Back to school in RFSD | PostIndependent.com

Back to school in RFSD

CDOT worker falls from I-70 in Glenwood Canyon

A Colorado Department of Transportation worker fell Wednesday morning from the upper deck of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon.

Amy Ford, CDOT communications director, said that a maintenance worker fell while working on a guard rail near mile marker 127. The circumstances of this fall are still unkown, and CDOT is conducting a safety investigation into the incident. Ford said the worker fortunately received only minor injuries but was transported to a hospital.

She said that traffic was not affected other than having to pull over for emergency vehicles.

The fall occurred near ongoing work to reduce rockfall dangers in the canyon, though Ford said this worker was not directly involved in that project.

The Post Independent will update this story as more detail becomes available.

Olympics done, WNBA ready for sprint to the finish

RIO DE JANEIRO — With the Olympics in the rearview mirror, the WNBA is ready to restart its season after a month-long break.

There should be quite the sprint to the finish over the league’s final weeks.

“Very excited to get the back end of the season going,” WNBA President Lisa Borders said. “You think about the format changes, top eight teams make the playoffs, doesn’t matter what your geography is, it matters what your record is.”

Only 4 1/2 games separate fourth place and 11th after the league changed its playoff format this season to get rid of conferences. The top eight teams will make the playoffs.

“The league is very close right now and anybody can make it into the playoffs or get kicked out at this point,” Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne said. “Every game is do or die.”

Phoenix, which had nearly half its team go to Rio, had been the biggest disappointment this season. Picked by the league’s general managers to win the title in the preseason, the Mercury sit at 10-14 and in seventh place.

“The WNBA season is very tricky, especially with the Olympic break,” Diana Taurasi said. “If we can start building momentum and playing good basketball, we have championship caliber talent, we just need to start playing like it.”

Los Angeles and Minnesota have already clinched playoff spots and most likely will be the top two seeds in the playoffs, earning them byes into the semifinals. The Sparks had plenty of time to rest over the last month as none of their players were in the Olympics.

Not the case for Minnesota, which had coach Cheryl Reeve and stars Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles all with the gold medal-winning U.S. team.

Reeve isn’t worried about the impact playing in the Olympics has had on her core four.

“They would have been playing anywhere whether it was here or there,” she said. “The domestic stuff was pretty challenging on their time and their bodies. Once we got to Rio and settled on the ship and got a little more of a rhythm and downtime. Geno’s done a great job managing their bodies. We’ll continue down that path.”

Here are a few other things to watch as the WNBA gets back underway.

RETURNING FROM INJURY: New York sits in third place and should get a boost from the return of Epiphanny Prince, who missed the first 26 games while recovering from an ACL injury . Coach Bill Laimbeer expects her to be ready come playoff time.

FAREWELL: Tamika Catchings won her fourth gold medal and now winds down her playing career in Indiana. She’s not the only person retiring at the end of the season. Penny Taylor also announced this is her last year playing professionally . Swin Cash also announced her retirement in the middle of the season effective at the end of this year. San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said before the season it would be his final one on the bench for San Antonio.

POWER POLL: The AP power poll will pick back up on Tuesday, Aug. 31. In the last one before the break the order was Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York, Indiana, Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, Seattle, Connecticut, Dallas, Washington and San Antonio.

Swimmer Feigen apologizes for ‘serious distraction’ in Rio

NEW YORK — U.S. swimmer James Feigen apologized for the “serious distraction” he and three teammates caused at a gas station during the Rio Olympics, saying he omitted facts in his statement to police.

“I omitted the facts that we urinated behind the building and that Ryan Lochte pulled a poster off the wall,” Feigen said in a statement Tuesday on the website of his lawyer in Austin, Texas.

He maintains the group didn’t force their way into a bathroom and a gun was pointed at them.

Feigen said the group left the French House party around 5 a.m. in a taxi to travel back to the Athlete Village.

