Editorials

Vail Daily column: Celebrating 45 years of serving the community

July 3, 2015 — 

Anniversaries are a common thing. Every business has one, and each anniversary is meaningful for that business, from one year to 100 years. It’s an affirmation that you’re doing the right thing for your customers, for your employees and for your community. Anniversaries are a time to reflect on past successes and be grateful for the opportunities we’ve been given. They are also a time to consider what the past has taught us and use those lessons to help pave the road for the future.

This year is the Gallegos Corp.’s 45th Anniversary. We have a lot to be grateful for at Gallegos. We are thankful for the vision and values that Gerald G. Gallegos established for us, to our clients who continue to put their trust in us to get the job done to the highest standard. We are equally thankful to employees past and present for keeping the bar high in client service, professionalism, job site safety, integrity and for being good stewards in our communities. Our reputation as industry leaders exists because our employees choose to uphold our core values. Without this incredible team, we couldn’t deliver on our promises to clients.

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Mail-in ballots are better

July 3, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

The town clerk reported in April to the council that Vail voters who wish to vote by absentee ballot no longer must request a ballot for each town poll election. Now, when a voter requests an absentee ballot, they can sign up to be included on a list of voters who will automatically be sent an absentee ballot for town poll elections. This feature was replaced by the state Legislature after having been previously removed. Voters will still need, only for the upcoming election, to obtain an absentee ballot request form, and then they can check the box which will place them on the automatic send absentee ballot list for future elections.

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Vail Daily column: Global warming? Ho hum

July 2, 2015 — 

Heat spells have a way of turning conversations to climate change, however briefly and generally as well-worn jokes.

Listen closely enough, though, and you might hear wisps of the soundtrack of “Jaws.” True, deniers and skeptics still do a good job of plugging their ears and hollering loudly enough for neighbors to miss it, too. And while Democrats express more worry and Republicans almost none, collectively we still pretty much tune it all out, according to Gallup and Pew surveys anyway.

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Vail Daily column: Fourth of July quiz

July 2, 2015 — 

God bless America. We’re celebrating Independence Day in the country we call the U.S. of A. There will be parades in the morning, picnics in the afternoon, fireworks in the evening and a lot of drinking all day. If you work for a living, then it’s a slam dunk you’re off from the daily grind. If you’re “essential personnel” and you work for the government, then you’re making triple time and one half. If you work in a resort community, then there are no holidays and most will report as scheduled ... but I digress already.

This day in the history of our country’s existence celebrates how it all came about. Perhaps we should re-examine why this is one of the most revered of holidays on the calendar. But before we do, let’s review and take a little history test to prove our worthiness.

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Vail Daily column: Continuing Colorado's legacy of conservation

July 1, 2015 — 

Those who live here know that the sunrise from atop Quandary Peak, the alpenglow of the Gore Range and mountain valleys flush with Columbine are at the core of Colorado’s character. Coloradans and tourists alike flock to our mountains and open spaces to ski, hike, mountain bike, hunt and fish, among many other activities. In the process, they add billions to our state economy each year. It’s important that we sustain this natural resource and economic driver.

Generations of Coloradans have understood this. Beginning with the Wilderness Act in 1965 to the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993, and most recently, the hard fought victory to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument and to protect the Hermosa Creek Watershed, Coloradans have united behind preserving our state’s iconic beauty, wildlife and recreational resources.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

July 1, 2015 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

HIT: To the Fourth of July, of course, a great celebration of America without guilt. For the high country, the real kickoff to a short, busy summer.

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Vail Daily column: Keep the learning going

June 30, 2015 — 

Across the country, school is definitely “out for summer”! But this does not (and absolutely should not) mean that learning stops during these fun-filled months for kids. Our kid’s brains and bodies are growing up every moment and as parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors, we all have an opportunity and a responsibility to keep the learning going. In that spirit, here are five big ways to make this a summer of learning for those kids in your life.

