The Home Front: This year could be ‘the deadliest in El Paso County history’

“As Colorado Springs police investigate the city’s fourth shooting and second homicide in five days, the realization is starting to sink in: 2017 could become the deadliest in El Paso County history,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “The latest victim – found dead Monday night at a business on East Platte Avenue – is being investigated as the city’s 25th homicide. Those cases, combined with the county’s six killings, match the five-year average of 31. This year already has seen the fourth-most homicides over the past 10 years, with two months left in 2017. If the current pace of about three homicides a month holds, El Paso would end the year with 37 homicides, elevating it to the second-deadliest year on record, behind 2013’s 44 slayings.”

“A Denver-based independent expenditure committee that has spent more than any other entity on the Greeley City Council campaign has yet to file its donor report that was due Monday, an apparent violation of campaign finance laws,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The committee, Greeley for a Stronger Economy, has spent nearly $65,000 on television ads, mailers and other advertising, including the most recent mailers portraying three city council candidates as puppets of U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., who donated money to three council candidates. The committee was not required to disclose its revenue sources until Monday, leaving Greeley residents in the dark about who is trying to influence this year’s council election.”

“Chevron Pipe Line Co. will pay a $65,115 fine for state rule violations relating to a spill of nearly 5,000 gallons of oil outside Rangely,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The spill was discovered by Chevron personnel in early March. The oil traveled about 30 feet on the ground to two connected drainages, then mixed with runoff water, with the contaminated water traveling another 2 miles to a stormwater siphon about 1.5 miles west of Stinking Water Creek. Several small animals died in the incident, including two ducks that were discovered live but couldn’t be saved. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved the fine this week as part of a consent agreement with Chevron. It violated rules prohibiting pollution and requiring pressure testing of flowlines.”

“The St. Vrain Valley School District is getting an enrollment growth breather this school year,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Based on preliminary enrollment numbers, St. Vrain Valley is looking at a net student growth of about 250 students — though more students are expected to continue enrolling through the school year after the official October count. This year’s Oct. 2 enrollment count is used by the state to determine each district’s base funding, but district officials say all the new homes going up in the area mean many students show up in classrooms after that date. Typically, the fast-growing district has seen enrollment increase by 500 to 800 students a year. Last school year, growth was a little slower, with an increase of 400 students by October for a total enrollment of 31,104, not including preschool.”

“Starting Nov. 1, guests booking Airbnb stays within the Loveland city limits will pay an additional 3 percent lodging tax on their bills,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “A new agreement signed between the city and the popular short-term vacation rental site Sept. 6 has helped codify a portion of the vacation rental sharing economy that previously went unregulated. Under the agreement, Airbnb will collect a 3 percent lodging tax from renters booking stays in Loveland on behalf of the city government, and then remit that tax to the city, said Vincent Junglas, an assistant city attorney. Junglas said the city and Airbnb had been in talks to create the voluntary collection agreement since early spring. Airbnb bills already apply a 3 percent sales tax, a local marketing district tax, and a 2.9 percent Colorado state sales tax to the listing price plus any cleaning fees, according to figures reported by the company.”

“Workers moving to Steamboat Springs for the upcoming ski season again face high rents and even tighter living quarters,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “And that’s if they can even find a place they can afford in the city’s tight rental market. The average price of a room for rent in homes with multiple bedrooms in the city limits came out to be $893 a month in Tuesday’s Steamboat Today classified section. And there were only a handful of homes available to rent. And not counting one listing without a price tag from someone seeking a female roommate, there was only a single one-bedroom property currently listed for rent in the city for $1,200 a month at Walton Creek Village. The cheapest room rate for a group that could rent an entire home advertised in the paper was $775.”

“Data from an interactive map recently released by a Colorado law firm that specializes in DUI defense shows that Pueblo County has had the fewest DUI-related arrests per capita so far this year,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “According to the data, Pueblo County has a rate of 2.6 arrests per 1,000 residents for driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired, which marks the lowest per capita rate in the state. The next lowest rate is in the 2nd Judicial District — Denver County — where there have been 2.84 DUI/DWAI arrests per 1,000 residents.”

