NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR SATURDAY, JULY 20TH

TIPTON VOTES TO ELIMINATE FEDERAL INFLUENCE IN EDUCATION DECISIONS

Yesterday, Congressman Scott Tipton voted to restore local control of education decisions, empowering parents, teachers and states with the ability to ensure that students receive the best possible education. The House passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and it now goes to the Senate.  The bill eliminates Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and replaces it with state-determined accountability systems, thereby returning authority for measuring student performance to states and school districts.  It eliminates federally mandated actions and interventions currently required of poor performing schools, giving states and districts maximum flexibility to develop appropriate school improvement strategies and rewards for their schools.  It also repeals federal “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements and directs states and school districts to develop teacher evaluation systems that measure an educator’s influence on student learning. Those evaluations must be locally developed and implemented within broad parameters that factor in student achievement, incorporate multiple measures, and include feedback from all stakeholders.  It consolidates a myriad of existing K-12 education programs into a new Local Academic Flexible Grant, which provides funding to states and school districts to support local priorities that improve student achievement.  It supports opportunities for parents to enroll their children in local magnet schools and charter schools, and enhances statewide parental engagement.  And finally, the bill protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by limiting the authority of the secretary of education, including by eliminating the secretary’s ability to inappropriately influence state decisions to adopt the Common Core or other common standards or assessments.

 

MOCO ROAD DEPARTMENT TO BEGIN CHIP SEAL PROJECT

The Moffat County Road Department will be starting a chip seal project on Tuesday.  They’ll be starting on Moffat County Road 7, north of the intersection of Moffat County Roads 7 and 183 (the bypass) to the end of the pavement. There will be traffic delays while they put the chips down.  The project is expected to last through August 1st.  If you have questions, you can call the Road and Bridge Department at 824-3211.

 

FOREST SURVEY SHOWS MANY USES FOR VISITS

People aren’t always looking to just hike, camp or ski when they head to U.S. Forest Service lands.  The agency yesterday released a summary of a 2012 visitor survey. It said 37 percent of respondents said they spent time simply relaxing when they visited Forest Service lands. When asked about their primary recreation activities, the most common responses were hiking or walking; downhill skiing; and viewing natural features.  The Forest Service counts roughly 160 million visitors each year, and about 16 percent are age 16 or younger.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that while national budget cuts have limited the availability of some facilities this year, he doesn’t expect a significant dip in visitors.

 

FEDS ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP TO PREVENT WILDFIRES

Federal officials have announced a new federal, local and private partnership to help reduce the risk of wildfires that could threaten western water supplies and hydroelectric facilities.  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were in northern Colorado for the announcement yesterday of the Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership.  The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are launching the partnership with a pilot project in the Upper Colorado headwaters and Big Thompson watershed in northern Colorado, where a destructive fire burned last year. In the pilot, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and Colorado State Forest Service will work with the federal agencies on forest thinning, prescribed burns and restoring burned forests near reservoirs and dams.  The federal agencies are working on similar arrangements around the West.

 

STATE TO GIVE GRANTS FOR MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS

Municipalities across Colorado with wastewater treatment facilities are getting $14.7 million in state grants to help pay for improvements to comply with new nutrient standards.  The new standards adopted last year by the state’s Water Quality Control Commission are aimed at keep nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen out of state waters. About 40 of the state’s 400 municipal wastewater systems must comply with new nutrient limits.  Lawmakers this year passed a bill establishing the grant program. While it’s a one-time source of funds, Governor John Hickenlooper said yesterday he hopes the state can continue to help.  Twenty-one municipal wastewater and sanitation districts are getting the grants. The Colorado Municipal League called it a great start, but remains concerned about the long-term costs of compliance to local ratepayers.

 

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UP SLIGHTLY IN COLORADO

Colorado nonfarm payroll jobs were up 11,000 from May to June, exceeding the previous peak by 4,800 jobs over May 2008.  The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said yesterday the unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percentage point to 7 percent over the same period, compared with the national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, which was unchanged.  The department says the number of payroll jobs in June were up slightly to about 2.4 million in Colorado.

 

FIRE RESTRICTION TO BE LIFTED IN SOME NORTHWEST COLORADO COUNTIES

Because recent rain has moderated fire danger at higher elevations across northwest Colorado while many areas in lower elevations have received little or no moisture, fire managers are lifting fire restrictions in several specific areas. Northwestern Colorado counties and federal agencies review fire conditions and discuss fire restrictions weekly. Conditions fire managers evaluate include live fuel or vegetation moisture, adverse weather conditions, drought indexes, the potential for large fire growth and number of human-caused fires which are compiled by the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit. Rio Blanco, Moffat, Jackson and Eagle Counties will remain under stage 1 fire restrictions. As reported yesterday, Routt County will lift their restrictions Tuesday. Grand County’s restrictions have already been lifted. Stage 1 restrictions will be lifted in the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests tomorrow. For more detailed information, click here.

 

HAYDEN DAZE PARADE IS TODAY

Hayden Daze is being celebrated this weekend. Tomorrow’s parade will run east on Jefferson Street, from the High School to Bear River Valley Co-op. Judging of the floats takes place at 9, with the parade itself to begin at 10.