Road collapse postpones draining of Harvey Gap | PostIndependent.com

Road collapse postpones draining of Harvey Gap

The Silt Water Conservancy District is postponing its plans to drain Harvey Gap Reservoir, following a partial road collapse south of the reservoir earlier this week.

Consequently, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Thursday it has canceled an emergency fish salvage that was intended to remove as many fish as possible in preparation for the draining of the reservoir this fall.

Harvey Gap Road, Country Road 237, was closed Sunday after part of the northbound lane collapsed. The road, north of Silt, remains closed indefinitely and the cause of the collapse is still under investigation, however, water district officials indicated the road troubles were not linked to the plans to drain the reservoir, according to a press release from Garfield County.

A hole roughly twice the width of the road developed after a rainstorm Saturday. The growing gully left a section of asphalt hanging above it, according to the county.

One-third of the northbound lane collapsed and cracks in the remaining pavement are growing.

Although Harvey Gap Reservoir is a popular destination for anglers and others, the reservoir is primarily an irrigation water source for local landowners. Since the collapse of the road, the district has suspended deliveries to irrigators, according to the county.

Engineers with the water district are attempting to find methods for delivering irrigation water to shareholders.

CPW implemented its emergency fishing salvage last week following the water district’s announcement that it intended to drain the reservoir for inspection of a dam structure.

The lifting of the salvage means all restrictions and regulations at Harvey Gap are back in place.

The district now intends to drain the reservoir next year, according to Thursday’s press release from the county.

There is no timetable for when Harvey Gap Road could be reopened. It is currently barricaded between Odin Drive and the swimming beach at Harvey Gap, and the county discouraged pedestrians from traveling on the stretch of road as well.

All motorists should use an alternative route along Grass Valley Road west from New Castle or east from Rifle to reach Harvey Gap.

Greater Eagle Fire names acting chief, explores interim options

EAGLE — Following the arrest of Fire Chief Kurtis Vogel on charges of stealing more than $120,000 from the city of Sterling, the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District has named Division Chief Bill Kennedy as the acting fire chief.

Vogel remains on administrative leave without pay until further notice due to his unavailability to perform his duties.

Following Vogel’s Aug. 11 arrest, the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District and the accounting firm Marchetti & Weaver, LLC, completed an internal audit of controls and account. No discrepancies were found during the review.

Meeting scheduled

A special meeting for the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District Board of directors has been scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. to reconsider Vogel’s status. The meeting will be held at the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District Station 9, 425 E. Third St. in Eagle. Board members Kraige Kinney, Eric Collom and acting Fire Chief Bill Kennedy are pursuing potential candidates for fire chief on an interim basis.

“The safety of our community and our visitors are of the utmost importance to the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District’s board of directors,” noted a press release from the board dated Wednesday. “Emergency response, day-to-day operations, training, and fire prevention activities are continuing with business as usual without interruption.”

Hudson Reed’s Shakespeare in the Park celebrates 10 years with ‘As You Like It’

The bard is back at the renovated Galena Plaza.

After a two-year hiatus from its traditional home, the Hudson Reed Ensemble’s Shakespeare in the Park series will returns to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a free three-week run of “As You Like It.”

By its most recent Shakespeare run in Galena Plaza – “Romeo and Juliet” in 2013 – the condensed and creatively staged Hudson Reed productions had grown into a beloved late summer Aspen tradition. Nearly 1,200 people attended the 2013 run.

As has become Hudson Reed’s tradition, this “As You Like It” is decidedly non-traditional. The costume choices play up the fantastical elements of the gender-bending comedy, imagining Duke Frederick as a goth and placing several characters in Amish garb. The soundtrack uses contemporary pop music to set the mood, with 12 songs ranging from Joe Cocker’s “Come Together” to Edith Piaf’s “Hymne” to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s “You’re the One That I Want” from “Grease.” There are some choreographed dance pieces to match.

“For Shakespeare purists it might be iffy,” said director Kent Reed. “But it’s for the general public and that’s why we’ve had 10 years of success.”

