The Home Front: In Colorado, delay by feds to release H-2B work visas ‘is hitting local businesses hard’

“Local landscaping, paving and other firms were supposed to have some additional seasonal help by now,” reports Vail Daily. “It hasn’t happened yet. A delay by the federal government in releasing more temporary work visas — called “H-2B” — is hitting local businesses hard. Michael Hasse, of Double M Asphalt & Coatings, says he’s missing five to seven of his usual seasonal workers. That’s left the staff on hand — including Hasse — working long, hard days in a season that’s dependent on warm temperatures.”

“In closed executive sessions that some legal experts say violate Colorado’s open meetings law, the Colorado Springs City Council has doled out about $5.4 million to settle a string of cases, including racial and gender discrimination,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “The council’s closed-door process is so secretive that it remains unclear how long it’s been going on, where much of the money comes from and how much has been spent. The city’s attorneys settled at least seven such cases since 2013, and neither public votes nor official council records approving the payments could be found by The Gazette.”

“Garfield County commissioners recently approved the spending of an additional $150,000 in connection with a legal battle with a ranch over whether a road outside De Beque should be open to the public,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The county wants the High Lonesome Ranch to open a locked gate on County Road 200 in the Dry Fork Valley just north of the Mesa County line. The county and public lands activist Brandon Siegfried contend that the road is public and the gate blocks access to miles of public road and thousands of acres of public land. The ranch disagrees, and is concerned about trespassing and liability issues if the road is opened.”

“After one of the driest ski seasons in recent history, the city of Glenwood Springs, financially speaking, fared better than the slopes,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “From New Year’s Day to March 31, the city collected $3,889,043 in sales tax, a 1.29 percent increase compared with Glenwood’s $3,839,451 sales tax earnings during its first financial quarter in 2017. Comparatively, though, for the first three months of 2017, the city saw a 2.03 percent increase in its sales tax earnings compared with the prior year. That means, while the first financial quarter sales tax earnings in 2018 were up 1.29 percent, the city also saw a 0.74 percent decrease in growth compared with sales tax growth from first quarter 2016 to 2017.”

“They hung out in the journalism room with the rest of the newspaper and yearbook staffs at the Denver area’s Arapahoe High School,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Steve Luhm was the school paper’s cerebral co-editor. Randy Bangert was the reserved and unflappable sports editor. They both were seniors. Junior Neal Rubin was the witty new kid and writer who moved in from Southern California. It was the fall of 1971 and the beginning of a three-sided friendship that formed at Arapahoe, strengthened at the University of Northern Colorado and continued after the buddies took their own paths.”

“Ryan Davis did not start speaking English regularly until he started school because, as the son of two deaf parents, his family spoke sign language at home,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “This weekend, when he graduates from high school in the Thompson School District, Davis will be one of 55 students to earn a Seal of Biliteracy on his diploma. The seal, earned by reaching national criteria marks a high level of proficiency in at least two languages.”

“Confetti bombs, Silly String, advice and a few tears helped send off the 2018 Hayden High School graduating class on Sunday,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The school graduated 30 seniors this year, who earned more than $46,000 worth of scholarships. Seven of the students also received welding certifications from the school’s Babson Carpenter Career & Technical Education Center.”

“Dave Kisker is in great demand these days. As growth explodes along the Front Range and gravel mines, asphalt plants and other industrial operations get uncomfortably close to residential areas, neighbors are turning to Kisker to learn how to fight them,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Kisker is the face and voice of a community effort that appears to have successfully defeated a Martin Marietta Materials asphalt and concrete distribution center in western Weld County about a half mile south of U.S. Highway 34.”

“Workers’ compensation payouts from both the Longmont and Boulder municipal governments to their employees fluctuated greatly in the past three years,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Even as a local insurance firm owner said the amount of workers’ compensation claims filed by the municipal employees outnumber the standard volume of those made by some private organizations, total money paid in such costs by each city was reduced by more than half from 2016 to last year.”

“The property tax increase voters overwhelming approved in the November election has helped the Durango Fire Protection District move forward to hire staff, buy new vehicles and remodel a fire station,” reports The Durango Herald. “‘It’s a big growth year for us,’ Fire Chief Hal Doughty said.”

“Many Park Center Water users say they are fed up with having to spend thousands of dollars to replace plumbing, appliances and water filters — and they’re tired of having to purchase bottled water when they’re already paying for water service,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “They claim pinhole leaks in their copper pipes are ruining homes, some of which aren’t even 10 years old. Residents in that district have formed the Cañon City Water Coalition, who since last year has worked to research and calculate financial losses from damages allegedly caused by Park Center’s water. They plan to petition the city council at 6 p.m. Monday at John D. Havens City Hall and ask for help in getting out from under Park Center and start getting their water from the city.”

“Boulder-area business leaders will gather Tuesday for the Boulder Economic Summit, where staffing and employment issues are expected to take center stage,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The theme of the 11th annual summit is “The Workforce of the Future.'”

“The 2018 election in Colorado is a high-stakes affair that is expected to break spending records and feature a hefty list of mega-donors from across the nation,” reports The Denver Post. “The total poured into elections tracked by the state through May 2 neared $56 million, according to a Denver Post analysis of campaign finance records from 2017 and 2018. The bulk of the big money targets the open governor’s race, where four of the 10 top donors are aligned with Democratic candidate Mike Johnston and promote charter schools. Three of the other top donors are oil and gas companies.

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.

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