Summit Daily News

 

Working at the Summit Daily News was an incredible learning experience for me. It was there I honed my writing skills and became an ace at meeting deadlines and exceeding expectations. During my time at the Summit Daily I was also lucky enough to have former Denver Post reporter Steve Lipsher acting as my editor, a fantastic writer who still continues to mentor me today. Summit_Daily_News

Human interest stories:

‘I was just happy to be alive’

BY, Ashley Dickson

SUMMIT COUNTY — When a gas explosion ripped through Good Times Adventures, Brian Mislansky, who was getting in the shower, suddenly found himself airborne. 

In a blink of an eye, normalcy transformed into chaos. 

“At first I couldn’t tell if I was going up or down,” Mislansky recalled. “When I landed, I was surrounded by debris, and I didn’t really know what had happened.”

Buried up to his chest in splintered lumber and Sheetrock, Mislansky did his best to remain calm that April day. He felt his arms pinned to his side and the weight of the rubble bearing down on his chest, making it difficult to take a full breath. 

“I tried to only take shallow breaths, and then it started to feel like my legs were falling asleep, which was probably a good thing because it held off the pain,” Mislansky said.

He and his dog Lulu were the only occupants in the building at the time of the explosion, and both were sent flying in different directions. 

Trapped under the remains of the building where he worked, Mislansky was helpless to do anything but wait.

            Hoping for a rescue

The emergency call came in to the Red, White and Blue fire station at 11:20 a.m.

Before he even arrived at the scene, firefighter Erik Kuffner realized it was not a false alarm.

“We started to see debris hanging in the trees a quarter mile out,” he said. “When we got there, we immediately began a preliminary search around the debris pile looking for survivors. When you arrive at a scene like that, you’re hoping in your mind that it is going to be a rescue and not a recovery.”

Carefully walking around the debris, Kuffner stopped in his tracks when he heard a faint sound coming from below. 

Knuffer called out to fellow firefighters, and a crew congregated around the source of the voice and peered down into the rubble.

Mislansky recalled feeling immense relief when he first heard the rescuers 30 minutes after he had been buried.

“When they arrived, all I heard was one voice saying ‘Is anyone there?’ It was such a good feeling to hear that voice, because I was preparing to wait there for a while,” Mislansky said. 

                Like a game of Pick-up sticks

He recalls the extrication was “like a game of Pick-up sticks,” as firefighters carefully moved debris piece by piece to ensure the structure wouldn’t collapse further.

“We dug tunnels five feet down and ten feet in to get to him,” Kuffner said.

The process of pulling Mislansky from the rubble took crews more than an hour, as they used axes and saws to free his trapped body without causing greater injury.

“I was lucky to be conscious the whole time, so I could communicate with rescue workers,” Mislansky said. “I remember one of them told me, ‘When we move you, it’s not going to feel very good,’ and that is when I started realizing things were serious.”

Once rescuers pulled Mislansky from the debris, he was placed on the back of a snowmobile and quickly taken to a waiting Flight-for-Life helicopter. 

“I realized there were lots of people around, but I still had no idea what happened,” Mislansky said. “I remember I actually asked a friend if the building was OK.” 

                   “Didn’t have a choice”

He was flown to St. Anthony’s Central Hospital in Denver, where trauma doctors decided they would have to amputate his left leg above the knee.

Mislansky called a friend who had suffered a similar injury, and hung up the phone feeling confident that he could handle the new situation. He then called his family and told them the he would be going into surgery, the first of many.

“I didn’t have a choice really, and I was just happy to be alive,” Mislansky said. “A few days later, a friend showed me the picture of the building … and I slowly began to realize that it could have been so much worse than losing a leg.”

He since has endured several surgeries to repair a hip badly injured in the explosion.

Resting in his hospital bed after surgery, Mislansky’s thoughts shifted to his dog Lulu, who was in the building with him at the time of the explosion. 

No one had been able to find the Springier spaniel in the wreckage, and the news was devastating. 

