The Home Front: Denver man must pay $53k for firing explosive tracer rounds that started the Frey Gulch wildfire

“It’s been more than a year since a man from Denver made a fateful trip to the Summit County Shooting Range near Dillon, where he fired explosive tracer rounds that ignited the 22-acre Frey Gulch Fire,” reports Summit Daily. Tracer rounds are prohibited at the range, but it wasn’t the first time they had started a fire; in 2012 they were believed to have whipped up a small, 0.66-acre fire, although it was quickly extinguished. By all accounts, Bryson Robert Jones, the man whose specialty ammo started the Frey Gulch Fire on Oct. 8 last year, was shocked and horrified when the fire started. He immediately took responsibility when first responders arrived and was sick with anxiety and grief, according to incident reports. Nonetheless, he was ordered by the Summit County Court to pay nearly $53,000 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service, underscoring the potentially enormous cost of even an honest mistake if it happens to cause a wildfire.”

“By his own admission on the witness stand Wednesday afternoon, October 2016 was a rough month for former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve Curtis,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “It was the month during which he is accused of committing voter fraud and forgery, after he filled out his ex-wife’s ballot and mailed it in. She had recently moved out of their Firestone home, and, at that time, she lived in Charleston, S.C. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison. Yet, Curtis said in court Wednesday, though he concluded he must have filled out the ballot and submitted it in an envelope with his ex-wife’s name on it, he had no memory of the incident for months. That’s because, he said, he was in the grips of a severe diabetic episode at the time. He’s lived with Type 1 diabetes for almost 30 years, he said, and it is a very debilitating condition. He has difficulty concentrating, he said, and difficulty sleeping. If he gets more than 90 minutes of sleep at one time in a night, he said, it’s a “miracle.” “When it’s really erratic it’s ridiculous how stupid I sound. … I think I just appear like a moron really,” he said.”

“At least a dozen explosions have occurred on Colorado oil and gas industry facilities in the eight months since two men were killed when a home blew up in Firestone, a Denver Post review of state records found,” reports The Denver Post. “Two of those explosions killed workers. The state has not taken any enforcement action in the April 17 Firestone deaths, saying there is no rule — and none is proposed — covering oil and gas industry accidents that lead to fatalities. Colorado oil and gas industry regulators have responded to the Firestone disaster by proposing modifications of existing rules — to be hashed out in meetings next month — for pipelines under well pads that they call “flowlines.” But none of the changes deals with industrial accidents that result in deaths. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, set up by lawmakers to ensure orderly extraction of oil and gas consistent with environmental protection and public safety, lacks the authority to punish companies for fatal explosions, agency spokesman Todd Hartman said.”

“The anti-fracking activist ticketed for projecting a skull and crossbones onto the wall of the courthouse on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall has asked a judge to throw the case out, arguing his actions broke no law and were protected by the Constitution,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “David Paul, 54, was cited by Boulder police for trespassing after officers say he beamed an image of a skull and crossbones along with the words “Ban Fracking!” onto the courthouse building, which houses Boulder County government offices. He was protesting with the group Boulder County Protectors outside the adjacent Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., during Boulder’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the city’s open space program on Nov. 7. The motion to dismiss indicated prosecutors have since sought permission to amend the charge to unlawfully posting signs on the property of another. On Wednesday, a judge granted that request.”

“The number of people deported from Colorado and Wyoming increased by close to 150 percent in the fiscal year 2017, according to new statistics from the Department of Homeland Security,” reports Denverite. “It was the highest rate of increase among the nation’s 25 immigration enforcement areas, and it demonstrates that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is shifting its attention to the interior states. In some cases, ICE has arrested people at courthouses and in other “low-hanging” situations, according to Jennifer Kain-Rios, an independent immigration attorney. “We’re seeing basically indiscriminate enforcement,” she told Denverite earlier this year.”

“The Western Slope’s population will grow by approximately two-thirds by 2050 with Mesa County accounting for a quarter of that increase and surpassing 230,000 residents during that span, according to forecasts from the State Demographer’s Office,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “During that time, Mesa County is slated to surpass Pueblo County to become the 10th largest in the state, but its growth still lags behind the likes of Weld County, which is expected to see a big surge and more than double in population. El Paso County is expected to become the state’s most populous county, passing Denver around 2035. The State Demographer’s Office released its estimates looking out to 2050 at its annual summit in early November and estimates Mesa County’s population will reach 236,554 by 2050. The Western slope is slated to reach 942,463 people — an increase of 67.2 percent — during that time, up from 563,766 in 2015. Mesa County’s 2015 population came in at 149,023. The state as a whole is estimated to gain more than 3 million residents by 2050, surging to approximately 8.46 million people.”

