The Home Front: The two summer wildfires in Routt National Forest ‘have cost millions of dollars to fight’

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

“The two large fires that burned over the summer in the Routt National Forest have cost millions of dollars to fight,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The lightning-caused Silver Creek Fire that was discovered July 19 southeast of Steamboat Springs has cost an estimated $28 million. “This is not a final number,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said. The human-caused Ryan Fire discovered Sept. 15 near the Wyoming border has cost an estimated $8 million.”

“As the Colorado Department of Transportation works to expand north Interstate 25 from Denver to Fort Collins, the outcomes of two ballot initiatives will decide how different parts of the project are completed. The U.S. 34-Interstate 25 interchange is a prime example,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “If either Proposition 109 or Proposition 110 passes, the U.S. 34 bridge over Interstate 25 will likely be reconstructed entirely, said CDOT spokesman Jared Fiel.”

“Analysis by a Colorado School of Mines researcher says that while a drilling setback measure on this fall’s ballot would allow drilling on only 15 percent of nonfederal land in the state, nearly three times as much nonfederal subsurface area might still be accessible through the use of directional drilling,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Peter Maniloff, an assistant professor of economics studying energy and environmental policy, conducted the analysis. He estimates that drilling down and then out horizontally a mile from locations in that 15 percent of nonfederal land that would remain accessible if Proposition 112 passes would result in the ability to reach 42 percent of the subsurface.”

“Lafayette City Council on Tuesday tabled plans for the Sundar Apartment complex over concerns raised by neighbors regarding the project’s density, access and potential impact on a supposed prairie dog colony,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Plans for the residential development eventually include nearly 700 homes along the city’s eastern reaches. Milestone Development Group, which also built the city’s Luna Bella Apartments, hopes to install 684 units spread across 19 apartment buildings on the site over the next several years, according to city records.”

“A long-standing partnership between the city’s two institutions of higher learning just got stronger and broader, with students the ultimate beneficiaries,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “On Tuesday at the Occhiato Student Center on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo, Tim Mottet, president of CSU-Pueblo, and Pueblo Community College President Patty Erjavec signed expanded articulation agreements between the two institutions — pacts that refined nearly 60 transfer guides designed to make the transition from a PCC associate degree to a four-year credential from CSU-Pueblo more seamless.”

“Glenwood Springs City Council is set to conduct a first reading Thursday night of an ordinance that would potentially place a moratorium on vacation rentals by owners, known as VRBOs,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “According to recent correspondence between Glenwood Springs Community Development Planner II Hannah Klausman and council members, since the city’s formal program allowing for VRBOs began in 2013 the total number of registered vacation rentals in the city has climbed from seven to 88.”

“Loveland’s primary coordinator of overnight shelter to homeless adults, 137 Homeless Connection, will host its first-ever fundraiser this weekend to bolster its budget,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The event, called “Heads on Beds,” will serve chili and offer dancing and live music from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at The Boar and Bull, 422 E. Fourth St. in Loveland. The suggested donation is $20 per person, and the organization hopes to raise $25,000 by the end of the night. 137 Connection is supported by the nonprofit House of Neighborly Service, but the demand for services causes 137 to be annually over-budget, said 137 Connection program manager Doug Ashbaugh.”

“Voters younger than 30 are the least likely to participate in elections nationally, but a nonpartisan group is working hard to ensure young adults participate in the upcoming midterm election,” reports The Durango Herald. “The New Era Colorado Foundation registered 40,000 young voters this fall in Colorado, including 2,000 on the Western Slope, according to a news release. It was the largest independent voter registration drive in Colorado.”

“When Dana Ress moved to Denver from New York in 2016, the 27-year-old CEO of a small tech company wasn’t sure whether he was allowed to vote — or even if he deserved the opportunity,” reports The Denver Post. “‘I didn’t have a Colorado driver’s license,’ Ress said. ‘I wasn’t sure if I technically even lived here. Was I a resident? I was going to change addresses soon. I didn’t know much about Colorado politics and didn’t want to be irresponsible voting. It was just this general feeling of confusion and maybe even feeling kind of stupid for not knowing the answers to these things.'”

“City council did not pursue an emergency ban on so-called McMansions Tuesday night after an outpouring of comments from homeowners and builders in Boulder frustrated over the rushed public process,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The issue has been on council’s agenda since the start of the year; members have expressed concern that smaller houses are being demolished and replaced with bigger, more expensive homes. Proposals were discussed at a September study session, but Tuesday’s vote was a last-minute move. Twenty-two people showed up to speak at the hastily scheduled vote. All but a handful opposed the proposed moratorium, which would temporarily stop the permitting of homes over 3,500 square feet on lots of 10,000 square feet or more.”

“As the Summit County Sheriff race heats up, turnover and retention rates at the office have become a major talking point for voters and candidates alike,” reports Summit Daily. “But what do the actual numbers say? During the Summit Daily News’ election forum earlier this month, sheriff hopeful Derek Woodman made the issue one of the platforms of his campaign, claiming that something needed to be done about turnover rates that have ballooned to 70 percent under Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons’ watch. Additionally, Woodman questioned the office’s response time, claiming that it is currently around 15 minutes.”

“Years of planning, months of preparation and hours of meetings and conversations were put to a halt Monday when the Cañon City Council rejected an intergovernmental agreement with the Department of Transportation for the proposed Cañon City U.S,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “50 Access Control Plan. The vote came down to Mayor Preston Troutman’s tie-breaker. Council members Frank Jaquez, John Hamrick and Kaitlin Turner voted in favor of approving the IGA, while Dolly Gonzales, Amanda Cochran and Jim Meisner voted in opposition.”

“Until now, Eagle County emergency personnel who responded to local mental health calls had two choices for their patients,” reports Vail Daily. “They could take them to the emergency room, or they could take them to the jail. But now there is a third option, thanks to the Hope Center Eagle River Valley. This option involves bringing mental health counseling services directly to patients, wherever they are.”

“Mercedes Fermelia was 2 months old when Matthew Shepard — a gay University of Wyoming student — was tied to a fence, beaten, robbed and left to die just outside Laramie, Wyoming,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “But she didn’t hear his story until she came out to her parents as lesbian when she was 16 years old.”

“Robert Framel is the superintendent of Kit Carson schools, plus the trigonometry teacher, and the precalculus teacher, and the sixth-grade math teacher,” reports The Colorado Sun. “He picked up the math classes after he couldn’t find a qualified teacher willing to move to the eastern Colorado town of 400 people and work for a school system that offers a starting salary of $30,000.”

“Denver police released body-camera footage on Tuesday of a shooting in March that left a man dead after police opened fire into a car they incorrectly believed contained a fugitive attempted murder suspect,” reports Denverite. “The video was released after District Attorney Beth McCann earlier Tuesday ruled the March 19 shooting death of Steven Nguyen justified.”

“Colorado Rising, the group backing Proposition 112 on the November ballot, has cancelled a rally in support of the oil-and-gas setbacks measure that had been planned in Greeley Friday, Oct. 19, saying that tempers are running too hot and some of its supporters are being intimidated,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “Proposition 112 would bar oil and gas operations within 2,500 feet of homes, businesses and schools. Opponents said that would virtually ban the industry from working on privately owned lands in Colorado, cost the state and local tax bases about $1 billion a year and seriously hamper a major employment industry in the state.”

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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