PHOTOS: 2020 Glenwood Springs Women’s March
Photo Essay: Appreciating the local ski mountain
Photo Essay: Turkey farmer Jim Sorensen
Carbondale’s Jim Sorensen, owner of Shanaroba Farms, has been a farmer for the last 30 years and spent many summers on the family farm in Nebraska that was originally homesteaded by his grandparents. He has always had an organic garden and believes that what you eat should be picked out of the garden.
In 2001 he acquired a few turkeys to help with a severe grasshopper infestation taking over his garden. By word of mouth he began raising organic turkeys for Slow Foods International and found himself taking care of a flock of 300. He raised turkeys that were sent to various places such as Las Vegas and San Francisco for cooking schools and were even on the show Iron Chef.
Sorensen made the ultimate decision that he wanted to reduce the number of turkeys and currently only has around 60 at max. He owns 6 different varieties; the black Spanish, Narragansett, royal palm, bronze, the rare blue slate and chocolate.
To keep his turkeys organic he feeds them sunflower and other bulk seeds that have sprouted to ensure a higher percentage of nutrients. They are also free-range and feed on grasses, weeds and bugs around his farm.
Glenwood Vaudeville Revue’s Holiday Show opens Friday
John Goss grew up listening to Kevin Kline, laughing at Dick Van Dyke and admiring the moves of Fred Astaire.
“The way he danced,” Goss said. “There will never be another Fred Astaire.”
Since opening the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue over a decade ago, Goss and his fellow vaudevillians have entertained residents and tourists with songs, comedy skits and upbeat dance numbers at the dinner theater show.
“We use everything – rhythms, music, wacky stuff, audience participation, lights, colors,” Goss said. “It’s that creativity that I think I am most proud of. And, that came from a lot of those early vaudeville performers and dancers.”
The Glenwood Vaudeville Revue’s Holiday Show opens Friday with plenty of fresh material but also popular numbers from years past.
“When it’s the winter season we get a lot more locals,” Goss said.
Subsequently, the Holiday Show digs in on comical Glenwood amenities that tourists encounter also.
“Whether it’s a semi getting caught up in the middle of it; whether it’s people trying to walk across to get to the pool,” Goss said of the endless roundabout scenarios. “It is by far the biggest hit we’ve had in a year.”
While the Holiday Show incorporates past hits like the roundabout, it also features cartoon character rap battles, a number on emotional support animals and parodies of classic holiday tunes.
According to Goss, the family-friendly show features 19 different numbers but does steer away from one topic.
“We really try to stay clear of politics,” Goss said.
Additionally, while the vast majority of the Holiday Show provokes laughter, it has its slower moments, too.
“Every show we have one nice number,” Goss said. “It’ll put shivers down your back.”
After slowing things down briefly, it does not take long before the vaudevillians have the audience howling again.
And, in true vaudeville fashion, the Holiday Show does not follow a linear storyline but instead incorporates a melting pot of comical numbers.
“It’s not like a melodrama. It’s not a play. It’s not a Broadway musical,” Goss said of the show, which does not rely on much improvisational humor either. “The term vaudeville means a variety show of many different acts.”
The Holiday Show runs from Friday to Jan. 4.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows and at 5 p.m. for Sunday performances.
Due to popular demand, shows have already been added for Christmas Eve and News Year’s Eve.
Additionally, the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, located at 915 Grand Ave., offers cuisines from local restaurants in addition to a full bar.
For a complete list of performances visit gvrshow.com.
“The main show itself is less than two hours,” Goss said. “We have a preshow ahead of time, where we do [food and drink] service then. So, you can look at it as a three-hour night.”
PHOTOS: Veterans Day assemblies across Garfield County
Two Rivers charter application outlines academic, fiscal goals; cites commonality with Roaring Fork School District
Whether the Roaring Fork School District would be open to sharing future mill levy dollars with Two Rivers Community School is a major consideration as the Glenwood Springs-based state charter school seeks authorization under the local school district.
