Western Slope News Round Up

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Colorado Confidential will take you around the Western Slope for a weekly summary of news and issues facing communities over The Divide.

Growth, human services and suicide rates were featured in newspaper headlines last week. Grand Junction Free Press–Mesa County’s suicide rate is more than double the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The national suicide rate is 10.7 per 100,000 people annually. In Colorado, the rate is 16.7 suicides per 100,000 people, and in Mesa County, a 10-year average of 22 people take their own lives per 100,000 people annually.  In 2006, 27 people died by their own hand in Mesa County, and in 2005 the number was 28. Garfield and Montrose Counties had nearly over 20 suicides in 2006 making the Western Slope with the highest suicide rate in Colorado.

In 2005, 50 percent of suicides in Mesa County were related to the construction industry, which includes oil and gas workers.

Vail Daily: Eagle County voters will have a chance to decide to become a home rule county in a special May 1st election.

Durango Herald: Child care is in critical shape in the southwest corner of the state. For infants and toddlers, waiting lists are a couple of years long-most children are in public school by the time their name comes up.

It’s not uncommon for local day cares to charge a fee to place a child’s name on a wait list. One school charges $50. Women have lost jobs because they were unable to find child care.

The cost of real estate in Durango makes the purchase of large homes for centers nearly impossible. Increasingly active neighborhood organizations resist the centers, which can mean increased traffic. City fees and parking requirements for businesses are other major hurdles.

Craig Daily Press: A petition seeking to oust 14th Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink from office failed last week because there were an insufficient number of signatures, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

The DA said she was prepared to resign had the recall committee gotten the required number of signatures and the petition was validated by the Secretary’s Office.

The recall petition began after a disagreement arose with Roesink regarding the prosecution of a Morrison man who was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine when his vehicle collided with Craig resident, who died from his injuries.

Glenwood Springs Independent: Garfield County needs help to inventory and value all the oil and gas equipment in the county, so it is hiring an Oklahoma company to physically inspect all well-site equipment, compressor stations, gas plants, pipelines and other related field equipment.

The county assessor’s office will be handling the project that will take months to complete.

Eagle Enterprise: A pro-growth group called “Eye on Eagle” was formed to promote more retail development in and around the town of Eagle. They argue Eagle needs more commercial development, with accompanying sales tax revenues, to meet its infrastructure needs. Plus, if Eagle aggressively tries to limit growth, the end result will be the destruction of the community as it exists today because property values will exponentially inflate, the group members insist.

Another citizens group oppose large retail developments such as the proposed Eagle River Station because they feel it will threaten Eagle’s small town character.

Rifle Citizen Telegram:  Rifle’s population is projected to exceed Glenwood Springs, making Rifle the largest city in Garfield County in 2010-if it hasn’t already reached that mark. With new subdivisions on the books and the influx of oil and gas workers, Rifle’s population will surpass Glenwood Springs’ population of 8,600. 

In a socioeconomic study conducted by Garfield County last year, projections estimated that the city of Rifle and its surrounding areas would have nearly twice the population of the Glenwood Springs area by 2030, with more than 22,000 people in Glenwood compared to nearly 44,000 in the Rifle area.

When the 2010 census results put Rifle officially ahead of Glenwood, city officials promise a community party.

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Jeannie Ritter, Colorado’s first lady, was in Grand Junction and Montrose last week to kick off her yearlong mental health listening tour about the state’s mental health care services. She is studying where the services are and where there are gaps.

Durango Herald: Gov. Bill Ritter has picked newly elected La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle to serve on the state Board of Health. Riddle is a board member of the San Juan Basin Health Department, and is working on the crisis caused by the closure of Valley-Wide Health Systems’ clinics last month. The clinic shut its doors because of the lack of affordable housing and child care for health-care workers to low rates of reimbursement in federal health programs.

The State Board of Health’s primary duties are to pass rules about public health in Colorado and to hand out grants for cancer, lung disease and AIDS programs. The board also advises the director of the health and environment department. Riddle hopes to be a voice for local governments at the state level.

Craig Daily Press: The Moffat County Department of Social Services is not in compliance with state rules and does not assure child safety, according to a Colorado Department of Human Service’s report on the county’s Child Protection Program.

The report lists concerns about the county’s decisions on entering referrals into the state’s automated reporting system and when to involve the court as reasons for the department’s review.

Complaints from the community and clients regarding case-planning practices initiated the department to visit the county and investigate charges that the Moffat Social Services department has inadequate procedures to ensure children’s safety and inconsistent and practices insufficient evidence gathering.

Photo of the Rifle area by the Bureau of Land Management

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