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Chamber Resort Association Gala celebrates Glenwood Springs superheroes

Returning to an in-person format for the first time since 2019, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Annual Gala and Awards Ceremony is slated to dazzle attendees Saturday.

With live music from A Band Called Alexis, a wine bar sponsored by Bay Equity Home Loans and set in the historic and newly renovated Hotel Colorado, the gala aims to bring Glenwood Springs’ business community together for a night of entertainment and recognition, said Tara Harman, the chamber’s vice president of special events and programs.

“It’s our largest networking event,” Harman said. “It’s an opportunity to look at where we’ve been, where we’re going, and it’s a fantastic time to be together.”

Kicking off at 6 p.m., this year’s gala theme is superheroes, and attendees are encouraged to dress up in their favorite superhero costumes.

“Our businesses and communities have overcome so many challenges in recent years: The Grizzly Creek Fire, COVID-19, the mudslides — just to name a few,” Harman said. “It may be a little corny, but not all heroes wear capes. We felt superheroes was an appropriate theme, because our community is filled with them: nurses, teachers, business leaders, first responders and so many more.”

Tickets are $75 for chamber members and $85 for general admission and can be purchased at www.glenwoodchamber.com/annual-gala. The event is a cocktail-style celebration with small-plate stations, games and a silent auction, a news release states.

“The silent auction is an opportunity to highlight our local businesses,” said Angie Anderson, the Chamber Resort president and CEO. “All the items are donated from businesses within our community.”

The chamber is also scheduled to award multiple businesses and residents for their efforts throughout Glenwood Springs. Awards include Citizen of the Year, Top Brass Outstanding Business of the Year, Top Brass Outstanding New Business of the Year, a Resiliency Award and an award for the Gala’s best dressed.

Anderson said the event celebrates the community as a whole, but it also owes its success to the support from the community.

“We couldn’t do these events without our generous sponsors, such as FirstBank, Integrated Mountain Management and Bay Equity Home Loans,” she said.

Estrecho mercado laboral dificulta la contratación y retención en la ciudad de Rifle

El oficial de policía de Rifle, Kalob Foreman, ingresa a un vehículo de patrulla mientras estaba de turno a principios de este año.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

La disminución de la fuerza laboral a lo largo del año pasado ha dificultado que algunos departamentos de la ciudad de Rifle puedan contratar y retener empleados, dijeron funcionarios de la ciudad.

En este momento, Rifle está tratando de cubrir tres vacantes de oficiales en el departamento de policía. Mientras tanto, el departamento de parques y recreación parece recuperarse después de que el verano pasado vio solo 76 de 110 puestos de temporada ocupados en Rifle Metro Pool.

El administrador de la ciudad de Rifle y exjefe de policía, Tommy Klein, dijo que, mientras tanto, los oficiales han tenido que cubrir los turnos de horas extras. El RPD emplea a 21 oficiales juramentados cuando cuenta con todo su personal.

“Es posible que (los oficiales) no puedan tomarse unas vacaciones cuando lo deseen (debido a la escasez),” dijo Klein.

Los últimos cinco años han visto caer en picada las solicitudes de empleo para los departamentos de policía en todo el país, y Rifle no es una excepción. Cuando Klein asumió el cargo de jefe en 2017, el departamento promediaría alrededor de 12 solicitantes por cada vacante.

Desde entonces, ese número se ha reducido a un promedio de seis solicitantes por puesto vacante, dijo Klein.

“A veces obtenemos seis, a veces obtenemos 10,” dijo. “Creo que el mercado es estrecho para todos los trabajos, desde camioneros hasta trabajadores de la construcción, enfermeras y maestros. No son solo los agentes de policía .”

Pero debido a la falta de agentes de policía en particular, Klein está de acuerdo en que también hay una explicación social de por qué, es decir, noticias sobre casos de brutalidad policial.

“El Western Slope es un lugar maravilloso para ser oficial de policía. Tenemos mucho apoyo de nuestra comunidad aquí en Rifle, y eso ayuda en términos de mantener la moral de los oficiales aquí,” dijo Klein. “Pero hay muchas noticias en las que algunas áreas del país no son tan favorables, por lo que es fácil para un joven que está considerando la aplicación de la ley ver esa negatividad.”

La mayor demanda de oficiales en un grupo de cadetes más pequeño que se extiende por todo el país ha exacerbado el proceso de reclutamiento, dijo Klein. Cualquiera que desee aplicar a un puesto policial puede buscar al mejor postor.

