Vail rowdiness is on the rise
VAIL – Police and prosecutors in Vail say resort rowdiness has been crossing the line too often. The town’s municipal prosecutor said he saw more injuries from bar fights last year than he had seen in the prior 10 years altogether.Police promise more presence on Bridge Street, the town’s party central, and the prosecutor, John Clune, promises less lenience in charges he files.Bar managers contacted by the Vail Daily indicated they accept stepped-up police presence. “People come here and think it’s Las Vegas and they think they can do whatever they want,” said Scott Douthitt, manager at The Red Lion. But former policeman Dick Cleveland suggested locals, not just tourists, are to blame. “There’s nothing fun about coming here to ski and getting beat up,” he said.Alcohol-induced rage leads to twin tragedyMOUNTAIN VILLAGE – A year ago, a college student was stabbed with a steak knife in sedate Mountain Village after making the rounds of the bars in nearby Telluride.Alcohol exacerbated a pre-existing animosity between the two men, both college students from California, explains The Telluride Watch. Eyewitness accounts found neither man hewed to the high road of behavior that evening. However, when attacked by the larger man, the smaller man pulled the knife.The victim, a student of biology, nearly bled to death. As is, he lost use of his writing hand and will never participate in the sports in which he once excelled. The student with the knife, whose probable career as a lawyer has now been placed on hold, maybe forever, was required to pay $12,000 in medical bills and has now been sentenced to two months at the county jail in Telluride. He has also been ordered to write a letter of apology to the victim and perform 200 hours of community service.As well, the judge encouraged but did not force the knife-wielder to offer his services to his victim for everything from taking notes in classes to driving.But both, he made clear, were guilty of bad judgment. “It was a bar crawl,” said District Court Judge James Schum. “You egged each other on. We probably would not be here if you had not consumed alcohol.”Mammoth wants to have an ice rink, tooMAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – Ice-skating rinks have become quite the rage in ski resorts in the last decade. Such ice rinks are used not just in winter, but also in summer.Mammoth has joined those resorts with icy plans. The project being reviewed would create an ice rink the size of a National Hockey League rink. The rink would be located atop a three-level parking garage.Taking stock of such plans, a newspaper in Mammoth called The Sheet reviewed the various ice rinks in the Lake Tahoe-Truckee area before concluding that such a large ice rink would, in all likelihood, have to be subsidized.Steamboat puts onus on the upslope ridersSTEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The Steamboat ski area this winter adopted a tougher stance on reckless skiing, emphasizing the responsibility of upslope snow riders.Those upslope snow riders are responsible for avoiding collisions with those below. While this policy is not new, the stick to enforce it is. Ski area officials will suspend the lift privileges of offenders for 30 days. A second violation will result in loss of skiing privileges for the rest of the season.However, the most common collision is when two skiers or snowboarders come together hip to hip while both are making wide, arcing, giant-slalom-style turns, said John Kohnke, the ski patrol director.The Steamboat Pilot noted many angry comments from locals who thought the new rules were intended to harass local skiers and snowboarders. Nonsense, said the newspaper. Destination skiers have thousands of dollars riding on their vacations. Furthermore, the real issue is not the potential for losing a pass, but rather losing a limb or perhaps even a life.Even ski resorts can have homeless peopleCRESTED BUTTE – As two of the coldest places in the lower 48 states, Crested Butte and Gunnison would seem unlikely places to have homeless people. But the early December cold snap that saw temperatures of 30 to 40 below showed otherwise.”At least five or six people have come to us asking if there was an overnight shelter where they could stay,” said Denise Wise, director of the Gunnison County Housing Authority.Those who have been sleeping in their cars or wherever else they can take shelter tend to be long-time residents who, due to an illness or injury or lost job, have fallen on hard times, she said.In response, according to the Crested Butte News, a coalition of governments, churches, and private firms are planning to house the homeless at a round robin of churches. Those under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be accepted.Distinguishing between the couch surfers and the hard-core homeless is hard to do, Wise acknowledged.Three die in parked cars in the Vail areaEDWARDS – December was a bad month for people in parked cars in the Edwards area, near Beaver Creek and Vail.First, two illegal immigrants from Mexico died while drinking beer in a running car parked in a garage. Both men, who were frozen by the time they were discovered, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Cocaine was found in the bodies of both men, but the drug did not contribute to their deaths, the Eagle County coroner told the Vail Daily. Investigators reported they had difficulty identifying the victims, who were aged 21 and 31, because they carried false identifications.The case mirrors a similar accident in 1995 in which four young men, also immigrants from Mexico, died of carbon monoxide while drinking beer in an idling car in nearby Leadville. In that case, the car was also parked in a garage, preventing the escape of the poisonous gas.The Vail Daily also tells of the death of a 31-year-old man who was a dedicated