Top 5 most-read stories last week: Vail lift lines, Frisco town manager resigns, mask mandate expires |

Top 5 most-read stories last week: Vail lift lines, Frisco town manager resigns, mask mandate expires

D&D Mobile Home Park, 780 Blue River Parkway, is pictured Wednesday, Jan. 26. Residents have been given until June 2 to relocate before the property is redeveloped.
Ashley Low/For the Summit Daily News

Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on in the past week.

1. Vail Resorts’ plan to reduce lift lines includes ‘Phone Free Zones’

It seems like something out of a dark comedy at this point in the season, with an enormous lift line occupying a full page of the Wall Street Journal. But believe it or not, Vail Resorts actually began the 2021-22 season by deploying a new operating plan aimed at reducing lift lines at its North American Resorts.

The news release from Vail Resorts was sent out Nov. 16, and many media outlets ran it in full. The release touted “new strategies taking effect during the 2021-22 North American season to enhance the guest experience and prioritize its passholders.”

The release said the company would be “deploying a new operating plan, which includes a significant improvement of how efficiently the company loads lifts and gondolas to reduce wait times, among other operational enhancements.”

But the release did not detail specifics on what the operating plan entails.

On Wednesday, Jan. 26, Vail Resorts spokesperson John Plack confirmed that one of those operating specifics include a concept called a “Phone Free Zone.”

The signs for the zones in Vail Mountain lift maze areas are new for this season as part of the new operating plan, Plack confirmed.

— Vail Daily

2. 52-year-old Breckenridge skier ranked on the Freeride World Qualifier circuit hopes to help grow the sport

Breckenridge resident John Spencer may be the oldest guy on the Freeride World Qualifier circuit, but that doesn’t pose a challenge for him.

Instead, the 52-year-old has steadily worked himself up the ranks, landing at 45th overall after the competition season last year.

The Freeride World Qualifiers feed into the 18-rider Freeride World Tour, where the world’s best freeride skiers and snowboarders compete on some of the biggest, most jagged mountains in the world.

Spencer got into the sport close to 11 years ago and has lived in the area for the past 30 years. Spencer has skied since he was a kid back in Michigan, but it was when he moved to Colorado that he started to stack 100-day seasons.

Along the way, Spencer has grown as a skier, learned how to compete at his highest level and even worked his way out of alcoholism.

“Thirteen years ago, I quit drinking, and as an amends to myself, I kind of deiced to do some (races) and reach some of my goals,” Spencer said.

— Cody Jones

3. Frisco town manager resigns

Frisco Town Manager Tony O’Rourke submitted a letter of resignation Jan. 17. O’Rourke was appointed to the position by Frisco Town Council at its July 13 meeting and began officially working Aug. 2.

He replaced interim Town Manager Jeff Durbin and former Town Manager Nancy Kerry, who resigned in April 2021. O’Rourke previously worked with Kerry in South Lake Tahoe.

Before coming to Frisco, O’Rourke was the city manager for Florida’s Panama City Beach. He was fired from that job in February 2021 after filing a whistleblower complaint alleging public money was spent on private property.

O’Rourke told the Summit Daily News on Tuesday, Jan. 25, that he resigned to return to Florida.

— Jefferson Geiger

4. Summit County’s mask mandate expired at midnight Jan. 25

After about a month of reinstating the mask mandate, Summit County dropped the requirement as of midnight Tuesday, Jan. 25.

During a Summit Board of County Commissioners work session meeting Tuesday, County Manager Scott Vargo said Public Health Director Amy Wineland was in favor of dropping the mandate since the county’s case rates continue to drop.

According to the county’s website, the community incidence rate was 1,096 cases per 100,000 people as of Tuesday.

Vargo, who said children ages 2-11 would still need to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, asked whether the county commissioners wanted to set some kind of metric for when this measure could expire. In general, all three commissioners were supportive of not setting such a goal.

— Jenna deJong

5. Community members express concern about planned redevelopment of 2 Silverthorne mobile home parks

It’s been nearly five months since Riverthorne LLC bought land at 772 and 780 Blue River Parkway, home of the Cottonwood Court and D&D mobile home parks in Silverthorne. As it continues moving forward with its high-density residential development, the developer of the project held a community meeting Tuesday, Jan. 25, to discuss how residents at the mobile home parks would be impacted.

The meeting kicked off with a short presentation about the land. According to the presentation, the site is just under 2 acres and sits along Colorado Highway 9 across from Target. Though specifics for the project are largely still up in the air, the site could hold 50 units that are likely to sell anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million.

Leading the discussion was John Niemi, founder and CEO of developer The Aidan Group, which invested in the property with other partners, creating Riverthorne. Riverthorne purchased the property for $3.5 million Sept. 3, 2021.

During the meeting, Niemi encouraged community members to speak up and voice their concerns.

Brianne Snow, executive director of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, also spoke in support of the residents. She said she was “devastated” by what’s happening.

“There is no workforce housing in this community,” Snow said. “We work really hard to create workforce housing, and we’re literally watching it being torn down, and it’s just really heartbreaking because we’re going to lose all those folks. There’s just nowhere for them to go.”

Legally, Niemi does not have an obligation to compensate residents, but he said he does have a moral responsibility to help them.

— Jenna deJong

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