En Rifle, el salario inicial para un oficial sin entrenamiento es de $57.330 al año. En Aspen, mientras tanto, un novato que ingresa a la academia gana entre $53.206 y $61.193, según una publicación de solicitud de marzo del Departamento de Policía de Aspen.

Antes de que se contrate a un candidato, Rifle lleva a cabo una aplicación rigurosa y una capacitación que dura meses.

Klein dijo que por lo general toma de nueve a 10 meses antes de que un oficial pueda viajar solo en un vehículo de escuadrón y responder a las llamadas del 911.

Tratando de cubrir las vacantes lo más rápido posible, la ciudad continúa utilizando plataformas de reclutamiento policial, su página web, motores de búsqueda de empleo y redes sociales para mejorar el proceso de reclutamiento.

“Estamos haciendo más, no solo vendiendo el puesto, sino mostrando a la gente que este es un lugar fantástico para vivir,” dijo Klein. “Eso es parte del proceso que estamos atravesando ahora.”

SE NECESITA PERSONAL PARA LA PISCINA

El verano pasado, los socorristas tuvieron que trabajar en turnos dobles. Cuando no había nadie más disponible, los gerentes impartían lecciones de natación.

El gerente de recreación de Rifle, Austin Rickstrew, dijo que los desafíos del departamento de parques y recreación para contratar más trabajadores de tiempo parcial y de temporada se debieron en parte a los deportes.

Cuando los deportes de la escuela secundaria de Colorado se retrasaron debido al COVID-19, las temporadas regulares se extendieron hasta el verano. Esto provocó una reducción de la mano de obra estacional.

Por la misma razón, los estudiantes fueron desviados de la piscina cuando las temporadas deportivas de otoño de este año comenzaron antes de lo esperado.

“Pusimos a muchos atletas de secundaria a trabajar en la piscina,” dijo Rickstrew. “Con las temporadas de COVID entrando a fines de junio, principios de julio, muchos de esos niños no podían comprometerse con un trabajo cuando todavía estaban practicando deportes.”

Al llenar los espacios en blanco, uno de los cuatro parques y personal de recreación a tiempo completo recogió turnos adicionales de salvavidas y concesiones de trabajo además de impartir lecciones de natación.

“Probablemente promedié de 12 a 14 horas al día,” dijo Rickstrew.

La temporada pasada también vio a Rifle Metro Pool, que recientemente se sometió a una renovación de $8 millones, gastando $219.670 en trabajadores de temporada a tiempo parcial en los tres meses que generalmente opera.

Los salarios iniciales se establecieron entre $12.50 y $15 por hora, dependiendo de las certificaciones y la voluntad de impartir lecciones de natación.

El presupuesto del trabajador estacional para la piscina es en realidad de $257.000, dijo Rickstrew. Con miras a 2022, el grupo busca aumentar los salarios iniciales a $12.75-$13.

“Es difícil competir con los restaurantes de comida rápida que están abiertos todo el año y pueden pagar entre $16 y $17 la hora por el trabajo base,” dijo Rickstrew. “Y luego, solo estamos abiertos durante tres meses, trabajando con un presupuesto limitado.”

MOTIVOS DE SALIDA

Las vacantes adicionales en toda la ciudad incluyen tres puestos de tiempo completo, dijo la Gerente de Recursos Humanos, Danielle Hogan.

Del 1 al 12 de noviembre, el departamento de parques y recreación abrió un puesto de tiempo completo, mientras que el departamento de agua y aguas residuales de la ciudad abrió dos.

En su partida, Hogan dijo que los funcionarios de la ciudad preguntan las razones por las que los empleados se fueron.

“La mayoría de ellos en realidad se mudaron fuera del estado por razones personales. Eso es algo que está fuera de nuestro control,” dijo Hogan. “La segunda categoría más alta de personas que abandonan la ciudad de Rifle es porque su familia consiguió trabajo en diferentes lugares.”

En respuesta, la ciudad busca activamente candidatos y publica vacantes lo más rápido posible, dijo Hogan.

“No tengo una bola de cristal, y algunos días te sientes como, ‘Hombre, es un montón de gente que se va,’” dijo Hogan. “Pero yo diría que, como organización, continuamos proporcionando activamente salarios y beneficios competitivos y un lugar donde los empleados quieren venir a trabajar todos los días.”

