Vail ’07: State Bridge lodge era ends |

Vail ’07: State Bridge lodge era ends

Scott N. Miller
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyState Bridge Lodge, a county landmark north of Wolcott, was destroyed by an early-morning fire June 2. John Ryder, who was living at the lodge, was awakened by his dog, Tatiana as the fire grew. It's the only reason he escaped the blaze.

One of Eagle County’s premier music venues went up in flames, while suspects accused of setting fire to Vail’s Two Elk restaurant in 1998 got their day in court. The mud season usually marks a time when thing slow down a bit here in the Vail Valley. But in 2007, the news cycle didn’t lose momentum at all.

– No really did mean no when it came to the “home rule” proposal to reform county government. About 7,000 people mailed back ballots in the second-chance election (which is allowed by state law), and they rejected a revised reform proposal by about the same percentage as voters did the previous November, about 52 to 48 percent.

– The Vail Valley Foundation filed an application to host the 2013 World Alpine Ski Championships at Vail and Beaver Creek.

– Jenny Jo “Jody” Caruthers, an Eagle native who served two separate terms as Eagle County Assessor, died at her home in Kalispell, Mont.

– A former ski instructor accused of raping a then-17-year-old girl was acquitted by an Eagle County jury. David Lorenzen, who admitted he’d had sex with the girl, was instead convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a felony.

– A 20-year-old Eagle man woke up to a strange sight: Several police officers questioning him why he’d fallen asleep in the lobby of a local police station. The man, who apparently smelled as if he’d been drinking, was found to have several outstanding arrest warrants. His nap earned him a trip to the crossbar hotel.

(pic CVR Equestrian Center)

– After more than 20 years, the Berry Creek Equestrian Center in Edwards said goodbye to its equine and human guests to make way for a new Battle Mountain High School.

(pic EDL runway extension)

– Spring construction work started in Vail. Projects included several hotels and condo projects, as well as snowmelt systems for East Meadow Drive and the International Bridge.

Another project downvalley, the runway expansion at the Eagle County Regional Airport, started up again for the second summer of a three-summer project. The expansion used more than 2 million cubic yards of dirt. A cubic yard will fill up the bed of a half-ton pickup.

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– The price of gas has been more than $3 per gallon most of this year. Before summer hit, prices for regular were approaching $3.50 per gallon. Bus ridership and carpooling have gone up in the valley, but most cars zipping up and down I-70 still have just one occupant.

– Good snow brings skiers. Ski resorts in Colorado reported 20.9 skier visits for the 2006-07 ski season, a new record and 38 percent of the all ski visits in the United States. Good snow drew skiers to Colorado, but dry years in other parts of the country helped, too.

(Pic NWS Billy Mattison)

– Vail’s own Billy Mattison, the assistant director of the Vail Ski Patrol, moved to China to help develop the new Ping Tian resort.

Why’d he move?

“The adventure of it,” he said. “The romanticism of it. The opportunity to create a ski area from scratch.”

Mattison said he was working on learning Chinese, but was counting on a number of natives speaking English.

(pic Chelsea Gerlach.jpg) Chelsea Gerlach, Stanislas Myerhoff and either other people ” all members of the Earth Liberation Front, a group that set numerous arson fires around the West in the 1990s ” entered guilty pleas in federal court in Oregon for a series of crimes including the 1998 arson fire at the Two Elk restaurant on Vail Mountain. Another suspect, William Rodgers, hanged himself in his jail cell. The 10 people were part of a group called “The Family” that set the fires to protest Vail Resorts’ planned expansion into what’s now Blue Sky Basin. Locals said they were relieved the case had finally been cracked.

– The Eagle County Assessor’s Office released its latest revision of property values in the county. To no one’s surprise, the values shot up. The value of Warren Graboyes’ place in Vail increased 71 percent in just two years.

– Papee “Pat” Seabry, a Leadville native who raised her family in Eagle, died at age 89.

– The town of Minturn tore down its old town hall, built in 1912.

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– Ashley Rohweder a junior at Eagle Valley High School, won a state title in the 300-meter hurdles. She was the first Lady Devil since Kim Smith in 2003 to win a state track title.

– Work on a couple of stretches of I-70 started. A nine-mile section of highway between Edwards and Avon was first, followed by a project in Dowd Canyon to replace concrete barriers in the median strip. We’re still not sure what took so long in the canyon, but the traffic jams it created could be epic. There were days when a simple trip from Avon to Vail could take an hour or more.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials promise to work at night in Dowd Canyon in 2008. And get ready ” a project to re-pave the highway through Vail starts next year.

– Usually it’s just teachers who leave the local school district, but May saw the resignations of several of the Eagle County School District’s top administrators. Karen Strakbein, Trisha Theelke, Melinda Gladitsch and Carolyn Neff all resigned. School board member Pat Donovan also resigned.

– From the “This is a surprise?” file came a study in Avon that showed home prices there were rising faster than workers’ income. Many of those workers, the study showed that many people were being priced out of the housing market there.

