Friday, December 7, 2012

Mountain Town News


Age, altitude yield less healthy sleep in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo.—Two rooms of the expanded Aspen Valley Hospital will be devoted to sleep studies, in which the blood oxygen levels, brain waves and breathing rates of sleeping patients will be recorded.

It is, hospital officials tell the Aspen Daily News, another way in which the hospital is trying to accommodate the needs of the Aspen area’s aging population.

Sleep apnea is a problem prevalent among people as they age and those who are overweight. It is also more pronounced at higher elevations. When apnea occurs, people breathe sporadically. The resulting intermittent loss of oxygen cumulatively leads to heart and other problems.


Prayer expurgated of Christian references

JACKSON, Wyo.—“Jesus doesn’t have a prayer at the Jackson Hole Rodeo,” reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

The story began last summer. An operator allowed to use municipal property for the twice-weekly rodeos began them with prayers that often included biblical verses and other overt mentions of Christian belief. Some of those attending objected, as they felt forced to join.

In response, town officials asked the rodeo promoter to make the prayer nonsectarian, saying the town could not legally endorse a specific religion. The rodeo operator did, but then reverted back to a prayer rooted in the Bible.

All of this comes down to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech.”

What does this mean in practice? Many people have argued that the framers of the Constitution, who were mostly Christian, meant only that a specific type of Christian religion—say a Presbyterian or Baptist—could not be made the state religion, as had existed in England. 

The Jackson town government makes the case that the prayer needs to be of the sort that somebody of another religion could live with.

“Those of us who honor Christianity will do so in our hearts, as we always have,” said Jackson Mayor Mark Barron.


Bear outwits trash container in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo.—Aspen municipal employees thought they had outsmarted the local bears in the design of trash containers. They were wrong.

In mid-November, long after bears were believed to have retired for the winter to various shelters in the forest, a bear plucked a bag from a trash container in front of the Aspen City Hall.

The bear-proof containers had been in place for a decade.

“After 10 years, we finally got a bear that was bright—brighter than we are,” said Jeff Woods, director of the city Parks Department. “The long and short of it is that we’re looking to modify the trash cans to be more bear resistant.”

The Aspen Daily News reports that nine bears were killed in Aspen and close-by areas this year, and another six were trapped and moved to other areas.

Meanwhile, says the paper, studies continue of bears in and around Aspen. One study resulted in 50 bears being collared and their locations tracked by GPS every half hour. In years in which berries and nuts were plentiful in the forest and meadows, they tended to feed there, sometimes in places just a 10-minute walk from the town. When natural food is absent, as has occurred every second or third year, they went into town.


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