Top 5 most-read stories: Covid refugees find success in restaurant; Aspen rafting guide retrieves car

Husband and wife duo Charles Ford and Leslie Lamont behind the bar of their Carbondale restaurant, Tiny Pine Bistro.
Sue Rollyson/Courtesy Photo

We’ve rounded up the top 5 most-read stories on last week.

Pandemic lockdown in Chicago proved too intense for Leslie Lamont and Charles Ford, so the duo set their compass to Aspen in the fall of 2020. Ford landed a job as the general manager of Clark’s Oyster Bar and Lamont became director of Restaurants at Hotel Jerome. After a year of grinding in downtown Aspen, the couple longed for something of their creation.

When a space became available in Carbondale, they took the opportunity to open their first restaurant. Tiny Pine Bistro opened its doors in February 2022 three blocks from Main Street in the space that previously housed The Beat. The upscale eatery seats 26 inside, and doubles capacity in nice weather with their deck and backyard tiny tiki bar. 

The building, which appears residential, was constructed in the late 1800s and has much of yesteryear still present. The vegetable wallpaper, custom bar top, gas fireplace and wood floors capture the authenticity. 

Julie Bielenberg

Aspen Whitewater Rafting guide Johnny Nichols, 23, loves his work and is so devoted to clients that he literally goes extra miles (and over mountains) for them.

In the summer, he shares a two-bedroom apartment above a boathouse on the Twin Lakes’ side of the 12,095-foot high road that is home to Independence Pass. But when he has clients who want to raft the river on the other side of the mountain, he drives over the twisty road. He parks his car and camps in a tent near a trail, so he won’t be late meeting his clients by the river.

That’s exactly what he did the night of July 27. But this time, his 2007 Chevy Trailblazer was snatched into a multi-state drama that included rescuing a 5-year-old child from danger.

Lynda Edwards

The Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District responded early Monday evening to a diesel spill in the Crystal River in Carbondale. 

The spill occurred when a contractor for the city of Carbondale Parks and Recreation department was working to restore a .5-mile, 18-acre reach of the Crystal River from Crystal Bridge Drive to the Carbondale Fish Hatchery. The effort is called the Crystal River Restoration and Weaver Ditch Efficiency project.

According to District Deputy Chief Mike Wagner, the contractors were pumping water for a diversion to work on trails and fish habitat, when the pump malfunctioned and started to leak diesel into the Crystal River. Residents downriver soon called 911 when they noticed the spill.

Westley Crouch, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

There’s not much that’s more rewarding than watching a kid master their A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s according to local preschool teacher Cathy Coffey. And for the past 43 years, that’s exactly what she has been doing.

Her school, Aspen Sprouts Preschool, has served families up and down the valley by providing early childhood education for kids five days a week, eight hours a day. However, after 43 years in the business, she is ready to retire, and the fate of her preschool is still up in the air.

“It’s so rewarding when a child masters numbers one through ten, when they can write the alphabet, when they can write their names, when they have relationships here that go outside the classroom,” she said. “We have a ski program, and you see (the kids) go from not even being able to put on skis in the first listen to ripping down the mountain by the end of the lessons.”

Audrey Ryan

After reading an Aspen Times story about Aspen bus driver Lamar Hawkins helping an injured woman in danger, a reader alerted the paper to Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus driver Mark Salerno, who recently rescued a woman from car wreckage that was billowing smoke.

Salerno had just driven upvalley past the El Jebel Park and Ride early in the morning of July 23. He saw a vehicle lose control and slam into a ditch after it passed his bus. RFTA spokesperson Jamie Tatsuno told the Aspen Times that Salerno immediately contacted RFTA dispatch to send emergency responders.

“Mark contacted RFTA dispatch again a few minutes later stating the crashed vehicle was smoking,” Tatsuno said.

Lynda Edwards

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