The Home Front: West Nile virus, gridlock on the regents board, hemp seeds and more

Some meaty news on today’s front pages throughout the state, from an embattled university conflict program to Colorado’s mysterious West Nile virus stats. On the Western Slope there’s buzz about new hemp rules and fire risks, while Front Range papers tackle GOP gridlock on the University of Colorado Board of Regents and big-money ballot initiatives. Oh, and The Gazette wakes up its readers with a front-page story about global warming and man-made climate change.

The Greeley Tribune has a front page piece about the University of Northern Colorado backing off a program it created called the Bias Response Team, which was supposed to handle student conflict but drew fire from free speech advocates. The paper’s reporter, Tyler Silvy, has been dogging this story for weeks, uncovering information about how the process works— or doesn’t— and how the embattled program has brought unintended publicity to the university. “In her State of the University address Wednesday, UNC President Kay Norton suggested the team — in its trouble-causing iteration — will no longer exist.”

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel fronts a story about Colorado being the first state in the nation, as of Wednesday, to allow farmers to certify hemp seeds for industry if they lack THC. “Earlier this year, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the Colorado Seed Growers Association and Colorado State University’s Extension Service, started a program to grow and test various strains of hemp plants to ensure that they meet state and federal requirements.”

The Longmont Times-Call carries a front page story today about local parents who were arrested when a doctor saw their malnourished 88-pound blind and autistic 17-year-old who the doctor said looked like a concentration camp survivor. “According to court records, the teen — who apparently subsisted on a diet of soda and cracker snacks, and used a bedside jug for his bathroom — was suffering from severe malnutrition and kidney failure when he was taken to Longmont United Hospital on Aug. 30.”

“With just two days before the deadline to refer November ballot measures, the Pueblo County commissioners voted Wednesday to add a question that would ask to use the tax incentives from some of the area’s larger corporations to pay for a lengthy list of projects,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The state constitution limits revenues, and Pueblo County has to get permission from voters to use the excess money — which amounts to about $3 million over the limit — to fund the projects.”

The Steamboat Pilot has a story about how a smoke scare snarled the lines of dispatchers yesterday in the Yampa Valley. “It wasn’t until dispatchers called Craig Interagency Dispatch that they learned the smoke was coming from the Lost Solar Fire in the Blanco Ranger District in a remote area of the Flat Tops Wilderness about 25 miles east of Meeker.”

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports how Larimer County has the fourth-highest number of West Nile virus patients in the country, with 28 so far, “but the high count is a mystery to experts.” The other weird part: “Larimer County has more infected mosquitoes than usual this year, but the total number of mosquitoes is below average. Usually, those two factors go hand-in-hand.”

The Boulder Daily Camera fronts a story asking this question in a headline: “Why can’t CU Regents elect chair?” It appears, reports the paper, “that disagreement among the five Republican members of the Board of Regents is behind the deadlock, which has continued since June.”

The Durango Herald reports today how big money is fueling state ballot initiatives. “Proponents of an initiative that would allow terminally ill patients to request life-ending medication so far have raised the most money of seven citizen-led issues facing Colorado voters this November. Yes on Colorado End-of-Life Options raised nearly $4.5 million, with $373,803 in the bank after spending money on consulting and advertising. Opponents of a single-payer health care proposal came in next with about $3.9 million. Proponents of raising the minimum wage reported more than $1.7 million, while an effort to amend the state constitution raised nearly $1.6 million. And proponents of creating primary elections in Colorado reported nearly $1.5 million.”

The Cañon City Daily Record reports on a government committee that has identified homes in the area that pose a problem because they’re falling apart. “Nearly three dozen abandoned or vacant houses are on Cañon City’s watch list because of code violations, chronic problems with vandalism, dilapidation or they’re considered an eminent danger or are not structurally sound.”

Vail Daily reports the area is at a high risk for fires.

The Denver Post has a front-page story about a U.S. House committee in Washington, D.C. voting “to force the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to turn over an internal investigation of what went wrong with its incoming Aurora hospital, which saw its cost roughly triple from $604 million to $1.7 billion.”

The Colorado Springs Gazette runs a national story about a federal study with this headline on the front page:  “NOAA: Global warming nearly doubled Louisiana flood odds,” with the first four words in the story being “Man-made climate change.”