A look at some of the names and stories that grabbed headlines
When it came to newsmakers in 2006, there were too many to count. Every year, people make headlines for a variety of reasons. This year, a local man was named a Rhodes Scholar, a respected judge passed away, people barked about parking and paving projects, a dog saved a boy and a new superintendent took over at Re-1.There’s no way to reflect on every person who made news in 2006 but here are a few that grabbed headlines and left their mark on the year that was.Chas Salmen – In his 22 years, Chas Salmen has celebrated many accomplishments. He’s been the captain of the Duke University’s indoor and outdoor track and cross-country teams, organized an Arab-Jewish student coalition, and co-authored two research papers published in the Journal of Urology.In November, the Glenwood Springs High School graduate achieved international recognition by being chosen as Duke’s 41st Rhodes Scholar. Next year, he’ll pursue his master’s degree in medical anthropology at England’s Oxford University – a first-time honor for any Roaring Fork Valley native.Salmen is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars among nearly 900 applicants at 340 colleges and universities nationwide to be chosen for the honor. He credits his public education in Glenwood Springs for his success in academia – and life.Back-in parking – Brilliant or bogus? The city’s “experiment” has turned into a done deal for Cooper Avenue in downtown. It’s still a bit odd to go down the street and see vehicles pulled straight in and cockeyed, and just the sight of overall pitiful parking jobs can be quite humorous. An improvement? Depends on who you ask. Whether it’s parking or traffic, Glenwood usually provides plenty of conversation.I-70 paving project – It was far from a smooth operation through the summer, and the hot paving job left many motorists hot under the collar. But it should be smooth sailing for a while.Silt name change – It’s not a dirty little secret that some people just don’t like the name.Prostitutes – Prostitution may have been common during Glenwood Springs’ red-light-district days, but it’s almost unheard of these days. So it came as a surprise when Glenwood police arrested two prostitute suspects on the same evening, Oct. 5, in undercover operations. Hui Jun Mu was arrested at A-1 Chinese Health Care Massage on Grand Avenue and charged with unlawful sexual contact and prostitution. Quing Zhang faces those same charges, and keeping a place of prostitution, for her alleged activities at her business, Asian Day Spa on Cooper Avenue.Both are free on bond and have court dates set for late January. Police don’t believe the two incidents were related.
Peter Craven – Chief judge of the 9th Judicial District, Peter Craven died June 20 in Aspen of a massive heart attack while doing one of the things he loved best: riding his bike. He was remembered at a memorial service at the Glenwood Springs Community Center as a warm and compassionate man who loved a good joke and brought a keen intellect to the courtroom.Craven was appointed to the district court bench in January 1991. In 2004 he was appointed chief judge and also served as water judge in Water Division 5. Before becoming a judge, he was a trial lawyer in Glenwood Springs and Denver, served as Glenwood Springs’ city attorney, town attorney for Carbondale and Basalt, and as the 9th Judicial District’s first public defender.Assistant Garfield County Attorney Denise Lynch was appointed to replace Craven.Fred Wall – The Re-1 School District superintendent headed off into retirement after nine years at the helm. Judy Haptonstall – After nearly 20 years with the district, she landed the Re-1 school district superintendent job.Geno Yellico – After a fire nearly destroyed his liquor store, Geno was back in business and a welcome return to West Glenwood.
Austin Coryell – A young fireman with the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District, and his passengers narrowly escaped death in March when the fire truck they were riding in collided with a freight train between Silt and New Castle while crossing the train tracks.Coryell had been giving a ride to some friends – a 28-year-old male and his wife, 29, along with the couple’s 3-year-old son. All claimed that they did not see or hear the oncoming train.The Colorado State Patrol issued Coryell a ticket for careless driving, but he remains with the fire protection district.Jeff Garrett – The Qwest executive was shot and killed during a turkey hunting trip near New Castle in May 2005. In June 2006, Mexican authorities arrested Oscar Hoyos DeLaCruz for killing Garrett.Tom Beard – Area residents of all political persuasions were shocked at the news that Garfield County Republican Party chairman Tom Beard had taken his life Feb. 22. Beard, also general manager of the company running the unincorporated community of Battlement Mesa, shot himself at his home up Canyon Creek.Though an ardent Republican, Beard also had many Democratic friends, and many of the causes he espoused crossed party lines. He had been active on a range of issues, from affordable housing to community corrections, development to land conservation.Beard also advocated for Battlement Mesa residents, many of them retired, helping to bring a medical center and pharmacy to the community.Martin Beeson – Beeson took over as district attorney for the 9th Judicial District this year after helping lead a recall effort against incumbent Colleen Truden last year. He ended up hiring several prosecutors who had gone to work for Truden but later resigned because of issues including her management style.Marc Holtzman – Part-time Carbondale resident Marc Holtzman ran against Bob Beauprez in hopes of becoming the Republican candidate for Colorado governor. While Holtzman lost, the “Both Ways Bob” moniker he invoked in accusing Beauprez of being wishy-washy on issues stuck, and Democrat Bill Ritter defeated Beauprez handily in the general election.
Summer of Jazz – For many people Wednesday evenings in the summer means heading out to Two Rivers Park and enjoying a little jazz music with a few hundred friends, family and neighbors.Summer of Jazz was started by Bob and Mary Noone 21 years ago, and 2006 was one of the most special years ever. For eight Wednesdays, Two Rivers park was home to some of the finest jazz musicians in the country. Making it even more special, all the acts came from the Katrina Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans area. Images of the destruction wreaked by Katrina touched us all, and to have musicians come from that region made for a truly memorable Summer of Jazz.Smoking ordinance – Smokers in Garfield County and across Colorado found themselves on the outside looking in when a new state law went into effect this year banning all smoking within bars and restaurants. Under the law, smokers are welcome to light up, as long as they’re at least 15 feet from the doors of the establishments. But that’s caused problems in places such as downtown Glenwood where there’s not enough space between some businesses to meet that requirement.Mountain lions & moose – It was a quiet year for a change in terms of local bear sightings, but that wasn’t the case when it came to moose and lions. After the regular appearance of a moose near Rifle last winter, another was spotted this year near New Castle, and one recently was relocated to the Grand Mesa after being spotted near Highway 82 south of Glenwood Springs.Meanwhile, mountain lion sightings increased significantly this year, with reports ranging from Silt to Redstone. In Silt, lions were thought to have attacked livestock and domestic animals. A lion eventually was struck and killed on Four Mile Road near Glenwood Springs, and authorities killed a young lion that had killed a dog in Canyon Creek. The lion was emaciated and was believed to be the same one that had been photographed scratching at someone’s door in West Glenwood.Bob Young – An awards program that was created to recognize women leaders honored a local man this year. Alpine Bank chairman Bob Young received the Glenwood Springs Athena Award for his efforts to make the bank a good place for women to work. While Athena Award program now allows for recognition of anyone who helps women reach their full leadership potential, fewer than 5 percent of Athena award winners worldwide are men.
Zion the dog – 9-year-old Ryan Rambo falls into Roaring Fork River, Zion the dog sees boy, jumps in and saves boy. – Now that’s what you call an underdog!Jeff Hecksel – Glenwood Springs’ new city manager, Jeff Hecksel, had kept a fairly low profile until word emerged this year that City Council was considering giving the city’s top-paid employee a housing subsidy to help his family buy a home in the city’s pricey real estate market. The idea drew some public outcry and council backed off of it, but council did give Hecksel a healthy raise and praised his work in his job since coming on board in 2004.Red Apple Fire – The home of Rich and Susan Stoakes was reduced to a hole in the ground Sept. 1 when the Red Apple Fire broke out southwest of Rifle. The couple lost several animals in the wildfire, which also burned three outbuildings in the Spruce Creek Road area and threatened other structures. Rich Stoakes is pastor of Rifle United Methodist-Presbyterian Church in Rifle.Bathtub baby – It’s hard telling what’s more amazing: that Rhonda Richardson of Rifle delivered her baby while alone in a bathtub on Nov. 29, or that her husband, Dustin Noffsinger, managed to sleep through the event elsewhere in their home. But the outcome was that the couple had a healthy baby boy, Dorian Jacob Noffsinger, and that Richardson happily forgave her husband. She pointed out that he was a heavy sleeper who had needed some rest after helping her a lot in the days before Dorian’s birth.Ed Fortner, Tom McClelland – Town of Carbondale utilities director Ed Fortner was ticketed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife Nov. 6 for poaching a deer off his back porch in Carbondale after town workers blew the whistle on him. He was also accused of using a town truck and employees to discard the remains, and involving other utility department employees in the incident. Fortner survived an internal investigation that he used town resources to dispose of the carcass. However, the whistle-blower, Tom McClelland, lost his job on Jan. 20, 2005, and is now suing the town over the firing and seeking $1 million in damages. The town maintains that McClelland was dismissed because of poor job performance.Deb Stewart – The driving force behind and executive director of Colorado Mountain College’s Senior Programs retired in March after 28 years on the job. Stewart was an advocate for senior issues throughout Garfield County and was instrumental in obtaining senior affordable housing in New Castle in 2004.Jim and Mary Nelson – If a couple could be said to be the unofficial ambassadors for Glenwood Springs, it would be the team of Jim and Mary Nelson. Longtime volunteers in town, they were named Citizens of the Year by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association in 2002. They moved to Tucson, Ariz., in May.Annette Roberts-Gray – The Glenwood Springs artist began sculpting vases more than a year ago commemorating soldiers who have died in Iraq. The vases are now on display at Denver International Airport in its “Best of Colorado Artists Show,” which runs until Jan. 31.Gravel pits – Over the last year a growing rift between downvalley towns and some of the Garfield County commissioners has developed over a proliferation of gravel pits along the Colorado River. Applications for county special use permits to either expand old pits or open new ones between Rifle and Silt have those governments calling for a moratorium until an overall plan for reclamation and environmental protection can be developed for the whole corridor. County commissioners Larry McCown and John Martin oppose a moratorium. Increased construction and oil and gas development have caused a sharp increase in demand for gravel for concrete and road base.Jon Jay & Mitch Kosht – The 2006 graduates of Glenwood Springs and Rifle high schools, respectively, were two of 40 students in the state to win a full-ride scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation. The foundation offers what is notably the most prestigious award for graduating seniors in the state.Aaron Ralston – As a member of the U.S.A. Equestrian Reining team, Ralston helped capture the team gold medal at the 2006 International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) World Equestrian Games. Team U.S.A. won the team event with a one-point victory over a Canadian team. Ralston received the highest individual score for team U.S.A. with 223.5 points.Dana Baker – Barker ran for the Colorado State Senate District 7 seat that includes Mesa County and the three precincts in Parachute and Battlement Mesa in western Garfield County. If he had been elected, he would have been the oldest first-time state senator on record for the state of Colorado.
Bob Johnson – The Glenwood man was inspired to create Operation Vacation during the holidays in 2004. A real estate agent for Vicki Lee Green Realtors, Johnson was home alone watching television when a program came on about concerts being held for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.Over the next few months, Johnson devised a plan to offer all-expenses-paid weekend vacations to soldiers based out of Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. Pfc. Ian Vanderheide, and his wife, Heidi, were the first to enjoy a relaxing Operation Vacation trip in August 2005. Since then, Johnson and Operation Vacation have welcomed more than 15 soldiers and their families to Glenwood Springs.In October, NBC affiliate 9News in Denver honored Johnson with the 9Who Care Award. This month, he helped organize a toy drive with the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors to benefit children of military personnel stationed at Fort Carson.Mildred Alsdorf – For 28 years she has been the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder. In November, she closed her career on a high note with her last election as a paid county employee. Voters experienced short lines, helpful election judges and the option of choosing between electronic and paper ballots.That’s exactly how Alsdorf likes to see an election run – for a job well done. She’s always lived by the fundamental principle of treating others as she would want to be treated. During her nearly three-decade term as the Republican candidate for clerk and recorder, she ran uncontested. That speaks volumes to her commitment to the county.In her retirement, Alsdorf plans to spend more time with her three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. And she’ll volunteer with future elections and continue to collect figurines of her favorite animal: what else? – the elephant.A retirement party is scheduled for Jan. 7, from 1-3 p.m. at the County Administration Building, Room 100. Jean Alberico won the November election and will take over the office on Jan. 8.Jeannie Miller – The former Glenwood Springs High School choral teacher died in August after a brief – and heroic – fight with ovarian cancer this summer. She left a lasting impact on her students, friends, and family. A scholarship fund has been established in her name at US Bank to continue her legacy of bringing music to students’ lives.Karolyn Spencer – For the past four years, Spencer has operated the Feed My Sheep ministry, which provides shelter and housing in Glenwood Springs for the homeless. This year the shelter found a new home, moving from the Silver Spruce Motel in West Glenwood to the large basement of the former St. Stephen’s Church at 10th and Grand Avenue. The program accommodates nearly 5,500 visits per year and has also added evening hours and winter motel rooms.Dennis Mahan – Known as a dependable, reliable and level-headed officer with the New Castle Police Department, Dennis Mahan died in March from complications of pneumonia after surgery. He was 67. Mahan, who also served as a Silt town trustee, had been the New Castle police chief from 1990-98 and worked as a support captain for the department since 1999.Paul Bernklau – In February, he’ll be inducted into the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame, receiving the lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the agriculture industry of Colorado. Bernklau said he was humbled by the nomination and selection.Lottery guy – Initially, Bob Clements of Rifle thought he had a winning $40,000 lottery ticket that he had purchased in April 2005. However, due to an illness, he had failed to turn it in by the required December deadline and it was rejected when he tried to submit it in June 2006. As it turned out, Clements’ ticket wasn’t a winner at all, much to his embarrassment, after contacting local and national media. Apparently, he misread an “R” for an “A” on the scratch ticket. Oops.
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