Columns

Vail Daily column: Want to grow old in Eagle County?

September 1, 2014 — 

In this third installment, I would like to bring attention to what I believe is the greatest hurdle in being able to permit seniors consider staying, and moving to, Eagle County.

As identified in my past two columns, it is anticipated that Eagle County’s population of people age of 65 and older will grow by 157 percent in the next six years. By 2030, Eagle County will have a senior population that has grown 333 percent. Where will these people live? What types of homes will they want? What services will they require, and who will provide these services?

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Vail Daily relationship column: Why it can be hard to find new love

September 1, 2014 — 

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. This is from “The Best of Neil Rosenthal.” Visit www.vaildaily.com to read the first installment.

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Vail Daily column: The sunflower: A common summer sight

August 30, 2014 — 

As we enjoy the final few weeks of summer here in the Vail Valley, let’s take the time to pay homage to what is unequivocally a primary image of the season — the sunflower.

You can probably picture this familiar plant now — a tall stalk topped with a ray of bright yellow petals and a thick cluster of brown bristles centered at its core. The common sunflower, formally classified as Helianthus annuus, not only flourishes in dry to moist conditions, open sites in meadows and alongside roads that weave throughout the Southern Rockies; the sunflower can also be found growing across the world. With its vast range and abundance, this ubiquitous flowering plant claims deep cultural and economic significance at home and abroad.

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Vail Daily column: Land conservation, partnerships, and you

August 29, 2014 — 

A community is made stronger by its members’ ability to work together in partnerships. As the new director of Eagle Valley Land Trust, one of the things that attracted me to Eagle County was the amount of collaboration that takes place here.

Whether it is a group of real estate developers partnering to make their vision for a well-planned community amenity become reality or Eagle Valley Land Trust partnering with landowners to conserve their private property, this community understands the value of coming together.

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Vail Daily column: A principled rejection of principles

August 29, 2014 — 

The mere mention of his name causes anger and frustration to flood the brain. Rationality is trying its best to break the surface, but is summarily drowned by the tidal wave of emotion. The mouth, usually a fount of reason, expels ridiculous statements like, “I’d rather pay my lawyer a million dollars than settle this matter with him for four thousand,” or “I know that I am spending my retirement money, but I don’t care about the cost, all I care about are my principles.” Variations on this theme haunt my working life. Principles have become code for all manner of irrational behavior and it has me very concerned.

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Vail Daily column: What’s the different between deeds?

August 29, 2014 — 

Dear Joan,

My real estate agent wrote an offer on a property for me and she told me we should ask for a “general warranty” deed. The seller of the property countered my offer on price and several other items, including changing the deed to a “special warranty” deed. My agent attempted to explain why the seller requested a different type of deed, but I have to admit it makes me nervous and I am still not quite sure what the difference is in a “special” and a “general” warranty deed. Can you please help me understand the difference and let me know if I have anything to worry about?

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Vail Daily column: Increasing market values may open refi opportunities

August 29, 2014 — 

Since about 2008, many people have had trouble refinancing due to declining market values, even if they were otherwise qualified. While there are loan programs out there for refinances that will go to 125 percent loan to value, they are restricted in many ways and have not been available to all.

However, many areas of the valley have seen double digit increases in value the last few years, and in the meantime many homeowners have dutifully kept on paying their loans off and have made substantial reductions in the amount they owe. I keep hearing rumors out there that there are mortgages that carry rates in the 5 to 6 percent range, and there might be one or two in the 7 percent range. Most of these folks probably looked in refinancing but thought they didn’t have enough equity or found out they did not qualify under the expanded criteria programs.

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Biff America column: A beauty that never fades

August 29, 2014 — 

I was in my late teens before I learned my grandmother was unattractive.

Of course, I knew she wasn’t a beauty as an elderly woman. But I still was going under the illusion that, in her day, my grandmother, Bridget Sheeley, was a babe. I was fed this misinformation by her second husband, my step-grandfather, Frank McLaughlin.

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Vail Daily column: A deeper look at red light cameras

August 29, 2014 — 

My friend Heidi, mother of two, was recently hit by a car. In a crosswalk, no less. The driver? Chatting on the phone, she blew through the light. Heidi’s surreal somersault began. First she hit the hood, then the roof, and eventually the pavement. Next stop — the ER.

Intersection accidents like this happen all the time. There are over 200,000 annually in the U.S. That’s twice the headcount of the People’s Republic of Boulder.

