Mountain News: Ski town indicators show economic recovery 

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VAIL, Colo. — Hither and thither across resort-based mountain towns of the West come reports of economic recovery.

Vail had its biggest-ever haul of sales tax collections during last winter, despite the poor snow, an increase of 3.9 per cent over the previous winter. The $1.15 million also surpassed the previous winter record set in 2007-2008.

In Wyoming, Jackson had a 5.3 per cent increase in sales tax collections last year. Park City reports a surge in permits for new building, and not just upgrading the existing buildings, as occurred during the recession.

But the national and international news tell a different story of stalled economic recovery. The unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high. The stock market stepped backward. U.S. President Barack Obama has felt compelled to defend his record.

"Are we leading or lagging? I don't know," says Suzanne Silverthorne, the public information office for the Town of Vail.

Destination ski towns, because they cater to the world's elites, tend to go into economic declines later and emerge more rapidly than many economic sectors. But in this case, that means they could be on either side of a trend: slow to reflect the new decline or more sure barometers of the U.S. economy.

Telluride continues talk of retreat for scientists

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Talk continues in Telluride of creating dedicated facilities that could be used by scientists for retreats. The town currently draws nearly 1,000 scientists annually, mostly during summer for small meetings of about 100 people at the town's middle school.

But the Telluride Science and Research Center would like to construct a top-flight 30,000-square-foot facility that would have year-round use.

The Daily Planet reports that town officials are cautiously supportive but reluctant to commit to a public-private venture at this point.

Boosters point to the economic impact of drawing scientists. The Aspen Center for Physics and the Keystone Symposium, both in Colorado, boast of strong economic boosts to their communities. Even larger numbers are reported for Woods Hole, a retreat in Massachusetts for oceanographers and other scientists.

Watchdog wants full report of Obama trip

ASPEN, Colo. — Detached from their personal president, Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha flew to Aspen on Presidents' Day Weekend. There, they stayed at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, of the family that owns the four ski areas in Aspen, and skied at one of them, Buttermilk.

At what cost to the taxpayers? A governmental watchdog group called Judicial Watch wants to know. It has sued two federal agencies, the Secret Service and the Air Force, to cough up the expenses of transporting and securing the Obama entourage. The entourage, says the Aspen Daily News, was accompanied by a slew of security personnel.

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