Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mountain town news


Whither CB's energy plan now?

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. -- At great length, an energy plan has been assembled for Crested Butte. Among other measures, the plan calls for government-sponsored audits of homes to identify ways to improve energy efficiency. Another would have a local organization, the Office of Resource Efficiency, collaborate with the school district to develop an energy-efficiency curriculum.

But hold on, says Susan Parker, the town manager—adopt this and the public will have expectations to follow through.

"I encourage you to really review this and have a plan on how to deal if the money is not available to implement the projects," she said.

Mayor Alan Bernholtz does want to proceed.

"I don't want to just pay lip service to the idea of energy efficiency in Crested Butte," he said at a recent meeting. "We have a chance to put our lips to the pavement and actually do something. This is a great thing for the community. It is an energy road map to follow."

Jackson's crime rate slows with economy

JACKSON, Wyo. -- When the economy goes south, crime goes up. That's the conventional wisdom borne out by statistics.

But exactly the opposite has happened in Jackson and Teton County during the last year. Criminal court filings have dropped 30 percent and jail bookings are down 24 percent, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. As well, DUI arrests have dropped 24 percent so far this year.

"This is not normal at all, not even for the off-season," said Troy Sutton, Teton County Jail administrator. "I haven't seen anything like this in the 15 years I've been here."

The jail can hold up to 45 inmates. A year ago, officials were agitating for a jail expansion to hold 100. But in late May, the jail held only 16. The newspaper reported that last year produced the biggest spike in crime that officials had seen. At the time, there was conjecture that the increase was due to the Teton County population's pushing past 20,000, which one study has found is a threshold for increased crime. There was also talk about Jackson Hole's "losing its soul."

Evidence of Jackson Hole's less frantic economy can be found in the newspaper's classified advertisements. The rooms-to-rent listing has twice as many ads, and the other rentals are up three-fold.

Why less trouble in a down economy? The newspaper reported several theories, none of them compelling.

Breck asks for defensible space

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. -- There were many protests that personal freedoms were being abridged, but the Breckenridge Town Council now appears headed toward adoption of a law requiring homeowners to create a 30-foot space around their homes to protect them against wildfires. Within 75 feet of the structures, crowns of trees need to be separated by at least 10 feet.

The Summit Daily News says two council members voted against the measure when it was heard in the preliminary reading, arguing that the proposed law overstepped what the situation requires.

Slow sales for Aspen Food & Wine tickets

ASPEN, Colo. -- Typically, the 5,000 tickets for Aspen's three-day Food & Wine Classic, scheduled this year for June 19-21, have all been sold by late winter. Not this year. A few tickets remained as June approached. Still, organizers were not dismayed.

"Relative to what's going on in the world, we're doing really well," said Christina Grdovic, of Food & Wine Magazine.

The Aspen Times reports that 70 percent of accommodations in Aspen and Snowmass have been booked.

Intrawest says 'whoa' to gondola

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- Intrawest, owner and operator of the Steamboat ski area, has declined to fund a share of a planned $7 million high-speed gondola. The base-area developer, Resort Ventures West, instead plans to build a slower-pulse gondola, which has a cost of $3 million.

"We're just a victim of the current economic climate," Chris Diamond, president of the ski area, told the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

The base-area project, Wildhorse Meadows, is located a mile or two from the more traditional ski area base. The high-speed gondola had been expected to eliminate the need for skiers to take shuttle buses. The slower gondola will have insufficient capacity to replace the shuttle buses.

It's possible that the slower gondola will be replaced at some time by a higher-speed version, development representatives told the newspaper.

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