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Your Morning News - February 5th, 2015

Feb 5, 2015

Calls Come for Increased Vaccination Rates

Pitkin County’s public health clinic is seeing a rise in the number of people requesting vaccinations for measles. The majority of calls are from parents checking on their children’s vaccine history and adults seeking vaccinations.

The local spike in interest comes after a measles outbreak started in California and spread to fourteen states. Pitkin County Public Health Director Liz Stark says she’s happy to see the uptick in interest.

“We are definitely being impacted by what’s going on in the country. And, the positive thing is that the calls we’re getting are from people interested in making sure they’re vaccinated and up to date on their vaccines.”

She thinks the Roaring Fork Valley is generally in favor of vaccines. Five percent of students in Aspen’s School District are not vaccinated.

“That means that only five percent of the children have opted out of vaccines for either religious or personal exemption. That’s really good compared to other communities around the country.”

But, Colorado as a whole has a low vaccination rate. The Denver Post reports, the state is dead last for vaccinating kindergartners for measles, mumps and rubella. The Roaring Fork School District with schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs did not respond to a request for vaccination rates.

Retail Sales in Aspen Up 10% in 2014

The city sales tax report for 2014 is in. It appears the Aspen economy has more than rebounded. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.

People in Aspen shopped more, drank more, ate more and consumed pot more in 2014 than the previous year.

That’s according a recently-released sales tax consumption report, which shows economic activity within the city of Aspen last year is up 10 percent over 2013. That amounts to nearly $624 million in commerce.

Sports equipment, clothing and luxury goods were up significantly for the year. Combined, those categories generated around $153 million in sales. Restaurant and bars were up 11 percent, bringing in about $111 million dollars. And with recreational marijuana coming on the scene last March, sales in that category spiked dramatically. The liquor and marijuana category saw an increase of 25 percent, generating more than $13 million throughout 2014. All of those industries posted increases for the month of December as well. Another big gain last year was revenue generated by accommodations up thirteen percent. That amounts to more than one-hundred-seventy-three million dollars that flowed into the local economy.

Wilderness in Peril is a Topic of Conversation

The White River National Forest wants to hear from the public about how to minimize environmental damage from crowds on its lands. The Forest Service is holding two public meetings to get the conversation started. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

The meetings are in conjunction with the Naturalist Nights Speaker Series, held by three local nonprofits. The Forest Service is looking for solutions after the number of overnight visitors to the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness grew by 40 percent in five years.

Thousands of visitors to popular places like Conundrum Hot Springs, the Four Pass Loop and Crater Lake are degrading the environment, says District Ranger Karen Schroyer.

“What we’re seeing are some real resource issues, especially with the overnight camping. We’re seeing illegal campsites, inappropriately stored food that’s causing human-wildlife conflicts, human waste that isn’t taken care of properly,” she says.

The Forest Service wants new rules to come from a citizen-driven process. The first meeting tonight is at Carbondale’s Third Street Center. On Thursday, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies at Hallam Lake will hold a second meeting.

New Study: Colorado Vulnerable to Climate Change Effects  

A joint study between CU Boulder and Colorado State University shows the state is vulnerable to climate change. Results from the study were announced Wednesday. It was commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office. Researchers say warming temperatures in recent years will likely continue, leading to longer and more severe droughts… as well as snow melting more quickly, and longer growing seasons. Overall snowpack in the spring is expected to decline in the next thirty five years, and could affect the end of the ski season. Infectious diseases and poor health quality are expected to increase, which is more likely to affect the poor and the elderly.

Glenwood Racer Takes to World Championships Today

Alpine ski racer Alice McKennis will hit the slopes at the Alpine World Ski Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek today. The Glenwood Springs native will be battling for the remaining two spots in Friday’s downhill. She’ll race against Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross during the Women’s downhill training session at 1:30 this afternoon.

McKennis was named to the world championships team after coming back from two broken legs and four surgeries. She’s 25 years old.