Traducción de Edgar Barrantes. Puedes contactar al reportero Ray K. Erku al 612-423-5273 o rerku@postindependent.com

Deja Brew’s new owners plan additions, not changes

Deja Brew co-owners Sarah Niebler and John Theodore stand outside of the shop in downtown Glenwood.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Deja Brew now has sunshine, too.

Or rather, even more sunny baked goods, provided by Sunshine & Moons Bakery, 2550 Colorado Highway 82, suite No. A208.

In July, Sarah Niebler and John Theodore, the Sunshine & Moons co-owners, purchased Deja Brew, 1101 Grand Ave., from Matt and Katie Starbuck, slightly altering the coffee shop name to Deja Brew & Sunshine Too, Niebler said.

“We didn’t immediately announce the purchase, because we wanted to do a slow roll out to give John time to adjust,” Niebler said, explaining her husband would primarily run the coffee stop while she focused on the bakery. “We don’t want people to think we changed Deja Brew; we’re just adding to it.”

Deja Brew co-owner John Theodore pours a coffee for a customer at the shop in downtown Glenwood.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Although the java joint has sold Sunshine & Moons pastries for years, the couple are now ramping up the products people can purchase from the bakery at Deja Brew.

The coffee is slated to remain the same, but in addition to an increased selection of treats, customers can now score sweet pies at Deja Brew on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

This month, the available sweet pie flavors are pumpkin and pecan, and in December, Deja Brew is scheduled to offer key lime and chocolate silk sweet pies.

“We’re also toying around with the idea of selling lunch foods in the future at the coffee shop, which would be made at our bakery,” Theodore said.

Prior to taking over the business, Theodore said he spent about five weeks with the Starbucks learning the ins and outs of the coffee world.

“They killed the coffee game, and now we’re going to kill the baking game, too,” he said.

Before the pandemic, the coffee shop had a small indoor area open to customers, but in 2020, the Starbucks renovated the interior to better accommodate social-distancing requirements and employee workflows. Niebler said they don’t have plans to reopen the interior.

“We’re thinking about keeping it pretty much the way it is for now, because they had the efficiency really dialed in,” she said.

The couple said they plan to apply the same business strategies at the coffee shop as they do at the bakery: Source quality ingredients locally as much as possible, provide a high level of customer service and cater to people with alternative diets or special dietary needs.

Niebler and Theodore said they’ve been friends with the Starbucks for years, and when they heard the shop might go up for sale, Niebler and Theodore decided to go all in.

“Over the years, so many people have approached me about having a footprint for the bakery closer to downtown,” Niebler said. “Deja Brew already had amazing reviews as well as a following of both locals and tourists. It was a perfect opportunity.”

ifredregill@postindependent.com

 

Larimer Square in November 2020 (Andy Cross/Denver Post)
Pandemic-friendly outdoor dining spaces could become permanent in Denver

While it won’t happen automatically or overnight, Denver is one step closer to becoming a more permanent outdoor dining city, with pedestrian streets and sidewalk patios in place well beyond initial restrictions that limited indoor dining capacity.

That means some city blocks could become entirely car-free, with tents and tables lining them throughout the year. Larimer Square is one example of a prime candidate. Others include South Pearl Street and Glenarm Place on the 16th Street Mall, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.

Hancock last week announced that he wants to see some of the city’s 373 pandemic-era expanded patios become permanent following their trial run that began in May 2020 and lasts through October 2022.

“I think this is a fabulous concept,” Hancock said. “I think people really enjoy patio seating, and I want to continue it with safety being paramount.”

Which patios will become permanent remains to be seen. The businesses that have piloted the program likely have another 12 months ahead of continued city monitoring and quarterly application renewals before the long-term plan kicks in.

Throughout the pandemic, Denver’s temporary program has allowed restaurants to open up more outdoor seating, moving tables and chairs into the right-of-way, in blocked-off street sections, between sidewalks and curbs and onto adjacent parking lots.

“It was absolutely instrumental in helping us keep our doors open and our staff employed,” Angela Filliam, manager of Daughter Thai Kitchen & Bar, said of the city’s program. “As things are still uncertain with COVID, we fully support the decision to keep the program going, as it has been vital to our business.”

To keep the program going, restaurant owners will have to clear their constructed patios for future use with the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Department of Community Planning and Development and Department of Excise and Licenses, to name a few.

