Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How to Manage 4.1 Million Acres of Forest

Lawmakers are giving Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and his administration some time to decide how 4.1 million acres of roadless forest land in Colorado should be managed while several groups are lobbying officials on a plan endorsed by the former administration.

Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction and Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, said they’ll delay introducing a resolution asking Ritter to adopt the plan to give him and new state natural resources chief Harris Sherman time to talk to the groups.

But the legislators want Ritter to leave intact the plan written by a task force and approved by Owens before he left office in January.

Owens, a Republican who couldn’t run again because of term limits, sent the petition seeking protection for most of the 4.1 million acres of forest land to federal officials. In 2005, Owens criticized a Clinton-era road-building ban on 58.5 million acres of forests nationwide as creating wilderness outside the congressional process.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Breckenridge's Katie Uhlaender Wins Gold

Dominating the tour by winning five gold medals, Breckenridge's Katie Uhlaender was named women's skeleton World Cup Champion Friday after placing sixth at the final World Cup event of the season in Germany.

World Champion Noelle Pikus-Pace of Orem, Utah claimed her fifth medal of the season, a bronze, sealing a second place overall standing.

"Katie had a breakthrough season and Noelle had a comeback season," U.S. assistant skeleton coach Greg Sand said. "Katie has always been on the bubble, and this year she proved that she can throw down anywhere, anytime.

Uhleander had a top six finish at every race this season, and dominated overall standings by winning four-consecutive gold medals this season.

SPEED Channel will be televising the women's skeleton event on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dillon Economic Revitalization Advisory Committee

It’s time for the Town of Dillon to take a leap of faith regarding revitalization, Leland Consulting Group’s Anne Ricker said recently at the DERAC’s (Dillon Economic Revitalization Advisory Committee) presentation to the joint work session between town council and the planning and zoning commission.

DERAC member Jerry Dokken agreed. “There’s going to be a certain amount of spontaneity,” Dokken said.

DERAC came in with a goal of obtaining the council’s go-ahead for further research, and informal approval for four priority intiatives. These initiatives “outline the basis of the entire development plan,” according to DERAC member Sean Gatzen.

The first initiative, land acquistion/disposition policy, was presented in conjunction with a time element: four developers are looking at Dillon at this time, according to the DERAC’s report, and a process is needed to manage new development so developers feel comfortable being part of a new community.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Breckenridge Film Festival Update

The 2007 Breckenridge Film Festival will take place in June this year, a big change from it's usual September schedule. Executive director Dawna Foxx, the festival is taking full advantage of this change in dates.

All the premieres (Hollywood films, like “Babel,” which was premiered at last year’s event) will take place at the high school. With hopes for 11 Hollywood premieres, Foxx said they are arranging a deal with the bus system or other transportation to form a loop from Farmer’s Korner to Breck during the weekend of the festival, June 7-10.

Independent films are currently being reviewed by locals to fill the four-day schedule which also includes workshops and seminars.

Foxx said the date change from September was an idea the board had been kicking around for some time. Competition with other independent Colorado festivals in September including Telluride and Aspen, and also the Toronto International Film Festival were the main reason for the move.

Resort Quest in downtown Breck will be the base of operations for its second year. Due to its success last year, filmmakers’ rooms will be free instead of discounted, which means more filmmakers at the event.

Go to www.breckfilmfest.com, for more information as the festival approaches.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dillon Town Manager Search

The Town of Dillon has narrowed its search for a new town manager to two candidates from a pool of about 30 applicants.

The remaining applicants are David Torgler, 47, who is currently the city administrator of Burlington, Wisc., a city of 10,800 people, and C. Devin Granbery, a UC Boulder graduate currently working as the town administrator in Silverton.

Both candidates have extensive experience working in municipal governments

.“We have two experienced, intelligent and very interested candidates for town manager,” Dillon Mayor Barbara Davis said. “Each one possesses individual characteristics that could easily fit in well with our town, plus have extensive economic development backgrounds.”

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Volunteer for the Colorado Division of Wildlife

Do you love animals and have some time to volunteer?

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) is holding an orientation meeting for volunteers interested in serving on the Summit County Wildlife Transport and Bear Aware teams.

The orientation will be held next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Summit County Library in Silverthorne (651 Center Circle).

To RSVP or if you can't make that orientation or to get more information regarding these or other volunteer opportunities, contact Linda Edwards, DOW volunteer coordinator at (970) 255-6145.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Breckenridge's Kinderhut Gets Another Year

The Kinderhut childcare and ski school at Peak 9 will continue to operate as-is in its present location for another year.

Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake and Breckenridge Ski Area executive Roger McCarthy announced the extension in a conference call Tuesday morning.

“Ernie and I have been talking about this for a while,” said McCarthy, vice president of Vail Resorts mountain division and chief operating officer for Breckenridge Ski Area. “The point I wanted to make year ago is, let’s put a sense of urgency to this,” McCarthy said, lauding the town for the progress it has made tackling the childcare issue over the past 12 months.

Breckenridge is eyeing a piece of land near the police station for a new childcare center and has set aside funds to build the facility.

“We’re looking to the ski area to help us in that regard,” said Mayor Blake.

McCarthy said his company’s financial commitment to partnering with the town on childcare is still subject to approval by the VR board of directors. Additionally, the town appears prepared to help carry part of the operational costs of operating the new center, at least for the next six years, based on revenue from a voter-approved mill levy that expires in 2013.

Town officials are hopeful that the new center will be built, or at least well under way, a year from now

.“I’m still a little stunned,” said Kinderhut owner and operator Craig Root. “I’m still digesting it all. Vail is doing a great thing for the community and the town,” Root said, expressing personal thanks to McCarthy and Blake, as well as his local clientele.

Root said he expects to continue his operations unchanged for the next year.

McCarthy said Vail Resorts plans to use the Kinderhut space for its own childcare operation a year from now.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mardi Gras in Breckenridge

Mardi Gras in Breckenridge this year will include the inaugural Bacchus Ball, a themed masquerade party at Beaver Run Resort on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 7-11 p.m.

Bacchus, in Greek mythology, was the god of wine. The original Bacchus Ball was the first New Orleans Mardi Gras ball open to locals and tourists alike, and Breckenridge will continue that tradition with some added mountain flavor. The dress is mountain formal, but guests are encouraged to get into the masquerade carnival theme with costumes and masks.

Entertainment of the musical kind will be provided by the rock 'n' roll band, Chris Daniels and the Kings. There will also be a variety of Cajun cuisine and cash bars.

Tickets are available for $40 for a single ticket and $75 for a couple ticket. Purchase them online at gobreck.com or in person at the Breckenridge Welcome Center.

For more information, contact the Breckenridge Resort Chamber at (970) 453-5055 or visit www.gobreck.com.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Voluntary Transfer Fee Proposed

If the idea of a voluntary affordable housing transfer fee catches on, it could provide funding for the program far beyond the 10-year lifespan of the .125 percent sales tax increase and graduated development impact fee approved by voters last November.

That could be an important step in tackling a problem that needs to be seen in a long-term context, said County Commissioner Thomas Davidson, who is being credited with promoting the transfer fee as an alternative to the mandatory development impact fees.

"You hang a carrot out there," Davidson said. "You're doing future generations a big favor," he added, explaining that, over time, the voluntary .33 percent fee (as adopted by Summit County) could generate more revenue for affordable housing than the one-time impact fee.

Housing authority director Bonnie Osborn updated the county commissioners on the status of those discussions at a BOCC work session this week. She said Frisco and Breckenridge are considering the adoption of such a fee, already approved by the county. Silverthorne and Dillon have not taken any steps in that direction, she added.

The voluntary fee is meant to provide an alternative for builders. Instead of paying the graduated impact fee, they could choose put a deed restriction on the property that would stipulate the ongoing transfer fee. The first transaction would be exempt, but every subsequent sale of the property would be subject to the fee, Osborn explained.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Regulate Main Street Businesses?

Preliminary plans to regulate businesses on Main Street are on hold pending more investigation by Breckenridge’s economic development advisory commission (BEDAC).

Instead of proposing a cap to the council, the citizen group appointed by the Breckenridge Town Council decided February 8 to also study a growing demand for Main Street residential space, said town manager Tim Gagen.

In particular, BEDAC wants more information about development at the north end of Main Street, where there are a few vacant lots, Gagen said. Completion of the BreckConnect Gondola could drive a shift in development patterns, he added.Presently, about 20 percent of the available commercial ground-floor space is occupied by professional offices, primarily real estate outlets.

At issue for town council members, merchants and residents is the larger question of how to maintain commercial vitality in the downtown core, and whether local government has an appropriate regulatory role in this area.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Committee Passes Mountain Pine Beetle Bill

A bill proposed by State Rep. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, that would create a pilot program for forest restoration projects cleared a hurdle in the House recently.

The Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee passed the freshman representative's bill in a unanimous 11-0 vote.

Gibbs said Wednesday evening that he was "ecstatic" at the outcome of the hearing, particularly since he has put so much focus on bringing forest issues to the forefront.

"When people think of The Beatles they're no longer thinking of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, they're starting to think of the bark beetle problems we're facing in the High Country," Gibbs said.

If House Bill 1130 is signed into law, the state would contribute $1 million per year for the next five years to fund cost-sharing grants for forest restoration projects on private, federal, state, county or municipal lands affected by the mountain pine beetle.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Golf Tournament Misses Cut

The International, known for its unique scoring system on the Castle Pines golf course held in the mile-high air outside Denver, will no longer be on the PGA Tour schedule effective immediately, a tour official said Wednesday.

The absence of a corporate sponsor was mostly responsible for canceling the 21-year-old tournament, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not formally been announced.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and tournament founder Jack Vickers are expected to make it official this morning.

They spent the last two weeks in a final effort to find a sponsor, then agreed to end it now.

International spokeswoman Joanna Busack said Vickers would not comment until Thursday.

The cancellation leaves a hole in the PGA Tour schedule on July 5-8, but tour officials have been working on a contingency plan over the last month and are expected to announce a replacement by April. The leading candidate is Washington, the largest U.S. market without a PGA Tour event.

The nation’s capital had a tour event since 1968, but that presumably ended when title sponsor Booz Allen bailed out last year because it was not part of the FedExCup portion of the PGA Tour schedule.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

January - Cold and Dry

If you thought it felt cold and dry during the past month, the weather statistics from two local observation sites support that perception.

Global warming notwithstanding, January was a cold month in Summit County, with average temperatures at the Dillon National Weather Service observation site running a few degrees below historic averages, based on records going back to 1909. Low temperatures dropped below zero 14 times during the month. The coldest reading was Jan. 16, at minus 20 degrees.

The high temperature for January was 44 degrees, recorded on Jan. 11. It may not have felt like it, but the mercury climbed to or above freezing on 16 days. The average high temperature for January was 29.6 degrees, compared to the historic average 31.3 degrees. T he average minimum temperature was minus 2.3 degrees, compared to the average minus 1.3 degrees.

With 11 inches of accumulation, snowfall at the Dillon site was also below the January average of 18.6 inches. Measured as water, that snow melted down to .59 inches, well below the average 1.09 inches.

In Breckenridge, precipitation for the month was a little closer to average, with 18.5 inches of snow (average, 22.2 inches) in January. Total water content was 1.44 inches, compared to the average 1.54 inches. About half that moisture came from one strong, wet storm early in the month, said Rick Bly, who measures snow and rain for the National Weather Service.

For the hydrological year that began Oct. 1, the totals dipped slightly below average for the first time so far, with total snowfall through Feb. 1 adding up to 74.8 inches, compared to 77.1 for the average. But the somewhat dry January conditions didn't put a huge dent in the overall Blue River Basin snowpack, said water commissioner Scott Hummer. Basin-wide, the snowpack is still 104 percent of average, with the highest reading (117 percent) at Hoosier Pass.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Second Annual "Ski for SIDS" Fundraiser

Get your team together and your skis waxed up for the second annual Ski for SIDS at Keystone on March 4.

All skiing abilities are welcome for individual skiers, groups and families. Awards will be given to the individual or group that raises the most money, the individual skier who competes the most runs and to the group who collectively completes the most runs.

At last year's Ski for SIDS, 75-year-old longtime local Freda Nieters set a world record by skiing 78,000 vertical feet (67 miles) in just over 8 hours. Motivated by the love for her grandson, Zachary Thomas Meade, who died of SIDS in January of 2005, the event raised more than $30,000.

Lift tickets for this year's Ski for SIDS skiers are $35 for ages 5 and older. Individual adult registration is $100 and individual child registration is $50. Adults in groups are $90 and children in groups are $45.

This year's proceeds will go toward First Candle, the nation's leading organization dedicated to infant health and survival during the prenatal period through age 2. Participation in Ski for SIDS will enable First Candle to continue its research programs.

Registration for Ski for SIDS is available online at www.firstcandle.org. For more information, contact First Candle at (800) 221-7473 or e-mail Michelle.Zareck@FirstCandle.org.