Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summit Choral Society performs at Carnegie Hall in New York

#Breckenridge, Colorado

The summer repertoire for the Summit Choral Society contains a suspicious number of New York-themed pieces.
Or perhaps it’s not so mysterious to see the likes of “New York, New York,” “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “New York State of Mind” on this season’s set list when you consider the group recently traveled to the Big Apple to perform at Carnegie Hall.
The little chorus from Summit joined forces with a handful of other choirs from all over the country, under the direction of composer John Rutter and in the company of a full orchestra, to perform Brahms’ Requiem on one of the most famous stages in the world.
The experience was absolutely fantastic and unbelievable, said Joni Thieme-Weinberg, trip chairman for the Choral Society. Thieme-Weinberg lived in New York for eight years when she was younger, occasionally performing in off-Broadway shows in the evenings.
“When I lived there, I sang at a lot of different places, but not at Carnegie Hall,” she said. “It’s very well-known, and when you are standing there on the stage inside this huge, cavernous building with all of the balconies and boxes and the sound — about 160 of us singing from nine different choral groups.”
Twenty-seven members of the Summit County group made the trip, working for months under director Jill Schroeder-Dorn to learn the intricacies of one of Brahms’ great works.
“As trip chairman, I give up; there’s nothing else I can do to top it,” Thieme-Weinberg said.
Excited from the start
Thieme-Weinberg said the first person to sign up for the New York trip was Tina Oberheide.
“I don’t normally sing with the Summit Choral Society,” Oberheide said. “I usually sing with our church choir at Lord of the Mountains, and Joni does, too. She approached me in the fall and said that the Choral Society needed sopranos for the trip.”
Oberheide said she jumped up and down a couple of times at the idea.
“To go to Carnegie Hall and sing there, to go to New York and the conductor — to be given that opportunity was thrilling for me,” she said. “The trip fulfilled every wish we dreamed of. It was a trip to be cherished.”
There’s a saying, Oberheide said, that when someone asks you how you get to perform at Carnegie Hall, the answer is always practice, practice, practice, and the Summit Choral Society definitely put in the time practicing.
“We started in January, and we practiced every week and sometimes twice a week until it was time to leave,” she said. “And then we practiced in New York for four or five hours a day for the few days before. We were pretty ready.”
To finally see Carnegie Hall from a viewpoint that few get to experience was amazing, Oberheide said
“You go in a back way, and there are these plain waiting rooms in the back,” she said. “And you wait back there and then move on, but to look out at this incredible space, to look out and look up at mezzanines and how many people might be sitting there, and to hear the acoustics is spectacular and to be in New York City — and Carnegie Hall is very famous, so to be performing there is special.”
A life-changing trip
For Jonah Brooke, a tenor in the Summit Choral Society, going to New York was the culmination of a completely magical and miraculous series of events. Brooke had been playing in bands as a singer-songwriter for several years but had never been part of a choir when he moved to Summit County a few years ago.
“I was telling a co-worker that I needed to do more with music,” he said. “I had just joined a church and was baptized in August with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I thought I should be more involved with music and singing.”
The co-worker directed Brooke to the Summit Choral society, which he joined in January soon after hearing about the group’s planned trip to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall.
“I talked to Joni, and she knew how excited I was about going and I had sort of corresponded with her and someone approached her wanting to help people go who may have been working really hard to put all of the finances together to get to go,” Brooke said. “And that was basically the moment where she mentioned me. Honestly, I still haven’t been able to thank those people in person who helped with that. This is my opportunity to thank them through this article.”
With the financial help, Brooke was able to travel with the choir to New York.
“It was truly magical,” he said. “There was an adrenaline rush; that was the reason that there was a difference in the singing for me. There were maybe 10 or 12 spots throughout the piece that were very technically and difficult to sing, and in that performance, for the first time for all those sections that were so difficult, I nailed it; I sang every one of them perfectly.”
Brooke said there was something about the space that encouraged perfection.
“It wasn’t demanding, but there was something about it that was nurturing,” he said. “It was so beautiful to be in that space and to be singing those notes surrounded by so many other talented people — in the choir and the orchestra and looking directly at John Rutter — and seeing all of these seats filled with people on such a special day. … Being in the space was empowering in the sense that it assisted you to sing better than you’ve ever sung before.”
Because of his involvement with music through his church and the Summit Choral Society, Brooke said he feels a calling to go back to school and study music.
“I haven’t applied to go back to school yet, but it’s definitely going to be the next chapter of my life,” he said. “And I couldn’t be more excited to go through that process and be able to share with the people that I meet while I’m in school and through the application process about the experience that I’ve had singing at Carnegie Hall, so it’s absolutely life changing.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Snake River Mountain Challenge festival returns to Keystone

#Keystone, Colorado

After an almost decadelong hiatus, the Snake River Mountain Challenge, presented by Warriors Cycling and the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series (RME), returns to Keystone Resort this weekend.
More than just a bike race, the weekend festival is chock-full of activities for all ages and abilities.
“It really does have something for everyone,” said Laura Parquette, spokeswoman for Keystone.
The event includes a number of competitive mountain bike races, ranging from mostly downhill to cross-country style courses. Parquette said the venue offers a variety of spectator opportunities and enough activities to keep the whole family busy. The festival will have a Kid Zone both days, with activities such as a bouncy house, face painting and kids’ races. There will also be live music, food, awards and a beer garden.
As far as the biking: “Saturday’s the competitive day; Sunday is the recreational day,” said RME event organizer Thane Wright.
Organizers say the Snake River Mountain Challenge will test riders’ stamina and endurance over a number of grueling cross-country courses that cover the entire Keystone Mountain Bike Park.
Wright said the mountain will shut down and be dedicated to racing on Saturday, with some high alpine trails that are usually reserved for hikers only.
Saturday also offers free live music, which will begin at 1 p.m. in River Run Village and feature Danna Rocks. Kids can take advantage of free face painting and caricature drawings.
Sunday’s schedule is a little mellower, with a wider range of festival events geared toward families and recreational riders of all ability levels. There will be a number of free riding activities that Parquette said will feature all the terrain that the Keystone bike park has to offer. It has been referred to as one of the premier mountain biking resort destinations in the country.
Sunday’s events include guided group rides for all levels, progressive bike skills clinics, yoga and a children’s balance bike race, all of which are free for Snake River festival attendees. Yoga will take place in the Quaking Aspen Amphitheatre. Sunday kids’ activities will again run throughout the day, and a free concert will feature Six Million Dollar Band.
This year’s event returns the Snake River festival to Keystone, where it originated almost 20 years ago.
The Keystone Mountain Bike Park will be closed to the public until 2 p.m. Saturday for the challenge. The park will reopen from 2-7 p.m. with bike haul tickets available for $15. The bike park will resume normal operations for the public beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday. Race registration is ongoing, with day-of registration.
For more information, visit or call (877) 204-7889. For race registration and competition fees, visit
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Breckenridge's historic Gold Pan Saloon celebrates one of the oldest liquor licenses in the West

