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Dalrymple column: Federal agencies appear aligned with consumer in this recent lender case

Recently, among the flood of info that pours into my inbox about lending, was an item noting that the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had joined together to enter an amicus brief (a commentary) in connection with a case being reviewed by an appeals court. Apparently, a suit was filed by a consumer asking that a lower court compel Experian, the credit-rating giant, to investigate an incorrect item on the plaintiff’s credit report.

The FTC and the CFPB say that the lower-court decision, which said that Experian wasn’t required to do so, would inhibit a consumer’s right to redress in the event of credit reporting errors.

Don’t leave yet. This isn’t a piece about torts and briefs. Rather, I was struck by two powerful federal agencies coming in swinging on behalf of a consumer. A banker back in 1961 wouldn’t recognize the lending business today, and he certainly wouldn’t like it.

Oddly, people seem to be interested in what it was like to borrow money, way back in the last century.  Even more intriguing is the reaction of senior banking execs. Financial institution CEO’s can’t believe what it must have been like when the only rules were those set down by lenders, and borrowers had better abide by them or not get the money. Yahoo!

Take credit reporting: Most of the credit bureaus were cooperatives, owned and operated by merchants and trade  groups in a specific city or region. There were absolutely no consumer protection or accommodation laws, either state or federal. All of the leverage was on the side of the lender or merchant and the credit bureau itself.

To begin with, a consumer had absolutely no access to his or her credit history, and, by the way, married women had no credit history in any event. Business users of the bureau’s services were forbidden to disclose any information on a credit report to the customer or borrower, on pain of being barred from ordering reports.

The bureau took no responsibility for info on a consumer submitted by a business or lender. Some of the language in a report could get quite salty, as in, “DEADBEAT,” for example. In some parts of the country, the consumer’s ethnicity was a mandated piece of information in the report.

Since the user of the report was forbidden to disclose details contained in it, a borrower had no way of knowing what a report might say. There were many instances of lives being adversely affected, even ruined, by incorrect information, or mistaken identity, i.e. people with a similar name being saddled with the bad credit history of another “Sam Jones.” The phone numbers of credit bureaus were unlisted, their addresses undisclosed.

All of this secrecy could make it difficult to process a loan. For example, FHA and VA underwriting guidelines required a written explanation from the borrower regarding credit problems, such as late payments and debts referred for collection. The explanation had to be specific, and the borrower was somewhat non-plussed by the lender saying that “There’s an item on your credit report that needs an explanation.”

Another lending practice that was perfectly legal then, but very much illegal now, was the custom of “redlining”, which means exactly what it says. It meant that banks and thrifts (S&L’s) wouldn’t make loans on homes in certain neighborhoods, and those venues were identified by, say, a city map, with red lines drawn around the areas that  didn’t qualify for a residential mortgage. To be fair, the intent was not to discriminate; the homes inside the red lines were older, smaller and often not in the best state of repair because their occupants were in a lower economic demographic. 

You know where this is going: Often the ethnicity of that lower economic cluster was of a specific minority. So, the dictum against lending meant that the potential collateral deteriorated more, rendering it even less desirable as security for a loan.

One more item, and I’ll shut up, keeping in mind my wife’s repeated reminder to desist from “geezer-speak,” rehashing the Good Old Days:

This is one that lenders really loved. There was no mandate, either by regulation or statute. To clutter up a borrower’s mind with disclosing the real cost of money, the Actual Percentage Rate (APR). A bank, thrift, industrial bank or finance company could make a second mortgage at, say “six-percent interest.”  But, what the lender didn’t explain, and wasn’t required to, is that the rate quoted was actually add-on interest, as opposed to simple interest, meaning that the six-percent rate was multiplied by the loan amount and added on to the amount of the promissory note. The actual cost of the loan often doubled, depending of the repayment terms.

Disclosures to borrowers were made on a strict need to know basis, and all agreed that all they needed to know is whether or not they got the money.

My first job in the lending business was working for a mortgage banker that made only FHA and VA purchase money mortgages (no refis). It was a busy shop, with closings scheduled hourly. Nothing threw the operation off schedule like a reader — a borrower who was rude enough to, say, read the note and deed of trust.

If that happened, the policy was to, politely, say, “Why are you reading that? Don’t you intend to make the payments?”

Worked every time.

New Carbondale ‘destination stewardship’ message urges visitors to walk softly

“Take it Easy” is the newest slogan for Carbondale Tourism, urging visitors to be more conscientious about their impact on the community and its surroundings.

Carbondale is a unique destination in that it’s not your typical tourist town, said Sarah-Jane Johnson, who handles tourism promotions for the Carbondale Chamber through Roadmap Consulting.

“Carbondale doesn’t feel like a resort town,” she said at Wednesday’s Carbondale Confluence business summit when the question “Why do people come to Carbondale?” was posed. 

“We feel like a town where people live,” she said.

For that reason, and because the community strongly values conservation, Carbondale Tourism has been working for the past several months on a new responsible visitation campaign.

“Take it Easy” has a double meaning, Johnson pointed out.

“It’s a call to action for visitors, and to locals, to think about the impact they are having on people and the environment — to take it easy on our natural resources, our town and each other,” she said. “But, also, take it easy when you come to Carbondale by enjoying our laid-back vibe and to have a good time.”

For locals, that same message can extend to the way people interact with each other around town or behind the wheel, “like, don’t honk in the roundabout if you don’t have to,” Johnson said.

Carbondale is becoming more of a year-round destination, riding the growing popularity of rural mountain towns all across the West.

Lodging occupancy is now above 50% all year long, and proceeds from the town’s 2% lodging tax continue to go up.

