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Colorado redistricting commission applications available starting Aug. 10

Applications will open Aug. 10 for Colorado’s first Independent Congressional and Legislative Redistricting Commissions.

The group has launched a new website for all things Colorado redistricting:

https://redistricting.colorado.gov. Subscribe to the mailing list for updates, and commission staff will also be tweeting @CORedistricting.

The group is currently soliciting comments about the redistricting commission applications. Draft

applications can be viewed at the website, and there is also a link to provide written comments. Written comments will be accepted through Aug. 5. 

Those wishing to testify in person about the applications may do so at a July 31 public meeting with commission staff. The meeting is set for 10 a.m. at the Old State Library in the Colorado State Capitol.

Social distancing practices will be followed for this hearing, and anyone wishing to testify can sign up in advance on the website.

Commission staff is also seeking partner organizations to promote the commission applications and encourage participation from diverse communities. For more information, email colorado.redistricting2020@state.co.us.

Glenwood Canyon work will bring new lane closures soon

For westbound motorists in Glenwood Canyon departing from Shoshone (mile post 123) or Grizzly Creek Rest Area (mile post 121), expect intermittent single-lane closures for the next several weeks. 

On weekdays, this section of road typically experiences low traffic volumes. Weekends see increased traffic volumes. Sundays from 12 to 7 p.m. are the highest, when planning an additional hour for travel is recommended. Remember to follow posted signs and go slow for the cone zone to keep yourself and construction crews safe.

The head-to-head detour with single lane traffic remains in effect Mondays-Thursdays and Fridays before 1 p.m.

Vail town government asks for input from website users

The town of Vail is inviting feedback from users of its municipal website, VailGov.com, to help shape future improvements.

A short, 10-question survey has been posted to the website with opportunities to comment on user-friendliness, ease of navigation and improvement ideas.  

The survey is live through Monday, Aug. 10, and the more responses received, the better the end result will be. 

The town will incorporate feedback from the survey as it begins a comprehensive initiative to redesign the website to provide increased functionality, navigation and new customer-driven features. 

The town’s current website was designed in 2012 and is no longer equipped to accommodate service upgrades.  

If you’d like to be part of an online review panel to offer additional feedback, email Omar Jimenez, project manager, at ojimenez@vailgov.com. 

Avon town election petitions available starting Aug. 3

Nomination petitions for three openings on the Avon Town Council will be available at the Town Clerk’s Office, beginning the afternoon of Aug. 3.

Petitions will be available at Avon Town Hall, 100 Mikaela Way. Petitions may not be circulated until Aug. 4. The deadline for filing the petitions with the Avon Town Clerk is Aug. 24 by 5 p.m. 
 
The Nov. 3 election will be by general mail ballot only. The election is being coordinated with the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
 
The two seats available are currently held by Jennie Fancher and Jake Wolf, both of whom are term-limited. One seat is currently held by Amy Phillips, who is eligible to run for another term.
 
To be eligible for election, candidates must be 18 years of age on the date of the election, a citizen of the United States, a qualified elector, and have resided within the town of Avon for a period of at least 12 consecutive months preceding the date of the election.
 
For more information, call the Avon Town Clerk’s Office at 970-748-4001 or go to www.Avon.org/elections. For general election information, call the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office at 970-328-8715 or go to www.eaglecounty.us/Clerk/.

Eagle County joins Garfield, Pitkin counties in joint COVID testing strategy

Public health departments in Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties are coordinating their regional testing strategies for COVID-19. Testing is a key containment strategy to slow the spread of the disease. 

Surges in cases nationwide are stressing the testing components supply chain and the capacity at state and commercial labs cannot keep up with the demand, often delaying results by up to eight days. A regional testing strategy will focus resources to decrease disease burden while supporting the needs of local communities. Health officials are seeking to improve capacity and decrease turn-around times, ideally so test results are available within 48 hours, maximizing their utility.

The following testing strategy is being implemented until state and commercial laboratory capacity can achieve consistent turnaround times of 48 hours or less.

Who should test?

  • People with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath. 
  • People with symptoms and who are at greater risk for severe disease, including hospitalization and death (65 years of age or older or who have chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, are immunocompromised, are pregnant, or are otherwise considered at high risk by a licensed healthcare provider).
  • People who are hospitalized with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case, as defined and recommended by a local public health agency.
  • People within congregate settings where there may be a broader exposure to COVID-19 as determined by a local public health agency.

