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Local Dreamer to cycle through Vail Valley to raise DACA awareness

Javier Pineda knows how resort towns work — the long hours, demanding labor and intense pressure during peak seasons. He grew up in Patzcuaro, Mexico, another tourist area and home to the Dia de los Muertos celebration made famous in the United States by the Disney Pixar movie “Coco.”

But ever since he was 12, the 25-year-old Pineda has called Summit County, Colorado, home — learning to snowboard first with SOS Outreach and now in the backcountry. And this weekend he’ll ride his bike from Copper Mountain to Aspen to highlight U.S. House passage of the American Dream and Promise Act — sending a message, he hopes, to the Senate to follow suit.

The bill would protect more than 2.5 million Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders from deportation and provide a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients like Pineda who were brought to the United States by their parents without documents at a young age. The Trump administration is trying to end DACA.

Seeking a permanent solution

“It’s not really a political campaign,” Pineda said of his 120-mile ride on bike paths and frontage roads. “It’s more that not many people know about the Dream and Promise Act. It’s more like, ‘Hey, there’s still something happening,’ especially now that DACA is going to be heard in the Supreme Court in November. It just adds more pressure so they can find a permanent solution.”

A Summit County High School graduate and former student body president, Pineda will stop Saturday at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards, where MIRA is partnering with the Mobile Mexican Consulate to help people from Mexico renew and process legal documents. The service will be offered from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21, at BMHS.

Then he says he’ll continue on toward Aspen — a final destination inspired by the 2011 book “The Slums of Aspen” about environmental pressure on trailer parks inhabited mostly by Latino workers. Pineda also expressed sympathy for the plight of residents of the Eagle River Village mobile home park in Edwards, where the Vail Daily has exposed substandard drinking water.

‘It’s not really a political campaign,’ Pineda said of his 120-mile ride on bike paths and frontage roads.
David O. Williams | Special to the Daily

“Something that inspired me to choose this route was to touch all of the ski communities as much as possible and just communities that benefit from tourism, because I definitely believe that immigrants, in general, are just underrated,” Pineda said “They’re literally the unsung heroes who move the economy in these communities.”

Pineda says he wants to raise the limited awareness, even in his own community, about what the Dream Act means for Coloradans and Latinos around the nation — especially during Latino Conservation Week, which runs July 17-23.

An Eagle Scout, Mountain Dreamers board member and Summit Foundation Youth of the Year Philanthropy Award-winner, Pineda is pursuing a degree in Sustainability Studies at Colorado Mountain College while working as a paralegal for the Summit County immigration law office of Eric Fisher and also part-time at the criminal and family law firm of Carlson Edwards O’Connor.

DACA, which was put in place by the Obama administration and has the support of a majority of Americans, allowed Dreamers like Pineda to come out of the shadows, study and work legally in the only country many of them have ever known. There are 17,000 Dreamers in Colorado and nearly 800,000 nationwide.

Rare burn morel mushrooms popping up in Colorado

From the pine cones, leaves, weeds, sprouts, twigs, brush, pine, dirt and ash — 50 shades of brown, really — burst morel mushrooms. Specifically, burn morels (or fire morels), which flourish the year after large wildfires.

The spongy, hollow, honeycombed little weirdos are the Cadillacs (or the Teslas, depending on your generation) of mushrooms. They’re coveted for their meaty, umami-rific taste, and they’re hard to find. Unless it’s the year following a forest fire, in which case it can be a burn morel bonanza.

Last summer, the Spring Creek Fire burned 108,045 acres in southern Colorado, making it the third-largest wildfire in state history. It crept very close to little La Veta, population 779, but spared the town. What I was scouring the earth for up at Old La Veta Pass are the silver lining of that devastation.

“I’d always heard of fire morels but never had the opportunity to find them,” said Bob Kennemer, professional naturalist and director of La Veta’s Francisco Fort Museum and my guide for the foraging. “The year after the fire, they’re the most prolific, and then they fade out the years after that. We’ve got a lot this year.”

No one really knows why fire triggers the mushrooming of the mushrooms.

Read more via The Denver Post.

Summit County group launches overnight parking pilot program for working homeless

FRISCO — A new pilot program is hoping to change the culture surrounding the county’s working homeless.

Earlier this week, a new local organization called Good Bridge Community — in cooperation with the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council and partners around the county — launched a local overnight parking pilot program, meant to provide a safer and more supportive environment for individuals living in their cars.

