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Trash diversion works, but at unbearable cost

ASPEN, Colo. — Reduce, reuse and recycle: It sounds wonderful, but the economics and logistics can be difficult, as Pitkin County is discovering.

According to The Aspen Times, local officials say sale of cardboard, newspaper and office paper generates nearly enough revenue to pay operational costs of the local program.

Importantly, the recycling keeps the goods out of the landfill. Landfills do get filled, and finding a new site would be difficult in Pitkin County. Hauling trash to other locations would become expensive. About 60 per cent of trash is diverted from the landfill in the existing program.

But revenues for glass, aluminum and plastic are relatively minimal, and the cost of collecting, bailing and transporting them to a materials-recovery facility near Vail costs Aspen and Pitkin County $300,000 to $350,000 per year.

What to do? The Times says county commissioners hope to figure out a sweeter spot, continuing the recycling but without such a large subsidy.

No growly engines

GEORGETOWN, Colo. — Bisected by Interstate 70, Clear Creek County occupies the foothills west of Denver to the Continental Divide. It was the scene of some of Colorado's earliest gold and silver mining. "Where the Old West Meets New Adventure" is the come-hither tagline adopted by local tourism promoters.

But for some people, a little less meeting would be useful. The Clear Creek Courant reports that a non-profit group called SOLVE wants designated areas for quiet recreation, such is more common with fishing, hiking and bicycling. Such quiet areas would be distinct from areas where people use ATVs or target shoot.

County commissioners seem to be of two minds about the need for such designations. "If I want to go out in the woods and not hear anything, the areas are endless in this county," said commissioner Tom Hayden. Another commissioner quoted by the Courant seems to think segregation of interests would be useful.

Whitefish looking ot rebuild city hall

WHITEFISH, Mont. — Elected officials in Whitefish have decided to move ahead with a new city hall along with a community parking structure. Total cost is estimated at $11.5 million, reports the Whitefish Pilot. The newspaper notes a strong difference of opinion among officials about the need for additional parking or how to pay for it.

First electric vehicle arrives

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Slowly, ever-so-slowly, electric vehicles are making their way into garages and fleets in cities. In mountain towns, not so fast.

But Steamboat now has what seems to be the first all-electric vehicle, a Nissan Leaf. The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that business teacher Jeff Troeger leased the care for two years, although he doesn't really expect to take it out on the road. The closest town of any size, Craig, is a 132-kilometre round trip, and that is probably beyond the range of the car.

How much he will actually use it in Steamboat Springs is also questionable. The newspaper's Tom Ross notes that the professor customarily bicycles to and from his duties at Colorado Mountain College.

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