Food, fun and the federal government |

Food, fun and the federal government

Sarah Mausolf

A visit from a legendary blues musician, a slew of new restaurants and an influx of road byclists are just a few of the exciting happenings Vail Valley residents can expect in 2008.

Watch for some changes to the landscape next year. Two new schools and a five-star hotel are slated to open. And as new construction rises onto the map, other changes will shape the political terrain. Voters will choose the country’s next head honcho during November’s presidenial election and a group of local scholars will mull whether China is a friend or foe.

Curious about what to expect after the ball drops this New Year’s Eve? We’ve done everything short of break out a crystal ball to bring you this list of things to look for in 2008.

Foodies will have several new eateries to explore. French brasserie Centre V opens Dec. 29 in Lionshead as part of the Arrabelle at Vail Square. It will join a handful of restaurants that debuted earlier this month, including Galileo and Da Vinci in the new Vail Plaza Hotel and Club, between South Frontage Road and East Meadow Drive in Vail. Da Vinci offers American cuisine with Italian and Mediterranean influences. Galileo specializes in stone oven flatbreads.

In Avon, wine gurus will enjoy 40 varieties by the glass and more than 100 by the bottle at Vin 48. Located at 48 E. Beaver Creek Blvd. in the Boat Building, the American-style restaurant boasts a wine bar.

“Avon currently doesn’t have many fine dining options or any wine bars,” owner Collin Baugh said.

Blues icon B.B. King will roll into Beaver Creek this coming spring.

“B.B. King is beyond a legend, so to have someone like that here is phenomenal,” said Tom Robbins, owner of Eagle Valley Music in West Vail.

All 530 seats at the Vilar Performing Arts Center are booked for the April 10 event, but organizers encourage people to sign up for the waiting list. To join the waiting list, call the box office at 888-920-2787.

Also generating a buzz, the fifth annual Spring Back to Vail concert will take place April 7-13. If organizers get their way, concerts will feature a parade of A-list bands ranging from pop icons to rock n’ roll legends to hip-hop stars. Organizers will announce the bands as soon as they secure the deals, which could begin as early as next month.

Past events have featured rapper Snoop Dog and pop artist Kid Rock.

“It will be the biggest ski town event in North America, and more importantly, one that people have really marked on their calendars to come to Vail for,” said James Deighan, a spokesman for Highline Sport and Entertainment, the company organizing the event.

The Eagle County School District will usher in two new schools and a change in leadership.

Work on June Creek Elementary in Edwards began this past summer and should wrap up by July. Officials expect the school to open in the fall. Located on the east side of Miller Ranch Road across from Berry Creek Middle School, June Creek will closely resemble Brush Creek and Red Hill elementary schools. Designed to hold 450 students, the roughly $22 million school will absorb future enrollment growth, officials say.

Expected to open in the spring, the $3 million Red Canyon High School will stand on land adjacent to Berry Creek Middle School. The alternative school will hold 75 students and cater to children who struggle academically or have other special needs.

As the buildings take shape, school board members will begin the hunt for a new superintendent. The board has enlisted the help of the Colorado Association of School Boards to sort through applications and conduct background checks.

The association will collect feedback from community members during forums next month. School officials plan to begin interviews in early March and zero in on a candidate by mid-March. The new superintendent will take office July 1.

Officials have not yet outlined a salary for the position but say it will be comparable to superintendent salaries statewide. He or she will replace John Brendza, who resigned at the end of June after four years as superintendent and 24 years with the school district. Interim Superintendent John Pacheco will fill in through the end of the 2007-08 school year.

Consider stripping off a layer of long john’s. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts slightly warmer temperatures than normal in 2008. Winter temperatures will be one degree above normal, on average, with slightly below-normal precipitation, the book claims.

Vail’s average high temperature hits 52.6 degrees while the average low dips to 23.4 degrees, said Paul Frisbie, a forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather service in Grand Junction.

Vail gets 184.3 inches of snowfall per year on average, he said.

Two sporting events will debut in the valley. For the first time, the Teva Mountain Games in June will include a World Cup climbing component. More than 30 countries will send their top climbers to scale rock walls in Vail Village, event organizer Joel Heath said.

More than two decades have passed since the United States hosted the climbing cup, he added.

In other triumphant returns, professional road bicycling will hit village streets in August. The Vail Valley Foundation will introduce the Colorado Stage International Cycle Classic, a three-day event featuring a 130-mile race from Breckenridge to Beaver Creek, along with a circuit race and time trial in Vail. The village hasn’t hosted a major road cycling event since the Coors Classic ended in the late 1980s.

“We are very excited to put Colorado and the Vail Valley back on the road cycling map with this event,” Vail Valley Foundation spokesman John Dakin said.

Voters will say buh-bye to President George W. Bush.

When voters head to the polls in November for the presidential election, they might experience shorter lines compared with past years. Officials are considering adding polling locations in Edwards, Eagle, Gypsum and Vail, Eagle County clerk and recorder Teak Simonton said.

“I would love if people had to wait no longer than half an hour at the peak voting time,” she said.

During the last presidential election, some voters languished in lines for up to two hours, Simonton said. New voting equipment contributed to the delays, she added.

As locals hone their presidential preferences, they can study politics abroad as well.

In June, the Vail Valley Institute will host a seminar titled “China: Friend or Foe?” Melissa Decker, executive director for the institute, said she hopes to attract a variety of speakers including a China scholar, a former diplomat or military specialist and an environmental expert.

“I think the Olympics are a springboard for why [China is] of particular interest in 2008,” she said. “China’s significance has been rising in so many different categories in American life, whether it be the products we buy or America’s standing in the world as we move forward in this century.”

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Guests will begin checking into The Arrabelle at Vail Square Saturday. Designed to offer five-star luxury, the hotel features a ski nanny and a separate concierge for each floor.

The complex has 66 condos, 36 hotel rooms and a variety of shops including Burton, Vail Sports, Patagonia, Quicksilver and Starbucks. Restaurants will include Blue Moose Pizza, Centre V, the Vail Chophouse and a chocolatier. A spa will open in March.

The $250 million complex stands in the center of Lionshead on the site of the old gondola building.

The county’s health care industry is booming. Wage-based and salaried health care jobs increased by 7.5 percent each year between 2003 to 2006, the most recent year data is available, according to Jim Westcott with the state demography office.

The total number of jobs increased by 325 during that period, bringing the total to 1,685. Those figures do not include doctors’ private practices.

Westcott said he expects the trend to continue into 2008 as the baby boomer generation ages and the valley gains in popularity as a retirement destination.

A growing demand for at-home health care also continues to generate jobs, he said.

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