Mountain News 

Second homes 12 per cent of sales

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Tomatoes at 9,000 feet

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Who says you can’t grow tomatoes at 9,000 feet? Certainly Yvette Henson, a horticulturalist who works as an extension agent in the Telluride area. Leaf lettuce can grow bushy and ample during Telluride’s 60-day growing season, perennial flowers can bloom brightly, and herbs can grow fragrant and full, she told the Telluride Daily Planet. As for the notoriously fickle tomatoes, she advises that you "have to do it a certain way." She comes by her expertise partly through her inheritance. Both of her grandfathers were miners and grew kitchen gardens.

Language gap growing

EAGLE VALLEY, Colo. — Public schools in the Vail-dominated Eagle Valley are a mixed bag, almost evenly split between Hispanics, many of them immigrants, and Caucasians.

Fluency is also a mixed bag. Not quite two-thirds (62 per cent) of Hispanics are fluent in English, but 38 per cent speak only some or no English. In some schools, such as at Avon, at the foot of Beaver Creek, the percentage of no- or little-English is even higher, some 82 per cent.

School officials say the influence of language on test scores is profound. Students struggling to take tests in a language they don’t completely understand have struggled. While Caucasian and Hispanic third-graders who grew up speaking English ranked better than 80 per cent on these standardized tests, the struggles of those still learning English have dragged down the district-wide test scores to 69 per cent. Statewide the average is 70 per cent.

"These scores are further evidence of how the language gap in our schools leads to an achievement gap," said John Brendza, the school district superintendent.

While overall in Colorado 10 per cent of students have limited or no English, it’s 38 per cent in the Eagle Valley.

Islands of blue in sea of red

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — The election of 2004 showed a remarkable voting trend across the Rocky Mountains. Virtually without exception, the ski towns and resort valleys voted for John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for U.S. president, making them islands of blue in the ocean of Republican red that defines the Rocky Mountain West.

Some of these islands were by no means surprising. Aspen’s Pitkin County and Telluride’s San Miguel County have long been unshakably Democratic. Others began shifting in the 1990s. Vail’s Eagle County in 1992, in addition to voting for Bill Clinton, also voted in a black man who espoused growth-control measures for county commissioner. Jackson Hole’s Teton County also crossed the aisle to vote for Clinton in that same election.

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