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Peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter planned tonight in Vail

In the announcement of the Vail Valley Peace March planned in support of Black Lives Matter — slated for tonight at 6 p.m. starting at the Covered Bridge in Vail — organizer Carrie Unthank Ruedisueli acknowledged that Eagle County is pretty far removed from the uprisings happening in metropolitan areas nationwide in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

But that doesn’t mean local residents should be consigned to complacence, she argues.

“This is for those of you who feel a little too quiet and cozy up here in our privileged bubble at a time like this, those of you who want to show recognition to the good cops with our local police force, those of you who want accountability held for any discrimination or corruption of any kind in the justice system by setting a standard, and most importantly those of you who want to send a message to the black community in our country that we hear their pain and our community stands with them with deep respect, strongly against racism,” reads her Facebook announcement.

In response, local law enforcement officers including representatives from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Avon Police Department, Eagle Police Department, and Vail Police Department have accepted the invitation to participate in the march.

A Letter from the Eagle County Law Enforcement Eagle County Community, eight minutes and forty-six seconds. That's…

Posted by Vail Police Department on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

“We as the law enforcement community were shocked and appalled by the treatment of Mr. Floyd. It goes against all our training,” said Sheriff James van Beek in an interview Wednesday morning. “All of us view what happened as a criminal act. It was gross negligence at the very least.”

With national outrage over the incident spreading to the Vail Valley, van Beek said local law enforcement wants to capitalize on the long-standing relationships officers forged with community members.

“We felt that we have worked very hard in this valley, as law enforcement, with community residents to really build bridges,” he said. “This incident really makes us all realize we haven’t come as far as we think we have. We need to continue to work.”

The expectations for tonight’s march are clear. Voices are welcome, violence is not. Ruedisueli specified that protesters are encouraged to bring signs and in this age of COVID-19, everyone is encouraged to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Children are welcome to participate.

“This gathering is about using our voices in unity and should be a peaceful demonstration of love to all races and walks of life,” Ruedisueli stated.

Tonight’s march is the second march this week in Vail. On Sunday, a crowd off around 50 people participated in a march organized by Zack Varon.

Open for Business: The Fitz

Name of business: The Fitz      

Physical address: Manor Vail Lodge 595 Vail Valley Drive Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-476-4959

Email: marketing@manorvail.com     

Website: www.thefitzbar.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are offering a limited high-quality menu that includes local ingredients and beverages that are prepared and packaged safely for any customer to take with them on our outdoor patio, Ford Park, or Manor Vail Lodge gardens. Both car parking and bike parking are available on-site.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

We have streamlined the ordering process by reducing touch points with a digital menu board and packaging items in to-go compostable containers. Guests can simply order by phone or at the bar. We will either deliver the order to their table outside on the patio or package their items so they can take them wherever they go.

How can the community support you?

We welcome the community to come by for lunch or dinner and enjoy our outdoor patio or order takeout.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Our website and social media (Instagram and Facebook @theFitzVail)

What’s the response been?

Our staff members are eager and excited to welcome guests and locals back to our establishment to enjoy great food, local beverages and the great outdoors.

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

We are evaluating our operations and procedures on a weekly basis to make our customers and staff members remain safe and healthy. With our large outdoor patio and proximity to Ford Park, we are encouraging guests to dine outside whenever possible instead of dining inside, as space is limited.

Cautious budgeting, an upswing in tax revenue spares Eagle from deep cuts

Eagle has the kinds of problems most towns want in the COVID-19 era.

Like all governments, Eagle’s tax revenue is taking a beating — forecast to drop 21% this year. Unlike many governments, Eagle’s actual budget cuts will be relatively thin, the town council learned in a budget work session.

A combination of conservative budgeting and an upswing in tax revenue late last year will make cuts less draconian.

“The town of Eagle has been investing in its future for the last decade,” Eagle Town Councilmember Matt Solomon said.

Eagle’s budget by the numbers

For now Eagle is projecting its general fund sales tax revenue will be down 21% from last year. That means the Town Council needs to find $1.5 million.

