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Integrated Mountain Group rejuvenates historic Glenwood landmark

Featuring Elms Building after renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group
Featuring Elms Building after renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group

For well over a century, Glenwood Springs has been viewed as an area with great healing potential; in 1903, Dr. W. F. Berry passed through the town and noticed the health resort possibilities it offered with a relatively mild climate and therapeutic mineral waters. He had already built a sanitarium in Michigan, and by 1906, he had moved to Glenwood Springs and constructed a huge hospital on 10th Street. There, doctors did everything from deliver babies to treat disease until 1937, when a businessman bought the building and converted it into an apartment complex. Today, that same building stands as the Elms Apartments, housing local residents.

Featuring Elms Building after renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group
Featuring Elms Building after renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group

Local management and real estate firm Integrated Mountain Group has managed the property since the company’s founding in 2017. They know that maintaining buildings — and restoring historic properties to their prior splendor — adds to the health and wellbeing of a community, both aesthetically and financially. So, last summer, in partnership with the building’s owner, they began the extensive process of renovating the four-level, historic Elms Apartments.

“Glenwood Springs is a small community, and this is a large historic building that’s very visible. It’s part of the fabric of our historic town, and it helps define the town,” said Integrated Mountain co-founder Scott Key. Glenwood Springs has a lot of culture and history, and certainly, a lot of people don’t want to lose that.”

Featuring Elms Building after renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group
Featuring Elms Building after renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group

The Integrated Mountain Management and Maintenance team began transforming the 22-unit apartment complex on the corner of 10th and Bennett by giving it an exterior facelift. Renovation started with new energy efficient windows and doors.

Work expanded to the 14,000 square feet of exterior siding and then moved to the interior with new carpeting throughout, among other upgrades. A palette of warm tones was chosen for the final paint, brightening the formerly weathered-white building.

Featuring Elms Building before renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group
Featuring Elms Building before renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group

Of course, any remodeling project — much less a historic one — has its challenges.

“It was a team effort between our property managers and the full Integrated Mountain Maintenance team” said Suzanne Henry, Integrated Mountain Management leader and co-founder. “It’s an incredible structure, and the process often required more than a dozen staff and local contractors on site for many months. The result has given this historic building a fresh face and new lease on life, befitting this downtown residential location.”

The Elms renovation led not only to improved values for the building, but a positive impact on the neighboring properties and downtown area.

Featuring Elms Building before renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group
Featuring Elms Building before renovation, photo courtesy of Integrated Mountain Group

The Elms Apartments is the second major downtown renovation initiated by the Integrated Mountain Group on a downtown Glenwood historic landmark. The first involved the redesign and rebuild of the former Tamarack building on 10th and Grand, completed with DM Neuman in 2017. The re-christened Integrated Mountain Building now serves as the Glenwood Springs home for Integrated Mountain Properties, Management and Maintenance.

“The Elms renovation is a good example of our partnership and commitment to our customers and community. Since our founding, we have been a strong supporter of dozens of local organizations and non-profits, from education to youth empowerment, sports, and the arts,” said Bob Johnson, senior vice president and co-founder of Integrated Mountain Management. “It’s a wonderful heritage we are building, and the Elms is a very visual example.”

On Our Minds

On September 14, Renew Roaring Fork Assisted Living and Memory Care presents a trio of experts to discuss research, care and living with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses (Getty Images)
On September 14, Renew Roaring Fork Assisted Living and Memory Care presents a trio of experts to discuss research, care and living with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses (Getty Images)

Annabel Bowlen didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s Disease until 2012, when she had an encounter with her father Pat Bowlen, former owner and CEO of the Denver Broncos. “I was a student at CU Boulder and went home to study for finals. I thought my dad would be excited to see me. Instead, he was confused and upset I was there. This was very uncharacteristic for him, and I didn’t understand what was going on until my mother pulled me aside and told me.”

After graduation, Annabel dedicated herself to the care of her father, who died of Alzheimer’s related illness in 2019. Today she is now caring for her mother, also named Annabel, who, in a cruel, but increasingly more common twist of fate, was diagnosed with the same disease just a year before the death of her husband.

On Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 5-7 p.m. Annabel Bowlen, known as “Little Bell,” to her family and friends, will discuss what life is like as a caregiver to loved ones navigating this disease, and how caregivers can prevent burnout, in an upcoming Health Series talk at the Renew Roaring Fork Assisted Living and Memory Care center in Glenwood Springs.

The two-hour event, according to Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities, is intended to give guests (both in-person and via webcast) new information in the research of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related illnesses.

“So many people are feeling helpless because there are no meaningful pharmaceuticals that exist to treat Alzheimer’s,” notes Tuchfarber. “This discussion will highlight some of the new areas of research that are non-traditional and very promising. It will leave people with hope.”

Joining Bowen in the talk are two representatives from the Knoebel Institute for Heathy Aging at the University of Denver, executive director Dr. Lotta Granholm-Bentley and Dr. Eric Chess, founder and director of the Paul Freeman Financial Security Program at DU.

Dr. Granholm-Bentley has been working with Alzheimer’s disease for 30 years, focusing on new methods of early detection.

“What we look at is not just developing new medication, but how lifestyle changes can be effective in preventing or slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s,” she says. These include moderate exercise, stress reduction and a “Blue Zones” diet focused on Mediterranean nutrition. “These lifestyle changes are able to cut down the risk of Alzheimer’s by at least 50 percent,” she says. “Eating salmon three times a week increases lifespan by five years.”

One of the key advantages of the work being done at the Knoebel Institute is the cross-disciplinary studies that University of Denver provides. From social work, to business, to psychology, the study of Alzheimer’s disease and its eventual cure, Dr. Granholm-Bentley believes, will depend on several disciplines working together, in addition to healthcare, to find a way forward. Speaking to this component of Alzheimer’s research at the Glenwood event is Dr. Eric Chess, who’s research focuses on a specific, and surprising, early indicator of cognitive decline – financial decision making.

