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Summit sheriff calls Quandary Peak parking and shuttle program a success

A sign sits in the Quandary Peak trailhead parking lot in August notifying hikers of the new reserved parking system. In a community conversation event Monday, Oct. 25, Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons called the program a success.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons hosted a community conversation on trailhead parking for a small crowd in attendance at the Summit County Community & Senior Center in Frisco on Monday, Oct. 25, providing an update on the Quandary Peak shuttle program that kicked off this summer as well as plans for possible expansion moving forward.

Earlier this year, a group of stakeholders got together to discuss parking issues at trailheads, which has become a growing concern over the past couple of summers and was exacerbated by expanded interest in outdoor recreation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the beginning of 2020, when our world started to cave in and people tried to find stuff to do in the backcountry, we really saw our parking issues explode,” FitzSimons said. “… So this summer, we decided to take on Quandary because Quandary was getting hammered with (heavy traffic). It really became a problem for public safety, as well, not only for the Sheriff’s Office but certainly for search and rescue … where there were certain times we couldn’t (get) access all the way back on the roads because of the way people were just abandoning their cars in the center of the road.”

The increased traffic to the trailhead is no illusion. Quandary Peak is Colorado’s most popular 14er by far, tallying nearly 50,000 hiker days in 2020 as a growing number of visitors continue to seek out new ways to explore the area’s backcountry.

To solve the problem, Summit County implemented a pilot program that required hikers making their way to the Quandary Peak and McCullough Gulch trailheads to reserve a paid parking space or take a free shuttle from Breckenridge. FitzSimons said despite some skepticism and negativity from community members at the onset of the program, officials believe it was ultimately successful.

FitzSimons said about 3,200 people have reserved spots in the paid lot since it opened July 30, and the shuttle has seen in excess of 20,000 riders to date. He noted that the third-party company hired to facilitate reservations and enforcement has issued a total of 327 citations for people illegally parked in the paid lot.

Summit County Rescue Group members in attendance said the system has helped with their operations in the area, as well.

“The missions we’ve had up there, we’ve just pulled right in,” rescue group spokesperson Anna DeBattiste said.

In addition to the new paid parking and shuttle service to Quandary Peak this year, deputies and community service officers were also tasked with ramping up parking enforcement on county roads near other problem trailheads. FitzSimons said parking enforcement has traditionally taken place only during winter, when officials needed to make sure cars were off the road for snow-plowing operations. But the office has had to take a more proactive approach of late.

“The summer issues were complaint driven,” FitzSimons said. “As people complained about certain areas, we would go in and address those issues, and it seemed to work.”

Officials were also trying to determine where drivers parking illegally were coming from, and many were from out of state. For example, of 105 citations written for people parked on county roads in August near Quandary (87), Wildernest (11), Peaks Trail (4) and Ptarmigan Trail (3), FitzSimons said 53 were registered in Colorado and only a few of those were Summit County residents.

FitzSimons said there would be efforts in the future to provide better messaging to Front Range and out-of-state visitors on local parking requirements, including more consistent signage posted near trailheads, social media campaigns and asking hotels to provide information to their guests.

The Quandary Peak and McCullough Gulch pilot program ends Sunday, Oct. 31, meaning hikers won’t be required to book parking reservations beginning in November, but they also won’t be able to hop on a shuttle.

FitzSimons said stakeholders would regroup this winter to dig into data and discuss how the pilot program went. From there, they’ll ultimately decide whether they want to expand the program to other trails in the county or seek additional solutions to overcrowding.

“We do realize that this is a problem that is countywide,” FitzSimons said. “… We also realize that this isn’t a silver bullet. What worked at Quandary might not work at these other places, but we do now have some sort of success to go back and look at this data to try and make sense of — to see parts and pieces of what might work somewhere else — because I can tell you that it’s not going to get less crowded.”

Summit school board candidates talk mental health, student success at high school forum

Candidates for the Summit School District Board of Education are seated on the stage in the Summit High School auditorium Oct. 18 for a nonpartisan election forum. On Wednesday, Oct. 27, the candidates sat down again to answer questions from students.
Lindsey Toomer/Summit Daily News

Leaders of the Summit High School Student Council met with eight of the nine school board candidates to ask about their priorities Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Student council leaders Ali Adkins, Avery Eytel, Liliana Lopez, Olivia Lyman and Taylor Tullio each took turns asking the candidates questions about topics important to them, such as mental health, community outreach, equity and post-secondary success.