– Eagle County School District Superintendent John Brendza resigned. His resignation took effect August 1 and he received $290,000 severance package.

(pic Teva games)

– The Teva Mountain Games returned to Vail, with some of the world’s best kayakers and bikers coming to town. Some of the competitors welcomed sponsorships from companies including Zest soap and Carhartt clothing, but others wondered if all the sponsorships ” needed to put on a top-flight event, promoters said ” took some of the edge off the “alternative” sports.

(pix State Bridge and statebridge burns )

– State Bridge Lodge, a county landmark north of Wolcott, was destroyed by an early-morning fire June 2. John Ryder, who was living at the lodge, was awakened by his dog, Tatiana as the fire grew. It’s the only reason he escaped the blaze.

The lodge, made of old wood, burned quickly, and was in ashes little more than an hour after the first 911 call came in.

The loss of the lodge was mourned by boaters, music fans and others. Lodge owners vowed to carry on, and did hold a series of summer concerts at the site.

The fire was later determined to be arson, but no suspects have been named.

– A psychic with a storefront on Gore Creek Drive in Vail was shut down because of zoning violations.

You’d think Michelle Marks, the psychic, would have seen this one coming, but her husband said that’s not the case.

“It’s like a doctor,” Tom Merino said. “You can’t do anything for yourself or your family.”

(pic: NWS cribbings)

– Hundreds of tons of contaminated rock was set to be removed from the old Eagle Mine site between Minturn and Red Cliff. The Environmental Protection Agency was ready to pick up most of the tab for the cleanup. The rocks, piled behind century-old wooden walls called cribbings, were viewed as a potential threat to the river if the walls gave way.

– The Ginn Company has been talking to Minturn about annexing and approving its property on Battle Mountain. That left folks in Red Cliff wondering if they’d see any benefits from a private resort next door to their town. In particular, town officials hoped Ginn might help build the town a new wastewater plant. The cash-strapped town has needed one for years.

Other residents ” who already pay the highest property tax rates of any town in the county ” worried what a private resort would do to their property values.

– Vail has put about $250,000 into its whitewater park on Gore Creek since 2000, but a group of boaters asked for more. Boater Matt Solomon and others asked the town to consider a $376,000 proposal that would put inflatable bladders, among other things, into Gore Creek to keep water flows up enough for kayakers to safely use the stretch past the spring runoff.

– Eldora Skiles, who was born in Gypsum and lived most of her life there, died in Grand Junction at age 86.

– Election season started in June in Vail. With Rod Slifer and Greg Moffet bowing out due to term limits, and with Kent Logan declining to run again, three seats were sure to change hands, and as many as five of the seven council seats could switch.

Former council member Dick Cleveland, ousted in the 2005 election, said he might run and several other prominent locals said they were looking at the possibility.

– Don Hanan, pastor of the Anointed Christian Fellowship ” later the Word of Life Worship Center ” in Gypsum died. He was 48.

– Avon sought to declare parts of town “blighted” in order to create “urban renewal districts” for the areas east and west of Avon Road. Those districts have the ability to collect taxes un-blighted areas can’t. The goal of the process is to raise money to renovate the town’s original commercial areas.

(pic NWS construction protest) A group of union carpenters staged a brief protest at a couple of construction sites in Avon ” The Gates and the Westin Riverfront ” accusing the developers of paying unfair wages. The protesters, who refused to talk to a reporter, just handed out fliers of a rat gnawing on an American flag.

(pic jennifer ortiz.jpg) Jennifer Ortiz, a 12-year-old student at Stone Creek Elementary School, was looking forward to the rest of her life. That’s not something she could have done just a few weeks earlier. Ortiz was born with a diseased heart that was rapidly giving out. After what seemed like forever, she moved to the top of the transplant list at a Denver hospital, and received a new heart.

She hadn’t yet given much thought to the fact someone else had to die so she could live, but Ortiz was looking forward to a healthy, happy life of her own.

– A Bridge Street tradition was closing its doors. After 45 years in business, the Rucksack, Vail’s first general store, was closing its doors. Partner Jeff Selby bought out the other owners, and planned to renovate the building. A new general store wasn’t in the plans.

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In town for the double-secret American Enterprise Institute World Forum at Beaver Creek, Vice President Dick Cheney helped re-name Village Hall for Gerald Ford. There was some deserved grumbling that what should have been a public celebration was, instead, private, but Cheney cut the ribbon, then zipped off to his next undisclosed location.

– A still-brewing dispute bubbled over in Vail in late June, just as the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival came to town.

Town officials unveiled a plan that would require all deliveries in Vail Village to be made via hand cart. Businesses threw a collective fit, saying the plan added another layer of transportation to their deliveries, and the new system might mean more, not less, potential peril for tourists. In the next weeks and months, a committee was formed, and is still working to hammer out details of how stuff will get to businesses once “Vail’s billion-dollar renewal” is complete.

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