Breck to revamp ticket fraud law |

Breck to revamp ticket fraud law

Bob Berwyn

Breckenridge’s lift ticket fraud ordinance will be revamped after the police department learned that a Frisco resident Jay &quotJ.B.&quot Brossman couldn’t be charged for selling half-day employee coupons under the town’s existing law.The half-day coupons, two of which can be redeemed for a full-day ticket, are part of the Vail Resorts employee benefit package. The idea is to enable employees’ friends and families to enjoy skiing privileges. According to a police report, Brossman allegedly redeemed two of the coupons at a ticket office and was later seen trying to sell the ticket at the Bergenhof Lodge at Peak 8.As police officers investigated the case, they found that Brossman couldn’t be charged under the existing ordinance, said Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman, explaining that the revision is modeled after the state law that covers ticket fraud. Brossman will likely face charges under the state law, Homan added. Investigators found more than 200 coupons at his home.Fee demo fight on tap – againThe Bush administration’s budget for fiscal year 2004, released Feb. 3, calls for permanent authorization of recreation user fees (the fee demo program), and also seeks to &quotexpand public-private partnerships for the delivery of recreation and other forest-related services.&quotAccording to critics, that means more privatization of public lands. But fee opponents say Congressional support for fees is waning. According to a recent e-mail update from anti-fee activists in Washington, D.C., some of the program’s strongest proponents have left their posts, including Republicans James Hansen, the former Chair of the House Resources Committee, and Joe Skeen, former Chair of the Interior Appropriations Committee.For a time, anti-fee activists said the administration seemed uncertain whether it would even ask Congress to make the fees permanent this year. Forest Service officials and other land managers will be anxious to find out. One of their biggest problems has been that the uncertainty surrounding the fee program has made it hard to plan from year to year, not knowing whether that source of revenue will be there.Wyoming dam safety studiedAccording to an investigative report in the Jackson Hole News and Guide, Teton County officials are worried that the federal government may be covering up potential hazards related to Jackson Lake Dam, thereby endangering residents and visitors. Teton County officials say the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam, arbitrarily closed down a seismic network designed to gather information about the Teton Fault, the main threat to the dam, the county charges. At the same time, the bureau has admitted that recent reports raise questions about the ability of the dam to withstand the wall of water that could be unleashed during a significant earthquake, according to the News and Guide.County officials have requested pertinent documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Bureau of Reclamation officials have said the dam is safe. A new study, to be released in March, will show that while the structure could be damaged in a quake, it would not result in an uncontrolled release. Partially at issue is the complexity of geologic conditions in the Jackson area, the News and Guide reports. The dam located in Grand Teton National Park – impounds 847,000 acre-feet of water.Aspen to make electricity from snowmeltAfter giving skiers and snowboarders a smooth white carpet to glide on, Aspen’s snow will be turned into electricity. The Aspen Skiing Company, already known for its environment-friendly policies, has announced it will funnel snowmelt from the ski resort through a small hydroelectric generator, producing about $12,000 worth of electricity, the Denver Post reports.Some of the snowmelt will be funneled down the hill through snowmaking pipes to a small water wheel, according to the Post. The wheel will spin a 60-kilowatt generator, producing enough juice to power about 35 homes.&quotThis project would demonstrate to the entire ski industry that snowmaking systems present an enormous opportunity for hydropower,&quot Auden Schendler, the Skico’s environmental coordinator, said to the Post.Durango home prices skyrocketingIt may not be as expensive as Aspen or Vail, but home prices in Durango continue to rise, with the median cost of a house reaching $285,000 during the final three months of 2002, according to the Durango Herald.The Herald reports that, according to statistics from a local Realtors group, that represents a 10 percent increase from the final quarter of the previous year, when the median price was $238,750. According to the Realtors group, prices are rising most for high-end homes. Another measure of the continued real estate boom is the total-dollar volume of sales, nearly doubling from $10.6 million in 2001 to $19 million in 2002.In a related story, the Herald also reported that an 860-acre ranch along U.S. Highway 160 near the base of Wolf Creek Pass is on the market for $9.8 million. The San Juan River runs through 1.6 miles of the ranch, and Wolf Creek Ski Area is only about 10 miles away. According to the Herald, At Last Ranch was owned by Elizabeth &quotBetty&quot Feazel, a long-time conservation activist. Feazel helped form the Southwest Land Alliance, a nonprofit that helps landowners earn tax benefits for donating conservation easements on portions of their land.Tahoe tries Colorado-style housing incentivesThe Sierra Sun reports that Truckee will support a ski resort employee housing project with financing assistance, a tactic that has been used in Colorado but is so far untested in California.The financing mechanism enables municipalities to sponsor tax-exempt bonds by creating a nonprofit agency. According to the Sun, the mechanism has been used to fund other civic projects in California, but hasn’t been used for an employee housing project yet. The planned $17 million project includes 380 beds in 96 units, all meant for Northstar employees.After about a year of weighing the pros and cons, Truckee officials may be close to giving the go-ahead, the Sun reports.Winter Park reports strong season so farThe Winter Park Manifest reports that Winter Park Resort is enjoying a busy season, at least judging by early numbers. The resort wouldn’t reveal exact numbers, but acknowledged that visitor days are on par with the 18.2 percent increase reported by Colorado Ski Country USA for the so-called Front Range destination resorts.A resort spokeswoman attributed the strong showing to good early season snow, plenty of pass deals and pent-up demand among Front Ranger snow sliders. Snowfall so far is 10 percent above average at Winter Park. According to earlier reports cited by the Manifest. Winter Park set all-time attendance records for New Year’s Day, Christmas week and the month of December.Intrawest, which recently inked a deal to run Winter Park, is also enjoying a strong season, according to the Manifest. Across its North American holdings, the company tallied 1.3 million skier visits during the important Christmas-to-New Years period.Drought could limit Grand County growthThe Winter Park Manifest reports that the continuing drought could limit development opportunities in the Fraser Valley. According to the Manifest, the issue came to the surface during a recent meeting of the local water and sanitation district, when the board tabled an annexation decision because of concerns with regard to water availability.The district wants to study available information to determine the maximum amount of development that can occur while leaving enough water in the stream to maintain desired aesthetic conditions and aquatic life.Like elsewhere in the high country, officials in Grand County are raising the possibility of creating additional storage high in the system in this case near the headwaters of the Fraser River.– compiled by Bob Berwyn

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