By Allen Best
Pass the hat for flight subsidies
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Add Telluride to the long list of communities where the finances of the direct-flight programs need shoring up.
The Telluride Montrose Regional Air Organization has secured pledges of $360,000 from the ski area operator, local towns and some businesses, but it needs $500,000. Even while planning to reduce flight schedules this year, it is passing the hat to avoid more severe cuts.
The organization arranges for flights from various cities to Montrose, located 65 miles away, the nearest airport capable of handling large airplanes. Two-thirds of the budget comes from a 2 percent tax on restaurants and lodging.
A few years ago, the organization had $5 million in reserves. But revenues collected by the air organization have remained flat at $2.3 million, while payments to airlines – who insisted upon minimum revenue guarantees – and for marketing have gone up.
The Daily Planet reports expected expenditures of $3.6 million in 2011. Rising fuel costs are cited as the single biggest reason for increasing payments to airlines.
Winter flights will cost more
JACKSON, Wyo. – The cost of flying will be going up. That’s the bottom line in many places – including those going to Jackson Hole this winter.
Jackson Hole expects to see about the same number of passengers seats available for the ski season as last year, and at about the same potential cost in terms of revenue guarantees to local sponsors of $1 million.
But fares will go up. “That’s just kind of the long and short of it,” Mike Gierau, president of the Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources, told the Jackson Hole News.
A similar message was given by airline consultant Kent Myers in a July appearance before the Vail Town Board. He said there are fewer airlines, who are trying to become more global. And airlines such as Delta are pulling out of smaller airports.
He urged that a Vail-area community group look at low-cost carriers, such as Southwest and Frontier, to keep fares in check.
Local food trend keeps growing
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – The local-food movement is all over the news in mountain towns of the West, even those with short, short summers.
In Breckenridge, elevation 9,600 feet, several parties are working together to create a community garden. “The Breckenridge community has said it’s important to them,” said Kim DiLallo-Dykstra, spokeswoman for the town government.
At Frisco, nine miles up the road, a celebration of local food-growing is being held this week, reports the Summit Daily News. The community already has a garden with 40 outdoor plots, where lettuce, peas, broccoli and other cool-weather crops are grown. A greenhouse provides a suitable climate for zucchini, basil, tomatoes and other vegetables that demand warmer temperatures than ordinarily found at 9,000 feet.
Also at about 9,000 feet in elevation, the dude ranch called Devil’s Thumb Ranch, located near Winter Park, has a strong focus on regional food sourcing. Evan Treadwill, the new executive chef, most recently was in California, where he started his career during the first regional “farm to table” movement 20 years ago. Finding local meats is somewhat easier than other foods, he tells the Sky-Hi News. That said, leafy-green spinach found a few miles away at Granby meets part of the bill.
And from Ketchum, Idaho, comes news about a new business model, in which a variety of producers deliver goods to the Ketchum-Sun Valley area. The model creates a critical mass, explains the Idaho Mountain Sun, for producers of local, or at least regional, produce, meat and other products.
“This way, you can get this super-healthy, super-fresh and super-local food in front of more people,” said Lynea Newcomer, general manager of Idaho’s Bounty. But while she does concede at least a slight mark-up of costs, she does not believe the mark-up to be 30 percent that was reported in the Sun.
Shaun White to carry Vail torch
BROMFIELD, Colo. – Shaun White has inked a deal with Vail Resorts. Among other considerations, Vail Resorts will donate $5 to White’s chosen charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for every Epic Pass it sells.
Last year that would have yielded $1.5 million. For his part, White will design a 22-foot half-pipe at Northstar, a California ski area that is among the half-dozen that Vail Resorts owns.
The Denver Post notes that White has developed a rigorous and highly selective process for choosing partners. “Yeah, we found that out,” said Rob Katz, chief executive of the ski company.
In linking arms with Vail, the 24-year-old White is bidding adieu to Park City Mountain Resort, his long-time sponsor.