Who shouldn’t test?

Testing is not routinely recommended for:

  • People who do not have symptoms and no known close contact exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case.
  • People who are preparing to travel or recently returned from travel that do not have symptoms.
  • Employees who do not have a known close contact exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case.
  • People who are worried, but do not have a close contact exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case and do not have symptoms.
  • People who have been confirmed previously and are being retested for release from isolation.

Antibody testing

If you are currently sick, antibody testing cannot determine if that sickness is COVID-19.

Antibody tests measure whether you have antibodies from a virus, which only occurs after you have already recovered. 

These tests should not be done until the patient has been without symptoms for at least seven days and does not have a fever.

These tests indicate if a person previously had COVID-19 and whether or not they have the antibodies.

A positive antibody test does not provide complete assurance at this time that someone will be protected from a future COVID-19 infection and people should continue to take precautions and adhere to Eagle County’s “Five Commitments of Containment” — maintaining distance, frequent hand-washing, wearing face coverings in public, staying home when sick and immediate testing if someone shows symptoms.

With the exception of specific clinical scenarios, antibody testing is not used to diagnose active COVID-19 disease.

“We cannot test and trace our way out of this pandemic,” said Heath Harmon, director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment. “We need greater compliance on prevention measures from all people in our communities, regardless of whether they are locals or visitors.”  

Public health officials from all three counties stressed the need for community members to work collectively to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and how individual behaviors have a direct impact on the whole community. Individual precautions can allow businesses to stay open, keep the local workforce employed, help open schools, set the stage for a winter that may see ski resorts open again, protect the most vulnerable residents and save lives.

A map of testing locations in Eagle County is available at https://sites.google.com/eaglecounty.us/covidtestingsites/home. Testing information for Garfield County is available at https://www.garfield-county.com/public-health/covid-19-testing/. Testing information for Pitkin County is available at https://covid19.pitkincounty.com/i-want-to/#get-tested.

Vail, Children’s Garden of Learning work to find common ground

A move is likely for Vail’s Children’s Garden of Learning. But the final destination has yet to be determined.

The facility’s home for a number of years has been a town-owned site just west of the Middle Creek Village apartments. Town officials are looking closely at that site as a spot for workforce housing, perhaps to replace the already-approved Booth Heights project in East Vail.

At this point, the Vail Gymnastics center, just east of Red Sandstone Elementary School, is getting most of the attention as an alternate site. A possible renovation could add a third story to that structure, with child care operations on the first and third floors. The second floor would continue to be operated by the Vail Recreation District.

That idea has raised a number of questions, particularly about access and, more importantly, getting out in the event of an emergency.

In a June 18 letter to town officials, the Children’s Garden of Learning Board of Directors expressed its gratitude to the town, but noted a number of potential problems with the Vail Gymnastics Center site.

The biggest is emergency exits for more than 50 kids between the ages of 1 and 5. Traffic is another concern since the elementary school and child care facility share many of the same pick-up and drop-off times.

Snow storage is another issue, as is the location of a playground for the child care facility.

Town staff and Town Council members have said they’re seeking a “win-win” solution for both the town and the child care facility.

“We would never do anything that would cause any risk or harm,” councilmember Kim Langmaid said at the council’s June 16 meeting.

Vail Housing Director George Ruther at that meeting echoed Langmaid’s comments, saying that life safety issues are “paramount.” Those issues, along with traffic, licensing and emergency vehicle access are “the very basis of what’s driving our design work.”

All the parties talk about making the Vail Gymnastics Center site work.

In the June 18 letter, the Children’s Garden board notes that while the “shared concerns are as valid as they are significant, we do not believe them to be insurmountable.”

In a telephone interview, board member Maren Ceremele acknowledged that the board understands the facility will have to move. In fact, the town has notified Children’s Garden that its lease will expire in September of 2021. The Children’s Garden board has asked for an extension of that date.

Ceremele said the goal is to keep the Children’s Garden in the town of Vail.

If the Vail Gymnastics Center site won’t work and another site in Vail can’t be found, the center may have to look outside the town boundaries for a site. But that seems to be a less-likely possibility at this point.

