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Local News
5:11 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Cuts Planned at USAFA

The Air Force Academy is planning a series of cuts as part of the Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal. KRCC's Eliza Densmore reports.

The cuts would eliminate three percent of the Academy’s workforce and 10 academic majors at the school. Degrees in biochemistry, environmental engineering, and philosophy are among the proposed cuts.

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Health
4:14 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Colorado Loses "Least Obese" Title

January-December 2013; Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
Credit Gallup

Colorado is no longer the least obese state in the country, according to a new Gallup poll released yesterday. KUNC’s Luke Runyon reports.
 

Since 2010 Colorado has consistently topped lists as having the slimmest population in the country. Not anymore. Montana has usurped the title, where 19.6% of the population is obese, compared to Colorado’s 20.4, putting the Centennial State in second place. Mississippi has the highest level, at 35 percent.

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Education
6:49 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Funding K-12: Bi-Partisan Bill Gets First Hearing

Credit Clipart

Dozens of school superintendents told lawmakers on the house education committee Monday that Colorado needs to do more to restore K through 12 budget cuts. After a 2013 ballot initiative failed to pass and solve the state’s funding challenges, the problem now falls into the laps of lawmakers. A bi-partisan bill to begin pumping more money into schools got its first hearing at the capitol.
 

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Capitol Conversation
7:33 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Senate Race Shakeup

Bente Birkeland

News last week that Republican Congressman Cory Gardner is entering the U.S. Senate race to try and unseat Democrat Mark Udall sent shock waves through Colorado’s political landscape.  The move has caused some Republicans to drop out of the race.  As part of our weekly Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about the change.
 

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Local News
10:39 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Parks & Wildlife Suspends Big Game Access Program

Recent budgetary shortfalls have forced Colorado Parks and Wildlife to end the Big Game Access Program. KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar reports.
 

The Big Game Access Program, or BGAP, was intended to evaluate the potential of landowners leasing properties in southeastern Colorado to allow for big game hunting.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Abbie Walls says she’s unsure of what the budget shortfall means to the future of BGAP.

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Elections
3:36 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

GOP Candidates Swap Races

U.S. Representative Cory Gardner (R)

Wednesday’s surprising race swap between Representative Cory Gardner and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck may demonstrate a game changer for Colorado’s Republican Party. Colorado State University political science professor Kyle Saunders says the solidly Republican 4th Congressional District is a more natural fit for Ken Buck. He thinks Gardner has a better opportunity to win the Senate race against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

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Capitol Coverage
9:39 am
Wed February 26, 2014

'The $100 Million Question': What To Do With All That Marijuana Tax Money?

Marijuana at a newly legal grow operation in Colorado. Lawmakers are expecting a windfall of tax revenue from legalized recreational marijuana.
Brett Levin Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 10:29 am

The market for legal recreational marijuana in Colorado is booming, and the state is expecting millions of dollars more in tax revenues that initially projected. That has lawmakers grappling with the best way to spend all of that additional cash.

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Capitol Conversation
7:33 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Education

Bente Birkeland

Lawmakers are rolling out a new bi-partisan funding plan for K through 12 schools, but many in the education community are not board with it. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about the education agenda this session, and some unusual alliances it's creating.
 

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Capitol Coverage
4:07 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Superintendents Seek Greater Role in Education Policy

Credit clipart

School superintendents in Colorado are concerned about the state’s legislative agenda this session. Nearly every school district in the state wrote a letter asking lawmakers to focus exclusively on restoring budget cuts to schools and drop bills they’re calling unnecessary. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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Local News
9:20 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Report: Black Forest Fire Chief Acted Properly

The Black Forest Fire/Rescue District has released some of the findings from an independent investigation into Fire Chief Bob Harvey’s response during last year’s devastating blaze.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.
 

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Capitol Coverage
7:21 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

GOP Gubernatorial Challengers Debate

Four of the six Republican candidates seeking to replace Governor John Hickenlooper in the fall faced off in their first formal debate last night at the Denver Post. As Bente Birkeland reports, they touched on a host of topics – including the two missing candidates.
 

