On the Fly column: Creative fly tying

Photo of flies courtesy of Scott Spooner

When speaking of fly fishing and targeting trout, Rene Harrop said it best by simply saying “to fish is to hunt.” To be a successful hunter you have to have the correct tools to gain the edge over the critter you are targeting. And just like an archer builds his own arrows and a big game hunter packs his own rounds, we as fishermen and women are able to tie our own “ammunition.”

The basic reason that all of us hunters do this is because there is a certain satisfaction that comes from getting the job done with one of our own products. For anglers, it’s a fly that you tied. But not only a fly that you tied, but a fly that is the product of your own imagination, knowledge of the waters you fish, and the bugs the trout eat in those particular waters.

Creative fly tying gives you the opportunity to try and learn new things and get that “edge” over the fish. And let’s face it: Sometimes the flies at the local shops may be grossly over dressed or possibly much too sparse for your taste and, more importantly, the trout’s taste. There is an unlimited amount of materials, colors and variations of the two to choose from and work with.

For me, the best thing about tying my own flies is being out on the water, catching fish when no one else is, and having everyone wondering, “What is that guy using?” When you really get it right, it can be one of the most amazing feelings you might ever have while fishing. Whatever you did to tie that fly was right from start to finish. From the hook that you chose to tie it on, to the color of the thread you used, to the color combination you decided to go with.

Days like that will make you feel like the ultimate predator, and before you know it, you will be spending more time behind a vice than you do in your own bed. Just don’t let your tying time interrupt your time on the water — after all, that’s what we live for, right?

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.


Bankers’ Hours column: High mortgage rates aren’t the end to home sales

OMG! Mortgage rates are at 5%! Home sales will drop dramatically; potential buyers will flee the market! (Of course, home sales aren’t that robust right now, because, in practically every market, and every price tier, there aren’t a lot of homes available.)

When I got out of military service in 1961, and landed an entry level job in the mortgage lending business, the FHA rate was fixed at an effective 5.5% — 5% rate plus a half of a percent for mortgage insurance. The rate for VA guaranteed loans was a flat 5%. This was around the end of the so-called “Eisenhower Recession.” so the housing market was relatively healthy.

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, mortgage interest rates skyrocketed: Conventional mortgage rates for the larger loans were bouncing around at 11% and 12%, with agency (Fannie and Freddie) not far behind in the 10’s. At the time, I was with Aspen Savings and Loan, a thrift with a business model that involved mortgage banking on Colorado’s Western Slope, with a particular focus on the region’s resort markets. These years were among the best we experienced in terms of profitability.

After close to half a century observing mortgage rates, I’ve concluded that, sure, rates are a vital component of home buyer capability; obviously, the more the money costs the more difficult it is to borrow it. (Admittedly, the first several years of those 50 or so, I didn’t understand what I was looking at, but the phrase “Close to a half century” has a nice ring to it.) The cost of money is important, but, I believe, of more significance are housing supply and the disposable income of the potential borrrowers.

Despite what you may have recently heard and read, home ownership continues to be an integral element of the American psyche. Maybe it has its roots in the territorial imperative of our hunter-gathering, proto-farming ancestors. The main reason that more people are renting is because they have to; one of the more unfortunate examples of collateral damage resulting from the combination of war, pandemic and resulting supply chain problems, along with disruption in the immigrant labor pipeline, has been the virtual disappearance of the entry-level housing buyer. We can only hope that this absence is temporary, for the sake of the national economy.

People will pay for housing if they have the income to service the cost of homeownership. This outlay includes everything from taxes, insurance, maintenance to the prevailing hourly charge for a plumber. And, yes, interest as well. If you’ve got a good job, and a healthy paycheck, just one element in the mix isn’t going to disqualify you from the American Dream.

In 1962 my wife, Joan, and I paid $11,500 for our first home. We assumed an FHA mortgage and got a second mortgage from the Realtor that sold us the house. It was one of hundreds built by Franklin Burns, a postwar builder-developer in the Denver area. They were referred to by most everybody by the piquant sobriquet of “Burns Better Built Birdhouses.”

