Police nail streaker with Tasers

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – John Chase Rodgers, who is 21, moved to Jackson several months ago to be a whitewater rafting guide. During a break in the car-crunching at a demolition derby, itself the concluding event of the county fair, he stripped his clothes and streaked across the rodeo grounds in front of 3,500 people.

What happened next is clear enough. He grabbed a fire extinguisher. What he intended to do with the extinguisher is what’s being debated. Police said they believed he might have used it as a weapon – opening it up on them, for example. They suggest that he was trying to remove the pin so he could begin spraying. In turn, they fired two Taser probes into his back, zapping him with 50,000 volts of electricity.

Witnesses disputed the police account of the pin, but police stand by their account. Capt. Jim Whale said Rodgers could have discharged the extinguisher at officers or the crowd or could have swung or thrown it to avoid arrest. They denied allegations that they used the Tasers to discourage streaking which has become something of an annual event in Jackson.

Why the streaking in Jackson? Rodgers, the streaker, said it’s a “spontaneous, free form of expression.” Another explanation might be that in Jackson, late July is about the only time taking off clothes doesn’t produce goose bumps.


Breckenridge builds highest lift

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge is getting bragging rights. Work has begun on a $4 million high-speed quad that will be the highest chairlift in North America. It will hit 12,840 feet. The current highest is located a few miles away at Loveland Ski Area, where a chairlift deposits skiers along the Continental Divide at an elevation of 12,697.

The area to be serviced by Breckenridge’s new lift can currently be reached only by those willing to hike to it. Some are miffed to see the lift arrive, because it will allow others to sully the serenity and poach the powder that they once were able to get through dint of hard work.

While a ski area watchdog, Colorado Wild, appealed the Forest Service decision to approve the lift, the group’s Jeff Berman told theSummit Daily News that Colorado Wild will not sue to block the lift.

While Breck will now have highest-lift bragging rights, Arapahoe Basin can claim the highest skiable terrain within a ski area in North America, at 13,050. Once again, though, Loveland is close behind, at 13,010 feet.


Sun Valley boasts priciest ski pass

ASPEN – Mirror, mirror on the ski town wall, who has the priciest season pass of all? It all depends upon how early in the season you buy the pass of course, but it would appear that Sun Valley or perhaps Vail is at the top.

Sun Valley will charge $1,775 for an unrestricted pass for next winter. Vail won’t announce its price until September, but last winter it charged $1,649 for a comparable pass. Jackson Hole is at $1,595, and Aspen is at $1,579, although both prices will soon rise.

And on down the line: Telluride, $1,375; Deer Valley, $1,345; Park City, $950; Steamboat, $925; and Crested Butte, $768.

For bottom feeders, there are all sorts of deals, even at many of these same ski areas. Vail has 10- and 20-day passes, while Jackson Hole has a pass called the Weekend Warrior. The smaller ski areas, in contrast, almost give away their passes. At Snow King, a small ski area located in the town of Jackson, the season pass costs all of $99.


Court rejects county ban on cyanide

BRECKENRIDGE – A district court judge has ruled that Summit County’s ban on the use of cyanide in gold mining was illegal. Judge David Lass said only the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board has the authority to regulate cyanide heap-leach mining.

The commissioners had enacted the ban in January 2004. Environmental groups told the Associated Press that they intend to appeal the court’s decision. Four other counties in Colorado – Conejos and Costilla in the San Luis Valley, Gilpin west of Boulder, and Gunnison – have enacted similar bans.

Farmers in the San Luis Valley and elsewhere fear that state regulations are still inadequate to protect the environment, even after changes in the wake of the disastrous Summitville

Mine during the late 1980s. More than $200 million has been spent on cleanup of the Summitville Mine.

The fear in Summit County is that miners could seek to extract residual silver and gold from mine tailings left over from the county’s mining era. The mines operated from the late 1850s to the early 1970s.


Jet travel raises green hackles

TELLURIDE – It’s one of those many paradoxes that can be found in ski towns. Ski towns commonly pride themselves on being very caring of the environment. The word “sustainable” is used at every turn.

But the very premise of destination resorts is to extravagantly use resources, with arguably huge environmental consequences. If most climate-change scientists are correct, we are risking the future well being of people because of all the greenhouse gases we have been emitting into the air.

Art Goodtimes, a commissioner in San Miguel County, writes of this inThe Telluride Watch, noting the cost of air travel. In traveling round-trip between Chicago to Telluride by air, a person causes the same amount of carbon to enter the atmosphere as that same person would during two months of driving.

Already, aviation is the single greatest contributor to greenhouse gases, and growing steadily.

Quoting a British magazine,Resurgence, he says, “Unless significant improvements are made to reduce aviation’s ecological footprint, the responsible tourism movement will continue to be a worthy yet optimistic patter amid the deafening roar of an increasingly polluting industry, the consequences of which for climate change are becoming all too apparent.”

To calculate the greenhouse impacts of your travel you can go to www.responsibletravel.com.


Park City restaurants offer passports

PARK CITY, Utah – With tongues somewhat in cheek but maximum publicity in mind, 45 restaurants in Park City have declared their independence from the rest of Utah.

Park City, they note in a widely disseminated letter, has always been a little different from the rest of Utah, and so they are declaring their formal independence and issuing passports to the Republic of Park City.

Passport holders will collect stamps for their frequent dining in Park City. The hope is that residents of the Salt Lake Valley, located as close as 20 minutes, will frequent Park City to partake of its ample eateries.

Part of the reason for this initiative is that restaurants in Salt Lake City and other Wasatch Front communities have become much better. “Customers from Salt Lake City are a huge part of how we make our living,” explained David Shaver, executive chef at The Canyons Resort. “We love Park City, but all of our tourism is important to us.”


Aspen recycling up for adoption

ASPEN – Aspen is moving toward curbside recycling, but not without controversy. A proposed law to be considered in late August would mandate that all commercial garbage haulers pick up recyclables and incorporate the service into their base price.

Second, the law would require yard waste be kept separate from garbage, so it could be deposited in the composing operation at the Pitkin County Landfill. Land in Pitkin County, where Aspen is located, is at a premium, and so is landfill space. The regulation is intended to lengthen the life of the landfill.

However, some merchants in the city’s core are having fits. One restaurateur contacted called the proposal “half-assed.” He and others predict the trucks servicing the recycling in business district alleys will create noise and disruptions sure to alienate tourists.


The ‘Dark Village’ is not all bad

ASPEN HIGHLANDS – Nobody who likes to ski hard and fast questions the status of Aspen Highlands. It’s the favorite locals ski hill at Aspen, which has four to choose from.

The base area is a different matter. When it was gussied up several years ago, the local reaction was deafening silence. Even the owners of the Aspen Skiing Co. go along with the local nickname of “the Dark Village.”

But that’s not all bad, reportsThe Aspen Times. Merchants doing business in the base area report they can get into the market with lower lease rates.

– compiled by Allen Best

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Reining it in

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Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale