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Private security to continue through mid-October in downtown Glenwood

Pleased with the effect Citadel Security’s presence has had in downtown Glenwood Springs, the city will continue paying for private security at least through mid-October.

According to City Manager Debra Figueroa, staff received direction from city council to continue utilizing Citadel, but with adjusted hours and on an additional day.

Previously Citadel patrolled downtown, Thursday through Saturday from noon until 10 p.m.

Moving forward, Citadel employees will patrol downtown Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“The agreement with Citadel is $27 per hour per employee,” Figueroa said of the security officers, which patrol exclusively downtown.

No more than two Citadel security guards patrol at once.

“They are not police officers, they are security guards. But, anyone in uniform with a badge is a deterrent to some of the issues we have had down there. It has been helpful,” said Councilor Tony Hershey. “I think the city has really worked hard to address these issues and I appreciate what staff has done.”

According to city officials, previous issues included: camping, sleeping, exchanging drugs, public intoxication, open alcohol containers, smoking and a considerable amount of litter being deposited mainly under the Grand Avenue Bridge and surrounding areas.

“The addition of private security has had positive results beyond our expectations,” said Councilor Steve Davis. “Just having uniformed personnel on site has made locals and tourists more comfortable and the undesirable elements less comfortable.”

Lt. John Hassell with the Glenwood Springs Police Department agreed that Citadel’s uniform presence alone was having a positive influence in deterring unwanted, illegal activity.

“Their authority is such that they will be the eyes and ears to any criminal activity and will contact Glenwood Police officers to enforce,” stated Hassell. “They have been there to advise citizens and tourists of the smoking restrictions and thus far have had very good compliance.”

The city’s contract with Citadel Security will run through the second week of October.

“As we go forward I believe the Glenwood Springs Police has committed to forming a ranger element to the department to bring this level of patrol in house,” added Davis. “These are uniformed but not weapon carrying personnel.

mabennett@postindependent.com

27th Street Bridge to remain closed through Friday

The 27th Street Bridge in Glenwood Springs will remain closed at least through Friday, city and project officials said Monday afternoon.

“The deconstruction of the bridge took longer and is taking longer than was originally anticipated,” said Jenn Ooton, assistant city manager. “Most of the bridge has been removed at this point, but it is not all removed.”

“And, we cannot slide the new bridge until the old bridge is out of the way,” added Ooton.

Contractor Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction had intended on completely deconstructing the existing bridge and sliding the new one into place over an 84-hour period.

That window of time began last Thursday as planned, but did not end Monday morning as hoped.

Now, the 27th Street Bridge, S. Grand Avenue intersection, Atkinson Trail and portions of the Roaring Fork River will remain closed at least through Friday, Sept. 20 according to a news release.

“The steel that is in the bridge took longer to cut through,” said Ooton.
Additionally, according to Public Information Manager Bryana Starbuck, while removing concrete slabs from the existing 27th Street Bridge deck, crews encountered unanticipated structural elements.

“They found that in order to make sure that they are doing it safely and not compromising the crews or equipment, that they would have to approach it differently,” said Starbuck. “That different approach is taking longer than what they had originally anticipated.”

As of late Monday, a reopen date for the 27th Street Bridge, South Grand Avenue intersection and Atkinson Trail was unavailable.

“As soon as it is safe to open we will do so,” said Starbuck.

Until then, all of the project’s previously designated detour routes will remain in effect.

Detours include Eighth Street for motorists and the Old Cardiff and 14th Street bridges for pedestrians and bicyclists needing to cross the Roaring Fork River.

Additionally, Roaring Fork River users must either eddy out at or before Three Mile Creek or put in downstream of the 27th Street Bridge.

According to Monday’s news release, “local business and residential access will remain open with detours.”

Acting Police Chief Lt. Bill Kimminau said that police officers would continue assisting traffic through the Eighth Street detour.

“All in all, it’s flowing alright. It’s heavier than usual but we’ll get through it,” Kimminau said. “Be patient and anticipate it taking a little longer to get to where you are going.”

mabennett@postindependent.com

Mobile home parks in Pitkin County are integral part of local affordable housing stock

While the existence of five trailer parks in Colorado’s wealthiest county might come as a surprise to some, they are actually an integral part of Pitkin County’s affordable housing system.

