Your Morning News - February 13th, 2015

Feb 13, 2015

Less Snow Means Less Green for Businesses

Aspen saw its second driest January in nearly a hundred years. February so far has also been dry and warm. For businesses who make a lot of money on snow, it’s been a tough go of it.


“I’ve been in the snow removal business for 28 years, and really never seen this long a dry spell before,” says Will Vannice.


He owns Daly Properties in Basalt. He and his workers usually remove snow and ice for commercial properties, and business is down about 350 percent. Vannice says the company will probably make it through OK, as long as he keeps spending to a minimum. But it’s harder on the workers.


“We have 6 salaried positions here and they just cut 30% of their salary out until the first of April,” he says.


Further up valley, Glenn Loper is owner of Groundskeepers of Aspen. The company also does snow removal and landscaping.


“At this point we’re on an “on call” business for our employees, about fifteen or eighteen of them that are in limbo right now.”


Loper also has about a handful of salaried employees and they’re staying busy down in Carbondale. That’s because Groundskeepers is now operating Planted Earth nursery there. Like Will Vannice, Loper has to make sure he keeps an eye on spending this spring to make it through OK. And they’re both waiting out February before switching over to spring landscaping.  

“I was kind of excited the other day when I saw that the weather pattern had shifted and we’re possibly gonna get more snow now,” Loper says.


Aspenweather.net is forecasting snow for this Sunday and Monday. Corey Gates, co-founder of the hyper-local forecasting website, says the rest of the month looks stormy.

He guesses that 28 inches of snow will fall by the end of the month.

First Lady to Visit Aspen this Weekend

Local law enforcement is preparing for the First Lady’s annual visit to Aspen. Local sources tell Aspen Public Radio Michelle Obama will be in the Upper Valley this weekend. She is expected to fly in on Friday. It will be Mrs. Obama’s third President’s Day Weekend in Aspen. For the past two years, the First Lady has brought her daughters, Sasha and Malia, for a ski vacation. They have previously stayed at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, who live on the Tiehack side of Buttermilk. That is the ski area where the family has made their turns. U.S. Secret Service agents were swarming the Inn at Aspen Thursday evening, indicating that the Obamas will once again spend their time at the ‘Milk.

Gun Policy and the Basalt Library

The Garfield Library District isn’t the only library to enact a new policy around guns. Late last year, the Basalt library board decided to ban exposed firearms, or open-carry.

Basalt Library Director Barbara Milnor brought the issue to the board after attending a state library function that touched on security. An incident in the summer where a man brought an exposed rifle into the Basalt facility also raised concerns. The board decided in December to outlaw open-carry by posting a sign on the front door. Milnor:

“We didn’t do this because we feel threatened or we foresee something like this happening. I’ve worked in libraries for a long time and that’s the first time I’ve ever seen somebody walk through with a rifle.”

People can still bring in concealed carry guns. The Garfield County Library District banned open carry at its six libraries earlier this month.


RFTA Plan Gets 90 Day Comment Extension

There’s a new deadline for comments about a controversial RFTA plan. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has extended it by another 90 days. The original deadline was this last Sunday. The new deadline came after a board meeting this morning. Angela Kincade is Assistant Director of Project Management for RFTA. She says there’s a public outreach effort, too.

“We’ll do four public outreach meetings. We’ll do one in Aspen, one in Basalt, one in Carbondale, and one in Glenwood.”

There will also be an extensive mail campaign as well as lunch and dinner meetings in each region of the Valley. The RFTA Board members largely represent local governments in the area. Many wanted more time to review a plan that would preserve a rail corridor.