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Vail Daily column: Work to become a better investor

August 28, 2014 — 

On Monday, we observe Labor Day — a celebration of the American worker. Of course, you work hard at your own job, but, when you think of it, every worthwhile endeavor in life requires significant effort — and that’s certainly the case with investing. The harder you work at it, the more likely you are to make progress toward your goals.

So as you think about investing, consider the following areas in which you will need to apply yourself:

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Vail Daily column: Take on big issues

August 28, 2014 — 

In 1961, President Kennedy laid out his vision to send a man to the moon (and get them home safely) by the end of the decade. The story of JFK’s experience with three janitors at NASA shortly followed. The president asked them what they were doing and the first janitor responded, “cleaning toilets.” The second responded, “feeding my family.” The third stated, “I’m helping send a man to the moon.”

While the story is likely an urban myth, it shows the power of tackling big issues. Who doesn’t want to send a man to the moon?

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Vail Daily column: The bittersweet moment of becoming an empty-nester

August 27, 2014 — 

Some of you reading this column will relate as a parent who has gone through the bittersweet event of having your children move out, especially if it is your last child or they were an only child. And every one of us reading these words today has been that child or young adult who has moved away from home, at some point, eventually.

Many went to college, others joined the military, and there were some that just felt like it was time to go and find a job or employment and another place to live. Some chose to move fairly close to home, but just far enough to keep the parents from “popping by” and yet close enough to raid the pantry and do some laundry if necessary. And if we can look at our own departures from home we would probably remember the bittersweet moment, our nervousness, the anxious anticipation that accompanies any new adventure, and we probably also remember the melancholy look upon our parents faces, possibly even a tear or two on their cheeks as well as maybe even a little drop from our own eyes.

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Vail Daily Pet Talk column: Helping your arthritic pet

August 27, 2014 — 

Last month, we talked about how to best prevent arthritis in your pets; this month we will talk about how to treat it. Here is your new word for the day: multi-modal. Treating an arthritic patient truly requires an approach from many different angles, this is called multi-modal therapy.

To take a step back though, we need to look at where the arthritis is, as not all joints are created equal. Insert your Colorado marijuana joke here. The joints here I am talking about are synovial, fibrous or cartilaginous. The vast majority of joints we deal with are synovial; they have a true capsule and joint fluid. Cartilaginous joints occur mainly in the spine, for example, intervertebral disks. Identifying where the problems lie is crucial to developing an effective treatment plan. This means a good physical examination, lameness exam and radiographs.

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Vail Daily column: Grand juries: What they are and how they work

August 26, 2014 — 

In the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, a grand jury will be convened. What, though, does that mean? What discrete and special functions does a grand jury serve?

Grand juries are, in essence, investigative bodies. There are both federal grand juries and state grand juries, which deal exclusively with matters of state concerns and jurisdiction. The office of a grand jury, whether state or federal, is involved with the investigation into possible wrongdoing by the accused (in the Michael Brown case, the possible wrongdoing of the cop who shot him). The key word here is “possible.” Grand jury investigations are not trials. No conviction may directly result from a grand jury’s deliberations. Rather, the grand jury conducts a thorough inquiry into the possible wrongdoing by an individual which, if found to be substantive, may result in criminal indictment against the accused which, in turn, will likely lead to a trial on the merits of the indictment.

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Vail Daily column: Eagle County is preparing for Boomers

August 25, 2014 — 

There are many reasons for Eagle County to plan for and foster the many Baby Boomers who are here already and those who will migrate. Curtailing the estimated $43 million annual loss to our economy from seniors leaving our community in search of medical services and retirement options may be important reasons to some people. Others may look at the social and economic benefits of a community with a balance of age groups.

In this past Friday’s Vail Daily, Kathy Chandler-Henry, an Eagle County commissioner, wrote a fabulous commentary addressing and bridging the societal and economic benefits of making our community “whole.” The commissioner’s perspective on the interrelation of our youth and seniors strikes at the heart of what a community is and should be.

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Vail Daily column: Eagle Valley grad is a dedicated volunteer

August 24, 2014 — 

Living in a small town and working in the nonprofit industry, I often hear Eagle County’s youth complain that there are limited volunteer opportunities to engage our community. Besides skiing and snowboarding, many local high school students seek alternative activities that spur future career interest, inspire global awareness and contribute to the wellbeing of their neighbors.

