Friday, October 19, 2012

Mountain Town News


Pot ban hasn’t worked, says Whistler mayor

WHISTLER, B.C.—Whistler’s mayor is among those calling for decriminalization of marijuana.

“It would be regulated,” explained Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. “Prohibition has been a failed policy, and the cultivation and trade of marijuana is in the hands of gangs.”

She said that the impact of gangs in the distribution of marijuana in Whistler has been minimal, but it’s quite another matter in other parts of British Columbia.

“We do know that gangsters do come to Whistler from time to time, but for those communities that have heavy gang influence, they’ve got a level of violence in the community that is simply unacceptable,” she said.

The mayor had voted for a resolution adopted by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Also voting for the resolution was a councilor from Squamish, a town down-valley from Whistler. He admitted to using marijuana for medicinal purposes, but wanted the conversation expanded to recreational use.

“Everyone is basically fed up. We have a law that doesn’t work.”

She told the Pique newsmagazine that the resolution was a good step toward forcing the conversation at the provincial and federal levels.

“That’s where it should be, but they just haven’t had the … courage to deal with the issue,” she said.


Stephen Jobs predicted tablet in 1983 Aspen talk

ASPEN, Colo.—At the International Design Conference held in Aspen in 1983, Stephen Jobs gave a talk. The theme of the conference was “The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be.”

A tape of that lecture has recently surfaced, and has been posted to a website by Marcel Brown, a technology consultant in Edwardsville, Ill., reports The Aspen Times.

“Regarding the speech, it is amazing to hear Steve Jobs talk about some things that were not fully realized until only a handful of years ago,” Brown wrote on his blog. “This talk shows how incredibly ahead of his time he was.”

For example, he hinted at a future with computer tablets. Keep in mind that this was 1983.

“We will find a way to put (a computer) in a shoebox and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we’ll find a way to put it in a book,” Jobs told the audience in Aspen.

This was six months before the debut of the Macintosh.

But at the time, Jobs was hip-deep in failure. The Lisa computer was a clunker, and he gave a mouse for that computer to a time capsule buried on the conference grounds at Aspen. Alas, no one knows precisely where the time capsule was buried.


Nice idea, but will the economics work?

VAIL, Colo.—Almost from its opening in the late 1980s, there has been talk about whether the airport at Gypsum, about 38 miles west of Vail, will accommodate international flights without stops along the way for customs.

That talk has become more serious in recent years, though no decision is pending, awaiting completion of a study. However, in interviews with the several candidates for Eagle County Commission, the Vail Daily finds everybody signaling support.

The most insightful comments, however, came from the lone incumbent, Jon Stavney: Spending $3 million to build a custom facility is not the real barrier. The question, he said, is whether flights from Mexico City (Toronto and Montreal are also possible sites of originating flights) will deliver enough passengers to justify the ongoing expense of federal customs officials.


Snowmaking technology just keeps getting better

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo.—If natural snow still is better, evolving snowmaking technology is making the man-made stuff much, much better than it used to be.

That’s the word from Mike Looney, snowmaking manager for Copper Mountain Resort. He also tells the Summit Daily News that crews can make snow when it’s above freezing, up to 35 degrees, if the humidity is only 10 to 20 percent.

The ideal temperature for making snow is 10 to 15 degrees.

“At 10 degrees, you can really move a lot of water, make a lot of snow, and still maintain the equipment from freezing,” he said.


Warm and dry summer in Banff National Park

CANMORE, Alberta—From July onward, days in Banff and Canmore were exceptionally clear and warm, as it was among the warmest and driest on record.

“June was so cloudy and rainy, and people were starting to think it was going to be a bummer of a summer, but it turned out to be a hummer of a summer,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

It was the wettest June since record-keeping began in 1887 in Canmore, says the Rocky Mountain Outlook.


Telluride solar lesson not the one planned

TELLURIDE, Colo.—A developer of a 300-kilowatt solar array near the airport on a mesa above Telluride is having a hard time making the numbers work. The developer, Erdman Energy Enterprises, is seeking a power purchase agreement with the local electrical cooperative, San Miguel Power Association. 

In an interview with the Telluride Watch, project Manager Dirk de Pagter blamed limitations imposed by wholesale supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which provides power to cooperatives serving Durango, Crested Butte, Winter Park and other more rural areas of the Rocky Mountains.

Tim Erdman, the chief executive, said he wanted to demonstrate how simply a solar farm could be installed.

“Somehow, I am demonstrating the opposite,” he told The Watch.


Aspen renewable fund now up to $9 million

ASPEN, Colo.—In 2000, Aspen enacted something called the Renewable Energy Mitigation program, which was arguably the first carbon tax in the United States.

The program said that all new houses above 5,000 square feet or those with such amenities as snowmelt system for driveways, outdoor swimming pools and other big energy consumers in a cold climate had a choice. They could either provide renewable energy sources themselves, or pay into a mitigation fund.

That fund has now collected $9 million, and $5 million of it has been awarded to 80 projects in the Roaring Fork Valley, where Aspen is located. Those projects range from a car-share program in Aspen to a solar photovoltaic system at a building for nonprofit organizations located down-valley in Carbondale.


Utah philanthropist gives to Idaho town

DRIGGS, Idaho—Jon Huntsman Sr. continues to seek to make good on his vow to die broke. His family foundation recently gave $100,000 to the Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs, and has pledged four more installments of the same amount.

Huntsman’s family has a golf course and real estate development company in Driggs called Huntsman Springs. Driggs is the closest town to the Grand Targhee Ski Area. One of his sons, Jon Huntsman Jr., was governor of Utah, U.S. ambassador to China and unsuccessful candidate to be this year’s Republican nominee for president.

The elder Huntsman was born in a small town nearby in Idaho, but made a fortune in plastics, helping develop the first plastic cartons for eggs and then for fast-food and other containers. 

Forbes says he has given away $1.2 billion and vowed to be broke by the time he dies. He’s 77. As recently as 2010, he was listed as 937 on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. He also gave money to local schools in Driggs and provided the land on which the Teton County courthouse was built.

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