As a former student in the district, Toby Babich said he understands the struggles many students go through. He said he wants input from students and staff to influence decisions and that he wants to see the district providing more mental health resources.

“I know what it’s like to be alone, isolated and need support from the school district to assist me in achieving my goals,” Babich said. “I know what it’s like to be left behind, but I also know what it’s like to succeed despite overwhelming challenges with the help of a good school district.”

Incumbent Lisa Webster said she would advocate for better school funding statewide. She also said she thinks the district’s International Baccalaureate program is valuable to the district but that there’s always room for improvement.

“I would say that most of you all, whether you realize it or not, have the capacity that a lot of adults don’t in terms of presenting what your idea is, being risk-takers to give your opinions and not sit back idly and watch things slide by,” Webster said.

Manuela Michaels said she doesn’t think the district’s last superintendent or board members prioritized academics. She also said she thinks more support should be provided to help English Language Learners, who felt a greater impact during the pandemic since many parents weren’t able to help with online school.

“In this campaign, we have met with teachers, principals, academic officers, bus drivers, and we have knocked on over 800 doors,” Michaels said. “I would keep doing that work because it’s the only way to know what concerns people have and know how to help them.”

Chris Guarino said one of his main priorities is being an active listener and a consensus builder, adding that he wants to work with students to determine the role they want to play. He also said he is dedicated to creating equitable systems for the district’s English Language Learners.

“I think our community embraces our English Language Learners, and I think our school district does,” Guarino said. “… I want everyone to feel welcome and a part of this school district. We are a public school district. We’re here to serve every member of the public.”

Kim Langley said teachers are the “tip of the spear” and that everyone in the district needs to work to support them in their role of teaching students. She also said the district needs more mental health resources.

“We need the teachers and students to be trained on how to recognize the signs and feel comfortable asking the tough questions,” Langley said. “We need to make sure that there is no stigma attached to mental health issues, and we must provide the support necessary to anybody that needs it: students, teachers, admin, bus drivers or anybody else.”

Incumbent Kate Hudnut said it’s important for the district to reach out to the community on a variety of platforms, noting how much she uses social media to share information. She also noted the importance of continuously looking for new mental health resources.

“It’s not ever something we will check the box on,” Hudnut said about mental health. “It is something we will continually revisit, continually invest in and continually get feedback on how it’s going.”

Danielle Surette said she wants to know more about what mental health resources the district has in place and what more needs to be done. She also said the community needs to work together to help the district improve.

“My main goal is to get students back on track academically and encourage students to learn to think critically,” Surette said. “… We have a little bit of work to do here, but I do know that Summit School District can be great.”

Incumbent Johanna Kugler said community relationships with the board need to be reciprocal and that she hopes to see more folks engaging with the school. She also said it’s important for students to have multiple pathways to post-secondary success.

“I think our education is a partnership,” Kugler said.” The child is an expert on themselves, the parent is an expert on the family, and our teachers are experts in the field. And in order for us to thrive and for you to thrive, we need all three to work together.”

Pat Moser was not in attendance.

Elite snowboarders stoked for Dew Tour and 2021-22 winter season

Summit County’s Red Gerard competes in the men's snowboard slopestyle finals at the U.S. Grand Prix and World Cup on March 20 at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/Aspen Times

Summit County ski areas have begun to open for the season, signaling the return of elite-level ski and snowboard competitions to Summit County.

This year, two of those competitions, which happen to be Olympic qualifiers, will take place at Copper Mountain Resort.

Copper will host halfpipe skiers and snowboarders at the Toyota Grand Prix from Dec. 9-11 and will serve as host the very next weekend for the 2021 Winter Dew Tour from Dec. 16-19. Dew Tour will feature halfpipe and slopestyle competitions, snowboard adaptive competitions and a nighttime street-style jam session. Both events are free and open to the public.

Two athletes who are scheduled to compete in Dew Tour — alongside Shaun White, Julia Marino, Alex Hall and Maggie Voisin — are Danny Davis and Summit County local Red Gerard.

Gerard and Davis have spent the past few weeks in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, putting in training for the 2021-22 competition season, which offers not only the promise of two Olympic qualifiers in Colorado but also the 2022 Winter Olympics from Feb. 4-22, 2022, in Beijing.

“I spent about a month in Europe training,” Gerard said. “Training went well. We had really good, safe builds with good snow, which isn’t always the case as a lot of times you can go there and it’s really icy. Everyone there was eager to get training after a long summer.”