“We pulled over to a gas station to use the bathroom but the door was locked,” Feigen’s statement read. “We did not force entry into the bathroom, nor did we ever enter the bathroom. We did, however, make the regrettable decision to urinate in the grass behind the building.”

Feigen said he paid the driver the cab fare and “As I walked away, the man with the gun pointed it at me and my teammate and ordered us, in Portuguese, to sit.”

Feigen said it “became apparent that the man with the gun was telling us to pay,” and he and teammate Gunnar Bentz gave the man some money. They took another cab to the village and arrived around 7 a.m.

Feigen, who was pulled off an airplane last week by Brazilian police for more questioning, said he paid a fine of $10,800 for return of his passport so he could travel back to the U.S.

5 things to know about the next Olympics in Tokyo

TOKYO — The countdown to the 2020 Olympics began Wednesday with the arrival of the Olympic flag in Tokyo from Rio de Janeiro. The contrast between the two host cities couldn’t be starker. Instead of samba in the streets, there will be robots and self-driving cars. Five things to know about the next Summer Games:

HIGH-TECH OLYMPICS

When Tokyo first hosted the Olympics in 1964, the games symbolized Japan’s recovery from the devastation of World War II and return to the international community. The high-speed ‘Shinkansen’ bullet train service, launched the same year, became a symbol of Japan’s technological prowess.

Half a century later, Tokyo is one of the most futuristic cities in the world, from its smart-card train systems that run like clockwork to electronic toilets with heated seats that baffle some first-time visitors (“How do I flush this thing?”).

Japan plans to use the 2020 Games to showcase more cutting-edge technology, with robots, instant language translation, self-driving vehicles and high-definition 8K TV all on display.

GETTING AROUND

The Tokyo Games won’t be as compact as promised. While original plans called for all venues to be within an eight-kilometer (five-mile) radius of the Olympic Village, that won’t be the case.

In an effort to cut costs, several events such as basketball, cycling and taekwondo have been moved to existing facilities outside of Tokyo instead of building new ones.

Tokyo’s network of crisscrossing subway and commuter train lines will help. The challenge will be helping visitors navigate a system that is so extensive, it can be confusing.

NEW SPORTS

The games will have a different look from a sporting perspective.

Baseball and softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing have all been added to the program.

Baseball and softball, which are returning for the first time since 2008, and karate are popular in Japan.

Surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing have been added in a bid to appeal to a younger generation of athletes and fans.

SCANDALS

Every Olympics seems to have its scandals, and Tokyo is no exception.

Work on a new main stadium has fallen behind schedule, because the government abandoned the original design due to spiraling costs. The original logo for the games, unveiled with much fanfare, was scrapped over accusations of plagiarism.

The shifting of some events from new to existing venues has saved 200 billion yen ($2 billion), but overall costs are still expected to far exceed initial estimates.

The Tokyo organizing committee has admitted that the operating costs for the Games will be considerably higher than the $3 billion forecast in its bid, but it hasn’t disclosed a new estimate.

That doesn’t include the cost of building new sports venues and other Games-related infrastructure.

EARTHQUAKES

Then there are the forces that are beyond anyone’s control.

Tokyo is regularly shaken by moderate earthquakes. They rarely cause any damage in a city where buildings are designed to withstand the shock, but experts warn that a major earthquake could happen anytime.

The coast of northeastern Japan was devastated in 2011 when an offshore magnitude 9.0 earthquake spawned a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and triggered meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Tokyo hasn’t had a massive earthquake in nearly a century, since a magnitude 7.9 quake and subsequent fires killed 140,000 people in 1923, so it may be overdue, although the timing of earthquakes is unpredictable.

Premier League stars face early-season clampdown by refs

MANCHESTER, England — WWE-style grappling at corner kicks, manhandling of match officials, verbal abuse: Sometimes the beautiful game can take on an ugly side.

This season, at least in these early weeks, English Premier League referees are taking a stand.

The start of the new English football season has been marked with no-nonsense — some might say over-zealous — officiating that has got fearful defenders re-evaluating their trade and penalty-taking strikers licking their lips at the opportunities coming their way.

