33-year old Lucas Ackerman of Grand Lake faces several charges related to Thursday night’s accident in Grand County that saw a vehicle hit several people on Highway 34. Those charges include vehicular homicide and 4 counts of vehicular assault involving drugs or alcohol. The accident happened near the Trail Ridge Marina, just after the fireworks show. Witnesses say Ackerman never slowed down when he came upon the pedestrians, and that he didn’t have his headlights on when the tragedy occurred. The father of the family, 50-year old Greg Westley died at the scene. 4 others, including the mother, 49-year old Debbie Westley, were flown to two different Denver area hospitals. Ackerman had a court hearing Friday, in which his bond was set at $40,000.



In addition to the popular line-up of activities from past years, the committee for the annual Moffat Balloon Fest is expanding the event, giving people additional reasons to attend.  New this year will be a pancake breakfast; pie eating and kite flying contests and a beer garden.  The Balloon Fest, to be held on August 3rd and 4th, will begin each morning with the balloon launch at 6am.  On Saturday, there will be music in the park all day, provided by Total Entertainment; plus food and arts and craft vendors.  Saturday will also feature a free concert from “Bennie and the Jets” the premier Elton John tribute band.  Although admission is free, attendees are encouraged to bring a donation of canned food for the Craig Community Kitchen.  Follow this link to see a gallery of photos from last years Moffat County Balloon Fest.  Individuals, businesses and non-profit groups that would like to secure a booth at the event can call Randy at 826-4444.  Follow this link for the full event schedule.


The Colorado Department of Transportation has been working since February to replace the bridge on Highway 40 over the East Fork of the Elk River, about seven miles west of Steamboat. The bridge, which was built in 1958, has become functionally obsolete. It is being replaced with one that meets current CDOT standards, including increased shoulder widths, and improved sight distance, realignment, snow storage and improved hydraulics. The project is being funded with money from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise and Federal Bridge Replacement funding. The CBE finances, repairs, reconstructs and replaces bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated in poor condition. Duckels Construction is the contractor for the project.  There will be periods of traffic and lane closures.  Completion is anticipated for November.


Residents are invited to a meeting in Craig July 17th to talk about broadband issues.  A team planning meeting will be held at Colorado Northwestern Community College.  During the meeting, those involved in the planning will discuss regional issues, provide updates on opportunities available, and discuss how they will continue to help communities come up with local plans.  The meeting takes place at 3:30 on the afternoon of the 17th in the Bell Tower Building.



The number of Colorado schools and districts participating in farm to school activities has tripled over the past three years. With the increased interest in connecting schools with local products, the Colorado Farm to School Task Force is inviting interested individuals to join the group.  As of June 28th, four of the 15 Task Force seats are open. The group is seeking applicants to represent the following positions: a foodservice director or manager at an institution of higher education, a K-12 principal or teacher, an agricultural producer and a higher education faculty or extension member. The application deadline is July 31st, with successful candidates beginning their service on the Task Force at the fall quarterly meeting in September of 2013.  The Task Force meets quarterly at locations across Colorado. In conjunction with the meetings, the Task Force hosts Intensive Technical Assistance sessions to help communities identify opportunities and challenges facing schools and producers.  To find out more about the position, click here.



Small livestock owners who live in areas where wildlife might be nearby are being asked by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to take extra steps to protect their animals.  More and more people throughout Colorado—and not just in rural areas—are keeping livestock.  Bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and raccoons all prey on livestock. Small domestic animals such as chickens, goats, miniature horses, sheep and pets are particularly vulnerable.  “Especially at night and at dusk and dawn, small livestock should be completely protected in sturdy enclosures,” said Kirk Madariaga, district wildlife officer in the Paonia area.  A simple fence will not keep wildlife out of an area where small animals are kept. Animals should be taken into a building at night. If a pen is used, the top should also be covered. Chicken coops must be well secured—a bear can easily tear off a wooden door. Dogs that bark can provide additional deterrents.  Livestock owners should also keep pens and barns clean because most wildlife has a powerful sense of smell. Predators are opportunists and have good memories—if they find sources of food at one residence or farm, they’ll go looking for more at similar places.  Owners should also look around their properties to identify other items that might attract wildlife, such as pet food, compost piles, garbage or pets. For example, if deer are finding easy sources of food and gathering in small groups, that is likely to attract a mountain lion.  Besides secure enclosures, livestock owners can also consider enclosing an area with an electric fence. Small livestock owners who want to learn more about protecting their animals can call the local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and speak to a district wildlife manager. Wildlife managers will visit properties to provide information on livestock enclosures. Fencing materials are also available at no charge for some agricultural producers.


Feed your lawn and reduce your waste simply by leaving your grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. Grasscycling is the natural way to recycle grass clippings and returns nutrients back into your lawn. Grasscycling also returns needed moisture to your lawn.  You can grasscycle with any mower. Just remove the mower collection bag to allow clippings to drop on the lawn. If your mower does not have a safety flap covering the opening where the bag fits into the chute, then you may need to purchase a retrofit kit from your hardware store. If you use a landscape service, make sure you ask them to leave the clippings on your lawn.

Tips for Grasscycling:

  1. Mow your lawn when it’s dry.
  2. Keep your mower blades sharp.
  3. Follow the “1/3” Rule. Mow your lawn often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade is cut and left on the lawn. Lawns are most healthy when mowed to a height of 2 ½

There are lots of benefits to grasscycling, both for you individually and for the community in general. Grasscycling reduces your work when you mow because it saves you the time and hassle of bagging and disposing of grass clippings. Grasscycling helps save water because grass clippings left on your lawn will shade the roots of your grass and help keep the soil cool. Since grass clippings are more than 80% water, they also return valuable moisture to the soil! Grasscycling is also a great way to recycle important nutrients like nitrogen back into the soil which reduces the need for supplemental nitrogen fertilizer. Grass clippings break down quickly and do not cause thatch.  When you grasscycle you help make less trash, which saves money on the collection, hauling and landfilling of grass clippings. Finally, by grasscycling you can help reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. When organic materials such as grass clippings go to landfills they decompose under anaerobic (without air) conditions which creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

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