Rifle Police Department issues shelter-in-place alert

A shelter-in-place alert has been issued by the Rifle Police Department for the 2400 block of East Avenue.

“There is a significant police presence in the area of 24th Street Place and East Avenue,” the RPD reported on Facebook. “The Rifle Police Department is asking you stay out of the area. We will update the community as soon as we can.”

The RPD said officers are attempting to serve an arrest warrant for an uncooperative subject.

“The subject is contained, there is no immediate threat to the community,” the RPD said. “We ask for patience as we work through this incident.”

The Post Independent will update this story once more details are released.

Gondola Giving event a success this year for Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has finished with their Gondola Giving fundraiser this year, an Adventure Park news release states.

Two hundred forty three cards and a little over $6,000 in grocery gift cards from City Market and Natural Grocers are going to the local food bank, LiftUp, the release states.

Every fall, the Park hosts Gondola Giving, with the aim of helping their neighbors in need during the holiday season. Community members can bring in a $25 gift card from either City Market or Natural Grocers and receive four gondola tickets in exchange, the release states.

LiftUp will shop with the donated gift cards, which compounds stock in their valleywide pantries and helps as many families as they can, the release states.

Glenwood Springs resident Sean Jeung praised the Park’s efforts in helping those in need.

“The Caverns team finds easy and creative ways for people to both support the community and enjoy the mountain,” he said in the release “By offering Gondola Giving year after year, they thoughtfully support a critical nonprofit in our community and give locals an opportunity to get family members and holiday visitors up to the park. It’s a concept and an organization that deserves to be celebrated.”

Parachute first responders play Santa, give local kids toys, games and household necessities at Shop with a Hero event

Parachute police officers, Grand Valley Fire Protection District firefighters and more were busy playing Santa on Saturday. Called Shop with a Hero, these first responders took local kids to the Rifle Walmart and used donated funds to purchase whatever they desired.

Toys and games were on the list — but the selfless kids also nabbed family necessities, like toiletries, cleaning supplies and household items.    

Parachute Police Chief Samuel Stuart started Shop with a Hero five years ago. He wanted to help the people of Parachute around the holidays.

“I was chief in 2018 and we’ve done it every year since,” he said. “It was Shop with a Cop the first year, then Shop with a Hero ever since. Now we have firefighters, first responders, dispatchers, teachers, nurses, a lot of different heroes.”

This year, Shop with a Hero helped 14 families.

Grand Valley Fire Protection District member Crystal and her shopping sponsee in Rifle’s Walmart on Saturday morning.
Katherine Tomanek/Post Independent

“They also get a gift card to Family Dollar and a gift card to Clark’s Market,” Stuart said. “We try to help out the families because it’s not just shopping, it’s food.”

Tamara Castellari, the Records and Evidence Custodian for the Parachute Police Department, said many of the items were covered by the retailer. 

“Family Dollar comps all of our wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, they let us get all that for free. It’s a community event,” she said. 

Castellari also talked about how the community donates. 

“We used to have to send out letters asking for donations, but we didn’t have to solicit money at all this year,” she said. “We’re going to put the extra into a bike rodeo this spring.”

Stuart added that the businesses in the area are all willing to donate to help out. Some are also planning to donate to the bike rodeo. 

Parachute officer Will Van Teylingen, one of the heroes, explained the banners on the front of the carts. 

“We have them to let people know what we’re about, because, quite frankly, it helps us when people come up and wonder why there’s so many cops in the store. We partner them (the families) up and let them loose,” he said. 

Stuart said that the Rifle Police Department’s Shop with a Hero event is this coming weekend. 

Officer Will Van Teylingen with the Shop with a Hero banner on the front of his cart on Saturday morning in Rifle’s Walmart.
Katherine Tomanek/Post Independent