1. Keep your kids reading. Students experience something called the “summer slide” after they come back from the long summer break, where their academic achievement levels dip as they’ve gotten out of the practice of being challenged mentally. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our Eagle Valley libraries are open all summer and have a number of great programs and books for kids of all ages. If you want books to keep, then try one of our community’s great book stores, or check out the selection at one of Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shops. If your kids are into technology (as mine are, even at 2 and 3 years old!), then check out any number of great reading apps for kids — such as our family favorite, Speakaboos.

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Vail Daily column: These ships have sailed

June 29, 2015 — 

We can sure be stubborn creatures.

Regardless of empirical evidence directly in front of our face, we sometimes are pulled into progress kicking and screaming, doing our utmost best to ignore and deny what can no longer be ignored or denied.

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Vail Daily column: Eagle Scout project benefits community

June 28, 2015 — 

During the spring of 2014, Walking Mountains Science Center was approached by an apprehensive yet studious and obviously industrious young man. Max Phannenstiehl, from Boy Scout Troop 231 in Edwards, was looking for an Eagle Scout project. Fast forward to March 2015. Max had spent the previous year researching designs for an outdoor natural playground, receiving approval on a troop and district levels and beginning to research potential donors that would support his efforts.

I first met Max at the end of a long school day when he had the opportunity to drop by Walking Mountains and present me with a rough outline for his project. As an Eagle Scout myself, and after having served as coordinator on Eagle Scout projects throughout my career at various nature centers, I was immediately impressed at the level of planning and professionalism Max brought to our initial meeting to get the project off the ground. Max is the first scout from the newly revitalized Troop 231 to go through the Eagle Scout project process. After some initial uncertainty, I knew this guy would serve well as the first Eagle Scout from Troop 231.

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Vail Daily column: Pope's moral convictions rile climate change deniers

June 27, 2015 — 

Pope Francis is principled but not ideological. His recent encyclical letter pinpoints causes of global warming. It emphasizes our moral obligation to care for the environment.

In contrast, ideologues deny scientific findings regarding global warning because these facts contradict their biases.

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Vail Daily column: Escaping in the dark

June 26, 2015 — 

In 1930, we were northbound on a very narrow two-lane road in the San Fernando Valley California, called Ventura Boulevard. Our family’s entire possessions were jammed in and on the car because we had once again moved in the middle of the night to avoid paying back rent. Apparently, my father didn’t feel like working and since it was the bottom of the Depression, he thought he had an excuse, except I don’t think he even tried to get a job that paid a regular salary.

He did have a dream though of resurrecting his radio show that was canceled in Oakland, California. He could speak with a lot of different accents and pretended to be the owner of a country store, dispensing advice to his customers. The show was called Cy Toosie’s Farm. With his multiple voice/accent capability, and as it was radio, he was able to be both the storeowner and the customer.

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Vail Daily column: Land swap not such a dumb idea

June 25, 2015 — 

Yes, I knew I was poking the bear by suggesting a land swap between Battle Mountain and Meadow Mountain made sense.

Which it does.

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Vail Daily column: VVMC construction, remodel set to begin

June 24, 2015 — 

After 50 years of serving our community’s residents and guests from around the world, I’m pleased to share that Vail Valley Medical Center plans to begin construction on a significant expansion and remodeling this summer. Once the Vail medical campus project is complete, the community will have an updated, highly-functional hospital that is easy to access and navigate. During this period of construction, all Vail Valley Medical Center services and specialties will remain open, including our 24-hour emergency department, childbirth center, full surgical capabilities, imaging, physical therapy and the new Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Lab. Additionally, our partners will remain fully functional, including Colorado Mountain Medical, The Steadman Clinic, Steadman Philippon Research Institute and Vail-Summit Orthopaedics.

