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With COVID spike in Latino community, advocates urging Garfield and other counties to help protect vulnerable workers

As Garfield County Public Health officials try to get a handle on the recent spike in new coronavirus cases, especially within the county’s Latino population, advocates from that community have offered some rather forceful suggestions.

It’s no real surprise that Latinos are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, said Alex Sanchez, director of the nonprofit Voces Unidas de las Montañas.

Many Latinos work in construction and service and tourism industry jobs, where working from home is not an option, Sanchez said.

Oftentimes, the workplace itself — construction sites, restaurants, hotels, and the like — and even just getting to and from work, puts them at higher risk for contracting the virus, he said.

That’s why his group has been working to make sure the estimated 35,000 Latino residents who live from Parachute to Aspen have a voice when it comes to policy decisions and information being disseminated about COVID-19.

“We know that we have a role to play, as an organization, to do our part by reposting the critical information that comes from elected officials and government agencies,” Sanchez said. “But, at the end of the day, we can’t do government’s role.”

In Garfield County, Latinos now represent 60% of all COVID-19 cases, but make up about 30% of the population. That percentage has gone up rapidly in just the last six weeks, from less than 50% of the cumulative case total in late May, as businesses began reopening more fully.

In neighboring Pitkin County, Latinos represent 10% of the population, yet account for 20% of positive cases there, Sanchez said.

“We try to be a sounding board within the Latino community to help with some of the strategies,” he said.

That includes regular surveys to gauge Latino residents’ thoughts regarding public health concerns. The most recent of those surveys, conducted in late June and resulting in 185 responses, found that:

  • One in three Latinos did not know what to do if they got infected with the virus;
  • One in two Latino respondents do not know where to go to get medical care if they get infected;
  • The majority of Latino survey takers lacked confidence that their employers would protect Latino workers;
  • One-third of respondents did not have access to masks at work; and,
  • Three in five Latino respondents believe that their local governments and elected officials are not doing enough to protect Latinos from the virus.

To aid in that response, leaders of Voces Unidas on July 2 issued seven “demands” of county governments in the tri-county (Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle) area. Those are:

  1. Publicly release disaggregated data on the impact of COVID-19 by community group (ethnicity and race).
  2. Ensure that all official public information is linguistically and culturally effective, and that it is disseminated to all communities at the same time, via effective channels.
  3. Develop (and make public) a comprehensive plan on how the county is responding to and supporting community groups that are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
  4. Ensure the safety of Latinos during the reopening phase, especially as Latino workers go back to essential and public-facing jobs. Employers must be required to provide personal protective equipment for their workers and encourage safe distancing practices.
  5. Ensure that all employers distribute culturally effective information in Spanish and English to all of their workers on what to do if an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and their rights and protections as workers. 
  6. Ensure a proportionate Latino representation in all long-term planning processes to make sure that Latinos are not left behind in the recovery of COVID-19.
  7. Publish a detailed report on how each county supported each of the community groups, outlining strategies and how much tax-payer dollars were spent to support each community group.

“We can speak for ourselves and know what we need and want,” Sanchez said. “But a lot of decisions are being made about Latinos, without Latinos at the table. If you invite us, we will show up.”

Meanwhile, the number of new onset COVID-19 cases in Garfield County continues to go up at an alarming rate — and not exclusively within the Latino community.

Garfield County is now the hotbed among northwestern Colorado counties in terms of new coronavirus cases over the past two to three weeks, Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long reported to county commissioners on Monday.

The number of new cases jumped yet again from 408 at the time of her Monday report to 441 as of the end of the day Tuesday, according to county and state public health statistics.

The county also reported its fourth death from COVID-19 on Tuesday, involving a man in his late 60s who died at his home.

“We are a service-industry county, and that’s where we’re seeing a lot of that,” Long said of the recent surge in new cases. “Summer is our tourism business season here, and it’s when a lot of our businesses make their money.”

As that relates to workers, regardless of ethnicity, county health is working to provide as much information as possible about workplace safety, in both English and Spanish, and encourages employers to do the same, she said.

Long said she also suggests employers provide extra incentives to keep workers from sharing transportation to or from work, or to do so safely, as some of the recent cases can be attributed to carpooling.

“That’s something we should maybe be discouraging right now, and say that maybe this is not the time to do that,” she said in her report to the commissioners.

