Jury acquits Vail furrier of murder

EAGLE, Colo. It was a titillating story. A woman shot and killed her boyfriend. Was it in self-defense, as she said, or in a fit of jealousy, as prosecutors argued.

The storyline was about love, or at least a sex triangle. The defendant, a 46-year-old woman, owned fur stores in Snowmass and Vail. She lived on 77 acres near Eagle, between the two resort towns. While sleeping with her, the boyfriend was also sleeping with one of the woman's employees at the fur shop in Vail.

Along the way in this testimony were stories about snorting cocaine, filming sexual trysts and blackmail. There was sworn testimony that the boyfriend had received $100,000 from the woman and was threatening to kill her son if she didn't give more, as well as hints of collusion between the boyfriend and the girlfriend. Witnesses also said he had bragged about being a hit man and having killed 31 people.

Several newspapers reported that the "rancher" had been acquitted by the jury despite no evidence that the ranch was anything more than a place of residence. Oddly, they didn't call her a furrier or, perhaps most appropriately, a rich person.

Telluride puts flights to the vote

TELLURIDE, Colo. Voters in Telluride and Mountain Village will be asked in November to impose a 2 percent tax on food and lodging to support the airline guaranteed program. Many local hotels and restaurants already tack on a 2 percent "resort fee" that is then donated to the program.

Telluride town officials decided against saddling the measure with a host of conditions, such as guarantees of commitments by the ski company and the real estate community. The Town Council had only one dissenter, Hillary White, who called the airline guarantee program a "disgusting corporate subsidy."

Drill augers through man's head

TRUCKEE, Calif. The construction accident was described as "horrific," and the X-ray printed in the Sierra Sun provides the testimony: an 18-inch long drill bit, an inch and a half in diameter, augered through a man's skull.

The man, Ron Hunt, had been drilling while standing on a 6-foot ladder. When the ladder wobbled, he lost his balance and threw the drill down. All of this apparently happens often enough at construction site. What happened next does not.

Hunt fell down face-first and onto the drill, which went through his right eye and out his skull just above his right ear. The bit managed to shove aside his brain, causing no apparent damage. Arriving at the hospital, he was telling jokes, a nephew told the newspaper. "It didn't seem possible for him to be alive, seeing him with a drill bit through his head."

He lost his eye, and he's getting titanium plates installed inside his head. Alas, though he had insurance, on this particular job he was listed as a subcontractor and hence was not covered.

Kobe Bryant trial may still be moved

EAGLE, Colo. There's still talk that the trial of Kobe Bryant will be moved from Eagle County, where the alleged crime occurred. But where in Colorado would defense lawyers for Bryant hope to get a more favorable jury?

Not many places, say attorneys contacted by the Grand Junction Sentinel (Aug. 24), and apparently not at other ski resort counties in Colorado.

"Eagle County has its share of blue-collar workers, business people, professional people, part-time residents from the East Coast and the West Coast," said Bob Miller, former U.S. attorney for Colorado. "And really, the only counties that have that kind of broad population base would be Denver, Boulder and probably Adams counties."

The latter is adjacent to Denver, but with strong ethnic diversity, a large blue-collar streak and a liberal reputation. Attorneys contacted by the newspaper disagreed with Rick Reilly, a columnist for Sports Illustrated , who says many experts are predicting a trial in Grand Junction. Mesa County, where Grand Junction is located, does not have a sufficiently diverse population, they say.

Vail goes for triple championships

VAIL, Colo. Vail is going for something of its own three-peat. It hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships in 1989, and then again in 1999. Now, the resort is seeking the championships again in 2009 but also the world freestyle and snowboard championships the same winter. The International Ski Federation will make the decision next June.

Undertaking this effort is the Vail Valley Foundation, a private nonprofit organization with close ties to the ski company, Vail Resorts. Foundation representatives project a $30 million impact from the three events.

Whistler debuts Community Card

WHISTLER, B.C. A locals' card, called a Community Value Card, is debuting in October. Spearheaded by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, the card is intended to put the various discounts given to locals for food, retail items, and even health services and transportation under one umbrella. The card costs $20.10 a reference to the fact that Whistler and Vancouver will host the Olympics in 2010.

More than half of businesses that completed surveys last year indicated that they had some sort of incentive or customer-loyalty program for locals, notes the Whistler Question (Aug. 14).

Sacramento pollution hits Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. Pollution from Sacramento, which has the fifth-worst air quality of any metropolitan area in the nation, is reaching Lake Tahoe, about 100 miles to the east. However, scientists aren't sure if it's enough to damage the lake or cause health problems in people.

Evidence of the pollution is found in at least two ways, explains the Tahoe Daily Tribune (Aug. 28). Mercury has been found in lake-bed sediments, despite the absence of activities in the Lake Tahoe Basin that could have put it there. Scientists assume the mercury was airborne.

Second, ozone generated in California's Central Valley, where Sacramento is located, blows across Lake Tahoe, at strongest concentrations 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the lake.

"As far as we know, it's not polluting the lake, and it's not having a big impact on people," said Tom Cahill, a professor of atmospheric science and physics at the University of California-Davis. "But it is a cautionary tale, because it shows how efficiently ozone can be transported."

Just where the ozone ends up wasn't specified. As for winter, the majority of pollution in the Lake Tahoe Basin is locally generated by wood-burning stoves or diesel engines.

Aspen tries to unravel "community"

ASPEN, Colo. "A sense of community" is an often-used phrase in many mountain towns. But when five former mayors of Aspen were asked about what "community" means in the Aspen context, they seemed to agree there are several.

"I think there are five or six communities in Aspen, and somehow they manage to stick it out," said Eve Homeyer, mayor from 1970-73. The former mayors, reported The Aspen Times (Aug. 21), agreed that the people in Aspen who are there for classical music may share few interests with the extreme athletes, but share "a deep sense of appreciation for the place."

Golf courses partner for promotion

GRANBY, Colo. The four golf courses in the Winter Park-Grand Lake area are taking a cue from cooperative marketing in other areas, including Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday in South Carolina and Reno-Lake Tahoe's "Golf Along the High Sierra" a coalition of 19 courses and dozens of hotels.

Beginning last year, the four golf courses Pole Creek, Grand Elk, SolVista and Grand Lake began pooling funds in a marketing promotion called "Grand Links." Also included are 10 hotels and lodges. "It's like gas stations," explained Brian Ryall, director of golf at SolVista. "If you put four gas stations at an intersection they'll do better than if they're standing alone." The budget is a shoestring of $10,000, half of which comes from government, reports The Denver Post (Aug. 21).

Health declining in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. A new study suggests Jackson Hole's environmental health is declining, a consequence of the population growth that made Teton County the 41 st fastest growing county in the country in the 1990s.

Jonathon Schechter, an economist with the Charture institute, said he interviewed 25 local experts who have monitored Jackson Hole's environment. On a scale of 1 to 10 from extremely unhealthy to extremely healthy, the experts gave it an average score of 5.2 a decade ago.

compiled by Allen Best





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