The cast is made up largely of newcomers to Shakespeare in the Park (Gerald DeLisser is the only Hudson Reed regular in the play). Sheri Brinker plays Jacques, who is reimagined as a woman for Reed’s version, and the nine-actor ensemble includes high schoolers Emily Henley and Eli Pettet. Three actors are returning from Hudson Reed’s well-received spring production of “Bus Stop.”

“It’s really been fun working with these guys,” Reed said toward the tail end of the six-week rehearsal period. “And it’s exciting when there’s this new talent.”

The condensed version of the Shakespearean comedy is expected to run about 80 minutes. But the complex, convoluted plot of Rosalind and Orlando’s romance in the Forest of Arden was challenging to trim and keep coherent, said Reed.

“This is one of the most difficult cuts that I’ve made,” he said. “What we try to do is tell the story with the main characters, so that you know what’s going on.”

The renovated Galena Plaza, which doesn’t include seating or landscaping as it had in the past, provided new challenges for the troupe.

“I looked at it and said, ‘I don’t know, maybe we should go back to the old powerhouse like we did last summer,’” Reed, referring to the 2015 production of Todd Hartley’s “The Generations of Tantalus.” “Then I thought, ‘Well, maybe we could make something of this.’”

Reed and his crew have ended up producing more of a set than years past in the Shakespeare series, planting tubes in the lawn to ground fabric backdrops – 13 feet high, 36 feet across – and setting up three tents.

For seating, they’ll have about 80 chairs set up (though patrons are welcome to bring their own chairs and there will be a designated area for picnic blankets).

The show will go on, rain or shine, Fridays through Sundays, from Aug. 19 to Sept. 4. Late summer storms have been known to steal the show from time to time. The 2013 production of “Romeo and Juliet,” for instance, was plagued by a particularly tempestuous August.

“It was a knuckle-biter,” laughed Reed.

Artist Spotlight: Judy Milne

Judy Milne is a long time local with a lifelong love of art. Her first public display came in second grade at the art museum in Edmonton, Alberta — an imaginary animal drawn with a 64 pack of crayons. She’s since dabbled with many different mediums, including charcoal and clay before settling on watercolor. Her work is on display at the Cooper Corner Gallery in Glenwood, among other venues. She recently shared some of her journey with the Post Independent.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I grew up in Southern Alberta for the most part. I went to university in Edmonton and studies sociology and psych. I was a social worker in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. I’d always wanted to travel, so I took off and traveled to Europe alone, staying in youth hostels. I spent six months in Crete and three months in Afghanistan.

How did you end up here?

When I came back, some friends had gone to the Bahamas, so I went down there on a three week excursion ticket and stayed for three years. I was a cocktail waitress in a discotek and spent a lot of time on the beach. My friend and I made bikinis and jams. Her boyfriend was from Denver, and when the Bahamas got their independence and wouldn’t renew work permits, about twelve of us moved to Aspen.

What did you do there?

We went and started a little place in the basement of the Monarch Building. It was the Hobbit Hole, and we did things like leatherwork and crochet. Then we moved over to the Hymen Street Mall, got another partner and made clothing as “The Country Flower.” I did sewing for quite a few years and moved to Carbondale in 1980. I was in one of the first Valley Visual Arts shows.

Then Valley View Hospital had an opening in the early childhood department, and I had the experience, so I went to work there.

How did you get back into art?

When I was finished taking my director’s qualifications for early childhood education, I was used to taking a class every semester. I took Spanish but the teacher broke her hip so I switched to a class on drawing on the right side of the brain and I was hooked. I just kept taking classes and loving it.

A few years ago some painting friends suggested I take a class on wet on wet watercolor in a large format. You have to try not to move the paint around yourself, but let it move on its own. It frees you up some. I really loved that, so that’s what I’ve been doing the last few years.

I’m often totally surprised by what’s coming out of me. It’s exciting for me still.

What’s next?

I’m working on the Redstone Art Show, which I’ve been in for many years. It’s a lot of fun. We go up and spend the weekend.