Councilmembers know right where to look and they won’t have to look far.

The Eagle Town Council projected 2% sales tax growth in 2019, but ended the year on a strong upswing partially because the town started collecting sales taxes for online sales, according to the town’s financials.

Because of conservative budgeting and those unanticipated tax revenues in 2019, and because officials were already preparing for an economic slowdown, the town has “a very healthy general fund balance,” Town Manager Brandy Reitter said.

In other words, officials have some extra money in the bank.

Eagle’s policy is to keep 25% of its annual operating expenses on hand. Because the town did not spend some of the money it had planned to, and because it saw some tax revenue it had not planned on, the general fund balance is 37%.

So, councilmembers will find their $1.5 million in at least three ways:

  • They won’t transfer $750,000 transfer from the general fund to the capital improvements fund, and they’ll postpone some projects and events.
  • They’ll use $500,000 from their fund balance.
  • They’ll still have to cut $250,000 from the general fund budget.

Colorado governor extends, modifies safer-at-home order until July 1

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday extended his safer-at-home coronavirus directive until July 1 with some modifications giving more leeway for the state’s older residents.

“It may feel like we are getting back to normal, but the virus is still here, and it could surge back the moment we let our guard down,” Polis said in a written statement. “We are still far from normal. Coloradans have to remain diligent, and must continue staying home or in the great outdoors away from others as much as possible, wearing masks when we leave the house, and washing our hands.”

The safer-at-home period, during which restaurants and shops have been allowed to reopen, was set to expire on Monday night.

The changes to the safer-at-home order come even as health care experts warn that data points toward a possible coronavirus resurgence in Colorado. Health experts are worried that crowds gathering to protest the death of George Floyd, the man who died last week at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, could lead to an increase in infections.

Polis changed the safer-at-home directive to allow people age 65 or older or with preexisting conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus to visit parks and recreate outdoors as long as they wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet from others.

Read the full story about the extensions, modification of Colorado’s stay-at-home order via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Polis signs new safer-at-home order, which permits short-term rentals

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Monday, June 1, transitioning safer-at-home messaging to “Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors.” In a news release, Polis said that while Coloradans are still safer at home, they can practice greater social distancing outdoors than in confined indoor spaces.

The new order also permits short-term rentals to open as of Monday, June 1, under the guidance of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The guidance asks that renters provide hand sanitizer and/or soap and water and cleaning products to guests as well as remove soft objects that are difficult to regularly clean, such as decorative pillows.

The document includes guidance for thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing rental spaces between guest use, guidance for management of the space such as providing flexible cancellation policies in case guests need to cancel due to an onset of symptoms, and guidance for guests. 

The state health department also has released draft guidance for houses of worship, outdoor recreation and personal recreation and is soliciting feedback on the drafts. Feedback is due at noon Wednesday, June 3, and can be submitted at COVID19.Colorado.gov.

The state also has updated guidance for child care and personal services, which include a limit of 50 people at a time or a maximum of 50% occupancy in personal-service facilities and the allowance that child care facilities can operate under their Department of Human Services license occupancy. These updates will go into effect Thursday, June 4.

Playgrounds and swimming pools can open at limited capacity according to the release.

Open for Business: Root & Flower

Name of business: Root & Flower

Physical address: 288 Bridge Street Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-470-4189

Email: hello@rootandflowervail.com

Website: www.rootandflowervail.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are open Mondays through Thursdays from 4 p.m.-12 a.m. and Fridays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. serving brunch on the weekends. To-go cocktails, wine and food are still available. All of our menus are updated and current on our website.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

We are still virtual! Our virtual wine tasting classes on Fridays will continue through June. Go to our website to view the classes and book your spot.

How can the community support you?

The community can best support us by coming in to see us, ordering take out or buying gift cards.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Instagram and Facebook are the best ways to stay up to date with our offerings.

What’s the response been?

The response to our virtual classes, our takeout offerings and our new food menu has been amazing!