Though the number of new onset cases continues to increase, and while there have been some recent new hospitalizations (three new since late last week), hospital capacity locally is not a concern at this point.

“We continue to have COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization, and at this time our ability to care for these patients and other non-COVID patients is strong.” Dr. Brian Murphy, CEO of Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said in the hospital’s twice-weekly COVID-19 report.

Murphy added, “It is important that we each do our part — wear a mask, practice physical distancing and frequently wash our hands — to slow the transmission of this virus. Together, we can support our community’s well-being and the reopening of businesses and our economy.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

Latest Garfield County COVID-19 Statistics & Trends

Garfield County stats

Cumulative cases as of 7/14 (all testing sources) — 441

New cases reported since 7/9 — 89

Rolling two-week onset of new cases: June 30-July 12 — 69; June 16-29 — 89

Test positivity rate — 5.5%

Deaths — 4

Source: Garfield County Public Health

Valley View COVID-19 Cumulative Stats 7/14/2020

Specimens collected through Valley View — 4,293 (513 new since 7/9)

Positive results — 245 (50 new since 7/9)

Pending results — 24

Patients admitted with COVID-19 since outbreak began — 35 (1 new since 7/9)

Patients discharged (incl. transfers and deceased) — 27

Grand River COVID-19 Cumulative Stats 7/14/2020

Specimens collected through Grand River Health — 1,996 (103 new since 7/9)

Positive results — 100 (13 new since 7/9)

Pending results — 25

Patients admitted with COVID-19 since outbreak began — 5 (2 new hospitalization since 7/9, one still admitted as of Tuesday)

Patients discharged — 2

Source: Hospital statistics released twice weekly

Case against Glenwood Springs man in 2018 vagrant murder case continued again

A June 2018 murder case involving an alleged drunken confrontation between two men in West Glenwood is still making its way through the Ninth Judicial District court system.

Trevor Torreyson, 43, is accused of beating Keith Wayne to death in a small private park situated off Storm King Road during a night of drinking on June 20, 2018.

Torreyson is now represented by Glenwood Spring attorney Courtney Petre after having a falling-out with his original public defender last September.

He was back in court Tuesday afternoon for the first time in months before Chief District Judge James Boyd — via WebEx video from the Garfield County Jail where’s been held on $1 million bond since his arrest the day after the incident.

Petre requested another lengthy extension, and a plea has yet to be entered by Torreyson in the case. The arraignment hearing was continued yet again until the afternoon of Sept. 8.

“This does not substantially change what’s happening with the case, thus far,” Petre informed the judge. The District Attorney’s Office did not object to the continuance.

Both Torreyson and Wayne were experiencing homelessness at the time of the incident, and were well-known within the fairly close-knit community of people who often camp on the outskirts of Glenwood Springs.

Wayne, who was 56, was found dead near several car dealerships in West Glenwood off of Storm King Road the night of June 20, 2018, with wounds on his left temple consistent with blunt force trauma.

The first officers on the scene found boot tracks, apparently made on concrete from dried blood, heading west from the scene.

When cops arrested Torreyson later that day, he was discovered in his campsite with blood on his boots, pants, shirt and arms, which has been introduced as evidence in the case.

Police identified Torreyson as a suspect because of a bandana officers found at the scene under Wayne’s body, which officers recognized from previous contacts with Torreyson.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Riparian setbacks, Bill Rippy development could dominate Glenwood Springs council discussion Thursday

Glenwood City Council is slated to consider the revised Bell Rippy apartment project site plan and rezoning proposal as well as a riparian setback amendment during their regular meeting Thursday.

Bell Rippy

Dating as far back as 2017, developers have proposed building multi-family housing in a vacant lot on the south end of Glenwood Springs.

Early site proposals drew ire from residents living nearby, largely because of the development’s potential impact on traffic in the surrounding area, which is primarily single-family homes.

“I’ve heard this developer has made some significant changes to their site plan and how it will interface with current traffic patterns,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said. “If (Thursday’s conversation) is anything like our previous conversations, it could center on the impact to Palmer and Blake avenues.”

The development proposal includes six three-story buildings with 38 one-bedroom units and 62 two-bedroom units adjacent to Palmer Avenue between 26th Street and Blake Avenue.

