Western Slope Round-Up: Potties, Prisons and Pow-Wows Headline the News

Colorado Confidential takes a weekly look at newspaper stories across the Western Slope. Threats on outhouses, a county has to borrow money from a bank to make payroll and Craig’s 100th birthday celebration are among the news.

And a note to West Slopers: remember to lock the lids of your trash cans–the bears are up from their winter slumber.Aspen Outhouse Under Arrest
When a portable bathroom at a construction site at Aspen Middle School was found with a written threat of “at 8:46 a.m. I’m going to start shooting whites,” authorities decided to close the campuses of all the schools. There were no threats of bombings or other violence directed against local schools or the Latino community.

Pitkin County Sheriff’s office reported that the message had been in the Porta-potty for quite some time along with other “(out)house blog” responses. The portable bathroom is now in the hands of investigators.

It is not certain at this point whether the initial threat was written by a Latino or an Anglo, because of the use of the word “whites.” The sheriff department’s liaison with the Hispanic community said Latinos do not refer to Anglos as “whites.”

Another bathroom blog at a Snowmass Village construction site threatened Latinos and might have revealed the presence of members of white-supremacy groups such as The Aryan Brotherhood and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, according to the sheriff’s department.

Craig’s Turning 100
A centennial committee has been formed to plan Craig’s 100th birthday next year in April. Some early plans include fireworks, a golf tournament, a parade, a beer tasting event and a moonshine contest.  Doesn’t sound like festivities will be somber or sober.

Archuleta County Cuts Staff
Facing a $2.4 million budgetary shortfall, Archuleta County Commissions are slashing jobs and expenditures from their $15 million budget.

After eight years of overspending, Archuleta County announced this week that 22 employees will be laid off, and more than $700,000 in expenses will be slashed from the budget for this county of 12,400 residents. Since 1999, the Archuleta County government has spent more money than it has received, dipping into reserves every year without making adjustments in expenditures or staffing levels.

Frequent turnover among administrators, an inflated payroll, lower-than-expected sales-tax revenue, spending exceeding revenue and carrying over expenses to the next year have initiated the county’s financial crisis. It has also failed to file its annual audit with the state on time for three consecutive years, a violation of law that results in the state freezing the county’s ability to spend its revenue from property taxes.

Last month, the county had to get a $500,000 line of credit from a local bank to help cover payroll and other expenses.

Get Out Your Buckskin
Put June 1-4 down in your calendar for the annual Ute Mountain Ute Bear Dance Pow-Wow in Towaoc on the Ute Mountain Reservation in the Southwest corner of the state. The Pow-Wow will include gourd dancing, drum and dance contests, intertribal dancing, and honoring of elders and children. The organizer encourages all to participate except when there is a contest. Dance contests include several categories, and when children are ready, families initiate them into the powwow circle by entering them into a contest. The Ute Mountain Ute Beardance Celebration, a separate event, will also take place at the same time.

Mesa County Municipalities Want Five County Commissioners
The City of Grand Junction has joined Fruita and Palisade in approving the resolution asking Mesa County commissioners to initiate the process to increase the commission from three to five. The resolution will go to the Collbran and DeBeque town boards next.

When a 2002 ballot issue requesting five county commissioners failed, it was tied to a home rule government ballot issue. Home rule will not be a part of this resolution, which is targeted to be on the 2008 general election ballot.

Although the current Mesa County Commissioners disagree, those supporting the change believe it would give more representation to people in smaller communities and rural parts of the county.

“Concern for citizen representation seems to be fueling the desire for five commissioners,” Commissioner Janet Rowland wrote on her Web site. “And while I agree that it is critical that folks in the outlying areas are adequately represented, expanding the board of county commissioners to five does not necessarily mean that the new commissioners will reside in one of the smaller outlying communities.”

Only Arapahoe, El Paso, Pitkin and Weld Counties currently have five commissioners instead three out of 64 counties in Colorado.

More Time Means More Prisons
Local Ca

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