By Allen Best
Jackson can swill with the best
JACKSON, Wyo. – Few people in Jackson and Teton County smoke. Most get their exercise. But when it comes to drinking – well, there’s plenty of tippling.
According to a study from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, roughly 23 percent of Teton County residents reported drinking excessively within a month of being surveyed.
Those statistics land Teton County in the bottom tier of the counties across the country for excessive drinking, notes the Jackson Hole News&Guide.
“It’s part of the culture here,” said Terri Gregory, public health manager in Teton County, “It’s a party town.”
She said that trying to curb binge drinking and its associated risks is a goal that for years has eluded public health officials.
New season for Crested Butte soap
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – American television mave lost the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” but Crested Butte still has the potential ski expansion called Snodgrass Mountain.
Snodgrass expansion has been talked about since the early 1980s, and in the latest installment the Forest Service refused to accept the proposal from Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
But “no,” it turns out, doesn’t mean “absolutely no.” It just means no to that particular iteration of three lifts. The Crested Butte News reports that resort and government officials are now talking about what might be acceptable.
The most likely acceptable proposal would involve a Sno-cat skiing operation on the slope of mostly moderate terrain. But other ideas include a backcountry-type of expansion, or even a configuration of two lifts.
Crested Butte is currently the smallest destination ski resort in Colorado, with just 1,100 acres –about half the size of Telluride, the next smallest destination resort.
Ski area officials have long said that Crested Butte needs to get just a little bit bigger, to offer more terrain for intermediate-level skiers similar to Vail, Snowmass and Park City.
Bu what about culture? Planning and fundraising are now underway for a new venue at the base of the ski slopes to be called the Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center.
William Buck, mayor of Mt. Crested Butte, explains that the amenity would help anchor the community, the way that performance centers provide Beaver Creek, Jackson Hole and Aspen high-quality venues for plays and other shows. ”From the town’s perspective, we’re looking to broaden the attraction base,” he said.
Thin air good for life expectancy
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Can living at higher elevations be more healthy, at least when it comes to heart disease? A new study suggests that’s the case.
The study found that 16 of the 20 counties with the highest life expectancy were in Colorado and Utah, at a mean elevation of just under 6,000 feet. Compared with those living near sea level, men lived 1.2 to 3.6 years longer. Women lived 0.5 to 2.5 more years than their sea-level counterparts.
The study was conducted by the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Harvard School of Global Health. Researchers analyzed death certificates from every county in the United States over the course of four years.
Taken alone, said Dr. Peter Hackett, executive director of the Institute for Altitude Medicine, living at higher elevations is no panacea. “You can’t smoke and not exercise and come here to live longer,” he told The Telluride Watch.
“It’s not a perfect study, but they collected as much data as they could,” said Hackett, who has climbed Mt. Everest twice and spent many seasons ministering to climbers on Denali, North America’s highest peak. “As it turns out, there is something about the lack of oxygen at high altitude that is actually good for the heart.”
What’s going on? “Lower oxygen levels turn on certain genes, and we think those genes may change the way heart muscles function,” said Benjamin Honigman, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado. “They may also produce new blood vessels that create new highways for blood flow into the heart.”
Hackett said that studies of South Americans living at 14,000 feet show they have more blood vessels in their hearts than those living at low elevations. When the heart has more blood vessels, he said, blood is able to flow into the heart more effectively, especially if there is a clot.
“This wasn’t done at 8,000 feet. It was done at 14,000 feet, but there is no reason to think that people living at 8,000 feet wouldn’t have some of that,” Hackett told The Telluride Watch.
One thing the study did not sort out is how long someone must live in thinner-aired elevations for the benefits to the heart to accrue. Hackett said he believes somebody born and reared at high altitude has an advantage over someone who moved to a place like Telluride, which is just below 9,000 feet in elevation, at the age of 60.
Sun Valley airport getting pricey
HAILEY, Idaho – A sobering report now puts the cost of a new airport to serve Ketchum and Sun Valley at $327 million and has caused local leaders to reassess their steps forward. As recently as 2005, cost of a new airport had been placed at less than $100 million.
The existing airport is at Hailey, about 12 miles from Ketchum and Sun Valley. But the existing airport falls short of safety standards specified by the Federal Aviation Administration, at least as needed to accommodate larger planes. And Hailey and Blaine County have firmly opposed airport expansion with the impacts to existing residential areas, explains the Idaho Mountain Express.
But the new report says an airport farther away, outside the mountains, could expect to get only $192 million of the $327 million cost covered by the Federal Aviation Administration. Another $89 million might come from third-party sources, such as the fixed-base operator or the U.S. Forest Service, according to the report from Chicago-based Ricondo & Associates and a Denver-based firm called Jviation.
That still leaves locals on the hook for $38 million to $45 million in funding.
County Commissioners are now left to gauge at what level the community will support investment in a new airport.