Friday, May 20, 2011

Mountain Town News


Jackson Hole sits atop income highs and lows

JACKSON, Wyo.—Teton County, which is largely the same as Jackson Hole, lives in rarified company. It is just one of three places with a per-capita income of more than $100,000. Tops is a county in Texas of just 45 residents that sits over an incredible amount of hydrocarbons, reports Jonathan Schechter, while the third is Manhattan. Even Aspen and Pitkin County are down the list a ways.

However, Teton County ranks above all others in the country in income per capita from investments, and in no other county do residents get a lower percentage of their income from pensions.

What does this say? In part, says Schechter, a long-time analyst of business and demographics for the Jackson Hole News&Guide, it means that prices are set at the margins, which is to say the wealthy.

The gap between "wealthy versus working stiff" will likely widen in coming years, Schechter predicts. Builders and craftsmen enjoyed a middle-class lifestyle, but no more.

Despite all its snow, A-Basin to pare days

DILLON, Colo.—As of mid-May, snow continued to fall prodigiously on mountaintops in Colorado. Still, Arapahoe Basin plans to stay the course, ending normal operations on June 7, but taking up three-day weekends as long as the snow and customers last.

"Having our greatest season in years, ideally we would like to stay open on weekends until the Fourth of July, but it's too early to know what the conditions will be to make that call," Alan Henceroth, chief operating officer of the resort, told the Summit Daily News.

In 1995, a year much like this year, the resort along the Continental Divide had ribbons of skiable snow until early August. The resort elevation ranges from 10,780 feet at the base to a peak of 13,050 feet.

Dogs studied for signs of inhumane killing

WHISTLER, B.C.—Three veterinarians have been examining the remains of 52 dogs that were killed after the 2010 Winter Olympics. Their mission is to determine whether the dogs had been killed in a way considered humane, by one bullet.

A dog-sled operator ordered the dogs killed because of slack demand for sled rides. This culling seems to be somewhat common in such operations. But the co-owner and manager of the operation later claimed that he had killed the dogs in horrible ways, slitting the throats of some, clubbing others to death, and in general inciting terror. That does not seem to be common.

The case has caused worldwide controversy, but especially at Whistler. Pique Newsmagazine says the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports it "may have found evidence" of inhumane killing.

Doubts linger about Mammoth air access

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif.—How much of a portal can the airport near Mammoth Lakes become?

For nearly two decades, local boosters have wanted to make Mammoth, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, less remote. Currently, it's a five- to six-hour drive to either Los Angeles or the Bay Area. At one time, airport boosters even thought they could get 757s into the airport, delivering passengers from Chicago and Dallas.

That hasn't happened for any number of reasons. Still, Mammoth hopes for more expanded air service. Vail-based airline consultant Kent Myers has said the airport will garner close to 150,000 enplanements per year by 2020, or about 1,000 passengers per day.

Not everybody buys that projection. John Walker, who sits on the local Airport Commission, tells The Sheet that that estimate is too optimistic. He cites the runway width, which precludes any planes larger than 737s.

At stake is whether Mammoth needs a $20 million passenger terminal. The Federal Aviation Administration typically pays 85 percent, which would leave locals on the hook for just $3 million to $5 million.

Crested Butte plans app for historic structures

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—Everywhere, people are developing apps—short for applications—for Internet-connected cell phones. And that's the plan in Crested Butte, where officials are persuaded that visitors will find it valuable to wander around the older part of the town and, when curious, link to a website that will provide information about old buildings of interest. Development of the app is expected to cost $2,000, reports the Crested Butte News.

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