Vail ’07: A slip in the ski-resort rankings
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado The valleys ego was slightly bruised when this years SKI magazine resort rankings came out and Vail had slipped to No. 2. The Colorado Rockies, meanwhile, raised the states self esteem by going on an unprecedented winning streak and charging into the World Series. Planes, meanwhile, featured prominently in the local news in the fall. Daring adventurer and part-time Beaver Creek resident Steve Fossett disappeared while flying over the Nevada desert. Another pilot, Dave Kunkel of Meeker, landed his plane on Interstate 70 in Gypsum after having engine trouble on a flight home from Denver.
With the start of school came a couple of milestones. In Edwards, Vail Christian High School celebrated its 10th anniversary. In Avon, Stone Creek Elementary began its second year on a more even keel after a first year plagued by arguments with the Avon Town Council and financial woes that eventually led to the arrest for embezzlement of school co-founder Bill Hammer. Steve Fossett, a Beaver Creek resident and insatiable adventurer disappeared in the skies over Nevada. Fossett who had piloted a balloon around the world, took off in a small plane from a friends ranch in western Nevada. He never returned.Searchers combed the desert for weeks before giving up. Locals remembered Fossett as a good friend and stalwart supporter of the Vail Valley Foundation and other local nonprofit groups. The Eagle County School District needed to hold an election for the first time since 2003. Since then, candidates up for re-election had run unopposed, and members who resigned were replaced by the board.In Vail, a crowded field was lining up to run for town council seats. Three seats were open, and two would be contested. The annual Ski Magazine rankings always bring either joy or sighs. This was a sighing year, as Vail fell, as it does some years, to the second spot in the readers resort rankings. Buzz Schleper took the rating in stride, especially when he heard that Deer Valley in Utah had taken the top spot.
You cant even put Deer Valley on the same page as Vail, said Schleper, owner of Buzzs Ski Shop in Vail and father of U.S. team ski racer Sarah Schleper. A man, apparently a transient, had his foot cut off by a moving train he jumped off near State Bridge. The man crawled to a nearby home and was taken to Vail Valley Medical Center. The foot, still in its boot, was taken to the funeral home in Gypsum and stored as evidence. The Eagle County Commissioners gave final approval to the West End project in Edwards. The project will include 72 affordable condos, shops, offices, and, of course, full-priced condos. The project will also put a roundabout just west of the stoplight by the Gashouse. Vail Resorts put in a bid to redevelop the Timber Ridge apartments in Vail. If the resort company landed the bid, it would get the company off the hook for the employee housing units it owed the town for its Arrabelle project in Lionshead. But Open/Hillwood, which already had landed the job of redeveloping the Lionshead parking structure, also wanted the Timber Ridge project, and ultimately landed the job. A survey of Eagle County residents showed little support for a sales tax increase to pay for a $50 million renovation and addition to the county jail and courthouse. Specifics about the survey werent made public, the result, county officials said, of giving the job to a private company. Giada De Laurentiis, host of a couple of shows on the Food Network, brought a film crew to the Vail Valley to film an episode of Giadas Weekend Getaways. De Laurentiis sampled some of the valleys best at Sweet Basil in Vail, and Bivans and Beanos Cabin in Beaver Creek. Edith Kirby, who was born in Yampa and spent most of her life in McCoy, died in an auto accident along Highway 131. She was 91. Duncan Pinnell cut it close. Pinnell, owner of D.J.s Diner, a Lionshead institution, owed back taxes to the state, and paid his bill just before state revenue agents were set to auction off the diners assets. Even with the bill paid, Pinnell said he was putting the restaurants equipment in storage and hoped to open another restaurant soon, perhaps in Eagle. Those of us who enjoyed late-night omelets at the diner miss it. Becky Yarberry was one of the good ones, and like so many of the good ones, she passed too soon. Yarberry, 27, was killed while driving west through Dowd Junction on I-70. An eastbound pickup driven by Ofelia Medrano of Eagle jumped the median and hit Yarberrys car head-on, police said. In the same issue was news of the loss of another of the valleys young people. Justin Bobson, 24, was killed in a one-car accident on Gypsum Creek Road. From the Timing-is-Everything department: In the same season town leaders decided to go to voters for a new tax to cover a coming backlog of public-works projects, the Vail Town Council started debating a possible raise for new council members. The organizers of a recall drive aimed at Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi failed to gather enough signatures to put the recall on a special election ballot. Muhammad Ali Hasan, 27, a Republican, said he was considering a run for a seat in the Colorado Senate. Winter Park Republican Al White had already announced his candidacy. If Hasan runs, survives a primary and gets elected, hed be Eagle Countys first representative in Denver since Danny Williams in the early 1990s.
