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From online to the Outlets: LUE Outdoors celebrates opening new location

Samantha Luegger loves the outdoors — so much so that she has dedicated her whole business to connecting other outdoor enthusiasts with new brands. 

LUE Outdoors specializes in outdoor gear, including gloves, water bottles, snowboards and camping meals. Earlier this summer, Luegger celebrated the grand opening of the shop’s brick-and-mortar location in the Red Village at the Outlets at Silverthorne. 

“We are excited to get all these small brands in front of people and show that small businesses have products that people can know and love,” Luegger said. “There are small guys breaking into the outdoors industry, and if other small guys don’t help out, it’s much harder for them to grow.”

In the past, LUE Outdoors existed in an online-only format. Luegger said that originally, her business started through an ambassador and affiliate business, which is where the store gets its name.

Just like going to a mall with varying stores, LUE Outdoors introduced visitors to varying companies at that time. When customers clicked the links to go to the company’s website, it would go straight to the product that LUE Outdoors was promoting. While the website still has this feature, the store now carries its own inventory, which is still made by the companies that Luegger partners with.

Then, earlier this year, the store opened as the only pop-up retail store at the Bluebird Market Food Hall. Luegger’s business partners with other small outdoor gear producers to connect customers with small businesses, with most of them based in the state of Colorado. From a clothing brand started by a mom in Montana to a chocolatier out of Denver that creates trail snacks for hikers, Luegger said LUE Outdoors aims to create mutual benefits from small businesses working together. 

“We focus on the little guys,” she said.

Luegger’s son also has his own skateboard brand featured in the shop, Unhinged Skateboards. Luegger said that no matter what brands are being hosted at her store, she wants the public to be able to discover new companies and enjoy a selection of small owners who hope to grow their businesses.  

“We’ve had nothing but compliments,” Luegger said. “We even had some people that followed us over from Bluebird Market, so that was cool. Also, we’ve done events, fundraisers and stuff where we give products for donations for the prizes, so that’s also a way we connect with the community.”

Silverthorne Days Inn could bring dozens of workforce housing units online by Aug. 1

By the end of the summer, the Days Inn in Silverthorne could house dozens of new workforce units under a new conditional-use permit given to the Summit County Combined Housing Authority. 

Located on Silverthorne Lane, the Days Inn has operated as a hotel since 1986, and the current ownership has managed the location since 2009. Rent for units would be between $850 to $2,000 per month. In total, there are 75 rooms, and 30 of them are equipped with kitchens. Jason Dietz, Summit County’s housing director, said the department is hoping that units could be online as soon as Aug. 1. 

“There’s opportunities for studios, like just basic hotel rooms, up to four-bedroom type units,” Dietz said. “That’s how we came up with the configuration. It could be flexible depending on demand, but based on our experience with other projects and the Days Inn, it’s really nice to have a wide configuration of price points and room types for the local workforce. I feel it’s going to be in strong demand.” 

Planning manager Lina Lesmes said that 15-minute parking currently on the property will need to be removed in order to provide the minimum parking needed for the units, and the town will not allow overnight camping or storage of RVs, boats, trailers and other similar recreational equipment. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a recommendation for the hotel conversion. 

Last year, the county housing authority flipped the Alpine Inn in Frisco for a similar conversion. This created another over 30 more spaces for workers in Summit County. Dietz said in the first week of the rooms being available, over 200 people reached out, and more have reached out a year later. He said people on that waitlist could be moved over to the Days Inn relatively quickly. The county will hire a third-party property manager, and appliances in the units will also be upgraded.

Dietz said the original plan was for the county to purchase the building, but a deal could not be made. The conditional permit allows for use up to four years. At the end of that four years, the housing authority can apply for another conditional use permit. While the owners of the property could theoretically decide that they no longer want to provide the units as workforce housing, Dietz said the immediate need for workforce units outweighs that risk. 