“The earliest cognitive indicator — impaired financial decision making – is often shown decades before any other symptoms,” says Dr. Chess. “Often it’s not the doctors, but certified financial planners, banks and credit card companies that see these decisions that don’t make sense. It’s here we see the earliest signs because financial decision making encompasses a wide array of cognitive tasks — risk assessment, personal implications, decision making, It’s a lot more than the math. You are using a lot of different parts of your brain, simultaneously.”

JOIN RENEW AND ANNABEL BOWLEN, ON SEPTEMBER 14

What: “Promising New Alzheimer’s Research”

When: September 14, 5-7 p.m.

Where: Renew Roaring Fork, Assisted Living and Memory Care, 2800 Midland Ave., Glenwood Springs

Speakers: Lotta Granholm-Bentley, Ph.D, Eric Chess, MD, JD and Annabel Bowlen

For in-person attendance registration, call (720) 679-5528. Event will be held outdoors. Proof of vaccination must be shown at the door. For webinar registration, visit www.renewsenior.com

Holy Cross Energy’s journey toward 100% renewable energy

HCE former CEO Ed Grange. To learn more about Ed’s story, visit HolyCross.com/the-co-op-that-climbed-mountains/
Holy Cross Energy’s Journey to 100%

Learn more about our Journey to 100% at www.holycross.com/100×30.

At Holy Cross Energy (HCE), our legacy remains rooted in the original ranchers and farmers who called our valleys home in the late 1930s. It is because of their commitment to bring electricity to the Eagle and Roaring Fork River Valleys that we are able to provide safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy and services for our members and their communities today. As HCE embarks on its ambitious goal to bring 100% renewable energy to our members and communities by 2030, we honor our remarkable past.

Thank you for being part of our Journey to 100%.

Below, former HCE CEO Ed Grange discusses how bringing electricity to a new ski area called Vail in the 1950s almost didn’t happen:

This article originally appeared in Rural Electric Magazine in November 2020. Written by Frank Gallant.

Ed Grange grew up on an unelectrified ranch high in the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado. He watched his mother pump water by hand and cook on a wood stove. Late in life, he could still hear the “god-awful” noise made by the gasoline-powered washing machine on the front porch.

“In the winter, we had to bring it into the kitchen and run the exhaust pipe outside. The noise filled the house,” he recalled in a March 2019 newspaper interview.

Grange didn’t want that kind of a life for himself, so with his Italian immigrant parents’ blessing, he went to college and then graduate school, expecting to get a job teaching mathematics.

Then the direction of his life changed. Home for the summer in 1950, he took a part-time $1.15-an-hour job with Holy Cross Electric Association that grew into a 60-year career.

Vail, the early years

Holy Cross Electric emerged in 1939 after the federal Rural Electrification Administration (REA) recommended that two groups of farmers and ranchers who wanted to organize a co-op—one from the Eagle River Valley in Vail and the other from the Roaring Fork Valley in Aspen—band together if they hoped to get a loan. A county extension agent suggested the incorporators name the co-op after the Mount of the Holy Cross, a local landmark.

REA approved a loan for $119,000, and Holy Cross Electric started building lines in the two valleys. The first line was energized in September 1941, bringing the comforts of central station power to 175 rural families.

By the time Grange came along, Holy Cross Electric was expanding up side valleys and along the main streets of mountain villages in both directions. The acquisition of two small utilities, Eagle River Electric Company and Mountain Utilities, further enlarged the co-op’s service territory.

Then around 1962, the ski industry—and the co-op—took off like a downhill racer. Aspen, Vail, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and other ski resorts were developed. Holy Cross Electric nearly quadrupled in size between 1962 and 1971, growing from 2,300 consumers to 8,700.

Grange saw the boom coming in the late 1950s when many resorts still used noisy diesel engines to power ski lifts. He noticed that a number of large sheep ranches near what would become Vail had changed hands, from the original local owners to a Denver-based buyer named Transmontane Rod and Gun Club. This didn’t make sense because back then, no one bought land in Gore Valley for hunting and fishing preserves.

He investigated and discovered that Transmontane Rod and Gun Club was a front for an investment group headed by Pete Seibert, a former U.S. Ski Team member, and Earl Eaton, a local mountaineer, who wanted to build a world-class ski resort.

Vail Gondola, 1962

“Seibert and Eaton knew that if they said they were planning to build a ski area, land prices would soar,” Grange told the Post Independent in Glenwood Springs, where the co-op has its headquarters. “So over the next few years, they acquired practically all of the land from the bottom of Vail Pass down to where Vail exists now. Some parcels were hard to get because some ranchers didn’t want to sell, but Seibert and Eaton eventually got everything.”

Busy running a growing utility, Grange and his boss, cigar-chomping George Thurston, Holy Cross Electric’s first general manager, didn’t pay much attention until they started seeing publicity about the new ski area. One day in April or May 1962, Seibert drove down to Glenwood Springs to talk to them.

He said Public Service of Colorado officials had laughed him out of their offices. They said his plan was a pipe dream; Gore Valley was too far from Denver to attract enough skiers to keep him in business.

“So Pete tells us, ‘I don’t have any more money. I spent most of what I had on the gondola. … Could you give me some help? Could you take it to your board and see if maybe they would be willing to build me a line up there so I could get open? Our targeted opening day is December 15th.”

All seven board members were ranchers. They didn’t know much about skiing, let alone big ski resorts. But they trusted their general manager’s judgment when he said the co-op shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to build membership in Gore Valley. Grange said it was clear to him Thurston would be out looking for work if the project flopped.

Both Thurston and Grange gulped when Siebert said, a few days later, “You’ve got to put everything underground that serves the lodges and the housing.”

Snowmaking in Vail

Holy Cross Electric had only scant experience with underground construction—one subdivision in Aspen. The co-op hired an outside engineer to lay out the distribution system and an outside contractor to build the overhead lines to the lifts.

