The Home Front: Colorado is smoky and hazy from wildfires. The ‘good news is that you can avoid it; the bad news is how’

“It’s smoky out. So what does that mean for your health? The best approach is to limit exposure as much as possible, said Anne Eckhardt, a registered respiratory therapist with UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “People with heart and lung disease (including COPD or asthma) or those who tend to be more sensitive to air pollution are most at risk, she said, as are children, the elderly and pregnant women. Eckhardt recommends staying indoors and limiting strenuous activities when outside. Drinking plenty of water also helps flush out the system.”

“Lately, things just don’t seem the same in the skies over Summit County,” reports The Summit Daily News. “A yellow haze has been shrouding the mountains in gloom, a product of wildfires raging across the state, especially the still-raging Lake Christine Fire in nearby Basalt. For anyone worried about the impact the smoke is having on human health, the good news is that you can avoid it; the bad news is how.”

“The U.S. could not withdraw from NATO without a two-thirds vote of the Senate and a list of new sanctions would be imposed on Russia for cyber-attacks on U.S. elections or other interference, according to a new bill sponsored by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and a bipartisan group of lawmakers,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The measure — the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act — comes only two weeks after President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and was sharply criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for initially appearing unconvinced that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election and still was attempting cyber-attacks. Trump subsequently stated Russia had tampered with U.S. elections.”

“A federal jury returned Wednesday a verdict in favor of a former Weld County Jail nurse who was being sued for deliberate indifference in the 2014 death of inmate Barton Grubbs,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Christin Hernandez is a former employee of Correct Care Solutions, a Nashville-based company contracted to provide medical care for inmates at Weld County Jail. Both Hernandez and Correct Care Solutions were defendants in the lawsuit, which was initiated by Tanya Smith, Grubbs’ daughter, in the U.S. District Court of Colorado in Denver. On Monday, after a week of trial, U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer dismissed the claims against Correct Care Solutions. The jury returned its verdict in favor of Hernandez about noon Wednesday following more than a day of deliberations.”

“When stepping outside and looking east during the past few days, it’s easy to see that it hasn’t been a typical week in the Grand Valley,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Hazy skies and smoky air from fires surrounding the area obstruct usually clear views of the Bookcliffs and Grand Mesa. But the poor air quality does more than make the area a little less scenic for a few days. Grand Junction’s air quality was among the worst in the state on Thursday and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued an air quality health advisory until 9 a.m. today for much of western Colorado.”

“Three of four affordable staff-housing complexes are complete and another group of Roaring Fork School District teachers will soon have the opportunity to move into one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments — this time in Carbondale,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Community members, building architects and local teachers attended a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the 20-unit apartment complex on the school district’s property on Third Street in Carbondale.”

“Boulder County commissioners voiced support on Thursday for a proposal by Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle for a tax that would go toward a new facility for people serving alternative sentences and upgrades to the county jail,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “However, the three commissioners balked at a request for a ballot measure that would expand the commission from three to five members and another that would have the county convert to home rule. The commission will officially put items on the ballot later in August for November’s election. Pelle is asking for a new tax that would provide for the construction of a new facility that would house alternative sentencing programs for people who are, for example, serving work release sentences where they work during the day and are housed in the jail at night.”

“Thompson school board members said they want residents to clearly know how they would spend a $14 million mill levy override and a $149 million bond if approved, including to address a gap in fire code,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The elected board discussed ballot language for the November tax issues at its Wednesday board meeting and added two specific details — that there would be citizen oversight on spending for both measures and that a piece of it would be spent on meeting state fire code requirements.”

“As the population grows in the lower Eagle River Valley, there’s going to be an increased demand for public services,” reports Vail Daily. “But, for the moment, transit service won’t grow with the population. Eagle County’s ECO Transit system recently completed a 300-page transit development plan that looked at ridership, service levels, budgets and other elements of the system. That plan identified a number of needs — including a circulator system for the lower valley.”

“It wasn’t your typical rodeo with horses and bulls, but instead, it was with a loader, grader and excavator,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “About 26 contestants competed Thursday in Fremont County Fair’s equipment rodeo at Pathfinder Park. There were three different events using each of the machines and the contestants had to do various tasks with each machine. “Everybody is doing a good job and enjoying it,” Fremont County Department of Transportation Director Tony Adamic said.”

“How much input should the University of Colorado have on flood mitigation work to be done on property it owns?” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Discussion at a public hearing Thursday night before Boulder’s Planning Board hinged around that question, as one group of south Boulder residents accused city staff of prioritizing CU’s interests over safety, while another pleaded for forward momentum in a project — still at least four years from completion — that will protect thousands of residents from flooding. Three options have risen to the top as best choices, through an extensive public process and board appearances. Members of citizen group Save South Boulder are floating a fourth plan, and say city staff has not given it adequate consideration because they are more interested in protecting land that CU hopes to develop.”

“A mother and son officially are the top dogs in Log Lane Village, at least when it comes to the town’s elected officials,” reports The Fort Morgan Times. “Robin Mastin is the town’s mayor, and her son Shawn Greenwell, already a trustee, was appointed mayor pro tem at the July 11 board of trustees meeting. The vote on that appointment was 5-0-2, with Mastin and Greenwell both abstaining and the other five trustees all voting yes. That appointment means that if Mastin is unable to fulfill her mayoral duties, her son is the one who fills in. ‘That just means that I have more responsibility to the town,’ Greenwell said of the mayor pro tem appointment. ‘If the mayor can’t be here, I’m going to have to step up. It really won’t change anything I do as a trustee.’ ‘I pretty much think it’s awesome,’ Mastin said. ‘It’s not going to be any different.'”

“Colorado Springs police officers may face greater danger in the city’s ‘safer’ neighborhoods than in the traditionally rougher parts of town, criminal justice experts say,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Whether that was a factor early Thursday when Colorado Springs police officer Cem Duzel was gravely wounded by a gunman is unknown. But the shootout a few blocks east of the Olympic Training Center was outside a high-density crime area to the south along East Platte Avenue, said YongJei Lee, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Duzel was shot near East Boulder Street and Bonfoy Avenue, shortly after officers responded to multiple reports of shots fired.”

“Aurora police officers ordered the man they fatally shot while protecting his home early Monday to drop his gun multiple times, but they did not identify themselves as police before an officer fired four shots, Chief Nick Metz said,” reports The Denver Post. “Multiple officers already had heard gunshots from inside the home at 10609 E. Montview Blvd. and were standing near the front door’s threshold, looking into the well-lit home when they saw homeowner Gary Black come around a corner holding a gun and a flashlight, Metz said. ‘For the next 13 seconds, officers continued to give at least five commands to Mr. Black to drop the gun and to show his hands,’ Metz said Thursday at a news conference. ‘We don’t know why, but for whatever reason Mr. Black did not drop the gun.’ Black had significant hearing impairment because of his military service, Metz said. Also, the scene was noisy from people screaming, including Black’s 11-year-old grandson, who had been violently attacked by a naked intruder.”

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.