“That is a risk, and a risk that we’re willing to take,” Dietz said. “It’s going to be a fairly large subsidy that the county is putting into this property to provide workforce housing, but the need right now is so great. Within those two to four years, there’ll be multiple other projects that are coming online.” 

Silverthorne Town Council member Amy Manka said that though she sees the need for immediate housing, converted hotel rooms may not be a long-term solution.

“I understand the need and the necessity for this, and I really appreciate how quickly these can come online. I do see such a huge need for the workforce, but it’s also not lost on me that we’re putting our workforce and our locals in hotels while we’re putting our visitors in our neighborhoods,” she said. “With Silverthorne being local-first, visitors-welcome, it seems like this is backwards to me. So that really bothers me, but again, I do see the need and the necessity and the urgency of it to go on now.”

Colorado’s drop in life expectancy blamed on COVID, drugs

In 2021, GRANITE seized 70 pounds of fentanyl along the I-70 corridor running through Eagle County. The fentanyl was found exclusively in counterfeit oxycodone M30 pills, like the ones pictured above.
GRANITE/Courtesy photo

Life expectancy dropped in Colorado for the second straight year in 2021. It’s the kind of decline, driven by the pandemic, not seen in decades, data from the state health department shows.

The average life expectancy for Colorado residents fell to 78 years in 2021. That’s slightly lower than 2020, the first year of the pandemic when it was 78.4 years, but the slide represents a persistent and significant drop of nearly three years compared to 2019.

“The last time life expectancy dropped like this was in 1943, which was the most fatal year of World War II, for the nation,” said Dr. Eric France, the state’s chief medical officer. “It is tragic that we see life expectancy drop. Death rates increased by 20 percent.”

Key drivers for the decline were COVID-19 and overdose deaths.

The data varies by demographic group. COVID-19 was the leading cause of death among Hispanics, as well as non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders and American Indian/Native Alaskans, the data shows.

Dr. Lilia Cervantes, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said she wasn’t surprised by the new numbers.

“The Latino community makes up the majority of the essential workforce,” said Cervantes, who is a member of the Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce. “During COVID, they’ve been the least protected. They’ve not been able to avoid public transportation. They’ve had to continue working sometimes even while ill and are the least likely to have health care coverage.”

Vaccination rates for Hispanics, the term used in state and federal health studies, lag other groups, both in Colorado and nationally.

The data mirror national trends.

American Indians and Alaska Natives faced similar population-level health challenges. Both communities entered the pandemic with “longstanding pre-existing health disparities that made them especially vulnerable to more severe COVID illness and death,” said Michelle Sarche, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor in the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health and Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health.

She noted many tribal communities face underlying health challenges, including “inadequate access to health care, education, affordable and sufficient housing, and economic opportunity, all of which are treaty rights and trust obligations that the United States, in its own analysis, has failed to uphold.”

As troubling as this data is, though, it’s important to tell the whole story, “one of resilience, resistance and survival,″ said Sarche, a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of the Ojibwe tribe.

American Indian and Alaska Native communities “instituted some of the most successful vaccine campaigns,” she said. “They marshaled enormous resources to protect their communities, and the most vulnerable among them — including elders,” bearers of native language and culture for younger generations.

Cervantes also stressed the resilience of Hispanic communities during the pandemic and spotlighted changes that could help down the road.

She said countries with similar wealth as the U.S. provide more comprehensive social services and guarantee health care. She thinks a recent push to cover all Coloradans and make health care more affordable could help.

“Colorado, I feel like, is creating change to make it so that access to health care coverage depends less on immigration status and socioeconomic status,” she said.

The overall life expectancy among Colorado residents was 78.4 years in 2020 (81.0 years for females, 76.0 years for males) and 78.0 years in 2021 (80.9 years for females and 75.2 years for males), according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. That’s based on final death certificate data for 2020 and 2021, and improved population estimates for both years.

