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Ski pass price slash

Sarah L. Stewart
Dominique TaylorMarcus Hann, 11, center, lines up to take a shot at the basket as another unidentified player waits his turn to shoot at the Aria Club and Spa basketball courts in the Cascade Village.
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Vail – Some Vail locals worry that big ski savings could equal big traffic headaches next winter.

Vail Resorts announced last week that next season it will offer the “Epic Season Pass,” an unrestricted six-mountain pass, for $579 ” $300 off this season’s price for a merchant pass and almost $1,300 less than the same unrestricted pass cost this year.

Though locals celebrated the price reduction, some also worried that already crowded roads and parking would become even more jammed since the pass will be available to everyone. Vail Resorts says that the pass is targeted to out-of-state visitors and won’t affect parking, figuring most Denverites won’t spend the extra $150 to upgrade from the 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek allowed by the Colorado Pass to the unlimited days with the Epic Pass. Some in Vail rejected that idea.

“What I don’t understand is how anybody wouldn’t pay $100 to go from being able to ski in Vail for 10 days to being able to ski in Vail for 80 days,” said Margaret Rogers, a Vail councilwoman. “Even if, rather than skiing 10, they ski 20, it’s going to be a parking problem for us.”

Eagle County – It’s been a memorable winter, and not just in terms of powder on Vail Mountain.

Last week, Vail Pass closed for the 17th time since Nov. 1. The pass closed three times during the same period last winter.

The combination of heavy snowfall this year, people driving too fast and truckers still refusing to follow the chain law have caused most of the closures, Vail Police Commander Susan Douglas said.

“It’s winter and we live in Colorado, so what can you do?” said Bernie Reynoso, a Frisco resident stranded during the three-hour closure last week.

Vail – The town may become home to a branch of the Denver Art Museum in the future ” but don’t hold your breath.

A developer who wants to turn the Lionshead parking structure into a W hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, condos, timeshares, public parking, a bus station, a conference center, stores and restaurants says he also wants to bring a branch of the Denver Art Museum here.

“I’ve been in direct communication with Lewis Sharp, the director of the Denver Art Museum, and we are collectively committed to coming up with a great program in Vail,” said Mark Masinter, a leader of the Open Hospitality Group/Hillwood Capital development group who has proposed the $600 million project.

Any Vail branch would be far in the future, however, since museum spokeswoman Kristy Bassuener said there are not yet any general or concrete plans.

“The Denver Art Museum leadership would be excited to explore the possibility of a relationship and have a conversation about a possible collaboration in Vail,” she said.

Vail – The clock is ticking on this ski season, and don’t expect an extension.

Despite calls from the community to keep the mountain open longer after a winter of record snowfall, Vail Mountain is holding fast to its closing date of April 13.

An early Easter is the main reason behind the resort’s decision not to extend its closing date, since most Front Range and out-of-state visitors lose interest in skiing shortly after Easter, according to a spokeswoman.

Some locals feel the resort should stay open longer as a gesture to the community, but others understand the decision.

“They have to do what’s right for them,” said Steve Rosenthal, owner of Colorado Footwear. “They’re a major corporation, and they have to report to their stockholders. … If they’re going to lose money, they can only do so much for the community.”

Eagle County – The school district’s teachers could soon see a major change in the way they are compensated for their performance.

A committee formed by the district has proposed a new pay system that they say will be more fair and effective than the Teacher Advancement Program that began in 2002. That program ties a teacher’s salary to formal evaluations and how well their students score on standardized tests, and has been called unfair, inconsistent and hard to understand.

The biggest change would be that teachers’ compensation would no longer be tied to the test scores of only a small group of students in their classes, but to the overall performance of their school and the district.

“I think it helps create that ‘all for one’ mentality’ ” that we are all here to educate students,” said Meredith Deem, a reading teacher at Edwards Elementary who served on the committee.

The district would end up spending more money every year on salaries ” but it would be the right thing to do to stay competitive with other school districts and keep the most talented teachers, said Jason Glass, human resources director for the district.

Silverthorne – Sometimes one problem’s solution leads to another problem.

Chemicals used to prevent the spread of the pine beetle could be contaminating local water supplies, according to the Silverthorne/Dillon Joint Sewer Authority. Last May, a routine test conducted by placing 20 minnows and 20 water fleas in a container of plant effluent failed ” after 48 hours, the minnows survived, but all 20 of the water fleas died.

“We’d been doing these tests for 10 to 12 years,” plant manager Mike Bittner said. “And we’d never failed one.”

Increased monitoring and an investigation of the plant’s effluent revealed the chemical culprit as carbaryl, the agent of choice for the majority of people spraying Summit County’s lodgepoles. Test results returned to normal in July, but Bittner said he will be ready this spraying season if the chemical appears once more.

“If it happens again, we should be able to trace it upstream,” he said.

– Compiled by Sarah L. Stewart


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