The Home Front: Colorado newspapers localize the reaction to Trump’s voter-data grab

“Enrollment in Colorado’s confidential voter program has nearly tripled in La Plata County since Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Colorado would provide some publicly available voter information to a federal panel investigating voter fraud,” reports The Durango Herald. “Since July 1, 49 people have requested to be placed in Colorado’s confidential voter program, said Tiffany Parker, La Plata County clerk and recorder. Before these requests, the county had 26 confidential voters, she said. The confidential program is designed to protect publicly available information – such as address, year of birth or party affiliation – of people who could be “exposed to criminal harassment … or otherwise be in danger of bodily harm,” according to the Colorado Revised Statutes.”

“A few hundred El Paso County residents expunged their voter registration information or made it confidential after a newly-formed federal commission asked state elections officials for the records last month, according to the county Clerk and Recorder’s Office,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by President Donald Trump in May to determine if voter fraud is going undetected, has asked that states hand over personal voter data. Since then, at least 202 El Paso County voters have withdrawn their registrations, up from the 54 in the two weeks prior to the commission’s request. As of Wednesday, another 62 had opted to become “confidential voters” – a status held by about 1 percent of El Paso County’s roughly 443,000 voters.”

“Chalk up another milestone month for Colorado cannabis sales,” reports The Denver Post. “The $127.7 million worth of flower, edibles and concentrates purchased in May from the state’s marijuana shops didn’t set a record for monthly sales, though. That honor still goes to March of this year, when sales totaled $131.7 million, according to The Cannabist’s extrapolations of Colorado marijuana tax data. May’s benchmark, rather, is one of consistency. It marked the 12th consecutive month that Colorado marijuana sales topped $100 million.”

“Plea bargains are by far the most common way cases are settled in courts across the country,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Most research claims anywhere between 95 percent to 97 percent of criminal cases in America never go to trial. Instead, they are hashed out between prosecutors, defense attorneys and defendants. It’s a process in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a less serious charge in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to ask for a lighter sentence from a judge. This isn’t Hollywood’s version of criminal justice, with its courtroom drama and astonished juries. It is a realistic answer for a busy court system. Weld District Attorney Michael Rourke said by state law, prosecutors have to bring a case to trial within six months from the time a person pleads not guilty. This past year, Weld’s 28 prosecutors handled 2,645 felony cases in Weld District Court.”

“Savannah Edinger’s horses know her better than anyone else in the world,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “They are her best friends, confidants and protectors, whether it’s riding through fields or racing around barrels at rodeo competitions. Everyone who knows Savannah knows that she is tied to her horses, an irreplaceable connection that’s hard to explain but impossible to miss. So when her truck and horse trailer caught fire and crashed on Interstate 70 last week, she didn’t question whether she should run into a flame-engulfed horse trailer to save her animals. It was instinct.”

“Drones may be a key tool to the future of battling emerald ash borer and other blights that can impact the urban forest, and that buzzing some might have heard in southeast Boulder on Thursday was the sound of a team setting out to prove just that,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “From three separate locations south of Baseline Road and east of Foothills Parkway, a group of scientists and researchers sent drones as high as 335 feet over areas including ash trees showing varying levels of damage from the emerald ash borer, a invasive green jewel beetle that feeds on the ash tree species.”

“Aaden Valdez lost his eye and nearly his entire left hand,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “But he fully comprehends he could have lost a heck of a lot more. ‘It obviously could’ve been worse,’ he said. ‘I’m just happy to be alive.’ Valdez, 15, badly hurt in a horrific Fourth of July fireworks accident at his family’s Pueblo home, is back home. Even with the setbacks, he hasn’t lost sight of his goals. Valdez placed fifth at the state tournament as a freshman at East High School.”

“A Steamboat Springs lodging company is down one Suburban after the vehicle was ravaged by a bear Thursday morning,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Moving Mountains owner Robin Craigen said housekeepers left the car unlocked while they tended to a house on Temple Knoll off of Burgess Creek Road. The housekeepers had a surprise waiting for them when they returned to the Suburban.” The bear destroyed the inside of the car.

“Electric-assist bicycles could prove to be a preferred mode of alternative transportation for some commuters during the Grand Avenue bridge closure and detour that will be in place for 95 days starting Aug. 14 in Glenwood Springs,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “But a decision by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board whether to allow e-bikes on the Rio Grande Trail between Glenwood and Carbondale will have to wait until next month, just days ahead of the scheduled closure.”

“A local electricity provider is leasing nine acres south of the Larimer County landfill to build the largest solar farm in the region — a 6,000-panel, 1.95 megawatt facility,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Construction on the Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm should begin within two weeks, and the facility should be feeding power into the grid by mid-September, said David White, member relations manager for Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, which is building the solar farm. ‘It’s a much larger array” than PVREA’s existing solar facilities, said White. “It’s three times larger than the last one we built.'”

“As news spread of a 71-year-old cyclist killed in a Loveland crash earlier this week, bicycle safety across the region came into sharp focus,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “George Nelson of Loveland was the first cyclist to die on Larimer County roads this year. Last year, there were three cycling fatalities, and two in 2015. These crashes come amid Fort Collins, Loveland and county efforts to keep cyclists safe on the road.”

“The City of Cañon City will mail out surveys to a number of citizens in order to get public input on how it can work to improve the community,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “The surveys will be sent out to 1,500 households that will be randomly selected and will represent the demographics of Cañon City, a news release said. Surveys will be mailed out — twice — to residents from July 24 through Aug. 7 to ensure that every household that receives it will have enough time to fill it out. Last year, citizen surveys were sent out and contained standard questions about the community and city services.”

“The city attorney’s office is investigating an allegedly improper relationship between the city and a man whose design agency has been awarded more than $200,000 in Boulder contracts,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Mark Gelband, a citizen who already has one ethics complaint pending against city staffers and City Council members, alleges that Bob Morehouse, CEO of Vermilion Design + Digital, has violated contracts with the city by publicly advocating in favor of Boulder’s municipalization project. Additionally, Gelband claims the city was wrong to have awarded Vermilion a contract this spring for marketing materials related to a parking and shuttle program at Chautauqua, because Morehouse sits on the board of directors of the Colorado Chautauqua Association. City Manager Jane Brautigam acknowledged Gelband’s complaint in a June 30 email in which she stated, ‘I take these concerns seriously and have asked the city attorney’s office to investigate the matter.'”