Top 5 most-read stories last week: Community mourns death of Jeffrey Flynn, property valuations increase and Straight Creek Fire ignites |

Top 5 most-read stories last week: Community mourns death of Jeffrey Flynn, property valuations increase and Straight Creek Fire ignites

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

1. Man who died after being pulled from Eagle River is identified as Summit County resident

The man who died Sunday, June 6, after being pulled from the Eagle River has been identified as 53-year-old Summit County resident Jeffrey Flynn, according to the Eagle County Coroner’s Office.

Flynn was found unresponsive just before 6:30 p.m. Sunday, according to a news release from the Eagle Police Department. He was wearing a life vest.

He was found by two men on paddleboards who pulled him from the water, began to administer CPR and called police.

Flynn remained unresponsive as first responders took over the administration of CPR and transported him by ambulance to a local hospital. He was pronounced dead by medical professionals upon arriving at the hospital, according to the release.

His death was labeled by police as a suspected boating accident, but the official cause and manner of death have yet to be determined, a spokesperson for Eagle County government said Monday, June 7.

— The Vail Daily

2. Property valuation increases reflect the beginning of the county’s real estate boom

In early May, Summit County homeowners should have received a notice of valuation from Summit County stating what their homes were valued at for the latest reappraisal cycle.

Some homeowners might have been shocked to see a jump in their valuations. According to a press release from the county, the median percent change for residential property values throughout the county, including single family homes, duplexes and townhomes, was about 10.69% on average. Condos were up about 11.47% on average.

Unsurprisingly, this has a lot to do with the boom in the local real estate market, but not as much as residents might assume.

All residential properties in Summit County are valued using the market approach evaluation. Summit County Assessor Frank Celico said this means the county uses the sales of some properties to determine the value of all properties between a certain time frame. For the 2021 evaluation, that data collection period was from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2020, which is when the real estate boom was just starting to take off locally.

Jenna deJong

3. 15- to 20-acre Straight Creek Fire ignites east of Dillon

Editor’s note: Firefighters have reached 80% containment on the 8-acre Straight Creek Fire, according to the most recent update from the White River National Forest.

The Straight Creek Fire ignited off Interstate 70 near Dillon on Thursday afternoon. As of 9 p.m., the fire was about 15 to 20 acres, and firefighters were still on scene working to control it. Officials said no structures are threatened.

At about 6:30 p.m., firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service, Summit Fire & EMS, and the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District responded to a blaze off I-70 near milepost 209 east of Silverthorne, according to Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons. He said the fire is on U.S. Forest Service land.

Summit Fire spokesperson Steve Lipsher said the fire was moving toward the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels, and residents in Silverthorne and Dillon don’t need to be worried for now.

“The fire is blowing up toward the tunnel, and right now there’s no need for anyone to be overly concerned about the fire reaching developed areas,” Lipsher said. “But I think the bigger issue is its June 10, and we’ve got ourselves a regular, serious wildfire here. … All of this is not the harbinger for the fire season we hoped we would see, but it is a definite moment that should promote contemplation and awareness on behalf of our residents and visitors. We are in fire season, and they need to be prepared for fire season.”

Sawyer D’Argonne

4. Community remembers Jeffrey ‘Flynnie’ Flynn

The community is mourning the death of Jeffrey Flynn, a longtime resident and 16-year employee with Summit County government who died in a suspected boating accident on the Eagle River on Sunday, June 6.

Flynn moved to Summit County nearly 30 years ago, according to County Manager Scott Vargo, who called him a friend as well as a co-worker. He began his time with the county government in June 2005, working his way up from combination inspector to senior inspector and plans examiner.

Vargo said his colleagues at the county government, as well as in the greater community, would be deeply impacted by Flynn’s death, and all would remember him fondly.

“He really enjoyed life, and he is going to be sorely missed by the Summit County government and by the Summit County community,” Vargo said. “It is a tough day for folks at the county and for folks that knew Jeff.”

Sawyer D’Argonne

5. Former Summit School District superintendent’s severance package totals $100,000

The Summit School District paid former Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. $100,000 in severance to cover salary for his remaining contract, unused leave, claims of damages and attorney fees.

The severance package will be paid out in three installments, the first of which includes his salary for the remaining month of his contract and unused leave for a total of $25,613. Smith’s annual salary was $179,000, amounting to $14,916 for the month of June. His unused leave totaled $10,696.80.

The second payment of $50,000 is a settlement of claims of noneconomic damages for “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses,” according to a copy of Smith’s mutual separation agreement and release obtained by the Summit Daily.

Lindsey Toomer

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