Columns

Vail Daily column: Loan options for local buyers

May 29, 2015 — 

Ever since Vail opened in 1962, it seems there has been a shortage of available housing for local employees. Few know that where the Potato Patch Club sits there once was a mobile home park housing some of the first individuals who personified the genre of ski bums. Indeed some of Vail’s more respectable and successful residents today once resided there.

But most people ultimately want to own a home, and combining that dream with owning a home in Eagle County can be daunting. The primary challenge being the price of housing and getting a down payment saved up, and the challenge of qualifying for a mortgage if one holds several seasonal or part time jobs throughout the year.

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Vail Daily column: Choosing the right type of representation

May 29, 2015 — 

Dear Joan,

I am looking for a Realtor to work with to help me find the best property at the best price. I have actually been interviewing Realtors and have discovered something I would like to understand better. One Realtor said that they would work with me as a “transaction broker.” If I understood correctly, they would just show me properties, but would not be my advocate, nor be able to tell me any insider information they knew about the property or the seller because they would technically be neutral, just trying to put a deal together between two parties.

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Vail Daily column: Spring brings baby birds

May 29, 2015 — 

Spring in Colorado is here and I am sure most of you would agree that it doesn’t seem as though summer is right around the corner! Despite the gloomy, rainy weather, this is the time of year when new life abounds. The smell of fragrant tree buds fill the air, the grass greens and the sounds of nature become almost celebratory! Every year I welcome the calls of our feathered friends even if it is well before the sun rises.

The spring season, which brings longer days and usually more sunshine, often triggers the beginning of breeding behavior in birds, which means adorable baby birds! Spring is when many bird species show this change, spending more time on activities related to breeding such as singing, territory defense and looking for nest sites. Bird songs are more than “music to our ears”; they play an important role in the lives of our feathered friends. The singing is done mostly by males and has two purposes, to attract a mate and to defend territory against other males of the same species. Setting territory boundaries allows the male to begin the courtship of their mate and then the nest building and breeding can begin! Surprisingly, the amount of time that passes from the act of mating to the first laid egg is almost non-existent. Shortly after mating, female birds begin to lay one egg per day until all eggs have been laid. Four to six eggs is the average for most smaller species of birds.

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Vail Daily column: Is your business like the NFL?

May 28, 2015 — 

With all due respect to Major League Baseball, the National Football League has grown into America’s Pastime. League revenues are upwards of $9.5 billion, greater than any other sport. NFL teams capture the headlines on local news stations and newspaper coverage during their offseason, even over baseball teams in the heart of their seasons. The NFL draft has turned into a prime time spectacle that earns higher ratings than NBA playoff games — even when you combine the playoff ratings of two games.

Bloomberg Business recently looked in depth at the NFL and compared the league to the 14 Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index 500 companies with the most comparable revenue numbers (from $9 billion to $10 billion), and found that the NFL has, by far, a higher market cap ($46 billion) than any of them.

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Vail Daily column: Make timely adjustments to your 529 plan

May 28, 2015 — 

If you have school-age children, then you might greet the arrival of June with some relief — for at least a few months, you don’t have to worry about “encouraging” kids to do their homework and study for tests. But one day, these obligations will give way to a substantially bigger one — paying for college.

One popular college-savings vehicle is a 529 plan. When you invest in a 529 plan, your earnings grow tax free, provided the money is used strictly for qualified higher education expenses. (Withdrawals not used for these expenses will be taxed and may also incur a 10% penalty.) Plus, if you invest in your own state’s plan, then your contributions may be tax-deductible. In any case, consult with your tax advisor before investing, as tax issues for 529 plans can be complex.

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Vail Daily column: Edwards river project enters final year

May 26, 2015 — 

With the help of schools, businesses and community groups, the Eagle River Watershed Council is in the eighth and final year of community-based restoration along the Eagle River west of Edwards.

Beginning in 2008, the Eagle River Restoration Project in Edwards set out to improve the health and function of the aquatic and riparian habitat of a 1.6-mile stretch of river. The ultimate goal was to reconnect higher quality aquatic systems above and below this section.

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Vail Daily column: How to be a witness

May 26, 2015 — 

When you are a witness at trial, the way it works is this: you’re called to the witness stand and sworn to tell the truth. You state your name, address, etc. You adopt an earnest look. Someone in a sharp dressed suit squares at the lectern as you take in your surroundings. You, perhaps, fidget a bit.

