Top newsmakers of 2005 |

Top newsmakers of 2005

It’s hard to pick just 10 major news stories out of all that happened in the last year. Following are a few of the other events and people who made news in 2005:

– Valley View Hospital ” 2005 was quite a year for the Glenwood hospital. A grand expansion continued throughout the year and a new birthing center opened. In September the hospital celebrated its 50-year anniversary.

– Robert Macgregor ” The Aspenite saw his Glenwood Meadows commercial project come to fruition, and simultaneously won city approval for a nearby affordable housing project.

– Maribeth Gustafson ” Formerly a forest supervisor in the Lake Tahoe area, Gustafson replaced Martha Ketelle as head of the White River National Forest, based in Glenwood Springs.

– Jamie Connell ” who managed the local BLM office in a year when the agency was planning the future of the Roan Plateau and dealing with a big increase in natural gas drilling and renewed interest in oil shale.

– Mike Wilde ” Glenwood Springs High School principal retired after 24 years.

– Kathleen Curry ” The Gunnison Democrat was elected to the state House of Representatives to represent a district that includes eastern Garfield County. She immediately was appointed chair of the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and became heavily involved in oil and gas and water issues.

– Moose ” From No Name to Rifle these massive animals made a couple of appearances in the area in 2005.

– Jeff Hecksel ” Hecksel replaced longtime Glenwood Springs city manager Mike Copp last year and helped steer the city through a year in which its tight finances provided his biggest challenge.

– The Spuhlers ” Robert signed on to remain Colorado Mountain College president until 2008, and his wife Jaci will be leaving her post as director of the Garfield County library system to take a position with the Eagle Valley Library District.

– Marianne Virgili ” When Glenwood Springs City Council and some former Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association employees raised concerns about the chamber’s handling of a city tourism marketing contract, Virgili became the focus of criticism as the veteran chamber director. But the city eventually dropped an investigation into the matter.

– Fred Wall ” The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 superintendent announced he will retire at the end of the school year after nine eventful years as head of the district.

– Russ George ” The Rifle Republican and former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives and Colorado Division of Wildlife director continues to be highly visible in his latest job, director of the state Department of Natural Resources. He figured prominently in discussions over the federal government’s future management of the Roan Plateau near Rifle and is heading a task force that will make recommendations regarding Colorado’s roadless areas.

– CMC ” Colorado Mountain College keeps on growing. The latest step came in December when the college broke ground on a new Rifle campus.

– Redstone Castle buyer ” Part-time Aspenite Ralli Dimitrius closed another chapter in the colorful history of the Redstone Castle, buying it for $4 million in a federal auction. The Internal Revenue Service had taken possession of the castle in 2003 as part of an investigation into a $56 million investment scam.

– Firefighters ” Several area firefighters spent time in the hurricane-ravaged areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.

– Dennis Rodman ” The retired basketball great was accused of shortchanging a West Glenwood gas station when he left only $20 for gas and a cowboy hat. He claimed he thought the hat was a gift, and a mystery fan later paid the rest of the bill on his behalf so police decided against pursuing charges. The incident occurred when Rodman was participating in a charity automobile rally, during which he also was ticketed for speeding twice elsewhere in western Colorado.

– Bill Wentzel ” The New Castle mayor announced that he would not seek another term. He’s served on the board for 10 years.

– Vince Felletter ” While it was District Attorney Colleen Truden who got recalled from office, Felletter also drew criticism, and dished some out, as her assistant. He also recently figured prominently in reaching a plea bargain agreement in the case of Eric Stoneman, 14, who shot and killed 9-year-old Taylor DeMarco in Battlement Mesa.

– FFA ” A pair of Rifleites, Julie Chelewski and Jarrid Garner, won national championships in the annual Future Farmers of America competition.

– Terry Dobkins/Christy Hamrick/Peggy Utesch ” This threesome ” an Antero Resources oil and gas executive, a Silt Mesa resident and a Grand Valley Citizens Alliance member, respectively ” teamed up to help create a community development plan aimed at minimizing the impacts of anticipated gas development on Silt Mesa.

– Cindy Sheehan ” The anti-war mom never came to the region but when there were plans for her to come it created quite an uproar.

– Gene Brownlee and Jennifer Ryan ” Charges were dropped against the two after investigators failed to keep pot plants alive as evidence. The defendants claimed they were growing the plants legally under Colorado’s medical marijuana law. The dismissal of the cases throws into question the status of remaining charges involving Justin Brownlee, Gene’s nephew.

– Young at heart ” Julian Vogt, Glenwood Springs’ 93-year-old snowboarder.

– Young at heart II ” Heather Tharp, 72-year-old hockey player.

– Sherry Caloia ” Glenwood attorney grabbed the spotlight and occupied it for much of the year as the driving force behind the district attorney recall.

– Daily Bread ” After countless years as the go-to downtown breakfast and lunch eatery, the business closed in November.

– Keith Lambert ” He may have lost to Larry McCown in the Garfield County commissioner race but he started his third term as Rifle mayor in September.

– Jim Evans ” steps down after 24 years as the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado executive director. Rifle native Aron Diaz will replace him.

– Steve Rippy ” He’s a New Castle native and a bit of a town icon. Since 1986, Rippy has served on the town board and as mayor, and since 2001 he’s been the town administrator. In October, Rippy announced his resignation.

– Old business ” Matt McQueen and Jim Hansell bought the Sioux Villa Curio shop in Glenwood Springs when it appeared the longtime business would close. Along a similar vein, the Riviera Supper Club was reopened by Colleen Stuart under the name Riviera Restaurant in downtown Glenwood.

– Sober house ” Minnesotan Chris Edrington angered residents of Catherine Court in Carbondale when he took advantage of a federal law to bypass local zoning rules and open a home for recovering alcoholic men.

– Garfield County School District No. 16 ” After a heated and rather contentious school board race, Amy Beasley, Gary Munyer and incumbent board president Dannette Christensen won spots on the board in a close race with nine candidates.

– Larry Emery ” Emery chose against running again for Glenwood Springs City Council after four years of service, including two as mayor.

– Vicki VanEngelenburg ” After more than 12 years of service as Garfield School District Re-2 board president, she stepped down in October.

– Angela Lewis ” The Rifle singer dreamed of the big time and gave “American Idol” a shot this summer during tryouts in Denver.

– Bair Chase ” The development south of Glenwood has moved dirt but is now facing an unknown future.

– Kurt Wigger ” The longtime Glenwood Springs restaurateur closed down the popular Sopris on Highway 82 when it appeared that the new Bair Chase development would buy the property. When the deal fell through, Wigger thought about reopening the restaurant.

– Sunlight Mountain Resort ” Glenwood’s local ski area was put up for sale for an asking price of $50 million, an amount that anticipates the property would undergo real estate development.

– Martie Wisdom ” was named the new chief executive director at the Grand River Hospital District at the beginning of the new year. Michael Raymond served as the interim CEO after Pat Howery stepped down in February.

– John Martin, Larry McCown, Tresi Houpt ” For the three Garfield County commissioners, let’s just say it’s been an interesting year.

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