Vail ’07: Windmills spin, EverVail emerges |

Vail ’07: Windmills spin, EverVail emerges

Scott N. Miller
Vail CO, Colorado

Our annual look back at news of the past year contains (we hope) plenty of sort of silly items. But the Vail Valley lost far too many of its young people in 2007. We remember those kids and young adults fondly, and hope their families are healing.

– The folks at the Thrifty Shoppe in Edwards got a big surprise when Spencer Lambert called and asked to donate some old furniture. The donation turned out to be a big one. Lambert had just bought new furniture for his Bachelor Gulch condo, and instead of selling the old stuff ” none of which was very old, and all of which had come from Slifer Designs ” decided to donate it to the Thrifty Shoppe, which operates to raise money for local charity Vail Valley Cares.

The Thrifty Shoppe sold the furniture ” which cost an estimated $100,000 ” for $30,000, a great deal for the charity and the folks who bought the items.

– YouTube, or the idea of it, is everywhere. Vail Resorts rolled out, a place for skiers and boarders to post videos on the Web.

– Jack’s Place, a home where patients of the Shaw Cancer Center can stay while receiving treatment, opened. The “caring house,” named for local doctor Jack Eck, was built through donations and a lot of discounted and volunteer labor. The place has 12 bedrooms, a library, family and conference areas, and is just steps from the cancer center’s front door.

The caring house is a refuge to the center’s many out-of-county patients.

– Vail Resorts announced plans for its property just west of Lionshead. Described as the “largest green resort in North America,” the project, called EverVail, which still needs town approval, will feature buildings ” containing a lot of very expensive condos and townhomes ” that will be designed and built to achieve certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program. Skeptics wondered how “green” any resort development can be.

– Disabled veterans come to Vail a couple of times a year for a few days of rest, relaxation and recreation. In March, the vets come to ski. The visits are made possible by individual and corporate donations, and the vets are usually greeted by enthusiastic school kids when they fly into the local airport.

– Denver artist Patrick Marold sold Vail’s town council on the wisdom of putting up 2,700 “windmills” on the Vail Golf Course. Each of the windmills, which at one point were supposed to be visible from I-70 but never were, had its own tiny wind generator and LED light, ostensibly to create a delightful effect at night.

Since many people never could figure out where the windmills were, there were lots of questions about the wisdom of Vail spending $100,000 on the project. Public art supporters claim the windmills, wherever the heck they were, created a buzz in the art world.

– Dan Gibbs of Summit County, Eagle County’s representative in the Colorado House of Representatives, sponsored a bill increasing fines for truckers who don’t chain up during blizzards, then cause traffic accidents. The bill passed and was signed into law.

– Someone called the Red Lion with a bomb threat, emptying the bar after 10: 30 p.m. on a Monday night. No bombs were found, the restaurant opened as scheduled the next day, and police said they had some “strong leads” in the case.

– The government reform known as “home rule” was headed back to the ballot. Votes from the all-mail election were to be counted in April.

– A man who stopped suddenly to let a man on crutches cross the parking lot into Avon’s City Market store probably wished he’d kept rolling. As the driver walked into the store, the man on crutches confronted him, and, ultimately, whacked the driver with a crutch. The grumpy, hobbled man got a ticket for assault for his trouble.

– Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital, a Texas-based development team, got an important (but not final) thumbs-up to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure. The proposal includes two hotels, condos, public parking, a “transit center” for buses, a conference center, shops, restaurants, and probably a petting zoo (not really).

People around Lionshead said they were worried about another several years of construction, where all the new commercial activity would find workers, and, yes, if there’d be enough parking before and after the project was finished.

Later in the year, the company also submitted the winning proposal to rebuild the Timber Ridge apartments.

– The county lost a couple of its kids within days of each other, both in car crashes.

Battle Mountain High School graduate Andy Given, 20, was killed in a crash in downtown Denver.

Eagle Valley High School graduate Jake Brock, 19, and his girlfriend Jennifer Kois, also 19, were killed in Grand Junction when a car driven by Patrick Strawmatt slammed into their vehicle.

Strawmatt, who was drunk at the time of the crash, was ultimately sentenced to 72 years in prison.

– Organizers of the annual Spring Back to Vail concerts announced they had hammered out a deal to bring Kid Rock to headline the events.

– A raccoon crawled into a power transformer in Avon about 10:45 p.m. one chilly March night. Crawling around, the raccoon caught the wrong thing at the wrong time, knocking out power to parts of Avon, Eagle-Vail and Minturn. The raccoon didn’t survive.