Obituary: Sharon Ferguson

December 16, 1975 – November 22, 2023

Sharon Kaye Stone Ferguson was born in Paige, Arizona into the loving home of Gerald and Judith Stone on the 16th of December 1975. Her dad was a teacher/principal and her mom loved taking care of Sharon, and other children in their home daycare. Sharon grew up with three siblings, Paul, Kristy, and Karin. She enjoyed the beautiful Arizona summers, and easy winters making snowmen and snow angels before moving to Grand Junction, Colorado in 1993. She graduated from Cornerstone High School in Grand Junction the following year. There, she also obtained her bachelor degree in Psychology from CMU, followed by a Masters of Counseling from Adams State.
Sharon had a heart for people, which was evident in all areas of her life. She desired to show the way for others to know her savior, Jesus Christ, and her passion was apparent as she mentored other women, helped with children’s programs, participated in Bible studies and the way she cared for everyone around her on a daily basis. Sharon placed others’ needs before herself. Her smile was external evidence of the joy of her Savior living within her. Even as cancer rapidly took her life, she ministered to doctors, nurses and visitors from her hospital bed, always desiring to be that bridge leading people to Christ. In her passing, on Wednesday November 22, 2023, she was smiling as she stepped into the arms of the One she loved so much and desired others to know and love.
You are invited to share in the memory and celebration of Sharon Ferguson’s life. The Memorial service will be held Saturday December 9 at New Hope Church in New Castle, Colorado at 1:00pm.The service will be live streamed on YouTube,https://youtube.com/@newhopechurch6315?si=reUwRL4Ef5AupQLG
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you honor Sharon’s memory by hugging a loved one, and treasuring the time together. A GoFundMe is being setup to assist with Sharon’s medical expenses

Obituary: Suzanne Kane Eller

November 16, 1944 – November 25, 2023

Suzanne Kane Eller passed away peacefully with her husband at her side on November 25, 2023. She leaves behind a large circle of beloved family and friends who will miss her terribly and cherish time spent with her and the joy she brought to their lives.

Sue was an artistic talent who applied her creativity in many ways throughout her life. She was a sought-after seamstress, making countless custom wedding gowns, dresses, and (a personal favorite of hers) Halloween costumes. Other creative outlets Sue pursued included painting, pottery, marble sculpting, jewelry design, and making unique special occasion cards.

Not one to keep still, Sue was also an avid gardener and enjoyed skiing, hiking, and traveling. A large source of pride and joy for Sue was her granddaughter, Trinity, with whom she spent a lot of time and watched develop into an accomplished young adult.

Sue was born November 16, 1944 to Francis Kane and Marion Hopson Kane in Coatesville, PA, where she spent her childhood. She graduated from West Chester Joint Senior High School in 1962 and the York Academy of Arts School in 1965. Sue left Coatesville for Newark, DE, where she worked for Avon Products for ten years. She moved to the Glenwood Springs area with her husband in 1985 and spent many happy years living on Cattle Creek, at Elk Springs and in Marble. She spent twenty years with the U.S. Postal Service as a Clerk in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, CO, until her retirement. Sue and her husband moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 2017 to enjoy their retirement years, surrounded by beautiful beaches, boating, and local seafood.

In addition to her parents, Sue was preceded in death by her brother, Stephen Kane, and her first granddaughter, Mackenzie Potter. She leaves behind her husband, Louis Eller, with whom she shared forty wonderful years, her sons, William Potter (wife Mimi) of Parrish, FL, Jeff Potter of Carbondale, CO, and grandchildren, Trinity, Madeline, Christopher, and Erica.

A memorial service, followed by light refreshments, will be held on Sunday, January 21, 2024, at 11:00 a.m., at the Carbondale Fire Headquarters, 301 Meadowood Drive, Carbondale, CO.

Twiford Funeral Homes, 405 E. Church Street, Elizabeth City, NC 27909 is assisting the Eller family. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.TwifordFH.com.

‘Candyland in action’: Buddy Program hosts annual gingerbread workshop in Carbondale

Over the weekend, Carbondale’s Third Street Center was transformed into a tiny gingerbread town. 

Cookie houses covered in frosting, chocolates and sprinkles lined the tables of the Community Hall at Third Street Center, built — and later eaten — by volunteers and participants of the Buddy Program. 

“It’s a big frenzy of sugar and icing,” Buddy Program Executive Director Lindsay Lofaro said.

The Gingerbread Workshop is the biggest Buddy Program annual tradition, which just hit its 10-year milestone. The event sees nearly 100 Buddy Program youth, mentors, volunteers and local supporters come together to celebrate the holidays between two events in Carbondale and Aspen. 