#Breckenridge, Colorado

The Gold Pan Saloon is a Breckenridge legend.
Steeped in western cultural history, the Gold Pan Saloon has survived at 103 N. Main St. for 152 years and serves as a long-standing tribute to America’s adventurous spirit.
First established in 1861 as a tent structure known as Long’s Saloon, the building that now houses the Gold Pan was not constructed until 1879. Since then it has undergone countless ownership changes with each proprietor bringing its own unique vision for success.
Before officially becoming the Gold Pan Bar in 1953, the saloon was known during the early 1900s as The Palace Restaurant, which specialized in oysters, but also served fresh trout patrons could select themselves from the establishment’s fish tank. Later, the Gold Pan would house a two-lane bowling alley and billiards room before another conversion transformed it into the bar locals and visitors are more familiar with today.
The walls of the Gold Pan also have born witness to some of its own unique events, including Wild West shootings and a booming liquor trade in spite of the federal prohibition of alcohol. The Gold Pan also boasts what could potentially be the longest running liquor license west of the Mississippi.
With so much rich history one would think it would be difficult to find new reasons to celebrate. But the newest management team is committed to writing its own chapter in the historical epic that is the Gold Pan Saloon.
During the last several months, general manager Reid Pellegrin, executive manager Jan Butler and the rest of the Gold Pan Saloon staff hired a new chef, revamped the food and drink menus and created a more uniform western d├ęcor, all with the intention of stepping up its level of service.
The new management staff also promised to have more fun and to celebrate the little things. Locals received their first taste of that new management philosophy last Thursday when the Gold Pan Saloon hosted a Prohibition-era party to commemorate the recent completion of bathroom renovations.
In addition to encouraging patrons to dress appropriately for the time, the Gold Pan featured wine and whiskey tastings and live music by Todd Johnson and the Bad Blues Band.
“It’s a drastic change because we used to be notorious for having the worst bathrooms in town,” Pellegrin said. “We always kept them clean, but when they’re that old they always look kind of dirty. Now, in my opinion, they’re the nicest in town. They look amazing.”
The upgrade couldn’t have come soon enough, said Butler, who has been pushing for new bathrooms since she started at the Gold Pan five years ago. The last time the Gold Pan’s water closets received an overhaul, Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States.
Although it might seem like an unorthodox reason to throw a party, Breckenridge is a recreation community and people who have fun for a living tend to turn any occasion into an excuse to get down.
Last week’s party was no exception and Pellegrin said they decided to go with the Prohibition theme to not only play off the Gold Pan’s history, but also to cash in on renewed public interest since the release of the movie “The Great Gatsby.”
“We’ve never done a fancier-style party like this, but it made sense because of our own history with Prohibition,” Pellegrin said. “We had people coming in waves, and those who dressed up rocked out until about one in the morning.”
For more information about the Gold Pan Saloon or to view its new food and drink menus, visit
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Monday, June 24, 2013

Search is on for broadband solutions in Summit County

#Breckenridge, Colorado

At the height of ski season, Summit County’s economy is booming. Hotels are full, lift lines are long and restaurants are on waitlists. And then, at the time the local economy needs them the most, credit card machines go down.
The problem, local officials say, is a deficiency in broadband connection, the infrastructure that makes high-speed round-the-clock internet connection possible. When Summit County’s limited broadband is overloaded, those connections may falter or fail.
Colorado’s northwestern region has fallen behind its neighbors in terms of broadband performance, in a state that is only in the middle of the pack nationally in a country that is at best mediocre in comparison to its counterparts internationally in broadband speeds, reliability and cost.
“Compared to the Front Range, northwest Colorado is suffering,” said Paul Recanzone, a consultant contracted to conduct a study on the issue. “Northwest Colorado is at the tail end of a middling state in a middling country. If we’re going to build economic development and improve quality of life, my contention is that’s not good enough. We can do better than that.”
It’s a problem officials say could be an impediment to education, health care and economic development for the rural counties in the area, and it has been catapulted to the top of the priority list for the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG), a coalition that represents the interests of municipalities in the region. Backed by a $65,000 grant from the state Department of Local Affairs, NWCOGG commissioned a study intended to identify gaps in broadband infrastructure across nine counties, including Summit, and produce recommendations for improving that infrastructure and developing policies that will promote access to high-speed internet in the rural northwest.
“The end goal of this strategic planning effort is to develop a blueprint that will outline several action steps local governments can take to improve access to broadband in the region,” council officials stated in a news release on the project. “Part of this planning effort involves asking all stakeholders in the community to provide input on what will make broadband better in this region.”
The consultant charged with completing the study is holding meetings with elected officials in the participating counties and asking members of the public to complete a survey on the issue.
The study is intended to establish the need for broadband in northwest Colorado compared to current availability as well as analyze gaps in service.
Ultimately, Recanzone says stepping up connectivity in the region will come down to improving the capacity and price of extending broadband to households and businesses within communities — last mile access —­ and ensuring the reliability of the infrastructure that reaches out to those communities — middle mile access. The consultants will be on the lookout for ways to improve efficiencies in infrastructure and take advantage of cost-saving opportunities.
The study includes Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties. Broadband access in Summit County is better than in many of the other counties involved.
Broadband is essentially high-speed internet access that does not require a dial-up connection and does not block phone lines. It connects users to the highest quality internet services including streaming media, internet phone and interactive services with less delay in transmission, by allowing large quantities of content to be carried over a fiber pipeline.
For example, it could take nearly 20,000 minutes to download a high-definition movie using a dial-up connection or 369 minutes on standard DSL. But high-capacity fiber infrastructure would allow the same movie to be downloaded in as little as one minute, according to data Recanzone provided.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A hard-truth tour of Summit County mines highlights historic sources of pollution

