This article and photo first appeared in Vail Daily on December 31, 2019.
It wasn’t all bad news, even though it often felt that way in 2019.
It was, undoubtedly, a year of discord. The local, state and national headlines reflected that. Here in Eagle County, we argued over a controversial workforce housing development in East Vail and a historic barn in Avon. At the polls in November, Colorado voters had their say on a reform measure to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights following a bruising campaign season. Nationally, the impeachment of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives has severely widened the national divide between progressives and conservatives — with no middle ground to be found.
So what’s there to be optimistic about in the New Year? The impeachment trial in the Senate promises to bring more of the same vitriol, as does the 2020 presidential election. Brace yourself for the nastiness.
And the saga of a workforce housing project in East Vail — and the possible fate of a herd of bighorn sheep — is far from settled. The arguments will continue as a legal challenge to the Vail Town Council’s decision plays out in court and a new council — now comprised of a majority opposed to the development — works to find a resolution.
Still, we’re optimistic, for a number of reasons. Good news? Look no further than the commitment that Vail Health and a number of other local organizations have made to combat our behavioral health crisis in Eagle County. Vail Health made a $60 million pledge over 10 years, in early April, with the launch of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, then doubled down at the end of the year by announcing a multi-year fundraising campaign to raise another $100 million. That drive is already off to a remarkable start, thanks to nearly $19 million in pledges, including $15 million from the Precourt family.
It truly is “going to take this entire valley,” as Chris Lindley, EVBH’s executive director, stated at the campaign launch event. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
We’re also hopeful that new state health care reforms, including a bill to create a publicly funded health insurance option that was co-sponsored by local lawmakers Kerry Donovan and Dylan Roberts, will make a dent for locals in a county with some of the highest insurance rates in the nation. We’re also encouraged by the ongoing efforts to create sustainable relief for health care costs between Vail Health, the Vail Valley Partnership and other local entities that models the Peak Health Alliance in Summit County.
Also, new taxes and restrictions on tobacco in Eagle County and local municipalities go into effect today, overwhelmingly approved by voters, that are designed to get citizens, especially our local youth, to stop smoking and vaping.
All of those developments are encouraging.
And, it goes without saying, in a resort market like ours, that snow makes everything better. What better way to ring in 2020 than with another powder day during a season that has been solid so far.
As for resolutions, ours at the Vail Daily remain the same as ever: We’re committed to telling the stories that matter to our locals, our second-home owners and our visitors. Ditto for continuing to serve as a community forum where successes, both big and small, can be celebrated and where disagreements can be debated in a civil manner.
Journalism in this country may be facing an existential crisis (just look at the Front Range media landscape), which is why we consider ourselves lucky to be in the position we’re in. Studies overwhelming show that communities without a local news source are less informed and less engaged.
We’re all lucky to call such a stunningly beautiful place home — or a home away from home.
Here’s to new beginnings in 2020. Happy New Year.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.