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Big dumps in life are rare

ASPEN, Colo. — Sometimes wonderful snow comes in big dumps, and other times in small increments. This year is of the latter variety in Aspen.

"We've had a lot of snow," veteran weather observer Jim Markalunas told The Aspen Times, "but they've all been small increments, 4, 5 or 6 inches."

Markalunas, who has monitored Aspen’s weather since the mid-1950s, tracks the number of "big dumps," which he defines as anything in excess of 10 inches within 24 hours. By that standard, a three-dump-winter comes along every 20 years in Aspen. He has recorded only one four-dump winter in a half-century, that occurring in 1984.

For the record, Aspen got its first big dump of this winter last week, a snow so light that on the ski hill, the Aspen Skiing Co. reported a 3 per cent precipitation content, compared to the average 7 per cent, according to Mike Kaplan, chief operating officer.

All in all, says Markalunas, "It's the best snow conditions I can remember in one hell of a long time."

Surge in Latino births

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — The number of babies being born in Jackson is increasing sharply, surpassing 400 last year. And, while Caucasian births have remained flat during the last decade, Latino births have increased substantially. In 1990, there were none. Last year, a quarter of all babies were Latino.

"There is not really an increasing birth rate among the Caucasian population," said Vida Day, director of EL Puente, an organization that helps Latinos access health care. "The primary population increase is due to the birth rate among the immigrant population."

Day told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the first Latinos to move to Jackson Hole worked and sent money to families in Mexico. But, as the men established themselves, their wives relocated and couples started or expanded families, Day said. Also, there are now more single Latina women.

These shifting demographics also portend changing demands for education and medicine, Day said. For example, Teton County School District enrolled the largest kindergarten class in history. Of the kindergarteners, 60 per cent are Caucasian and 27 per cent are Latino.

Peggy Marie Smith, development director for Community Children’s Project, told the newspaper she also detects another demographic shift. Some of the Caucasian births are resulting from couples in their 30s, many of whom are entrepreneurs who moved to Jackson Hole after establishing profitable business, and are now having their second and third children.