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Year in Review 2021: When was normal?

Locations: News Published

Dec. 21, 2020 —
a grand conjunction between planets Saturn and Jupiter, on the solstice, signaled the beginning of “a new epoch,” in the words of Sopris Sun columnist Whitney Will (Sun Signs), “that will see us through until the year 2219.” Year one of that nearly 200 year epoch was a rollercoaster for shared frustrations and renewed hope as the pandemic never faded from peoples’ minds and news headlines. Nonetheless, life continued amid the backdrop of not-quite-back-to-normal.

January

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The vaccination program quickly advanced in Colorado, making first and second doses available to health workers, persons over the age of 70 and first responders. The next round included school workers, postal workers, transportation workers, supermarket employees, legislators and journalists.

Garfield County Public Libraries District eliminated late fees  (but kept a replacement fee for items not returned within 60 days).

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The Carbondale Historical Society recovered Mary Ferguson’s “This I Remember” tapes, featuring oral histories broadcast on KDNK in the ‘80s.

Crystal River Elementary School students enjoyed a new ice skating rink installed by Marty Madsen with help from CUC Construction.

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Rick Holmstrom, the new owner of the Dinkel Building, told The Sopris Sun, “the intent here is not to do some crazy repurposing of the building or modern, out-of-character work on it,” rather, “I think the effort is going to be to provide the TLC [time, love and care] that the building needs.”

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Photo by Sue Rollyson

February

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José Miranda, founder of Rocking TT Bar, filed a formal appeal contesting Pitkin County Open Space’s decision to lease a Glassier Open Space plot to Marigold Livestock Co. Ultimately, the appeal was denied, but generated much discussion surrounding the process and overall (lack of) availability of arable land.

On Feb. 8, Michael Francisco appeared at the Carbondale municipal court, defending against trespassing charges filed by City Market and subsequent charges for resisting arrest… It’s a long story. Over the course of several appearances, Francisco saw a swell of support from Carbondale residents.

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Carbondale trustees approved plans to redevelop the Sopris Shopping Center on Feb. 9. The two mixed-use apartment buildings now under construction will include 76 residential rental units and 10,370 square feet of commercial space. Additionally, Sopris Self Storage will expand to 68,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage.

Carbondale Arts, in partnership with Barbara Frota and the American Heart Association, hosted the first-ever “Light the Night with Love,” an illuminated art walk along the Rio Grande Trail.

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Texas storms caused a spike in demand for natural gas, affecting prices nationwide. As reported by Olivia Emmer, Holy Cross Energy was able to absorb much of the cost thanks to a diversified portfolio. 

March

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The third annual Imagine Climate event, hosted by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, decorated three Colorado Mountain College buildings with temporary murals displaying local faces. Participants also recorded their personal climate stories, which were aired by KDNK and Aspen Public Radio.

High Q, a retail marijuana store, moved into the former location of Miser’s Mercantile on Main Street in Carbondale.

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El Sol del Valle launched on March 11, establishing The Sopris Sun as a bilingual newspaper.

In lieu of the annual fashion show, Carbondale Arts partnered with local restaurants to photograph models sporting fashion lines from the canceled 2020 show.

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Local K-12 kids took over the Aspen Art Museum with “Still Lifes and Works from Home,” an exhibit organized by Adam Stamp.

The Roaring Fork High School (RFHS) baseball team raised funds for an indoor batting facility, receiving donations from the community and local businesses.

The White River National Forest received comments for a plan to address declining aspen tree populations, “due to drought, insects, disease, wildfire suppression and browsing pressure.”

Photo by Sue Rollyson

April

After a 14 month process to settle on a new design for Eighth Street, and a large turnout of neighbors opposing the Bike, Pedestrian and Trails Commission’s recommendation which would have eliminated parking on one side of the street, Carbondale’s trustees chose to maintain the parking while still widening and connecting sidewalks.

RFHS senior Hannah Miller painted a large Pride flag outside the Carbondale Rec Center as part of her capstone project.

Megan Baiardo was hired as the new RFHS principal, after Lyn Bair announced her retirement. Later, Cora Carballeira was selected as RFHS vice principal. Megan Hartmass was hired to serve as vice principal at Basalt High School, filling Baiardo’s previous role. At Crystal River Elementary School, Aimee Brockman moved from vice principal to principal with the departure of Matt Koenigsknecht. Former teacher Kendall Reiley stepped up to serve as Brockman’s vice principal.

