Monday, December 31, 2018

Colorado grocery stores can sell full-strength beer Jan. 1

Summit Daily

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Pour one out for 3.2 beer. At 8 a.m. Tuesday, grocery and convenience stores across Colorado will be allowed to sell full-strength beer.
Current liquor regulations limit these stores to selling beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol by weight or less, but regulatory changes are coming into effect. The Colorado state legislature voted to amend liquor laws in 2016 with additional legislation in 2018.
"We're excited to offer our customers full-strength beer," Safeway spokesperson Kris Staaf said. "This is something that they've been asking for for a long time, especially in communities like Steamboat, where you've got a lot of tourists coming in. They might be coming from another state where there's beer, wine and spirits in a grocery store, or local craft beer. For our customers, this is really, really exciting."
After the ball drops at midnight, stores will be allowed to receive deliveries and begin stocking shelves with full-strength beer, but beer only. Malt liquors, wine and spirits must be purchased from liquor stores.
"We have pretty much all hands on deck as far as our employees as well as with the brewers, just making sure that we have that product ready to go by 8 a.m.," Staaf said.
She said Colorado Safeway stores have been preparing for the change for more than a year. The switch to selling higher alcohol by volume beer is one of the reasons Safeway made changes to its store layout
The store aims to sell through its remaining inventory of 3.2 beer to make room for full-strength beer next week.
Staaf said Safeway will offer a selection of beer from brewers "small, large and everything in between."
"Our customers are interested in supporting local products, whether that's produce or meat or beer," Staaf said. "We want to make sure that we're able to offer local breweries, local products. The mix in Steamboat might be different than the mix in Fort Collins or the mix in Denver. It's really highlighting local breweries in the communities that we have stores."
Local liquor stores are waiting to see how the change will impact them.
"I think it's probably going to have some impact," said West End Liquor owner John Seymour. "I'm lucky because I am not located near big grocery stores. I'm also lucky because I have a really loyal customer base, so I'm hoping that it will be minimal, but I know they're going to do everything they possibly can to make sure all the liquor stores suffer as much as possible, so we'll see. We're hopeful, but a little bit wary for sure."
Greg Stetman, an owner at Central Park Liquor, said the store doesn't know what to expect from the regulatory change.
"Obviously, we're well aware of it," he said. "All we can do is sell it cheaper than everybody else and hope for the best. We'll know a lot more in a month."
Courtesy Steamboat Pilot 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Andy Harris, Summit County Rescue Group team member and former British Army colonel, explains the art of survival