Ceremele said the “first and foremost goal” is to make the situation a “win-win” for both the town and the Children’s Garden. That means making the Vail Gymnastics Center site work if at all possible.

“We understand that housing is important, but there needs to be a good balance to have a vibrant town, Ceremele said.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District has a new district ranger

The White River National Forest has named Leanne Veldhuis as the new Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger. Veldhuis will oversee the management of more than 60 employees and 652,000 acres of some of the most visited National Forest System lands in the country, including Hanging Lake, the Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas and three wilderness areas.

Veldhuis will assume her new role in mid-July. She is currently a national partnership coordinator at the Forest Service national headquarters, where she is a liaison to various national partners and manages the Secure Rural Schools program in support of rural economic development.

“Leanne brings the experience of working on high visitation, complex forests and of working at multiple levels of the Forest Service,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest Supervisor. “She will be a great fit for the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District.” 

Prior to her time in Washington D.C., Veldhuis served in special uses on the Zigzag Ranger District of Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon and as a Presidential Management Fellow for the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. She has held temporary assignments as the deputy chief of staff for the Office of the Chief, as the deputy forest supervisor on El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico during post-Hurricane Maria recovery, and as the recreation and public affairs staff officer for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. 

“The Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District is an incredible area of the world — I feel fortunate to become a part of it and to play a leadership role in managing such complex, diverse challenges and priorities,” Veldhuis said. “And of course, I can’t wait to get out on the forest.”

Veldhuis has a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a bachelor’s degree in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is originally from Michigan. Her hobbies include hiking, skiing, rock climbing, biking, and wildlife photography.

Vail Interfaith Chapel begins to reopen for church services

The Vail Religious Foundation has opened the Vail Interfaith Chapel for worship services for in-person liturgical events, such as Sunday worship with less than 50 individuals in the building.

Two of the six Vail Religious Foundation member congregations will hold services there this weekend, including Covenant Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m. and Mountain Community Church (Baptist) at 7 p.m. Deep cleaning will take place in between services.

Located on Vail Road across the street from the Sonnenalp Hotel and adjacent to FirstBank, the Vail Interfaith Chapel has remained largely closed since March 16 due to Eagle County and state of Colorado gathering restrictions. 

Pastor Tim Wilbanks of Covenant Presbyterian Church, and the President of the Vail Religious Foundation Board of Directions, said that the chapel is open daily for prayer and solitude from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

“It is open for individuals who will adhere to the strict guidelines for social distancing and health protection as outlined on signs at the entrance and according to their congregation’s rules and regulations,” Wilbanks said. “Congregants should contact their church to find out more information.”

The other four member congregations not yet using the chapel for worship services include B’Nai Vail, the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church of Minturn, and Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church. Announcements will be made when these congregations are comfortable or able to hold in-person worship services.

“The Episcopal Church of Colorado dictates when our congregation is able to gather again, and lags about two weeks behind what state requirements are,” said Mother Emily Lukanich, Vicar for the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. “With a congregation of over 500 members, a significant portion of whom are at risk in age, we will cautiously approach in-person worship services as dictated by our Diocese.”

B’Nai Vail Rabbi Joel Newman said, “75% of our members have indicated they are not ready to attend in-person Shabbat services. B’Nai Vail will not be ready to utilize the Vail Interfaith Chapel’s space until this fall at the earliest, after the community has had a chance to absorb the re-opening and based on health restrictions at that time.”

Founded in 1963, the Vail Religious Foundation was formed to guide the new community of Vail in constructing a mountain chapel dedicated solely to worship and community service. A new concept at the time, the foundation worked together and broke ground on the Vail Interfaith Chapel in 1968. The chapel is a center for Vail’s community life, offering cultural events, meeting space for several key nonprofits, classes, presentations, caucuses, and emergency shelter. 

Colorado Highway 82 over Independence Pass is open

Independence Pass on Colorado Highway 82 is open for the season. Approximately 65 vehicles were lined up at the Pitkin County gate on Monday, June 1, when Colorado Department of Transportation crews opened the gates on the seasonally closed highway.

Motorists, cyclists and other travelers will benefit from a smooth new driving surface. State transportation crews paved two sections of the roadway west of the pass, where the highway narrows to a single lane. The work was completed in late May, after the roadway was cleared of snow.

