Mountain News: 

Ski valleys respond to tsunami

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — Resort communities across the West responded to the Indian Ocean tsunami in a variety of ways, with some shelling out money privately, other communities digging into city and county coffers, while Whistler and adjacent communities explored "adopting" a Third World community just as many ski towns already have embraced other, more affluent ski towns in developed countries.

In Sun Valley, city leaders donated $10,000 altogether to four different relief organizations, although understanding that some of the money could go to relief in the war-torn and famine-plagued African nation of Sudan. Blaine County, where Sun Valley and Ketchum are located, also pledged $10,000.

In Crested Butte, the town council rejected a municipal donation, concluding that donations should be private. "As terrible as it is, I don’t think it’s our role to give local funds for international issues like this," said Councilman Bill Coburn in arguing against the proposal by Mayor Jim Schmidt.

In well-heeled Jackson Hole, there was no report of governmental aid to tsunami victims, but one anonymous donor gave $100,000 to the local Community Foundation, while local Rotarians chipped in $2,000, in addition to sundry other donations.

Canadian newspapers reported broad tsunami relief efforts. In Lake Louise, ski technicians donated their tips, while a community lunch in Canmore that last year raised $5,000 for children in Afghanistan this year is being geared toward South Asia.

As well, a Canmore store owner is seeking to raise $336,000 Cdn. for restoration of boats in Railay, Thailand. "There’s no point in setting a low goal," explained Cameron Baty, owner of a local store. "There’s a lot of rich people in this town." He told the Rocky Mountain Outlook that he was skeptical of larger relief organizations, because of the amount of money that goes into administration.

In Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, the Ute Mountaineer donated water purification kits while Aspen Valley Hospital gave sterile gloves and other medical supplies. Down-valley from Aspen, children in the Basalt United Methodist Church were assembled to stuff hygienic items into plastic bags to be shipped to refugee camps. The cost of the items wasn’t much, $250, but the message is much bigger, said the Rev. Marie Gasau.

"Every faith teaches concern and compassion, so there’s our opportunity to express (those feelings) as Christians, obviously, but also as just members of the human race," she told The Aspen Times. "It’s more than just responding to the disaster: I think that what we’re doing is creating a bridge between people no matter what our culture or religion is."

New winter weather?

ASPEN, Colo. — Snowfall during December was stingy in large parts of the West. In Avon, at the foot of Beaver Creek, devoted weather watcher Frank Doll reported the month was as dry as any since 1976, a notorious drought winter.

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