The Home Front: Colorado man, hemp grower, talks at neighborhood meeting about ‘unusual crop’

“The farmer who plans to grow hemp in west Loveland this summer spent two hours Thursday night talking to people at a neighborhood meeting about the unusual crop,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Tom Hewson, a retired high school science teacher, said such educational efforts are critical. The meeting that he scheduled at Namaqua Elementary School, just across from his leased field off West First Street, drew about 50 community members. Audience members seemed mostly curious, asking questions about how he would grow and harvest the crop, why he chose that location, whether the plants would smell and how the aroma might affect neighbors with breathing problems. At the end of the meeting, they applauded Hewson.”

“In January 2014 — the month Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana went into effect — John Gates held his breath and started looking for trends,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The safety and security coordinator for Greeley-Evans School District 6 expected to see more students bringing marijuana to school, since the drug was now legal and their parents could keep it in their home. Gates was especially worried about the presence of edibles or hash oil in the classroom, as well, since those substances have much more concentrated THC — the substance that provides the high — in them than the marijuana plant itself. His fears, however, didn’t materialize. ‘The numbers have not spiked like I thought they would, fortunately,’ Gates said.”

“A belly-dump helicopter that criss-crossed Interstate 70 west of Fruita delivered needed water to a brush fire that forced the full closure of the freeway and cut power for thousands of Grand Valley residents on Thursday,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Multiple federal, state and local agencies from across Mesa County spent all day battling the Skipper Island Fire — which began Wednesday night when a camper’s fire got out of control in a densely overgrown area of the Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area in the middle of the Colorado River — and expected to fight it into the early morning hours today. As of late Thursday night, the wind-blown fire hadn’t forced any evacuations, damaged any structures, or caused any injuries but often made things tricky for firefighters.”

“The St. Vrain Valley School District is canceling classes on April 27 because so many teachers plan to join a rally at the state Capitol,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The Colorado Education Association is organizing the statewide teacher rally to call for more funding for education, with the union representing Denver classroom teachers saying it plans to walk out midday on April 27 to rally at the Capitol early in the afternoon. Jeffco Public Schools also canceled classes for the day before, April 26, after many teachers there said they plan to go to the Capitol. Steve Villarreal, president of the St. Vrain Valley Education Association, urged teachers to participate on April 27.”

“In the wake of the Pueblo City Schools (D60) board’s decision to reject a fact-finder’s recommendation that members the Pueblo Education Association and Pueblo ParaProfessional Education Association should receive cost-of-living salary adjustments, members of those unions gathered Thursday evening to vote, via secret ballot, on whether to strike,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “There are a total of 850 members in both unions. For the para-pros, 65 “yes” votes would be enough to move forward with a strike. For the teachers, that ballot count increases to 400.”

“Glenwood Springs runs the risk of chewing up almost a third of its bonding capacity on proceeds from a special sales tax reauthorized by city voters last year on one project, if it’s not careful,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “That project, the planned South Midland Avenue rebuild, was the subject of a lengthy City Council work session Thursday, followed by another nearly two-hour-long discussion during the regular session before a compromise was reached. Instead of picking just one of four design options for the reconstruction of the roughly three-quarter-mile stretch of Midland from 27th Street to Four Mile Road, the city will seek construction bids on a couple of options.”

“The Craig Police Department increased its presence at Moffat County High School on Thursday morning after learning two students were allegedly planning a school shooting on Friday, April 20,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Both students have been located by police. ‘School will go on as normal. We appreciate the partnership and cooperation by Craig Police Department in providing an increased presence in our high school and throughout the district as we assure parents that student safety is our highest priority,’ said Moffat County School District Superintendent Dave Ulrich.”

“A sexual harassment allegation involving the Denver mayor’s staff and another high-profile city employment matter in the past six years not only netted settlement payouts in the six figures but also cost the city nearly $430,000 in outside legal fees,” reports The Denver Post. “Newly released documents provide detail about outside attorney expenses that bring the total taxpayer cost for resolving the two matters to nearly $1.4 million. In one case, $275,000 in settlements were split between each side after a 2012 sexual claim against a mayor’s aide. In the other, Denver paid $660,000 to a former assistant city attorney after he was investigated for misconduct for 19 months — and then cleared.”

