NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR MONDAY, DECEMBER 31ST

STEAMBOAT REMINDS BUSINESS OWNERS OF LIQUOR LAWS

The City of Steamboat is reminding businesses that serving alcohol without a license or a non-profit permit is illegal.  If a business does not have a special event permit, art gallery permit, or a liquor license, and chooses to serve alcohol for any occasion, the event needs to be a private party.  They go on the further describe a private party as one by invitation only, free of charge, and not publicly announced.  The business must be closed to the public for the event.  The reminder comes in anticipation of New Year’s Eve parties.  If you have questions, call the City Clerk’s office at 879-2060.  Law enforcement also reminds residents that they will be looking for impaired drivers tonight.  State troopers and local law enforcement will step up their patrols.  They urge people to make transportation plans before heading out tonight.  If you plan to go out drinking, you should carry enough money for a cab, or have a designated driver.  With the new marijuana laws in effect, police remind people that smoking pot and driving is also against the law.

AVALANCHE DANGER WILL BE HIGHER THAN NORMAL THIS YEAR

Experts are warning that another dry start to this winter could mean increased avalanche danger in the state later on in the season.  Brian Lazar with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center says so far this year, a weak base layer has been topped with more snow than last season. That means avalanches could be bigger and just as easy to trigger.  No avalanche deaths have been reported in Colorado this winter, but several people have been caught in slides across the state. Last year, the first of seven total deaths did not occur until mid-January.  Lazar says people should educate themselves on current snowpack conditions by staying up to date on avalanche advisories.  An average of 25 people die in avalanches in the United States every year.

BOB RANKIN TO HOLD MEETING IN CRAIG

Representative elect Bob Rankin will be in Craig Thursday.  Rankin will meet with the public to discuss issues important to Moffat County.  The theme of the meeting is “Where do we go from here?”  Rankin is trying to meet with as many of his constituents as possible before the legislature convenes January 9th.  Rankin will meet with the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots from 6:30 to 7 Thursday evening, and then will meet with the public at 7 at the Center of Craig.  The meeting is expected to last about an hour.

CBI ASKS FOR HALF A MILLION DOLLARS TO SPEED UP BACKGROUND CHECKS

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is planning to ask lawmakers for $500,000 to help it more quickly process the huge backlog of background checks for gun buyers that has swamped the agency after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  In November, it took an average of 23 minutes for a gun buyer in Colorado to get a criminal-background check. The wait time now has stretched to nearly seven days as the CBI struggles with the backlog of more than 11,000 applications.  CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina says the supplemental appropriation would be used for more staff and technology.  Meanwhile, state Representative Claire Levy, a Boulder Democrat, has suggested that gun buyers pay a fee for the background checks

UDALL CRITICIZES LAWMAKERS FOR REJECTING FIRE FUND AMENDMENT

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is criticizing his colleagues’ rejection of an amendment he says would have fully funded the Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Management Account ahead of next year’s wildfire season.  The Colorado Democrat says the amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance would have restored $653 million to the account, which pays for wildland fire preparedness, suppression, research and state fire assistance. The legislation was rejected Friday.  Udall, who introduced the amendment with U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana, says the funds would have helped the Forest Service prevent and fight wildfires next year.

CONGRESS APPROVES WATERSHED FUNDS

Members of the Colorado Congressional delegation praised a bill passed in the Senate to help Americans continue recovery efforts from natural disasters. The bill, which is based on a request for supplemental appropriations from President Obama, includes a boost in resources the delegation secured to support Colorado’s watershed recovery efforts following this year’s wildfire season. The bill must now pass the House of Representatives.  If the House passes the bill, the $125 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program likely will be used, in part, to repair watershed damages that El Paso, Larimer and Weld counties sustained during this year’s wildfire season.  The EWP Program supports the restoration of eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. Projects include unclogging debris from stream channels, fortifying stream banks, securing water control structures, and improving other public infrastructure damaged or compromised by fire and drought.