Also, a group of friends and I have been painting together on Thursday. We talked about it for years.

It’s turned into a wonderful group of fellow painters who critique each other and help each other. We’ve started doing group shows. There’s one coming up in December at the Village Smithy.

Luis Alberto Urrea to speak in Carbondale

Bestselling author Luis Alberto Urrea is slated for a pair of area events this week in support of local nonprofit English in Action.

First, he will be the features speaker at the an intimate fundraiser, complete with cocktail reception, at Casa Tua Aspen. The event takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31 and space is limited. Tickets may be purchased at www.EnglishinAction.org.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept 1, Urrea comes to Carbondale’s Third Street Center for a bicultural presentation for a general audience and designed to be accessible to English language learners of all levels. Event admission is a $10 suggested donation. For reservations, call 963-9200.

English in Action endeavors to strengthen the community by helping adult immigrants learn to read, write and speak English, and by building cross-cultural relationships

“What we do through our programming is create connections,” said executive director Lara Beaulieu. “We want to bring people together.”

The organization got its start through the Basalt Library in 1994. I expanded into its own nonprofit in 2005, and has touched the lives of 1200 people along the way.

“There are very few opportunities for immigrant community members to share their stories,” Beaulieu observed. “Language is a huge obstacle, and we often live very separate lives.”

To combat that, English in Action arranges one on one tutoring between an English learner and a fluent speaker, a relationships which often persist long after the language barrier is gone.

“A lot of times people think they need to speak Spanish to participate, and that’s not true,” Beaulieu said. “Once they have a foundation, someone who’s not bilingual can be a very effective tutor.”

The organization first came in contact with Urrea when he spoke at Aspen Words and area schools in 2012.

“I personally have witnessed him turn a packed auditorium of 200 skeptical, slouching, seemingly indifferent teenagers into an engaged, cheering mob,” said board member Julie Pickrell, who helped connect Urrea with English in Action.

“He’s such an inspirational speaker,” Beaulieu agreed. “He has opened a window into different life experiences and different cultures. Many of his stories talk about situations that are similar to what our students have gone through. It was a great fit for English in Action.”

“I think there’s something for everybody in his work,” she added. “His talk will not be focused on just one book, it will be about his experience growing up in Tijuana and San Diego and his journey to becoming a writer.”

Hailed by NPR as a “literary badass” and a “master storyteller with a rock and roll heart,” Urrea is a prolific writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph.

His recent story collection “The Water Museum,” was named a best book of the year by The Washington Post and Kirkus Reviews, among others. The National Endowment for the Arts chose his bestselling novel “Into the Beautiful North” — which included a scene in Glenwood Springs — as a Big Read selection. “The Devil’s Highway,” his 2004 nonfiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, won the Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. “The Hummingbird’s Daughter,” his bestselling historical novel, tells the story of Urrea’s great-aunt Teresa Urrea, known as the Saint of Cabora and the Mexican Joan of Arc. The book involved 20 years of research and writing and won the Kiriyama Prize in fiction.

Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, though his real passion is for the bridges that transcend them.

“I feel particularly riven by the border,” he said. “It went right down the middle of our lives.”

“Every place is a border town now,” he added. “People are trapped between cultures. They feel rejected by one and ashamed of the other and they’re lost.”

Urrea’s job as he sees it is to bare witness and tell the truth as he sees it. While the characters and events in his works of fiction are products of his imagination, he takes plenty of inspiration from real life.

“I take it as a real honor that people trust me with that” he said. “I think you never go wrong representing humanity to other human beings.”

“I think the country yearns for connection,” he added. “A lot of the rhetoric is inflamed to the point of being cartoonish, but when the panic and rage start to abate, I think our natural desire as people is to work in partnership.”

Despite what he’s seen, Urrea finds glimmers of hope in border towns, fruit farms and his own family.

“We have Phd’s where I was the first person to go to college,” he observed. “That’s how quickly the American Dream can work.”

His next project will focus on women in the Red Cross during World War II. He doesn’t see anything odd about the apparent shift of topic.

