By Allen Best
Los Alamos lab safe from fires
SANTA FE, New Mexico. – It appears that the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the New Mexico (and town of the same name) will be spared from a fire raging in the vicinity, Los Alamos Fire Chief Doug Tucker said Wednesday.
Concerns were raised that the wildfire could put at risk nuclear waste or other toxic materials stored at the lab.
Tucker said that the waste is stored in drums which are kept on a blacktop with no vegetation around and are safe from fire. If the fire should get too close to the drums, firefighters were ready to use foam to ensure that nothing would be released into the environment.
Wednesday’s weather turned more favorable to firefighters, Tucker added. Lab officials said Los Alamos, located near Santa Fe, would be closed through at least Thursday.
The Los Alamos fire, which is officially called the Las Conchas Fire, flared on Sunday, and at press time was still just 3% contained. It had consumed 69,555 acres by Wednesday, according to web site www.InciWeb.org, an online database that keeps track of natural disasters such as fires and floods. -CNN
Crested Butte extends licenses
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – The Crested Butte Town Council has extended the licenses for dispensaries of medical marijuana, but not without some push-back from residents, according to the Crested Butte News.
“Allowing dispensaries sends the message that it is okay to smoke marijuana. It is still illegal,” said Beth Buehler. “I’m tired of being on the ski slopes or on a chairlift or walking by a house in this town and seeing or smelling people smoking marijuana and then having to explain it to my kids.”
Also calling for a curb was Steve Ryan, who owns a property management firm. But he said he opposed the extension of permits because of his capacity as the father of a 15 year old. “There is a serious issue with drug use amongst the children of this town. So why allow a drug that is illegal under federal standards to be distributed?”
But Mike Ingle, of the Crested Butte Wellness Center, argued that it is the duty to teach children “the right ways and uses of medical marijuana.
“Marijuana was here before the dispensaries, and it is probably more accessible to teenagers than alcohol. The best way to keep medical marijuana is in an atmosphere that is appropriate, and that is through the dispensary system.”
Most council members have concluded the current dispensary method is working. Phoebe Wilson, a bar owner on the council, said the businesses have not violated town requirements. “There is no reason to pull the rug out from them now. I feel strongly that we need a new approach to substance abuse in general.”
Bet the farm on the markets
VAIL, Colo. – On a real, real busy day, North America’s largest ski area attracts 20,000 skiers and snowboarders. At the base of Vail Mountain, the farmers’ market held in recent years is a lesser attraction, but it still draws 9,000 to 12,000 people each Sunday through the summer, according to organizers.
What a success when you consider it’s just a few years old. “Anecdotally, we hear that people drive up from Denver for (the Vail Farmers’ Market),” Sybill Navas, Vail’s Special Events Coordinator told the Vail Daily.
*Sheet aside: Hmm. Environmentally speaking, how “sustainable” is that?
Whistler has two markets, on Sundays and Wednesdays. The Sunday event is larger, with 80 vendors and perhaps 2,000 people. The Wednesday event focuses on locally produced food.
Goods and services vary widely. Whistler’s markets emphasize regionally produced goods. “You can’t be bringing in T-shirts from Taiwan and, just because you’ve silk-screened them, call them local,” said Chris Quinlan, a member of the Whistler municipal council.
The Vail market has everything from live music to art to fresh produce.
Do local merchants benefit? In Vail, Navas sees direct benefit to the businesses located nearby, but less so to the merchants located farther away.
Meadow Drive Partnership, the group that puts on the Vail market, estimates that customers spend $40 per week, yielding $240,000 in sales tax revenues for the municipality during summer.
Louise Walker, manager of research for Tourism Whistler, said that one of every four tourists there last summer was drawn specifically by art and cultural activities. The farmers’ market was the most popular of the options, with 33 percent attending the Sunday event.
From putt-putt to high brow
ASPEN, Colo. – The Aspen Times reports of opening of a putt-putt miniature golf course in space used during winter for an ice rink. “I’ve been wanting to do this for so long,” said the owner, Craig Cordts-Pearce, who has a small burger joint next door.
More venerable is the Aspen Music Festival, now in its 63rd year, which this year is drawing 637 students, 140 faculty and 100 seasonal staff -— plus a lot of people to listen.
Organizers think that 25 percent are locals, 24 percent are second-home owners and 50 percent are visitors. Festival directors say that the one-third of all summer visitors to Aspen who attend some of the classical music concerts spend more than the average tourist.
“They are coming here for a purpose,” said Alan Fletcher, chief executive, at a recent business luncheon covered by The Aspen Times. “They are the highest category of visitor. They know what they’re here for, they want to be here, and they are typically not just passing through.”
He also said that anecdotal evidence suggests that the classical music concerts are the deal-clincher in many decisions to purchase vacation homes.