Existing voter-approved taxes that are already in place cannot be redistributed to include a new school, should TRCS be approved as a district charter.
However, a portion of any new taxes that are approved in future years could be shared — as the district now does with its existing charter, Carbondale Community School.
TRCS has applied to become a district charter school, after having operated as a state charter under the Colorado Charter School Institute since its inception in 2014.
It has concurrently applied for reauthorization with the state, and could go either way depending on the Roaring Fork school board’s decision next month and the outcome of a follow-up negotiation period, according to Jamie Nims, TRCS head of school.
As a state charter, the school now receives $134,000 per year in state mill levy equalization funds. If Two Rivers becomes a district charter, it would not have access to those funds.
So, the local mill levy determination is crucial in the decision-making process, Nims said.
The charter application is currently being reviewed by the district’s Charter Review Committee, and will be referred to the District Accountability Committee for a recommendation.
The Board of Education is currently scheduled to decide on the proposal at its Dec. 11 meeting, though it technically has until Jan. 4 to do so, according to the timeline explained by district officials.
The school board last week heard from several TRCS parents, past students and others who encouraged the district to accept the charter.
“I was part of the conversation when they first came to us as a school board,” former Roaring Fork school board member and current TRCS parent Daniel Biggs said.
The school board rejected Two Rivers as a start-up school, which is why it ended up chartering under the state CSI instead.
“I still think that was the right decision at the time,” Biggs said. “I didn’t think they were ready when they first applied.”
Since then, however, “This has become a world-class school … and I would want to have them be part of our school district.”
Laura Henderson, who resides in the Garfield Re-2 School District and whose children have been attending TRCS since its inception, agreed.
“I watched my daughter change, gaining confidence and really growing,” she said of the choice offered when TRCS was formed. “It’s just a really special place that offers something unique.”
As a Roaring Fork District charter, TRCS would continue to serve students from the larger region extending from Rifle and western Garfield County to Carbondale, according to the charter application.
“We see several major benefits to partnering with Roaring Fork Schools as we move forward,” the school states in the application. “We could learn from one another’s successes and failures …
“At the end of the day, we feel there is far more common ground between Two Rivers and Roaring Fork Schools than there are differences, though we recognize not everyone, including some of our own stakeholders, may agree,” it goes on to state. “We live and work in the same community and we all want the best for our students. It makes sense that we work together to achieve our goals.”
Read the full application here:
Two Rivers operates as a K-8 charter school, employing a “place-based,” experiential learning model with a focus on second-language acquisition and multicultural studies in multi-age classrooms.
The school currently has 351 students, which is just short of capacity for the recently expanded and renovated school building on Center Drive in West Glenwood.
Since opening, TRCS has increased its population of low-income students (as determined by qualifying for free or reduced lunch) from 11.6% to more than 28%.
Also, English language learners made up just 11.6% of students in 2014, but that number is now up to 17.6%, according to the application.
“Two Rivers Community School is fully committed to developing enrollment policies aimed at ensuring our demographics reflect that of our community,” according to the application. “We have modified our enrollment policy several times over the years to try and achieve greater diversity in our school.”
The application also covers student performance goals and standards, student attendance expectations, conduct and discipline, school safety, and programming for second-language, special needs, disabled and gifted students.
School governance and fiscal accountability are also addressed in the application.
In addition to opportunities for the public to comment before the school board at the Dec. 11 meeting, the district has established an online platform where people may offer their comments regarding the charter proposal.
Garfield County imposes moratorium on new mining permits
For the next six months, Garfield County will not accept applications for new or amended mining and gravel projects.
The stated purpose of the moratorium is to allow time for staff and planning commissioners to develop the 2030 comprehensive plan and make adjustments to the land-use code.
But the moratorium will also prevent RMR Industrials from seeking a change to its special use permit for the Mid-Continent limestone quarry north of Glenwood Springs.
RMR is in the process of applying for a permit to expand operations from about 20 acres to 321 acres of active limestone extraction. The Bureau of Land Management is preparing to begin an environmental review in 2020.
