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Unpaid Steamboat Springs workers seek legal help

Contractors, subs say paychecks 2 months overdue from Kyteler’s





Construction worker Gary Wall talks Monday about legal help he's seeking along with at least 14 other workers from the Kyteler's Irish Pub site. At left is Steve Weinland, of Aces High Services. Workers say they are owed for labor since January. Many walked off the site earlier this month. Attorney Ralph Cantafio said Kyteler's could owe a total of more than $150,000 to people involved with the pub and restaurant's renovations.
John F. Russell

— At least 15 workers involved with construction of Kyteler's Irish Pub in Steamboat Springs are seeking legal help to secure owed money that could total more than $150,000, according to a local attorney.

The tense labor situation has intensified during the past couple of weeks and included rumors of a possible protest outside the unopened pub and restaurant on St. Patrick's Day. Kyteler's — pronounced "Ket-lers" — occupies a corner location at Wildhorse Marketplace on Mount Werner Road. Some workers walked off the job site earlier this month. The protest never materialized as negotiations continued last week, but on Monday, workers decided to go public with their concerns.

Local carpenter Gary Wall said he's owed $7,500 for work at Kyteler's.

"Gary and I are three weeks away from being kicked out of our home because we can't pay the rent," his wife, Teri Wall, said Monday.

Carpenter Chris O'Konski said he's owed about $8,500 for 429 hours on the site.

"Some of us are sleeping in our trucks, some of us are behind on our mortgage payments," electrician Dave Freideman said.

Several workers said they did receive a paycheck this month, for work in December, but have received nothing for January through March.

Kyteler's owner Gerry Howard could not be reached Monday and did not return repeated phone calls last week.

Kerry Shea is director of sales and marketing for Resort Ventures West, which manages Wildhorse Marketplace. He said Howard "has satisfied all the conditions on the lease to this point," but declined to comment further. Shea said Kyteler's has received its temporary certificate of occupancy, but he did not know when the pub might open.

The general contractor on the site was GCH Contracting, which Howard owns.

Several workers met Monday with attorney Ralph Cantafio, of The Law Office of Ralph A. Cantafio.

"I've had direct contact with about 15 people," Cantafio said. "In some of those capacities I've dealt with an individual who had another three or four people working under them."

Cantafio said he was gathering paperwork to compile a total amount allegedly owed to workers, vendors and suppliers on the Kyteler's project.

"It looks like it's going to be north of $150,000, but how much that is, it's hard to say," Cantafio said. "It doesn't seem like there were a lot of formal written contracts."

Cantafio said he was continuing to receive inquiries from Kyteler's workers Monday.

"That claim may grow," Cantafio said. "Some of the people that are owed money aren't even in town anymore."

He said legal action could occur under Colorado's mech­­anics' lien law, which provides a pathway for laborers to secure payment for work or services. Cantafio said if resolution doesn't occur, the issue could reach district court.

Steve Weinland, owner of the trash removal company Aces High Services, said similar situations are "happening way too often in this valley" amid a struggling regional construction industry.

Weinland said he's owed $3,200 for work at Kyteler's since December.

"I haven't seen a dime," Weinland said Monday.

James Music, of Ultra Mechanical, spoke cautiously about a potential resolution between workers and Kyteler's ownership.

"If things go right, everybody should be paid up by the end of the week — supposedly," Music said. "But I don't see that happening."

Gerry and Siobian Howard initially planned to open Kyteler's in March or April 2010. Gerry Howard declined to comment last month about the delays.

To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or email mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com