“Pop quiz. Which of the following should NOT go in a Fort Collins recycling bin? a) Trash bags b) A full ketchup bottle c) Fish d) All of the above Yes, it’s “d” — and if you got it right, you’re a savvier recycler than some,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “In recent weeks, non-recyclables like trash bags, ketchup and fish have caused the county recycling facility to reject as many as 75 percent of commercial loads on a given day, Gallegos Sanitation reported. And it’s all happening as haulers roll out recycling services to new customers, namely apartment-dwellers and businesses. Waste Management reported a similar trend in its commercial and residential recycling loads. Ram Waste didn’t return a Coloradoan request for comment.”

“After it became public last month that Boulder’s flattening sales tax revenues have prompted a $4 million shortfall in this year’s budget — and that cuts to city services would likely result — the city’s top spokesman said officials would crunch numbers to determine whether the situation was a “one-time blip” or something bigger,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Now, roughly three weeks after that statement, the city has released analysis that projects the shortfall is no blip at all, but rather something that will worsen through 2023, potentially forcing Boulder to scale back its services and personnel for years to come. ‘I think right now,’ said Kara Skinner, the city’s assistant finance director, ‘we think it’s prudent to budget conservatively and assume it could be a long-term trend of flattening sales tax.'”

“The Vail Nature Center is going to look different this season,” reports Vail Daily. “It may look different from now on. During the afternoon meeting on Tuesday, April 17, the Vail Town Council agreed to spend roughly $55,000 on a yurt, a concrete pad and utilities at the site. The yurt, manufactured by a company in Montrose, would be set up and torn down before each nature center summer season. Town officials believe the yurt could be needed from between one and three seasons. After that, Walking Mountains Science Center will buy the yurt for use at its campus up Sweetwater Road.”

“Candidates running for Fremont County Treasurer fielded a number of questions involving the investigation into alleged misuse of public funds by Fremont County Clerk Katie Barr on Thursday during a forum hosted by the Royal Gorge Republican Women,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Fremont County Treasurer candidates Dotty Gardunio and incumbent Kathy Elliott answered some forthright questions, as did the candidates running for District 2 Commissioner, Dale Carroll and incumbent Debbie Bell. Meeting attendees wanted to know how county officials can say that no money is missing from the clerk’s office if the investigation is still open.”

“There is the World Wide Web – the primary tool billions of people use to access information on the internet – and then there is the notorious dark web, a collection of websites that exist on an encrypted network,” reports The Durango Herald. “It’s here where illegal activity often takes place, such as online black markets to facilitate the sale of firearms, drugs, child pornography and stolen credit card numbers. ‘On the dark web, if you can dream it up, it’s there,’ said detective Josh Newman of the Durango Police Department. ‘The internet is huge, and most of what we do is only 5 percent of it.’ Newman and Suess Beyer of the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office specialize in digital forensics and electronic crimes. Policing the dark web is a fraction of their responsibilities as detectives, but it is a hard task, Newman said. ‘Most times you find out someone is dealing on the dark web after the fact,’ he said. ‘You seize their phone and computer for another reason, get search warrants and then see they have been searching on certain browsers related to the dark web.’ The remaining 95 percent of internet content is only accessible with special tools and software.”

“Animal Rescuer Eryn Maggard estimates she herded 50 of her animals into her 2000 Nissan Frontier in a span of just minutes on Tuesday when she saw the flames of the 117 fire coming toward her home on De Groot Road,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “With her two children, several rabbits, chickens, nine cats, eight kittens, a Great Dane, a litter of puppies, and a few more dogs in the SUV, she drove north, busting through two barbed-wire fences to get to safety. “You name it, I tried to get it out,” said Maggard, who, with her husband Mark, owns GingerSnap Ranch. Despite her efforts, she returned home with her family around midnight that day to find the blaze had taken 16 of her goats, a pot-bellied pig named Bella and a litter of five piglets.”

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.