Fortunately, 1962 was a dry year and not as cold as usual, allowing the work to proceed without delays.

“We just barely made the December 15th opening day deadline,” Grange said.

There was little snow at first and few skiers, but a few weeks later, the mountain got into its January rhythm of adding a few inches almost every day, and Vail was on its way.

“Never in the history of U.S. skiing has a bare mountain leaped in such a short time into the four-star category of ski resorts,” Sports Illustrated said of Siebert and Eaton’s dream in 1964, when Vail was becoming one of the most popular snow-sports destinations in the United States, welcoming thousands of visitors to its slopes every winter.

When Ed Grange went to work for Holy Cross Electric in 1950, seven employees served 700 consumers. Today, 158 employees serve more than 55,000, from major ski areas to farms, ranches, and rural communities.

Grange retired in 2011. Colorado Country Life, the statewide co-op magazine, reported he was still skiing in 2019 at age 84, though he no longer made the rounds to the ski areas to read the meters on the lifts, a task he happily completed into the mid-1990s.

Pros and cons of buying an electric vehicle in 2020 vs. 2021

Tesla’s electric vehicles (such as this Model 3) have long set the pace in the EV market, and they enjoy their own network of charging stations.
Credit: Benjamin Westby

With electric vehicles gaining market share and popularity, Colorado consumers are increasingly faced with tradeoffs. One such tradeoff presents itself this month as a key state tax credit is set to decrease significantly after Dec. 31.

The dilemma boils down to this: Buy an electric vehicle (EV) before the end of the year to save an extra $1,500? Or hold off until 2021, when a host of new models – including some electric trucks and SUVs – are expected to hit the market?

That’s because Colorado’s “Innovative Motor Vehicle” income tax credit, currently pegged at $4,000 on the purchase of a new plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle, will drop to $2,500 in 2021. Likewise, the credit for leasing an EV will decrease to $1,500 from the current $2,000.

There’s some consternation among EV advocates about the imminent reduction of the state’s tax incentive, but Stefan Johnson, transportation program manager at Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), sees both sides. 

“It’s not ideal having the tax credit step down just as we’re starting to see more models come onto the market in Colorado,” he says. “If I could wave a magic wand, I’d give folks another year to take advantage of the $4,000. But on the other hand, we all need a deadline to get us to act.”

The importance of tax credits

In addition to the state tax credit, new EV buyers can also claim a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. However, Johnson notes, results may vary: Tesla and GM vehicles are no longer eligible for the federal tax credit, and in the case of other vehicles the size of the credit will depend on the individual’s tax liability. The state tax credit applies to all models, and everyone gets the full $4,000 regardless of their tax situation.

“I definitely think the tax credits go a long way to moving the EVs,” says Tim Jackson, president and CEO of the Colorado Auto Dealers Association. 

Electric vehicles are expected to reach “price parity” with gas cars in the next five years or so, but for now, Jackson says, they need subsidies to make up the difference. He points to what happened when the state of Georgia suddenly ended its $5,000 EV tax credit in 2016 – EV sales plummeted by 80%.

Other incentives to buy EVs

But tax credits aren’t the only incentive to buy an EV. Some manufacturers are offering pretty hefty discounts on certain models, and local dealerships are offering extra deals of their own to make room for next year’s models. 

Added up, the breaks can make a big difference, says Michael Payne Sr., owner of Mountain Chevy in Glenwood Springs. For example, he explains that the Colorado tax credit plus GM’s manufacturer discount takes $15,000 off the price of a Chevy Bolt, putting it in the same range as a comparable gas car.

Barriers to putting more electric cars on the road

The state of Colorado has set an ambitious goal of getting 940,000 electric cars on the road by 2030 – a seemingly impossible task given that the current number is fewer than 30,000. Christian Williss, Senior Director for Transportation Fuel and Technology at the Colorado Energy Office, sees four barriers to achieving it:

  1. High upfront costs
  2. Lack of public awareness about EVs
  3. Lagging charging infrastructure
  4. Limited model availability

The state tax credit was designed to tackle barrier number one, but Williss says that policy can only do so much given barriers number two, three and four.

According to Williss, surveys have found that the majority of Coloradans have little knowledge of electric vehicles – and fewer still know about the state tax credit. He says the state plans to launch a multi-year education campaign next year to increase awareness about EVs.

As for charging infrastructure – that is, charging stations – state grant programs have been fueling a steady expansion of the network in the past couple of years, thanks in part to funding from a national legal settlement over Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. (CLEER manages one of those grant programs in 14 counties across northwestern Colorado.) Xcel Energy has plans to add to the spree with a big spend of its own starting in 2021.

And the final barrier – limited model availability – is in the process of falling, thanks to Colorado’s 2019 adoption of California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate. With that move, Colorado has in effect joined a common EV market with California and nine other states, with the result that the range of EV models sold in Colorado is expected to grow rapidly in 2021 and beyond.

The dilemma faced by prospective EV buyers right now

If a subcompact EV like a Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf fits your lifestyle, there’s every reason to buy now and score a great deal, says Williss. Just know that your choices will be limited to cars that are already on the lot, because any car that you order at this point probably won’t be delivered by Dec. 31. 

Meanwhile, Western Slope drivers who have been holding out for something beefier should set their sights on 2021, when a number of all-electric SUVs, crossovers and trucks are expected to make their debut.

CLEER’s Johnson thinks the new crop of EVs are positioned to make bigger inroads in the Colorado market. 

“Many Coloradans are environmentally conscious and want to do the right thing, but AWD and high clearance aren’t just optional features for them,” he says. “Having new models that are compatible with the outdoor Colorado lifestyle will be a game-changer for EV sales in the state.”

At the compact/crossover end of the SUV class, Ford is supposed to start delivering its much-anticipated Mustang Mach-E any day now. The new all-electric Mustang can drive 230 miles between charges and has a base price of about $44,000, before factoring in any state or federal-tax credits. 

