By Allen Best
Give us snow, just not too much
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Blessed and cursed – that’s snow in Crested Butte, which has a bunch lying around this winter, most controversially on Elk Avenue.
Elk Avenue is the primary commercial district in the one-time mining town, and the snow piled up so fast that town crews did not get a chance to remove it during Christmas week. That limited the space available for parking, to the great distress of some merchants, reports the Crested Butte News. Making it worse was that without fresh snow, the pile of snow had turned dirty and gray, not exactly the stuff of postcards.
Tree wells claim two
WHITEFISH, Mont. – For all of its gratifying wonders, glade-skiing poses inherent risks. You can knock yourself silly on a tree, and a helmet helps only to a point. Or you can fall into a tree well, hung upside down, unable to claw your way out, and suffocate.
The latter is what killed a 16-year-old exchange student from Germany at Big Mountain, the ski area just outside Whitefish. Reporting the news, the Whitefish Pilot noted that five other people have died at the ski resort since 1978 after getting trapped in tree wells. One was a former ski patroller.
The story soon became outdated when a 29-year-old snowboarder died after falling into a tree well just a few days later at the same resort.
The victim, Scott Allen Meyer of Kalispell, worked as a probation and parole officer for the state of Montana
Free spending in Park City
PARK CITY, Utah – Customers resumed their free-spending ways at Christmas, and now corporations appear ready to do the same as the Sundance Film Festival returns to Park City.
“Last year they would have a glass of wine; this year a bottle,” said Steve McComb, owner of three dining outlets in Park City, observing holiday visitors.
More telling yet, people were reserving tables at multiple restaurants, a tactic to ensure choices more commonly seen during the Sundance Film Festival. One steak-house restaurateur told the Park Record that business was what it was last year.
Sundance will begin Jan. 20, and it could be the rollicking affair reminiscent of old, given the evidence that corporations will restore allowances for high-profile presences to showcase products and services.
One agent of such parties estimated the number of festival lounges or other venues will increase 15 percent from last year, approaching the level reached in 2008, shortly before the recession free-fall.
“Companies who hadn’t had places recently are spending money again,” said Christopher Ryan, the Los Angeles-based agent.
Among the corporate brands with a prominent presence will be Bing, the search engine from Microsoft. Microsoft has rented a restaurant for use by celebrities and partying.
Another rental agent in Park City told The Record that rental fees paid during the two-week festival sometimes cover upward of four months of rent for the businesses.
Jackson Hole notches records
JACKSON, Wyo. – In the first two months of ski season, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort set two records.
The day after Thanksgiving, all the ski terrain – top to bottom and wall to wall, as ski area president Jerry Blann put it – was opened. This was a first for November in the resort’s 44 years of operation.
Then, in November, the ski area set a record for skier days. Season-pass prices slashed by 25 percent was at least partly responsible, but so was the abundant snow of 240 inches by New Year’s Day.
Evidence of growing economy
ASPEN, Colo. – From the judge of records for November, real estate in Aspen and Pitkin County continues to grow. Through November, the real estate market is up 15 percent as compared to 2009. This is as measured by total dollar sales, $1.14 billion, according to a Land Title Guarantee Co. report summarized by The Aspen Times.
Meanwhile, the town finance department reports sales tax receipts were up 5 percent during November, another indication of a livelier economy.
In what has been a sharper indicator yet, The Times reports surging interest in leasing of retail locations. “I think everything is moving in a very positive direction,” said Karen Setterfield, who has been leasing local retail and office space for 25 years. “There’s a lot of energy in retail in downtown Aspen right now.”
But in none of these cases are costs and revenues remotely close to the benchmarks of the last decade. In the case of commercial space, rates ranged between $90 and $240 per square foot. Now, the rents range from $45 to $125 a square foot, said Ruth Kruger, a real estate broker.
Arrhythmia on a ski lift
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Tanya Buhman had no idea she had a heart condition, and neither did her husband, Dion. But in retrospect, Dion believes it was their great fortune that she had her first potentially lethal arrhythmia on a chair lift at Steamboat.
“If it would have happened in an airplane or while driving down the road, she wouldn’t have had a chance,” he told the Steamboat Pilot & Today. “It really happened in the best spot possible.”
The newspaper explains that Dion and their daughter were riding together in a chair, and in the next chair were Tanya and their 15-year-old son. She fainted. It was a chair without a safety bar.
The son held onto her, while the father yelled to lift attendants to stop the lift when they reached the top. He took off her skis, laid her horizontal on the chair, and started CPR. “I could see she wasn’t breathing,” he told the newspapers.
Within five minutes, “all kinds of guys from the Ski Patrol were there,” he said. The ski patrollers used an automated external defibrillator to get her heart beating again. They have 14 such defibrillators spread across the ski area.
The 39-year-old woman was to be transported to Denver, to have an implant installed in her heart to prevent further arrhythmias.
Breck finishes housing phase
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – The first 13 units of a 42-unit affordable housing complex have been completed. The condominiums, one to three bedrooms in size, were made available to buyers earning less than 75 percent of the median income, which in Summit County is $87,200 for a family of four.
The Summit Daily News explains that Breckenridge, the municipality, donated the land, staff and some funding. The three together entail an investment of $1.5 million. The complex is called Valley Brook, and all but one of the 13 units have been spoken for.
Paper doubles price
JACKSON, Wyo. – The newspaper situation in Jackson and Teton County would be an anomaly in any number of ways. Despite a surging economy and a population of nearly 20,000, a daily newspaper never has made serious inroads. If you want to know what’s going on, you have to read the weekly Jackson Hole News&Guide. And they get money for it – 50 cents, the same price since Ronald Reagan was president. In its New Year’s issue, the paper announced that the price is going up to a buck per issue. The newspaper urges readers to subscribe, as it’s just 83 cents that way. The News and Guide were dueling weeklies until a few years ago, when they combined.