The Home Front: Unemployment low in the Springs, scientists uneasy in Boulder, refugees OK in Steamboat

“Unease in Boulder’s scientific community over the implications of Donald Trump’s presidency and what his policies mean for future federal funding is so great that few are even willing to discuss it on the record,” The Longmont Times-Call reports. “‘Another alarm for scientists: Trump’s pick to guide NOAA transition,’ blared a headline out of Washington, D.C., at the start of the week, over a report that Trump had appointed Kenneth Haapala, a leading denier of climate change, to serve on the administration team handling appointments for the Department of Commerce. By Tuesday, it was reported Haapala was no longer part of the transition team, but like many of the developments early in Trump’s presidency, reverberations from that sequence of events persisted. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is under the Department of Commerce, and supports more than 1,000 researchers, engineers, forecasters and others on its Boulder campus.”

“A former soldier from Texas who made social media postings about police brutality, U.S. sovereignty and Islamic teachings is accused of fatally shooting an armed Regional Transportation District security officer in the head late Tuesday outside of Denver Union Station, The Denver Post reports. “Authorities say the attack appears to be both unprovoked and random, but they worried that the alleged shooter — 37-year-old Joshua Cummings — targeted the contract guard because of his uniform, which resembles that of Denver police. Witnesses told investigators that the suspect put a gun to the security officer’s neck and said, ‘Do as I tell you,’ and then pulled the trigger.” The paper quotes Denver police Cmdr. Barb Archer saying, “We have concerns… Was the officer a target because he was wearing a uniform?”

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports Colorado’s governor saying President Donald Trump is harming Colorado. Specifically, he is “hurting Colorado’s farmers and ranchers every time he says something negative about Mexico or immigrants, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Wednesday. The state’s agricultural industries are already hurting because the strong U.S. dollar is depressing commodity prices, but when the new president says something negative about immigrants, Mexico or the North American Trade Agreement, it further harms the state’s efforts to push its ag products overseas, the governor said. ‘Mexico is Colorado’s number two export market, so I think the rhetoric is making that relationship more difficult,’ Hickenlooper said. ‘If we’re going to somehow remove ourselves from NAFTA, which is probably more complicated than it appears, we’d better have another trade agreement. The farmers and ranchers of Colorado and across this country, given commodity prices, we need more markets, not less.'” (To read more about this, check out our own report by Marianne Goodland.)

The Gazette reports unemployment in Colorado Springs is at its lowest since 2001. “Each of the hospital systems in the Colorado Springs area has more than 200 job openings they are trying to fill in the hottest part of the job market. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has more than 200 job openings it is trying to fill and spends an average of 40 days making the hire, said Shari Pouyer, manager of talent acquisition for the health-care giant, which operates Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center. The job market has moved from a pool of more than 30,000 job seekers chasing fewer than 10,000 jobs at the deepest point of the recession in late 2010 to the number of open positions exceeding the number looking for work during much of last year.”

“A small, family-owned shuttle business in Greeley that provides rides to and from Denver International Airport has seen a spike in business the past few weeks after the closing of a major SuperShuttle route,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Greeley Shuttle is the area’s newest main source of shared transportation to and from the airport, after SuperShuttle International halted its DIA Greeley/Evans route on Jan. 10. On that day, SuperShuttle sent a memo to its employees at its northern Colorado office with no explanation of why the route was closing. The Longmont/Firestone route was also discontinued as of Tuesday.”

The Pueblo Chieftain reports Colorado Public Utilities Commissioner Frances Koncilja “is choosing her words more carefully but hasn’t softened her attitude in overseeing Black Hills Energy. Koncilja challenged new Commissioner Wendy Moser during Wednesday’s commission decision on Black Hills’ 2016 Energy Resource Plan, which details the utility’s forecast for its future electric production. The document in question was a settlement between Black Hills and a list of interested parties, with the exception of the city of Pueblo and Pueblo County.”

“West African refugees who have made Steamboat Springs their second village have not been impacted by President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily halting immigration into the country from seven majority-Muslim nations,” reports The Steamboat Pilot & Today. “But local groups that offer help to immigrants are still waiting to see whether the new administration makes other changes that could impact the lives of dozens of other immigrants who live in Northwest Colorado. Most of the city’s political refugees came to the Yampa Valley in the early 2000s from Senegal after they had to flee Mauritania in West Africa due to racial tensions and persecution.”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald spotlights a wire report that a district attorney in western Colorado “says a sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a man was ambushed and responding as any reasonable person would” and won’t be charged with a crime.

“Poudre School District’s contingency reserves are uncomfortably low following the district’s decision to take more than $2 million from reserve funds to counter missing its enrollment projections this year,” The Coloradoan in Fort Collins reports. “That means the district’s safeguard for the unexpected is so low that a single bad snow could wipe the less than $600,000 out, according to PSD Executive Director of Finance Dave Montoya. The precariousness of that position has Montoya and district officials looking for ways to replenish those reserves as quickly as possible — even considering using recently approved mill levy funds to boost the account.”

The Durango Herald reports on a coal-fueled boiler that has sparked a federal lawsuit between neighbors. “Robert Bridges and Karen Nakayama have accused Cody and Jennifer Sanders of causing health-threatening pollution by burning trash and other materials in a boiler that emits a plume of black smog over the County Road 120 properties. The Sanders moved into their 40-acre lot around 2012, just east of the Bridges’ and Nakayama’s home, purchased in 2001. About a half-dozen families live within a quarter-mile of the Sanders’ home. Cody Sanders installed the boiler in 2014, and since then, according to neighbors, they’ve received a daily dose of smoke during the cold months. In a phone interview before the lawsuit was filed, Cody Sanders denied that he burns anything but wood and coal.” “I can tell you it’s 100 percent legal, and there is no law governing against it whatsoever,” he told the paper.

“A request for the 911 transcript and recordings from the day Candace Hiltz was found murdered has been denied by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office,” The Cañon City Daily Record reports. “The request, which asked for the 911 call from Aug. 15, 2006, was formally filed by the Daily Record under the Colorado Open Records Act and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act. Because 911 calls fall under public records, the Daily Record requested the recordings and transcripts to gather more information about the day Hiltz was murdered and the investigation that followed, specifically who called 911 and who responded to the Hiltz residence that day. On Tuesday, the FCSO denied the Daily Record’s request through a letter, sent via email from Fremont County Attorney Brenda Jackson.”