Local News

Education
7:11 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

CSU-Pueblo Freshmen Enrollment Numbers are Up

Colorado State University-Pueblo is reporting increased freshmen enrollment. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

CSU-Pueblo saw a 15% increase in freshman enrollment with an expected decline in continuing student enrollment. The increase included a higher ethnic diversity of students, especially Hispanic. The percentage of out of state and international students also rose.

University officials credit the increase to several new facilities and beefed-up recruitment strategies and outreach, and they expect this trend to continue.

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Local News
7:04 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

USS Pueblo Crewmembers Reunite in Pueblo

USS Pueblo (AGER-2) off San Diego, California, 19 October 1967
Credit Public Domain

Crew members from the USS Pueblo are holding a reunion in Southern Colorado after the ship was captured by North Korea nearly half a century ago.  KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar has more.
 

Originally an Army freight vessel, the USS Pueblo was transferred to the United States Navy and became an American spy ship. It was renamed after Pueblo County in the 1960’s. In January 1968, North Korean patrol boats captured the ship while it was cruising alone off the North Korean coast.

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Capitol Coverage
4:33 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Governor Trails Beauprez in Quinnipiac Poll

GOP gubernatorial challenger Bob Beauprez and Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper
Credit Beauprez-U.S. House / Hickenlooper-State of Colorado

Less than a week after a Denver Post poll listed the Governor’s race as too close to call, a new poll out today has Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez ten points ahead of Governor John Hickenlooper. Bente Birkeland has more.

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Capitol Coverage
7:33 am
Wed September 17, 2014

State Rejects Stricter Medical Marijuana Caregiver Rules

Jenea Cox - who testified at the hearing - and her 5-year-old daughter Haleigh. They moved to Colorado from Georgia so Haleigh could take a special medical marijuana strain to help with her seizures.
Credit Bente Birkeland / RMCR

The state board of health has voted against setting maximum patient caps for medical marijuana caregivers. The proposed rule would have limited caregivers to just ten patients. After a tense and at times tearful hearing on Tuesday, the board said the change was unnecessary. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

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Capitol Conversation
5:17 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Political Debate Season Opens

Capitol reporter Bente Birkeland

Political debate season kicked off in Colorado over the weekend with candidates running for Governor and U.S. senate among those facing off in Grand Junction. Club 20 hosted the debate. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland analyzes the major themes and arguments.
 

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Southwest Chief
4:21 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Southwest Chief Application Receives TIGER Grant

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Efforts to preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief long-distance passenger train service that runs through southern Colorado got a financial boost.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports on a grant from the federal Department of Transportation that will help fix some of the regional track that’s in most need of repair.

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Public Safety
10:09 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Colorado's Volunteer Firefighting Corps Face Staffing Issues

Peyton Fire Department assistant chief Rob Nordeman waits for firefighters to arrive during their weekly training session at the all-volunteer station in Peyton, Colo., on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.
Credit Joe Mahoney / Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Volunteer firefighters protect about half of Colorado’s residents, with solely volunteer departments being responsible for about 70 percent of the state’s land surface.

And they are significantly understaffed.

The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association estimates that Colorado is short 3,500 volunteers in meeting National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. That would require an increase of more than 40 percent to the present force. 

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Fort Carson
5:18 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Fort Carson Conducts Crisis Exercise and Separate Live-Fire Exercise

Fort Carson is conducting a full-scale crisis exercise Tuesday and Wednesday.  The training is expected to feature a simulated car bomb near Prussman Chapel on the Mountain Post.

Those on base can expect road closures from 5 am until 3 pm Tuesday, specifically Prussman between Berkeley and McGrath, and Porter Street. McGrath will be down to one lane for about a block.  Detours may also be in place.

The annual exercise tests emergency response procedures.  Previous simulations include chemical spills, terrorist attacks, and winter weather.

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Two-Way
7:30 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Colorado Looks to Advanced Technology for Battling Wildfires

An example of thermal imaging from the 2008 Freeway Fire near the City of Yorba Linda in southern California
Credit Phil Riggan

Colorado’s legislature this year created the state’s own air fleet for fighting wildfires. The endeavor includes four helicopters, two single engine air tankers, and two PC-12 single engine planes equipped with new thermal imaging technology.  The move has put Colorado at the forefront of utilizing advanced technology to battle the destructive blazes.  Reporter Ryan Maye Handy wrote a series of articles for the Colorado Springs Gazette about this new technology.  She spoke with KRCC's Andrea Chalfin about it.
 

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Capitol Coverage
4:37 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Oil & Gas Task Force Delayed

The Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force charged with coming up with new recommendations for the energy industry is getting off to a slower than anticipated start. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

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Local News
8:54 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Road Closures for USA Pro Challenge to Start Wednesday

The USA Pro Challenge makes its way to Colorado Springs on Thursday for Stage 4. Cyclists will start at the Broadmoor and make their way through downtown before heading up to Garden of the Gods. They'll repeat the downtown to Garden of the Gods circuit four times for a total of 70 miles.