Another crossover that’s eagerly anticipated is VW’s ID.4. Basically an electric updating of the Tiguan – and a likely competitor to the Tesla Model Y – the ID.4 has a 250-mile range and starts at $41,000. The rear-wheel-drive version will come out first in mid-2021, followed by an AWD later in the year.

Other crossover EVs worth looking out for in the coming year include Hyundai’s Kona Electric, Nissan’s Ariya and Cadillac’s high-end Lyriq. As for Colorado favorite Subaru, its plug-in hybrid Crosstrek should start selling in our state in 2021, but an all-electric Subaru remains unavailable anywhere.

Electric pickup trucks

Perhaps the most buzz-worthy development of 2021 promises to be the introduction of EV pickup trucks, such as the Rivian R1T.
Credit: Jeff Johnson

Perhaps the most buzz-worthy development of 2021 promises to be the introduction of EV pickup trucks from Rivian, Ford and Tesla. The Rivian R1T is expected by the middle of the year, sporting a 300-plus-mile range and a max payload of 1,750 pounds – and a $67,500 price tag. Tesla says its Cybertruck will carry a 3,500-pound payload and come with features like cold-rolled steel and armor glass, all for an incredible base price of just under $40,000. 

Less is known at this stage about Ford’s electric F-150, but given the brand’s icon status it promises to become a major player. To round out the electric truck field, look for additional entrants from startups Lordstown and Bollinger.

Are electric vehicles becoming mainstream?

“I have a very, very positive outlook for 2021,” says Jon Fruend, general manager of Audi Volkswagen Glenwood Springs. He sees EVs finally becoming mainstream, as Volkswagen and Audi, like many other manufacturers, will finally be offering electric models in every major class.

“I think what all the conventional manufacturers have to do is find a sweet spot of range versus price. I think they’ve got the models right. It’s finding that sweet spot. Is it 250 miles per charge? We’ll see.”

Regional COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan expected this week

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.
Latest news about local vaccine distribution

What: Renew Talks Health, a live webinar about the prioritization of vaccine recipient groups, new data on side effects, and challenging ethics issues facing public officials.

When: Friday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m.

Who: Renew Senior Communities Medical Director Dr. Konrad Nau and CEO Lee Tuchfarber. 

Cost: Free. Register at renewsenior.com.

Thursday’s Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine marks a hopeful time in the fight against a global pandemic that has upended lives and livelihoods around the world. 

On Friday, Renew Senior Communities is hosting a special webinar featuring its medical director, Dr. Konrad Nau, who has been involved at the regional and state levels on coordinating the logistics of the vaccine’s rollout. Dr. Nau will address the latest information announced by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in this timely web talk, hosted by Renew Senior Communities CEO Lee Tuchfarber. 

“By Friday, we’re going to know a lot more about how many doses of the vaccine Colorado is getting, and how many doses our region is getting. We’ll also have more clarity about how many doses will be made available for the long-term care populations and the estimated date of arrival for those,” Dr. Nau said. “If the CDC grants emergency use on Thursday, those vaccines will be shipped out over the weekend.”

High-priority vaccine recipients

Renew Senior Communities Medical Director Dr. Konrad Nau, who has been involved at the regional and state levels on coordinating the logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently included long-term care facility residents — who have been one of the hardest hit populations by COVID-19 mortality nationwide — in the highest priority group for vaccine distribution. 

“The way the plan is laid out now, distribution trickles down as each priority tier category gets their allotment filled. Phase one is high-priority people, healthcare workers and long-term care residents; phase two gets into essential workers who are not healthcare workers, prisons and dormitories, adults 65 and older and those with high-risk conditions; and phase three is the general public,” Dr. Nau said. “It’s expected that the vaccine will be precious and in short supply in December and January, then things will open up more as more vaccines are manufactured.”

Of course, long-term care facilities such as Renew Senior Communities can’t require residents to take a vaccine. The next step is to ask staff and residents whether they will take a vaccine once it’s available, Dr. Nau said. 

“I think that’s going to be part of our facilities, as well as public health, education so people understand the real risks and benefits of the vaccine,” he said. 

Plans for distribution

Renew Senior Communities submitted its application more than a month ago to ensure its added to the list of facilities seeking vaccines. That was a critical step in ensuring the quickest receipt of vaccines, Tuchfarber said. 

“It’s wonderful to have the guidance of Dr. Nau, who is on the front lines of the information flow and the implementation of this rollout,” he said. “The most exciting aspect about this is that we’re moving closer toward a solution. I am just pinching myself that the vaccine is actually on its way. It’s a far more aggressive timeline than I anticipated even just a couple of months ago.”

For long-term care facilities, the distribution is going to come from Walgreen’s and CVS, both of which have the direct contracts with the CDC to be the administrating sources. The proportion of total vaccines distributed to each state is based on the population of each state as a percentage of total U.S. population. Colorado is about 1.8 percent of the U.S. population. 

What’s not yet clear is the proportion of vaccines that will be distributed to pharmacies vs. health departments, Dr. Nau said. 

Once the vaccine arrives in Colorado, it will go out to roughly 10 predetermined distribution sites, followed by distribution under the direction of the state health department. Also worth noting is the total number of vaccines received in the state will be cut in half, since every vaccine recipient needs a booster shot about three weeks after receiving the first vaccine dose. 

“I’m very excited about the prospects of a vaccine,” said Dr. Nau. “What I hope is that we get a huge percentage of the population that accepts the vaccine and I hope people understand we need to continue with the masking and distancing for a while yet. When you’re immunizing a few million people here and there, all the usual public health protocols need to remain in place.”

Give where you live: Nonprofits strengthen our community

Aspen Youth Center, one of the 48 MountainWest Gives nonprofits this year.
About Mountain West Gives

A group of nonprofit directors from the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys got together about 6 years ago to work on a regional campaign after seeing a need to direct Colorado Gives Day donations to local organizations. From Aspen to Parachute, there are 48 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives this year. Contributing to these groups will help your money stay right here in the community, providing much-needed services for the people who live and work here in our valley.

