Mountain Town News | AspenTimes.com

Mountain Town News

Compiled by Allen Best

Whistler, B.C.: Employers underwhelmed by turnout to job fairsThe death knell of the big employee-recruiting fairs has been rung in Whistler. Last year, 1,700 showed up for a job fair sponsored by Intrawest, the operator of the Whistler and Blackcomb ski areas. Significantly fewer people 1,200 showed up this year. Another job fair reported attendance nearly half of last year.No longer are there enough young folks out there on the planet willing to take the risk to come to Whistler to find a job and then hope to get housing, said Kirby Brown, director of human resources at the ski area.We knew that this demographic issue was going to hit us at some point, he added in an interview with Pique.Ketchum, Idaho: YMCA lights given hoodiesThe $22 million YMCA has finally been completed in Ketchum whoops, guess not. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that the exterior lights flunked the towns dark skies ordinance. The light fixtures are being hooded, to avoid light trespass. The city adopted its lighting ordinance in 1999.Jackson, Wyo.: Solar collectors uplifting, but are they affordable?The City Council in Jackson has enthusiastically embraced a green agenda. It has signed the mayors agreement on climate change and is going through an exhaustive in-house process intended to reduce energy use.Still, decisions to support their declarations can be hard. Consider the plan to outfit the new downtown parking garage with photovoltaic solar panels. The panels would generate almost as much power as the facility uses at its peak use, which is during winter.Placing these solar panels on a building, which will act as a community anchor, we have an opportunity to share the message of energy efficiency and independence with the millions of visitors who come here every year, as well as our own citizens, said Larry Pardee, the city public works director.Pardee, who once held the parallel title in Vail, was among several visitors to Aspen in October 2006 attending that citys Canary Initiative program on climate change.But the cost of the facility has inflated from $8.2 million to nearly $10 million. Although not all that is due to the solar component, nonetheless some council members are questioning whether the solar gains are worth the incremental cost. Also at issue is obtrusiveness of the solar panels.Ketchum, Idaho: Alarm over mercury found in brown troutThere is some alarm in the Big Wood River Valley, where Ernest Hemingway once snagged fish while at his second home in Ketchum. Unhealthy levels of mercury have been found in Silver Creek, one of the tributaries to the river.I just hope this doesnt hurt us as a world-class fishery, said Commissioner Sarah Michael, in an account reported by the Idaho Mountain Express.Paid for by The Nature Conservancy, the study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study didnt pinpoint sources of the mercury, but the hypothesis is that at least part of the mercury came from gold-mining operations in Nevada and a concrete plant in Oregon, both upwind from Silver Creek.Similar studies are under way in Colorados San Juan Mountains. There, anecdotal speculation pinpoints mercury to the nearby Four Corners coal-fired power plants. However, there is also some native mercury in the ecosystem, scientists say.Granby, Colo.: Dam collapse unlikely, but theyre planning just in caseWhat would happen if the dam that created Granby Reservoir, one of Colorados largest, should fail?Theres no reason to think it will. Of the 375 dams and dikes built across the West in the last century, only one, Teton Dam, located between Jackson Hole and Sun Valley, has failed. That was in 1976, just as it was being filled for the first time. The death toll was 11 people and 13,000 head of cattle.Just the same, the Bureau of Reclamation is helping emergency responders in Grand County plan their what-ifs, reports the Sky-Hi News. The worst-case scenario sees 30 feet of water inundating the new Orvis Shorefox development, a high-end fishing-based resort taking shape immediately west of Granby. Downvalley at Hot Sulphur Springs, where the valley of the Colorado River narrows, the hot-water spa would be under 50 feet of water.Steamboat Springs, Colo.: Moratorium on demolishing old buildings being liftedSeveral months ago the Steamboat Springs City Council declared a moratorium on demolition of buildings older than 50 years. But the moratorium was seen by many as a taking of private property rights, and it became a pivotal issue in city elections.Now, with several new council members on board, the council has rescinded the moratorium. Although a public building official said he was unaware of anybody affected by the moratorium, a new council member, Cari Hermacinski, said the repeal was necessary to right a wrong. According to an account of the City Council session reported by the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the misconceptions about the moratorium led to a negative public perception of historic preservation. If we recover that perceived punishment, people will be more open to historic preservation, she said.The Pilot & Today says protagonists in the case questioned whether Hermacinski had properly disclosed potential conflicts. A sister-in-law owns two houses that could be affected by the moratorium. But the question asked of council members, said Hermacinski, was whether they themselves owned any properties possibly affected. The Historic Structure Policy Review Committee has until March 31 to prepare recommendations for historic preservation.Allen Best can be reached at allen.best@comcast.net.

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