“We want to be safe, so we don’t want people out there drinking lattes with cars whizzing by,” Nancy Kuhn with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said while outlining the long road ahead.

But Hancock estimates that the outcomes have been well worth business owners’ efforts so far.

For the businesses that utilized them over the last 18 months, Denver’s expanded patios have saved more than $280 million in restaurant revenue, Hancock said. And more than half of restaurants’ summer revenue this year came from patio seating, according to the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Still, winter brings unique challenges to outdoor dining. As of Tuesday, 111 restaurants in Denver have applied to extend their expanded patio permits through Jan. 31, 2022. Cold temperatures, snow-plowing and water drainage have to be taken into account in the winter months, Kuhn said.

COVID-19 cases will also factor in determining restaurants’ need to continue their outdoor dining programs year-round. As of this week, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eric France, suggested that businesses such as restaurants might need to require masks again or check customers for proof of vaccination.

Hancock reiterated on Oct. 26 that Denver isn’t enforcing any indoor mask mandates or vaccination requirements, though. Nor does the city have any plans to yet. Neighboring Boulder and Larimer counties, meanwhile, have reinstated their own policies.

“Data will lead us, and everything remains on the table,” Hancock said.

—Josie Sexton

How’s Business? Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop experiences spike as people rediscover passion for outdoors

Kale Hall, a Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop ski and snowboard technician, waxes a snowboard Saturday as a waxing machine uses infrared light to heat-treat wax applied to skis.
Ike Fredregill/Post Independent

The wave of interest in outdoor sports created during the height of the pandemic in 2020 is losing momentum, but a year later, sales remain strong at Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop, store Manager Russell Cabe said.

“Things aren’t quite what they were, but there is a steady demand, and our numbers are still higher than before the pandemic,” Cabe said. “Supply chains were a challenge last year. They’re improving, but not perfect, and that drives demand a little higher as well.”

Located at 309 Ninth St., the ski and bike shop was founded around 1989 by then-Sunlight Ski Resort as a way to strengthen the connection between Glenwood Springs and the resort, Cabe said. Although snowboards are not in the shop’s name, Cabe and his staff heavily emphasized that snowboards are a key component to the business model as well.

“The store was originally located in an A-frame building near where Jimmy John’s is now, but we moved to Ninth Street in the mid-late ’90s,” Cabe said. “We’ve been providing the same services ever since we opened: sales, service and rentals of skis, snowboards and bikes.”

In recent years, customer interest in bicycles, Alpine Touring (AT) skis and cross-country skis has grown significantly.

“They were getting big before last year, but I think a lot of people found them great during the pandemic, because you could ski or bike anywhere, and it was very easy to distance yourself from others,” Cabe said.

When COVID-19 hit, the resort was nearing the end of its winter season, but the ski and bike shop was ramping up for summer.

“We ended up doing a lot of business outside in the big parking lot east of us,” Cabe said.

While some industries were forced to furlough employees, increased sales allowed Cabe to keep most of his staff, and the shop hasn’t suffered from the same labor force shortages plaguing other businesses throughout the nation.

“We have an excellent staff, and we’ve been very lucky to retain them,” he said. “Our employees are great at pitching in ideas that we’ve been working on implementing this year.”

Both Sunlight Mountain Resort and the shop saw a boost in new customers to the area, and hopes remain high they will return for the 2021-22 winter season.

“There’s a lot of positive feelings that we’re looking at a good snow year,” Cabe said. “I believe a lot of people discovered what our hidden gem had to offer last year, and I think they’ll be coming back for more.”

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.

Glenwood Springs print shop capitalizes on small workforce, flexibility

Print Works owner Steven Peck mounts a foam-core presentation board Friday morning. Increased indoor and outdoor signage demands helped Peck survive the 2020 economic downturn.
Ike Fredregill/Post Independent

Adaptation, consistency and rising to meet opportunities head on helped Print Works weather the worst of the pandemic, and now, business is nearly back to pre-COVID-19 levels, owner Steven Peck said.

“What really got us through was commercial signage,” Peck said. “That first week everything shut down, I had a dozen calls for waterproof, outdoor signs. I was scrambling to find a solution.”

On the quick, he secured a wide-format printer, allowing him and his only employee, Todd Harris, to stay in business.