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Dozens of professionals wearing casual dress and nametags stepped off a tour bus onto rust-colored rocks just yards from piles of dredge gravel. A dark wooden structure, the remnants of the historic Wellington-Oro mining complex, dotted the horizon. A modern water treatment plant sat just across the street in the dry morning heat.
The group of about 30 men and women from across Colorado were making a stop on the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Upper Colorado Basin Tour.
Their tour took them hundreds of miles around the basin to destinations ranging from the Stillwater Campground on Lake Granby and Spur Ranch in Kremmling to Vail Pass and the Coal Basin restoration site.
The tour aimed to show participants the value of headwaters health for thriving communities and ecological sustainability and to demonstrate the importance of inter-agency partnerships and collaborations in water resource management.
The tour-goers were greeted by three local mining experts Friday morning in Breckenridge: Steve Swanson, director of the Blue River Watershed group; Jeff Graves, of the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining & Safety; and Brian Lorch, director of Summit County Open Space and Trails.
“We’ve got a nonprofit, county and state representatives all coming together here in Summit County addressing the legacy of hard-rock mining,” said Kristin Maharg, Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s program manager.
Although the trio of professionals don’t work for the same employer, they aren’t strangers. Almost all of Summit County’s mine-reclamation projects are a collaborative effort.
“The projects are typically large in scope and require a significant amount of funding,” Graves said.
While individual agencies may have trouble tackling the large-scale and complex reclamation sites on their own, they can work together to accomplish their goals.
“It’s a collaborative approach to try and achieve cleanup on sites,” Graves said.
The trio worked together on the French Gulch mining site tour-goers visited yesterday.
It was identified as one of Summit’s worst sites in terms of environmental quality. Gold, lead and zinc mining occurred off and on here from the 1860s to the 1970s.
The town of Breckenridge and Summit County bought 1,800 acres of land from B&B Mines in the early 2000s, agreeing to install an active water-treatment plant on the property.
“When we put it in during the 2006-2007 time period, it was very innovative technology,” Summit County’s Lorch said.
The norm at that time was to treat sites with lime, he said. If the county had treated the water with that process, it would have created big open red settling ponds with machinery running around on it.
Today, the treatment plant uses a chemical process to precipitate metals out of the mine water.
“The advantage of this technology is instead of thousands of tons of sludge that goes to a landfill, we have more like hundreds of tons that goes back to a smelter and is reused for the zinc in it,” Lorch said. “There is pretty much no waste created in that process.”
The next major reclamation project the agencies are involved with will take place at the Pennsylvania Mine site in the Peru Creek Watershed. Prior attempts to address discharge from the site have done little to improve the toxic water conditions. But a collaborative effort by the three local agencies, along with the EPA and U.S. Forest Service, will work to divert water from the site and seal polluted water within the structure, to curtail the amount of pollution seeping from the mine.
Graves is the lead on the project.
“Jeff has been really key in getting a project that was really dead in the water for a long time and move it forward,” Swanson said.
Swanson’s group, the Blue River Watershed, commissioned a study, called the “Snake River Watershed Plan,” that identified a “dirty dozen” mines that needed remediation work, Swanson said. To date, about half of those projects have been addressed.
The next project the Blue River group has planned is at Ten Mile Creek. It will include stream restoration to coincide with recpath construction near Copper Mountain Resort.
State Rep. Millie Hamner was one of the community members taking part in the Upper Colorado Basin Tour. Tour participants ranged from a cattle rancher to water officials and nonprofit representatives.
“It’s amazing collaboration you do working on big issues,” Hamner told the mine-restoration experts. “I really appreciate that.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bellyak: part playboat, part bodyboard, part kneeboard

#Breckenridge, Colorado

It’s hard to imagine describing paddling a Class III rapid as boring. But for Adam Masters, son of the founder of Perception Kayaks, Bill Masters, that’s what it had become. So he started duct-taping his skirt shut, lying on top of his kayak and paddling with his hands.
“It made my back yard Class III run exciting again,” said Masters.
But lying on top of his kayak created too high of a center of gravity, which made it less stable. That’s where Masters’ idea for the Bellyak (pronounced “belly-ak”) was born. Around 2004, he started cannibalizing whitewater kayaks by cutting the tops off and using foam to create molds to better suit lying down on a kayak. The designs added stability and brought him closer to the water. Initially he just designed the boats for himself, not intending to market them.
“I built it for me to have fun,” he said.
He eventually put the idea aside for a few years to focus on other things, then in 2011 he started to think about manufacturing his designs.
His first official model was produced last year and he debuted his company at the annual Outdoor Retailer exhibition in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July. Now he’s on a marketing campaign that made it’s way to the FIBArk Festival in Salida last week.
Who’s it for?
Masters believes his Bellyak has the potential to cater to a wide market that spans from the seasoned kayaker looking for something new to someone new to kayaking looking for an alternate to being confined inside a hardshell kayak
“The Achilles heel of kayaking is the spray skirt,” he said.
His Bellyak is essentially part playboat kayak, part surfboard/bodyboard and part kneeboard. A skilled paddler can run a rapid head first or surf a wave on your knees.
“There are so many ways to ride it,” he said, and, “for the avid kayaker, it increases the thrill but not the risk,” Masters said.
There are three primary ways to ride the craft, generally all by paddling with webbed gloves rather than a paddle. A paddler can lay flat in a superman position, sit on their knees in a position that could concievably incoporate a kayak paddle, or sitting upright with legs forward like straddling a surfboard.
Wether his product has the potential to explode in popularity similar to stand-up paddleboarding is yet to be seen. This is its first full season on the market.
He sees it as a versatile and safe way to experience whitewater, because unlike a kayak, it doesn’t take a high skill level to recover from a flip.
He has said he’s received a lot of positive feedback thus far, both at Outdoor Retailer and FIB Ark, and has already sold 240 boats.
An unexpected market: Adaptive paddlers, veterans and Team River Runner
Masters designed his boat for himself and then with a broader market in mind, but he never expected to be contacted by a representative from a veterans organization for adaptive sports.
But for Bob Alexander, a volunteer for Team River Runner, a program that introduces paddle sports to veterans as a means of exercise and adjustment therapy, the Bellyak was a new tool to incorporate with their programs.
“They’re a boat load of fun,” said Joe Mornini, executive director of Team River Runner. “If you’re mobility impaired, you just jump on them and paddle.”
Mornini said that the boat’s design makes it conducive to veterans who are amputees or paraplegics. At Walter Reed National Military Medical center they’ve even used them in pools for kayak football.
Erich Bell, a veteran of both the Army and Marine Corps found out about Bellyak online and took advantage of the opportunity to demo one on a Class III section of river in North Carolina, at a Team River Runner event.
“I was sold before I got there, that was just the cherry on top,” he said. “I love it.” Masters said that his Bellyak design has also been well received by coastal paddlers who’ve used it to wave surf, and recently he had some interest from fire fighters looking to incorporate it in swift water rescue.
The next big thing, big fad, or paddling niche?
Will the Bellyak become a fixture of whitewater sports? It’s not without its skeptics. Matti Wade of Ten Mile Creek Kayaks in Frisco sees it as something new and kind of fun, but questions wether or not it is more of a novelty.
“It’s interesting,” he said with some hesitation. But between colder water temperatures and more difficult whitewater he’s not so sure it’s appropriate for a beginner paddler in Colorado.
You still need to be able to read whitewater, and one of his concerns is that it’s more difficult to see potentially hazardous river features if your laying down. He does however concede potential in warmer lower class rapids, or on the coast.
For serious rapids, Wade still sees inflatible or sit-on-top kayaks as a more viable alternative.
Former raft guide Jeremy Fritts has a different take.
“It looks like a sweet evolution in whitewater,” he said after watching some video footage.
But like Wade, he stresses the importance of having experience in rapids, and he would be concerned that it could still be dangerous to an over eager beginner.
“It’s important to do that with someone who knows the river,” said Fritts. Appropriate advice for any whitewater endeavour.
Masters’ Bellyak concept, may have steep competition in a highly competitive whitewater market that has recently adopted paddleboarding as the latest craze. Time will tell wether his idea is the next big thing, or if whitewater kayakers will shun it as a more of novelty.
Of the possibility of a negative response to a Bellyak, Fritts said, “Skiers didn’t like snowboarders either in the beginning. Why not? Those things look like fun”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blue River to host ‘The Next 50’ town clean up, celebration this weekend

