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UNDER THE SUN

Everything changes

Doug Crowl

— The blanket of snow that covered the Yampa Valley after Thanksgiving seemed to be the first normal occurrence we’ve collectively felt here in awhile.

Then, when it snowed all week, leading up to an epic opening day of skiing and riding, all those pre-season worries seemed to dwindle a bit.

With an economy in recession and a country reacting to the single greatest attack on its soil, it’s hard not to see some changes locally in the past couple of months, resulting in uncertainty and some reasons to worry.

The most recent worries were pointed out in the Nov. 26 Steamboat Today. Service industry employees here are wondering how they are going to pay the bills because the ski season was pushed back a week and employers are appearing hesitant to hire on winter help.

All of a sudden, thumbing through the paper to find a job has become as daunting as finding an affordable place to rent in January. And heck, if people can’t find a job up here, they have one of the worst job markets in 10 years to contend with in the city.

Coupling the late start with fears of a dreary tourist season has made the matter even worse.

Another staple industry here, construction and real estate, has showed evidence of change in the last few months, too. As reported in the business section of the Nov. 18 Pilot & Today, between Sept. 11 and Nov. 6 the dollar volume of property listed or sold in the Steamboat Springs area is half of what it was last year $39.5 million from 134 listings compared to $85.5 million from 281 listings in 2000.

On top of that, last Sunday’s business section of the Pilot & Today reported that the value of new construction in Routt County is off 14 percent compared to last year from $128.5 million last year to $110 million this year, and construction professionals said it should drop even more in 2002.

These are all signs that things are changing, which probably was inevitable.

But when the snow fell after Thanksgiving dinner and kept falling all last week, to me it was a welcomed normalcy amongst changes even if it meant digging my truck out of the driveway. It also was a welcomed distraction.

When I take the first turns of the season on my snowboard remembering how to weave through aspen trees and drop off rocks things will come into perspective.

Jobs, money, disputes, friends, enemies, world politics and uncertain futures always stay in the valley when concentrating on turns on the mountain above.


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