Columns

Vail Daily column: Red Ribbon Project celebrates 20 years

May 29, 2016 — 

Red Ribbon Project is celebrating 20 years of nonprofit excellence this year. In 1996, several people came together in Avon to discuss the need for an HIV/AIDS support group in our community. Twenty years later, the organization remains steadfast, addressing all risk behaviors with young people across a broad range of ages and cultures.

Red Ribbon Project’s mission is “to promote healthier lives by empowering the community to reduce teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other STIs.” To prevent teen pregnancy and encourage young people to focus on healthy relationships, Red Ribbon Project needed an approach that covered a lot of ground. Our programs focus on healthy relationships, positive adolescent development, social-emotional wellness and overall life skills.

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Vail Daily column: Exciting summer season is around the corner

May 29, 2016 — 

Another spring shoulder season is coming to an end. In my haste to put the ski season behind me and set out on my spring-time adventures, I am reminded about what a great community we have right here in Vail. For most of us spring is a great opportunity to hit the reset button and start the planning process for the next ski season. At the Vail Chamber & Business Association, we have been busy planning for next winter and executing our plans for this summer. We have successfully completed our merger with the Lionshead Merchant Association and are working hard to support the entire Vail business community.

While Memorial Day is the traditional soft opening of summer in my mind, the real shot out of the cannon is on June 9 with the GoPro Mountain Games. The events are fantastic to watch, and this year the Vail Chamber & Business Association was instrumental in getting Lionshead Village included in the festivities. Lionshead Village will feature the always popular Expo Village, along with kids’ activities as well as the start and finish of the cross-country mountain biking event.

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Vail Daily column: Ban boredom with the Great Outdoors

May 28, 2016 — 

Have you been counting down the days until your kids get out of school with a little less anticipation than they are? Those two little words are lurking in the background, behind the shouts of joy over having no homework, and promises to call friends … “I’m bored.” How long will it take your kids to utter this time-honored phrase? A week? A day? Or will it be that very afternoon when they are released from the gates of academia? Don’t let boredom overcome your kids this summer; but also, don’t give in to their requests for screen time in its endless varieties. Do what our parents did; send your kids outside to play. Yes, simply ban them from sanctity of your four walls. Eventually, they will get tired of staring in the windows and they will find something to do. Encourage them to build a fort, either for themselves, or for the little critters that live in your yard, real and imagined. Young kids can have a blast building tiny homes, complete with gardens, fences and pathways, out of stones, bark chips, sticks, leaves and anything else they can find outside. Older kids can build forts for themselves, especially if there are some trees nearby. They don’t even have to be fancy; my kids have established their “pioneer fort” in our yard, out of grass raked into piles and a couple of logs around a stone fireplace. They will sometimes play for hours out there, even insisting on going out again after dinner to play until dark. Amen.

The 100-page rule

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Vail Daily column: Delay paying taxes on investment properties, for free

May 27, 2016 — 

Now that property values are up the upswing, many people who own investment properties are finding opportunities to sell property they have owned for years and buy something new. They are also finding that they face a large taxable capital gain liability.

What many people do not realize is that they are often paying tens of thousands of dollars in capital gains taxes needlessly, even though they have often paid high prices for some expert tax advice. The key to avoiding taxes when you sell a property may be to use what is known as a 1031 exchange. The problem is that many experts are not familiar with the rules of 1031 exchanges. They really are sweepingly broad and can be applied to many types of transactions.

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Realtors regard referrals highly

May 27, 2016 — 

Dear Joan,

I would like to write to you with a good problem. I would like to know what I can do to thank our outstanding Realtor who not only helped us sell our house, but also helped us find another home and amazingly, made the timing work out so that we did not need to move twice. It took a lot of work on her part and she did it all cheerfully and with a good sense of humor, even when things got kind of sticky. I still can’t believe it went so well. She not only got top dollar for our old home, but she was able to help us negotiate a great deal on our new one. I know it is traditional that she give us a closing gift, but I feel like I should give her a gift as well. What would you suggest?

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Vail Daily column: The next generation of Vail Valley leaders emerging

May 26, 2016 — 

Many of the leaders of our community have or are reaching retirement age; these are the founding folk of Vail as we know it today, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their leadership in building our community.

Much hand wringing has occurred throughout the past few years concerning the next generation of leaders for our community. I’ve been fortunate to call the valley home for 19 years, and it’s not a stretch to suggest that we’ve been discussing building the next generation of community leaders for much of that time.

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Vail Daily column: A 529 plan can help with those college bills

May 26, 2016 — 

We’re at the end of another school year. If you have younger kids, then you might be thinking about summer camps and other activities. But in the not-too-distant future, your children will be facing a bigger transition as they head off to college. Will you be financially prepared for the arrival of that big day?

A college education is a good investment — college graduates earn, on average, $1 million more throughout their lifetimes than high school graduates, according to a study by Georgetown University — but a bachelor’s degree doesn’t come cheap. For the most recent school year, the average expense — including tuition, fees, room and board — was $19,548 at a public four-year school and $43,921 at a four-year private school, according to the College Board. And by the time your children are ready for college, these costs may be considerably higher, because inflation is alive and well in the higher education arena.

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Vail Daily column: Did Laremy Tunsil have a reasonable expectation of privacy?

May 24, 2016 — 

You heard about it. Maybe you saw it. It wasn’t flattering.

Just ahead of the recent NFL draft, Laremy Tunsil, the-big-as-all-of-Oxford, Mississippi, offensive tackle, encountered a bit of unwelcome notoriety. Projected by many as a top-three draft pick, what appears to have been an anonymous hacker chose the night of the NFL draft as the occasion to post what was — to say the least — an unhelpful video of Tunsil. The video of Tunsil smoking from a bong fashioned from a gas mask was posted to Tunsil’s Twitter account and, in a blink, went viral. Oops.

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Vail Daily column: Rational discourse in an irrational world

May 22, 2016 — 

For all of the disparate languages spoken globally, there are only two that really matter: the voices of reason and the rantings of the irrational. We are all fluent in both languages, sometimes utilizing each in the same sentence, like a Spanglish linguistic mashup. However, the roots of these dichotomous dialects are vastly different. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all rational discussions are alike; each insane rambling is insane in its own way. Reason derives from a fact-based, observable world. We can collectively reference the tenets of rationality because humanity has determined its fixed points on the logical compass. Irrationality is personal and emotional. The idiosyncrasies of our individual psychologies give each of our unreasonable moments their own unique flair. In a legal system allegedly predicated on rationality, it can be immensely challenging to reconcile the disputants’ particular brands of lunacy.

If both parties are discussing their issues openly and rationally, then the conflict does not typically last long. I am always impressed when people have the maturity to take that first step and sit down to calmly talk through the issues. People are not robots, there is some emotion that seeps around the edges. The most effective discourse is one that accounts for feelings, but is not dictated by them. That should not be as rare as I have found it to be ... sometimes even in my own life. (I wish that I were better at following my own advice.)

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Vail Daily column: Avoiding the spool system swindle

May 21, 2016 — 

Dear reader, I have been fooled by a system. The swimsuit pictured on the advertisement on my social media newsfeed was elegant, totally my style and the price was right. Fast forward almost a month later to when the suit finally arrives, in a plastic bag within a plastic bag within a plastic bag and I read that it was shipped from China. The suit’s dimensions were way off, the tag insert had no information about what the product was made of, and the icing on the cake, it smelled strongly of chemicals. This baffling bathing suit experience compelled me to learn more, and I was soon disheartened to learn about the destructive nature of the clothing industry, which has an impact close to that of big oil. I consider myself a well-informed eco-enthusiast, having taken many strides to lower my individual impact through personal lifestyle changes, so how did I miss this about clothes?

By studying body lice, scientists have been able to speculate that fabric was first used by humans around 100,000 years ago. Flax fibers seem to have been the first used for textiles and fabrics, with cotton following around 5,000 to 4,000 B.C. and wool around 3,000 B.C. Silk made its appearance as a fabric around 4,000 B.C., in China. These were the days when clothing was made by hand, at home, using only naturally occurring fibers. Today, fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry that uses tons of natural resources in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing and shipping. On top of that, it contributes to millions of tons of landfill waste and loads of toxic chemical outputs, including formaldehyde, nonylphenol and many others difficult to pronounce, let alone understand their synergistic effects on the natural processes of the planet.

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Vail Daily column: Should I get a radon test for my new home?

May 20, 2016 — 

Dear Joan,

We are buying a new home and although we are very excited, we have been consistently surprised with new costs that we had not taken into account. Now that we are near to closing on the home, the builder said we don’t need to pay for a home inspector’s services since we will do a punch list and all of the new appliances and systems are under warranty. That was the one expense we had planned on, including getting a radon test.

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Vail Daily column: What does it take to buy a home?

May 20, 2016 — 

Buying a home anywhere is a challenge for most people, and sorting out the myths from reality as to what is required can be a challenge as well.

As the real estate market seems clearly on the road to recovery and it’s the season when locals are moving around, one of the questions I hear most often is: “How much do I have to put down?” The answer is: “It depends.”