During a June 8 digital conference with members of the public, city staff and Bell Rippy developers, Triumph Development West, LLC, residents applauded some of the site plan change proposals, especially in regard to “Option C.” 

Option C repurposes a portion of Palmer Avenue between 26th Street and Blake Avenue as a bicycle and pedestrian path, with access for emergency vehicles only.

City Council could review Option C, which city staff is recommending with conditions, on Thursday as well as rezoning the proposed development area from Residential High-Density to Residential Transitional.

Riparian setback

Two years in the making, the first reading of a proposal to amend municipal code for riparian setbacks has garnered rebuke from some local property owners.

Unanimously recommended by the Glenwood Springs River Commission, the amendment is intended to prevent the loss or removal of riparian vegetation and improve water quality by eliminating the application of hazardous chemicals in the proposed 35-foot setback zone.

“For a community that bases a lot of our identity on water … (the commission) is saying we should have the healthiest, most pristine waterways possible,” Godes said, explaining the amendment was originally suggested by the commission in 2018. Council’s goal Thursday goal is to listen to the commission and the Roaring Fork Conservancy (RFC), who helped inform the commission’s recommendation, present their ideas for the setback as well as hear the affected land owner’s input before making a decision, Godes said.

Gary Vick, a river-front property owner and spokesperson for a group of landowners dubbed Friends of the Roaring Fork River, said he plans to speak against the amendment.

“(Glenwood Springs Municipal Code) does not currently restrict what we can and can’t do with plant life,” Vick said, explaining the amendment as written could prevent land owners from planting grass or trimming vegetation within the setback. “At the very least, we would like to ask the council for some clarity on the amendment.”

Additionally, Vick said he was concerned the regulation could significantly decrease home values without any measurable benefit to the city.

“The (setback) proponents have not quantified any gains that would be made as a result of this amendment,” Vick said. “Before the city takes property rights from homeowners, they need to show a benefit that far exceeds the cost of lost property value.”

Roaring Fork Conservancy Executive Director Rick Lofaro said the amendment would ensure the river’s health for decades to come without affecting current property owners.

“We work with all the counties and municipalities within our Roaring Fork Valley watershed area, which is about 1,500 square miles,” Lofaro said. “Many jurisdictions and municipalities in the watershed have adopted riparian setback protections.”

Setback protections provide a buffer zone between developed areas and the river habitat, he explained.

“The messy vitality along the river is a healthy component of it,” Lofaro said. “Everything you love about the river goes away if all the riparian is removed.”

The amendment is a good move for the city, residents and the river, he said.

“We’re trying to make this a positive thing going into the future,” Lofaro said, “and not compromise, penalize, challenge or even get involved with private property.” 

ifredregill@postindependent.com

Former Basalt teacher pleads guilty to 1 count of sexual assault on a child after relationship with student

Former Basalt schools music teacher Brittany von Stein on Tuesday pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a student who was a minor and potentially faces a lengthy prison sentence.

Brittany von Stein
Garfield County Jail

In return for the guilty plea to sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, four similar charges were dismissed in the plea disposition, attorneys told Garfield County District Judge James Boyd.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions and spare everyone the damage of a trial,” von Stein said Tuesday in court.

Judge Boyd asked her a series of questions about her understanding of the offenses and the potential penalties. Von Stein, who was able to call into the hearing because of new procedures during the coronavirus, sounded composed during the questioning and her voice never wavered.

Zac Parsons, an assistant attorney with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said von Stein developed a relationship with a male high school student who was a minor at the time of the encounter.

“While being a music student she began to give some lessons to one student in particular who was under the age of 18,” Parsons said. “They developed a relationship. Ultimately Ms. von Stein invited him over to her house where they engaged in sexual intercourse on multiple occasions in the January to June timeframe in 2019.”

Sentencing is set for Sept. 16. The charge von Stein pleaded guilty to is a Class IV felony.

“There are no sentencing concessions,” Parsons said.

Boyd informed von Stein that if she is sentenced to prison, she could be sentenced for two to 12 years on the low end.

“The maximum amount of time in prison would be the rest of your life,” he said.

He ordered pre-sentence evaluations and investigations prior to the sentencing.

Humerickhouse wins wind-swept Glenwood Open golf tournament

Eagle’s Keith Humerickhouse navigated the gusty winds that blew in Sunday evening to win the championship flight of the Glenwood Open golf tournament on “The Hill.”