Summit Daily


Douglas Adams' timeless classic, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," posited that the most important piece of advice in the universe comes in the form of two words: "Don't panic."
Summit County Rescue Group team member and retired British Army colonel Andy Harris goes one step further with that advice when trying to rescue people in the High Rockies under the harshest conditions: "Don't panic, eat chocolate."
Harris, who has been a member of the rescue group for 10 years, doesn't panic because he's been to parts of the world where panicking will almost certainly get you killed. In the Army, it was his job for 26 years to keep his head even when the world was blowing up around him.
Harris, who was born in Lichfield, England, first trained as a lawyer before tiring of it and joining the Queen's army. He became a part of the Royal Engineers Airborne division and specialized in explosive ordinance disposal; known colloquially in the Commonwealth as a "sapper."
His job was to search for things that could blow up and kill him, and then use steady hands and steely nerves to defuse them. It was either that, or using those same skills to plant explosives for combat and sabotage purposes. With all 10 fingers still intact, it is apparent Harris was very good at that job.
Harris' service saw him deploy to Norway, the Middle East, South Africa and Northern Ireland. He was deployed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles — the decades-long conflict between the British military, British loyalists and Irish nationalists. The conflict claimed 3,500 lives by the time the Good Friday agreement brought an end to major hostilities in 1998.
In the early '90s, Harris was deployed to Colorado Springs to serve as an exchange officer and advisor to the U.S. military during the first Persian Gulf War. In 2000, Harris retired from military service. "I ran out of scar tissue," he said.
After retiring, Harris made his way to Breckenridge and purchased the Fireside Inn on French Street with his wife Nikki. He and Nikki have been owners of the cozy bed and breakfast for the past 17 years. But even though Harris was done with military service, he was not done serving.
"I'm an alien here, and I can't vote," Harris said. "I still wanted to do something for the community."
After serving as a volunteer firefighter in Breck, Harris became a member of the Summit County Rescue Group in 2008. Aside from his service as a bomb disposal expert, Harris also received basic survival training in the army, which informed his expertise for the rescue group. Before arriving to Summit, Harris was a member of Mountain Rescue England and Wales, a similarly organized counterpart to Summit's rescue group.
"You spend a lot of time in the cold and rain," said Harris' rescue group colleague, Helen Rowe, who is also originally from Britain and served with the Scottish Mountain Rescue group. "I imagine it's what helped build his sense of humor and stiff upper lip. That, and being up s—t's creek so many times in the service."
Harris has served in many missions to help rescue and recover people stranded or lost in Summit's mountains and backcountry, as well as to impart wisdom and training to new recruits. His navigation and survival training skills, combined with a British officer's unflappability, makes him an ideal mentor and teammate in the rescue group.
During survival training for new recruits back in early November, Harris said that he always carries key essentials like a trusty spoon, a thermos of hot chocolate and a jerrycan full of warm stew. However, he said, the right attitude is the most paramount of all survival tools.
"You can never be complacent," Harris said. "The conditions here are ever-changing, and you must be prepared for anything. You must be dressed properly and well fed before you go out there. You can't be arrogant, and if you are lost in the wild, you can't panic and start thinking, 'I'm going to die.' Sit down, take a deep breath, count to 10 and start taking inventory on your situation."
Harris added that one of the things that gets people in trouble, particularly men, is the kind of bravado and arrogance that makes them feel invincible.
"Snowmobilers go out there with 750cc between their legs and think they're immortal," Harris said. "But even with one of those, you can't outrun the speed of an avalanche."
Harris and other members of the group have participated in missions that have forced them to camp in blizzards with gale-like winds and torrential snow. Summit's erratic weather is the factor that makes it stand out, and what makes rescue missions here so dangerous. In those conditions, Harris said, it was paramount to keep your head; as a rescue group member, it's also essential to be a team player.
"We don't have room for egos," Harris said. "When we're out for over eight hours at a time on Quandary, teamwork and camaraderie is essential, and ours is amazing."
In November, seven new recruits to the rescue group were evaluated and have been accepted as probationary members. Rowe, who is part of the training committee, said that all seven members passed with full marks and some have already participated in live rescue missions under the bitterly cold harsh conditions they had trained for just a few weeks prior.
"They had their first survival mission which tested them overnight in those conditions," Rowe said. "It was over by Vail Pass, and they performed exceptionally well. We are pleased the survival training came into such good use."
The seven new members showed their mettle, being able to think on their feet while working with their teammates. They also all showed the positive, clear-headed attitude needed to survive.
The new probationary members are: Abby Seymour, Andrew Opdycke, Alex Gelb, Matt Coye, Nick Potochnick and Steve Milroy. Anna Debattiste has also re-joined the group from an absence after undergoing new member training again.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates end 2018 on a good note

30-year fixed-rate mortgage averages 4.55%

After retreating for two consecutive months, mortgage rates will end the year lower, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

According to the survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell from 4.62% last week, averaging 4.55% for the week ending Dec. 27, 2018. Notably, this is an increase from last year’s rate of 3.99%.

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said rates continued their two-month slide and are currently hovering around the same level as the early summer, which was before the deterioration in home sales.

Friday, December 28, 2018

With 80,000 new residents, Colorado is the seventh-fastest growing state in the U.S.

Summit Daily


People just can’t stay away from Colorado.
The Centennial state grew by nearly 80,000 people last year, making it the seventh fastest-growing state in the country, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Colorado’s population grew by 1.4 percent between July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018. Nevada and Idaho topped the list at 2.1 percent growth.
Overall, the U.S. population grew by 0.6 percent during the one-year period.
“Many states have seen fewer births and more deaths in recent years,” said Sandra Johnson, a demographer/statistician in the Population Division of the Census Bureau. “If those states are not gaining from either domestic or international migration, they will experience either low population growth or outright decline.”
Colorado’s current population is estimated to be 5,695,564, nearly 700,000 higher than in 2010. That 13.2 percent growth is the fourth highest among all states over that time period.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Snowpack has declined by an average of 41 percent in the Rocky Mountains over past 3 decades

Summit Daily

It's been a great winter in Summit County. Storms have been coming in regular and heavy, the fluffy stuff has been sticking around and the metrics prove that this winter's snowfall is doing at least twice as well as last year's.
Unfortunately, the snow on the ground today is a pale shadow of what Summiters were seeing a few decades ago. Recently released research reveals that today's mountain snowpack is about 41 percent less than it was back then.
Researchers revealed their findings at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting on Dec. 13. One of the research papers, conducted by University of Arizona researchers, found that snowpack had declined by 41 percent over 13 percent of Western land area — mainly in the Colorado River Basin mountain ranges — between 1982 and 2016.
The decline is attributed to climate change and the effect it is having on Western seasonal patterns. A different study presented at the conference found that fall is lasting longer and summer is starting earlier, leaving much less time for the right temperature and precipitation conditions required for snow to fall on the mountains. Winter is being squeezed out.
"Our winters are getting sick," that study's author, Amato Evan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, said at the conference.
The Arizona Daily Star, which first reported the research findings, pointed out that the 41 percent overall snowpack decline is the equivalent of losing 7.17 million square acre-feet of water. That is enough to supply drinking water to the cities of Tucson and Phoenix for four years.
Even with the snow in the High Country, Summit County is still in a drought, along with much of the rest of the state and the Western U.S. Due to the federal government shutdown, the NOAA is not updating the national drought monitor, and so the severity of the drought is unclear.
The lack of snow, while a problem itself in ski country, has also been verified to be the cause of summer headaches here, too. The Daily Star cited a second study presented at the conference that found a clear link between declining snowpack and wildfires, particularly in high-altitude environments like Summit.
"We're 95 percent confident there's a significant relationship between wildfire and snowpack," study author and PhD student Donal O'Leary said at the conference.
Another study presented at the AGU conference found that the declining snow phenomenon is global, but in different ways. Snowfall has been declining by 4 percent per decade in certain key high-mountain areas, such as in Tibet and northern Canada. However, snowfall has actually been increasing at a rate of 2 percent in parts of the Southern Hemisphere, such as the oceans around Antarctica.
Looking to the more immediate forecast, meteorologist Joel Gratz sees the next storm front coming through town Thursday into Friday, with the chance of another storm blowing through on New Year's Eve. However, Gratz does not see either storm producing much powder even if they arrive due to colder temperatures and low moisture.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

9 Housing and Mortgage Trends to Watch for in 2019

It’s going to be a challenging year for home buyers in 2019: They will continue to compete for a short supply of homes. Home prices and mortgage rates are likely to keep moving upward, bruising affordability.
But 2019 is likely to bring some welcome developments, too, for buyers and mortgage borrowers. Builders are constructing more entry-level homes, lenders are gradually making it easier to qualify for a loan, and first-time home buyers are getting the attention they deserve.
Here are nine housing and mortgage trends to watch for in 2019.
1.  Wanted:  More homes for sale.
2.  Home prices will keep going up.
3.  Mortgage rates will continue rising.
4.  Affordability still a concern.
5.  New homes get smaller.
6.  First-time buyers dominate.
7.  Lending standards ease a little.
8.  More borrowers choose ARMs.
9.  Overconfident sellers could struggle.
For the details please go to:
Courtesy of Holden Lewis, Nerdwallet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