“The purpose of the event is twofold,” Lofaro said. “First of all, it provides a really fun holiday activity for our big and little buddies … The second purpose of the event is to fundraise and bring awareness to our mission, and our mission is to empower youth through mentoring experiences to reach their full potential.” 

A buddy pair poses for a photo while working on their gingerbread house in Carbondale’s Third Street Center.
Andrea Teres-Martinez/Post Independent

The Buddy Program is a one-on-one mentoring program where adult volunteers are matched with a youth between the ages of 6-18 in their community. These buddy pairs meet three to four times a month to spend time together and engage in a variety of free activities and special opportunities that are organized by Buddy Program staff. 

In addition to the 10th anniversary of the Gingerbread Workshop, the Buddy Program is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. 

“We oftentimes think that, ‘Oh, all the 8, 9 and 10-year-olds will be there.’ But what we find is all the 16, 17 and 18-year-olds really keep showing up too because it’s just become a really beloved tradition for them and their big buddies,” Lofaro said. 

One of the buddy pairs, Liz and Stella, have been buddies since August. Stella, 10, has attended the program’s gingerbread workshop once before, though her favorite part of the experience remains the same. 

“I like to eat the candy afterwards,” Stella said. 

For Liz Heller, this is her first year as a big buddy after working in a ceramics studio across from the Buddy Program office for several years. She said she was very familiar with them and had often thought about making the jump and joining the program. 

“I would donate work to them and I volunteered at this event a few years ago in Aspen,” Heller said. “And it was always my intention to do it, but honestly, my housing situation wasn’t secure. I didn’t know if I was going to stay or go, and then a year ago, my housing situation became secure and so my first thought was, ‘Oh, I’m going to apply to be a buddy.'” 

Stella and Liz show off their finished gingerbread house.
Andrea Teres-Martinez/Post Independent

The Buddy Program approved Heller in April and presented her with Stella, who had been on a waitlist for six months. 

“My favorite part of the event is also the extra candy,” said Kara Lindahl, one of many attendees to share the same sentiment as Stella. Though one of many perks, she insisted it was only a small part of what the program offers. 

“I had no idea the relationship that would develop,” Lindahl said. “(My buddy) Brisa and I get along so well and we have such a nice time together, and it’s just fun to be matched with such a fantastic person.” 

“I think for a lot of our kids that are involved in our programs, they just really have come to look forward to it year after year, to take a break from the normal stresses of homework and sports practice or family or whatever’s going on,” Lofaro said. “It is just like Candyland in action.” 

At the center of the room lay a table filled to the brim with different kinds of candy; from marshmallows, to pretzel sticks, to a rainbow of gummies. After the buddy pairs were finished decorating their house, they made their way to the gingerbread photo booth decorated with balloon gingerbread men and candy. Their third and final stop was the wrapping table, where their creation was wrapped in plastic and a bright red bow, ready to take home and eat — but not all at once! 

Lofaro shared a special thanks to this year’s presenting sponsor, Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, as well as the many organizations that have supported them along the way. 

“We’ve been reaching out to a lot of the construction and design building community to support this event because it kind of goes with the theme of the gingerbread house, in the building and creating, and we’ve been really fortunate to have the support of so many of our local businesses to sponsor the event and sponsor the work that we do year-round,” Lofaro said. 

During the time when big and little buddies couldn’t gather for the event due to the pandemic, the Buddy Program turned their efforts to take-home gingerbread house kits so that participants and volunteers could still enjoy the tradition from their own homes. Coming out of the pandemic, the program still builds these kits and sells them to families who want to join in on the fun and support the program. 

Each gingerbread house kit purchase includes a $100 tax-deductible donation to the Buddy Program in support of their year-round youth mentoring programs. Anyone interested in purchasing a kit can visit their website at buddyprogram.org/gingerbreadhouse

“Seeing them at this event is always really heartwarming and special for me,” Lofaro said. “To watch them still take such delight in it and in their relationship with their big buddies and to witness that connection that they have built.”

Trish, an employee with the Buddy Program, wraps gingerbread houses for buddy pairs to take home.
Andrea Teres-Martinez/Post Independent

Calling all boarders and skiers: Sunlight Mountain ushers in opening day Friday

Skiers and snowboarders are gearing up for the opening day at Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort on Friday. The resort will kick off the season with only the Tercero Lift and Midway, a beginner-friendly green run.

