Heard around the West
NORTH DAKOTA Give a
cheer for cheeky Fargo, mocked as backward a mere decade
ago in the movie Fargo, which featured locals
spouting the stereotypical, "Yah, you betcha." You can call the
city "trendy" now, says the Los Angeles Times.
Pricey condos have been built downtown, culture has arrived in the
form of sushi bars and midnight screenings of old movies, and the
city and state have weighed in with financial incentives. Landlords
who make improvements don’t have to pay property taxes for
the first five years, says Governing magazine,
and owners and tenants have been granted a five-year exemption from
state and local income taxes. "Result: 65 new projects downtown in
the last three years." Even so, the mayor says he has to keep
assuring tourists that "the movie was not a documentary."
UTAH Though they were on a diet, a
couple got kicked out of a suburban restaurant outside
Salt Lake City. Sui Amaama had gone back for his 12th slice of
roast beef at the buffet at Chuck-A-Rama, when general manager Jack
Johanson asked him to back away from the beef. Instead, Amaama and
his wife, both two weeks into the low-carb Atkins Diet, demanded a
refund, saying they thought Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat
restaurant. The Associated Press reports that the standoff ended
only when Chuck-A-Rama called the police.
COLORADO Only a few people in high
places still doubt the reality of global warming, but is
it happening fast enough to send giant waves toward the Rocky
Mountains? Well, you might have thought so if you turned on your
radio in the small town of Gypsum recently. Listeners heard a
warning tone, then the news that a tsunami was barreling their way.
False alarm: A snafu during a training exercise of the emergency
warning system sent the alert — one of many hypothetical
disasters — out over the air. Disc jockeys had fun guessing
where waves would have to come from to crash against the
Continental Divide. But Governing magazine
reports that one local dude was disappointed: He grabbed his
surfboard, put zinc oxide on his nose and was nonplussed to
discover no waves when he got to Gypsum.
NEVADA Hydrologist Kendrick Taylor
concludes that Lake Tahoe just isn’t pretty enough
for promoters. A glossy brochure distributed by Marriott Hotels
shows many photos of people enjoying the Tahoe Basin, Taylor says,
"but the only lake shown and the snowy mountain on the cover are
distinctly Canadian. Many locals wish the tourists would go there
instead." And the cover of AAA’s Colorado-Utah guidebook
displayed a picture of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Ariz. The
"monumental goof," says the AP, can be seen in half a million
copies of the 2004 guide that were sent out before the mistake was
COLORADO A proposed
university named after former President Ronald Reagan bit
the dust before a team sure to be dubbed "The Gippers" could score
its first touchdown. The Denver Post reports
that Colorado Republican Gov. Bill Owens initially endorsed Reagan
University, to be located in the Denver area. Then Nancy Reagan
shot down the idea, probably because it would compete with the
Reagan Library. That led the governor to say that he would honor
her wishes, which reminds us of the saying: "Some of my friends
favor this proposal and some of my friends don’t, and
I’m with my friends."
Under a plan proposed by the federal government,
a fish is a fish is a fish. This is another way of saying that the
feds want to equate hatchery-raised salmon, raised in bulk mainly
for anglers, with wild fish that are threatened with extinction.
Environmentalists say the plan could lead to the demise of wild
salmon, but that’s really OK, says Gretchen Borck, lobbyist
for the 5,000-member Washington Association of Wheat Growers. She
told Reuters that while she applauds people trying to save
endangered species, "It might be good that we don’t have
dinosaurs now. We’ve gotten oil from the dinosaurs. If we had
preserved the dinosaur, we wouldn’t have all that oil."
CALIFORNIA The Left Coast
is famous for many things, but now there’s this:
California’s Monterey County is the "birdiest." According to
the Monterey Peninsula Audubon Society, its count of 248 species in
the county during a 24-hour period last year beat all competitors
nationwide. George Barr, who boasts that his backyard in the Santa
Lucia Range attracts 36 species of birds, says 100 teams of
birdwatchers blanketed Monterey County to claim the title.
Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the
Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colo. Tips of
Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the
column, Heard around the West.