We were ecstatic. We had a front and back yard and even a little plot for a small vegetable garden.

We were homeowners.

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.

ReEnergize program so popular that funding is running out

A new Garfield Clean Energy program that provides financial aid for home energy upgrades has proved so popular that organizers are warning that the funding will soon run out.

More than 75 households have enrolled in ReEnergize Garfield County since its launch in late February, according to Maisa Metcalf of CLEER, the local nonprofit that manages Garfield Clean Energy’s programs.

The program has $150,000 in funding from the county to give out in rebates in 2022, and Metcalf estimates that the households that have been approved so far will use up about $115,000 of that.

“Pretty soon we’ll have to start a waiting list, so I’m telling folks to hurry up and get their applications in,” she said.

Through ReEnergize, households earning up to 120% of the area median income can qualify for $3,000 or more in financial aid toward recommended home energy measures. For a family of four in Garfield County, the 120% upper limit equates to an annual income of $105,960.

Depending on income, a qualifying family may receive all or a portion of the cost of such measures as insulation, air sealing, window replacement, a heating/cooling system upgrade and LED lighting.

To apply, go to garfieldcleanenergy.org/reenergize or call CLEER at 970-704-9200.

Doctor’s Tip: Are plant-based diets healthy for kids? Part 1, carbohydrates

Reshma Shah, M.D., MPH, is a practicing pediatrician affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine, who gave an excellent presentation at the annual International Plant-Based Nutrition Conference in September. This is the first in a series of columns based on her book “Nourish, The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families,” co-authored by well-known registered dietitian Brenda Davis.

“Nourish” cites acknowledgments from many national and international health organizations that plant-based, whole food nutrition is appropriate for people of all ages. The following is one example: “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”

Today’s column will discuss carbohydrates, one of the three macronutrients, the other two being protein and fat. Macro means large, so macronutrients are nutrients we need a lot of, and they are also large enough that we can see them.

While fat and protein are found in all animal and plant foods, carbohydrates are found primarily in plants (dairy products contain some carbs). Carbohydrates vary from simple sugars to starches to complex molecules that make up fiber. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. Fat and protein can serve as energy sources in certain situations, but are “back up fuels.” In particular, carbs are the preferred source of energy for the brain, red blood cells and nervous system.

Shah and Davis note that carbohydrate-rich whole food helps control blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Fiber and resistant starch (starch that resists digestion) feed the trillions of bacteria in our gut microbiome. A large meta-analysis in 2018 showed that people eating the fewest carbohydrates experienced a 32% increase in all-cause mortality.

In Western societies such as ours, most kids (and adults) eat too many processed carbs and not enough whole (aka complex or unrefined) carbs. “Nourish” explains that “refined carbohydrates are carbohydrate-rich foods that have been stripped of most of their beneficial components by food processing techniques before we eat them.” They promote obesity, elevate triglycerides, increase blood pressure, lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes, increase risk of certain cancers, contribute to gastrointestinal disturbances and cause inflammation and oxidative stress, fatty liver disease and cavities.

Furthermore, food companies add addictive sugar, salt and fat (in the form of oil) to processed food. Examples of these problem foods are cookies; cake; soda; fruit juices (basically flavored sugar water); white rice; white pasta; white bread and bagels; doughnuts; pastries; most crackers (including those marketed for toddlers); and almost all cereals that come in a box, especially those marketed for kids (do you want to give your child dessert for breakfast?). Before you buy carbohydrate-based food for your family, check the food label for serving size; sodium per serving (safe amount for adults < 1500 mg. per day; less for children), sugar per serving (4 grams is a teaspoon); added oil; and the carbohydrate:fiber ratio (multiply the fiber number by 5, and if the result is greater than the number for total carbs the product has lots of fiber and whole grains). Food companies try to fool you, and if the label says “made with whole grains” or “contains whole grains,” the product is mainly processed grains.