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Vail Daily column: Eagle County home to unique flower

May 20, 2016 — 

For many, summertime in Colorado evokes images of vibrant vegetation and beautiful flowering plants carpeting our landscapes. One of the most rare and fascinating of these plants is Harrington’s Penstemon, or Penstemon harringtonii.

Have you ever spotted one? The public is invited to join Eagle Valley Land Trust for a free, guided hike on Saturday, June 11, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. to explore the 478-acre West Avon Preserve conservation easement in search of Harrington’s Penstemon.

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Vail Daily column: Advice to graduates

May 19, 2016 — 

It’s that time of year again when spring has sprung and we’re looking ahead to the summer season. Skis are stored (for the most part) and summer toys are ready. More importantly, graduates from Gypsum to Vail (Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain, Red Canyon and Vail Christian high schools, Vail Mountain School and Colorado Mountain College) are looking ahead to the next chapter in their lives.

In keeping with the seasonality theme, the next season of life is ahead of you — and it is important. Don’t waste the opportunity in front of you. At the same time, don’t drive yourself crazy with the fear of missing out or the stress of making the wrong choice. You will miss out and you will mess up, like everyone does.

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Vail Daily column: Here's how to keep your portfolio healthy

May 19, 2016 — 

If you have a medical appointment this week, then you might want to wish your nurse a happy National Nurses Week. This annual event is designed to celebrate the important role nurses play in health care. Of course, while nurses and doctors can help you in many ways, you can do a lot of good for yourself by adopting healthy living habits, such as eating right, exercising frequently and so on. But you can also do much to help your financial health.

Here are a few suggestions:

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Vail Daily column: Explaining receivership at law

May 17, 2016 — 

OK, you think you know. Organized team activities have begun and football season is just around the corner. The Broncs own Demaryius Thomas is a receiver. Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald. Receivers, one and all. Right but, um… wrong.

Let’s try again. A “receivership” must have something to do, then, with the merchant marines. However ill-fated, the El Faro was a receiver ship. Well, maybe. But not at law.

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Vail Daily column: Virtual reality and Alzheimer's care

May 16, 2016 — 

With the advent of virtual reality, there has been a lot of talk in the tech and entertainment businesses about what this new technology means for their industries. But virtual reality is expected to have a much wider-reaching impact and is already affecting the way some doctors approach Alzheimer’s disease and health care in general.

Risk detection

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Vail Daily column: New symbol, old legacy

May 14, 2016 — 

Earlier this month, President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act to officially make the American bison the national mammal of the United States. The great bison now joins the ranks of the prodigious bald eagle, the mighty oak tree and the Star-Spangled Banner as one of our nation’s symbols. Interestingly, our nation only has a few symbols, and the eagle and the bison are the only animals among them. Now at the state level, it’s another story entirely, with some states designating a seemingly ridiculous number of species as state animals. Just as an example, some states have designated state grasses, state seashells, state microbes (yes, really), and even dog breeds.

I’ll get to the newest symbol, the bison, in a minute, but I think it’s worth commenting on my previous statement first. It’s Oregon. Oregon is the only state with an officially designated microbe. It is a type of brewer’s yeast used in making beer, officially designated in 2013. Other states are considering the adoption of microbes though, including Wisconsin’s heated debates of 2009 over a cheese-making microbe, and Hawaii is still locked in discussion over whether to adopt a bioluminescent microbe discovered by a student in Oahu as their state microbe. I guess these states’ lawmakers must already have all the big problems solved.

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Vail Daily column: How do you find help when seeking a home?

May 13, 2016 — 

Dear Joan,

We are looking for a second home in the valley and we are in the process of choo​sing a Realtor. Actually, I am the one looking for a Realtor as my husband won’t help because he said all salespeople are alike and he doesn’t trust any of them to do anything but try to get a commission. He wants to talk to the listing agent on each home. I ​am sure​ that there are some agents that fit his​ ​description, but I also believe that I can find one that will actually try to help us find what we want and need. How can I identify a person that will look out for us and help us get the best property at the best price?

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Vail Daily column: Why is it so hard to qualify for a mortgage?

May 13, 2016 — 

It seems no two people can agree on who would be the best pick for president, but you’d be hard pressed to find two people who disagree it’s harder than ever to get a mortgage loan.

Since the mortgage meltdown of 2008, lenders — or more correctly, the federal government — have continued to fiddle with qualification guidelines making the bar for credit, income, assets, down payments and appraisals more difficult.

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State tourism sector sees strong numbers

May 12, 2016 — 

The recent National Travel and Tourism Week — America’s annual salute to travel and tourism — was established by a congressional resolution in 1983. This week of events served to champion the power of the tourism industry.

