The Home Front: Two of Colorado’s largest remote wildfires are ‘on their way to containment’

“Two of northwest Colorado’s bigger and more remote wildfires, the Cabin Lake and Cache Creek fires burning north and south of Rifle, respectively, are on their way to containment after a month-long battle with a variety of firefighting crews,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Meanwhile, the costs to fight those fires, which started a day apart in late July, has mounted. White River National Forest public information officer Kate Jerman said the cost to date of fighting the two fires, combined, is over $16 million.”

“As of the 5 p.m. deadline Monday for mayoral candidates to submit valid signatures for inclusion on the November ballot, 12 individuals have had their signatures certified and are officially on the ballot,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “Ten others have submitted signatures that still are awaiting verification, according to the Pueblo City Clerk’s Office. The candidates who have made the ballot after having their nominating petitions OK’d are: Larry Atencio, Gary Lee Clark, Thomas Croshal, Larry Fancher, Dennis Flores, Nick Gradisar, Ted Lopez, Steve Nawrocki, Chris Nicoll, Randy Thurston, Lori Winner and Jody Voss.”

“Prairie Heights Middle School jumped to the highest rating on the state’s school accountability system, ending a seven-year streak of low performance on testing, according to preliminary ratings released Monday by the Colorado Department of Education,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The school, which was directed last year by the state board of education to enter innovation status to help implement programs to improve performance, jumped from priority improvement status, the second-lowest rating, to performance, the highest. Along with Billie Martinez Elementary and Centennial Elementary School, Prairie Heights was one of three schools in Greeley-Evans School District 6 to leap from one of the state’s lowest ratings to the highest.”

“Federal prosecutors believe a Grand Junction man indicted in connection with a fatal fentanyl overdose in Carbondale in December may be linked to “multiple” other fatal overdoses in western Colorado, most of which occurred in Mesa County,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

“The Boulder Valley School District jumped up a level to earn the state’s highest accreditation rating — accredited with distinction — based on preliminary ratings released Monday by the state,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “BVSD is being recognized for high achievement at all levels, strong growth at the elementary and high school levels, and how well our students are prepared for post-secondary success,” said Jonathan Dings, Boulder valley’s Executive Director of Student Assessment.”

“Multinational investment company J.P. Morgan will underwrite the city of Loveland’s municipal broadband network, if the City Council votes in October to move forward with its creation,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Broadband project manager Brieana Reed-Harmel said that while the city received 15 well-qualified proposals from companies such as Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and the Royal Bank of Canada, J.P. Morgan stood out due to the company’s experience with both power and telecommunications utilities.”

“Mountain bikers will soon have a downhill only trail on upper Spring Creek,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Now, hikers could also be getting their own path. The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission approved the construction of a hikers-only trail adjacent to the Spring Creek Trail, which is intended to replace an unsanctioned social trail that frequently sees foot traffic on private property.”

“The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice published a report earlier this month analyzing more than 27,000 driving under the influence (DUI) cases filed in Colorado in 2016,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The report, the first of its kind in the nation, dives into a number of data points including offender demographics, toxicology reports, and subsequent charges and court proceedings. The report comes as a result of House Bill 1315 passed in the Colorado General Assembly in 2017, directing the Colorado Department of Safety, Division of Criminal Justice to analyze types of DUI offenses being committed, and to issue an annual report. The results are backlogged one year to allow time for cases to be adjudicated.”

“The investigation continues as officials try to determine exactly how a Saturday morning, Aug. 25, fire started in Avon’s Beaver Bench Condominiums,” reports Vail Daily. “However, until a structural engineer says the building is safe to enter, no one will be poking around inside, including investigators, said Tracy LeClair, community risk manager with the Eagle River Fire Protection District.”

“Stickers displaying the logo of a white supremacist group were placed on light poles in downtown Loveland before they were removed Friday evening,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “It’s unclear how long the stickers on two poles at Cleveland Avenue and Fifth Street had been up. They displayed Identity Evropa’s white-and-teal logo, similar to other stickers popping up across the Front Range in the past month, according to the Denver Post. The group, which helped plan the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is considered one of 21 hate groups in Colorado by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Clashes at the white supremacist rally last year left one counter-protester and two law enforcement officers dead.”

“A former Fremont County Sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Monday to three counts in connection to an alleged theft from a crime scene earlier this year,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Christopher Pape, 30, who is free on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond, pleaded guilty to theft, a Class 2 misdemeanor; official misconduct, also a Class 2 misdemeanor; and tampering with physical evidence, a Class 6 felony. Deputy District Attorney Thom LeDoux said the plea agreement calls for Pape to concede to aggravated circumstances. Also as part of the plea deal, initial charges of attempting to influence a public servant and abuse of public records were dropped. The sentencing range for the charges could be probation to three years in the Department of Corrections.”

“As one of the most influential alpinists of his generation, Jeff Lowe, a former Boulder County resident, came alive as a creative genius on frozen waterfalls, vertical rock walls and steep snow slopes in the Rockies, the Alps and the Himalayas,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “When the time came for him to die — which he regarded with deep curiosity as yet another adventure — he wanted to be outside for that, too. Lowe, who grew up in Utah but spent much of his adult life in Colorado, became the youngest to climb the Grand Teton at age 7. By his 20s he was renowned for his athleticism, grace and audacity while chalking up more than 1,000 first ascents. He had a reputation for climbs that others not only could not do but could not even imagine.”

“Health care ranks among the top issues in Colorado’s race for governor,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “But to hear the campaigns and their allies describe it, voters in November will be choosing between Democrat Jared Polis’ and Republican Walker Stapleton’s competing health scare policies. Both candidates say it’s a top priority to expand Coloradans’ access to health care and control costs, but Republican Stapleton and his supporters warn that Democrat Polis’ plans will impoverish the state and its residents, while the Polis camp argues Coloradans will lose coverage and financial protections under Stapleton’s proposals.”

“As a growing number of Colorado public safety agencies launch drones to help firefighting efforts, rescue lost hikers and take pictures of crime scenes, Denver’s police and fire departments are debating the merits of using unmanned aircraft,” reports The Denver Post. “For now, the Denver Police Department has shelved a consumer-grade drone recently purchased for nearly $3,000 after the administration nixed the crime lab’s plan to use it to photograph crime scenes. ‘We are not going to move forward with the drone program at this time,’ said Sonny Jackson, a department spokesman. ‘If we do, we will move forward with community input.'”

“The Montezuma County sheriff on Friday night said that a deputy faces dismissal or reassignment after he reportedly entered a classroom in Dolores during a security check and, using his hand to simulate a gun, pointed a finger at the teacher and said, ‘You’re dead,'” reports The Cortez Journal. “Sheriff Steve Nowlin responded to The Journal’s telephone calls on Friday evening, about three hours after Phil Kasper, superintendent of Dolores School District Re-4A, emailed a letter to parents and staff to update them about the Aug. 17 incident. Parents emailed copies of the letter to The Journal.”

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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