“Nourish” notes that eating a variety of whole grains is important, but recommends the following grains in particular: 1) colorful grains and starchy vegetables such as black barley, red or black quinoa or rice, orange or purple sweet potatoes, and winter squash; 2) nutrient-dense whole grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, teff and wheat; and 3) peas and corn.

Whole grains can be eaten for breakfast in the form of oatmeal for example (steel cut or oat groats are the least processed), added to soups and salads, added to stir-fry, or eaten for dinner, such as sweet potatoes and squash.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Doctor’s Tip: A tasty, healthy Japanese New Year’s dinner

Japan is not a Christian nation, so for the most part they don’t celebrate Christmas. They make up for it, though, by celebrating the new year for three days.

The traditional Japanese diet is one of the healthiest on the planet; Okinawa is one of the Blue Zones (five places in the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives). Unfortunately, the Japanese diet is becoming more westernized, and as a result the Japanese are starting to suffer previously uncommon western diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, dementia and cancer of the prostate, breast and colon.

Following is the recipe for the traditional Japanese New Year’s Day dinner, which, given her Japanese heritage, my wife cooks for our family every year. Ozoni, or mochi soup, originated in the 15th century and is a simple soup of vegetables with a sweet rice dumpling called mochi in it. Eating it is supposed to bring good luck for the new year. Traditionally, making mochi involved the entire family, and was done well before New Year’s Day, but now it is available to buy. Mochi and the other ingredients can be found at Carol’s Oriental Food and Gifts in Grand Junction.

Ozoni (Mochi Soup), 5 servings

4 cups water

2 ½ teaspoons dashi — fish or vegetable broth made to accentuate the flavor known as umami

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

10 round mochi — Japanese rice cakes made from short-grain rice

5 slices of kamaboko — fish cake, which you can skip if you don’t eat seafood

1 bunch of spinach cut into 1-inch pieces after blanching

Tofu skins, sliced into small strips

Carrots, celery and mushrooms cut into matchstick slices

Bring ingredients other than the mochi to a boil. Put each mochi individually in a microwave and remove when it puffs up, then add to each person’s serving of soup

Black Beans (Kuromame)

For good fortune during the upcoming year, eat one bean for each year old you are — for example if you’re 10, eat 10 beans.

5 cups black beans

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 ½ cups sugar

12 cups hot water

1-2 packages or cans of chestnuts

Rinse beans. In a heavy pot combine all ingredients, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for six hours. Turn off heat and let set for at least seven hours, leaving cover on the entire time


Traditionally, dessert in Japan would be a mandarin orange. Another option is manju, made from sweet red beans with mochi on the outside.

These dishes do contain some salt and sugar, but you could use no-salt salt (potassium) instead of salt (sodium). And you could cut back on the sugar.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Garfield County Jail dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak

Garfield County jail and county public health officials are working to keep a COVID-19 outbreak at the jail in check.

Last weekend, Garfield County Public Health contact investigators were informed of an outbreak at the jail, Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes confirmed Wednesday.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Walt Stowe said two inmates tested positive for COVID-19 about 10 days ago, followed by more cases over the Thanksgiving holiday and the ensuing weekend.

“We tested all of the inmates in those pods and isolated those who tested positive,” Stowe said. “Of those, only two were showing symptoms.

“We have had no new cases over the last 72 hours, and have less than 20 in quarantine; a much better picture than our first go around,” he said in reference to an outbreak that occurred at the jail in April, in which 23 inmates and 11 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. That outbreak was resolved on May 31, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Stowe said three of the inmates infected during the latest outbreak will reach their 14 day quarantine time soon, and assuming they test negative, will be returned to their normal housing pods.

“The precautionary steps we have taken in house seem to be effective,” he said.