The wind storm blew in just in time to make the 18th and final hole of the day a trickier-than-usual par 4. The top flight is made up of amateur golfers with the lowest handicaps. 

Trailing by one shot on the last tee box, Humerickhouse kept his drive in the fairway, while others in his group faltered. He recorded a par on the windswept closing hole to finish the two-day tournament with scores of 72-71, taking the tournament title with 143 strokes.

“I used a 3-wood off the tee box, and getting that birdie putt close from the fringe in the end is what saved me,” Humerickhouse said after the win.

The annual 36-hole Glenwood Open event took place Saturday and Sunday, July 11-12 at the Glenwood Springs Golf Course, and featured a formidable collection of talent in all six flights.

“This year, we had 106 golfers take part, and this is the strongest field we have had in a long time,” GSGC General Manager Jerry Butler said. “We had quite a few younger players also, and that’s good for the game.”

Second place in the marquee flight produced a three-way tie between Denton Walker, Michael Smith and Richard Brandsby, who all finished with two-day totals of 145.

Glenwood Golf Course Assistant Superintendent Kirk Blaszyk found his way around familiar territory in winning the first flight. Blaszyk’s stellar final day saw 17 pars and one birdie for the tournament’s only sub-par round of 69. A 76-69 total of 145 is what turned the winning trick for Blaszyk. Carson Kerr, a senior-to-be at Grand Junction High School, finished second at 147, and Cody Nelson’s 152 was good enough for third place.

In the second flight, Glenwood’s Chris Hoffmeister used a timely chip-in to save par on the back nine holes and stay steady with identical rounds of 77-77 for a 154 total.

“When I made that shot, I thought I had a chance to win. It was a big confidence boost,” Hoffmeister said. Mark Smith of Glenwood took second place with a 157 total. Doug Jones and Mark Barlau tied for third place at 158 each.

Eric Lundin of Glenwood won the honors in the tourney’s third flight with scores of 78-73 (151). Nik Rocco finished at 158 for second place and Brian Thompson recorded a 159 for third.

Cody Wright of Glenwood was the king of the fourth flight at 81-78 (159). David Jeffers, also of Glenwood, recorded a score of 163 for second place. Jim Otto and John Lee tied for third at 165.

The fifth flight, which is based on the players’s final net score (actual score minus handicap), saw Glenwood’s Rob Rightmire post a 128 total for the win. Steve Williams was at 135 for second place and his brother Tom Williams and Ron Nadon tied for third at 138.

In Friday’s opening event of the tournament, the “Low Amateur,” the four-person team of Blaszyk, course Superintendent Jim Richmond, Glenwood Middle School PE teacher Blake Risner and Steve Williams, took top honors with a 124-stroke total.

Jim Richmond lines up a putt in Friday’s Low Amateur event.
Courtesy Jerry Butler

As commission candidate urges countywide mask order, commissioner highlights opposition to the idea in western Garfield County

A candidate for Garfield County commissioner says the current commissioners are putting politics over public health by not requiring people to wear face coverings while in public.

Leslie Robinson of Rifle is running for the District 3 Board of County Commissioners seat as a Democrat in November against incumbent Republican Mike Samson.

She said during comments via video conference before the county commissioners on Monday that Garfield County should follow the lead of neighboring resort counties in requiring masks be worn in public places.

Leslie Robinson, candidate for Garfield County commissioner.

“Don’t let the politics of a few dictate COVID health and safety decisions that will protect the many,” Robinson said.

Garfield County should enact a temporary order requiring face coverings while in places of business and where social distancing is not possible, same as the municipalities of Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, she said.

Face coverings should not be a political issue, Robinson said, adding “it’s time to believe in the medical science behind the use of masks to slow down contagion.”

Reached on Tuesday, Samson said the vast majority of constituents who have contacted him are opposed to a mask requirement, though people on the eastern end of the county are more supportive, he said.

“If you look at the stats, the majority of Covid cases appear to be in the eastern end of the county,” Samson said. That includes Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, which do require masks within their city limits, and New Castle, which does not. Combined, those communities account for 65% of the county’s cases since the outbreak began in early March.

Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson.
Alex Zorn / Citizen Telegram

Personally, Samson said he does wear a mask when entering businesses, especially busier ones such as City Market or Walmart.

“One of the major reasons why I do it is because a lot of people know who I am, and it’s good for me to set an example for others,” Samson said. “People need to use good judgment and common sense, and if you’re going to be in a situation where you’re close to other people, it’s a way to protect them and yourself.”

Robinson’s comments also elicited a response during the Monday meeting from District 1 Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who is not up for reelection this year.

He also said the constituent comments he’s heard, especially in the Rifle area, are “three-to-one against” requiring masks.

Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“Rifle, Parachute, Silt … none of those city councils have come to us asking for (a mask requirement), and any of them could have done it on their own,” Jankovsky said.

Jankovsky acknowledged public health suggestions that face masks could reduce the virus spread by 5% to 10%. But hospital capacity in the county and statewide is a better benchmark to make decisions, rather than the number of new cases, he said.

“Our hospitals are not at capacity,” he said, adding later in direct response to Robinson, “the individuals you’re trying to represent are opposed to face masks.”

Although county commissioners represent certain districts within the county, they are elected countywide by voters from Carbondale to Parachute.

Robinson also noted that a disproportionate number of those who have contracted COVID-19 in Garfield County, 60%, are Latino. That percentage has increased from 49% in early June.

“I wonder what more can the county be doing to reach out to that community to educate and stop this contagion among our most vulnerable populations,” she said.

Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long acknowledged in her regular report to the county commissioners Monday that the recent surge in cases among Latinos is a concern. That likely can be attributed to virus spread in workplaces, especially within the tourism and service industries, as well as construction job sites and even the practice of carpooling to work.

While carpooling is a good thing to do during normal times, Long said, “this is maybe not the time to do that.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original version with comments from Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson.

Man attacked by bear near Aspen: ‘I literally thought I might be dead’

The man who was injured Friday morning by a bear that got into a house in the Castle Creek Valley said he was trying to get the bear out of the house when it swiped at him.

A man identified as Dave Chenosky and in town visiting a friend’s house told ABC World News Tonight that he heard a noise about 1 a.m. Friday in the house and came across the bear when it was in the kitchen.

He said he attempted to get it to leave through the garage and tried to open the garage door to let the bear out. That is when things became dangerous.

“I turned around in the hallway and looked him straight in the face and he just went ‘bam’ and hit me in with his paw one time,” said Chenosky, who has large cuts on the left side of his face, including very near his left eye.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife area manager Matt Yamashita said officers responded to the incident at about 3 a.m. and are investigating how the bear got in and the encounter. He told The Aspen Times on Friday they were not able to find “any relatable attractants that were obvious as to why the bear was there or why it entered the house.”

Chenosky was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital and then transferred by ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

“I literally thought I might be dead,” he told ABC News.

CPW officials sent evidence from the bear, which they tracked near a mineshaft on the backside of Aspen Mountain and euthanized, to the state lab in Fort Collins on Friday afternoon. After testing there by state veterinarians, it will be sent to a lab in Wyoming for DNA analysis, Yamashita said.

He said Friday the officers are very confident it is the same bear, but protocol remains to send evidence to the labs for testing and analysis. Those results could come in some time this week, Yamashita said Friday.

Efforts by The Aspen Times to reach Chenosky have been unsuccessful.

Looking to make tracks: first phase of new 18-mile mountain bike trail system to begin this fall

Mountain bikers will soon have more options for single-track fun in western Garfield County as the city of Rifle and the Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization start moving forward on carving a new trail system through the pinyon and juniper trees north of Rifle.

“Its going to be such a great system out there, I think it really is going to a be a big draw for us. It will be a pretty big deal once we get enough miles out there, it compares to a lot of other systems in Colorado,” Rifle City Planner Nathan Lindquist said. “It’s going to be really cool.”

The first phase of the 18-mile project is expected to cost just over $90,000, which organizers hope to start the beginning of September, will include nearly 7 miles of single-track trails.

“We really tried to minimize the crossings, they did a pretty good job with designing it that way,” Lindquist said. “You’ll climb uphill to the left of the trail, and then when you’re coming back to the trailhead you’ll be on the right side.”

Lindquist there will be only one major crossing of the trail, and one smaller crossing if you want to do more laps around the loop.