“After eight days, I was just beginning to lose hope,” Mislansky said. 

Then, a miracle happened: Lulu was found, buried in the rubble but alive.

“When I got the phone call,” he said, “I was with my whole family, and it really just broke us all down.”

A short time later, friends brought Lulu down to Denver, where she was reunited with Mislansky in the hospital, boosting his morale. 

Mislansky spent six weeks recovering at the hospital and claims he was “climbing the walls ready to get out.”

Back home in Breckenridge, he is gaining greater mobility, but it still will be several months before he can put any weight on his hip.

“It will be a long process, but a year from now, I’ll be walking,” Mislansky said, adding that he plans to get a prosthetic. 

Despite a long, painful recovery process, Mislansky says he “hasn’t been down yet,” and cites the overwhelming support from the community as one of the main contributors to his optimism. 

“The support has been ridiculous and words can’t even describe it,” Mislansky said. “I have no idea what’s next and, like I have been doing the whole time, I’m taking it day-by-day.”

The boys of winter

BY, Ashley Dickson

SUMMIT COUNTY — They may not have suits in their closets or framed business degrees hanging on the wall, but a group of local snowboarders are redefining business, and they are not apologizing for doing it their way. 

Frustrated with the limited apparel choices for snowboarders, these local riders decided to do something about it.

“We didn’t feel there were enough quality products out there, and we couldn’t find anything we liked,” Breckenridge resident Ronnie Barr said. “So we decided to start a company, and two years ago we put out our first product line.”

Barr and six friends dubbed the new company CandyGrind, and after creating a simple but iconic lollipop logo, the crew started handing out stickers and spreading the word to other riders on the mountain.

CandyGrind now is distributing its line of gloves, hoodies, beanies and T-shirts internationally, and the group of friends is quickly watching their kitchen-table dreams come to life.

“None of us thought it would pick up this fast,” Barr said. “We’re all just ski bums, and now, now we’re starting to get recognized in this industry.”

CandyGrind is one of four locally-rooted companies starting to get noticed in the snowboard scene for a commitment to producing quality products that they themselves would want to buy, and they all say they are “in it for the love.” 

                               “It’s all happening”

When Colorado native Dominic Rosacci graduated from high school early after his junior year, he knew he didn’t want to end up in a job where he would have to take direction from anyone. 

Instead, he took matters into his own hands and started his own screen printing T-shirt business at the ripe old age of 16.

Rosacci dubbed the start-up Neovolt, which means “a new light”, and went to work creating clothing that represented the unique style of the snowboard and skateboard communities. 

“It was like the demand was there, but there was nowhere to get it,” Rosacci said of clothing that actually appealed to snowboarders. “Word got out about what we were doing, and we expanded a couple years later.”

A mere four years after starting with just one T-shirt, Rosacci and his production manager, Jeremy Pummel, moved their operation into a warehouse just outside of Denver. 

To save money, Rosacci lives in an upstairs corner of the warehouse, showering just up the street at the local recreation center and skateboarding his own mini-ramp in the middle of the production floor. 

“I never had a mentor or anyone telling me how to do things,” Rosacci said. “I figured stuff out by messing things up first and doing them my own way. Now, it seems like it’s all happening.” 

Neovolt clothing is distributed in boardshops throughout Colorado, California and Utah, and although Rosacci is excited for the inevitable growth ahead, he remains dedicated to “keeping his roots on the mountain.”

“In Colorado, the snowboard scene is just exploding, and it’s amazing to see all the other local companies that are out there that are doing well,” Rosacci said. “Everyone is in it for the love, and we’re having fun at the same time.”

                             Fun with a capital ‘F’

It’s a pretty good story for the high school reunion: Three childhood friends from Tempe, Ariz., embark on a journey to the snowy mountains of Colorado, where they fall in love with snowboarding and start a business that takes the county by storm. 

For Mike Kissell, Mike Crabb, and Nick Scott, it’s a story they all tell with smiles after starting Essi Eyewear out of their home in Dillon.

