By Allen Best
Rolling out the unwelcome mat
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Crested Butte residents are being urged to overcome their natural tendency toward friendliness and instead summon up their most aggravating qualities and behavior, at least during bear season.
In July, with drought very much reducing the crop of backcountry berries and nuts, bears have been much in evidence. Bears have invaded several homes, and in one case killed the house dog. In another case, a bear killed a dog just outside the town.
J. Wenum, the state wildlife officer, told the Crested Butte News that the “more a bear feels unwelcome, the less likely it is to stick around or come back. Do something to make it feel unwelcome. Bang pots and pans, yell at it. Make it uncomfortable.”
About 104 miles away, on the opposite site of the Elk Range, a 450-pound bear evaded police by scrambling through an alley behind The Gap, a clothing store, and then surprising shoppers at a Farmers’ Market, tearing through a Honeypot Alpaca Farms booth before climbing a tree. The Aspen Daily News says the bear hung out in a tree, most definitely a tourist attraction, before stealing away at dusk.
Wildlife officials tell the Aspen Daily News that the number of bears in town substantially increased in early August. One of them, a cub, walked through the putt-putt golf course, then later wandered through the municipal parking garage.
In Telluride there was outrage after state wildlife officers killed a bear that they believed had broken into a home. That is standard policy for bears in Colorado. Several council members objected, citing the lack of overwhelming proof of the bear’s identity.
“If I were a bear in Telluride today, I would consider defecting to Syria, because it’s safer,” said Councilmember Thom Carnavale.
Affordable housing is no bargain
WHISTLER, B.C. – A new housing survey in Whistler finds what might seem like a surprising conclusion. Last winter no employers reported having problems finding employees because of lack of affordable housing.
Ski towns in the United States may have had a similar situation, but it should be remembered that business was altogether lousy last winter and the recession has substantially lowered prices of housing. Canada might have had the sniffles in the last several years, but overall the economy there — especially in the west — has been much stronger.
What’s going on in Whistler? Sifting through the evidence, Pique Newsmagazine publisher Bob Barnett finds that businesses figured out how to do more with less during lean times leading up to the Winter Olympics in 2010. The number of full-time equivalent jobs fell by 18 percent over a decade’s time.
After a decade of robust growth in the 1990s, says Barnett, Whistler has become a maturing resort. Some consolidation is expected, he says, but also warns that this balance may only be temporary.
In Canada, much more than the United States, the baby boom generation is tilting demographics. As they move into retirement, labor shortages can be expected.
“We may be getting comfortable with the current situation – the workforce well-housed and businesses running leaner than ever. but the formula will change again,” he says.
Like Wal-Mart, but different stuff
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Cocaine has had enough of a presence in Telluride that it was a line in a lyric from the song “Smuggler’s Blues” by Eagle Glenn Frey. And today, that presence still continues.
A drug task force recently made six arrests, seized $30,000 in cash, and a kilogram of cocaine. Those arrested are all from Mexico, with no permission to be in the United States. Other immigrants were among those who gave police the information needed to make the arrests, a key law-enforcement official told The Telluride Watch.
“It’s interesting that our own immigrant community is really concerned about this, enough to call me and give me the information we need to help these cases move along,” said Bill Masters, the long-time sheriff of San Miguel County. “They don’t want these clowns dealing drugs, either.”
Weekly Wikipedia skirmishes
ASPEN, Colo. – Check out the Wikipedia entry for the Aspen Skiing Co. and you may well find some remarks that suggest the company is a bully. Ditto for the art museum in Aspen.
In both cases, the reporting was probably done by Lee Mulcahy, a former ski instructor who has been banned from the property of both and is suing the owners and chief executive of the ski company.
For example, explains the Aspen Daily News, you may discover that the ski company fired a singer who sang an unfavorable song about rich people in one of the company’s bars during après ski.
“He’s been doing it for awhile,” said Jeff Hanle, the spokesman for the ski company, speaking of the information Mulcahy has posted on the Wikipedia site for Aspen Skiing. “We have taken it down and it goes back up.”
In his interview with the newspaper, Mulcahy portrayed himself as a David battling Goliath, and, in the case of the art museum, he’s conceded defeat. “I gave up since they have a staff of 20-plus people,” he said.
A representative of Wikipedia told the Daily News that the public-sourced website has a policy that discourages companies or individuals from editing information about themselves to prevent the pages from being simply public relations outlets. But, said the online portal’s Matthew Roth, it happens all the time.
Next Prez gets real estate gains
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Regardless of whether it’s President Obama or President Romney come January, the economy will be improving. So says Lawrence Yun, who is the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.
Yun spoke to realty agents in Steamboat recently, and he said that real estate trends are more encouraging than some national news organizations have been reporting, reports Steamboat Today.
“Right now, 15 percent of homeowners are underwater, not 33 percent, as CNN continues to report,” he said.
Fueling the recovery is population growth, he said. “America is one of the few advanced economies that still has respectable population growth,” he said. “The United States adds 3 million people very year. That’s 30 million in 10 years.”
He also noted the rising average sales price of homes in the Steamboat area, but said the turnaround is driven more by investors who see the value of buying low and collecting rent than it is by people who intend to use the vacation homes.
Sparring over overruns
KETCHUM, Idaho – At what premium are you willing to buy local? That issue has become prominent in a messy lawsuit in the Ketchum-Sun Valley area between the local school district and McKinstry, the Seattle-based energy services contractor.
McKinstry agreed to replace low-efficiency boilers and in other ways make eight school district buildings more energy efficient. The school district claims McKinstry agreed to do this work for $18.7 million. In fact, the bill came in at $25.8 million.
Who’s to blame? Fingers have pointed both ways. One of them is pointed by McKinstry at school officials. The company says the school district required that local subcontractors be hired, and that alone explains $1.7 million of the $7.2 million in cost overruns. School district officials, reports the Idaho Mountain Express, call this claim “disingenuous and misleading.”