The Home Front: Millions ‘left on Washington’s table’ for federal food aid in Summit County

“Millions of dollars in federal funds were left on Washington’s table again last year, as Summit County’s enrollment rate for federal food aid remains dramatically low compared to state and national enrollment rates,” reports Summit Daily. “That is money that could otherwise provide proper nutrition for Summit families, as well as help boost the local economy. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, is a federal program providing food-funding assistance to low-income families. Assistance is income-based, and eligibility is restricted to persons with an income level at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. For an individual, the eligible gross monthly income is $1,307 or less, while a family of four needs to earn $2,665 or less to qualify. SNAP can only be used to buy basic food stuffs, like grains, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, but cannot be used to buy cigarettes, alcohol or other non-food items.”

“State investigators examining the free-fall death of a Grand Junction woman at an indoor recreation park in January were unable to determine how she disconnected from a device, according to a final report released Tuesday,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The detailed but largely inconclusive investigation by the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety determined a carabiner was at least partially attached to 20-year-old Ciara Romero before she jumped from the so-called Silo Cave Jump attraction at Get Air at The Silo. The report said she could have inadvertently opened the device, or that equipment on her harness could have caused friction to compromise or open the device, causing the fall, or that a lack of tension on the line could have caused the carabiner ‘to become improperly connected or disconnected.'”

“Candidates running for four Carbondale Board of Trustees seats that are up for election April 3 had a chance to address some of the pressing concerns facing the town at an election forum Monday night,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Incumbent Trustees Erica Sparhawk, Heather Henry and Luis Yllanes, all of whom were appointed in recent years to their respective seats, are running for election. Joining them in the campaign are candidates Lani Kitching and April Spaulding. In addition, Mayor Dan Richardson is running unopposed for re-election. Current Trustee Frosty Merriott is term-limited, so his seat on the seven-member town board is up, as well. Of the five trustee candidates, the four who get the highest number of votes will be elected to the board.”

“While Democrats and Republicans may disagree on a wide range of policy issues, voters gathered for caucuses Tuesday evening in Longmont generally agreed on a couple of things: Members of both of the major political parties called for more participation in the electoral process and less divisiveness in political discourse,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “‘We are in such a volatile situation right now where people think it’s OK to hate someone just because they believe differently,’ Boulder County Republican Chairwoman Peg Cage said prior to addressing a group of roughly 30 voters caucusing at Longmont’s Westview Middle School. ‘It’s just wrong.'”

“Less than three weeks after the fatal school shootings in Parkland, Florida, the Steamboat Springs Board of Education tentatively gave its blessing Monday to modify the security measures at the entrance to Steamboat Springs High School at 45 Maple St,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The plan involves creating a vestibule within the main entrance so a school employee can engage visitors and students returning to the building face to face, and at the same time, have a view of the parking lot. That would also allow the person to see in advance who is approaching the high school.”

“If the 2016 Democratic caucuses in Fort Collins were pressure cookers, 2018’s were akin to gently steaming water,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “No roiling, no bubbling and certainly no trying to blow the lid off the joint. About 80 Democrats showed up at Traut Elementary School in southeast Fort Collins, one of the caucus sites with the most precincts. Congressional hopeful Joe Neguse even made an appearance, where he led the pledge of allegiance. But no one ended up in trees, and no one ended up gathering their precinct outside, which is what happened in 2016.”

“Local residents and business owners urged City Council here to scrutinize a new franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy due to concerns about unfair fees,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The city’s 25-year franchise agreement with the electric provider ended last November. A new lease is in the works and will be decided by voters during a yet to be scheduled special election this year. Rhonda Schirado, owner of Prospectors RV Park, blasted the utility for imposing ‘an arbitrary deposit fee’ this year even though she and her husband have owned the park for four years.”

“Larimer County saw a record number of deaths in 2017, according to the county coroner’s annual report, though data show trend reversals in reported suicides, homicides, drug overdoses and DUI vehicle accidents,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “According to the recently released report by the county’s chief [medical] examiner, James Wilkerson, 2,771 deaths took place in the county last year, compared to 2,532 deaths in 2016, a 9.4 percent increase. The county saw an increase in deaths of 3 percent between 2015 and 2016, and of 7 percent between 2014 and 2015. Moreover, despite the uptick in deaths, Wilkerson stated that fewer cases required autopsies and/or toxicology reports. Of the 2,771 deaths, only 233 cases required such reports. In 2016, coroners performed autopsies and/or toxicology reports on 259 cases. The amount of medical examination cases also saw a minor decrease. The Medical Examiner’s Office assumes jurisdiction over cases that are not as clear-cut as those in nursing homes, hospice care or with fatal diseases.”