Essi, which came about when the crew was brainstorming homonyms for the “S.C.” in Summit County, began producing eyewear that was both unique and affordable, filling a niche that had long been ignored by many of the larger, more established companies. 

“There seemed like there was no in-between. It was either gas-station glasses or high-end stuff over $100,” Kissell said. “People’s reaction was almost relief when we started putting them out.”

The three friends began experimenting with old-school sunglass designs that they liked and later expanded into T-shirts, hats, and stickers. 

Always dedicated to having fun, the guys from Essi keep the local snowboard community in the forefront of their operations. 

Whether it’s inviting riders onto their tricked-out lime green RV after a long day on the hill or putting on a backyard rail jam for the neighborhood kids, Essi embodies the fun-loving vibe that make Summit County unique. 

“If it’s fun, then we want to be apart of it,” Crabb said, adding that the company’s new saying, “It’s Love,” represents a commitment to enjoying life to the fullest, both on and off the mountain. 

Available online, Essi products and stickers are popping up in places as far away as New York and Wyoming, and the guys don’t have any intentions of stopping now.

“We’re going to keep it going as long as we can,” Kissell said. “It’s a fun time in our lives, and it’s still crazy to think that we created a business that people are enjoying.”

                         ‘Wingin’ it’

Breckenridge resident Daniel “Floyd” Ralph didn’t initially realize he was in the beginning stages of starting a company when a local skate shop asked for an order of stickers that he created as an inside joke with some of his snowboarding buddies. 

“I would joke around with friends when we were taking about having good days and saying things like ‘Yeah, me glad,’’’ Ralph said. “It was a funny saying that kind of stuck, so I put it on a sticker, and people actually wanted them.”

Before he knew it, Ralph was doodling a simple logo of a small, smiling bird and slapping it on stickers, t-shirts, hoodies, beanies and bandannas. 

“So many people try to find an image to capitalize on. MeGlad is about fun, and that never gets old,” Ralph said. “The whole company is based off of having fun with friends and remembering why you got into snowboarding in the first place.”

Ralph has ambitious plans to extend his product line in the upcoming years, and in addition to designing more products for females, he hopes to start experimenting with denim, a fabric used successfully by few other companies. 

                     All for one

Despite competing for the same market, the collection of locally-rooted young entrepreneurs breaking in to the snowboard industry are looking to support each other rather than compete against each other.

“We’re all still struggling to pay the bills, but we’re doing what we want, so we have to be there for each other,” Rosacci said. “The vibe between all the companies is amazing, and we’re all in it for the love.”

Although the future is still paved with uncertainties, the guys behind the brands are proud of how far they have come and remain committed to creating innovative products that will appeal to the next generation of snowboarders. 

“Making a company happen through grassroots speaks loud” Ralph said. “We are showing people that we are smart enough. We are capable, and we are mature enough to just and go for it. I know I would be kicking myself if I didn’t try to make this happen.”

Cops & Courts coverage:

Lukanski sentenced to two years in boating case

BY, Ashley Dickson

BRECKENRIDGE — Frisco resident Kevin Lukanski was sentenced Monday to two years in prison in the boating accident that claimed the life of friend Adam Brown last August.

In front of a packed courtroom in the Summit County Justice Center, Lukanski fought back tears and turned towards the Brown family as he recounted the events of the night of Brown’s death.

“That evening will always be a horror to me, and I admit that I made some errors, some very critical errors,” he said. “Hopefully, through this story, I can prevent someone else from making the same mistake. …I can’t apologize enough for the loss of Adam. He will never be forgotten.”

In early December, Lukanski pleaded guilty to boating under the influence and criminally negligent homicide, a lesser charge than the original count of vehicular manslaughter. 

Lukanski was “doing donuts” at the helm of the rented boat on Aug. 6 when Brown fell overboard and subsequently drowned, according to witness testimony. 

Lukanski’s blood-alcohol level after the incident was measured at 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle, including a boat. 