The Carbondale Historical Society installed a cross-section from a 120-year-old blue spruce tree along the Rio Grande Trail next to Town Hall. The tree was removed from near the historic Thompson House. Artist John Williams marked the slice with historical events that occurred during the tree’s life.

Holy Cross Energy announced that, in partnership with Colorado Mountain College, 4.5-megawatts solar installation will be installed near the Spring Valley Campus.

May

Making good on a campaign promise by Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson, dialogue began with New Castle Councilor Crystal Mariscal to form what would become the Garfield County Latino Community Committee. The group first met on July 21 in Glenwood Springs and has continued meeting monthly throughout the county.

Gunnison County Commissioners deferred taking action to regulate the amount of ATVs accessing the Lead King Loop via Marble.

Valley View Hospital welcomed folks to their new Urgent After-Hours walk-in clinic.

On May 25, Carbondale trustees denied an application by ANB Bank to move from their current location on Dolores Way to a planned building next to the new City Market.

Warm weather brought a renewal of beloved traditions, like First Friday celebrations, school plays, Carbondale Bike Week, Wilderness Workshop community hikes and more.

Photo by Bonnie Williams

June

The Carbondale Wild West Rodeo returned to the Gus Darien Arena after being canceled all of last summer.

The Carbondale Farmers’ Market also returned with fewer COVID precautions than the previous summer.

Carbondale’s police department welcomed the public to attend its first-ever Citizens Academy, educating residents about the work while also deepening conversations.

Consultant Cushing Terrell was contracted by the town of Carbondale to lead the process for an update to the 2013 Comprehensive Plan.

The Crystal Theatre reopened at half-capacity requiring  proof of vaccination.

Garfield County Commissioners heard extensive comments from proponents and opponents before denying Ascendigo Autism Services’ proposal for a summer camp facility at their property in Missouri Heights.

As a consequence of 2020’s Grizzly Creek Fire, mudslides began closing the Glenwood Canyon with frequency. Debris also flowed into the Colorado River and destroyed the trail to Hanging Lake.

July 

On July 7, Sopris Lodge opened to senior residents.

Sopris Sun cartoonist Larry Day was announced the winner of the poster and t-shirt design contest for the 50th Carbondale Mountain Fair.

Former Town Manager Jay Harrington announced his imminent departure from the role. Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman has filled in since August. Lauren Gister will take over in January 2022.

“Help wanted” signs began proliferating around town as the “Great Resignation” rolled across the country.

Carbondale Arts treated the community to a grand celebration for the 50th Mountain Fair. A good time was had by all, but anecdotally, dozens may have caught COVID during the event. 

Photo by Klaus Kocher

August

It was announced that the Roaring Fork School District would begin the fall semester requiring masks inside buildings. RE-2 took a different approach, but ended up requiring masks too, about a month into the semester.

A coalition assembled by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, scientist Chris Caskey and Aspen Skiing CO met with Senator Michael Bennet in Redstone  to discuss methane leakage from retired coal mines in the Crystal Valley.

Aspen Valley Land Trust closed on the Coffman Ranch, 1.4 miles east of downtown Carbondale. The property will remain conserved for habitat and agriculture and become the home of an educational facility.

September 

Carbondale Arts teamed up with Art of Air to host the first-ever Convergent Circus at 13 Moons Ranch.

Thunder River Theatre Company returned to the stage with “Men On Boats” — the first in-person show there since before COVID.

Photo by Olivia Emmer

October 

VOICES and The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW) presented “Nuestras voces – Teatro en Español,” embracing Spanish-language theater in the Roaring Fork Valley. This came shortly after TACAW began hosting events at their newly-constructed venue, The Contemporary.

The Carbondale Historical Society installed a new 2.7-mile history trail in River Valley Ranch, with kiosks documenting local history.

Glenwood Springs Middle School teacher Autumn Rivera was named 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year!

Colorado Extreme began offering free hockey lessons for youth at Crown Mountain Park.

November 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife solicited public feedback on a proposal to increase the number of hunting licenses for bears in an effort to reduce the frequency of human-bear conflicts,  which have begun to overtake the agency’s capacity to handle.

Basalt High School senior Katelyn Maley defended her title as 3A individual state champion in cross country.

Ra-ra-rams! The RFHS boys soccer team won the 3A state championship match against Jefferson Academy on Nov. 12.

Photo by Will Grandbois

December 

Event cancellations began again as the Omicron variant of the COVID virus caused a new spike of cases.

Tags: #2021 #Carbondale #COVID-19 #History #Year in review
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