LOCAL BRIEFING

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LARGE WEDDING PARTY BOLSTERS TOURISM BAROMETER NUMBERS

STEAMBOAT SPRINGSSteamboat Springs resort officials were expecting to host almost 700 more visitors Saturday night than they did on the corresponding weekend a year ago. Among the visitors are the members of a large wedding party based at the Steamboat Grand Hotel.

The lodging barometer released by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association was projecting 7,019 tourists in town over the weekend. That compares to just over 6,337 a year ago.

Despite the increase, this weekend's tourism is about half of what it was during the peak of the summer season from mid-July to mid-August.

Looking ahead, early projections for Sept. 1 forecast about 6,600 people in town for Labor Day weekend.

That projection will be revised on Aug. 29.

COUNTY ASKED TO SUPPORT HOWELSEN HILL IMPROVEMENTS

STEAMBOAT SPRINGSTo sustain its Olympic heritage, Steamboat Springs must be able to retain its Olympic hopefuls, former Olympian Hank Kashiwa said Tuesday.

Kashiwa, along with several other members of the Olympian Project Task Force, which includes parents and residents, encouraged county commissioners to provide the necessary $50,000 to explore the cost of turning Howelsen Hill into a year-round training facility.

"Our athletes are really being asked to train in sub-par facilities," Kashiwa said.

While County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak supports building a year-round facility, she said she is concerned about how to come up with the money to first determine the project's feasibility.

NEW JUDGE APPOINTED TO PRESIDE OVER JOHNSON CASEA former Colorado Supreme Court chief justice will preside over Routt County's only murder case.

On Friday, the state court administrator's office assigned Justice Joseph R. Quinn, who served on the state Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993, to replace 14th Judicial District Judge Joel S. Thompson as presiding judge for the murder trial of Thomas Lee Johnson. Thompson disqualified himself from the case Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lori Bases in May 2000. Johnson is accused of stabbing Bases to death in her Steamboat Springs apartment. Thompson recused himself from the case after his live-in girlfriend, 36-year-old Billie Vreeman, was arrested on federal drug charges Aug. 10. The arrest warrant for Vreeman was obtained by Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Donald Sperry, a potential witness in the Johnson case.

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