Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Routt County had 19 suicide attempts in May, two of them successful. The county averages four to five attempts per month, mental health professionals tell The Steamboat Pilot & Today.Tom Gangel, regional director of Colorado West Mental Health Center, said there were no discernible commonalties. Rich, poor, employed, unemployed. They covered the gamut, he said.One hypothesis with no evidence to support it, said Gangel is that last winter was unusually hard and then chased by more cloudy days during May. Mountain communities internationally have higher suicide rates than lower-lying areas, with the highest number of attempts in fall and spring. Why is this? Again, nobody knows.

A power outage in Park City has officials talking about infrastructure. The problem, utility officials tell The Park Record, is a simple one of supply and demand and unless more transmission lines are built from Wyoming to deliver electricity, outages will become more frequent after 2010.Park City and other communities in an area called the Wasatch Back have been growing rapidly, about 7 percent annually as a region. Also, people are using more electricity per person, up 26 percent from only 20 years ago, said David Eskelsen, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power.We have to build to match that peak demand, he said.Reverse logic is being cited in Telluride, where a new utility board member argues that the essential task is to shave peak demand.

Cold weather last winter failed to dent the spread of bark beetles in the Banff-Canmore area of the Canadian Rockies. That area, in the Bow River Valley, has seen a three-fold increase in trees infested with pine beetles.With just 18,000 trees now affected, its hardly a problem by the standards of Colorado and British Columbia, which both have broad swaths of red mountainsides. To suggest were on the edge of having the valley turn red I think is premature, said Steve Donelon, a state tourism and recreation official.Still, it was just a dozen years ago that officials in Colorado counted bark-beetle trees by the hundreds.

While the U.S. government this year distributed stimulus checks in an effort to caffeinate the economy, the province of British Columbia is busy distributing $100 checks.The checks are intended to soften the impact of a new carbon tax, which went into effect July 1. Taxes are being levied on all carbon-based fuels at a rate of $10 for every ton of greenhouse gases produced when burning them.In Whistler, the call is going out to contribute the checks toward construction of an 80,000-square-foot greenhouse. The purpose of the greenhouse would be to grow lettuce, cucumbers and other vegetables and herbs for use in Whistler, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions caused by transporting those foods to Whistler.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer has accepted a two-year term as poet laureate of San Miguel County. It is her second term in the position.She is well-known in Colorado mountain towns for her appearances at poetry festivals and for her writing workshops. But poetry, next to her family, is what she holds most dear, she told The Telluride Watch.On a practical level, there is nothing practical about it, she said. Like religion, if you look at it too much, it doesnt make sense. But it is what I am driven to and desire to do.She charms our youth, delights the elderly, and is a favorite performer and interpreter of the lyric arts for all our citizens, said County Commissioner Art Goodtimes, a well-known poet in his own right.

Research is under way in Jackson Hole to determine why boreal toads, also called the Western toad, is doing so well along the flanks of the Teton Range, while their populations have been going down the toilet for decades in Colorado.For several decades, scientists have studied the severe die-off of the toads in Colorado and New Mexico. The specific cause is a fungus called chytrid that impairs the functionality of the toads skin, which the toad uses to regulate moisture and to breathe.Amphibian researcher Peter Murphy of Idaho State University tells the Jackson Hole News&Guide that many of the boreal toads in the Tetons carry the same pathogen, but they didnt seem to be affected by it. His goal is to figure out why.The research from the Tetons is being compared against similar research involving toads near Steamboat Springs.

Theres more legal sparring in the four corners region, where the once-prized air clarity has given way to smudged skies.Much of the problems come from old power plants, including the Four Corners Power Plant and San Juan Generating Station, located on the Navajo Nation. The fear is that the proposed Desert Rock coal-fired power plant will worsen the soup.The Durango Telegraph reports that nearby Mesa Verde National Park was named among the top 10 most threatened parks by the National Parks Conservation Association.That group, along with Earthjustice and Environmental Defense Fund, is challenging the federal government, arguing that the Bush administrations proposed rule changes would weaken pollution rules that would allow Desert Rock to emit dirtier air.

For the last six years Ketchum has been saying that what it needs is a good hotel, the better to revive its flagging tourism sector in what, ironically, was the nations first destination ski town.Leading the hurrahs has been the Idaho Mountain Express, which now likens the latest hotel proposal as being in the ninth inning. That project, Warm Springs Ranch, located at the bottom of the Bald Mountain ski trails, is a rather massive affair, but loaded with the hotel rooms that the city craves.Yet the local planning and zoning board wants the developer to replace the for-sale penthouse suites with more hotel rooms. The developer, Stan Castleton, says that request/demand is likely a deal-breaker.Defer to the developer in this case, says the Express: Its the ninth inning. If Ketchum again heaps requirements that are impossible to meet on a hotel project, it would be the citys third strike. The city could find itself out of the game.

Colorado will soon be convulsed in a debate about whether to impose higher taxes on the states oil and gas producers and more tightly prescribe drilling operations, both to limit impacts to water and wildlife.The industry is assembling a war chest for the November election, at which these issues will be decided. Recently, at a confab in Grand Junction attended by 2,000 people, it made clear what its talking points will be.But Peter Shelton, who writes for the Watch newspapers out of Telluride, finds the industrys arguments stray far from the facts of the case. One of the arguments is that the regulations would be so onerous as to drive industry away.The truth is, of course, that the industry is going nowhere. Colorado is where the gas is, Shelton writes. The big companies are making enormous profits. They can afford to use best practices and technologies to protect our air and drinking water and wildlife habitat. Theyd just rather not.The energy boom is starting to overshadow the giant resorts along the I-70 corridor. One joke is that with the downturn in resort real estate, the oil-and-gas industry workers may start buying up the real estate in the Vail and Aspen areas. If that is perhaps an overstatement, it does suggest how rapidly things have changed from five years ago, when Rifle and Parachute now oil patch towns were considered spare bedrooms for the resorts.

Park City is located only 30 miles from Salt Lake City, connected by Interstate 80. The highway generally is not badly congested, which helps make for an easier time finding employees.Still, with gas now $4 a gallon, new thought is being given to a bus shuttle connecting the resort with the metropolis. A similar bus was attempted in 2006, but failed for lack of riders. There appear to be no leading theories as to why the bus lacked riders, but local officials are willing to give it another shot.No decision has been made whether to invest in a new bus service, which would require start-up costs of $3.6 million, reports The Park Record. Annual operating costs are estimated at $2.2 million to $3 million.

The Telluride Planet has been sold by Gatehouse Media, a New York conglomerate, to Randy Miller. Miller comes from Boulder, where he owned the Colorado Daily for four years, and he now owns a large-circulation suburban newspaper in Tucson. Miller, 56, also has a long and extensive background in the Midwest and elsewhere, where he variously owned, published and edited a variety of newspapers. His stints include one at the Detroit Free Press. In an article in the Daily Planet, he said he has wanted to own a paper in Telluride since he visited the town in 1975, two years after the ski area opened. The purchase also includes smaller newspapers in nearby Silverton and Norwood. His primary competition is The Telluride Watch, which now also has editions for Ouray and Norwood.

Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at

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