area theft ring targeted
ELDORA RESORT, Colo. – Arrest of three people for credit
card theft has led investigators to suspect they have uncovered
a nationwide ring that targets ski resorts.
Boulder County sheriff’s deputies, following up on credit
cards stolen from cars parked at Eldora Resort, arrested a trio
of suspects in a suburban Denver motel room in mid-April. The
two men and one woman had bought $300,000 in items during an
18-month, nationwide crime spree.
The trio apparently traveled across the country, breaking into
cars at ski resorts, taking only a few credit cards at a time.
Investigators believe they targeted ski areas because people
going to ski areas presumably had money or at least credit.
Also, they were likely to leave purses, fanny packs and such
in their cars while skiing.
“I think it is much bigger,” an investigator told
The Denver Post (May 12). “They may be just one group
that works for a subcontractor, who has other groups doing the
Information about the possible nationwide theft ring was offered
to police in other states. A more extensive investigation may
be in the works in Utah.
Tahoe cops try new bear tactics
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Across the West, mountain
town newspapers are rife with stories about the spring return
of the bears. The story is really very simple: If your garbage
isn’t put out, the bears don’t come.
But it’s never that simple, so the story becomes about
how humans try to outwit the bears. The latest twist in that
regard may be in El Dorado County, located partly along the
South Shore of Lake Tahoe. There, the old strategy was to shoot
at garbage-eating bears with rubber bullets. But the bears have
become accustomed to the pain. So now sheriff’s deputies
are taking a cue from police in nearby Truckee.
In Truckee, police have not only used rubber bullets and flash-bang
devices, but have used projectiles filled with oleoresin capsicum,
a pepper spray derivative, and fluorescent paint. The latter
allows deputies to track bears that commonly come around for
Ann Bryant, executive director of the Bear League, warns that
you can’t leave a bowl of candy out for a child then slap
the child’s hand when it reaches for it. “You cannot
go out night after night and beat up these bears and keep the
food buffet out,” she told the Tahoe Daily Tribune (May
The jury still seems to be out on the effectiveness of a new
law that requires people in new homes to put trash into metal
trash enclosures. The law wasn’t enforced, says Bryant,
but an environmental manager says 60 to 70 warnings were handed
out. The second offense produces a $100 fine, and the first
such fine is now being meted out.
Starbucks offers $100k to Jackson
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – “Kickbacks” occur in
ski towns in a thousand different ways and on a daily basis.
Concierges get deals from restaurants for referrals. Events
get named after sponsors, as in Teva this, Chevy that, and Jeep
Now, Starbucks is trying to gain a larger share of the coffee-drinking
market in Jackson Hole. If 115,000 pounds of Starbucks coffee
is sold there annually, according to a deal being studied, Starbucks
will pay $100,000. To sell that much would require the core
lodging properties and resorts to push Starbucks – to
the exclusion of other coffees, including the beans sold by
two local companies, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide
The money would be split 50-50 between the ski area operator,
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and the local chamber of commerce.
The potential Starbucks money could boost the budget of the
chamber by 16 percent.
The possible deal grew out of an existing relationship between
the ski area and a company in Denver. That Denver company produced
a sponsorship by Chevrolet. In return for vehicles used by the
ski company, the company gives Chevy products exposure. Predictably,
at least one chamber member intensely dislikes this idea. That
member is the Great Northern Gourmet Coffees, a roasting company
based in Jackson Hole.
Whitewater park opens in Gunnison
GUNNISON, Colo. – Completion of a rodeo playground for
whitewater boats just west of Gunnison is being celebrated Memorial
Day weekend with a whitewater festival.
The idea of the whitewater park was planted in 1995 by a recreation
professor at nearby Western State College. In 1997, Boulder-based
Gary Lacy, who has designed courses from Breckenridge to Glenwood
Canyon and beyond, was hired to plan the 500-yard segment, explains
the Crested Butte News (May 16).
Gunnison boaters have advertised their event across Colorado,
but they are competing against a big draw in the Vail-Minturn
area, where a whitewater festival is now in its second decade
and also has the corporate backing of Teva.
Long winter returns to Winter Park
FRASER, Colo. – It seems like Winter Park and the rest
of Grand County are returning to normal. Instead of daily sunshine
during May, as during the droughts of recent years, people are
again grousing about “nine months of winter.”
“April is the cruelest month,” wrote T.S. Elliot,
but he had it all wrong. In ski towns, it’s May. And while
longtimers know to expect two or three days per week of assorted
snow, sleet and grauple, newcomers expect May to be like “back
One woman, suffering through a foot of snow while tending children
at a Fraser playground, was reported by Sky-Hi News (May 15)
publisher Patrick Brower to be advising her husband to solicit
his old job in the Midwest. Arriving last October, she has known
only snow – and she’s had all she cares to see.
Home Depot to draw I-70 corridor
AVON, Colo. – Papers along the I-70 corridor were filled
with the usual mix of stories about court cases, environmental
improvements and so forth. But a glossy advertisement wrapped
on the exterior of papers in Vail, Eagle and Glenwood Springs
was the real story May 15.
The wrap was an advertisement announcing the grand opening
of Home Depot, which opened a 129,000-square-foot store in Avon.
Some local builders and home remodelers have gleefully estimated
they can reduce their costs of materials by up to half.
This is by far the biggest building in the Vail area. The garden
center for the new store alone occupies 30,000 square feet,
which until a few years ago was the size of the largest grocery
store. When fully cranked up, Home Depot and the adjoining Wal-Mart
are expected to employ 800 people and draw shoppers from Aspen
Glenwood to build 18-hole course
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – City Council members are taking
the big steps to build an 18-hole golf course. So far, they
have approved taking out a $12 million loan, and they also have
contracted for a $235,000 design. The course is projected to
earn $1 million a year in revenues.
The council’s method of financing the project, however,
has provoked some opposition, reports the Glenwood Springs Post
Independent (May 4). The city is using certificates of participation
instead of the more conventional revenue bonds. The certificates
do not require a public election. City Manager Mike Copp says
this form of borrowing is more flexible for the city and leaves
it less vulnerable if the golf course should go bankrupt. The
city is in a hurry to take advantage of low interest rates.
Among other points, opponents wonder why, if the golf course
is so sure to make money, private enterprise doesn’t try
it. One of two dissenting council members, Dave Merritt, predicted
that committing the city to the golf course will commit the
city to chasing sales tax dollars to subsidize the course.
Students nudged toward health food
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – At Jackson Hole High School, as
elsewhere, there is concern that students are eating fat- and
sugar-laden junk food. Even in Wyoming, 6.6 percent of children
are overweight, and another 10.8 percent are in the at-risk
Already, the pop and candy machines at middle and elementary
schools have been replaced with juice machines and healthier
snacks, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide (May 7). At
the high school, Tootsie Rolls, Nerds and Skittles have been
replaced by granola bars, cereal and beef jerky.
Still, there Reese’s and Domino’s are sold each
day. The profits from this not-so-healthy food comes to $75,000
a year, which subsidizes the cost of other, more nutritious