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Week in Review

The owners of Sunlight Mountain Resort are evaluating a letter of intent to buy the property, even as they continue to show it to other interested parties.A group from Florida planned to visit the property Aug. 22, said Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky.”It seems like every few weeks we’ve had people coming through,” he said.A developer based in Greenwood Village and Atlanta submitted a letter a few weeks ago laying out terms under which he would like to buy the resort.Jerry Jones, the Avon-based real estate agent who is marketing the property, said Sunlight’s owners are continuing to consider the offer.Jones said the man has developed properties in Vail, Keystone and Winter Park, but isn’t part of a corporation or large group.”I don’t think that this party has ever owned a ski resort,” Jones said.Jankovsky said there has been speculation about Vail Resorts wanting to buy Sunlight since a former Vail vice president took a look at the property back around May. But Jones said the company has expressed no interest in Sunlight.”We have sent Vail stuff, and if they are looking at it, they have not contacted us or the owners,” Jones said.Jankovsky questioned whether Vail Resorts could buy Sunlight, noting that it had to divest itself of Arapahoe Basin for anti-trust reasons.

Alleged arsonist Robin Jay Clifton is back in custody and will go before a district court judge on Tuesday, Aug. 29, for a bond hearing.Clifton, 47, of Collbran, appeared in court at a hearing on Aug. 17, but he was not in custody. He is charged in Garfield County with starting four fires in Rifle on Sept. 5, 2005. The fires destroyed two businesses and damaged two others. “He’s back in jail, and a bond hearing will be held on Tuesday (Aug. 29),” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cheney. According to Cheney, Clifton’s bond is currently at $260,000, but Cheney is asking that it be increased to $550,000. Cheney has filed new charges in the case against Clifton, which now include first-degree arson, criminal mischief, burglary, tampering with evidence, attempted manslaughter, violation of bond conditions and being a habitual criminal.Clifton is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the charges stemming from the Rifle arson case, at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, in district court. At that time, the district attorney’s office will present evidence and witnesses to establish probable cause in the case.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes and businesses Aug. 21 when construction equipment ruptured a 12-inch natural gas pipeline. The pipeline was breached by construction equipment working on the Ironbridge Golf Course subdivision. The line, located about five miles south of Glenwood Springs near County Road 109, was cut about 10 a.m. The name of the company that owned the equipment that ruptured the line was not available.There were no fires or injuries, said Doug Davis, spokesman for the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District.The noise of the gas “was like a jet engine,” said Linda Drake, who was in her art studio on the east side of the Roaring Fork River. “The noise was just deafening.”Drake said she saw a column of dust hundreds of feet in the air from the escaping gas. Gas continued to leak out of the pipe until 2 p.m. when Kinder Morgan Inc., which owns the line, shut off the gas. The gas line runs between Rifle and Avon and serves the nearby Spring Valley area and Avon in Eagle County.Service to customers was not affected by the break.



NEW CASTLE – The town of New Castle is growing, and it’s expected to more than double in size when all of the current platted land is developed.New Castle currently has around 1,300 residential units within town limits. With four subdivisions now in development, that number will increase to approximately 3,740 if it reaches full build-out.In 2005, the town of New Castle issued 96 permits. This year, the town has already issued 90.”We are growing at about 10 percent each year,” New Castle building official David Hunsicker said.This year is about 20 percent ahead of issued permits from last year, according to Hunsicker. Issued permits depend on how the subdivision is split up into separate plots and not according to how many units are in each building.Hunsicker has seen only residential applications for permits this year, but says that the town still has “quite a few commercial areas left to develop.”According to Steve Rippy, former town administrator and current community development consultant for New Castle, the town is experiencing little strain on the water and waste water facilities because the town began expanding the facilities to accommodate the anticipated growth in 1999 and 2001. “It’s all related to growth,” Rippy said. In 1999 the town began phasing in upgrades to the waste-water plant that will be concluded after the fourth and final phase is complete.

What a ride 2006 is turning into for Ride Glenwood Springs.It was only two months ago that the city’s bus service cracked the 30,000 mark for monthly ridership. Now, it’s threatening to break 40,000.Ridership reached 33,626 in June, and then soared yet again to 39,058 in July.”We’re kind of breaking records every month,” said Dan Blankenship, executive director of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which contracts with the city to run its bus service.The service has provided 204,736 rides this year through July. That means this month it should break the record ridership of about 226,000 set in 1999, when the service was also free. After charging fares for several years, Ride Glenwood became free again early in 2005.Blankenship thinks this year’s ridership will end up totaling between 325,000 and 350,000.”Things have really, really taken off. It’s incredible when you see that growth,” he said.Free ridership is a big reason for the growth, said Blankenship.”But to see that rate of increase is I think a bit unusual,” he said.Last year, for example, even with free service restored, ridership through July was little more than half of what it has been this year.Blankenship said it has helped that the city has been able to stick with a consistent schedule in recent months, after tinkering with service frequency and routes.”They’ve kind of let it ride for a while so people have gotten used to it,” he said.


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