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Redstone Castle new owners are experiencing “a dream come true”

RFor years, April and Steve Carver would pass this riverside hamlet and admire the iconic Redstone Castle from afar. They had spent decades restoring the historic shine to the Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs, but the castle seemed beyond their financial grasp.

“Then we watched it sell for $6 million and said nope, not in our reach,” Steve said. “Then we watched it sell for $4 million and said nope, still not there. And then we got a card in the mail that they were having an auction with a minimum bid of $2 million.”

The couple — certified public accountants by trade and historians by passion — won the Redstone Castle at that October 2016 auction, spending a little more than $2 million for the stately manor, which was built by a coal baron between 1899 and 1902.

Tapping their 27 years of expertise amassed overhauling the Hotel Denver, the Carvers launched a sweeping renovation of Redstone Castle, spending well more than their purchase price to restore one of Colorado’s historic jewels.

Redstone Castle in Pitkin County, Colorado, has numerous historic preservation easements that cover the building, its grounds and the main floor rooms, including the dining room, which has Russian red velvet on its walls and gold leaf on its ceiling.
Redstone Castle new owners are experiencing “a dream come true”

Ask anyone who has dug into a century-old home, and a vast majority will express moments of regret. It’s one of the stages of a lengthy restoration. But it was worse for the Carvers, who tackled a property that had as many as 10 previous owners who made occasional upgrades. And because the federal government imposed conservation easements for part of the property. And because local land-use code forbade events that could help reimburse the investment in renovations.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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Wet spring delays California crops, snow elsewhere in West

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California growers are frustrated by an unusually wet spring that has delayed the planting of some crops like rice and damaged others including strawberries and wine grapes.

The state’s wet conditions come as much of the West is experiencing weird weather. Colorado and Wyoming got an unusually late dump of snow this week. Meanwhile temperatures in Phoenix have dropped 15 degrees below normal.

Large swaths of California have seen two to five times more precipitation than is normal for this point in May, the National Weather Service said. A series of storms soaked much of Colusa County where rice grower Kurt Richter was forced to wait weeks to seed his land.

“You should be seeing green lawns of rice out there right now,” Richter said Tuesday from his farm about 120 miles (195 kilometers) north of San Francisco. “But it’s just flooded fields, with nothing sticking out of the water.”

Rice he managed to get into the ground during brief dry spells is in a “refrigerated state” because of colder than usual temperatures that threaten to reduce yields, he said. Richter’s property typically grows about 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) of rice annually, but he predicted “we won’t even get close to that this year.”

In a 24-hour period last weekend, parts of Sacramento County in the northern part of the state recorded more than 3.25 inches (8.25 centimeters) of rain. The wet trend will continue through the month, forecasters said.

Strawberry grower Peter Navarro said it’s been at least a decade since heavy rains have affected his Santa Cruz County fields like this year.

“The month of May produces some of your best berries,” said Navarro, grower for Well-Pict Berries in Watsonville. But he told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that ongoing wet weather was disrupting the picking schedule and causing a loss of production.

Too much rain can damage strawberries’ delicate skin, causing the fruit to decay before being picked. Berries that start to rot on the vine can affect green fruit and bring disease to the plant, Navarro said.

To the south in wine country, May showers and accompanying winds have damaged some vines and brought unwelcome moisture that could delay blooming. On top of that growers worry lingering humid conditions will cause mold and mildew on vines that could take an even greater toll.

The result could be a smaller yield for certain varieties including chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, vintners said.

“It’s not ideal,” Alison Crowe, director of winemaking at Plata Wine Partners in Napa, told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat . “It’s not necessarily impacted quality. It will impact the quantity.”

Meanwhile, a late spring storm dumped heavy, wet snow in Colorado and Wyoming, cancelling flights and snapping newly greened up tree limbs.

