The Home Front: In Southwest Colorado, this year’s drought is ‘one for the record books’

Your morning roundup of stories from the front pages of newspapers across Colorado

“This year’s drought is one for the record books, – especially for Southwest Colorado,” reports The Durango Herald. “The Colorado water year, which ends Oct. 31, looks to be the fourth driest on record since the state began tracking water supplies 123 years ago. Southwest Colorado is expected to set a record for the lowest precipitation and driest water year on record, according to water officials who met Tuesday to review the state’s water supplies. Statewide, 2018 looks to be about the fourth driest, behind 1934, 2002 and 2012, with precipitation (rain and snow) about 4.55 inches below the statewide average of 16.67 inches. The Water Resources Task Force meets monthly to review precipitation and water levels at about 80 reservoirs scattered throughout the state. The review covers a water year – Nov. 1 to Oct. 31.”

“Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley changed course Tuesday night, choosing not to read a proclamation designating Sept. 17 as ‘Firearms Awareness and Safety Day’ in Longmont,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The anticipated proclamation drew at least 20 supporters to the city council meeting and left many of them disappointed by the mayor’s inaction. Bagley indicated he felt the proclamation, sought by Second Amendment rights advocates, would further fuel local divisiveness over gun issues. Before announcing he would not issue the proclamation, the mayor did not notify Jerry Britton — the Longmont resident who Bagley said approached him in July with a request for the proclamation — or any of the people Britton recruited as co-sponsors of the resolution.”

“Working as a caregiver has always been an easy task for Veronica Marquez,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “She took on an informal caregiver role when she was just 12 years old, to assist her mother, who had neuropathy and diabetes. That was almost 25 years ago, she says, and since then she’s formed strong bonds with many of her clients. ‘You have to have the heart for it, because you have to put yourself in their shoes,’ she said. ‘When I come to this age, I’d rather stay at home than a nursing home,’ she added. Many would agree with Marquez’s sentiments. In fact, 90 percent of seniors would prefer to stay at home as they age, according to a 2017 article by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) on the costs of aging in place.”

“After being taken aback by what it would take to raise $3.5 million as initially intended and putting the street repair enterprise fund on hold, the city may have come up with a solution to generate funds for the repairs,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “Councilman Bob Schilling and City Manager Sam Azad recently met to discuss what monthly rates to charge residents and businesses for the fund that was approved by voters last November. What they came up with is a 1/5/25/50 structure. That means the fee still would be $1 for homeowners and would be $5 for businesses in the service industry such as dentist and doctor offices, $25 for other businesses that see more traffic such as fast food restaurants and $50 for large, big-box businesses such as WalMart, Home Depot, etc., according to Azad.”

“Steamboat Springs School District ranks third in the state, according to the preliminary release of the 2018 state assessment results by the Colorado Department of Education,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “On a 100-point scale, Steamboat earned a “district performance framework” score of 82.5. The scores are most heavily weighed on the results of the CMAS — Colorado Measurements of Academic Success — tests given to third- through eighth-graders every spring, and the AP, PSAT and SAT tests given at the high school level.”

“At risk of toeing over a line in the City Charter prohibiting members of the City Council from being involved in personnel matters outside of their three direct employees — the city manager, attorney and municipal judge, Councilor Steve Olson gave Loveland Finance Director Brent Worthington some stiff feedback Tuesday on his work on a council-requested budget assistance spreadsheet,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “‘I don’t see how you could have reviewed (the document) and come to the conclusion that it was ready to come to council,’ Olson said. ‘… I can’t trust that the product that comes from at least a part of Finance will be complete.'”

“From his camping spot in downtown Denver, Shawn Campbell is an eyewitness to a surge of rats in Denver’s Civic Center park,” reports The Denver Post. “He most often sees them scurrying at midnight or 1 a.m., when he’s sleeping in the grass of the crown-jewel park. ‘One of these days, I’m going to report it,’ said Campbell, 31. ‘I’m not scared of them, but if they come by me …’ Many of the park’s daytime visitors have never seen the rodents, but the telltale signs of burrowing and chewing have been significantly more common in the last year, according to city staff members. It’s part of an increase in the number of rats citywide and statewide. ‘Based on complaints and referrals, we do think that there has been an uptick in the rodent population in the areas … right around Civic Center,’ said Danica Lee, director of the city’s public health inspections division.”

“Tuesday, Sept. 11, was a day to remember,” reports Vail Daily. “‘When I was a young boy, I wanted to grow up and become a cowboy or a pilot,’ U.S. Army and Vietnam veteran Capt. Pete Thompson told dozens of first responders during a memorial ceremony in Freedom Park. “Those were the heroic figures of our culture in the 1950s. ‘Today is 9/11 in the year 2018 and I’m 74 years of age. The world and our culture has changed a lot. If I was a little boy today, I would want to be what I’m looking at. You. The first responders of America. You. The firefighters, the police officers, the paramedics, state troopers. You are the combat front line of our society, because of 9/11, because of Hurricane Katrina, because of the Lake Christine fire. You’re on the front line every day.'”

“Lincoln Park resident Joshua Hinton and his neighbors are growing increasingly concerned about a mysterious odor plaguing their neighborhood, and they want to know if they are in danger,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Since Aug. 1, residents on Birch Street between Elm and Cedar avenues have noticed an intermittent odor that they say is causing some to fall ill, and others to send their children to live temporarily elsewhere. Hinton and other residents have spoken to nearly every Fremont County department head, including officials with the sheriff’s department and local health department, and Tuesday they brought to the matter to the Fremont County Board of Commissioners. ‘At this point, it is our opinion as a neighborhood this is a drug-related problem,’ Hinton said. ‘We have seen all of the signs of drug activity in the neighborhood. We have scouts on the streets at night reporting when law enforcement enters the area. We have people walking around that appear high, there is late daylight theft, and a person witnessed a vapor cloud pouring out of a residence that stopped as soon as we called 911.'”

“An oil and gas firm this week will plug a well operating near the intersection of U.S. 287 and Dillon Road in Lafayette prior to the likely development of nearly 700 homes on the parcel in coming years,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Lafayette officials said Tuesday that Extraction Oil and Gas, the Denver-based energy company proposing to drill thousands of acres near Lafayette’s eastern border, would begin work “on or around” Wednesday to “permanently plug and reclaim a well” near the intersection’s northeast corner.”

“U.S. Rep. Jared Polis said Tuesday that he’ll be glad to discuss releasing more of his tax returns once Walker Stapleton, his Republican opponent in the Colorado gubernatorial race, matches the seven years of tax records that Polis released a decade ago when he first ran for Congress,” reports The Gazette. ‘“I’ve released seven years of taxes, and we’re waiting for Walker Stapleton to release any of his taxes,’ Polis told reporters after touring a union training facility in Denver. ‘I hope he releases his — and his trust taxes — and, of course, after he releases some, we’ll be happy to talk about releasing more. But before I ran for office, I was proud to release seven years of taxes.'”

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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