One referee awarded two penalties in the same game for pushing and holding in the penalty area at a corner kick. Another has yellow-carded a player for sarcastically applauding a decision. Diego Costa, Chelsea’s typically irate striker, has already been booked for aggressively approaching a referee. After two rounds of fixtures, seven penalties have been awarded already, compared to three at the same stage last season.

It’s not uncommon for referees to put down markers early in the season or at the start of a major international tournament. Before too long, they have eased off.

It remains to be seen if that will be the case this season.

“It’s fine as long as it’s consistent right from now to the end of the season,” Stoke manager Mark Hughes said. “Usually it isn’t.”

Stoke has been one of the teams to suffer from the vigorous officiating. The team fell behind to Manchester City on Saturday when defender Ryan Shawcross was adjudged to have pulled back an opponent at a corner and conceded a penalty, converted by Sergio Aguero. In the second half, City conceded a penalty after Raheem Sterling impeded Shawcross at a corner when he wasn’t even looking at the ball.

After the game, both managers accepted there was a clear move by referees to act on grappling and shirt-pulling. And their players are starting to take note.

“The penalty was given for using my hands,” said Shawcross, a physical and uncompromising center back. “It’s something I’m going to have to look at and hopefully adapt in the right way, so I don’t give any more penalties away.”

City defender John Stones also said he and his teammates would have to adjust to the new directive. Yet, there were also protests that things were being taken too far.

“If they’re penalties, then you’re going to be giving two or three a game and it’s going to be a farce,” Stoke striker Peter Crouch said.

“We were told they were going to give more penalties this year so we can’t say we weren’t given a warning. Even so, when you see it in the cold light of day it’s hard to take.”

Yet, grappling at corners wasn’t one of the issues the Premier League was openly targeting heading into the new season. The most popular league in the world was more concerned with the damage that abuse of match officials was doing to its image.

To that end, the league’s top brass called for tougher action on dissent, insulting language and gestures, physical contact toward officials, surrounding officials and misconduct in the managers’ technical areas.

“People look to us to set the example across the world,” Richard Scudamore, chairman of the Premier League, said during the offseason.

That’s exactly what is happening.

Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter collected the first of his two yellow cards against West Ham on Sunday for dissent toward an assistant referee, and was later criticized by his manager.

“We’ve been told about dissent — it’s been drilled into us,” Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said. “If we lose our discipline, we could have a flurry of red cards.”

Premier League managers held offseason briefings with referees and soccer authorities over the desired improvements in player behavior.

“They explained everything again,” Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka said Tuesday. “We have to be careful, they are the rules.”

Some players don’t appear to be getting the message, though.

Costa had 23 yellow cards and one red card — for angrily approaching a referee — across his first two seasons at Chelsea. He has been booked in both his opening league games this year, too, the first for dissent toward a referee.

Asked if he knew about the new dissent law, Costa told ESPN: “I am aware of it now.”

US tennis player Madison Keys, 21, feels both young and wise

Madison Keys is ranked in the top 10 in the world, a Grand Slam semifinalist who just played for an Olympic bronze medal and has earned career prize money of well over $4 million.

She’s also only 21, much closer in age to her middle school days than to No. 1 Serena Williams, and the youngest woman in the top 20 by nearly a year-and-a-half.

This is where the American finds herself as she heads into next week’s U.S. Open: an established pro with the game to win major titles, yet competing in a sport in which many players now peak in their late 20s and even early 30s.

Patient and impatient at the same time about her tennis, Keys is also sorting out what she wants to accomplish off the court. She announced Wednesday that she will fund and host six summits for teens at schools around the world in 2017 in partnership with the organization FearlesslyGIRL.

“That’s such a tough time for any girl — I know it was a tough time for me,” Keys said in a recent phone interview.

“To sit down in a big group and talk to each other about it, you realize you’re not so alone,” she added. “It makes everything seem so much smaller and more manageable.”