The city of Aspen first took steps in the early 1980s to preserve a cherished trailer park neighborhood in the middle of town that still exists today for employee housing. Pitkin County has since followed suit, buying or helping preserve four more mobile home parks in the upper Roaring Fork Valley for affordable housing during the past two decades.

“I think Pitkin County — because of the limited land available for affordable housing projects — had to capture what land was available and preserve it,” said Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper, who not only has helped preserve four of the mobile home parks during her five terms on the board, but she’s lived in the fifth one for more than 30 years.

“We started this process so long ago and we recognized the issue early on so, therefore, we were able to step in before these parks were sold off.”

Aspen’s history both as one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States and as a bastion of progressive thinking has elevated the issue of worker housing to the forefront of elected officials’ civic concerns for decades. Those concerns led to an affordable housing program in Aspen and Pitkin County that began in the late 1970s and now includes more than 3,000 deed-restricted units.

Of those 3,000-plus housing units, 395 are located in four mobile home parks under the oversight of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority. Pitkin County paid $6.5 million in early 2018 for a fifth mobile home park that currently features 40 units, though commissioners have indicated they might add as many as 20 more to the property.

That means 435 mobile homes in Pitkin County now provide affordable housing for about 1,000 people employed in the county and their families, Clapper said.

“Our basic fundamental philosophy is to preserve existing affordable employee housing,” Clapper said. “Perhaps even more important is to preserve the communities those mobile home parks create.”

Moving on mobile home parks

The first to be preserved was the Smuggler Mobile Home Park located at the foot of Smuggler Mountain on Aspen’s north side. It began as a rental mobile home park in the 1970s, though the city of Aspen approved a subdivision process in that allowed tenants to buy the land under their mobile homes for about $25,000 each, according to APCHA’s website.

Clapper and her husband, Tommy, bought their 1967 single-wide trailer with 860 square feet and the land beneath it in 1987, and have lived at Smuggler ever since. The location is within walking distance of town, provides stellar views of the city and surrounding peaks, as well as a salt-of-the-earth-type neighborhood of 87 units where people care about and help each other, she said.

“We raised two kids, multiple dogs, one cat, way too many hamsters and a gecko in that trailer,” Clapper said. “It is one of the greatest places to live in the community.”

The next mobile home park to convert to land ownership for tenants was Aspen Village, a 150-lot mobile home park located near Woody Creek about a 10-minute drive down Highway 82 from Aspen. Residents there began working toward purchasing the park in 1996 and were able to buy subdivided lots in 2000 for an average price of about $33,000, according to APCHA’s website and Aspen Times coverage.

The 100-lot Lazy Glen Mobile Home Park — located next to Highway 82 near Old Snowmass — followed in 2002, when mobile home owners there were first able to begin buying lots. Tenants at the 58-unit Woody Creek Mobile Home Park were able to purchase their lots in 2006 after a long ownership process spearheaded by APHCA, which bought the park in 1998, APCHA’s website states.

All four mobile home subdivisions now feature a mix of stick-built homes, modular homes and trailers. And while all four are governed by different rules because they were approved at different times, in nearly every case, residents must qualify to buy property in those subdivisions under APCHA’s affordable housing income guidelines and have full-time jobs in Pitkin County.

“It’s for locals,” said Lanny Curtis, a 43-year resident of the Woody Creek Mobile Home Park. “It keeps people with money from coming in here and buying it and flipping it. I think it’s a good thing.”

The Woody Creek Mobile Home Park features manicured grounds, new roads and quality infrastructure, he said.

“It came at a price but it was worth it,” Curtis said.

‘I lived in fear’

The Phillips Mobile Home Park — located on a prime slice of the Roaring Fork River between Woody Creek and Old Snowmass — became the fifth mobile home park in the county’s affordable housing inventory. Pitkin County used $6.5 million from an employee housing impact fee fund to purchase the 40-lot property, and is currently going through a planning and design process for it.

Phillips property owner Harriett Noyes received far larger offers for the 76-acre property — which her parents bought in 1933 — but told The Aspen Times last year that she wanted to ensure that her tenants, who she said were like her family, would continue to have an affordable place to live.

“If I had sold on the open market, a lot of people would be homeless,” she said.