Brown remained missing in the reservoir for nearly three days, and water-rescue teams recovered his body in 47 feet of water, thanks to the use of high-tech sonar equipment. 

An autopsy showed that Brown suffered significant head injuries after hitting the boat’s propeller during the fall from the boat. 

The boating-under-the-influence charge counts as Lukanski’s second alcohol-related conviction, after he was sentenced to probation in 2003 for driving while ability impaired. 

“Accidents happen, and bad things happen to good people. But that doesn’t mean they should go unpunished,” said Assistant District Attorney Scott Turner during his closing statement. “This is not about retribution. It’s not about forgiveness. We are here today for justice, and based on everything involved in this incident, Mr. Lukanski should have known before he got behind the wheel of that boat that something bad was going to happen.”

Since Lukanski’s initial court appearance in September, acquaintances have written dozens of letters to the court defending his character, but Adam Brown’s parents said that the case was not about “Kevin being a nice person.”

“We have heard many people say that Kevin is a nice guy,” Greg Brown said. “Well, Adam was a nice guy, too, and he didn’t deserve to die because of the foolish actions of one person.”

Defense attorney Gary Sandblom called three witnesses who labeled Lukanski as safety-conscious and responsible. 

He has been a 14-year employee of Copper Mountain Ski Resort, and last year, he was named best ski patroller in the state by trade organization Colorado Ski Country USA.

“I can tell you that Kevin is one of the best I have seen, and I trust him with my life,” said Don Riggle, a Copper Mountain ski patroller since 1981. “I think this court has the opportunity to get something good out of a bad situation by applying a very long community-service sentence and probation.”

Other supporters suggested that an appropriate course of action would be for Lukanski to educate others on boating safety and the dangerous consequences of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. 

“I want to offer up a boating-safety course and have Kevin come tell his story,” said Michael Russo, who operates the Lake Dillon Water Taxi. “I think he could really help others, because the boating community needs a more extensive education on boating under the influence.”

At the end of the 3-1/2 hour hearing, District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle chose prison time for Lukanski right in the middle of the sentencing range.

“This is one of the most difficult sentences I have ever had to impose,” he said. 

“…There is an expectation that when crimes are committed, there are consequences.”

Lukanski was immediately taken into custody by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and he most likely will serve his time at the San Luis Valley Community Corrections Center in Alamosa. 

“It is unfortunate that this happened on the day you deviated from what appears to be otherwise safe and responsible conduct,” Ruckriegle said. “Fun is fun, but when it goes deadly, there are consequences.”

Rockne receives two-years deferred judgment in domestic-violence case

BY, Ashley Dickson

Over the objections of his accuser, Breckenridge scion Eric Rockne pleaded no contest on Monday to criminal mischief and was given a deferred judgment for two years after originally facing attempted-murder charges stemming from an alleged domestic attack.

Rockne was accused of savagely beating his then-girlfriend in November of 2006. She was hospitalized with a ruptured bladder, which required life-saving surgery and several days of recovery in the intensive-care unit.

The deferred judgment means Rockne will not face imprisonment, given that he abides by the terms of his probation. 

“We think this deal is outrageous,” said John Clune, lawyer for the accuser. “The DA originally stated they could prove this case beyond any reasonable doubt, and now they are letting him walk away with no conviction and no jail time.”

But Deputy District Attorney Kristine Word and Rockne’s defense attorney, Larry Pozner, suggested that the woman’s lack of credibility would have undermined the case.

She has had numerous criminal tangles, including arrests for illegal use of prescription drugs and driving under the influence, and she has leveled accusations of sexual assault against other men that prosecutors declined to pursue.

In April 2007, the accuser was charged with arson, criminal mischief and domestic violence after she was arrested on suspicion of trying to burn down the home of a former boyfriend with whom she was living. 

“Not every complaining witness is a victim, and witness credibility was nonexistent in this case,” Pozner said.

Rockne is the son of prominent Breckenridge real-estate agent Carol Rockne and her husband, Sigurd, one of the founders of the Breckenridge Ski Resort. 