Keys has two younger sisters and sees this in a way as just adding many more.

“It’s being able to relate to them on such a personal level,” she said, “but also knowing it does get better.”

For her, sports was always a part of that.

“When you’re 13 or 14, sometimes you wake up in a bad place,” she said. “You feel like everything’s out of your control. You don’t know what to do.

“The second I was on the tennis court, I had the structure I wanted. I was in complete control of what I was doing.”

Long considered one of the world’s most promising young players, Keys burst through to the semifinals of the 2015 Australian Open while still a teenager.

“All of a sudden, people say, ‘She’s a contender,’” Keys recalled. “It’s the next logical step: You made the semifinals, you should make a final. You make a final, you should win.

“Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.”

The rest of the year, she lost in her first or second match of a tournament nine times, though her results in the Grand Slams were better. And with her profile soaring, so did the harassment on social media.

“I could go through my Twitter account right now and there would be 10 horrible messages,” Keys said.

“All of a sudden,” she recalled, “I was getting all these messages that I was fat and ugly, and I wasn’t prepared for it.”

It took time for her to remind herself that the trolls were most likely gamblers who spewed vitriol because they were betting on a match. That realization was crucial.

“If you’re not in my immediate circle,” she said, “you’re not someone whose opinion I value.”

On the court, she needed to remind herself to trust the process and not obsess over individual wins and losses. In 2016, the upward trajectory has resumed. Keys has made three finals, winning her second WTA title, and is currently ranked a career-best ninth. At the Rio Games, she made it to the semifinals — then ran into two Grand Slam champions in a row in Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova, losing to both to miss out on a medal as their superiority showed.

Keys, who withdrew from this week’s Connecticut Open with a neck injury, is set to be seeded eighth when the U.S. Open starts Monday — a key number because it means she can’t meet Williams or Kerber until the quarterfinals at the earliest. She’s been eliminated in the round of 16 at her last four majors.

“We believe she’ll win a Grand Slam really soon,” said her agent at IMG, Max Eisenbud, who has also managed Maria Sharapova and Li Na.

At a time when seven of the top 20 players in the women’s rankings are in their 30s, the younger generation has finally started to push through in recent months. Garbine Muguruza, 22, won the French Open, then Monica Puig, also 22, was the surprise Olympic gold medalist.

“I want to get to that next step as quickly as I can,” Keys said. “If that’s three weeks, great. But if it’s three months, no problem, or even three years.”

Carbondale trustees interview board applicants

Carbondale trustees began interviewing applicants to fill the position that Trustee A.J. Hobbs is soon to vacate during their Tuesday meeting.

The board interviewed four of the six applicants, the majority of whom are women.

Since former Mayor Stacey Bernot’s resignation and the end of former Trustee Pam Zentmyer’s second term, the board has been dominated by men with the exception of Trustee Katrina Byars.

Prior to the interviews Ed Cortez, who’s running for mayor against Mayor Pro-Tem Dan Richardson, opposed the board’s decision to appoint the next trustee rather than send the issue to voters.

Heather Henry, a local landscape architect and owner of The Plantium Company and Connect One Design, who has also served on the town’s parks and recreation board and planning commission, said that building all that experience made her feel prepared to apply for the board.

“I’m ready to sit here and join you guys.”

Carbondale is frequently considering renewable energy issues, Henry noted, adding that alternative transportation is an issue close to her heart.

Henry’s vision for the town in five years is to have supported alternative transportation to the point that biking, walking and buses overtake cars on the roads.

Michael Durant, a local small business owner who’s also spent six years on the planning commission, focused on his commitment to solid financial management and accountability to taxpayers.

Durant said he doesn’t bring any ideology to the board other than a strong belief that a healthy economy is based on growth.

“If we’re not growing then we’re dying.”

He characterized himself as a “numbers guy” who wants to see specific results and returns on investment.

Durant said his chief concern for Carbondale is supporting the business environment. He suggested tapping into Carbondale’s art district as an economic driver.