Lines were long at Denver International Airport Tuesday morning with travelers from earlier canceled flights hoping to fly out. The airport got 3.4 inches (8.6 centimeters) of snow but some areas near Colorado Springs got a foot (0.3 meters) or more. May snowfall is fairly common but usually not this late.

In western Colorado, a rock slide closed Interstate 70. The area is prone to slides especially following wet weather and temperature fluctuations.

Up to 9 inches (22.8 centimeters) of snow was reported in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area.

In Arizona, where 100 degree (37.75 Celsius) temperatures are not uncommon in May, some areas in the northern part of the state saw snow this week. It was a moderate 81 degrees (27 Celsi

CDOT kicks off statewide seat belt enforcement period

The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off the statewide May Mobilization Click It or Ticket campaign on Monday, the longest seat belt enforcement period of the year.

The campaign, which runs through June 2, is meant to support CDOT’s Whole System Whole Safety initiative, and reduce deaths and injuries on the roadway. To date, traffic fatalities in Colorado are down 23% from last year.

There were 220 unbuckled fatalities in Colorado last year, more than half of all roadway fatalities. The state’s drivers increased seat belt use to 86% in 2018, though that still falls well below the national average of 90%.

“If everyone wore their seat belt, an estimated 70 lives could have been saved in 2017,” said Shoshana Lew, CDOT director. “These losses impact whole families and entire communities, and no level of driving excellence on the road can protect you from the unexpected. Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect yourself in a crash.”

Last year almost 5,700 tickets were issued to unbuckled drivers during the May enforcement period, including 234 citations for improperly restrained children under 15 years old. Fines for not wearing a seat belt start at $65, and $82 for failing to properly restrain a child.

“During this enforcement period we hope people will look at this choice as one that can be life changing,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “We see it every day — seat belts save lives.”

Blues beat Sharks, march on to Stanley Cup Final

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues are marching into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in decades.

David Perron had a goal and an assist, Jordan Binnington picked up his franchise-record 12th playoff win and the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in Game 6 of the Western Conference final Tuesday night.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Tyler Bozak also scored for St. Louis, which will face the Boston Bruins for the championship. Ivan Barbashev got an empty-netter with 2:15 left, Ryan O’Reilly had three assists and Binnington stopped 25 shots.

St. Louis won three consecutive games to advance to the franchise’s first Cup Final since 1970. That series also pitted the Blues against the Bruins.

Game 1 is Monday night in Boston.

Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” blared over the speakers at the Blues’ home arena after the latest victory on an improbable run from last in the NHL Jan. 3 to one of the last two teams standing. The turnaround came after Craig Berube replaced Mike Yeo as coach in November and Binnington took over as the starting goaltender in January.

San Jose played without injured forwards Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl and defenseman Erik Karlsson. Injury attrition played a role for the Sharks, who played seven games in each of the first two rounds.

Dylan Gambrell scored his first career goal for San Jose, which lost for the first time in five elimination games this postseason. Martin Jones made 14 stops.

St. Louis grabbed control with a fast start.

Perron tipped in Sammy Blais’ shot just 92 seconds into the game. Tarasenko made it 2-0 with a well-placed wrist shot at 16:16.

Tarasenko got his eighth goal of the postseason just seven seconds after San Jose forward Barclay Goodrow was sent off for tripping. Tarasenko recorded a point in each game of the series.

Gambrell converted a breakaway along the right wing 6:40 into the second period. Joonas Donskoi set up the play with a long stretch pass.

Gambrell’s goal came just seconds after Jones stopped Pat Maroon from close range. It also stopped the Sharks’ scoring drought at 99 minutes, 32 seconds.

Schenn pushed the lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal 12:47 into the second. He pounced on the rebound of a shot by Alex Pietrangelo for his first goal in 14 games.

Bozak scored on a feed from Perron in the third period for a 4-1 lead.

Binnington improved to 12-7 with his second successive strong effort. He made 21 saves in a 5-0 win in Game 4 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Binnington stopped Evander Kane on the doorstep midway through the third. He also denied Logan Couture on a breakaway later in the period.

