healthcare, first responders, postal service, veterinary, plumbing and more.

Firefighter John Bailey (left) with fiancée Jill Coyle. Coyle contracted COVID-19 and that made her desire to give back even stronger.
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While work on the Frontline Fund was in its early stages, Coyle tested positive for COVID-19. She said she was sick for three weeks, though her symptoms never prompted a hospital visit. Her care providers instructed her to isolate, take Tylenol and hydrate. During that whole time, she kept thinking about those who are high-risk for the virus and those who experienced worse symptoms than she did.

“I am 31 years old, active and healthy… and it took me down,” she said. “It made it clear that we needed to do something more to help.”

Firefighter Tom Calvin (left) and wife Carrie Calvin. Carrie took the reigns on the Frontline Fund Colorado project while her co-founder Coyle recovered from COVID-19.

While Coyle was sick, Calvin took the reins on the project and started setting up designs and the website back end. Both founders work in marketing, and they wanted to the money as local as they could, so they hired Eagle-based Say No More Promotions to do the merchandise.

Now that the fund has launched, customers and those wishing to make cash donations can head to frontlinefundcolorado.org to purchase and donate. Essential workers can apply to receive gift cards from local businesses online, and get additional information by contacting the fund directly. People can also nominate loved ones they feel would benefit from Frontline Fund’s service.

The good, the bad, the prepared; 2020 wildfire predictions for Eagle County

Positive outlook

Thanks to above average snowfall in our beloved Rocky Mountains, Eagle County and Colorado in general are looking forward to an average wildfire season, according to the 2020 Wildfire Preparedness Plan released in April by the state’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

This is great news for our rural community nestled along the edge of the White River National Forest, and could not have come at a better time as we work our way through the effects of an unprecedented pandemic that has rocked our community to the core.

For those owning a home in a region that can be very susceptible to wildfires, this is a breath of fresh air. However, despite the positive outlook, awareness and proactive approaches to protecting a property from nature’s wrath should always be a top priority.

As such, the Vail Board of REALTORS® (VBR) created the REALFire program six years ago to aid homeowners in preparing for the unexpected.

Co-developed with Eagle County in 2014, REALFire promotes wildfire education, awareness and action. By engaging local residents, Realtors, fire protection districts, and the professional expertise of qualified assessors, homeowners can assess their property’s vulnerability to wildfires at no cost. This free service provides owners with an understanding of wildfire hazards in the “ignition zone” surrounding their homes, and guidance to fortifying this area by converting it to “defensible space”.

“From a broker community perspective, this free program is an extremely beneficial opportunity that we feel is critical for more than protecting property values, it’s protecting our families and our memories from destruction,” said Laura Sellards, VBR Board Chair. “After seeing the recent devastation in Australia, and experiencing the close proximity of the Lake Christine Fire in 2018, we know preparedness is critical to avoid tragedy.”

A recent local success of wildfire mitigation was the April 2018 fire just west of Edwards in the Brett Trail neighborhood. Wildfire risk was high from the start of the season that year. Residents of Brett Trail were ordered to evacuate for safety. However, the neighborhood was planned with wildfire mitigation in mind and homeowners actively maintain the defensible space around their homes. This allowed firefighters to contain the fire within hours of ignition and no homes were lost.

A challenging virus

Although our wildfire season is predicted to be average, COVID-19 has made it anything but normal. According to a recent Denver Post story, fire officials state that “firefighters will fight more than 4,400 fires with less flexibility and fewer resources due to the coronavirus.”

According to the article, our first line of attack, local firefighters, will be short staffed. Moreover, traveling firefighters may not be able to leave their home districts to aid with fires across the region. In fact, fire officials are challenged with rethinking the way wildfire crews currently work including riding closely together in fire trucks and living in close quarters in fire camps that are far from hospitals and medical care while they work to contain a fire.

