The Home Front: After ‘fights’ with the major telecom companies, Colorado’s governor will sign rural broadband law

“It’s finally done, or at least it will be by this afternoon,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “That’s when Gov. John Hickenlooper is to sign a bill to give rural Colorado a pool of money to dip into to help pay for projects to bring internet broadband service to areas of the state that have little or none of it. While getting that measure, SB2, to his desk during this year’s legislative session may have seemed easy, it wasn’t. It was the culmination of years of work, and a lot of fights with the major telecommunications companies, said Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, who brought some legislative heavy-hitters to help him get the bill through virtually unscathed. Coram and others thought they had all solved the problem of making grant money available to bring broadband to rural parts of the state — because the private sector just wasn’t doing that itself — when they passed a bill back in 2014.”

“After consecutive successful track and field days for western Garfield County students with disabilities, the annual Encourage-Nurture-Challenge Field Day will expand times three in 2018,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “All three of Garfield County’s school districts will be participating in the fun this year. Around 50 Garfield Re-2 elementary, middle and high school students competed last year. Coordinator and Rifle Middle School paraprofessional A.J. McCathern said that as many as 150 to 175 are expected to participate this year.”

“Discord between state leaders of the 4-H youth agricultural organization and volunteers and parents with its Boulder County chapter continues to emerge surrounding its programs involving guns and how they’re funded,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “A woman who volunteered for the Boulder County 4-H Sharp Shooters Shotgun Club withdrew from leading the group Wednesday as a result of what she calls “societal anti-gun sentiments” from 4-H officials. Samantha Sweeney opposed February decisions by Colorado State University 4-H Extension employees to cancel a newly planned gun display at an annual tack show at the Boulder County Fairgrounds and remove a St. Vrain Valley Friends of NRA advertisement for a gun raffle from the county’s monthly 4-H newsletter.”

“The High Plains Arts Council is sprucing up the North Lake Park side of Benson Sculpture Gardens with a landscaping makeover before new sculptures are placed this summer,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “It’s going to change the whole look,” said Kenn Wilson, who sits on the board of the nonprofit arts council, which organizes Sculpture in the Park each August “It’ll look really nice.” Every year, the arts council spends profits raised from the sculpture show to buy new pieces for Benson Sculpture Gardens as well as sets aside money to improve the sculpture park. The park stretches across 29th Street and includes Benson Park on the north side as well as a loop by the fishing pond next to Loveland High School in North Lake Park to the south. This year, the nonprofit council is investing $135,000 into landscaping and a new sign on the North Lake Park portion of the sculpture gardens.”

“Having served two terms on Breckenridge Town Council, Mark Burke is done, at least for now,” reports Summit Daily. “Over the last eight years, Burke has been a strong ally for not just local business, but early childhood education, the environment and much more. He helped preside over Breckenridge town government as the town rebounded from the recession, and he played roles in what he sees as some of the town’s greatest achievements over the last eight years, including construction of the Arts District, the addition of so many workforce housing units and creation of the Summit County South Branch Library in Breckenridge, just to name a few.”

“A couple standout powder days were not enough to help the Steamboat Ski Area reach its average March snowfall,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The ski area received 36.25 inches of snow in March compared to the 20-year average of 48.39 inches. Memorable days from the past month included March 19 when the 5 a.m. snow measurement showed nine inches at mid-mountain and 14 inches at the summit. Most of that snow fell after the lifts closed the previous day. The second biggest day this past month was Thursday when seven inches of new snow was reported at mid-mountain.”

“Seven of 17 criminal offenders granted clemency this week by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper were previously sentenced in Larimer County,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Hickenlooper has pardoned 40 of 170 applicants to date, according to a news release from his office. The pardoning process involves lengthy deliberation, extensive review of provided materials, and careful consideration of input from victims, judges, prosecutors and others, according to the release. The pardoned individuals have completed their sentences.”

“El Paso County and its jail health care provider were warned at the end of last year that poor performance on an audit has put one of the facility’s widely-recognized credentials at risk,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “A survey of the jail last fall by the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare found critical violations of the accrediting agency’s standards, including suicidal inmates who were not adequately supervised, lapses in documentation showing that practitioners were properly trained and sick calls that were going unanswered for a week or more, according to a letter that the Sheriff’s Office provided to The Gazette last week. Sheriff’s officials said the shortcomings were addressed within a month following the auditors’ visit and that they expect the NCCHC will renew the jail’s accreditation around late April.”

“Almost a year after the company was supposed to open at the Table Mesa Shopping Center, Walgreens says it still hasn’t decided whether it will ever follow through on the plan,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The Boulder Planning Board approved the proposed 13,000-square-foot Walgreens at 601 South Broadway, the shopping center’s corner property, in May of 2016. There’s been significant citizen interest in the project since then, largely due to the prominence of its location, with many wondering if that corner property — once home to a Conoco gas station, Quizno’s sandwich shop and the Table Mesa Animal Clinic — would ever, in fact, become a Walgreens. Asked that question, Philip Caruso, a spokesman for Walgreens, said every day for a week that he was waiting on a definitive answer from colleagues.”

“The old proverb says that a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client,” reports The Denver Post. “That might be doubly true for a man who has pretended to be a lawyer. At the very least, Howard O. Kieffer has caused himself a fair share of grief, as well as exasperating judges who have heard his cases and appeals over the past eight years. During Kieffer’s odyssey of appeals, prison and supervised release, his restitution at one point was mistakenly omitted — saving him $120,000 — and his prison sentence was essentially halved. Although he doesn’t have to repay the restitution, his prison time was raised again after he appealed and the error was discovered. When he went on supervised release, Kieffer flouted rules and kept appealing. Now he faces more prison time.”

“Poverty is proving to be a persistent problem for families and children across the region, even though unemployment is low,” reports The Durango Herald. “Recently released Colorado Kids Count data show that 11.7 percent of children in La Plata County were living in poverty in 2016, which was almost unchanged from the year before. In Montezuma County, the poverty rate among children was about 25 percent, down from about 29 percent in 2015.”


The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.