County commissioners should restore full aid to visitors centers |

County commissioners should restore full aid to visitors centers

The Summit County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has chopped $20,000 from its usual $30,000 donation to the Summit County Visitors Information Centers (VIC), a prospect that threatens full-time operation of the two centers in Silverthorne and Frisco.

It would be a pity for visitors to approach a center only to find a locked door. Vail’s chamber of commerce is probably rubbing its hands in glee at this prospect, hoping those would-be Summit County customers keep moving and drop their money in the Bavarian City. Georgetown and Idaho Springs should be equally as happy in the other direction of Interstate 70.

That’s the irony of the moment. Because of falling county sales taxes, and other revenues, the county is cutting a sales tax generator. Trouble is, nobody can prove the value of the VICs because they don’t sell anything. They give away free information, good will and human contact with Summit County.

Savvy business people increase marketing when the economy tightens to fight harder for the available dollars. The BOCC is taking the opposite tack. We hope it reconsiders the matter during its budget deliberations Monday.

Another lesson can be found in the state tourism falloff resulting in the 1992 decision by voters to kill a special tourism marketing sales tax. Colorado is still trying to climb out of that hole.

We urge the BOCC to re-evaluate this budget item and at least maintain status quo. It can be $20,000 today or more budget cutting in the future because sales taxes are not recovering.

Having said that, we would agree the VIC system in the future requires weaning from government handouts and support from a specified revenue source.

The model, of course, is the Breckenridge Business and Occupation License Tax which supports the Breckenridge Resort Chamber and its visitors information centers to the tune of more than $800,000.

Summit County’s VIC system doesn’t need that much money, but it needs something.

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Dec. 7, the 341st day of 2002. There are 24 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked American and British territories and possessions in the Pacific, including the home base of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

On this date:

In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1796, electors chose John Adams to be the second president of the United States.

In 1946, fire broke out at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta; the blaze killed 119 people, including hotel founder W. Frank Winecoff.

In 1972, America’s last moon mission to date was launched as Apollo 17 blasted off from Cape Canaveral.

In 1972, Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was stabbed and seriously wounded.

In 1982, convicted murderer Charlie Brooks Jr. became the first U.S. prisoner to be executed by injection, at a prison in Huntsville, Texas.

Five years ago: Republicans threatened Attorney General Janet Reno with contempt of Congress over her decision to forgo an independent counsel’s investigation of White House campaign funds. Singer Bob Dylan, actor Charlton Heston, actress Lauren Bacall, opera singer Jessye Norman and ballet master Edward Villella shared the 20th annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington.

One year ago: Taliban forces abandoned their last bastion in Afghanistan, fleeing the southern city of Kandahar. Americans held services on the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Eli Wallach is 87. Bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne is 71. Actress Ellen Burstyn is 70. Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is 55. Country singer Gary Morris is 54. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is 53. Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird is 46. “”Tonight Show” announcer Edd Hall is 44. Rock musician Tim Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) is 44. Rapper Kon Artis (D12) is 26. Actress Shiri Appleby is 24. Singer Aaron Carter is 15.

Thought for Today: “”Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.”

– Hendrik Willem van Loon, Dutch-American journalist

and lecturer (1882-1944).

– The Associated Press

Here’s one person feeling sorry for the Greek clergy

Rich Mayfield

I may be the only one who read with sympathy the recent report out of Athens that many Greek Orthodox priests are seeking to shed their priestly garments for all but priestly functions. 

As it stands now, Orthodox members of the clergy (in often stifling hot Greece) must wear, every time they leave home, a long, black robe and then another black robe on top of that, and then a tall black hat to top off the whole ensemble.

As you can imagine, such a manner of dress hardly allows the priest to blend in with the crowds that pack the streets of Athens. 

Not only is inconspicuousness a lost cause, the multi-layered minister must also contend with sweltering heat, foot-snagging hems and life-threatening winds. 

Most folks, I suppose, would read of this clerical quandary with little compassion.

After all, one could surmise, no one forced these guys into their garments. Surely they knew what they were getting into when they signed up to serve You-Know-Who.

 Nevertheless, my heart goes out to them. In my religious tradition, public robes have become passe, and my uniform has been reduced to a solid black shirt with a funny white collar. 

But even this accouterment has, on occasion, been a source of discomfort and even embarrassment. Like a police officer caught speeding, clergy people run the risk of public humiliation each time they venture out dressed for work.

 I could regale you with countless stories of my own embarrassments, but I’d rather humiliate a pastor friend who committed, what could be the most shocking faux pas in the history of Christendom. Well, OK, maybe not in all of Christendom, but certainly in one small corner of Iowa.

I bet I’ve told this story a dozen times, and many of you have probably already heard it, but it keeps coming back to me each December like Aunt Frieda’s inedible plum pudding – only a lot funnier.

 It was a Christmas Eve, the night when everyone’s thoughts are turned toward peace on earth and good will to all, including my priestly pal. His only problem was he was running a bit late.  Midnight service was scheduled to begin in less than a half hour and he was 20 minutes from the church. 

 It was a beautiful winter night – the snow had been falling in great white clumps for hours. Roofs, trees, lawns were covered like the proverbial postcard. Unfortunately, so were the streets. 

The roads were slick and demanded a driver’s careful attention, which was too bad because my friend had diverted his to practicing the evening’s sermon. In any case, at an intersection near the church, the light turned red too quickly and my friend responded too late.

Or nearly so. He actually managed to keep his car under control and was congratulating himself on his steering success when another car appeared to be less fortunate and was headed directly toward him. 

He tried to accelerate away which, of course, only served to send him into a beautiful, albeit uncontrolled, 360-degree spin. 

 When the car stopped and his heart resumed, my pastoral buddy did what any rational human being would do. He swore. Loud. And then he turned to the offending driver and offered a gesture that you would never see in church.

 The offending party, a woman by the way, a woman who was probably somebody’s mother, even somebody’s grandmother, who surely spent her entire life being kind and compassionate to others, more than likely a pillar of the community and the backbone of a church, this gentle soul whose face had paled into a bloodless white from fright, turned to see my friend’s shockingly unfriendly gesture. Her jaw dropped, her eyes went wide.

 It was only then, at that volatile and impulsive moment, that my friend realized with horror and not a little humiliation that he was wearing his solid black shirt with the funny white collar.

 Christmas, he has told me, has never been the same.

Columnist Rich Mayfield wears his funny white collar in his role as pastor of Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon. He can be found in this space on Saturdays.

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