Raychel Kelly, Good Bridge Community’s founder, said the idea stems from her own experience as a working homeless person in Summit County and a desire to create better living conditions for people trying to work their way back into permanent housing.

“This November will be my third year up here, and basically three years since I moved into my car,” said Kelly, an Ohio native with a college degree in fashion design. Kelly said she moved to Summit County with an agreement to crash with friends for a few months until she was settled, though a series of events — including a death in her friend circle — contributed to her decision to move into her car.

“Long story short, I didn’t really know the challenges of this community,” Kelly said. “I moved into my car. That July, I broke my wrist, and it kept me in my car a lot longer than I thought I would be there. And I’m still there today. … That’s why I started the Good Bridge Community, and it’s in focus of the working homeless and non-working homeless. It’s really focusing on economic struggle on all its levels. We are dealing with that in every community across our nation. It changes from community to community, but the overall struggle is relevant everywhere.

“I had some people show up to some Good Bridge meetings that were in the network with the Interfaith Council. And since I’ve met other people that are interested in this topic, we’re making headway.”

On Monday, following negotiations with Kelly and the Interfaith Council, a local house of worship kicked off the new pilot program, allowing individuals living in their cars to utilize the facility’s parking lot each night. Stakeholders involved in the project asked the Summit Daily News not to print the location of the lot, citing concerns that individuals without permits might show up, potentially jeopardizing the project.

Participants in the pilot are required to follow a strict set of stipulations in order to maintain their permits. Before joining, individuals must fill out a questionnaire, including place of employment and a personal history. Participants also must agree to a set code of conduct, which includes rules preventing fighting, littering, camping and more. There is also a small monthly fee involved.

Individuals chosen to participate are given a permit to hang in their cars and will be allowed to inhabit the parking lot from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily. The facility also will provide a portable restroom and snow plowing during the winter. The group said 10 individuals would be allowed to take part in the pilot. Two permits have been issued, and three to four more will be issued next week.

Aside from providing a better living situation for the county’s working homeless, individuals involved with the pilot hope it can serve as a proof of concept and convince other organizations to open up their parking lots to expand the program.

“It’s designed to be successful and to be an exportable product that we can get other people to do when we know it works,” said Susan Knopf, a representative with the Interfaith Council and contributor to the pilot. “We’ve approached other churches, government agencies — all over — and they all told us no. Maybe if we can show them that it’s clean and orderly, if we show it can work with the right kind of intake, maybe we can find other places for people to park.”

A bigger problem than parking

Along with not having permanent housing, Kelly said there are many additional concerns for people living in their cars that the program could help to address.

One issue is that parking overnight in most areas of the county isn’t legal, meaning that police officers knocking on windows and asking them to move is a common occurrence — another wake-up call in a night full of waking to noises outside, bright lights or the cold.

Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said it’s an issue his deputies deal with often. In lieu of a citation, individuals typically are directed to an area where parking is permitted.

“I would say it’s nightly,” FitzSimons said. “I think the homeless problem in the county is bigger than people want to acknowledge. But I prefer engaging these folks and finding out what their story is. I always want to inform and educate people, but at the same time, I have a duty to enforce the law. We tell them where they can go at that particular time, which isn’t always convenient for them.”

FitzSimons said deputies would drop by the pilot location on occasion to help assure a safe environment.

Kelly said that by allowing individuals living in their cars to stay in one area, it also would allow for a better support system and communication on important issues in the community.

“We need to be able to communicate with people on the ground level,” Kelly said. “We want to develop that support group for the homeless, where you can get a sense of camaraderie, inspiration and motivation, and you don’t feel like you’re alone. … If they’re in one spot, you can help each other out a little, hand out responsibility and accountability.”

The pilot program — and its expansion to other areas of the county, if successful — is a big step in the right direction, Kelly said, but it’s only a short-term solution to bigger issues facing the community. Working homeless often get caught in a loop, where low wages mix with unexpected costs like storing belongings or paying for showers at a recreation center.

Several stakeholders feel there’s a need in the community for a basic needs facility. Kelly pitched an idea where tenants would have their own small room with a bed and closet, and the rest of the building — including any recreation areas and restrooms — would be communal to keep down on square footage and cost.

“We’d be bringing people together economically, but we’d also be able to inspire and motivate each other,” Kelly said. “You’re providing for your community, and you’re coming away with a profit. … We want to be able to afford our life. We don’t care if it’s small; we just want to be able to afford it.”