State fire officials are in the process of revising fire camp management by altering how crews sleep, eat and bathe. Currently, the way camps and larger fire Incident Command Posts run creates an “environment conducive to the transmission of an infectious disease.”

Importance of preparedness

Now, more than ever, Eagle County homeowners should practice preparedness and consider ways of protecting their properties from wildfire. Colorado fire seasons have become longer and more intense in recent years. And, because of the coronavirus challenges, our state’s fire officials are erring on the side of caution. Like many rural mountain fire districts, Eagle County was placed in a Stage 1 fire restriction in April.

Sellards recommends action now, “At the moment, thoughts of wildfire may be low on priority lists with all that we are challenged with. But, now is the perfect time to have your home assessed.

In addition to saving what we hold most precious, there are other benefits like the possibility of saving on homeowner insurance premiums, grants and funding assistance for mitigation costs, and income tax benefits.”

For more information and benefits about the REALFire program, and to apply for a free assessment, visit REALfire.net

‘A restaurant becomes a family’: Main St. Grill owners celebrate 20 years as family-run establishment

Nikki and Chris Heiden have operated Main St. Grill in Edwards for 20 years, maintaining a welcoming, family-run establishment in the valley popular with locals, second-home owners and visitors. Their children, Matthew, 18, and Ciara, 20, have grown up with the restaurant.

However, the Heidens had no idea when opening a restaurant in 2000 just how much their family would grow.

“In retrospect, a restaurant becomes a family,” Nikki said. “That’s where our employees are like family to us.”

With a summer staff pushing 35 employees, three full-time staff members have been with the restaurant for 18 years — since Matthew was born and Ciara was a 2-year-old.

David DeCesare, Lynne Krnacik and Erin Coleman are those longtime employees that have become family for the Heidens and Main St. Grill — employees that longtime patrons enjoy seeing time and time again.

The Heidens have spent holidays with their extended family/staff, gone on vacations together and built a bond outside of the restaurant.

“They’ve celebrated every milestone for our kids,” Nikki said. “They’re like aunts and uncles.”

At Main St. Grill in Edwards, the whole Heiden family gets in on the business. Matthew, 18, and Ciara, 20, have been helping their parents Chris and Nikki for years. Three longtime employees are also “part of the family,” having been with the business for 18 years. Pictured: The Heiden family works the kitchen on Easter Sunday in 2020.
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From the start

In 1997, Nikki and Chris married. Chris had a degree from Johnson & Wales in restaurant management and wanted to open a restaurant.

“I had a lot of restaurant experience and a degree in finance and accounting, so combined we decided to open a restaurant,” Nikki said.

On Feb. 1, 2000, they opened Jambalayas Louisiana Grill in Edwards. The new restaurant owners had trouble bringing chefs from Louisiana “to stay in the cold weather” of Colorado, Nikki said, so in May of 2001, they transitioned the restaurant to Main St. Grill.

A newspaper clipping celebrates the opening of Jambalayas Louisiana Grill. The Heidens tried to bring in chefs from Louisiana but found trouble finding ones that wanted to stay through the Colorado winter. After about one year, they changed the restaurant into Main St. Grill.
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“My husband went into the kitchen,” Nikki said, “which was not where he wanted to be. … He’s still in the kitchen.”

But he has lots of help.

Ciara has been working around the restaurant since she was about 13, her mother said, and has gone from server to bartender to manager. Matthew has also worked multiple positions and is leading the charge delivering food to those in need during COVID-19. For six weeks, Main St. Grill delivered about 30 meals per day to essential workers.

“It’s a difficult thing to own a business that you are with your spouse every day for 20 years. And then come home and be with your spouse, then go on vacation with your spouse. But we figured it out,” Nikki said. “There’s that line between the business part of life and the family part of life. But, of course, when the restaurant’s such a big part of your life, a lot of the conversations are about the restaurant.”