NOTES: St. Louis went 0-12 in its three previous Stanley Cup appearances. … The team that scored first won all six games. … Referee Wes McCauley left in the first period with a lower-body injury. He was replaced by alternate Gord Dwyer. … St. Louis D Vince Dunn missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. He took a puck to the mouth in the first period of Game 3. … St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina attended the game after the Cardinals’ matchup with Kansas City was rained out. … The Blues have set a franchise record for postseason wins with 12.

Photo Essay: Escaping to Utah

In the timelapse of seven days the rugged Utah wilderness offered lifelong memories nestled in the expanse of two national parks, a handful of state parks and national forests, three campgrounds and multiple quaint towns settled along rivers and among the rough and rocky landscape located just hours from the Colorado Western Slope. Zion National Park is truly an oasis in the desert while the nearby oranges and yellows of Bryce Canyon shine brightly in the middle of the Dixie National Forest. Whether climbing the ever popoular Angel’s Landing trail in Zion or simply following the creekbed near a desolate campground, Utah offers adventure around every corner.

Vidakovich Column: Keep on walking, Arlene

It was late April as I was driving my car south along Colorado Avenue in downtown Glenwood. I do some lawn care work during the summer months and I was cruising at a leisurely pace so I could check out the length of the grass at a few of the places I take care of in that area.

Nearing the end of my business journey, satisfied with the way things looked and knowing when I should probably make my next visit with the lawn equipment, I spotted a purple-clad walker with a cane, easing her way along the sidewalk. The pace was slow, but the gait was one of determination.

As I drew nearer and noticed the number 17 jersey of the retired Rockies’ first baseman, Todd Helton, I knew this traveling lady could only be one person before I even saw her face. So I pulled to the curb and brought the car to a stop.

“Need a lift, Arlene?”

My walking wanderer, and famous Glenwood artist, Arlene Law, saw it was me making the query and broke into her usual wide smile and gave me a hug. I immediately told her I was hoping to see her in a Charlie Blackmon number 19 jersey, but that I would forgive her for the oversight. Going with a Rockies legend like Helton was OK on this sunny spring afternoon.

Like me, many of you have spied Arlene through the years walking around town from place to place in her Rockies purple or Broncos orange. She’s even been know to don Nuggets attire on a rare occasion. She’s usually on her way to the athletic club to workout or run some errands in town, most often for other people. To this day, I don’t really know if Arlene owns a car. Exercise and effort always seem to be her first priority.

Not just a renowned artist, and matriarch of the Law family which has spanned many generations in Glenwood, Arlene was the backbone of the Fall Art Festival in this town for more years than any of us can count. Her husband was a well known dentist and the Law boys were all standout athletes for the Glenwood Demons.

I’m not sure if Arlene loves to paint landscapes or to talk sports most. She loves the Demons – always has – and she and her son Rich are longtime Bronco season ticket holders. They even made the trek to Canton, Ohio years ago when John Elway was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame; that’s dedication.

Arlene will chat up local sports as long as you are willing to listen and voice your opinions. You won’t pull any wool over her eyes either, this lady knows of what she speaks, and she won’t leave you wondering what her thoughts are one way or the other.

It wasn’t at all surprising to me that when our little Colorado Avenue breakdown of all Colorado sports was finished, Arlene refused a ride back home. I know where she lives and I knew that she would have to cross a busy late afternoon Grand Avenue rush hour to get there.

“I don’t need a ride, Mike. I have to get in my mileage.”

I had to smile a big one to myself at this statement. Just like when I see her doggedly working the machines at the athletic club, Arlene simply had to complete her mission for the day. A ride home would mean giving in to fatigue. A defeat for the home team if you will, and Arlene would have none of it.

When it became apparent that she would not accept the offer to be my co-pilot, I bid her a fond farewell and promised to see her soon.

I often talk to myself, because there are many times when I know that I am the only one who will listen. As I drove away and looked in the rear view mirror, I had to say out loud, “That lady always fires me up!”

