Eagle County: Election roundup | VailDaily.com

Eagle County: Election roundup

Sarah L. Stewart
Dominique TaylorBoy scout Michael El-Bitar, 12, left, and cub scouts Henry Eyrich, 10, center and Gregory El-Bitar, 10, line up their derby cars during the annual Pine Wood Derby race at the LDS church in Avon. Michael experienced some technical difficulties when, due to the design of his car, it would not sit in place on the track.

In a smattering of local elections this week, Eagle County voters kept some incumbents and sent others packing.

In a record turnout of 348, Eagle-Vail elected Louise Funk and incumbent Bob Finlay to the Metropolitan District Board of Directors from a field of seven vying for the two seats.

In Vail, voters added newcomer Jeff Wiles and retained incumbent Michelle Hall to the Vail Recreation District board of directors.

Frederick Sackbauer defeated incumbent Timm Paxson for an open seat on the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, which makes major decisions concerning how water is treated, used and acquired in Eagle County. Clark Shivley, a former volunteer firefighter, beat out Kate Hawthorne for a spot on the board of directors of the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

And in Avon, residents held onto some of their power by voting against giving the town authority to sell or trade property without holding an election.

The battle over Battle Mountain isn’t just about land ” now it’s about water, too.

The Ginn Development Co., which wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums and a private ski resort and golf course on and around Battle Mountain, has laid claim to some of the water from the Eagle River that flows through its land. But 24 groups, including federal, state and local government agencies, want some say on Ginn’s and Minturn’s claim.

Glenn Porzak, a Boulder water rights attorney who represents 11 of those groups, said the Ginn Development Co. and Minturn do not have enough water to serve the proposed resort because the water they have claimed rights to already is owned by other groups.

“It’s an outright water grab that’s illegal under Colorado law,” said Porzak, who has represented clients with interests on the Eagle River for 35 years.

Ann Castle, Minturn’s water attorney, called Porzak’s comments “inflammatory” and “false.”

On May 20, Minturn voters will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum approving or denying the resort’s annexation into the town, a major step toward the success or failure of the development.

Spring cleaning now has the government on its side in Minturn.

More than a dozen residents and businesses in the town have been asked to get rid of larger junk such as washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and unregistered, broken-down cars and boats outside their homes. A tentative deadline for removing the items has been set for June 1, and those who don’t comply could be ticketed.

The fine for violating Minturn’s nuisance ordinance is as much as $1,000 a day, as many as 180 days in jail or both, said Gary Suiter, Minturn’s interim town manager.

Some residents oppose the ordinance, some support it, but others are indifferent to the junk.

“It’s Minturn,” said Alex Gentry, a Minturn resident. “I expect to see that kind of stuff, so it doesn’t bother me.”

Hardcore skiers likely have until early next month to get in their last turns of the season.

Arapahoe Basin, the last resort open after a record winter for snow, plans to close June 8, depending on weather. Factors affecting the closing includes snowfall and dust blown in by storms, which coats the snow and melts it more quickly, scientists say.

But some want the resort to stay open into July, as it has just once in the past decade.

“It would be cool if they stayed open as late as they can,” said skier Vujko Bultan. “I’d come up every weekend until they closed.”

Spring has begun to melt Colorado’s snowpack down to more normal levels, but the outlook for the state’s water supply is still excellent, the Associated Press reported.

The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service said last week that the statewide snowpack has fallen to 115 percent of average, down from 123 percent on April 1 and 135 percent in March.

The search last fall for former Beaver Creek resident Steve Fossett cost the state of Nevada $687,000, and now Gov. Jim Gibbons plans to ask the multimillionaire’s widow to help pick up the tab, the Associated Press reported.

“We are going to request that they help offset some of these expenses, considering the scope of the search, the overall cost as well as our ongoing budget difficulties,” said Ben Kieckhefer, Gibbons’ press secretary.

Fossett, 63, disappeared after taking off in his small plane in September. A monthlong search turned up no evidence of Fossett or his plane, and he was declared legally dead in February. Barron Hilton, who owns the ranch from which Fossett took off, sent the state a $200,000 check to help offset the cost of the search.

Any contribution from Fossett’s family would be voluntary, Kieckhefer said.

Vail Resorts’ $579 Epic Pass, which offers unlimited skiing at all of its resorts, has captured more than just skiers’ attention.

Aspen Skiing Co. is considering a counter to the Vail Resorts offer, particularly in capturing the lucrative destination skier market.

“We’re definitely looking closely at our pricing and our products to make sure we’re competitive,” said Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan. “Especially on the international side, they’re probably trying to target that group.”

But for now, Aspen isn’t planning a drastic price change.

“We offer a different product,” Kaplan said. “We think it’s a compelling product, one that people appreciate and enjoy and want to continue to enjoy. So, we’re not going to match that price.”

– Compiled by Sarah L. Stewart

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