NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH

COMPANIES TO LOG BEETLE KILLED TREES IN TWO COLORADO FORESTS

Two Colorado companies have won contracts to thin national forests in Wyoming and Colorado, with some of the wood likely going toward heating homes.  The U.S. Forest Service said yesterday that the 10-year stewardship contracts will reduce help threats of catastrophic wildfires on at least 20,000 acres.  Kremmling-based Confluence Energy won a $4.75 million contract to remove beetle-killed trees in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests. Confluence will pay for material that could be used for commercial purposes.  West Range Reclamation, of Hotchkiss, has an $8.66 million contract to remove trees susceptible to infestation in the White River National Forest. It is developing uses for the trees with Eagle Valley Clean Energy, which plans a biomass power plant in Gypsum with financing from a $40 million loan guarantee from the USDA.

 

POLL SHOWS LESS PEOPLE WILL GIVE SIMILAR DOLLARS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

A new poll conducted for the American Red Cross shows that most Americans say that their giving to political causes in 2012 and Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will not reduce their year-end gifts to charity.  A telephone survey of 1,010 adults conducted earlier this month found that 78 percent of those who have already given to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts say it will not impact their year-end charitable giving, while 90 percent of those who gave to political causes say it will not reduce their giving to non-profits this holiday season.  However, fewer Americans plan to give to charity this year than last year. The survey found that 52 percent of Americans are planning to donate to charity this season, down from 57 percent the last two years from previous Red Cross surveys.  This year’s KRAI and 55 Country Holiday Drive takes place next week.  Listeners are encouraged to stop by the Centennial Mall in Craig December 5th and 6th between 6 in the morning and 6 in the evening to drop off donations for the drive.  Again this year, the KRAI and 55 Country Holiday Drive will benefit Advocates Crisis Support Services, Christmas for Kids, Christmas for Seniors, and the Interfaith Food Bank in Craig.

 

ROAN PLATEAU LEASES IN JEOPARDY

An oil and gas drilling company says directional drilling on the Roan Plateau won’t work and would invalidate an energy company’s leases.  Bill Barrett Corporation is appealing a decision requiring the directional drilling approach to protect the plateau top.  According to reports, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule soon on the status of the appeal.  Barrett owns about 40,000 acres of affected leases, including all the plateau-top acreage that conservationists have targeted for protection.

 

COURT DECISION COULD HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYEES THAT SMOKE POT DURING OFF TIME

The Colorado Court of Appeals is hearing a case that will determine the rights of employers to fire employees who smoke marijuana in their off hours.  A former Dish Network telephone operator and medical marijuana patient was fired after testing positive for marijuana, even though there was no proof he was impaired on the job.  His argument is that it is against state law for a person to be fired for doing something legal when off duty.  While Coats is a medical marijuana patient, it’s expected the ruling will have major implications for the state’s new recreational marijuana law.

 

STATE GETTING A GLIMPSE OF ITS SHARE OF MEDICAID EXPANSION

The state’s share of costs for expanding Medicaid rolls under federal health reform could be $858 million over 10 years, according to detailed new estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation.  Colorado has not released its own estimates and has declined to commit to the key building block of expanding health insurance, saying it needs to hear more program details from federal officials.  The federal share of insuring 225,000 new Medicaid lives would be about $10.3 billion over the next 10 years, the Kaiser report said.  Colorado’s spending estimate of $858 million could be reduced because of less need for uncompensated care payments to hospitals, though Kaiser said it was less clear what each state could save that way. The foundation said its general assumptions meant Colorado’s share of Medicaid expansion could be cut by another $277 million, to $581 million.  Given that Colorado is already expected to spend $30.3 billion of its own money on Medicaid over the 10 years, the expansion would add 1.9 percent to the state budget, the report said.

 

SWEETWATER COUNTY NURSES OBSERVE WORLD AIDS DAY WITH FREE TESTING

Saturday is World AIDS Day, a day to raise awareness of the disease.  This year’s theme is “Working Together for an AIDS Free Generation.”  In recognition of World AIDS Day, the Sweetwater County Community Nursing staff will be conducting free HIV testing Thursday.  If you would like to make an appointment, or if you need more information, call 307-872-3944.