#Blue River, Colorado

This weekend, one of the county’s smallest communities will come together to clean up, take stock and celebrate nearly 50 years of growth and change since its incorporation in 1964.
A series of activities, services and events Saturday and Sunday will aim to draw Blue River residents together to spruce up the town and develop a vision for its next 50 years.
The weekend will include a number of town-sponsored services as well as a barbecue and community party on Sunday, during which residents will be invited to weigh in on a comprehensive plan that will help define the future of the community.
Sunday’s party, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the town hall building, will be the headline event of two days packed with community activities.
The weekend kicks off Saturday with a town yard sale and donation-collection effort. Habitat for Humanity will be at the town hall building accepting donations of furniture and other household items. There will also be Dumpsters out in the same location for those looking to clear out garbage.
The town will also have officials available to do radon and well-water testing and to provide information on the proposed bike path through Blue River. Red, White and Blue firefighters will also be on hand to do safety, “firewise” and defensible-space home inspections.
Blue River officials received a grant to remove branches and debris around town this weekend as well. A chipping company will be collecting unwanted debris on Saturday, but residents need to pile items to be cleared away at the curb.
Sunday’s festivities will include some of the same services but will focus on bringing the community together. A party at the town hall will include bounce houses and face painting for children, along with corn hole, hamburgers and hot dogs. Residents are encouraged to bring a side dish to share. Consultants from a company hired to lead the comprehensive planning effort will attend the event to discuss the town’s future with residents.
“We need to develop a comprehensive master plan and it falls in line with our anniversary,” Mayor Lindsay Backas said. “This is kind of the kickoff for the next 50.” Which is what the town has dubbed the weekend of activities and events.
“The Next 50” weekend is open only to residents of Blue River. The town hits the big five-oh in 2014. Town officials hope the comprehensive plan, a process of determining the community’s goals for future development, will be completed later this year. It will likely confront some of Blue River’s biggest questions: whether to allow commercial business operations in the town limits, how to address backcountry access and a possible three-mile plan examining how the town will interact with its neighbors in the years to come.
The project has far-reaching goals, but there are some things town officials say are not on the table for discussion.
“I don’t think we’re envisioning any major change to the sort of mountain rural aesthetic,” Blue River trustee Rob Theobald said. “We’re not looking to become another Breckenridge or another Highlands neighborhood. We’re looking to improve what we have.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summit County’s spring mountain runoff expected to taper off

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Spring mountain runoff has contributed to an increased flow of water into Summit County rivers and streams throughout the month of June, but local experts expect the flow to taper during the remainder of the season.
“We’ve gone past the peak and the general trend from here on out will be slowly downward until we hit base lines,” said Troy Wineland, District 36 water commissioner.
Local and state officials have been monitoring the flows in all waterways and have been prepared to respond to the possibility of high water conditions in Summit County.
Only minor flooding occurred over the course of the spring runoff season, including a high stream flow that closed Straight Creek Drive east of Canyon Trail last week. Overall spring runoff levels have been close to average, according to local officials.
“I don’t think this runoff season would register on the flooding scale, but you are always going to have localized issues,” Wineland said.
The water levels in the Snake and Blue rivers and in Ten Mile Creek all peaked last week, between June 9 and 11, the commissioner said. Although the overall risk of flooding should continue to decrease throughout the summer, a rain or snow storm could trigger a spike in the level of local streams and rivers, he said.
One of the duties Summit County’s emergency management director, Joel Cochran, is to make sure the county is prepared in the case of a water emergency.
“The public gets lulled a little bit into the safety around flooding because we don’t flood every year,” Cochran said.
But, he said, residents shouldn’t become complacent to the inherent risks of water.
“Six inches of swift water can carry a person off their feet,” he said.
Cochran also warned residents to keep their pets safe and away from fast-flowing water. It isn’t uncommon for rescue crews to reunite stranded pets with their owners, he said.
Water commissioner Wineland also encouraged people to keep tabs on the weather when they’re enjoying the outdoors.
“Folks should stay aware of weather conditions and what the potential for precipitation is whenever they go out in the backcountry,” he said. “There is always a potential for increased flows.”
Wineland said over the last three years Summit County residents have witnessed how variable precipitation can be in Colorado.
“This year we have had what most folks would label as an average year as far as snowpack,” he said. “Last year, was one of the worst on record, and 2011 was one of the highest in terms of snowpack.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breckenridge breaks ground on arts district renovation

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Donning green hard hats during a short-lived break from the storms Monday, Mayor John Warner and other town leaders gathered in front of the peeling panels of the Roberty Whyte House and each tossed a shovelful of dirt to celebrate the start of work on the final renovation of the Breckenridge Arts District.
During a brief statement to a crowd of supporters, Warner thanked members of the Breckenridge Town Council for their foresight in accelerating a project once expected to take 20 years to complete. Monday’s ground breaking launched the start of construction on the last phase of the build out and enhancement of the downtown arts campus, which is now set to be finished in 2014, just 10 years after it began.
“These individuals have shown a real commitment to getting things done in the last year or two,” Warner said of the council. “We’re going to see some incredible things coming from the town of Breckenridge in the next couple of years and the (Breckenridge Arts District) is the first of several. These people had the vision to recognize this as a significant opportunity to round out our economic sustainability through arts and culture.”
The arts district is a collection of historic buildings located between Ridge and Main streets that provides space for visiting artists, public workshops and classes. Town leaders plan to invest an estimated $3 million over the next two years reworking the area to create a cohesive campus that is inviting to pedestrians.
The makeover will include the restoration of five existing historic structures, the construction of two new buildings and aesthetic improvements such as walkways, plazas, sculptures, green spaces and lighting, all intended to tie the campus together.
“Breckenridge will be on the map as a destination for the arts here very soon,” Jen Cram, who administers the arts district for the town, said at Monday’s ground breaking.
But the project has the owners of private art galleries in Breckenridge concerned that the revamped district might cause fallout for their already struggling industry. Those in the for-profit art world worry that if town officials mandate that the district be self-sustaining that it could pull business from their own market.
“The jury is still out,” said Gary Freese, who owns the Breckenridge Art Gallery on Main Street with his wife Janet. “But we are extremely skeptical as far as what the intent is and what the mandate will be on maintaining that district. It’s got to be sustained and unless they’re budgeting dollars to sustain it, then those funding avenues will be potentially in direct conflict with galleries.”
The arts district facilities are primarily dedicated to art demonstrations, classes and workshops, rather than the sale of pieces, but Breckenridge officials say town leaders do expect the department to break even.
The mayor said the arts district is not intended to take business away from the private galleries.
“We really just want to grow the pie, not really compete,” Warner said.
Officials hope the arts district will eventually extend outward, connecting to the Blue River Plaza and the Riverwalk Center to the west and the old CMC building to the east. Those facilities, as well as the Breckenridge Theater building, are slated for large-scale improvement projects in the next few years as well.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Monday, June 17, 2013

