The Home Front: Multiple Colorado communities grapple with ‘a surge in drilling permits’

“Whether local governments should have more say over oil and gas drilling remained a potent issue this week at the ballot box and at the municipal dais, with multiple Front Range communities grappling with how to handle a surge in drilling permits,” reports The Denver Post. “Voters in Broomfield on Tuesday approved by a 57 percent margin giving their government more authority over the industry. Industry forces said the ballot initiative in Broomfield was not in compliance with state law and was sure to invite costly litigation that taxpayers would have to pay. Even though the courts have ruled that state power to regulate the industry trumps local measures, local residents continue to push local elected officials for action at a time when oil and gas interests also have mobilized themselves politically.”

“Campaign officials for two Greeley City Council Ward 2 candidates have mobilized, obtaining voter information for 14 voters with so far uncounted ballots in a city council race separated by just six votes,” reports The Greely Tribune. “Ward 2 candidates Brett Payton and Lavonna Longwell had their campaigns obtain the voter data Tuesday, Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes said. They won’t be able to change those voters’ decisions, but they can encourage them to fix issues with their ballots, namely missing or indecipherable signatures. The so-called “curing” process will last until 5 p.m. Wednesday, and it could make a difference in the razor-thin council race.”

“More than 300 employees of Capco Inc. were to return to work today after they were sent home Wednesday when federal agents searched the building belonging to the Grand Junction-based Department of Defense contractor,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “No arrests were expected immediately in the case, which arose out of a sealed court record, said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver. No other details about the case will be released, Dorschner said.”

“An oil well near Berthoud that was capped in 1984 and began spilling drilling mud late last month should be recapped within the next week,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Crews on Wednesday began the process of sealing the old well in the 2500 block of East Colo. 60 with several layers of concrete plugs to be topped off with a steel plate, according to information from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. ‘They have mobilized a plugging rig at the location,’ said Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. ‘I assume that they are going to install/repair what happened there with today’s technology.'”

“After the Pueblo County jail ballot initiative failed Tuesday, Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz said Wednesday that he will continue to look for solutions to the overcrowded facility,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “He said he also will continue to work to protect the county from potential litigation. Ballot Question 1A was failing Wednesday, 20,334 no votes to 17,557 yes votes, with only 307 provisional votes left to count.”

“When Carlos Acosta arrived in Steamboat Springs in December 2016, he knew he would have a job, a steady source of income to support himself and a little extra to send back to his family in Puerto Rico,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “But it’s the things he never expected that have made Steamboat feel like home. “It’s the feeling that the people here in Steamboat have reached out, and even before this happened, they have reached out to us and made us feel at home,” Acosta said. “They have just been very helpful and very welcoming here in Steamboat. It’s uplifting that we can arrive at a place and be totally unknown, and then within a couple of months, we are knee deep in the community.” He says the support he has received in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island he calls home, has been overwhelming. Those feelings are shared by many in Steamboat’s Puerto Rican community, which has grown the past several years as the hospitality industry reaches beyond the city limits to fill positions.”

“A male bighorn sheep was spotted around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in west Loveland outside the Group Publishing office building, 1515 Cascade Ave,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Bighorn sheep sightings that far into human population centers are rare, but the ram likely came from the Big Thompson Canyon, said Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “There aren’t very large herds, but there are bighorn sheep up that way in the canyon,” Churchill said. “Normally they keep to themselves, they stick to their herds.” Churchill advised residents who see the ram to keep their distance and avoid offering it any food. “Sheep who get used to people will approach. Even though they can appear tame, if we respect our wildlife we should let it remain wild,” Churchill said.”

“The day after Election Day, Chris Lindley was smiling as he picked up campaign signs,” reports Vail Daily. “It’ll be his easiest task for the foreseeable future, after helping pass Eagle County’s new marijuana tax. Ballot Measure 1A passed with 8,151 votes, 74 percent of the 11,056 ballots cast in the Tuesday, Nov. 7, election. “This is the first step. We passed the tax, but now the real work begins,” Lindley, Eagle County’s human services director, said Wednesday, Nov. 8. “I think it’s clear that the community has spoken.” The countywide tax on recreational marijuana could generate an estimated $2 million annually for Eagle County’s coffers. Of that, the first $1.2 million is supposed to be spent on mental health and substance abuse programs in the Eagle River and Roaring Fork valleys.”

“If you hated this week’s cold snap and find no bliss in blizzards, you’re going to love the seasonal predictions for this winter,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Northern Colorado is poised for a warmer winter than usual, with little promise for big snowstorms, forecasters say. Here’s the rundown for non-weather-geeks: Forecasters say we’ll likely see a weak La Nina this winter, which means the Pacific Ocean near the equator will be slightly chillier than usual for a prolonged period of time.”

“Proponents of the proposed lodging tax increase say they are disappointed the issue failed in Tuesday’s election, but they’re not disheartened,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “We’ve got a great city council, and we’ve got a really good city staff — (the loss) is a setback, but it’s not the end of the road,” said Dennis Wied, a member of the Citizens for Tourism and Economic Development and retiring city council member. “We’ve already put together a new plan that will have to be run by all the members of city council.” The issue lost by 180 votes with 51.94 percent against and 48.06 percent in favor of the increase. It’s the one tax that is not paid by local residents, but by visitors to short-term lodging facilities, including hotels, motels, campgrounds and vacation rentals.”

“An activist associated with the group Boulder County Protectors was cited by police Tuesday night for projecting the image of a skull and crossbones along with the words “Ban Fracking!” onto the exterior wall of the old courthouse off the Pearl Street Mall,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Boulder County Attorney Ben Pearlman, who police said directed them to issue the trespassing ticket, said the image and phrase violated the county’s building-use policy. But a legal expert with the American Civil Liberties Union said the man was within his constitutional rights. “I think that it looks like this ticket was issued in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado’s legal director. Members of Boulder County Protectors, the group that hung an anti-fracking banner on the Flatirons last month, were protesting outside the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., during Boulder’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the city’s open space program.”

“When John Suthers was elected Colorado Springs mayor in 2015, he said he inherited crumbling roads and long-neglected stormwater infrastructure,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “A $1 billion deficit in infrastructure needs, along with short-staffed police and fire departments and unsatisfactory emergency response times, represented a significant liability for the city and a safety risk for residents. So the conservative mayor, a former Colorado attorney general and self-proclaimed “limited government guy” took the most realistic route he could see: he asked for money. Tuesday night, voters approved Suthers’ third and largest request, a controversial set of stormwater fees.”

“Local election followup stories pushed this one off the front page of The Durango Herald: “Police are investigating what appears to be a hate crime in the Three Springs subdivision and elsewhere in Durango, where several swastikas have appeared,” the paper reports. “A large swastika was drawn onto a garage door sometime around Sept. 21 in the 400 block of Clear Spring Drive, in the Three Springs subdivision, said Cmdr. Ray Shupe, with the Durango Police Department. After further investigation, police learned of two similar incidents at the same residence that went unreported, he said. The people who were targeted are Jewish, Shupe said. Another incident occurred Friday in the Animas Surgical Center parking lot, south of downtown Durango, where a swastika was scratched into the side of Kassi Uptain’s Toyota Tundra.”