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

Plans going forward are just to stay true to our brand and be creative!

Frontline Fund Colorado helps essential workers by providing gift cards to local businesses

It’s no secret that essential workers have experienced the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they’re treating patients or keeping things running as smoothly as possible. Two Eagle County residents created a new non-profit to help those workers: Frontline Fund Colorado.

Frontline Fund Colorado was founded by Carrie Calvin and Jill Coyle, spouses of local firefighters, and sells merchandise with local flair: stickers that say “Eagle County Strong,” tees with mountains and pine trees, koozies and water bottles with bike chains. All proceeds from merchandise sales are used to purchase gift cards from local businesses and given to front line workers.

The “Eagle County Strong” stickers are just one of several products consumers can buy. Funds from all purchases are used to purchase gift cards, which are donated to essential workers.
Special to the Daily

“We wanted to create something people wanted to wear, were proud to wear, that also pumped the dollar through our local economy and to those who need more support during hard times,” said Coyle.

The fund is using a broad definition of essential worker in order to help as many people as possible. Coyle said they want to help any individuals and immediate families who have been “negatively impacted because they are mandated to continue working to provide necessities we need in order to live during a pandemic.” That includes workers in the following industries: grocery, healthcare, first responders, postal service, veterinary, plumbing and more.

Firefighter John Bailey (left) with fiancée Jill Coyle. Coyle contracted COVID-19 and that made her desire to give back even stronger.
Special to the Daily

While work on the Frontline Fund was in its early stages, Coyle tested positive for COVID-19. She said she was sick for three weeks, though her symptoms never prompted a hospital visit. Her care providers instructed her to isolate, take Tylenol and hydrate. During that whole time, she kept thinking about those who are high-risk for the virus and those who experienced worse symptoms than she did.

“I am 31 years old, active and healthy… and it took me down,” she said. “It made it clear that we needed to do something more to help.”

Firefighter Tom Calvin (left) and wife Carrie Calvin. Carrie took the reigns on the Frontline Fund Colorado project while her co-founder Coyle recovered from COVID-19.

While Coyle was sick, Calvin took the reins on the project and started setting up designs and the website back end. Both founders work in marketing, and they wanted to the money as local as they could, so they hired Eagle-based Say No More Promotions to do the merchandise.

Now that the fund has launched, customers and those wishing to make cash donations can head to frontlinefundcolorado.org to purchase and donate. Essential workers can apply to receive gift cards from local businesses online, and get additional information by contacting the fund directly. People can also nominate loved ones they feel would benefit from Frontline Fund’s service.

Gourmet on Gore, Labor Day food tasting festival, canceled for 2020

This year’s Gourmet on Gore has been canceled due to public health guidelines and government direction surrounding large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The food tasting event, scheduled for Labor Day weekend in Vail Village, will return with familiar programming and updated offerings next year, from Sept. 3-5.

“Gourmet on Gore has been a staple on Labor Day weekend and a tradition for the past 14 years featuring some of the best creations from Vail Valley chefs and restaurants paired with fantastic wines, beer and spirits. Although Gourmet on Gore will be missed this year, we know the health and safety for our guests who travel from near and far is most important” said James Deighan, Managing Partner for Highline, which organizes the event.

Open for Business: Up the Creek

Name of business: Up the Creek

Physical address: 223 E Gore Creek Dr.

Phone number: 970-476-8141

Email: Info@vailupthecreek.com

Website: www.vailupthecreek.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are offering a limited menu that can be found on our website on Thursdays-Mondays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for both dine-in and takeout.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

Our goal is to make our customers feel safe while enjoying their dining experience. Our staff will be masked and in gloves and sanitizing all high use areas and items after every use. Tables and walkways will be at least six feet apart and if our guests have any requests to make them feel safer we will try our best to always accommodate those requests.

How can the community support you?