Pitkin County Assessor Deb Bamesberger has lived at Phillips for 20 years on a month-to-month lease.

“At any time, they could have told me to pull (my mobile home) out,” she said. “And you can’t (move it). So I lived in fear at that park that someone could come kick us out tomorrow.”

And while Bamesberger is happy the county purchased the park to keep it as affordable housing, she’s nervous about the planning process, both for herself and her neighbors.

“I’ve been waiting to buy it and I hope I get to buy it,” she said. “But there’s a lot of people on fixed incomes who are afraid they might have to move.”

Decisions on the number of units that will eventually be available at Phillips and whether tenants will be able to purchase lots have not yet been made. Pitkin County commissioners will make those decisions in the future.

Curtis, who owns both his 1969 mobile home and the chunk of Woody Creek beneath it, is all too familiar with the fear Bamesberger lived with for two decades. He was the president of the park’s homeowners association when it went through the long, arduous process that led to ownership and still harbors some animosity toward the powers that be that directed the process.

However, ownership is, as he said, worth all the hassles.

“It’s a big difference,” he said. “It’s security.”

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Your Watershed column: How you can help with two rivers park improvements

Spending a summer evening at Two Rivers Park is one of my favorite ways to spend quality time with friends and family. Sometimes we ride over for sunset dancing at Music in the Park. Sometimes we enjoy an afternoon float down from Carbondale, then lounge at the park before heading home (after moving the boat, of course). Other times I’ll just stroll through after work to wind down for the evening. There are so many different ways to enjoy this cherished community resource, whether you’re a visitor or resident, on a summer evening or any other time of the year.

The city of Glenwood Springs takes pride in our public spaces, including Two Rivers, and they are generally well-equipped and -maintained. Part of the reason our parks are in good shape is that we occasionally invest in improvements, such as projects to enhance safety and access for all. Without putting work in, these places would become less desirable spots to spend our summer evenings. If we value outdoor public spaces, we must accept the responsibility for maintaining them.

On Sept. 19, the Glenwood Springs City Council will vote on whether or not to fund the Two Rivers Park Boat Ramp and Shoreline Improvement Project. This week, you can show your support for Two Rivers and the future of our city by contacting your City Council representative or showing up for the meeting. This vote is the culmination of decades of planning and advocacy, which has come to a head in the last five years. Stakeholders have fine-tuned the design to maximize benefit to a wide variety of people and the environment, while minimizing costs.

Some of the proposed benefits of this project include a riverside trail that connects the park to the river in a safe and accessible way for more people; boat ramp enlargement; installing suitable restroom facilities; and shoreline restoration to improve habitat and the ecosystem function of the river. It’s probably a good time to pull out the half-buried cars and other scrap from the river bank in the heart of our city, and replace it with sturdy rock walls and riparian vegetation.

All of these nice things cost money, but this project is a good use of our limited resources because it benefits people from all walks of life and is a critical component in the effort to redevelop the city core. The design team has worked to reduce proposed costs by involving stakeholders from the beginning, soliciting competing bids from five contractors, and ultimately removing certain parts of the project that were less critical (such as demolition of the old railroad abutment upstream of the pedestrian bridge, irrigation system replacement, and electrical system improvements). The lowest bid was about $2.6 million. The amount of money we spend on this project will reflect how much we value the river and our public spaces.

You can support this critical project by writing or calling your City Council representative, or attending the City Council meeting to voice your opinion. The meeting will be held at the Council Chambers (101 W. Eighth St.) at 6 p.m. Sept. 19. You can also email Trent Hyatt, the city’s liaison for the River Commission, at trent.hyatt@cogs.us, and the River Commission will compile and share public comments during the meeting. It’s our responsibility as citizens to tell our representatives what our priorities are, and this is an opportunity to influence the people who decide how we spend our city’s money. Please take a stroll through the park on a summer evening, reflect on the importance of our watershed health and public spaces, and then do what you can to support the future of Two Rivers Park and our city.

Doug Winter serves on the board of directors and Outreach and Education Committee for the Middle Colorado Watershed Council (MCWC), whose mission is to evaluate, protect and enhance the health of the Middle Colorado River watershed through the cooperative effort of watershed stakeholders.

