Mountain News: 

Aspen hospital quietly prepares for terrorism

Compiled by Allen Best

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen Valley Hospital has been quietly stockpiling antibiotics and antidotes for chemical agents in preparation for a potential attack involving weapons of mass destruction.

"Colorado as a whole is one of the leaders in WMD readiness," said Stephen Kantrill, a representative from the Biological Nuclear Incendiary Chemical Explosive Training Center in Denver. "But I'd say you guys are probably a lot better off than most hospitals in the state and probably a lot better off than most hospitals in the country."

Bill Rodman the hospital’s director of trauma told The Aspen Times that he does not believe Aspen is a huge target. He confirmed that the hospital has antidotes for nerve agents such as sarin and VX gas plus stockpiles of ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic that treats anthrax, as well as a mobile decontamination shower and hazardous material suits.

Rich get richer…

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — The rich are getting richer in Jackson Hole, and the poor – well, it’s getting more difficult to be poor there, just like in most resort areas.

Numbers-crunching columnist Jonathan Schechter explains that in 1989, when George Bush the Elder became president, those people who made more than $200,000 a year were responsible for 15 per cent of the annual income in Teton County. A decade later, they were 44 per cent.

During the past decade Teton County has become the wealthiest county in America on a per capita basis. More tellingly, the per capita income has increased more rapidly than median income. That’s a way of saying the gap between rich and definitely-not-rich has widened.

Too, as residential property becomes more expensive in Teton County, so too do commercial properties. That means that Jackson Hole is becoming more dependent upon wealthier people, he reports, writing in the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Schechter sees tough times ahead. Housing prices during the 1990s increased 300 per cent while median household income increased 73 per cent. "It has been our fortune that our wealthy residents have been generous in giving to charities; in future years, as the middle class is increasingly squeezed and governmental funds get tighter, that generosity will become even more important to the community’s well-being," he said.

The tax cuts of George W. Bush have helped the wealthy of Jackson Hole, and if he is re-elected they will probably be helped even more, he says. But the overarching issue is the massive federal deficit incurred during the last four years. Regardless of who gets elected, he argues, that deficit must be reckoned with for decades.

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