Daily Archives: December 7, 2017


River Bridge

Imagine the worst: you find out your child has been sexually abused or has witnessed physical abuse. Sadly, this isn’t such a rarity–it never has been–but now the community is talking about it, is aware of it and has a place where children can start to heal. River Bridge Regional Center helps with this heartbreaking process.

It is a child advocacy center dedicated to providing “hope and healing to neglected and abused children and their families through treatment, advocacy, and investigation services.” In the past, if children reported abuse, their questioning was often done in a police station; in an interrogation room where they may have felt like the criminal instead of the victim. Instead of warmth and hope, they may have been met with what felt like a cold reception, which then became another traumatic experience. And many times, they had to tell and re-tell their story, reliving the pain.

“We do everything possible to reduce the stress,” shares Meghan Hurley, LCSW, mental health therapist and Garfield County Department of Human Services. Back in the ’90s, it was recognized that there was a lack of communication with kids having to repeat their stories over and over again in a cold setting. Ten years ago River Bridge was founded to serve children and their families in Eagle, Pitkin, Rio Grande and Garfield counties.

One local family, dismayed and in despair about the abuse that wrecked their world, is grateful for River Bridge. The family ran into wall after wall but the center became a place of hope and healing. “River Bridge was the light. We need a River Bridge in our community,” says the strong mother and grandmother who rallied for her family. “We need to start talking about this. It’s happening in our communities. The statistics of a child being sexually abused are staggering. We need to be talking about it.”

Because the discussion is so overwhelming, River Bridge does everything to make the experience less stressful. To begin, it is welcoming and calming, with plush furnishings, stuffed animals, cheery murals and a trained staff to help make sure the reporting process, as harrowing as it is, goes as smoothly as it can.

Children’s advocacy centers offer services for kids and their families in a safe, secure environment. These centers are often the first responders and provide direct services in a crisis situation. A victim advocate greets the family at the door, already making the survivor feel safe and able to talk. Questions are asked in private; the forensic interviewer speaks one-on one with the child and then the family is able to meet with the mental health therapist.


“People are undergoing a really upsetting time in their lives, perhaps the most traumatic time ever. We do everything possible to reduce that stress,” Hurley says. “A big part of advocacy model is the multidisciplinary team—this effort amongst law enforcement, district attorneys, SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) nurses, department of human services and mental health. My role is to make sure everybody who comes through has access to free counseling.” River Bridge is there every step of the way from the initial interview through the trial, if there is one, to help children have a voice, which helps them heal. Letting them have a voice, knowing that they have support is a huge step. Instead of being handed a card with a suggestion to contact a mental health provider, River Bridge assesses the situation and makes sure the children receive the help they need and not just a one-time session.

“One of biggest problems is avoidance, not wanting to talk about it,” Hurley says. The goal is for the child to be able to talk about it without shame – because no one gets better without talking about it. And there is one other asset that provides warmth, kindness, hope, anti-anxiety and the impetuous for counseling: Frasier.

“We do whatever we can to dial down the stress. Having a dog on site for most people is dialing down the stress. He is so well trained, he is like a rug,” laughs Hurley.

More importantly, cuddling with Frasier calms the children. His presence makes it easier for them to return to River Bridge to receive therapy and to keep them calm as they talk about the trauma so it loses the power over them.

Frasier isn’t a therapy dog, Hurley notes. He is a service-level dog who went through intensive training specific for facilities. By his very nature and training, he calms kids as they are under extraordinary levels of stress. He is trained not to react, so as kids discuss their horrific situation, he lies on the floor, the couch.

“He does nothing because he is trained to do nothing, he is communicating to the nervous system that there is nothing to be afraid of,” Hurley says. “It’s very calming to the child just to be in his presence.” Research agrees with Hurley’s assessment. Petting a dog can decrease stress hormones and releases oxytocin. Frasier is there for the first disclosure and keeps the child company during therapy and even through trial, if there is one. He calmly takes his place in court, near the child, promising kindness and a soothing, furry friend.

Frasier has been on staff for two years, and unfortunately the number of friends who need him are only increasing. More than 1,300 children have visited the center since it opened 10 years ago. River Bridge had its busiest quarter ever, with up to 10 forensic interviews a week. And Frasier is offered to each of those children–and most of them want their Frasier time. River Bridge Regional Center is a place of hope, a place to heal, and, thanks to a dedicated staff and one furry, calming friend, it’s a place where children don’t mind spending time.