Sixth Street roundabout work in Glenwood Springs to begin Monday

On the heels of the Seventh Street Project’s completion, local contractor Gould Construction will now start work on the Sixth Street roundabout beginning Sept. 16.

According to a news release motorists should anticipate, “periodic lane closures and brief traffic holds” in the Sixth Street and Colorado Highway 82 vicinity beginning Monday.

Although authorized to work six days a week, Glenwood Springs City Engineer Terri Partch did not envision Gould Construction doing that.

“I think that they probably will try to hold their operations to Monday to Friday, but the contract technically allows Saturday,” said Partch.

In accordance with the city’s noise ordinance, Gould Construction may work between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. However, the contractor will attempt to avoid any lane impacts during peak travel times, Partch explained.

“They may be working, but they will be in an island that does not affect that movement,” Partch said. “As much as Gould Construction possibly can, they would like to work in one island at a time to save on traffic control costs.”

The first phase of work will run through mid-November as crews install irrigation, electrical equipment, lighting, decorative boulders, trees, sod and ornamental grasses throughout the project’s site area. More than just a single roundabout, the project’s perimeter includes numerous adjacent islands and the area leading up to the pedestrian underpass beneath the I-70 westbound ramp.

The project, which council approved unanimously at its Sept. 5 meeting, carries a price tag of approximately $689,000 that will pull directly from the city’s A&I account.

Significant project expenditures include: $168,500 for traffic control, roughly $149,044 for various trees, shrubs, mulch, perennials and sod, and over $100,000 for irrigation.

The project was originally anticipated to cost $1.1 million. However, following value engineering that number was brought down to $647,423. The addition of electric hardwiring brought the final total to $689,143.

Upon completion phase one of the project by mid-November, Gould Construction will resume work in spring 2020.

The project has a target completion date of spring 2020 as well.

mabennett@postindependent.com

“The Mental Health Comedian,” Frank King headlines Post Independent’s Longevity Project Tuesday

The Post Independent’s Longevity Project, Striking a Conversation: Mental Health For All Ages culminates Tuesday with a performance from, “The Mental Health Comedian,” Frank King.

A writer for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno for over 20 years, King has lived with mental illness for decades.

“I would say that humor has saved my life, all my life,” said King. “I believe that my sense of humor is just part of the wiring that also contains my major depressive disorder.”

In addition to performing comedy 12 weeks a year on Holland America Line cruise ships, King speaks on college campuses across the country about mental health and suicide prevention.

“There is a stigma surrounding mental illness,” said King. “There is a separate stigma surrounding thoughts of suicide. It scares people and therefore they don’t talk about it.”

King, however, will speak to these issues and more Tuesday night at Morgridge Commons Meeting & Conference Center, 815 Cooper Ave., in Glenwood Springs.

Doors to the Longevity Project’s main event featuring King open at 5 p.m.

A local panel comprised of Carson Marie De Fries, Jackie Skramstad and Kevin Patterson will start the event with a presentation beginning at 6 p.m.

Defries serves as Intergenerational Program Coordinator at the University of Denver, Skramstad works as a clinical operations manager at Mind Springs Health and Patterson takes on the responsibility of being Connect for Health Colorado’s CEO.

Following the panel’s presentation, King will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets to Tuesday’s event cost $15 and include appetizers. They can be purchased here.

“I will explain why a comedian is talking about depression and suicide – that’s always the elephant in the room – and then I will give them actionable, take home advice. What I call signs, symptoms and solutions for depression and thoughts of suicide,” King said of what those in attendance Tuesday can expect. “We can save lives, simply by starting that conversation.”

mabennett@postindependent.com

#Postsnaps September 15

New picks every Sunday!

27th Street Bridge will not reopen to traffic Monday as previously anticipated

During the removal of the concrete slabs of the existing 27th Street Bridge deck, crews encountered unanticipated structural elements that require additional time to safely deconstruct.

As a result, the bridge will not be ready to open for traffic on Monday, project officials said Saturday.

The temporary closure of the 27th Street Bridge, South Grand Avenue intersection, Atkinson Trail and the Roaring Fork River will remain in effect until crews are able to safely reopen to traffic.

An update for the construction schedule will be announced on Monday.

