Dean's ski-bumming recalled

ASPEN, Colo. Erstwhile Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean spent 10 months in Aspen ski-bumming and did not leave the impression that he was of presidential caliber.

"I remember him well. He was just a loser," remembers Trudy Erhard, the former owner of the Golden Horn restaurant, who employed Dean as a dishwasher in 1971-72. "But lots of kids in Aspen in the late '60s and early '70s were totally lost," she told The Denver Post . Erhard, a Republican who later moved to Vermont, where Dean served as governor, has never been a fan of his politics.

After graduating from Yale University, Dean received a medical deferment from the draft because of a fractured vertebra. While doctors consulted by The Post say the condition is legitimate grounds for not being drafted, it apparently did not prevent him from skiing. He also poured concrete for awhile.

A high school classmate who sometimes joined him in Aspen on weekends recalls him as a "very aggressive skier He wasn't Jean-Claude Killy but he didn't kill himself falling down either," said Taylor Pyne.

While Pyne seems to have acknowledged stories of Dean's beer drinking and pot smoking, he suggested a somewhat quiet existence. "I'm not going to say he was a choirboy, but as far as orgies and rock 'n' roll parties and stuff like that, I'm sorry. I'm going to disappoint you."

Saudi prince vacations in Jackson

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, ranked as No. 6 on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people, vacationed for the better part of two weeks in Jackson Hole. With a fleet of white Ford Excursions, hefty security and a 35-member entourage that occupied most of the new Four Seasons Resort hotel, he was hard to miss.

Rumors swept the valley, says the Jackson Hole News & Guide . Some were false: No, he did not rent 37 Hummers, draining the supply of a three-state radius. But yes, he asked that the resort keep the ski lifts running late to accommodate his party. By the way, he brought his ski instructors from Aspen. And as for the swank Four Seasons, the staff was instructed to call him "his royal highness."

Alaweed, 46, is the grandson of King Abdul Aziz, who founded Saudi Arabia. He owns 24 percent of the Four Seasons chain, and with a net worth pegged at $17.7 billion, owns a lot more of corporate America.

Businesses push for wilderness

SUN VALLEY, Idaho Proponents of expanded wilderness designation of public lands in Idaho have been drumming up support from businesses with the argument that wilderness is good business.

"Protecting wilderness is an important component of an economic strategy that will lead to a more diverse, more stable and more prosperous local economy and a brighter future for Idaho children," said Andy Munter, co-owner of Backwoods Mountain Sports in Ketchum.

At issue, explains the Idaho Mountain Express , are roughly 500,000 acres of contiguous, road-free wildlands between Ketchum and the towns of Stanley and Challis. The former is strongly dependent on recreation, but the latter fervently believe in livestock and timber harvesting. A compromise proposes to give these more traditional communities land allocated to industrial development in exchange for their acceptances of wilderness designation.

Winter Park markets open space

WINTER PARK, Colo. "Wide Open Spaces" is tentatively the new ad campaign for Winter Park and the Fraser Valley.

"Steamboat has the barn. Jackson Hole has the Tetons. When (Boulder-based consulting firm) Merge Creative showed us research they conducted with locals and on the Front Range, they proved that what people identify us with is wide open spaces," said Catherine Ross, director of the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Gay politician marries his partner

WHISTLER, B.C. British Columbia last year legalized same-sex marriages, and a marriage under that law by Whistler's most prominent politician in November has been getting a lot of attention.

Ted Nebbling, 59, and his partner, Jan Holmberg, 63, met in Amsterdam in the early '70s and in 1977 moved to Whistler, where they owned and operated several stores. Nebbling also served as a municipal councilor for four years, then six years as mayor before becoming a high-ranking official in the provincial government. He played a key role in assembling the Vancouver-Whistler bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"I hope it strengthens other gay people to do what the right thing is for them, as Jan and I did, and I also hope that those who are opposed to gay marriages think a little more about it," Nebbling told Whistler's Pique newsmagazine.

"I hope they will say, Hey, these guys have given a lot, they are hard working, they have 32 years of commitment those are values we would like to see in any married couple.'"

Bob Gallagher, from Canadians for Equal Marriage, said such public marriages puts human faces on gay and lesbian couples, helping dissipate fears and prejudices.

Robberies haunt the Vail Valley

VAIL VALLEY, Colo. The Vail Valley started the new year with a string of three robberies in three weeks.

The first robbery was of a bank in Edwards, the second of a lodge in Vail, and the third of a fast-food restaurant in Avon. Two of them occurred at 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings. In those cases the robber wielded either a shotgun or a rifle, and in another case a pistol. The third robbery was on a Tuesday. In that case, school administrators locked schools in the 50-mile-long valley for several hours, presumably to prevent hostages from being taken.

Man convicted in beating death

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. The first of three men accused of beating to death another man on the Main Street of Breckenridge on Halloween 2002 has been convicted of manslaughter. He will be sentenced to no less than eight years in prison.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert told the Summit Daily News that he will re-evaluate the evidence in hopes of getting the other two men convicted of second-degree murder, a stiffer charge. Hurlbert is also prosecuting basketball player Kobe Bryant in adjoining Eagle County.

The 36-year-old victim, who was also a father and husband, had been arguing with the trio, all 21 and 22 at the time, in a restaurant after Halloween parties. Witnesses said the three men chased the victim down the street after he left the bar, tackled him, then kicked him and beat him with a heavy military-style helmet. He died nine days later.

County bans mining techniques

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. Although nobody is mining for metals in Summit County now, nor are any plans afoot to that intent, the county is banning open pit, heap leach and cyanide mining.

This ban comes over the objections of the mining industry, which wants to preserve the option of processing once-discarded mining ores with cyanide as well as the heap leach method of extracting metals from those left-over ores. The industry argues that better laws and better technology will prevent a recurrence of a cyanide mine allowed 15 to 20 years ago in Colorado. That mine, called Summitville, has left a mess that may take decades to clean up and at huge public expense.

While such disasters are unlikely, says the Summit Daily News in an editorial, "why take a chance in Summit County, a highly developed tourist destination and residential community that is still dealing with water-quality issues left over from mining that took place in the 1880s and through the middle of the last century. We say ban this mining technique."

Added the newspaper: "If conditions change, so can the law. But for the moment, the white gold lying on top of them is what we mine for a living."

Telluride lauded for biodiversity

TELLURIDE, Colo. Something of an outdoor museum in Telluride's new intermediate expansion area, Prospect Bowl, is being monitored by a wetlands expert. The wetlands, called fens, are 10,000 years old. And, although only a few acres in size, the fens support 20 percent of all plant species in Colorado, says Dr. David Cooper of the University of Colorado.

"They support an unbelievably high proportion of the biodiversity in Colorado given their miniscule area," Cooper told The Telluride Watch . "For plants, but for animals as well," he added.

compiled by Allen Best





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