“River Bridge is going to be part of our solution in our community,” says the grandmother emphatically.


Who Ya Gonna Call?

The mountains surrounding Vail are one of nature’s most beautiful playgrounds, but accidents happen, and you can get lost. If you find yourself in distress and you call 911; 911 will then contact Vail Mountain Rescue Group (VMRG) who, like superheroes, will save the day! Who are the brave men and women whose motto is “We serve so that others might live”? The VMRG volunteers are from many walks of life and will drop everything to respond when a call goes out that someone is in trouble in the mountains. And why do they do it? Why risk their own lives to save someone they probably don’t even know? Hailee Rustad, a businesswoman in the valley, explains, “When you get hugged by someone who has spent the night lost in the mountains, and you feel their gratitude, it is something that you remember all your life. The satisfaction is enormous.”

Despite their day jobs, the group trains for this responsibility as if it were their profession. Rev. Dr. Scott Beebe, pastor of Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Vail, is director of membership for the corps of 45 volunteers. He says that from the moment a VMRG member is deemed prepared to participate in a rescue mission to the point where he or she can actually gain the expertise to command a mission, it usually takes more than five years. Only then will one gain the expertise built through careful mentoring and gradual increased responsibility. Last year the group–giving members of our community–took part in 127 rescue missions, a number which has almost tripled in the past ten years.

The volunteers are deeply committed to each other. “I have been part of many volunteer groups, and Mountain Rescue has a unique sense of community,” says Dylan Heaney, who oversees rescue for Vail Resorts in Beaver Creek. “Our missions range from finding lost hikers to rescuing people who have been badly injured and are in mortal danger, both in summer and winter. We are often risking our own well-being. We can do this because we always have each other’s back.”

As Reverend Beebe says, “There is no place for lone rangers in Mountain Rescue.”

The rescuers’ outdoor passions translate into a multitude of skills. Sarah Hoban, a nuclear medicine technician at the Shaw Cancer Center, is an avid mountain climber. “I think like a climber,” she says, “and I am comfortable with ropes and high altitude.” As Mountain Rescue’s medical branch director, Hoban also organizes the group’s training in wilderness first response.

Other volunteers are accomplished at operating ATVs and UTVs in mountainous terrain, or experienced in white water rafting. And, some are trained in helicopter rescues. As well, VMRG has a close relationship with the High Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (HAATS) which trains pilots from the U.S. armed services and various foreign militaries in the intricacies of flying helicopters in mountainous regions.

Doug Smith, visiting the valley from Alabama, was on a family backpacking trip when one of his daughters was taken ill. After camping for the night, he realized that the situation was untenable. The young woman had become critically dehydrated. Some three hours after Smith’s call for rescue, a Black Hawk helicopter appeared, and a paramedic immediately began rehydrating his daughter. VMRG got the girl to the hospital and the whole family to safety, including the dog.

“It was incredible how smoothly and professionally they did it,” Smith says. “We had to make the call, but we feared that the rescue would cost us $50,000. We were amazed to learn that it was done for free.”

And, thanks to the Friends of Vail Mountain Rescue, the fundraising arm, every call the group takes is free of charge. Fortunately, the rescuers are free to devote their volunteer time to saving people’s lives. As well, the Friends are building a $2 million endowment to support VMRG’s essential work. Though its trucks are supplied by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the group also buys and maintains its other rescue vehicles and equipment. With the cost of training members, expenses can run up to $100,000 a year. Last year over a hundred community members pitched in to help raise that money. Many visitors who delight in our magnificent mountains are unprepared for the outdoors, unaware of the physiological effects of high altitude, or overestimate their skills in dealing with our terrain. The message from Mountain Rescue is be prepared, be careful, and if you get into trouble, don’t delay: Call 911 before the rescue becomes more complicated.

The VMRG mission includes educating the public. Go to vailmountainrescue.org for information on backcountry safety, including a day hike pack list.


Vail Jazz Rocks

Take your favorite NYC jazz club, add the rustic Rocky Mountain charm of Vail Village, and you’ve got the Vail Jazz Club Series. The late night series combines unmatched intimacy, spectacular dining and stunning entertainment at Ludwig’s Terrace at the Sonnenalp Hotel.