The guy (or gal) at the lectern is a lawyer. Let’s presume that he is your attorney. If so, the questioning, while perhaps pointed, will likely be benign, at least in its delivery. Attorney A (the good guy in your estimation), will ask a bunch of questions that you are under oath to answer truthfully. If he’s worth his salt, the good guy lawyer will lead you with his questioning to where you need to go to prove your case.

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Vail Daily column: Nearing 50 without a plan?

May 25, 2015 — 

Managing your money at any age is difficult. When we were young and living at home, it was easier to save money. At this phase of life, bills such as rent, mortgage, telephone and utilities were usually paid by someone else. If we had a job, often our income was for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, as we got older, things changed.

Once we left home and got that first job, learning to budget and save was difficult. That old budget and the discretionary funds that were manageable when we were young and single changed as we got older. With age, our perceived needs and responsibilities changed. Deciding to pay for things like rent, mortgage, transportation, food and entertainment took on new levels of importance.

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Vail Daily column: What is a nup?

May 21, 2015 — 

What, exactly, is a “nup?” Well, “nuptial,” actually.

The dictionary defines the word as, “of or relating to marriage.” Black’s Law Dictionary concurs, defining it as, “pertaining to marriage; constituting marriage; used or done in marriage.” So “nup,” it seems, pertains to the state of wedded bliss.

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Vail Daily column: Legislature increases incentives for conservation

May 20, 2015 — 

Eagle Valley Land Trust anticipates an increase in private land conservation in Eagle County due to increased incentives signed into law last week by the state Legislature. For the last 13 years, since the initial state incentives were put into law, Eagle Valley Land Trust could offer private landowners only up to $375,000 (in the form of marketable tax credits) to permanently remove development rights from their land. The new law increases this funding to up to $1.5 million. Land conservation has proved to be so popular with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that they overwhelmingly (59 to four) agreed to increase the state incentive for conservation because it is good business for our tourism and agriculture-based economy.

Do you know of a parcel that could be conserved? While the land trust can’t conserve every parcel proposed for conservation, the new legislation creates great opportunities. There is no formula for which parcels are preserved. Parcels that make excellent candidates for conservation exhibit any of the following attributes or a mix thereof: They are greater than 70 acres, adjacent to public lands, resolve a significant recreational access issue, contain ecologically sensitive attributes, contribute significantly to landscape-scale conservation, protect a valuable scenic area, contain significant water rights and/or conserve significant agricultural land.

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Vail health column: Focus on foundational movements to help youth athletes improve

May 18, 2015 — 

The Vail Valley provides a great environment for young athletes to be active and healthy. Our terrain is suited to developing skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers and trail runners. We have wonderful organizations for youth soccer and lacrosse. But what are the important training aspects that help our children succeed in their sports? What training protocols are essential to propel them to become better overall athletes and minimize injury?

Foundational movement development should be at the core of any young athlete’s approach to training. These fundamental athletic movement patterns are essential in nearly every sport. Athletes who learn and master these at a young age have a much higher degree of success and have better awareness of their bodies and lower incidence of injury.

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Vail Daily column: Smokers have higher risk of dementia

May 18, 2015 — 

Smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers (World Health Organization). People concerned about the possibility of developing dementia because of age and family history can minimize the potential by stopping smoking.

While the effects smoking has on our heart, lungs and vascular system have been known for quite some time, studies now confirm that smoking also increases the potential for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Vail Living With Vitality column: Relaxing is different from collapsing

May 18, 2015 — 

Retreat: To withdraw to a safe, quiet or secluded place.

After two centuries of industrialization, we are finally seeing a rise in the value of taking the time to go on a retreat, practice yoga, learn meditation, invest in ourselves and rest.

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Vail Daily column: 'Shun' your way to an effective meeting

May 17, 2015 — 

Meetings are an essential part of running any business, team or organization. Businesses today find themselves with team members stretched across the country making virtual meetings commonplace. Whether the group resides in the same location or is geographically dispersed, pulling team members together remains a critical part of keeping people focused, on the same page and improving teamwork and synergy. Unfortunately, as many firms may see the number of meetings increasing, in my experience, their effectiveness has not.

Throughout the years, we’ve all been a part or maybe even led meetings that:

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Vail Daily column: The wonderful, wild strawberry

May 16, 2015 — 

Backpacking the steep and rugged trails of the Gore Range my first summer in the Vail Valley, I recall my feet aching from the blisters forming on my heels, cold drops of rain penetrating my so-called rain-coat, and my belly grumbling with cheeseburgers and beer on my mind. My PMA (positive mental attitude) had taken a turn for the worse. Then it happened. My fellow backpackers discovered a sizable patch of what appeared to be tiny strawberries. Although they were pretty sure we had just stumbled across a bounty of edible, wild strawberries, we double checked the field guide to be confident.