Godes said Public Health continues to work with jail staff on mitigation efforts to contain further spread and to get a more accurate number of those impacted. The cases at the jail have not yet been reported as an official outbreak on the CDPHE website until that number is known.

Godes noted that correctional facility inmates are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks due to people living in close proximity to one another.

“Frequent inmate turnover also makes vaccination efforts difficult,” she said. “The health department has held several vaccination clinics at the jail and is working to set up monthly vaccination clinics for inmates.”

Stowe also acknowledged the difficulty of vaccinating and testing jail inmates, since many are in and out of the facility within a day or two.

After the pandemic began in spring 2020, the jail also attempted to reduce the number of inmates it would take in, allowing many of those charged with lesser municipal-level offenses to be booked and released on personal recognizance bonds.

News of the latest outbreak comes as Garfield County’s COVID-19 case count inches back up following the holiday.

As of Thursday, the county had a seven-day case count of 200, including 23 cases reported on Thursday alone. That was compared to 117 for the stretch from Nov. 19-25, and a daily case count of 18 on Nov. 26.

The county’s seven-day incidence rate has also gone back up to 346.7 cases per 100,000 people, with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 11.6%. The county reported two new deaths this week as a result of complications from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 69 since the pandemic began.

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

Two Garfield County residents vying for Democratic CD3 nomination ready to steer through crowded field of candidates

A pair of Glenwood Springs Democrats vying to be the party’s nominee come next June to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat believe the job is anything but assured to remain in Republican hands.

Regardless of whether the controversial current U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt wins the Republican nomination to run for reelection, Democratic challengers Colin Wilhelm and Cole Buerger are ready to make their case in a crowded field of fellow Democrats from western and southern Colorado who are doing the same.

The two local candidates recently shared their thoughts, now that the 3rd Congressional District boundaries are set following redistricting.

Among the biggest changes in the complexion of the race that came out of that was the departure of state Rep. Kerry Donovan of Vail, largely considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in CD3, after Eagle County was not included in the district.

That leaves the primary race wide open, with nine Democrats now seeking the nomination, including the new fundraising leaders following Donovan’s departure, Sol Sandoval of Pueblo and state Rep. Donald Valdez from the San Luis Valley.

Colin Wilhelm

“Really, CD3 over the years has been more of a moderate district, and not moderate Democrat, but more the middle of the road person and independent thinkers,” said Wilhelm, who is trying his hand at a run for the congressional seat after two unsuccessful attempts to run for the Colorado House District 57 seat.

“For the Democrats, CD3 is not going to be won by a Democratic extremist, right?,” he said. “We’re not going to go from one extreme of Lauren over to the other side.

“The reason I’m running is to protect our democracy and have a civil person representing us in Congress, and I think Lauren Boebert is an embarrassment and a danger to our country and the Constitution,” Wilhelm said.

Buerger, like Wilhelm, believes that extreme shift with Boebert was a one-off outcome in 2020 when she ousted former Rep. Scott Tipton in the GOP primary and defeated Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the general election.

Cole Buerger

“I do think the race is winnable if Democrats nominate the right candidate,” said Buerger, a first-time candidate for elected office but with political campaign experience.

“Lauren Boebert won by just 6 points last year, and ever since taking office, has proven she is not able to get results for our district,” Buerger said.

“Her most recent remarks are a great example of this,” he said of Boebert’s “jihad squad” references and other derogatory comments about Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, which sparked criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

“Beyond drawing widespread and deserved condemnation, they come with serious consequences,” Buerger said, referring to potential lost committee seats and even economic consequences if businesses steer away from the region as a result.

Boebert faces a challenge for the Republican nomination from Marina Zimmerman of Bayfield, who also has seized on the recent controversies involving Boebert.

So far, though, Boebert is the clear money leader in the race, having brought in more than $2.7 million already, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings. Zimmerman has not reported any political fundraising as yet.