Former Kennedy Space Center engineer Tom Collins of Rifle commemorates his space program career on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11

More than a half century has gone by, but there is still a sparkle in Tom Collins’ eyes and a grin on his face when he starts to reminisce about the space program.

The 78-year-old Rifle resident first set foot on Florida’s Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center in 1963.

“There wasn’t much to see. Back then, it was still palm trees, and they were still building everything, including the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building),” Collins said.

“It was one of the world’s largest buildings, but it was still just under construction, as were all the pads.”

Collins recalled that it was an interesting time. They were launching Gemini’s at the time, and the Mercury program had just wrapped up, he said of the earlier manned spacecraft programs that preceded the Apollo Program.

“Very interesting as a matter of fact. When I first went down there I was in charge of a lab, and I sampled space suits for Gemini,” Collins said.

“I got to meet a lot of the Gemini astronauts. In fact, I probably met them all but I don’t remember,” he said. “It’s been too many years.”


Soon after, Collins began working on the Apollo Program as a fluids engineer on the Saturn V rocket.

Collins did maintenance on all the hydraulics, hypergolic, pneumatic and cryogenic systems — anything that had fluid, he worked on it.

“I loved my job. I really enjoyed it,” Collins said. “It was very time-consuming, and there weren’t any experts in any of these fields, so we had to work a lot of hours to make up for that.”

Of all the people working on Apollo 11, Collins said the average age when it took off was 28.

“I was 28, as matter of fact ­— kind of a funny,” Collins said.

Because of what he was doing and where he was working, he had opportunity to meet the Apollo 11 astronauts.

“They were all really nice guys,” Collins said.

Reminiscing about the day of the launch, on July 16, 1969, Collins remembers he wasn’t allowed in his office that day.

“My office at the time was between the VAB and pad A, right on the crawler way as matter of fact,” Collins said.

“So, we couldn’t even go out there and work — that was within the blast limit. We were hanging back at the LCC (Launch Control Center),” he said.

Collins watched Apollo 11 blast off from the front of the LCC, more than 3 miles from the launchpad.

For Collins and the other employees behind the scenes at the time, it was just another launch.

“I’d already watched so many of them go up. We had already gone to the moon, but we hadn’t landed. You have to remember, of course, Apollo 8 was the one that just circled and took pictures, and we saw the moon rise,” Collins said.

“Apollo 10, the “Lem” (Lunar Module) went down close to the moon and came back up, just checking docking and to see if everything worked.

“So the launch wasn’t exactly a big deal for Apollo 11, except we did know it was going to the moon and landing — hopefully — and it did.”


As the anniversary approached, Collins recently visited the Rifle Branch of the Garfield County Library to inquire if they would be interested in displaying his collection.

After learning it was the Rifle Heritage Center that is in charge of the displays, Collins offered to loan his own memorabilia that he has kept over the years.

“I forget now what percentage of Americans, or even earthlings, weren’t even born when this happened,” Collins said.

Working for the Kennedy Space Center for 33 years and 37 years with the space program overall, Collins collected a lot of memorabilia, certificates and mementos along the way.

“I kept most of it. This is actually just a small portion of it,” Collins said.

He never kept track of how many launches he took part in and watched first hand over his three decades in the space program, but he says there is nothing like it.

“It rocks everything, vibrates the whole earth. It’s amazing,” Collins said of the launches.

“I used to attend Firecracker 400 at Daytona. If you go and watch, it’s a whole different experience,” he said of the popular longtime NASCAR event.

“The rockets are the same way. You can watch it on TV, but it’s certainly not the same.”

The library display includes all the patches from the Apollo program, plus the certification and awards Collins received working on the different missions.

“The Apollo program wasn’t just the lunar landings. We had Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz project (the docking of an Apollo Command/Service Module and the Soviet Soyuz 19 capsule) — the mission where we linked up with Russia,” Collins said.

“I worked on all those, and there were three missions to the Skylab.”

Collins really hopes younger people will come to the library, and get an interest in the space program.

“I think we’ve lost a lot of interest in it, and it gave us so many things that we wouldn’t have had if not for the program,” Collins said.

“I would like to see more people take an interest in what we did, and what’s coming in the future.”

Collins plans to stay close to home this week, but thought about going down to the Cape for the anniversary. But he said there is nothing there for him all these years later.