“Deconstruction is highly technical and we encountered unknown site conditions that require additional precaution in the removal of the bridge deck on the existing bridge. Crews will continue to work day and night on this intricate operation to ensure a safe and quality bridge is constructed for the community,” said Bryce Jaynes, Colorado Division Manager for Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction.

Detours and Travel Impacts

Motorists should continue to use the 8th Street detour. There is no through access at South Grand Avenue and 27th Street.

Project officials continue to advise that significant traffic delays are anticipated. Pedestrians and bicyclists should continue to use Old Cardiff Bridge or the 14th Street Bridge as alternate routes for 27th Street Bridge and Atkinson Trail. Local business and residential access will remain open with detours.

After the existing bridge deck and girders are deconstructed, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction will set up for the bridge slide process in which the new traffic bridge staged just south of the existing bridge will be moved laterally into place. After deconstruction is complete, the project team will be able to provide additional details on the schedule.

“Plan plenty of extra travel time, especially during the morning and afternoon traffic peaks,” said 27th Street Bridge public information manager, Bryana Starbuck. “City of Glenwood Springs Police will be at the Eighth Street and Midland Ave. intersection as needed to help facilitate traffic flow. We will allow through access on the river as soon as it is safe to do so.”

River Access

Until it is safe for passage under the 27th Street Bridge construction area, there is no through river access at 27th Street. All river users must eddy-out at or before 3-Mile Creek or put-in downstream of the 27th Street Bridge. Through access on the Roaring Fork River will reopen concurrently with the bridge. Call before you float to hear the latest river status, (970) 618-5379.

Safety Reminders

For safety reasons, individuals are asked to avoid the area during these operations. Motorists are reminded to always move over for emergency service vehicles. Schedule and routes are subject to change and are weather dependent. Updates or changes to the schedule will be announced via ConeZone and will be updated on the project information line, 618-5379.

Project Information

Webpage: cogs.us/27thStreetBridge | Email: 27thStreetBridge@gmail.com | Phone (call or text): 970-618-5379

To receive the ConeZone email updates, contact the project team or subscribe to the “Glenwood Springs News” list via cogs.us/NotifyMe.

Sunday Profile: A call to service for new Rifle-area fire chief

For Randy Callahan, a career in the fire service was something he found early in life.

Pointing to a framed picture on his office wall of a 1956 Ford/Howe fire engine, Callahan explained that he, his brother and father all worked on the truck when he first began fighting fires in the suburbs of Detroit.

“My dad got me into this profession. He started as a volunteer, as did my brother and I, and we both turned it into a career,” Callahan said. 

“That picture is a reminder of the beginnings.”

Callahan said those beginnings were inspired in part by both the honor and spontaneity found in the firefighting profession.

“You never know when you go out that door if you’re going to be back in five minutes, five hours, or 10 hours,” Callahan said.

“You work until the job’s done, and then you come back.”

After moving from Michigan to Fort Collins in 1994, Callahan went to work for the Poudre Fire Authority.

Callahan spent 23 years in Fort Collins before retiring.

“I thought I was done with the fire service, and that was not the case,” said Callahan who has served 43 years.

With years of service and knowledge Callahan couldn’t stay away from the fire service for long.

“He will forget more than I will ever know. He very much loves to pass along the knowledge he has and it brings a positive attitude to the workplace,” Colorado River Fire Rescue Operations Division Chief Leif Sackett said.

After he retired, he worked on the fire certification board and then with Boulder County Rural Fire before coming to Rifle at the beginning of 2019.

Callahan is now serving as Fire Chief for Colorado River Fire Rescue serving New Castle, Silt and Rifle. He initially came to the role temporarily in January after former Chief Rob Jones stepped down at the end of 2018. He said he’s extended his stay at the request of the board.

“I’ve made an 18 month commitment to stay, to finish up a project we started, we have a lot of good projects going on,” Callahan said.

Callahan oversees 55 career firefighters and around 30 volunteer firefighters covering an 850 square-mile area from Rifle to New Castle.

“Chief Callahan has been a godsend to us, he has taught us how to work well with one another. He has changed our thinking and views. He is so big on training and always giving us a lesson out of what we do and giving us a purpose,” Administrative Director PJ Tillman said.

“It has really made us a strong team.”

