Summit County’s top stories: January and February 2012 |

Summit County’s top stories: January and February 2012

Daily News staff report
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Summit Cove residents and county officials alike are pushing for road improvement projects on and around Highway 6 this year, in an effort to enhance access, traffic flows and safety in the area.

As the county puts requests to the Colorado Department of Transportation for street light changes and pedestrian safety improvements, citizens in Summit Cove are asking residents of a local improvement district to support a new bike lane.

County officials asked CDOT to consider a number of projects on Hwy. 6, including reprogramming the traffic light at Swan Mountain Road to allow a longer window for left-hand turns.

This year, Ullr may be 49 and feelin’ fine, but the rest of us ain’t doin’ so great; seems the Norse god of snow is taking a bit of a break before his big 5-0, not making any snow.

But Breck is doing its best to shake up the deity and remind him where his allegiance resides: The town and chamber are reinstating traditional events like the bonfire and bringing the coronation and the Ullympics to Main Street locations in an effort to create a more tight-knit community feeling.

No surprise: It’s dry out there.

The current snow drought in central Colorado has the Colorado River Basin – which includes Summit County – at 60 percent of average snowpack and 41 percent of last year’s snow totals for the same time last year.

Statewide, Colorado’s snowpack was 71 percent of average and 52 percent of last year’s readings as of Jan. 1.

While talks with Breckenridge Ski Resort on a joint transit system are progressing well, the Breckenridge Town Council decided not to take action to put a lift-ticket tax question on the April ballot. “They’ve made very strong verbal commitments,” Councilwoman Jen McAtamney said at Tuesday’s regular meeting. “Because they did step up and have that conversation, I’m not comfortable passing this at this time.”

The revenue from the proposed tax would have been used to improve transit in Breckenridge and to consolidate the ski area and town bus systems.

Local and Front Range authorities busted two illegal marijuana grow operations this week as a wave of drug raids swept Colorado.

Scott Matthew Shumsky, 38, was arrested late Monday night after Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies found 16 ounces of marijuana and 120 plants at his residence.

The processed marijuana had an estimated street value of $5,800, while the plants were valued at approximately $600,000.

Team Canada-Quebec secured first prize in the 22nd annual International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge with “Great Expectations,” a complex piece depicting the “ice houses” once used to preserve meat, poultry and fish on the Saint Anne River in central Quebec. Along with 15 other teams and artists from 11 other countries, Team Canada-Quebec worked across five days, for a total of 65 hours, to create an enormous work of art from a 20-ton block of snow.

When professional snowboarder Meesh Hytner pulled the cord on her avalanche airbag last week, she was already in the midst of a substantial slide on the northeast face of the Deer Creek headwall near Montezuma.

The slide was one of 17 natural and human-triggered avalanches recorded throughout last week and into the early part of this week in the Vail and Summit Zone, according to Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

An empty lot the town of Frisco has been looking to fill for years may see a new Whole Foods grocery store before long. The natural grocer’s look and reputation could step up Frisco’s Interstate 70 interchange, drawing more traffic off the highway and into the Summit Boulevard commercial district.

That’s what town officials hope, anyway.

They’ve been approached by developer David O’Neil, who says the Austin, Texas-based company may consider the town’s vacant, 9.4-acre interstate parcel west of Summit Stage’s Frisco Transit Center and near Meadow Creek Park for a new home.

Summit High School senior Tristan White died Friday afternoon after collapsing during wrestling practice Wednesday and spending the last few days in a Denver hospital. He was 17.

A statement from Summit High School said doctors had been working around the clock in an effort to stabilize his heart and overall condition. White was placed on life support Thursday, and though his condition was relatively stable throughout the night, he died shortly after noon Friday.

After the town of Dillon’s appeal over the ruling in the Yacht Club Condominiums case was shot down in December, the town has extended an offer to the condo board and at the same time, asked that the Colorado Supreme Court review the case.

Dillon has offered to spend the money to move Gold Run Circle and the recreation path north of the town’s right-of-way, which would allow Yacht Club residents to tandem-park on Gold Run Circle next to the condos. There would be no parking permitted on the traveled roadway, and the Yacht Club would have to agree not to park on the recpath.

Wildlife and watershed are at the top of the list of items to be considered in White River National Forest officials’ review of Keystone Resort’s newly proposed projects.

The agency is soliciting feedback from the public about the proposed action, its purpose and need and potential alternatives before officials initiate the environmental assessment. A decision should be issued at the same time the environmental analysis is completed – with a 45-day administrative appeal period in place before the decision is finalized.

In the next few years, Keystone wants to replace the Summit House that sits atop Dercum Mountain as well as expand the Adventure Point tubing area to include more – and longer – lanes as well as a permanent lodging facility (to replace what they say is an insufficient yurt).

The tussle between Silverthorne officials and several homeowners fighting a town trail in their backyard continues as a citizen petition to amend the town charter was again rejected.

“Our review for sufficiency is not bureaucratic, it’s the town’s duty and responsibility to protect the integrity of a legally mandated state petition process, and we simply have not yet received a petition that meets those simple requirements,” Silverthorne spokesman Ryan Hyland said.

The rift is over eminent domain, the practice of taking private property for public use with compensatory payment to the owner. Petitioners want to put restrictions on it while the town is looking to apply it to finish a section of its Blue River Trail.

The charter currently contains one sentence pertaining to eminent domain permissions: “The town shall have the right of eminent domain for all municipal purposes whatever within or without the limits of the town.”

Snow and wind combined Tuesday to boost snowpack on the slopes but also elevated avalanche danger in the backcountry.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Brian Lazar anticipated avalanche danger rising to considerable on below-tree line, wind-loaded slopes by Tuesday afternoon.

Fugitive Breckenridge attorney Royal “Scoop” Daniel pleaded guilty to two charges of felony theft while insisting his crimes were never intentional.

Daniel was originally charged with eight counts of theft and five counts of commercial bribery in mid December. The two counts he pleaded guilty to Tuesday each carry a possible punishment of four to 12 years in jail, probation or up to $750,000 in fines. All other charges were dismissed.

Clad in a black-and-white-striped jail uniform and bound by ankle shackles, Daniel told judge Karen Romeo he did not agree to a first reading of the guilty plea, which said the acts were committed with intent.

“I did not obtain (the funds) without authorization,” he told Romeo. “I never had the intent to deprive them permanently.”

Instead, Daniel said he was prepared to plead guilty to committing acts that as a consequence, deprived the victims of their funds. His public defender modified the plea deal paperwork to take out the word “intent.”

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