The display will continue for the next two months in Rifle.


Minturnites skeptical of water deal

MINTURN — Minturn residents’ water rates will rise significantly over the next decade, no matter if they take the Battle Mountain developer’s “interconnect” offer or choose another path to fix the town’s water infrastructure, according to a consultant’s analysis.

Minturnites packed Town Council chambers Wednesday night to consider Minturn’s water future, including the developer’s deal, which was proposed with now-or-never urgency.

The town needs millions in water infrastructure improvements, but doesn’t have the money to pay for them. Plus, Minturn can’t grow significantly without more water.

After hours of public comment, the council said it would take up the issue again at its next meeting.

The proposed deal would be a three-way agreement between the town, the developer and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. The developer would pay for a $5.6 million pipe that would connect Minturn’s water system with the district’s, allowing the town to buy extra water and have a secondary source. The developer could then build 712 homes. The district would be able to build a reservoir at Bolts Lake.

Other scenarios were presented, including Minturn continuing to use only its senior water rights on Cross Creek. Or developing wells using the town’s junior conditional water rights on the Eagle River — but that could be costly, and provide a limited amount of water.

Residents were largely opposed to the interconnect deal, saying it was a bad deal for the town.

“This is not a good idea,” said former Minturn mayor Hawkeye Flaherty. “The only people that win here are Battle Mountain and Eagle River (Water and Sanitation District). Minturn is losing their shorts in this poker game.”

‘Our soul’s up for sale’

Some attendees chafed at the developer’s demand for action; others voiced indifference toward the town having to solve the developer’s water needs.

“As a water professional, the overall plan of interconnect is sound and would be very presentable under different circumstances,” said Rod Cordova, a 61-year Minturn resident. “But being approached as a take or leave it? Sorry, not in my mind. This town needs time to study. Totally wrong way of doing business.”

Tim McGuire, vice president of development for Battle Mountain Resort, said the company never intended to frame the deal in that way; they simply wanted the community to come give their opinions to the council.

But some residents said Minturn should focus on fixing the water infrastructure issues itself instead of becoming further entangled with a developer.

Several advocated for Minturn to explore grant opportunities — even after a town consultant said most of the applicable grant sources have dried up.

“I think we can fix our own stuff,” said Minturn resident Darin Tucholke. “It just seems like we’re at the point where our soul’s up for sale. It’s been up for sale before, and we’re lucky we got it back.”

‘Not our friend’

Many did not want the town to give up water rights, including its interest in Bolts Lake. Under the plan, Minturn would give up its storage rights in Bolts Lake and its interest in Bolts Ditch, and subordinate its junior conditional water rights on the Eagle River to the district when the district would need to fill the reservoir. However, the town has historically not used those junior water rights.

The deal would allow the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District to build a reservoir at Bolts Lake. Battle Mountain would give the land, as well as its own water storage rights there, to the water district.

But several residents cited bad blood with the district, stemming from 1990s-era litigation between the town and a consortium that included the district and Vail Resorts. Minturn ended up losing water rights in the settlement.

“Eagle River Water and Sanitation District is not our friend,” said former councilwoman Shelley Bellm.

Others saw benefits of the interconnect agreement, or at least some type of compromise. Some defended the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Board, noting that it now does provide sewer service to the town.

Brian Sipes, a board member of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and Minturn resident, acknowledged that the town is subordinating some junior water rights as well as giving up storage rights — but in a reservoir that doesn’t exist and that someone else owns, “in exchange for a pipe that would deliver water on the day it was built. You’re getting something concrete vs. something that is a might-have in the future.”

Four scenarios

Minturn provides its own water — separate from the water district, which provides water from East Vail to Wolcott.

Under the proposed deal, the town could buy water from the district for $11.11 per thousand gallons. The district would waive all the tap fees to serve Minturn’s existing users. The town would own the interconnect, and need to maintain it. The developer says it would provide $9 million in total water upgrades for the town.

But even if the new water deal is signed, the agreement would later become null and void if Battle Mountain doesn’t get its desired approvals for its scaled-back project.

Alternatively, the town could use its junior water rights on the Eagle River to develop new wells to draw more water. However, the town would also be on the hook to augment water downstream, depending on calls from more senior rights holders. Water for augmentation can be expensive and hard to find.

Four scenarios were presented:

• Continuing to use Cross Creek for water, and making infrastructure fixes. This would allow for some modest develop within town, but no more. Construction cost: Just over $8 million.

