In this week's Capitol Conversation, Bente Birkeland takes a look at the policy debates ahead. She talked to Kristen Wyatt with the Associated Press and John Frank with the Denver Post about what they’ll be covering and some issues that do and don’t fall along party lines.
A debate on drones does not fall along party lines and will get a hearing in the Senate Tuesday.
Investigators have arrested a 44-year-old man in connection to an explosion last month outside a building that houses the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.
Thaddeus Cheyenne Murphy faces charges of arson and being a felon in possession of firearms. A search of Murphy’s home revealed seven guns and devices similar to the one used in the explosion earlier this year. The U.S. Attorney’s office says that device was a road flare and pipe bomb near a container of gasoline. No one was hurt in the explosion.
A bill to require background checks for volunteers and employees of youth sports clubs failed to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Opponents said the measure had too many gaps in it. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
In Colorado, roughly 6 million children play in youth sports clubs, ranging from soccer and baseball to swimming and basketball. Supporters say these sports clubs attract sexual predators because of lax standards.
UPDATE: 01/29/15, 9:41 AM: CSFD released official details of the fire last night. It burned a total of 5.92 acres, with five agencies responding: Colorado Springs Fire Department, Colorado Springs Utilities Wildland Team, El Paso County Wildland Team, Pike National Forest Fire, Broadmoor Fire Rescue.
UPDATE: 01/27/15, 5:29 PM: CSFD spokesman Captain Steve Oswald says a juvenile's misuse of a lighter caused the fire.
Investigators have released a sketch of a man they say is connected to an explosion outside a building that includes the offices of the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.
The man is described as white, around 40 years old, and balding. Investigators say he was in the area at the time of the bombing and appeared to have carried something down an alley and returned to his truck empty handed.
Special Agent Thomas Ravenelle heads the FBI Denver field office and says they’re still not speculating on motive.
El Paso County Public Health officials say someone who traveled to Colorado Springs last month has tested positive for measles. The case may be connected to nine other measles cases in two other states where the patients visited Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in mid-December.
The FBI is looking for a person of interest in an explosion outside the local chapter of the NAACP in Colorado Springs. KRCC's Andrea Chalfin reports.
The device exploded Tuesday morning outside the building that houses the offices of the civil rights organization and one other business. A gasoline can was placed next to the device, but did not explode. There were no injuries, and minor damage to the building.
Amy Sanders with the FBI says they’re investigating.
Demolition work has begun to remove the top 12 feet of a section of the Arkansas River Levee in Pueblo. It’s part of the first phase of a project to repair the aging structure and meet FEMA flood control guidelines.
Heavy equipment moves dirt and concrete as the contractors build a ramp to access the top of the levee. Part of the pedestrian path near the work area has been closed for safety reasons.
Consulting engineer Kim Kock says they expect the first critical section to be complete by mid February, despite the delay in beginning work.
The start of a massive repair project on the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is being delayed until December due to historic preservation concerns and some delays in the funding.
The project’s consulting engineer Kim Kock says the state historic preservation officer has said the levee could be deemed historic because it was constructed in response to the deadly 1921 floods and used methods of that time period.
The Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management, Fire, and Police Departments are conducting an evacuation drill for residents of the Pulpit Rock neighborhood Saturday. KRCC's Rachel Gonchar reports.
The Pulpit Rock neighborhood is located in the city’s wildland urban interface and includes University Park and Sunset Mesa.
CSPD Officer David Husted says participating residents can expect a knock at their doors and instructions on what to do and where to go. He also said this area is a new focus for first responders.
The levee that protects much of downtown Pueblo from potential floodwaters in the Arkansas River is about to get a major facelift. After levees failed in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA made a push for levee certification. And for Pueblo’s aging Arkansas River levee this means an estimated 15 million dollar repair project and the destruction of its famous mural. The alternative is downtown properties would have to buy flood insurance. The process has brought to the forefront structural deficiencies.
It’s been over a year since the East Peak fire in Huerfano County challenged the largely rural area’s resources. It came at a time when other fires were burning throughout the state, including the devastating Black Forest fire. Huerfano County’s volunteer fire protection district was the first responding agency to the southern Colorado blaze. KRCC’s Kate Perdoni reports on the challenges of the volunteer agency in the wake of the East Peak fire.
Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 3:28 pm
In many parts of Colorado when you dial 9-1-1 to report a fire, the firefighters who arrive to extinguish it are volunteers. These firefighters have other jobs, and serve half of the state’s population. But Colorado has an ever-shrinking pool of volunteers, leaving many communities at risk.
Fort Carson officials are encouraging personnel on the base to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior after two shots were heard on the Mountain Post Monday night, prompting increased security measures. Military police are investigating the reports that say the shots were heard near the northwest perimeter of the base just before 8:00 PM. Officials say this was not an active shooter event, and there’s no immediate danger. No suspects are in custody.
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.
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.
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.
Williams Canyon is getting new rain-monitoring equipment from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the US Geological Survey. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports on the installations taking place this week.
The new equipment looks to complement the devices installed in Waldo Canyon last year, and are intended to allow CDOT to see the progression of floods as they move toward Highway 24. The new gear includes a real time video feed camera, a remote radar gauge, and an additional rain gauge.
100 boy scouts were evacuated early Tuesday morning from the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch in Southern CO when heavy rains caused a nearby creek to rise. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
As a precautionary measure, the scouts moved to a Red Cross shelter in Walsenburg. Scout Executive for the Santa Fe Trail Council Michael Stewart says this incident and last year’s East Peak Fire have given them an opportunity to teach the scouts hands-on environmental awareness.
The Coalition for the Upper South Platte is looking for volunteers to help with flood mitigation projects along Highway 24 this month. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
Volunteers are needed to help seed land and create sediment catchment basins in Cascade. These projects are intended to slow or redirect water to help protect against erosion and reduce the risk of property damage. Lisa Patton is the volunteer coordinator for CUSP. Patton says the Waldo Canyon burn scar is already suffering.
Manitou Springs is conducting a full-scale test of their emergency siren tomorrow (Thursday). KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
The siren test is planned for 12:00 noon. It’ll play a high and low tone and a spoken message indicating it’s only a test.
The siren system is housed at city hall and is intended to help residents be aware of when there’s an emergency and to instruct them in what to do. The siren has specific alert messages to warn citizens for each type of incident.
UPDATE (Monday, 06/02 8:00 PM): All evacuation orders have been lifted; the fire is 100% contained. Mop up will continue and the area will be monitored over the next several days.
UPDATE (Monday, 06/02 11:45 AM): Huerfano County Emergency Dispatch says residents north of Twin Ridge Dr. on Four Mile Canyon Road to CR 312 may return. Residents south of Twin Ridge Dr. on Four Mile Canyon Rd. are still under an evacuation notice. The fire is 80% contained, with a burn area of 15 acres.