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Off Limits

Hey hey, Cripple Creek Fuhrer: Dollar signs still outnumber swastikas in Colorado's casino-glutted mountain gambling towns, but the folks at the Cripple Creek & Victor Eagle see a connection between the two. In an editorial titled "The Coming of the Fourth Reich?" slated to appear in the April issue of the entertainment monthly, publisher Bob Dierking blasts Cripple Creek's town government for launching its own quarterly newspaper to promote local events--and using town employees to sell advertising at rates well below what unsubsidized private publishers can offer. Dierking says that gives the town paper--which he calls a "propaganda tabloid," "our own little Cripple Creek Pravda" and "a wonderful demonstration of how to waste trees"--an unfair edge over the Eagle and Teller County's four weekly newspapers.

Dierking is calling on his fellow publishers to refrain from covering any event sponsored by the city's marketing department. But town administrator Kip Petersen says "everyone would suffer" from such a media blackout, including the newspapers themselves. Petersen describes the Cripple Creek City Magazine as a "marketing tool" and says ad sales for future issues will be handled by outside contractors working on commission.

A former Colorado Public Radio reporter, Dierking isn't one to take a media putsch lying down. "If the local government wasn't so interested in building its little empire on the backs of the private businesses," he writes, "then perhaps they would find we who are the guardians of the First Amendment, the watchdogs of government, might wag our tails more and bark less." Achtung!

There's the rub: It was fun while it lasted, but former Denver developer Charles Nash is ready to return to his historic roots: the inner city.

Two and a half years ago, Nash, who rehabbed old structures, including the Stevens school in Congress Park, before anyone ever dreamed that selling lofts in this town--much less building them from scratch--could be a big business, bought the venerable Hot Sulphur Springs resort near Winter Park. He renovated the facility from the ground up as well as down, rehabbing a pool house that dated from the 1950s and other structures as diverse as an all-tile motel from the 1940s and a cabin originally built in 1860. His efforts won the resort many loyal fans, as well as a 1998 Westword Best of Denver award.

But Nash has decided that he's been in hot water long enough. According to an ad in the Sunday Denver Post, the resort is on the market for $4.5 million--four times what he paid for it. Fixing up the place was no problem, Nash says. Running it, however, has been more of a challenge than he bargained for. "I'm not a manager," says Nash. "What I've done for 25 years in Denver is buy historic landmark properties, get them up and running and then sell them." More than 150,000 people have visited since Nash took over the resort, and the place is "making the kind of money you want to see," he says; he just wouldn't mind if someone else paid for the right to see it. For the moment, Nash isn't committing to any more projects other than "getting to know my kids and grandkids."

Other attractions to the town of Hot Sulphur Springs include the Grand County museum. Now displayed in the museum's yard is the old caboose that until this ski season sat by Winter Park's Zephyr lift (where Winter Park president Gary DeFrange was recently spotted checking lift passes because of an end-of-the-season employee shortage). There was no longer any room for the train car at the ostensibly city-owned ski resort, which is in the middle of a building bonanza (a condo showroom now occupies the former site of the caboose). Inside the museum is the table where the Moffat Tunnel Commission met to divvy up the proceeds of its seven-decade take for use of the tunnel leading to Winter Park. After selling off the last of its assets to the Denver Water Department, last year the commission, once the state's most inexplicable elected body (a title currently awarded to the RTD board), rode off into the sunset.

Pop goes the weasel: Denver Post editor Dennis Britton was told to do something to boost the morale of his troops, and boy, did he ever! The second and third floors of the Post building now boast the smell--and sound--of happy popcorn machines, which is making it hard for some reporters sitting near the machines to hear the people they're talking to over the phone. But at least staffers can wash down their coconut-oil-laced snacks with that free six-pack of Pepsi so thoughtfully provided to all Post employees two weeks ago, when the paper's sponsorship deal with the Pepsi Center was announced.

 
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