Library criticized for marijuana book

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. The Teton County Library has been drawing fire from a patron for having a book, Marijuana Growers Handbook . Library patron Robert Gathercole argues the book is a misuse of public funds.

"I do not understand why, when so much of our county resources are devoted to dealing with the problem of substance abuse, you have chosen to spend tax dollars to purchase a how-to crime manual," he wrote in an op-ed piece published in the Jackson Hole News & Guide .

"Marijuana, for better or for worse, is an issue of current interest in our community," responds the library director, Betsy Bernfeld. The book, she said, meets the goal of offering "all points of view concerning the problem and issues of our time."

If that's the case, responds Gathercole, why doesn't the library have books on manufacture of illegal automatic weapons and explosives as well as child pornography?

Rival ski areas feud over avalanches

BIG SKY, Mont. Add the possibility of getting hit by shrapnel to the dangers of skiing, reports The Wall Street Journal .

The story was a dispute between two ski areas, Big Sky and the recently opened Moonlight Basin Ranch, which are separated by a knife-edge ridge. Big Sky has filed a lawsuit against Moonlight, asking for judicial intervention to alter Moonlight's avalanche-control program. Moonlight, like many ski areas, uses a device called an Avalauncher to help trigger avalanches on ski slopes. Although Moonlight alerts Big Sky to the impending bombs, the work sometimes causes Big Sky to postpone its promised 9 a.m. lift service.

And as far as the business of dodging shrapnel, the Journal's story makes it somewhat clear that the reporter's warning was mostly poetic license. At most, Big Sky was concerned about opening late.

But just how reliable is the Avalauncher and other ski area artillery? Big Sky's position is summarized in this statement from general manager Taylor Middleton, "It's human beings operating machines, and mistakes happen." Moonlight's position is summarized by co-owner Lee Poole. Pointing to the top of Lone Cone Peak, he asks: "Could we (inadvertently) launch a round over the top of that? It's about as possible as getting hit by a meteor."

Nederland celebrates frozen grandpa

NEDERLAND, Colo. Colorado mountain towns have their fair share of off-beat festivals.

Crested Butte has Flauschink, which seems to be something of a bar crawl. Heeney, located in Summit County, has a festival that pays homage to ticks. And Fruita it's not a mountain town, but a lot of mountain bike riders go there has Mike the Headless Chicken Days, a celebration of the life of a chicken that survived for 18 months without a head.

Rivaling any of these for strangeness, however, is the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, which is held in Nederland, west of Boulder. Although Eldora ski area is nearby, Nederland is not really a ski town. There is only one hotel. However, it abounds with eccentricity.

In 1989, one Bredo Morst`F8l, a Norwegian, died of a heart attack. His grandson, Trygve Bauge, decided to freeze "Grandpa" in a Tuff Shed in hopes that someday he could be returned to life.

Town officials banned such attempts, but "grandfathered in this attempt," notes the Rocky Mountain News . Lately, they have made light of it all with a late-winter festival that last year attracted 5,000 people.

There's a Grandpa look-alike contest, Grandpa's crawl of the bars, and Tuff Shed coffin races, in which teams carry makeshift coffins and a rider around a frozen obstacle course.

As for Grandpa, his body remains in a hermetically sealed aluminum container that is kept at a temperature of 90 below zero.

Fire strikes Telluride's new owners

TELLURIDE, Colo. The new owners of the Telluride Ski and Golf Co. aren't exactly off to a wonderful start. The Horning family's 7,300-square-foot Telluride home burned down shortly after being extensively remodeled. Officials, reported The Telluride Watch , found no evidence of arson. The house is worth $7 million.

Kerry split on skis and snowboards

KETCHUM, Idaho A major rap against John Kerry, the presumed Democratic Party's candidate for president, is that he's indecisive. The New York Times , accompanying Kerry on a vacation to his second home at Sun Valley, indicated that indecisiveness was evident as he was flying to Idaho.

Would it be skis or a snowboard? He wasn't sure.

Well, on the first day at least, it was snowboarding, although a photograph later showed Kerry on skis. He also took along a top-flight racing bicycle on his vacation.

The Times found Ketchum and the Wood River Valley a haven for Democrats, despite another part-time Republican resident, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many stop signs in the valley have "Bush 2004" spray-painted underneath.

Crested Butte experiences meltdown

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. March is, by the record book, the snowiest month at mountain towns in Colorado. But, the first three weeks have been as balmy as an ocean beach.

At Crested Butte, this balminess has had several repercussions. First, a film crew showed up to create a commercial that extols the ability of Lincoln Mercury's new sport utility vehicle to handle snow.

"The film crew has been challenged slightly by the fact that the substance that drew them to this area has recently melted into dirty piles of mush," reported the Crested Butte News . "They will be hiring locals to truck snow into the set locations over the course of the week."

Meanwhile, as the snow rapidly melted, it just as rapidly revealed the sins of winter. "Copious amounts of dog poop are emerging with the spring thaw, spreading a distinctive, unsavory aroma," reported the paper. Do-gooders following behind the dog-poopers have a bright idea, called PooFest 2004. They hope to get volunteers to scour the streets. As for incentives, they dangle prizes and perhaps a title: PooFest Champion.

Wouldn't that be something to hang on your wall?

Telluride tries to integrate Hispanics

TELLURIDE, Colo. The Telluride Foundation has set out to help integrate Hispanics into the Telluride community. "The foundation's mission is about the quality of life in Telluride, and Hispanics are clearly a part of the community," explained Paul Major, president of the organization.

"We just want to lower the barriers so Hispanics can be a part of the community," he told The Telluride Watch . "If we don't think about it intentionally, we will probably discover too late that there are a lot of problems out here."

How the foundation intends to do this seems a little fuzzy but involves identifying for the broader community how important Hispanics are. This importance is most easily identified economically. "These people are a huge economic engine," he said. "Not only are they working critical jobs, but they affect the economy. Why wouldn't we embrace them?"

Among the steps the foundation plans during the next year are a focus on child care, a translating resource and youth-activity outreach.

Whistler suffers slow winter blues

WHISTLER, B.C. Last year it was Vail, Aspen and other destination resorts of Colorado that had become introspective, wondering what they had done wrong to offend overnight vacationers. This year it's Whistler.

The fundamental cause of the shift is easily explained. The U.S. dollar has weakened, making U.S. vacations less expensive and Canadian vacations more expensive.

Whistler's dependence upon U.S. visitors is illustrated by the fact that the January economy depends upon a holiday designated to honor a preacher from the American South, i.e. Martin Luther King. With the destination business in Whistler falling off by as much as 25 percent this winter, tourism promoters are evaluating any number of things. For example, are costs too high? Can events be better managed? Despite the Martin Luther King holiday and other carefully staged events, January remains a black hole in the winter economy.

In Colorado, it's the same story. In Vail, longtime ski executive Andy Daly notes an improved January for overnight, destination business. However, the peaks of business volume during holidays and spring vacation continue to get higher, but the valleys of business volume remain shallow.

compiled by Allen Best





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