NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR THURSDAY, JUNE 6TH

HICKENLOOPER SIGNS RURAL ELECTRICITY MANDATE

Yesterday Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 252, a measure that mandates customer-owned rural cooperatives and utilities double their renewable energy standard.  The bill seems to be aimed particularly at Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s plant in Craig.  Officials there say the mandate is impossible to achieve, especially when all of their energy supply contracts run through 2020 or later.  2020 is the year the mandates are required to be in place.  Tri-state officials also say they would have to build a natural gas plant, to provide energy on those days that “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow”.  The cost would be prohibitive, due to a provision in the measure that allows only 2% of the cost of making the transition to be passed on to consumers.  Senate Republicans expressed outrage at what they view as another assault on rural Colorado.  CLUB 20 opposed it amid concerns that the bill was drafted without benefit of collaboration or transparency among stakeholders and consumers affected by the bill.  The Moffat County Commissioners testified at a hearing for the bill weeks ago, and said during the hearing the sponsors were embarrassingly ignorant of what was even in the bill.  However they did note that the sponsors’ districts would be exempt from the mandate.

MENTAL HEALTH BUILDING EVACUATED DUE TO SMOKE

Firefighters responded to a building at 4th and Breeze yesterday morning, when someone reported smoke inside.  The building houses Horizons, Grand Futures, and mental health organizations.  Workers are re-roofing the building, and firefighter Matt Beckett said some of the equipment being used caused materials to get a little too hot.  The smoldering plywood sent smoke into the building.  Firefighters evacuated the business complex, while they checked to make sure there were no hot spots.  The building was opened back up again after about an hour.

 

RICK DEVOS STEPS DOWN AS WINTER SPORTS CLUB DIRECTOR

The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club announced yesterday that Executive Director Rick DeVos will be stepping down after 14 years at the Winter Sports Club to pursue personal interests. DeVos will continue in his position through July 12th and plans to remain in Steamboat.  The club’s Board of Directors will convene later this week to select an interim director to ensure a smooth leadership transition until a search for DeVos’ successor is completed.  Noteworthy milestones that took place during DeVos’ tenure include growing the membership from 400 to 1000 athletes; increasing club staff from 50 to 150; introducing summer cycling and skateboard programs; adding boarder cross, skier cross, park & pipe, and Telemark disciplines; installing plastic on two Nordic jumps allowing year-round training and competitions; constructing a freestyle water ramp and trampoline facility at Bald Eagle Lake; expanding the strength training facility; improving lighting and snowmaking systems at Howelsen Hill; and establishing The Foundation endowment fund.  Additionally since Devos started in 1999, club athletes have made more than 60 Olympic appearances, brought home Gold and Silver Olympic medals, and have been crowned National and World Champions. Also, the SSWSC was named “Club of the Year” by the United States Ski Association in 1999, 2004, and 2007.

 

HOUSE APPROVES TIPTON’S RURAL AIRPORT AMENDMENT

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved an amendment offered by Congressman Scott Tipton to reduce delays at rural airports.  The amendment would cut $4 million from the Transportation Security Administration budget, and redirect those resources to replace equipment at small and rural airports that have had important passenger screening devices removed as a result of the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization Act, resulting in unnecessary delays and intrusions. The funds being redirected from TSA to improve passenger screening at small airports are from its administrative budget, and as such do not impact passenger security.  Tipton said passengers into rural airports in his district including Yampa Valley, Montrose, Gunnison and Durango, have been impacted by unnecessary delays and intrusions because of the removal of security screening devices that were sent to larger airports.

 

PARKS AND WILDLIFE ISSUE WARNINGS ABOUT MOOSE

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding the public about the dangers of approaching moose after recent activity in Grand Lake has heightened concerns with moose/human conflicts.  Tuesday afternoon, a cow moose injured a 60 year-old woman as she walked her dog in a neighborhood southwest of Grand Lake.  According to a witness, the woman and her dog were reportedly as close as 10 feet to the cow and its calf before the moose charged her and knocked her down.  Moose do not differentiate dogs from wolves – their natural predator – and will instinctively attempt to stomp them in self-defense. If the dog runs back to its owner for safety, it can bring an angry, thousand pound moose with it, putting people at risk as well.  Late spring is calving season and cow moose will aggressively protect their young. Wildlife officials advise that people watch all wildlife from a distance with binoculars or a scope. In addition, people should keep their dogs on leashes at all times, especially in areas where moose are common.

 

ADDITIONAL GUN LAWS SIGNED BY HICKENLOOPER

Stricter restrictions on gun ownership by domestic violence offenders are now in place in Colorado under a law that establishes a process for them to relinquish their firearms.  Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill yesterday. It was part of a package of gun legislation responding to mass shootings last year in a suburban Denver movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.  Domestic violence offenders are already prohibited from possessing firearms, but the bill establishes a court process for people convicted of domestic violence to give up their guns. The law went into effect immediately.  In March, Hickenlooper signed an expansion of background checks to include online and private firearm sales, and a bill limiting the size of ammunition magazines. Colorado sheriffs have filed a lawsuit over those two bills.

 

NEW LAW INCREASES PENALTIES FOR HARMING PREGNANT WOMEN

Colorado prosecutors will have new criminal penalties to charge people accused of injuring pregnant women and causing them to lose their child in cases of domestic violence or car accidents.  Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law yesterday.  The measure creates new felony charges for unlawful termination of a pregnancy. Most states have laws specifically dealing with how to punish people who harm pregnant women, resulting in the loss of a fetus.  Lawmakers have debated proposals in recent years but have deadlocked over arguments about abortion. Democrats controlled both legislative chambers this year and easily passed the bill.  Republicans say there should also be penalties in place for offenses against fetuses. Supporters of the bill argued the intent was to give prosecutors tools to punish crimes against pregnant women.

 

TIPTON QUESTIONS APPOINTMENT OF RICE/BENNET APPROVES

Congressman Scott Tipton is questioning President Obama’s decision to name Susan Rice as National Security Advisor.  Rice is a central figure in the ongoing investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks.  She is being investigated for her role in the administrations attempt to cover up the nature of the attack.  Tipton points out that Rice was responsible for much of the misinformation the American public received after the attacks.  He says he’s disappointed in the president’s judgment, and that it’s unfortunate the decision doesn’t require Senate approval.  Senator Michael Bennet, on the other hand, seems fine with the president’s choice.  He issued a statement that said “Susan is well-suited to take the reins as the National Security Advisor. I am confident that she will continue to provide sound advice to the president and the administration on national security issues.”

 

MORTGAGE RELIEF CHECKS TO BE ISSUED SOON

Coloradans affected by mortgage servicing issues should see a relief check sometime this month.  Checks totaling more than $33 million are to be mailed to nearly 23,000 Colorado borrowers who had submitted a valid foreclosure-payment claim through the National Mortgage Settlement administrator.  Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced Tuesday that the average check will be about $1,480, much more than the original $840 that was anticipated.

 

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