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Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport

New West Daily Roundup for Apr. 26, 2016

Today in New West news: passenger satisfaction with airlines at DIA, home-price growth slows in Denver, Bozeman city commission gives go-ahead to new brewery, and potato pest in Idaho.

According to the Denver Business Journal, Denver International Airport’s (DIA) three major airlines are boosting passenger satisfaction. Citing the American Customer Satisfaction Index, fliers across the board have a reported satisfaction level of 72 out of 100, an increase of three points from last year. ACSI founder/chairman Claes Fornell speculated satisfaction may be up due to newer planes, better in-flight entertainment options, and free snacks and beverages. From the DBJ:

Southwest Airlines, the No. 2 carrier at DIA, tied with JetBlue Airways for the highest satisfaction with a score of 80, a three-point jump. DIA’s top carrier United Airlines and No. 3 carrier Frontier Airlines ranked lower, but accounted for the two largest jumps in year-over-year satisfaction of any companies — eight points each, bringing United to a score of 68 and Frontier to 66.

United was one of two airlines that recently reinstated free snacks in economy class, officials at Ann Arbor, Michigan-based ACSI noted.

Spirit Airlines ranked last in satisfaction among all companies.

Keeping with Denver, home-resale prices in metro Denver are still on the rise, but noticeably cooler than this time one year ago. According to the Denver Business Journal, home prices grew 9.7 percent this February, after several months where home-resale prices jumped over 10 percent year-to-year. Still, despite the slowdown, Denver’s real estate market is still speeding along. From the DBJ:

Denver’s 9.7 percent average yearly price gain for single-family detached home resales followed 10.2 percent annual increases in both January and December and 10.9 percent gains in September, October and November, according to the closely followed Case-Shiller report series from S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic.

Among the 20 cities most closely tracked by the Case-Shiller reports, February’s annual price gains averaged 5.4 percent. The national average increase was 5.3 percent.

The only big cities whose year-over-year price gains topped Denver’s in February were Portland (up 11.9 percent) and Seattle (up 11 percent). The smallest gains were in Washington (up 1.4 percent) and Chicago (up 1.8 percent).

As for month-to-month price changes, Denver home-resale prices were up 0.9 percent in February from the month before, not seasonally adjusted, following monthly gains of 0.2 percent in January and a 0.1 percent decline in December, the Case-Shiller report said.

The 20-city average monthly gain in February was 0.2 percent, as were nationwide prices.


David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that nationwide, while “home prices continue to rise twice as fast as inflation, … the pace is easing off in the most recent numbers.”

Still, Blizer said that “rising prices are a concern [for would-be buyers] in many parts of the country. The visible supply of homes on the market is low at 4.8 months in the last report. Homeowners looking to sell their house and trade up to a larger house or a more desirable location are concerned with finding that new house. Additionally, the pace of new single family home construction and sales has not completely recovered from the recession.”

Up in Montana, Bozeman’s city commission just unanimously signed off on an initiative to build a new brewery in the northeast part of the city, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, near Peach Street and Plum Avenue. Neighbors tentatively approved the plan, although they voiced concerns over increased traffic. The new brewery would be very close to the Bozeman Brewing Company. From the Chronicle:

The establishment-to-be’s owner, Gustav Dose, said he plans to convert an existing industrial building just southeast of the intersection into a brewery with an attached tasting room. The plan, he said, is to give the establishment a winery feel, featuring beers fermented with fruit.

“I feel like we would be very positive addition to our neighborhood,” he said, adding his family recently bought an adjacent plot with plans to raise their children there.

The dozen-plus neighbors who showed up to address the commission on the project generally agreed, for the most part saying they welcomed the new business to the neighborhood, even as they said they were concerned about the intersection.

Finally, over in Idaho, according to the Idaho Business Review, federal officials are accepting public comments on a new method to combat potato pests in southeastern Idaho. From now until May 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be taking comments on its supplemental environmental assessment, about curtailing pale cyst nematode infestation. The document is an update on a 2007 EA released shortly after the nematodes were discovered in 2006. From the Review:

Tina Gresham, the Agriculture Department’s director of the pale cyst nematode program, said treatments of the 26 infested fields have resulted in 17 fields now having no detectable viable pale cyst nematodes.

Of those 17, eight have reached a point where they are eligible to return to potato production, though they remain regulated.

“That’s been a significant milestone for the eradication program,” Gresham said.
In the supplemental environmental assessment, the federal agency’s preferred alternative remains eradicating the worms that feed at the roots of potato plants and can reduce crop production by 80 percent.

But the preferred alternative method of achieving eradication is different from the 2007 document, Jones said.

Specifically, the preferred alternative eliminates fall applications of methyl bromide, which some farmers say has caused health problems with cattle. Instead, Telone II would be applied.

The preferred alternative also calls for planting litchi tomato in the spring. Jones said the plant attracts the pale cyst nematode but the worms die before reproducing.

The Review notes they hope to eliminate the nematode not only to rehabilitate unusable fields but also to foster trade. Japan, for instance, refuses to import Idaho potatoes, given the chance of nematode exchange.

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