Blueish-green leaves 2-4 inches in size and comprised of three sharply toothed leaflets, check! Small clusters of white flowers with five broad petals that surround a yellow center, check! Reddish, slightly hairy, long and slender stems, check! Small, reddish fruits that resemble tiny strawberries, check! Sure enough, we found the mother-lode of Frigaria virginia. As I popped one of these small red berries in my mouth, I discovered the attitude-adjusting deliciousness of a wild strawberry. The incredible sweetness found in each tiny berry from just off the trail far surpassed that of its perfectly ripened and much larger cultivated cousin purchased at the grocery store. I later discovered that 90 percent of all cultivated strawberries were derived from the wild species (Kershaw, 2000). The wild strawberries we stumbled upon reminded me of how wonderful nature’s bounty truly can be. Eight years later, my heart still sings with delight at the first signs of the distinctive wild strawberry, whose leaves typically emerge in May, followed by flowers in June, and berries a bit later in the summer depending on the conditions.

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Vail Daily column: You can manage your credit score

May 15, 2015 — 

hese days, we all have a credit score, and how can you improve it if you have a low one, and did you know there may be a dozen versions of your credit score that could be 100 points of more different.

Credit scores have evolved into a consumer product, and there are many companies who will offer you a free look at your score. Unfortunately, most of these scores are what I call “cotton candy scores”, which means they might look cool, taste sweet but don’t have much value when it comes to determining your credit worthiness.

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Vail Daily column: Is now the right time to buy?

May 15, 2015 — 

Dear Joan,

My wife and I are finally feeling confident enough about the economy and our income that we are ready to buy a home in the valley. However, there seems to be very little available in a mid price​ range that is​ within​ easy​ bus ​access​ ​for​ skiing. Do you think there will be a lot more ​properties​ ​come​ on the market starting in June or July? I have heard that ski area sellers often wait until the first of July​ to list, as they consider that the start of summer. Should we wait and see what comes on the market or just look harder and/or expand our budget​ and radius of our search​ right now?

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Vail Daily column: Unsolicited advice for graduates

May 14, 2015 — 

It’s that time of year when we celebrate our high school and college students graduating and moving on to their next great life adventure. Every student at this age thinks they have all the answers. Those of us who have been there and done that know that in reality — as our students venture out on their own, ready to rule the world — they know nothing.

And that’s OK because they’ll learn as they gain life experience (and we’ve all been there). As someone with a bit more experience (i.e., I’m old), I’m able to offer helpful (?) advice to our graduating students and future community leaders. Advice they’ll likely ignore and learn on their own in due time. But I regress. With that, some unsolicited advice for graduates:

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Vail Pet Talk: Spend wisely on pet care

May 13, 2015 — 

Ever wonder why fees are different at different animal hospitals? I will try to explain but remember these words: caveat emptor, or buyer beware.

Let me start with the good news! A report released last month showed that, according to the Nationwide Purdue Veterinary Price Index, the cost of taking a pet to the veterinarian has actually decreased over the past five years. This groundbreaking study refutes the U.S. government’s Consumer Price Index, which holds veterinary inflation at 15 percent, nearly double the average inflation rate for all consumer sectors.

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Vail Daily column: Love in the time of the Internet

May 12, 2015 — 

“What’s love got to do, got to do with it?”

— Terry Britten and Graham Hamilton Lyle

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Vail Daily column: Millennials take the torch

May 11, 2015 — 

A couple weekends ago, I attended a health fair in Glenwood Spring. While there I had struck up a conversation with one of the volunteers from the Lions Club, P.J. I came to learn that P.J. was a Vietnam veteran and a retired social studies teacher with a 26-year-old son who does not share his work ethic. This gentleman was a bit despondent that his son had chosen a life direction so different from that of what was role modeled to him.

The Millennial generation — ages between 18 to 34 — now represent the largest generation in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this year, there will be about 74.9 million Baby Boomers while Millennials may number 75.3 million.

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Vail relationship column: Cell phone addiction ruining relationship

May 11, 2015 — 

Dear Neil: My wife is beyond obsessed with her iPhone. It is 24/7 with Facebook, video games and messaging apps, and she clearly prefers her phone to spending time with me and the kids. I assume she is downstairs with the kids, but when I go downstairs the kids are getting into all sorts of things. She is there but not there, immersed in her social media fantasy world. It’s ruining our marriage. Even late at night, she would rather play with her phone than be with me. If we didn’t have kids, I would have called it quits already.