To celebrate 20 years, Main St. Grill underwent a redesign. For the first 20 days of June, the restaurant is offering 20% off bills, however not to be used in addition to the other daily specials at Main St. Grill.

“We have such great support from our daily locals to our second-home owners who eat here almost every day in the summer,” Nikki said.

Many patrons, she says, enjoy the continuity of the restaurant and its staff. The Heidens are looking forward to showing off their recent upgrades at the restaurant.

“We believe consistency is key to our success,” Nikki said. “Chris aspires to be consistent with the food, and I train the front of house to be consistent but individualistic with their service.”

20 years of memories

Main St. Grill owners Chris and Nikki Heiden are looking to keep the restaurant going until their children finish college. Their youngest, Matthew, is starting a five-year program at Kansas University. Pictured: Chris and Nikki Heiden during the soft opening of their restaurant on Fat Tuesday in 2000.
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Over the years, people have rode in on horses to the bar at Main St. Grill, famous people have dined in the establishment and many patrons who enjoyed their first date at the restaurant are returning for wedding anniversaries.

However, the best memories for Nikki and her family are the ones involving the community.

The restaurant has hosted many fundraisers over the years, including ones for athletic clubs at local high schools. On these nights, Nikki will have students serve and make tips with their appropriate age group. She’s gone on to hire some of those students after seeing their work ethic at the fundraiser.

One thing missed is the live music. There used to be open mic night, blues night, jazz night and other live music events, but the demand for late-night music has dropped off in the valley, Nikki said, adding Main St. still does live music, just not as consistently as it used to.

The family intends to keep the restaurant going until the kids graduate college. Ciara is wrapping up studies at Colorado State University, while Matthew is entering a five-year masters of architecture program at Kansas University.

“Obviously, families go through struggles, and [the customers] have been so supportive of not only the business, but our family,” Nikki said.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

WATCH: Protestors gather peacefully in Vail Village to demonstrate for George Floyd

As shock and outrage over George Floyd’s killing swept the nation over the weekend, even the luxurious streets of Vail Village were not insulated from pressure boiling over in the form of demonstrations.

A peaceful protest attracted about 50 people to Bridge Street on Sunday, with people in attendance holding signs that ranged from the familiar slogans of “Black lives matter” and “No justice no peace” to more specific messages like “White people … do something” and “I trust my local law enforcement. Everyone should have this right in America.”

Demonstrators walk the streets of Vail Village on Sunday, protesting against police brutality in the United States.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Organizer Zach Varon said after he engaged in a solo protest on Saturday, he was encouraged to do something more organized on Sunday.

“It was really positive,” he said of his experience standing in front of Vail’s Covered Bridge on Saturday, holding a sign that said “stop killing and subjugating us.”

Varon said he didn’t know what to expect heading into Sunday. He said he was surprised to see such a large turnout.

“I never in my mind imagined we could have this kind of support,” he said.

Varon said the demonstration was about more than George Floyd, who died May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes while arresting Floyd for suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill. 

“This isn’t about any one person, this is an ongoing thing,” Varon said on Sunday.

Zach Varon in Vail Village on Saturday. Varon said after having a positive experience demonstrating alone on Saturday, he put a call out to others to join him on Sunday, and was blown away by the turnout.
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Curfew in Denver through Monday

In Denver, protests began on Thursday and continued through Sunday. Following riots on Friday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued a curfew, in effect for Denver residents from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Monday.

Hancock also requested the support of the Colorado National Guard, which Governor Jared Polis authorized on Saturday.

“Friday’s demonstrations against the senseless killing of George Floyd and far too many innocent black Americans before him began as a peaceful day time protest and unfortunately shifted into disorder late into the evening,” Polis said on Saturday. “It appears the disruptors that caused damage throughout the city were not necessarily the same peaceful protesters from the day time. Unfortunately, because of a few individuals who were more focused on causing unrest and damage rather than advocating for justice, people awoke to images of smashed out windows, graffiti, and the smell of tear gas.”

