Mike Lawrence: 'Collaboratories' and corn bags

News from Steamboat, Denver and the East Coast

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Mike Lawrence

Call Mike Lawrence at 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com.

I thought only crossword puzzle designers and Scrabble players could make up words, but U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar has proved me wrong.

Salazar is speaking at the Capitol in Denver this morning to introduce the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, which will bring together resources from the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to make Colorado no less than "the renewable energy capital of the country," according to Evan Dreyer, spokesman for Gov. Bill Ritter.

Dreyer said Salazar helped create the idea for the Collaboratory during the 2006 Renewable Energy Summit the senator organized and hosted. Then-Gov. Bill Owens formalized the group through funding legislation last year.

The group will direct "cutting-edge research" and energy development work, which leads me to one question:

Where did they come up with "Collaboratory?"

Was "collaborative" taken? Is it meant to connote science? I can't help thinking the group will use solar panels and wind turbines to re-animate the Bride of Frankenstein in its twisted, sinister, biodiesel-fueled "collaboratory."

Ritter focused on expanding renewable energy throughout his campaign for governor, and the former district attorney's "new energy economy" could be off to a running start - there are at least 15 laws proposed at the Capitol this year that relate to renewable energy.

Maybe the Collaboratory can find a way to generate power from the gold-plated Capitol Dome, the inside of which is open again after more than five years of repairs. Dome tours began Tuesday and run on the hour every day of the week until 2 p.m. For more information or tour reservations, visit www.colorado-dome.org or call tour supervisor Theresa Holst at (303) 866-3834

Renewables also are expanding here in Steamboat, where the use of geothermal energy is heating up. The new Steamboat Springs Community Center is going geothermal for its heating and cooling systems, and the Base Area Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee will hear an update Friday about the possible use of geothermal heat for sidewalk snowmelt systems in the redeveloped base area. URAAC is recommending Steamboat's own Duckels Construction, Inc., for this year's redevelopment projects, which include installing a roundabout at the entrance to Ski Time Square.

Hiring local workers would help stave off the expected tsunami of construction laborers flooding into Steamboat this summer, when work will hit a fever pitch at numerous development projects slated for downtown, around town and at the ski base. On Thursday, Steamboat Springs code enforcement officer Toby Keeton will talk to members of Main Street Steamboat Springs about plans for managing construction impacts and mitigating issues such as downtown parking and employee housing.

"This is a topic of huge concern to businesses and residents alike," said Tracy Barnett, Main Street's program manager.

Looks like we'll need to build some homes for all the people coming to Steamboat to build homes.

Finally, thank you to everyone who sent their thoughts and good wishes to my mother, who I saluted last week in a Valentine's Day column a day before she had knee surgery. It all went well, and she is recuperating at home in New Hampshire. The only hitch has been a problem with conventional ice packs - she doesn't like them because they melt and get watery, or are too rigid when frozen. So my innovative parents solved the problem by switching to frozen bags of corn to reduce the swelling. The kernels apparently settle snugly around the knee.

Is there anything corn can't do? Ethanol, ice packs : Quick, notify the mad scientists in the collaboratory.

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