Western Slope Round-Up: Playing with Marbles

It’s so hot over here, we have counted our marbles; we have won our marbles; and we have lost our marbles. Read more below.

Oh, by the way–learn about the town of Marble here, too.Grand Junction Youth National Marble Champion
Grand Junction Free Press — Nick Anderson, a 13-year-old Grand Junction resident, won the 2007 National Marbles Tournament held in Wildwood, N.J. last week. He qualified by playing competitively for over a year, he was between 10-14 years old and won city, county and state tournaments. His key to winning: “I just look at the marbles and see what I have to shoot at.”

Anderson is so good he will now have to compete in non-sanctioned open tournaments against players of all ages.

Housing Only for Those with All the Marbles?
Summit County Daily News— The price of a medium single-family home in Summit County has increased from $317,500 in 1999 to $670,300 in 2007, making it about 851 percent higher than the local medium income of $78,800. A recent housing study confirmed what most residents already knew: housing is beyond the reach of locally employed workers.

The report also noted:

About 75 percent of the residents who want to buy a home in Summit County are looking for small, single-family (two bedroom) homes with a base price of about $200,000.

Balconies and decks were the most important amenities, followed closely by a desire for a two-car garage and a private yard. Locals are also thinking green tabbing energy efficiency as the fourth-ranked amenity out of 10 offered.

The survey also asked specifically about the desirability of deed-restrictions on units that cap appreciation, with the option of buying out of the cap for $100,000. Just more than half the respondents said they would be inclined to pay the extra amount to remove the restrictions.

A little unscientific calculation: A $670,000 home has an approximate $4,300 a month mortgage payment; a household income of $78,000 has a take-home pay of about $5,200.  A $200,000 home would have about a $1,300 a month mortgage, well within the budget that housing should not cost more than 1/3 of a family’s monthly budget.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOuray Counted Too Many Marbles
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel — A miscalculation by the Ouray county assessor sent real estate owners into a panic over high property assessments. Apparently, the assessor had used an 18-month property sale window instead of a five year average. A second valuation was sent out that corrected the problem, however, valuations still were up by 34 percent.

The Ouray county assessor noted that property values were up all over the Western Slope and that Ouray saw a 31 percent increase in 2005, too, so the current numbers are not out of line. Some commercial properties stayed even from the previous year, but housing values in some cases nearly doubled.

No One Wants Glenwood Springs’ Marbles
Glenwood Springs Post Independent — Finding contractors to bid on city projects is becoming more difficult–a problem that a lot of Western Slope municipalities are having, according to the public works director in Glenwood Springs. A $2.5 million water and sewer project did not receive any bids on the first round and only two bids when inquiries were initiated the second time.

Another Glenwood city official thought that oil and gas companies have so much work that contractors are “over-employed.” Plus, labor shortages and the cost of labor have probably hampering the construction business. One project for Garfield County was estimated to cost $10 million by consultants, but the only bid that was made came in at $25 million.

Don’t Lose Your Marbles and Start a Fire
Summit Daily News – Your little firecracker in Summit county this July 4th could cost you up to $1,000.

Citing the potential for a catastrophic wildlife, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said last week that violations of the local fire ban will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The county commissioners passed the ban on open fires and fireworks effective June 30, and local towns all followed suit with similar measures. With the high burn index and continued hot weather in the forecast, Hurlbert said his office will not consider any plea bargains.

“I hope the no-plea-bargain policy will help people think twice before having and illegal fire,” Hurlbert said in a press release.

The recent Lake Tahoe fire that destroyed more than 200 homes has been attributed to an illegal campfire. With hundreds of acres of standing dead pines close to residential areas in Summit County, the risk of a dangerous fire is extremely high.

The whole Western Slope is a fire hazard with most counties enacting burning regulations for the summer. In Durango, all fireworks are banned because the fire risk is too great.

The Durango Herald reported:

Matt Lauer, fire manager for San Juan Public Lands, said vegetation at lower elevations has dried out in recent weeks, increasing the fire danger.

“I would say it’s high to very high below 8,500 feet,” he said.

New restrictions that limit campfires to permanent rings or grates go into effect today on public lands. Among the areas affected are the HD Mountains and Canyons of the Ancient National Monument.

An emergency service employee hoped that people would forego their own private fireworks and go see a public display instead. But some aren’t likely to take that advice, he acknowledged, “Sometimes people just don’t use good judgment.”

Already, careless cigarette smokers have caused a couple of small fires over the Hill.

Celebrations for All the Marbles
Rocky Mountain News — R and R Market in the San Luis Valley is Colorado’s oldest continuously operating family business at 150 years in the state’s oldest town. But tradition may end soon since none of the family members are interested in the grocery business.

From the News:

Locals say the geographic isolation of San Luis – near the New Mexico border in a vast scenic valley that bears its name – has kept competition at bay and the store alive all these years.

But inevitable change is threatening to end a family legacy.

Today, residents from miles around are expected to celebrate the founding of R&R Market by Dario Gallegos in 1857. The store is run by Felix Romero, 61, the founder’s great-great-grandson.

But Romero, who took over the store with his father, George Romero, in 1969, says that he and his wife, Claudia, are ready to call it quits and retire. Neither of his two sons has expressed interest in the business, nor has any of the countless relatives who live in town or nearby.

Congressman John Salazar, whose family is one of the early settlers of the neighboring community of Los Rincones, on the San Antonio River, a few miles west of San Luis, honored the Romero and Gallegos families for their 150th store anniversary.

Another anniversary party highlighted the Western Slope — Grand Junction is now officially 125 years old. An estimated 7,000 residents enjoyed free music and activities.

Rep. Salazar remarked:

“We pay tribute to a special community that embodies the best of Colorado.  Its blend of rural and urban life has enhanced this community and the life of its citizens.  The past and traditions of this special place on the Western Slope are worth celebrating. It is an honor and a privilege to represent Grand Junction as it commemorates its 125th birthday.”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLet’s Go to Marble
To put in a plug for the town of Marble, it’s south of Carbondale on Highway 133 and at 8,000 feet or so, it’s going to be a great place to cool your marbles this holiday week.

And yes, Virginia. There is marble in Marble.