Aspen City Council to study anti-war resolution

ASPEN – Crested Butte’s Town Council has already adopted a resolution urging peace, not war, setting off a spirited discussion of several weeks in the letters forum of the Crested Butte News. Now, the Aspen City Council has agreed to at least talk about such a resolution.

That agreement came after five former council members from 1989 appeared before the 2002 council with a proposed seven-point resolution that, among other things, urges national leaders to “use the power of this nation not to wage war with Iraq but to pursue a peaceful alternative.” Only one current member of the City Council, Tony Hershey, rejected considering the resolution, reports The Aspen Times (Nov. 26)

The five former council members were former Mayor Bill Stirling and council members Bill Tuite, Frank Peters, Michael Grassman and Steve Crocket. They had governed Aspen during the time the town had considered a ban on furs.

Aspen Skiing Co. to run gondola on wind power

ASPEN – Take away the storied background and the new crop of mansions, and Aspen is laid out much like any town in the Midwest, and some of its power will be coming from the Midwest as well. The municipal government, which delivers power to the town, has gone in as a partner on a new coal-fired power plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Currently, according to The Aspen Times (Nov. 19), 54 percent of Aspen’s energy comes from renewable resources, primarily hydroelectric but now including 5 percent from wind power generated at Kimball, Neb. The city would like an even higher percentage, but there isn’t enough to purchase at the moment. The contract signed by the city will allow it to choose to buy renewable energy for all its energy needs at some point and not use any coal-generated energy.

Meanwhile, up on the mountain, the Aspen Skiing Co. completed a deal to buy enough wind power to run the gondola this winter. The power is so highly leveraged it almost squeaks. In addition to Skico’s $25,000, an advocacy group called CORE (Community Office for Resource Efficiency) chipped in $10,000, and two local electrical utilities also contributed. Yet another partner is ESPN with its X Games, a variety of snow-based hair-raising events that appeal to the younger generations’ sense of adventure.

Auden Schendler, Aspen’s director of environmental affairs, said the benefits of wind power will be promoted at every opportunity, from the World Cup races to the X Games. Part of the message will be the trend of global warming and the cause of greenhouse gases.

This latest move means that 6 percent of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s electricity comes from wind turbines. That boosts Aspen considerably over Vail, believed to be second highest in the wind-power sweepstakes among ski area operators.

OSHA investigating death of Keystone snowmaker

KEYSTONE – Federal safety investigators were looking into the death of a 28-year-old snowmaker, Ben Bornstein, to see if federal regulations regarding enclosed spaces had been violated. The man was found in a five-foot-deep snowmaking shelter that contains valves for air and water pipes. The Summit County coroner ruled he had died by drowning, reports the Summit Daily News (Nov. 27).

Park City looking to make splash with whitewater park

PARK CITY, UTAH – Supporters of a whitewater park are trying to gain support for a study into its feasibility. They say it would make Park City more competitive with mountain resorts that have whitewater rivers nearby.

One park being discussed would cost $800,000 to $1.8 million. Another idea, a self-contained park, would cost $5 million. However, before much else happens, supporters believe they need a $5,000 study. They tried, but failed, to get support for that study by the city’s recreation advisory board, reports The Park Record (Nov. 23-26).

Whistler house outfitted with mattresses for 70

WHISTLER, B.C. – Firefighters recently dispatched to a house in Whistler found enough mattresses to accommodate 70 people. The attic alone had 24 beds, separated by bits of clothing hanging as curtains. Individual rooms had seven to 10 mattresses.

There was evidence of 10 renters at the home, but they will be forced to leave because of concerns about fire safety. There were zoning violations as well. Pique newsmagazine turned up evidence of rent of $538 per person based on double occupancy, or $680 per person for a single bed.

The Whistler Question (Nov. 28-Dec. 4) traced the situation to Whistler’s tight housing market. Up to 20 people a day checked for rentals at the Whistler Housing Authority, which had only one.

Another dormitory-style house also was reported, with nine boys in one room and nine girls in another room, each being charged $550 each.

Prostitute extorts $55,000 from Steamboat banker

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A banker from Steamboat Springs went to Washington, D.C., on business, and while there, hired an escort to spend three nights with him at $1,000 a night.

At home again, he began getting phone calls from her. The 36-year-old woman, described as dark-haired and buxom, threatened to tell his wife if he didn’t send her money. He complied, sending her $55,000 in three installments, reports the Rocky Mountain News (Nov. 26). Still, she wanted more.

At last, the banker went to police. Following their instructions, he stalled in order to record her threats. For reasons that are unclear, the prostitute made good on her threat and called the banker’s wife. Finally, though, he agreed to give her money. When she went to the appointed place in suburban Washington, D.C., however, she was arrested by FBI agents. Married to a retired electrician, her side of the story is that the banker was investing in her hair and beauty salon. That, at least, is the story she told a federal court judge in Denver.

Vail opens Blue Sky Basin expansion area early

VAIL – When Vail Resorts began promoting expansion onto Battle Mountain a decade ago, the company’s most prominent argument was that the north-facing bowls would give Vail early- and late-season skiing.

Now called Blue Sky Basin, the expansion area has been open for four seasons, and for the first time it was opened this year by Thanksgiving. The last two winters, both slow-starting affairs, presumably the types the expansion area was supposed to protect again, Blue Sky didn’t open until Christmas or later. This year was described as among the snowiest Novembers on record.

Why has Blue Sky been opened so late? Part of the problem was that after the expansion was proposed, the ski area operator agreed to leave more debris along the trails as habitat for wildlife. But environmental activists said from the outset the expansion was all about marketing, being able to boast more terrain.

If the environmentalists were correct, as the evidence overwhelmingly indicates, Blue Sky Basin is a big winner. Despite the fact that it takes half a morning for many skiers to get there, they do go. The expansion has taken much of the traffic off the front side of Vail Mountain.

A sense of remoteness partly explains Blue Sky’s success, while the terrain itself is another part. There are cornices for experts, cruises for intermediates. One skier from Denver summarized opening day at Blue Sky in his quote to the Vail Daily (Nov. 26). “We’ve had worse days heli-skiing,” he said.






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