• Continuing to use Cross Creek for water, developing Eagle River wells, and making infrastructure fixes. This would allow for more development within town, but not Battle Mountain. Construction cost: $14 million

• Continuing to use Cross Creek for water, developing Eagle River wells and making infrastructure fixes, but at a level that would allow Battle Mountain, too. Construction cost: $15 million

• Continuing to use Cross Creek for water, building the interconnect and making infrastructure fixes. Construction cost: $2.8 million — but the town would have to buy pricey water from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

Rate hikes envisioned

Under all four scenarios, a typical home would pay somewhere between $150 and $164 per month after 10 years, compared to less than $90 per month now, according to the analysis, presented by town consultant Jim Mann of Ehlers.

If the town chooses the interconnect option, it would have to borrow less money, but it would have to buy water from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District at a higher price than what Minturn is paying now to produce water. And the interconnect option would push back a water plant replacement that will be needed down the road.

“Battle Mountain isn’t building us a water plant,” said former councilman Tom Sullivan. “We need to improve the plant or get a new plant — we still have to do that.”

Given a chance to speak, the council members offered little comment.

“It’s just water, but, my, it’s complicated sometimes,” said Councilman George Brodin.

Small town venue, big time fun at Gypsum Daze: P.S. Scotty McCreery will be there

GYPSUM — Country artist Scotty McCreery shared scenes from his wedding for his “This is It” music video.  His hit “Five More Minutes” was inspired by his grandfather’s death and the song’s video features family photos and movies.

“I am not one of those artists who can pull stuff out of thin air,” said  McCreery. “I have to live it.”

It’s a good thing life has been generous in providing source material for him. 

McCreery, now 25, was the winner of season 10 of American Idol in 2011 at age 17. During his time on the show, he turned in one of the long-running program’s signature moments when he performed Montgomery Gentry’s hit “Gone.” From there, McCreery made history when he became the youngest male artist of any genre, and the first country music artist ever, to have his debut album enter at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. 

That album, “Clear as Day” was certified platinum for sales of one million units in just 13 weeks and became the best-selling solo album released by a country artist in 2011. The singles “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls” were also certified platinum. He won the New Artist of the Year award at both the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards and the American Country Awards, and also received the CMT Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year for “The Trouble with Girls.”

After that auspicious start, McCreery released a Christmas album in 2013 followed by “See You Tonight” in 2013 and “Seasons Change” in 2018. 

The song “Five More Minutes” is featured on his 2018 album, but the single was initially released to digital retailers and streaming services in 2017 after McCreery parted with his record label. The single was the first song released without a record label to ever chart on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase Top 50.

McCreery co-wrote all 11 songs on “Seasons Change”  and according to this promotional material, the album represents “a bold bet with his career that has paid off with a new label and a reinvigorated attitude.”

It’s also spawned a national tour that’s taken him “here and there and everywhere.”

“We’ve just been to Wisconsin and Ohio and this week we will hit California and Utah,” said McCreery.  

Saturday, July 20, will find him on the Lundgren Theater stage performing as the headliner for the annual Gypsum Daze concert.

Feel the love

“To me, those small town shows are a little more energetic and fun,” said McCreery during a telephone interview this week. “In big cities, people can see someone every night, but people can’t do that in small towns. Every time you get to go to a small town, its a lot more exciting. It’s a lot more fun.”

Regardless of the venue, McCreery’s stage goal is as personal as his signature musical videos. 

“We feel the love from the crowd and we try to give the love as well,” he said.

Early on, McCreery found his musical inspiration and he didn’t mess around. When he was still in elementary school he had a book about Elvis Presley and he not only read about the King, he loved his music.

“He just marched to the beat of his own drum,” said McCreery. “That guy just did what he wanted to do.”

Saturday’s concert go’ers can expect to hear new music mixed in with McCreery hits. He is currently compiling music for his next album. “It seems like I am always getting geared up for the next record,” he noted. 

“In Between,” a third single from “Seasons Change” has been released and McCreery’s team may release a fourth single from the 2018 album. 