Breckenridge opts for property tax question to fund child care

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Voters in Breckenridge will see a question on their ballots in November asking for approval on a new property tax to continue the town’s child care subsidy and scholarship program.
“We see a really strong current of support in the community to continue this program, and also to do it with a property tax,” Councilwoman Jennifer McAtamney said.
But even if the measure passes, town officials say property owners will see a decrease in their taxes, because the ballot question would replace, at a slightly lower rate, a mil levy that will end next year.
Breckenridge leaders, who decided earlier this year to ask voters to pass a measure to continue the child care program, opted for a property tax over a sales tax June 11 at the urging of the business community.
Voters will be asked to approve a 1.652 mil, which equates to $131 per year for every $1 million in residential property value or $479 for every $1 million in commercial property value.
If approved, the new property tax will take the place of a higher mil levy passed several years ago to allow for the construction of public facilities including the Breckenridge Recreation Center. With those buildings nearly paid off, the tax will end in 2014.
“We’re asking for less money, and people’s property taxes will go down,” McAtamney said. “It will replace the existing mill levy at a lower rate. That seemed like a good way to continue funding it.”
Breckenridge’s child care scholarship program currently provides assistance to roughly 150 families who either live or work in the Upper Blue River Basin. Of those who received assistance in the 2011/12 school year, 70 percent both lived and worked in the Upper Blue.
To be eligible for the program, parents must spend 12-15 percent of their income on early childhood education expenses. The scholarship is then provided to families for whom the cost of care exceeds that amount to close the gap.
Supporters of the program say it takes into account the high cost of living and low-paying jobs that are associated with a tourism-driven economy and allows “real” families to remain in Breckenridge.
“You see the struggles that places like Vail and Aspen have to keep (a) middle class,” McAtamney said. “It really helps the middle class families that are living paycheck to paycheck.”
Detractors argue the program uses tax dollars paid by everyone for the benefit of a limited number of people.
“I don’t think that the mayor and council should add more taxes to Breckenridge homeowners and visitors to pay the household child care bills of a greedy few,” Breckenridge resident Howard Wilson stated in a letter to the editor on the issue, which appeared in the Summit Daily earlier this year.
“Responsible Summit parents are already putting their children first every day; without taking money from their neighbors.”
Some community members have also questioned whether a town with millions of dollars in reserves really needed a new revenue source to support a program projected to cost roughly $800,000 annually.
But a recent survey of nearly 400 people showed widespread support for town child care funding.
More than 80 percent of respondents said they want to see the scholarship program continue, including 70 percent of business owners and 85 percent of people employed in Breckenridge.
The survey showed 62 percent of business owners and 75 percent of registered voters would support a tax to continue the scholarships.
The survey was conducted online and was administered by the town.
The Breckenridge Town Council will need to finalize the ballot language by July to get the question in front of voters in November. Only Breckenridge voters will see the Breckenridge tax question. A second ballot question to provide funding for child care will be put to voters county-wide.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

‘Zany Breckenridge fun’

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge,  Colorado

Just as Ullr Fest defines winter festivities in Breckenridge, so does the weekend of Kingdom Days represent the kickoff of the summer season.
“It was started to celebrate the heritage of Breckenridge and its rich history,” said Sandy Metzger, events manager for the town of Breckenridge.
It started Friday and ends Sunday, downtown Breckenridge will be bustling with music, events and activities for all ages, offering a chance to kick back and celebrate the start of the summer season while at the same time learning more about the town’s historical roots.
No Man’s Land becomes a Kingdom
Sometime back in the 1930s, a group of women stumbled upon an old map dating back to the 1880s. Much to their surprise, they did not see their town anywhere on the map. Breckenridge, they declared, must be a “no man’s land” and might not have been annexed into the United States. This fanciful notion remained throughout the years, eventually leading to the town’s nickname of “The Kingdom.”
“It was completely false,” said Larissa O’Neil, executive director of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. “The official maps at the time included Breckenridge.”
While the map missing Breckenridge was likely just an anomaly, the residents of the town made the most of their discovery anyway.
“This was during the Depression. There was mining still in Breckenridge but there probably wasn’t anything else going on,” O’Neil said. “These women created this clever marketing campaign out of this old map.”
Soon, the exclusion of Breckenridge on the map drew attention outside of Summit County. Eventually, the governor came out to perform a flag-raising ceremony at town hall and to officially welcome Breckenridge into the United States.
“The whole idea of Breckenridge being left off the U.S. map made national news at the time,” O’Neil said.
The governor’s arrival was a big success and highly celebrated in town.
“All of it was really false but it generated a lot of interest — and a party, if I understand. Which makes sense for Breckenridge, that we’d find a way to make a party out of this one little map,” O’Neil said with a laugh.
What started out as No Man’s Land eventually morphed into Breckenridge’s nickname of Colorado’s Kingdom, for which the events of Kingdom Days are named.
Fun for the family
Activities abound for young and old alike throughout the weekend. Many of these are associated in some way with Breckenridge heritage, from historic walking tours to free museum hours. The downtown area from Riverwalk Center to the Blue River Plaza will host many of the children’s entertainment and activities, ranging from gold panning to train rides.
“Every year, we assess what was really popular last year and try to tweak it and change it and keep adding new aspects to keep people interested,” Metzger said
New this year is a kids’ entertainment area on the lawn of the Riverwalk Center, featuring a magician and interactive games.
“In the late 1800s, magic was very popular,” Metzger said.
Kids will also have the opportunity to try out games that were popular during the 1800s, including the classic rolling a wooden spool with a stick and running beside it. For a taste of history via transportation, children can enjoy free train rides around the Blue River Plaza and River Walk or take it slow on a burro ride with Red Tail the Mountain Man, an accomplished storyteller.
The Gold Prospectors of Colorado organization will demonstrate gold panning in the Blue River Plaza. Anyone is welcome not only to give it a try but to keep any gold that they find.
“It is hard. There’s definitely an art to it,” said Metzger, who has tried her hand at gold panning during previous Kingdom Days. “It’s fun because (the prospectors) are so passionate about it and it wears off on you.”
Hunting down history
In addition to having fun, Kingdom Days is a way to spread more awareness of the town’s heritage, Metzger said, not only for visitors but for residents, as well.
“There’s so much cool history that so many people who live here haven’t even experienced,” she said.
While the story behind the map may not be very historically accurate, Breckenridge has its fair share of Old West heritage, much of which is drawn from its days as a mining town.
Throughout the weekend, many of the museums and walking tours will drop their usual fees, allowing visitors to experience the history of the town for free.
“You can find activities for free pretty much all day, both days,” O’Neil said.
For children, O’Neil highly recommends visiting the Edwin Carter Discovery Center, which takes a look into the life of Professor Edwin Carter. The center will be celebrating the naturalist’s birthday on Sunday with free lemonade and birthday cake.
Those looking for more adult entertainment will enjoy the Behind Swinging Doors Saloon Tour.
“You get to hear about the old watering holes in town and get to go inside. Some of the buildings have our bars today,” O’Neil said. “It’s a fun walking tour of town, and people can have a beverage along the way.”
Another popular activity is the Haunted Tour of Breckenridge on Saturday night, which includes what O’Neil describes as “eerie and unexplained stories of Breckenridge.” While older kids may be fine, younger kids are advised not to come, as some of the stories have gory aspects.
Having the museums and tours available for free during Kingdom Days is also a way to expose visitors to Breckenridge beyond just its snowy slopes.
“This is a real town with a mining history. It’s more than a ski resort and a great place to come and hike and bike and all that,” Metzger said. “We have a long history in this town.”
Outrageous outhouses
While the tours and museums may be a bit more factual, on Sunday the blend between past and present becomes a bit wackier.
No one seems to remember exactly how the Outhouse Races got started, but everyone knows about the event and the enthusiastic antics of previous years. Essentially, the Outhouse Race consists of outhouse-like structures on wheels raced down the street with one rider and several pullers and pushers.
Teams of five work to build their outhouse racers, each with a different theme. The structure must conform to certain rules, as well, such as including a toilet seat and using only wheels or parts of a bicycle and not the whole thing.
Races go in heats of two down North Main Street, leading up to prizes for Golden Throne, Silver Moon and the Bronze Bucket — first, second and third place, respectively. The People’s Choice Award is given to the outhouse with the most popular theme, which viewers can vote on before the race.
“It’s a very Breckenridge way of incorporating history into how we are today,” O’Neil said of the races. “It’s in a similar vein of some of the other events we have in town, just wacky and kind of strange but really fun, and so I think it’s just a really fun way of weaving in a bit of historical flavor into a really fun modern event.”
Metzger agreed. “It’s totally zany, Breckenridge fun,” she said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Keystone Ski Resort celebrates opening weekend of summer season