“Our primary customers are other businesses,” Peck said. “So when they shut down last year, that really impacted our bottom line.”

Not every business stayed afloat, and when two competitors in the valley closed shop, Peck said he saw a spike in orders.

“It’s unfortunate, but we were glad for the extra work,” he said.

Keeping Harris on the payroll throughout the hard times was paramount to retaining customers.

“Todd provided our clients a level of consistency that I know not everyone was able to provide in 2020,” Peck said. “This is a small company with a small crew, and I think in the end, that was to our benefit.”

Unstable supply chains have created new challenges for businesses around the nation, but Print Works sources their products from U.S. companies, and Peck said they haven’t seen interruptions in their orders.

“We have experienced increasing prices, but that seems like it’s happening across the board,” he said.

A New Castle, Wyoming, native, Peck attended the University of Wyoming to become an engineer, but he switched midway to graphic design. After working his way up to head printer at a print shop in Laramie, Wyoming, Peck said he realized he was ready to run his own business.

In 2011, he moved to Glenwood Springs and purchased Print Works.

“My life dream was to live somewhere I could ride the snow in the morning and still make it to work on time,” he said. “I love live music, too. So, being this close to Denver and Red Rocks Amphitheater is a huge plus for me.”

Ten years later, Peck said he’s just getting started.

“I feel like the worst is in the rearview mirror,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll be here for at least another 10 years.”

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.

Nonprofit Carbondale preschool seeks donations to expand new facility

Little Blue Preschool teacher Brynlee Elswick gives the ready-set-go for children in the preschool-age class to run down the grass mound that’s in the outdoor play area at the school’s new location at 55 N. Seventh St. in Carbondale on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.
John Stroud/Post Independent

A renovated child day care in Carbondale could double its capacity in the near future with support from the community.

Little Blue Preschool, a nonprofit child care facility and sister program to the El Jebel-based Blue Lake Preschool, moved into a remodeled residence at 55 N. Seventh St. in July, and the organization is asking for donations to help fund the second phase of remodeling, scholarships and teacher retention programs, said Kathryn Sansone, who is working with the preschool to promote the fundraising initiative.

Sansone said the preschool is looking to raise about $1.5 million during the next three years, and as of Wednesday, she said they had reached close to half their goal with the help of large donations from Alpine Bank, Valley View Hospital and the Aspen Skiing Co.

Blue Lake and Little Blue Preschools Director Michelle Oger said the child care program began in El Jebel as part of the Blue Lake housing development in 1993. In 2000, Blue Lake Preschool moved to a nonprofit model, providing the ability to fund raise and apply for grant funding.

“We were licensed for 31 kids a day, ages 1-5, at Blue Lake in January 2002,” Oger said. “Now we’re licensed for 134 at Blue Lake and 38 kids at Little Blue, ages 6 weeks to 10 years old.”

Little Blue opened in a rental home on Carbondale’s Eighth Street in 2015, but after the facility’s three-year lease was up, the landowners moved to a month-to-month format. Oger said that created a sense of insecurity for the preschool’s board of directors, which is filled by a combination of parents with children enrolled in the program and community members.

Little Blue Preschool teacher Michelle Boyle reads and interacts with children in the toddler class at the school’s new facility at 55 N. Seventh St. in Carbondale on Wednesday, Sept. 29.
John Stroud/Post Independent

After a three-year search, the organization purchased the Seventh Street location with a construction loan, Sansone said.

“On Friday (Oct. 1), the loan will switch over to a standard mortgage, with the initial renovations done,” she said. “So that’s why we chose that day to host our grand opening and kick off this fundraising initiative.”

Little Blue’s new home cost about $1.3 million, but Sansone said the fundraiser money wouldn’t be used to pay the entirety of the loan. About $500,000 of the donations are slated to be used to build additional school rooms at the facility, increasing capacity by about 45 students a day.

Another $250,000 could go to teacher retention programs, including efforts to keep pay rates competitive and provide scholarships for underprivileged families, Sansone said.

“Keeping good, consistent teachers is not only difficult in this valley, but it’s incredibly important for our kids’ learning and development,” she said.

The preschools currently have 214 students enrolled, though few of those students attend every day, Oger said.

“From Glenwood to Aspen, and likely beyond, there’s just not enough child care options,” she said, adding all three of her own children went through the program. “We see a lot of kids who might be with us two days a week, then with a grandma another day or family friends and finish out the week at an unlicensed care provider in someone’s home.”