Most of that money goes back into tourism promotion efforts, but there has been a shift toward tourism management and what’s called “destination stewardship,” Johnson said.

Recently, tourism officials approached the town’s Board of Trustees about possibly seeking a lodging tax increase to go, in part, toward the management side of tourism. 

There are negative impacts from tourism, including burdens on the town’s infrastructure, additional trash and pollution, wildlife disruptions and social impacts, Johnson noted.

That touches on everything from long waits at your favorite restaurant to having strangers showing up at the house next door because it’s a short-term vacation rental.

“We recognize that tourism has to carry its own weight,” she said.

The town board opted to wait before asking voters to increase the lodging tax but is proposing in the November election to tax short-term rentals as a way to support the town’s efforts to provide more affordable housing for local residents. 

To help get the message across, the chamber now has a “Take it Easy” toolkit for Carbondale businesses to share the message with visitors about how to tread more lightly while they’re in town, through counter displays and concierge talking points. Those messages can also be shared through social-media channels and other marketing.  

Carbondale Tourism is also now an official stewardship member of the Care for Colorado Coalition, which promotes “leave no trace” principles statewide. 

Visitor Stewardship Guide

Know Before You Go

Stay back from the pack. Find your way to less-visited and off-peak destinations to minimize downtime and maximize your connection with special places.

Bring along reusable water bottles or hot drink tumblers to limit waste and stay hydrated in our dry climate. Check conditions where you plan to visit.

In Colorado, even late spring can bring snowstorms, so be aware of the latest news for weather and snow, as well as for road and trail closures.

Stick to Trails

  • Even though shortcuts can be tempting, please don’t take them. A few extra strides on the path will protect plants and the homes of the true locals.
  • Melting snow leaves trails and vegetation more open to damage. Be sure to stick to trails, and walk in the middle of the trail — even if it’s wet, muddy, slushy or icy — to avoid erosion and damage to trailside plants.

Trash the Trash

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Or, pick it up to leave a place better than you found it. Put litter — even crumbs, peels and cores — in your nearest waste/recycling bin.
  • Wash yourself, your dog or whatever else needs cleaning at least 200 feet from waterways, and use biodegradable soap. A bubble bath is no treat for fish.

Leave It As You Find It

  • Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them, so others experience the joy of discovery.
  • Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.

Be Careful with Fire

  • Colorado’s low humidity has perks but can create dry, dangerous conditions. Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires.
  • When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. Never let a fire burn unattended.
  • Use care when smoking in Colorado’s dry climate. Always put cigarettes out completely, and don’t leave your butts behind.
  • Always check for local fire restrictions.

Keep Wildlife Wild

  • Colorado is home to tens of thousands of furry, scaly and feathered creatures. To keep them — and you — safe, don’t approach them.
  • Do not feed wildlife no matter how hungry you think they might look.
  • Keep your furry buddies leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails, and pack out their waste. All the way to a trash can.

Share Parks and Trails

  • Pick up dog waste and dispose properly.
  • Chances are you’re not out in nature to people-watch, so try out the lesser-known paths and sites.
  • Silence your cell phone before stepping into nature, and speak softly without using the speaker function.
  • Be considerate when passing others on the trails, and yield to the uphill hiker and biker — they need the momentum.
  • Listen to nature. Keep your voice and music soft, so all can enjoy the peace of Colorado.

Source: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

Small businesses in Glenwood Springs can apply for a low interest loan through the city

Glenwood Springs is offering a new loan opportunity for small businesses through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“I want to make the loan process easy, not scary,” said Danielle Campbell, economic development specialist for the city. 

The Revolving Loan Fund will provide low-interest financing options to small business owners operating within city limits for the following purposes: fire suppression systems, working capital needs or operational costs, acquiring or rehabilitation of fixtures, furniture or equipment, property rehabilitation, site improvements and limited new construction projects.

Eligible business owners must send pre-application materials for initial review before they submit an application, but it is strongly recommended to call Campbell before starting the application.

“My goal is getting people to reach out,” she said.

Loan amounts will be between $5,000 and $40,000, or 50% of the total project costs. There will be annual interest rates around 3% with a repayment term of up to seven years.

“I would almost consider myself more of a facilitator,” she said. “I’m always the person that talks with the businesses, one on one experts, helping them through the loan application, answering those specific questions and then connecting them.” 

To be eligible, businesses must be registered with the Colorado Secretary of State, and hold an active business license with the city of Glenwood Springs. Businesses must have gross revenues of less than $1 million and fewer than 50 employees.

The Revolving Fund Loan Review Committee meets monthly. Applicants can expect to hear about next steps within four to six weeks of submitting an application.

“It’s a group of people that are all local bankers and business people that essentially will review it,” she said about the review committee. “All those people are local folks that are here to support local businesses, and they’re all from a variety of the different banking institutions as well as businesses in Glenwood Springs.” 

Businesses should not fear the application process, as it might make for a good starting point for other opportunities.

“One of the benefits, I would say, is having all of these kinds of people at the table at the end of the day, even if this one doesn’t make the right fit,” she said. “There’s guaranteed someone, or someone who can connect them with an additional resource that’s probably a better fit for them.”

Marijuana retailers are currently not eligible for the program, and the funds are not eligible for agricultural production. There are also specific requirements for new construction projects.

“That’s all requirements from the USDA that we have to follow to utilize this money,” she said. 

Campbell also asked for people to contact her early in the application process in case she is able to help them find better resources for businesses like the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments or other grants like the Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority facade grant

“There are resources out there,” she said. “We’re just connecting folks with the right things.”

Danielle Campbell can be reached at 970-384-6424 or rlf@cogs.us.

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.