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Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

The votes have been counted for Aspen’s next Mayor and two city council members. The preliminary election results were announced on Tuesday night and will be officially certified on Friday, March 5.   

Aspen Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Eleanor Bennett caught up with Aspen Daily News reporter Alycin Bektesh who has been covering the election to learn more about what the preliminary results mean for the Aspen community.

Eleanor Bennett / Aspen Public Radio

If you find yourself wandering the streets of Aspen, Carbondale, or Glenwood Springs this month, you will be greeted by collages of oversized self-portraits pasted on Colorado Mountain College buildings.

Courtesy Photo / Glenwood Springs Citizens' Alliance

Since 2018, Glenwood Springs community members have banded together to fight against Rocky Mountain Industrials' expansion proposal at the Mid-Continent Quarry. They say protecting the city’s tourism economy is one of the main reasons for the years-long battle, and it wasn’t until the pandemic began that the community got a glimpse of what life could be like if the expansion were to be approved.

Grassroots TV

Ballots have been mailed to most Aspen residents who will elect their next mayor and fill two city council seats in the municipal election on Tuesday, March 2. There are eight candidates running for the two open council seats. Incumbent Mayor Torre is running for a second, two-year term and faces a single challenger, artist Lee Mulcahy. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Since its inception in 2015, Rocky Mountain Industrials, or RMI, has lost tens of millions of dollars. What that means for the company remains unclear as the Bureau of Land Management continues to navigate the permitting process to approve RMI’s proposal to expand the limestone mine just north of Glenwood Spring. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

When a mining operation spreads out across hundreds of acres, some environmental impact is inevitable. Opponents of the Rocky Mountain Industrials limestone mine expansion near Glenwood Springs say its proposed footprint of more than 400 acres would push that impact beyond what they consider acceptable.

Bruce Gordon/EcoFlight for Aspen Public Radio

Taking a limestone mine from less than 20 acres to more than 400 is no small feat. Not only does it require expensive and heavy machinery to move the earth, it also takes money and persistence to clear a long road of regulatory hurdles before an expansion is allowed in the eyes of the law.


To Vaccinate Veterans, Health Care Workers Must Cross Mountains, Plains and Tundra

Feb 22, 2021
Courtesy of Montana VA Health Care System

A Learjet 31 took off before daybreak from Helena Regional Airport in Montana, carrying six Veterans Affairs medical providers and 250 doses of historic cargo cradled in a plug-in cooler designed to minimize breakage.

Even in a state where 80-mph speed limits are normal, ground transportation across long distances is risky for the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine, which must be used within 12 hours of thawing.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

You have to go back more than a century to find another time Coloradans faced a statewide crisis as big and deadly as the current COVID-19 pandemic. But experts who studied the state’s response to the Spanish flu of 1918 say history is not repeating itself when it comes to how state lawmakers are responding to the latest outbreak.

Today, visitors to the Capitol building must wear masks and have their temperatures taken, and lawmakers sit between plexiglass dividers.

And the basement cafeteria — usually packed with lobbyists — sits empty, roped off with yellow caution tape.

@potus via Twitter

The Biden administration reopened enrollment for the Affordable Care Act this week. But enrollment details aren't the same everywhere.

Most states are part of the federal health insurance exchange through the ACA. That means most uninsured people can now sign up on through May 15.

But some Mountain West states have their own exchanges, and their own ways to sign up.

Montana’s Health Policy MVP Takes Her Playbook on the Road

Feb 18, 2021
Tommy Martino for Tradeoffs

Marilyn Bartlett might be the closest thing health policy has to a folk hero. A certified public accountant who barely tops 5 feet, Bartlett bears zero resemblance to Paul Bunyan. But she did take an ax to Montana’s hospital prices in 2016, stopping the state’s employee health plan from bleeding money.

“Marilyn is not a physically imposing person,” said Montana Board of Investments Executive Director Dan Villa, who worked closely with Bartlett in state government. “She is a blend of your favorite aunt, an accounting savant and a little bit of July Fourth fireworks.”

Andrew Coop / Unsplash

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis urged lawmakers Wednesday to take quick action on a $1 billion-plus stimulus plan, lower taxes to jump-start the economy and rally the state after a year that saw the coronavirus claim the lives of nearly 5,700 residents, three of the largest wildfires in state history and protests over police brutality and racial injustice.

Health Experts Urge Double-Masking As Coronavirus Mutates

Feb 16, 2021

As highly contagious coronavirus variants spread, health experts in the Mountain West and beyond are urging people to upgrade and double up their masks.

Alex Hager/Aspen Public Radio News

The Mountain West has some of the highest suicide rates in the United States. Colorado is no exception; the state has been in the top 10 for highest suicide rates in the country since 2009. Ski towns, in particular, have significantly higher rates of suicide than the national average.

Mental health experts have called it the “paradise paradox,” and the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health cites factors ranging from financial instability, geographic isolation, lack of healthcare, easy access to firearms and the transient nature of resort communities as being some of the reasons communities in rural areas across the Mountain West continue to suffer from high suicide rates. In Aspen, that rate is two to three times the national average, according to CU’s School of Public Health.

