The Home Front: High winds and a wildfire earns El Paso County a ‘disaster declaration’

“El Paso County signed a disaster declaration Tuesday night and is urging the state to take command of a wind-fueled blaze that started along Interstate 25 in the southern part of the county, burned at least 10 structures, including homes, and prompted mandatory evacuations of about 300 residents and multiple rescues,” reports The Gazette. “The so-called 117 fire, whipped by winds gusting from 50 to 60 mph, defied firefighters to the extent that county officials couldn’t estimate how many acres or houses had burned, how many people had been rescued, injured or both and whether reports of burned livestock were accurate.”

“Guide dogs P.J., Halona and Pepper appeared to be giving ‘Zootopia’ a unanimous paws-down review Saturday afternoon,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “As the wickedly clever 2016 animated Disney release played on the two screens in The Den meeting room at the University of Northern Colorado’s Harrison Hall, the three dogs stretched out near their blind masters and slept. The frequent laughter didn’t awaken them. A little earlier, before the film started, I reluctantly followed the rules. The dogs approached me. They stood there, wagging their tails. Their owners introduced me, as Melissa Green, 47, said of P.J., an 8-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever, ‘P.J.’s my world. She’s my baby girl. She’s everything to me. We have to work as a team. We’ve been doing it for seven years.'”

“Ninety-year-old Bonnie Smeltzer believes Ursa Resources has worked to be a responsible oil and gas operator, and is thankful for the numerous Garfield County and state conditions imposed on Ursa for drilling it has begun doing in that residential community,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “But she says air pollution from drilling still impacts residents there. That’s why she was one of a number of area residents who urged state regulators Tuesday to adopt air-pollution oil and gas rules across Colorado like those adopted last fall on the northern Front Range.”

“About 500 students at Basalt High School got a firsthand look Tuesday at how driving while drinking or distracted is a recipe for disaster,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Rather than having the lesson drilled into them via a dry speech, the students participated in multiple exercises that simulated driving under the influence of alcohol or while trying to text. Basalt police officers borrowed a couple of golf carts from the Roaring Fork Club and set up two driving courses outside the school. On one course, students wearing goggles that alter depth perception and vision tried to negotiate a slalom course of cones. In the second course, they tried to weave between the cones while sending and receiving texts.”

“Longmont was among the most-battered areas of Boulder County by powerful gusts that reached as high as 80 mph Tuesday afternoon, downing power lines and trees that caused thousands to lose electricity, multiple roadblocks and damage to at least one home,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Starting at about 1:50 p.m., power outages occurred in Longmont, Boulder, Lafayette, Louisville, Niwot and Broomfield, on a day where the National Weather Service declared a Red Flag Warning. “This is the worst (the wind) has been in a long time,” Longmont resident Jane Marcus said.”

“A fast-moving wildfire pushed by 60 mph winds destroyed five houses and several outbuildings along Baxter Road on Tuesday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of more than 200 families from its path as it burned,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “One firefighter and deputy were hospitalized for smoke inhalation but “are going to be OK,” according to a Pueblo County Sherriff’s Office spokeswoman. Three emergency responder were treated on scene. Fire officials at the scene said the Barnett Road Fire had slowed by late afternoon, but they were watching it closely as more wind was expected Tuesday night. About 18 acres had burned by 4:30 p.m.”

“Logan County played host to the Eastern Region Clerk’s Conference April 11, 12 and 13. The three day meeting held at the courthouse was opened to county clerks and their staff from Baca, Cheyenne, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Prowers, Sedgwick, Washington and Yuma counties,” reports The Sterling Journal-Advocate. “One the first day of the conference, motor vehicle clerks from the 13 eastern counties participated in training for the new Colorado Drivers License, Record, Indentification and Vehicle Enterprise Solution (DRIVES).”

“At a tense meeting Tuesday afternoon, two Routt County commissioners felt they had no choice but to accept a legal bill from their county treasurer that the commissioners had serious concerns about,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Commissioner Tim Corrigan said he thinks Treasurer Brita Horn’s recent use of an outside attorney to help respond to allegations of improper campaign activity in her office was unnecessary. He questioned why Horn needed to call an attorney, who charges a rate of $350 an hour, to deny the allegations.”

