Friday, September 18, 2020

Search Results for: resort town life

Profile: Barb Peters

By Dawne Belloise

Barb Peters essentially grew up a Southern California girl in Manhattan Beach, which she fondly compares to the earlier eclectic days of Crested Butte. “It used to be just like Crested Butte, run-down with a lot of characters. There were hippies, beach bums, and surfers, beachcomber homes and VWs. Now it’s gentrified,” she says.

But during those childhood years, Barb spent her time practically living at the beach, swimming and surfing and engaging in the era’s hip fashion and music. She qualified to become a junior lifeguard at only eight years old.

“We had to swim a mile in an Olympic pool to qualify to get in, and run down the beach, pier to pier, which was a half mile or more, then swim, do sit-ups afterwards and do another jog for the final qualification. It taught us good skills. We were constantly around water so it was like teaching your kid through an avalanche safety course here.”

Barb’s mom, Bonnie McNaughton, who had discovered Crested Butte on a previous ski trip, moved her here in 1980. “Here’s this California surfer girl showing up in a rugged mountain town where it was dirty and muddy and not the beach,” Barb recalls with a smile. “I liked going to new places as a kid and was always an adventurous soul. Crested Butte was a new adventure and completely opposite from what I had just left. I was excited.”

Barb quickly fell into the Crested Butte kid lifestyle of freedom and fun, as her mom signed her up for the Ski Club junior racers.

“We were called the Crested Butte Cyclones. I had learned to ski in Bear Valley Ski resort, just south of Lake Tahoe,” Barb recalls of the extended family trips. “We’d load up our old wood-panel station wagon, dogs, cousins and parents, and we’d do a caravan up to our cabin there. It was the family hangout. We’d go during summer vacations, winter breaks, and holidays.”

Once in Crested Butte, Barb felt, “The Cyclones were the core group of Crested Butte kids who I really attached to. Me and Annie Clair were constantly getting kicked off the T-bar for fooling around, yanking the T-Bar out from each other. We were all athletes.”

In fact, later, in the winter of 1991 that saw the Extremes competition come to town, Barb signed up to participate and competed for the next decade. “In 1999, I was World Tour Champ in points.” She continued to place throughout her 10 years competing.

“What didn’t we do as kids here?” Barb grins. “We had to be outside because we weren’t allowed to stay inside. We just had to come home when the street-lights came on. We’d build snow caves in the winter and when I was ten, I started working at Fantasy Ranch, the horse stables that were out by Skyland back then, up Brush Creek. I would help clean the hooves, brush the horses, and go get the horses for guest rides. As we got older I was able to guide half-day or quarter-day trips.” Barb worked there until she was 12.

She remembers mountain biking back when those bikes had no shocks, and break dancing in front of the Company Store (now the Secret Stash) because it was the only area that was paved. “Everything else was mud or snow banks. We went sledding on Warming House Hill on inner tubes. Later when I worked at Paradise Warming House we used food trays, or the picnic benches with the metal rails.”

It was the 1980s, during that era of Flock of Seagull androgynous hair and makeup. that Barb moved back to live with her dad in Manhattan Beach. “I was living in Guess jeans, scrunched-up socks with Asics high-tops, laced-up wrestling shoes with Dolphin shorts and frosted pink lipstick, hanging out at Denny’s late-night with my friends, trying to get tickets to Depeche Mode concerts,” she laughs at her 12-year-old self. “I was bummed to leave my new Crested Butte friends. It was an upheaval but it was a familiar place. I was excited for SoCal living again. I played a lot of soccer and I was really good at it.”

But in her sophomore year, Barb headed back to Crested Butte, transferring from a Catholic school and trading in her uniform for the halls of Gunnison High School. “I had missed Crested Butte. California was a concrete jungle, so I wanted to move back here. I loved some of my classes and teachers but I felt that school was a waste of my time, so I got my GED and went to work.”

Her first job then was cleaning condos at Three Seasons on the mountain. She recalls that her teenage summers were amazing as the kids were allowed to go into bars and see the bands at the Eldo. She also tried her skills at acting. “I attempted acting with a group, doing a production of Lysistrata. I also did Dancesummers and Dancewinters, which we performed in the Mallardi Cabaret. And we’d do dance performances at the Depot, back when it was in an open field. We all kept busy doing stuff.”

Barb relished her return to Crested Butte, washing dishes at the Forest Queen and at night she’d work at Jimmy’s Fish and Grill (where Lil’s Sushi is now). And for many years she was a prep cook at the then-new Idle Spur. “I was a working maniac. From 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., five days a week. I was living in the converted shack in the yard I used to play in as a kid.”

At 19, in 1990, Barb became a raft guide during the short two-month season on Arizona’s Upper Salt River. “They are the early season in March and April and by the time our snow melts up here, our commercial rafting season starts on the Arkansas River in Canon City.” This is where she guided every summer.

For the past few years, Barb has been running the Mountain Man Rendezvous, the raunchy, raucous, historical reenactment of the Wild West’s fur trapping days held yearly up Washington Gulch during the first weekend of August.

“My first introduction to Mountain Man was at Billy Creek, out toward Fairplay. Even though I knew Tuck, Smokey, and Rat, they never mentioned the Rendezvous up Washington Gulch. I was instantly hooked, campfire, cannons, booze, good storytelling and really fun folk. It was like a family and I fell in love with it. Ever since then, I’ve slowly built my gear up and my camp.”

Barb points out that since the event is strictly historical, no modern equipment or clothing is allowed. “All I had was modern camping gear and that didn’t cut it but over the years I picked up pieces, anything that I needed for camp, like cast-iron cooking ware, Dutch ovens, wooden utensils, and clothing.”

In 2001 she moved to Broomfield, and as she puts it, “I retired from extreme skiing with knee injuries and I had to start thinking about getting a real job because being a raft guide and ski bum wasn’t cutting it anymore.”

She enrolled at the Cooking School of the Rockies. She had been working in kitchens throughout her life and felt that culinary school was the next logical choice, because, “I could make money doing what I loved. I had to unlearn everything I learned in Crested Butte kitchens. I finished my education at the Greenbriar Inn in Boulder,” she says of a swanky restaurant at the mouth of Lefthand Canyon. She returned to Crested Butte with her husband and was pregnant with her son, Hawk.

“After Hawk was born, I began cooking at the Crested Butte Academy, bringing Hawk in his playpen. When they went under, I worked at Reuben’s in Crested Butte South, which was convenient because Hawk was at the Little Red School House across the street and I could drop him off and go to work. It was perfect,” she says. So perfect that she stayed at Reuben’s for 10 years. “My dream had been to return to Crested Butte and make a restaurant that locals could afford—nothing fancy just good cooking. When Reuben’s closed, I ended up working at the Nordic Inn, setting up breakfast with Kim and Ken Stone.”

Barb then discovered that she loved landscaping and went to work for Colorado Native Gardening. “I was outdoors and I got paid more than if I was cooking,” although she admits that in the future she’d like to return to the culinary arts.

This summer Barb plans to enjoy the many Rendezvous meets across Colorado. “The Rocky Mountain Nationals will be outside of Gunnison this year in July with 800 camps and 1,000 people in historic dress from all over the United States. Mountain Man Rendezvous will still be up Washington Gulch during Art Festival weekend. It’s been on this site for 34 years but the modern world is encroaching with their Spandex and those sparkly ball caps… and black powder and leather fringe collide with perfume and sequins and don’t mix,” she justifiably smirks.

“Hawk has been going to Rendezvous since he was a baby and now we have a teepee.” She took over the Crested Butte event four years ago.

When she and her hubby parted ways, Barb decided to stay in Crested Butte because she realized, “This is where I grew up. This is where my community is. And I have a place to live,” she says of the foresight of being able to purchase a condo back in the 1990s when real estate was more affordable for locals.

“My home is across the alley from the house I grew up in,” Barb says. “I maintain this home for my son, who’s at Colorado Timberline Academy in Durango. I’m at a crossroads in my life at the moment. I really want to live in this town and work but it’s less and less affordable. There’s more and more demand with less and less compensation. Prices of everything have gone up and you can’t live in this town anymore for less than $25 an hour. I have four jobs and a culinary degree and I can’t find a job that can support me here doing what I love. It’s the first time ever in my life that I have thought about living anywhere else but for now, I’ll just landscape. And I look forward to rafting and getting together with good friends, doing more stuff and chilling with my boy. At this point, the sky’s the limit.”

Profile: Tom Miller

Waking up in paradise

By Dawne Belloise

“I love living in a small town,” smiles Tom Miller, a Texas transplant with an appreciation for real community. “I love community. I love building community and being a part of community. I’ll admit to being the stereotypical Texan. I know how that rolls, but I’m not ashamed of it. If you’re going to be about community then you are who you are, and I am who I am. And let’s figure out how to do life together,” he says as one who has reached through barriers, resolved conflicts and built friendships.

Tom was born in Nebraska to a farming family. His mother was a small-town Nebraska girl and his father was in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). The young family moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area when Tom was only two years old.

The four sibling brothers had similar interests, says Tom. “We were a big sports family, baseball and football, all through high school. It really shaped our family. I was the oldest and we were effectively raised at ballparks. Mom never missed a game and dad coached,” he says, affirming that he was basically a good kid. “There are no high school yearbook photos that would incriminate me,” he grins. He graduated from a Waco high school in 1979.

