Your Evening News - January 7th, 2015

Jan 7, 2015

Explore Offer Comes from a National Nonprofit Group  

A collection of national nonprofits that fight for such causes as the environment, social justice and consumer protection might be the new owner of Aspen’s Explore Bookstore soon. The Aspen Times reports the group known as the Public Interest Network has a contract to buy Explore Booksellers and the attached restaurant for $5 million. In order for the deal to go through a Texas bankruptcy judge must approve it in the case of Samuel Wyly who owns the store. Over the past 30 years, the Public Interest Network has held events in Aspen and been fans of Explore. Officials with the group say the survival of an independent bookstore meshes with its mission. The Texas judge is expected to review the offer today. If approved, the sale of Explore is expected to close on January 16th.

Pitkin County Separates Website from Aspen

Pitkin County is getting its own piece of digital real estate after years of co-habitating with the City of Aspen. The Aspen Daily News reports county officials believe the split will help the public understand whom they need to talk when issues arise. The website will include information related to county departments and information along with a “notify me” feature where people can sign up for updates on job postings, news releases, calendar changes and meeting agendas. Local emergencies will also be posted – from road closures to wildfire alerts. The new website will cost the county just shy of $40,000. The new site is expected to roll out next month and go fully live in late March.

Avalanche Season is Here

Avalanche season is full swing and has received even more attention with several recent accidents. An employee of Aspen Mountain Powder tours was caught and injured in a slide on New Year’s Day and two prospective members of the U.S. Ski Team died in an avalanche in Austria on Monday.

This weekend, Mountain Rescue Aspen is holding its annual avalanche awareness workshop. It’s being led by David Swersky – a decades long member of Mountain Rescue. As of Tuesday nearly eighty people have signed up for the event. Swersky says a big part of the training is for people new to the backcountry and the equipment that goes with it.

“The time to figure things out is no when your best friend or your spouse is buried. The time to figure it out is in your living room when somebody put another transceiver or transmitter in the drawer somewhere and you have to find it.”

This weekend’s event has been around in various forms for thirty years. Swersky says it’s also designed as a brush-up for long time backcountry enthusiasts. He describes the avalanche safety field as evolving especially around several factors.

“One is the human factor, wise decision making, safe decision making, terrain recognition. And heuristics, meaning not subjecting yourself to peer group pressure, or not being forced into an uncomfortable situation.”

The Mountain Rescue Aspen avalanche workshop has been an annual event for the last thirty years.

Fees for Ski Lands Increase

Ski areas in the White River National Forest paid a record amount in fees for operating during the previous winter. The Summit Daily News reports a total of more than 15-million dollars was paid for the 2013 and 2014 ski season. That’s an increase of over two-point-two million dollars from the previous season. The numbers come from the Supervisor’s office for the White River National Forest. There are several factors in the formula for how much resorts have to pay, with revenue playing a big role.