The Home Front: Meet Benny the Booze organ, a ‘machine that combines music and cocktails’ in Durango

“The two most popular guests at a party are probably a robot and alcohol. One fascinates people and the other can make people fascinating. Ryan Finnigan, a mechanical tinkerer, is also likely popular,” reports The Durango Herald. “After all, he is the genius behind a machine that combines music and cocktails. And it’s named Benny the Booze Organ. With Benny, each note you play triggers a pour of alcohol. You have to approach the notes with care, because a melody could leave you with a tasty drink or an unpalatable drink. The organ is one of the electronic art pieces Finnigan built with friends to be used as performance pieces for events in town and also for Roboexotica, a contest in Vienna. Finnigan has also built other contraptions that mix robots and music. His beer orchestra is made up of musicians sipping drinks and completing an electric circuit to produce their part of the song.”

“Drug cases flood the 9th Judicial District, just like at courts across the country, but in Garfield County a different model of justice and response is thriving,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Garfield County’s Ray Combest Adult Drug Court recently won state accreditation from Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice for “outstanding evidence-based and proven effective practices.” The 9th’s recovery court, named for the late Combest, a previous chief probation officer and big supporter of the problem-solving court, was established in 2001.”

“Garfield County plans to launch a study to determine what portions of its air pollutants are attributable to oil and gas development, traffic and other sources,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The research would come in response not to a problem, but to a positive trend. The county’s air quality has been improving over the last decade, but public health experts up to now have only been able to speculate as to why. The county long has been conducting a robust program to monitor air quality, largely in response to oil and gas development occurring locally. County officials say monitoring results show the air is clean and getting cleaner. Some of that could be a result of the slowdown in drilling over the last decade, or due to tightened state air-pollution rules that have better controlled pollution even as the county’s overall active well count has grown. The reduction also could be thanks to cleaner-burning vehicles on the roads in a county bisected by Interstate 70.”

“When Leslie Exner’s daughters lost their dad, Gene Haffner was there to offer support. Haffner took them to get ice cream,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “He took them to concerts. “He knew they didn’t have a dad,” Exner said through tears, “and he stepped in there.” Haffner hired Exner when she first started working at North Colorado Medical Center. He was her manager and mentor, and he soon became an irreplaceable friend. ‘He’s helped so many people through crisis,’ Exner said.”

“Longmont is about to begin investigations of conditions and safety of all 17 plugged and abandoned oil and gas wells within its city limits,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. ‘There is no known threat,’ city officials said in a news release. ‘However, these investigations are being done out of an abundance of caution to confirm that there is no risk to the community.’ The first site selected for inspection is the recently plugged and abandoned Rider 1 well site west of County Line Road, east of Harlequin Drive and south of 17th Avenue. near Trail Ridge Middle School.”

“Chris Brower has driven about 180 miles each direction several times a week for more than a dozen summers, all for the sake of Summit County’s stomachs,” reports The Summit Daily News. “The Wildernest resident and his wife Suzanne own and operate farm stand locations in Frisco and Silverthorne named for his uncle — the first person to teach him about sustainable ranching practices and the value of eating locally produced fruits and vegetables. The couple of two decades now makes it their seasonal calling, spending countless hours traversing the Western Slope to offer the same to their community. “It can make for a long day,” said Brower, who estimates he and his wife each work an average of 60 hours per week during the summer. “We took one day off a week ago Sunday. It’s definitely a hustle, but it’s something we both believe in and we like good food.”

“A Colorado meteorologist who specializes in forecasting snowfall at ski areas is cautiously optimistic looking ahead to the coming season,” reports  The Steamboat Pilot. “Joel Gratz runs, a website that offers forecasts specific to ski areas in Colorado and throughout the United States. His goal has always been to provide fellow skiers with information they need to catch the best powder days on the slopes. Gratz last week sat down for a live Facebook webcast with a reporter at the Vail Daily. Gratz pulled up the long-term forecasts he has been closely watching.”

“Every year, a team of volunteers turns a section of Loveland into a holiday wonderland with decorations to spread the Christmas spirit,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Garland flames top the light posts along the south end of Lake Loveland, Santa Claus and other lighted creatures roost in Dwayne Webster Veterans Park, and a family of polar bears, minus the missing baby, bring smiles to the faces of residents during the holiday season. But the Winter Holiday Council, which formed in 1989 to spread the holiday season throughout Loveland, is down to four dedicated volunteers and in need of money to refurbish many of the much-loved decorations.”

“In an unusual ballot measure that walks uncharted constitutional ground, the Colorado Mountain College plans to ask voters in six counties for blanket approval to offset any future property tax cuts triggered by the Gallagher Amendment,” reports The Denver Post. “CMC’s board of trustees late last month approved the referred measure, which would give the board permission to raise property taxes any time the state constitution requires a cut to residential property assessments. The measure won’t erase the cut that Gallagher has already caused: an anticipated $2.78 million this fiscal year for the Glenwood Springs-based institution.”

The Coloradoan in Fort Collins examines what’s on the ballot for November.

A classic car show pushes a story about the Colorado governor’s race off the front page of Vail Daily this morning. “Colorado Democrats got together Friday in one of the only gatherings in the state to feature all five of their candidates for governor,” the paper reports. “While many recent issues made their way into the discourse, the Trump administration’s plans to end the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, dominated much of the conversation. The DACA program seeks to protect immigrants brought here by their parents at a young age.”

The Boulder Daily Camera covers PrideFest 2017.

“A ranch on the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park is the last place the Walton family was together and happy,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Army combat infantry veteran and PTSD sufferer Cpl. Brian Walton was not quite 40 years old when he died by suicide in the spring of 2016. Since then, his widow has found solace and purpose at Winding River Ranch, which hosts weddings when it is not serving as a retreat for military veterans and their families. There, along the banks of the Colorado River with mountain vistas in the background and flocks of geese honking overhead, Bonnie Walton has worked to build a band of brothers and sisters trained to help themselves and other former fighters to recognize and respond to the emotional crises that can tear families apart.”

“The turnout and goals for the inaugural Cañon City Out of the Darkness Community Walk exceeded everyone’s expectations,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “My dream was for it to be big, but I didn’t think we’d get this,” said Jessica Cobler, who spearheaded Saturday’s local walk on the Arkansas Riverwalk. Advertisement The fundraising walk was to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s local and national programs and its goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide by 20 percent before 2025.”