With sports such a prominent part of his life, Tom thought he would become a football or basketball coach. He enrolled at Baylor University as an education major with a sociology minor, and graduated in 1983. He coached and taught physical education at Grapevine High School in the DFW area for three years, during which time he married his college sweetheart, Catherine Coyle, in June 1983. Their first son, Ben, arrived in 1989 and their daughter, Elizabeth, in 1991.

Tom had always had the mindset of an entrepreneur. “I had a paper route when I was 11. When an ice storm would hit Dallas I’d go grab my father’s chain saw and go door to door to clean up the trees. In college, I owned a used car dealership,” he says of the origins of his first professional endeavor. To get a used car sales license at that time in Texas, he says, you had to pay $50 for an auto dealer’s license, and had to have a phone, a parking lot and a sign.

“I had my home phone and my house was next to a Pizza Hut parking lot so I took a Polaroid of the parking lot facing my house, so they couldn’t see the Pizza Hut and put my ‘A-1 Auto’ sign in my house window, sent the $50 check in to Austin and prayed it wouldn’t bounce.”

Back in those days, Tom says, the word “entrepreneur” wasn’t used. It was more “I need money.” And he didn’t have any to start up a business or to buy cars at dealer auctions, so he donned his suit, bought a Parker pen and a notebook to make himself look like a seasoned businessman and headed to the loan departments of several banks in Waco.

Tom says, “I went to five different banks and all of them smiled and said no. I widened my circle and went to Riesel, Texas,” where he knew the sons of the guy who owed the bank and the banker knew his father. “He lent me the $5,000 and I was in business. For two years, I bought and sold cars. I ended up getting through school and paying off that loan but I knew I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life. It was just a means to get me through school. My strength was in ideas and the execution of ideas.”

The last car he sold was in the fall of 1982. “I had to sell a car to buy Catherine’s engagement ring,” Tom grins proudly, “so I tease her that she’s wearing a 1974 yellow Ford pickup with a gooseneck hitch in the bed.”

After his coaching job, Tom decided to take a sales job selling training packages to corporations, which entered him into the business world. “We sold packages—video tapes and print-base training for certain trades,” he explains. Two years later he was working sales with a large company, Balfour, selling recognition awards to corporations. “And that’s the business I ultimately left to launch my own company in 1991, Symbolist. We worked with corporations in employee engagement, selling systems and technology and recognition awards. In more than 25 years, the industry changed from awards, rings and plaques to creating solutions for employee engagements.”

In 2009, Tom opted to deepen his expertise for his company, and while waiting at LaGuardia airport for a delayed flight, he picked up an Economist magazine and what unfolded was a back-page ad for an intensive international program run by two schools, HEC in Paris and Oxford in England—Consulting and Coaching for Change. He signed up for the master’s degree program and spent six weeks at each university over the course of 18 months.

“It was designed for people who worked,” Tom says. “It was a wonderful experience and it did exactly what I wanted it to do. It broadened my perspective in culture, on why people do what they do, and gave me a better perspective on how people from different parts of the world really think.” He graduated in 2009 with an MSC, basically, a master of science degree. “It was life-changing for me and it was cool to go back as middle-aged and do that sort of work.”

Tom had been in many university classrooms as a guest lecturer, and he felt it was time for a change. “I like working with young people and I like teaching. I had taught in Iraq and spent time in Kurdistan. I have training in conflict resolution. I was invited by the Kurdistan government and gave a lecture to their faculty on conflict resolution at Duhouk University. Kurdistan has very tight ties to the USA and they are very pro-American. At the time, the security was tight but not restricted in 2011, so I could leave the hotel and go for a walk. I felt safe and it was very safe then. Northern Iraq was far away from the turmoil. Now it’s not.”

That same year he also went to Afghanistan. “There’s a really cool organization called the Institute for Leadership Development. They work inside of Afghanistan, working with locals, training them in a nine-month course. These people are just like us, but oppressed, and they can’t get out. I just wanted to teach students and help.” Tom has taught across the globe.

“About 2012, I decided it was time to make a real transition. I was done. I was tired of running a company. It was really hard to walk away and it took a couple of years to jettison from my own company, but I got it done and I’m very happy that I did.” He felt the need to find his purpose and turned to the idea of being a college professor.

“I had actually been a guest lecturer at Western Colorado University [WCU] around 2013. I talked to schools where I thought I’d be a fit, where smaller classrooms were prevalent. Talking for 50 minutes off a PowerPoint deck is not the way I teach,” he says.

In 2016, Tom chose to teach business at WCU. “I teach marketing and I’m director of the professional selling program. Research shows that 80 percent of marketing majors will go into sales right out of college, and 40 percent of business majors will have a selling role right out of college. What’s happened is that more progressive business schools are beginning to teach professional sales. I’m very grateful to Dr. Pete Sherman, dean of the business school and Dr. Greg Salsbury, president of WCU, for enabling and supporting the program,” he says of the brand new curriculum.

“We’re now placing graduates into Fortune 1000 companies. It’s a brand new channel of career opportunities for our students. I think this is the most important work I’ve done,” Tom says.

Perhaps in a new paradigm, Tom feels business school students are now shaping their perspective on who they are and what a career looks like for them, thinking culturally and holistically. “They’re looking at a career instead of a job,” he says. “It’s nuanced but I think a very important nuance. We’ve got eight major companies visiting WCU this spring for recruiting. We’re in national publications that write about our students now. Western gets to stand on the stage with the big schools but we’re a small school and I’m proud of who we are. I think our students are great and this program gives them a chance to compete for the same career positions as students from CU, CSU and other big schools.”

Tom’s wife, Catherine, flies back to their other home in Texas every two weeks to manage their other business, a co-working space called The Lift Office, which Tom defines as, “A temporary office, a drop-in and work—it’s a rent-a-conference room [].” But the two are never apart for more than five days, he notes. The couple didn’t just happen upon Crested Butte. Tom’s family had discovered it when he was in college and the rest of his siblings were still living at home.

“The only time we had to take vacations was at Christmas and Mom and Dad decided to make it a family ski trip. It’s a pretty classic Texan story, actually,” he laughs. “We found Crested Butte accidentally, going to other ski resorts first. We ended up here because a friend of a friend referred us to this place. We always stayed at the San Moritz. Over time, as Catherine was added to the family, she and I enjoyed skiing up here so much that when we had children, we wanted them to grow up skiing here, too. Christmas up here was all they knew growing up. We still gather here at Christmas now.”

In 2013, they bought a house on an alley in town, the decision made when they sat down on the front steps to get a feel for the neighborhood. Tom recalls warmly, “It was not more than 45 seconds and Jen Nolan rides up on her bike and says hi.” What ensued was a 15-minute conversation extolling the wonders and joy of alley living and Tom and Catherine felt they were home.

Having lived here for awhile, they now feel even more enchanted by their chosen community. “It’s where I work and I love the community and the diversity of its thinking. We all have a personal lens and my lens, coming out of urban Texas, it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope here—the individual perspectives, the community collective, in this little valley, even in this alley here, you’ve got renters, owners, a world-class mountain guide, the typical Texans, the new young family, all the different people working through all phases of life. I like that. It’s interesting, fun and different for me. This home here is intimate. We can see life going on. I can wave to my neighbors. And if you want to meet somebody for dinner, you walk three blocks or hop on your bike. I love living in this small town.”

Profile: Krista Powers


By Dawne Belloise

Very soon Krista Powers will walk among the newly waking trees, deep into the Vermont forest where three generations of her family have tapped the majestic maples for their sap and then transformed hundreds of buckets of it into sweet, sticky, earthy syrup every spring.

Snow is still on the ground, the nights are chilled and the treetops are leafless when the taps are pounded into the trees, but with the winter days warming into spring, the sap begins to flow from the roots, drawing water from the ground, and into the buckets to be collected and taken to the sugar shack. This is when Krista leaves her Crested Butte home and heads east to her family’s sugaring farm to produce her Vermont Sticky organic maple syrup, which she brings back to Crested Butte to sell.

Born and raised in Lowell, Vermont, Krista says throughout her childhood her entire family made maple syrup, “mostly for our own consumption and some friends, along with a few contracts along the East Coast. It was a very, very small business. Lowell is a small community in the Northeast Kingdom.” She says “Kingdom” is a term of endearment describing the northeastern part of the state, the cold belt of Vermont that’s about 15 minutes south of the Canadian border.

When Krista was a child, “We played outside all the time. My memories are of the outdoors, either playing or cutting firewood or working in the garden. I was always swimming in our pond in the summer and ice skating on it in the winter. Basketball was my passion throughout junior high and high school. As a family, we cross-country skied. On occasion, we’d go up with the school to ski J Peak.”

Krista recalls that her childhood was, “a lot of living off the land. We had a large garden. We made apple cider in the fall and put up a lot of produce from our garden, and in the spring we made maple syrup,” a life that revolved around the seasons, each unfolding in its own special beauty.

Krista attended a tiny elementary school with two grades sharing each classroom. “There were only 15 kids in my grade. I went to what was called a union high school, North Country Union High School. Because there were a lot of small towns, all the kids bused to the one school.” She graduated in 1995.

“I was excited to go to college and move on,” Krista says. She enrolled at the University of Vermont in Burlington and majored in environmental studies with a focus in sustainable international development. “I wanted to experience something other than small Vermont so I studied natural history, ecology, human history and tons of Mayan history abroad in Belize. We’d stay with local families half the time and the other half with the group,” she says of her time studying marine ecology and the headwaters of rivers that flowed into the ocean.

