The Home Front: Avalanches, wind storms, and the start of a legislative session

Your morning roundup of the news on the front pages of newspapers across Colorado

The Home Front: Avalanches, wind storms, and the start of a legislative session

The Boulder Daily Camera reports the Broomfield City Council delayed a vote on a fracking moratorium until next month. “People began lining up at Broomfield’s City Council meeting nearly three hours before it began, seeking prime seats to see and hear a lengthy discussion on what has been proposed as a five-month oil and gas moratorium,” the paper reported. “One official estimated that 500 to 600 people were at the meeting. Community members spent about two and a half hours asking council to either pass the moratorium or continue to work with Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc. and avoid legal battles down the road.” The paper reported a 15-year-old resident “apologized for her tears as she talked about Colorado’s beauty and how upset she was that such a large industrial operation was moving so close to her home.”

The latest legislative session, which begins this week, should be a “wild ride,” reports The Colorado Springs Independent alt-weekly. “Republicans hold a slim majority in the state Senate and a stranglehold on the national government, Democrats are in control of the state House and the governor’s mansion, seemingly every federal program is threatened, and the state faces budget troubles. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget expected a shortfall of $500 million, and recommended several ways to bridge the gap, though any fix is likely to be controversial.”

The Denver Post reports today how “transportation workers are stretched thin battling extreme avalanche danger looming over Colorado’s high country highways. And another 2 feet of snow could fall in the mountains before the weekend. Avalanche mitigation and danger strangled the Interstate 70 corridor on Tuesday after three days of heavy snow and prompted the evacuation of Arapahoe Basin’s guests and employees because of worries about slides on U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass.”

“A community suicide forum Tuesday night was filled to overflowing with nearly 150 community members, local leaders and mental health professionals seeking solutions to Mesa County’s high rate of suicide,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Some folks stood for nearly two hours, spilling into the hallways of the Department of Health and Human Services, for the chance to listen to stories and share their own experiences with mental health and suicide. Approximately 43 suicides in Mesa County in 2016 — including the suicides of three high school students since August — prompted a flood of concern and calls for change from the community in recent months.”

“A couple major projects soon could impact Greeley’s look, and sound, as officials continue work on finding a solution to train noise and seek to bury overhead power lines,” reports The Greeley Tribune. Here’s the cost on the later one: “Burying power lines will cost $300 per foot, or $1.58 million per mile, and with train horn fixes possibly reaching $12 million, neither fix is cheap. But with one — the power lines — the city won’t have to pay.”

The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent looks at the “freak storm” that hit the state this week. “Colorado Department of Transportation officials and avalanche experts say highly unusual storms caused avalanches across the state Tuesday, stretching the department’s resources and leading to extended closures. Two major avalanches severed the Interstate 70 mountain corridor for much of the day Tuesday. The first, a natural avalanche at about 3 a.m., hit Vail Pass, forcing a full closure. Then at 11 a.m. CDOT purposely triggered an avalanche just west of Eisenhower Tunnel as part of its mitigation work.”

“The city of Colorado Springs, in response to a lawsuit that seeks court action against the city for discharging pollutants into tributaries of the Arkansas River, denies it is violating clean water laws,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The city’s denial is its first response in court to a lawsuit that claims discharges of pollutants into Fountain Creek and other tributaries violate the laws. The discharges are from Colorado Springs’ stormwater system.”

The Longmont Times-Call reports the city council “unanimously repealed two ordinances related to panhandling on first reading as part of their consent agenda Tuesday with no discussion. The ordinances prohibited ‘aggressive begging’ and ‘solicitation in or near a street or highway.’ City Attorney Eugene Mei wrote in an email on Friday that the city opted to repeal the ordinances as a preemptive measure after a federal court ruled that similar laws in Grand Junction violated the First Amendment.”

The Coloradoan in Fort Collins has the latest on a local lawsuit involving an area activist who is suing the Poudre School District over a school bond. Eric Sutherland’s lawsuit “alleges PSD didn’t do enough to inform voters that part of the tax collected for its $375 million bond would go to tax increment financing, or TIF,” the paper reports. But it was thrown out by a judge because the activist didn’t pay an $8,000 surety bond before the election when he filed the suit. A court wanted him to pony up the money to cover the school district’s costs if a court deemed his suit frivolous. He says he was denied due process because of that. His case is in legal limbo, the paper reports.

How are local roads plowed during snow storms? Steamboat Today explains the process for readers. Routt County roads are plowed once daily during storms, for instance, and cover 20 to 30 miles in an eight-hour period. “I think one thing people forget is a difference between the city (of Steamboat Springs) and the county is that, in the city, the plows can do multiple laps (on their route), but our routes are 20 to 30 miles and designed to take just under eight hours to complete,” a local bridge and road director told the paper.

“A petition that would stop the city of Durango from adding fluoride to its drinking water appears to have enough signatures, and now it will either be adopted by the Durango City Council within 30 days or left for voters to decide in the April election,” The Durango Herald reports.

The Gazette in Colorado Springs continues to follow up on the trail of destruction left by a massive windstorm earlier in the week. “But providing individual assistance in the coming weeks will be tough for the parks department, which has been stretched thin as staffers have teamed up with the even thinner city forestry division to clear the aftermath of hurricane-force winds,” the paper reports. “In 2008, forestry pulled from a parks budget of $19.9 million. Today, the city’s General Fund allots the department $12.1 million.”

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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