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Week in review

Although the canyon seems green, fire officials are still warning people to be prepared. Despite recent rain, fire conditions are as severe now as they were on June 8, 2002, when the Coal Seam Fire devastated more than 12,000 acres in and around Glenwood Springs.Thursday, the energy release component, or ERC, index, which reflects the contribution of live and dead wildfire fuel to potential fire intensity, was 82 for oak brush. On June 8, 2002, the ERC index was 83, said White River National Forest spokeswoman Kristi Ponozzo. Ross Wilmore, fire management officer for public land east of Glenwood, said grasses pose a significant fire threat, and the scar that the Coal Seam Fire left on Glenwood’s hillsides still has the potential to burn.”Glenwood is in a lot better shape than it was before 1994 (the year of the Storm King Fire),” he said. “There’s places around Glenwood Springs, of course, we’re still concerned about. The piñon-juniper is pretty dry. Conditions are beginning to line up for a large fire someplace.”The potential for such fires here should encourage Glenwood residents to think about what they’d do if they had to evacuate, he said, including making sure pets, important documents and other essentials can be gathered quickly if a fire breaks out. Locally, federal firefighting agencies are fully staffed, said White River National Forest spokeswoman Kristi Ponozzo.But statewide, federal firefighting resources are much different than they were in 2002, when the Forest Service faced the devastation of the Hayman (Front Range) and Missionary Ridge (Durango area) fires, which together burned hundreds of thousands of acres.In other news, firefighters battled a blaze that burned about 30 acres in north Rifle Tuesday evening, causing Highway 13 in the area to be shut down for more than two hours. Officials believe a discarded cigarette butt thrown out along the highway may have been the cause of the fire, but Rifle Fire Chief Mike Morgan said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.Two outbuildings – a three-sided lean-to and a garage with several vehicles – were lost. Two homes, which were unoccupied at the time, were saved.

The 21th annual Summer of Jazz kicked off Wednesday with Michael White, a jazz clarinetist, and his quartet. The group hails from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.This year, the free, eight-week concert series at Two Rivers Park is dedicated to the music of New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. The musicians performing have all been displaced because of Katrina. Bob and Mary Noone, the organizers of the series, traveled to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in late April to recruit musicians for the Summer of Jazz.The series continues at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, with The Jordan Family, a seven-piece jazz group with a classic New Orleans style.

For Brian Groves, taking on a masonry project at Glenwood Meadows during its construction meant nearly going out of business. Groves, owner of Grand Junction-based Groves Masonry, said Meadows contractor W.E. O’Neil runs a sloppy worksite and owes him $75,000 for his company’s work at the new Glenwood shopping destination. Groves also accused the company of bullying subcontractors, never paying for change order work, having no on-site supervision of subcontractors and substandard quality control, claims also made by other subcontractors who spoke on condition of anonymity.He isn’t alone. Englewood-based Eastco Interiors Inc. and Air Maintenance Co. of New Castle have filed liens against Meadows developer and owner Miller Weingarten Realty – whose contractor is W.E. O’Neil – for failing to pay its bills. Two of the liens filed in the Garfield County Clerk’s office state that Miller Weingarten owes Eastco Interiors a total of $44,747 for labor and materials provided for interior work at Petco. Miller Weingarten owes Air Maintenance Co. a total of $23,402, according to two liens filed by company president Raymond P. Payne. Neither Eastco President Steve Bilger nor W.E. O’Neil spokesman Matt Hoster returned phone calls seeking comment.Glenwood Springs City Engineer Mike McDill said he couldn’t comment about relations between W.E. O’Neil and its subcontractors, but he said the quality of the construction work on the Meadows project has been top-notch. He said the city isn’t interested in how Miller Weingarten’s contractor deals with its subcontractors because Meadows is a private development.



“Positive” was the surprisingly common term at Carbondale’s Town Hall Tuesday night from citizens reviewing conceptual plans for the controversial Crystal River Marketplace development site.The citizens, along with developers and town officials, gathered to look over the results of months of planning and haggling to come up with a new development proposal, after developer Brian Huster’s initial plans were rejected in a townwide vote in 2003.The “draft conceptual program” outlined in text and maps at Town Hall Tuesday night has yet to receive the blessing of the town’s board of trustees, but even one-time opponents of Huster’s development proposals were upbeat about the current planning effort.Schierburg, manager of the Denver-based Peregrine Group Development LLC, said his company is poised to buy the Marketplace site from Huster and take over the development.As the plans now stand, the project calls for a total of between 160,000 and 175,000 square feet of retail space, including a 60,000-square-foot space for the “anchor” store; between 150 and 175 housing units (15 percent of which must be “affordable” under town codes); three “junior anchors” at about 20,000 square feet apiece, and a mix of commercial and office space scattered around the site.The defeated proposal called for 252,000 square feet of commercial space, anchored by a 125,000-square-foot site for a big-box retailer. Huster bought the 22-acre property, located along Highway 133, from the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in 1999.Huster’s local representative, attorney Eric Gross, said there is still a possibility that the City Market grocery store will move from its current location at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 133 into the anchor space at the Market Place, but nothing has been signed. He and others said nothing has been decided about what businesses might move into the retail spaces, should the project be built.The plans outlined various issues related to the development, including the construction of roundabouts, projects the town hopes to undertake to improve streets and public facilities, and economic information relating to potential sales tax revenueAsked if he has any plans to build the project according to sustainable development guidelines, a matter near and dear to the hearts of many in Carbondale, Schierburg would only say, “I will look at it closely and see what can work for the site.”The next public meetings about the Marketplace plans will be a Community Open House, with “completed drawings and economic information,” from 6-9 p.m. July 5, according to town officials. The town trustees and the planning and zoning commission have scheduled a joint meeting to take a first formal look at the plans at 6:30 p.m. July 19.h


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