Economy recovering in Silverton

Silverton may be in a deep freeze this time of year, but year-end statistics show its economy is heating up.

After a bruising couple of years that saw property sales drop and foreclosures rise, various indicators point to a recovery for the tiny burg of about 600 inhabitants.

The townís latest statistics show foreclosures were down in 2012, real estate sales were up 23 percent and building permit activity was on the rise.

The San Juan County Treasurerís Office recorded seven foreclosures in 2012, down from 11 in 2011.

The assessorís office, meanwhile, recorded 32 property sales last year, up from 26 in 2011 and more than triple the 2008 figure of eight, when the real estate market had virtually collapsed.

Construction activity in San Juan County also took a big leap forward.

While the number of building permits issued in Silverton and San Juan County dropped from 49 in 2011 to just 34 in 2012, the value of the construction nearly tripled, from $690,009 in 2011 to nearly $1.9 million in 2012.

Although the economic recovery certainly is a bright spot for residents weathering the bitter cold, other year-end statistics show life in the mountains above 9,000 feet remains harsh, though considerably less so than when miners were dying in droves in the late 1800s.

In 2012, nine death certificates were issued in San Juan County. The causes of death included two skiing accidents, two pickup crashes and a semitrailer wreck. Meanwhile, for the seventh year in a row, there were no birth certificates filed in San Juan County.