– A woman pulled over for speeding through a school zone in Avon rolled down her window, and that old, familiar “strong odor of marijuana” hit the cop’s nostrils. The officer found some weed, and the woman told him he and his mates should smoke it instead of destroying it, because it was really good stuff.

– After first proposing that developers building in Vail dedicate 30 percent of all new homes to affordable housing, the town council approved a new rule that shaved the affordable housing requirement down to 10 percent. Council member Mark Gordon called it a “great night for Vail.”

Critics, including real estate brokers, questioned the fairness of the new rules.

– Even while Beaver Creek homeowners prepared to sue Vail Resorts to stop a proposed alpine slide there, the resort company announced it would build a similar ride at Adventure Ridge, at the top of the Lionshead gondola. Since the neighbors to the Vail ride can only squeak, squawk and bugle, and can’t afford lawyers, no legal action to stop the project was expected.

– In downvalley news, the proposed Eagle River Station commercial and residential project has had an up-and-down ride. Residents who organized to stop a similar project on about 400 acres of land just east of Eagle remain mobilized, but a smaller group, calling itself “Eye on Eagle” started looking for residents who thought the commercial project was a good idea.

Howard Tuthill, owner of Columbine Market in Gypsum, was seriously injured in a one-car auto accident near Wolcott April 3. Tuthill spent a few weeks in the hospital. In the summer, he attended Gypsum Days in a wheelchair. He’s still on the mend, but is walking now. You might say he’s a pretty tough customer.

– Chair 10 at Vail rattled uphill for the last time on April 15. The lift, also called Highline, was taken out to make way for a new, speedy, four-person lift that cuts the ride time up to some expert runs, including Highline, from 28 to 14 minutes.

– Another auto accident claimed a local’s life. Linda Beagley, 65, of Eagle, was driving near Grand Junction when her car veered off I-70 and rolled twice. Police reports indicated high winds in the area may have been a factor in the crash.

– Vail officials were threatening to condemn the property that held the closed Wendy’s restaurant. Town officials wanted to buy the property to make more room for a fire station.

– Crossroads, Vail’s dumpy old shopping center, was finally falling to the wrecking ball to make way for a new, improved project called Solaris. Crossroads’ demise left commercial tenants with mixed emotions. Some moved their shops. Others, including Ruth Moran of The Stitchery, retired.

In a story about Crossroads’ last days, Moran recalled movie star Gregory Peck among her early alteration clients. Another time, composer Henry Mancini needed some emergency tuxedo repairs before a concert in Aspen.

At the old Crossroads Theater, the last show was something special: A showing of “The Last Picture Show,” a movie about closing the last movie theater in a small western town.

– Christmas was months past, but there’s apparently always time to play Scrooge. That’s what a lot of people thought when the Avon Town Council decided it could no longer afford to run bus service to the Buffalo Ridge apartments, the “affordable” rental units close to I-70.

Residents complained. Council members said Traer Creek, the development company that brought us Wal-Mart and the Home Depot, should pay for the service. Traer Creek officials said they were under no obligation to do anything of the sort.

The buses stopped running.

– After voters turned down a request for a $3 million tax hike to pay for early childhood programs, the county commissioners first tried to find $1.6 million for those programs out of existing budgets. They finally found $800,000, and the chorus of “But we told you no!” continued.

– A crew from the Vail Daily set out to find out how polite, or not, valley residents are.

One person would drop a sheaf of papers, or try to hobble through a door on crutches, then see if anyone offered to help. Not one person offered help in Edwards, while folks in Eagle seemed more willing to take a moment to help.

– Police got a call about a car speeding and weaving on I-70 near Edwards. When police stopped the car, an officer discovered the driver was drinking shots of tequila while driving to Denver for a court date on a drunken driving charge.

– Chris Cessna, a popular English teacher at Eagle Valley High School, died in April after a long battle with cancer. Students praised their former teacher as someone who meant it when she asked how they were doing.

– Flo Steinberg, the wife of Vail’s first full-time doctor, Tom Steinberg, and a local institution in her own right, died at her daughter’s home in Alamosa. She was 83.

– The valley’s annual cleanup day was a big success, with upwards of 1,000 volunteers participating. One mother-daughter team hoped they could break their record for picking up cigarette butts from the side of the road. The duo had picked up more than 400 butts the year before.

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