From the What-a-Flippin-Shock Department: After several months of work, a panel dedicated to creating more affordable housing in the valley determined there are no clear-cut answers to the problem. Wild West Day, the annual fundraiser for local elementary schools at 4Eagle Ranch north of Wolcott, always draws big crowds. This year, the parking in field just south of the ranch seemed like it was halfway back to Wolcott.
The Colorado Rockies, a team that had only aspired to mediocrity for years, went on a run unheard of in the annals of baseball, winning 21 of 22 games in September and October to earn a berth in the World Series. A state that for too long had collectively questioned whether Our Fair State had a Major League Baseball franchise gave a collective whoop and jumped on the bandwagon.And thats when the Rockies were swept in the series by the Boston Red Sox. Still, it was fun while it lasted, and as hot stove league season gets into full swing, theres actual interest in what the Rockies might do to take the last steps toward a championship. In the weeks before an election that could have put a new majority on the Eagle County School Board, the board agreed to spend $2.5 million on a new gym/community building for the Eagle County Charter Academy, the charter school in Edwards. After a flood of complaints, the board put off a final decision on spending the money until after the new board members took office. Celine Krueger died at age 71. Krueger and her husband Ben moved to Vail in 1967. While Ben was making his mark on the valley as the first superintendent of the Vail Golf Club, Celine was making a name for herself as a local artist. Interstate 70 is a great way to travel, but its also right in the middle of several wildlife migration paths. To help cut down on auto-animal collisions, the Colorado Department of Transportation spent $1.7 million on a wildlife fence that stretches from Dowd Junction to Eagle. If it works, fewer drivers will bag fender trophies this winter. Police were called to a Gypsum apartment when a 25-year-old man was seen walking outside waving a gun. He was also naked. When deputies arrived, the man went inside and put on a pair of pants, but eventually had to be hit with a Taser before he could be hauled off to jail. Vail resident Pepper Etters was so moved after a visit to Nepal he decided to organize a three-week medical mission to help provide health care to a the Sherpa village hed visited as a member of a college research team. Fellow valley residents Eddie Sandoval and Laurie Strasburger joined Etters and his wife on the team. Vail Resorts was taking another shot at putting two new, high-speed lifts in the original Back Bowls. The plan met with heated opposition the first time it was proposed several years ago, and some skiers said they still prefer old, slow, Chair 5. A ruling on the resort companys plan could come from the U.S. Forest Service as soon as this spring. Its not a competition, but it seems that way. As resort towns keep their airports busy but scramble for other ways to look green, Vail hired Dan Richardson, formerly the head of Aspens program to battle global warming. Richardson was hired to help the town revise its building codes so future construction would tread a bit more lightly on the earth.In other green news, Vail Resorts announced it would use hormone-free meet and organic dairy products at its on-mountain restaurants. Dave Kunkel is an experienced pilot, but he had a scary moment one clear October afternoon. Flying to his home in Meeker from Denver, Kunkel had engine trouble and had to make an emergency landing on westbound I-70 just east of Gypsum.
The plane sat at the interchange for several days before it was hauled by helicopter to the Eagle County airport. No one was hurt in the incident, but truck driver Luis Varela said none of his friends believed him when he told them a plane landed right in front of him on the highway. The Eagle County Commissioners agreed to pay $2.5 million of the estimated $6 million cost to widen the shoulders of U.S. Highway 6 between Edwards and Eagle. The new shoulders will give a little more room to bicyclists on that stretch of road. Work will start in the spring. Cindy Goodwin didnt know the man she loved was an illegal immigrant. But Goodwin, Carlos Armenta and their two boys moved to Mexico for a few months, while Carlos tried to get a visa. Armenta got his visa not long ago and the family is back in the Vail Valley. Local mountains reported getting as much as a foot of snow Oct. 17 and 18. Locals began putting away bikes and getting out boards. A stranded goose some East Vail residents named Emma was just hanging around Bighorn Park instead of flying south with one of the two flocks that stops at the parks pond ever year. Emma liked people and showed no desire to migrate, which had some in the neighborhood concerned she might not make it through the winter. Emma was moved to a farm near Eagle for the winter. The Arrabelle at Vail Square in Lionshead was almost ready to open, which meant Vail Resorts and the Vail Town Council finally got serious about negotiating how the resort company would meet its employee-housing obligations. The company had to have an agreement with the town signed before the Arrabelle could open. Bill Jewitt, a partner in Bart & Yetis restaurant in Lionshead and a former Vail Town Council member, died at age 59. Radio station KUNC had become popular with a lot of locals since it started beaming a signal into the valley several years ago. But when the Greeley-based public radio station moved its main transmitter in July, the station was unable to get a signal into this valley. After a few months of static, the stations signal could again beam into Eagle County.