The Lone Bellow

Opening for McCreery is Brooklyn-based band The Lone Bellow. Country-twinged rock band burst onto the music scene with their self-titled debut in 2013, and serious musicianship and raucous live stage shows have earned the group a devoted fan base. The first two album hit the Billboard 200. The band has appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Show With David Letterman,” “Conan O’Brien,” “CBS This Morning,” “Later…with Jools Holland,” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” 

The Lone Bellow has a new album, “Walk Into A Storm,” which will be released Sept. 15 on Sony Music Masterworks. The trio, features Zach Williams (guitar/vocals), Kanene Donehey Pipkin (multi-instrumentalist), and Brian Elmquist (guitar).

Gypsum Daze Schedule of Events

The Saturday July 20’s concert headlined by Scotty McCreery with special guest The Lone Bellow is the big show during the Gypsum Daze event, but the festivities actually begin midweek and build to that point. Here is a rundown of what’s on tap for Gypsum Daze. Find event registration, ticket sales and more at www.townofgypsum.com.

5 to 7 p.m. Free family fishingat Gypsum Ponds. Colorado Parks and Wildlife, town of Gypsum and ECO Transit offer fishing for all ages. Park along the shooting range road and hop on the ECO bus for a ride to the ponds. Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks the pond with thousands of rainbow trout. Local youth will help with baiting, casting and de-tangling. The last shuttle pick up will be at 7 p.m. Sponsored by Colorado Division of Wildlife, Eco Transit, Gallegos Corp., Minturn Anglers

Friday, July 19

8 a.m. — Pickleball Tournament registration begins at the courts located just south of the Gypsum Creek Golf Course clubhouse. Tournament play begins at 9 a.m. The event his sponsored by the Gypsum Recreation Center. For more information call 970-777-8888. Event sponsors are Vail Health and Mountain Recreation.

4 p.m. — Kiddie playland, vendor village and food court open at Town Hall Park. Free activities through Saturday for kids, including bounce castles, an obstacle course, a water slide, petting zoo and more. Event sponsors are Eagle County Regional Airport, Vail Valley Jet Center, Alpine Arts Center, Gallegos Corporation.

 6 p.m. — Youth talent show at Lundgren Theater. Space is limited to the first 10 applications in age categories from 4 and younger to 18. Online registration is accepted through Thursday, July 19, by 3 p.m. at townofgypsum.com. No onsite registration accepted. The talent show is sponsored by Gallegos Corporation, Vail Valley Jet Center and the Eagle County Regional Airport.

8 p.m. Gypsum Daze Stampede at the food court tent. Instructors will teach two step, double two, triple step, cha cha and western swing moves. Sponsors are Bighorn Toyota, Alpine Bank, Best Western Plus Eagle Lodge and Suites, American Gypsum, Vail Valley Jet Center and the Eagle County Regional Airport

Saturday, July 21

7 a.m. — Gypsum Firemen Pancake Breakfast at Gypsum Recreation Center parking area. A $5 donation nets pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee and all proceeds go to the GFPD Equipment Fund.

8 a.m. — Gypsum Daze 5K Run and Walkloops along Lundgren Boulevard and Valley Road. Awards presented to overall winners and age category winners. All participants and volunteers are eligible to win sponsor prizes. Race proceeds will purchase children’s books for the Gypsum Public Library. Pre-registration is $10. Race day registration is $20. Register at www.townofgypsum.com. Sponsors are Costco, American Family Insurance Trish Romero Agency, Tom and Margaret Edwards, Vail Valley Jet Center and the Eagle County Regional Airport

10 a.m. — Parade down Valley Road. This year’s theme is “Building Community for all Seasons.” Cash prizes for parade winners. Register at www.townofgypsum.com. Sponsored by Eagle County Regional Airport, Vail Valley Jet Center, Vail Health, Berkshire Hathaway, Collins Cockrel & Cole, Shop N Hop, State Farm Insurance – Will Comerford.

11 a.m. — Gypsum Creek Cruisers Car Showat Town Hall Park. The event is open to all classic cars, pickups, off-road vehicles, antiques, street rods, muscle cars, racers and toys. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and costs $20 per vehicle and $10 for each additional entry. The awards ceremony is at 3 p.m. For more information, contact Steve Carver at 970-989-0470. Sponsored by Napa Auto Parts, Big Steve’s Towing and Recovery, Colorado 811, Christie Carver Photography, Werks Auto and Diesel Repair, Vail Valley Jet Center and the Eagle County Regional Airport.