Durant also ran for the board of trustee in the Carbondale municipal election in April.

Rebecca Moller, a paralegal in Carbondale who also has served on the parks and recreation board, focused on the double-edged sword of some affordable housing solutions others have presented.

Candidates in the most recent election all talked about affordable housing and many supported higher density in Carbondale, but they didn’t address the traffic and parking problems that high density brings, she said.

“I agree that affordable housing is a big issue in Carbondale, but we must do it smartly and we must not think that limiting the number of cars in a high-density area is a viable solution to the parking issue,” she wrote in her application.

Moller said she’s not afraid of being the dissenting voice in a room.

“I’m usually the one dissenting vote. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Erica Sparhawk, program manager for Clean Energy Economy for the Region, said she’s put in plenty of time at long trustee meetings in her role with CLEER.

A Carbondale native, Sparhawk said there’s a lot more to her than just her position at CLEER. She focused on continuing the town’s improved connectivity and the need to diversify Carbondale’s economy.

The town’s boards and events also need to draw more representation from the Latino community, said Sparhawk, who also speaks Spanish.

For affordable housing the board should partly build its reserve funding to have the money available to jump into an affordable housing opportunity when it arises, Sparhawk said.

The board is scheduled to interview the last two applicants, Beth Broome, a local veterinary technician and ranch hand, and Gwen Garcelon, co-founder and director of Roaring Fork Food Alliance, during its Sept. 13 meeting, when the board may also decide on an appointment.

After the appointment, the board is still going to be short one member.

Bernot’s replacement will be elected in November, and if Richardson, the current mayor pro tem is voted in, the trustees will have to go through the process of filling a vacancy on the board, again.

Many first days of school for Mike Wilde

After 56 years, you might think the novelty associated with the first day of school would wear off. Not so for longtime Glenwood Springs High School teacher and now teacher coach Mike Wilde.

“There’s just an intrinsic excitement surrounding the first day of school,” Wilde said Tuesday as he prepared for what indeed is his 56th first day of school, including as a student and an educator, as classes begin today for Roaring Fork District schools.

“You can always feel the energy and the nervousness,” he said. “For the teachers, it’s their first best shot at the kids, and I think the kids look at it that way too.”

Wilde, now 61, taught science at GSHS for 25 years before “retiring” in 2007. He did miss his one and only first day of school that fall, but was back at Glenwood High by the second semester as a teaching specialist.

He now works as a half-time instructional facilitator, or teacher coach, working with the younger teachers and those new to the school to get them up to speed quicker.

Wilde remembers the name of his kindergarten teacher on the very first, first day of school in 1960 in Grants, New Mexico ­– Mrs. McNeil.

All of his primary and secondary school first days were in Grants, though his family moved to Washington, D.C. in the middle of his senior year of high school.

“By moving from New Mexico I had many different choices for paying out-of-state tuition for college, because we hadn’t been in D.C. long enough to establish residency,” Wilde mused.

With relatives scattered along the Interstate 25 corridor from New Mexico to Colorado, he opted for Colorado State University, where he spent the next series of first days of class earning his teaching degree.

From there, it was on to his first teaching assignment in the eastern plains town of Julesburg, where he spent five years worth of first days before coming to Glenwood Springs and continuing the succession.

These days, his first days of school are less about getting students prepared for a long school year, and more about making sure the teachers themselves are prepared.

Because GSHS is the largest of all the Roaring Fork District schools with roughly 900 students, it’s the only school that has its own teacher coach.

There’s also been a steady transition in recent years from the Baby Boomers, who have made up the teaching corps for many years, to more of the millennial generation that is now entering the profession.

Wilde said he was asked by GSHS Principal Paul Freeman to come back and share his knowledge and mentor the younger teachers and those who are just joining the local school district.

“When I entered the profession we were kind of like independent contractors where we were handed the materials and expected to figure it out ourselves,” he said. “It can take several years to really get used to it and hit your stride, so my job is to help the teachers along and try to compress that learning curve.”

