The Home Front: Colorado’s shrinking snowpack means ‘There’s going to be people without water’

“Colorado’s shrinking mountain snowpack — at 66 percent of normal statewide Thursday — forced an expanded federal drought designation covering nearly a quarter of the state with stream flows forecast at half of average, setting off a scramble to secure water supplies,” reports The Denver Post. “The scarcity spurred calls for storing more water in reservoirs to sustain the state’s growth boom. ‘There’s going to be people without water. It’s going to be a tight year,’ said U.S. Department of Agriculture snow survey supervisor Brian Domonkos. Denver Water officials planned to pull more of the H2O they deliver to 1.4 million metro residents from northern mountains because the upper South Platte River basin snowpack they rely on remains low. They’re seeking federal approval to expand storage by 77,000 acre-feet in Gross Reservoir west of Boulder, a controversial project.”

“The Boulder City Council on Thursday night unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance that bans the sale and possession of certain firearms defined as assault weapons,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The council adjourned following a more than five-hour-long meeting where nearly 150 people spoke for and against the proposed ordinance, which would also prohibit high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, a device that allows a semi-automatic weapon to be fired more like a fully automatic rifle.”

“When Melissa Roberts worked with parolees, she had one main goal. She wanted to get them to the 18-month mark,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Parole is a complex process. Colorado Department of Corrections employees have to help a parolee rebuild their life, but they also have to make sure the person doesn’t commit another crime. People coming out of prison remain on parole for years, but Roberts, who until last month was director of the division of adult parole, and the rest of the people who work with parolees, are most concerned about the first 18 months of the process. If a parolee can make it through that first year and a half, she said, odds are high they can join society once again. Because of that, Roberts said, she spoke to the Colorado state senate’s judiciary committee earlier this year to support House Bill 1092. That bill would decrease the amount of time some felons would have to spend on parole from five years to three years. The measure has enjoyed bipartisan support, and passed the House on Thursday.”

“Michael Blagg is guilty of murdering his wife — again. The well-educated, seemingly devout family man and one-time member of two Mesa County churches was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday morning by a Jefferson County jury, more than 16 years after his wife Jennifer and 6-year-old daughter Abby went missing,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Like his first trial in 2004, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

“Dry weather and a shortage of staff in Longmont’s Code Enforcement Division contributed to dramatic cutbacks in the number of municipal violations investigated by city staff from 2015 to 2017,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. Most years, excessive weed growth is the most common infraction for which property owners are cited, but for the last two years, abandoned and junked vehicles were noticed most frequently. In fact, the junked and abandoned vehicle cases accounted for the only increase among all code enforcement violation categories from 2015 to last year, according to statistics provided by Longmont Code Enforcement Manager Shannon Stadler. Even with a 36 percent falloff from 4,998 total code enforcement cases filed in 2015 to 3,201 in 2017, junked vehicles persisted even as other problems abated.”

“Direct-care staff at the Colorado Mental Institute Health at Pueblo would get pay raises if state lawmakers agree to keep a $9.4 million increase in the state budget being debated in the Colorado Senate this week,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “State Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, added the pay increase to the proposed budget in the House last week before the 2018-19 spending plan moved to the Senate. While the Joint Budget Committee already agreed to include money for raising pay for nurses at CMHIP in the new budget, the six-member committee was evenly deadlocked on adding more money for the non-nursing staff at the hospital. So Esgar offered the increase as an amendment last Thursday. It passed on a voice vote.”

“Glenwood Springs City Council is inclined to give its blessing for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to float a ballot question this fall to increase property taxes for expansion of the valleywide bus system and other transportation improvements,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Mayor Michael Gamba said after a presentation from RFTA officials Thursday that, though he is generally opposed to new taxes, “in this case, the benefit to Glenwood Springs outweighs the situation of having to pay the taxes.” A 20-year transit systems improvements plan that has been in the works for several months does include a variety of expanded bus services, facilities and infrastructure projects that could help sell the tax proposal to Glenwood Springs and other Garfield County voters, he and other council members agreed.”

“Stewards of the Yampa River Botanic Park are asking the city for some dedicated parking spaces after seeing some of their potential guests turning around in the summer due to an overcrowded parking lot,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Botanic Park board member Kathy Connell said Thursday some wedding guests, Strings concertgoers and other park visitors have had trouble finding a place to park when the parking spaces are also filled by visitors of the nearby ballfields.”

“Members of the Thompson school board unanimously chose Marc Schaffer as their pick for the next superintendent of schools,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The board voted 7-0 during a special meeting Thursday to offer the position to Schaffer, who is currently an assistant superintendent for Boulder Valley Schools. Next, the district will contact Schaffer to officially offer the job and negotiate salary and, if they come to terms and he accepts the position, he could start on July 1. “We welcome him with open arms,” said Dave Levy, member of the board. Current superintendent, Stan Scheer, is retiring at the end of June, and the board conducted a nationwide search for his replacement through consultants McPherson and Jacobson.”

“Fort Collins Police Services has a new chief. Jeffrey Swoboda has accepted the city of Fort Collins’ offer to lead its police department and will begin his new role on June 4,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “City Manager Darin Atteberry announced last month that Swoboda, the police chief in Elgin, Illinois, was his top choice to head Fort Collins Police Services. Though city officials were hoping to have a new chief in place by May, Atteberry delayed the process to allow time for Swoboda to deal with a police-involved shooting in Elgin. It was the Eligin Police Department’s first fatal officer-involved shooting in about two decades.”

“The old house that has served for years as the Vail Nature Center has some big problems,” reports Vail Daily. “Those problems may not be solved this year. The Vail Town Council in March heard a report that first detailed some of those problems at the 1940s-vintage building. Those problems were found during a 2017 study about current and future uses of the nature center. At the time, Vail Capital Projects Manager Todd Oppenheimer said he believed the building could be repaired by the time the nature center opens in late May. After further study, that’s no longer true.”

“Fremont County Clerk and Recorder Katie Barr is on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Fremont County Commissioners, who said they might consider a vote of no-confidence for the embattled public official,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Barr, arrested March 20 on charges of embezzlement of public property, harassment, intimidation of a witness and fraud by check, is set to be a topic of discussion at the meeting, set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to an agenda sent out by Commissioner Debbie Bell. The meeting will happen nearly three weeks after the arrest, which came after a six-month investigation by the Cañon City Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“A civilian wounded in the gunbattle that killed an El Paso County sheriff’s deputy earlier this year is planning to sue the city of Colorado Springs and the county for at least $1 million,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “An attorney for Thomas Villanueva filed a notice of claim in March, saying the actions of Colorado Springs police officers and El Paso County sheriff’s deputies during their Feb. 5 pursuit caused him “to suffer serious physical injuries requiring hospitalization and surgeries.” It did not specify who is believed to have shot Villanueva, saying deputies, police and the suspect, Manuel Zetina, exchanged fire.”

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