Erin Lee Ries/Creative Commons

A quarter-mile section of Carbondale’s Rio Grande trail will be lined with farolitos, or small paper lanterns, this weekend as part of “Light The Night With Love.” The inaugural event features public art installations stretching from DeRail Park to the Latinx Folk Art Garden, and proceeds from tickets purchased as part of the “HeART Walk” go to the American Heart Association.

Mike Tierney

Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol Director Mac Smith passed the baton on Jan. 31 after 42 seasons on the job. Though, he will remain on the patrol during the winters and help as needed throughout the next several years. 

He first stepped foot on Highlands when he was only 8-years-old, and got his start on the mountain washing dishes at the Merry-Go-Round restaurant after graduating from Basalt High School in 1971. 

Adam Rayes / KUNC

2020 census results were supposed to come out in December, as mandated by the Constitution. The Census Bureau recently announced plans to release the first-round of results by April 30. Local and state governments and agencies, businesses, nonprofits and researchers rely on this data to get information, access funds and make big decisions.

As Demand for Mental Health Care Spikes, Budget Ax Set to Strike

Feb 9, 2021
Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

When the pandemic hit, health officials in Montana’s Beaverhead County had barely begun to fill a hole left by the 2017 closure of the local public assistance office, mental health clinic, chemical dependency center and job placement office after the state’s last budget shortfall.

COVID-19-Certified Businesses Try to Woo Leery Patrons

Feb 8, 2021
Christie Aschwanden / KHN

On a sunny Saturday this month, Ruth Hatfield was sitting with a friend’s dog on a sidewalk bench in downtown Grand Junction. Back home in Snowmass Village, 120 miles away through winding Rocky Mountain roadways, local officials had just shut down indoor restaurant dining as COVID-19 cases reached some of the highest levels in Colorado.

Almost half a million Coloradans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. While that number indicates a promising start on the road to the state’s pandemic recovery, advocates say vaccine distribution has been marred by inequity. 

Courtesy of the artist and Baldwin Gallery, Aspen

Aspen’s Baldwin Gallery opens a new exhibition next week called “A Third of the Night” by LA-based artist Enrique Martínez Celaya. Martínez Celaya’s been a fixture in the Aspen arts scene over the years, and is known for his involvement with Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and exhibitions at the Baldwin Gallery. He’ll be back in Aspen when the Baldwin Gallery debuts his newest collection of paintings and sculpture on Friday, Feb. 12, and said it’s a kind of homecoming. It will also be his only exhibition in the United States this year.

Steven Cornfield / Unsplash

Bingo is back in the dining room. In-person visits have returned, too, though with masks and plexiglass. The Haven Assisted Living Facility’s residents are even planning a field trip for a private movie screening once they’ve all gotten their second round of COVID-19 vaccines.

Such changes are small but meaningful to residents in the Hayden, Colorado, long-term care home, and they’re due mostly to the arrival of the vaccine.

Dennis Brendel / Unsplash

One way to take care of yourself during the coronavirus pandemic is to stay connected to your loved ones, but what happens when you have a disagreement or a falling out with the people you’re supposed to feel most connected to, and how does that affect your mental health?

Michael Longmire / Unsplash

Florida, Colorado and several New England states are moving ahead with efforts to import prescription drugs from Canada, a politically popular strategy greenlighted last year by President Donald Trump.

But it’s unclear whether the Biden administration will proceed with Trump’s plan for states and the federal government to help Americans obtain lower-priced medications from Canada.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Pitkin County has dropped sharply over the course of the past two weeks. That number is steadily declining from a peak on Jan. 15, when the county’s two-week incidence rate was the highest in the state by a significant margin. 

Courtesy Doc Eason

Doc Eason has been a Snowmass staple for visitors and locals for over four decades. His card tricks and sleight of hand magic delighted audiences at the Tower Restaurant’s bar until it closed in 2004, and he took his act to the StoneBridge Inn, where he performed right up until the pandemic shutdowns last March. He’s performed at venues and parties around the world, and has been named the Magician of the Year by Hollywood’s Magic Castle five times. According to Eason, the magic behind his act is connecting with audiences throughout the course of his career.

Courtesy of Susan Sekaquaptewa

With the ongoing drought in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties and across most of the West, growing food and raising livestock is becoming more difficult. At the same time, the pandemic is exacerbating inequalities in the Roaring Fork Valley and many locals are still out of work, making it hard to access fresh, healthy food. 

Courtesy Tammy Terwelp

Aspen Public Radio Executive Director Tammy Terwelp will be departing Aspen’s public radio station to lead Community Radio for Northern Colorado (CRNC) - The Colorado Sound and NPR station KUNC in Greeley, Colo. Her last day with Aspen Public Radio will be Fri., March 12.

Amid COVID Health Worker Shortage, Foreign-Trained Professionals Sit on Sidelines

Jan 26, 2021
Brandon Thibodeaux / KHN

As hospitals nationwide struggle with the latest COVID-19 surge, it’s not so much beds or ventilators in short supply. It’s the people to care for the sick.

Yet a large, highly skilled workforce of foreign-educated doctors, nurses and other health practitioners is going largely untapped due to licensing and credentialing barriers. According to the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., some 165,000 foreign-trained immigrants in the U.S. hold degrees in health-related fields but are unemployed or underemployed in the midst of the health crisis.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan.