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Wednesday letters: South Bridge, Dems, housing, math and kudos

Time for South Bridge

In response to Chuck Peterson’s letter of 5-16-22, “Questioning South Bridge”:

Are you maybe new in town? Letters like this have delayed the South Bridge project for years. Deception and lies have been major delaying tactics and have added fantastic costs by the “not in my backyard” crowd.

I live on Highway 82 with a great view — from Carbondale to Storm King Mountain. I look at the Three and Four Mile valleys. My living room view is Glenwood Springs Airport. From my porch, I witnessed the Coal Seam Fire. Darned if the fire, starting 2 miles from the river, didn’t burn down the mountain, cross the river and the railroad tracks and I-70 and burn down parts of West Glenwood. No one died, because there were six means of egress. Little discussion about the impact of locals using Midland?

The federal government gave us $6 million to fix the Three and Four Mile egress. After years of meetings and dozens of open houses, the plan is as good as it gets. Keep it up, Chuck, and maybe we can get the cost up to $100 million. Two years ago, I hosted No Name evacuees for 10 days, as we watched nine helicopters use “our” airport for fighting the Grizzly Creek Fire. Thank you, voters, for saving our airport. Now, let’s finish the South Bridge before the next fire.

Chris Janusz

Glenwood Springs

Math Awareness Week

The Colorado Mountain College Math Department would like to thank several organizations for their support of our recent Avengers Math Awareness Week! After a hiatus of three years, the high turnout for our events was exhilarating. All day long Saturday, students of every math level could be seen smiling and jumping up and down in excitement after successfully solving creative math equation games!

Gratitude goes out to our prize donors for their generous support, including Texas Instruments for the generous donations of calculators, and many local businesses for your generous gift card prizes. We extend a special thanks to White House Pizza for graciously feeding our participants at the end of the events during our awards presentation. Axelle Faughn for creating a fun new math competition “Escaping the Math Room.”

CMC Foundation and CMC faculty and staff deserve a huge thank-you for showing up and helping in so many ways during the events. Thank you to our own CMC Math Superhero Jason Vargas for using his superpowers to organize and create the amazing events! Thank you everyone who participated! You were entertaining and amazing mathematicians!

Rose Shepard, CMC math enthusiast

Glenwood Springs

Divisive Dems

Debbie Bruell’s column (PI, 5/20/22) showed how Democrats advance their agendas. They don’t debate, they denigrate and divide to dominate.

Deb begins by saying small businesses are the heart of our communities. OK, that’s a nice sentiment. But in the next paragraph, Deb feeds the Dem need to denigrate.

To enhance her small business “us,” she attacks mega corporations. “They” see us only as potential profit, says Deb the Garco Dems’ chairperson. They will invest in us, but they will abandon us when it serves their bottom line.

Deb further opines, “Placing our future in the hands of corporations who care nothing about our community is a risky proposition.”

They, us, their, our are Dem divisive pronouns. Why not focus on the mutual benefits local and big businesses provide to our communities?

Economics 101 teaches that small local businesses and big businesses operate under the same game plan. They exist to make a profit. When any business loses money, it changes or lays off or relocates or closes. Size is irrelevant.

But Dems need to create conflict to further their agenda. Like the “Big Guy” in Washington on down, Dems point fingers of blame, and offer solutions to nonexistent problems.

Big Tech and the liberal mainstream media in collusion with the Dems cannot be allowed to denigrate, divide and dominate our national public square of information and discussion.

I hope Mr. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter will be the first step toward real free speech. By the way, Elon, the Earth’s richest human and a lifelong Dem, recently rebaptized the party with a jackass for a mascot, “the party of division and hate.”

We should all hope Elon Musk’s epiphany becomes a national awakening.

Bruno Kirchenwitz


Need more normal housing

In response to City Council’s efforts to address our housing shortage, why is it necessary to waste $50,000 to complete a survey to address an issue we know exists? That is a waste of money. Perhaps this approach, in general, is actually part of the problem.

Red tape has become the city’s famous calling and is a detriment to business from all aspects.

They say land is in short supply. That is a false statement. There is an abundance of vacant land that could easily be used for affordable types of normal homes.

Financial experts advise not spending more than 25% of household take-home pay for housing, which is sound advice. It is sustainable and realistic for those making the payments every month. Without deep diving into the math, my gut feeling tells me we need $300,000-$400,000 homes. We need normal neighborhoods for normal working people. When is the last time something even similar to that has been built? Referring back to an article that ran in the Post many months ago, perhaps last year, that discussed the quantity of new homes built in comparison to population growth: The studies have been done.

Again, the problem is real, nobody is making this up. What we need is action; we are already behind the curve, no more delays.

Having lived here for nearly 22 years, and admittedly loving this place because it’s not the big city, we have to understand and accept that growth is inevitable. It’s as if those that have the fortune have the desire to hoard this beauty all for themselves, forgetting that those who serve their hamburgers, ring the cash register, sweep the floors, fix their stuff and provide all of the basic services that go along with a normal society should be banished to driving 30-50-90 miles a day to earn their living.

It’s as if they are looked upon as peasants undeserving of a basic quality of life. This isn’t anything new, and the sentiments are widely felt and observed in daily life.

And in direct support of those we are asking to build these homes, it is illogical to ask them to do so at a loss. Would you?

Darren Stukes

Glenwood Springs

Carbondale Rotary event thanks

Carbondale Rotary’s second annual Fireball Drop May 6 was a huge success. Volunteers, scholarship recipients and spectators joined us in Sopris Park on First Friday to witness almost 1,000 ping pong balls tumble from a fire ladder truck onto targets on the ground to select our winners. It was a beautiful, sunny day and great fun!

Huge thanks go out to our title sponsor Ace Hardware of Carbondale for its consistent, dedicated support. Thanks also to our many other sponsors.

We would like to especially thank the wonderful men and women of the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District. They once again provided the equipment, manpower, expertise and good music that made it all possible!

Thanks also goes to our event partners: the Town of Carbondale Parks and Recreation Department, Andrea and everyone at the Carbondale Chamber, the Sopris Sun, Greg and the crew at KDNK, and everyone at City Market Carbondale.

Thanks also to Bennett Bramson of the Aspen Rotary Club, Carbondale Police, and the Mt. Sopris Rotary Club of Carbondale.

Lastly, many thanks to all of you who bought balls from Rotary, Ascendigo, Roaring Fork Youth Soccer, Roaring Fork Pickleball, Coventure and YouthZone, and helped us raise much-needed funds for all our community service projects, scholarships and grants.

We are indeed grateful to be a part of this wonderful community.

Alan Cole

Carbondale Rotary fundraising chair

Heather Hicks-Stumpf

Rotary president 2021-2022

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.