Recently, our Master Facility Plan was unanimously approved by the Vail Town Council. This plan will guide us in remodeling and expanding the Vail campus. Many thanks to the Town Council, Planning and Environmental Commission, Design Review Board and town of Vail staff for their guidance, feedback and collaboration on the Master Facility Plan. Thanks also to our neighbors and the greater community who attended many planning meetings, asked great questions and provided constructive input. Finally, thank you to the Vail Valley Medical Center staff and expert consultants who have dedicated the last two years to planning and preparing a Master Facility Plan that will lead us to a state-of-the-art medical campus to serve our community and guests for future decades.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

June 24, 2015 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

HIT: From a reader “to homegrown ski company Liberty Skis for being kind enough to have a warehouse sale on last year’s gear … without having to leave the valley. Kudos!”

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Vail Daily column: Seeing the future of education

June 23, 2015 — 

This past weekend, state Board of Education member (and the front runner to be the next board chair) Steve Durham penned an important guest commentary for The Denver Post on the future of education in our state.

Durham’s main points are on the over-reach of top-down accountability and testing provisions that have been handed out from on high by the U.S. Department of Education and fueled by funds from the Gates Foundation.

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Vail Daily column: Racism and the ignorant flag

June 22, 2015 — 

Racism and religion, as certain pundits continue to promote on certain networks, do indeed have many similar qualities.

Both have a foundation based deeply in ancient tribal mentalities.

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Vail Daily column: What it means to be alive

June 21, 2015 — 

“Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” — Marcus Aurelius

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Vail Daily column: Labeling practices that aren't cool

June 21, 2015 — 

Fancy a pork chop from Zimbabwe, chicken wings from Bangladesh or a juicy steak from Turkmenistan? Or do you prefer your protein raised a little closer to home? If some members of Congress have their way, then American consumers will not know where their food comes from. The House voted to remove country-of-origin labels (COOL) from imported beef, chicken and pork. Not cool.

According to the USDA these labels require retailers to inform consumers where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. Current food products covered by the law include beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, chicken and most fish. Country of origin is also required for fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. The law only applies to food sold in grocery stores.

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Vail Daily column: Jefferson roundly refutes Reagan

June 20, 2015 — 

President Ronald Reagan regarded himself Jefferson’s twin. He recited T.J.’s mantra that “government is best which governs least.” They agreed power concentrated in the nation’s capital is power abused. Reagan concurred with Jefferson’s vision for a “wise and frugal government.”

Reagan talked a good line about reducing national debt and balancing the budget. But he acted very un-Jeffersonian, reports biographer H.W. Brands. “He cut taxes and regulations but failed to cut spending; the result was the economic recovery (starting in 1982) but also the doubling of the federal debt” (“Reagan: The Life”).

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Vail Daily column: Skateboarding's youth

June 19, 2015 — 

In the early 1960s, my family was living in Hermosa Beach, California. Our friend Don Guild owned the local drugstore. Appearing one day in his front window was an 18-inch piece of wood painted red with a roller skate nailed to the bottom. On the top in big bright, white letters it said “Bun Board.”

A friend of his had been trying for six months to get Don to sell them in his store. Finally, Don took six of them on consignment. The boards were all gone in three days. I am not saying this was the first commercial skateboard ever built and sold, but it was my first experience with one. However, as a 10-year-old kid when the wheels began to wear out on my roller skates, I nailed them to the bottom of a 4-foot-long 2-by-4. On the front end I nailed an upright 1-by-4 piece and another piece of 1-by-4 as a handle across the top so I could steer it around the cracks in the sidewalk, were it would stop instantly.

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Vail Daily column: A new venue for Vail?

June 19, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

The possibility of an education and/or meeting center continues to percolate. In April, the Town Council put an “education center” back on its agenda when it assigned it as a planning responsibility to the Commission on Special Events. The Education Center has in recent years been envisioned by advocates as hosting economic conferences such as those held in Davos, Switzerland, the Gerald R. Ford World Forum conferences convened by former President Ford in the 1980s, and the Vail Global Energy Forum. Vail has also been the site of high level discussions between American and Mexican officials within the last year. Such international assemblies bring the need for state of the art communications and higher levels of security. Other types of entertainment venues are being considered.

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Vail Daily column: A global crisis we can slake

June 18, 2015 — 

Water should be the least of our world’s major problems in the future.

Yes, I know. I read the same doomsday pieces you do. Freshwater sources are running low. Population is rising. Climate change is heating up. Advancements in the Third World are increasing water consumption. The deserts are growing.

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An idea worth remembering

June 18, 2015 — 

Here’s something to ponder if you need a reminder about the relative youth of this country’s founding tradition: This week marked the 800th anniversary of England’s King John putting his royal seal on the Magna Carta.

That doesn’t sound like much reason for fireworks, beer and meat-grilling, until you give it a bit of thought. The Magna Carta remains the basis for much of what we consider the rule of law. In fact, Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, John Roberts and Clarence Thomas this week noted the anniversary from the bench.

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Vail Daily column: Reaching out to our kids

June 18, 2015 — 

Fifteen thousand meals. Let that number sink in for a moment. That’s the estimated number of free summer lunches that will be provided to children and youth ages 0-18 through a new initiative starting this summer in Eagle County designed to bring nutritious and healthy meals to our community.

Funded through federal dollars, the Summer Foods Service Program is the first of what we believe will be many initiatives emerging from the InteGreat! Coalition: A partnership of parents, students, and 28 organizations in Eagle County spanning the private and public sectors. Eagle County Schools is proud to be actively participating in the InteGreat! Coalition.

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Vail Daily column: Our vision for Frost Creek

June 17, 2015 — 

Frost Creek, formerly known as Adam’s Mountain Country Club, has caught the eyes and imaginations of golf enthusiasts and lovers of Colorado’s natural beauty for decades — myself included. The first time I played the course, I was astounded by each hole’s orientation to another, coupled with an amazing view corridor and thoughtful layout by course designer Tom Weiskopf. Equally surprising to me was how underutilized the club and course were. How could this amazing golf course, clubhouse facility and infrastructure not be enjoyed by the club’s full capacity of members? The pool should be bustling with people enjoying the Colorado summer. The tennis courts, fishing ponds, private water on Brush Creek and club facility should be the “go to” gathering places for families and people of all ages. There was so much potential.

Victim of the “old” club model and the recent economic recession, Adam’s Mountain Country Club never reached its full potential as one the premier destination clubs in Colorado, if not the United States. It was time for a change.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

June 17, 2015 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

MISS: From reader Jackie Cohen to the Vail Daily for a photograph depicting “a man surfing Glenwood wave on the Colorado River without a life jacket. So far this year there is one reported drowning on the Colorado River. This photo promotes irresponsible river recreation.”

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Vail Daily column: It's still not our fight

June 15, 2015 — 

A year after they “came out of nowhere,” ISIS is still little more than another reason for the conservative paranoid to stock up on freeze-dried food and stuff the ol’ bomb shelter with water, ammo and fresh batteries.

Yawn.

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Vail Daily column: Can we be heroes?

June 14, 2015 — 

On May 10, a man died approximately 100 feet from my home. I was oblivious to the unfolding tragedy until after the fact. Way after the fact. I only became aware something happened when I went outside to go for a run. I live next to a dam along the Reuss River in Switzerland. This is no Hoover Dam. It is one of more than 500 small dams on rivers all over Switzerland regulating river flows and providing hydroelectric power — the country’s principal source of energy. Between my house and the dam is a boat ramp and parking area. This normally empty area was filled with police cars, an ambulance, divers in wet suits and inflatable rafts. Standing at a distance behind the police tape was a crowd of onlookers. I heard nothing — no screams from witnesses when the man was going under and no sirens when first responders arrived on the scene. At the time I did not know what transpired but it did not look good. I am not a gawker so I did not stick around to watch and wait. I went for my run.

The following day my husband found a small article in the Neue Zuricher Zeitung that indicated a 41-year-old male had capsized in his canoe in front of the dam and gone under. Witnesses say he surfaced several times before disappearing under the water. Hanging on the fence next to the dam is a red and white water preserver but there was likely no time to get to the preserver and throw it to the man. No one jumped in to save him; instead they called the police. That was the best they could do. If the current was strong enough to pull a grown man under, it is more than likely that anyone going in after him would have been pulled under also, as much by the drowning man as the current.

