The Home Front: A ‘wave’ of troops leave Colorado for America’s ‘longest-running war’

“Rifles in hand, troops from Fort Carson’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team boarded a plane on Thursday bound for the United States’ longest-running war,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “‘They understand the mission,’ said Col. David Zinn, the brigade’s commander. ‘And we’re deploying to Afghanistan to have an impact.’ The soldiers are among a wave of Fort Carson troops heading to Afghanistan this year in a bid to help move the needle on a war entering its 17th year. Expected to join the brigade are the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the division’s headquarters, commanded by Maj. Gen. Randy George. The deployments come as President Donald Trump tries to end a conflict that has dragged across three White House administrations.”

“There is life after death for Colorado’s forests,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “But to get there, the people who manage them must solve an economic quandary. Colorado’s 834 million dead trees can start anew as your favorite rocking chair, the mulch in your garden, heat for Front Range cities — you name it. The problem is: The cost of removing and transporting them can dwarf the worth of their wood. Dead standing trees make up about 1 in 15 standing trees on Colorado’s 24.4 million forested acres, according to 2016 data from the Colorado State Forest Service. And in 2017, invasive pests like the spruce beetle continued to whittle away the state’s forests. The spruce beetle infested 206,000 acres last year, bringing the pest’s toll to 1.78 million acres since 1996.”

“It has been nearly a year since the fatal Firestone home explosion, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has refined some of its definitions and updated flowline registration requirements to prevent more such incidents,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Days after the explosion, Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered inspections and tests of all active and abandoned gas pipelines within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings. The Firestone home explosion was linked to an abandoned flowline. The flowline was an oil and gas return line connected to an active well, but severed from anything else. Methane gas seeped into home from the abandoned line. After months of gathering data from operators throughout the state, the COGCC approved of rules changes for registration requirements regarding off location flowlines, crude oil transfer lines, produced water transfer systems and domestic taps. “The goal is to, by the end of the month, get initial training out to operators and implementation by May 1,” explained COGCC Engineering Manager Stuart Ellsworth at the monthly Garfield County Energy Advisory Board meeting in Rifle Thursday.

“Every day, Jessica Pimentel juggles her pursuit of a higher-education master’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado with mentoring UNC’s many students who are undocumented immigrants and helping undocumented high-schoolers get into college,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “She’s so good at this because she’s one of them. Pimentel is among the 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients in the U.S. and the 17,300 in Colorado whose futures are uncertain. DACA, the program enacted in 2012 that gives children who immigrated to the U.S. without documentation temporary work permits if they’re in school and haven’t been convicted of a crime, has helped put Pimentel on the cusp of a graduate degree. But since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the program in September 2017, recipients such as Pimentel have been caught between an administration that doesn’t seem to want them in the U.S. and a Congress that has been unable to enact any legislation that would keep them here permanently.”

“Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein is lobbying for a change in state law that could have kept a Grand Junction child molester in prison, while also urging voters to ‘take action’ at the next appropriate judicial election,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Rubinstein made his comments in a Facebook post about this week’s release of 46-year-old Michael McFadden from the Colorado Department of Corrections, after an appellate ruling that held his right to a speedy trial under Colorado law had been violated. Rubinstein is suggesting a change to state law that would prohibit dismissal of a criminal case if a trial court determines that violation of the state’s speedy-trial rule is necessary to protect any constitutional right.”

“Clara Shipp, 5, has been on two Flight for Life helicopter rides, countless trips in the ambulance, a medically-induced coma and several stints in intensive care units, but she still has an infectious smile,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “That’s what makes Clara the 2018 Happy Smackah, the beneficiary of the annual Happy Smackah 5K run set for May 12.”

“Law enforcement agencies conducted raids at several homes in Firestone and Frederick on Thursday as part of what the Drug Enforcement Agency said was an operation underway across the Denver metro area,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Spokesman Randy Ladd said DEA agents and officers from the North Metro and West Metro drug task forces were conducting police operations at various locations across the Denver metro area Thursday as part of an investigation into violations of federal and state laws. Because of the ongoing nature of the investigation, Ladd said he could not provide any more details. While numerous witnesses and social media accounts described large amounts of what appeared to be marijuana plants being taken out of various homes in Firestone and Frederick, Ladd said he could not confirm the operation involved marijuana enforcement.”

“After slightly fewer than 10 years in business, Absolute Vinyl Records & Stereo will close its doors at the end of March,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. ‘We’ve served thousands of customers and sold close to 100,000 records and well over 2,000 pieces of stereo equipment,’ said Doug Gaddy, who co-owns the shop with his wife, Annie Gaddy. ‘I don’t know how those numbers stack up against other stores. But it’s something I can look on and say I’m really pleased with what we were able to provide.’ He said that he has sold records in one fashion or another — he used eBay the first year it existed and split his first table at a record show in either 1984 or 1985 — for more than three decades, and he opened Absolute Vinyl, in part, because Boulder was losing independent record shops. (After he closes, the city will have Albums on the Hill and Bart’s Records.)”