While in Switzerland, the two snowboarders found themselves in the grind of preparing for the upcoming competition season. Davis and Gerard said they would routinely wake up, eat a meal and then train until about midday out on the snow. The rest of the day was then spent recovering by stretching, getting worked on by physical therapists and going to the sauna in order to ensure they could wake up and do the same thing tomorrow.

“Body maintenance is a big part of the sport that many people may not realize,” Davis said. “We are constantly trying to get the body right after travel, training or a string of competitions.”

Pro snowboarder Red Gerard hits a Woodward Copper jump in January.
Curtis DeVore/Courtesy photo

Both Gerard and Davis are regulars to the Dew Tour, competing in the competition for the past several years. Davis, who is originally from Highland, Michigan, won the first Dew Tour superpipe competition in 2008 at Breckenridge.

Davis said he plans on competing in superpipe at this year’s Dew Tour, while Gerard is planning on competing in slopestyle and perhaps streetstyle, which he said he was recently invited to.

This winter’s Dew Tour also brings the return of spectators after a year when they were absent due to COVID-19.

“Nothing really changed for us last year during the pandemic in terms of being able to still get outside and do what we love to do,” Davis said. “But that crowd aspect of the competitions was missing, and doing contests without people is a bit lame. It will be nice to have everyone back, to see the stoke, and it makes us feel like true athletes when people are there to high-five us at the end of a run.”

“The Dew Tour especially always does an amazing job for the spectators,” Gerard added. “Even when we are not competing, there is always something for the fans to be doing in the Dew Village.”

Gerard and Davis expressed how much they enjoy the proximity of the village to the competition that Copper offers each year at Dew Tour.

“We don’t have to drive very much, which not every competition allows for,” Davis said. “We can wake up, walk to breakfast, walk to dinner, walk to the lift. It is a nice little village making it a nice competition for us.”

Dew Tour aside, both snowboarders plan to compete at several competitions this season. Davis said he plans to attend a few competitions and then focus on making some snowboarding films. Gerard plans to compete four to five times this season and hopefully be named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic team by scoring enough points at Olympic qualifying events.

“To be able to compete at Copper Mountain in an Olympic qualifier in front of my friends and family makes me both comfortable as well as nervous,” Gerard said about the hometown venue. “Overall, I’m really excited, because I know the team at Copper is going to build a really good slopestyle park for us to compete and have fun on.”

Even though Gerard is vying for his second Olympic team, his goals and aspirations for the season are similar to those of Davis, who is not making the Olympics a focus.

“I want to have some fun this season,” Gerard said. “Some good contest results would be cool, landing new runs and tricks and hopefully getting in some spring film shoots, which we slacked on last year. And it would be awesome to make it to the Olympics, too.”

Gerard and Davis will kick off Dew Tour competition Dec. 16 as they take part in men’s slopestlye and superpipe. More information about the event can be found at DewTour.com/snow.

Colorado Mountain College Sustainability Club hosting dog costume contest fundraiser

The Sustainability Club at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge is hosting a dog costume contest from 4-5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at the Breckenridge campus, 107 Denison Placer Road.

The contest will serve as a fundraiser for the club, with money for entrance fees and raffle tickets all going to the club. The club also is hoping to spread awareness about sustainable animal products.

11% of Summit County ballots are in with a week to go

Two weeks after ballots were mailed to the 22,000 active, registered voters in Summit County, 2,500 ballots have been returned and accepted, according to Summit County Clerk and Recorder Kathleen Neel.

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, Neel reported that while 2,500 ballots had been accepted so far, more had been turned in and were being processed with a week to go before Election Day.

Early in-person voting started Monday, Oct. 25, but turnout has been lackluster. Neel said only seven people had voted at the early voting polling center. Noting that mail-in ballots are more popular, Neel encouraged voters to get their ballots in on time.

“They have to be in … by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Postmarks do not count,” Neel said.

A polling center is set up for early, in-person voting at the Summit County Library south branch, 103 S. Harris St., Breckenridge. Summit County residents can vote at this location from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 29, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 30, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1.

On Election Day, Nov. 2, Summit County residents can cast their votes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Summit County Library south branch in Breckenridge; the Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway; or the Summit County Community and Senior Center, 0083 Nancy’s Place, Frisco.

Signed ballots can be dropped off at polling centers or at drop boxes at the following locations:

  • Dillon Town Hall, 275 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon
  • Frisco Town Hall, 1 Main St., Frisco
  • Summit County Library north branch, 651 Center Circle, Silverthorne
  • Summit County Library main location, 0037 Peak One Drive, Frisco
  • Summit County Courthouse, 208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge

Private Christian school did not open in Dillon as planned

Mountain House Academy, a private Christian elementary school that planned to open in Dillon this year, is not operating at its intended location in Dillon.

