Your Morning News - January 21st, 2015
X Games Briefs Aspen on Plans
The ESPN Winter X Games will be up and running tonight. Organizers briefed Pitkin County officials yesterday on the final details.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority expects upwards of 38,000 rides starting this evening through Sunday. Where those people are dropped off and picked up at Buttermilk is one of the changes in place this year. Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.
“For past attendees of the X Games, the layout will be a little different, with construction and new bus circulation on the venue, how people will come to and leave the venue will look a little bit different, but I think it’ll be even more efficient than in years past.”
Events begin at 7pm this evening. Another change this year is concerts will be on site instead of in Aspen.
Developer Mark Hunt to Hold Q&A on Thursday
The man who controls the majority of buildings in downtown Aspen will speak publicly for the first time to the community on his future plans. Aspen Business Events is hosting a question-and-answer session with Mark Hunt. Along with investors, Hunt has amassed 15 buildings in the commercial core and has invested more than $100 million in real estate in the city.
Hunt says he decided to speak publicly because he wants to ensure that the community understands the details driving his two lodge proposals.
“I’m uncomfortable doing it and I keep saying no but when it came up, I’m so far into it and I figure at this point, whether you are for it or against it, or ultimately for or against it, at least I’ll be able to reach out to more people and give them the information where they can make a informed decision.”
Hunt’s two affordable lodge proposals go before Aspen City Council on Monday.
Aspen and Child Care
More families in the Roaring Fork Valley need access to affordable early childhood education. That was the message from a panel discussion in Aspen yesterday. Aspen’s mayor joined four others from the non-profit and business sectors on stage at the Wheeler.
The group started by pointing out successes. The Aspen Skiing Company donates millions to the community. Some goes to childcare. A county property tax helps fund childcare, as does a dedicated City sales tax. And, the non-profit Aspen Community Foundation has funneled millions into programs. One initiative holds preschool in converted school buses in low income neighborhoods downvalley. The Foundation’s Valerie Carlin.
“We began serving 60 kids at first, with one bus and then we brought on a second bus a year later and now we have 120 kids who are showing marvelous improvement to being on par with their peers who have access to bricks and mortar preschool programs.”
Still, more is needed. Pitkin County Health and Human Services Director Nan Sundeen says child care is out of reach for many families. Child care can cost half a year’s income and 20% of county residents make less than a living wage.
“So you add on top of that businesses that don’t have family friendly practices, you have a system that’s not working together. I think we’re crazy about our rights as adults in this town and I think we’re crazy about resort and having fun, but I don’t think we’re crazy about our kids and we need to change that.”
Yesenia Arreola was in the audience.
“I’m just really passionate about early childhood educational access, I have a four year old and I have read to him since he was a month old.”
Arreola says growing up in Carbondale, her mom and dad commuted to Aspen for service jobs. She says downvalley, and particularly in the Latino community, options for early childhood education are limited.
“I see how my community is struggling to understand that importance. And also struggling to access that. It’s something that, I think, needs to change.”
One audience participant suggested creating a valley-wide funding system for child care similar to how the bus system is run. Communities across the Valley support and help operate the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron says the idea is on the table.
“We’ve discussed this at the City. The City makes a block contribution each year to the County’s health and human services and we’ve talked about how to better manage that and in our broad conversations, this model has been discussed.”
The panel discussion was hosted by the City’s Kids First Program, which provides financial aid to about 50 families.
Aspen Police Chief and the New Pot Paradigm
When you ask Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor how his day starts, he might tell you a description like this.
“As I walked into town, I walked down Main street today, instead of Hopkins street, and along the seven hundred block of West Hopkins, I could smell the odor of marijuana plants somewhere in the area.”
A little over a year ago, Chief Pryor would have followed his nose, started knocking on doors and began asking questions. But with recreational marijuana legal in Colorado for the last year, Pryor now does this.
“Just made a mental note of it and moved on.”
Pryor and police chiefs from around the state were in Denver this weekend to compare notes on how marijuana has affected public health and safety in Colorado.