Luis Alberto Urrea to speak in Carbondale | PostIndependent.com

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.”

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 ihere?

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.

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.

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.

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.

The 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

Editor column: Don’t forget the sunscreen

This is not intended to be a boastful message, but I may have reached the pinnacle of stupidity this past weekend.

I have the photos and peeling skin to prove it, but let me explain.

What was planned as a relaxing couple hours at Rifle Gap Reservoir Sunday turned out to be a gamble with, in hindsight, extremely poor odds. After throwing the car in park at the swim beach, I asked Sam if she grabbed the sunscreen from my hiking backpack. Fully expecting he to say “yes,” we found ourselves facing a crucial decision when she answered “no.”

Do we risk a couple hours in the sun without any protection or do we drive the 20 minutes back home to fetch the sunblock and cut our visit in half?

I was covering some work duties for the Glenwood Post Independent this past weekend, which seemed like a good enough excuse to push writing my Monday page 1 story on Louisiana relief efforts into Sunday evening.

We set out to the gap with the understanding that we’d need to be back on the road by 3 p.m. in order for me to have enough time to write the story without irritating the Sunday designer who puts the paper together.

It was around noon when we arrived, and rather than trek back home I convinced Sam, and myself, that we would be OK without the sunscreen.

“We’ll only be here for a couple hours. It’s not even that sunny. I’ll just wear my shirt.”

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

For those who have not met me in person, I’m what you might call “a fair-skinned guy,” which is a polite way of saying “a person who turns into a human-sized lobster after a couple minutes in the sun.”

Both Sam and I are fairly mindful when it comes to protecting ourselves from the sun. Most hiking adventures include several applications of sunblock, just to be safe.

(It might be worth noting that two of three bottles of sunscreen we had disappeared at some point during the past four weeks.)

While she has a complexion much more suited for extended sun exposure — the type of skin that turns brown, not red, and draws envy from pasty folks like myself — her concerns stem from health detriments, mainly skin cancer.

She, being the more rational of the two of us, is right to be concerned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. In 2013, the most recent year for such data, 71,943 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin — 42,430 men and 29,513 women. Those numbers do not include non-epithelial skin cancers, which represent 7 percent of skin cancers tracked by central cancer registries, and they do not include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which are not tracked by registries, according to the CDC.

Did I mention she is right to be concerned?

Unlike Sam, I take a more narrowed approach. I’m just a fan of being able to move around free of excruciating pain, and although being purple would be very festive say around Mardi Gras, it’s a color I don’t pull off particularly well.

After 2 ½ hours parked on the beach, the result was both excruciating pain and a nice deep red color on my back and legs.

The question that played over and over as I grimaced in bed Sunday night — sleeping was too painful — was: How could I have made such a decision after a lifetime of lessons indicating that the sun and I are not friends?

It took less than five days in Colorado for me to learn that I burn even on a rare overcast day. A two-hour hike to the top of Tenderfoot Mountain in Salida on such a day left me bright red just in time for my first week at work (much to the delight of my new coworkers, who seemed to find joy in informing me of my ignorance).

I’ve largely avoided bad burns since then, which may have fed my amplified whining Sunday night and Monday.

Sometimes we just need a painful, remedial lesson on some of life’s facts, including never forgetting the sunscreen.

Lesson learned.

Ryan Hoffman is still complaining about how it hurts to walk. You can reach him at 970-685-2103 or at rhoffman@citizentelegram.com.

Garfield 16 completing $36M in capital improvements

When students in Garfield School District 16 returned to classes this week to start the 2016-17 school year, many of them stepped into some vastly improved facilities.

From the elementary school to the high school to the transportation department, the district is wrapping up sweeping capital projects totaling $36.4 million.

Some of those improvements, such as modified entrances intended to improve security at the Grand Valley Center for Family Learning (CFL), Bea Underwood Elementary School (BUE), L.W. St. John Elementary School and Grand Valley High School, are more noticeable.

As is the new turf football field at the high school, which was largely driven by a need to shed water away from the school.

Many of the repairs, though, are less noticeable, such as upgraded electrical service to BUE and a new boiler at the high school.

The four-pages worth of projects completed over the past 16 months were made possible by a successful bond campaign in 2014 that, when factoring in premium sales, totaled $33 million.

In turn, part of that money was used for matching grant funds that brought in another $3.3 million over two years through the Colorado Building Excellent Schools Today program.

BEST, as it is known, receives money from state land trust funds, Colorado Lottery spillover funds, marijuana excise tax dollars and interest. The competitive grant program aims to help public schools with construction needs.

Over the past two years, BEST dollars helped fund new roofs at BUE and St. John, the latter of which now serves as the district headquarters but can easily be re-opened as an elementary school should BUE reach capacity. BEST dollars also helped fund security and abatement work at those two locations, a vestibule at the CFL and multiple projects at the high school.

In addressing critical infrastructure issues throughout the district, Garfield 16 has positioned itself to be a destination for years to come, Superintendent Ken Haptonstall said earlier this summer.

“The core of what we were looking for was safety and security, but also to make sure our schools are an asset to the community,” Haptonstall said.

Megan Madden, who was taking her two children to BUE for the first time Tuesday, seemed to agree.

“I’m very excited they get to go to a very nice, new school,” she said.

Although the school is not new, it would be easy to make that assumption, especially from the outside. Along with the renovated main entrance, exterior doors and windows were replaced, a fence was built along the perimeter of the school grounds and the parking lot was expanded and improved.

So far, the projects have remained on time and within budget, according to Haptonstall. A field house at GVHS is the only remaining project on the list.

Overall, the district is a vastly improved one compared to 2013-14, when renewed discussions started at the community level. A committee was formed to discuss improvements that would increase the overall quality of the district, according to Haptonstall.

Among the few things that were broadly agreed upon was the need to upgrade the facilities and bring them into the 21st century.

Consultants were brought in to evaluate the facilities and determine repairs needed to either keep individual buildings functional or bring them into compliance with various codes.

After going through a lengthy list and prioritizing projects, the committee ended up proposing both the bond issue as well as a mill levy override to generate an additional $1.1 million per year for the district.

At the time, salaries had been frozen for five or six years, Haptonstall said, before noting the difficult nature of asking for both a bond and a mill levy increase.

It was a tough sell, recalled David Blair, fire chief with the Grand Valley Fire Protection District.

Blair, who ended up chairing the committee that campaigned for the ballot questions, said those involved went to great lengths to educate the public.

They had spreadsheets and hard numbers, including what the additional cost would be to individual property owners. Also, campaign organizers were able to show that with rising construction costs, the needed repairs would only become more expensive the longer they waited.

According to Haptonstall, the district would have wasted $5 million on construction escalation cost had it waited to start construction until now.

The bond question passed with 1,044 voting in favor and 943 voting against it. The mill levy also passed by an equally narrow margin; 1,046 for and 945 against.

The passing of both questions was a testimony to the work by community members, said Haptonstall, who noted that the district can not run the campaign for such issues

“Get yourself out of the way and let community leaders that you trust run the show,” he said. “It’s so key to have local community people champion the cause.”

In down-playing his own involvement, Blair seconded Haptonstall’s remarks.

“It was a community effort,” he said. “It wasn’t just me. It was several people on that committee and it was neighbors talking to neighbors convincing them it’s the right thing to do.”