But even with hundreds of students enrolled, Oger said the preschools’ waiting list is more than 200 families long, some of whom might wait years before receiving a preschool slot.

“We get dozens of calls every week about availability,” she said. “Some people move to the valley thinking they will be able to find care immediately with no idea of how few options there are here.”

Sansone, who’s kindergarten-aged son is enrolled in the program, said increasing Little Blue’s capacity will go a long way toward addressing some of the valley’s child care challenges.

“Michelle and her team have done a very good job of stretching every dollar they have, so I know these funds will be put to good use,” she said. “As a parent, I am extremely thankful for how good Michelle and her team are.”

For more information about Blue Lake and Little Blue Preschools and their fundraising initiative, go to BlueLakePreschool.org.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.

How’s Business? Stillwater Counseling offers services for those struggling with addiction

Wendy Caldwell, of Stillwater Counseling. Shannon Marvel / Post Independent

Those struggling with addiction and recovery have another outlet to tap into in Stillwater Counseling.

Wendy Caldwell with Stillwater Counseling said the business has been helping youth struggling with addiction.

“We’ve got so many kids that are coming in that are really struggling — a lot of kids struggling with drug and alcohol addiction,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell added that it’s been difficult to get the word out about the counseling services offered at the location, which she decided to open up last July.

“I used to teach at Glenwood Elementary for 20 some years before I got into counseling. Last July, I thought I was going to open my own business, because it’s a passion for me,” Caldwell said, who previously worked at Alpine Springs Counseling.

“I’ve gotten sober myself over the years. I get inspired when people walk through that door and say, ”I need help.“ Because that’s courageous. It’s just inspiring to see people walk through difficult situations and take the action to improve their lives and reach different outcomes.”

Caldwell said a good portion of her clients come in through probation or parole.

Stillwater Counseling offers individual counseling and driving under the influence counseling and works with adolescents and families alike.

“We do women’s groups for addiction, and we do after care for in-patient treatment so when they come out they have a place to continue their recovery,” Caldwell added.

“My hope is that we can be a support network for people in the community.”

Stillwater Counseling is located at 929 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs.

How’s Business?

Every week, we’ll check in with a Garfield County business to see, well, how business is going. Through these stories, we hope to share stories of challenge and success and help our community gain a more qualitative picture of how our local economy is faring. Have a business you think we should check in with? Contact reporter Shannon Marvel at smarvel@postindependent.com.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.

Bankers’ Hours: Once upon a time in the ’80s

This column was a fun one to write. Here’s hoping it’s a bit fun to read. It deals with about seven years in the 1980s that were one of the wildest periods in the financial history of the U.S. When the dust settled at the end of the decade, 504 savings and loan associations (thrifts) had gone broke, and some 403 thrift executives had been convicted in criminal activity. The debacle cost the U.S. taxpayers a bundle.

But, if one enjoys watching true crime in the act of commission, it was a hoot. In the aftermath, extensive and draconian statutes and regulations were implemented to make sure it never, ever happens again (snicker).

Ronald Reagan had barely lowered his right hand after reciting the oath of office when the administration began deregulating just about every business and industry in sight, and none was more ripe for a new regulatory structure than the S&L business. It was a segment of the banking industry with its feet firmly planted at around 1850. Up until the late 1970s, thrifts couldn’t even accept checking accounts; depositors could open only savings accounts or certificates of deposit.

Lending consisted of mortgages on real estate, and most of those involved single family homes and condos. Many institutions, and some of the biggest, weren’t even owned by stockholders; they were “mutual institutions,” meaning they were owned by the depositors and borrowers. All federally chartered S&Ls were mutual entities.

Then along came Reagan, and the savings and loan business emerged from the 19th century into the blinding light of the last third of the 20th.

Suddenly, an S&L could form a so-called service corporation, own 51%, and invest in a dazzling variety of enterprises. Mutual thrifts could convert to stock institutions, resulting in windfalls for depositors, borrowers and management. And, finally, some very neat accounting maneuvers called regulatory accounting — that were very different from generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) — made buying a thrift exceptionally attractive. All of these goodies were laid out on the buffet table, and the line to dig in quickly formed. A lot of those waiting were financial cowboys who quickly spotted the potential for quick money, many from Texas. And those good ol’ boys knew each other well. It was an elite club, but easy to join; all you needed was your very own savings and loan.