After 20 years of talking about I-70 what are we doing now - talking about it

Summit Daily

What kind of impact would a new high-speed transit system make along the Interstate 70 corridor?
The I-70 Coalition, along with Development Research Partners, is pushing out a survey this week hoping to gather public insight from communities on the Front Range and I-70 corridor to determine the financial feasibility of a new 155-mile high-speed transit system with stops from Eagle County to the Denver International Airport.
The Federal Highway Administration and the Colorado Department of Transportation issued a long term plan to reduce congestion on I-70 in 2011, said Margaret Bowes, executive director of the I-70 Coalition. Among the groups recommendations — with consensus among stakeholders of the I-70 corridor — was continued highway improvement projects, non-infrastructure related improvements (better plowing, enforcement, and traveler information), and research into the feasibility of a high-speed system.
"We know that we could six-lane this whole corridor, and in a number of years it will be just as congested as it is today," said Bowes. "To meet the needs through the year 2050 we need to do some highway widening, but also have some sort of high speed transit system to meet our needs…there are technologies today that we know would work for this corridor. It's the financial feasibility that's the big question mark. This study that the Development Research Partners is doing on behalf of a number of stakeholders is starting to get towards the answer of financial feasibility."
The hypothetical system would be a train to carry passengers and light freight, creating a direct connection among communities between the Eagle County Regional Airport and the Denver International Airport, making stops along the way in Summit County and other western slope and Front Range communities.
Theoretically, the system would be able to reduce congestion along I-70, promising 24 round trips daily that would save travelers between 35 and 45 minutes between Eagle County and Denver. Initial research estimates that 5.1 million travelers, or 2.1 million of the 12.8 million vehicles that traveled through the Eisenhower/ Johnson Memorial Tunnels annually, would instead opt for the high-speed transit system in lieu of driving.
"I think the tolerance for congestion is becoming less and less," said Bowes. "If folks could get on a train and take a nap, and arrive in the fraction of the time without the stress it will be highly appealing to people."
But the prospect is considerably easier said than done. Bowes said that because of the steep grades along the corridor traditional heavy or light rail systems wouldn't work, meaning that the system would likely have to be constructed using magnetic levitation (maglev) technology — a system that uses two sets of magnets to push the train off the track. Additionally, Bowes noted Hyperloop and Arrivo, a new Los Angeles transportation startup, as other potential alternatives.
But new technologies are also expensive. Bowes said the price tag for a new maglev train, or something similar, would likely run somewhere in the ballpark of $13-16 billion, which raises other concerns about funding and eventual ticket prices for patrons.
"If such a system is built, it will have to be a public and private partnership," said Bowes. "Private partners would have a business plan I imagine would need to price tickets in such a way to be viable, but I can't speculate what the ticket costs would be."
But the prospect of a new high-speed transit system is still in its relative infancy, and final discussions regarding which technology is most appropriate or how it would be funded are still a ways off. Instead, the I-70 Coalition — in partnership with Summit, Clear Creek, Eagle and Denver counties, along with Idaho Springs, CDOT, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and the Blackhawk Silver Dollar Metro District — is looking to gather data on community interest and the financial impact of easier transit to mountain areas.
"We have a stat that for every hour of delays on the corridor, it costs the state a million dollars in people's time, and dollars not spend in the mountains," said Amy Ford, communications director for CDOT. "A lot of the survey will look at economic impact of our congestion and what the potential relief could be. The community side of it is to continue to probe community interest in the corridor to see where people stand on all of this."
The survey will focus less on specific details about the project, and more on travel habits and how they might change given a high-speed transit system. Different surveys will go out to businesses in the community, along with residents on the Front Range and in mountain communities to try and gather feedback about people's habits and opinions of the proposed system.
"This study is looking at what the economic impacts would be if we had such a system," said Bowes. "How would a high-speed transit system change business to business spending, and consumer to business spending? In other words, if you live on the Front Range, and you quit skiing because of traffic, how many trips might you make if there was a high-speed transit system with a reliable travel time? Would you come to the mountains more often and spend money in mountain communities?"
The survey is online only, and can be found at The survey can be taken through the end of December.
"This is one more step in the process," said Bowes. "We have no preconceived notions. We want to determine if it's feasible, and we're trying to arm ourselves with more information."
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Monday, December 24, 2018

