NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5TH

Hickenlooper Signs 252

Following a month of deliberation, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 252, which increases the amount of energy that rural electricity associations must draw from renewable sources, doubling the percentage of energy rural electric cooperatives must obtain from solar, wind or other green energy sources. Costs of the mandate will show up in utility bills paid by households and businesses. Backers of the Bill were optimistic Hickenlooper would sign it into law. Republicans battled the bill to the end.

 

RIO BLANCO COUNTY BOY KILLED BY UTV

A 7-year old Rio Blanco County boy was killed yesterday when an UTV rolled on top of him.  Rio Blanco County deputies got the call a little before7 last night.  The accident occurred on private property about 12 miles northeast of Meeker on Rio Blanco County Road 11.  The boy was initially pinned underneath the vehicle, and had no pulse when pulled out.  He was taken to Pioneers Hospital in Meeker where he was pronounced dead.  The investigation into the accident is ongoing.

 

COMMISSIONERS APPROVE COUNTY CLINIC

The Moffat County Commissioners yesterday approved a plan to create their own clinic for county employees and their families.  Care-here will provide the service.  The $214,138 price tag for the initial year includes staffing.  The county says that money, and more, would be spent anyway on health insurance costs for the year.  The county is self-insured and is trying to cut the costs of their health care, as well as prepare for upcoming Obamacare rules and regulations.  The clinic will be located in the 500 block of Tucker Street.  The vote was met with little resistance at yesterday’s meeting.  Commissioner Chuck Grobe gave everyone in the audience a chance to comment and ask questions before the vote was taken.  Most of the comments were positive.  The clinic will allow anyone on the county’s health insurance plan to visit without having to make a co-pay, and without much of a wait to see the doctor.

 

MOFFAT COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICES TO CHANGE OFFICE HOURS

Moffat County Social Service workers are trying to get caught up with all of their paper work, but haven’t been able to find the down time to do so.  That will change, as the commissioners gave the go ahead yesterday for the department to change its office hours.  While workers will still spend the same amount of time on the job, they’ll get an hour at the beginning of each day to focus on easing the backlog on benefits and other cases.  The office will open at 9 from now on, instead of 8.  The building is also being prepped for a remodeling project.  The project could take up to 3 years to complete.  The first phase will include replacing the phone system and work on the building’s entrances.

 

KIDS ACCIDENTALLY SET SMALL FIRE IN JENSEN SUBDIVISION

A fire which burned part of a fence in the Jensen Subdivision in Craig was quickly extinguished yesterday afternoon. Craig Fire Chief Bill Johnston says the fire was thought to have been caused by kids who pulled the pin on a military style smoke bomb, which they then threw away when the resulting noise and smoke surprised them. The devise then caused the fire on the fence. The youths were apprehended by the Craig Police Department.

 

SOROCO TEACHER CHOSEN TO PARTICIPATE IN NATIONAL PROGRAM

Patrick Slowey, a teacher at Soroco High School, has been selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants to participate in the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute for the week of June 17th through the 21st. Each year, the Library of Congress provides the opportunity for a hand picked group of K-12 educators to attend one of its five teacher institutes in Washington, D.C. During the five-day program, participants work with Library education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library’s website. Educators attending the teacher institutes develop primary-source-based teaching strategies that they can take back to their school districts, apply in the classroom and pass along to colleagues.

 

TMH STAFF/BOARD DONATES TO VICTIMS OF OKLAHOMA TORNADO

This week, employees, physicians, and Board members from The Memorial Hospital donated $3,200 to aid employees of Moore Medical Center in Moore, Oklahoma. On May 20th, a tornado destroyed Moore Medical Center, part of the Norman Regional Health System.  Moore Medical Center employs 463 people who live in areas directly affected by the tornado. Norman Regional Health Foundation has established the Employee CARE Fund. All donations made to this fund will be distributed directly to employees in need of assistance.

 

U.K. LOOKS TO COLORADO FOR FRACKING ASSISTANCE

Officials in the United Kingdom are looking west to Colorado for policy and political help on hydraulic fracturing as the technology emerges in Britain.  Beverley Simpson, the British consul general in Denver, told business leaders in Grand Junction on Monday that natural gas drives industry and heats homes in the U.K., making continued exploration and production a priority.  Simpson urged businesses in Colorado and elsewhere in the United States to begin participating in planned free-trade discussions between the two countries.  Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground. Supporters say the process is safe, while opponents say the technique pollutes groundwater.

 

TIPTON VOTES ON VETERAN ISSUES

Yesterday, Representative Scott Tipton attached two amendments to the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which then passed the House with bipartisan support. Tipton’s first amendment takes $10 million in wasteful spending used for conferences from the $403 million budget of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and directs those funds to help address the VA backlog. Tipton’s amendment was agreed to with unanimous consent.  In addition, Tipton joined three of his colleagues in co-sponsoring an amendment to prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from using any funds to pay performance bonuses to senior executive staff at the VA. That amendment was agreed to with unanimous consent as well.

 

AUDITORS LOOKING INTO STATE ENERGY SPENDING

Colorado auditors will investigate the State Energy Program’s grant expenditures to see whether there’s evidence of waste and fraud.  Lawmakers on the Legislative Audit Committee unanimously approved the investigation yesterday, which will take months to complete. The audit will look at the grant awards from the State’s Energy Program from 2007 to 2010.  Republican Senator Steve King requested the investigation because of a January state audit of the Colorado Energy Office, which administered the State Energy Program grants, showed misspending and sloppy accounting in the state’s energy development office.  King said in a letter requesting an audit of SEP that the January audit highlights an increased risk for abuse in grant spending.

 

BOOKSELLERS JOIN LAWSUIT AGAINST POT MAGAZINE REGS

Booksellers have joined marijuana magazine publishers in challenging a Colorado law requiring that pot magazines be treated like pornography and be kept behind the counter.  A group of Denver bookstores and newsstands announced a separate federal suit yesterday to block the first-of-its-kind law passed earlier this year.  The magazine restriction was added to a series of marijuana regulations after some parents complained about the magazines being visible to children. Publishers of three magazines are already suing to block the provision. The American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of the booksellers.  The provision doesn’t ban underage sales of the magazines, just requires that they be kept behind the counter in stores that allow shoppers under 21. The law has not yet taken effect.

 

COLORADO GROUP ADVERTISING AGAINST GROUP OF 8 IN WYOMING

A Colorado group is airing radio advertisements in Casper and Cheyenne against a proposed immigration overhaul bill before the U.S. Senate.  The ad by the Rocky Mountain Foundation in Littleton does not mention Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi or John Barrasso by name.  But foundation chairman Tom Tancredo says their votes are important because he believes the proposal will pass or fail on one or two votes.  Tancredo opposes the proposal’s pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in this country illegally.  Enzi and Barrasso have not indicated how they will vote on the proposal, which is expected to come before the full Senate this month.  The Republican-led House is working on its own immigration bill.

 

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