County staff believe “it’s in everyone’s best interests if we take a short break from accepting new applications for gravel and mining extraction activities while we develop these regulations,” Garfield County community development director Sheryl Bower told the commissioners Monday.
The county has no pending applications for gravel or mineral extraction permits at the moment, though Bower noted they expect a gravel application in the next several weeks that would be affected by the proposal.
The moratorium is designed to give the county time to develop land use codes that protect health, safety and outdoor recreation in the community, Bower said.
Chairman John Martin asked if the moratorium was absolutely necessary while code updates are made.
“If we announce that we’re going to start looking at our regulations—I’ve been through this before that you get applications that are going to try to get in before we start making the changes,” Bower said.
The resolution passed unanimously, but Martin made it clear that he doesn’t like moratoriums.
“I’m going to say aye, but I just hate moratoriums. I just want people to know that. I’m not trying to put anybody out of business,” Martin said.
The moratorium comes after a lawyer for RMR told the state mining regulatory body that it would be applying for an updated permit from the county.
The county is currently fighting a lawsuit from RMR about their current special use permit.
The board issued a notice of violation to RMR in May after finding that the quarry was out of compliance with their current permit. In response, RMR sued the county in federal and state court, claiming that the county had no authority to enforce a permit that conflicted with the BLM’s authorization.
Both court cases are pending, but a federal judge in October recommended letting the state case proceed.
RMR’s attorney David McConaughy told the mining division in a Nov. 6 letter that while RMR “expects to obtain a court order invalidating the (notice of violation), it is simultaneously applying to Garfield County for a new special use permit” to resolve the noncompliance issues and correct discrepancies with the BLM and state permits.
McConaughy did not respond to a request for comment about the county’s moratorium.
Two representatives of the Glenwood Springs Citizens Alliance, a community group opposed to the quarry expansion, thanked the commissioners for considering the moratorium.
Leo McKinney, president of the Citizens Alliance and former Glenwood Springs mayor, said the moratorium will give the commissioners a chance to develop tools that benefit the county in considering large projects.
“You have a lot of land uses to consider and to balance out. A moratorium like this will give you the chance to develop the tools that you will need when huge applications come before you that are going to affect the county for the next 40, 50 years,” McKinney said.
RFTA and city of Glenwood Springs to launch Grand Avenue Alternatives Analysis
Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Transit Authority are putting more than $600,000 toward identifying and implementing traffic solutions on Grand Avenue.
The city of Glenwood Springs will spend approximately $319,000 and RFTA about $290,000 on the Grand Avenue Alternatives Analysis.
RFTA board member and Glenwood Springs mayor Jonathan Godes said the analysis would look at ways in which to reduce commuter traffic, provide extended Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service to the downtown as well as add parking.
“One of the bigger things we can do is try to get more people in western Garfield County that are commuting through Glenwood onto mass transit,” Godes said. “We can have 57 people on a bus instead of 57 individual cars.”
Currently, RFTA has BRT stops at 27th Street in Glenwood Springs and at the West Glenwood Park and Ride.
RFTA officials say the analysis will identify possible locations for a BRT facility downtown similar to that of Rubey Park Transit Center in Aspen.
“We could have a facility where transfers could be occurring between Ride Glenwood, RFTA BRT and the Hogback service that goes out to New Castle and Rifle,” Kurt Ravenschlag, RFTA chief operating officer, said. “But, it all is kind of premised on what are our alignment [options] for extending BRT to the downtown.”
The analysis will look at alignment options other than just Grand Avenue.
“We’ll certainly be evaluating all alternatives of potential parallel alignments,” Ravenschlag said. “There are some that will probably be easily ruled out just because they are not appropriate for operating this type of service.”
The Moving Forward Together U.S. EPA Brownfields’ area-wide plan adopted by the Glenwood Springs City Council in February identified one possible location for a parking structure at Colorado Avenue and Seventh Street in downtown.
