The Home Front: 100-megawatt solar facility south of Pueblo gets ‘stiff opposition’ from neighbors

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

“A company wanting to build a 100-megawatt solar energy generation facility in Stem Beach is facing stiff opposition from neighbors in the adjacent St. Charles River Estates community south of Pueblo,” reports The Puelo Chieftain. “We have numerous concerns, but the biggest concern is the fire danger,” said Rocky Mangini, who was speaking on behalf of the neighborhood. ‘This proposed industrial facility is 750 acres of solar panels and we are 60 feet away from it. The only thing that separates this facility and us is a 60-foot right-of-way road, Burnt Mill Road. That fire danger is real.'”

“Petroleum producers targeted by Boulder and Boulder County in a bid to hold them responsible for current and future costs associated with climate change are trying in a recent court filing to push the blame back on virtually anyone who uses fossil fuels,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “In a filing dated Sept. 10, the Exxon Mobil Corporation and Suncor Energy that is labeled a defendants’ designation of ‘non-parties at fault,’ the corporations deny that they bear any fault for damages cited by Boulder, Boulder County, and San Miguel County, which is also party to the suit that was filed April 17. But the filing goes further, in saying that the county governments ‘combust fossil fuels — the alleged root cause of their injuries.’ Accordingly, the plaintiff governments ‘are by definition ‘at fault’ for the alleged damages they claim to have sustained,’ the filing states.”

“A hot housing market and a resurgence in manufacturing boosted economic output in the Colorado Springs area by the biggest percentage since 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said Tuesday,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “The 2017 growth rate was slightly behind Denver and somewhat ahead of Boulder but well behind the surging growth of Greeley and Fort Collins, which ranked sixth and 13th, respectively, among the nation’s 383 metropolitan areas. Denver ranked 47th, and the Springs ranked 58th behind top-ranked and oil-rich Odessa, Texas, which grew 12.1 percent from 2016. The Springs area’s output, which the federal agency calls gross domestic product, rose 5 percent from 2016 to $32.7 billion, up from a 3.5 percent growth rate in 2016 and the biggest annual gain since a major troop buildup at Fort Carson helped to push growth to 5.5 percent in 2010. The 3.5 percent rate for 2016 first was reported at 5.4 percent but was revised downward as more information became available.”

“The typical playbook for winning a statewide, top-ballot race goes something like this: Be Republican enough for Republicans, Democratic enough for Democrats, and moderate enough for all Colorado,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “‘Purple’ Colorado is one of only 13 states represented by a Republican and a Democrat in the U.S. Senate. While the state House of Representatives is firmly under Democratic control, Republicans have a narrow majority in the Senate. The state’s recent top-ballot elections have largely gone to the candidate that presents him or herself in the most moderate light.”

“The group that funded a failed attempt to recall Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer this summer was hit with a $975 fine and will have to release a report of its donors and expenditures after the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office agreed to settle a campaign finance complaint against it,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The 5767 Task Force, a dark-money group that supplied the majority of the recall effort’s funding, reached an agreement with the state Friday, three weeks after the secretary of state’s elections division filed a complaint against the group with the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts. Under the terms of the settlement, the group will have to make its donors and expenditures public no later than Wednesday.”

“Will I outlive my savings? Will I have a golden retirement? Will I ever be able to retire at all? These are the questions that keep many Americans awake at night,” reports The Glenwood Spring Post-Independent. “Colorado has the third-fastest rate of growth in the 65-plus age group, as the baby boomer generation continues to age into the retirement years. Boomers made up 25 percent of the state’s population just three years ago, and the number of those age 65 and up is expected to grow by 77 percent to nearly 1.3 million by 2030. Garfield County is a big part of that growth, with its attractive outdoors lifestyle and relatively convenient access to health care and other services for the senior population.”

“Longmont City Council members voted unanimously during a Tuesday study session to direct staff to allocate $380,000 in the proposed 2019 budget for planning and design of quiet zones for at least some of the railroad crossings,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “That money also would include funds for a “community engagement” effort to involve the public in helping decide which crossings’ improvements would be constructed when, if money is available in 2020 and following years. As originally recommended last month by city staff, the yet-to-be-adopted 2019 budget would have included only $30,000 toward the estimated $350,000 cost of planning and designing as many as 11 such railroad crossing quiet zones.”

“With one of the worst wildfire seasons in state and national memory continuing to unfold into the fall, local legislators in northwest Colorado are pleading federal representatives to push Congress on restoring funding for U.S. Forest Service districts with forestland in their counties,” reports Summit Daily. “The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) sent Sen. Michael Bennett, Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Scott Tipton a letter last month, urging the Colorado delegation to put pressure on the rest of Congress to restore funding that has been slashed over the past few decades.”

“Run Rabbit Run racers were not the only ones to pull a fast one Saturday,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Thousands of dollars in cash were stolen from the race’s merchandise tent, money that race organizers had planned to give to nonprofits. As Race Director Paul Sachs was announcing the awards ceremony at Steamboat Resort, volunteers realized the cash bag had gone missing from the tent where organizers were selling race merchandise. Sachs said the volunteer working the merchandise tent looked one way, turned back around and found the bag was gone.”

“Larimer County’s share of the cost of fighting the 231-acre Seaman Fire is expected to be around $100,000,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The fire, sparked by lightning Sept. 11, burned mostly U.S. Forest Service land but did spread onto some private property west of Fort Collins in the lower Poudre Canyon. Crews battled the fire for several days before reaching full containment Friday. The total cost of fire suppression is still being tallied, but Justin Whitesell, the county’s emergency operations manager, told the county commissioners Tuesday that it is expected to reach $1.1 million. Most of the cost will be paid by the Forest Service, but Larimer County will pay a percentage for the days it burned on private land in the county.”

“Coloradans are so eager to fix their state’s schools, education supporters say, they will happily vote in November for an unprecedented $1.5 billion in local bond issues to build new classrooms as well as a separate $1.6 billion statewide tax measure to boost funding for every student and increase services to special programs,” reports The Denver Post. “‘We’ve talked to hundreds of people, not only in Jefferson County but elsewhere, and they want all kids to be in safe and secure schools and get the programming they need to succeed,’ said Westminster parent James Earley, who has been lobbying for the statewide proposal, Amendment 73, as well as Jefferson County’s $567 million bond issue. ‘I think people see the needs everywhere.'”

“Spoiler alert: For those who just can’t wait until the Eagle County Open Space Department unveils its management plan for the Hardscrabble Ranch property during an open house Wednesday, Sept. 19, the entire 131-page document is already available online,” reports Vail Daily.

“The Cañon City Police Department is working to not only update record keeping systems for pawnbroker-type merchants but also to cut down on local property thefts,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “A proposed amended ordinance would affect businesses in Cañon City that function similar to a pawn shop and accept merchandise for purchase from a private seller. The CCPD will host a problem-solving meeting Thursday with business owners to discuss the proposal.”

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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