Best of the Web: Athlete, SSWSC awards
April 25, 2010
■ Congratulations to head of the Nordic combined program, coach Todd Wilson and the rest of the NC coaching staff (Gary Crawford, Martin Bayer and Kathryn Elkins). You run a fantastic program, not just about sport but about life. I couldn't be happier to have you as such prominent people in my children's lives, and I know they will grow up to be better people because of their association with you. You so totally deserve this USSA award.
■ Congratulations to the entire team and staff of the Nordic combined program. These accomplishments speak loudly to the caliber of the entire SSWSC program and continued vision.
Kudos should also go out to the entire community for their continual support of SSWSC. They have certainly enabled so athletes to excel in many different disciplines.
Without question, coal mining has been a part of Routt County's economy for decades. Like all commodities, it goes through cycles. Some of these cycles are created by market forces, and some are government-caused. Like any well-run company, Peabody Energy will look to expand into new markets just like any business that recognized that in the next 5 to 7 years it is going to likely lose a grouping of customers that account for 25% of their business.
In February (the latest month I have data for), Twentymile accounted for over 1/3 of the state's total coal production by mining 842,759 tons of coal. Twentymile is often the most productive mine in the state when measured total hours worked and tons of coal mined.
The coal from Twentymile is a high-quality coal because it is lower in sulfur and higher in BTUs than most of the coal located in the western United States. There is a demand of this type of coal. We could easily find ourselves in 5 to 7 years with actually mining more coal in Routt County. Peabody Energy is pretty good at finding ways to mine coal more productively and finding customers for it. Just think of the challenge Twentymile would be facing if it cost a lot to extract a lousy coal. That is not the case in Routt County. Once again, we are blessed.
From an economy perspective mining (which includes all extractive activities including oil and gas), Routt County accounts for about 5% of the personal income generated in the county. In Moffat County, it represents over 12% and in Rio Blanco County over 20%. Sometime in the mid-2000s, Routt County's health care industry sector surpassed the mining sector and has continued to accelerate to where it now accounts for over 9% of the economy. (Routt County Livability Index)
The biggest smack the local economy has experienced in the past 25 years has occurred over the last two years. At its peak in 2007, the construction industry sector accounted for 27% of the personal income and 20% of the jobs. The lost of both income and employment in this sector dwarfs anything that is going to happen in the coal industry in Routt County over the next 5 to 7 years assuming Peabody Energy cannot find any new customers for its great coal. However, because of our economic diversification, the smack in the construction industry staggered the local economy but it did not collapse. Once again, we are blessed.
Base area bid decision
■ Having two police officers investigate the bid process to try to regain public confidence is asking a whole lot from these officers. There is not a widespread belief that laws were violated. Thus, the sort of investigation expected by police officers will have MINIMAL IMPACT on the lack of public confidence.
The fundamental problem was the chosen bid process and then the mistake that went to the heart of the bid process's most serious vulnerability, which was the confidential bids that were not the final bids.
To regain public confidence will require something like bringing in a CDOT bid process expert whom can both point out the flaws in this bid process and make sure the bid process used in the future is of high quality.
■ Regardless of what really went down in the bidding or complaint withdrawal process, the real point was spoken, the ski area and Steamboat NEED this project to happen. Yes, this whole thing "stinks," as Mr. MacArthur pointed out, but in the bigger Steamboat-orientated picture, the correct decision was made. These truly are hard times for all. Thank you for doing the right thing.
Growth, Steamboat 700
It seems that the voters didn't like a lot of aspects of the 700 proposal but that there was a lot of interest in actual growth. I don't think anyone can assume that the voters said there should be no growth. If you want to know the answer to that question, put it on the ballot, don't just assume that is what people said in the election. They voted on a specific situation.