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Local News
3:58 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Ute Pass Construction Work Begins

Ute Pass Final Flash Flood Risk Analysis Map (July 24, 2013)

Construction on U.S. 24 through Ute Pass started today resulting in lane closures until April. KRCC's Rachel Gonchar reports:

Flood mitigation construction along the eastbound route has all traffic shifted to westbound lanes. The Colorado Department of Transportation says it will stay that way for around two weeks until it’s completed. The traffic will then shift to the eastbound lanes so the work can continue on the other side.

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Local News
3:29 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Update: Buena Vista Routes Re-Open

UPDATE: According to Chaffee County Sheriff spokeswoman Laura Smith, an x-ray of the explosive device determined it was a "practice round" and nothing suspicious.  The Buena Vista Police Department re-took custody of the scene, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will take the device back to the crime lab for processing.  Streets have reopened and the investigation is ongoing.

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11:43 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Explosive Device in Buena Vista Causes Evacuations, Closures

Lead in text: 
An explosive device in the back of a pickup truck closed streets and around the Buena Vista stoplight. "The library and nearby buildings were evacuated, streets were closed and a code red alert was broadcast to the community. Schools were also locked down as a 'precautionary measure,' [BV Police Chief] Tidwell said." The article goes on to say that El Paso County bomb squad is on its way to Buena Vista.
"We had a lady that came to the PD this morning after 7 and reported that there was an explosive device in the back of her pickup," Tidwell said. The woman apparently parked her vehicle to clean the library, and discovered the what she believed to be an explosive device when she returned to her car.
Connecting the Drops
7:47 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Water Use and Electric Generation

Water use by Power Plant
Credit Headwaters, Fall 2013 / Colorado Foundation for Water Education

It takes water to produce electricity, but how much water varies a lot depending on the fuel source and the power generating technology. In Colorado, around half a percent of our total water usage is used to generate electricity.
 

It’s a small percentage, says Stacy Tellinghusen, water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates, a non-profit conservation group, but adds that it’s not inconsequential. 

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Capitol Coverage
10:14 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Debating US Hwy 36 and a Public-Private Partnership

Colorado is embarking into uncharted territory as the Department of Transportation creates its first public private partnership along U.S. Highway 36. CDOT officials say they don’t have the money to repair and maintain all the state’s roads and bridges and this agreement is necessary. But as Bente Birkeland reports, several lawmakers have serious concerns and want to slow down the project.
 

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Local News
4:13 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Two Incidents, Two Avalanche Related Deaths

Two are dead in separate avalanches in Colorado this week.  KRCC’s Elaina Formby reports.
 

One avalanche caught two snowmobilers, killing one near Kebler Pass, west of Crested Butte.  Another avalanche by the North Fork Swan River, south of Keystone Ski Resort, caught two skiers. One escaped, the other, a man in his 40s from the Front Range, was found dead at 11:30 this morning.

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Local News
4:59 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Poll: Legal Pot Hurts Colorado's Reputation

A new poll released by Quinnipiac University suggests Colorado voters believe marijuana legalization is hurting the state’s reputation.  But as KRCC’s Nat Stein reports, voters still continue to support the laws.

51% of polled voters in the state say legal pot is bad for Colorado’s image. Only 38% say the new laws are helping.

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Local News
4:52 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Regulators Discuss Status of Legal Pot

Credit clipart

The top pot regulators in Colorado are meeting today to discuss the status of the recently legal recreational marijuana business. KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar reports.

A month after the sale of marijuana in Colorado officially became legal, state lawyers and law professors are gathering with top rule makers to talk about how the industry and regulation is going.

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Capitol Conversation
7:48 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Branding Colorado

Capitol Coverage reporter Bente Birkeland

Last summer Colorado officials rolled out a new state brand and logo. It’s popular among some groups but received mixed support at the state capitol. A Republican bill to send the branding question to a vote of the people failed at the statehouse. As part of capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about the back story and where the branding issue goes from here.
 

