Commissioner candidates appeal to Latino population

JACKSON, WYO. – Two County Commission candidates in Teton County, both Democrats, took the so-far unusual tactic of appealing to potential voters in Spanish-language media.

John Carney, who won the election, and Peter Pilafian, both advertised in La Voz de Jackson Hole, a Hispanic newspaper. Carney also completed public service announcements in Spanish on local radio stations, calling for U.S. citizens to vote.

Pilafian told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (Nov. 20) that he didn’t expect to get any votes, but he did wish to “support the legitimacy of the Hispanic community.”

Actor Harrison Ford, who has a home in Jackson Hole, contributed $5,000 to Democratic candidates. Vice President Dick Cheney, also a second-home owner, gave $100 to a Republican candidate.

‘Father of snow grooming,’ Steve Bradley, dead at 86

WINTER PARK – Steve Bradley, considered the father of snow grooming, has died at the age of 86.

Bradley was executive director at Winter Park Ski Area from 1950 until 1977. As such, he helped start Winter Park’s ski jumping program and the renowned National Sports Center for the Disabled. He also was instrumental in designing the Mary Jane expansion in 1975, which then was the largest expansion ever in the United States and also the first done under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, notes the Winter Park Manifest (Nov. 20).

In 1952, he created the Bradley Packer Grader, a one-man gravity-powered slope-grooming device. Bradley invented it because he didn’t care to ski bumps. It was, of course, the beginning of a major transformation in skiing.

Bradley also had his fingers in Aspen’s 1950 World Alpine Ski Championships and the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.

More independent mountain town newspapers born

SUMMIT COUNTY – Consolidation has been the name of the media game for most of the last decade in populous and prosperous mountain valleys. In Jackson Hole it occurred just a few weeks ago when the 30-year newspaper competitors, the News and the Guide, ceased their polite warring to instead link arms, debuting Nov. 20 as the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Some readers told the newspaper they were happy to have less to read. Environmentalists were happy for fewer trees being shredded for newsprint. But others fear that consolidation, something that earlier has occurred in Jackson’s radio scene, will cause duller reporting.

Along the I-70 corridor in Colorado, consolidation began probably 13 years ago, soon after daily newspapers arrived. Now, one company owns all the dominant newspapers from Aspen to Summit County, as well as various others along the margins.

Responding to this near monopoly is a new paper, The Summit County Independent, which debuted Nov. 22 along with the motto, “Locally Owned Since the Turn of the Century.” The newspaper seems, in part, to be a reaction against mountain consolidation, both in newspapers and ski areas, with a particular jab at nearby Vail. Three of Summit County’s four ski areas are operated by or affiliated with Vail Resorts.

The paper started out as 20 pages, heavily stocked with ads, and shrugged back to a mere eight pages for its second issue. Its nickname seems to be the Indy.

Also on the I-70 strip, another publication has come out, called Mountain Weekly. Entertainment seems to be its forte, and the younger crowd its intended audience. Instead of council meetings, it covers sex, including the nationally syndicated advice column of Seattle Weekly editor Dan Savage. Initially, the editors chose not to censor his work but had second thoughts. Henceforth, they said, the publication would only allow language that could be used in front of their mothers or rich tourists.

They characterized neither the matrons nor those of wealth, so it’s unclear how much the editors will be weilding blue pens on the column in question.

Security more than doubles at Eagle regional airport

GYPSUM – You think airport security costs aren’t skyrocketing in the wake of 9/11? Just consider the new measures at Eagle County Regional Airport.

The airport is Colorado’s third busiest during winter, when it funnels travel to Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen. During summer, however, it slows, and during the shoulder seasons commercial flights end altogether.

Before, there were 16 year-round screeners and 25 at high season. But because of federal-mandated security measures, authorities are now hiring 59 screeners who will work year round. The new jobs will pay $30,000 to $40,000, which includes an 8.64 percent cost-of-living adjustment because of the Vail area’s prices, as well as the generous benefits package for federal employees.

Also being expanded are technological devices, such as those that detect explosives. To accommodate the new equipment, airport terminals are being modified, sometimes apparently extensively.

Friction has accompanied installation of new baggage-screening equipment at the Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport. There, contractors arrived with instructions about how to do it, but airport manager, Rex Tippets, thought the plans were poorly assembled. He fears the changes will cause long waits, perhaps up to two hours if there are 200 people checking in for a flight.

According to the Crested Butte News (Nov. 22), local officials believe they can get the modifications necessary for stepped-up security accomplished more effectively and economically than the federal government. There also seems to be a bit of heartburn about the federal government’s failure to run the planned changes at the airport by the county commissioners for approval.

