What were the top stories of 2015?
We’d like your opinion on the top stories of 2015 in and around Garfield County. We’ve created an online survey that you can take here — https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2NPNXRX.
This is an unscientific survey, of course. We included a few categories in hopes of avoiding a list of top stories that are all crime and grime, though if we ranked stories based on what people read online, stories of tragedy would lead the way.
To try to lighten things up, we have categories for “Most inspiring” story, and “Top sports story” in addition to the more traditional, more serious categories of “Biggest issue” and “Top breaking story.”
These are stories on topics that kept coming up through the year and represent ongoing issues.
• The high cost and scarcity of housing, particularly rentals, became acute in 2015. The rapid recovery of the real estate market since the recession and the relative strength of the economy here brought a fresh level of urgency to the longstanding issue, leading the Roaring Fork School District to include $15 million for staff housing to its big bond issue.
In addition, as our series “The Price of Paradise” showed, many educated professionals have tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, a complication to affording housing that didn’t exist even 15 years ago.
The PI in 2016 will help put on solution-oriented forums and continue its coverage of this issue that’s key to healthy communities and individuals’ quality of life.
• Speaking of the RFSD bonds, $122 million in spending from Glenwood to Basalt will make a major impact for families and, perhaps, traffic and development, with a new school planned in a rural spot south of Glenwood and a full renovation of Glenwood Springs Elementary school.
• The Grand Avenue bridge project won final approval, another major infrastructure investment that will create new commercial opportunities north of the Colorado and downtown — as soon as we get through two years of hell during construction.
• Rising vagrancy in Glenwood and other towns, including Basalt, stirred discussion of what can be done, given that courts struck down laws against panhandling. Glenwood Springs approved an extra police officer in hopes of enabling downtown foot patrols, and separate discussions are being held to open a detox center.
• After a relatively quiet first year of legal marijuana sales in Colorado, Glenwood, Silt, Basalt and Parachute — where councilors who approved marijuana stores face recall — all had vigorous, resident-driven debates about the proliferation, location and/or odor of marijuana operations.
MOST INSPIRING STORY
• Roaring Fork High valedictorian Emily Bruell came out as gay during her commencement speech, getting a standing ovation and national attention.
• If the decision is for quote of the year, this is the winner hands down. Anson Lemmer was delivering a pizza in June when he came upon a man who was “turning blue.” Calling on CPR he learned at age 12 in a Red Cross babysitting class, he revived the man until paramedics arrived. “I left a pizza boy and came back a pizza man,” he said.
• On Easter, we shared the story of Brad Walston, a Carbondale pastor who rebounded from addiction. “I made a deal with God — kill me or fix me,” he told reporter Will Grandbois.
• Alice Brouhard worked for years to get the attention of tech giant Apple to allow a change in an application used by her brain-injured daughter, Kara. The app allows Kara and others, including veterans with brain injuries, to record reminders in their own voice to help organize their days. After a PI story, Apple allowed the change.
• Veronica Toscano-Santoyo graduated this year from Rifle High School. No big deal, except that her mother was killed in a mass shooting in Rifle when Veronica was 4. She will attend CMC to continue honoring her mother.
TOP BREAKING NEWS
• Brian Fritze was shot to death by Garfield County deputies after attacking his wife and leading authorities on a chase down Interstate 70. When he got out of his Red Dodge Ram pickup, he held a gun to his head, then ran toward traffic. • A week after the Fritze shooting, a Carbondale man rammed his SUV into the back of a cattle truck. Later, being airlifted to a second hospital, he told the crew he had killed his wife shortly before the accident, which the man said was a suicide attempt.
• The year’s third homicide was the death of Sarah Ogden, just a month old when she was beaten in her family’s Parachute apartment. Her father, Matthew Ogden, is charged with first-degree murder; her mother, Phyllis Wylie, who laid in bed as she heard the beating, pleaded guilty to abuse resulting in death.
• A cut fiber optic cable in May plunged much of the Roaring Fork Valley into a telecommunications outage for 16 hours, depriving residents of Internet and phone service, including 911 availability for many.
• Armed robberies are rare here, so we included the recent Carbondale pot store robbery in the survey.
TOP SPORTS STORY
• Rifle High football was put on restriction over the location of a videographer.
• Glenwood High’s boys basketball team made it the state tournament, then lost its coach, then got him back.
• Brock Osweiler has led the Broncos to wins after Peyton Manning was sidelined with injuries.
• Ironbridge director of golf Doug Rohrbaugh turned 50 and made the PGA Champions Tour.
We’ll report the results Dec. 31, along with other year-end observations and a full list of our top digital stories.
Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.
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