12 to 3: 30 p.m.Family Shooting Sports and Barbecue at the Gypsum Shooting Sports Park. This free event offers families a chance to learn about basic gun safety and shooting firearms from certified instructors and range officers. Participants will be allowed to fire small-bore rifles, pistols, shotguns, and air guns under supervision of experienced shooters from the club. Along with furnishing the firearms and ammunition, the club will serve hot dog, hamburgers, and soft drinks. Sponsored by Eagle Valley Rod & Gun Club, Sagebrush Services

2:30 p.m. — Jalapeno eating contestat Town Hall Park. Contestants will have three minutes to consume as many jalapenos as possible and the winners will receive cash prizes. Sponsored by Eagle County Regional Airport, Vail Valley Jet Center, Tu Casa Mexican Restaurant

6 p.m. — Gates open for Scotty McCreery and The Lone Bellow concert at Lundgren Theater. Early tickets cost $20 and are available online at www.townofgypsum.com. Tickets cost $30 on the day of the show.

Vail may soon raise the age for tobacco purchase to 21

VAIL — Responding to what’s been described as a “crisis” of youth vaping, town officials may soon pass town-specific regulations regarding the purchase of tobacco products.

After a presentation on teen vaping — using tobacco products with a small vaporizer — officials seem ready to raise the age for the purchase of tobacco products and may require stores that sell those products to obtain town licenses.

A Tuesday presentation led by Mandy Ivanov of the Eagle County Public Health Department gave council members a look at the breadth of the problem.

According to a 2017 survey of local high school students, 70% of respondents said it’s easy or very easy to obtain vaping devices. Fully half of those younger than 18 who use the products said they’d purchased a vaping device.

Ivanov told council members that the most effective ways to combat youth vaping are price increases, raising the age for legal sales and retail licensing of stores that sell the devices.

The price increases — often done via a tax, which must be approved by voters — can have a dramatic impact.

Ivanov said that for every 10% increase in the price of tobacco products, youth use drops by as much as 7%.

If it acts, Vail would join a number of other area towns in more tightly regulating tobacco products.

Raising the age of legal purchase from 18 to 21 also has an effect, since younger teens are less likely to associate with those 21 and older.

The Avon Town Council in 2018 raised its tobacco purchase age to 21. Avon voters in November of 2018 passed a tobacco tax that imposes a $3 per pack tax on cigarettes and a 40% sales tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Aspen has raised the purchase age, and in June banned flavored tobacco products in town.

While Vail is likely to move forward with raising the purchase age and licensing tobacco sellers, it may wait before investigating a tobacco tax increase, which voters would have to approve.

Ivanov said Eagle County is considering its own tobacco tax question this year, and may raise the purchase age in unincorporated areas — Edwards and EagleVail in the Vail Valley. But, she said, county officials are encouraging towns to act regarding the purchase age and retailer licensing.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

Local river lover wins a Rocky Mountain Raft for peak flow prediction

Eagle River Watershed Council’s inaugural Peak Flow Prediction contest provided the opportunity to win a Rocky Mountain Raft for anyone who could correctly guess the date of the Eagle River’s peak.

With all of the late snow, cooler early summer temperatures and rain, runoff in the Eagle was prolonged and the peak was later this year than typical, peaking on July 1 at 11 a.m. with a flow of 7,480 cubic feet per second.

The contest had just short of 150 guesses submitted. The contestants had varying knowledge and experience — some drawing on years of data available online, others on gut extinct. However, the majority guessed that flows would peak around the first two weeks of June with flows between 4000 and 6000 cfs at the Gypsum gauge.

In a typical year, one of those guesses might have been the winner, but this year was anything but typical. The winner was the contestant that made the latest guess of June 29 — Jon Christensen of Eagle.

Another contestant guessed June 29 so the tie-breakers of time and flow had to be used to determine Timm Paxson of Vail as the runner-up. Paxson will enjoy a three-day canoe trip for two with Centennial Canoe Outfitters. The third-place winner, Jill Kelsall of Avon, walks away with a $500 dining certificate from Vail Resorts.

Like many of the winners, Kelsall made three guesses and also walked away the winner of fifth place, which was three dry bags from Sea to Summit. Joe Robinson of Edwards took home an Orvis backpack for the fourth-place guess and Gary Brooks grabbed the sixth place prize of two REI day packs.

In a release, Watershed Council executive director Holly Loff said, “This contest was a lot of fun, people really got into it. And it raised over $2,000 for our outreach programs and stream restoration projects. Thanks to everyone that participated.”