Town of Dillon spokesperson Kerstin Anderson said the town has no knowledge of school operations at 124 Main St. in Dillon. The Facebook page for the school has also been deleted.

Erica Bull and other representatives of the planned school did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Summit Daily News.

If you received a Moderna or J&J vaccine, you might be eligible for your booster shot

According to a news release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, those who received a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are at a higher risk for COVID-19 can now receive their booster shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends those who are 65 and older, residents in long-term care facilities and those ages 18-64 with underlying health conditions — plus those who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of where they work or live — get the Moderna booster. Those who originally got the Moderna vaccine should wait at least six months after their second dose before receiving a booster.

Booster doses are also recommended for anyone age 18 or older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Pfizer booster shots were approved in September.

The CDC also recently authorized the “mix and match” of booster doses, meaning people can get a different type of vaccine for their boosters than their original dose.

For more information on booster doses, visit COVID19.Colorado.gov/vaccine-booster-eligibility.

Summit County Animal Control & Shelter hosts Halloween parade

Summit County Animal Control & Shelter’s Halloween dog parade starts Frisco’s Trick or Treat on Main Street on Sunday, Oct. 31. Costumes are encouraged.
Summit County Animal Control & Shelter/Courtesy photo

Kicking of Frisco’s Trick or Treat on Main Street is a Halloween dog parade. Hosted by Summit County Animal Control & Shelter, the event features music, games, prizes and some shelter pups, too.

Staging for the parade begins at 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, at the Frisco Historic Park, 120 Main St. The parade begins at 3 p.m. and will end at Seventh Avenue.

Registration is not required for the free parade. Costumes are strongly encouraged.

Registration open for 8th annual Frisco Turkey Day 5K

Runners start the Turkey Day 5K in 2019 in Frisco.
Jenise Jensen/Courtesy photo

Registration is now open for Frisco’s eighth annual Turkey Day 5K, which will take place on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25.

The race, which is presented by the Steadman Clinic and Philippon Research Institute, will start and finish at the old Community Center, 110 S. Third Ave.

The fun run is not timed and costumes are encouraged. The event is open to all ages and will take participants on the Summit County recpath as well as Frisco side streets.

Strollers and leashed dogs are permitted. The race course will be plowed where possible, but organizers warn the course might have spots with snowy or icy conditions.

Registration is open at TownOfFrisco.com/events until Nov. 23. Registration also will be available from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 24 and from 8-9:15 a.m. Nov. 25 at the old Community Center.

It costs $25 for adults and $15 for youths younger than 18. The run is free for kids 5 and younger. By registering for the race, participants will get their choice of socks or a T-shirt on a first-come, first-served basis until supplies run out.

The event is also in need of volunteers. Those who are interested are asked to email grantm@townoffrisco.com to sign up.

Two participants pose in their costumes during the 2019 Turkey Day 5K in Frisco.
Jenise Jensen/Courtesy photo

Letter to the editor: Slate of four for school board is dedicated to good teachers

Show me a failing school district, and I’ll show you a teachers union that is contributing.

This is an alarming statement but a documented fact. Do not misunderstand or associate good teachers with a labor organization. Quite the contrary, good teachers are our most valuable and precious asset and must be protected — a resource that the 4 For the Kids candidates value most.

A teachers organization’s sole purpose is to represent the teacher by maximizing teacher pay, benefits and working conditions. Sounds noble, but its purpose is anything but improving teaching performance or enhancing the student education. In fact, unions inhibit a teacher’s performance or incentive to teach and excel. They prevent ongoing education and training for our teachers. They not only prevent incentives, merit pay and bonuses for excellence, but they also protect poorly performing teachers. The school board can’t terminate, discipline or retrain substandard teachers at its discretion. The organization forces the school district to accept a minimum. The Summit County Education Association dictates to our current board. Of course, it will say anything to protect this position.

Why is the education association villainizing the 4 For the Kids candidates? Why is it wrongfully attacking them? These are individuals who refuse to be anything but independent — a slate that puts education, students, teachers and the community foremost, and that doesn’t answer to a political party. They believe the school board answers to our community. They have specific plans to aid our teacher performance, resources and compensation. The slate wants to partner with teachers. The education association needs to decide whether to remain part of the problem or be part of the solution.

Kim Langley, Danielle Surette, Pat Moser and Manuela Michaels are proven leaders with solutions to improve the quality of education and represent our community.