There was a bit of a mess, certainly when it comes to traffic, along Highway 82 early Tuesday, when a natural gas leak was found near the intercept parking lot, where 82 and Brush Creek Road come together below Snowmass Village. The highway and the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport were both closed due to safety concerns, for about an hour. Calls about the gas leak first came a little after 6 in the morning, the source one of the Black Hills Energy facilities just east of the parking lot. The escaping gas was loud, too, like a jet engine, according to one sheriff’s deputy. And about jet engines, the reason the airport was closed for a time was that the gas was shooting straight up into the flight paths of arriving or departing planes. Aspen Fire Chief Rick Balentine says for some reason, a high-pressure surge of gas seemed to have come through and blown relief valves on the pipeline there. Repairs were made in the morning hours, and traffic slowly returned to normal.
55-year-old Colorado Springs school district official and former Aspen assistant Superintendent Julia Roark was unexpectedly killed in a bicycling accident last Saturday in the Springs. She was hit by a car as she tried to cross several lanes of traffic. Roark had been biking with her husband at the time. Aspen Superintendent John Maloy says everyone in the local district office is heartbroken at the news. He says some staff have headed for the Springs to comfort Roark’s widower Greg and other family members. Julia Roark assisted in the Superintendent’s office in Aspen for 5 years, departing for Colorado Springs in 2015. Greg Roark, who wasn’t hurt in the traffic incident, still works for the Aspen district, heading the aeronautics program. His late wife is also survived by their 2 adult children.
The man we told you 24 hours ago was killed in a Saturday ATV rollover near Rifle has been identified as 54-year-old Glenwood Springs resident Todd Sellie. The Garfield County sheriff’s and coroner’s officers say Sellie’s ATV had been crossing a snowbank on JQS Road when he lost control and the vehicle rolled several times down a steep embankment. Sellie had been wearing a seat belt, but not a helmet. The official cause of death, several blunt force injuries. Sellie is also said to have had a .111 blood alcohol content when he died, well above the .08 threshold for drunk driving of a car.
Glenwood Springs council has passed a resolution giving local landlords whose units have safety issues that put them out of compliance with the law, 3 months to get back into compliance. The city says safety is the key that needs to be addressed in most so-called “bandit” units. The resolution also offers partial waivers of some city fees, to encourage the landlords to fix things. A lot of that housing is said to have been built without the right permits from the start, according to officials. They say many of the necessary fixes should be simple, including correct installation of smoke detectors, or creating proper emergency access and exits. The fire department adds that in many cases, they aren’t aware when heading for a scene, that a home may have a basement apartment where someone could be in danger.
When its new deal announced in the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning closes, the Aspen Skiing Company will suddenly expand from overseeing 4 resorts in one end of one mountain valley, to overseeing a dozen across a continent– with a new company. ASC says although that might sound daunting to someone from the outside, there are certain advantages to this week’s billion and a half dollar acquisition of Intrawest, achieved along with the Vail Valley’s KSL Partners. One disadvantage a lot of skiers and riders might not appreciate for 2017 & 18 is that passes are already locked in for next season… The Aspen resorts in the Mountain Collective, what have been Intrawest hills like Steamboat involved in that company’s own multi-mountain pass as well as MAX… and KSL’s Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows have their own. There could be changes pass-wise for seasons after next, Skico saying such bundles are exactly what most skiers and riders want these days. So that’ll eventually be an advantage, just not next year. Also in the “advantage” column, however, are other factors. One is that half a dozen of the acquired Intrawest properties have hundreds of acres of real estate available for development that haven’t yet been built on. The ability to pull seemingly simple operations like issuing ski reports, and selling lessons and lift tickets, will according to the company, become easier with a bigger umbrella involved. Another advantage, better marketing and expansion of lodging including the Limelight Hotel brand ASC owns. The successful one in Aspen has been joined by instant success at Sun Valley, Idaho… and a 3rd is planned for Base Village in Snowmass, the part of the resort recently bought back by Skico and KSL in a prior deal. And remember, it’ll only be the new acquisitions plus Squaw and Alpine Meadows that’ll be owned by the new company. Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Highlands remain owned by the Crown family of Chicago.
And Glenwood Springs’ Valley View Hospital says it’s opened a retail pharmacy right in its building. The hospital says the idea is to help patients learn how to use their prescriptions before ever heading home. The staff can even deliver medicines to a patient’s room before they get discharged. Valley View’s pharmacy’s going to be open from 7 to 5:30 weekdays, and Saturdays 8 to 4.
If you missed some of our stories or just want to read them for yourself, they’re all posted at ksno dot net.
I’m Jim Williams, KSNO News. There’s more of the Morning Roundabout, including Meteorologist Don Day’s complete extended forecast, on the way next.