State Senate President Leroy Garcia, the only member of color on leadership in the Colorado General Assembly, warned of agitators who use protests to ignite chaos between protestors and police.

“Those seeking only to destruct and destroy should not be associated with those asking for change,” Garcia said. “With the recent announcement by the governor to deploy the National Guard, I must emphasize that their first priority should be the health and safety of those who choose to demonstrate. We cannot allow the militarization of our great state.”

‘I love my local cops’

In Vail, the group considered marching to the police station, but decided on a route down Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive instead.

The Vail demonstrators said while there is symbolism in demonstrating in front of a police building, in Vail they were more likely to be seen and heard on Bridge Street.

Also, protesters said, community policing in Vail and Eagle County does not appear to be a part of the larger problem across the United States.

And for some, that was the whole point of demonstrating.

“I love my local cops,” said one protestor on Sunday. “They’re really great people, I feel like there’s a partnership there. But not everybody in the country has that privilege.”

One week into eased restrictions, Eagle County businesses feeling optimistic

Eagle County is one week into its blue phase of COVID-19 recovery. Depending on how the blue phase goes, the county may move on to the black diamond phase before July 1, according to local health officials.

Common themes among local business owners during the blue phase include “staying vigilant” and taking it “day-by-day.” Added health measures are being taken and businesses are slowly moving toward some form of normalcy while still maintaining guidelines set forth by community leaders and health officials.

The great outdoors

Outdoor, recreational businesses are seeing more customers and raising their sanitation efforts to help customers feel safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 through the community.

Zip Adventures of Vail in Wolcott has been operating tours for locals since May 15. The company has also been donating tours to local frontline workers and emergency personnel.

“We’re just trying to get them out and give them some relief,” owner Matt Seatvet said.

With the blue phase, Zip Adventures has been able to work with outside guests, using “every safety precaution possible,” Seatvet said.

Operations are outside, where social distancing is possible, and Zip Adventures is welcoming families and expecting an influx in out-of-state visitors.

“People are coming — it’s 110 degrees in Texas,” Seatvet said.

At Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards, business is getting busier every day, said Emily Dmohowski. When the blue phase started, the local fishing company could start its outfitting business, offering guided trips. Dmohowski said the shop is expecting an uptick in out-of-state residents later in the summer.

“I think people are just excited to get outside,” she said, adding a lot of first-timers are coming in. “We’re seeing a huge uptick in people who never touched a fly rod coming in.”

Vail Valley Anglers offers guided trips and tips for beginners and has been in the valley for over 25 years.

“We’re seeing a lot more people wanting to try the sport,” Dmohowski said, adding that “fishing’s been pretty good” lately in Eagle County.

Local golf courses are open. Among the protocols are cleaning golf carts after each use, no pulling the pin and the addition of foam pool noodles in the hole to make it safer to retrieve the ball. Tee times have been filling up quickly.

Kind Bikes in Edwards is continuing its curbside service into the blue phase, despite being allowed to have in-store service. Owner Chris Anderson said it’s too difficult to control sanitation inside the shop with people touching things, and the curbside allows the shop to handle more customers since inside would require extra distancing measures.

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“Bikes were the new toilet paper six weeks ago,” he said of the business his shop has seen. “Bike shops are very, very fortunate. We don’t go a day without being grateful for the business that we have.”

Everybody loves tacos

Another thankful business is Rocky Mountain Taco, having opened its brick-and-mortar location in Minturn at an inopportune time as coronavirus hit.

“It’s actually doing OK,” co-owner Dan Purtell said. “It’s not what we’d hoped for initially, but no one’s doing the business that they would normally be doing. I think we just got really lucky we landed in Minturn because the town’s completely embraced us.”

Rocky Mountain Taco also has truck locations in EagleVail and Avon. Like many businesses, the down time due to COVID-19 was used toward ramping up a new menu, cleaning and other operations to prepare. Purtell said it’s not fun wearing a mask over a 450-degree grill for hours.