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Local News
2:07 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Study: Economic Impact of Amtrak in Southern Colorado

The existing Amtrak Southwest Chief Service through Colorado, and how it would reroute with a new station in Pueblo
Credit Summary of the Southwest Chief Impact Study, Kevin Duncan & Michael Wakefield / CSU-Pueblo

Revised, 04/24/14:  New out-of-state visitor numbers supplied to study co-author Kevin Duncan after this report aired lowers the estimated annual impact to around $3.4 million annually.  Duncan writes that it's "about $34 million over ten years. The additional cost of providing service to Pueblo is estimated to be between $26 and $30 million."

Original report:

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Interview
6:38 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Researchers use Lasers to Measure Snowpack

Researches are using lasers to determine snowpack. These images show measurements of snow water equivalent (top) and snow albedo, or reflectivity (image) for the Tuolumne River Basin in California's Sierra Nevada in April, 2013. Albedo shows the percentage of sunlight reflected back; the lower the albedo, the faster the snowmelt rate and runoff.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists in Colorado are working to improve runoff forecasting in the West so water managers can meet growing needs in the future. A growing population coupled with climate change means every drop will count. Scientists are mapping terrain and snow with lasers to provide a more accurate picture of the snowpack. It's called the NASA JPL Airborne Snow Observatory. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with Jeff Deems, a research scientist with the University of Colorado, Boulder. He’s involved with the project.
 

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Capitol Coverage
4:44 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Radio Communications Bill Clears First Committee

A bill to study how to upgrade the state’s emergency radio communication system is moving through the statehouse. Lawmakers say the bill is important in the wake of recent wildfires and floods. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

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Local News
2:23 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Restoration and Preservation Grants Awarded

The State Historical Fund, or SHF, has awarded nearly $9 million total in grants for preservation projects all over the state.  KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.
 

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, the Fine Arts Center, and the Canon City Carnegie Library are among the southern Colorado structures that recently received funds.

Steve Turner, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, says often the buildings chosen for the grants are among the most loved places in a community.  "They also are frequently really the civic heart of a community," Turner said.

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Local News
12:39 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Colorado Gains USDA Climate Change Research Hub

Credit Clipart

The U.S Department of Agriculture is setting up seven new research hubs across the country to help farmers adapt to climate change. And as KUNC’s Luke Runyon reports, one will be in northern Colorado.
 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in the past few years farmers across the Midwest have grappled with epic drought, mega-blizzards and crippling heat.

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Local News
8:31 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Volunteers Train for Phone Ops During Large Emergencies

Trainings for volunteer call takers during large emergencies in the Pikes Peak region are taking place this week.  It’s a collaboration between Pikes Peak United Way 211, the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.  KRCC’s Martha Perez-Sanz was at the first gathering and has this report.
 

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Local News
6:32 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

"Making Colorado" Brand Sees 250 Registrants

Credit brandColorado

250 companies have registered for Colorado’s new branding program since its launch last year, even as the logo faces a legislative challenge. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.
 

“Making Colorado” looks to have a unified logo for products made in the state. The logo is currently under legislative review after mixed reaction. 

Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Kennedy says the new registrations are a great start and it’s too early to tell what may come of action at the statehouse.

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Capitol Coverage
3:56 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Democrats Strike Down Background Check Repeal

Credit clipart

The gun debate that riveted the state capitol last session once again took center stage yesterday. As Bente Birkeland reports, emotions were strong, but compared to last year, fewer people came to the capitol to testify on a key gun bill.

Republicans have vowed to repeal a package of gun control proposals that the Democrats passed. The first bill in their sights? The bill that brought universal background checks and fees for gun purchases to Colorado.

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Capitol Coverage
7:55 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Guns Stay Hot Topic at Statehouse

Credit clipart

After dominating last year’s legislative session, state lawmakers are once again beginning to debate the issue of guns. Republicans are taking the lead this time around, trying to repeal many Democratic bills including stepped up background checks.
 

The background check law was part of a larger package of gun control bills Democrats passed in the wake of the Aurora Theater shooting and shooting in Newtown Connecticut. Republicans say Democrats overreached.  

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Capitol Conversation
7:01 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Measures Start Moving through Statehouse

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland

Some of the meatier bills of the legislative session are beginning to move through the statehouse. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to political reporters about what's on the horizon.
 

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