Krista graduated in 1999 with a B.S. in environmental studies. “I wanted to go west and explore. I wasn’t on a career track right away. I thought I’d come west for a year with no place particular in mind but I wanted a ski town.” She headed off on a two-month road trip adventure to the northwest—Colorado, Utah, California, Washington, and Oregon, camping and backpacking with a couple of friends. “We were looking for a home for the winter, particularly to ski, and Crested Butte was our last stop. We knew a couple people here and we came over Kebler pass and ended up camping on the river in Almont. It was October 10 and it snowed four inches. We got up and went to the bakery where Pitas is now. It was off-season so there weren’t many people around,” but coming into town on Highway 135 she felt the elation of seeing the snow clad mountains that surround this valley, and thought, “I want to be on top of every one of those peaks!”

At the bakery, everyone was exhilarated with the early dumpage and the prospect of an excellent snow year. Krista recalls, “There was a truck being towed up Elk Avenue by a rope and I was watching all this over a cup of coffee and I felt like I was home. And I just stayed.”

After landing a place to live, which was far easier back then, Krista started working at the Brick Oven and Mountain Colors. “I was scraping to find whatever job I could and I was teaching snowboarding at Crested Butte Mountain Resort,” she says. She had learned snowboarding her sophomore year in college with her season pass to Stowe, Vermont. “My brother taught me to snowboard, but I learned a lot more while I was working for CBMR. I still teach riding but I’m definitely a skier now. I was telemarking back then too,” she laughs about her vintage equipment, skinny 210s with leather boots. She still skis the Al Johnson every year.

After a smattering of restaurant and coffee shops jobs in 2004, Krista was hired by Adaptive Sports as a ski and snowboard instructor while also working at Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle, a job she held for nine years from 2005. “I started a landscaping business called Deep Rooted Gardening in 2010. I loved gardening. I grew up loving it, and I wanted to be my own boss. I was gardening by day and working Gourmet Noodle at night. Then in the winters, I was at Adaptive and Gourmet Noodle. When I decided to start Vermont Sticky in the winter of 2016, I stopped landscaping to focus on the syrup business.”

She had been sugaring since she was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” she laughs, and adds, “It had been something I had been talking to my dad about for years.” With her father’s blessing and encouragement from her husband, Dodson Harper, Krista went for it in May 2016. “It’s pretty fun that I get to do this with my family. I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to learn the art of sugaring from my father and grandfather.”

Krista’s grandfather, Archie, started the family business in the 1950s and Krista’s desire for Vermont Sticky is to bring new life to an old tradition.

“Our world is clamoring for healthy alternative sweeteners. Maple syrup, besides having an earthiness of flavor, is an unrefined sweetener—it’s not processed and bleached like sugar,” explains Krista. Even organic sugar is still processed. Maple syrup is low on the glycemic index, lower than honey, and it’s full of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. It’s the healthiest sweetener for cooking, baking, and all sweet cravings. Sugaring goes back to the Native Americans, when, in the spring, they’d put a slash in the tree and collect the sap. It would naturally evaporate, and render like a hard sugar and they’d use it in cooking and as a trade commodity. The natives passed their knowledge on to the white settlers.”

Krista’s Vermont Sticky is a single-sourced product, meaning it goes directly from their farm to the consumer. “We have a forester who comes out and checks our forestry, making sure that we are tapping our trees in a sustainable way. To be certified organic, there are very specific rules. Even when I was young, Dad would only tap larger trees, never from a sapling.”

The tapping starts in February, and depends solely on the temperature, when the days are above freezing but the nights are below freezing. It’s then that the sap begins to run. It takes 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. “We’re tapping some of the same trees that my grandfather tapped,” Krista notes proudly. “We do 1,800 taps and with the bigger trees, you can have two taps in it. When I was a child, the sap would run into buckets, and we’d have to walk to every single tree, through the vast forest, 100 acres of maple trees, and collect all the buckets. We’d have a sled or sleigh and when I was too little to collect the sap, my father had me drive the tractor. I was six years old.”

The sap is boiled in an evaporator and when all of the water is boiled off, it leaves the sweet, thick tree nectar.

“If there’s a snow or it’s cold then the sap stops running. But when it’s running then you’re constantly going to the holding tanks, collecting the sap and making maple syrup,” Krista says of the labor-intensive sugaring season. The season is over by mid-April when the weather warms because, Krista explains, “As soon as the nights stop freezing, the sap goes through a metabolic change and it’s no longer sweet.”

And in case you were wondering, tapping the trees does not harm them. “It’s such a small amount of sap that we’re harvesting each season,” says Krista. Additionally, the tree replenishes its sap as the roots draw from ground water.

This past April 2018, Krista launched a new product: maple sugar. “It’s just maple syrup that’s reduced into a granular sugar and can be used in lieu of any sugar.”

One day, while biking at Hartman’s, Krista came up with a hydration concept, “to make my own sports hydration with that maple sugar and that’s when Tree Juice was born. I got the idea from my grandfather, whose generation drank a drink called Switchel. Before the farmers would go out for their day’s work they’d mix maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt and a flavoring, maybe lemon or ginger, whatever was available, into their water jug and that was their hydration for the day. So I borrowed that recipe but made it more accessible for today’s consumer by making it in powder form.”

She flavors her Tree Juice in lemon-lime and raspberry-lemon. The product debuted this summer at the Crested Butte Farmers Market and can be ordered on the Vermont Sticky website ( Her latest product, as of October, is hot cocoa, an instant powder mix made with maple sugar and organic Dutch cocoa.

Krista says, “I can’t imagine starting this business anywhere else. The community’s been so supportive. I moved here for the adventure but I stayed because of the community. I go back to Vermont and the community’s not the same as here… Here, you can be whatever you want, whoever you want, and the community embraces it without judgment.”

Community Calendar: Thursday, January 31–Wednesday, February 6

• 6-7 a.m. Sunrise Vinyasa at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7-7:45 a.m. Guided Meditation (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 8 a.m. Ecumenical Meditation at UCC.
• 8:30 a.m. Indoor Biking at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:30 a.m. Women’s book discussion group at UCC.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa (level 1/2) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Adult Ballet with Jesse in the Pump Room Studio. (runs thru Feb. 9)
• 9-10:15 a.m. Vinyasa (level 1/2) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics (level 1) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 11 a.m. Weekly storytime at Townie Books. 349-7545.
• 11:30 a.m. Duplicate Bridge at UCC. 349-1008.
• noon All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Church Community Healing Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Vinyasa (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage, a free thrift store. 300 Belleview, Unit 2, on the south end of 3rd Street. 970-318-6826.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Yin Yoga (open) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 5:45 p.m. Boot Camp at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6 p.m. Talk to a Lawyer: Free legal information clinic sponsored by the Northwest Colorado Legal Services Project at the Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 970-668-9612. (every third Thursday of the month)
• 6-7:15 p.m. Vinyasa (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 6:15-9:15 p.m. Adult Creative Clay: Wheel Throwing in the Gunnison Arts Center Clay Studio.
• 6:30 p.m. AA Open Meditation at UCC.
• 7 p.m. Women Supporting Women Group Discussion at the Nordic Inn.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.
• 7:30-9:30 p.m. Dodgeball League in Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. (runs thru March 6)

• 6-7:15 a.m. Hip Hop Vinyasa at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 7:30 a.m. Adult Ballet Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:30-9:15 a.m. Aerial Conditioning w/ CB School of Dance at the Center for the Arts.
• 8:45 a.m. Core Power Yoga Class at the Pump Room.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Yoga for the Flexibly Challenged / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Prana Vinyasa (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 9:15-10 a.m. Open Aerial Play w/ CB School of Dance at the Center for the Arts.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Iyengar Yoga (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. CB School of Dance offers Nia Dance for adults, register online or drop in, (runs thru Feb. 15)
• noon-1:15 p.m. Slow Flow (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 1 p.m. Art group meets at the Senior Center. 641-4529.
• 3-6 p.m. Wheel Throwing Workshops at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 6-7 p.m. Poi Playshop at the Pump Room.
• 6:30-7:45 p.m. Restorative Yoga (open level) at Yoga For The Peaceful.

• 7:30 a.m. Open AA at UCC.
• 7:45 a.m. Weights and Indoor Biking Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8-9 a.m. Mindful Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa (level 1/2) at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Community Yoga at the Sanctuary Yoga & Pilates Studio, Gunnison.
• 10-11 a.m. Hip Hop Community Dance Class at the Pump Room (above Fire House on 3rd & Maroon). 415-225-5300.
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Paint Your Own Pottery in the Gunnison Arts Center Clay Studio.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Slow Flow (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage, a free thrift store. 300 Belleview, Unit 2, on the south end of 3rd Street. 970-318-6826.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Yin Yoga (open) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 1-4 p.m. Create Your Own Sustainable Website with the Literary Arts Department at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 2-3:30 p.m. Historic Walking Tour at the Crested Butte Heritage Museum. 349-1880.
• 3-6 p.m. Valentine’s Day Paint Your Own Pottery at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 4:30-5:30 p.m. Slow Flow (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Guided Sound Meditation at 405 4th Street.