follower of the Grateful Dead. Dennis Riben, said a former roommate, had developed a knack for squeaking by in life. He had bounced around the Eagle Valley and Leadville for more than a decade, but was found dead, along with his beloved and similarly dead German shepherd, in a Volkswagen bus on a Forest Service access road.Police found a current ski pass to Vail but no evidence of foul play. Friends thought suicide unlikely. Instead, they suggest drug use may have been at issue. “He never wanted a steady job and a steady place to live,” said Dan Krajack, the former roommate.Steamboat buses to give biodiesel a burnSTEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Two school buses in Steamboat Springs will be fueled by a 20 percent mixture of biodiesel beginning January. If the trial works well, reports The Steamboat Pilot, the school district may expand use of the 20 percent mixture to all 14 of the district’s buses.While biodiesel costs the district 10 cents more per gallon, the district was compelled to try the biodiesel component because it pollutes the environment less than the full-strength petroleum-based biodiesel. The product is made from canola that is grown elsewhere in Colorado. The supplier is Blue Sun, the Fort Collins-based manufacturer.Gelling during cold weather has been an issue in some but not all other regions of Colorado where biodiesel has been used as a 5, 10 and 20 percent component.California electrical needs hurt DurangoDURANGO – California is among the nation’s leaders in the effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other forms of air pollution. But a new report from an environmental group points out that it’s partly a matter of “do what I say, not what I do.”In fact, California utilities own substantial portions of many coal-fired power plants in the West, but particularly in the Four Corners area. And those power plants are anything but healthy. The report by Environmental Defense documents impacts to the San Juan Mountains, where Durango, Telluride and various other ski towns are located.Southern California Edison, alone, owns 48 percent of two of the five generators at the Four Corners Power Plant. The plant, according to the Environmental Integrity Project, is among the 50 dirtiest power plants in the nation based on its discharge of nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury.The study found that six plants that sell electricity in California – two in Nevada, two in New Mexico, and one each in Arizona and Utah – emit 10 times more sulfur dioxide than all the coal-fired power plants in California combined.It gets worse. The plants discharge 10 times more smog-producing oxides of nitrogen and 200 times more mercury than the California plants. These emissions are then carried by wind toward Durango and the San Juan Mountains.”It is inescapable that if California is going to achieve its own global warming targets, it has to also grapple with the pollution it exports with hidden coal plants in areas like the Four Corners region that produce a staggering amount of pollution,” said Vickie Patton, an attorney with Environmental Defense. California, if it were a nation, would have the world’s sixth largest economy. Environmentalists and health advocates tell the Durango Herald that the coal-burning plants are poisoning lakes and sullying mountain views in the San Juans with a hazy yellow-brown film. San Juan County, N.M., which is located south of Durango, recorded 51 instances of ozone that violated California’s standards.Banff leery of spending money to stanch energyBANFF, Alberta – Do you spend money to save money? That seems to be the fundamental question in Banff, and the answer for now seems to be no.The issue is the cost of electricity. Like most developed places, Banff has been ramping up its energy consumption, 32 percent between 1990 and 2000. With a demand now of 37 megahertz for Banff, Lake Louise and nearby ski areas, the community is on the cusp of a major infrastructure expansion, requiring significant investment.Would it make sense to figure out ways to reduce demand instead of expanding, using that old Poor Richard maxim of “a penny saved is a penny earned?” While some Banff councilors support that idea and are willing to appropriate $90,000 ($77,000 US) for a staff position to help crimp energy demands, other council members say that the position would have to be paid for by an extra tax on consumption.Jumbo resort back on the burner in JanuaryINVERMERE, B.C. – January should bring the fight about the Jumbo Glacier Resort back onto the front burner. The proposal envisions a major winter and summer resort in a valley near Invermere that currently gets little use except for helicopter skiingThe master plan will be presented along with highlights of the environmental assessment process at an open house scheduled for Wednesday, reports the Invermere Valley Echo.Meanwhile, the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, which opposes the plans, recently held the best-attended annual meeting in the organization’s 11-year history. Members cite the impacts to the habitat of grizzly bear among other impacts they say are intolerable.Truckee roundabouts debut sans problemsTRUCKEE, Calif. – Two dual-lane roundabouts have debuted in Truckee. Similar to the experience of other resort towns, traffic engineers report that drivers are having no problems with them.The experience mirrors that of Vail, where the modern roundabouts first appeared in the West 10 years ago. State traffic engineers in California were skeptical that the roundabouts would provide both capacity and safety. Instead, they wanted stoplights. Based on what they have seen during recent weeks, reports the Sierra Sun, the state engineers seem to support adding several more roundabouts to state highways at Truckee.
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