“It’s not easy to get three state governors in the same room for five minutes, let alone an hour. Colorado State University’s 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium pulled it off on Tuesday,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “The governors of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana took the stage of the Lory Student Center’s grand ballroom to talk about regional energy collaboration as renewable sources pick up steam and coal falters. From a masked protester to one of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s favorite words,” the paper has “a few takeaways from the panel discussion.”

“Opposition to Eagle County Ballot Issue 1A is growing as Election Day nears, while proponents maintain the programs it would fund are long overdue,” reports Vail Daily. “Like many squabbles, this one is about money and who gets it. The ballot issue proposes incremental sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana, the first $1.2 million annually of which would fund mental health programs in the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys. Some Eagle-Vail leaders say that since the lion’s share of Eagle County’s marijuana tax money is generated in their community — along the “Green Mile” commercial district on U.S. Highway 6 — they should get a bigger share. “Eagle County never has enough general revenue to fully fund Eagle-Vail public works. Revenue from a county tax on marijuana shops in Eagle-Vail can fix this problem,” attorney Darlynne Littman said in a letter to the Vail Daily.”

“Federal funding cuts to insurance offered by state health care exchanges have raised questions about the coverage that would be available next year,” reports The Durango Herald. “While some people will see prices change, Connect for Health Colorado customers will likely see fewer changes than those buying insurance through the federal government, said Luke Clarke, a spokesman for Connect for Health Colorado.”

“A former commander with the Cañon City Police Department was sentenced to unsupervised probation after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct Tuesday,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “William Ray, who resigned from his position at the CCPD on Sept. 27 after being placed on administrative leave, was charged with three counts of misconduct after an Aug. 26 incident. According to the charging document filed by the District Attorney’s Office, Ray, “a public servant, with intent to obtain a benefit for any person or maliciously cause harm to another, unlawfully and knowingly committed an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official function.” After the incident, Ray was placed on unpaid leave officially Sept. 6, and the CCPD handed over the internal investigation to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.”

“Boulder transportation officials are eyeing potentially major street realignments along the 30th Street and Colorado Boulevard corridors — some of which could include reduced vehicle lanes and new dedicated space for bikes and buses,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “No decisions have been made yet. In fact, planners have put forth more than a dozen conceptual designs for various realignments in the near radius of the 30th and Colorado intersection. But there’s a recognition from planners that the area around that key intersection is changing — particularly as Boulder Junction, to the north, and the University of Colorado’s East Campus are built out — and perhaps transportation patterns should change, too.”

“As open enrollment kicks off on Colorado’s health insurance exchange Wednesday, people who buy coverage on their own could be in for a surprise: dramatically lower prices for some and higher prices for others,” reports The Denver Post. “While underlying premiums will climb more than 30 percent, in part because of a Trump administration decision to end key payments to insurers, what many people will actually end up paying is expected to drop. That’s because the amount available in federal tax credits to help pay premiums is also rising. The state Division of Insurance estimates that for people whose incomes are low enough to make them eligible for tax credits, the net cost of premiums will decline by 20 percent this year. As a result, the leaders of Connect for Health Colorado — the state’s online exchange for people shopping for their own health insurance plan — say they are expecting enrollment this year to remain steady.”

“Colorado Politics told you three weeks ago that the state’s arcade trade association filed open-records requests to get more information about what prompted police raids that alleged gambling at a handful of Front Range arcades,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “Tuesday the Colorado Skill Games & Entertainment Association provided an update, and it’s not exactly a win for the First Amendment or swift justice. “Since then, those entities have not provided the relevant production in the time frame required by law, and some agencies have responded by refusing to provide any relevant information,” the association said in a statement.”

“Theodore Oyler has gone to extremes to keep his five Denver properties in historic condition, from hardwood floors to clawfoot tubs,” reports Denverite. “This month, however, he discovered that neither he nor his lawyer could stop the rapid spread of a new technology through Denver’s oldest neighborhoods. On Oct. 12, Oyler noticed a crew drilling horizontally near the sidewalk outside his Dalton Apartments building in Cheesman Park. “It was just a fluke that we even saw it,” he explained. When he talked to a worker, he learned that they were building a miniature cell tower — 30 feet tall and skinny enough to fit between the sidewalk and the street.”