“First and foremost, my job is to give you a good story,” he said. “Beyond borders and ethnicity, it’s a human question.”

Will Call: Wild and free

Society is flawed. In fact, civilization in general has proven downright mess of violence, inequity and waste. But is it as bad as the alternative?

That question has been posed, in one form or another, in several recent films. Perhaps it’s just the human propensity to see patterns whether they’re there or not, but it seems like the movie industry gets on kicks that way. I remember a couple years ago when every other movie at the Crystal Theatre seemed to deal with coming of age.

The current trend occurred to me about halfway through the most recent flick, “Captain Fantastic.” That’s probably because it’s the most overt in exploring the theme of civilization and wilderness. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” seems more about overcoming our differences, and “The Lobster” is well, weird. In the middle of that lineup at the Crystal was “Maggie’s Plan,” but that strikes me as an outlier. Despite its setting, I’m not sure the “The Jungle Book” really fits the theme with it’s civilized wilderness nor, despite its title and its popularity last year, would “Wild”.

Anyway, the remaining triptych are as interesting in their differences as their similarities.

“The Lobster” is, I think, an interesting concept poorly marketed. From the trailer, you’d almost think it was directed by Wes Anderson, but it actually has more than a little “Clockwork Orange” to it. It depicts a literally dehumanizing dystopian society in which people who are unable to find love are turned into another animal of their choice. The “singles” who refuse to cooperate with this rather odd rule (is it an overpopulation thing?) hide out in the forest. The rules are just as strict in the other direction there, though, and no one seems to consider that surviving in the wild alone might actually be easier if they just let themselves be transformed. The ambiguous ending leaves the viewer to decide how far they would go to be part of the group.

On the other end of the spectrum, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is over the top funny in the spirit of “The Blues Brothers.” The central character, a disaffected orphan, makes it less than a mile in his first attempt to run away into the New Zealand bush. By the end, he’s got the nerve to stand up to a charging boar and shoot it dead. His outdoor skills probably won’t prove all that useful in the long run, but he learns some lessons about self reliance and loyalty in the end. We’ll throw this one in the category of wilderness as a character builder.

That brings us back to “Captain Fantastic,” which lies somewhere between the two extremes. There are some lighthearted moments and some disturbing ones. I heard it humorously described as a cross between “Into the Wild” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” and there’s something apt about that. It inverts the standard arc by moving from wilderness to civilization. We’re invited to consider a family raised hunting their own food and honing their physical and mental abilities. It’s so easy to sympathize with the father, whose philosophy of keeping the bar high and being brutally honest has produced a group of intelligent and strong charactered children. Even the youngest can quote the constitution and give an opinion on Citizens United, though the eldest is way out of his depth talking to girls.

We’re entirely hooked by the time the filmmakers reveal their trap surreptitiously in a section of dialogue about the unreliable narrator of “Lolita.” From there, they begun to unravel the trap they’ve built. We see their aunt’s incredulity at the idea that wilderness survival skills are obvious and essential. Their grandfather, though cast as the antagonist, makes good points when he reels off the danger and poor judgement we just witnessed.

In the end, there’s room for compromise. That’s pretty much the conclusion most people who live here have already reached. Society, with all its faults, is a lot easier to take when you can escape it for a while. The outdoors are a lot more inviting when you know there’s a meal and a hot shower waiting at home. Being able to fend for yourself remains a valuable skill, but being able to coexist with others is even more essential in an ever more crowded world.

Will Grandbois has mostly overcome his childhood fantasy of living in a tree with a peregrine falcon. He can be reached at 384-9105 /will@postindependent.com.

April in Glenwood: A karaoke DJ saved my life

Last weekend I celebrated my impending nuptials with an appropriate hobby: karaoke.

Hobby may be a strong word, considering singing in tune isn’t exactly a talent of mine. I’m not really a karaoke regular either, as in the enviable type of singer impressing audiences with perfect pitch, tone, rhythm, and vocal technicality. I can do comedy, though.