The service corporation vehicle enabled them to partner up with other entrepreneurs and invest in just about anything. The poster children of this particular scam were Don Dixon and Woody Lemons, the owner and president respectively of Vernon Savings in Vernon, Texas, a small, conservative operation until Dixon bought it. The bank, through subsidiaries, then bought a string of luxury car dealerships, a beach front estate, and no less than three corporate jets — just to name a few assets and investments that used bank money for acquisition. Not exactly single family residential lending. Both Don and Woody were convicted of bank fraud.

Dixon employed a common tactic when he bought Vernon S&L. He kept the existing board of directors in place and pampered them with emoluments beyond their wildest dreams: junkets to conventions on the exec jets, with five-star accommodations and food. And weeklong get aways to the southern Cal beach property, complete with plenty of food, drink and professional ladies strategically placed. Well, not all the directors: The board had one woman, and she was never invited to the latter retreat.

Regulators during examinations were at first intrigued, and then shocked by the relationships between bank owners. As the examiners followed the interlocking tendrils spreading throughout the west and southwest, they dubbed it “The Daisy Chain.”

One bank owner would have a deal he wanted to fund, but his regulatory loan limit was, say, $4 million. No problem; he’d just pick up the phone: “Bubba, this is Jim Bob. Got an $8 million deal here, need a $4 million participation from your shop.”

“No problem, Jim Bob. By the way, my boys brought in a big deal, and I’m short about $2 million. S’pose you can help me out?”

“Sure can. Y’all take care.”

That’s what they called “Texas underwriting.” Big commitments were made on no more than a two-page deal sheet, just a very brief outline of a complicate transaction.

Since a bank’s loans to owners, officers and directors are limited and closely scrutinized, they sought to avoid regulatory sanctions by the Texas two-step of lending to each other.

I got an opportunity to see some of this up close and personal in the late ’80s when I was between banking gigs. The state S&L commissioner of Kansas called me to see if I’d take on managing a failed thrift in Liberal, Kansas. Kansas state law required that the commissioner’s office take over running any insolvent S&L until it was formally closed by the feds.

The operation was a small one, but the Texan that had bought it had been busy, making commercial and development loans in Texas and Oklahoma. Part of my job was to check these out; one, in the Dallas area, I remember well. It was a “luxury” subdivision built around a landing strip for private aircraft, although it’s doubtful whether a plane ever did, or could, land there. It was a desolate scene, and the smell wasn’t that great either, due to the sewer system backing up.

The motivation for all of this was, of course, money. Big fees were paid by developers and others to get the loans, and millions were pocketed by thrift owners and management in flipping properties between subsidiaries and outside entrepreneurs. One limited partnership that I heard about was called MLOMRQ LLC — “Make Lots of Money Real Quick.”

You really couldn’t make some of this stuff up. But it was only the tip of the iceberg.

George Bailey, as played by James Stewart in the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” has become the prototype small town savings and loan manager. There were a lot of George Baileys caught up in the the chaos of the S&L meltdown. They weren’t crooks, or didn’t start out to be, although a few did end up indicted. Others simply fell into the rapids of loans going bad, and ended up going over the falls of insolvency. In the next column, we’ll continue the common thread of the elements that have contributed to the last two banking crises, just 18 years apart.

Stay tuned for “It was a wonderful life … for a little while.”

Pat Dalrymple is a western Colorado native and has spent more than 50 years in mortgage lending and banking in the Roaring Fork Valley. He’ll be happy to answer your questions or hear your comments. His email is pdalrymple59@gmail.com.

How’s Business: Despite pandemic, All Dogs and Cats Veterinary Hospital successfully opened second location in New Castle

Owner and veterinarian Dr. Lori Pohm checks out a patient at the All Dogs and Cats New Castle location.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

All Dogs and Cats Veterinary Hospital opened a second location in New Castle two months into the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020.

Dana Gonzalez, practice manager of the hospital’s locations in Glenwood Springs and New Castle, said it was a crazy time for veterinary clinics and hospitals throughout the nation.

The waiting room at the All Dogs and Cats New Castle location.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“We experienced a boom in business,” Gonzalez said.

“The increase in hospital visits stemmed from pet owners having more time to be around their animals. People were staying home with their pets and noticing they didn’t feel good and maybe they decided it’s a good time to take them in. Many people acquired new pets as well because they were able to stay home.”