In preparation, road closures will begin on Wednesday, with various reopening times on Thursday.

Roads closures Wednesday start at 9:00 AM:

Tejon between Kiowa and Colorado
Pikes Peak between Cascade and Nevada

5:00 PM Wednesday:

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Local News
8:55 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Black Forest Fire Chief 'No Longer Employed'

Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey is apparently no longer with the department. A statement from the fire district says Chief Harvey cleared his personal items out of his office on Wednesday. Harvey has been on medical leave since early June, and the Board of Directors was looking to schedule a meeting with him to discuss his condition and his intentions.  The board then learned Harvey had said elsewhere that he was no longer employed.

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Connecting the Drops
8:15 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Colorado's Water Plan

Sunset at McPhee Reservoir near Cortez. The reservoir provides crucial irrigation and municipal water to the Four Corners region.
Credit Colorado Foundation for Water Education

It’s been over a year since Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order calling for the creation of a state water plan.  It won’t be a legal document, but the plan is expected to make recommendations that will guide future water planning and funding decisions.  The process is well underway, with a deadline to deliver a draft plan by this December.
 

Mike Preston, manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District, which stores and delivers water from the Dolores River, stands next to an irrigation outlet on McPhee Reservoir, near Cortez. 

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Drought
4:45 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Colorado Drought Conditions Improve; 'Exceptional' Classification Lifted

U. S. Drought Monitor
Credit Richard Tinker / NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Drought conditions in Colorado have seen another week of slight improvements across the state, and the worst category of drought has disappeared altogether.  One week ago, about .5% of Colorado was classified as “Exceptional Drought,” all in southeastern Colorado.  Now, that area is categorized under  “Extreme Drought.” One year ago, 3% of the state was listed as “Exceptional Drought.” 

The U. S. Drought Monitor currently shows normal conditions across 60% of Colorado.  One year ago, that number was 1.5%.

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Manitou Incline
4:32 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Manitou Incline Closing For Repairs Aug 18

Manitou Incline
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The Manitou Incline will close in mid August for trail maintenance. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, the heavily traveled path is showing the effects of use and Mother Nature.

The work will include repairing damaged retaining walls, unclogging culverts, and rerouting the connecting trail between the Incline and the Barr Trail.

Sarah Bryarly is a landscape architect for the City of Colorado Springs Parks Department and the Project Manager for the Incline reconstruction. She says the repairs are focused on protecting the incline from runoff.

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Southwest Chief
3:56 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Southwest Chief Commission Prepares to Meet

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s commission to look at preserving Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line is gearing up to start its meetings. 

The commission’s been tasked with coordinating efforts to try and save the line, which faces possible rerouting out of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico if necessary infrastructure upgrades aren’t completed.

Jim Souby is the President of the Colorado Rail Passenger Association, and was appointed to the commission to represent the tourism industry.

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Wildfire Mitigation
7:06 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Bureau of Land Management Looks at New Fire Managment Plan

The Bureau of Land Management is finalizing an updated fire management plan for the Front Range. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

The Royal Gorge office has divided the Front Range into Northeast and Royal Gorge planning areas, with the latter including Las Animas, Pueblo, and Fremont Counties. Changes to the fire management plan include more thinning, seeding and controlled burns. Ed Skerjanec is the Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist for the Bureau. He says the new plan looks to be more flexible and widespread:

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Capitol Coverage
9:28 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Oil & Gas Deals

Bente Birkeland

Now that Governor John Hickenlooper and Democratic Congressman Jared Polis have reached a deal to avoid an expensive fight at the ballot box over oil and gas drilling, Bente Birkeland takes a look at the next steps. She talks to statehouse reporters about what the deal means politically and the likelihood of a legislative compromise succeeding.
 

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Energy
5:10 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Colorado Dismisses Lawsuit Against Longmont's Oil and Gas Rules

State energy regulators have dropped their lawsuit against the city of Longmont for adopting stricter oil and gas rules that Colorado officials argued infringed on the state’s rights. Bente Birkeland has more…

Meanwhile, a judge in Fort Collins today ruled that that city's ban on fracking violates state law.

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Southwest Chief
7:30 am
Wed August 6, 2014

A Funding Quandary: Who Should Pay to Save the Southwest Chief?

Amtrak's Southwest Chief pulls into the Raton, NM station in May.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a long-distance passenger train that travels daily from Chicago to Los Angeles along the Mountain Route of the historic Santa Fe Trail.  Along the way, it knits together rural communities, like La Junta, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico and connects them to larger cities, like Albuquerque and Kansas City.  The route is at risk though.

