FEDS CHALLENGE 1ST AMENDMENT
The federal government is seeking to overturn an order blocking it from penalizing a Colorado company whose health care coverage doesn’t include birth control. The health care package pushed by President Barack Obama’s administration generally requires no-cost preventive care coverage to women for items including contraceptives. Hercules Industries Inc. is run by the Newland family, whose Roman Catholic beliefs condemn contraception. Last year a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking Hercules from having to offer contraceptive coverage while its lawsuit challenging the mandate proceeds. The company says it should be exempt on religious grounds. In a brief filed Friday in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal government contends the for-profit heating and cooling company isn’t a religious organization that qualifies for an exemption.
SKI RESORTS REPORT DIP IN VISITS
Colorado ski resorts are reporting a dip in early-season skier visits, after a dry autumn prompted some resorts to delay their seasons. More snow did fall in time for the traditionally busy December holiday period though. The trade group Colorado Ski Country USA said Friday that skier visits at its 21 member resorts through Dec. 31 were down 11.5 percent compared with the same period last season. That figure doesn’t include the four Colorado resorts run by Vail Resorts Inc., which has said skier visits at its seven resorts in Colorado and the Lake Tahoe area through Jan. 13 were up 2 percent from a comparable period last season. It didn’t break down results for just its Colorado resorts, which haven’t had as much snow.
XCEL DENIED REQUEST TO RAISE RATES
A judge has rejected a request from Xcel Energy to recover $16.6 million from the company’s completed SmartGridCity project in Boulder by charging Colorado ratepayers. The city of Boulder, the Colorado Consumer Counsel and two of Xcel’s industrial customers opposed the request, which was rejected Thursday. PUC officials ruled Xcel could recoup about $30 million of its costs but that $16.6 million more could not be recovered until the utility showed it had completed the project and that the project would help all of its Colorado customers. The case now goes back to the PUC to make the final decision. Xcel officials say they may renew their request. The project connects 23,000 homes in Boulder with smart meters using computers to manage electricity distribution.
SMALL PLANE CRASHES AT WYOMING AIRPORT
A private light plane crashed at the Rock Springs – Sweetwater County Airport Friday afternoon. In a special bulletin, Sweetwater County Sheriff Rich Haskell said the aircraft’s pilot and sole occupant, Robert Neuwirth of Gillette, Wyoming, crashed his aircraft, a 1976 Piper PA-28-35 single engine, during an attempted landing at around 2:30 PM. Neuwirth suffered only minor injuries and was not hospitalized. Haskell said federal authorities will be investigating the crash, and had no information on its cause.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS, AS DOES NUMBER OF COLORADO JOBS
The most recent economic data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a decrease in the state unemployment rate from 7.7 percent in November to 7.6 percent in December, which is the lowest unemployment rate since February 2009 when the state’s unemployment rate was 7.2 percent. Furthermore, the most recent decline in the unemployment rate seems to be a result of positive movement in the labor market. During the month of December workers entered the labor force, and according to one measure, employment increased. That said, the other common measure of employment showed a slight decrease in the number of jobs in Colorado. The national unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent through the month of December. Also, enrollment in public assistance programs increased during December as Medicaid, CHP+ and the SNAP program saw increases in enrollment.
In high school sports:
The Steamboat boys and girls lost to Eagle Valley. (boys= 37-36; girls= 41-40)
The Hayden boys beat Hotchkiss (58-44), while the girls lost (56-19).
The Soroco boys defeated Paonia (71-70), while the girls lost (74-36).
The Meeker girls beat West Grand (68-28).
The Moffat County boys and girls topped Basalt. (boys= 75-50; girls= 72-28)
At the Green River Duals, Moffat County lost to Lander Valley (46-36), Riverton (59-18), Uintah (70-12) and Central (63-12).
Steamboat topped Battle Mountain (2-1).
Moffat County hosts Cedaredge. The girls play at 2 and the boys at 3:30.
Steamboat is on the road to Battle Mountain. The girls start at 2 and the boys at 3:30.
Soroco heads to Hotchkiss. The girls play at 1 and the boys at 2:30.
Meeker goes to North Park, both games start at 3.
Hayden travels to Paonia. The girls tip off at 1:30 and the boys at 3.
Little Snake River Valley plays at Saratoga.
Rangely goes to West Grand. The girls play at 2:30 and the boys at 4.
Moffat County continues at the Green River tournament.
Soroco goes to the Lake County tournament.
Rangely continues their tournament with Meeker attending.
Steamboat hosts Kent Denver at 3.
In girls swimming:
Moffat County goes to Summit.
In Nordic skiing:
Steamboat goes to Spring Gulch in Carbondale.