The Week in Review

LOST SNOWMOBILERS LOCATED ON RABBIT EARSOne man suffered frostbite, but otherwise, six snowmobilers escaped serious injury after getting lost in a snowstorm and being forced to spend last Sunday night on Rabbit Ears Pass.

The snowmobilers were rescued early Monday morning by Routt County Search and Rescue. They survived subzero temperature by digging a snow cave and huddling around a fire.

Mark Rochford, Peter Balzer, Tim Vermerre, Greg McKinney, Terri Schunk and Jeff Smith were rescued at about 9:15 a.m. in a drainage area about two miles south of Mount Werner. The group was first spotted by helicopter, which led the rescue team to the group.

The 21-year-old Vermerre, who lives in Summit County, was treated for frostbite at a Steamboat Springs clinic.

SECOND PLAYER JOINS BID FOR SKI AREAAmerican Skiing Co.'s bid to sell the Steamboat Ski Area is still alive and there is more than one suitor.

That news was revealed Tuesday in a report posted on the Internet by the independent financial ratings agency Moody's Investors Service.

Attention on potential buyers has focused on Tim and Diane Mueller, owners of Okemo Mountain in Vermont, since October when the couple signed a nonbinding letter of intent to purchase the ski area.

However, the perceived reluctance of the public to travel on ski vacations since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the economic recession have combined to tighten the capital markets and hampered the Muellers' ability to close the deal.

HOUSING AUTHORITY PROPOSED FOR AREAThe city and county want to move quickly to decide whether to create a new multijurisdictional housing authority to help provide affordable housing and potentially levy taxes, but not before consulting other towns in the county.

Officials said Tuesday they want to make sure Hayden, Oak Creek and potentially other unincorporated areas get to decide whether they are in or out before drawing up an agreement that could result in a new entity making decisions about taxation and housing policy.

"Living in one of those communities, I feel pretty strongly that we need to create more opportunities for housing near Steamboat Springs," said Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who lives in South Routt.

Hayden Town Manager Rob Straebel, who attended the meeting, said the Hayden Town Board will consider the idea of participating in the authority.

JOHNSON SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISONThomas Lee Johnson will spend the rest of his life behind bars because he killed a Steamboat Springs woman in May 2000.

On Wednesday morning, Justice Joseph P. Quinn sentenced the 31-year-old Johnson to life in prison without parole for the death of Lori Bases. Quinn also sentenced Johnson to an additional six years in prison for vandalizing Bases' sport utility vehicle about a month before the murder.

Quinn sentenced Johnson following an emotional hearing in a third-floor courtroom at the Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins. Johnson showed little emotion as Quinn sentenced him for convictions of first-degree murder and criminal trespass and mischief.

"Well, Mr. Johnson all I can say is there are some opportunities available in confinement," Quinn said. "Make the most of what opportunities are presented."

SKIERS TREATED TO CHAMPAGNE POWDERYou could call it Mount Werner magic or you could call it a "mechanical upslope," but the weak storm front that slipped into the valley early Tuesday evening provided a fluffy bonus for powderhounds who were paying attention to the early ski report Wednesday morning.

The storm left less than 3 inches of new snow in driveways at the base of the ski area. But, at the 9,000-foot level on Mount Werner, there was a foot of new snow and the depth increased to 14 inches at the summit.

Skiers who made first tracks on Wednesday said this was the real thing.

"It was as pure and as light of champagne powder as we get," Gary Dickerson said. "I haven't seen that much snow of that quality since January '96 when we had the big month."

BOMB PLOT SUSPECTS COULD BE EXPELLEDThe interim superintendent of the Moffat County School District will recommend that three students accused of plotting to bomb the high school and courthouse be expelled from school.

Interim Superintendent Pete Bergmann's decision came following a pre-expulsion hearing Tuesday night for Stephen Jackman, 17, Tony Jacob, 16, and Tommy Elam, 14.

"I can't discuss a lot of the basis of the decision, because the students' records are confidential, but basically my recommendation is based on the police report, what the (district attorney's) office has told me, and on (Principal) Jane Krogman's report and recommendation," Bergmann said.

"I will recommend to the board at the Jan. 28 meeting that they be expelled.

The board will make the final decision."

NEW FEDERAL AVIATION RULES GO INTO EFFECTStarting Friday, travelers nationwide had every piece of luggage checked at airports across the country, including at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the Federal Aviation Administration has mandated airports across the country to increase security.

The most significant change in the security act requires the airlines to check every bag or suitcase of every passenger who boards an aircraft.

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