On the Democratic side, following Donovan’s departure, Sandoval is the frontrunner, having brought in more than $327,000 as of the latest FEC reports, followed by Valdez with $230,521 and Wilhelm with $145,745. Buerger, a latecomer to the race declaring his candidacy in August, sits sixth with a little over $54,000.

On the issues

Wilhelm made a strong case in his 2020 run for the Colorado House on the need for more resources on the mental health and addiction fronts, drawing on his own battles with alcohol addiction and recovery.

There’s much to be done on the national front on those issues, as well, Wilhelm said. But he’s also focused on other issues important to western and southern Colorado, such as water, jobs and immigration.

“We need to focus on the electability issue, and how we can get things done,” he said. “I have a lot of knowledge and experience on those issues, and have been working to help figure out ways to diversify our economy. That’s really where we need to keep our focus.”

When it comes to water, the 3rd District representative needs to be a leader, especially given the ongoing drought concerns and the prospect of a Colorado River Compact call by downstate users.

“It’s time for us to not just rubber stamp its renewal but to review and revise it (based on the current conditions),” Wilhelm said.

Buerger said what sets him apart from the other candidates is his direct experience with many of those very policy challenges that Wilhelm mentioned.

“Growing up on a ranch just south of Silt, I know the needs of hard-working families and the challenges small businesses face in an increasingly corporate-dominated world,” Buerger said, adding he has witnessed firsthand people facing foreclosure or losing their job.

“I have experience on Capitol Hill, so I know what it will take to get stuff done,” he said. “From that, I have developed a district-focused platform rather than one that reflects the needs of D.C. or Denver.”

That platform, he said, addresses four key challenges: “rebuilding our communities, strengthening our economy, preserving our natural heritage and defending our democracy.”

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

Aspen Mountain expansion gets straw-poll approval after years of debate

A wildflower-covered steep grade looks out over Highway 82 and would be a part of the Pandora expansion on Aspen Mountain. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

A straw poll by the Pitkin County commissioners Wednesday indicated Aspen Skiing Co.’s long-sought expansion into the Pandora’s terrain will finally earn approval.

The informal indication came with plenty of drama, with a flipped vote and change of heart.

Commissioners Greg Poschman and Steve Child expressed their support for rezoning property that would allow the expansion on the upper east side of Aspen Mountain. Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury said she remained opposed to the application.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to rezone,” she said.

That left Commissioner Francie Jacober as the swing vote since only four commissioners are voting on the issue. Commissioner Patti Clapper recused herself because her son-in-law works for Skico.

“I’m leaning in favor, depending on how the resolution comes out,” Jacober said.

The board did not take a formal vote Wednesday. Instead, county commissioners and staff will meet Nov. 17 to hammer out details on formal approval documents. They will accept written public statements until Nov. 10, but they won’t take comments at the meeting.

If the approval is formalized, it allows Skico to add 153 acres on the upper east end of Aspen Mountain, which currently has 675 skiable acres. The new terrain will be split among traditional, cleared trails and glades. Skico also will add a high-speed quad chairlift.

The last time Pandora’s was before the board in 2019, Child said he couldn’t support the rezoning. He explained Wednesday why he flipped his vote.

“I’m not concerned about (the rezoning) anymore. I used to be hugely concerned,” he said.

To achieve the expansion, Skico needs the county to rezone 157 acres that are currently zoned Rural and Remote and Agricultural-Residential 10 acres to Ski-Recreation. Critics are especially concerned that changing Rural and Remote Zoning could set a bad precedent and unravel zoning that prevents backcountry areas of Pitkin County from being developed with mansions.

Skico has given up rights to any residential development on 157 acres both in the Pandora’s terrain and on two parcels on Richmond Ridge.

“It locks this land up long-term,” Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan told the commissioners.

The pledge not to develop is written in stone in a protective covenant proposed by Skico. That helped sway Child’s vote.

“Skico is setting a really high bar for rezoning Rural and Remote,” Child said. “I’m not worried about somebody else coming in and wanting to rezone their property.”