To give to one of these organizations on Colorado Gives Day, visit www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives. You can also set up donations in advance of Colorado Gives Day, or even set up recurring donations.

With 48 local nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day, there are at least 48 ways you could make a significant community impact this holiday season.

In the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, a regional effort called Mountain West Gives is working to drive Colorado Gives Day donations to local nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide charitable giving drive, is Dec. 8.

“$100 here will do so much more than at the national or state level,” said Julie Olson, executive director of the Advocate Safehouse Project, and one of the coordinators for Mountain West Gives. “It gives soul to our community when we work together and collaborate.”

Olson said that it’s sometimes easy to forget about the work local nonprofits do, but when you look at the services they provide to everyone, it’s easy to see how the impacts are so vast. From environmental causes that affect all of us to English language learning services that contribute to a literate community, nonprofits help us more than we often realize. 

“Nonprofits enrich our community,” Olson said. “They are a safety net in our community which has totally come into place with the pandemic this year — and most likely will be true as we move forward into 2021. I can’t imagine how our region would have fared without our amazing nonprofits picking up the slack.”

Helping our neighbors

Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program’s participants promoting AZYEP at a past Mountain Fair. The program is one of the 48 MountainWest Gives nonprofits this year.

Nonprofits play a critical role in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, providing important services to meet local needs that wouldn’t otherwise be met. Blythe Chapman, executive director of River Bridge Regional Center, said giving to these groups ensures funds stay in the community to help our neighbors.

“Nonprofit organizations are a bridge between the private and public sectors that help solve more problems to improve the world in which we live,” Chapman said. “In the past, a lot of people in our community were giving to these bigger statewide or nation-wide organizations and the money wasn’t staying here locally. … We’ve got to start with our community here if we’re going to expect any significant support and change for our entire larger community like the state or the nation.”

Making it easy to donate online

Give locally

All of the 48 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives have been fully vetted via a rigorous application process. If you’re thinking about making a donation on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 8, it can be hard to sift through all of the organizations to find the right cause for your dollars.

At www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives, you can read descriptions about each nonprofit and make your online donation quickly and easily. All of the money donated will go directly to these organizations with incentive funds available thanks to a FirstBank contribution toward Colorado Gives Day.

Olson said the Mountain West Gives website makes it so easy to donate, which is especially helpful for the smaller organizations that wouldn’t typically be equipped to accept online donations.

If you go to the Colorado Gives Day website and search by county, that brings up a false list of organizations because it includes nonprofits that aren’t truly local. For example, national and statewide organizations that might conduct business in the county will appear on the list, but Olson said those funds aren’t necessarily guaranteed to remain in the community.

“They’re not here — they’re not the heart and soul of Garfield, Pitkin and Western Eagle Counties,” Olson said.

On the Mountain West Gives landing page, you can type in the services for which you’re interested in, such as animal-related services or health and human services. It’ll then display the local organizations participating in Mountain West Gives, including descriptions about the causes they support. This helps donors focus their dollars since it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to give.

“Around here, neighbors are really important. Living in rural Colorado, people recognize that we’re supported by each other,” Chapman said. “Local giving is so important — give where you live.”

Donation goal: $300,000

Last year, Mountain West Gives members received $292,500 from over 1,550 donations.  This year for 2020, the goal is to raise $300,000 via 1,600 donations. Help Mountain West Gives reach its goal by making a donation at www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives.

Seniors living with dementia face devastating COVID-19 risks

Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist specializing in dementia care, with 40 years of clinical and academic experience.
Tips for caring for loved ones with dementia

What: Renew Talks Health, web series hosted by Renew Senior Communities.

Who: Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist specializing in dementia care, with 40 years of clinical and academic experience; Lee Tuchfarber, CEO, Renew Senior Communities. 

Subject: This webinar will provide attendees practical tips for caregiving during the pandemic such as connection strategies for video chat or phone calls, communication techniques while using personal protective equipment, and ideas for engagement that can be modified for infection control or used in the home setting.

When: Nov. 11, 2 p.m.

Where: Online. Register at renewsenior.com

Cost: Free

Seniors living with dementia are dying at higher rates this year compared to last, and while many of these deaths aren’t due to COVID-19 itself, they can be attributed to the pandemic’s far-reaching effects on this vulnerable population.

To combat the effects of coronavirus isolation, social environments such as Renew Roaring Fork Memory Care can help those living with dementia interact with other residents and experienced staff who deliver daily resident engagement experiences.

If those challenged with dementia aren’t using their remaining synapses — the junctions in the brain where neurons communicate with one another — they’ll lose these functions more rapidly. When you’re moving less, talking less, engaging less in activities that bring value or purpose, it leads to increased depression and a loss of these critical skills due to social isolation. 

“We have people dying at higher rates from dementia that’s due to this isolation,” said Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist specializing in dementia care, with 40 years of clinical and academic experience. “We’re working to save them from getting COVID, but we haven’t come up with a long-term dementia care plan taking COVID into account.”

Snow is the guest host of an upcoming web talk series, presented by Renew Senior Communities, Aspen Compassion and The Aspen Times, that will provide practical tips for caregiving during the pandemic such as connection strategies for video or phone calls, communication techniques while using personal protective equipment, and ideas for engagement that can be modified for infection control or used in the home setting.

“Teepa Snow is one of the most powerful presenters in the field of dementia care.  Her teachings are of enormous value to family members caring for a loved one with dementia at home, as well as professional caregivers in the field,” said Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities. 

Consider the limitations of those with dementia

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.

Those struggling with dementia experience a wide range of cognitive challenges including losses of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities. These changes in thinking skills affect daily life, behavior, feelings and relationships. 

When you’re trying to communicate with someone who is living with dementia, you have to take into account the abilities of the person with whom you’re trying to interact, Snow said. It’s also important to understand their ability to keep themselves safe. 