“We’re being vigilant,” he said, a sentiment shared at most businesses across the valley. “It’s not about you. We’re doing this for everyone.”

While national media was filled with crowded beaches and other non-social-distancing events, businesses in Eagle County are taking the re-opening of the community very seriously.

“Things are looking up,” Dmohowski said.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Eagle County facilities begin to reopen starting June 1

Eagle County facilities and operations on June 1 will start a phased reopening for in-person services with required safety protocols. The buildings have been closed since March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new operating procedures and limited hours will be in effect until at least June 22, when the county tentatively plans to move into the black phase of its transition trail map.

Members of the public and all employees will be required to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing, as well as occupancy requirements. Those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition or otherwise feel uncomfortable are encouraged to conduct business over the phone, via email, or online at www.eaglecounty.us. Visitors should be aware that accessing in-person services may result in longer wait times.  

To comply with public health orders, a reduced number of employees will be working on site at all county facilities. The remainder will continue to work remotely until the public health guidance is revised.

In preparation for the phased reopening, the county has added plexiglass to public-facing work stations, increased cleaning schedules and added more sanitizer stations. The schedule for in-person services beginning June 1 is:

Eagle County Building

Location: 500 Broadway, Eagle

Hours: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.




Clerk and Recorder:

  • Elections, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Liquor licensing, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. By appointment, call 970-328-8718.
  • Motor vehicle (for transactions that cannot be completed online), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesday; vehicle license plate renewals can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by mail, or by dropping off in the 24-hour ballot box on the east side of the building.
  • Recording (document recording, public search, marriage licenses), 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment. To make an appointment call 970-328-8723. 

Community Development (planning and building): Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to noon.

Engineering: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to noon.

Environmental Health: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to noon.


El Jebel

Location: El Jebel Community Center, 0020 Eagle County Drive, El Jebel

Hours: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Clerk and Recorder:

  • Motor Vehicle (for transactions that cannot be completed online) ), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesdays; vehicle license plate renewals can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by mail, or by dropping off in a 24-hour ballot box.
  • Recording (document recording, public search, marriage licenses), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesdays, by appointment, call 970-328-9570.

Building: Permits can be dropped off Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Customers will be alerted when permits are available for pick-up. 


Location: Avon, 100 West Beaver Creek Blvd. #107, Avon,

Hours: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Clerk and Recorder: Motor Vehicle (for transactions that cannot be completed online), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesdays; vehicle license plate renewals can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by mail, or by dropping off in a 24-hour ballot box.

Other areas

  • Eagle County Animal Shelter, 1400 Fairgrounds Road, Eagle, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Eagle River Center, Eagle County Fairgrounds, 0794 Fairgrounds Road, Eagle
  • Boat ramps, Fishing is Fun, disc golf, and public restrooms. 
  • Freedom Park Spray Park and public restrooms will be open June 1.
  • Eagle County Justice Center, 885 Chambers Ave, Eagle, open with limited services. 
  • VIN inspections at the Justice Center, by appointment, call 970-376-7060.   
  • Vail Transportation Center (ECO Transit) will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

Additionally, Public Health and Human Services will be operating on an appointment-only basis in the county’s Eagle, Avon, and El Jebel locations by calling 970-328-8840.

Healthy Aging senior meals are being offered via takeout or home delivery. To arrange for meal delivery in the El Jebel area, call 970-379-0020. In the lower Eagle River Valley from Dotsero to Eagle, call 970-328-8896. In the upper Eagle River Valley from Wolcott to Vail, call 970-328-8831. Take-out and pickup is also available at all three locations.

In addition, Eagle County has developed procedures for public meetings and hearings that allow for constituent participation beginning June 2. 

 For more details and office- and department-specific updates, go to www.eaglecounty.us.