November real estate update

#Breckenridge #Colorado

Summit Daily

In November, Summit County's most expensive residence was a four-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot home with five fireplaces, a three-car garage and unencumbered views of a nearby golf course and the mountains.
Built inside Breckenridge's Highlands Park subdivision, it went for $3.3 million. Right next door, another single-family home also changed owners in November, selling for $2.46 million and making the third-most expensive sale of the month.
The Shock Hill neighborhood typically posts some of the most expensive housing sales in Summit. November was no outlier with three Shock Hill homes, including a duplex and a condo, rounding out the county's five priciest pieces of real estate for the month.
With Shock Hill boasting a convenient mid-station gondola stop offering doorstep access to Breckenridge Ski Resort and Nordic trails out most of the homes' backdoors, the duplex sold for $2.46 million and the four-bedroom condo brought a $2.29 million price tag.
The five Breckenridge homes were leaders among 43 real estate transactions worth $1 million or more in Summit County for the month, according to property records on file at the Summit County Assessor's Office.
More notable is that those 43 sales represent a steep increase in the number of luxury homes — defined as any residence sold at or over $1 million — compared to November last year.
Courtesy Summit Daily

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The partial federal government shutdown will mean no staffing, safety concerns at White River National Forest

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit Daily

While most Americans are celebrating Christmas cheer this weekend, a partial government shutdown is leaving over 800,000 federal employees out of work and without pay for the third time this year. The shutdown, which came about as a result of President Trump's refusal to sign any budget that does not have significant funding for a border wall, cuts off funding for the federal Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing, Justice, Interior and Treasury departments, among other key agencies.
The U.S. Forest Service, which owns much of the land in and around Summit County, is a part of the U.S.D.A. and will slowly wind down its operations over the next few days. Essential personnel — such as forest law enforcement and firefighters, employees whose programs are funded through other means, and employees overseeing time-critical projects that would be compromised without tending to — will stay on as excepted or exempt from the shutdown.
During the first few days after a shutdown, around 60 percent of USFS employees will stick around as excepted or exempt. However, that percentage will decrease as the shutdown continues, until bare skeleton staffs remain to oversee only the most vital operations.
According to the agency's closure contingency documents, any Forest Service employees not excepted or exempt must do the minimum work required to wind down their work before being furloughed. They will be barred from working again until funding is restored. That includes forest rangers and other forest management personnel.
Because of citizen uproar in previous shutdowns over the closure of public parks and monuments, which ruined vacation plans and prevented veterans from visiting memorials, Congress and the president have been keeping those federal properties open to the public. However, there will be no staff on hand, and so services like bathrooms, visitor information and campgrounds will all be closed.
In Summit County, the most important item to note is that there will be no plowing on national forest roads, so any impassable areas will remain so until service is restored. The good news is that areas that have special use permits on Forest Service land — such as ski resorts — will remain open and unhindered, but without any Forest Service assistance or management if required.
Some have opposed allowing visitors entry into national parks and forests without any staff on hand. Tim Fullerton, a former Obama administration official in the Department of the Interior, said on Twitter that he believed it dangerous to keep parks open.
"If someone falls, gets lost, or has any issue … they're on their own," Fullerton said.
Fullerton added that trying to use local law enforcement as a stopgap to patrol the national parks and forests would also be dangerous, as they are not familiar with the area or the terrain in these federal public lands, and could become liabilities themselves.
In Summit County, there is a real concern of visitors getting lost or stranded in the backcountry, as they have several times already this year. While the Summit County Rescue Group remains on call, the lack of Forest Service staffing may hinder rescues and cut off a valuable information and logistical support resource for rescuers.
Aside from health and safety concerns, environmentalists are also concerned about the possible damage caused by visitors misusing public lands without any oversight. During January's shutdown, a hunter illegally poached a pregnant elk at Zion National Park, while snowmobilers in Yellowstone got dangerously close to the park's famous hot geysers.
Despite the shutdown, many critical federal services — such as the U.S. Postal Service and agencies responsible for federal aid such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Social Security — will continue to function as normal as they are either exempt or considered essential.
There remains no timeline for a federal budget to be passed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said Saturday that Congress will be in recess until Thursday, meaning there is no chance of the government reopening before then.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Schedule of holiday events happening in Summit County

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit Daily

With just under two weeks left until the new year, Summit County is still ripe with holiday events to keep the cheer high. Don't miss out on more visits from Santa or the music, plays, food and fireworks that make the season all the merrier.

