The Week in Review

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COWBOYS TAKE CHARGE IN SKI STAMPEDEAfter watching the Cowboy Downhill for two years, Steamboat's Michael Sisk found the best strategy for winning the stampede.

It was cheating

"You get started early and stay out of the way to win it," Sisk said about his success on his home hill.

But getting a head start or taking out the cowboy in the lead is not much of a secret in the race where more than 80 cowboys start together in a free-for-all on skis and snowboards down Mount Werner's Headwall.

And, true to Sisk's winning formula, the stampede usually begins with the first cowboy out.

"It's all about cheating. Whoever leads first wins it," said Robert Bowers, a bareback and bull rider from Alberta, Canada, and last year's Cowboy Downhill dual slalom champion.

Man found dead near railroad tracks

James Slawinski, a 40-year-old Steamboat Springs man, was found dead a few feet from the railroad tracks off Pine Grove Road Tuesday morning just after 10 a.m. by two railroad workers who were plowing the tracks.

Police investigators were unsure of exactly how the victim died.

Investigators processed the scene but said there were no immediate indications of trauma on the body.

While they must wait for an autopsy to be certain, Detective Dave Kleiber of the Steamboat Springs Police Department said the body did not look to have been hit by a train and there was no blood at the scene.

Investigators found a coat near the body at the scene but said there are no major pieces of evidence to indicate precisely what happened. They will now attempt to retrace Slawinski's steps before he died.

CRAIG OFFICIAL SAYS BIG K WON'T CLOSEThe biggest retail store in Northwest Colorado was open for business as usual this week. And officials in Craig are hopeful the Big K store there will not be among the 300 or so Kmart Corp. could close in the coming year as part of its reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"They are the highest sales tax paying business in Craig," City Manager Jim Ferree said. "We only know what we've heard in news reports. We think that store is profitable and consequently won't be one of those underperforming stores they will close. We can't help but think that as the largest retailer in the area, (the Craig store) doesn't fit those criteria."

Kmart has been operating in Craig since 1977 and opened its Big K store Nov. 30, 1993. At 100,365 square feet, it is easily the biggest retail store in a three-county region and more than twice as big as the Wal-Mart in Steamboat Springs.

COUNTY OFFICIALS PONDER JUSTICE FACILITY PROPOSALSA new justice facility for Routt County will hinge on a vote in November, but county officials are working on a plan to institute based on a successful outcome.

Before the county unleashes its campaign to garner public funds for a new facility later this year, county officials want to ensure they are prepared to move forward with the project if the vote is successful.

County commissioners are pondering two ways the county could proceed with building a new facility to replace the current courthouse, which was built in 1923.

Commissioners must decide whether to take the traditional approach, which could delay the project, or use a method popular in the private sector, which will get the project on a "fast track."

The three-member board is expected to make a decision soon whether to let the architectural firm design the entire complex before bidding out the work or hiring a construction manager after the vote who would start the project as details of the building design are being finalized.

CHILD-CARE GROUP CONTINUES ITS WORKFirst Impressions of Routt County will not pursue a ballot initiative for the upcoming November election but will continue its work to improve child-care development and education in the county.

The child-care advocacy group on Wednesday decided against pursuing tax proposals this November to support childhood development and education.

Instead the group will focus on eight issues it believes are critical in gaining public support and financing.

"We can't think about a November ballot initiative," said Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who co-chairs the group. "We really need to step back. We need to identify what we need to do and how to get it."

CHAMPAGNE POWDER STRIKES STEAMBOAT AGAINMount Werner became a powder hound's Mecca Wednesday with many locals turning a blind eye to work and focusing on what had brought them to Steamboat in the first place.

"The closer you got to the mountain, you got this energy. Everyone was migrating to the base of the mountain," said Cathy Wiedemer of the public relations department at Ski Corp.

"It was a classic champagne powder day," she said.

The previous powder day that occurred a week ago caught many by surprise and left them disappointed after they learned they had missed prime conditions that some said had not been seen in years.

They were not about to let the opportunity slip by twice.

Gable Richardella, ski instructor, said the Gondola Plaza and parking lots were packed at 8:30 a.m. He said the morning rush calmed down after many locals left mid-morning to get to work.

FIRE COUNCIL COULD TURN TO TAXPAYERS FOR MONEYAs the Routt County Fire Council maps out its long-term plans to fight wildland fires, taxpayers will probably be asked to provide funding.

The council agreed Thursday night that if manpower and equipment are needed to fight wildland fires in the future, it would request funds from the public through a vote.

"The only way we can meet the needs is to find more money," said Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak. "One funding tool is to go to the voters and ask for a mill levy increase."

To determine the countywide needs to suppress wildland fires in the future, the council has ordered the five fire districts within the county to provide information that maps out present call volume and future call projections.

The Oak Creek, Steamboat Springs, Yampa and West and North Routt fire protection districts have also been ordered by the council to provide an inventory of equipment and manpower.

The council also is asking fire districts to provide details on how each district responds to wildland fires with its equipment and manpower.

With this information, council members say they are hopeful they can identify where equipment and manpower are needed within the county.

FUND-RAISER LAUNCHED FOR SCHOOL ENDOWMENTOn the 45th anniversary of its foundation, the Lowell Whiteman School will make a commitment to preserving its tradition for another 45 years and more.

The private high school will publicly launch its campaign to establish a $1 million endowment fund Feb. 2 at Perry-Mansfield's Steinberg Pavilion.

An endowment ensures the independent high school can continue to offer its students a quality education and provide increasing support for each generation of students, said Whiteman Head Walt Daub.

"The wonderful thing about an endowment is that it will be around forever," he said.

OFFICIALS SAY SEXUAL ASSAULT MY BE ON RISEA recent report of a sexual assault in a Ski Time Square parking structure has some officials concerned about a recent rise in such assaults on women.

Diane Moore, the executive director of Advocates Against Battering and Abuse, said she has seen eight women walk into her office claiming to have been sexually assaulted in the past month.

Three of those alleged assaults came within the past two weeks, Moore said.That's compared to one alleged assault last January.

In addition, the incidence of reported assaults by teen-agers has risen in the past six months, Moore said. So far this month, two teens have reported assaults, she said.

The alleged assault in the parking area happened Wednesday night at about 10:15 p.m. J.D. Hays, the city's public safety services director, said the assault was committed by a white male between the ages of 25 and 30 wearing a dark canvas jacket with stripes on the sleeves or shoulders and blue jeans.

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