That’s best way to describe my karaoke style.

I rarely shy away from a crowd so I have fun with it. For me, karaoke is all about the showmanship. And the humor. My old stand-by is “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard, a number I’ve had memorized since I played it repeatedly in my Mustang’s tape deck in high school. I do have a knack for remembering a ridiculous amount of lyrics, especially from the ‘80s, so singing along to words on a screen to my favorites is a night well spent. When I had the chance to celebrate the end to my bachelorettehood with my girlfriends in the city, I thought karaoke post-dinner sounded perfect.

Turns out we were in good company.

We discovered a friendly karaoke pub featuring a mix of ages and reasons for singing on a rainy Saturday night in Louisville. From a couple ladies celebrating their 23rd birthdays with “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen to our group of 40-somethings dubbed Team Bride singing ‘80s and ‘90s hits, we were all over the board. There were definitely the karaoke regulars with the perfect pitch, tone, rhythm, and vocal technicality.

And then, me.

Of course I didn’t miss a beat with the Def Leppard hit. I even gave a Salt-N-Pepa “Push It” duo with a member of Team Bride a try. The crowd was into it and kept dancing, so that was a good sign. Karaoke was a fun option for our party, and was appropriate considering that’s how it all started my fun love story.

I first met Steve on one of my Christmas breaks, when I still lived in Colorado, when he still DJed karaoke for fun. It was always a tradition with my friends when I was home visiting to go out and sing karaoke in my small-town pub. My best friend Megan was known for turning off her kid when we sang.

I probably should.

One night, Steve and I started talking between my nearly-endless karaoke requests and became Facebook friends. I remember thinking he was cute and my type. But I lived more than a thousand miles away, so friends we would stay. Or so I thought.

Flash forward to a hot September night two years ago.

I had attended a fall festival in my hometown with friends, not long after I decided I would come back to Indiana to be closer to my parents after struggling with two unexpected family losses. I was as single as a contestant on “The Dating Game,” but didn’t have many plans to try my hand at love again. I was pretty much on the losing end. My best friend’s husband suggested she and I go out after the festival for some karaoke singing and girl time, and we obliged.

That’s the night the real magic happened.

A seat was empty next to Steve, so I grabbed the spot and we started talking. I think I remember saying, “Aren’t we friends on Facebook?” That night he did his best Bob Seger, and I was all over the “Pour Some Sugar On Me” theatrics. So much so, I rolled my ankle.

Only I could suffer a karaoke injury.

My graceful dance moves must have made an impression. Steve asked if I would like to go out on a date that next weekend, and I immediately said yes. At least I knew I could make him laugh. He took me to dinner and a comedy club to watch stand-up — a man after my own heart — and we were smitten from the start. That fateful night of karaoke after being Facebook friends from the past led to this wonderful life we’ve created with kids, camping, and an occasional night out singing karaoke.

And plenty of comedy.

April E. Clark was once a bachelorette on Paonia’s live version of “The Dating Game.” She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.

Art Scene: Yesterday, today and tomorrow

John Hines knew his job. It was the 20th Century but he knew he was part of the hand off that began in 1886 when Walter Devereux formed the Glenwood Light & Water Company and electric power came to town. He worked in the power plant on the north bank of the Colorado River and understood the flow of knowledge and ideas that would come together at historic moments.

He wrote “Thomas Edison traveled through the mountains of Colorado during the summer of 1878, visiting mines and observing the hand-powered drilling techniques. Moved by the immense and difficult effort expended by hand in the mining industry, Edison reportedly turned to a traveling companion at a point above the Platte River and stated ‘Why cannot the power of yonder river be transmitted to these men by electricity?’ Returning home to New Jersey, he ceased work on the phonograph and put all of his laboratory’s energies into the development of electricity.”

The Glenwood Springs hydroelectric plant was the conduit of the future, the change agent that transformed the everyday lives of individuals and industry. That structure has been the home to the Center for the Arts for decades and we continue to be the conduit of change and transformation. We do it with a dedication to finding the creative spark in everyone and making sure it powers the imagination. Like lightning, the arts rebalance the universal energy.