Christmas Eve torchlight parade and kids' glow pageant

Santa is back again at Copper Mountain Resort on Dec. 24 before a busy night of delivering gifts. In Center Village beginning at 4:45 p.m., DJ Landry will be mixing holiday tunes for the whole family, just before any and all kids can meet up at 5 for a glowstick pageant. At 6:15, the Ski and Ride School will have their torchlight parade and Santa will make his appearance. End the night with a fireworks display at 6:30 and candlelight chapel service at 7:30. There will be giveaways and raffle prizes all throughout the event. Visit for more information.

Santa at A-Basin

Also on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus and one of his lucky chosen elves will be making an appearance at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area starting at 11 a.m. They will be handing out candy in the A-Frame lodge and Mountain Goat Plaza to all who deserve some. To spread the cheer around the mountain, Santa will head over to Molly Hogan and then to the lodge at the top of Black Mountain Express before he leaves at 1 p.m. Visit for more information.

'Holiday Follies'

Through Dec. 23, The Lake Dillon Theatre Company will be running a holiday variety show featuring yuletide classics, comic interludes and audience favorites with special guest performers. Showtimes are at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $14.50–41.50 depending on seats and can be purchased at

'A Christmas Story'

Through Dec. 30, the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre will be running a live version of the classic holiday film "A Christmas Story." Humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the midwest in the 1940s follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the Christmas tree.
Ralphie pleads his case over and over again only to be told, "You'll shoot your eye out!"
All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family's temperamental exploding furnace; Scut Farkas, the school bully; the boys' experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamp post; the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin; Ralphie's father winning a lamp shaped like a woman's leg in a net stocking; Ralphie's fantasy scenarios and more. The show is appropriate for all ages and tickets are $25-35 depending on seats. For showtimes, visit

Christmas Dinner

The Rotary Club of Summit County, Synagogue of the Summit and The Elks Lodge will serve a free dinner to all comers on Christmas Day. The meal is served every Tuesday, even on holidays, from 5-7 p.m. at The Elks Lodge, located at 1321 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne. Thanks to a generous donation from Al and Sara Zuckerman of Greer's Appliances, this dinner will be a special one. "Giving is what the holiday season is all about," said the Zuckermans. "We are thrilled to have an opportunity to give our share to this wonderful charity that gives back to the community all year round."
Courtesy of the Summit Daily.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dillon Ice Castles to open this Friday, Dec. 21

#Dillon #Colorado
Summit Daily

The Dillon Ice Castles will officially open for visits on Friday, Dec. 21. Utah-based Ice Castles, LLC said the popular ice architecture and sculpture attraction is opening a full week earlier than usual.
Dillon is one of six cities across North America to feature the Ice Castles. The Dillon location is the first of the company's six locations to open for the season due to an early start to construction and a bountiful early winter in Summit.
"We are excited to able to open before Christmas this season," said Ice Castles CEO Ryan Davis. "Kids will get out of school for the winter break and families will be spending time together. Ice Castles gives people one more way to make incredible winter memories over the holidays."
The attraction features ice-carved tunnels, fountains, slides, frozen thrones, and cascading towers of ice embedded with color-changing LED lights that twinkle to music at night.
Artisans have spent the last five weeks growing, harvesting, and hand-placing icicles to create the life-size winter playground which brings tens of thousands of people to Dillon each season. The frozen creation in Dillon is made up of 25 million pounds of ice.
The company has other locations in Midway, Utah; Stillwater, Minnesota; North Woodstock, New Hampshire; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; and Edmonton, Alberta.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

This is what the housing market could look like in 2019

Expert says declining mortgage rates bode well for buyers.

In 2018, the housing market experienced its fair share of up and downs, attributed to many factors, including affordability and inventory concerns. But as the year comes to an end, homebuyers will be walking into 2019 with more pep in their step.

Last week, amid U.S. stock market volatility, mortgage rates finally edged down. In fact, Freddie Mac revealed mortgage rates retreated to 4.75%, according to its Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Todd Probasco, Lakeside Bank’s vice president mortgage sales manager, said this retreat will be impactful.

