Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Park City, Utah: Boy awakens 24 hours after being caught in slideIn-bounds avalanches are unusual, and ones causing fatalities rare. But the improbable occurred just before Christmas at The Canyons Resort, despite the 170 pounds of explosives thrown out onto the slope the day before, and despite the fact that the slope had been skied heavily prior to the avalanche.The slide killed a 30-year-old Colorado man when it threw him into a tree. It also buried an 11-year-old boy, who did not regain consciousness until the next day. The boy, Max Zilvitis, was under the snow for about 39 minutes.The boys father, Brian Zilvitis, who was skiing nearby, was buried to his waist in avalanche-compacted snow. Unsure of where his son was in the snow, he instead used a cell phone to call for help. I would not want to listen to how I sounded on that 911 call because Im sure it was disastrous. It was the worst feeling in my life, Brian told The Park Record.With probes distributed at the bottom of the slide, ski patrollers set up a line for a methodical probe-line search.Max was administered CPR and then flown by helicopter to a hospital. His body temperature had dropped significantly, so doctors did not allow his body temperature to return to normal for 24 hours, to prevent his brain from swelling.When the boy awoke, the Record report, his first question was, What happened to me? He had seen the snow coming, and recalls being covered by snow, but then lost consciousness.For the father, the time was one of torment. All I could think about were all the hundreds of conversations that were in the middle of that we might not get to finish.Summit County, Colo.: Manufacturers explore greener side to ski gearSki and other manufacturers and retailers are exploring how they can make their products and operations more green, reports the Summit Daily News.In a program that in some ways mirrors Sustainable Slopes, the program sponsored by the National Ski Areas Association, the retailers and manufacturers are working on such things as recycling old skis and snowboards. David Ingemie, president of the Snowsports Industries of America, told the newspaper its not as easy as recycling newspapers.The various materials must be separated, and the plastic can be shredded for reuse in materials like flooring. But doing this is not the easiest thing, said Ingemie. Theyre engineered to stay together, not to come apart, he said.The group is also pondering whether recycling efforts might, in fact, produce a greater carbon footprint than landfilling the old items.Silverton, Colo.: Its raining and snowing mercury in the San JuansVarious lakes and reservoirs in the San Juan Mountains have elevated levels of mercury. People are advised to limit how many fish they eat from Vallecito, McPhee and other lakes and reservoirs because of the high mercury levels.The question is where the mercury is coming from. Sometimes mercury is found naturally in the environment. Then again, it is also found in the emissions of power plants. Suspect, but lacking any specific fingerprints, is the nearby Four Corners power plant.Preliminary results of samples taken at Molas Divide, located between Silverton and Durango, indicate high concentrations of mercury in snow and rain. The samples were taken from April to November by the Mountain Studies Institute.These findings, says the institute, are consistent with elevated concentrations often recorded at Mesa Verde National Park since monitoring began in 2002.Does this mean that the mercury is resulting from emissions by the Four Corners coal-fired power plant or other power plants? A newsletter issued by the institute for December offers no theories.Hailey, Idaho: Lighting retrofit is start of towns new green pathThe Hailey City Council has authorized a $40,000 lighting retrofit as part of its pledge to put a lid on the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.The cost is expected to be reimbursed within 18 months by lower energy costs.Hailey located downvalley from Ketchum and Sun Valley signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in February. So far, 754 mayors from across the country have signed the agreement, which pledges efforts similar to those specified by the Kyoto Protocol to reduce demand for carbon-based energy that causes greenhouse gases.This is something I am fairly proud of, said Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant. We are getting our own house in order so we can be an example for others.Recommendations of a climate protection committee call for the public to be nudged, not shoved, into less energy consumption. For example, the town wants to promote EnergyStar and LEED programs for appliances and building construction. McBryant said that the goal will be to make these certifications as markers of quality.Council members recalled that until 2006 there was no water metering in Hailey, but the metering program has saved nearly 40 million gallons of water.Leadville, Colo.: Life in Leadville ducky with new Alco discountFor some towns, having a big-box store is a sign of homogenization, a repulsive emblem of Anywhere USA (or Canada).Not so Leadville. After years of seeing everybody spending their money at Wal-Mart and Target stories in Frisco, Silverthorne, Avon and Salida, the town will soon have its own bigger box variety store, an Alco.At 20,000 square feet, its less than half the size of most big boxes. Its operated by Duckwalls, the company that used to have variety stores located on small-town main streets across the land.For Leadville, Alco is a plum, as town officials hope it will generate the sales taxes that are the basis for most municipal operations in Colorado. Whistler, B.C.: Fur and paint to fly, rejected sledders saySnowmobiles are being banned from the Callaghan Valley, the site of the nordic skiing events in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Predictably, snowmobilers are not pleased. Theres going to be some fur and paint flying soon, said