Top 5 News Stories of the Week
5. Dead man found on construction siteA 49-year-old construction worker was found dead Jan. 31 on the roof of the Vail Mountain Lodge, police said.Salvador Alvarez, who was working on the roof of the hotel, appeared to have died of a medical problem, Vail police Sgt. Mike Knox said.”We will coordinate with the coroner on the cause of death, but right now it doesn’t seem suspicious," Knox said. “The cause and manner of death will not be determined until an autopsy has been conducted."Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis was prepared to conduct an autopsy Feb. 1, but was not available for comment when contacted at the Vail Trail’s press time Feb. 2.Alvarez was on the roof with another worker installing copper flashing when he became ill, and eventually passed out, Knox said.Knox did not know what the cause of death might be, but said Alvarez was pronounced dead at the scene.4. VVF makes open space downpaymentThe $12 million purchase of the 72-acre Eaton Ranch came $400,000 closer Friday when a non-refundable down payment was made on the ranch by the Vail Valley Foundation.That follows a commitment Jan. 20 on a 2 to 1 vote by the Eagle County commissioners to earmark $3.8 million in county open space tax funds and an additional $2.3 million from general county coffers toward the purchase. The remaining $6 million will come from private donations, state and federal grants gathered by the Foundation.”While we have cleared one hurdle with the county funding,” said foundation President Harry Frampton. The 72 acres of ranchland on the south side of the river north of Highway 6 and just west of the Edwards Spur Road contains hay fields and about a quarter mile-long bank of the river, and is being purchased to prevent it from being acquired and developed.Once acquired, the parcel would be protected in perpetuity from development with a conservation easement being negotiated with the Eagle Valley Land Trust, a land conservation group.3. Changes coming for kindergartnersKindergarten is about to become a little more like first grade.Students entering kindergarten in the Eagle County School district next fall will attend school all day, five days a week. Some of those students will also start school a little younger than kids the year before, thanks to a change in state law.The biggest change for families is the switch to full-day kindergarten. Because state funding only covers half-day kindergarten, families who want the full-day program now have to pay about $250 per month. Of the kids now enrolled in kindergarten, 254 go full-time, with another 204 enrolled in the half-day program.But there are always more families who want full-day kindergarten than there are classroom seats available, said district spokeswoman Pam Holmes Boyd.While district finance director Karen Strakbein said she estimates 95 percent participation in the all-day classes, a half-day program will still be available, but it will be five days a week in the mornings, and no transportation home will be provided.2. Sheriff’s substation opens in EdwardsEdwards, with about 8,000 residents the largest population center in Eagle County, now has a Sheriff’s Office substation to buttress the police presence in the area. The station, at the Edwards Plaza next to the Mexican restaurant Fiesta’s off the Spur Road, is an addition to the Sheriff’s Office’s main building in Eagle and a substation in Eagle-Vail.”This means a faster caller response. And Edwards is one the fastest-growing areas in the county,” said Sheriff Joseph Hoy. “We felt that in order to better serve the population there, we needed another base for operations.The substation can be used by sheriff’s deputies to interview suspects and witnesses, file reports and gather information without officers having to go all the way down to Eagle or up to the Eagle-Vail substation, Hoy said.The substation will provide other services to residents as well, including VIN inspections, so people don’t have to drive all the way to Eagle, Hoy said.Officers will continue to be stationed in the area 24 hours a day as before, Hoy said.1. State funding may endanger teacher raisesThe final figures aren’t in, but it’s possible that teachers’ raises for the 2005-06 school year may be less than expected.The problem, administrators say, is the state’s budget and how its inflation rate is calculated. The result may be a collision between funding sources, and what local school officials have said they’d like to do, and what they actually can do.When the Eagle County School District began its controversial Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP, at the start of the 2002-03 school year, teachers’ pay for the 2003-04 school year was based on performance bonuses earned the year before.The question is whether the district can continue to afford fully funding raises without more money from the state.The pay raise issue is one part of a bigger picture regarding pay in the district. The school board and administrators are in the middle of a series of meetings about how employees will be paid. VTThe Top 5 News Stories of the Week are compiled by the Vail Trail staff from stories printed in CMNM papers.
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