The only inconvenience of opening during a pandemic was bringing animals in while their owners waited at the curbside.

“It was difficult with a new location and people not being able to come inside. … When people are sitting outside, they’re kind of wondering what’s going on.”

On the inside is a different story.

“We actually have a really nice facility down there,” Gonzalez said.

“We have a comfort room, which is a really nice option for people to have for a euthansia procedures. We don’t have that here at our Glenwood Springs location.”

The comfort room at the All Dogs and Cats New Castle location.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The comfort room offers a comfortable couch and floor for owners to sit with their pets during those last precious moments together.

Dr. Annie Schmidt is the new veterinarian at the New Castle location. Schmidt offers acupuncture services for pain management or conditions with lameness, Gonzalez said.

In addition to their canine and feline clients, the hospital is now treating pocket pets, such as bunnies, rats, mice and hamsters.

“That is an important thing — getting rabbits spayed or neutered,” Gonzalez said.

All Dogs and Cats Veterinary Hospital locations:

• 6420 County Road 335, Unit A in New Castle

• 1607 Grand Ave., Unit 11 in Glenwood Springs

How’s Business

Every week, we’ll check in with a Garfield County business to see, well, how business is going. Through these stories, we hope to share stories of challenge and success and help our community gain a more qualitative picture of how our local economy is faring. Have a business you think we should check in with? Contact reporter Shannon Marvel at smarvel@postindependent.com.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.

Personal Finance column: Perennial applications for vintage financial wisdom

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”

— Will Rogers

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

— Charles Dickens

“Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions.”

— A.A. Latimer

Replace your budget with an intentional spending plan. Tell your money where to go instead of asking where it went. Connect with your core values on what is important in your life and direct the financial flow. You won’t be swayed by media or the perceived “fear of missing out.” Spending with joyful intention within safe boundaries is a powerful combination.

“Everyday is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor; we’ve got 24 hours each.”

— Christopher Rice

Consider that return on life is just as if not more important than return on investment. Money is very necessary up to a point. There is a diminishing rate of return on happiness as it pertains to income. Each person has their unique narrative to live a life on purpose and in their potential. Put forth effort and energy toward people, activities and causes that make you come alive. Using your financial means to pave this path is where you create true wealth.

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

— Yogi Berra

Inflation is an integral part of life. Flash back to 1970 prices: a home, $26,600; a first-class stamp, 6 cents; a gallon of gas, 36 cents; a gallon of milk, $1.15. You can either seek to outpace the cost of living — save and invest in broad-based, diversified, tax efficient portfolios (such as real estate and the stock market) for long-term goals. Or you can reduce your lifestyle and choices down the road.

“The Stock Market is designed to transfer money from the active to the patient.”

— Warren Buffett

Investing is different from speculating. Investing requires vision and a long-term focus, goal setting, good habits and mindsets. It is necessary to keep emotions in check and where wisdom undergirds and directs knowledge alongside application.

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”

— Henry Ford

These two both speak to the importance of character assets. Too often financial assets are the singular measure of “wealth.” Your net worth does not define your self-worth. When you focus on building and enhancing positive, productive character traits, the financial pieces will stay in their proper place to serve you and society.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

— Winston Churchill

Generosity is the secret sauce in creating true wealth. It is foundational for financial health as giving breaks the bind of consumerism. It is a profoundly personal journey and worth taking steps on the path.

With over 2,000 references in the Bible about money, this one is the most misquoted and misinterpreted: 1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Money is not in itself evil, but when it becomes the focal point of life either because of unsatiable desires or life-sustaining scarcity, immorality can bloom. The garden of your financial life needs to be well tended to keep this weed from taking hold.

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

— P.T. Barnum

“Master Card” – the irony is palpable. If used wisely, it is a tool of convenience and safety. For many, consumer debt has been normalized and expected, yet holds them hostage from attaining financial freedom.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

To me, this speaks to financial efficacy. We are not victims of financial circumstances. We get to choose — whether it is regarding the financial means you have or the mindsets you embrace. We can plan. We can save and invest. We can work hard. We can choose an attitude of gratitude and a mindset of sufficiency. We can recalibrate and pivot when things don’t go the way we had hoped. Where do you have wins and how do you want to build on them?

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA® with Wealth By Design LLC in Basalt. Check out her retirement podcasts and blogs at daniellehoward4u.com.