Top 5 stories on, week of April 21 |

Top 5 stories on, week of April 21

Mine runoff turned the Blue River orange on Saturday, April 28, in Breckenridge.
Hugh Carey /

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

1. Mine runoff turns Blue River orange in Breckenridge

The Blue River turned orange in Breckenridge over the weekend as water went from its natural blue-green hue to a bright, burnt orange within a few hours. Fire officials determined that the runoff came from a mine located on private property at the corner of Boreas Pass Road and Bright Hope Circle. Initial testing done by fire district personnel found the water to not be an immediate danger to human health. Authorities are still investigating the incident and all local water districts have been notified. The Blue River is one of the primary sources for the Dillon Reservoir, which provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people on the Front Range. A similar event in 2006 was caused by runoff from a mine in the same general location. The orange spill continued for several days, carrying with it high levels of toxic heavy metals. The incident resulted in the mass death of many fish in the Blue River.

2. Breckenridge mourns death of former town Councilman Mark Burke

Breckenridge is mourning the loss of Mark Burke, former town councilman, business owner, husband, father and “man of the people.” Burke died last week at his second home in Denver at 58 years old. As Summit locals recalled their memories of Burke, a man who came from Enfield, Connecticut, they wrote that he was “thoughtful,” “wonderful,” “dedicated,” “kind,” “a mentor,” and even “a legend.” Burke served two consecutive terms on Breckenridge Town Council, championing social issues like early childhood education, youth athletics, school funding and the environment. He has been credited for playing important roles in many of the town’s greatest achievements during his eight years in office.

“He put his heart and soul into everything he did, everything,” his wife Tracy Burke said. “He just loved people.”

3. Lowest jobless rate in Colorado plagues business in Summit County

Extremely low unemployment rates might sound like a good thing, but it continues to create major problems in Summit County and not just among the business community. At a scant 1.6% in March, Summit County had the lowest unemployment rate in Colorado.

“At that level, anyone who is employable is employed,” said Judi LaPoint, executive director of the Summit Chamber of Commerce, as she likened the county’s 1.6% unemployment rate to zero percent unemployment.

Businesses are struggling to find enough workers to fill positions, which LaPoint says often leads to a lower quality of service, in addition to earlier closings and later openings. She said a lack of housing is one of the biggest contributors to the workforce shortage, which is also making it extremely hard for employers to retain workers.

4. Summit County records first wildfire of 2019 with small wildland fire in Silverthorne

Wildfire season began in Summit County on April 20 when a small brush fire was sparked by an authorized slash pile burn on private land at the end of Rainbow Drive in Silverthorne. A local homeowners association had been conducting a slash pile burn on private land at the end of a dirt road when a sudden wind gust lifted embers and flames onto grass and sage on a nearby hillside. The fire, though small and quickly extinguished, reignited concern about wildfire season in Summit County.

5. Breckenridge suspends paid parking in town lots, gondola parking lots through May

Breckenridge has suspended paid parking in the town’s and gondola parking lots through May 31, though on-street paid parking will remain in effect. Beginning May 1, vehicles may be parked overnight in various lots including Tonopah, Courthouse, Exchange, Barney Ford, Ice House and Wellington lots. For more details about parking in Breckenridge, go to

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