Now, we begin a new chapter. When a June flood changed the course of our world and the main gallery floor was damaged, we immediately got to the business of getting back on track. September 2 – 10, our new floor will be completed and we invite you to be our guest from 3:30 – 6:00 on September 16 for our Grand Reopening.

New Dreams, New Ideas

Everything we do at the Center is about you. We never stop imaging the next step, the next opportunity. We also never stop focusing on the business of art that powers that process. Here are two easy ways to be part of that process:

Our biggest fundraiser of the year is right around the corner. The 17th Annual Culinary Arts, Wine & Brewfest will be held Saturday, October 15, 2016 at the historic Hotel Colorado.

Join us from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. for a delightful evening of music, wine, beer, food tasting, chef demos, and the best silent auction in town with incredible items donated from across the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.

August is Membership Month and we invite you to become a member of the award-winning Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. Individual, Family and Business 12-month memberships are $30, $45 and $100. You receive discounts on our growing variety of children and adults classes and on annual events like the Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest. Your membership also includes an invitation to our elegant annual Membership and Sponsor Appreciation evening. Your new or renewed membership supports year-long arts experience for everyone in the extended community and says that ‘art matters’. Go online at glenwoodarts.org or give us a call at 945-2414.

Remember, our Fall/Spring classes start the week of September 6th and they are filling up fast so go online to glenwoodarts.org and register now!

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. – Albert Einstein

Christina Brusig is the executive director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. She can be reached at christina@glenwoodarts.org.

Wine Ink column: 2016 wine harvest underway in Northern Hemisphere

If you are in the wine trade, it is the most wonderful day of the year.

That day when the harvest season begins. Oh sure, it is filled with back-breaking work, little to no sleep and the stress of making a thousand decisions on the fly. But it is also the season when winemakers get a first look at what the new vintage will be like and what the earth has bestowed upon them over the past year.

For most winemakers, the phrase “we make wines in the vineyard” is a mantra. And this is the time when that plays out right before their very eyes.

THE HARVEST SEASON

Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the picking has begun in the course of the past couple of weeks. The white wine grapes are generally the first to be picked each season, with pinot noir, merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon following in line throughout the next couple of months.

In Northern California, the harvest season began as usual with the sparkling wine houses picking pinot meunier, pinot noir and chardonnay for their Champagne-style wines. Mumm Napa announced that they picked 20 tons of grapes in American Canyon at first light on July 28. The next day, in the Russian River Valley, Korbel began to harvest pinot gris, and on Aug. 3, Gloria Ferrer Caves and Cellars picked some pinot noir for their sparklers, as well. This was not as early as last year, when Mumm started six days earlier, but is in keeping with the trend for earlier harvests.

At this point, Napa and Sonoma winemakers are optimistic about the 2016 season, especially in contrast to 2015, when Napa yields were down nearly a third from the previous 2014 vintage, which was a record haul. Fires in both the Big Sur area and in Lake County, a region that had been decimated in September 2015, as well, have kept everyone on edge, but the work has begun in earnest.

Up north in Washington State, the heated hills of Red Mountain and the Yakima Valley saw the harvests begin the second week of August, as vintners supervised the picks of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, getting them in early before the sugar levels climbed too high.

Woodinville’s Auclair Winery in the western part of Washington announced that it had picked a ton of Savvy from the Artz Vineyard in the Red Mountain Appellation on Aug. 13. The forecast for Washington foresees record tonnage, as the state’s wine industry continues to grow with more than 850 wineries producing product.

Oregon’s harvest season kicks off a little later in August, with many of the state’s 702 wineries getting their white grapes, including pinot gris and Riesling, off the vines this month. According to the Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report for 2015, pinot noir accounts for just more than two thirds, or 67 percent, of total wine production within the state. The pinot noir pick will likely not be in full force until mid-September in the Willamette Valley, as these wines tend to hang a little longer.

