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Dreams and reality as we enter a new year…

It is the first day of 2013. It is late morning and still -6 degrees. It’s the way it is supposed to be. The valley is a bit foggy, as am I. Apparently the Crested Butte lottery syndicate I was part of didn’t win the Powerball, since I am at work. Apparently the Mayan Apocalypse slid by without incident unless, like the phrase many locals cite continuously, we are living a dream.
And based on a few episodes in 2012, there is reason to sometimes think we are indeed living a dream where rules of reality sometimes take a hiatus. A few examples that in hindsight make me smile on this first day of 2013:

* A Mt. Crested Butte councilperson insinuated recently that marijuana wasn’t very “consistent” with a resort town. Neither then is alcohol, public restaurants, waitrons or tourists. Dope is more common in resort towns than parking problems. Look, abuse of any substance, whether it is beer, sugar or marijuana, can be dangerous. But ask any cop and they’ll tell you they hate dealing with drunks and would much rather deal with someone who is stoned. That’s a topic for a whole separate editorial but for a town council to think they can rid their community of the demon weed is truly living a dream. The thought brings a New Year’s smile.

* In what seems at times to be an overzealous effort to make sure everything is safer and “family-friendly” for the community, the traditional Chainless Race had less party pop in 2012 but was able to keep its fizz. In what at first appeared to be an obvious overreach, more rules were implemented and less opportunity to “celebrate” was afforded those bold enough to fly down Kebler Pass on a bike without a chain. The Chainless ended up coming off as a good, fun, costumed event but I’m never a fan of taking all risk and “illegal smiles” out of every local affair.

* The downtown council isn’t afraid to chat amongst themselves and that can be enough to put anyone into a REM state pretty quickly. They spent more than a few minutes of their precious lives delving into the great issues of the day in 2012. Hours and hours were spent discussing details of a bathroom expansion in town hall, where to put directional signs on Elk Avenue and which corner would be best suited to locate a donated clock. God love ‘em, these men are not afraid to yak for days over things like late night food trucks, lighting for local businesses, or the virtues of stick figures in advertisements. They are on the job for your benefit and you are getting your money’s worth if you are paying by the word. Happy New Year, fellas.

* The Gunnison County Commissioners approved cutting-edge regulations for oil and gas development. That will be a big issue for many years and the commissioners walked a thin line to go where local government hadn’t gone before. Months of debate concluded with the most conservative commissioner praising the environmental community and the most liberal commissioner commending the oil and gas companies for all their input and work…and that’s how real legislative compromise is achieved. It’s not perfect but it’s real.

* Speaking of real—not. U.S. Congressmen make $174,000 a year and get regular cost of living raises. Seriously? Why? To take the country to the brink of calamity? To bow down to a dude named Grover Norquist? To not understand that once elected you can represent those that voted for you but your responsibility is to the greater good and not the fringes? This Congress isn’t a dream; it’s a night sweat. They could learn a few things from our local elected representatives.

* Water in the valley. Blue Mesa has never looked as low to me as it did this past fall. Local rivers were razor thin and the drought never really subsided. If we don’t get a big winter to help refill local reservoirs and saturate our valleys, next summer could be brown and bleak. Rumors are we’ll soon see the church steeple at Sapinero. Nightmare.

* There was (and to a lesser degree still is) opportunity between local environmental groups and U.S. Energy, the company that owns molybdenum mining rights on Mt. Emmons, to strike a deal with state and federal governments to finally eliminate the potential for mining on Red Lady. That opportunity has taken a setback, given timing and details, but remains a possibility in 2013 and beyond. We can only dream.

* The Denver Broncos traded a guy who turned a season around and took them into the playoffs on a wave of miracles last season. But they end up with one of the most businesslike, efficient true leaders at the quarterback position and now have the real chance to play in New Orleans. That is a great reality.

* And speaking of real sports dreams—the town rallied around local athlete Emma Coburn and her quest in the 2012 Olympics. In London, she represented us, and all of America, in the steeplechase event. The town shut down as she raced in the finals in early August. The Majestic Theater broadcast her run on the big screen and it was standing room only. Since she was the youngest athlete on the U.S. track and field team at 21, we can hopefully count on her returning to the Olympics and dream of one of our small-town kids bringing back gold to this mountain village.

Turning the calendar is always an opportunity for reflection. This year is no different. Here’s to a great 2013 and may we try to stay grounded in reality while reaching for the good dreams. Now I need to go get another Powerball ticket.

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