“Breckenridge pot shops are a bad place to try your luck with a fake ID, but plenty of underage tourists still haven’t gotten the memo,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “There have been 178 fake ID cases originating from Breckenridge marijuana shops since Jan. 2017, according to the town’s municipal court. The numbers vary widely month-to-month, from just 14 in March to as many as 44 last April. “It’s a lot,” said town clerk Helen Cospolich. “They come and go kind of in waves, and certainly there are more during the ski season and especially spring break.” Those numbers don’t even include suspects under the age of 18, who are diverted to Summit County Court per a decades-old local policy to streamline the justice system.”

“Through an attorney, the TABOR Committee delivered a message to the city of Loveland last week reminding the city to tread carefully when issuing bonds for the city’s Downtown Development Authority,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The letter’s stated concerns relate to the anticipated bond issuances greenlit in November via a ballot issue. The TABOR Committee, which was the original vehicle for getting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights passed in 1992, is an organization whose mission is to defend the statewide law. It is the advocacy side of TABOR defense, while its affiliate the TABOR Foundation is an educational organization. The letter was sent by Michael Mulvania through Denver-based law firm Mulvania Law, LLC. It is “non-threatening,” according to City Attorney Moses Garcia, though it serves as an important reminder that the city could be at risk of violating TABOR if it were to finance repayment of debt taken for the DDA through any means other than the fund specially designated for the purpose.”

“Authorities with the Florence Volunteer Fire Department and Fremont County Sheriff’s Office responded to a fire Tuesday at a house in Williamsburg,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “The fire, which engulfed the structure, is contained to the home, Undersheriff Megan Richards said. No injuries have been reported. Fremont County is under a red flag warning Tuesday, meaning no burning is allowed. The sheriff’s office said residents should report all smoke and fire. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.”

“Early Saturday afternoon, the Fort Morgan Fire Department responded to a family home of Maple Street,” reports The Fort Morgan Times. “Upon arriving on the scene, the attic of the home was on fire and quickly spreading to downstairs. Fort Morgan Fire Department First Lieutenant Dillon Prevost said the fire took an hour to contain, and the entire scene was cleared within three hours. Nineteen firefighters responded from Fort Morgan and another eight came from Wiggins.”

“When mental health advocates gathered in 2017 to march down Broadway Street in Eagle, they concluded their parade at the Eagle County commissioners meeting, where they pleaded for increased awareness and funding for their cause,” reports Vail Daily. “They marched again this year, after having accomplished both of those objectives. But that’s not to say their work is done. In fact, the heavy lifting has just begun.”

“Candidates competing for the La Plata Electric Association board are divided on how aggressively to pursue renewable energy, and some argue it’s time for a fresh vision,” reports The Durango Herald. “LPEA is limited on how much renewable power it can purchase by its energy supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Some candidates say not exploring a buyout from Tri-State would be neglecting their duties as board members.”

“Jamie Engel expects higher turnover among bus drivers. Drivers start their days early in the morning,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “They have a large chunk of time off, then they hit the road again to bring kids home in the afternoon. Working only nine months out of the year can be a challenge, too. Usually that turnover isn’t a huge problem because new drivers come in as old drivers leave. But this year Poudre School District faced a severe bus driver shortage, said Engel, human resources director at PSD. Many supervisors, directors and office staff who hold valid commercial driver’s licenses had to step up to fill that gap, Engel said, including Matt Bryant, the district’s director of transportation.”

“Denver prosecutors have filed criminal charges against five current or former East High School staff members, including the former principal, for failing to report to law enforcement an alleged sexual assault by a student on another student,” reports The Denver Post. “Those charged with misdemeanor counts on Monday include Andy Mendelsberg, who retired in September as principal of the school in the wake of a report that said he failed to act on parent complaints that the school’s cheerleading coach physically forced girls into the splits. The new case is not connected to the cheerleading scandal, said Ken Lane, the spokesman for Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.”

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