Looking back on 30 years of Summit Daily editors | SummitDaily.com

Looking back on 30 years of Summit Daily editors

Curtis Robinson
Editor 1989-1990
(not pictured)

Mike Kirschbaum
Editor 1990-1994

Memorable stories

One is “Assault by burrito” chronicling the exploits of an obviously angry fellow who didn’t like something about his order at the Frisco Taco Bell. Being so disgruntled, he decided a good course of action was to throw a burrito in the face of the employee at whom he directed his anger. At some point, authorities were contacted and burrito guy was cited or arrested or whatever form of discipline was levied.

The other story is the “Phantom pooper.” Silverthorne residents and authorities started finding paper bags of human poop on roads, generally at stop signs. It was winter, so police officers (obviously not liking their streets adorned with bags of human feces) donned white garb and hunkered down in the snow. They positioned themselves near previous “crime scenes.” One officer witnessed a man pull up to the stop sign, open the door and drop yet another steaming bag. Said pooper was arrested. If memory serves, the poop-etrator was a Front Range resident who worked in Silverthorne and lived in his car during the workweek. He had no real commode opportunities, so he pooped in bags and discarded them, presumably so they wouldn’t stink up his car before he could get them back to Denver.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

All you youngsters won’t remember this, but we literally had to print out columns of copy, X-Acto blade those, run them through a waxer and paste them onto flats. Desktop publishing (if that is even still a term) wasn’t really a thing then. Frankly, you all are wimps for having computers to do what we did manually. Oh, and we actually developed film and produced real photos on paper.

Looking back

I loved, like, 42.7% of my tenure. It is really cool to run into people to this day who remember the early years and who say they loved reading the paper every day.

I no longer have work nightmares, no stress, no real deadlines, no owner asking for budgets … ah, heaven.

Kirschbaum now works at a lumberyard in Pine Junction and lives in Conifer.

Kristin Hamm
Editor 1994-1996

Memorable stories

Development stories were always big, and I remember the ousting of a superintendent of Summit School District. That was exciting because there was an anonymous source within the district leaving documentation in our office.

There also was the baby’s body wearing a holiday outfit that was found on the side of Interstate 70 around Christmastime that drew national media attention.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

We had no cellphones, and I think we barely had internet. We still had a paste-up artist who would take the typeset copy from a machine and cut each column with an X-Acto knife, wax it and paste it to a blue board to make the newspaper. We would then drive all those boards in a beat-up company car over Vail Pass to be printed at the Vail Daily offices. Sometimes things would go wrong, like the time the paste-up artist noticed a paragraph from a front page story stuck to the bottom of his sneaker.

Looking back

The Summit Daily was my first real job, and I’ve never worked in another newsroom quite like it. It was a good jumping-off point for a lot of young journalists. Working there sparked my interest in community journalism. It saddens me to see how so many people disparage the mainstream media now.

Hamm is now the chief marketing communications officer at Girl Scouts of Colorado in Denver.

Alex Miller
Editor 1996-2000 and 2008-2012

Memorable stories

One of the first things I covered was the trial of two teenagers who’d shot a state trooper near Georgetown. It was a terribly sad story that I’ll never forget.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

We used to like to have beer in the newsroom, especially on Friday afternoons. After Swift purchased the paper, the new publisher walked into the newsroom and the editor, being hospitable, offered him a beer. A short conversation outside ensued, after which time there was no more beer in the newsroom.

Looking back

Being the editor was never just a job to me; it was part of my identity that I took very seriously despite how much fun we had doing it. I enjoy my job now, but nothing will ever be as meaningful as serving a community with the news and information they need and want.

Miller is now the editor of corporate communications for global satellite company Viasat and lives in Highlands Ranch.

Whitney Childers
Editor 2000-2002

Memorable stories

I can remember waking up the morning of 9/11, turning on the TV and watching the horror start to unfold in New York. The first calls I made were to Summit Daily publisher Michael Bennett and Vail Daily editor Don Rogers. We decided to put out a joint afternoon edition, covering the story from our communities’ perspectives. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Summit and Eagle counties had numerous ties to diplomats, former elected leaders, former government officials and others who provided a voice that our readers could relate to, not to mention the many people in our communities who had family and friend ties to the tragedies of that day.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

We had a whiteboard in the newsroom and tried to keep the best “quotes from the newsroom” on it as an ongoing and light-hearted thing. I think many of the quotes were likely too racy or overstepped too many politically correct lines. But it was funny.

Looking back

I do take a lot of pride in my time at the Summit Daily. I was young, probably made many mistakes, but I was fortunate to work with such talented and smart people that I literally learned something new from them every day.

Childers is now the owner of communications and web design studio GleeMedia in Salt Lake City.

Jim Pokrandt
Editor 2002 to 2005

Memorable stories

A gas pump blew up at the Loaf ‘N Jug, which at that time was just down Main Street from the Summit Daily’s old office. It was spectacular and scary.

Another memorable time was when a spring blizzard on the east side of the tunnel in 2003 closed down Interstate 70 for three days and the county was running out of gas and groceries.

I also distinctly remember Vail Resorts in the early 2000s working to expand Breckenridge ski area. It was predicted that many people would be moving to Colorado and that they would be coming to Summit County. This was about the time Breck broke 1.4 million skier days. The Bell Tower Mall still existed. Sure enough, the ski area added lift capacity, the town began to redevelop and the people came.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

We had a very dog-friendly office and powder mornings.

