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Week in review

The nation’s spotlight is on 13-year-old Chelsea Bennett and her family’s dog, Zion, and she may even make an appearance on “The Late Show.”For those who haven’t heard or haven’t been paying attention to a slew of media outlets, Zion is the 2-year-old yellow Labrador that saved 9-year-old Ryan Rambo from the cold, rushing waters of the Roaring Fork River on May 14.Rambo, who came with his family to Glenwood Springs after escaping the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans metro area, had fallen out of his raft, and Zion, with whom Chelsea was playing on the riverbank, swam out and brought the boy to safety. Beginning with the Post Independent story about the incident two days later, the local and national attention to the heroic rescue hasn’t stopped.The next day, the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and at least one Denver TV station covered the story. Then came calls from Ladies’ Home Journal, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the National Enquirer.Chelsea’s mother, Robin Bennett, said People Magazine was scheduled to do a photo-shoot of Chelsea, Zion and the Rambos on Saturday at her south Glenwood home. She also said Chelsea and Ryan have been interviewed by a “Late Show” producer and they are waiting for word from David Letterman’s staff about a possible TV appearance.The gifts and award nominations have flowed in. Chelsea said Zion has been recommended for the Golden Paw Award from the Humane Society, while a man from Aspen is nominating Zion for a Carnegie Hero Fund medal.

A yearling female’s role in a Roaring Fork Valley bear study proved to be short-lived when it had to be relocated Wednesday evening.The Colorado Division of Wildlife tranquilized the bear at a home on Donegan Road following problems with it getting into trash in West Glenwood. DOW district wildlife manager Sonia Marzec said the problems were exacerbated by people being careless with their trash and leaving it uncovered.Just last Friday, the agency had fitted the bear with a special trackable collar and released it up nearby Mitchell Creek as part of a five-year study of bear movements and behavior in the Roaring Fork Valley. Now, the bear will be moved out of the area altogether.Last year, the city of Glenwood Springs passed an ordinance governing how people handle their household trash, bird feeders and other bear attractants. However, the West Glenwood neighborhood that was being frequented by the yearling bear is outside city limits, in unincorporated Garfield County.Marzec said she has been talking to county officials about passing similar rules for the county, at least in areas where bears are a problem.

He was a man known for good morals and good ideas, a former Garfield County commissioner who pulled the county through tough times, and a loving, caring father always there to extend his helping hand. Elmer “Buckey” Arbaney died Monday morning at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction after becoming trapped beneath his all-terrain vehicle while irrigating his fields near Glenwood Springs on Saturday. He was 70. “He helped and touched a lot of people,” said Arbaney’s son-in-law, Larry Thrun. A graduate of the old Garfield County High School in Glenwood Springs, Arbaney was born in Carbondale and co-owned with his father the Arbaney and Sons sawmill operation near Glenwood until 1983. But Arbaney may be best known for his two terms as a Garfield County commissioner from 1988-96, helping pull the county out of its financial straits following the economically devastating departure of oil giant Unocal in the early 1990s. With a $500 million tax base disappearing overnight after Unocal pulled out, Arbaney was the “very conservative person that we needed,” said former County Commissioner Arnold Mackley, who served with Arbaney. Mackley called Arbaney a “self-made man” and a straightforward person with good morals and good ideas who was a “pleasure to serve with.”Arbaney was known for his political party switch while on the commission. Arbaney ran as a Democrat during his first campaign, then switched to the Republican Party when he ran for re-election.Funeral services were held Friday in Glenwood Springs.



The city of Glenwood Springs plans to recruit as many as 18 volunteer firefighters and hire three full-time ones in response to concerns about the fire department’s staffing shortfall.The plan marks a shift for a department that, unlike others in the area, has largely eliminated its volunteer program over the years.Fire chief Mike Piper has been skeptical in the past of the department’s ability to boost its volunteer force. But he committed to the idea in a draft of a letter the city plans to send to the Insurance Services Office, or ISO, a fire department rating agency.ISO has threatened to downgrade the city’s insurance rating from a 4 to a 10, its worst. The downgrade could result in a doubling of premiums for property owners whose insurers rely on ISO’s rating system.The city has until June 2 to submit an action plan to ISO in an effort to head off the rating change.ISO had threatened the downgrade because the fire department has been unable to consistently respond with at least four firefighters to structure fires.The city now has 20 full-time firefighting staff. In addition, it has expanded its part-time reserve program, recently hiring seven more reserves to boost reserve levels to 15.The city plans to pay for the three new full-time positions with the help of a grant program.

Glenwood Meadows merchants could receive $1 million or more in rebates under a city economic development program.The stores are eligible for a program offering rebates of city development fees paid by new businesses, or existing ones relocating within town.The rebates are being made even as existing businesses, such as those downtown, are striving to compete with the massive new commercial development. Yet the program has its origins in the city’s efforts to help a longtime local business move downtown.City Council member Dave Merritt said when the city looked into providing rebates, it decided that out of fairness it had to extend the offer to all new or relocating businesses. He said there was a lot of discussion at the time about the implications of the rebate for Glenwood Meadows, and the concern about how it would affect competing businesses.City finance director Mike Harman said it’s still too early to know just how much the city will be refunding, but it could be between $800,000 and $1.3 million.However, the reimbursements wouldn’t be made all at once. A business could apply for up to five consecutive years until the fees are fully reimbursed. But the rebate amount in a given year can’t exceed 20 percent of the total city sales tax paid by the business that year.Harman said the city budgeted $467,000 for reimbursements this year, but that figure probably will turn out to be high.Businesses can seek rebates of fees for water and sewer system improvements, fire and emergency service impacts, and electric line extensions.


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