Larry Gene Carlson (Feb. 21, 1934-Aug. 25, 2016) | PostIndependent.com

Larry Gene Carlson (Feb. 21, 1934-Aug. 25, 2016)

Larry Gene Carlson was born February 21, 1934, to Laurence and Crystle Carlson in Sioux City, Iowa. He went home to be with His Lord August 25, 2016, surrounded by family and friends. Larry was raised in Wakefield, Nebraska, and graduated from Wakefield High School. He married Sally Ann Miller in 1962 and they had a son, Paul Warren the following year. They moved to Glenwood Springs in June of 1964 where their daughter, Laura Jean was born in 1966. He was a successful contractor and real estate agent. He is survived by Sally, his wife of 53 years, son, Paul and his wife Maura; granddaughter Kiley and her husband, Luke Hall along with great grandson, Masen and sibling-to-be; and grandson Kevin and his wife, Taylor and great granddaughter, Brindle, as well as many nieces, nephews and friends. Larry was predeceased by his parents, his daughter Laura Wahl and his son-in-law Dale. Contributions can be made in Larry’s memory to New Hope Church, Youth for Christ, or Hospice of the Valley. Services will be held at a later date.

Food column: Summer may be cooling off but tomatoes are still hot

The summer is almost over, but one thing I must say I’m still enjoying and have enjoyed all season is tomatoes. There are so many kinds around, so it’s nice to make each one stand out depending on its flavor, texture and sweetness. A bare tomato has such complex textures in my mouth. If you ever get a chance, quarter a ripe Roma tomato and start by eating the seeds. You get a caviar like texture in your mouth, you can taste each seed separately, and you get baby explosions of tart. But there’s nothing like a cherry tomato ripe from the sun that just bursts into your mouth with lots of flavor. I love them just the way they are, but here are some other great ways of using your tomatoes for the rest of the season.

Spicy Tomato Salsa

2 cups Roma tomatoes, small dice

4 chile de arbol, whole

2 scallions, chopped

1 cup cilantro, chopped

3 garlic cloves, whole

1 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon cumin

salt and pepper to season

Set tomatoes aside. Place remaining ingredients in a blender for two minutes until well-blended. Place in a bowl with the diced tomatoes and season.

Caprese Skewers

12 cherry or pear tomatoes

12 basil leaves

12 fresh mozzarella mini balls

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

pinch smoked sea salt

Assemble skewers: Use tomatoes first, fold basil leaves and place on top, and follow with a mozzarella ball.

Mix garlic and extra virgin olive oil with cracked black pepper. Drizzle on top of the skewers, then sprinkle smoked sea salt over the top.

Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio

1 heirloom tomato, cut very thinly across

5 kalamata olives, slivered

¼ cup cucumber, small dice

1 small shallot, minced

1 cup shaved arugula

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted

Place heirloom tomato slices at the bottom of a platter, spreading them so they are not stacked on each other but covering the platter. Sprinkle cucumber, shallot, olives and arugula equally on top. Drizzle the red wine vinegar and let it sit for five minutes. Add the olive oil and shaved Parmesan on top. Crack some pepper or even chili flakes on top.

Tomato Watermelon Salad

3 Roma tomatoes, large dice

3 cups seedless watermelon, large dice

¼ cup red onions, sliced

½ cup lime juice

3 tablespoons feta cheese

1/8 cup cilantro, basil, parsley or tarragon, chopped

Place the lime juice over the red onions and set aside for 15 minutes. In a bowl combine the watermelon, tomatoes and feta cheese with your herb of choice. Add the lime onion mixture to the bowl and mix well.

Susie Jimenez was the runner-up from season 7 of “Food Network Star” and owns a local catering company. She can be reached at susiespiceitup@gmail.com.

10-day closure in Oct. for 8th Street bridge work

The bridge connecting downtown Glenwood Springs to Midland Avenue via Seventh Street will be closed for 10 days in October for work related to construction of the new street connection that will be part of the Grand Avenue bridge detour next year.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials announced Tuesday that work will begin next week to build the new Eighth Street connection that will bypass Seventh Street and directly connect Midland Avenue to Grand Avenue.