Keep walking, Arlene. You’re not quite up there with the legends of the NFL, but you are already in my Hall of Fame.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance journalist for the Post Independent.

Trauger column: ‘Attainable’ or ‘affordable’ housing, there’s a difference

Attainable housing vs. affordable housing. Often, the two phrases are used interchangeably, but are they the same? In my opinion, the answer is no.

Last week, the Post Independent ran a story on the apartment complex now known as Six Canyon Apartments in West Glenwood. I’ve been watching the comments on this story on Facebook. It is clear that the majority of those weighing in were hoping for something less expensive than the “market rate” rents that are likely to be charged. Many of the comments refer to these units not being affordable housing.

Out of curiosity, I reviewed the video archive of the City Council meetings in which this project was discussed. The developers mentioned building “attainable housing.” However, I did not find that they mentioned “affordable housing.”

So what is the difference? While I am not a housing expert, I have spent a number of years on the Glenwood Planning Commission and City Council wrestling with housing issues. It is a complex issue and one that usually is accompanied by extensive charts, graphs and statistics. At that point, most eyes glaze over.

That being said, there are a few pieces of information that are pertinent. One is that the current, accepted definition of “affordable housing” by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is housing that requires 30% or less of your income.

In 2017, the area median household income (AMI) in Garfield County, based on the U.S. Census Bureau, was $66,503 which would translate into $1,663 per month for housing.

With a 2 percent adjustment per year, that figure may be closer to $1,730 in 2019. Median income calculations vary, depending on source, and may vary greatly. HUD uses a different calculation that results in a significantly higher AMI in Garfield County.

In Garfield County, for 2019, Colorado Housing and Finance Association (CHFA) has determined that the maximum rent for Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Projects for a two-bedroom unit for those at 100% of AMI is $1,770. These units are subsidized and there are very few in Glenwood Springs.

“Attainable housing” often refers to “market rate” housing. A household with an annual income of about $83,000, or about 120% of AMI, might fall into this category, expecting to pay monthly housing costs of about $2,075.

A household at 150% of AMI, or approximately $103,800 could expect to pay approximately $2,600 each month for housing. While this may not seem affordable to many, this is seen as attainable.

In this area, many people opt to go to Silt, Rifle Parachute and even further to find “affordable” housing. This results in long commutes and increased transportation costs.

As Clark Anderson of Community Builders explained in the February Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association meeting, this is called the “H+T Index.” While the goal is to keep housing costs at 30% of income, the “H+T Index” should not go above 45% of income. Anything more is a cost burden.

However, there is even more to consider than dollars and percentages. Time and connection to the community and family must be considered.

I remember a discussion with a Glenwood Springs Police Officer who lived “down valley.” He said that the fact that he could not live and work in the same community created a disconnect for him. He didn’t feel fully a part of either place.

I understand that disconnect. I currently commute to Aspen on a daily basis. On a very good day, it is about an hour and 10-minute commute on RFTA’s BRT. More often, it is an hour and a half or longer depending on road conditions and traffic.

This adds three hours to my “work day.” I also don’t have a solid feeling of being “home” in Glenwood because I spend so much time away.

While Six Canyon Apartments is a far cry from perfect, it increases the supply of housing in Glenwood and, like the Lofts, provides some level of quality housing. I have heard horror stories of the condition of some of the existing rental units that are at the same price point of these two developments.

The housing issue is far from over. There are no quick fixes or easy answers. This area is tough for developers to make projects pencil out due to land prices, wages and construction costs.

It is tough on employers who cannot find or retain employees due to housing issues. And, it is especially tough on families forced to deal with long commutes, and time away from family, friends and community.

The discussion must continue, but it must be a regional discussion. No one community or entity is going to solve this one on their own.