“We got a really good base from our last storm, which gave us close to about 15 inches,” said Sunlight Marketing Director Matt Ericksen. “It looks like Mother Nature is reloading for this upcoming weekend, so we are excited for that next one-two punch so that we can open up more terrain.”

Ericksen said Friday’s opening won’t provide the typical skiing experience that riders can expect later in the season, but will serve as a “a good warm-up lap to kick start the season and get some people strapped into their boots.”

Opening day festivities extend beyond skiing. Visitors can expect giveaways, a special banner for the first chair lift, and live music, creating a lively atmosphere for the season’s start.

A notable addition this year is a snow stake at the mountain’s peak, a tribute to Sunlight Mountain’s history. While the stake will be used to measure snow, its unique 2k live viewing video will allow viewers to get a first-hand look at the snow falling down. Those wishing to get a look can do so at the Sunlight Mountain website.

The top of the Primo chairlift awaits its opening at Sunlight Mountain.
Sunlight Mountain/Courtesy

“We wanted to pay homage to the Segundo lift and we figured this would be an awesome way to do it,” Ericksen said.

This innovative feature, inspired by the iconic Segundo lift towers in use since 1954, also provides live snowfall updates through the resort’s website.

The replacement of the Segundo lift at season’s end signifies the resort’s commitment to modernization while honoring its past. The new snow stake stands as a symbol of this balance, according to Ericksen

Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort is set for an inviting opening day, blending skiing with festive activities. With plans for more terrain opening soon, although no time table officially set, Ericksen is hopeful to see the mountain open more of its 72 trails in the coming weeks.

“We just need a couple of good storm cycles to come through and we should be able to open up more,” he said.

The mountain’s first lift will send skiers and snowboarders alike to the top of the Tercero Lift starting at 9 a.m. Friday.

Those interested in purchasing tickets and passes or renting gear can do so at sunlightmtn.com, as well as in-person.

Jet shell spotted on Hwy 82 not a sign of the apocalypse, just clean up from an April deviation

Final Destination 6?

Testing of a prototype flying car?

A flight out of the airport gone disastrously wrong?

Luckily, the large chunk of a plane spotted on the highway was none of those things.

A fuselage, an aircraft’s body, of a Dassault Falcon 900 business jet was spotted on Colorado Highway 82 on Tuesday morning. It was not the remnants of an emergency roadway landing but the removal of a jet from Fixed Base Operator (FBO) property after months of investigations following a runway deviation.

The aircraft deviated from the runway at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport back on April 2 after a faulty landing. The exact cause of the deviation will come from the National Transportation Safety Board when it completes its investigation, according to Airport Deputy Director Diane Jackson. But the plane sustained damage during the incident, the official cause of which is also still under investigation.

Jonathan Jones, the general manager of Atlantic Aviation, said that he learned from mechanics who evaluated the jet that the engines were damaged during the deviation when they came in contact with the snow then. 

A crane had to be brought in to remove the jet from the runway, where it was taken to the FBO for investigation. 

The airport obtains the right to remove an aircraft from the airport movement area, like the runway, if an aircraft cannot move itself.  

“If an aircraft is unable under their own power to taxi to the general aviation ramp, the airport will have a waiver signed that provides the airport the right to remove the aircraft in coordination with the Federal Aviation Authority/NTSB,” Jackson explained in an email. “Once the airport has removed the aircraft from the airport movement area, any repairs have been made, and remediation efforts completed if need be, the runway will be inspected and re-opened.  Once the aircraft has been removed, the aircraft owners and investigating agencies will work with Atlantic for storage, repairs, and transport if needed.”

From the incident in April to its removal from the airport on Tuesday, Jones said the jet moved across FBO leasehold space while insurance and mechanics teams and NTSB workers evaluated it.

The decision to scrap an aircraft and how/where to do so is a choice left to the aircraft owner and insurer. 

Removal of the jet from the runway amounted to approximately $50,000, according to a supplemental budget request approved by the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. 

Jackson said the airport is waiting for insurance reimbursement from the aircraft owner. She said the reimbursement would go back to the county once it came through.

These Roaring Fork Valley companies made it into Outside Magazine’s 50 Best Places to Work in 2023 list

The Roaring Fork Valley is home to some of the best places to work in 2023, according to Outside Magazine’s annual rankings. These companies have gone above and beyond to keep their employees happy while encouraging them to pursue their outdoor passions, Outside Magazine wrote.

