News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

ASPEN ” The city of Aspen is seeking citizens to help shape the city’s fiscal policies in the years to come.

The city is recruiting members for a new Citizen Budget and Finance Policy Committee. The group will meet monthly to discuss budget and finance policy issues, starting in January. The committee’s service will end in August 2008 with a presentation to the Aspen City Council on its findings and recommendations. City staffers and the council will use the committee’s report as a tool for guiding policy as they establish the 2009 operating and capital budget.

A short list of policy issues with critical budget and finance elements for the committee’s review might include: property tax policy; environmental sustainability versus fiscal capacity; affordable housing development; general government capital improvements needs; technology improvements for the city and the community; and child-care services and demands.

Call 920-5040 for more information or to request an application.

Colorado man dies in Utah avalanche

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) ” A man who was caught in an avalanche while skiing at the Canyons resort was from Colorado.

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The Summit County Sheriff’s Office in Utah said Jesse R. Williams, 30, of Grand Junction, Colo., was killed in the slide Sunday.

Williams was skiing in an area within the northern boundary of the resort when the avalanche hit around 11 a.m. Sunday. The sheriff’s office released his name Monday.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Justin Martinez said an 11­year-old boy who also was caught in the avalanche was upgraded Monday to criti­cal but stable condition. The boy’s family asked not to have his name released.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) ” The North American Aerospace Defense Command expects the number of hits to its Santa Claus tracking Web site will top 1 billion this year.

Nearly 1,000 volunteers staffed the telephones Monday answering questions from the young and young at heart about Santa’s whereabouts.

Last year there were 435,000 phone calls.

“The two most popular questions are: ‘Where is Santa now?’ and ‘When will Santa get to where I am?’,” said Army Sgt. Gail Braymen, who was answering questions about NORAD’s program.

Visits to the Web site, available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, have grown steadily since its launch in 1997. It allows users to track a global map of Santa’s trek and three-dimensional aerial images of Santa and his sleigh using software provided by search-engine giant Google. Last year it had more than 900 million hits.

The effort is paid for through corporate sponsorships and the work is done by volunteers.

The tradition began in 1955 by accident when a “Santa hot line” listing in a newsppaer department store advertisement listed an incorrect phone number. Col. Harry W. Shoup, the commander at the time, said he didn’t have the heart to hang up on the young children who began calling the number.

He assigned an officer to take the calls and the tradition was born.