— Fed Up With Wife’s Cell Phone Addiction

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Vail Daily column: Northern Flicker: An exception to the rule

May 9, 2015 — 

If you have heard the drumming in the past month or seen the swooping flight of this brown and red woodpecker, then you know it’s true: the Northern flicker has returned to the Vail Valley! Northern flickers are common throughout the valley but their commonality should not be mistaken for ordinariness: These woodpeckers are truly extraordinary birds!

Northern flickers are in the woodpecker family yet they seem to be the exception for several generalizations about this group of birds. First, unlike other woodpeckers in the area, Northern flickers are not black and white but brown with small black spots on their body and flight feathers. They all have a distinctive white rump patch that can often be observed in flight and while perched.

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Vail Daily column: Help Mom with her retirement income strategy

May 7, 2015 — 

Mother’s Day is Sunday. This occasion may have special significance for you if you’ve been fortunate enough to have your mother around for your adult life. So naturally, you’ll want to bring Mom some flowers or another gift. But if she’s planning to retire soon, then you may want to think about a longer-term way to improve her life — namely, by initiating a conversation about her retirement income strategy.

Of course, she may already have matters well in hand. But a great many people on the verge of retirement have not planned for those years, so you may be able to provide some valuable suggestions. Here are a few ideas:

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Vail Daily column: Happy Valley a fitting moniker

May 7, 2015 — 

Spring is a good time to take a moment to realize that our business community is a bit different than others. Maybe it’s because we choose to be here — very few of us end up in the Vail Valley by accident. Maybe it’s because we share a common passion for the outdoors and recreation — time on the mountain (or trail, or river) define us much more than time spent in the office.

Regardless of the reasons, the fact is that we’re a bit different than many business communities. A recent blog and Facebook post by Rob Levine from the Antlers at Vail, who shared the following story, reinforced this fact.

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Vail Daily column: Guilty but insane?

May 5, 2015 — 

Words matter. Concepts matter, too. Even, sometimes, when the outcome is the same.

As you no doubt know, the Aurora shooter trial has begun, and the case brings one such concept to mind. By the way, it is my policy, never to name the shooter in mass killings as the focus should be, instead, on the victims.

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Scenic vistas vs. critical habitat

May 2, 2015 — 

When you look at the mountain landscapes around you, what do you see? Most everyone sees a view worth appreciating, but not everyone sees what the conservation-minded individual sees—a home and a community. We are fortunate in our valley to be surrounded not only by beautiful vistas, but by abundant wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, landscape changes brought on by human land use are a significant factor in habitat destruction. As growing populations encourage development and industry to encroach upon our open spaces, policy makers are making important decisions that affect our local wildlife.

What makes a stretch of land an important habitat? Critical habitats are not always the most scenic areas of land. In fact, it is often the most overlooked ecosystems that can be of the most importance to wildlife. A riparian corridor along the stream in your backyard or a sagebrush community along the highway could rival the significance of a pristine mountain vista when it comes to an animal’s habitat needs. If a federally endangered or threatened species is found in a particular area of land, then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service can designate that area as a critical habitat and set it aside for protection. But what about species that are not federally endangered or threatened? There are countless efforts toward protecting important wildlife habitat across Colorado.

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Vail Daily column: How can you become a 'healthy' investor?

April 30, 2015 — 

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. This “month” is designed to encourage people to follow a healthy, active lifestyle. You can take steps toward this goal, of course, but why not carry the concept of improving health to other areas of your life — such as your investments?

Toward that end, consider these suggestions:

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Vail Daily column: Economic indicators remain positive

April 30, 2015 — 

To paraphrase Francis Bacon, knowledge and information are power. Understanding our local economy — trends, metrics, population forecasts, demographics and more — helps our business community better understand our resort economy. In turn, this helps our municipalities and special districts better serve their citizens.

Knowledge and information on our economy are available to our community through the research output from Vail Valley Partnership and Vail Valley Economic Development (formerly Economic Council of Eagle County). It is important for decision makers at the community and the individual business level to understand the impact of change on our local economy. It’s equally important for everyone in our community to understand this impact.

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Vail Daily column: Am I invisible?

April 29, 2015 — 

So this past Sunday before heading to church we decided to go out to breakfast. And as we entered the restaurant, the staff was happily greeting each guest who arrived and let them know they would be right with them. However, for whatever reason, when we walked in, there was dead silence as they busied themselves with the work immediately in front of them.

Now I get that they were very busy, yet when the people behind us walked in they also received the warm and courteous greeting. I didn’t take it personally, as I am sure we were just caught in a moment of the staff being super busy. But I will share that for a moment it felt like we were invisible.

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