Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022. Photo by Sue Rollyson

Another year has come and gone with hardship and success. We at The Sopris Sun offer this brief look back at just a few of the headline happenings.

At the beginning of the year, a surge of Omicron, the prevailing COVID-19 variant, had local governments reinstating indoor mask mandates as free testing centers saw a sharp incline in demand. Thankfully, this variant proved to be less severe than its predecessors and the peak arrived shortly. Meanwhile, a same-day testing service set up a lab in Carbondale instead of sending samples out-of-state.

In other news, MANA Foods, Carbondale’s locally-focused health food store, skipped down to the Red Rock Plaza (where Mark Burrows will open a neighboring chocolate bar and store early in 2023). Meanwhile, Terry Glasenapp premiered his collection of local cultural oddities with a Glenwood Spring Arts Council show, and Two Rivers Community School, founded in 2014, joined the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) with a unanimous vote from the board of directors. 

MANA Foods moving into its new space, photo by Raleigh Burleigh

As the darkness of winter wore on, Carbondale Arts teamed up with KDNK Radio to bring back Light the Night with Love for its second year. This outdoor, interactive art walk transformed the Rio Grande Trail into the “Heart Way” and served to kick off Love Notes, a project created by Brijetta Waller to support LGBTQ+ youth with words of encouragement from the community for display in schools.

In other news, a 54-acre land donation established the Marble Wetlands Preserve with help from the Trust for Land Restoration, and RFSD lifted its universal face mask mandate which was in place since the return to in-person learning in 2020. 

Light the Night with Love 2022, photo by Sue Rollyson 

Spring brought new beginnings, along with White River Books restoring the presence of a bookstore in Carbondale, Hattie Rensberry joining The Sopris Sun team as our layout guru, free senior meals returning to Carbondale (Wednesdays at The Orchard at noon) and Eric Mitchell purchasing Phat Thai to keep its legacy rolling.

Phat Thai’s new bouncer, Phoebe, photo by Eric Mitchell

April opened with a big surprise, as the Crystal Valley’s iconic biodynamic ranch, Sustainable Settings, was put on the market. Nine candidates put a hat in the ring to represent Carbondale on the Board of Town Trustees while Basalt Council saved on an election with only incumbents showing interest in serving. Tiny Bine Bistro became Carbondale’s latest go-to for a homey vibe and delicious food. And The Sopris Sun launched a dedicated fiction section on the supposed birthday of William Shakespeare. 

Charles Ford and Leslie Lamont of Tiny Pine Bistro, photo by Sue Rollyson

Two new faces joined the community in notable positions of authority: Jamie LaRue became the Garfield County Public Libraries District’s executive director, and Dr. Jesús Rodríguez was hired as the next RFSD superintendent.

Glenwood Springs’ Strawberry Days returned after a two-year hiatus with a parade and music, though the traditional beauty pageant was left in the history books. Speaking of history and progress, Coal Basin Ranch opened restored lands to mountain bikers where once there was an industrial coal mining operation west of Redstone. Family Visitors Program, founded in 1983, rebranded as Great Expectations to reflect expanded services in support of families and to prevent child abuse and neglect.

In national news, the Bureau of Reclamation, concerned about low water levels impairing hydropower infrastructure at Glen Canyon Dam, issued a dire warning that Colorado River states must seriously curtail usage or the federal government will intervene.

Carbondale’s 51st Mountain Fair went off without a hitch. The beloved summer festival gained a new crew of organizers with Amy Kimberly and Mark Taylor passing along the torch, and a fresh emphasis on inclusion inspired a handful of bilingual events. The Anna Lynn Cunningham Foundation’s benefit concert at the River Valley Ranch driving range also made a return, this time with Big Head Todd and the Monsters headlining. 

Friends of the fair with  King Mark Taylor and Queen Miss Moon
(Amy Kimberly), photo by James Steindler

Amid a delightfully wet summer, a welcome respite after previous summers of smoke-filled skies, two of Carbondale Recreation Center’s little league teams earned championship titles. The Blue Jays, ages 9-10, and the Yankees, ages 11-13, both defeated their Aspen rivals in overtime games.

Meanwhile, the Aspen Community Foundation welcomed Erica Snow as the organization’s executive director, and the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association celebrated its 50th anniversary with a well-attended bash at Sunfire Ranch.

The Carbondale Yankees, courtesy photo 

As the precious fall weather settled in, True Nature hosted The Crystal Jubilee to announce the organization’s transition from a for-profit business (previously a nonprofit) into a foundation.

Along with the crisp weather, local runners made frequent appearances in The Sopris Sun, including Michael Wirth, who set a new record for the Elks Traverse in August, Joe DeMoor, who won gold in the Skyrunning World Championships, and Team U.S.A. Track and Field competing in Thailand.

Under the guidance of its new executive director, MinTze Wu, VOICES premiered “A Green Bird on Orange Trees” to celebrate the personal stories of seven local queer artists. 

The cast of “A Green Bird on Orange Trees,”
photo by Susannah McLeod, McLeod9 Creative  

With colder weather closing in, Batch Provisions raised a final toast with a public party on First Friday followed by a family-and-friends closing the following week. Día de Los Muertos festivities in Carbondale gave extra love to Francisco “Paco” Nevarez-Burgueño for 20 years of bridging cultures in the Valley. RFSD stood strong with LGBTQ+ students after a gender toolkit was contested by some parents and celebrated by others.

Carbondale’s trustees: adopted an update to the town’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan, backed Wild and Scenic designation for the Crystal River, agreed to partner with ArtSpace for the development of Town Center, and inked the contract with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority for a bike share program with WE-cycle beginning in 2023.

Aly Sanguily and Chase Engel of Batch Provisions, photo by James Steindler

As the year drew to a close, Craft Coffeehouse in Carbondale also announced it would be closing its doors and focusing on its Basalt location. The Carbondale Clay Center hosted a retrospective exhibit in celebration of its 25th anniversary. 

Bidding adieu in 2022
After a pair of especially difficult years, 2022 was a return to relatively calmer waters. Along with more stable circumstances, a number of community elders took the opportunity to gracefully exit, closing important chapters in personal and collective histories. From Amy Kimberly to Judge Paul Metzger, Mary Matchael to Rob Stein, Steve Cole to Jean Alberico, Mark Clark to A.O. Forbes, Janet Buck, Renae Gustine and more… The Sopris Sun wishes all of you and more a wonderful rewirement.

Steve Cole of KDNK, photo by Will Sardinsky 

John and Mary Matchael of Crystal Glass Studio, photo by Will Sardinsky

CRMS instructors George Weber and Lynn Pulford; 
and Mark Clark, photos by Will Sardinsky

GarCo court Judge Paul Metzger, photo by James Steindler

Amy Kimberly of Carbondale Arts, photo by Klaus Kocher

Photo by Klaus Kocher

In remembrance…
Obituaries for the following people were published in The Sopris Sun in 2022. We print obituaries of a reasonable length free of charge. For details, email

Galen Bittel, Dave Boyle, James Breasted, Will Cockrell, Betty Cranmer, Karen Crawford, Lee Ann Eustis, Sandra Gardner, Joan Hollingsworth, Louise Lafitte, Donna LaMore, Robert Francis Leonard, Eluterio Mariscal, Janet Masters, Lori McGarry, Richard McKinley, Wendy Moore, Heitor Hissashi Nakagawa, Alfred Nemoff, Mary Valle Noone, Jerry Overton, Brian Sparks, Steven Stouffer, John Tripp, Jonathan Tripp, Nancy Marie Vories, Eleanor Wagner.