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Capitol Coverage
4:41 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Oil & Gas Ballot Fight Avoided

Colorado will avoid a costly ballot fight this November over oil and gas drilling. One day after Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said he would pull the two anti-fracking ballot initiatives he’s backing, industry groups are following suit dropping a pair of pro oil and gas proposals. As Bente Birkeland reports, the agreement will still have ramifications for the political season.
 

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Energy
1:43 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Oil & Gas Deal Creates Task Force, Seeks Withdraw of Ballot Initiatives

Congressman Jared Polis and Governor John Hickenlooper announce a deal on oil and gas to avoid a costly fight at the ballot box.
Credit Bente Bikeland / RMCR

Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said he would call on the withdrawal of two anti-fracking ballot initiatives he’s backing so the state can try to craft a legislative solution. He said he made the decision in the last few days, “I’ve said that from the very start my personal preference is to address these issues legislatively.”

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Capitol Coverage
7:06 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Undocumented Immigrants Eligible for Colorado Driver's Licenses

Starting today Colorado residents who are in the country illegally can apply to get a state driver’s license. The Democratic controlled legislature passed the law in 2013. Ten other states have similar laws already on the books.
 

Undocumented immigrants must first prove that they’ve lived in Colorado for the last two years and have paid state and federal taxes. They’ll also have to show an ID from their home country such as a passport, and sign an affidavit pledging to apply for legal status.

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Capitol Coverage
10:50 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Personhood's Third Attempt Seeps Into Colorado's Close Senate Race

Opponents of Amendment 67 hold a rally at the state capitol in Denver. The amendment would give unborn babies the same constitutional and legal rights as a person.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 12:26 pm

Colorado voters will once again decide on an amendment that would give unborn babies the same constitutional and legal rights as a person. The measure is bringing out some familiar faces – it’s also impacting one of the closest U.S. Senate races in the country.

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Capitol Coverage
7:33 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Proposed Rules to Reduce Carbon Emissions the Subject of EPA Hearings in Denver

Coal supporters opposed to the EPA rules rally in front of the state capitol.
Credit Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Hundreds of people are expected to testify in Denver this week on proposed rules to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Denver hearing is one of several the Environmental Protection Agency is hosting across the country on the plans.
 

Sixty-nine year old Stanley Sturgill is from a small coalmining town in southeastern Kentucky. He flew to Denver for the day just to make his voice heard…

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Health
7:10 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Needle Exchange Program Opens in Pueblo

Pueblo’s first needle exchange is set to take place Friday.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.
 

The exchange is geared toward illegal injection drug users in order to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis B and C, and HIV. Access Point Pueblo is a legal syringe access program and is hosting the exchange. 

Dr. Michael Nerenberg sits on the City-County Board of Health and has helped bring the program to Pueblo. He’s also a retired emergency room physician who worked in the city for over 24 years. Nerenberg says he’s seen drug use, including heroin, escalate over the years.

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Southwest Chief
7:03 am
Fri July 25, 2014

TIGER Grant Announcement Expected this Fall

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Recipients of an annual federal transportation grant are expected to be announced this fall. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, officials in Southern Colorado are hoping the grant will help keep Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line on its current route.

The grant is known as the TIGER grant, and is part of a federal funding program that helps finance large transportation projects nationwide.

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Harvest Public Media
7:56 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Mutton Busting: A Rodeo Tradition

Two cowboys lift a mutton busting participant onto a wooly sheep at the Greeley Stampede rodeo.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media & KUNC

A furry beast, a brave rider and a roaring crowd make up the list of ingredients for the Western rodeo tradition known as “mutton busting.” Think of it as bull-riding, but for 6-year-olds, and the furry beast is actually a wooly sheep.
 

Mutton busting has its roots in Colorado, where it was first introduced in the 1980s at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The crowd-pleaser is now a favorite at many rodeos and county fairs across the Midwest and Great Plains.

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Waldo Canyon
8:18 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Volunteer Waldo Canyon Restoration Projects Continue

Waldo Canyon restoration continues this weekend on Saturday with an effort from Volunteers For Outdoor Colorado. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

The project looks to help protect nearby water supplies, infrastructure, and Highway 24, by working on a number of erosion control issues, including dead tree removal, sandbagging, and reseeding grass and trees.

Volunteer for Outdoor Colorado spokeswoman Jessica Von Duerring says it’s part of an ongoing effort to help restore the burn scar.

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Capitol Coverage
10:41 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Judge Rules Against Colorado's Gay Marriage Ban

Credit clipart

A federal judge in Colorado struck down the state’s gay marriage ban Wednesday. The judge put a temporary hold on the decision so the state can appeal it to a higher court. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

The judge in this case has issued a stay until late August as part of the ruling to give the state a chance to appeal.  While Attorney General John Suthers and Governor John Hickenlooper both requested a stay so the issue could eventually be decided by the U. S. Supreme Court, both agreed the state ban should be declared unconstitutional.

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