• 8:30 a.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 8:45 a.m. Slow Flow (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 9 a.m. Worship Service at Union Congregational Church. 349-6405.
• 9 a.m. Oh Be Joyful Church Worship Service at the Center for the Arts.
• 9:30-11 a.m. Free Community Yoga Class / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Creative Writing Taster Series – Mapping Your Memoir with the Literary Arts Department at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 10-11:15 a.m. Vin-Yin (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 10:30 a.m.-11:45 p.m. Vinyasa (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• noon Narcotics Anonymous Meeting at UCC, 403 Maroon Ave. Closed meeting for addicts only. (1st & 3rd Sundays)
• 2-3:30 p.m. Therapeutic Yoga (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 5-6 p.m. All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Eucharist at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• 5-7 p.m. Pick-up Adult Basketball. HS Gym, CBCS.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Kundalini Yoga at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 6 p.m. AA meets at UCC.
• 6 p.m. Duplicate Bridge at UCC. 349-1008.
• 6 p.m. Evening Service at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 711 N. Main St., Gunnison.
• 7 p.m. Gamblers Anonymous meets at the Last Resort.
• 7-8 p.m. Guided Meditation (all levels) at Yoga for the Peaceful.

• 6-7:15 a.m. Hip Hop Vinyasa at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 7 a.m. Adult Ballet Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45 a.m. Pilates at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa (level 1/2) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Iyengar (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• noon Adult Children of Alcoholics open meeting at Union Congregational Church.
• noon-1 p.m. Gentle Yoga (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 12:45 p.m. Bridge at the Senior Center. 641-4529.
• 4 p.m. Hard Hat Tours at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Yin Yoga Nidra (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 5:30-7 p.m. Moms in Motion class at the GVH rehab gym.
• 5:30-8 p.m. PMC Precious Metal Clay Jewelry Making (through Tuesday, February 5) with the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 5:45 p.m. Boot Camp at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6-7:15 p.m. Prana Vinyasa (level 1) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 6-8 p.m. Crochet class at the Gunnison Arts Center.
• 6:30-8 p.m. Women’s Domestic Violence Support Group at Project Hope. Childcare available upon request. 641-2712.
• 7:30 p.m. Open AA at UCC. 349-5711.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.

• 6-7 a.m. Sunrise Vinyasa (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7-7:45 a.m. Zen Meditation (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 7:30 a.m. AA/Alanon Open at UCC. 349-5711.
• 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Free Co-Working Tuesdays at the ICELab at WSCU.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa (level 1/2) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Adult Jazz Fusion with Adge in the Pump Room Studio. (runs thru Feb. 9)
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics (level 1) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 11:30 a.m. League of Women Voters meeting at 210 W. Spencer in Gunnison.
• noon AA Closed at UCC.
• 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tech Tuesdays at the Crested Butte Library. 349-6535.
• 2-3:15 p.m. Restorative Yoga (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage, a free thrift store. 300 Belleview, Unit 2, on the south end of 3rd Street. 970-318-6826.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Slow Flow (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 5:45 p.m. All Levels Yoga at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6-7:15 p.m. Prana Vinyasa (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 6-8 p.m. Figure Drawing Sessions with live model in Downtown Crested Butte. 349-7228.
• 7 p.m. Alanon meeting at the Last Resort.
• 7-8 p.m. Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Sunset Hall, 349 Teocalli Ave. in CB South.
• 7-8:30 p.m. Blessing Way Circle support group at Sopris Women’s Clinic. 720-217-3843.

• 7:30 a.m. The Crested Butte / Mt. Crested Butte Rotary Club breakfast meeting in the Shavano Conference Room at the Elevation Hotel.
• 8:45 a.m. Mat Mix at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Forrest Yoga at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:15 a.m. Prana Vinyasa (level 1) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Two Buttes Senior Citizens van transportation roundtrip to Gunnison, weather permitting. Call first for schedule and availability. 275-4768.
• 10:30 a.m.-noon Prana Vinyasa (level 2/3) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• 1 p.m. Advanced T’ai Chi class in the Community Room at Town Hall.
• 2 p.m. Beginning T’ai Chi class in the Community Room at Town Hall.
• 3:30-5 p.m. ICELab tours at Western State College University with Patrick Rowley.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5 p.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5-10 p.m. Game night at Tassinong Farms, CB South.
• 5:15-6:15 p.m. Barre Sculpt in the Gunnison Arts Center Dance Studio.
• 5:30 p.m. Prenatal Yoga class in Crested Butte South. 349-1209.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Vinyasa (level 1/2) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Abhyanga Vinyasa (open level) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 5:45-7 p.m. Restorative Yin-Yoga-Nidra / CB Yoga Co-op at Town Hall.
• 6:30 p.m. Alanon at UCC Parlour (in back), 4th and Maroon. 349-6482.
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Adult Hip Hop with Adge in the Pump Room Studio. (runs thru Feb. 9)
• 7-9 p.m. “GriefShare,” a grief recovery seminar and support group, meets at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 711 N. Main St., Gunnison. 970-349-7769.


Events & Entertainment

• 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Move the Butte tickets on sale at the Center for the Arts.
• 7 p.m. Matt Grant plays at The Princess Wine Bar.
• 8 p.m. An Evening with Chris Robinson Brotherhood at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 8 p.m. Ladies’ Night at the Red Room.

• 5-8 p.m. First Friday ArtWalk & Music in downtown Gunnison with the Gunnison Arts Center.
• 5:30 p.m. The Roper-Turner String Band plays at the Talk of the Town.
• 6:30 p.m. First Friday Family Film: Charlotte’s Web at the Crested Butte Library.
• 7 p.m. Melanie Hall & Kevin Kimura play at The Princess Wine Bar.
• 8 p.m. An Evening with Chris Robinson Brotherhood at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 10 p.m. Futurebirds play at the Public House.

IFSA Junior Freeride Regionals at CBMR.
• 9 a.m. 33rd annual Alley Loop.
• 5 p.m. Book signing and reading with Christie Aschwanden: Good to Go at Townie Books.
• 7 p.m. Casey Falter plays at The Princess Wine Bar.
• 9 p.m. Break Science plays at the Public House.

IFSA Junior Freeride Regionals at CBMR.
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Backcountry Bistro at Magic Meadows Yurt.
• 4:30 p.m. Big Game Party at Butte 66.
• 7 p.m. Matt Grant & Chris Telling plays at The Princess Wine Bar.

• 9 a.m. Socrates Cafe at the Crested Butte Library.
• 5 p.m. Book signing and reading with Susan Purvis:Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost and Myself at the CB Heritage Museum.
• 7 p.m. Community Crafters at the Crested Butte Library.
• 7 p.m. Dwayne Dodson plays at The Princess Wine Bar.

• 6-8:30 p.m. Big-game hunting meeting at the Gunnison Wildlife Office, 300 W. New York Ave.
• 8 p.m. Ladies’ Night at The Talk of the Town.


Kids Calendar

• 9 and 10 a.m. Munchkin’s Music & Dance Class at the High Atitude Dance Academy in Gunnison. 349-9639.

• 10 a.m. Big Kids Storytime (ages 3-7) at the Crested Butte Library. 349-6535.
• 1:30 p.m. Little Minds (ages 3-7) at the Crested Butte Library. 349-6535.
• 4-5 p.m. Tang Soo Do Martial Arts classes for youth with West Elk Martial Arts, Town Hall Fitness Room. 901-7417.

• 3:45-5 p.m. Messy Mondays at the Crested Butte Library. (ages 5-12, 8 & under must be accompanied by an adult)
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:15-5:15 p.m. Kids Yoga (ages 8 & under) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.

• 4:15-5:45 p.m. Mud Puppies Clay (ages 5-8) in the Gunnison Arts Center Clay Studio.

• 9 a.m. Munchkin’s Music and Dance Class at the Fitness Room at Town Hall. 349-9639.
• 11 a.m. Baby & Toddler Literacy Time at the Crested Butte Library. 349-6535.
• 4-5 p.m. Kids Yoga (ages 8+) at Yoga for the Peaceful in CB South.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:15-5:15 p.m. Kids Yoga (ages 8 and under) at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 4:15-6:15 p.m. Mud Puppies Clay (ages 9-12) in the Gunnison Arts Center Clay Studio.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.

Tales from 53 years of visiting Crested Butte

The feeling hasn’t changed much, even if the lift ticket prices have

By Cayla Vidmar

There are tourists, there are second homeowners and then there are long-distance locals—people so influenced and shaped by a place visited once or twice a year over the course of their lives that the place becomes more like an extension of family than a dot on a map.

Such is the case with 83-year-old Jules Bohnn, who began his frequent sojourns to Crested Butte in 1966, back when a family ski trip would run you $500 or $600 and a lift ticket would put you back $18. Jules was tipped off by a neighbor in Houston who told him Crested Butte was “really cheap” for family ski vacations, and so began a 53-year relationship with the town at the end of the road.

Three generations of life-long visitors of Crested Butte sat around the table last weekend listening to Jules tell his Crested Butte love story, while piping up with their own tales of yore. Ski boots made of leather, the Fantasy Ranch summer camp song, sung from memory, and the “hairy” road winding in a hair-pin turn from Crested Butte to the ski resort were all part of the story, as vibrant as if “Crested Butte” was actually a distant cousin made of flesh and bone.

Memories bubbled up to the surface for everyone sitting around the table, and while the tales looped and jumped years and tellers, beginning in one person’s mouth and finishing in another’s, it was obvious each person had been shaped by Crested Butte in one way or another.

Jules’ love for Crested Butte was passed to his siblings, children, step-children, wives and their families, creating an extended family whose remote outpost remains to be the Alpine condo he purchase in 1968 or ’69. He may very well be the last original owner of the ten-unit condo complex, one of the first buildings to go in on the mountain, now sitting directly across Gothic Road from the Lodge at Mountaineer Square.