In that schematic, the 592-space parking structure spanned over Colorado Avenue. Additionally, the transit center resided along Colorado Avenue near Seventh Street.
“It would have been a massive structure and I don’t think anybody actually liked that,” Godes said of the hypothetical parking structure over Colorado Avenue contemplated in the area-wide plan.
However, Godes stressed the need for mass transit in downtown Glenwood Springs, particularly with the number of downtown employees already competing for parking.
The city developed the area-wide plan to help inform and integrate the confluence’s redevelopment, the Sixth Street corridor master plan, Seventh Street and Two Rivers Park.
According to Ravenschlag, the Grand Avenue Alternatives Analysis’ consultant team will include a host of subcontractors with various expertise in traffic, parking and transit analysis.
Ravenschlag added that the project management team lives in Glenwood Springs.
The entire analysis carries a price tag of $609,783.
Sunday Profile: Snowmaking with Sunlight’s Mike Baumli
It all started back in 1984 when Mike Baumli took a “hiatus” from college and went to work over the winter making snow for Keystone Resort.
“I’d been trying to figure out what I was going to do for a living so I could make enough money to live in the mountains, because that’s where I always wanted to live,” Baumli said.
Now, 35 years later he’s still living the Rocky Mountain dream, working as mountain manager and lead snowmaker at Sunlight Mountain Resort outside of Glenwood Springs.
Baumli grew up in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, but his roots run deep in the Roaring Fork and Crystal River valleys.
His father is from Carbondale, his grandfather grew up in Basalt, and his grandmother was born in the old mining town of Crystal, above Marble.
“Because I had these ties to the valley, this is really where I wanted to be,” Baumli said.
That first job at Keystone turned into a dozen years of on-the-job training to be a ski resort snowmaker. During that time, Baumli also had the opportunity to make snow for ski resorts in Japan for two seasons.
Through the years, he has also had snowmaking stints at Eldora ski area near Nederland, west of Boulder, and for four years he was snowmaking manager at Aspen Mountain.
“I don’t regret it at all,” Baumli says of his decision to dedicate his life to the mountain resort lifestyle, and a successful career to boot. “It’s definitely led to a lot of great opportunities.”
Baumli eventually landed in Glenwood Springs in 2004 after another hiatus running his own property management and cleaning business in the Roaring Fork Valley. That same winter, he joined Sunlight’s Ski Patrol team, and has since worked his way up the ranks to his current position.
SKI BUM AT HEART
Those few years in the property management business reminded Baumli, now age 57, how much he enjoyed being on the mountain making snow and skiing.
A soccer player in high school, Baumli found his love for skiing during those couple of years in college.
He was hooked.
“I’ve met a lot of great friends in the business, and it’s been a great experience,” Baumli said. …
“I think it’s that camaraderie I like the most. The best thing is when we can write comment cards about staff members who’ve done something exceptional,” he added. “Giving those ’at-a-boys, that’s the best part of the job.”
Baumli’s wife, Darla Baumli, is a longtime employee of the Garfield County Library District; currently working as the district’s circulation coordinator. They have two children, a son who’s 29, and a 17-year-old daughter at Glenwood Springs High School.
When the family isn’t skiing at Sunlight or doing other things in and around Glenwood Springs, they can usually be found up in the mountain hamlet of Marble, where Baumli’s family owns property.
He’s on the church board at the Marble Community Church and involves himself in the many outdoor recreation activities the upper Crystal Valley has to offer.
“We like to hang out in Marble as much as we can, because it’s so peaceful,” he said.
He also took the opportunity to thank his wife, Darla, for allowing him to live and work the ski biz lifestyle he enjoys.
In addition to heading up snowmaking operations at Sunlight, as mountain manager he also oversees the Ski Patrol, grooming operations and trails management during the ski season.
COLORADO’S TOP SNOWMAKER
For his years of dedication and skills, Baumli was named the 2019 Snowmaker of the Year by Colorado Ski Country USA at the conclusion of the 2018-19 ski season.