Steamboat Ski Resort easily fills job openings

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The Steamboat Ski Resort had a much easier time finding its employees this year, and at least one observer expects it’ll stay much easier for the next 16 years as the Echo Boom Generation, a.k.a. Gen Y, comes of age.

With the economy still in the tank, many employees from last year returned. With that in mind, the ski company cut back its number of foreign recruits by 40 percent. So few jobs were available that the company canceled its annual job fair. Going into Thanksgiving, only 20 jobs remained unfilled.

The same story is told in the community at large, reports The Steamboat Pilot (Nov. 24). The Colorado Work Force Center, an employment resources center, reported only 40 job listings, compared to 100 usually at this time of year.

Two theories on this situation: First, to make a go of it (single, with no kids) in Steamboat requires making $13.31 an hour. Few service jobs pay that much, hence people hold down multiple jobs. But another theory comes from Scott Ford, who runs the Small Business Development Center for Colorado Mountain College. He sees the Echo Boomers arriving in the work force, and continuing to do so for 16 years.

Snowmobiles showing up in wilderness areas

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS –Snowmobile tracks are showing up across Mount Zirkel, Sarvis Creek and other wilderness areas in northern Colorado. Forest Service officers who patrol the wilderness boundaries have documented nearly 300 violations this year in the Zirkel Wilderness near Buffalo Pass.

The Steamboat Pilot (Nov. 21) notes that some of the illegal snowmobilers may be unaware that the Wilderness Act of 1964 bans motorized use inside wilderness, but there is evidence that some riders are scofflaws, as they ride around signs that announce the regulations.

Clocktower becomes symbol at base of Mammoth Mtn.

MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIF. – Intrawest’s development at the base of Mammoth Mountain now has a 30,000-pound copper roof over the clocktower, indicating work is well along toward completion.

“This is a topping out of The Village,” said Ed Brisson of Intrawest, Mammoth. “The clocktower is the icon, the symbol of The Village.”

The Village Gondola opens at Christmas even as work continues on the condominium and hotel units, which are expected to open in February and March, as are the various themed eateries and drinkeries. Grand opening of The Village is slated for Memorial Day, reports the Mammoth Times (Nov. 21).

Intrawest says sales of housing are picking up now that there is something to see. Before, it took customers two to four weeks to decide; now it’s one to five days.

Scientists consider feeding Canadian wolf pack

CANMORE, ALBERTA – Elk have been declining in population in the Bow Valley portion of Banff National Park. With fewer elk to hunt, the wolves may be roaming afield from the park in search of food. And that puts them at risk of being hunted.

That scenario has wildlife experts talking about whether wolves need to be fed if they are to survive in the developed and busy Bow Valley. The valley has 180 elk from Lake Louse to Canmore, but with most near Banff. That is not enough elk, some believe, to sustain a pack of wolves, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook (Nov. 21).

Carolyn Callaghan, a wolf researcher, said she doesn’t know what should be done, but she does know that the system has already been significantly manipulated. Twice during the 20th century the wolf population in that area was extirpated or severely depleted. Wolves naturally recolonized the area beginning in the 1970s.

Dave Dalman, Parks Canada’s ecosystem secretariat manager, said the agency preferred less manipulative approaches. “However, we do understand that it is absolutely essential to have an active wolf population connected to the elk population.” In other words, as a species, the elk there are dependent upon wolves helping to maintain a healthy population.

Snow-measuring helps with ski area insurance

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – In 1996, Joseph McNasby tried something different, catastrophic-type insurance for ski areas. It started slowly, then picked up clients rapidly.

The insurance worked great for a few ski areas in Colorado. Early policies paid dividends when skier days dropped because of unusual circumstances. Some had bought just before the beginning of a series of slow-starting, low-snow winters. Resorts also made $23 million after Y2K affected the all-important Christmas week reservations. Some resorts may have paid as little as $150,000 in premiums but received millions in return.

But underwriters doubted the accuracy of snow measurements at some resorts, insisting on the need for proven accuracy. The answer, reports National Ski Areas Association Journal (October/November 2002), is Snotel. Snotel is a radio telemetry system for monitoring snowpacks across the West that is monitored by a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The insurance plan still works on a combination of lost skier days and snowfall, but now the weather piece of the program is based on reduced precipitation. In the four-month plan, resorts must experience a 20 percent drop in snowfall average plus a significant loss in skier days. In the one-month plan, the drop is 30 percent.

McNasby is working on other catastrophic situations, such as airline stoppages, road closures or even wildfires.





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