INTERIOR SECRETARY JEWELL’S VISIT TO MOFFAT COUNTY CONFIRMED
It’s been confirmed that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will make a visit to Northwest Colorado tomorrow. Jewell plans to visit the Bord Gulch Ranch, along with Governor John Hickenlooper, National Fish and Wildlife officials, the Principal Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management, and local officials to review measures taken to preserve Greater Sage Grouse habitat. The bird is being considered for the endangered species list, but local officials say the state and federal governments have not taken the area’s economy or local conservation efforts into account when drawing up a preservation plan. Jewell was invited by ranch owner Ray Owens and Governor John Hickenlooper to come to the area and take a look at those efforts. The tour will take place tomorrow at 1 at the Bord Gulch Ranch. Pictured: Sally Jewell
LEGISLATORS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO RESTORE P.I.L.T. FUNDING
After legislators decided not to fund the PILT, or Payment In Lieu of Taxes, program in the latest appropriations bill, lawmakers in western states are scrambling to try to restore the funding. PILT compensates rural counties with large amounts of federal non-taxable land. The Moffat County Commissioners say if PILT funding is not restored it coud have a significant impact on the county. Chuck Grobe said earlier this week, “If PILT funding disappears, the county will still offer basic services, we’ll just have to do it with fewer employees.” Colorado’s Senators and Representatives are coming up with various ways to restore the funding. Those include measures to restore it permanently, as well as measures to include it in other bills, such as the Farm Bill. Senator Michael Bennet is expected to meet today with County Commissioners from Moffat, Rio Blanco and a number of other Western Slope Counties to discuss PILT funding. Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid indicated that he will attend the meeting, scheduled for 10:45 this morning in Grand Junction. Continuation of PILT funding would mean roughly a half million dollars for Moffat County and 1.5 million dollars for Routt County in 2014. Pictured: Michael Bennet
NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE UDALL’S ROLE IN HEALTH INSURANCE CANCELLATION REPORTS
Despite the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies finding no fault with Senator Mark Udall’s correspondence with the Colorado Division of Insurance regarding the number of people who lost their health insurance coverage, the issue is not dead yet. Udall was accused of trying to get the department to report reduced numbers of Coloradans who had lost their insurance. The Department issued a statement later saying they liked Udall’s number better, and that he had not used pressure to get them to change those numbers. But the National Republican Senatorial Committee wants to take a closer look. The have asked for all correspondence between Udall and the Division of Insurance, so they can investigate the incident themselves. Senate candidate Amy Stephens campaign says while the information released by the Division indicated that around 250,000 people had received insurance cancellation notices, the number is closer to 335,000. Pictured: Mark Udall
LAWMAKERS CRACKING DOWN ON INTERNET HARASSMENT
Colorado lawmakers are trying to crack down on various types of online harassment with proposals that would classify crimes of the Internet age. One bill would define cyber bullying and make it a misdemeanor. Another proposal would require commercial websites that publish mug shots of people to remove the photos for free at the person’s request if they were never convicted. And another bill seeks to criminalize the trend of so-called revenge porn, where people publish explicit photos or videos of former romantic partners to humiliate them. But while other states have proposed revenge-porn laws that deal with all ages, a Colorado bill would focus only on minors. The bills introduced this month underscore how legislators are grappling to define new crimes that may or may not be covered under current laws.
OBAMA SAYS POT IS LESS HARMFUL THAN ALCOHOL
Marijuana, which is still placed in the same category as heroin, ecstasy and psychedelic mushrooms by the federal government, is no more dangerous than alcohol. That’s according to President Barack Obama, who made the comment in an interview published Sunday. Speaking to New Yorker editor David Remnick, Obama said he still viewed pot smoking negatively – but that on the whole, the drug wasn’t the social ill that it’s been viewed as in the past. The President said pot was actually less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational marijuana use. Another 18, along with the District of Columbia, allow some legal pot use, primarily for medicinal purposes. But when it comes to federal law, marijuana remains a schedule 1 controlled substance – a drug with high potential for abuse but no accepted medical use – and the White House has said that Obama doesn’t support changing that status. Instead, Obama said in the interview that he’s focused on making laws that treat users fairly. Pictured: Barrack Obama
HEALTH OFFICIALS URGE RESIDENTS TO TEST FOR RADON
Winter is the perfect time to test your home for radon, because testing works best when all your doors and windows are closed. That’s according to Chrystine Kelley, radon program manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas responsible for hundreds of Colorado lung cancer deaths each year. The colorless, odorless, tasteless gas can enter homes through miniscule cracks in the floor or small spaces around utility pipes and accumulates unless properly mitigated. Long-term radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. More Americans die from lung cancer than any other cancer. Testing is easy and affordable. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provides coupons for reduced-cost radon test kits on their website. The website also lists contractors, certified by the National Radon Proficiency Program, who install systems to mitigate radon. You can link to the site here.
COLORADO TEACHERS NATIONALLY CERTIFIED
There were 75 new educators who achieved National Board Certification in 2013, which ranks Colorado 16th in the total number of new educators certified during the 2012-13 cycle. Nationally, 4,117 teachers became certified, for a total over time of 106,356 educators across the country. In 2013, Colorado jumped up one state to become the 23rd state with the most educators certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards with 837. Last year, Colorado ranked 24th in the total number of teachers who have earned National Board Certification over time. Research shows that students taught by Board-certified teachers consistently achieve higher gains in student achievement compared to peers who are not taught by Board-certified teachers, making learning gains equivalent to an extra one to two months in school.
IN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Over the weekend:
Hayden’s boys and girls fell to Hotchkiss (B=59-42; G=69-29), and to Paonia (G=64-25; B=50-34).
The Meeker girls beat West Grand (70-32). The boys beat North Park (62-36)
Soroco’s boys and girls lost to Paonia (B=56-47; G=48-33), and Hotchkiss (B=59-42; G=61-58).
The Little Snake River Valley girls beat Big Piney (45-42).
Moffat County’s boys and girls beat Basalt (B=62-36; G=99-19). The girls fell to Cedaredge (49-45), while the boys won (78-56).
The Steamboat boys and girls beat Battle Mountain (B=53-42; G=53-32).
Steamboat topped Summit (5-1), and Aspen (4-0).
In Nordic skiing:
In Aspen, the Steamboat girls placed 4th in the classic race and took 5th in the skate race. The boys placed 9th in the classic and 8th in the skate.
Meeker hosts Battle Mountain, with both games starting at 5:30.
Steamboat goes to Rifle. The girls tip off at 6 and the boys at 7:30.
The Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game yesterday. The Broncos will play in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, February 2nd at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Due to NFL restrictions 55 Country will not be allowed to broadcast that game.