Vail ’07: November brings a new mayor |

Vail ’07: November brings a new mayor

Kristin Anderson/Vail DailySnow fell on Vail's Born Free run after opening day was postponed about five days due to dry weather.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” As the daylight dwindles at the end of the year, locals start scanning the skies, looking for the heavy gray clouds that bring snow.

Some years, the clouds come early. Some years, like this one, they take their sweet time getting to us. Now, the snow is falling by the ton. So finish reading the paper and get out there.

– Voters spoke across Eagle County.

In Vail, Andy Daly, Dick Cleveland, and Margaret Rogers were elected to the Vail Town Council. Voters also re-elected Kim Newbury and Kevin Foley. Cleveland was elected mayor by the rest of the council. Vail voters also narrowly approved a tax on construction materials.

In the first school board election in four years, newcomer Carrie Benway defeated incumbent Keith Thompson, and Jeanne McQueeney defeated Margaret Olle (who every member of this paper’s editorial board would vote for for any office she chooses to seek). Incumbents Brian Nolan and Connie Kincaid-Strahan ran unopposed, and incumbent Jason Benderly defeated challenger Judd Babcock.

Eagle-Vail voters approved a ballot issue to raise property taxes to pay for a new pool and facility repairs, and voters in Singletree approved a measure to widen the interstate underpass on Winslow Road, but turned down a proposal to bury power lines.

– As Edwards has grown, so has its traffic. Local and state officials announced a deal to build four roundabouts along the spur road between I-70 and U.S. Highway 6. The state picked up most of the more than $11 million cost, but the county and the Edwards Metropolitan District kicked in $275,000 each for design work.

The state also approved money to pay for design work for improvements to the interchange in Eagle.

– The price of a merchant pass for Vail and Beaver Creek has risen $140 over the last three years. Business owners complained, but Vail Resorts spokeswoman Jen Brown noted the price of a regular season pass is now $1,849.

– John Gulick resigned as Vail’s fire chief after 30 years with the department. In November, he was replaced by Mark Miller. Miller’s most recent job had been with the fire department in White River Junction, Vt., but he’s a Colorado native who spent 25 years with the Loveland Fire Department.

– Ernie Nelson has spent decades behind various bars in and around Vail. He gave it up in November, and was honored with a big party at the Minturn Saloon, where he’d served drinks for 22 years. Nelson is still in the valley, running his cleaning business.

– As the Eagle County School District worked to revise parts of its Teacher Advancement Program under interim superintendent John Pacheco, the district continued to try to solve one of its oldest problems: the lack of substitute teachers. Many schools have hired a full-time person whose only job is to fill in.

– Bud and Margie Gates can pass their ranch down to their kids. The Gates Ranch near Burns is now protected by a conservation easement, $2.1 million of which came from the county’s open space fund.

Critics complained the Gates place is too remote to be considered for development and is too remote to earn protection with public money.

– Bob Newman, owner of New Electric, died in Denver at age 65.

– Elli Zakraewski, who worked for years at the Fountain Cafe, the Alpenrose and the Eagle-Vail Cafe, also left this world in November.

– The county’s ECO bus system opened its doors to young riders. Anyone younger than 18 with a valid ID can now ride the county’s buses for free.

– State Rep. Dan Gibbs resigned his seat in the Colorado House of Representatives after just one session in Denver. Gibbs was appointed to fill the State Senate seat Joan Fitz-Gerald quit in order to run for Congress.

– Vail Police Sgt. Kurt Mulson retired after 30 years on the force. He was the longest-tenured officer in Vail.

– With no snow on the slopes, about 70 Vail Resorts seasonal employees spent a balmy Monday cleaning up trash around Vail.

– After a few teasing snowstorms, the valley got dry and warm in November, forcing Vail Resorts to delay opening the local ski hills. Vail’s opening was delayed from Nov. 16 to Nov. 21, when a nice little snowstorm added a little natural powder to the man-made stuff.

In absolutely nothing of a surprise, local businesses reported the dry fall wasn’t bringing tourists to the High Country.

– Jeff Patterson, a local snowboard instructor, died at age 43. Benjamin Pereida, who lived most of his life in Minturn and Avon, died at age 87.

– Linda Propernick and her family donated an automatic external defibrillator to Vega State Park after the death of her husband, Dugan. The Propernicks had lived in Edwards from 1964 to 1994. Propernick died at Vega State Park near Collbran June 30.

