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A bit of grime not all bad in mountain towns

DURANGO, Colo. - Durango has never been a high-end destination resort. True, the town fills with tourists each summer, most drawn to take the narrow-gauge train to Silverton. And in winter there's a ski area up the road.

But Durango exudes a more earthy, blue-collar feel than even those ski towns that once were mining towns. Durango Telegraph co-editor Will Sands, formerly of Crested Butte and Telluride, says Durango has some hard edges, what he calls "a bit of grease in the town's silver spoon."

Yet with plenty of biking trails, whitewater through the middle of town, and sharply defined mountains in the distance, it's at no loss for outdoor amenities.

"Yep, I've seen the royal Hollywood treatment inflicted on two birds of paradise and can tell you first-hand that there are worse creatures lurking in the night than Desert Rock," says Sand, alluding to a proposed power plant about 50 miles away.

"We're a pint of excellent microbrew with a thumb-print on the glass," he concludes.

Sun Valley continues debate about airport

KETCHUM, Idaho - The Sun Valley Co., operator of the ski area, continues to argue against a new airport at a location more distant from Ketchum and Sun Valley. Most community groups seem to support a new airport, which would accommodate larger airplanes. But that tentative site will be about twice as far from Sun Valley as the current location at Hailey, about 20 miles from the resort center. Wally Huffman, the company's director of resort development, fears travelers will be unwilling to pay a premium to fly to the Sun Valley area, rather than to Twin Falls or Boise - Idaho towns that are more distant, but within a couple of hours drive.

Runway extension will increase airport traffic

GYPSUM, Colo. - Eagle County Regional Airport has been closed for the summer while the runway gets extended 1,000 feet. The airport accommodates traffic primarily to the Vail and Beaver Creek area, but also has become a significant portal for Aspen-Snowmass visitors.

When completed, the 9,000-foot-long runway will be better able to accommodate [NEW WORD] jets flying from distant cities, including New York City. Because of the relatively high elevation, about 6,500 feet, and mountain topography, larger planes taking off from the airport during warmer, summer months cannot carry full passenger loads. This decreases the revenue. A longer runway will also accommodate longer flights during winter, theoretically even from Europe.

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