“This group is high-risk for not understanding the rules of social distancing, just like you wouldn’t expect a toddler to understand what it means to stay six feet away from the people they’re closest to,” she said. “When you’re emotionally invested in a loved one and see them not doing well, it’s hard to hold back from the need or desire to get close.”

Renew Memory Care has increased the number of activity directors in its communities to deliver more small group settings and one-on-one engagement during COVID-19. The focus is on the quality of each interaction, Tuchfarber said. 

Interaction techniques

Renew Memory Care has increased the number of activity directors in its communities to deliver more small group settings and one-on-one engagement during COVID-19.
Getty Images

Snow has been working on the ways that loved ones can remain close during the physical limitations of the pandemic. When a person living with dementia can’t understand why their loved ones aren’t visiting, you have to use other techniques, Snow said. 

“Go back to memories, tell stories that are friendly and familiar, show pictures in a video chat or a slideshow of photos, animals, plants, trees, people or a nature scene,” she said. “Or try using music. When you bring those elements into the interaction, it moves the interaction to a different place. Quit trying to use logic or reason, and just prepare for a challenging interaction.”

Snow works with her clients to try to help them figure out how to be with their loved ones. She wants loved ones to think about the goal of the interaction, which is often focused on providing the person living with dementia with something for which to look forward. 

Snow recommends doing active listening exercises with a reflection such as, “I’m so glad I get to spend some time with you today because you’re the best part of my day,” she said. This is especially important when the person living with dementia expresses frustration or disdain from the experiences of their own day.

“Try some simplified storytelling with visual cues, building a story with a mutual connection,” she said. “Move the conversation ahead while still helping them feel like they’re contributing to the conversation.”

Snow helps her clients accomplish this by asking this-or-that questions — would you like to eat a soup or sandwich? Something creamy or brothy? 

“Use visual cues on interactive platforms such as Zoom … physical presence is incredibly important in dementia care,” Snow said. 

Keeping the 5Point Film Festival vibe alive

“Pedal Through,” a film about three young black women taking on a week-long bike packing adventure full of joy, healing, and mentorship with mother nature in Oregon’s backcountry
“Pedal Through,” a film about three young black women taking on a week-long bike packing adventure full of joy, healing, and mentorship with mother nature in Oregon’s backcountry
Fresh 5Point programs, accessible to all

5Point Film Festival is online this year, from Oct. 14-18, in a live format that will feature new short films, woven together with emcees who will guide attendees through a live, interactive experience. Programs are roughly two hours long with an intermission.

With short films spanning pure adventure, thrills and adrenaline, to poignant and reflective character stories, 5Point delivers a lineup that takes the audience on a journey, or perhaps a much-needed escape during a difficult and challenging year. 

This year’s films include stories about a little-known style of kayaking called squirt boating, to a sentimental father-daughter story about surfing in Iceland, to a heartwarming story about America’s longest continuously running ski shop that chronicles the history of skiing in the U.S.

When you purchase a pass or ticket, you’ll get an unlocking code that becomes active right before the start of the program. You can enjoy the experience from a smart TV, computer, tablet or smartphone.  

“Whether you’re a fan or new to 5point, this is your opportunity to see what we’re all about,” Jones said. “We’re not going to disappoint.”

What: 5Point Film Festival

When: Oct. 14-18, live-streaming (on-demand programming will not be available)

Where: Online

Cost: All access pass for an individual is $55, or $75 for a household of two or more people. Individual program tickets range from $10 to $25. 

For more details or to purchase tickets, visit 5pointfilm.org/festival

A global pandemic might have changed the format in which 5Point delivers its 2020 adventure film festival, but it couldn’t stop organizers from keeping the 5Point vibe alive. 

The annual gathering that typically takes place in Carbondale brings together adventurers from around the world to share in the creativity, adrenaline, and excitement of 5Point films. This year, 5Point Film Festival is going virtual without undermining one of its core values—bringing people together. 

“5Point is really known for that — audiences watching together and feeling that energy in one room,” said Regna Jones, executive director of 5Point Film Festival. “That’s one of the reasons we’re so impactful, because of this collective experience.”

In Northern New Hampshire, Lahout's Country Store is America’s longest continuously running ski shop. “North Country” is a short story of the American dream and the family that put a community on skis.
In Northern New Hampshire, Lahout’s Country Store is America’s longest continuously running ski shop. “North Country” is a short story of the American dream and the family that put a community on skis.

A decision to stream live

The engaging, interactive spirit of 5Point led organizers to the only logical format for a virtual event: it had to be live. An on-demand format, which many other film festivals have tried this year, wouldn’t be able to capture the spirit of 5Point.

“Our secret sauce, in a way, is that communal experience,” said Charlie Turnbull, 5Point’s director of programming. “It’s been a really important thing we’ve tried to maintain as much as we can.”

5Point tested this live virtual format in April when it initially postponed its flagship event. Organizers realized they could replicate 5Point’s immersive experience in its own unique way. 

“We immediately created 5Point Unlocked pulling  films from our archives, while weaving into the program our hosts, filmmakers, and special guests showing life in  lockdown. We offered the programs to the community for free as a way of bringing people together around something uplifting. We wanted to be part of a positive experience people could have during such a difficult and uncertain time,” Jones said. 

5Point Film Festival’s programs will only be broadcast live on their designated night (see factbox for details). You’ll have to tune in at that time, meaning all festival “attendees” will be tuning in together.

An interactive audience experience goes online

Many of 5Point’s hosts have become crowd favorites over the years, which led to two more exciting elements in this year’s virtual programming.

“5Point’s hosts will guide you through the program each night showcasing interviews and special guest clips,” Turnbull said. “Then, filmmakers or athletes will pop up and do Q&As, live on Zoom, after the program, just as they would on stage.”

Take time out of your schedule to watch 5point, as if you were attending the festival in person — 5Point promises pure inspiration and entertainment. 

“I think we’ve created a really cool and interesting new experience for our audience, with the same kind of trimmings the 5Point audience expects,” Turnbull said.

Staying true to the 5Point mission

Photo by Chris Burkard “Unnur,” a film that tells a beautiful story of an Icelandic photographer and surfer's life with his daughter.
Photo by Chris Burkard “Unnur,” a film that tells a beautiful story of an Icelandic photographer and surfer’s life with his daughter.

Jones said that when the pandemic hit, she found comfort and grounding in 5Point’s solid purpose and mission. 

“As a nonprofit, we want to put our money where our mouth is. We stayed committed to our give-back programs such as the Dream Project scholarships and the 5Point Film Fund, supporting filmmakers and artists and staying true to our work in education and community outreach,” Jones said. 

During quarantine, 5Point partnered with VOICES, a local nonprofit whose mission is to amplify voices in the community through the arts. In this project, the organizations created a platform for people to tell stories through stop motion videos. 

That collaboration led to another partnership with VOICES, called the 5Point Voices Youth Film Project which is teaching autobiographical-style filmmaking to a cohort of students at Bridges High School.

“Film is the most democratizing medium of our time. When youth can use it to tell stories and have their voices heard, it can be a really powerful way of expressing oneself, and also bears witness to what’s happening in the world right now,” Jones said. “We leaned into doing something good for the community and really stepped into the situation in a leadership way in terms of how a nonprofit can be bold and innovative, especially during times of uncertainty. If we can’t fulfill our mission, then what are we?”

Launch a campaign for Sunlight’s Mini-Mayor contest

Colby Rogers, left, got some help with her Mini-Mayor campaign from her little brother, Kelby.
Colby Rogers, left, got some help with her Mini-Mayor campaign from her little brother, Kelby.
Launch your 2020 Mini-Mayor campaign

Tell Sunlight Mountain Resort why you want to be Sunlight’s next Mini-Mayor and what you would do during your first 100 days in office.

Sunlight Mountain Resort’s Mini-Mayor candidates and their adult campaign managers should complete an online nomination form and personal profile at mini-mayor.com.

When then-5-year-old Colby Rogers ran for her first Sunlight Mountain Resort Mini-Mayor term, she had a vision: she wanted to see one of Sunlight’s charlifts painted a bright and cheerful shade of pink. 

It didn’t happen that year — these kinds of things take dedication and persistence — so when Colby ran for and won a second term a year later, she knew she had to work harder to see her idea come to fruition. 

Former Sunlight Mountain Resort Mini-Mayor Colby Rogers with her little brother, Kelby, as they participated in a parade to help drum up awareness of the Mini-Mayor contest.
Former Sunlight Mountain Resort Mini-Mayor Colby Rogers with her little brother, Kelby, as they participated in a parade to help drum up awareness of the Mini-Mayor contest.

She wrote a letter to the Sunlight Executive Team, on which she also held a seat thanks to her elected position. She was able to get the Pink Chair Act passed, which led to the first chair on the Sunlight beginner lift to be painted pink.

This type of drive and determination is exactly what Sunlight Mountain Resort wants to see from its 2020 Mini-Mayor candidates. More than 500,000 votes have been cast for Sunlight Mini-Mayor since its first election in 2016. The 2020 campaign kicks off Oct. 1 and voting begins Oct. 15 (see factbox for details). 

“We’re excited to partner with the Post Independent on our fifth annual Mini-Mayor Campaign,” said Troy Hawks, marketing and sales director at Sunlight. “This idea came at the suggestion of the candidates and campaign managers themselves.”

Mini-Mayor candidate Donavin Brager started paying more attention to the skier experience at Sunlight when he ran for office.
Mini-Mayor candidate Donavin Brager started paying more attention to the skier experience at Sunlight when he ran for office.

The origins of Sunlight’s Mini-Mayor

The bar was set high by the resort’s first appointed Mini-Mayor in 2015, then-4-year-old Elijah Mattson of Glenwood Springs. Elijah took to soap-boxing via Faecbook and Twitter for Sunlight to open early for the 2015-16 season, which led to creation of the Mini-Mayor office.

Officials at Sunlight said the new office helps ‘give voice to a previously underrepresented but essential segment of young powder hounds,’” according to the resort. 

“From day one our goal with this campaign was to better connect with our local and youngest skiers and riders, they are our future, and we can’t wait to get our incoming Mini-Mayor on our Executive Zoom call,” Hawks said.

Sam Brager said his son, Donavin, became more invested in the mountain during the course of his Mini-Mayor campaign. Donavin didn’t win last year, but he is running again in 2020.
Sam Brager said his son, Donavin, became more invested in the mountain during the course of his Mini-Mayor campaign. Donavin didn’t win last year, but he is running again in 2020.

Gaining valuable life experience

Colby’s mom, Jade Rogers, said campaigning and elected office taught Colby, now 8 years old, how to take the initiative to make a change in the world.

“She learned so much from this experience — public speaking, for sure, and just the ability to articulate what she wants,” Jade Rogers said. 

Donavin Brager, who turns 9 years old in October, ran for Mini-Mayor last year. He didn’t win, but he came away from the experience with some great life lessons learned. He’ll be launching another campaign to try again this year.

“It’s cool for the kids to get a first-hand experience of how a campaign works. You have to have a platform and come up with ideas of what you want to see changed,” said Donavin’s dad, Sam Brager. 

The candidates record videos to post to social media, and they do interviews on-camera to talk about their platform. Sam Brager said he helped his son understand the process wasn’t necessarily about winning. 

“It was great that he got to express his ideas — if anything, not winning made him more driven to run again this year,” Sam Brager said. 

Colby Rogers succeeded in getting a chairlift at Sunlight Mountain Resort painted pink, one of her goals as Mini-Mayor.
Colby Rogers succeeded in getting a chairlift at Sunlight Mountain Resort painted pink, one of her goals as Mini-Mayor.

Becoming more invested in Sunlight

One of the proudest moments of the campaign for Sam Brager was watching the evolution of Donavin’s love for the mountain. 

“We’d be on the chairlift and he’d say, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have a little run through there, dad?’ Sam Brager said. “His ideas were just blowing up every time we were up there. I saw him become more invested in the mountain — this whole experience just creates a greater love for the mountain.”

Support a good cause

Another goal of Colby’s during her tenure was to get her favorite food, spaghetti, onto the menu at Sunlight. The kitchen manager agreed to put it on the Sunday menu for $10, and some of the proceeds also went to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

Colby said her advice for 2020 Mini-Mayor candidates is to work toward getting sliders added to the menu. 

Former Mini-Mayor Colby Rogers rides her pink chairlift at Sunlight Mountain Resort. Mini-Mayor candidates are encouraged to come up with ideas for how, if elected, they’d improve the experience at Sunlight.
Former Mini-Mayor Colby Rogers rides her pink chairlift at Sunlight Mountain Resort. Mini-Mayor candidates are encouraged to come up with ideas for how, if elected, they’d improve the experience at Sunlight.

Think creatively

Donavin also had food on his mind during the 2019-20 campaign. He envisioned “walking tacos,” a taco built into an open Frito bag, kind of like Frito pie, with proceeds also supporting a good cause (Donavin is passionate about raising money to help pets get adopted). 

He plans to make the walking tacos part of his campaign again this year, and he wants to get the no. 14 chairlift, his favorite number, painted his favorite color green. 

“I love that this experience has helped him recognize the things that he likes about the mountain experience, and the things he would change if he were in charge,” Sam Brager said. “He has a list of ideas going for his 2020 campaign.”

Unlocking the potential of wearable technology on caregiving for seniors

Innovations in wearable technology that measure and analyze biometrics is an exciting frontier for senior care.
Innovations in wearable technology that measure and analyze biometrics is an exciting frontier for senior care.
Free web talk on exciting technologies for senior care

What: A free web talk on how big tech is intersecting with care for older adults, presented by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times.

Who: Valencell, a leading innovator of biometrics technology. Presenters include President and Co-Founder Steven LeBoeuf and Vice President of Marketing Ryan Kraudel. Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber will host.

When: Aug. 12, 3 p.m. MDT.

Where: Register online at www.renewsenior.com.

Biometrics technology isn’t new, but continuous innovation is proving its capabilities for health and longevity, especially as it relates to caring for seniors. 

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.
Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities, is especially excited about the possibilities for seniors and their caregivers. Wearable sensors could alert caregivers of seniors’ increased risks for social isolation, falls or heart attacks, and this real-time data could actually help them live longer, healthier lives.

“At Renew, we’re about transforming senior care, and part of that is through supporting the development of technology that helps give seniors more independence, greater quality of life, and longer, healthier lives,” he said. “As a senior housing community, we’re very interested in technology development that helps us create great environments for seniors.”

Renew is presenting a web talk on Aug. 12, hosted by Tuchfarber and featuring speakers from the technology company Valencell, a leading innovator of biometrics technology. Valencell President and Co-Founder Steven LeBoeuf and Vice President of Marketing Ryan Kraudel will present.

Improved access to technology 

Biometrics measurements can analyze heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, sleep quality, cardiovascular health and more. Valencell develops new biometric technologies and licenses the technology that ends up going into devices developed by other companies. 

For example, the embedded sensors in the Starkey brand hearing aid Livio AI, with which Renew has worked, were invented by Valencell. 

This and other wearable sensor technology has caught up to the medical sensor technologies used in hospitals and in healthcare, Kraudel said. 

Ryan Kraudel, Vice President of Marketing at Valencell.
Ryan Kraudel, Vice President of Marketing at Valencell.

“You can now get the same level of accuracy of data outside of a medical facility,” he said. “It makes it easier to collect point-in-time data, but it also allows longitudinal collection (repeated observations) that provides insights that haven’t been seen before.”

Sensors can detect how often you’ve entered a specific room, such as a bathroom or a food pantry, providing insights into how often a senior is using the bathroom or eating. These are the types of uses that Tuchfarber is interested in from a caregiving standpoint. 

Broad uses

Since Valencell was founded in 2006, LeBoeuf said the uses of biometrics technology have expanded. The technology itself is broad and can measure so many different data points gathered from any area on the body where blood flow can be measured non-invasively. 

Let’s say you wanted to know how the body responded to a certain experience, you could analyze the heart rate and blood flow data during that time. In addition, you can get contextual information about what the person is doing from location sensors and inertial sensors.

“We have outputs people can use that you wouldn’t be able to get from other technologies out there,” LeBoeuf said. 

Different customers, different desires

Steven LeBoeuf, President and Co-Founder at Valencell.
Steven LeBoeuf, President and Co-Founder at Valencell.

In the application of wearables for seniors, the customers might not be the same person who wears the device. Customers could include professional caregivers or family members, who often have different goals. 

“Family members just want to know their loved one is alright, but that’s not exactly what the wearer cares about — they want to be more independent,” LeBoeuf said. 

When considering these technologies specifically for senior care, there are also considerations for issues such as tight wearables on aging skin and the sensitivity and battery life of the sensors.

LeBoeuf said there’s also potential to reduce insurance and healthcare costs thanks to wearables. After a cardiac event or procedure, patients are often required to return to the hospital or medical office for follow-up testing. With wearables and smartphones, these tests could be done from home. 

“You could pop in an ear bud to get health measurements and even be able to talk to the physician through that device,” he said. 

Wearable sensors have a seemingly endless amount of applications beyond just biometric modeling. As we think about this wearable technology, LeBoeuf said it’s important to never lose sight of what kind of future we want. 

“This is a means to an end, and the end needs to be improvement in public health,” he said. “Help people take more control in their health, get the feedback they need and take more charge of their health in a way that also drives down costs.”