Cassandra Armas, a recent graduate of Eagle Valley High School, has this approach to life and consistently makes the needs of others as a priority in her busy schedule. In addition to excelling in the classroom, Armas was a member of many Eagle Valley student clubs, including student government, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Cycle Effect, the band (piano and guitar) and the soccer team. A highlight of her student government tenure was their trip to Denver’s Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Hospital.

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Vail Daily column: Helping people perform at their best

August 24, 2014 — 

As the economy improves, hiring and retaining the best people becomes even more important for a business owner or leader. Turnover is not only expensive and time consuming as you replace and train new employees; it also affects trust, morale and employee engagement for those that stay. Recent results from an employee engagement survey done by Minneapolis based company Modern Survey shows that only 13 percent of an employee workforce is actually engaged. That means only about one in eight employees are giving best efforts. When you think about it, that’s a staggering statistic! Conversely, according to Modern Survey’s results, about 24 percent, or approximately one in four, employees are completely disengaged. Another term we have for that disengaged group is “quitting and staying.”

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Vail Daily column: Hairstreak is a colorful Colorado native

August 23, 2014 — 

Thanks to teacher Melinda Terry and her fourth-grade Wheeling Elementary class in Aurora, the hairstreak butterfly our named as our state insect in 1996. The Colorado hairstreak captivates the eye with its dominant vivacious purple coloration that turns into wide black-to-brown bordered wings with orange spots near the bottom of the wing. Males often have larger orange spots on their wings compared to females. Another identifiable feature of the Colorado hairstreak are the “tails” on the bottom of their hind wings. Tails aid in the butterfly’s poise and grace when flying through the air.

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Vail Daily column: Rotary Youth Exchange helps to appreciate other cultures

August 22, 2014 — 

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding,” — Albert Einstein.

As a young boy, I witnessed scenes of incredible violence as ethnic and religious strife erupted following the independence of India and its partition into two separate states: India and Pakistan. My family left for England shortly afterwards, but the memories of the riots and bloodshed remained with us and led to a family commitment to peace through understanding of different cultures and religious backgrounds.

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Vail Daily column: Eagle County down payment programs can help locals

August 22, 2014 — 

Affordable housing in Eagle County has been a challenge ever since the first lift opened in 1962. Back then, there the answer was a trailer park about where Potato Patch Club sits. I do recall one story about a guy in a Volkswagen van who lived in the parking lot where the village structure sits now who found his van too small and excavated a snow cave in a snow bank next to his van and expanded his living room quite handily. Rumor has it that was a bit of a tourist attraction back in the day.

But just like everything else, Eagle County has come along way to bridging the gap. Back in 1998, the county worked to establish a down payment assistance fund to help homebuyers bridge the gap to home ownership. Throughout the years, that program has helped 374 local families with over $4.6 million in loans. That is a very significant accomplishment, and cheers to all who have worked hard to make this program happen!

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Vail Daily column: When should a person use a ‘seller concession’?

August 22, 2014 — 

Dear Joan,

Can you please clarify when ​a person​ can or should use a “seller concession” for? When we bought our home, ou​r Realtor had us ask for a seller concession of several thousand dollars since we did not have much ​cash for a ​down payment. Now that we are selling our home, years later, the buyer wants us to pay a seller concession to them to make up for all of the items they feel need to be fixed in our home​. My broker said they are asking for more than is allowed. What does that mean? I am a little confused about this and would like you to shed some light on this subject.

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Vail Daily column: The easiest way to improve your business brand

August 21, 2014 — 

Businesses constantly struggle to build awareness and differentiate themselves from the competition. It happens for national chains, regional entities and local mom-and-pop retailers. The struggle is the same regardless of the scale.

We are fortunate that many companies in the Vail Valley are customer-centric in their approach. It’s not a leap to suggest businesses whose actions are aligned with their customer needs are more successful. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who pays attention to our local business community; those who are engaged and focus on their customer needs are typically successful and have longevity in a place that sees a fair amount of business turnover.

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Vail Daily column: Avoid expensive errors when paying for college

August 21, 2014 — 

It’s just about back-to-school time again. If you have young children, then you might be hustling them to the store for backpacks and binders. But if you fast-forward a few years, you can envision driving your kids a little farther — to their college dorms. And when that day comes, you’ll want to be financially prepared. So you’ll want to avoid making costly mistakes when preparing for, and paying, those big bills. Here are some of the most common of these errors:

• Not saving enough. Only half of all families with children younger than 18 save any money for college, according to a recent study by Sallie Mae, the country’s largest originator of federally insured student loans. You might find it easier to save for college if you automatically move a set amount each month from your checking or savings account to a college savings vehicle.