COVID-19 remained the third leading cause of death among Colorado residents in 2021, as it was in 2020, the health department found. Among non-Hispanic Black/African Americans, Asians, and whites, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death.

Unintentional injuries, which include all accidental drug overdoses, motor vehicle accidents, and falls, remained the fourth leading cause of death among Colorado residents in 2021, while suicide remained the eighth leading cause, and homicide moved from 17th to 16th leading cause. Chronic diseases continue to make up the remainder of the leading causes of death.

“The biggest driver of the increases in drug overdose deaths in the past few years has indeed been fentanyl,” said Kirk Bol, the state’s Vital Statistics Program manager. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. It’s increasingly being found in other drugs laced with fentanyl, causing users to overdose accidentally.

In 2017, the state recorded 81 fentanyl deaths. In 2021, the number rose to 912, half of all overdose deaths. Bol called it a “shocking increase.”

In 2021, there were 1,881 total drug overdose deaths among Colorado residents — an increase compared to the 1,477 deaths recorded in 2020. The highest increase involved fentanyl, which soared from 540 in 2020 to 912. Increases were also observed in overdose deaths involving methamphetamine and cocaine, while small declines were seen in overdose deaths involving heroin.

This story is from Colorado Public Radio.

Letter to the Editor: Bruce Butler is right, we need to focus on what unites us

Mr. Bruce Butler’s column on the state of the Union is spot on.

He clearly states the facts of our past and current challenges. His encouragement for voting and involvement in local government is probably more important now than ever.

His last paragraph is perfectly delivered. Our country turned 246 years old Monday. To quote, “Let’s focus on what unites us as a nation, respect personal differences of opinion and be grateful we live in such a beautiful place.”

Well stated, Mr. Butler.

Letter to the Editor: Short-term rentals are commercial enterprises, not neighbors, and deserve scrutiny

Some compelling reporting in recent back-to-back Summit Daily News articles on short-term rentals. Fifteen mountain commissioners: AirBnB chooses facts to craft a story that is not true, especially on negative impacts. Breckenridge: Exempt short-term rentals handle issues without using town resources. Frisco: Little reporting from residents on short-term rental complaints.

My take away? Data is used craft any story you want. In my neighborhood, nearly all moves from owner/long-term rentals occupied has gone to short-term rentals. And, I’ve been told that I need to make complaints for all issues. No one asked me to become a code enforcer for neighboring short-term rentals. And, who wants to be “that guy” anyway? The playground snitch running to teacher. When did the quiet enjoyment of my home come to include a demand that I complain?

There is a lot to complain about short-term rentals in single family residential neighborhoods: ranging from street-facing party tubs, loud parties, second hand weed, speeding, micro trash, noxious weeds, on-street parking, overloaded houses, increased traffic from service staff and repairs, dust, unprepared vehicles blocking roads, 24/7 lighting, outside fires, nonessential over use of utilities, attracting wildlife, trespassing, no spending on landscaping or wildfire mitigation, pet waste, public urination. Are all these law violations? No. But each is a violation of neighborly courtesy. Do all these happen incessantly in each short-term rentals? No. But I could make one complaint every day on one of them. 

With neighbors, you show up with a bottle of wine or some home-baked cookies and talk it through. You don’t complain to the government. Homes as short-term rentals are not neighbors. They are commercial enterprises in single-family residential zones and residents as complainers is a strategy doomed to marginalize residents.

Welcome to more Summit Slums for the one percenters.

Letter to the Editor: Taxes are taken to address workforce shortages, but nothing is being done

Last year, my husband and I decided to buy a condo in Frisco that we, our kids and grandkids could enjoy. We continued what our condo’s original owners did: renting it out to short-term-renters to help us fund the pricey mortgage.

We bought new furniture and fixed up the place and hired a wonderful management company in Summit County Mountain Retreats. Everyone knows Summit County has a staffing issue due to the steep price of homes and the work force for low- and medium-wage earners.