Performances are held in an elegant alpine jazz club setting, complete with dinner service (additional cost). It’s a great way to spend an evening with a selection of tempting cuisine, libations and, of course, spectacular jazz!

  1. Grammy-nominated vocalist and songwriter René Marie debuting in Vail for the Jazz
  2. Jazz Club Founder Howard Stone, Nancy Blaze, Bill Blaze and Cathy Stone.
  3. Jazz vocalist René Marie and her band members.
  4. Wing Mayer, Maureen Mayer, Nancy Gage and Allan Finney.
  5. Hugo Rodriguez, Roxie Herrera and Marcia Cooke.
  6. Emily Keating, Pat Keating, Rita Keating and Les Stern.

The Scarab Celebrates 25 Years

For 25 years, The Scarab in Minturn has specialized in handmade oriental area rugs and kilns. The store provides custom-made rugs for traditional, Western, transitional and contemporary designs. Additionally, the store shares handmade jewelry, vintage collectibles and up-cycled merchandise recreated from found objects. “We are always creating, unfolding the mystic behind what we find beautiful, realizing the notion of finality is obsolete,” says Larry Stone, co-owner.

  1. Scarab co-owner Larry Stone acting as bartender for the affair.
  2. Janie Viehman and Kathryn Eddy.
  3. After 25 years, The Scarab has become a favorite rug store of the Colorado interior design
    community, artisans and friends. It offers handmade area rugs, artisan jewelry and one-of-a-kind finds.
  4. A sampling of some of the great items besides rugs that The Scarab has to offer.
  5. Interior designers Amy Casey, Courtney St. John of Casey St. John; Marilyn Heaney of Slifer
    Designs and Elizabeth Basso of Basso Interiors.

The Vail Symposium: Street Art Gets its due

Bill Rey, owner of Claggett/Rey Gallery led a discussion between Michael and RJ Rushmore (father and son, respectively) for a Vail Symposium event titled, Banksy and Beyond: The Rise of Street Art. The two experts are well-versed in street and contemporary art. The event was held a The Grand View in Lionshead Village, where the Rushmores defined street art, including how it’s different from other forms of contemporary art, and talked about the future of this field.

  1. Co-presenter Michael Rushmore.
  2. Paige and Michael Hill.
  3. Doug Male and Caroline Caldwell with co-presenter RJ Rushmore.
  4. Cheryl Jensen and Michele Mittelman.
  5. Kim Bernstein, Bill Rey, Maggie Rey, David Bernstein and Jackie Bernstein. The Bernsteins introduced Bill and Maggie to the idea of this presentation.
  6. Jamie and Joy Harrison.
  7. Becky Hernreich and Susan Milhoan.

Art In The Rockies In Edwards

Now in its seventh year, the Art on the Rockies festival featured eclectic art, cuisine, artist demonstrations, children’s activities and an art auction at the festival, which was held at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. Over 100 artists from all over the country exhibited work in every genre, including painting, sculpture, fashion, jewelry and photography, ceramics, glassblowing, woodworking and fine furniture.

  1. Artist and sculptor David Nelson, from Marble, Colorado with his life-sized Bald Eagle sculpture.
  2. Artist Jessica Gilbert with Art on the Rockies organizer Coleen Everett.
  3. Street scene of Art on the Rockies.
  4. Gary and Connie Bardsley with artist David Rec and his amazing wood bowls.
  5. Jewelry designer Joni Gotthelf with Julie Donohue admiring her work.
  6. Lee Ann and artist Carlos Page from Cave Creek, Arizona.

Dr.Tom Steinberg Vail’s First Physician And Dedicated Citizen Dies

One of Vail’s oldest and dearest residents–and Vail’s first physician – Dr. Tom Steinberg, 93, passed away of complications from pneumonia on September 25.

“He was at Vail Health Medical Center when he died,” his son Erik told the Vail Daily.

“When he died,” Erik said, ‘You know your way out of the building, Dad.’ ”

Steinberg was a World War II veteran who participated in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp for which he received a Bronze Star for bravery. Aft er seeing an ad that detailed the need for a physician in a new ski area, Steinberg arrived in Vail in 1965, with his wife, Florence, and their children, Erik and Kristina.

In the beginning, Steinberg’s offi ce was in the basement of The Red Lion. If the doctor was busy when ski patrol brought down an injured skier, the patient had to wait on a bench outside, as there was no waiting room. However, in 1971, Steinberg moved to a medical building, which is still used by Vail Health. By then, Drs. Bill Holm and Jack Eck had joined him, along with nurses, pharmacists and a dentist.