Chandler, Jules’ daughter, told of her two children, Hampton and CC, who asked for a mountain-top baptism performed by Tim Clark from the Union Congregational Church. “This choice seemed to also resonate a deep sense of connection, belonging and spirituality with them,” she says.

Le, Jules’ son, recalled ice skating on Peanut Lake as a kid, the inevitable snowball fights he had with Chandler, and the sense of reconnection they have as soon as they arrive to the valley.

Chandler and Le chided their father about not taking the opportunity to purchase the resort from Dick Eflin for a million bucks when he had the chance back in the day. He smiled, and told tales of Dick being his first ski instructor, back when the base area ended in straw and mud, and you never had to make plans on where to meet—the answer was always at the bottom.

Jules nodded toward the hooked peak of Mt. Crested Butte, which glowed in the full moon light through his kitchen window, and with tears in his eyes and scotch in his glass, said, “I’m not a very spiritual person, but you go up there and you pray with your eyes open.”

It’s these small moments in the face of such profound beauty and wildness that is just one reason the family has been coming back year after year, regardless of an extensive list of global ski vacation destinations under their belts. Another reason, they say, is that Crested Butte feels like a “real town,” and a “homey” place. Jules’ sister Bonnie recalled a moment that doesn’t sound too far off from current events, when they misplaced their toddler, who wanted to walk back home from the base area and ended up at a neighbor’s making a snowman and drinking hot cocoa.

It can still be said that Crested Butte is both homey and real, the road winding up to the resort can still get hairy in a two-wheel drive during a blizzard, and people are often misplaced and then found playing in the snow with strangers. Though much has changed in the 53 years Jules has been coming to his favorite mountain town, we can all agree when he says his favorite moments here are “when it’s quiet and snowflakes are coming down.” That’s when Crested Butte takes on a special life all its own.

Profile: Cindy Petito

By Dawne Belloise

“My life was like The Wonder Years and I was Kevin Arnold. I was a hippie-jock. That was my life in Southern California,” smiles Cindy Petito, the youngest of the long-time, locally beloved Petito Sisters. When she was just ten years old, the family moved to San Pedro, California, leaving their parents’ hometowns of Port Dover, Ontario and Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Her dad, a pharmacist, had gotten a job in southern California because he was tired of shoveling snow. Cindy and her two older sisters, Lynda and Bonnie, have dual citizenship in Canada and the United States. She became excited about the West Coast move when she realized, “I was going to learn how to surf, mostly body surfing. The adjustment was easy and I remember that people at school thought I had an accent. I made friends quickly and we had a good, fun neighborhood.”

Cindy was one of two from her sixth grade class to receive the President’s Physical Fitness Award. “I had a certificate signed by Richard Nixon and won a year’s membership at the YMCA,” she says. Cindy would load up her bike, swimming fins dangling from her handlebars and a raft bungied to the rack, and ride down to the beach after classes. Afterwards, there were wet suits and sand strewn across her bedroom floor, which she recalls fondly, would keep the family cats entertained.

Cindy played volleyball and skied throughout junior high and high school. “I learned to ski on the hillsides of the Palos Verdes, in southern California, by the beach,” which seems like an odd and impossible feat for the warm climate there, but she explains, “They brought snow in by the truckloads and we learned to ski at night since it would get too warm in the day. We also had a ski club and we’d get used to our skis by practicing on the grass.” The ski club took trips up to Big Bear resort.

“I was also interested in acting, but I was shy. There was a clique of theatre kids in high school but I finally auditioned in my senior year. They were doing improv, which I was not good at, so I didn’t get a part. But, I was invited to be part of a class movie project.”

Following graduation in the bicentennial year of 1976, Cindy and her sister Bonnie took a cross-country road trip, visiting sister Lynda who was living in New York City at the time. “I thought I was going to be an artist because I was always interested in art, drawing and painting,” she recalls. Cindy wanted to focus on becoming a commercial or graphic artist, but a field trip to an ad agency changed her mind when she realized how stressful the job was. “I felt the intensity running around me.”

She worked odd jobs, working in a greenhouse, babysitting, cleaning houses. Lynda had moved to Crested Butte in June 1978, and Cindy moved to Crested Butte site-unseen. “I had known about Crested Butte from my ski magazines and also, my sister was here. I remember driving into town in Bonnie’s VW bug and thinking ‘Wow, this is the wild west.’ The streets weren’t paved and there weren’t many people around. I was 20 and I felt like I was on the set of a western movie,” she laughs.

Cindy moved into a house on Sopris that had been moved down from Irwin in the late 1800s. “You could see through the cracks in the exterior door and the house was always cold,” she recalls of Crested Butte’s more rugged days. “Lynda’s room had icicles hanging from the ceiling.”

She had the various Crested Butte jobs, serving breakfast at the Wooden Nickel, working at Chez Porque, a BBQ place where the Talk of the Town is now located (and upstairs was Lawrence of Oregano). “I wasn’t 21 yet but I was serving alcoholic drinks with the food. I played softball on the Final Blows team, a Cinderella team because we won and we were a women’s team. They filmed our championship games and played them on cable TV. I absolutely loved it here. I loved the winters. I got a job cleaning condos where I had the ‘Most Ski Time’ award, which means I forgot to clock out and went skiing.”

She also became an avid mountain biker. During her early days as a new Crested Buttian, Cindy worked for the Crested Butte Chronicle doing the layout and paste-up and became the sports writer as well, using the byline Lois Lane.

In her first summer here, Cindy became involved with the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre, designing sets, costumes, and posters. In 1982, she acted in her first play, the summer production of Bleacher Bums. She had been reluctant to audition but her sister Lynda insisted. After that first performance, she was hooked, unstoppable and couldn’t stay off the stage, acting in three more productions.

Cindy decided to pursue completing her college education and moved back to California to attend school for four years. “It took me eight years after high school and four years of school to get a two year degree in technical illustration,” she laughs. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I got a job right away drawing airplane parts. I was working for a company in the Redondo Beach area that drew up engine drawings and airplane parts.”

Cindy had met Pepi Valian when they taught skiing together in Crested Butte and they married in Las Vegas in 1984. The couple had their first daughter, Hanna, in 1986 in Anaheim. They returned to Crested Butte the following year and their second daughter, Bailey, was born in Gunnison in 1989. In the 1990s, Cindy had her own drafting business, mostly doing house renovation plans in Crested Butte. She was also manager of the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre. “I put the phone in because we didn’t even have a phone back then.”

When the couple went their separate ways in 2001, Cindy moved to Denver with the girls, in order to expand their experiences. “The spark to move was that there was a girl’s hockey team there,” she says, and both her girls played.

In Denver, Cindy first worked at the public libraries, as well as the costume shop at the Denver School of the Arts and developed a drafting curriculum for set design for the Denver School of Arts. Cindy immersed herself in directing plays at her daughters’ school and she notes that Crested Butte teaches you to be a creative Jack-of-all-trades. “When I lived in Crested Butte I did everything from stacking wood for the mountain condos, to cleaning those condos, to drawing floor plans for homes built in the 1800s, and waitressing.”

In March 2011, Cindy relocated to Colorado Springs when she remarried, and was employed at both the public library and public school library. In 2015 she moved to Las Vegas, “to check out some warmth for a change, working in school library there. I found there are actually a lot of beautiful areas in the Las Vegas valley that I didn’t know about. The mountains aren’t as high but Nevada is the most mountainous state. I did a lot of hiking, because there’s a lot of hiking you can do there. You can’t go out in the summer because it’s 116 degrees for at least three months.”

During her time in Las Vegas, Cindy began to develop her own line of jewelry and ornament design, which she now sells in the Crested Butte Heritage Museum.

The spring of 2018 brought changes once again for Cindy when she and her husband split and she decided to return to Crested Butte, the place she felt was home. With her sisters and their families residing in town, it was a good move. She worked part-time at the Crested Butte library before getting hired last August at Western Colorado University (WCU, formerly WSCU and WSC) as an administrative assistant in the Communication Arts, Language, and Literature Department (CALL).

“Basically, I serve 25 faculty members and I love it. I’m learning a lot of new things. Everyone’s very supportive,” she says of the learning curve. “I wouldn’t have even applied for the position if it wasn’t for the free RTA bus,” she says of the 45-minute free shuttle ride from Crested Butte to Gunnison.

“Starting over at 60 was scary, so I returned to the town that I felt was my home. I’ve lived in quite a few places, but I’ve never lived anywhere that felt like a community that everybody is a part of. I have roots here that I don’t have anywhere else. I moved here 40 years ago and there was something about that time that bonded all of us. I was always connected to this place and people would say ‘Welcome home’ when I came for a visit. I’m inspired by the older, strong women in this town, especially now at this point in my life. It’s very motivating to be surrounded by all these strong women.”

Cindy feels that here at the end of the road and seemingly far from the outside world, “You push yourself to do something you didn’t think you could do and you surprise yourself because you learn that you really are more than you think you are. Not everybody can live here. That first winter I spent here, I really loved that feeling, that it was so extreme and not everybody could be here. It was such a magical time, back in the era when I first arrived. I’ve always been drawn to the cold and yet I also consider myself a beach person. I went from one side of the country to the other and ended up in the middle,” she says.

“Walking around town on the side streets with the snow coming down, it was so peaceful and quiet, even though the tourists were raging over on Elk Avenue,” she chuckles. “It’s really important to me to have family here. I love being involved with the UCC [Union Congregational Church]. It’s another part of the family for me. I feel so welcomed coming back even though I was gone for so long. I don’t ever want to leave again. At this place in my journey, I just want to live here.”

Profile: Bill Kastning

A Driving Force

By Dawne Belloise

Bill Kastning is a fourth-generation Coloradoan, with his roots in Delta County. He was born the son of a preacher man, his father a Baptist minister, and both maternal and paternal ancestry arrived with the second land rush.

He tells of a long family history steeped in coal mining and employed by CFI, the same coal mining company that essentially owned Crested Butte back in the days when winters were colder and deeper, and a grey pungent mist hung in the air from coal fires that heated the homes.

Bill’s dad grew up in Cedaredge. He retells his father’s tale, “He’d ride the train to Crested Butte to play the Crested Butte basketball team and they were afraid to win because the Crested Butte community was all there and the Crested Butte kids were tough. The train was the only way to get to Crested Butte in the 1930s for the Cedaredge kids. Tony Mihelich had told me that they didn’t plow the road between Crested Butte and Gunnison until after WWII, so you had to take your car down to Gunnison to park it for the winter if you wanted to get out to go anywhere. Otherwise, if you left it in town, it’d get buried in the snow.”

Bill grew up in a few places, but he graduated from high school in Trinidad in 1964, “which was like a sister community to Crested Butte because when they closed the Big Mine here they relocated all the miners who were willing to move to Trinidad. A bunch of my classmates there had the same surnames as Crested Butte families, like Somrak, Stadjuhar, and Niccoli. Between cattle and coal, Trinidad was huge with its diverse ethnic population.

“Growing up there was like a scene out of American Graffiti,” he continues, speaking of all the cool cars cruising the strip that was once the road for cattle drives.

“Through the hamburger drive-in and downtown and back around,” he says, it was especially busy during the Friday and Saturday night cruise scene.

After high school, he enrolled at Ottawa University in Kansas with a hefty curriculum of biology and chemistry classes because he loved science, and earned his degree in that discipline. But it was during the era of drafting young men for war by a lottery number system. Bill says after graduation in 1968, “With the Vietnam war hanging over me, I chose to avoid killing people by going to seminary school in Berkeley, California.” He enrolled at the Graduate Theological Union, an interdenominational school. “I loved it but I had no desire to be a minister,” he laughs about having grown up as the son of one.

After two years of seminary he took an internship with Campus Ministry at CU Boulder in 1971, helping to run several programs like social justice, student congregation, and draft counseling. In 1976 he started a senior citizen program in eastern Boulder County, basically Louisville and Lafayette, driving the elderly around to places like Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Ice Capades in Denver. “The seniors were mostly Italian miners’ widows from the Louisville coal mine. I had a weekly dinner that I organized and they all came to,” he says with affection for those mostly “little old Italian women,” who made his first bus driving experience so memorable.

In 1977, he was living in Boulder, across the street from Mo Siegel, who was just starting up Celestial Seasonings. Mo hired Bill as a salesman but, Bill laughs, “I sucked at it. So he put me in charge of the very first Red Zinger bicycle race as a promoter and I also worked in the warehouse. I organized the Red Zinger route logistics and got all the necessary permissions,” he says. But when the race got really big, which it did very quickly by 1978, Mo hired a professional.

One of the things Bill is exceptionally proud of is his role in the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group of Boulder.

“It’s the busiest mountain rescue organization in the state because of areas like Boulder Canyon, Eldorado Springs Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park, where there are a lot of lost or stuck climbers or mountain tragedies like plane crashes.” The percentage of live rescues to body retrievals, the latter being far more common, was devastating to Bill and he tells of the emotional hardship of almost a decade of service from 1972. A hardy hippie sort of mountain man in his own right, Bill explains, “I’ve always loved mountain climbing, mostly mountaineering. I was more into using an ice ax and crampons and climbing mountains around Colorado, Wyoming and the Northwest.”

Bill and his cousin, Roy Kastning, decided to open a photography studio in Boulder in 1978, ColorWest Photography. “We did a little of everything from freelance photography to developing slides, prints and film.” Roy, who had attended Western State College (WSC, now Western Colorado University), always wanted to move back to the Gunnison valley and in 1979 finally convinced Bill of a grand life there. The duo started out behind Mario’s Pizza in a building that they bought and expanded, converting it into a huge studio and lab for portraits and processing film. However, the timing wasn’t in their favor.

“The recession took us down in 1982,” he laments, and they lost the Gunnison building but hung onto the business by moving it to Crested Butte. A couple of years later, they sold the business to Dusty Demerson.

Bill had met Carol Schlaile when they were both working at a summer camp in the Black Forest, north of Colorado Springs in 1966. “She was still in high school and I was…older… and in college,” he smiles. Carol is the daughter of a German immigrant, born and raised in Boulder, and she had never lived anywhere else until Bill brought her to Crested Butte. “Our first date was to climb Long’s Peak. It started as a friendship but we wound up getting married in 1971.” Eleven years later in 1982, their son, Andrew, was born, and daughter Amelie followed in 1989.

Bill built his family a home in Crested Butte South in 1982. To help keep food on the table after they sold the photography business, Bill did a lot of construction before he went to work as a driver for Alpine Express in 1988. At the same time, he enrolled in education courses to get his teaching certification at WSC. Afterwards, he was hired by RE1J schools as a third grade teacher at Blackstock Elementary, where he stayed for 19 years. He retired in 2012 and became a school bus driver when the superintendent of the school district, Jon Nelson, begged him to drive one of the Crested Butte routes.

Bill agreed to stay on only until Christmas break because he could make much more money at Alpine Express, especially with the tourist season kicking in. Six years later, he’s still doing the school bus route because, he smiles, “I fell in love with the kids and especially the sports teams. It was fun to cheer them on and they love me because I don’t just sit in the bus, I go into the event and cheer them on. The highlight, to me, was when I got to watch a bunch of teenage boys have an experience they’ll never forget as long as they live.”

He’s talking about the playoffs and final championship of State 2A soccer that the Titan boys won last fall. “It was the first time a big team sport won the state championship,” he says. Bill enjoys all the teams he transports. “I really enjoyed watching the girls volley team as well. They played the best I’ve ever seen them play this year. I also love watching track and have gone to the state track meets several times. Basically, I just love everything about extra-curricular sports.

Bill is involved with students another way, too. He and Carol initiated the four-day archeology excursions to Four Corners every autumn with the Crested Butte Community School sixth graders to learn about ancestral Puebloans. He also takes the eighth grade class on a three-day cultural and history experience that he started. They camp at the National Sand Dunes and then travel down to San Luis to see Fort Garland, the oldest Army outpost, which dates to the Civil War Era. Then they go on to hike to the top of a hill to tour an ornate Catholic Chapel with life-sized bronze sculptures.

“The rest of experience is just having fun outdoors, climbing the sand dunes, and playing in the water at the bottom,” Bill says. He also drives the yearly excursion of fifth graders to the Denver Museum and fourth graders to the Keystone Science Camp in Summit County.

This coming summer, Bill and Carol plan to drive to Anchorage, Alaska, to visit their son and his three daughters, and explore along the way. “From Crested Butte to Alaska is scenic. Everything about Alaska is like Crested Butte on steroids. Moose will stomp you, grizzlies will eat you and the mountains start at sea level so they look much bigger than ours.”

No matter how stunning Alaska is, Bill will always return to Crested Butte because, he feels, “With all the experiences we’ve had here, we can’t think of another place in the world where a community has your back in every way, whether it’s a wonderful success story like the boys soccer team or a horrible suicide tragedy, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows—this community has your back. This community is strong in its support system and we have an enormous network of friends from living here 40 years.”

Although the community has changed in some aspects, Bill also reflects on the positive. “There are still wonderful things and long-time locals and people to focus on and block out the fact that we’re now owned by a huge resort conglomerate. But we’re happy to live here and we don’t see ourselves living anywhere else.”

The ever-evolving Crested Butte Creative District

By Dawne Belloise

When the coal mines of Crested Butte shut down in the mid 1950s, the new ski area that opened in 1962 began attracting a demographic far different from the people and families of the late 1800s whose men came to work below ground.

Following on the heels of those first ski bums, many of whom were Western State College students and athletes, came the artists—the musicians, the actors, the writers, the painters, the dancers and the dreamers who saw beauty in the surroundings and the potential to live a nonconforming creative life in a tiny, dusty town in the back of beyond.

Today, Crested Butte is a haven for “creatives,” a made-to-order noun that expresses inclusivity of all aspects of creativity, from art to food and beyond. The reasons creatives flocked to this space at the end of the road are fairly obvious, as is their resulting influence on the town’s decades of evolution and aesthetic development.

Crested Butte was officially designated a Creative District by the state of Colorado in the summer of 2016. The expressed purpose is to develop cultural patronage so creatives and creative businesses thrive, by nurturing a vibrant creative culture in downtown Crested Butte. This is through support for local artists, increased collaboration between creative organizations, and increased visibility of the arts and creativity throughout the Creative District. At the same time, this designation helps preserve the fun, funky character and cohesive community identity that sets Crested Butte apart from other mountain resort towns.

Creative is a larger definition than just artistic. It’s a broader term, that the Crested Butte Creative District Committee (CDC) worked on to redefine what constitutes a creative and why. From this, a comprehensive valley-wide directory was organized with more than 90 businesses and individuals listed. Melissa Mason, chair of the CDC explains, “There are 300 businesses registered at the chamber of commerce, so we’re looking at one fifth of our businesses being part of the creative economy. Our Creative District designated and defined certain categories of creatives: craft food and beverages, design, film and media, heritage, literary arts, makers, performing arts, and visual arts.”

There are now four subcommittees focused on the areas of marketing, professional development, public art, and education. New in education is a mentorship program that partners with the Crested Butte Community School (CBCS). AP art students, who are working on their portfolio for college, are paired with a local artist. Mason says, “We’ve had huge success with the local artists sharing their expertise. The students get to see how a pro artist works in the world.”

The CDC also purchased a ceramic wheel (used to throw pottery) for the CBCS arts department. They also funded the school’s kindergarten arts class and helped with production costs for the dance production of Celebrate the Beat.

Crested Butte has teamed up with four other Creative Districts on the Western Slope to generate a 331-mile route through the neighboring creative districts of Paonia, Carbondale, Ridgway and Salida. Enabled by a $25,000 state grant, the corridor’s purpose is to invite tourists to lesser-known recreational destinations and experience the mountain towns of the western Rockies in an expanded adventure.

“The corridor is focused on the creative districts,” Mason says, “and part of the beauty of the Creative District is that it brings in visitors with a disposable income who have a low impact on our backcountry. It’s a marketing effort that says we’re not only an outdoor recreational town but we have a huge cultural scene. We want visitors to know there’s more than just mountain biking or skiing. We want them to know what else we have to offer culturally and we want to inform tourists of all the cultural events and options before they get here.”

“Marketing is a huge piece of what we’re doing,” but she also points out, “It’s not that we want to bring in more people, but more that we want to inform the people who are coming here of our cultural offerings so they can mountain bike as well as go to the Crested Butte Music Festival.”

Already more than one quarter, 27 percent, of visitors choose to come to Crested Butte solely to attend arts or cultural events. “There’s a tendency to think we’re only a sports town, but we have more creatives here than most towns and we have excellent cultural events,” Mason says, describing this as a creative economy.

“We don’t get a $20 million arts center in a community that doesn’t care about the arts. One of the cool programs we developed is a comprehensive calendar,” an overall, all-inclusive events listing at, which the CDC created and funded. “We figured out that to have your event publicized online you had to post it in about 90 different places,” Mason says of the recognized need to develop a consistent online calendar where anyone can get pertinent information on valley-wide events from one searchable source. “KBUT stepped in and volunteered to manage the calendar.”

With a public art mandate now in the town code and law, Mason explains, “We have a public art policy. Prior to the code, there was no rhyme or reason as to how art got onto the streets. Now, two percent of any town capital improvement projects goes to public art. The ordinance also allows for the CDC to say where to put monies planned for art projects so that we’re not limited to the specific location of the capital improvement.”

Some of the recent public art projects include the mural in the public town bathrooms, and Mallardi Cabaret’s capital improvement, which features a metal sculpture in the lobby by blacksmith creative Ben Eaton. The Red Lamp Post and plaque on Elk Avenue, in front of Montanya’s, was one of the projects awarded to Jeremy Rubingh and commemorates the fight against a mine on Mt. Emmons, a.k.a. the Red Lady.

Professional development focuses on supporting working creatives and businesses in our community. Most recently, CDC paired up with the Crested Butte Center for the Arts to create a class on how to craft a résumé, how to write an intelligent bio and get professional photos or head shots, because creatives are sometimes not the best when it comes to marketing themselves. “They get the expertise they need to promote themselves. We pay for the majority of the class, which is basically a free, two-day class with headshots to help them get into galleries, or gigs, or magazines.”

In addition to the online calendar and creatives’ directory, the CDC also helps inform visitors and locals of what’s available in the community, bringing an awareness through a marketing campaign to buy from local creatives. “It’s another way for us to support our creatives and businesses by encouraging people in the community to buy from our own locals, from jewelry to show tickets. We don’t need to source things from Amazon or other online outlets, or even other places, because we have locals who can do it here.”

The Crested Butte creative community, cultural tourism and the many events have grown enough to warrant the massive expansion of the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. The district also includes the many art galleries exhibiting local artists and artisans.

Crested Butte has become known for its events such as the Gypsy Jazz Fest, the Mountain High Music Festival, the weekly concerts of Alpenglow and Live from Mt. Crested Butte!, the Crested Butte Arts Festival, the People’s Fair, the Plein Air (Art) Invitational, the Crested Butte Film Festival, the Crested Butte Dance Collective, the Crested Butte Dance Company, the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre—which is the oldest community theatre in Colorado—community radio KBUT, the Wildflower Festival, the Iron Pour, the Beer and Chili Fest, and the week-long community harvest celebration and passion play of the wild and earthy Vinotok, just to name a few of the creatives and events that keep this town funky and dynamic.

When you combine all of these happenings, there’s hardly a moment the town isn’t immersed in a cultural event.

The long-time local artists, the creatives, as well as the current influx of artisanal and art-appreciative residents, have further fueled the flavor and soul of Crested Butte, grooming it into a place that brings more visitors to the area who recognize its wide variety of aesthetic offerings. It’s a small art town that is the sort of place where people can find a true sense of community. Mason feels strongly, “We need to make sure people know about this amazing district. The outdoor aspect goes hand in hand with why artists are here. Look around you—you want to write a song, paint a painting, take a photo, create a sculpture.”

For more information  about the Crested Butte Creative District and the CDC, or if you are a local creative, you can register yourself, services, and talent for free online in the Creatives Directory at

For the comprehensive calendar of events online visit

Fighting hunger in Gunnison County

“There is so much we are doing, and there’s still so much more to do”

By Katherine Nettles

When most people think of a small mountain town with an internationally famous ski resort, they might not consider the issues below the surface, such as hunger and poverty. It isn’t always obvious that many of the people working to operate the resort live elsewhere, commuting during the darkest hours of the day and managing their own challenges outside of plain sight. When having a brief exchange with someone in a service industry, it might not occur to us that he or she could be experiencing food insecurity.

But according to the Gunnison County food pantry, Gunnison County residents have the highest rate of eligibility for food support services in the state of Colorado, with one in 10 Gunnison County residents considered “food insecure.” Yet the county’s population has very low enrollment in those resources, which means that among the people who qualify for government assistance, there is a huge gap in those using it.

The pantry is working to alleviate these problems in several ways through daily distributions, an emergency food box program, senior services, and children services.

Cassidy Tawse-Garcia, who just recently left the position of executive director for the food pantry, sat down with me on a cold day in early December to talk about how the pantry has evolved over the past few years. Tawse-Garcia was at the time preparing to step away from the position she held with the pantry in order to pursue travel, her Hispanic heritage and the food systems in developing countries of Central America.

Tawse-Garcia had spent the past few years with the food pantry creating the Gunnison Valley Resources Guide, a living document that Gunnison Valley Health and Human Services uses and offers to others as well. This includes everything from the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery fish giveaways, churches that offer soup dinners, and even a road kill list, which distributes meat from deer and elk struck and killed by cars in the area. She organized the first Stone Soup event, which has now become an annual fundraiser and community-building event for the pantry. Tawse-Garcia speaks candidly about the problems facing low-income residents of Gunnison County, of the connections between a higher cost of living and fewer economic opportunities, and of the undertakings the pantry manages throughout the year.

Citing a study in 2015 which found that Gunnison County has the highest concentration of children living in poverty in the state, Tawse-Garcia said this is “mostly due to the rural nature of our county.”

Furthermore, 36 percent of Coloradans make just enough income that they cannot qualify for social food programs—so if they get caught in between affordability and access, they sometimes might have to choose between groceries and paying their heating bill, said Tawse-Garcia. In those cases, the food pantry can be their only option.

It is a misconception, says Tawse-Garcia, that as the economy improves, wages keep up with the cost of living. Twenty-seven percent of renters in the valley spend 50 percent or more of their income on housing, she says.

Tawse-Garcia, who has been immersed in food in various ways throughout her life, from growing up on an organic farm in Boulder to making cheese in Vermont, first came into contact with the food pantry while working on her master’s thesis, examining how the immigrant community in the Gunnison Valley engages with the food system.

“For me what was so appealing about working for the food pantry was just the people that it serves,” Tawse-Garcia said. She focused her time on the availability of nutrition for those who the pantry serves, describing the concept of nutrients over calories and the struggle to procure fresh produce, nutrient-dense food, and teaching people how to make healthy choices while working with donation items and a very tight budget.

The pantry itself serves anyone who walks in the door. Its stated mission is to provide food to anyone who asks, regardless of age, race, gender, class, or origin. No questions asked.

The daily distributions are a major undertaking in their own right. The pantry is open three days per week at its small storefront on North Main Street in Gunnison, and it served 3,500 people last year.

The average visitor uses the pantry an average of five times per year, says Tawse-Garcia, often during off-season times or before paychecks for a new job have started kicking in. Additionally, the pantry works with the community to specifically target issues for children, seniors, immigrants, anyone in an emergency situation, and those who can benefit from more knowledge of food.

Children services

The pantry reports that 25 percent of the students in Gunnison County School District qualify for Free and Reduced Meals (FARM), a federally assisted school meal program.

The pantry supplements the government program by also providing snacks to school nurses to give out at their discretion, rather than requiring yet another set of enrollment program forms and the possible stigma involved for the children who need to ask for a snack during school hours.