The route will be used during the 95-day detour starting next August when the main Colorado 82/Grand Avenue bridge is removed to make way for the final segment of the new bridge. The city has plans to make the new Eighth Street connection permanent.

As part of the detour work, Grand Avenue bridge project officials firmed up the schedule for the planned closure of the Eighth Street bridge that crosses the Roaring Fork River. The planned bridge closure has been a major concern for the city in terms of the timing with the recent start of the new school year.

The Eighth Street bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic for 10 days starting Oct. 8, but will remain open for pedestrian use during that time, said Tom Newland, bridge project public information manager.

Local vehicle access from Midland to Cowdin Drive on the west side of the bridge will also be maintained during the closure, he said.

To accommodate eventual detour traffic, the bridge will be getting a new concrete deck and asphalt pavement, as well as guardrail improvements.

CDOT considered doing either a single-lane closure and spreading the bridge work out over multiple weeks, or the shorter full closure in order to complete the project in time to lay new asphalt on the bridge and street connection before the colder weather hits and asphalt plants close for the season.

“This schedule gives us a little slack on either side to complete the project,” Newland said. “We have been working closely with the city to go over this plan and to address their concerns.”

City Council, during a recent discussion of the planned bridge work, preferred a full closure and shorter time frame rather than the option of keeping one lane of traffic open.

In addition to maintaining pedestrian access across the bridge, construction crews will have the ability to allow emergency vehicles access over the bridge, Newland said.

During the bridge closure, motorists traveling from west Glenwood to downtown will need to use U.S. 6 or the main Interstate 70 Exit 116. Residents along Midland Avenue can either go to 27th Street to access Grand Avenue, or travel back through west Glenwood.

Newland said construction crews will avoid work on the Grand Avenue bridge itself and on Sixth Street during the 10-day Eighth Street closure in order to allow for better traffic flow.

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses will also have a different schedule and route during the 10-day closure. That information will be updated at www.rfta.com.

“We are working closely with the Roaring Fork School District, the city of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, RFTA and Eighth Street businesses and residents to assist and continually update them on traffic and construction impacts during this phase,” Newland said.

The public will have several opportunities to hear more about CDOT’s plans with the detour construction in the coming weeks. The first will be during Newland’s regular update to City Council at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. this Thursday.

A neighborhood informational meeting is also planned for 5 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Glenwood Springs Library to discuss concerns regarding the Eighth Street closure. And, the next Grand Avenue bridge bi-monthly downtown public meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 16 at 715 Grand Ave., Suite A.

Meanwhile, work will begin next Tuesday on the new street connection from the point where Eighth Street now ends west of City Hall, across the area where the railroad side tracks have been removed, and connecting to the bridge.

“This connection quickly moved to the top of our priority list,” Newland said in a news release. “The decision to complete this work earlier in the construction schedule came after consideration for construction activities happening concurrently on Seventh Street.”

Originally, the street connection was to have been done next summer just before the detour went into effect.

However, with the periodic closures of Seventh Street between Colorado Avenue and Cooper Avenue, project officials wanted to alleviate traffic congestion and improve pedestrian safety on Seventh Street by reducing the number of vehicles in that area, he said.

The street connection is expected to take between six and eight weeks to complete. Motorists should anticipate minimal traffic impacts during the first week, but flaggers will be present to direct trucks in and out of the area.

About 1,000 cubic yards per day will be excavated west of City Hall, and trucks will use Ninth and 10th streets to and from Grand Avenue. Several trees will also be removed during the excavation phase of the project.

Editorial: Livestream CMC trustee meetings, drop censure

The Colorado Mountain College trustees meet this week in Steamboat Springs.

We have to imagine that very few constituents of the college district will be able to attend, and we believe the college should do more to make its governing meetings readily accessible to the public.

The trustee majority also needs to knock off its unproductive drive to dress down a member of the board minority.

Among the agenda items of interest to Garfield County residents this week are planned action on the “Cooper Commons buildout lease option agreement” and “board conduct/trustee censure (tabled from June).”

The Cooper Commons item refers to converting the vacant upper floor of the CMC headquarters at Eighth Street and Grand Avenue into usable space that will be an important new venue for meetings and events in Glenwood Springs. It promises to more fully leverage CMC’s space both for the good of the college and the community.