“Mike brings an extensive knowledge of all aspects of mountain operations,” Sunlight General Manager Tom Hays said.
“His knowledge and skills as a snowmaker are invaluable to us, and he is always focused on the future and how we can make more and better snow and do it more economically.”
Ross Terry is assistant general manager at Sunlight and was Baumli’s predecessor as lead snowmaker. The experience he brought to Sunlight raised the bar for the ski area’s snowmaking efforts, Terry said.
“It takes a quite a bit of effort to pull this off,” he said. “I’ve always described snowmaking as hours upon hours of boredom, separated by moments of sheer terror.”
Hays said Baumli has been instrumental in simplifying Sunlight’s snowmaking system, along with helping design and construct new lines, hydrants and two new retention ponds.
The extra storage capacity nearly tripled the amount of water available for Sunlight to make snow, to more than 3 million gallons.
That investment helped Sunlight open three weeks earlier than planned last season and — if the weather would cooperate — an earlier-than-planned opening could be possible this season, too.
“When I first started, we used a lot more compressed air than we do now,” Baumli said. “We can run seven snow guns now for the one gun we used to run on that same amount of air.”
The older guns also flowed about 50% more water than the more-efficient SV14 guns Sunlight now uses.
New nozzle designs also make for more optimal snow particle size, “and we’re able to make snow at higher temperatures if we want to.”
Because of Sunlight’s limited water rights, the resort usually waits until the temperature dips below 20 degrees Fahrenheit before turning on the snow guns, Baumli said.
“We only have a finite amount of water, so we have to maximize that,” he said. “There are just a bunch of things that you have to balance to make it all work. But it’s a lot of fun.”
Sunshine & Moons bakery celebrates 5 sweet years in Glenwood Springs
For Sunshine & Moons owner Sarah Niebler, the last five years have been pretty sweet.
Located at 2550 State Highway 82 in Glenwood Springs, the natural/organic bakery that serves walk-in customers and supplies coffee shops and markets from Aspen to Silt will celebrate its five-year anniversary Saturday.
“I’ve been baking with my mom since I was 2 years old,” Niebler said. “My mom was a home economics teacher.”
Originally from Jefferson, Wisconsin, Niebler fell in love with the Roaring Fork Valley after working at Whole Foods Market in Basalt where she helped open its bakery, cheese and prepared foods departments.
However, after working more on the management side, it was not long before Niebler wanted to get her hands back in the flour, butter and sugar.
“We use all organic and we don’t take any diet allergies lightly whatsoever,” Niebler said. “We have an entire wall of gluten-free flours.”
In addition to holding a degree in culinary arts, Niebler has a bachelor of science in dietetics.
No stranger to diet allergies, Celiac disease runs in Niebler’s family, which further inspired the pastry chef to provide an abundance of gluten-free and vegan options at Sunshine & Moons.
“I always said, if I am going to open up a place, I am going to offer something that people can have,’” Niebler said of her customers with diet allergies.
In fact, since opening in November 2014, Niebler has dedicated one of Sunshine and Moon’s ovens strictly for gluten-free baked goods.
“Nothing regular has ever gone in there,” Niebler said.
However, plenty of gluten-free cream cheese brownies, cranberry orange cookies, peach brandy bars, sweet breads and other satisfying treats have come out of Sunshine and Moon’s designated gluten-free oven.
While gluten-free, vegan and low sugar options appear throughout the small bakery’s menu, so do regular items such as chocolate silk pie, red velvet cake and more.
“I don’t have to start super early at the crack of dawn but I’m usually here around 5 a.m.,” Niebler said of her workday. “We try and have everything as fresh as can be.”
Clearly a labor of love, Niebler and her staff will celebrate five years in business with a special open house event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the bakery.
In addition to getting to sample Sunshine and Moon’s holiday menu, Niebler will prepare gluten-free chili and vegan soup for Saturday’s event.
“I can see the progress,” Niebler said. “It’s great to see your customers that constantly support you, so this is my way of saying thank you.”