A palpable tension

Rockne and the accuser sat on opposite sides of the courtroom before District Court Judge David Lass, each backed by family and friends on their respective sides of the aisle, a palpable tension in the air.

Word told the judge that the the plea agreement provides consequence for Rockne’s actions and that he had moved from Breckenridge and has “cleaned up his life.”

But Clune countered that the deal was far too lenient and amounted to “victim bashing.”

“It is scary to think that the DA was willing to plead down something they originally viewed as a violent beating and rape,” Clune said after the hearing. “We’re really scratching our heads on this one.”

After hearing from both sides, the judge called a 10-minute recess to collect his thoughts before delivering a decision.

“I can fairly say that this is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make,” said Lass, adding that the evidence compiled by both sides was significantly conflicted. “Although I am not pleased with the plea offer, it is not in my control to change it.” 

Under the conditions of the agreement, Rockne will be placed on probation for two years and will be subjected to monthly evaluations by the court. 

In addition, he is to partake in 36 weeks of domestic-abuse classes, 100 hours of public service each year for two years and is required to write a letter of apology to the accuser.

The judge will hear arguments at a hearing on July 21 on the amount of restitution Rockne must pay the woman.

Rockne, Pozner said, was able to gain a sense of closure after hearing that his plea deal was accepted.

“The search for the truth was not easy, and the judge has given stern conditions which we will live up to,” Pozner said. 

Although Rockne told investigators that he kneed the woman in the stomach in self-defense during a spat, defense attorneys argued that there was not enough solid evidence to warrant an attempted-murder charge. 

“The charges were initially very serious, but, after some digging, we see the story doesn’t hold up,” Pozner said. “If this case did go to trail, and a jury was introduced to all the facts, we believe it would end in a not-guilty verdict.”


Sports coverage:

The Summit County snow show-down 

BY, Ashley Dickson

SUMMIT COUNTY —It’s the latest trend in ski and snowboard movies worldwide: Riders set up a small jump and launch themselves onto a four-inch metal handrail, spinning and twisting down the length of the rail and then landing, most of the time, on concrete. 

It’s a feat only a few can master, and riders and filmmakers seek out rails in parking garages, school yards, public parks and backyards — always looking for the perfect shot that will make it to the screen.

But in most cases, local police tend to disagree with snowboarders and filmmakers who cite artistic merit when documenting urban stunts, and officers have begun issuing tickets for offenses such as destruction of public property. 

“It’s an ongoing problem that is causing significant damage to town property,” Dillon Police Chief Joe Wray said. “Not to mention the liability aspect, should one of these snowboarders get hurt.”

The Dillon Police Department is taking a zero-tolerance stance on urban skiing and snowboarding, and officers who catch riders in the act are confiscating both snowboards and video equipment. 

“The equipment is being taken because it is evidence used in a crime,” Wray said. “If we have a video camera that shows footage of snowboarders riding rails on public property, then we can use that in court.” 

                          Snowboarders cry foul

Frisco resident Jay Heney has been filming ski and snowboard videos with his production company, Distracted Media, for almost six years, but his career has been put on hold after a recent run-in with the law at the Dillon Marina. 

“We went to the marina and saw that a little jump up to a rail had already been built, so we decided to film it,” Heney said. “I had just finished setting up the camera, and we were about to hit the rail for the first time when a cop drove up.”

Dillon Police Officer Tina White had received a complaint that snowboarders were jumping off rails near the marina docks, so she approached Heney and several riders to see what they were doing.

White informed the riders that snowboarding and filming on town property was illegal, and she asked each person in the group to come forward with their equipment and identification.

“She took our IDs and gave us tickets, and then she turned back around and took our snowboards and my new $5,000 high-definition camera,” Heney said. “She said it was evidence, but the thing is, we hadn’t even hit the rail yet.”

White issued Heney and the other men on scene citations for unlawful conduct on public property and told each of the riders that their equipment would be held as evidence until the case went through the court system. 

