NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR MONDAY, JUNE 10TH

DRIVER EXTRICATED FROM VEHICLE AFTER SATURDAY MORNING CRASH

A man had to be extricated from his vehicle after rolling it on Highway 13 about 15 miles south of Craig Saturday morning.  State troopers responded to the scene a little after 5:30.  There were three people in the car at the time, but only the driver had to be extricated.  All three were taken to The Memorial Hospital at Craig by ambulance and treated for their injuries.  It’s not clear how the accident occurred, but it is being investigated by the Colorado State Patrol.

BEAR THOUGHT TO BE BREAKING INTO CARS CAPTURED IN STEAMBOAT

Wildlife officials have trapped and relocated a black bear they believe has been breaking into cars in search of food in the Steamboat area.  Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Steve Baumgardner says the 2-year-old male bear was trapped near the Steamboat ski area Thursday night. The previous night, a bear had opened the unlocked car doors of an SUV and damaged the center console and dash.  Baumgardner says the bear or bears have figured out how to open car doors in search of food.  Now it’s just a matter of time before wildlife officials find out if they captured the right bear. They believe two bears in the area might have learned how to open car doors.

 

CRASH SENDS JOY RIDER TO JUVENILE DETENTION

A Craig juvenile was arrested last week for stealing a truck and crashing it into a homeowner’s yard. Police aren’t releasing much due to the boys age, but say he had several juveniles with him when the accident occurred. Nobody was injured. Witnesses say he was speeding north on Barclay Street, and crashed while entering the Jensen Subdivision. Police say the kids scattered when the vehicle came to rest, but they were all rounded up. The driver is the only one facing charges, and according to police, is being held in the juvenile detention facility in Grand Junction.

 

INCREASED FINES FOR SPEEDING IN WILDLIFE AREAS DOESN’T APPLY DURING SUMMER MONTHS

As of June 1st, those roadside reminders to slow down at night in specifically designated “wildlife corridors” are outside the enforcement period.  It’s now up to motorists to maintain safe speeds.  Wildlife legislation in 2010 called for lowered nighttime speeds and doubled fines for speeding at night in designated “wildlife crossing zones.” From October 1st through June 1st, fines are doubled for speeding in all signed zones.  The lowered nighttime speed legislation is just one attempt to mitigate wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) on Colorado’s state highways. CDOT—in consultation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife—continues to construct wildlife fence, escape ramps, deer guards, underpasses and more, as well as run pilot projects in high-collision areas to help bring WVCs down.

 

TIPTON ADDRESSES NORTHWEST COLORADO ISSUES

During town hall meetings in Ouray, Grand Junction, Meeker, Glenwood Springs and Eagle last week, people shared numerous concerns with Representative Scott Tipton on the direction the country is heading. Among the issues raised during these meetings were the recent scandals involving the IRS trying to silence dissenting opinions by targeting groups based on political affiliation, and the Justice Department wiretapping reporters and infringing on the freedom of the press.  Adding to these concerns is the news this week that the National Security Administration (NSA) has seized the phone records of millions of Americans.  Tipton says he wholeheartedly shares his constituents’ concerns and have taken action to push for a full investigation to get to the bottom of who was involved and to ensure that they are held accountable.  Tipton has joined with a number of House colleagues in writing a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller and NSA Director General Keith Alexander requesting information on the scope of the agencies’ data collection activities.  Veterans’ Affairs issues also came up.  Tipton says the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently has a backlog of more than 600,000 veterans waiting for more than 125 days for their disability claims to be processed.  Tipton says he’s pleased to report that this week he helped pass an amendment in the House to redirect $10 million from the VA Secretary’s budget that would have been used on wasteful conferences to instead be used to help address the backlog and get veterans the benefits they have earned.

 

PARKS AND WILDLIFE TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH BUDGET DEMANDS

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission received an update on a continued increase in the demand for big game hunting licenses in Colorado when the Commission met in Gunnison on Thursday and Friday. Agency financial staff provided a presentation on future budget projections and explained that wildlife funding projections are not keeping pace with projected spending for the agency. While demand for hunting in Colorado remains high, the number of licenses the agency can actually sell has declined as large elk herds have been reduced to address agricultural damage. Reductions in license sales revenue means that the agency will need to reduce spending. To address revenue declines in the fiscal year that begins in July, the agency plans to reduce funding for some grant programs, hold some vacant positions in the agency open, reduce operating budgets by five percent, and transfer some property maintenance costs to other funding sources. To address longer term projections of revenue decline, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has established a committee that will be developing three spending reduction proposals for Commission consideration later this fall.

 

GESSLER INVESTIGATION COMING TO A CLOSE

An ethics complaint against Secretary of State Scott Gessler is scheduled for what can potentially be the final hearing on whether the Republican elections chief wrongfully used state funds to attend the GOP national convention. Gessler has maintained that he did nothing wrong and that the purpose of his travel was to attend a Republican panel on elections law in Tampa last summer during the convention. He says he used campaign funds for expenses at the political convention. The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission will hear arguments in the case Friday. The left-leaning Colorado Ethics Watch filed the complaint against Gessler last year and Denver prosecutors are also investigating. Gessler repaid the state $1,278 last month for travel expenses to the elections panel.

 

AG EXPORTS DOWN FROM LAST YEAR

State officials say Colorado’s agricultural exports decreased 2.1 percent in the first quarter of 2013 from the same time period last year.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture says exports fell $9.4 million to $337.4 million in the first quarter of this year.  Mexico, the state’s third-largest beef-export market, cut its purchases of beef throughout the United States. That resulted in a more than $19 million drop in the state’s beef export to Mexico.  Also, Colorado and national beef exporters lost sales when Russia closed its market. As a result, Colorado’s beef exports, the state’s largest export commodity, decreased 3.9 percent.  John Salazar, Colorado’s commissioner of agriculture, notes that, overall, Colorado’s agriculture exports have increased 72.7 percent since 2009.

 

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