NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4TH

KRAI AND 55 COUNTRY HOLIDAY DRIVE STARTS TOMORROW

The KRAI and 55 Country Holiday Drive starts tomorrow.  For two straight days, radio station staff and volunteers will stand in front of the west entrance to the Centennial Mall in Craig, taking donations of non-perishable food, new and unwrapped toys, gifts for seniors and cash.  The drive benefits Advocates Crisis Support Services, Christmas for Kids, Christmas for Seniors, and the Interfaith Food Bank in Craig.  Throughout the two days, singers and musicians will entertain volunteers and donors with Christmas music.  Santa Clause will be available for the kids.  The KRAI and 55 Country Holiday Drive is from 6 to 6 tomorrow and Thursday.  If you’d like to know more about what the benefitting agencies need, or about the drive itself, click here.

 

14-YEAR OLD STEAMBOAT BOY KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT

A single vehicle rollover accident in Jackson County resulted in a fatality Sunday. The accident occurred on Highway 127 about 20 miles north of Walden.  44 year old Peggy Pagliaro of Steamboat drifted off the right side of the highway and over-corrected.  Her vehicle crossed the road and went airborne as it traveled down an embankment. The vehicle landed nose down and then toppled onto its top.  During the vault, the rear seat passenger was ejected from the vehicle.  14 year old passenger Nicholas Pagliaro, also of Steamboat, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Neither of the occupants are believed to have been wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. The driver received very minor injuries.

 

PLANE SENSING TECHNOLOGY EXPANDED PAST NORTHWEST COLORADO

The Federal Aviation Administration is deploying dish-less plane tracking technology on the Western Slope to help pilots navigate through bad weather.  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the activation yesterday of Wide Area Multilateration technology around Montrose Regional Airport. WAM acts like radar but instead of using a spinning dish to find planes, the technology uses filing cabinet-size sensors to pick up the signal from plane transponders.  The sensors are located in remote areas near the airport and fix radar blind spots caused by the mountains.  Similar technology was deployed around Craig, Hayden, Steamboat and Rifle in 2009 and additional sensors will be installed by next year around Durango, Gunnison and Telluride.  The Colorado Department of Transportation paid to install the sensors and the FAA maintains and operates the system.

 

IDAHO TRUCK DRIVER FOUND DEAD

Sweetwater County authorities are investigating the death of an Idaho man whose body was found Monday morning on the ground alongside his semi tractor-trailer rig northwest of Green River.  The victim was identified as Lynn Larson, 71, of Arimo, Idaho.  Just before 8 yesterday morning, a passer-by reported a semi tractor-trailer combo parked near the intersection of County Road 11 and Highway 372 with the body of a man on the ground.  Larson was pronounced dead at the scene.  Larson had been bound for the nearby OCI operation to load bulk soda ash. Investigating deputies and detectives noted that several of the loading hatches atop the rig’s two dry bulk tanks were open, and said the scenario is consistent with Larson having climbed to the top of the tanks to open all the hatches before driving onto the OCI site.  An autopsy is scheduled for today, as the investigation continues.

 

HEALTH INSURANCE RATE HIKE PREVENTED IN RURAL COLORADO

Colorado officials say health care reform has given them the power to curb insurance rate hikes.  Those curbs helped the state block a 24 percent increase request by Cigna, who reportedly wanted to raise rates for individual health policies in 2013 by 31 percent in several mountain counties in a way the state says isn’t justified.  Colorado changed a law that allowed insurers to raise rates and get permission later, and the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010 now requires a review of hikes of more than 10 percent a year.  Cigna covers about 21,000 people in Colorado, and says it needed the increase because hospital costs in Pitkin, Routt, Eagle and Garfield counties are 28 percent higher than the rest of rural Colorado.

 

HEALTH EXPERTS SAY FLU SEASON HAS STARTED

Health officials say flu season is off to its earliest start in nearly 10 years – and it could be a bad one.  The primary strain circulating is one that tends to cause more severe illness, especially in the elderly.  But officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the nation seems to be fairly well prepared. More than a third of Americans have been vaccinated, and the vaccine is well matched to the strains of flu so far.  Officials said yesterday that suspected flu cases have jumped in five southern states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. An uptick in flu reports like this usually doesn’t occur until after Christmas.  The last time a typical flu season started this early was the winter of 2003-04.

 

ELECTION CLERKS SEEKING CHANGES FOR NEXT ELECTION CYCLE

Colorado election clerks want lawmakers to consider mailing ballots to all registered voters and look at moving the registration deadline closer to elections.  The clerks say in a letter to lawmakers last week that sending ballots by mail to all registered voters “is a clear mandate from the electorate” because about 74 percent cast their votes by mail this election.  Currently, people must choose to be on a permanent mail-in ballot list and in-person voting would still exist even if there’s a change.  Clerks say officials should also consider moving up a current deadline that requires people to register to vote 29 days before the general election. The letter also suggests that lawmakers look at how poll watchers are overseen, and address any needed changes to listing voters as active or inactive.

 

POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS RESPONSIBLE FOR SPIKE IN GUN SALES

Since 2007, the beginning of the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and throughout the slow recovery and continued uncertainty, gun sales in Colorado have soared, based on the number of people getting criminal-background checks.  The number of those checks, required for gun purchases, has climbed 58 percent over the past five years, with spikes this year immediately after the Aurora theater massacre and the abduction and slaying of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.  Nationally, gun sales this post-election Black Friday broke all records, overwhelming the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s background-checking system.  Despite drops in violent crimes in past years, a volatile mix of political and social fears is driving more people to arm themselves, experts say.

 

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