“Less than 24 hours before the Colorado House of Representatives will be asked to take a first-in-a-century vote to expel a lawmaker from office, more than two dozen representatives still wouldn’t say how they would vote on the fate of Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock,” reports The Denver Post. “This is an impossible position to be in,” said Rep. Yuelin Willett, R-Grand Junction, who opposes the vote to eject Lebsock. “…People’s lives are in the balance here, it’s important that we get this right.” But a day that began with Willett pleading with House lawmakers to tap the brakes on the pending vote over sexual harassment complaints quickly devolved into political bedlam.”

“Think bowling, but with a deadly weapon,” reports The Durango Herald. “’This really is like a bowling league,’ said Ron Thompson. “Except we hurl sharp things that fly.” Since 1987, the locally owned Goods for the Woods outdoor retailer in Durango, located in Bodo Industrial Park in Durango, has been providing outdoorsmen and women with all their firearm and archery needs. The store, since its inception, has been owned by a mother and son team, Jane Gustafson and Seth Taylor. The duo even decided to branch out this past year, opening a shop in Cortez. But when the doors close and lights go down around 6:30 p.m. after the working day is done in Durango, the store transforms into a sort of bowling alley for bow hunters.”

“Humans have played a big part in the decline of local wildlife herds. Humans will have to play a role in re-building them,” reports Vail Daily. “The Vail Planning and Environmental Commission on Monday, Feb. 26, heard an overview of the state of local wildlife from a pair of officers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. After that presentation, commission members asked what the town can do. Wildlife herds in Eagle County have been on a steady decline for the past 15 years or so.”

“Feeling ignored and concerned about their futures, Hayden High School students came to class Thursday, but they did not stay long,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “‘I said the Pledge of Allegiance and then we all walked out,” junior Thalia Carbajal said. “The idea was to walk out and protest.” The students were aware of protests occurring across the country in response to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, but the cause in Hayden was different. “They’re fighting for their reasons, and we’re fighting for ours,” Carbajal said. The students and some teachers do not believe their voices were heard when Hayden Superintendent Christy Sinner decided last week to make a significant change to the school schedule.”

“The Frisco Town Council is considering an overhaul of its short-term rental regulations after receiving estimates that only half of town properties listed on sites like Airbnb and Homeaway are in compliance with current licensing rules,” reports Summit Daily. “The most likely change, which could take effect by November, would scrap “umbrella licensing,” which allows property management companies to list their entire short-term rental portfolios under a single license. That leaves thousands of revenue dollars on the table and prevents the town from precisely monitoring STR numbers.”

“For the last 105 years, people have walked or driven past the vacant little stone jail on South Fourth Street, but few have gone inside until just a few years ago,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “To ensure the Prospect Heights Jail at 1307 S. Fourth St. will stand for another 100 years, the Fremont County Historical Society has partnered with Mountain Masonry to fix its deteriorating foundation and enhance its stabilization. Crews began work Feb. 19 and plan to wrap up this week. “This (jail) is part of the local mine history, the smelter history and the quarry history,” said Carol McNew, chair of the FCHS. “The bricks they used were probably from W.C. Catlin’s brickyard that was just down over the hill.'”

“The political tug of war over the Columbus Day holiday resumed this week in the General Assembly when a House committee narrowly approved a bill to establish an Election Day holiday for state workers instead,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “House Bill 1231 is the latest offering in the ongoing battle between the Italian-American community and groups who argue that honoring Columbus ignores the widespread death and devastation that Europeans brought to native American populations. The House Local Government Committee listened to three hours of passionate, if familiar, testimony from all sides Wednesday afternoon before approving the bill on a 7-6 vote. It was a bill that broke partisan lines.”

“The Logan County Economic Development Corporation held its annual meeting on Feb. 22, 2018. Heather Brungardt, president, thanked the LCEDC membership and board of directors for continued support and engagement,” reports The Sterling Journal-Advocate. “2017 highlights included over 20 new businesses opening in Logan County and a stronger economy than in 2016. Rich Robirds, treasurer, presented the financial report and noted sale of the Woolworth building for future development, along with an increase in member contributions to support LCEDC’s mission. Trae Miller, executive director, presented 2017 economic data and trends that support the strengthening economy. County and city of Sterling sales and lodging tax collections plus property tax valuations are higher. Businesses are experiencing workforce challenges as the county unemployment rate in December 2017 was 2.4 percent. The labor force has grown 5.6 percent through the year to 11,263 people.”

“In October of 2017, Presbytery of Denver, a group of Presbyterian congregations around Colorado, sold a church property on 1700 South Grant Street to Revesco Properties for $3.15 million,” reports Denverite. “Around the time of the sale, executives from Revesco spoke with BusinessDen about their inclination to turn the building into condos. In order to pursue their condo goals, Revesco Properties needed to rezone the building from single-family use to something more applicable to their vision. Rezoning land is no easy feat. It’s a complicated process, and it takes the approval of a plethora of community stakeholders. We still don’t know the official plan for the building on Grant Street, but we do know the transaction was a part of a larger trend of Denver’s churches being sold.”

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