“We all worked together,” Eck told the Vail Daily, when asked about those early days. “There were about 10 to 12 people total.


Members of the community gathered to honor the completion of the Vail Valley Medical Center’s new west wing, and its name change to Vail Health, as well.

“The hospital has always been the heart of our system, but at the same time, we’ve expanded across community,” said Doris Kirchner, Vail Health CEO. “In Order to recognize that and connect all of our locations, we are now known as Vail Health.” The west wing expansion includes a cardiac catheterization lab, where cardiologists can see and repair the arteries and chamber of the heart; five new rooms in the intensive care unit; five new private rooms in the patient care unit; an expanded surgical services suite featuring a new pre-operative and post operative recovery wing–and an expanded, state-of-the-art space for Howard Head Sports Medicine. It also includes a new fourth fl oor for The Steadman Clinic and research space for Steadman Philippon Research Institute.

The west wing expansion and remodel was phase one of Vail Health’s Master Facility Plan. Phase two, the 350,000-square foot east wing, will continue to 2020 and include a new 24/7 Emergency Department; a relocated helipad on the medical center campus, with direct access to the hospital campus, increased parking capacity, a new main entrance on South Frontage Rd., a new pharmacy, gift shop and coff ee shop, and a new imaging/radiology department.

The 72,000 sqare foot expansion and renovation of the hospital, which took place over two years, marks a halfway point in the facilities master plan.


Eagle Valley Land Trust Makes Top 10

The national Land Trust Alliance, founded in 1982, works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America.

“We all depend on the land to live. What we do with the land – build on it, take resources from it, save it – affects the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. The land affects where we live and how we live. Even though we walk on it every day, sometimes we forget it’s even there and can take the land for granted,” states the Land Trust Alliance’s website.

In our area, the Eagle Valley Land trust (EVLT) conserves our precious land. Its mission statement is to “preserve the character of our community, one acre at a time and to protect, forever,
our scenic vistas, open spaces, historic lands waterways and wildlife habitat”.


Recently a two-minute video, titled “Land is My Connection,” created by members of the EVLT, made the top 10 list in the national Land Trust Alliance’s “Land is My…….” video contest. It is the only Colorado submission to make the top 10 list. If the EVLT wins the $10,000 first prize, the money will be used to help staff land protection and stewardship programs to conserve more land in the coming years.


Art in public places celebrates winter

The Town of Vail’s Art in Public Places lantern walk and exhibits consistently bring joy to locals and visitors, as well. And this year’s projects continue to celebrate our glorious winters.

To share in the holiday spirit, Vail’s Paper Lantern Project invites residents and guests to make paper lanterns. The first workshop, presented by the Alpine Arts Center, will be held on December 20, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lionshead Welcome Center. A fee of $10 includes complimentary light snacks, wine and beer available for purchase and a festive ambiance while creating your unique lantern. The Vail Public Library’s free workshop, on December 22, with local paper artist Helen Hiebert takes place from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. preceding the Winter Solstice Lantern Walk.

“We wanted to create a hands-on and interactive art event which would gather both guests and residents to celebrate the holidays,” says Molly Eppard, Vail’s Art in Public Places coordinator. “With the success of the Vail Winterfest ice installations, we decided to continue with the theme of light. What better time to have a festive walk in Vail Village than during the shortest days of our year to illuminate our charming town with artful lanterns. It is quickly becoming a beloved tradition in Vail.”


The Winter Solstice Lantern Walk on December 22 will begin approximately at 5 p.m. in Vail Village. Music and merriment will take place during this festive celebration which will be led by Santa and the world’s tallest elf. The short walk will end at the grand opening of the Vail’s 11th Annual Winterfest Ice Theater on the Gore Creek Promenade, where hot cocoa will be served.

This year’s outdoor ice theater, in memory of Lou Meskimen, Vail’s favorite Santa Claus, features the work of ice sculptor Paul Wertin of Alpine Ice. This free, popular cinematic experience features oversized ice chairs where one can lounge and enjoy the scenic Gore Creek during the day and watch film projections on a screen, created in ice, in the evening. The Vail Winterfest Ice Theater will feature a holiday favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, at its opening celebration. Projection begins daily at dusk until 10 p.m. and will be on view until the ice melts.