The space is a small example of the terrific asset CMC is to the region it serves. More importantly, it is working hard under President Carrie Besnette Hauser to partner with high schools and expand opportunity for all sectors of western Coloradans.

Our criticism of what a previous editorial termed an effort by the trustee majority to “foster a cloistered culture in which dissent is punished” is meant to encourage an important institution to be more open and accountable. In the long run, that will make CMC better.

The censure item is the case in point. It grows from a 4-3 split on the board and some trustees’ irritation primarily with Trustee Mary Ellen Denomy of Battlement Mesa.

As the Post Independent reported in July, Trustee Patricia Theobald of Breckenridge moved to censure Denomy “for repeated, serious violations of the responsibilities of [a] trustee of Colorado Mountain College, for engaging in a public campaign through newspapers across the district to mislead the readers by publishing the minority opinion [and] for expressing condemnation of the board and disapproval of properly approved actions by the board.”

“This conduct can only be intended to cause overwhelming damage to the college,” Theobald’s motion said.

The motion was tabled pending a discussion at the board retreat on Wednesday, but is back on the agenda for Thursday, perhaps as leverage to get Denomy and perhaps Trustee Kathy Goudy of Carbondale to agree in the retreat to behave the way the board majority would like.

Denomy’s sin, besides being a persistent questioner and voting against the budget this year, was to write two letters to editors of newspapers in the CMC district explaining why she would cast certain upcoming votes.

The move against Denomy smacks of an effort to muzzle an elected public official and to intimidate other members of the board minority into compliance and silence.

Elected boards shouldn’t work that way despite board President Glenn Davis’ wrongheaded assertion that the trustees are less like a city council than the board of a private company.

Such matters — as are the many less sexy matters before the CMC board — are of clear public interest. As we noted in our previous editorial, the trustees are elected and are the public’s only voice in allocating nearly $47 million that residents of six counties pay in property taxes that provide two-thirds of the college’s annual budget.

So shouldn’t CMC, home of the Isaacson School of New Media, described as “a cutting-edge learning environment designed to prepare you for a career in today’s digital world,” be livestreaming its meetings so anyone in its sprawling district could watch?

It is entirely appropriate for the trustees to meet in the college’s different locations, from Leadville to Aspen to Rifle to Steamboat.

It also would be entirely appropriate for two or three Issacson students to be assigned to transporting the equipment needed and setting up a livestream at all trustee meetings.

Livestreaming isn’t simple, and it’s easier if the event to be streamed is in a place with fixed equipment, but what we propose is entirely doable.

It also is a proper step for a regional school that relies on tax support (and doesn’t have to seek renewal so long as it doesn’t increase its levy).

Transparency sends the right message about a good institution to taxpayers and young people it seeks to educate.

And for goodness’ sakes, trustees, drop the censure motion. It’s unbecoming.

Rifle and Harvey Gap swim beaches to close for season

Labor Day weekend will be the last opportunity of the season to go for a swim at Rifle Gap State Park and Harvey Gap State Park.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Tuesday that the swim beaches at the two popular parks will close for the season Tuesday, Sept. 6.

All other activities, including camping, hiking, biking, boating, fishing and wildlife viewing, will continue as conditions allow, according to CPW.

For more information about current conditions at the parks, call 970-625-1607, or visit the Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap websites.

The waning days of summer at Colby Farms

Suddenly it feels like fall in Peach Valley after a hot and dusty summer when the rain almost never came. Recently, gales have heralded the farmers markets where I sell honey.

Thursday the New Castle Community Market got off to a brisk start before a roll of thunder announced a bout of rain. Shoppers huddled under the shelter of my canopy and sampled honey on fingertips. One fellow told me he’d just driven in from Grand Junction and assured me more foul weather was on its way. I ignored his warning.

As on other recent market days, the shower passed as quickly as a refreshing daydream. Music drifted across the park from the gazebo stage, where my dear old friend Laurie Dameron from Boulder played her guitar and sang jazzy tunes.

Then the wind howled and sighed in the upper branches of the tall trees, pushing them into a slow motion dance. Cinder blocks cinched my tent to the ground, but I grabbed onto the struts and braced for the onslaught.

When it came, chaos ensued. All my neighbors scrambled to hang onto their trembling tents as they counted down to liftoff. Tarps tore loose from their moorings and flapped noisily, a confetti of paper fliers littered the park, my canopy tore loose from a corner and let the rain spill in. I hoped my heavy glass honey jars would hold down the wind-whipped tablecloth, and not the other way around. From the corner of my eye I saw the aromatherapy tent next to mine had crumpled.

Then the rain came in sheets and waves. As the other vendors folded up their tents, I left mine standing while I packed. At least it was keeping me sort of dry. At that moment Ed strode up to help.

Afterward Noreen threw my soaking hoodie into the dryer at her hair salon while I shivered. Maud’s and Hogback Pizza were mobbed, so I told Ed we’d have a home-cooked meal.

A salad of cucumber and dill from my garden with local onions and garlic and a dab of sour cream complemented a fabulous hot dish made with cauliflower I’d bought at the market from Laura Kolecki’s garden in Silt. Simmered with cumin, mustard and fennel seeds, a little turmeric and a can of stewed tomatoes, Ed said it was the best meal I’d ever made. Laurie, who at first was sorry I wasn’t cooking meat, told me I should open a restaurant.

I just bought fresh local produce, grew a garden and followed the recipes.

In the last episode of our adventures at Colby Farm, I managed a cliffhanger. By the time I ran out of my allotted column inches, the fate of the runaway steer Buttercup remained unresolved. I had more good stories to tell than room to tell them in.

After discovering a defect in Ed’s sturdy electric fence and escaping along the ditch bank, for a week Buttercup took up residence two doors down on the Nepps’ big unfenced lot. By day he ranged among the sagebrush and cactus up a draw in the Hogback or grazed on Greg and Leslie’s lush green lawn. He liked to sleep under an apricot tree next to the ditch. The Nepps started calling him Norman.

Meanwhile Ed paid the bovine regular visits, bringing treats and enticements. “I’m on a campaign to gain his confidence,” Ed said over his shoulder as he headed out the door with a bucket of range cake.

In the end it was Dolores at Hy-Way Feed who solved our problem. She agreed to trailer her halter-trained steer to Buttercup. Greg was blocking his path to the Hogback when Dolores and Jem emerged from the sage. Buttercup swung his huge head around in surprise, touched muzzles with Jem, mooed, and meekly followed him, Ed and Dolores down the county road to home.

“They were both bawling as they parted,” Ed remembers.

It plagued him to know Buttercup, a herd animal, was lonely. Colby Farm livestock may be doomed, but Ed wants their days here to be happy ones.

He called Nanci Limbach to see if she had any more cattle she could sell us. “They’ve moved onto the range,” said Nanci. “The only steer I had left walked himself up the hill to the butcher yesterday. They’ll shoot him tomorrow. The same thing happened last year.”

A call came from Dolores wondering if Ed wanted to buy Jem. She wanted more than twice what he’d paid for Buttercup. Ed wondered if he could get him for less.

On the phone, Dolores explained she was asking $700 plus the cost of feed. Ed split the difference and made an offer. “You can have him for $100 less than that,” she said, matching the figure Ed originally had in mind.

“Dolores, you’re breaking the rules. You’re supposed to ask for more, not less,” he yelped. “I won’t give you a penny less than I said.”

Jem, a mix of Angus and the Bavarian Gelbvieh, is black as night and daintier than Buttercup. They seem content sharing the pasture, except when Ed brings range cake and Buttercup uses his horns to shove Jem, who has no horns, out of the way.  

“I thought he was lonely,” Ed laments,”but Buttercup is a bully.”

Marilyn Gleason writes Eating Local monthly for the PI’s Good Taste page.

Canyon rockfall work nearing completion

Rockfall mitigation work in Glenwood Canyon is wrapping up as crews complete the last of four rockfall barrier fences during the next week.

The project, which is in response to a major rockfall that closed Interstate 70 for nearly a full week in February, was initially planned to finish prior to Sept. 1, but crews are now expected to work until Sept. 6.

However, that will only mean one additional day of work since crews will not be working Friday through Monday during Labor Day weekend.

Additionally, both lanes of westbound traffic near mile marker 125 west of Hanging Lake Tunnel will be open during the holiday weekend. Traffic has been limited to one lane in the area, with the other lane being used for equipment staging. A one-lane closure might be necessary on Tuesday after the holiday weekend.

