Around Town 6

Ross Montessori Celebrates 
New School

On January 6th, 265 students spent their first day in Ross Montessori School’s new building in Carbondale. The school’s new, 19,000-square-foot, two-story building replaces modular buildings the school had used for the past eleven years. The new school includes numerous green building features such as natural light in classrooms and super-efficient LED lighting. A $75,000 grant from CORE is funding the LED lights plus a rooftop solar array which will provide 20 percent of the school’s electricity.

The opening marks the culmination of a decade-long fundraising and organizing effort. Mark Ross Montessori Foundation purchased the school’s site, nearly three acres along Highway 133, for $1.25 million just over a year ago. Ross Montessori received a $6.4 million construction loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. The USDA increased the loan so that the school can build two more classrooms. These classrooms will be completed in March, and they will increase its enrollment by 50 students for the 2015/16 school year.

The school is still raising money for the playground, outdoor classroom, gardens and asphalt pavement. A plan is in the works for a phase two which will include a full cafeteria, kitchen, gymnasium, auditorium and more classroom space.

Symphony in the Valley Plays on Valentine’s Day

Symphony in the Valley will host an annual dinner dance and fundraiser called Swing Your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day weekend. The event features swing era music performed by the Symphony Swing orchestra and guest vocalists led by conductor Kelly Thompson. Check our Lifestyle calendar for details about this fun-filled evening, which will offer fine dining and dancing and a silent auction in the historic Victorian setting of the Hotel Colorado’s Devereaux Room.

Save the Date for the Green is the New Black Fashion Show

The Carbondale Council for the Arts and Humanities (CCAH) is currently rehearsing the eighth annual Green Is The New Black fashion show, which will be called “Transformation”. The show will take place on March 11 and 12 at the Carbondale Recreation Center. Filled with performance art, multimedia, inspiring and sustainable fashion, plus a story line to boot, the show isn’t just entertaining. Local and national designers and artists come together to create a dynamic, alluring and thought-provoking event that also raises money to provide arts education for Roaring Fork Valley youngsters. The fashions are all created from recycled and/or sustainable materials. Buy tickets early; prices go up after February 26!

Basalt Chamber of Commerce Welcomes RMI Innovation Center

Nearly 200 people attended the Basalt Chamber of Commerce’s Welcome to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Innovation Center event on December 30 in Basalt. The Chamber organized the celebratory event with area businesses including Community Banks of Colorado, Midland Shoe, Bay Equity Home Loans, Element Basalt Aspen, Heirlooms Resale, Cafe Bernard, Jimbo’s Fine Wine & Liquors, Tempranillo, Faboo Fashions and the Basalt Chamber Ambassadors.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, guests toured the most energy-efficient building of its type and size in any of the country’s coldest climate zones. “It was a time to say farewell to a year that marked a resurgence of vitality in Basalt and around the valley and welcome a new year of innovation and collaboration,” said Robin Waters, Chamber director. Rocky Mountain Institute is holding multiple open houses for the Innovation Center during February.

Naturalist Nights Held through February in Carbondale & Aspen

Each winter, the Wilderness Workshop partners with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) and Roaring Fork Audubon to co-host the popular Naturalist Nights speaker series. The free series continues into March, with presentations held on Wednesdays at Carbondale’s Third Street Center and Thursdays at ACES.

In the first week of February, Ed Colby, beekeeper and Aspen Mountain ski patroller, will present Neonicitinoid Pesticides and their Impact on Honeybees. The second week’s presentation will be The Biggest Global Change You’ve Never Heard of: How Nitrogen is Affecting Colorado’s High Country by Jill Baron, research ecologist for the U.S. Geologic Survey. The third presentation will be Do Spruce Beetles Make Forest Fires More Severe? Field Evidence from the San Juan Mountains, by Robbie Andrus of the biogeography lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder. February’s last talk is The Gold King Spill: Impacts on the Animas River by Marcie Demmy Bidwell, executive director of the Mountain Studies Institute.

Bonedalians Rally to Support Homeless During Cold Snap

During the  sub-zero cold snap that occurred around New Year’s, Carbondale real estate broker/owner Lynn Kirchner warned, “We need to act before we have a fatality.” Kirchner rallied locals to support the homeless via Facebook and her Amore Realty website. “It’s a great way to reach out to people and get instant feedback,” she observed. After Kirchner gathered more than 300 responses, several organizing meetings were held in late December and early January.

Online fundraising has been set up at to take donations. Funds will be used for emergency hotel rooms,  emergency items like blankets, gloves and hats, warm coats, etc., assistance for fixing vehicles in which some homeless people live and creation of a “street sheet” to list local resources such as food banks, other shelters, mental health assistance, addiction counseling, etc.


Our January issue contained two errors. The article What Affects Global Warming? You Do misidentified the nonprofit CORE (that’s its full name) as Aspen CORE and misquoted Lucy Kessler. What Kessler said was, “Residences and businesses account for nearly 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, more than any other sector, since the built environment uses a large amount of energy for heating, cooling, lighting, and other functions.” CORE, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, has offices in Carbondale, as well as Aspen, and serves the whole Roaring Fork Valley.

Skier Appreciation Day Raised Funds for United Way

Sunlight Mountain hosted its 29th annual Skier Appreciation Day in January. The event offered $20 all-day ski tickets and raised a record $17,500 for United Way Battlement to the Bells.

The Caleb Dean Band performed and winners of a prize drawing walked away with new skis, a snowboard and more than $500 in gift cards and certificates. The winner of this year’s costume contest—its theme was Elvis—was won by a Gypsum resident who identified himself with just one name: Elvis!

Why a yearly costume contest? Friends note that Skier Appreciation Day founder Phil Long loves contests. Last year, the day’s “Paradise” costume contest resulted in men dressed in tropical attire, including grass skirts with real coconut bras. In 2013, Long commissioned a Big Foot costume, and the hairy critter roamed the mountain and lodge all day as a greeter. “The guests went wild, and the little kids had their pictures taken with Sasquatch,” Long laughed.

Online Fundraising Site Supports Ice Climber’s Family

On December 30, Carbondale resident Ryan Jennings, a famed ice climber, was killed when a 15-ton ice pillar unexpectedly collapsed. The online magazine posted a memorial to Jennings, and local friends have created a website to help raise funds for Ryan’s family. The website’s authors noted, “While no amount of money will ever ease the pain and loss that Robin, Beck, and Brooke are going through, every contribution is a show of love and support that will remind them they are not alone.”

Key fundraisers, including Julie Oldham, Pam Zentmyer, Robbie Williams and Randy Spurrier, state that the “fundraising effort is entirely voluntary” and remind donors that contributions will not be tax deductible. (The IRS does not allow donations to an individual family to be treated as a tax deductible.) The website will be found at