We want our guests to feel safe and comfortable dining again. The best way they can support us is to come have a meal, enjoy a cocktail on our beautiful deck and tell their friends about the experience they had at Up The Creek. If dining at our restaurant isn’t an option we are offering all of our menu and drinks to go.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Our social media pages, Instagram and Facebook, as well as our website will be the best way to stay up to date on our menu and operating hours.

What’s the response been?

The response from our community has been great. People have been getting to-go food and picnicking on our lawn as well as enjoying our new dine-in option. 

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

As the “new normal ” evolves we are looking for new ways for our guests to enjoy their experience. Whether that entails them dining in, picnicking on our lawn, or something we’ve never tried before such as pairing dining and an activity like yoga and apps. We will continue running our restaurant safely and conscious of keeping our staff and guests in good health.

One week into eased restrictions, Eagle County businesses feeling optimistic

Eagle County is one week into its blue phase of COVID-19 recovery. Depending on how the blue phase goes, the county may move on to the black diamond phase before July 1, according to local health officials.

Common themes among local business owners during the blue phase include “staying vigilant” and taking it “day-by-day.” Added health measures are being taken and businesses are slowly moving toward some form of normalcy while still maintaining guidelines set forth by community leaders and health officials.

The great outdoors

Outdoor, recreational businesses are seeing more customers and raising their sanitation efforts to help customers feel safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 through the community.

Zip Adventures of Vail in Wolcott has been operating tours for locals since May 15. The company has also been donating tours to local frontline workers and emergency personnel.

“We’re just trying to get them out and give them some relief,” owner Matt Seatvet said.

With the blue phase, Zip Adventures has been able to work with outside guests, using “every safety precaution possible,” Seatvet said.

Operations are outside, where social distancing is possible, and Zip Adventures is welcoming families and expecting an influx in out-of-state visitors.

“People are coming — it’s 110 degrees in Texas,” Seatvet said.

At Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards, business is getting busier every day, said Emily Dmohowski. When the blue phase started, the local fishing company could start its outfitting business, offering guided trips. Dmohowski said the shop is expecting an uptick in out-of-state residents later in the summer.

“I think people are just excited to get outside,” she said, adding a lot of first-timers are coming in. “We’re seeing a huge uptick in people who never touched a fly rod coming in.”

Vail Valley Anglers offers guided trips and tips for beginners and has been in the valley for over 25 years.

“We’re seeing a lot more people wanting to try the sport,” Dmohowski said, adding that “fishing’s been pretty good” lately in Eagle County.

Local golf courses are open. Among the protocols are cleaning golf carts after each use, no pulling the pin and the addition of foam pool noodles in the hole to make it safer to retrieve the ball. Tee times have been filling up quickly.

Kind Bikes in Edwards is continuing its curbside service into the blue phase, despite being allowed to have in-store service. Owner Chris Anderson said it’s too difficult to control sanitation inside the shop with people touching things, and the curbside allows the shop to handle more customers since inside would require extra distancing measures.

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“Bikes were the new toilet paper six weeks ago,” he said of the business his shop has seen. “Bike shops are very, very fortunate. We don’t go a day without being grateful for the business that we have.”

Everybody loves tacos

Another thankful business is Rocky Mountain Taco, having opened its brick-and-mortar location in Minturn at an inopportune time as coronavirus hit.

“It’s actually doing OK,” co-owner Dan Purtell said. “It’s not what we’d hoped for initially, but no one’s doing the business that they would normally be doing. I think we just got really lucky we landed in Minturn because the town’s completely embraced us.”

Rocky Mountain Taco also has truck locations in EagleVail and Avon. Like many businesses, the down time due to COVID-19 was used toward ramping up a new menu, cleaning and other operations to prepare. Purtell said it’s not fun wearing a mask over a 450-degree grill for hours.

“We’re being vigilant,” he said, a sentiment shared at most businesses across the valley. “It’s not about you. We’re doing this for everyone.”

While national media was filled with crowded beaches and other non-social-distancing events, businesses in Eagle County are taking the re-opening of the community very seriously.

“Things are looking up,” Dmohowski said.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.