Mountain Town Roundup: 3 indicted in CO deaths at Aspen-area home
ASPEN – A Pitkin County grand jury has indicted three people in connection to the carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of a Denver family of four over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2008.Glenwood Springs resident Marlin Brown and Erik Peltonen of Basalt were both indicted on four class-five felony charges of criminally negligent homicide, Assistant Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said Sunday. Both were served with arrest warrants Friday, and were released on personal recognizance bonds of $11,000 each, Mordkin said.Peltonen and Brown also were indicted on four counts of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. A third person, Brian Pawl, also was indicted on the misdemeanor counts, Mordkin said. Pawl does not face felony charges, according to Mordkin. Peltonen and Brown could not be reached at their residences Sunday. Pawl’s number is not listed. According to Mordkin, Brown owns Roaring Fork Plumbing & Heating, which installed the boiler and pipes at the residence at 10 Popcorn Lane residence, located east of Aspen. That’s where the bodies of Parker Lofgren, 39; his wife, Caroline Lofgren, 42; and their children, Sophie, 8, and Owen, 10, were found in a bedroom by friends a day after Thanksgiving Day 2008. Peltonen, who is now retired, was the building inspector for the residence, Mordkin said.Pawl works as a building-plan examiner and field inspector for Pitkin County. The indictments were delivered by the panel, comprised of 12 jurors and two alternates, on Thursday, July 22, Mordkin said.”We don’t expect any more indictments,” he said.The criminally negligent homicide charges carry presumptive sentences ranging from one to three years in prison. The four separate charges against Brown and Peltonen represent each death in the Lofgren family, Mordkin noted.All three defendants are scheduled to make their first appearance Aug. 16 in Pitkin County District Court. The indictments come nearly a year after the grand jury convened on July 31, 2009. Its session was set to expire at the end of this month. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas that is created when fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas and propane, burn incompletely.It is poisonous and can kill cells of the body. It also replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, which leads to suffocation.The home where the Lofgrens died was not fitted with a carbon monoxide detector, authorities said. The finding was made during an investigation by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, which also concluded a faulty hot-water system leaked the gas into the home. The deaths of the Lofgren family, as well as one by a college student in Denver, prompted the creation of House Bill 1091, which requires most homes in the state to now be fitted with CO detectors.- Rick Carrol/The Aspen Times
ASPEN – Competition for subsidized housing for workers in Aspen has eased, and it could be due to the recession.Only full-time workers in Pitkin County can enter lotteries for the deed-restricted housing.Lottery competition was intense when the resort town’s economy was humming. Now, housing operations manager Cindy Christensen says, some workers find they can now consider free-market housing, others are downsizing into smaller units, and some workers have simply been leaving the area.This year, a lottery for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit at Annie Mitchell Homestead attracted 22 bidders. In 2007 and 2008, similarly priced units drew 42 lottery participants.- The Associated Press
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK – Rangers have found the body of a backcountry skier in Rocky Mountain National Park.The National Park Service says the 40-year-old Colorado man was reported overdue on Sunday. He was said to be an experienced backcountry skier who planned to hike in and ski a snowfield near Finch Lake.Rangers found the man’s car at a trailhead Sunday morning and located his body on a snowfield near the southern boundary of the park later in the day.Rangers plan to remove the body on Monday.It’s not known how the man died. His name and hometown haven’t been released.- the associated press
JACKSON, Wyo. – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is slashing the August price of its all-mountain ski season pass to $1,255.That is a 25 percent reduction from last year’s price of $1,670. The price increases to $1,570 after August.The new deal is called the Grand Pass and offers unlimited skiing for the season with no restrictions. It marks the lowest price for an all-mountain pass at the resort since the 1980s.The resort’s new pricing plan comes as a value for some, but also features changes that will affect large families. Children ages six to 14 will now need a $149 pass to receive season-long lift access next winter.Previously, the resort allowed free passes and discounts for young children.- The Associated Press
DENVER – The National Park Service has named a new director for its Intermountain Region.Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis on Monday announced the appointment of John Wessels. Wessels will be responsible for the service’s 92 national parks and 5,000 employees in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.Wessels had served since 2004 as the regional associate director for administration, business and technology.He joined the Park Service in 2000 as the regional comptroller. He has also held leadership positions at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the service’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Grand Teton National Park.Wessels starts his new job in Denver in August.- the associated press
HAYDEN – The Hayden School District will ask voters in November to consider a property tax increase to help address future expected budget cuts.The School Board, by a 4-0 vote, approved a motion Wednesday night to ask residents to consider approving a mill levy override to generate as much as $344,560 per year. School Board member Kurt Frentress didn’t attend the meeting.After the meeting, School Board President Brian Hoza reiterated that revenue generated from the override would help the district address future expected cuts from the state, maintain staff, protect staff salaries and benefits, and minimize programs that might be at risk with fewer students expected in upcoming years.”It’s sort of Phase 2 of a declining resources problem as our challenges continue to grow,” Hoza said.He added that asking voters to consider the override was a response to a survey of district residents last spring, which indicated support for it. The override would cost about $33 per $100,000 of assessed residential property value annually.Superintendent Mike Luppes said board members would consider ballot language, which is due to the Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s Office by Sept. 3, at the School Board’s August meeting.At that meeting, Luppes said, board members will be presented versions of the ballot language that will include an override of the maximum amount (to generate $344,560) or a partial amount. He also said the options would include language with and without a sunset date.”We would like to have no sunset,” Luppes told the School Board. “That would be nice, but I don’t think it’s feasible.”The board will discuss and take action to approve the ballot language at the August meeting, Luppes said. He said before the election, the district will include information about the override in the back-to-school pack???et that is sent to parents. In addition, Hoza suggested that information be provided at back-to-school open houses and possibly during forums hosted by the School Board.- Jack Weinstein/steamboat pilot
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