Mountain News 

Winter ebbs

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - At about 9,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies, a long-standing belief among old-timers was that the pivot between winter and spring occurred on St. Patrick's Day. Before that, snow piles kept growing. Afterward, new storms only added to the snow depths temporarily. The longer-term trend was melting.

That's a good thing in Breckenridge, which has a base elevation of 9,600 feet. Impatience has set in with icy sidewalks, rising roadside berms, and alleys lost under the winter coating.

Part of the annoyance has to do with reduced snowplowing service. While the network of roads has expanded in recent years, the amount of staffing devoted to clearing them has declined. Town officials say they have reduced their Cadillac-level services to those of a Subaru.

"When we go back and look at what we think is sustainable financially, those are some of the realities that have come about in trying to be financially responsible," explained town spokeswoman Kim DiLallo.

 

Vertical greenhouse sets roots

JACKSON, Wyo. - Proponents of a vertical greenhouse adjacent to Jackson's three-story public parking garage have first dibs on the land. The plan embraced by Jackson town officials would use innovative technologies to lengthen the notoriously short growing season in Jackson while employing local residents with disabilities. Vegetables and other produce from the greenhouse would be sold to local restaurants and stores.

Although the Jackson Hole News&Guide said that the town council gave the nod to the greenhouse proposal from a group called Vertical Harvest, details must still be worked out and money raised.

As in most things, there was a loser. An affordable housing group wanted the land, to build 14 rental units with a ground-level space that could have been rented out for commercial purposes, delivering ongoing revenue for future housing projects. The two proposals were like kittens and rainbows, said one councillor, referring to the beneficial aspects of both projects.

The News&Guide , in an editorial, endorsed the idea, proclaiming: "Ready, set, grow." It added: "Vertical Greenhouse supporters have a tall row to hoe, but there's little doubt that the energetic group, which draws from a spectrum of interested talent across the valley, will develop a project that can put this town on yet another map, one that charts sustainability, efficiency, new ideas and compassion."

 

Reaction to bioreactor

HAILEY, Idaho - City officials in Hailey, located near Ketchum and Sun Valley, are looking at the potential of composting sewer sludge, grease from restaurants and septic tank waste in something called a bioreactor. Such bioreactors have been used by Japanese hotels, said city officials. The device would create 150-degree hot air, producing enough to heat 32 homes. But the cost of this is what caught the eye of readers: $8.1 million. Commenting on the website of the Idaho Mountain Express , several suggested that only if money were free could such an idea be possible. Further details will presumably flesh out the nuances of this story.

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