“With the exception of Costco, the town of Gypsum doesn’t really have a wealth of retail opportunities,” reports Vail Daily. “But it could, according to consultant Aaron Farmer, of The Retail Coach. “I think the prospects for Gypsum look good,” Farmer said. “Obviously Coscto is a blessing to Gypsum, and I think we can play off its regional draw.” Farmer delivered his optimistic report to members of the Gypsum Town Council last week. Late last year, the town hired The Retail Coach to examine the community’s current retail status, determine opportunities and ultimately reach out to national companies. The Retail Coach is a national group based out of Mississippi that works with communities to identify market-feasible local and regional retail opportunities and develop retail-development strategies.”

“Republicans and Democrats voiced their political passions and weighed in on numerous issues at caucuses Tuesday evening across La Plata County,” reports The Durango Herald. “The focus of the neighborhood-level meetings was on electing delegates to attend county assemblies, the crowded governor’s race and adopting resolutions. Resolutions to boost school security, to require district voting for county commissions and to limit the power of the federal government all cleared Republican Party precinct caucuses. In Precinct 32, 14 attendees at Florida Mesa Elementary School agreed to introduce a resolution that would allow properly trained teachers and staff members to obtain a concealed-carry permit to be armed at school.”

“Stormwater utility fees will be the topic of Wednesday’s General Government meeting. The Cañon City Council voted to table second reading of an ordinance that would double stormwater fees during a February meeting so city staff could gather an in-depth spending analysis from previous years,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “The city has identified a $75 million backlog of priority projects, and the stormwater fund has been operating in the red in recent years. Doubling the fees would get the utility back in the black and provide for about $4 million in capital improvements during the next 10 years.”

“It was a sleepy caucus night across Boulder County on Tuesday, as voters turned out by the dozens — as opposed to the hundreds and thousands in 2016 — to participate in the local democratic process. Of course, many believed there was more at stake in 2016, when some sites saw lines around the block,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “But the ballot in Colorado this year is still a significant one, and the gubernatorial race was top of mind at the caucuses. Longtime Boulder Congressman Jared Polis, a Democrat, is running for the seat, along with 33 others who’ve filed to run.”

“Republicans and Democrats fanned out across El Paso County in droves Tuesday night for party caucuses,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “At Cheyenne Mountain Middle School, Republicans were outnumbered. The school hosted 11 Democratic caucuses and three Republican ones. Democrat Pat Lehouillier, 70, said he was at the caucus for Precinct 729 to support Cary Kennedy for governor. “I think it comes down to a choice between Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis. I believe Cary is more electable,” Lehouillier said. “We’re not a solid blue state. We’re a purple state, and she’s more appealing to the middle of the state.” Kennedy was the gubernatorial candidate who Democratic caucus-goers in the county favored most, according to preliminary results from preferential polls taken at the gatherings.”

“Ryan Dorris sat on a bench just outside a gymnastics studio at a high-end Aurora retail complex this week and watched as his daughter and other children tumbled and flipped their way through routines,” reports The Denver Post. “Beside him were two of his other kids, one devouring an ice cream cone. This family scene, in a mall-like shopping center, could be just about anywhere in Colorado — except for the cup of wheat beer Dorris held in his hand and a state law that makes it possible. “It allows you to blend an adult experience with having children,” the father of three said of Stanley Marketplace’s ‘common consumption’ rule. ‘My daughter can do gymnastics, my son can have an ice cream and I can have an adult beverage.'”

“The nonprofit Urban Peak is set to replace its one-story youth homeless shelter with a five-story mixed-use building in southwest Denver,” reports Denverite. “The planned new building will include 40 shelter beds, several dorm-style units and up to 60 units of permanent, supportive housing. A rezoning for the project was unanimously approved by the Denver City Council on Monday. The proposal’s height drew complaints from a neighborhood association and a developer. “This rezoning is an important step for Urban Peak to rebuild the shelter into a more comprehensive center for homeless youth,” said Christina Carlson, the group’s new CEO.”

“Senators at a confirmation hearing Tuesday for geologist and astronaut James Reilly of Colorado Springs sought assurances he would not allow political manipulation to interfere with good science if he is chosen to lead the U.S. Geological Survey,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “It has been my experience that good science is absolutely critical to the development of good policy,” Reilly said. Reilly, 63, was introduced at the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing by Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who described him as “a uniquely qualified candidate” to lead the U.S. Geological Survey. Gardner credited Reilly with contributing to discoveries of natural gas deposits in northwestern Colorado’s Piceance Basin while he worked as a geologist. The U.S. Geological Survey reported in 2007 that the Basin contains five of the top 50 U.S. gas fields.”

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