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Keystone, Colorado

Mountain bikers made their way down twisting trails along the scenic mountainside. Kids jumped in bouncy houses and crawled through mazes. Couples stopped to throw beanbags and play chess while walking through the River Run Village, and others kept their winter dreams alive by drifting down still-snowy slopes on tubes.
“There is nothing like snow tubing in short sleeves and shorts,” said Laura Parquette, Keystone’s communications manager. “It’s a lot of fun to hold onto the winter vibe a little bit as we hold all of our summer activities.”
Parquette said Keystone has a little something for “every flavor” in the summer season.
“We have a range of activities all right here in a compact resort setting,” she said.
In addition to family friendly activities in the village, and at the top of the mountain, there are two golf courses and a five-acre lake on site. Activities on the lake include catch-and-release fishing, canoeing and kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Keystone has 20 hiking trails open along the mountainsides. Resort staffers said they will continue to open more as the snow melts.
One of the main draws to the resort in the summer is mountain biking. Javier Diaz traveled from Colorado Springs to bike at the resort on Friday. He’s been involved in the sport for five years and says he finds himself coming back to Keystone again and again.
“This is one of the top destinations I like to bike,” he said. “I like it here because all of the people are friendly and it’s not as expensive as other places.”
The resort offers mountain-bike trails for beginners and for those who want to push themselves on more challenging terrain.
“Any level of rider can come out and enjoy what we have to offer,” Parquette said.
In addition to ongoing outdoor activities, a series of events will be held throughout the season. Next weekend the resort will hold one of its signature events: the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour.
“Three thousand pounds of bacon will be turned into a wide range of tasty treats,” Parquette said.
Other signature Keystone happenings include the Keystone Wine and Jazz Festival and the Bluegrass and Blues Festival.
The resort will play host to a series of biking events, including the Beti AllRide Clinic, a sold-out, all-female, all-ability event next weekend to help mountain bikers build their skills. The Big Mountain Enduro will be held in early July. The competition offers big, challenging terrain in and around a mountainous landscape.
For locals, a new bike-in movie series starts next Thursday, June 18.
“You can hop on your bike and come out, and we’ll have refreshments and play a family friendly movie,” Parquette said. “That should be a lot of fun, and from a local’s perspective it’s a great way to get outside and hang out with neighbors and friends.”
The Friday Afternoon Club offers free rides on the gondola after 3 p.m. and live music and activities at the Summit House. There will also be a variety of kids events.
A full list of Keystone’s summer activities and events can be found at
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sun, mild temps up for summer kickoff festivities in Summit County

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge, Colorado

It’s on track to be a weekend of sunshine, 70-degree days and starry nights for the Colorado BBQ Challenge in Frisco, Kingdom Days in Breckenridge and outdoor festivities that mark the official start of the summer season in Summit County.
Almost as if special ordered for the upcoming events, forecasts are calling for the always unpredictable High Country weather to be pleasant through at least Sunday with mostly sunny skies and limited chance of precipitation before Monday.
With temperatures expected to climb into the upper 80s or low 90s throughout much of the weekend on the Front Range, the High County likely will see temps in the low 70s and upper 60s during the day, with 40s or high 30s overnight, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service.
Friday is expected to be warm and breezy with a southwest wind of 10-15 mph. The wind will likely keep up into Saturday, picking up in the afternoon when gusts could reach 25-30 mph. Father’s Day, on Sunday, is on track to see sunshine and a high of 67 degrees.
It’s unclear whether the warm spell and clear skies will continue into next week, weather watchers said.
“The next two weeks we could see some systems like little short waves move through that could bring some precipitation,” NWS meteorologist Kari Bowen said. “Right now we’re kind of having this little ridge over us, so we are just a bit warm.”
The warmer temperatures combined with low humidity, wind and more people in the county enjoying the outdoors could also precipitate an increase in fire danger.
After several days without substantial moisture, the risk of wildfire is currently rated moderate, well below the very high and extreme ratings in place at this time last year. But fire officials are still asking the public to be cautious.
“We’re getting into summer now and we always dry out before the monsoon rains hit,” Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher said. “It’s certainly not out of the question that we may see high (danger ratings) within a short period of time. We’ll just ask that people be exceedingly cautious and vigilant with fire.”
Local fire officials say wildfires burning around the state are evidence that there are not enough resources to stop a blaze from becoming destructive if weather conditions are right.
The onset of very high risk wildfire weather in Summit County will be noted with red-flag warnings.
Fire officials and weather forecasters are asking the public to be very careful with flames, including campfires and cigarettes, in vegetated areas this weekend. Lipsher said campfires need to be soaked in water multiple times and should be cool to the touch before they can be safely left unattended.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Breckenridge to spend $50K on reusable bags

