Lost hikers and big developments rule in 2005 | VailDaily.com
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Lost hikers and big developments rule in 2005

Vail Trail staff

We got rid of the weekly Top 5 news stories feature a few months ago. Our thought was, why regurgitate what readers already know and have read elsewhere?

However, the end of 2005 is upon us and the time seems fitting to take a little walk down memory lane. Reflection is good for the soul, so sages think, so why shouldn’t it be good for the community, too?

Our intent was to narrow it down to the top five local news stories of the year. But too much happened in 2005 to limit to just five. Instead, we’re listing our top six local news stories of the year. Consider it a Christmas bonus.

True, many Eagle Countians couldn’t have cared less about all the options available to us if we opted to start the process of becoming home rule, though the concept of expanding the board to five members did have some fans. Nor did many local residents understand the process – first voters had to give a green light to the idea by forming a committee to look into the idea, then they had to elect people to the committee, then voters have to approve the charter the committee comes up with. (And you wonder why so few citizens are involved in the governmental process.) What Eagle Countians did understand, however, is that approving the question in November wasn’t a guarantee that we would change. But it does allow us to look into the idea.

Boring, but important. That’s why it’s on the list. It’s also why it’s only No. 6.

Technically, this story began in December 2004, when Bobby Ginn and Co. decided to purchase close to 6,000 acres south of Minturn, including the abandoned mining town of Gilman. Since then, the developer has hired some of Minturn’s favorite characters, thrown in money toward the town’s fledgling radio station and even purchased property in town, including a town councilman’s bed-and-breakfast. Ginn’s project is still fairly conceptual, but includes plans for a private ski resort, a golf community and a whole bunch of homes. Everyone seems to hate the idea except Minturn residents. Meanwhile, the town council has agreed to recognize the developer’s request to be annexed to, or become part of, Minturn.

Crime has rarely been a big problem in our fair valley, but in the past year we have had a murder, a serious, but comical bank robbery and a possible sex offender in our midst. Gypsum resident Maria Madrid was shot and killed in October after what appears to have been an argument over campground cleanliness. The accused is Charles Anthony Gross, another local resident. While Madrid’s friends and family mourn their loss, Gross’ friends have a hard time believing he is capable of such a thing.

Our infamous bank robbers, who held up a WestStar Bank in Vail and then fled with thousands in cash via a Vail Mountain chairlift, gave the international press something to chew on. Luke Carroll and Anthony Prince were dubbed “Dumb and Dumber” by the press in their native countries of New Zealand and Australia. Both have been sentenced to hard time in prison.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Schut is awaiting trial for sexual assault charges. Schut is accused of assaulting a woman in the Vail Village parking garage and attempting to assault a woman in an Eagle home.

T

he Front Range woman’s disappearance on Mount of the Holy Cross remains a mystery, fueled by speculation, innuendo and rumor. Police say her hiking partner had nothing to do with her disappearance. A stranger who was on the trail that day also was ruled out. What is clear is that her hike seemed almost doomed from the start. Missed turns, fatigue and violation of the ultimate in backcountry rules (don’t ever leave anyone alone) seemed to seal the fate. Still, hundreds turned out to search for the wife and mother. While they were never able to find her, Mountain Rescue veteran Tim Cochrane remains convinced that Vanek is somewhere on that mountain.

This time, it’s the proposed Crossroads development in Vail. Peter Knobel’s plans to renovate the aging building didn’t sit well with a majority of the Vail Town Council, including well-respected council members Dick Cleveland and Diana Donovan. Opponents argued Knobel’s plans for the building were too big for Vail. Vail residents apparently didn’t agree. Neither Cleveland nor Donovan were re-elected to the council in November.

That’s why our No. 1 pick for the top stories of 2005 is, of course, our record snowfall. Experts say Colorado’s decade-long drought is over. And the recent coldspell was a stark reminder of what it means to live in the Rocky Mountains. Will it be enough to kill off the bark beetles that are destroying the trees in Vail? It remains uncertain. What is certain, however, is that when the snow gods smile upon us, the world seems to be a better place. VT


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