The city has contracted Aaron Mattix with Gumption Trail Works as the designated trail builder.

RAMBO board members met with Mattix on Sunday for a walkthrough of where the planned trails will snake through the BLM land that surrounds the Rifle Arch 9 miles north of Rifle. 

Board members are scheduling trail build training for local crew leaders/board members who have volunteered as trail crew leaders. 

“Their role is to supervise the larger volunteer trail build days we have coming up in September — we don’t have anything scheduled for those yet, but the plan is to train-up through August,” RAMBO president Erik Villasenor said. 

Organizers hope temperatures become milder moving into the fall and they ask for volunteers to help build trails. People interested in volunteering can watch the RAMBO Facebook page for dates to sign up; a new website is also in development.

See Thursday’s edition of the Rifle Citizen Telegram for more on this story.

kmills@postindependent.com

Monday profile: Rodgers makes Western Colorado his business

Glenwood Music owner Joe Rodgers works on a tube amp in the back of his shop in south Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Joe Rodgers knew that he wanted to live in Western Colorado, he just didn’t know how he was going to make a living here.

From the 1980s to the mid 2000s Rodgers, now the owner of Glenwood Music, had developed a thriving career repairing pro-audio equipment in his home state of Maryland. But when his service business began drying up as more and more music stores went corporate, he started looking to the West.

“Being born and raised there, I was done with the traffic and some of the intensity level. Everyone’s much more opinionated because they tend to move there for that reason,” Rodgers said. “Like a typical East Coaster I would fly out to ski or hike and loved it out here, but I could never figure out how to make a living in Western Colorado, which I knew was where I wanted to live.”

Rodgers first took a job with a Denver tech firm. But as fate would have it, he ran into previous Glenwood Music owner Larry Gruber in 2010 at a time when Gruber was looking to sell the business.

“Larry barely survived the crash of ’08 and ’09, and he needed to move back to Denver at a time when I wanted to move out here,” Rodgers said. “So it was good timing, and I was able to purchase the business at a reasonable price.”

With his expertise mainly on the electronics side of the business, Rodgers knew he would need a partner to handle the string instruments. Enter Kevin Ware, who had lost his own well-paying job during the recession, and was “miserable pumping gas at the Eagle County Airport,” Rodgers said.

“We hit it off, he came on board, and I bought Larry’s business.”

Musical roots

Rodgers grew up in a musical family. His mother was an accomplished pianist, and Rodgers began piano lessons at age 7. His father was a semi-professional tenor who was a replacement singer for Bobby Fisher at the end of World War II, and was a soloist for “one of the better church choirs on the East Coast,” Rodgers said. “They sang for Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul in Rome.”

He got a degree in electronics after high school in the 1970s and immediately got into the electronics repair business. By the 1980s he had transitioned almost all of repair skill into the world of pro audio music — the entertainment industry.

“Really from about the early ’80s on, everything I did on the repair side was in the professional audio music/entertainment industry,” Rodgers said. “In [Washington] DC I did all the repairs for the U.S. Air Force Band. I had the government contract there for years. I did all the repairs for some of the mega-churches, recording studios, night clubs, musicians, Guitar Centers, the Mom & Pop music stores. There you’re busy 24/7 just fixing stuff.”

Rodgers’ pro-audio repair skill was largely responsible for Glenwood Music quickly outgrowing its downtown location after he purchased it in 2010, which precipitated its move to the former Blockbuster space in the Roaring Fork Marketplace in 2011.

“People were bringing in giant mixers and they had closets full of gear that were just sitting around, because nobody was fixing anything — we were tripping over stuff,” Rodgers said.

Glenwood Music now has the only authorized electronic service center in all of Western Colorado.

“Even the stores in Grand Junction send me their repairs, so my service territory is even larger than my retail territory,” Rodgers said. “It’s literally from the Eisenhower Tunnel to Moab, Utah, and from the Wyoming border to Telluride.

“People would rather travel here than go to Denver. It’s been a really big part of what we do because there are so few music stores that are able to have in-house service anymore.”

Evolving the business

Rodgers has grown Glenwood Music in many ways over the past 10 years.

In 2012 he secured the Roaring Fork Valley’s band instrument rental business by purchasing Roaring Fork Music from Ed Wilson, who he then brought onboard, along with Travis Lucero, to run that side of the business.