The Watershed Council plans to run the contest again next April. Contest information will be announced in their newsletter, The Current, in the spring. Registration for the newsletter is free online at erwc.org.

Avon residents voice opposition to Nottingham Park plan

AVON — Tuesday’s Nottingham Park Master Plan work session was scheduled to be the first of two. But after more than two dozen people showed up to applaud criticisms from their neighbors about the plan, the second session was canceled.

Residents voiced opposition to an idea to return portions of the park to native grasses, expressed concern over parking on West Beaver Creek Boulevard, questioned the usage of the softball diamonds, and brought up several other issues which will be passed on to the town council, commissioners assured residents.

The second work session had been planned for August 6, but Matt Pielsticker, the town’s planning director, said he will deliver a report to the town council at its regular meeting on August 13, instead, summarizing the public comments.

Turf preferred

Bob and Sandy Helt, who own a property that borders the park, both spoke out against the native grass idea, saying the turf grass is much preferred by their neighbors for the access it allows to the park.

Bob Helt also pointed out that prairie dogs have invaded the softball fields in the park, and the neighbors in the area would not want to see the burrowing rodents expand their territory to the area near their homes if a native grass environment were to border their property.

About two dozen people applauded Helt’s suggestions for the Park Master Plan. Helt said he became aware of the plan when the town stopped mowing the area of the park known as “Councilmen’s Corner;” Helt made some calls and met with David McWilliams from Avon’s planning department, who informed him of the plan.

‘Loud and clear’

Several members of the council attended the meeting; councilman Jake Wolf was the only elected official to speak — he identified himself as “the only councilor living right next to Councilmen’s Corner.”

Wolf said the park master plan was outdated, pointing out that the now-defunct plan to move the Hahnewald Barn to Nottingham Park was once part of park master plan, and the plan came together under the management of former town manager Virginia Egger, who was terminated in a unanimous decision by the town council.

“Maybe that’s enough to scrap this plan,” Wolf said.

Commissioner Kenneth Howell said the planning department has acknowledged that there are many pieces within the plan which will not go forward.

“That’s why we had this public comment,” Howell said.

Pielsticker thanked the community for attending.

“We heard your comments loud and clear,” Pielsticker said.

Vail Valley’s oldest service organization still rolling

EAGLE — Some of Santa’s helpers work year round.

The Castle Masonic Lodge, for example, just sold dozens of bicycles the members repaired and refurbished. They use the money for their annual Toy Store, which does not actually sell anything. The Masons collect Christmas toys to families and children who need them — around 1,000 children every year. They also take cash donations.

This year, among those who bought bikes are a Mexican family who buys bikes and sends them to Chihuahua. They bought more than two dozen that they’ll refurbish and provide to kids in Mexico who have almost no other way to get a bike.

Jon Asper has taken the lead on the Masonic Lodge’s Toy Store for more years than anyone can remember, including him.

Asper is an irresistible force of nature and people ask him for all sorts of things, mostly help. Coming up with that help seems to be one of his spiritual gifts.

“They don’t need charity. They just need a little help,” Asper said.

The Masons and Asper don’t ask a lot of questions about why people need help. Folks just do, and that’s enough, Asper said.

“You’d be shocked about who needs help with food or toys but doesn’t want to ask because they used to make good money and now they don’t,” Asper said.

A few years ago the Masons added bicycles to their mix. They take used bikes in pretty good shape, repair them and tune them up, then give them away to kids who need them.

Not just anyone can wander in and get toys, Asper said. They get lists from the Salvation Army and other organizations.

Mostly the kids come from single-parent homes, and the Masons started doing it to help kids whose Christmas might be a little thin.

Century of service

The Castle Masonic Lodge in Eagle is more than 100 years old. It’s Eagle County’s oldest service organization, and its mission has not changed in the last century.

The Masons do their bike sales and Toy Store every year, quietly, or as quietly as they can when they’re collecting tens of thousands of dollars worth of toys, food and cash. When they swing open the doors for their Christmas Toy Store, the Lodge basement looks like Santa’s workshop, only the elves look like these guys.

“We find ways to raise money, so we can give it away,” Asper said. “We do all kinds of other things, too, and almost all of it’s geared toward helping people who need it.”

Some children flounce down those stairs. Some children walk in warily, not sure it’s real. They’re quickly assured that it is, and that they’re welcome there.

“Do you have a bicycle?” the children are invariably asked.

The children look at these guys, again, like it cannot be real.

It is.