Here are the Roaring Fork Valley companies featured in the year’s rankings. For the full list, go to outsideonline.com/culture/essays-culture/best-places-to-work-2023.

Forum Phi Architecture

Coming in at No. 4 on the list is Forum Phi Architecture, an architecture firm located in Aspen and Carbondale.

According to Outside Magazine, some of the perks at Forum Phi Architecture are quarterly paid “Forum Phriday” events like skiing, lake day, river rafting, park events, and hut trips, monthly cultural events such as the meatball competition or chili cook off, eight hours of volunteer time off per year of employment up to 40 hours of paid time to volunteer in the community for a non-profit of choice.

Koru Ltd

Ranked at 22 is Koru Ltd, a construction company located in Carbondale.

Some of the perks of working at Koru Ltd are flexible work days to get outside, an Aspen Snowmass ski pass, a pet-friendly workplace, and routine team-building activities such as rafting, skiing, camping, kickball tournaments, and scavenger hunts, according to Outside magazine.


Rygr, a Carbondale and Denver marketing agency, is ranked at number 26 on Outside Magazine’s list.

According to the magazine, some of the perks of working at Rygr are a $120/month wellness stipend, a $500 gear shopping spree after 3 years of service, beer and kombucha on tap and a stocked snack drawer, loaner bikes, and twice-annual offsite cultural gatherings.


Backbone, located in Carbondale, is a brand marketing and public relations company ranked number 50 on the list.

Some perks of working at Backbone include annual company campouts and ski days, $500 in Backbone Bucks to spend with client brands after three years, a $120 per month wellness benefit, hybrid work environment, flexible hours, a powder day clause, and gear discounts, according to the magazine.

Honorable mentions

Charles Cunniffe Architects, Aspen.

Glenwood Springs man who threatened Summit County schools online last winter pleads guilty to felony menacing

The Glenwood Springs man accused of threatening Summit School District teachers and staff on social media last winter has pleaded guilty in his case after striking a deal with prosecutors for no prison time.

Charles Draughn, 27, appeared on Friday, Dec. 1, in Summit County court to enter a guilty plea for a Class 5 felony menacing charge. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of misdemeanor menacing and interfering with faculty, staff, and students of educational institutions, a misdemeanor, in exchange for Draughn’s plea of guilty to the felony menacing charge, according to court documents.

“We’ve gone around and around,” Draughn’s defense attorney J.B. Katz said during the plea hearing. “Mr. Draughn has had many sleepless nights trying to decide what to do.”

Draughn has remained in custody on a $100,000 bond since his arrest last January.

With the stipulation for no prison time in the plea agreement, Draughn could face a community corrections sentence if he is deemed eligible for that program, or would otherwise face up to four years of supervised probation, Katz said. Draughn could reportedly face prison time if he violates the terms of community corrections or probation.

Draughn has spent more than 300 days in the Summit County jail since his arrest, which will earn him credit against any sentence a judge hands down, Owens noted. The plea agreement also stipulates any firearms recovered by the government related to this case would be destroyed, he said.

On Jan. 24, Draughn posted comments on the Summit Daily News Instagram page with statements like “I know every name the teachers in Summit they will know my name and my AR really nicely” and “People WILL start dying in Summit County,” according to court documents.

The threats prompted an increased police presence at Summit County schools, which opened with safety protocols in place that morning before police arrested Draughn in Pitkin County later in the day. The threatening comments were made on a post about a Summit School District board of education decision related to LGBTQ+ issues.

Shortly after his arrest, Draughn told a judge that he doesn’t own any guns. But in March, police testified that a photo shows Draughn holding an AR-15-style rifle in his apartment a month before he made the online threats.

Just two days before making threats, Draughn purchased “armor piercing” bullets for an AR-15 online, according to police testimony. Police also said Draughn had purchased 3D-printed gun parts and had media on his phone of guns and gun parts, some of which appeared to have been taken at his apartment.

Prosecutors had referenced the guns, which law enforcement hasn’t located, as recently as October when the district attorney’s office argued that Draughn’s bond should not be reduced because he posed a community safety risk.

Draughn is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 8.