Crested Butte rescinds bear hug  welcome
CRESTED BUTTE – Crested Butte residents are being urged to overcome their natural tendency toward friendliness and instead summon up their most aggravating qualities and behavior, at least during bear season.

In July, with drought reducing the crop of backcountry berries and nuts, bears have been much in evidence. Bears have invaded several homes, and in one case killed the house dog. In another case, a bear killed a dog just outside of town.

J. Wenum, the state wildlife officer, told the Crested Butte News that the “more a bear feels unwelcome, the less likely it is to stick around or come back. Do something to make it feel unwelcome. Bang pots and pans, yell at it. Make it uncomfortable."
On the other side of the Elk Range, a 450-pound bear evaded police by scrambling through an alley behind The Gap and then surprising shoppers at a farmers’ market, tearing through a Honeypot Alpaca Farms booth before climbing a tree. The Aspen Daily News says the bear hung out in a tree, most definitely a tourist attraction, before stealing away at dusk.

Wildlife officials tell the Aspen Daily News that the number of bears in town substantially increased in early August. One of them, a cub, walked through the putt-putt golf course, then later wandered through the municipal parking garage.

And in Telluride there was outrage after state wildlife officers killed a bear that they believed had broken into a home. That is standard policy for bears in Colorado. Several council members objected, citing the lack of overwhelming proof of the bear’s identity.

“If I were a bear in Telluride today, I would consider defecting to Syria, because it’s safer,” said Thom Carnavale.

Police go light on Spandex speeders
PARK CITY, Utah – Police in Park City, normally aggressive in enforcing the 25 mph speed limit, gave a wide berth to 55 mph speeders on Sunday as the Tour of Utah rolled through town. The Park Record noted that professional bicycle riders in Europe sometimes attain speeds of 70 mph.

Overturned truck powders the Tetons
JACKSON, Wyo. – Yet again, an overloaded truck has tumbled on the steep descent from Teton Pass into Jackson Hole. The truck was carrying a load of talcum, and the 50-year-old truck driver, who was relatively new on the job, had disregarded the weight limit for the pass and bypassed the first runaway truck ramp.

The talc spilled down the hillside, looking like snow, reported the Jackson Hole News and Guide. But why did the driver even go that way? Mapquest gives two routes between Dillon, Mont., and the cargo’s destination of Evansville, Ind., and neither comes close to Jackson Hole. The driver told his supervisor that GPS told him to cross the pass, and so he did.

Aspen skirmishes end up on Wikipedia
ASPEN – Check out the Wikipedia entry for the Aspen Skiing Co. and you may well find some remarks that suggest the company is a bully. Ditto for the art museum in Aspen.

In both cases, the reporting was probably done by Lee Mulcahy, a former ski instructor who has been banned from the property of both and is suing the owners and chief executive of the ski company.

For example, explains the Aspen Daily News, you may discover that the ski company fired a singer who sang an unfavorable song about rich people in one of the company’s bars during après ski.

“He’s been doing it for awhile,” said Jeff Hanle, the spokesman for the ski company, speaking of the information Mulcahy has posted on the Wikipedia site for Aspen Skiing. “We have taken it down and it goes back up.”

In his interview with the newspaper, Mulcahy portrayed himself as a David battling Goliath – and, in the case of the art museum, he’s conceded defeat. “I gave up since they have a staff of 20-plus people,” he said.

A representative of Wikipedia told the Daily News that the public-sourced website has a policy that discourages companies or individuals from editing information about themselves to prevent the pages from being nothing more than public relations mechanisms. But, said Matthew Roth, it happens all the time.

Hardware big-box opens in Summit
SILVERTHORNE – Yet another big box retail store has appeared on the I-70 corridor in Colorado. The Summit Daily News reports that Lowe’s was scheduled for a grand opening this week. It’s located at Silverthorne and will allow local shoppers to forego trips to metropolitan Denver, about 60 miles east, or Avon, 30 miles west, for discount-priced toilets and what not. Even before the official opening, the newspaper says, hundreds of people were trying to get in.

Vail still vulnerable to forest wildfires
VAIL – After decades when the cutting of a tree was seen as sacrilegious, many have fallen in recent years, particularly those that have been killed by a fungus spread by bark beetles.

Does the town remain vulnerable to wildfire? Mayor Andy Daly wanted to know at a recent meeting. There were no easy, short answers, and it was summarized by the Vail Daily as “there’s more work to be done.” As, perhaps, there always will be in ski towns located amid disturbance-prone ecosystems.

Next prez to enjoy gains in real estate
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Regardless of whether it’s President Obama or President Romney come January, the economy will be improving. So says Lawrence Yun, who is the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Yun spoke to realty agents in Steamboat recently, and he said that real estate trends are more encouraging than some national news organizations have been reporting, reports the Steamboat Today.

“Right now, 15 percent of homeowners are under water, not 33 percent, as CNN continues to report,” he said.

Fueling the recovery is population growth, he said. “America is one of the few advanced economies that still has respectable population growth,” he said. “The United States adds 3 million people very year. That’s 30 million in 10 years.”

He also noted the rising average sales price of homes in the Steamboat area, but said the turnaround is driven more by investors who see the value of buying low and collecting rent than it is by people who intend to use the vacation homes.

Schools, energy firm spar over costs
KETCHUM, Idaho – At what premium are you willing to buy local? That issue has become prominent in a messy lawsuit in the Ketchum-Sun Valley area between the local school district and McKinstry, the Seattle-based energy services contractor.

McKinstry agreed to replace low-efficiency boilers and in other ways make eight school district buildings more energy efficient. The school district claims McKinstry agreed to do this work for $18.7 million. In fact, the bill came in at $25.8 million.

Who’s to blame? Fingers have pointed both ways. One of them is pointed by McKinstry at school officials. The company says the school district required that local subcontractors be hired, and that alone explains $1.7 million of the $7.2 million in cost overruns. School district officials, reports the Idaho Mountain Express, call this claim “disingenuous and misleading.”

Whistler has a huge increase in business
WHISTLER, B.C. – Buoyed by 46 feet of snowfall last year, when most U.S. ski areas were struggling to keep the lifts open, Whistler saw a huge increase in tourism last winter and a much stronger bottom line.
Whistler Blackcomb reported a 5 percent increase in skiers, driven entirely by destination guests. The number of destination guests grew 20 percent.

But revenues increased 10 percent altogether, including lift tickets, ski school food and beverage and retail-rental. Revenues this summer also look good as sales of season passes and frequency passes have been strong.

Drug pipeline as good as Wal-Mart’s
TELLURIDE – Cocaine has had enough of a presence in Telluride that it was a line in a song by The Eagles even decades ago. It continues.
A drug task force recently made six arrests, seized $30,000 in cash and a kilogram of cocaine.

Those arrested are all from Mexico, with no permission to be in the United States. But other immigrants were among those who gave police the information needed to make the arrests, a key law-enforcement official tells The Telluride Watch.

“It’s interesting that our own immigrant community is really concerned about this, enough to call me and give me the information we need to help these cases move along,” said Bill Masters, longtime sheriff of San Miguel County. “They don’t want these clowns dealing drugs, either.”

Masters took care to note that he was speaking generally and not necessarily to the particular case. “But 99 percent of the cocaine these days is all controlled by Mexican drug cartels,” he said, and the cartels have a “distribution system that is probably better than Wal-Mart’s, as far as getting from South America and Mexico into the United States, and distributing it from Nome to Miami, or the other way around.”
– Allen Best