Your Evening News - February 4th, 2015

Feb 4, 2015

Retail Sales in Aspen Up 10% in 2014

The city sales tax report for 2014 is in. It appears the Aspen economy has more than rebounded.

People in Aspen shopped more, drank more, ate more and consumed pot more in 2014 than the previous year.

That’s according a recently-released sales tax consumption report, which shows economic activity within the city of Aspen last year is up 10 percent over 2013. That amounts to nearly $624 million in commerce.

Sports equipment, clothing and luxury goods were up significantly for the year. Combined, those categories generated around $153 million in sales. Restaurant and bars were up 11 percent, bringing in about $111 million dollars. And with recreational marijuana coming on the scene last March, sales in that category spiked dramatically. The liquor and marijuana category saw an increase of 25 percent, generating more than $13 million throughout 2014. All of those industries posted increases for the month of December as well. Another big gain last year was revenue generated by accommodations up thirteen percent. That amounts to more than one-hundred-seventy-three million dollars that flowed into the local economy.

Wilderness in Peril is a Topic of Conversation

The White River National Forest wants to hear from the public about how to minimize environmental damage from crowds on its lands. The Forest Service is holding two public meetings to get the conversation started. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

The meetings are in conjunction with the Naturalist Nights Speaker Series, held by three local nonprofits. The Forest Service is looking for solutions after the number of overnight visitors to the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness grew by 40 percent in five years.

Thousands of visitors to popular places like Conundrum Hot Springs, the Four Pass Loop and Crater Lake are degrading the environment, says District Ranger Karen Schroyer.

“What we’re seeing are some real resource issues, especially with the overnight camping. We’re seeing illegal campsites, inappropriately stored food that’s causing human-wildlife conflicts, human waste that isn’t taken care of properly,” she says.

The Forest Service wants new rules to come from a citizen-driven process. The first meeting tonight is at Carbondale’s Third Street Center. On Thursday, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies at Hallam Lake will hold a second meeting.

Driver in Fatal Crash Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charges; the Other Incompetent to Stand Trial

The drivers who caused two separate and unrelated fatal crashes on the same day last summer appeared in court one week apart of each other.

Basalt resident Christine Tinner on Tuesday pleaded guilty to careless driving causing injury and careless driving causing death. Both are misdemeanors and were part of a plea agreement. On Aug. 23, the car she was driving crossed the center line on Highway 133 and crashed head-on with another vehicle, killing one of the occupants and seriously injuring the other. Tinner will be sentenced in March.

A local judge last week decided Carbondale resident John Walls, who is in his late 80s, needs a guardian. The state previously declared him incompetent to stand trial. He is facing misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and careless driving causing death. On Aug. 23, he hit a Basalt resident head-on on Highway 82. The motorcyclist was killed instantly.

Whether the charges will be dropped against Walls will be decided next week. He may be placed in the care of a guardian instead.

Snowmass to Review Base Village Plans Tonight

Snowmass Village planning officials will put the Base Village development under a microscope tonight.

The town’s Planning Commission takes up proposed changes by developer Related Colorado. The overall plan was presented to officials and Town Council Monday night. Now the detailed review begins.

The proposed changes include a new hotel, adding fractionals, combining a few lots, and other factors. Related Colorado had requested a shorter review of those changes. That was turned down by Snowmass Officials.