“It’s not enough that they are on the FARM programs, or that their families are eligible for other assistance,” says Tawse-Garcia. If the pantry wanted to provide government-funded snacks, it might lose many recipients due to the process, she says. “I would rather err on the side of providing one child a snack that they don’t technically need, than the opposite scenario,” she said. So the pantry provides the snacks at its own cost.

Senior services

The pantry serves a group of approximately 100 seniors on a consistent basis, says Tawse-Garcia. Many of them are homebound and limited in their mobility. “So this gives them a social aspect and sense of community.” Senior Day at the pantry becomes a weekly chance for people to greet one another, and it gives them something to look forward to as well, she says.

Immigrant services

A unique aspect of the Gunnison immigrant population, explains Tawse-Garcia, is that the largest groups of Cora immigrants in the United States reside between Gunnison and Delta. Cora is an indigenous population from the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain range in northeastern Mexico that speaks its own language, also called Cora. Spanish is a common second language for Cora to speak, but coming from a very rural, agricultural-based area, many of the people who immigrate here do not have formal education and therefore may be able to understand Spanish, but not read it.

Among this population, visits to the pantry are actually lower. “We felt it was important,” says Tawse-Garcia, to improve the Spanish signage and begin offering translators to make the pantry a less intimidating prospect. “There is a need, but the comfort level needs to be there,” she says.

In 2018 the pantry instituted Spanish-language hours on Wednesday evenings, from 5 to 7 p.m., in order to address this.

Emergency boxes

For those who find themselves in immediate need of food, the pantry offers emergency boxes at 25 locations throughout the county. There are two types: one is for an individual, and one is for a family of four. Each contains enough nonperishable food to last three days, and the Marshal’s Office, the Crested Butte Library, the Almont Lodge, and the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce are among the locations. The pantry reports that there is generally an uptick in the demand for these emergency boxes during summer months, and, notes Tawse-Garcia, “We gave twice as many to Health and Human Services in 2018 as we did the previous year.”

An emergency box can be obtained by calling the local police dispatch.


The pantry food distribution and emergency box programs are not meant to be a long-term resource for someone, of course. In order to increase the self-sufficiency of its visitors, education and outreach programs are also in place.

There is a problem of having access to food, explains Tawse-Garcia, and then there is another issue of having access to and understanding of nutrition. To this end, the pantry works hard to provide fresh food choices to people, and it also does extensive outreach to build up people’s self reliance.

Some food pantry patrons become volunteers as a way to contribute, which can build up their sense of helping others and sharing information. The pantry also offers six-week cooking classes, which teach attendees how to shop for and prepare a well-balanced meal for a family of four for less than $10.

“If we are going to work together as a community…we need to be able to offer them the skills to be self sufficient,” says Tawse-Garcia.


The connection between the Crested Butte community and the food pantry is that while only 15 percent of food pantry visitors reside in the northern end of the valley, many of the visitors commute to and work in the northern end of the valley. For this reason, the pantry has for the first time in 2018 attended Town Council meetings in both Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte to request funding from each entity.

“It’s all connected, and I think as we consider affordable housing, we should be thinking about food security as well,” says Tawse-Garcia.

“The food pantry works to address food insecurity throughout the county, which includes Mt. Crested Butte,” Tawse-Garcia said in November, as she presented the pantry’s work to the town.

“We have had 9,902 visits to the facility this year, which is about on par with last year. It is obvious that people who reside in your community are using it,” she said. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, which employs approximately 1,000 people, told Tawse-Garcia they anticipate that about half of the employees live in Gunnison.

The pantry has to raise approximately $40,000 per year to purchase fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and eggs for its visitors and for its school snacks program.

“We could all work more collaboratively to encourage people who qualify to enroll in these programs. We are asking for funds from all entities,” Tawse-Garcia said.

The pantry plans to begin tracking places of employment for visitors on its intake forms in 2019 in order to identify where people spend their time in the valley as well.

Among improvements are a new $35,000 refrigerated van granted from Wal-Mart, LLC, which enables pantry volunteers to pick up produce from backyard gardeners, low-income CSA programs, restaurants and other donors.

This is the first year the pantry has paid staff, having taken on two part-time staff members. With Tawse-Garcia’s departure, pantry manager Angie Krueger is currently running the program with volunteers. The pantry’s board of directors has decided to maintain that for the near future.

John Felix, president of the board, said he feels good about where the pantry is headed for now, and plans to add a few board members in the coming year. “We have not yet determined any specific direction for next steps or for changing roles,” he said of the non-profit organization. “This is the time of year when people are thinking about us, which we appreciate. It’s a great time of year to think about the pantry and ways you can help.”

“Part of the appeal of working for the pantry,” says Tawse-Garcia, “was the people it serves. Its mission that is so vital. In a resort community, it’s easy to forget that people are struggling.”

For more information on how to donate items, time (as a volunteer) or money to the pantry, visit:

Mental health clinic in Crested Butte secures funding for space

Bringing improvements to the upper valley

By Katherine Nettles

The town of Mt. Crested Butte has accepted a funding request for $5,000 to help bring mental health services to Crested Butte through the Gunnison Valley Health Foundation (GVH) and the Mental Health Center. The center is planning renovations to a unit in the Ore Bucket Building at Sixth Street and Maroon Avenue that will allow it to establish a full-service mental health clinic there, and Mt. Crested Butte’s contribution was the final addition needed to reach its funding goal.

Dr. John Tarr, chairman of the board for GVH, addressed the council at the meeting alongside Kimberly Behounek, regional director of the Mental Health Center.

“This remodel will enable the presence of a full-time mental health clinic in the upper valley, which in my opinion will be a very important service to people suffering from mental health conditions, who will then be able to access services from the mental health center without the overhead of an hour and a half commute down valley and back,” said Tarr.

This latest contribution completes the capital campaign goal of raising $50,000, as part of the total estimated need of $262,420 to be raised for the renovation by January. GVH owns the Ore Bucket space and has entered into an agreement with the mental health center to provide the space for a clinic. GVH also contributed $30,000; the center itself has contributed $30,000; Vail Resorts also agreed to contribute $30,000; the town of Crested Butte has made a $5,000 contribution; and another $100,000 is expected from a grant through El Pomar Foundation, $52,420 from Caring for Colorado for programming. The renovation includes structural changes and the addition of a bathroom.

The clinic expects to benefit the community by providing a full complement of mental health and substance abuse treatment services more locally.

“I don’t think I need to tell anybody about the number of tragedies that have occurred with individuals taking their own lives in the upper valley this year, of which I believe there have been five. Whether or not these would have been preventable by a more easy access to mental health services is obviously speculative, but it could have done no harm,” said Tarr.

The mental health center has also received a grant to provide funding for the services it will offer at the clinic.

Behounek discussed the plans for service at the clinic. She said the 700-square-foot space would allow for a reception area, a bathroom, and three counseling spaces. There will be three professionals in the clinic, and it will be open Monday through Saturday. Practitioners will include a nurse practitioner, a psychiatrist, and a licensed addiction counselor, as well as a primary care physician co-locating in the same building to facilitate a “warm hand-off” for referrals.

There will also be a peer specialist, which Behounek described as “a person with lived experience in mental health and substance use,” who will be circulating throughout the community, introducing the service and hosting sober living events on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for those who need or want to live a sober lifestyle.

“This grant will support their income, and then long-term it’s my obligation and role to figure out how I can roll that into the fiscal year budget,” said Behounek.

The center already has 314 active cases in the 81224 and 81225 zip codes, and Behounek said she is confident that even a 20 percent in service capacity increase, “just by being present,” will give the center the ability to continue staffing the clinic full-time.

The center also plans to make the clinic available to law enforcement officials at all hours in order to activate a mobile crisis management team when necessary to allow for telephone and video platforms and receive support without leaving the community, unless it is determined someone needs a higher level of care. Law enforcement gets multiple mental health calls per month, said Behounek, and currently emergency medical services have to drive people in crisis to Gunnison Valley Hospital, which necessitates both an ambulance fee and hospital admission fees, even if they are just in need of connecting to telehealth services.

Mt. Crested Butte Town Council member Nicholas Kempin, who works for the local EMS, said he has seen the problem first-hand. “There are so many costs … It just compounds their problems,” he said.

The center also hopes to begin hosting sober living events as part of the upper valley presence.

Both Behounek and Tarr addressed the council’s questions regarding anonymity, given the somewhat prominent public location of the Ore Building, and about the nature of the walk-in experiences.

“It’s a very visible corner,” said mayor Todd Barnes.

Kempin agreed that lack of anonymity is a problem in the valley.

Behounek said that has been considered, as has rebranding the center altogether, or making the space more of a community gathering place.

“All of those things can be on the table, but at the same time … our preference as an agency would be that we continue to reduce stigma,” said Behounek, noting that there are already other medical practitioners in the building, and mental health is an aspect of healthcare that deserves the same kind of attention and care as any other.

“What you describe in your question gets to the heart of national issues,” said Tarr. “There are national deficits … This is not just a local problem. This is a national problem.”

Tarr said it is important not to let perfectionism get in the way of making improvements.

Behounek also described the walk-in experience as welcoming, with plans for the atmosphere to be warm and inviting. She said decor will use warm color palettes with local artists and possibly artist co-ops, but there will not be front desk receptionist initially.

The council was very supportive of the project, and Kempin said, ”I am thrilled about the prospect of having this in the valley.”

Barnes asked if anyone on the council wanted to offer additional funding as well, and other members of the council agreed. Council member Janet Farmer encouraged the foundation to return to the council to request additional funding if construction costs exceed expectations.