Kathryn Trauger lives in and writes from her hometown of Glenwood Springs. She has served the community as a member of Glenwood Springs City Council and chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and she currently serves as the chair of the city’s Financial Advisory Board. Her column, Perspective, appears monthly in the Post Independent. She may be reached at kathryntrauger@gmail.com or at 970-379-4849.

Traffic delays expected in Glenwood Canyon after major rock slide

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon may be closed intermittently Wednesday through the weekend, as highway crews break down and remove boulders and patch potholes caused by a major rock slide Tuesday morning.

The 7 a.m. rock slide occurred near milepost 122, about five miles west of Glenwood Springs. For several hours, the interstate was closed in both directions.

Crews were able to reopen both eastbound lanes around 10:45 a.m. and one westbound lane an hour later, after removing the debris that could be scraped away with front loaders. It could take some time before all lanes are open.

“We’ll be able to allow traffic through once we get the blasting done and the potholes filled,” said Lisa Schwantes of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Some of the boulders that fell were the size of SUVs, Schwantes said, and about 10 still had to be drilled and blasted into smaller pieces to be removed late Tuesday afternoon. That work will continue Wednesday morning.

“Even if you’re going eastbound toward Denver, you can expect periodic delays as well. We stop traffic when that blasting is taking place,” Schwantes said.

Traffic also has to stop when crews do scaling operations to remove loose or semi-loose debris from the hillside.

CDOT expects to do some scaling along the canyon wall where the rock slide occurred, but it’s unclear where or how extensive that operation will be. The crews want clear weather to properly inspect the hillside, using either a crane or a helicopter.

“We need a break in the weather, and we’re not expecting a break until Thursday. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for Friday to get going on additional inspection and potential scaling,” Schwantes said.

“We want to err on the side of safety, so it’s likely that in the coming days we will be doing some rock scaling adjacent to this location,” said Ty Ortiz, a geohazards expert with CDOT.

With freezing at night, and moisture during the day, the risk of rock fall increases.

“We do believe there are some areas there that are susceptible to similar failure,” Ortiz said.

Officials did not pinpoint any other locations they are concerned with in the canyon.

“It’s really difficult to pinpoint any particular spot of the canyon. We keep an eye on the cliff walls as best we can. We’re at the mercy of mother nature during this freeze-thaw cycle,” Schwantes said.

During the Tuesday closure, CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol were recommending westbound drivers head north through Steamboat Springs on state Highway 131, west through Craig on U.S. Highway 40 and south to Rifle on state Highway 13.

During such closures, Cottonwood Pass between Gypsum and the Cattle Creek area south of Glenwood Springs is not a recommended alternate route, especially during inclement weather.

A major spring snowstorm that continued into the night Tuesday also resulted in a lengthy safety closure Tuesday morning on Interstate 70 eastbound at Vail Pass.

For the latest road conditions along I-70 and other Colorado highways, visit CDOT’s cotrip.org.


Amid still-mounting snowpack, cooler temperatures help ease flooding concerns — for the time being

Despite recent precipitation adding to an above average snowpack, local meteorologists and conservationists do not anticipate any flooding for the next few days.

“The biggest issue will be if we get a big warm up — if we suddenly come out of this cool pattern and we get really hot and dry,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Ben Moyer said. “Then everything melts really quickly and flows into the river channels and there is just too much to handle.”

At this point, Moyer did not foresee any risk of flooding in the coming weeks as cooler than normal temperatures remain in the forecast.

“That is going to help keep things calm,” Moyer explained.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) agency, the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs had a volumetric flow rate of 1,860 cubic feet per second.

The Colorado River near the confluence had a volumetric flow rate of 5,910 cubic feet per second. The flooding concern comes when those flow volumes start to approach 15,000 cfs or more.

As of now, though, both rivers’ flow rates were measuring below average for this date in Glenwood Springs.

“For the next few weeks we are expecting below normal temperatures and continued chances of higher than normal precipitation,” Moyer said. “Since the temperatures aren’t getting too warm, and in fact they are staying pretty close to freezing up where the snow is right now, then not much will be coming off and flowing into the river channels.”