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Vail Daily column: When strengths become weakness

August 20, 2014 — 

Maybe you have heard about this philosophy before. Then again, maybe you have not, so it may come as a shock to your system or thought process. The philosophy is this: Sometimes and overdeveloped strength can actually become our biggest weakness or Achilles heel.

An example might be the professional sales person who has an unbelievable knack for building relationships. Our master sales person could be so strong on the relationship side that they become too emotionally attached to their customers and are never able to talk about price increases or apply the necessary professional pressure when faced with a problem or competitive situation. They may even revert to discounting prices as a way to secure future business and falsely believe they are preserving their friendship with the client.

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Vail Daily column: Preparing for aging Baby Boomers

August 18, 2014 — 

Thinking about a long-term plan and redesigning services for aging Baby Boomers as they move out of the workforce and into retirement is not something too many counties within the U.S. are addressing with great urgency.

Here in Eagle County, our community leaders have been hard at work for quite some time addressing this need. They have developed the Community Health Improvement Plan in partnership with community organizations and citizens in an effort to address health concerns in Eagle County. I believe the move was prescient.

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Vail Daily column: Embracing next-level technology

August 17, 2014 — 

In the legal world, tradition rules and old ways die hard. There are still many older attorneys who dictate into recorders and have secretaries transcribe the results to draft letters or briefs. To a college student or young professional, who have never used a fax machine and are imminent consumers of legal services, that practice is almost absurdly antiquated. Attorneys of the new generation are quickly discovering that new technologies are allowing them to compete in the marketplace by leveraging increased efficiency and efficacy, if not experience, to better serve the needs of modern clients. Those lawyers fearful of our new digital overlords prefer to remain ensconced in old-fashioned ideas about document management, legal research, client payments and trial presentation. Understandable though these views may be, the resistance to change could portend a rude awakening.

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Vail Daily column: Wet, naked and deadly

August 16, 2014 — 

Family legend has it that as a boy of 4 or 5, my wet, naked body might have killed my great-aunt Agnes. This of course, is purely speculation. She was, after all, 88 years old when her heart gave out. But she did have that heart attack almost three weeks to the day after I, fresh out of the shower, gave her a nude performance of the “bunny hop.”

As a child, I loved to be naked. My mother used to let me dry off after a bath by sprinting around the house and yard like a freshly washed greyhound. I remember hot summer nights and the joy of running wet and nude on our newly mowed lawn.

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Vail Daily column: Teen leader passionate about serving others

August 16, 2014 — 

Living in the Vail Valley, we quickly learn that most people come here to consume our beautiful and pristine mountain playground, and as quickly as they come, they’re gone. But, how can we blame them for taking advantage of the mountains when most of us came here for the same thing? As tourists, even in our own towns, we forget the impact we’re making on the people and environment around us.

Kaylie Evans, a junior at Vail Mountain School, is aware of this impact and has seen firsthand the valley’s underlying issues despite the happy-go-lucky feel.

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Vail Daily column: Serviceberries are a sweet and enduring local resource

August 16, 2014 — 

During the summer months in the Vail area, our hillsides and valleys burst into familiar color with a range of native plants. Many of these plants are not only beautiful, they are often edible and have medicinal uses. One plant in particular, the serviceberry, is a favorite among our local human and wildlife communities.

Amelanchier alnifolia is a member of the rose family, rosaceae. This fruit-bearing perennial shrub goes by a number of common names across the country including Saskatoon, June berry and shadbush. Locally, it is most often referred to as the serviceberry. Serviceberry shrubs adapt to a variety of environments — they can be found in the diverse, sunny understory of an aspen grove, in natural or disturbed meadows or alongside one of the many creeks and rivers that form our valley’s riparian zones. Serviceberry leaves are oval-shaped, smooth at the bottom and toothed toward the top of the leaf. In late spring and early summer, the serviceberry plant produces beautiful white blooms; by late summer, the blooms give way to sweet, dark red to purple berries.

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When a book isn’t a book

August 15, 2014 — 

There is a treasure in America music called “The Great American Songbook.” The title might sound familiar, but you can’t find it in a bookstore or online. The writers who were the geniuses who wrote the Songbook included Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter and Harold Arlen, to name just a few.

In reality, the Songbook is not a book at all, but is in fact a collection of popular songs that were written from the 1920s to the 1950s, the golden age of American song. The songs included in the Songbook are considered the most important artistically, but also reflective of our cultural heritage and music history.

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