In the “if I only knew then what I know now” department, Wilde says he feels like he would have been a better teacher himself if he had that kind of support early on.

“Working with young teachers is a little like working with students,” he said. “They keep you young, and make you feel old all at the same time.”

Wilde cites three qualities that define good teaching: The quality of the teacher, the quality of the content and how successful a teacher is in engaging the students.

“That’s how you measure the gains when kids walk out of a classroom,” he said.

His current job also keeps him connected to the school community he’s come to love and enjoy going back to his days teaching science and the ever-popular River Watch Colorado program that he led for many years, but has since handed off to Rob Norville.

Wilde still does contract work in water education through River Watch and the Colorado River District.

“I still like getting kids out in the river and getting them wet,” he said.

City looks to limit trucks on downtown side streets

Glenwood Springs officials are considering possible limits on large commercial truck activity along some downtown side streets and in residential neighborhoods around town.

The move is partly aimed at ongoing safety concerns related to semi trucks going to and from the U.S. Post Office on Ninth Street between Colorado and Pitkin avenues.

However, assuming the Postal Service and its independent trucking contractors aren’t exempt from any restrictions, the compromise may be smaller trucks but more trips.

“I don’t think this will address the noise and traffic concerns around the Post Office,” Mayor Mike Gamba advised during a recent City Council discussion, referring to frequent complaints from residents living near the Post Office.

But it would be a way to address the occasional damage caused to city street signs, light poles, planters and fire hydrants from large trucks that sometimes cut the corners too close, he said.

A regular safety concern has to do with postal delivery trucks, usually driven by contracted independent truckers, attempting to make the wide sweeping turn from southbound Grand Avenue onto Ninth Street.

The maneuver requires that the large trucks veer into the left traffic and turn lanes on Grand to turn right onto Ninth, sometimes cutting off vehicles coming up from behind, and forcing motorists waiting to turn onto Grand to back out of the way.

As a home rule city, Glenwood Springs does have the ability to limit the length and weight of trucks that can travel on certain city streets. Grand Avenue, as a state highway (Colorado 82), would be exempt.

“We did talk to some of the local businesses about the size of trucks they have making deliveries, to see what would be reasonable,” attorney John Hoistad informed council during an Aug. 18 work session.

The city can also designate certain corridors as truck routes, and any length restrictions could be limited to specific neighborhoods, he said.

“It’s up to you what you decide is appropriate,” said Karl Hanlon, city attorney. “Clearly, we’re not going to eliminate deliveries into the (downtown) … and we’re not going to suddenly make businesses stop operating.”

Dave Rupert, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said it would be hard to eliminate the larger mail delivery trucks from coming to the downtown Glenwood facility.

“Our trucks don’t just have a singular destination, there is a whole string of deliveries that they are making,” Rupert said.

Any restrictions on truck sizes would just create another set of problems, he said. And, there’s a question whether the Postal Service, as a quasi-federal entity, and its contractors, would have to comply with any restrictions.

At the same time, Rupert said the Postal Service has to work with the communities that it operates in to provide efficient customer service while not overly impacting the local community.

“We will continue to work with the town council and the needs of the community to have that good balance,” he said. “We have been in that location since the early 1960s, it fits our needs and the needs of the community, and we have no designs on leaving Glenwood Springs.”

One of the things driving the nature and frequency of mail truck deliveries is the huge increase in the parcel side of the business, Rupert added.

“Five years ago we delivered 3 billion packages,” he said. “Last year, that number was 4.5 billion. That’s just how people are shopping these days, and it’s a big part of our business.”

For the city’s part, another issue is the inherent selectiveness of enforcement if semis are banned from certain streets, Police Chief Terry Wilson said during the council discussion.

And, the occasional damage that occurs on street corners often happens at night when it goes unnoticed until the next day, he said.

If any restrictions are imposed, Wilson and others suggested that the city issue special permits for construction projects and other one-time or limited deliveries. Certain types of larger vehicles, such as transit and school buses, would also be exempt.