New faces, new sheriff, new hospital mark the county commissioners’ 2004 |

New faces, new sheriff, new hospital mark the county commissioners’ 2004

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Judge Terry Ruckriegle swearing in Bob French as county commissioner on July 12 after commissioner Gary Lindstrom stepped down announcing his bid for state representative.

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) saw its 2004 highlighted by shifts in its lineup, the shift it caused in the Sheriff’s Office and the historical groundbreaking that has a new hospital on the way.The board also set the stage for Summit County to go smoke-free in public places when it enacted an antismoking ordinance for unincorporated parts of the county, including the Copper and Keystone resorts.Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne fell in lockstep and on June 1, bar and restaurant workers, in particular, could work in clean air.Inside the board, the triumvirate saw former commissioner Gary Lindstrom become a state representative and longtime Breckenridge attorney Bob French, a Democrat, join Democrat Bill Wallace and Republican Tom Long, who ran unopposed on Aug. 10. Elections went off without many surprises, though poll results took a lengthy amount of time to come in due to slow machinery.

“The machine is old and slow. It counts much slower because it’s an old machine, but it’s accurate and that’s what elections are all about, accuracy, no matter how long it takes,” Vicky Stecklein Price, Summit County elections administrator, told the Summit Daily in November.The French-Lindstrom transition was not nearly as exciting as that in the Sheriff’s Office after Gov. Bill Owens appointed former sheriff Joe Morales as the state’s top cop, presiding over the Department of Public Safety.That left the BOCC with the power of appointment and in a surprise move, the commissioners went outside the Sheriff’s Office to name Silverthorne police Sgt. John Minor to run the Sheriff’s Office.Minor bested two insiders, now former jail captain Mike Phibbs and now Undersheriff Derek Woodman. The fallout, including Minor’s firing of Phibbs for sour postappointment politics, set up an election between Minor and Phibbs in the Republican primary. “We didn’t have the endorsement of the former sheriff. We didn’t have the campaign money the other guy had. But we won. We even won Silverthorne,” Minor said, addressing a crowd of supporters at Downstairs at Eric’s in Breckenridge on election night. “I want to thank all the people of Summit County. This is a dream come true.”The county commissioners also designated Chihuahua, an old backcountry townsite in the Peru Creek Basin, to be protected from development in a pending land swap involving the U.S. Forest Service.

The commissioners unanimously approved Keystone developer Gary Miller’s request to rezone 21 acres near River Run to build 24 high-end homes.Miller, who said he owns Chihuahua and its development rights dating to when it was still a town, would like to swap the old townsite land for the 21 acres of U.S. Forest Service land near River Run in Keystone.Development is now dependent on the U.S. Forest Service land exchange, in which Chihuahua will become public land and Miller’s development rights there would be abolished. “This is a pretty good deal,” said Commissioner Tom Long. “We’ve extinguished a bunch of potential development … any way you slice it, I think everyone in Summit County gains.”The year 2004 also brought with it the realization of the vision for a hospital in Summit County.

Plans for the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, a $40 million project by St. Anthony and Centura Health, were approved by county commissioners last spring. The new hospital, located behind the County Commons south of Frisco, is expected to open in December 2005. The county owns the land, which it leased to the health care organization. Construction has been going strong since the groundbreaking in June. A plastic enclosure surrounds the structure and is heated inside to allow construction to continue through the winter.”It’s going to be one of the most beautiful hospitals in America,” said Teresa Watson, a nurse at the existing Summit Medical Center, at the hospital groundbreaking in June. “The beauty of this hospital is that the unencumbered mountain views, the state-of-the-art technology and our quality care will create a great healing environment. You couldn’t get this in Denver.”As French, Long and Wallace look into 2005, the look to complete another historic land deal. Still waiting to be consummated is the $9 million purchase, in partnership with Breckenridge, of the 1,842 backcountry acres owned by the B&B Mines company.Jennifer Huffman can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at

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