Our View: Steamboat’s signature stories

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The start of 2015 gives us pause to reflect on the past year

Our view

A number of stories published in 2014 remind us of why we choose to live in Steamboat Springs and Routt County

As we embark on a new year in Routt County, it’s common to look back on the previous year to determine if there were memorable moments, lessons learned and progress made or lost.

In Sunday’s Steamboat Pilot, we published a list of the top stories of 2014 that covered the highlights of the year from a news perspective.

The city of Steamboat Springs made the front page week after week, and on average, attracted more online comments and reader interest than most other news topics. There were stories about downtown parking problems, bus service cuts, bear-proof trash containers, discussions for and against creating a downtown URA and the ongoing police station debate.

2014 also will be remembered as the year recreational pot was legalized in Colorado with Steamboat welcoming three new retail pot shops to the local business mix. It also was a year marked by tragedy with the death of a 3-year-old Steamboat Springs boy due to neglect and the sentencing of a mom to 40 years in prison for the shooting death of her 9-year-old son.

All of these stories made headlines and attracted online page views, but to us, what made 2014 memorable were the stories that engaged readers but also revealed the remarkable, sometimes hard-to-describe qualities that make Steamboat Springs and Routt County such a rare and special place to live and work.

Here is just a sampling of stories we published this past year that we think show the true spirit of our community:

“Goats: The original weed eaters.” Routt County’s ranching roots still run deep and give Steamboat Springs a western, home-spun flavor that is unmatched by any other ski town. Tom Ross’s piece on the use of goats to control weeds at Saddleback Ranch was just one of many agriculture articles published this past year.

“Yampa Valley Gives nets $370,974 for nonprofits.” In one 24-hour period, more than $400,000 ultimately was raised for area nonprofits through Yampa Valley Gives and Colorado Gives Day — an effort that showcased Routt County’s spirit of giving in a big way.

“Escape artist breaks out of doggy jail in Steamboat Springs.” The story was so compelling that members of this dog-loving town responded to the article with requests to adopt Mamba even though he had a loving home — albeit one he couldn’t resist escaping from. Mamba’s escapades also prompted the city to invest money to shore up the animal shelter to keep other canines from following in Mamba’s footsteps.

“6-time Olympic Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick earns historic distinction.” Steamboat’s proud tradition of producing Olympians was on display to an international audience when Lodwick was chosen to carry the American flag and lead the United States Olympic Team into Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia. The moment was captured by sports editor Joel Reichenberger, who traveled to Russia with reporter Luke Graham to cover the 2014 Winter Olympic Games for the Steamboat Pilot & Today — another longstanding tradition.

“Chief Theater building sells to longtime supporters for $1.45 million.” The arts are alive and well in Steamboat Springs, and this recent news announcement demonstrates that. The historic Chief Theatre building was purchased by supporters Mary and Jack McClung, helping to cement the future of the popular arts and entertainment venue and preserving an iconic landmark on Lincoln Avenue.

“The Record.” Always one of this newspaper’s top daily reads, the Record reminds us that we live in a community where our listing of police calls often makes us laugh out loud. Instead of reading about shootings, burglaries and drug busts day in and day out, we find ourselves entertained by the entries. Some favorites included a man wearing bikini underwear, venison meat stolen out of the bed of a pickup truck, a dog triggering a car’s panic alarm, portable toilets being set on fire and lots of pesky bear reports.

In looking ahead to the new year, we hope there’s opportunity to publish more stories like the ones we’ve just listed. In serving as Routt County’s daily newspaper, the Steamboat Pilot & Today continues to balance hard news coverage with human interest stories that help tell the complete story of life in this great community we call home or love to visit.

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