Public Safety

Update: Buena Vista Routes Re-Open

Feb 18, 2014

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.

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.

Two Incidents, Two Avalanche Related Deaths

Feb 11, 2014

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.

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.
 

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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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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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.  

As heavy snow continues to fall across the Rockies, the risk of avalanches has prompted  warnings from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.  Forecaster Dr. John Snook says natural and human triggered slides in Colorado’s backcountry are likely, and says we're nearing "the most extreme we've seen so far this winter."

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A study by USAA finds higher rates of texting while driving among service members who have never been deployed than among those who have.  KRCC’s Elaina Formby reports.
 

The company’s study shows more than half of active-service military who have never been deployed admit to texting while driving, as compared to 39% of those previously deployed. The rate dips another five percent for service members within six months of returning from deployment.

A landlord in Pueblo has pleased guilty to code violations in rental properties. KRCC's Eliza Densmore reports.
 

The Pueblo Police Department’s Code Compliance Unit executed the case. The 14 units held a total of 70 code violations, including problems with plumbing, pests, and fire protection systems.

Code Enforcement Manager Karen Willson says the property was a source of complaints for several years and that substandard housing is a detriment not only to tenants, but to the wider community.

Colorado Imposes Food Safety Rules On Marijuana Industry

Jan 29, 2014
Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

 
Colorado made history when it opened up licensed marijuana retail shops. Aside from just legalizing the purchase of smoke-able marijuana, it also means pot brownies have the potential to be big business.

Food products infused with marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, are available in stores across the state.

Marijuana, though, is still considered illegal by the federal government. The existing food safety system, which relies heavily on support from federal agencies, can’t ensure that marijuana-infused foods are safe.

Cantaloupe Farmers Sentenced to Probation

Jan 28, 2014
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Cantaloupe farmers in eastern Colorado responsible for a deadly outbreak of listeria two years ago were sentenced today after pleading guilty to six misdemeanor charges in October. KRCC’s Nat Stein has more.
 

A federal magistrate in Denver sentenced brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen to five years of probation, starting with six months of home detention. Each brother also must pay $150,000 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

Helping prevent and fight wildfires is one of the top priorities for Colorado lawmakers in both parties this session. But so far, substantial policy changes recommended by the Governor’s wildfire task force are being rejected. As Bente Birkeland reports, the current package of legislative proposals is not nearly as aggressive as some would like.
 

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Lawmakers and Governor Hickenlooper are touting a package of bills they say will help prevent and fight wildfires. Most of the measures stem from an interim committee that met in the off session. Bente Birkeland has more at the state capitol.
 

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School safety experts briefed lawmakers on the joint education committee yesterday. They asked the state to focus on preventing school violence rather than simply trying to stop it. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

Officials in the Pikes Peak region are seeking volunteers to help staff call centers in the event of another large emergency. The effort comes from Pikes Peak United Way 211, the City of Colorado Springs, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

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Democratic state lawmakers say a new law requiring universal background checks for gun purchases is working well. Data from the Department of Public Safety shows 2% of private gun sales were blocked because of the law.

Seventy-two sales were stopped because the would-be buyer was convicted or charged with a serious crime; such as murder, sexual assault, possession of dangerous drugs and theft. 

A new study from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business shows that it may be difficult to quantify how droughts, fires and floods are impacting the state’s economy over the long term. But it’s safe to say natural disasters are already influencing public policy and are requiring communities to shift their thinking. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

Update 12/05/13: The Red Cross Shelter in Black Forest has closed. Only one resident stayed on Dec. 3rd, and no residents on the 4th.
 

Original Post:

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El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is disputing statements made by Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey that this summer’s wildfire that destroyed more than 500 homes and killed two people was caused by humans and "likely intentional."  

Pueblo County has released a new interactive map showing flood damage for the past year. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports. 

The main purpose of the map is to share information with state agencies and FEMA.  

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A new state committee tasked with studying wildfire issues has wrapped up its work. The bi-partisan group of lawmakers is recommending a tax credit to encourage people to mitigate fire risks and a proposal to give individual counties more authority to cut down hazardous trees. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

Andrea Chalfin

Colorado Springs officials held a neighborhood evacuation drill for residents of Broadmoor Bluffs over the weekend.  Fire officials say that neighborhood has stepped up mitigation efforts in the past year and a half, but because of topography, the amount of fuels, and housing density, Broadmoor Bluffs is one of the highest risk neighborhoods in the city’s wildland urban interface.  KRCC News embedded with first responders and a family that chose to participate in the drill.  We start with reporter Kate Dunn.

Residential

Update, Sat 11:30 AM: ​The boil advisory is now lifted.

Update, Fri 5:15 PM: The boil advisory for Manitou Springs is still in effect, but for certain neighborhoods only. The city says the lower section of Crystal Hills Boulevard and Vias Subdivisions require some follow-up testing, which is expected to be complete tomorrow morning. Other areas, including the downtown business district, are no longer under the boil advisory.

Streets specifically affected by the continuing boil water advisory are:

Oil & Gas Industry, Regulators Scramble in Post-Flood Colorado

Sep 17, 2013
Theresa Gilbert/Weld Air and Water

Weld County in northeastern Colorado, one of the most drilled in the nation, was also among the hardest hit by this week’s historical floodwaters. State regulators and oil and gas industry workers are now scrambling to assess the damage and mitigate the health and environmental impacts.

“At this point – as access continues to be limited and emergency responders remain focused on lives, property and roadways – we have limited information about specific impacts or particular locations,” said Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

After rain pummeled flooded communities over the weekend, long awaited sunshine poked through the clouds Monday. Towns are just starting to dry out from days of heavy rain and flooding.

A flood warning is in effect for the Arkansas River at La Junta after days of continuous rainfall along the valley and in the Pikes Peak region. KRCC's Maggie Spencer has more.

The river is expected to exceed its 11-foot flood stage tonight, and crest just over 12-feet by midmorning Tuesday. The National Weather Service says flood stage means some agricultural flooding. Officials there say residents should stay away from flowing water and riverbanks. The warning came this morning and expires Wednesday.

Update, 11:48 am: The suspect is in custody. Advisory lifted.


Update, 11:38 am: The affected schools Colorado Springs School District 11 are no longer on lockdown, with the exception of Community Prep.

Rain ground recovery efforts from days of massive flooding across Colorado to a halt Sunday. Helicopters were prevented from conducting additional search and rescue efforts in Boulder and Larimer counties.

Colorado remains under the spell of water. Steady rains Sunday hampered evacuation and rescue efforts and brought renewed warnings to a flood weary Front Range.

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