He later added, “I don’t see this as a dominoes falling on Richmond Ridge.”

Like Child, McNicholas Kury said in 2019 that she couldn’t support the rezoning. She said Wednesday she wasn’t swayed this time around.

One of the major criteria for approving a rezoning is a change in conditions on the land. McNicholas Kury said she didn’t feel conditions have changed enough to warrant the rezoning.

Poschman supported the rezoning in 2019 and Wednesday night.

“I guess I want to be on a board that makes this happen,” Poschman said.

He claimed that a future board would approve the rezoning necessary for Pandora’s if the current board doesn’t. He didn’t want to “kick the can down the road” for a future board.

Poschman also referred to the significant public support for Pandora’s.

“From a political standpoint, we have an overwhelming number of citizens that support this,” he said.

Jacober acknowledged that she was persuaded to support the rezoning based on that widespread public support, even though she said she personally felt more sympathetic to some of the letters of opposition on environmental grounds. Jacober wasn’t in office when Pandora’s came before the county commissioners in 2019.

Once the straw poll results were in and the commissioners took a break in deliberations, McNicholas Kury said, “Congratulations, (Aspen Ski Co.)”

If the approval is formalized, Skico will pursue grading and logging in summer 2022. The lift would be added in summer 2023, according to David Corbin, Skico senior vice president of planning and development. The best-case scenario is opening of the terrain for winter 2023-24.


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.”



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

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports western Garfield County hunting is booming

Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray packs up a backpack before heading out into the high country to check on hunting activities.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

License sales data is not available for the fall hunting season yet, but anecdotally, hunting in western Garfield County is continuing to trend upward, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson said.

“Early snow is always a good thing for tracking animals,” said Ivan Archer, a CPW area wildlife manager. “The way animals behave in the weather, especially in the snow, makes hunting a little easier. Being out there hunting is a little harder, but the snow increases your chances of harvest.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray works to remove the lymph nodes from an elk brought to the CPW office by hunters after a successful hunt. The lymph nodes are removed to test for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent
Two hunters wait while Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray removes the lymph nodes from an elk to be tested for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

At the Hayward Ranch, a private hunting resort with access to 25,000 acres, hunting parties have harvested six bull elk since the area’s first rifle season opened, said Tor Hayward, who owns Hayward Ranch Outfitters.

“It’s been a fantastic season so far,” Hayward said. “We’ve got 6 inches of snow on the ground and plenty of meat already hanging.”

While archery and muzzleloader seasons for deer and elk began in September, the Western Slope’s first elk-only rifle season started Saturday and ended Wednesday. The second rifle season, which permits deer and elk hunting, is scheduled between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7, and the area’s third rifle season, also a combination of deer and elk, runs Nov. 13-19, Archer said.

As the pandemic pushed more and more people outdoors, CPW saw an increase in hunting license sales — a trend that is continuing in 2021.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray leaves the storage container after removing the lymph nodes from a recent elk kill brought in by hunters to the CPW office in Canyon Creek. The lymph nodes are removed and tested for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“The majority of hunters in Western Garfield are residents,” Archer said. “Out-of-state hunters are definitely a component, but the majority are local.”

More hunters means more time in the field for CPW’s game wardens.

“They’ve been incredibly busy this year and last,” Archer said. “While law enforcement is a component of what we do, the vast majority of the time, we’re making contact with people in the field and ensuring public safety.”

At the Hayward Ranch, Hayward said his hunts are booked out years in advance for the first time since creating the outfitting company about 20 years ago.

“The pandemic has been a horrible thing, but with people being holed up in their homes for so long, we’re seeing them want to get out and explore this amazing state we live in,” he said. “We’re already booked through 2023.”

Increased interest in the sport is but a single aspect of the ranch’s success.

“All our guides are amazing and local,” Hayward said. “They live in Rifle and Glenwood Springs, and I can’t say enough how lucky we are to have such a great team.”

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