Heeney residents keeping eyes on brighter side | SummitDaily.com

Heeney residents keeping eyes on brighter side

Reid Williams

HEENEY – If the residents and business owners weren’t so positive, they might be inclined to believe there’s a conspiracy working against them.

The fire ban is keeping campers away from Heeney, and even day-hikers are deterred by the smoky pall covering Summit County. Five miles of construction on Highway 9 make the journey from the heart of the county a long one, and retailers say it’s killing repeat business. And, the town’s most popular event, the annual Heeney Tick Festival, was cancelled because its site – the recreation area below the Green Mountain Reservoir’s dam – has been closed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“You take everything combined, it looks pretty bad,” said Dale Mitchener, ringing up a six-pack of Pepsi in the store that serves his Melody Lodge Cabins. “All the negative publicity doesn’t help. But the ones that are here are having fun.”

Mitchener said his cabins were full this weekend, and he hoped to keep them that way as the Fourth of July holiday approaches. But, he’s had to put away all the charcoal grills. He’s run water hoses to the gas grills – just in case. And he’s had a heck of a time down the road at his marina.

“We face low water every year – just normally in the spring, though,” Mitchener said. “Right now, the lake’s down about 35 feet. I had to run 500 feet of hose down to the water for the fuel dock. The boat rentals have been kind of slow.”

Pictures of these conditions are the only ones you see in Denver media, said Bill York, owner of Master Bait and Tackle. That’s the problem, he said. People don’t see pictures of the many fishermen who haven’t given up on the town (or the fish they’re hauling in). People don’t see pictures of wakeboarders on the lake, or the crowds of hikers scouting the shores of Cataract Lake and other popular trail destinations.

“Memorial Day, which typically kicks off our season, my sales were down 50 percent,” York said Saturday, as a steady stream of locals and visitors came in in search of beer and bait. “Overall, I’m off about 30 percent. But, we’ll see how it goes.”

Real estate is a difficult business this summer, too, said Keats Scott. Scott, who also sits on the board of the Lower Blue Fire Protection District and publishes a newsletter for Heeney residents, said the highway construction makes it difficult to schedule real estate showings. It’s also littering the highway with loose items that get bounced out of the back of pickup trucks, she said.

As a fire department board member, she’s also worried because the Tick Festival was canceled. The town party, normally held the second weekend in June, serves as the major fund-raiser for the fire department, which last year suffered major vandalism to its fire engine.

Instead of getting down, however, Scott looks at the brighter side of the summer.

“Hey, it’s a big lake,” Scott said. “And everybody’s taking it that way. I think of it like this: The lake might be low, but that just means there’s more fish per square foot.

“There are things in life I don’t have control over,” Scott said. “And the water’s one of them.”

More visitors are on their way, Denver resident John Arbour said. Arbour, along with two friends and two children, arrived in Heeney for a weekend fishing getaway at his in-laws’ cabin. Arbour said it was his first trip to Heeney this summer, but he hasn’t been away because of fires or road work.

“We’ve just been busy,” Arbour said. “I can see how it would be slow, though. That’s all everyone on the Front Range is talking about – the fires, the fire bans. I think everybody’s sort of bunkered down and not going anywhere. But we’re up here scouting out campsites for next weekend. We’ll have all kinds of people up here then.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

Heeney Seeks Bargain Shoppers

With the cancellation of the annual Heeney Tick Festival, town activists and supporters of the Lower Blue Fire

Protection District have decided on an alternate fund-raiser for the fire

department: the “Not-the-2002-Heeney-Tick-Fest.”

The festival’s committee will stage a garage sale from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 6. Donations of goods for the sale also will be accepted.

“Community member have been

collecting items for decades, so there are bound to be some treasures,” said fire department board member Keats Scott.

For more information about the sale,

contact Scott at (970) 485-0793, or keats@coloradodreams.com; or Debbie Mitchener at (970) 468-8497. Heeney is located on the west side of Green

Mountain Reservoir, 23 miles north of

Silverthorne on Colorado Highway 9.

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