District Conservationist Stephen Jaouen with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) said that, even with 2019’s above average snowpack, the Upper Colorado River Basin had yet to reach any of its “maximums.”

“We are not at anything beyond what we’ve seen in the last 30 years, but we are still above normal,” Jaouen said of the basin. “The Roaring Fork Basin itself is a little bit higher than [the Upper Colorado River Basin], but it’s still not touching maximums in the last 30 years.”

Additionally, Jaouen explained how many reservoirs were still recovering and refilling after last year’s dismal snowpack and multiple years of drought conditions.

According to Jaouen, Ruedi Reservoir in March was the lowest it had been in a decade.

Although cooler temperatures were helping facilitate slower runoffs, Jaouen and Moyer explained how conditions always had the ability to change quick, particularly in the high country.

“Bear in mind … we are moving into the peak of the snowmelt season, so yes rivers will be running higher than normal,” Moyer said. “And, whether or not there is actually going to be flooding will be dependent on exactly how warm we get.”

Basalt, facing a different scenario in the wake of last year’s Lake Christine Fire, will continue to roll out further public information concerning mud and debris flow potential from the historic fire’s scar area.

Taking no chances, the city of Glenwood Springs has stocked up on sandbags should any flooding situations arise farther down valley.

“Not knowing what the local retail market might have available in the way of sandbags, I requested that the city stock up on some sandbags to have available,” Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said.


Marquez quiets Pirates as Rockies roll to 5-0 victory

PITTSBURGH — German Marquez struck out seven over eight dominant innings, Trevor Story hit his 11th home run and the Colorado Rockies cooled off the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0 Tuesday night.

Marquez (5-2) gave up three hits, walked one and didn’t allow a runner to third base as the Rockies snapped a four-game losing streak. Marquez improved to 4-1 in five career starts against the Pirates and lowered his ERA to 2.08 away from Coors Field.

Charlie Blackmon went 3 for 5 for Colorado, including a two-run triple to left off Chris Archer (1-4) in the fourth. Story homered for the second straight game when his shot to deep left field in the third inning glanced off the glove of Pittsburgh leftfielder Bryan Reynolds and into the seats.

That was more than enough offense for Marquez, who gave the Rockies just their second win during their current eight-game road swing by shutting down the surging Pirates.

Pittsburgh came in off a 7-4 road trip through St. Louis, Arizona and San Diego bolstered by the white-hot bat of first baseman Josh Bell.

Bell entered with a major league-leading 44 RBIs — the third-most by a Pirates player through 44 games since it became an official statistic in 1920 — but went 0 for 4. Bell’s teammates didn’t fare much better. Pittsburgh mustered only a first inning double by Reynolds and a pair of singles in the fifth by Melky Cabrera and Francisco Cervelli. Otherwise, the Pirates were kept off balance by Marquez.

Pittsburgh kept pace in the crowded NL Central despite a patched together starting rotation. Archer — who missed three weeks with inflammation in his right thumb before returning last week — was hoping to give the bullpen a relatively easy night but struggled with pitch efficiency.

He needed 23 pitches to get out of a scoreless first inning and ran into more trouble in the second. Daniel Murphy led off with a double and moved to third on a grounder by Ian Desmond. The Pirates appeared to have Murphy caught in a run down between third and home after a grounder by Tony Wolters, but Cervelli’s flip to third baseman Colin Moran deflected off Murphy’s helmet and rolled away from Moran, allowing Murphy to score.

Story’s shot to left in the third pushed him into a tie with Nolan Arenado for the team lead in home runs. And Blackmon’s slicing liner to the notch in left-center in the fourth pushed Colorado’s lead to 4-0.

Archer gave up four runs, three earned, in five innings, with two walks and three strikeouts as his ERA ticked down to 5.55. He needed 92 pitches to get 15 outs. Marquez, meanwhile, needed 104 pitches to get through eight full innings.