Garfield County joined the billionaires club in 2006 as the volume of all real estate sales in the county topped $1 billion for the first time last year. The $1.04 billion in total sales for 2006 was an increase of 22 percent over the 2005 mark and growth of 137 percent from 2003.
The oil and gas boom in western Garfield County is driving the real estate development boom in western Garfield County. An estimated $75 million of the $1 billion in commercial and residential sales in Garfield County occurred in Rifle last year.
Meanwhile, Pitkin County has remained above the $1 billion level in annual sales volume for each of the last four years. Sales volume topped $2 billion in 2005 and soared to $2.64 billion last year.
Read Scott Condon’s full article …
Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber wants the Oregon Legislature to reform the state’s health care system. As Sarah Skidmore writes,
Roughly one year ago, Kitzhaber created the Archimedes Movement to get public say on how to reform the health care system. The group, which included the input of about 40,000 citizens, health care leaders and others, decided that all Oregonians should have access to health care and the state could deliver it more effectively than the current system.
The Oregon Better Health Act is a product of that group’s thinking. The act, if passed, would take the federal and state money currently being spent on health care and try and use it more effectively.
If passed, it would trigger a request to the federal government to grant Oregon the congressional authority to control state and federal health care dollars. Oregon would then design a system to provide physical, mental and other health benefits for all of its residents. The act would also create a process that allows the public to have a say on how the health care system would work.
Learn more about the Oregon Better Health Act . . .
Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has just released a report on transportation programs and policy reforms that can support environmental, social, and economic goals – a triple bottom line. As he comments in the introduction,
People often assume that environmental, social and economic goals conflict. For example, policies to reduce climate change emissions and programs to improve accessibility for disadvantaged people are often opposed on grounds that they are costly and harmful to the economy. But such conflicts can be avoided. Some strategies that support environmental and social objectives also benefit the economy.
This paper identifies more than a dozen such strategies, which we call Win-Win Transportation Solutions. These are cost-effective, technically feasible policy reforms and programs that help solve transport problems by improving transport options and correcting market distortions that result in economically excessive motor vehicle travel. These are considered “no regrets” strategies because they are justified even if the severity of environmental and social risks is uncertain.
Read the full report . . .
The Roaring Fork School District recently approved the start of a Dual language program at Crystal River Elementary School. The program was proposed by a committee of parents, teachers, and administrators to help boost student achievement.
As Gina Guarascio writes in the Valley Journal,
Crystal River Elementary School (CRES) teacher Kenny Teitler was instrumental in starting a dual language learning program at Basalt Elementary School more than 12 years ago, and he couldn’t really think of a negative thing about the program there.
He can easily talk about the positives of dual language learning, where students learn basic literacy in their native language first while also learning academic concepts in their non-native language. The result should be better written and oral communication in Spanish and English, said Teitler, as well as higher test scores for all kids. […]
Board member Brad Zeigel said he’s excited about the program because it focuses on student achievement and is something that benefits the Anglos and Latinos.
“I can’t see a single thing wrong with knowing another language,” said Zeigel, who added he wished he would’ve learned Spanish in school. “It’s a real neat thing for Carbondale and we’ve got the core grassroots support that you need from parents and staff.”
Besides bringing up test scores, Teitler said the dual-language program in Basalt brought out a greater confidence in students of all cultures and more willingness to participate.
For more information on the research behind the proposed program visit the CRES wiki.
Governor Bill Ritter completed his cabinet appointments with the selection of Rifle native Russell George to head the Colorado Department of Transportation. George is a well respected former state legislator, speaker of the house, and Director of the Department of Natural Resources under Governor Bill Owens.
During his tenure as legislator, George sponsored the Rural Transportation Authority Act, which enabled local communities to create transportation districts to fund transit and road improvements. Communities in the Roaring Fork Valley had asked George to sponsor the legislation and were the first to use it to fund transit operations in the region.
The selection releaves some of the angst felt by Western Slope residents over Ritter’s the lack of Western Slope representatives to his cabinet. In selcting a Republican, Ritter also shows his willingness to work across political lines for the benefit of Colorado.
Read the article in the Denver Post . . .