The Home Front: Colorado paper details prescription drug epidemic through texts by alleged dealer

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The Home Front: Colorado paper details prescription drug epidemic through texts by alleged dealer

A local arrest in Steamboat Springs sheds light on a prescription drug epidemic, The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports. The paper quotes generously from alleged text messages between an alleged dealer and his alleged client’s girlfriend to tell the story of how an alleged prescription drug deal went bad in this magical mountain town. “No hard feelings against you, but (my boyfriend) almost overdosed on the stuff he got from you last night,” the woman allegedly text messaged to her boyfriend’s alleged dealer, according to an arrest affidavit cited in the paper. The alleged dealer says he had his own problems with overdosing. “Thought I was taking a xany (Xanax) bar and it ended up being fentanyl and I was done. Lips turned blue, had to get rushed to er.” And later: “No addict wants to be an addict,” Kavovit wrote. “It’s the only way they feel normal is when they’re on drugs. It’s a tough thing to comprehend to someone who isn’t an addict but it’s the way it works.”

The Greeley Tribune reports on the resolution of a local library lawsuit. “In a settlement agreement with the Board of Weld County Commissioners and surrounding municipalities, the High Plains Library District is getting almost everything it wants, rendering the nearly three years and nearly $300,000 in litigation mostly moot. But the win for the library district comes after nearly three years of severely limited library board power, and the district’s opponents in the lawsuit will get the final say in seating six members of a seven-member board. The basic terms of the settlement agreement, released to The Tribune on Tuesday, describe the process for nominating, appointing and removing High Plains Library District trustees.”

“Colorado Mesa University could face a $6 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, a load that will likely be carried by student tuition and fee increases and could mean budget and program cuts in the future,” The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports. “Since 2012, CMU’s annual tuition increases have averaged 5.5 percent, slightly below the state-mandated limit of 6 percent. But even a 6 percent increase might not be enough to cover the coming budget shortfall, according to Laura Glatt, CMU’s vice president of finance. University staff are planning for three funding possibilities: an increase in funding from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed budget, flat state funding, or a 5 percent funding reduction.”

The Longmont Times-Call reports on a local school superintendent’s raise. “The St. Vrain Valley school board recently approved a 5 percent pay raise for Superintendent Don Haddad, bumping his annual salary to $273,000. The agreement also extends his contract to 2021, increases the number of vacation days that he can carry over from 50 to 65 and modifies the evaluation process from an annual review to an ongoing review. ‘Dr. Haddad, in my experience, is an exemplary chief executive officer,’ said school board President Bob Smith. ‘He has pursued the mission statement of St. Vrain with the utmost integrity and fidelity. By any measure, the school district is advancing.'”

“Marble Distilling Co. in downtown Carbondale proudly touts its grain-to-glass-to-ground style of distilling. The distillery has partnered with the Nieslanik family in a way that benefits both the distillery and the livestock on the ranch,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Marble Distilling has a deal to receive locally grown white wheat grain from the Nieslaniks from which to make alcohol. In return, the Nieslaniks pick up loads of the spent grain to feed their hogs, chickens and cattle. The spent grain was analyzed by a veterinarian who concluded that the product was a high-quality, high-protein animal feed.”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald fronts a piece on affordable housing. “The Loveland City Council discussion on Tuesday night was the first in a three-part series about homelessness and affordable housing. Council members unanimously approved a resolution that designated Loveland Habitat for Humanity and the Loveland Housing Authority as the “preferred” affordable housing providers for the city. The resolution passed unanimously, 6-0 (Mayor Cecil Gutierrez was absent and Mayor Pro Tem John Fogle had to recuse himself because his wife works for the authority). Although the resolution didn’t commit any funding to either agency, according to Community Partnership Office Administrator Alison Hade, the city has given on average $65,000 in backfilled fee waivers to Habitat per year and varied backfilled fee waivers to the Housing Authority, though not every year.”

The Pueblo Chieftain reports on the EPA beginning Super Fund soil testing at local parks. “The much-used park, located on Abriendo Avenue, will reopen at 4 p.m. both days when crews leave. The sampling teams will be pulling soil plugs for analysis, looking for unusual levels of lead or arsenic in the soil. Bessemer Park will be closed on Friday as well as next Monday and Tuesday for the same reason. Sampling crews will be in that park on Northern Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.”

“The assistant chief of Fort Collins Police Services was placed on paid administrative leave, the latest in a string of decisions to come amid an ongoing third-party investigation into discriminatory and retaliatory practices within the department,” The Coloradoan in Fort Collins reports.

Vail Daily reports how residents are split on using open lands for housing. “Sure, there are vast tracts of open land on the slopes above Vail. On the valley floor, open land is limited. What to do with that land has sparked debate for decades. But residents who have weighed in so far on a new version of the town’s open lands plan say they don’t want any exchanges with the U.S. Forest Service. Town officials are revamping the Vail Open Lands Plan, which was created in 1994. Since open lands in Vail can easily spark often-heated debate, officials are asking for residents’ opinions. There have already been a pair of open house meetings. More are in the works.”

“Two thousand bicyclists will pedal 447 miles through Southwest Colorado in June, spending two nights in Durango as part of Ride the Rockies,” The Durango Herald reports. “The seven-day ride starts June 11 in Alamosa and ends June 17 in Salida. The tour will arrive June 12 from Pagosa Springs, have an optional 39-mile day loop June 13 past Lake Nighthorse, and head out of town June 14 for Ridgway.”

The Boulder Daily Camera reports on a local public defender being held in contempt of court. The lawyer had to pay $250 after being found in contempt of court by Fremont County District Court Judge Ramsey Lama in November when “he said in court the names of two inmate witnesses who received compensation to testify against the defendant. The case involved an inmate being charged with first-degree assault in an incident at the Colorado State Penitentiary.” The public defender said it was an accident on a hectic day when he was handling 34 cases.

“Rulings from the Colorado Supreme Court in unrelated cases this week could make it more difficult for police officers to testify about certain evidence in criminal trials,” The Denver Post reports. “The court ruled that trial witnesses, including police officers, who have interpreted blood evidence in thousands of criminal cases can’t testify as “lay” witnesses and must first be qualified as experts before they can testify. That’s a much higher standard than officers currently face. The decision Monday in People versus Ramos helps determine who doesn’t qualify as a “lay” witness, or someone with an ordinary citizen’s knowledge and experiences. Judges do not have to qualify lay witnesses before they testify. Experts testify only after they have demonstrated they have relevant specialized experiences, knowledge or training.”

The Gazette in Colorado Springs reports the nation’s top computer warfare expert says the U.S. is falling behind. “Air Force’s top computer warfare expert compared his service’s internet efforts to being the Patriots at halftime of last Sunday’s Super Bowl,” the paper reports. “The other team has been running up the score, said Lt. Gen. Bill Bender, the Air Force’s chief information officer. He’s so busy “putting out fires” that it’s hard to make sufficient changes to meet the challenge. Russia in the past two years has showed off its cyber skills in Ukraine and is also suspected of an attempt to tip America’s electoral scales by hacking the Democratic National Committee and releasing embarrassing emails.”

A writer for the alt-weekly Colorado Springs Independent chronicles a year as a live-action role-playing character in Colorado. He “spent several weekends in 2016 playing a character named Lucas, a hardboiled bodyguard and a perpetually anxious psion — he has a few reality-warping tricks.”

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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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