“It was the most ridiculous encounter I have ever had,” Heney said. “I’m a videographer for a living, and I am losing money every day my camera is locked up as evidence.” 

             Establishing rules

While many other jurisdictions in the county prohibit skiing and snowboarding on public property, each situation is unique and, in most cases, officers will issue a verbal warning to riders before writing any tickets. 

“Normally, we will approach riders and try to have a conversation with them,” said Breckenridge Police Sgt. Susan Quesada. “If they’re not cooperative, then we will write them a ticket. But we find we don’t have to do that often.”

Many riders and filmmakers have come to expect run-ins with the police when they shoot in urban areas, but the lack of universal ground rules on when and where riding is appropriate creates a lot of gray area. 

“This is a forever-occurring problem that is only going to get worse as the sport progresses,” local filmmaker Nick Vondra said. “When we go and shoot, we try to be as courteous as possible, and we are always sure to make it look like we have never been there.”

But this year, the Town of Dillon spent some $20,000 repairing property around the marina and amphitheater that has been damaged by snowboards, according to Wray, thus prompting the police department to drop the hammer on any activity that could be considered destructive. 

According to Dillon Town Code, unlawful conduct on public property includes “activities or conduct within public buildings or on public property which may be reasonably expected to substantially interfere with the use and enjoyment of such place.”

“Snowboarding on rails is nothing new in this area,” said Summit County Sheriff John Minor. “If they are damaging property, then it becomes a concern. There are plenty of places to do this legally, and it basically always comes back to being a nuisance issue.” 

                  The search for middle ground

Although it is unrealistic for towns to hang “No Snowboarding” signs in all public places where it is prohibited, snowboarders and police officers question what steps can be taken to ensure both sides walk away happy. 

“People don’t understand how challenging it is to get the shot in the urban scene,” Vondra said. “It takes a lot of time to set up the lighting, figure out the trick and then film it. When we get kicked out after setting up everything, it’s very frustrating.”

Vondra, who co-owns locally-based AtOnce productions, said that riders would be more than willing to work out an agreement with the town that would allow them to use certain rails if they agreed to come back in the off-season and re-paint the areas that had been scraped off by snowboards. 

But he acknowledges that ideas like that are a far cry from the current situation. 

“We’ve learned to pick our battles,” Vondra said. “Do I think we’ll ever find equal ground with the police? Not a chance. But, that doesn’t stop us from going out there and doing what we’re going to do.”

Youth reigns supreme at Spring Massive Superpipe

BY, Ashley Dickson

BRECKENRIDGE — The next generation of skiers and snowboarders flaunted their stuff at the Spring Massive Park Competition’s Superpipe challenge in Breckenridge on Sunday, and most of the riders that made it to the podium were still years away from their 18th birthdays. 

Over 40 skiers and snowboarders turned out to huck themselves off the 18-foot walls of the Superpipe in Breckenridge’s last competition of the 2008 season. 

There was no shortage of sunburnt goggle tans as the medals were distributed at the base of Peak 8, and perfect weather made it a great event for both athletes and spectators alike. 

Madeline Schaffrick was all smiles after her first-place finish in the women’s snowboarding pro class. 

The 15-year-old Steamboat resident said that the sunny weather brought a good vibe to the competition that she’s started to look forward to year after year. 

“Everyone was out here to have fun and I’m really excited with how I did,” said Schaffrick. “My second run was the best. I did back-to-back sevens and it was the first time I ever landed those.”

On the men’s side, Duncan Adams took first place in the men’s skier pro class. The 15-year-old Stowe, Vt. native felt comfortable with his pipe run and was happy to improve on his standings from last year. 

“I tried to mix it up this year and went out and did some switch tricks and everything felt smooth,” said Adams. “It was one of the best days I’ve seen and it was super relaxed out there.”

For New Zealand snowboarder Ben Stewart, a first-place finish in the men’s pro class was the perfect ending to an already impressive season of riding in the States. 