Like previous years, crews worked with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to perform avalanche mitigation in recent weeks, clearing slide paths that can impact the roadway. During paving and avalanche mitigation work, crews followed social distancing and face covering guidelines whenever possible, in compliance with health safety measures to reduce COVID-19 exposure on the worksite.


Due to tight curves, steep inclines and narrow lanes on some sections of the pass, commercial and recreational vehicles 35 feet or longer are prohibited. This includes vehicles and trailers with a combined length of more than 35 feet. These pass restrictions lie between Mile Point 47.2 (Aspen side) and Mile Point 84.2 (the Leadville/Twin Lakes side, about one mile west of the junction with U.S. Highway 24).

Motorists and cyclists are reminded to always check conditions prior to traveling mountain passes, as spring snowstorms can prompt closures or slow traffic.

Eagle County facilities begin to reopen starting June 1

Eagle County facilities and operations on June 1 will start a phased reopening for in-person services with required safety protocols. The buildings have been closed since March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new operating procedures and limited hours will be in effect until at least June 22, when the county tentatively plans to move into the black phase of its transition trail map.

Members of the public and all employees will be required to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing, as well as occupancy requirements. Those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition or otherwise feel uncomfortable are encouraged to conduct business over the phone, via email, or online at www.eaglecounty.us. Visitors should be aware that accessing in-person services may result in longer wait times.  

To comply with public health orders, a reduced number of employees will be working on site at all county facilities. The remainder will continue to work remotely until the public health guidance is revised.

In preparation for the phased reopening, the county has added plexiglass to public-facing work stations, increased cleaning schedules and added more sanitizer stations. The schedule for in-person services beginning June 1 is:

Eagle County Building

Location: 500 Broadway, Eagle

Hours: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Services

Administration

Assessor

Clerk and Recorder:

  • Elections, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Liquor licensing, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. By appointment, call 970-328-8718.
  • Motor vehicle (for transactions that cannot be completed online), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesday; vehicle license plate renewals can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by mail, or by dropping off in the 24-hour ballot box on the east side of the building.
  • Recording (document recording, public search, marriage licenses), 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment. To make an appointment call 970-328-8723. 

Community Development (planning and building): Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to noon.

Engineering: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to noon.

Environmental Health: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to noon.

Treasurer

El Jebel

Location: El Jebel Community Center, 0020 Eagle County Drive, El Jebel

Hours: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Services

Clerk and Recorder:

  • Motor Vehicle (for transactions that cannot be completed online) ), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesdays; vehicle license plate renewals can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by mail, or by dropping off in a 24-hour ballot box.
  • Recording (document recording, public search, marriage licenses), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesdays, by appointment, call 970-328-9570.

Building: Permits can be dropped off Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Customers will be alerted when permits are available for pick-up. 

Avon

Location: Avon, 100 West Beaver Creek Blvd. #107, Avon,

Hours: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Services

Clerk and Recorder: Motor Vehicle (for transactions that cannot be completed online), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesdays; vehicle license plate renewals can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by mail, or by dropping off in a 24-hour ballot box.

Other areas

  • Eagle County Animal Shelter, 1400 Fairgrounds Road, Eagle, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Eagle River Center, Eagle County Fairgrounds, 0794 Fairgrounds Road, Eagle
  • Boat ramps, Fishing is Fun, disc golf, and public restrooms. 
  • Freedom Park Spray Park and public restrooms will be open June 1.
  • Eagle County Justice Center, 885 Chambers Ave, Eagle, open with limited services. 
  • VIN inspections at the Justice Center, by appointment, call 970-376-7060.   
  • Vail Transportation Center (ECO Transit) will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

Additionally, Public Health and Human Services will be operating on an appointment-only basis in the county’s Eagle, Avon, and El Jebel locations by calling 970-328-8840.

Healthy Aging senior meals are being offered via takeout or home delivery. To arrange for meal delivery in the El Jebel area, call 970-379-0020. In the lower Eagle River Valley from Dotsero to Eagle, call 970-328-8896. In the upper Eagle River Valley from Wolcott to Vail, call 970-328-8831. Take-out and pickup is also available at all three locations.

In addition, Eagle County has developed procedures for public meetings and hearings that allow for constituent participation beginning June 2. 

 For more details and office- and department-specific updates, go to www.eaglecounty.us.