“Interest rates hit 5% a month ago and rates have been going up for the last year, so that reduction is a big move in the market,” he said.
Probasco is not wrong. Throughout 2018, both pending and home sales have fallen month over month.
Alcynna Lloyd, HousingWire.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Summit County commissioners approve $126 million budget for 2019

Frisco Transit Center overhaul

#Summit County #Colorado

Summit's Board of County Commissioners approved the 2019 county budget on Tuesday. The $126 million budget will pay for county services, major infrastructure projects and capital improvements in 2019. That includes improvements to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park, the Snake River Water Treatment Plant, county roads, the Summit Stage bus system and Summit County Commons in Frisco.
Big ticket enterprise items include the solid waste fund, which will receive a little over $6 million with $4 million buying a new solid waste disposal cell at the SCRAP. The Snake River treatment plant will receive $1.25 million to replace headworks inlet screens, where wastewater initially enters the plant for processing.
The county's ambulance service will receive $603,000 for two new four-wheel drive ambulances, completion of a new joint administration building and for a revamped automatic external defibrillator program.
The county is also budgeting for several road projects, spending $2.7 million on road construction and maintenance. That includes completion of the Summit Cove Loop project that will create bike/pedestrian lanes along Summit Drive and Cove Boulevard, among other improvements. Improvements are also budgeted for Boreas Pass Road, Swan Mountain Road and Fairview Boulevard.
“We are very excited to have the ability to fund these important community initiatives.”Scott Vargo County manager
The county will also spend $2.2 million on recpath projects, including segments along Highway 91 and Swan Mountain Road, with improvements at both ends of Swan Mountain Road being constructed in concert with construction at the new Breckenridge water treatment plant and the Summit Cove Loop project.
The county's public transit system will also be budgeted for an overhaul. Summit Stage plans to acquire five new buses and one paratransit vehicle. Grant funding is projected to cover 80 percent of the cost, bringing Summit County's total price tag for the replacements down to $200,000. The county notes that the new buses will be smaller than buses they are replacing to cut down on fuel and acquisition costs.
The county will spend $4 million for the renovation of the Frisco Transportation Center, with $2.5 million in state funds to offset the costs. Improvements will be focused on parking and driver accessibility at the transportation center, as well as drainage and other infrastructure improvements.
In alignment with the County Commons Master Plan, $3 million will be devoted to revamping the county commons area, particularly with its road alignment. The winding hill section of Peak One Drive, between the Summit County Commons building and Summit Medical Center at the top of the hill, will be made to accommodate improvements at the north part of the campus, as well as for safety purposes as it can be quite tricky for buses and ambulances to navigate.
A new sand and salt storage building used by the county and CDOT will be constructed on the east side of campus, replacing the old storage building on the west side, which is in poor shape. The replacement will also alleviate loud noise and traffic on the west side, which is near a residential neighborhood.
The sheriff's office will receive $560,000 in capital funding for safety improvements at the jail, a drone for use in wildfires and emergency searches, SWAT body armor, security upgrades, an inmate tracking system and an update to the Summit County Justice Center Master Plan.
The $41 million general fund has increased from last year due to personnel costs, expanded hours for jail medical providers, prisoner meals and mental health expenses, among other needs. The passage of Ballot Initiative 1A — which devotes funding to early childhood education, mental health and suicide prevention, recycling, wildfire mitigation and county infrastructure — will provide $8.8 million of the general fund. To avoid confusion with prior 1A measures, the county will now refer to the 2018 1A funding program as "Strong Future."
"We are very excited to have the ability to fund these important community initiatives," said county manager Scott Vargo. "We are working very hard to roll out funding and programming from the program soon into the new year."