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge, Colorado

They’re a woven polypropylene material, emblazoned with images of Breckenridge’s iconic splashing Blue River and snow-covered peaks. And they’re just large enough to carry the town’s outreach and education efforts concerning a new initiative to reduce the use of disposable bags.
The Breckenridge Town Council decided Tuesday to buy 50,000 of the locally designed and branded reusable bags, which will be sold and strategically placed around town as a greener alternative to disposable plastic or paper sacks. At $1 each, the town is pairing the $50,000 investment with a new law imposing a 10 cent fee on single-use bags.
Officials say they hope the reusable bags will become an educational and branding tool for the town, promoting the use of reusable bags and sending the Breckenridge name — and web address — all over the country when visitors take the sacks home.
The design features an outdoor panoramic view of Breckenridge, with the Blue River taking center stage. The front and back panels show summer and winter scenes that merge into spring and fall on the sides of the bag. A small space dedicated to text urges the user to “Change the world, one bag at a time” and gives the URL and the names of the artists who created the design.
It’s intentionally simple. Because the bags are also meant to be a marketing tool, town leaders wanted them to be attractive and opted not to clutter the design with information and explanations of the origins of the program or the corresponding bag-fee policy.
The bags are made of 80 percent recycled materials and are machine washable.
The totes will be sold at Breckenridge retailers. They will also be made available to visitors at hotels and on shuttles so they have an alternative to paying the fee for disposable bags when they go to the grocery stores or do other shopping in town.
Two thousand bags will also be given out to low-income families in the community, and another 2,000 will be handed out for free at events to promote the program.
Breckenridge officials say the town will recoup some of the costs of purchasing the reusable bags through sales and revenues from the disposable bag fee.
The town will roll out the bags in October to coincide with the implementation of the 10 cent disposable bag fee.
The council adopted the bag fee in April after more than a year of community debate on the issue. It is part of an ongoing town-led sustainability effort.
Communities that have imposed fees have seen up to 80 percent reductions in the use of disposable bags, according to town staffers.
More than three million plastic bags are used in Breckenridge each year.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Breck gives first nod to cheaper council benefits

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge, Colorado

The Breckenridge Town Council approved a measure on a unanimous vote Tuesday granting future town leaders access to a less expensive health insurance plan.
The change would lower premiums for members of the town council elected in 2014 or after, and increases the cost for the town, if adopted on a final vote later this month.
“Insurance these days, as everybody knows, is very difficult to get,” Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said. “I don’t think anyone’s asking for a hand out, just a fair shot.”
For a single council person, the measure would reduce the monthly premium from $484 to $28. For a family, the rate would fall from more than $1,000 monthly to $148.
Five of the seven sitting elected officials will be eligible to take advantage of the less expensive benefits package if they are re-elected to second terms. Mayor John Warner and Councilwoman Jen McAtamney are term limited and will not have an opportunity to opt into the plan.
Wolfe was the only sitting official who currently uses the town insurance and will be able to take advantage of the less expensive plan, but only if Breckenridge residents vote her back into office in 2016.
Town leaders who backed the proposal said they hoped the reduced cost of the benefits package would entice more and younger members of the community to run for a seat on the council.
“It could make it more possible for them to be a participant and to put themselves up for election,” McAtamney said.
But that same argument caused hesitation for Councilman Gary Gallagher, who said he worried people might run just for the access to insurance benefits.
Warner said increasing government participation was also the goal of a council pay raise several years ago, but it did not seem to have the desired impact.
If, eventually, all seven members of the council signed on to the insurance plan, it would cost taxpayers approximately $63,000 at an average cost of $9,000 per person. Under the council’s current insurance plan, the elected official covers that $9,000.
“It is a potential cost to the town of Breckenridge municipal government from where they’re at today,” Warner said.
Elected officials in Breckenridge currently have access to a specific, more expensive benefits plan. The measure, if passed on final reading, would provide them with the option of signing up for the insurance plan currently available to town employees, which has lower premiums, town staffers said.
The insurance measure comes after the council extended a $500 per year recreation benefit to members of the Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Council and the Breckenridge Planning Commission. Council members themselves also enjoy the recreation benefit, which can be used to purchase passes to the town recreation center, Stephen C. West Ice area or the town-owned Nordic center, but not the golf course, according to town staffers.
Members of the town council are paid $800 per month. The mayor is paid $1,200 monthly.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

High streamflows flood roads, recpaths in Summit County

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge, Colorado

Drivers and recpath users may experience water delays over the coming days and weeks, as warmer temperatures accelerate snow-melt runoff and increase streamflows around the county.
Straight Creek Drive east of Canyon Trail is expected to be closed again today as crews work to divert stream water that began flooding the road Saturday night.
“We’re trying to create an earthen berm to channel the water across the street,” Summit County emergency manager Joel Cochran said Sunday. “Basically the roads are closing when the water gets high and then opening when the water goes down.”
Runoff increases during the day, but the streamflows tend to recede in the afternoons and at night. The sporadic road closures on Straight Creek Drive are expected to continue through at least the early part of the week.
Bikers also encountered water this weekend on the recpath near Copper Mountain, where a group of ponds are beginning to overflow. A similar problem seems to be arising in Breckenridge behind the Breckenridge Recreation Center, where the Blue River spilled over onto the sidewalk, flooding a nearby picnic area.
Raging rivers and overflowing streams are a typical spring and early-summer sight in Summit County, when temperatures warm enough to begin dissolving the high-alpine snowpack finally arrive. Some forecasts are calling for high temperatures to approach 80 degrees today, and flooding is expected to continue for the next few days or weeks.
The National Weather Service in Boulder issued a small stream flood warning effective through the day today at the request of local officials.
“Kids and pets and people should be careful because that water is moving pretty quickly,” Cochran said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Monday, June 10, 2013

Locals, land trust back Highway 9 realignment through Iron Springs

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge, Colorado

The Iron Springs conservation easement is not the pristine forested parcel it was before the pine-beetle epidemic, but the hillside open space plot has retained its natural character. In early June, the lake-front property is alive with wildflowers, animals and recreational users enjoying the bike path running through it.
It’s here the Colorado Department of Transportation officials want to put a four-lane road, rerouting and widening the existing Highway 9 to cut through the protected parcel. The $30 million proposal to complete an ongoing expansion of the Frisco-to-Breckenridge route would essentially swap the placement of the road with that of the recpath, sending traffic over a new, wider and shorter stretch of road through the Iron Springs property.
Transportation officials like the plan because it shaves half a mile off the state-maintained highway and eliminates vehicle use of the dangerous Leslie’s Curve, where the current road banks to the west alongside the lake. But perhaps more surprising is the fact that the Continental Divide Land Trust, which holds the conservation easement on the property, and a number of locals also support the proposal.
“When we first heard about this project, we (said) ‘hell no, you can’t run a highway through a conservation easement,’” CDLT director Leigh Girvin told a group of Summit County residents during a hiking tour of the property Saturday. “As we’ve gone through this process, we’ve begun to see the community benefits of this.”
It’s not a perfect plan, Girvin said, but it is better than the alternative.
The highway expansion is inevitable, but widening the road in its current position would require large retaining walls along the shores of the reservoir and several sediment capture ponds between those walls and the water to collect tainted runoff. It would also cause significant damage to the rare spring-fed wetlands on the Iron Springs property and impacts to wildlife movement in the area.
Rerouting Hwy. 9 through Iron Springs would eliminate the need for ponds and retaining walls. CDOT officials have also promised to sweeten the deal by installing separate underpasses for wildlife and the recpath and by relinquishing 12 acres along the current right of way to be adopted as open space.
The Iron Springs alternative also won the unanimous approval of the few dozen community members who attended Saturday’s tour, which included an in-depth project overview.
“All of the right organizations are working together to try to make this something that’s good and not adverse,” Breckenridge resident Debora Conway said. “I know that there’s always going to be a question about the wildlife, but if we can get it done so that it’s mindful, hopefully it works well.”
Girvin said there are mixed feelings about the idea of rerouting the popular recpath away from its current location through the shaded open space area. But officials say the underpasses and lakeside alignment will improve the system, by providing users with views of the reservoir and eliminating the need to cross the highway. If the project moves forward, the existing asphalt road will be reduced to a 12-foot paved bike path and there will be opportunities to revegetate and restore the natural look of the area.
“The new alignment ... would improve recreational access to the reservoir, create a new recreation path connection between Swan Mountain Road and the Frisco recreation peninsula and likely reduce environmental impacts significantly,” assistant county manager Thad Noll told the Summit Daily in a previous interview.
It would also result in a net increase in conserved land. A total of 9 acres will be lost to the highway, but 12 will be recovered when CDOT turns over the current right of way, growing the property by 3 acres. No homes or new development will be allowed along the rerouted highway.
Views of the hillside will be impacted by the road, but aesthetics along the lake will be improved by the removal of the guardrail.
“It’s a subjective value,” Girvin said. “But we feel that it’s at least a neutral impact.”
The project is the last installment of a multi-year effort to widen the Hwy. 9 to four lanes, two in each direction, between Frisco and Breckenridge. CDOT crews are currently widening one remaining section between Tiger Road and Agape Church, a project expected to take two summers to complete.
County officials hope the work will be funded through the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program, which will distribute $1.5 billion to high-priority projects across Colorado over the next five years.
The 30-acre Iron Springs property is located northwest of Summit High School.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Breckenridge chapter of PEO gears up for annual flower sale

