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Burning money to fight fires – communities have to spend to get visitors to return

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There’s a lot of rebuilding that goes on after a wildfire. Rebuilding houses, neighborhoods and for places like Black Forrest, whole communities. Non-profits and the surrounding communities are ready to help those who are displaced during mandatory evacuations or after their home has been destroyed but rebuilding the tourism industry, a major source of revenue for many communities affected by the fires, is much more difficult to reconstruct.

Repairing the Royal Gorge Park could cost anywhere from $25-$40 million, and while there has been no confirmation about dates, the park’s website said they hope to have a brand new park by the summer of 2014.

Unfortunately, the tourism season and the wildfire season coincide, which is why many communities affected by fires must launch advertising campaigns immediately after full containment to gain back lost revenue from tourism.

Canon City has recently unveiled their plan to lure tourists back into the area after the Royal Gorge Fire burned a total of 3,218 acres and charred 48 of the 52 buildings on the Royal Gorge Park’s property.

A total of $37,000 will be spent on the campaign. $10,000 will be spent in print media and $27,000 will be spent in television and Internet marketing, reported the Canon City Daily Record.

The money used to market the region comes from donations from local businesses and non-profits. The El Pomar Foundation gave $20,000, Sun Flower, Canon National and High Country banks donated $5,000 each, and the Fremont Tourism Council $10,000. Canon City also donated $10,000.

The total amount of money, $55,000, which also covered video production and preliminary costs, will last through the month of August.

“The traffic is down, as I can see. But we’re getting people in the office consistently,” said Doug Shane, Executive Director of the Canon City Chamber of Commerce.

There has been an upsurge in calls and 600-1,000 visitor guides are being sent out each week, Shane said.

Repairing the Royal Gorge Park could cost anywhere from $25-$40 million, and while there has been no confirmation about dates, the park’s website said they hope to have a brand new park by the summer of 2014. 

Officials at the Royal Gorge Park said they have not yet discussed a marketing plan, as they are still in the demolition stage of reconstruction.

“People are at risk of losing their jobs, their benefits and their businesses if we can’t get visitation back where it should be. Nearly 350 families lost their homes to the fire, and we don’t want more people to lose their homes because they can’t make their rent or mortgage payments.”

— Doug Shane, Colorado Springs Visitor’s Bureau

Shane said it seems many people across the state, particularly in the north, aren’t even aware Canon City experienced a fire. The media coverage of the Black Forest Fire diverted a lot of the attention away from the Royal Gorge Fire, which Shane says is fortunate for Canon City though he would never wish that sort of devastation on anybody else.

After the Waldo Canyon Fire scorched 18,000 acres, destroyed 347 homes and the Flying W Ranch, the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a campaign to let tourists know Colorado Springs and its many attractions were open for business. 

The “Welcome Back” promotional campaign was funded by $65,000 in organization and individual donations. The CVB also committed $135,000 from their reserve fund, according to the organization’s 2012 annual stakeholders report.

“After the fire was 100% contained and key attractions reopened, the funds were used to make additional advertising placements during late summer and throughout the fall,” the report stated.

The report points out that tourism employs 11,620 people in El Paso and Teller counties, which was another reason for such a strong campaign.

“We are mindful of the loss that the community has already endured,” said Doug Price, President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau in a July 2012 news release after the containment of the fire.

“People are at risk of losing their jobs, their benefits and their businesses if we can’t get visitation back where it should be. Nearly 350 families lost their homes to the fire, and we don’t want more people to lose their homes because they can’t make their rent or mortgage payments.”

Even with devastation from the fire, there was a 167 percent increase in web traffic to visitcos.com and a 101 percent increase in visitor guide orders from August through December 2012, according to the CVB.

With this year’s fires the CVB does not have any plans to ask for additional funding for a campaign similar to “Welcome Back.”

“Thankfully we still had some funds left to spend for leisure advertising and instead of spreading it out of the summer in print and online, we’ve decided to use it more aggressively right away to help educate and dispel any misconceptions about the destination,” said Chelsy Murphy, director of communications.

When the Canon City Chamber of Commerce was putting their marketing plan together, they collaborated with the CVB, who offered advice and sent the chamber their “Welcome Back” campaign plan as a guide.

The thousands of acres burned this year won’t be altering the state’s marketing plan, however. The Colorado Tourism Office said they don’t have any plans to change advertising and marketing strategies for any statewide recovery efforts.

“The fires, while a very serious event, did not impact the entire state.  Hence we are balancing our support for the communities impacted by the fires and our previously planned marketing, PR and social media efforts promoting the state for the summer season,” said director of the Colorado Tourism Office, Al White.

The office said they have been working closely with Colorado communities that have been affected by the fire along with industry partners.

Current priorities are to “continue to support the communities impacted by the fires and to assist in managing the visitor experience by providing resources for up-to-date information about the fires,” White said.

Shane said the Colorado Tourism Office has been working with the chamber to market the Canon City area. Setting up an Instagram account, being one of their efforts.

It is difficult to put a dollar amount on how much wildfires cost communities, especially in terms of tourism. While Colorado Springs is able to dip into their reserve fund, Canon City is working strictly off donations but Shane said the neighboring communities help each other out.

The uncertainty of next summer’s fire season means the future of marketing campaigns and the results of those campaigns for already affected areas is unknown too. 

Not only do these communities worry about their revenue, they worry about the families who rely on tourism for income. 

It is unclear what the next steps for rebranding are. Canon City hopes to gain around $140,000 through the state for later marketing when the Royal Gorge Park reopens. Colorado Springs, even with major, devastating fires two summers in a row, is riding out one marketing campaign.

by Kara Mason  

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet

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Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.


Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.


Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.


Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days

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There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter

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WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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