Rodgers has also made service and information a central part of the business’s focus, with Rodgers handling the electronic repair, Ware handling the string instrument repair, and Wilson and Lucero handling the band instrument repair.

“We’re finding more and more in this internet-driven environment, that information and customer service is huge and that’s where we have the leg up over the Sweetwaters and the Amazons and the Musician Friends, which only do online sales,” Rodgers said. “Staffing with knowledgable employees is huge. Everyone who works here is a musician of some sort or another. We know the business. Most of us have been at it most of our lives, and customers appreciate that side of it.”

Rodgers expanded the store into the adjacent space vacated by Audio Gear last year, adding a “real loading dock” a warehouse, and a piano showroom.

But like most retail businesses, Glenwood Music was hit hard by Covid shutdowns, and even though he was able to keep the doors open a crack due to his designation as an essential seller of audio streaming equipment, Rodgers was forced to furlough all his employees except Ware.

“A big shout-out to the local music community for supporting us during Covid,” Rodgers said. “People say ‘we want to make sure you guys are still here.’”

“We more than survived, and we’re looking forward to bringing back some of our furloughed employees in August.”

jbear@postindependent.com

Grateful for Glenwood nomination campaign paying it forward to boost morale, and help businesses emerging from pandemic shutdowns

Jackie Skramstad had some people in mind when Alpine Bank, Glenwood Springs Ford and Glenwood Insurance teamed up to launch the Grateful for Glenwood campaign last month to recognize those in the community who do good deeds.

She nominated several people she believes have made an impact during the coronavirus emergency, both for her personally and in terms of helping the larger community. Among them were:

  • YouthZone director Lori Mueller, “for making sure the vulnerable youth in our community continue to have access to needed services.”
  • Literacy Outreach director Martha Fredendall, “for providing support to people in our immigrant community during this time.”
  • Marian McDonough, “for working tirelessly to serve people in our community needing rental and housing assistance.”
  • And, her yoga instructor, Eliza Fulton, for continuing to do her yoga classes via Zoom, “so that myself and others can continue to focus on our health and well being.”

In turn, it wasn’t long before Skramstad found herself among the nominees. McDonough nominated Skramstad for her work as a behavioral health specialist with Mind Springs Health.

“Jackie grew up in our community and moved back after she finished college, with the great ‘give back’ attitude of supporting those with mental health issues,” McDonough wrote. “She has been a critical leader to removing the stigmatism surrounding mental health so all those needing services are able to access them.” 

The stories are similar throughout the other 250-some nominations, each about giving back to the community in some way.

Nominees are entered in a weekly drawing that concludes this week for $100 in “Glenwood Gold” community currency to be redeemed at more than 40 participating businesses.

That was the whole idea behind Grateful for Glenwood, said Kate Collins, one of the organizers of the project as community outreach director for Alpine Bank.

“Everybody needs more feel-good stuff right now,” Collins said. “Even the process of nominating someone is exciting and uplifting for the people doing the nominating, as it is for those getting the bucks.”

When the public health crisis hit this spring, Alpine Bank in Glenwood Springs had been gearing up to throw a big 40th anniversary bash in April. Instead, the bank decided to put the money toward the Grateful for Glenwood campaign.

“As things were starting to shut down and our local businesses were having to close, we just felt it was the only right thing to do,” said John Stelzriede, Alpine Bank-Glenwood president.

The Glenwood Gold bucks are issued in the form of a special certificate that has a QR (Quick Response) code that can be scanned at the participating businesses.

The special currency can also be purchased through the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association as part of its local stimulus efforts.

Glenwood-Gold

“The idea for us was that this could be used as seed money that would grow into bigger sales for the businesses,” Stelzriede said.

Indeed, they’ve heard numerous stories of winners redeeming their $25 increments at a business, and going above and beyond with their purchases, he said.

And, what better way to celebrate 40 years serving the Glenwood Springs community.

“In my mind, this is far more gratifying to have repurposed the dollars we would have used for the celebration, because it truly involves the community,” Stelzriede said.

The currency program itself, with its use of the QR code, has been a positive byproduct for businesses who have had to adapt to different ways of conducting transactions, Collins said.

“This crisis has necessitated a lot of changes in the way we do things, and digital currency is one of those things,” she said.

jstroud@postindependent.com