NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15TH

SALAZAR THREATENS TO PUNCH REPORTER

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s office said he regrets threatening to hit a Colorado reporter who asked about problems in the government’s wild horse program.  The exchange happened Election Day at a campaign event in Fountain while Salazar was on a state tour in support of President Barack Obama’s re-election.  In audio posted by A Colorado Springs newspaper, reporter Dave Phillipps is heard asking for an on-camera interview with Salazar, a Colorado native who previously served as a U.S. senator from the state.  After a few general questions, Phillipps asked Salazar what he knew about Tom Davis, a Colorado horse slaughter proponent who has purchased hundreds of wild horses gathered from public lands by the Bureau of Land Management and about the agency’s wild horse management program, which Salazar’s office oversees.  Salazar answered briefly but after the interview accused Philipps of setting him up, then posed the threat.  “If you do that to me again, I’ll punch you out,” said Salazar.  During the interview, Salazar said he was appearing at the campaign event in a “personal capacity” and said his office could arrange to talk about Davis “at an appropriate time.”  Philipps said he previously tried to arrange an interview through Salazar’s press secretary multiple times but got no response.

 

STEAMBOAT SKI AREA GETS TOP TEN RANKING FROM INDUSTRY MAGAZINE

As the 50th Anniversary season draws closer, the accolades for Steamboat Ski Resort continue to pour in. In Outside Magazine’s November 2012 issue, Steamboat was selected as the #6 Best Ski Resort in North America, ranking as the second highest Colorado ski resort in the listing. Outside Magazine determines the scored categories from snow conditions, terrain quality and amenities to affordability, safety and service levels. The rankings also factor lodging options, off hill recreational activities and the après scene. The Outside Magazine rankings are unique because they also look at environmental responsibility.  The resort scored highest for the off-mountain recreational options. The magazine cited the numerous options for playing while taking a break from the slopes, from tubing and ice skating to helicopter tours, bowling and the natural mineral hot springs. Steamboat’s environmental practices also stood out among resorts with high marks for its Zero Waste Initiative which diverts trash from landfills with extensive use of recycling and composting.  In another ranking, Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Ski Resorts in North America placed Steamboat as the #12 ski resort in North America.

 

GRAND COUNTY RECEIVES GRANT FOR WEATHER BROADCASTS

Grand County has won a $60,325 grant to fund a 300-watt dual radio transmitter, antenna and building. The radio transmitter will provide National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) broadcast to Grand County and surrounding counties.  It’s expected to help Grand County keep Coloradans informed, aware and safe in severe weather emergencies.  NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Local schools, hospitals, nursing homes, residents, and industries will be able to receive emergency and life-saving information from the All Hazards broadcast warning system.  The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Weather Radio Transmitter Grant Program, which provides resources to finance the installation of new transmitters to extend the coverage of NOAA’s Weather Radio system in rural America.

 

GOVERNOR ASKS FEDS AGAIN FOR RESPONSE TO AMENDMENT 64

Colorado’s governor has again asked for a federal response to the state’s recent marijuana legalization vote.  Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper said in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that Colorado needs a response “as soon as possible” about how the Justice Department will respond to Colorado’s marijuana vote.  Voters in Colorado and Washington state voted last week to allow adults to possess small amounts of marijuana without a doctor’s recommendation. So far, the Just Department has said federal law stands, but that the measures are under review.  Colorado’s letter was dated Tuesday and released to the press yesterday. Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers also talked to Holder by telephone last week, with no signal whether the Justice Department would sue to block the marijuana measure.

 

HICKENLOOPER INTRODUCES PROPOSED BUDGET

Gov. John Hickenlooper has presented Colorado lawmakers with a proposed budget for next year that is the first spending plan in years with no major cuts.  Hickenlooper unveiled his plan earlier this month and presented it to state budget writers yesterday afternoon.  Hickenlooper’s proposal includes more funding for schools, colleges, Medicaid, and the first pay raise in five years for state workers.  The state general fund that lawmakers control will grow to $8.1 billion next year, up from about $7.6 billion last year.  State economists say the Colorado economy is growing slowly, but it has gotten a boost from taxes on stock sales.  Colorado will exceed the pre-Great Recession peak in tax receipts this year. But the state is still $1.1 billion below the general fund level of 2007.

 

TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS TAX POLICY CHANGES

A task force created by Gov. John Hickenlooper has concluded that Colorado needs an overhaul of its constitutional and tax policies.  Leaders of the TBD Colorado initiative, which stands for “To Be Determined,” say in a report released yesterday that the state’s economic path is “unsustainable” without changes to the constitution.  The constitution limits tax increases but requires more spending for education.  The group met with residents in 60 statewide meetings to get their input.  Its findings are likely to frustrate Republicans who argued that the yearlong initiative sought to lay the groundwork for tax increases.  The group’s recommendations are not binding.

 

AIRLINE THANKSGIVING TRAVEL NUMBERS EXPECTED TO BE UP THIS YEAR

Travelers can expect airports to be busier and planes to be fuller than ever this Thanksgiving. And flights will be costlier.  That’s the outlook from the main trade group representing U.S. airlines two weeks ahead of the holiday.  Airlines for America expects nearly 24 million travelers to fly from Friday, November 16th through Tuesday, November 27th. That’s up from a year earlier. Last year’s tally was flat from 2010.  For those traveling on the busiest days around Thanksgiving, planes are expected to be close to 90 percent full, the trade group says. That would be a record for the holiday.  Airlines have been reducing flights to better match demand, which in turn allows them to raise prices. Domestic ticket prices are up 4 percent from 2011, according to the group.