Lincoln Ferguson, president of the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club.Whistlers Pique newsmagazine explains that snowmobilers use the valley to access the Pemberton Icecap, a breathtaking expanse of glaciers that covers several hundred square miles of terrain. Now they must use a different and possibly more avalanche-prone route.Cross-country skiers say motorized and self-propelled uses are inherently incompatible. People cross-country ski to be out in nature, free from noise, pollution and even the tracks of motorized vehicles, explained Brad Sills, owner of a cross-country ski lodge called Callaghan Country.Crested Butte, Colo.: Town has spirited talk about its snowbanksTown officials in Crested Butte are having a spirited conversation about whether the banks of snow lining the towns main street, Elk Avenue, should be removed.The 8-foot-tall banks were left in mid-December when Crested Butte hosted a television show called Good Morning America. And the mayor, Alan Bernholtz, likes the looks of snowbanks along main street.But the town staff, reports the Crested Butte News, is adamant that the snow must go for safety reasons. Its a matter of public safety, and the argument of aesthetics over safety is not acceptable anymore, said Susan Parker, the town manager.Town officials worry that a pedestrian emerging from behind a snowbank will get clobbered by a car in the narrow street. The snowbanks also are causing snow to tumble in front of businesses, creating icy sidewalks.Steamboat Springs, Colo. :Offseason air service to Steamboat increased 33 percentSteamboat Springs is getting to be more like Aspen, Vail and Jackson Hole every year. The real estate prices have been screaming upward, with values doubling since 2004. Redevelopment is continuing briskly both in the old downtown and at the base of the ski area. Its becoming a very interesting, and expensive, place.Now comes another change that fits in with all the others. United Airlines has agreed to beef up the spring, summer, and fall air service from Denver by 33 percent. The new schedule calls for jets, instead of turboprops, and also two or three trips daily, reports the Steamboat Pilot & Today.The newspaper indicated that United Airlines will be given money, but said officials were not disclosing the financial arrangement.The ski company negotiated the agreement, but it was supported by a taxing district, called the local Marketing District, which levies a 2 percent lodging tax in Steamboat Springs. The money is used to support commercial air service into the Yampa Valley.Durango, Colo.: The case for consolidating Four Corners air serviceThe Durango Herald, in an editorial, makes the case that air service should be consolidated at the airport south of Durango. Currently, it is fragmented, with some flights going to Farmington, N.M., located about 40 miles south, and Cortez, about 40 miles west.As competitive pressures mount for the airlines (and Congress), the trend will be to consolidate smaller markets to provide regional service, says the paper. For the Four Corners area that can only mean centralizing service in Durango and better air service all around.Jackson, Wyo.:Jackson unsure if and how it wants to grow upA major story of 2007 in Jackson as it has been for several years was the town conversation about redevelopment. Developers want to build taller and denser projects in the downtown area.Town authorities are agreeable, to a point. But the general public seems to be less certain, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.One such redevelopment plan would raze the Painted Buffalo Inn to make way for a 144-room luxury hotel. The development representative, S.R. Mills, told planning commissioners that the intent is create a four-story hotel, replicating what has been done at Teton Village, at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.Instead of people staying out at Teton Village and coming into town to shop or recreate, we want to reverse that, and really have town as the home base, he said.At issue, at least in part, are the dimensions of the building: 46 feet tall and four stories. But the architect, John Carney, has designed the building so that the top two floors are moved in from the edge, so that the building doesnt appear so tall from the street.This is not the first such proposal in Jackson. Something similar has already been approved under new regulations. Councilors, says the newspaper, have at times praised the regulation as a way to encourage urban-style housing development while revitalizing the downtown area. But others say the projects are too large and out of character with their surroundings.Pushback is also reported. A new group called Save Historic Jackson Hole is asking for a prohibition on four-story buildings. The firm contracted for a survey of 400 people, and about half said that two-story buildings best represented the desired character of downtown. Many also disagree with the idea of creating more affordable housing by increasing density.Granby, Colo.: Town retains expert to help fix its leaky economyEvidence of the bulldozer spree in downtown Granby from June 2004 is now gone. Buildings gutted by Marvin Heemeyer, who had been angered by perceived slights, have largely been replaced and the damaged buildings repaired.But the downtown still has problems. Although assuredly not a high-end shopping district like those found in ski resort towns, neither is it the place where you buy clothes, books or shoes.To fix this leakage, Granby is hiring Chuck dAprix, founder of the nonprofit Downtown Entrepreneurial Project, which is based in Washington, D.C. He was an in-house consultant of the city of Boston, and later helped revitalize three commercial districts in Quincy, Mass.He is scheduled to be in Granby in early January to conduct a full-scale analysis of how the town can bolster retail, reports the Sky-Hi Daily News.Allan Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at

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