Tourism is one of Colorado’s most important industries. In 2014 Colorado set all-time records, welcoming 71.3 million visitors to the state who spent $18.6 billion and generated $1.1 billion in tax revenue. The 2015 travel year research will be released next month and all indications are that Colorado will see new tourism records set.

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Vail Daily column: Be prepared when the need for advocacy arises

May 9, 2016 — 

People who take on the caregiving role for elderly family or friends either know ahead of time, or quickly find out, how very difficult it can be to manage and advocate for a loved one.

Our Visiting Angels office advocates for many clients on a daily basis. We collaborate with medical providers and family members about the status of our clients after medical office and hospital visits; we maintain copious notes on our client’s medications, eating, exercise and all-round wellbeing. Therefore, when I recently had to go out of town to take care of my mom, who was rushed to the hospital, I thought I would be quite prepared. Surprisingly, it was not so easy.

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Vail Daily column: Get to know the little brown birds in our backyards

May 7, 2016 — 

Birding is a great hobby that everyone can take part in, but most birders (myself included) tend to be drawn to the flashy or colorful species because they can be easier to identify, and they seem the most interesting. But let’s not forget the birds that are flying under the radar. Little brown birds, as they are often called, are the birds that drive birders nuts; they are hard to identify and they seem to be everywhere! These little brown birds share similar colorations that can seem boring to the untrained eye, usually browns and whites. With that said, these species have plenty of attitude and character to make them worth a look, and they are not hard to find. The following is a description of a few of the little brown bird species you can find right in your backyards, and I’ll explain how to tell them apart.

Pine Siskin

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Vail Daily column: What does it take to be pre-qualified for a mortgage?

May 6, 2016 — 

Purchases of real estate in the Vail Valley are starting to pick this spring. Many existing homeowners are finally seeing appreciation in their homes which is allowing them to finally make the transition out of their existing home. First-time homeowners are able to obtain financing programs with little money down and low interest rates. Such programs are enabling them to purchase a home for which the total monthly overhead is often less than their current rent. Resort markets are experiencing a similar purchasing pace which looks to continue into the summer.

Regardless of whether the buyer is looking at high-end resort properties, a first house purchase or a jump up to a second home, going through the initial pre-qualification process with a local mortgage lender is the first and most important item of business. This process can be quicker, easier and less intrusive than most potential borrowers think.

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Vail Daily column: Does exterior of home need 'staging'?

May 6, 2016 — 

Dear Joan,

I know you have talked about staging a house before and I don’t believe that we need to do that to sell our home. As we consider choosing a Realtor to list our home, we have been wondering what we should do on the exterior. Our house is about 12 years old. My wife says it doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look good either. I am worried that if we spend a lot of money dressing it up, then we will never get it back when we sell the house. She said I should ask you what to do.

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Vail Daily column: Success Awards celebrate Vail Valley business community

May 5, 2016 — 

Business, much like life, is less what you do and more why you do it.

Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why,” explains this concept well in his famous TED Talk. Your why is your purpose, your belief, your motivation for action. The concept is explained well in the parable about the three bricklayers. They story goes like this:

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Vail Daily column: Help your mother prepare for retirement

May 5, 2016 — 

Mother’s Day is almost here, so start shopping for the flowers or candy for Mom. But this year, why not also go beyond the traditional?

Here are a few suggestions:

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Vail Daily column: The doctrine of preemption

May 4, 2016 — 

Think of law as a swimming pool.

It can be a large one or a small one, as you choose. It can be a classic kidney shape, a rectangle or guitar-shaped like a rock star’s. It doesn’t matter. The concept to focus on is one of filling up.

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Vail Daily column: A Rocky Mountain love story

April 30, 2016 — 

That’s not moss, it’s lichen! Next time you are on the trail, you can easily distinguish moss from lichen by getting up close and making some simple observations.

At the most basic level, moss is a plant and has plant systems such as leaves and roots, whereas lichens are not plants and therefore lack the basic plant components. So if it’s not a plant, what is lichen?

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Vail Daily column: Instant loan applications are not for everyone

April 29, 2016 — 

Ever since Super Bowl Sunday, TV viewers have seen a lot of advertisements from one of my competitors for a rocket loan in which one can allegedly apply for a loan with nothing more than a smartphone. This includes receiving all disclosures, uploading all documentation and with a click here and a swipe there, you’ll get your money in no time.

Mortgage lenders are a competitive bunch, and we are always looking to make things easier for the consumer. If it were really as easy to apply and process a loan application as this program makes it appear, then there would be a lot of companies offering it. Loan programs like the rocket loan might work for some borrowers, but not for most, particularly in a place such as Eagle County.

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