Huge American flag draws outcry

AVON A flag as large as a doublewide trailer is being hoisted at a new commercial district in Avon. But not all neighbors are saluting the red, white and blue.

The association representing the 1,400 home owners in the adjoining Eagle-Vail subdivision has formally protested, as have assorted other individuals. They say the 20-by-38-foot flag that's more square footage than the one-bedroom housing units in the nearby employee housing complex is just too much.

One specific charge is that the flag, which is being placed atop a 150-foot tower, uses patriotism to further commercialism. It is, said one critic, nothing more than a billboard, to draw customers from nearby Interstate 70. The developer of the complex placed the flag in the parking lot for a Wal-Mart Supercenter and The Home Depot. The flag pole would have been built even higher, 200 feet, except that the Federal Aviation Administration would have then required a light atop it.

The monster flag has defenders, too. One Avon architect, a Vietnam War veteran, said he saw a "kid in Vietnam who lost his legs for that flag." Others, carrying tiny American flags, showed up at a recent meeting of the Avon Town Council to support the giant flag. One spoke about the excitement of the upcoming flag-dedicating ceremony, with hot dogs and John Philips Sousa marches.

Because Avon has no restrictions governing height of flagpoles, it cannot order that the flag be down-sized. It could pass a resolution, but chose not to at a recent meeting. The developer, who made his money in hotels in Stockholm, Sweden, and as the owner of several commercial freighters that plied international waters, said he would mull over his choices.

Telluride expands its direct flights

TELLURIDE Telluride is expanding its network of direct flights next winter by about 10 percent, including new daily flights of 50-passenger jets from Los Angeles.

That gives Telluride direct connections to six major cities outside Colorado as well as shuttles from Denver. All flights go to Montrose, about 55 miles from Durango.

A new 2 percent tax on lodging and restaurants in Telluride and Mountain Village covers approximately half of the annual cost of the program of direct flights. The balance of the risk posed by guaranteeing revenues to airlines is posted by Montrose, the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., and individual businesses.

Truck spills 40,000 pounds of eggs

SUMMIT COUNTY A truck carrying food on Interstate 70 rolled over dumping candy bars, pinto beans, beer and 40,000 pounds of eggs.

The Summit Daily News reported that the driver, who was hauling the grub from Iowa to California, had lost his brakes. He was ticketed for careless driving. It took crews 21 hours to clear the highway griddle of the omelets, which were deposited in the landfill.

Crested Butte debates herbicide use

CRESTED BUTTE Spray or spade? It's the basic debate in Crested Butte involving dandelions spray them with chemicals or dig them out with a shovel or some other tool?

The town has been at this juncture at least once before. After a profusion of dandelions in 2000 turned the soccer and other fields yellow, town officials elected to go inorganic. But when an applicator showed up wearing a suit of white, many residents were appalled. That caused the town staff to seek out an alternative organic weed killer, a derivative of beet juiced known as Weed Killer 7-0-5.

But Town Manager Frank Bell says beet juice isn't an option now. "It was expensive and it doesn't work," he said. How about community dandelion dig days? That is another idea, but not everybody digs it because digging is only a temporary answer.

The Town Council, reports the Crested Butte News , positioned itself firmly on the fence, appointing Bell to figure out the solution, preferably nonchemical, but chemical if that must be the case.

Granby dozer may be sold as scrap

GRANBY No decision has been made about what will be done with the bulldozer driven by Marvin Heemeyer when he plowed into 13 buildings on June 4, but it probably won't end up in a museum or erected in the town park.

The district attorney's office in Grand County, where Granby is located, is trying to obtain the bulldozer, and the Sky-Hi News reports talk of dismembering the machinery for its value in scrap metal.

The bulldozer was manufactured by Komatsu, but is roughly the equivalent of a D-9 Caterpillar.

Meanwhile, there continues to be a discussion about whether Heemeyer got a bum deal justifying his wrath. Patrick Brower, the editor of the Sky-Hi News , whose building was gutted by Heemeyer, says absolutely not.

"Some people assume that government' somehow kicked a good' man and overextended its power. From where I was sitting (at all but one of the meetings in question), the opposite was true."

Aspen utilities actually inexpensive

ASPEN Not much in Aspen is cheap, but electricity and water are. Aspen's electrical rates are eighth lowest among the 51 utilities in Colorado. Water is nearly as cheap.

The city government provides both, and its electric rates have gone unchanged for 12 years, and its water rates for 17 years, reports The Aspen Times . City officials think it's time to adjust the rates. They're looking at a two-tiered rate structure for electricity that encourages big users, such as hotels, to adjust their demands to avoid times of peak demand, when the city has to pay for more expensive power produced at coal-fired power plants.

Currently, 43 percent of the city's power comes from coal, while 57 percent comes from either wind or hydro.

Lead contamination hurts Park City

PARK CITY, Utah In a way, Park City is trying to sweep its mining history under the rug.

Oh, it's not that the city is ashamed of its origins in silver mining, which continued until shortly before the first ski area there opened in the 1960s. But the lead that is a byproduct of the silver mining is found in the soil in many areas. When ingested, as can happen when children eat dirt, it can cause significant medical problems.

Now, if property owners will cover their lots with fresh topsoil to a depth of about 6 inches and then revegetate it, the city will offer $450 to defray the typical cost of $5,000 to $6,000. Altogether, the city has budgeted $50,000 for the project, reports The Park Record . For those who refuse to cap their lots, blood tests are mandatory, says the newspaper.

City officials hope that this program will help persuade the Environmental Protect Agency to discontinue its 21-year oversight of Park City's mining residue. "The EPA cloud that we have been under has affected the whole town," said Sally Elliott, a resident of a contaminated area. How this EPA oversight is a dark cloud for Park City neither she nor the newspaper explained.

Pig fat being used for road dust

HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS Grand County is full of gravel roads. To quell the dust, each summer the county road and bridge department applies magnesium chloride.

But this year, reports the Sky-Hi News , road crews have applied a new road stabilizer. The chemical was not identified, but road crews refer to it unaffectionately as "pig fat," as it is partially made from animal waste products. The question is whether the chemical causes less damage to roadside vegetation than mag chloride, which is highly corrosive.

Grand County is compiling a comprehensive report in conjunction with several other counties in Colorado about use of magnesium chloride as a dust queller. Another study is being done by the state transportation department about its effects on trees adjacent to highways, as many conifers are dying, although not just along roads where mag chloride is used.

Free-heeler tackles Grand Teton

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. The firsts continue on Grand Teton, that lovely but challenging peak. Recently, the first commercial client skied the mountain. Now, a woman on free-heel skis has telemarked down the peak.

"Basically, that's all I use in the backcountry," said A.J. Cargill, of her free-heel skis. "I prefer a lighter set-up. It wasn't scary, but it was intense and demanding."

compiled by Allen Best






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