“In an effort to help keep Loveland’s infrastructure on pace with growth, the City Council voted Tuesday night to allow annual increases to most capital expansion fees charged to development within city limits,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Capital expansion fees provide a source of funding for new and expanded facilities associated with population growth in an area. Loveland’s 10 types of CEFs, also known as impact fees, help fund public services and infrastructure like roads, community parks, libraries, emergency medical services, fire and police. A change is necessary because the level of fees now being collected is 75 to 80 percent of the level needed to keep up with the higher costs of service, a council memo states. Fees at this level will cause a delay in capital projects, the memo says.”

“After months of staff work and hours of public debate, the Vail Town Council on Tuesday, Dec. 5, gave unanimous final approval to an ordinance regulating short-term rentals in town,” reports Vail Daily. “While the regulations prompted plenty of discussion and debate, property rights dominated Tuesday’s discussion. The ordinance on first reading contained a requirement for duplex owners to get the consent of their neighbors before putting units with shared property into the short-term rental pool. That requirement was dropped on second reading. The idea of duplex owners’ property rights — and whose rights might hold sway in the regulations — divided both council members and residents who spoke Tuesday.”

“The Old Town smoking ban remains in place, though violators won’t face as severe a penalty,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “The Fort Collins City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday night to leave the ban in place. Mayor Wade Troxell was absent. Only Councilmember Kristin Stephens offered any support for designated smoking areas, and that was only to move the clouds of smoke away from thoroughfares. ‘We already have these de facto smoking areas,” Stephens said. “Everyone knows where people duck into an alley or duck into a parking garage … I think if we have a way we can corral people into where they can smoke, it makes (the ban) more enforceable.'”

“A new master plan the city of Steamboat Springs is starting to draft could someday have significant impacts on park users ranging from tubers to softball players to joggers and cyclists on the Yampa River Core Trail,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The $150,000 plan will outline a 10-year vision for the vast portfolio of the city’s parks, recreation, open space, river and trails. It will also aim to answer more specific questions like whether the city should change any regulations on tubing in the Yampa River and whether the Core Trail should be extended to the west and south.”

“Boulder and Xcel Energy have avoided trial related to a lawsuit the city filed this summer in U.S. District Court in Denver, as the two sides agreed to a settlement that will see the company pay Boulder $3.6 million for removal of dangerous chemicals in the 13th Street Plaza,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The City Council approved the settlement in the lawsuit, filed in July, late Tuesday night. It is unrelated to Boulder’s ongoing bid to separate from Xcel and form a municipal electric utility. From 1902 to 1952, the property surrounding 13th Street and Canyon Boulevard was owned by the Federal Gas Co., which operated a coal gasification plant that produced fuel for heaters and lanterns. The plant, which was owned by the Public Service Co. of Colorado, an affiliate of Xcel Energy, was torn down by the early 1960s, then used mainly for parking until Boulder started redeveloping it in 1995. Potential hazards on the site weren’t publicly discussed for decades, but six monitoring wells installed in 2010 revealed the presence of benzene and naphthalene.”

“U.S. Rep. Jared Polis said Wednesday he supported a failed House resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump because he believes it’s time for an ‘honest discussion’ about the president’s fitness for office.,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “Polis, a Boulder Democrat and candidate for governor, was one of just 58 votes — all Democrats — in favor of opening debate on an impeachment resolution sponsored by Rep. Al Green of Texas. The resolution drew opposition from twice as many Democrats as supported it, and from every Republican, and was defeated by an overwhelming 364-58 vote. House Democratic leaders said in a statement before the vote that while “legitimate questions have been raised about his fitness to lead this nation,” now wasn’t the time to consider impeaching Trump. Polis disagreed. Citing what he called regular revelations that raise questions about Trump’s “truthfulness, his integrity, and his ability to lead,” Polis said in a written statement, ‘Congress cannot continue to pretend that the president’s behavior isn’t putting our republic at risk. This is a debate that must happen NOW for the good of our country.'”

“Short on answers for how to revitalize southeast Colorado Springs, residents Whitney Pacheco and Steven Deluna said the next step must be for them to get involved,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “I don’t feel like we got a whole lot of answers other than “We’re trying,” Pacheco said after a panel hosted by The Gazette Wednesday evening, which focused on the problems plaguing the southeast part of the city. “I’m still wondering what they’re going to do here?” The panel discussion attended by about 75 people was held in response to The Gazette’s recent five-day series on how the southeast has failed to share in Colorado Springs’ prosperity. The area, home to 94,000 people, wrestles with high levels of poverty and crime while most of the city has record low unemployment, a strong economy and a hot real estate market.”

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