By Allen Best
I like big … homes
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Big houses produced by fortunes derived from big oil were in the news this week.
In Aspen, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former ambassador to the United States, has sold his 56,000-square foot house and 95-acre property. The house and property, located in unincorporated Pitkin County in the Starwood neighborhood, was originally listed for $135 million, but the selling price was $49 million, reports the Aspen Daily News.
About 60 miles away, billionaire Bill Koch, who gained his wealth in the oil refineries of Kansas but now owns a coal mine near Paonia, has plans for a 22,712-square-foot house. This house is on a mesa below the Raggeds, a ridge of mountains that looks pretty much as the name implies.
Reporting on a county planning commission meeting, the Crested Butte News says that the house is to be used primarily during summer, two to three weeks during winter, and occasionally during hunting season.
Probably doesn’t go by Fido
KETCHUM, Idaho – A couple picked up a pup from the Sawtooth National Forest, thinking it a lost dog. In fact, it’s at least a wolf-dog hybrid, and perhaps a wolf.
DNA testing was planned to determine the family tree for the pup, which weighed 20 pounds.
Defenders of Wildlife, which was tapped for its expertise in wolf matters, thinks that if the wolf can be returned to its pack within a week or so, the wolves will accept it. “Wolves are very bonded to their young. If they are alive, they will be trying to find him,” group spokeswoman Suzanne Stone told the Idaho Mountain Express.
In the meantime, the wolf or hybrid was at a zoo in Boise to be nurtured back to good health. Apparently, it didn’t take well to dog food.
Bear justice not quite eye for eye
WHISTLER, B.C. – A black bear was killed in Whistler after it smacked a man in the back of the head as he relaxed in a hot tub. The 55-year-old man yelled and then retreated to his lodging unit and was later treated for cuts. Mounties arrived to find the bear in a clearing and shot it, reports Pique.
Insuring cattle drive gets pricier
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Ed Quillen, the long-time columnist for the Denver Post, who died on Sunday, once described the themes of the various ski towns in Colorado. Keystone was amenityland, Vail was transplanted Bavaria, of course, and Steamboat was cowboyland.
Billy Kidd, the public face for the ski area, famously wears a big cowboy hat, despite his Vermont origins. An old barn is prominent in advertisements. And beginning in 2000, the town revived the long abandoned cattle drives down the town’s main thoroughfare in conjunction with the Fourth of July parade.
But insuring the drive of 2000 cattle is getting expensive, reports Steamboat Today. Promoters say it would cost $3,000 for insurance, above and beyond the $1,000 it cost the local chamber to insure its Fourth of July celebration.
Breck wants to be Buick
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – With sales tax revenues on the rise, Breckenridge is looking into restoring some services it had cut during the dark days of the recession. A high priority for some is improving snow removal.
“Snowplowing is my big deal, and I think we’re under-serving,” said Wendy Wolfe, a new town councilmember.
Among the conversations is whether it’s time to installed heated sidewalks in some areas of Main Street that have chronic ice problems. Cost is estimated at $50,000 to $60,000 per block, reports the Summit Daily News.
“We need to start thinking of ourselves as a world-class resort,” said Councilman Mark Burke.
In cutting back services three years ago, town officials had likened the change from Cadillac to Chevy. The town isn’t feeling flush enough to go back to Cadillac, if indeed it ever was at that level. Instead, Breckenridge now is aiming to be a Buick-class resort.
Now hiring … again
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Old-timers in ski towns can recall when it was hard to find hired hands at restaurants and other such places, let alone good ones. “All you have to do is breathe,” they once said of potential job applicants.
Whoops – guess that wasn’t too many years ago, say 2007 or 2008.
It’s nothing like that now, but the Steamboat Today reports a quickening of advertisements for food servers and other hospitality workers. On a recent day, seven restaurants had ads in the newspaper seeking cooks.
That anecdotal report also coincides with the forecast by local economic researchers of a strong rebound in employment during the summer.
It will be interesting to reconcile the reality of ski towns with the national headlines that speak to a slowing economy and disappointing job numbers. But then, ski towns have always marched to a somewhat different drummer.
Vail absolved in avy fatality
VAIL, Colo. – In January, Vail Mountain got hit by very nearly its only powder of the season. Avalanche conditions were instantly elevated, and ski patrollers closed the gate to a double-black-diamond run called Prima Cornice.
A group of five local youngsters skied down the adjacent trail and then entered a gate onto Prime Cornice, below the top. But they also side-stepped up the mountain 120 feet. That put them in harm’s way.
An avalanche hit three of them, but two managed to ski away. The third, Taft Conlin, was thrown into a tree, and died of blunt-force trauma.
Who’s to blame? The Forest Service isn’t taking Vail Resorts to task. “If you find something out of whack, you change it,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor of the White River National Forest. “We found no instances when they were in non-compliance.”
But the mother of one of the two boys who survived the avalanche, believes that both the Forest Service and Vail Resorts have it wrong. “The boys did not duck a rope or knowingly ski into the closed terrain,” Kristi Ferraro tells the Vail Daily. “They accessed the run through an open gate.”
Jackson reviews trash options
JACKSON, Wyo. – One way or another, trash from Jackson Hole will continue to be exported.
The trash is currently trucked south, to Sublette County, about an hour south of Jackson. But in weighing their options, Teton County commissioners are looking into hauling the trash to Idaho.
Teton County expects to pay $2 million next year, or $87.11 per ton, if Wyoming trash stays in Wyoming, but can trim the costs to $1.8 million, or $80.35, by exporting it to Idaho.Share Email This Post