Repair and mitigation work has been ongoing — off and on — since the February slide, which resulted in the longest closure in the history of the interstate through the canyon.

The permanent rockfall mitigation project, which includes the barrier fences, started in May. Two alternating crews of about eight people have been working seven days a week for the majority of the project.

It has been a labor-intensive, physically demanding project, said Lee Barger, transportation team leader for SGM, a Glenwood Springs firm working on the project. At the same time, it’s also rewarding to get to work in such a scenic location and to work on a project that’s important to the community, with I-70 being a high impact corridor.

“This is a group of hardworking guys (who are) working on steep terrain,” which Barger compared to a double-black diamond ski slope.

Crews from Yenter Companies, which is based in Arvada and has an office in Grand Junction, have hiked up each day — navigating unstable talus fields where rocks can easily turn over under foot and which become slick after the late summer rains.

The crews have tied off ropes to help them climb up the steep terrain, which becomes a hand-and-knees scramble in many places.

“There was nothing easy about this project,” said Jonny MacFarlane, a Yenter foreman.

The last barrier fence to be completed is the highest, which project manager Jim Stepisnik said is about 300 feet up the northern canyon wall. All the heavy poles and materials have been placed with the help of a helicopter and crane, though much of the equipment had to be hiked in on foot.

The fences are strategically placed with a boulder’s trajectory in mind, said MacFarlane. The engineers looked at the terrain and projected where a rock would likely bounce and where it would come into contact with the ground.

Now crews are in the final stages of putting all the pieces together — stretching the lengths of ring net fencing and anchoring the fences to concrete bases.

In total the project used about 100 cubic feet of concrete, said MacFarlane. Digging the holes and pouring the concrete for the anchors was one of the more difficult parts of the project; crews ran a concrete hose up the rocky hillside, he said.

MacFarlane said he recently worked on a similar project in Minturn. Yenter also does a lot of rock scaling projects, a recent one being in Monarch Pass.

“We do get amazing views like this often,” said MacFarlane.

Glenwood Canyon already has about 40 rockfall fences in place, but this project is taking advantage of the latest technology developed by a Swiss company. These are the first 5,000 kilojoule fences to be installed in America, said Barger.

When the fences catch a rock the mechanism is akin to a fishing net enveloping its catch, he said.

“It’s an incredible design and we’re fortunate to be on the forefront of this technology.”

County commissioners will ask voters 2 tax questions

EAGLE — Eagle County voters, they’re all yours.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the county commissioners put two tax questions on the November ballot:

A sales tax projected to generate $5.4 million annually for workforce housing if passed.

Voter approval to borrow up to $19.95 million to finish the Eagle County Trail from Vail Pass to Dotsero, repaid with money from the ECO Transit and open space taxes, and extend the sunset on the open space tax from 2025 to 2040.

The trails proposal would allow county open space funds to be used to construct and maintain paved and unpaved trails without raising the current property tax.

The affordable housing tax would be a 0.3 percent sales tax — three cents on every $10 purchase — to support countywide workforce housing efforts. The tax would generate approximately $5.4 million per year.

So far, the plan for the money includes the following:

• Increasing the number of long-term, affordable rental housing units.

• Acquisition of land for future affordable housing developments.

• Providing down payment assistance loans to facilitate home ownership.

The tax would sunset in 20 years.

The county commissioners argued through two meetings whether to ask voters for a sales tax to pay for early childhood programs, but two of the three commissioners — Jeanne McQueeney and Kathy Chandler-Henry — decided against putting it on this year’s ballot. Commissioner Jill Ryan argued passionately for the tax question.

Instead, the commissioners directed the county staff to try to find $2 million per year in the existing budget that they could spend on recommendations in the Early Childhood Roadmap.

The commissioners spent $50,000 on that plan, to go with the $25,000 the school district spent. The study found that the county doesn’t have enough child care and that it’s expensive.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Theater backers say tax question leaves them out

Supporters of a performing arts center in Glenwood Springs may be inclined to oppose the renewal of a special city sales tax that’s on the fall ballot, because that particular project is not specifically among those listed to receive funding.