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge, Colorado

The women of the Breckenridge chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) work year-round to brighten the lives of women through education. This month, they’re also hoping to bring color to the homes and gardens of Summit County residents through their annual flower sale.
For more than 10 years, the sale has served as one of the main fundraisers for the Breckenridge PEO. Every June, Neils Lunceford donates red, pink and white geraniums as well as mixed hanging baskets to sell to hopeful gardeners.
“This flower sale is the largest fundraiser that our chapter has each year,” said chapter president Patti Casey. “It provides the bulk of the funds that we have available for our projects.”
One such project is providing scholarships to graduating Summit High School students. This year, PEO awarded two $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors. Each PEO chapter also donates money annually toward the organization’s six international projects, which focus on grants, scholarships and loans for women’s education.

A consistent mission
The original PEO chapter was founded in Iowa in 1869 by seven forward-thinking women, who wanted to create more educational opportunities for their gender. Now the organization has more than 6,000 chapters across the U.S. and Canada, including 242 within Colorado. Since its inception, PEO has contributed approximately a quarter of a billion dollars toward women’s educational opportunities.
Summit County is home to two PEO chapters — the IB chapter in Dillon and the FU chapter in Breckenridge. Each chapter has its own fundraising projects, such as the flower sale.
Now, the Breckenridge chapter is hoping to expand its influence in the county, working with Colorado Mountain College and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, among others, to reach more women.
“In the past, those local awards have all been to Summit High School students,” Casey said. “Looking forward, we are looking at the possibilities of expanding those local awards to more of community awards, which could include CMC students, women who want to get their GED and just women in the community who otherwise need help with education.”
The key to this expansion, Casey added, is the success of fundraisers like the flower sale.
“If we can keep increasing our fundraising, it will give us the opportunity to do more in our local community.”
Last year, the group sold 180 flower baskets and around 400 geraniums.
“That’s what we’re hoping for again this year,” said PEO member and flower sale chair Sharil Caffery.
One of the reasons for focusing on geraniums is the flower’s hardy nature, Casey said. With the unpredictable weather and cool mountain nights, many flowers wouldn’t be able to survive at this altitude. Geraniums, however, do well.
“They’re a sure bet up here,” she said.
The flower sale allows two options for potential buyers — ordering ahead of time or buying the flowers directly from the June 18 sale, held at Neils Lunceford in Breckenridge.
Caffery and Casey encourage anyone with a green thumb or a desire to brighten up their gardens to buy some flowers and support the PEO’s mission of education for local women.
“The more flowers we sell, the more we can do,” Casey said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, June 07, 2013

Frisco all ’cued up for Colorado BBQ Challenge

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, #Breckeridge, Colorado

#Frisco, Colorado

This time next week, barbecue fanatics will be flocking to Frisco, transforming Main Street into a full-blown carnival. Locals and visitors alike will smell the wood smoke and tuck in for the Colorado BBQ Challenge from June 13-15.
“It really gives you that backyard barbecue feeling,” said Suzanne Lifgren, Frisco’s marketing director. “You have great food as a backdrop, the kids are running around, and you are listening to music and catching up with friends in the sunshine.”
The Main Street festival stretches from Madison to Fifth avenues. The event will feature about 70 competing barbecue masters and more than 20 vendors serving goodies like ice cream, corn on the cob, funnel cake and cheese steaks. Seven live bands will perform throughout the weekend on a main stage, starting with a kick-off concert on Thursday.
“We’ve worked hard over the years to add features to the barbecue to make it more than just a place to stop for lunch,” Lifgren said. “You can make barbecue into a vacation.”
In past years, event representatives have seen 30,000 to 35,000 visitors come to town. This year, town officials hope to up the ante and attract 40,000 people to Frisco.
Those pit hounds can rest assured that the Colorado BBQ Challenge is a Kansas City Barbecue Society-regulated event.
“You have to win a state competition like the one in Frisco to get invited to the big competitions,” Lifgren said.
Barbecue representatives are flown in from around the nation to make sure competitors abide by strict standards regarding ingredients and cooking techniques. Most competitors set up on Thursday and fire up their grills early on Friday. Competition begins Friday night and Saturday. Barbecue chefs come from all backgrounds, from an IRS tax agent to a policeman and Xerox copier salesman, Lifgren said.
Barbecue is more than a hobby for these skillful chefs.
“They take it very seriously,” Lifgren said. “They stay up basting, injecting and adjusting temperatures at 2 a.m.”
Many competitors have invested in high-end equipment and will drive long distances to compete in the event, Lifgren said. It isn’t uncommon for competitors to cook six to eight slabs of ribs to get six perfect center cuts to present to the judges, she said. At the end of the competition, about $17,000 in prizes will be presented at an awards ceremony on Sunday.
Also popular at the Colorado BBQ Challenge are the cooking demonstrations in which chefs show off their skills in a full kitchen equipped with cameras and microphones. Spectators can see into pots and pans and watch the culinary masters’ every move.
Celebrity chef Brian Malarky, from ABC-TV’s “The Taste” and a former contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef” cooking competition, will showcase a recipe from his Gabardine restaurant featuring grilled pork chops with a peach and Breckenridge Distillery whiskey sauce with watermelon salad.
“We really love his performance. He’s really good at adding simple tips and tricks where the at-home foodie can improve their cooking,” Lifgren said.
The event is free. On Friday and Saturday, barbecue challenge visitors can exchange their money for “Hog Back” tickets to buy food and beverages. Money raised at the event will go to local nonprofits. Off-site parking and shuttles will be available at Summit Middle School.
The full scoop on the Colorado BBQ Challenge can be found in the Summit Daily’s upcoming Weekender edition, available June 14.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.