Looking back

My stint as editor is definitely a high point in my former newspaper career. I became friends with many people in the community who were newsmakers. I know I also ticked off some folks. Living in Summit County was rewarding and fun. Working hard and playing hard were the watchwords.

Pokrandt is now the community affairs director for the Colorado River District in Glenwood Springs.

Ryan Slabaugh
Editor 2006-2008

Memorable stories

The story that stuck with me the most from my tenure was the day the feds showed up and shut down the Dillon Dam Road. Add two kids with Afghani roots and jobs with the airlines, mix in their being caught filming on the Dam Road, and irrational fear soon manifests in the form of military Humvees and radio silence. These were still the post 9/11 shockwave days, when Homeland Security was at its color-coded peak. As was the fashion of the day, the feds closed the road, which blocked emergency vehicles and commuters from quick access to parts of the county, and diverted traffic to the interstate. Frustrations boiled. We wrote stories and editorials every day for weeks until all sides found a compromise: some cement posts and an open road. Oh yeah, and the poor kids were just filming a snowboard movie.

Another was one of the most obvious cases of greed-over-good I ever saw, involving a local attorney, back-up minister and once-reputable resident named Scoop Daniel, who up and vanished one day, leaving his dog running around, his glasses on his desk and the door open. Slowly, we heard that the authorities were piecing together more than a missing-persons case, and a press conference announced that he wandered off with a ton of other people’s money related to real-estate deals. He had staged his own abduction. He got busted eventually.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

Believe it or not, we had a helmet cam in the newsroom in 2006, which involved us buying one from a military contractor and rigging it to a camcorder that recorded Hi8 video inside a backpack. One time, photographer Mark Fox actually got raft guide and former Summit Daily photographer Reid Williams to wear the setup down the Blue River. We even took it skiing quite often. Take that, GoPro.

Looking back

I was promoted to editor when I was 26, so I was completely dependent on a team around me of very talented people, who went on to be editors and writers on a much grander scale. They held me accountable for my mistakes, challenged my judgment when it needed to be challenged and rallied in the most incredible way when we lost our real moral compass, longtime photo editor Brad Odekirk, to a tragic accident.

Slabaugh is now the publisher of organic and sustainable farming magazine Acres U.S.A. in Greeley.

Ben Trollinger
Editor 2012-2019

Memorable stories

The story that rises to the surface is the Buffalo Mountain Fire on June 12, 2018. I remember finishing up my morning run on a trail behind St. Anthony Summit Medical Center that day. I was catching my breath as I looked to the horizon and saw a faint wisp of smoke curling up from Buffalo Mountain. I immediately started texting the newsroom. Everyone mobilized quickly. Our photographer, Hugh Carrey, arrived on the scene almost before first responders. I had no idea how fast that fire would spread. It was terrifying to see it get so close to nearly 1,400 homes. The response from firefighters was stellar. They literally saved lives that day. Events like those bring the community together in a way that’s awe-inspiring. It’s also a stark reminder that in the mountains, we are nature’s guests.

For similar reasons, I will always remember the tragic helicopter crash at St. Anthony on July 3, 2015. I was out at the Frisco Peninsula camping with my family. Again, it all started with a column of smoke on the horizon. It was a terrible tragedy that is still resonating in the community today.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

I’m only three months out of the newsroom, so it still looks very familiar to me, but I’m sure I’ll have a better answer as the years roll by and newsrooms are staffed with sentient robots brought to us by Amazon.

Looking back

It was a huge opportunity for growth, both personally and professionally. Prior to coming here, I spent my whole life in Texas. So moving my family to Colorado was taking a big risk. We’re still here and waiting on our eighth winter. Beyond that, I feel grateful to all the people who were so accepting and helpful when I first started. They were beyond patient.

Trollinger is now the editor of organic and sustainable farming magazine Acres U.S.A. and lives in Frisco.

Courtesy Steamboat Pilot & Today

Nicole Miller
Editor 2019-present

Memorable stories

Our most read story in my short tenure is the reopening of Isak Heartstone, the beloved trail troll that caused traffic snarls and noise complaints from nearby residents in its initial home. The 15-foot tall troll was rebuilt nearby an existing trail system behind the Breckenridge ice area. The artist reused Isak’s original head, heart, hands and feet when re-creating the troll.

The most interesting story has been the lawsuit between Breckenridge Brewery and the building’s owners, who founded the brewery before selling it to Anheuser-Busch. One of the building’s owners said it was “a clear case of David and Goliath,” despite having sold the company to the beer giant. The brewery claims the landlord reneged on a contract to renew the lease. The landlord wants to return the brewery to the locals. And the brewery’s longtime local employees are caught in the middle.

Ghosts of newsrooms past

Despite being at the Summit Daily for only a few months, I’ve been working on newspapers for nearly 20 years. The biggest change has been how digital publishing, including social media, has evolved from an afterthought or novelty to the No. 1 way to reach our readers.

Looking back

You learn the most by making mistakes, but in this profession, those mistakes are published for the world to see. You get really good a taking criticism, accepting responsibility for getting it wrong and working hard to get it right next time.

Miller remains the editor of the Summit Daily and lives in Dillon.


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