CALLING THE PICK

It is estimated that during the course of a vintage, a winemaker must make more than a thousand decisions before a wine is actually made. But unquestionably, the most important verdict of the year comes when he or she finally says, “Let’s go,” and the harvest begins.

There are a myriad of factors that go into making the determination of when to harvest a vineyard, and science plays a key role.

The chemistry of the grapes is meticulously monitored, as tests are conducted to determine the chemical composition of the clusters of grapes as they hang on the vines. Each grape variety requires different levels of sugars, or brix as they are called, and/or acidity to meet the requirements of an individual winemaker.

Not sweet enough or the brix levels are too low? Let ’em hang may be the choice. Rising acidity? Perhaps it’s time to get ’em off the vine. It all depends on what kind of wine the winemaker hopes to produce.

Of course, all decisions ultimately hinge on the weather, as well. Winemakers keep a close eye on the sky and generally hope for fair weather during the harvest months of August and September. A cold snap or a heavy rain or a dose of unwelcome humidity can greatly change the prospects for a smooth harvest.

But for most winemakers, the one factor that is most important comes when they stand in the vineyard and taste the grapes. They taste the sweetness, feel the tannins in the skins and get a feel for the flavors of the grapes.

If there is perfection in the mouth, then it is time to call the pick.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and black Lab, Vino. He can be reached at malibukj@aol.com.

No decision on Basalt-area grow operation

A majority of Pitkin County commissioners voted Wednesday to put off making a decision until next month on a Basalt-area woman’s application to start a retail marijuana growing operation.

Commissioners Patti Clapper, Steve Child and Michael Owsley voted to continue Candace Resnick’s application until Sept. 28 to give her time to try to clear up issues associated with it, including allowing neighbors who haven’t yet been consulted about it to comment.

However, Commissioners George Newman and Rachel Richards voted against that plan, with both saying they’d prefer to deny Resnick the license and readdress her application in the future when issues they felt would take longer than a month to resolve can be dealt with.

“There are far too many fatal flaws (with the application) for my personal taste,” Richards said. “I’m not feeling that this one is appropriate.”

Resnick, 68, told commissioners she wants to convert the ceramics studio at her home on West Sopris Creek Road to a grow house. She said her hands and back can no longer handle the impacts of creating pottery, and that her main motivation for starting the grow operation is to be able to stay in her home.

“I’m a responsible businessperson,” said Resnick, adding that she doesn’t smoke marijuana. “It’s going to be completely low-key.”

Resnick was seeking a conditional approval, meaning that commissioners would make a list of conditions she must meet before she could begin growing marijuana. Resnick wanted it that way because she didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the project then be denied by the county board.

One of the main issues that arose Wednesday involved Resnick’s neighbors. While she received permission for the grow operation from the Crystal River Caucus, which is the appropriate caucus for her location, the impacts of her proposed business would solely be felt by the Emma Caucus, said Liz Newman, a member of the caucus and Commissioner Newman’s wife.

Members of the Emma Caucus were not consulted about the business.

Liz Newman said Resnick’s residence and a neighboring residence were not included in the Emma Caucus boundaries because of an error. The Emma Caucus only recently learned about the error, she said.

David Myler, an attorney representing the 41 homeowners of the Sopris Mountain Ranch Homeowner’s Association and two other nearby clients, said all were opposed to the grow operation. Those neighbors only learned of Resnick’s application a week ago and want more time to gather information about it and make further comments, he said.

Another significant issue with the application involved water. Resnick must petition water courts to change her well water use from residential to commercial, which Clapper said can be an expensive and lengthy process. Myler said he’s consulted a water attorney, who didn’t think water courts would even authorize the change.

The issue of access to the property also appeared thorny. Resnick’s driveway crosses both Bureau of Land Management land and another private property through an easement that doesn’t allow commercial activity, Myler said. In addition, crossing federal land to transport a drug still deemed illegal by the U.S. government could pose problems, he said.

Finally, Richards and Liz Newman pointed out that because of Resnick’s remote location, public safety response in the event of a robbery or fire would likely take some time.

jauslander@aspentimes.com