The 15-year-old Kiwi rider impressed the judges with switch tricks, 1780’s, and a Haakkon somersault flip to top it all off. 

“It was a good way to end the season and we definitely got a day that has been better than all the others,” said Stewart. “On a good day, Breck is my favorite mountain to ride in the states and I’m excited to come out again next season.”

Stewart has plenty of plans for the off-season, which includes a trip to Mount Hood, as well as plenty of riding in New Zealand. 

“I’m want to start doing back-to-back 1080’s this summer because that seems to be the standard trick everybody is doing now.” Stewart added. 

With most of the riders under the age of 18, the podium lineup was a glimpse into the future of Superpipe talent and acted as an introduction to the next generation of riders looking to dominate the sport. 

“I was really impressed with the young, amateur riders out there this year. They were really throwing down,” said Adams, looking out at the younger competitors whose heads barely came up to his shoulder. 

“They are the future of halfpipe skiing and we’ll be sure to see them out here killing it again next year,” Adams added. 

Political coverage:

Gibbs keeps Senate seat in landslide Summit victory

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a race that went late into the night Tuesday, local Democratic incumbent Dan Gibbs beat out his Republican challenger Don Ytterberg of Evergreen to win the Senate District 16 seat. 

“I am both humbled and grateful to keep this position,” Gibbs said. “I have to thank all of the voters because I believe my strong numbers in Summit County made a huge difference.”

Early returns showed Gibbs with 58 percent of the vote, while Ytterberg garnered 42 percent.

Asserting his dominance with three-quarters of the vote in Summit County, Gibbs was the only candidate to break 10,000 votes in Summit County, beating out Barack Obama, who took in 9,570 to win the county’s presidential vote. 

“It’s such an incredible honor to have the support of the county I live in,” Gibbs said. “I’ve worked so hard to be a problem-solver and work in a bi-partisan fashion, and this just shows that folks recognize that.” 

The race was almost too close to call as both candidates waited anxiously for the final results, and Ytterberg refused to concede until the last of the votes were tallied. 

One of the larger districts in the state, SD 16 is comprised of 33,242 Republicans, 28,843 Democrats and 37,401 unaffiliated voters — but voters tend to lean Democratic.

In Jefferson County, Ytterberg was able to slide ahead of Gibbs, giving him 51 percent of the vote and a win in his home county. 

“I certainly expected it to be a close contest,” Ytterberg said. “And, as a first time candidate, I wasn’t surprised it was close right up until the end.”

Ytterberg brought a solid business background to the ballot, harping on the need for greater access to public lands in an effort to entice local economic expansion through the timber industry. 

Gibbs, a known champion for the environment, countered his opponent in regards to deforestation, claiming that the tourism industry is largely dependent on the natural beauty of the county. 

“There is a lot of work ahead,” Gibbs said. “I want to continue to focus on making Colorado’s economy strong, and ensuring that our tourism industry is both strong and vibrant.” 

Gibbs and Ytterberg both ran tireless campaigns, spending much of the fall going door-to-door throughout Summit, Grand, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties, which comprise District 16. 

Although little focus was directed towards either candidates campaign finances, Gibbs received $103,686 in campaign contributions, and Ytterberg netted $59,242, according to the Colorado Secretary of State.

Despite their party differences, Gibbs and Ytterberg placed considerable emphasis on both the pine-beetle epidemic and congestion on Interstate 70 throughout their respective campaigns. 

Gibbs began his political career as the representative for House District 56, and quickly moved up the ranks to fill a vacancy position in the Senate following Joan Fitz-Gerald’s resignation. 

Gibbs set an impressive pace during his freshman year in the Senate, passing a grand total of 22 of the 26 bills he carried, an average of more than one piece of legislation per week.

At the capitol Gibbs also sat on the Senate Agriculture, Livestock, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, the Senate Transportation Committee and was the vice-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“I can’t wait to start up at the capitol and I am looking forward to the legislative session,” Gibbs said. “But I definitely want to take some time to go skiing and do some fishing before it all starts.”

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