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Colorado Springs local, and Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico regional news from the award-winning 91.5 KRCC Newsroom.

Also, great stories from our producers, partners and people in our region. 

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You’ve probably heard about the GDP or those “best places to live” rankings. The Family Prosperity Index also factors in family life as a measure of well-being. And the latest rankings show Mountain West states doing pretty well.

 

Pueblo City-County Library via Facebook

The Pueblo City-County Library District is receiving the nation’s highest honor from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC


Peak Curiosity is a community-driven reporting series from 91.5 KRCC. We ask listeners to submit their questions about the Pikes Peak region and Southern Colorado, and then we answer them. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to submit your question!

The governors of neighboring Western states shared a stage Tuesday to talk about energy. Utah Republican Gary Herbert and Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper agreed about many issues — until they were asked afterward about the Trump administration. That's when it became clear they have contrasting views on how the federal government is listening to the states.

Wildfire season is ramping up across our region. There are all sorts of people involved in waiting, watching and fighting them -- people you might not expect. We’re profiling some of them in a series, Faces Behind The Fires.


In 2016, a wealthy Utah family bought The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s biggest newspaper.  Now, the owner has shrunk the 90-person newsroom to just 56, citing waning ad revenue and dropping print circulation. It joins a growing pattern across the country and the Mountain West.

Josh Nehring / Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Fire experts say this season could be big for wildfires in our region. Our Mountain West New Bureau takes you behind the scenes with stories about the people who protect our communities, land and wildlife during wildlfire season. 

This story is about the people who rush into the smoke not to save people or structures, but … animals.  

Fremont County Sheriff's Department

Fire season is here again. Coming up over the next few days 91.5 KRCC will be introducing you to some of the people on the frontlines—and that doesn't just mean firefighters and smokejumpers. The series from the Mountain West News Bureau will focus on the people behind the scenes.

Nate Hegyi is a reporter based in Montana with the Mountain West News Bureau.

On who will be included in the series: 

Colorado lawmakers wrapped up their annual legislative session this week. Even though the session was often overshadowed by sexual harassment allegations and the expulsion of former Rep. Steve Lebsock, lawmakers and the governor said it was one of the most successful sessions in history

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report on Tuesday confirming that Russians hacked U.S. elections in 2016. It outlined what states could do better. It turns out our region is actually not doing too bad a job.


The federal agency that oversees water in the West says southwestern states are facing an increasing risk of water shortages. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is now adding pressure to stalled talks over the Colorado River’s future.

Without action from states that rely on the river, there’s a 52 percent chance the Colorado River will be in an official shortage in 2020, according to figures compiled last month. Arizona and Nevada would be among the first to take cutbacks during a shortage. An extended drought and chronic overuse have sapped the river’s largest reservoirs.

Shanna Lewis / 91.5 KRCC

One of the last chances for the public to give input on future recreation along the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo comes during an open house at Pueblo City Hall Thursday.

Greg Goebel / Creative Commons

It’s an international agreement but Trump's decision to leave the nuclear deal with Iran could be felt in our region for good and for bad.

After a dramatic and tearful day in early March, lawmakers voted out one of their own. Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock was the first lawmaker expelled in 103 years after allegations of sexual harassment, intimidation and retaliation from five women, were found to be credible.

But that wasn't the end.

2018 wasn't the worst winter on record for the southern Rocky Mountain region, but it was close to it.

“It was an extreme year on the dry side, widespread across the Colorado River Basin,” says Greg Smith, a hydrologist at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) in Salt Lake City.

Shanna Lewis / 91.5 KRCC

All schools in Pueblo’s D60 School District were closed Monday as teachers took to the picket line. Some 16,000 students were missing classes, and many schools remain closed Tuesday.

Updated: This story has been updated to reflect additional comments from the Governor.

A punishment for Sen. Randy Baumgardner, amid allegations of sexual harassment that investigators found credible, has spurred a series of reactions at Colorado’s Capitol, and some critics described the discipline as a slap on the wrist. Senate Democrats have renewed their calls for Baumgardner’s resignation or expulsion and Gov. John Hickenlooper declined to say whether he thinks Baumgardner should step down.

Baumgardner, a Hot Sulphur Springs Republican, was removed from interim committee assignments for the summer, as well as his leadership position on the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Two letters from Republican leaders -- one from Senate President Kevin Grantham and another from Majority Leader Chris Holbert -- spelled out the punishment on May 2.

Paul L. Dineen

Two Native Americans were pulled out of a college tour this week when a parent told campus police the young men were making her nervous.

Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham has stripped Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, from serving on any active Senate committees effective as of May 2. Grantham requested the change after workplace harassment allegations from nine people have been found credible by two outside investigators.

Dan Salkeld doesn’t like plunging toilets, filling out tax forms, or clipping his children's toenails. But he loves collecting ticks in Colorado.

Scott Bauer / U.S. Department of Agriculture

According to a monthly survey, farmers across the U.S. aren’t feeling too optimistic these days.  

Blue Flower Arts

 

For our second episode of the Converge Lecture Series Podcast, we're joined by poet Richard Blanco.

If you watched the second inauguration of Barack Obama in 2013, then you're familiar with Blanco's work. The White House asked him to write and read a poem for the occasion, making him one of only five writers ever to have held the title, “Inaugural Poet,” a distinction he shares with Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. He was also the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to hold the position.

After nearly a month of terse exchanges among water managers in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona about Colorado River conservation strategies, representatives from the five states met Monday in Salt Lake City to hash out their differences.

At issue is how the Central Arizona Project (CAP) -- the operator of a 336-mile aqueduct that pumps Colorado River water to farmers and cities -- is conserving water in Lake Mead, the river’s largest reservoir. The project is managed by the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District (CAWCD) and is the state’s largest water provider.

A Republican House leader is facing a backlash from his own caucus for sponsoring a bill that would allow law enforcement and family members to get a court order to temporarily remove a person’s guns if that person poses a danger. The so-called "red flag" measure cleared the House Judiciary committee on Tuesday night along party lines.

A bi-partisan measure that would have updated and clarified how public and private colleges and universities address campus sexual assault failed in the Senate Appropriations Committee along party lines on Tuesday.  It had already passed in the Democratic-controlled House and cleared another Senate committee.

El Paso County PIO, Twitter

 

Conditions across southern Colorado are dry, and they’re expected to stay that way as we move into the summer months. That has officials preparing for what could be a difficult fire season.

Doug Lamborn

A federal judge is ordering that Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado be placed back on June's Republican primary ballot.

PRI

PRI and WNYC have named Tanzina Vega as the new host of the nationally syndicated show The Takeaway which can be heard weekdays from 9 to 10am on 91.5 KRCC. 

Previous to hosting The Takeaway, Ms. Vega was a digital correspondent for CNN Politics, and before that, she spent 8 years as a reporter for The New York Times.  Listen for Tanzina Vega beginning next Monday, May 7th at 9am on 91.5 KRCC.

Thousands of Colorado teachers spent two days rallying at the state Capitol for higher salaries and more money for schools. They highlighted long-standing funding problems and potential changes to the state’s public employee pension program currently being debated by the legislature.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland spoke with Brian Eason of The Associated Press and Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal about the rallies.

Housing and Urban Development / HUD.gov

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's recent proposal to triple rent for the lowest income households is part of what’s being called "Welfare Reform 2.0." This change to federal assistance could have a big impact on our growing region.

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