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Vail Daily column: Post Office made U.S. economic engine purr

June 13, 2015 — 

What key dynamic created a robust U.S. economy in the early 19th century? Many believe self-made Americans were the pistons that fired up an emerging mercantile economy in the 1820s. Small-town shopkeepers worked long hours. New England millworkers produced items purchased in the U.S. and traded overseas. Farmers’ milk production rose like a rocket. Their crops brought bumper harvests. Each of these constituencies rolled up their sleeves as the U.S.’s industrial might boomed.

U.S. folklore conditions us to believe early 19th century shopkeepers, mill workers and farmers flexed economic muscle based on the credo: “If it’s (economic advance) meant to be, it’s up to me!” Above all else, hard work produced a strong economy.

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Vail Daily column: Another building boom?

June 12, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

There are indications that Vail may be on the verge of another building boom, even though real estate sales show signs of flagging. Increasing congestion due to a lack of structured parking and traffic circulation improvements as well as affordable housing remains a hangover from the last boom. The absence of off-street parking requirements for outdoor special events is also a cause of congestion. The Town Council has allowed the proposed Simba Run Underpass to clear another hurdle in the approval process to fund the project, which engineers say will help reduce circulation congestion.

The costs associated with the resolution of these issues will have a determining outcome on additional large scale development within the community. Changes in public policy to address these issues may well be the subject of the upcoming fall Town Council election. The election will be poll voting, rather than mail balloting, even though mail balloting has been shown to increase voter participation. Mail balloting also extends the time for electioneering, giving the voters more time to assess the qualifications and agenda of council candidates. A recent change in the state voting law, now allows qualified voters to add their names to an absentee voter list that will ensure they are always sent an absentee ballot by mail in future town of Vail elections.

Recent developments suggest that another Vail building boom might be just around the corner. First, there is the already approved master plan for the Vail Valley Medical Center additions. Phase one, the West Wing addition, is soon to begin but the plans for other parts of the expansion, especially parking and affordable housing appear to be in flux. At present the Vail Valley Medical Center plans envision parking to be provided on its campus but that will be a costly venture; estimates currently run at $120,000 per space which means that the Vail Valley Medical Center parking requirement of 600 spaces could cost $72 million.

The site for Vail Valley Medical Center’s affordable housing has yet to be announced; and recently the Vail Planning Commission reduced those requirements almost in half by cutting the town staff’s recommendation of the method to calculate the requirements. It remains to be seen whether these components will be built on site or whether the Vail Valley Medical Center will seek off-campus alternatives.

In West Vail, the east half of the Timber Ridge redevelopment is well on its way to completion; it will provide 113 living spaces, bringing the total for Timber Ridge to 209 units. Yet to be decided is what will become of the west half of the site long-term. At the same time, the Town Council has authorized moving ahead with developing a detailed plan to install the utility infrastructure for their Chamonix affordable housing development in West Vail, located near the new fire station.

If the plan meets the council’s financial parameters, then they will initiate utility installation this year and begin construction on the first phase of the housing units in 2016. The council is also considering amending the current plan which will increase the size of the project by 20,000 square feet and raises the unit count from 53 to 67.

In Lionshead, the Strata project (formerly the Vailglo and Enzian Lodges) is coming out of the ground and a number of other projects, holdovers from the Great Recession of 2008, are in the development pipeline awaiting financing and a decision to get underway. And, in Vail, plans for the Vail Municipal site continue to evolve. Site clearance is also complete on the Roost Lodge site where a new Marriott Lodge is to be built; however, the project is now on hold and developers do not intend to proceed with construction at this time.

Write a column!

What’s on your mind? Share your insights with the rest of the community. What’s going well, not so well? Send your submission to ValleyVoices@vaildaily.com. By submitting a column, you are granting permission for the Daily to publish it on the paper’s website. Email Ed Stoner at estoner@vaildaily.com for more information.

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