– The guard changed at the Vail Daily (although it might just be the guard at the asylum). Don Rogers left his job as the Vail Daily’s managing editor for a publisher’s job in Gardnerville, Nev. Alex Miller was named to replace him.

– The Colorado Department of Transportation reported that, thanks to a giant truck-mounted vacuum cleaner, it had cleaned more than 13,000 tons of traction sand out of the gutters along I-70 between East Vail and Shrine Pass.

That’s the equivalent of, oh, a whole lot of cat boxes.

– The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office reported it released 26 illegal immigrants in less than a week because federal immigration officers didn’t come to get them. Outraged Web comments ensued.

– Beaver Creek mountain finally opened Nov. 23, just in time for Thanksgiving visitors to get in a few runs.

– Local pro cyclist Mike Janell, just 40 and with wife Maribel expecting their first child, died suddenly over Thanksgiving weekend.

– Some business owners were saying hiring seasonal help is as tough this season as it’s ever been. Most of the business owners blame a lack of affordable housing.

– A Lakewood man accused of breaking into three cars in Avon was apparently fairly easy to track. Avon police say Joshua Abshier left a trail of broken glass from the cars he allegedly broke into to the apartment where he was staying.

– Bert “Buddy” Calhoun, whose ranch at Edwards was home to a lot of locals’ horses and many memories, died at age 61.

– Colorado water law is complicated and hard to understand on its best day, but this is Big News: The Denver Water Board gave up most of its water rights in Eagle County. The result is guaranteed streamflows along much of the Eagle River.

– Susan Frampton won the annual Ernie Bender Award for her local volunteer work.

– From the Savor the Irony file: After begging for snow for weeks, the valley finally got a good shot of the white stuff the first week of December. We got enough snow, in fact, that one day of the Birds of Prey ski races had to be postponed.

– Holli Snyder of Eagle was named Citizen of the Year by the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce for her work on the Boots on Broadway project, in which 12 local artists decorated six-foot-tall cowboy boots, the put them on display in downtown Eagle. The boots were then auctioned off at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, and raised thousands for local charities.

Beveridge Real Estate of Eagle won the chamber’s Business of the Year award.

– After several weeks of negotiations, the town of Vail and Vail Resorts forged an agreement for the company to meet its employee housing requirements so the Arrabelle at Vail Square could open. The resort company agreed to post a $17 million letter of credit the town could use if the company didn’t start building beds by next spring.

– Folks in Leadville welcomed the news that the Climax molybdenum mine atop Fremont Pass north of town would reopen in 2010. Work to re-open the mine will start in the spring, and the mine will employ perhaps 350 people year-round when operations start up in 2010.

– Eagle County will take the biggest legal tax increase it can for 2008, but the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is facing as much as a 6 percent cut to its budget. The biggest hits come to the overtime and training budgets.

The county commissioners say they’ll try to find $1.25 million in the 2008 budget for improvements to the Eagle County Justice Center, as well as $5 million to buy homes and land for affordable housing.

– The county isn’t the only local government that wants more of your money. The Eagle County School District ” which accounts for 44 percent of most residents’ property tax bills ” will freeze its tax rate, too.

With property values shooting up this year, that means a significantly bigger tax bite.

The county, by the way, takes about 13 percent of your property tax bills. Towns take about 5 percent, with the rest going to various special districts.

– After looking into a possible run for the Colorado Senate, Beaver Creek’s Muhammad Ali Hasan announced he would instead run to represent Eagle County in the Colorado House of Representatives.

– Chris Chase of Edwards is China-bound. After six years at the Vail Golf Club and two at Eagle Ranch, Chase took a job at a club in Hong Kong. He’ll also help with the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

– Jack Lacey, one of the co-owners of the Route 6 Cafe in Eagle-Vail, died suddenly in Thailand.

– The fire-and-water fountain at the top of Bridge Street keeps getting delayed and the price keeps rising. Now the fountain in Seibert Circle is expected to be finished in June. The current price tag is $1.7 million, with the town’s share at $1.3 million.

– Valley residents were saddened to learn of the death of Frank Doll. There are just a few people who can bring the entire newsroom to a grinding halt, and Doll was one of them. He’ll be missed.

– A Pennsylvania man sued 8-year-old Scott Swimm of Eagle-Vail after the two collided on the slopes at Arrowhead in January. Scott’s father described the crash as a “tap,” but the man, David Pfahler, said he tore a tendon in his shoulder and lost valuable vacation time because of the injury.

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