It needs to be addressed immediately, which should have happened 30 years ago when the data about workforce shortages was first presented to the Summit County town councils.

Our tax and license forms indicate that this money is being used to fund affordable housing. Here is my question: why doesn’t Frisco put a moratorium on building more luxury condos and instead develop as many trailer parks as they possibly can? Surely that’s the fastest and least expensive way to actually help workers find housing.

Letter to the Editor: The Bob Dylan concert in Dillon was a complete letdown

So you went to the Dillon Amphitheater last night hoping for a wonderful evening out with friends, maybe catching a beautiful sunset,and possibly connecting with old acquaintances that you haven’t seen in awhile!

Check.

Then you also hoped to see an American icon perform some of best music that has shaped the progressive and defiant thinking of multiple generations!

Think Again!

What a let down.

Bob Dylan mailed in a performance last night at the amp that couldn’t be defined by one word better than — disappointment!

Bob showed last night on the shores of Lake Dillon why so many others around the country have responded in kind that maybe it’s time to retire from live shows!

His set had no life, energy, pop, rhythm or chemistry and left many in the audience wondering and actually pleading out loud for at least one song from his massive catalog of hits.

Instead we got a garbled lounge act that left many feeling cheated!

He hid behind his piano box, never once acknowledged the crowd with a simple “thank you” or a painfully obvious play on words that we all had fun with leading up to this performance — “It’s great to be Bob Dylan playing in Dillon!”

Nope.

We all walked out of that show bewildered. Could he have botched that gig any worse?

Sadly, I think not!

Letter to the Editor: It is time to get religion out of health care in Summit County and the US

I applaud the young women who spoke out on July 1 in solidarity with women potentially impacted by the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but the article in the Summit Daily News about this action missed the boat. The blueness of Colorado laws is irrelevant to the larger issue, which is control of health care by a radical religious sect, aka the Catholic Church.

In Summit County the primary hospital, the only emergency room, most of the urgent cares and the majority of medical practitioners are controlled by policies of the Catholic Church. In Denver and elsewhere across the state most of the hospitals are controlled by the Catholic Church, no matter what religion may be present in the hospital name.

It goes without saying that none of these resources will be available to anyone seeking an abortion no matter what Colorado State law says. But what about other things? Medical care during and after a miscarriage? If a woman is diagnosed with cancer while still fertile, will these facilities approve chemotherapy which could kill the eggs? How about for a man with viable sperm? Vasectomies? Could a person with a family history of ovarian cancer have their ovaries removed, even if remaining eggs are viable? Do you want a panel of priests deciding if someone can have a hysterectomy or if they should just suck it up and deal with the pain of uterine fibroids or cancer risk.   

It is time to get religion out of health care and out of government. It is time for county and state governments to stop contracting with religious entities for healthcare services. And it is past time that a bunch of men who cannot even control their own colleagues stopped trying to control the rest of us. 

PHOTOS: Summit County celebrates Fourth of July

Find Waldo event begins in Frisco to encourage local shopping

Next Page Books & Nosh is hosting a scavenger hunt to encourage local shopping. The event lasts through July.
Liz Copan/ecopan@summitdaily.com

In celebration of the longevity and popularity of the “Where’s Waldo” book series, Candlewick Press is teaming up with the American Booksellers Association and hundreds of independent bookstores across the country for a unique hide-and-seek activity. Now through the end of July, people are encouraged to visit Frisco businesses to find the man in the red and white shirt.

Anyone who wishes to participate can pick up a stamp card at Next Page Books & Nosh, 409 Main St. in Frisco, and visit multiple local businesses such as Abbey’s Coffee, Frisco Bay Marina and The Sunny Side Up Studio to collect stamps.

Those who collect more than 20 stamps will earn a $1 coupon for any Waldo book and a chance to win the grand prize. A party and drawing will take place 5 p.m. July 30 at the book store. For more information, visit NextPageBooks.com.