But a ballot question seeking a 30-year renewal of the 1-cent city acquisitions and improvements tax is broad enough that a performance theater is by no means excluded, City Council concluded in forwarding the question to voters for the Nov. 8 election.

“I do feel very strongly about this,” said Dave Merritt, a longtime supporter of a performing arts center and associate of Symphony in the Valley, as well as a former City Council member.

Merritt told council at a recent meeting that he can’t support the tax question as worded because it doesn’t mention a performance/concert hall of any sort.

The symphony is just one of the area groups that could make use of such a facility, he said, not to mention the potential to bring in touring performers. But the project keeps getting pushed to the back burner.

“We have been looking at a theater of some sort for a long time, and it was part of the original tax question 20 years ago,” Merritt said of the original A&I tax authorization in 1998.

Merritt said he has talked to other theater backers who feel the same way about the proposed tax renewal.

City voters are being asked to approve a 30-year extension to the special sales and use tax, which is otherwise set to expire after 2018.

A separate ballot question will ask for up to $54 million in bonding capacity using the tax proceeds to finance a range of projects aimed at easing traffic congestion and redeveloping the confluence area and Sixth Street corridor after the newly aligned Grand Avenue bridge is completed.

Among the bigger-ticket capital projects specifically mentioned in the bonding question are safety improvements to the West Midland Avenue and 27th Street bridges, construction of the planned South Bridge across the Roaring Fork River to Colorado 82, a Sixth Street “gateway” redevelopment, and riverwalk amenities at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.

After its initial approval 18 years ago, the A&I tax funded several public projects including the Glenwood Springs Community Center, the City Hall building and various trails and park improvements. Tax funds are also used to support the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts and the Glenwood Historical Society, and to subsidize operation of the community center.

Civic groups, including the Glenwood Chamber Resort Association’s Community on the Move committee, have been working with the city in recent months to gauge public support for renewing the tax and asking which projects citizens would like to see funded over the next three decades.

A recent poll of city voters found that 81 percent would be willing to extend the tax for up to 30 years.

Council members said a performing arts facility remains a desired amenity. But at an estimated $20 million or more to build and upwards of $400,000 per year to operate and maintain, based on the most recent feasibility study, it’s not an immediate priority.

“We have seen a couple of different iterations for a performing arts center design. They are gorgeous, but they’re just not feasible when you look at the capital and operational expense,” Councilman Leo McKinney said during an Aug. 18 council discussion when the tax question was forwarded to the ballot.

“I just don’t know how we get past that. … And the real question is, do we need those words in there to get people to vote for this,” he said.

City Attorney Karl Hanlon said there’s nothing to preclude using A&I tax dollars to help fund a performance theater, or even to go back to voters seeking bonding for that or any other specific project.

The city conducted a feasibility study five years ago that looked at building a 350-seat theater space with convertible floor space and a full stage and backstage onto the east side of the community center. That plan also envisioned an enclosure for what’s now an open-air ice rink, which would allow for its alternative use as an events center.

The concept earned support from members of a task force who were working on the project at the time, as well as potential users and city officials at the time.

But it came with a price tag of between $20 million and $26 million to build, plus an annual operating subsidy between $350,000 and $400,000.

Councilman Stephen Bershenyi, who has supported a performing arts center since joining council seven years ago, said it will be his “one disappointment” when he leaves council next year that the city wasn’t able to accomplish it.

“I think there is a huge need for one,” Bershenyi said. “We live on one of the busiest interstate corridors, and multiple acts pass by this community weekly. I think there’s an engine there that we’re missing, and we’re not really looking at what it can mean for our community.”

Other council members maintained that the city could be a partner in funding a performance theater, but not the sole funding entity.

“I would still love to see a performing arts center, but agree … we’re going to need to look regionally to find funding and partner with other groups, instead of it being just Glenwood Springs,” City Councilor Kathryn Trauger said. “It’s absolutely needed, but we can’t do it by ourselves.”

Merritt said the theater project got postponed when the city decided instead to proceed with construction of the gymnasium and swimming pool additions to the community center. It’s time to follow through on that original promise, he said.

‘It’s good to be kind to people’

Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn is truly a nice guy.

