B. Kelley, bourbon drinker, developer

Regular readers of these pages might recall our story this January about Brad Kelley, the reclusive Kentucky tobacco billionaire who owns the former Agilent Technologies campus in Loveland.

Well, now the Wall Street Journal has written about Kelley, revealing a few tidbits that might help anyone who cares understand Kelley a bit more.

For example, the Journal reported that Kelley makes his own bourbon, sometimes wears a kilt and doesn’t smoke.

“I never defended it,” Kelley told the newspaper in speaking about his days as a cigarette baron. “Hopefully it will be phased out of society.”

The Journal described Kelley “a shrewd businessman who avoids the limelight.”

Well, that was already pretty clear to a lot of Northern Coloradoans.

Kelley has been very quiet about his dealings in Loveland. Efforts by his company, Cumberland & Western Resources, to develop the old campus into a technology center have yet to lift off.

Cumberland & Western paid $5 million in cash for the property nearly a year ago. Shortly afterward, the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology decided to withdraw its Aerospace and Clean Energy initiative from the Loveland site. The association said Cumberland & Western was moving in a direction that didn’t fit the project.

In any case, the Journal also said Kelley owns land in New Mexico, Wyoming, Florida, Texas and Kentucky. The newspaper estimates Kelley owns about 1,600 square miles, or about 1 million acres, making him one of the largest landowners in the U.S. of A.

Kelley, 55, also drives a Ford pickup, flies in a private plane and has a robust red beard that has earned him the nickname “ZZ Top,” the newspaper reported.

The “good old boy from Kentucky,” as one associate characterized him, lives in Franklin, Tenn., with his wife, Susan, and three daughters.

He neither uses email nor Twitter.

Downtown Loveland could fill ice rink void

Just a few days after the City of Fort Collins decided to do away with its temporary ice rink downtown because of budget constraints, stakeholders in Downtown Loveland posed the question to Facebook followers: What do you think of a temporary ice rink in Downtown Loveland?

The post received 70 “likes,” and a slew of positive comments, indicating that the idea would be well-received in some form more tangible than Facebook.

One poster pointed out that Centerra, the shopping center on the west edge of Loveland, has its own ice rink, but conceded that the area could probably support two such attractions.

Some voiced concerns about financing such a project, but it seems that this winter would be a bit too soon for a downtown ice rink to appear in Loveland anyway.

As Downtown Loveland posted, “The ice rink was suggested for the site at 3rd and Lincoln once the demolition work is completed. We are working on an interim art installation on the site but it isn’t likely to be installed until the spring.”

OtterBox makes top 10 on another list

OtterBox has found itself in the upper echelons of yet another list, this time getting ranked No. 7 on Fortune magazine’s list of Best Places to Work.

The protective case manufacturer was No. 22 on the list last year.

“As much as we seek to be a leader in providing protective solutions for mobile technology, we also strive to be a best-in-class employer,” said Brian Thomas, OtterBox president and CEO.

OtterBox made the list in the category of “small and medium” workplaces, which breaks down into the “small” division (50-250 employees) and the “medium” division (251-999 employees).

OtterBox employs about 500 people locally.

OCP attorney travels to Cuba

The going has been slow but Cuba is loosening the reins on its economy, and Shannon Lyons got a chance to see matters firsthand.

An attorney with the Fort Collins office of Otis, Coan and Peters, Lyons spent five days in Cuba as part of a Colorado Bar Association-sponsored trip to the island nation last month.

Traveling to Cuba is typically restricted for us Norte Americanos, but the delegation was allowed to travel there under a professional research exemption.

Lyons and seven other Colorado attorneys focused on Cuba’s legal system, including the teaching of law and business and commercial rights.

The delegation met with faculty from the University of Havana’s School of Law, as well as members of the Cuban Society of Constitutional Law and other professional organizations.

So, what did Lyons think?

“There is a tremendous sense of expectation for what is around the next corner,” he said. “Cuba has its own set of values that it intends to maintain, but the people are ready to re-establish their connection to the United States.

“Good economics will win in the long run.”

On a less serious thought, Lyons acknowledged what most travelers to Cuba will tell you:

The coffee in Cuba can be among the best.

“I’m not a coffee drinker but I did have it,” he said. “With the cane sugar, it’s just so rich. I drank a bunch of it.”

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