FIREFIGHTERS PUT OUT SMALL FIRE AT COLUMBINE APARTMENTS
Craig Firefighters put out a small blaze at Columbine Apartments Saturday afternoon. The fire was reportedly caused by a cigarette butt tossed onto the wooden balcony. Another citizens saw the flames and used a fire extinguisher to stop the spread. Fire Chief Bill Johnston says if not for that citizen, they could have been dealing with a much bigger fire. Damage was limited to the balcony, and nobody was hurt.
OAK CREEK TOWN BOARD MEMBER SAYS HE WAS FALSELY ACCUSED
An Oak Creek Town Board member says he was the victim of a false accusation after hate crime charges stemming from a dispute were dropped. Bernard Gagne Jr. said in a statement Thursday it was an easy accusation to make and a hard accusation to dismiss. Gagne was arrested in September following an altercation and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment. He was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation, 48 hours of community service and $570 in fines and court costs. According to authorities, a 17-year-old boy said he was threatened while leaving a store and alleged racial threats were made after Gagne hit him.
DEMOCRATS WANT TO GIVE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS DRIVERS’ LICENSES
Illegal immigrants would be eligible to get Colorado driver’s licenses under a bill Democrats plan to introduce this week. Only a handful of states in the country allow licenses for illegal immigrants. New Mexico and Washington allow illegal immigrants to obtain the same driver licenses as U.S. citizens. Utah grants immigrants a driving permit that can’t be used for identification. Colorado Democratic Sendator Jessie Ulibarri, the sponsor of the bill, says illegal immigrants are already on the roads and it would be better to have them licensed and insured. The bill will be unveiled today. Immigrants would have to prove they’re paying state and federal taxes and have an identification card from their country to qualify. Republican Senator Kent Lambert argues the proposal would violate federal immigration law.
STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent in February from January’s 7.3 percent. The last time the Colorado unemployment rate was this low was in 2009. According to the department, the largest gains were in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities. The agency said Friday that employers in Colorado reported 10,800 more nonfarm payroll jobs from January to February for a total of 2.35 million jobs. During the same period, the national unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.7 percent.
EPA PROPOSES STRICTER AUTO POLLUTION RULES
The Environmental Protection Agency has come up with a proposed new rule that will increase the restrictions on vehicle pollution. The proposed “Tier 3” Motor Vehicle Standard and Low Sulfur Gasoline Rule would lower the sulfur content in gasoline and create a health-protective pollution standard for new vehicles. The EPA estimates that the annual public health benefits stemming from the rule will be upwards of $20 billion by 2030. The proposal will require a reduction in the amount of sulfur in gasoline to 10 parts per million from the current standard of 30 parts per million. The draft rule includes flexibility for the regulated community, including a three-year delay for small refiners, rewards for businesses who act early to reduce sulfur and a trading program for pollution credits.
ROUTT COUNTY AGING COUNCIL HOSTS SPELLING BEE
The Routt County Council on Aging and the City of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Senior Programs invite spellers of all ages to participate in the third annual Community Spelling Bee Saturday. Proceeds from the event will benefit senior services in Routt County. Laura Schmidt, Routt County Council on Aging’s executive director, says the goal is to get the community involved with seniors, and to provide a fun family event. Each team of three spellers must have at least one member 60 or older. Prizes will be awarded to the winning spellers and for best team costume. The community is welcome to watch the event. There is no admission fee for spectators, but donations will be accepted at the door. The registration fee is $60. Proceeds from the 2012 Bee funded the Bee Bop Senior Dance and Potluck in February. Proceeds from the 2013 Bee will fund a similar event. The Spelling Bee will be held Saturday from 2 to 4 at the Steamboat Community Center.
USDA GIVING RENEWABLE ENERGY GRANTS TO RURAL BUSINESSES
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Friday announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP. The announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy. REAP, authorized by the Farm Bill of 2008, is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs. USDA is accepting applications for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until April 30th; renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications until July 15th; and renewable energy system feasibility study grant applications through April 30th. More information on how to apply for funding is available by clicking here.
COLORADO FARMERS TO PLANT LESS CORN THIS YEAR
Farmers around the country collectively intend to plant more corn this year, but growers in dry Colorado are holding back. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s spring planting survey showed U.S. farmers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year, which would be the most since 1936. Agriculture officials said Thursday that Colorado farmers only intend to plant an estimated 1.25 million acres of corn, which is 12 percent below their plantings last year. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows all of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought. A large portion of southeastern Colorado is experiencing exceptional drought, which is considered the most extreme condition on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s five-level scale. Statewide mountain snowpack was 78 percent of average as of Thursday.
In high school sports:
Over the weekend
Steamboat split a double header with Eagle Valley (4-2, 3-0).
Moffat County split their double header with Gunnison (13-3, 15-3).
In girls soccer:
Steamboat tied Battle Mountain (1-1).
In boys lacrosse:
Steamboat fell to Rock Canyon 10-6).
In girls lacrosse:
Steamboat beat Eagle Valley (13-4).
In girls tennis:
Steamboat lost to Fossil Ridge (6-1), and beat Thompson valley (6-1).
In girls soccer:
Steamboat goes to Eagle Valley at 6.