Ask nearly anyone in law enforcement around here and they’ll tell you. Now one Florida man who recently took a wrong turn on his mountain bike knows it too.

“I’m really impressed with the character of Billy,” said mountain biker Nate Post. “It seemed to be reflective of a lot of the citizens of Aspen.”

Post, 30, is a Santa Fe, New Mexico, native but lives in Orlando, Florida, where he works in the software section of a cancer research laboratory. He also is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of the disease when he was 22 and spent the next two years “really sick” until chemotherapy put him in the clear, he said.

About the time he was declared cancer-free, Post said he hooked up with a charity in the Denver area called First Descents, which provides outdoor adventures for young adults ages 18 to 39 who’ve been impacted by cancer, according to the organization’s website.

Fast forward to the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race earlier this month. First Descents was putting together a team for the race to raise money for the charity, and Post said he volunteered for it. Only thing was, Post isn’t really a mountain-bike racer, he said.

So he he came out to Colorado 10 days early to get some mountain-bike rides under his belt. For one of those rides, Post said he decided to try out the first leg of the race, which goes from Leadville, around Turquoise Lake, then over Sugarloaf Pass and back into Leadville.

He set off from Leadville on Aug. 7, the Sunday before the race, for what he thought was going to be a low-key 15- to 20- mile training ride. Because he didn’t think he’d be gone long, he brought along one bottle of water and no food, he said.

Unfortunately, Post took a wrong turn and ended up at the top of Hagerman Pass. Thinking he was still on the right track, he said he began descending. And descending. And descending.

“I started to get a little concerned,” he said. “If you’ve ever been on that road, you know it never ends.”

As the path changed from mountain bike trail to fire road to pavement and he ran out of water, Post said he began to get really concerned. He finally ran into another person walking along the road at about 7 p.m. and learned he was way off course and about 20 miles from Basalt.

Despite having no water or food, Post said he was confident he could make the 20 mile distance to Basalt, find a hotel and figure out a way back to Leadville in the morning.

“After about 12 miles, I realized I was really bonking,” Post said. “The sun was setting. I was really hurting.”

He was somewhere above Ruedi Reservoir at that point and hadn’t seen a car in quite awhile when he looked over his shoulder and saw a truck coming. Post said he hopped off his bike and flagged down the truck, which was being driven by Linn.

“I was up in Meredith fishing with a friend,” Linn said. “And I was driving home when I saw something I’d never seen before — a bicyclist holding his thumb out. That’s just weird.”

So he stopped and asked if Post was OK.

“He was actually kind of delirious,” Linn said. “He wasn’t making a lot of sense. I’m guessing he was really dehydrated.”

Linn immediately agreed to give Post a ride to Basalt. But as Post calmed down a bit and began to tell Linn about himself and why he was in Colorado, Linn said he just couldn’t simply drop him off in Basalt.

“Honestly, he’s a pretty impressive young man,” Linn said. “There was no way I was going to leave him with a 7-Eleven dinner in Basalt.”

Linn said he also knew getting back to Leadville wasn’t going to be an easy exercise in public transportation navigation.

So instead, Linn drove Post to his family’s home in Aspen, where a dinner of fettuccine Alfredo was on the table. Linn invited Post to sit down with his family, which Post quickly accepted.

“I was devouring it,” Post said. “I think I ate half a pot of pasta.”

Linn offered Post a change of clothes and a shower after dinner, but Post declined, Linn said. They then climbed back into Linn’s truck and headed over Independence Pass to Leadville, arriving about 10 p.m.

A pizza place was still open and Post insisted on buying Linn a slice, so they sat down and ate again, both men said. Afterward, Linn drove back to Aspen, and Post climbed into his truck and drove to Crested Butte, where his friend had been wondering where he was.

Linn said his actions were no big deal and that he felt a bit self-conscious about the story appearing in the newspaper. Still he said he enjoyed the experience and making a new friend.

“I’m a Christian and that’s an important part of my life,” Linn said. “I got more out of it than he did. It’s good to be kind to people.”

Post ended up competing in the Leadville 100, and his team raised $210,000 for the First Descents charity, he said.

“I was totally blown away (by Linn’s actions),” Post said. “I try to do good things and I guess that was my payback or something.”

jauslander@aspentimes.com