Colorado River Fire Rescue has four staffed stations including Station 41 and 43 in Rifle, Station 61 in Silt and Station 64 in New Castle. Colorado Fire also has Interagency Station 42 they share with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management fire agencies. A second station in New Castle, Station 63, is an unstaffed location.

“We are in a time business, our challenge when we are spread out like we are is once that bell rings, the window of opportunity closes on us,” Callahan said of the area CRFR covers.

“That’s why we have to get there, and is why we have the people and stations to do that.”

ITS ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE

Callahan said firefighting is about the people, from the firefighters to the citizens. 

“Its all about the folks here in the fire station and in the community, CRFR and its community has a heart and soul, and it’s incredible,” Callahan said.

“I love that.”

Callahan said a great example of the character of the people of Colorado River Fire Rescue occurred recently when the firefighters organized an event to honor the fallen firefighters on Sept. 11. 

He said as many firefighting companies that could came over to Station 41 and made their way up and down the stairs of the training tower in memory of the firefighters.

“It’s only a three-story training tower, but they all took turns climbing those stairs and ringing that bell 343 times,” Callahan said.

“That’s the heart and soul of people, and I love that,”

“When he says he is all about the people of CRFR, he truly means that. He has a passion for the fire service, a passion for people and he has a passion for the citizens of our district,” Sackett said. 

“Its fun to work with him because you see that in how interacts with people and the department.”

SPARE TIME

When he is not working between fire stations or working to educate the community Callahan enjoys time with his wife Patsy and their two dogs.

“I’m blessed, my wife is a giant in my eyes, and she is the nicest, kindest person I’ve ever met,” Callahan said.

Callahan said he is a self-professed winter nut, and he and his wife love the outdoors.

“I love snowshoeing and skiing,” Callahan said.

Callahan mostly skis the backcountry because of the solitude of it, and he can take his dogs.

kmills@postindependent.com

Sting operation catches nine accused child predators in Garfield County

A sting operation in Garfield County involving federal, state and local law enforcement resulted in nine arrests of accused child predators.

The arrests included a Glenwood Springs antiques dealer, Scott Fetzer, in a case previously reported by the Post Independent after his Thursday arrest.

Working undercover in cooperation with state prosecutors and local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security created posts online where potential predators visit to advertise sex with children, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told the Post Independent.

From Thursday to Saturday morning, nine individuals communicated with the undercover agents and allegedly negotiated prices to purchase sex with children. When the individuals showed up to allegedly engage in sex with a child, they were arrested.

“It’s pretty graphic and disgusting,” Vallario said.

Vallario credited Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling with bringing the idea up to law enforcement partners.

“Solicitation for child prostitution is common and victimizes the most innocent and vulnerable of all, our children,” Schilling said in a press release. “We are glad we were able to arrest these people before they had the chance to further their criminal actions.”

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Vallario said. “We’re glad we can make these arrests, but we’re sad this exists in the community in the first place,” he added.

On the first night of the sting, only one person, Fetzer, showed up and was arrested.

Seven more suspects showed up allegedly seeking sex with children on Friday evening, and one arranged to meet Saturday morning, Vallario said.

Most of the nine people arrested are from Garfield County, and are being held in custody.

One person, Shekeyah Jackson, 26, of Aurora, is charged with prostitution and was released on a summons.

The sheriff’s office noted that all accused persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The following eight people will be charged with soliciting for child prostitution, and are being held in the Garfield County jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

  • Scott V. Fetzer, 60, of Glenwood Springs 
  • Brian Alvarez, 29, of Glenwood Springs
  • Luis M. Noj-Pich, 33, of Rifle
  • Jose G. Cardenas, 39, of Rifle
  • Guillermo Carreon-Salinas, 31, of Rifle
  • Manuel Nava-Mauro, 26, of Carbondale
  • Mingma O. Sherpa, 51, of Avon
  • Jan Blewett, 35, of Crested Butte

Vallario said Garfield County has done similar stings in years past, and arrested some accused of seeking sex with children. Similar stings could occur at any time, Vallario added.

“We could do another one next week, next year, or two years down the road,” Vallario said.

Vallario noted that while nine people were caught in this operation, an unknown number of crimes against children occur without being prosecuted.

“It’s eye opening, heartbreaking. The average person out there in the community doesn’t think this happens, but it does,” Vallario said.

tphippen@postindependent.com