Courtesy of the Summit Daily.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Colorado drivers – I have some questions for you

Summit Daily

From the Summit Daily News:

Not that it could possibly have anything to do with the coincidence of turning 50 a few days back, but I gotta say that my old-man-styled feelings on the state of driving in contemporary Colorado have finally boiled over.
In fact, after a day trip to Vail last weekend, I was so disheartened by the terrifying mixture of speed, aggression and just overall incompetent and disinterested driving on Interstate 70, that I kind of wish they really had built that Simpsons-inspired monorail long ago.
I've been driving for 20 years in Colorado, which I am sure makes me a newcomer to some folks, but I gotta say that the last couple of seasons on the highway make me feel like I'm in Miami, Central New Jersey or the 405 in L.A. I also drive a lot — 80 or so new cars a year.
Maybe it's karma for all the years of excessive "vehicle testing" leadfooting I've done in my role as a "professional driver" — air quotes very much necessary for both those phrases — but man, when the hell did 80 MPH become the standard speed on I-70, at all times?
Stop signs and directional signals seem like they’ve become optional, and the simple niceties of using your turn signals, merging cautiously or staying in your lane have all gone by the wayside.
My friend's dad, a retired Long Island cop, drove the road on vacation the same day as me on his own ski trip and he asked exactly the same question. "Where are all these people going in such a freaking hurry?"
You got me. All I know is that when you're driving anything besides a recently serviced high-performance automobile, your ability to avoid a collision — like, when traffic comes to a sudden and complete stop near Downieville — is never going to be as fast as you think it is.
Add to this the number of SUVs on the road and the pure physics of trying to do an emergency stop in a two-ton Yukon Denali (or even an elderly Xterra, whose drivers seem to universally believe are high-performance vehicles), and I sometimes wonder how anyone survives at all.
Is recreational weed a factor? Again, hard to say, as I thought it was supposed to have exactly the opposite effect. Or is it all the millions of newcomers to Colorado, bringing the aggressive, incompetent and borderline psychotic driving styles of their home states?
I guess that's become the default explanation, as I've discovered that driving my press fleet vehicles — all of which have out-of-state fleet plates, most frequently including California, Michigan, Arizona and New Jersey — has now made me the subject of vehicular ire in a way I never experienced a decade ago.
I get the impression that many Coloradans feel the best way to get back at out-of-state drivers (for ruining their way of life, raising housing prices, stealing their girlfriends or whatever) is to engage in a series of extremely dangerous displays of regional superiority.
If you've started to believe that tailgating folks with out-of-state tags is going to bring back 1995-era rents, or that swerving around them and cutting in front of them is going to ease congestion, I think you're wrong.
Admittedly, my ex-wife, a Midwestern transplant who claimed to be more Coloradan than the natives, also totally ruined my karma in this regard by doing exactly the same swerving, tailgating, near-collision merging and frequent bird-flipping to out-of-state drivers, especially those from Lyle Lovett land.
We were eventually chased and almost run off the road one time by three guys coming back from a day of drinking in Black Hawk, which hopefully convinced her that flipping people off was going to get us killed.
Maybe it's just that they are really lazy, no matter if they're longtime locals or fresh off the interstate from one of the coasts, and that courteous and efficient driving seems as lame as using the telephone or making small talk at a check-out stand.
The number of vehicles I now see running entirely red lights — like, a full five seconds after the light has changed — is absolutely terrifying. Especially when it's a fully-loaded tractor-trailer, too busy to wait for a light. Stop signs and directional signals seem like they've become optional, and the simple niceties of using your turn signals, merging cautiously or staying in your lane have all gone by the wayside.
Again, my recent move into AARP territory might be entirely to blame here, but I don't think so. Things have certainly changed.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Denver loses U.S. bid for 2030 Olympics to Salt Lake City

Summit Daily

The U.S. Olympic Committee will support Salt Lake City as the nation's potential candidate for the 2030 Olympic Games, rejecting Denver's unusual proposal for a privately funded Games in favor of Utah's simpler and more popular proposal, the committee announced Friday.
The USOC now will work with Salt Lake City to prepare for the international selection process, which is expected to conclude with the International Olympic Committee session in 2023.
Salt Lake City and Denver were the final two competitors after Reno-Tahoe withdrew from the running this year. Salt Lake City proposed to run the Games for $1.3 billion, a relatively low sum, by reusing facilities from its 2002 Games. The Utah proposal had the unanimous support of the state Legislature, and a poll found 83 percent agreement among the state's residents.
"It was very clear to us when we were there, in what they presented, that Salt Lake City very much understands the practical realities of hosting a Games, but also wants and supports what they represent and are very proud to represent the United States in just that," said Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the USOC.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily