The Home Front: After a water rate hike some Colorado residents stopped watering their grass

“Durango residents Mary and Joe Shaw were shocked to receive a nearly $400 water bill in July 2016, prompting them to stop watering their lawn this summer,” reports The Durango Herald. The Shaws live at 1928 Crestview Drive, a house with a large front yard and backyard. They removed two trees from the property last summer and laid down sod in their place. But even then, the Shaws did not expect the cost to be significantly different. “The bill wasn’t anywhere near that high before,” Mary said. “Joe was told to water the sod every day, and that was probably a factor, but he watered it lightly each day.” The Durango City Council voted in 2014 to raise water and sewer rates starting in 2015, in part to pay for water infrastructure improvements. In 2015, water rates increased by 55 percent. The next two years, water rates increased 10 percent each year. The increases have led some residents to forego watering their lawns.”

“Do you like Tabasco sauce, consider yourself a lovable nerd or have an undying affection for Pepsi products? If so, expressing yourself, at least via personalized license plates, may be difficult,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “That’s because the Colorado Department of Revenue prohibits thousands of personalized license plate combinations, including Tabasco, God, Geeeek and Cokesux. There are many more, of course, as clerks at the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is part of the Department of Revenue, are given authority to judge the relative offensiveness of whatever plate combinations you request. They can ax the request unilaterally, or send it along to a shadowy ‘review panel,’ a rotating group of DMV management and county clerks. There’s even an internal guiding document that helps clerks spot offensive plates.”

“Larimer County is leading the state with the first perpetual water sharing agreement that keeps a farm in production and provides water for municipal use,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “This is a great new idea, and it’s going to allow us to have a greater hand in making sure agricultural land stays in production,” Commissioner Tom Donnelly said shortly before the elected commissioners approved the water agreement 3-0 on Tuesday. ‘This is the first step in exciting work that can be done for years to come.'”

“A witness told Longmont police that a homeless man set seven grass fires along the St. Vrain Greenway over the weekend in retaliation for ‘getting beat up,'” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Joshua Bolt, 39, who camps in Longmont, was arrested Monday afternoon after police received leads from witnesses describing a man in a walking boot riding a bicycle. Bolt’s bond was set at $50,000 during his first court appearance Tuesday at the Boulder County Jail. He is due back in court to be formally charged Aug. 3.”

“Grand Junction Regional Airport is on the hook for more than $108,000 in an award of attorney fees to two tenants whose whistleblower claim sparked an investigation that paralyzed the airport for more than a year,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello awarded the attorney fees to Dave Shepard and Bill Marvel, who filed a whistleblower suit in 2013 in connection with work being done at the airport, including construction of a fence along the airport’s western, eastern and southern borders. Ultimately, the airport was required to pay more than $500,000 back to the Federal Aviation Administration in connection with the fence project after it was determined that airport officials had falsely claimed compliance with federal planning regulations.”

“A recent mistake by the Routt County Treasurer’s Office deprived schools, libraries and dozens of other local taxing districts of nearly $6 million worth of their property tax revenue for more than two months,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Treasurer Brita Horn said the problem occurred in early May after the tax recipients received property tax payments for April 21 to April 30 instead of for the entire month. Some tax recipients who were shorted by the mistake worried about their financial situations when their initial payments were short by as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars of what they were expected to be.”

“In a unanimous vote during a special meeting Tuesday, the board of education of Pueblo City Schools (D60) approved a resolution accepting the recommendations of a mediating fact-finder and in doing so, granted cost-of-living increases to both the teachers and teacher assistants unions,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The COLAs — 1 percent for the Pueblo Education Association (teachers) and 2 percent for the Pueblo ParaProfessional Association (teacher assistants) — are retroactive to the 2016-17 school year, continuing into the future. Also approved was an increase in how much the district contributes to employee health insurance. While the two unions had requested an additional $80 per month per employee, the board sided with the fact-finder and OK’d a $50 monthly increase.”

“Whether a person makes wine as a hobby or as a full-time job, Fremont County residents have gathered for 12 years to have their wine critiqued and judged by their peers,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “On Tuesday night, red and white, sweet and dry wines were all represented as about 40 entries were present at the homemade contest, which is part of the Fremont County Fair.”

“It’s time for Jim Henriksen’s cottonwoods to come down. He has two in his south Fort Collins backyard,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “One is dead or dying; the other’s still kicking. Both are upward of 70 feet tall. Henriksen is tired of sweeping his yard for branches after storms, and he doesn’t want to worry about damaging his neighbor’s property or his own anymore. So this month, a certified arborist will come cut the trees down for $4,000.”

“President Donald Trump’s top health official on Tuesday hailed a Colorado-based nonprofit as an example of how to turn the tide on the nation’s raging opioid epidemic,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price toured Phoenix Multisport’s Colorado Springs gym Tuesday evening – praising its ability to help participants feel like “family” while providing a safe space to remain sober.”

“A fisherman discovered skeletal remains on Saturday near Gross Reservoir, and the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office and Boulder County Coroner’s Office are looking into whether the remains belong to Ryder Johnson, a Lafayette man who went missing in January 2016,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. ‘It is in the same general area where Ryder Johnson’s car was found,’ sheriff’s office Cmdr. Mike Wagner said. ‘We don’t know if it is him.'”

“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is preparing an executive order that would step up the city’s resistance to Trump administration immigration policies and create an immigrant legal defense fund, his advisers confirmed Tuesday,” reports The Denver Post. “To underline Denver’s stance, the new legal fund — operating mostly off donations to provide grants to nonprofits that aid immigrants facing removal proceedings — would operate through Jan. 20, 2021, the last day of President Donald Trump’s term. Hancock’s draft executive order, which his staff provided to The Denver Post, would make clear that local law enforcement and jail deputies cannot aid in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. It would bar them from allowing federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers into secure areas of jails and other buildings to arrest immigrants without a warrant, and they would not be allowed to maintain written information about foreign nationals being held in local jails.”