All righty-  here we go.  Maybe the jet stream aloft has now shifted positions enough to start bringing in the kind of weather we need!  Snow’s expected to start later today and this evening, then the entire Roaring Fork Valley and our friends over in the Vail Valley will be under a Winter Storm Watch from 6 tomorrow morning until 9 Thursday morning.  The heaviest snow’s expected early tomorrow, but a total of 8 to 16 much-needed inches is expected before it all wraps up sometime Thursday, maybe even Friday.  Be prepared for blowing & drifting, nasty driving conditions, the whole deal.  Stick with us here on the new Mammoth, because Meteorologist Don Day is back with us, and he’ll have the entire rundown shortly.  That’s in just a couple minutes from now.

Garfield County’s got a couple communities, New Castle and Rifle, and Pitkin County has one, Snowmass Village, that are missing out on the massive tax dollars  provided by consumers after voters decisively amended the state Constitution back in 2012, and legal sales of recreational marijuana began 4 years ago, this month in 2014.  Now, as the Post-Independent reports, Rifle’s thinking about maybe opting in, after deciding to pass early on.  A non-binding ballot question in September asking whether Rifle should consider maybe OK’ing as many as 5 cannabis businesses came out incredibly close… 522 locals in favor of exploring the idea, but almost as many, 511, opposing.  City council’s been talking the issue off & on for a while, and now new City Manager Jim Nichols is said to be preparing everything the panel will need to reach some kind of consensus one way or the other.  He’s already working on timelines for Rifle’s councilors to dig into the issue, with as much info as possible, maybe even a field trip to a selling location.  So stay tuned.

Hope your voter registration’s in good order, because to take part in the state Republican & Democratic caucuses on tap in just 2 months, you had to be signed up with whichever party you prefer by Monday, yesterday.  Both will be held the same day, on the 6th of March.  Should be a big year, with all the news happening in the state and nationwide.  Even if you’re too late to take part in the caucuses, go ahead and get re-registered anyway, because this’ll be a huge year you’ll want to be ready to vote.  The primary elections are on tap the 26th of June.  You can be affiliated for that, just be sure to be registered, even if it’s independent.

A lot of us are aware that tobacco use kills about half a million Americans a year.  At least a couple of our communities are trying to act to maybe curtail smoking, by making it like a lot of more desirable things around here—unaffordable.  Aspen has become the first Colorado city to impose a local tax on tobacco–  that levy took effect New Year’s Day, after being passed strongly, with nearly 3 quarters of local voters in favor, in November.  Now the Aspen Daily News reports Basalt’s looking at hiking cigarette and other tobacco prices through additional taxation, too.  Councilman Bernie Grauer decided to follow Aspen’s lead.  It upped the price of each cigarette pack by 3 bucks, and that’ll keep rising a dime a year, ‘til the local tax reaches $4.  There’s also a new 40% tax on vaping devices and smokeless tobacco.  What’ll Basalt do?  His fellow members get their first look at Grauer’s proposal at tonight’s council meeting.  Some opponents say they’re worried about the increased cost to the town of doing all the paperwork and such surrounding that tax.

16 and 2/3 years in prison.  That’s how much time Aspen resident Scott Tucker will have to think about his financial crimes involving predatory lending, in federal prison.  Tucker drew that term last week from Judge Kevin Castel after being convicted in New York in October.  Co-defendant Timothy Muir gets 7 years.  Federal prosecutors from the Department of Justice summed up their case by pointing out that over a period of more than 15 years, the 2 made billions, not millions of dollars, exploiting regular folks through payday loans with their exorbitant interest rates.  Some of that massive money let Tucker and his wife buy a 5500 square foot Aspen house for 8 million bucks, 9 years ago.  The judge noted in handing down sentence, the 2 preyed on people in desperate circumstances, creating not just financial losses, but heartbreak.

And some hearts will be broken, but others will be overjoyed, when skiers & riders take some of their last shots at qualifying for next month’s Olympics, with Grand Prix competition at Snowmass this week and weekend.  Aspen Skiing Company’s asking that hats be taken off to its snowcat, plow, and grooming crews, who’ve made the surfaces and the superpipe ready and in great shape even before we knew about this storm coming in.