91.5 KRCC Newsroom + Local Stories

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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Doug Lamborn

Colorado's Supreme Court has ruled that six-term Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn didn't qualify for his party's primary.

Ten years ago today — on April 22, 2008 — NPR Music published our first Tiny Desk concert. Laura Gibson was the inspiration, and the event that sparked the idea of concerts at my desk came from NPR Music's Stephen Thompson. He and I were at the SXSW Music Festival, at one of those lousy shows where the audience chatter was louder than the performer.

A major piece of legislation to reform the state’s pension plan is making its way through the state legislature during the final days of the session. One in 10 Coloradans receives a public pension through the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). But PERA has unfunded liabilities totaling about $32 billion, and lawmakers are divided over how best to shore up the program.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland spoke with Marianne Goodland with Colorado Politics and Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal about the possible changes and its likelihood of passage.

An investigation determined that eight people's allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior from Sen. Randy Baumgardner were credible. The findings, by Littleton-based Alternative Dispute Resolution Inc., an independent firm, are in addition to earlier allegations a separate company found to have more likely than not occurred.

Members of Congress are pushing to seal the deal on the status of immigrants who came to this country illegally as children.

The decision was supposed to be made by March 5, but that didn’t happen.

Dave Dugdale / Creative Commons

It’s International Dark Sky Week, a time to look up and enjoy the night sky across the globe.  Our region is home to many dark sky parks and communities. We’re also home to lots of growth and that means growing light pollution.  

At his booth for the 5th annual NoCo Hemp Exposition in Loveland, Colorado, Scott Leshman, founder of Cannabinoid Creations, pours samples of his signature soda flavor, Cartoon Cereal Crunch. It’s an ode to the popular breakfast cereal, Cap'n Crunch CrunchBerries, with a twist: It contains cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil.  

An outside consultant, who studied workplace culture at the state Capitol, found nearly half of the roughly 500 people surveyed had witnessed sexist and/or seriously disrespectful behavior. A third said they had experienced sexual harassment first-hand. And nearly 90 percent of those who say they were harassed didn’t speak out or file a complaint. Many said they feared retaliation from their accusers and others.

Those findings, by the Investigations Law Group, mirror what we’ve discovered in almost six months of reporting on this issue.

Colorado Springs Airport Instagram/cosairport

The Colorado Springs Airport is open again today after a three-alarm fire Monday night prompted its closure and the cancellation of all commercial flights Tuesday. 

El Paso County PIO, Twitter

--- Update 4/19/18, 9:45 p.m. ---

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is reporting that the #117Fire has been completely contained.

--- Update 4/19/18, 7:30 a.m. ---

The #117Fire is now estimated at 60% containment, with little to no growth. It remains nearly 41,000 acres. The state's Type II team has officially taken over command of fighting the fire as of 6 a.m. There's a new fire information phone number: 719-428-5223 (from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.).

Michael Warren / Flickr

If you’re sneezing a bit more this year, well you’re in good company. At least 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. But that number is climbing, and it may be related to climate change.  

National Weather Service-Pueblo

Evacuations are in place as firefighters throughout southern Colorado battle multiple fires. 

Colorado’s annual legislative session is nearing its end and lawmakers still have plenty of work to wrap up before May 9. Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland spoke with Brian Eason with The Associated Press and Jesse Paul of the Denver Post about some of the major pieces of legislation that remain.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

It’s been nearly two years since residents in southern El Paso County learned their drinking water contained potentially unsafe levels of chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs (also referred to as PFAS). The chemicals were long used in products ranging from non-stick pans to industrial fire fighting foams, and they’ve been linked in recent years to certain cancers and other health conditions.

Ohio-based attorney Rob Bilott has been working on cases related to PFC contamination since the late 90s, and is credited with helping to bring the issue to light nationally through his litigation in West Virginia. He’s not affiliated with a local lawsuit against manufacturers of the PFC-containing firefighting foams thought to be responsible for contamination in the Widefield aquifer, but he’ll be speaking about the issue at Mesa Ridge High School in Widefield on Tuesday, 4/17, at 7 p.m.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

The Federal Communications Commission starts dismantling net neutrality regulations on April 23, 2018. That could mean when you’re watching that next episode of ‘The Crown” it could buffer endlessly or not. No one really knows yet.  

Crowded fields -- especially in the race for governor -- narrowed considerably after Colorado's Democratic and Republican state assemblies on Saturday, April 14.

Manuel Jebauer/Creative Commons

The FDA recently announced another recall of products containing the controversial herb, Kratom.  Scores of people in states across the country have been sickened by Kratom products tainted with salmonella. Including here in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Idaho.

Pixabay

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has backed off a decision to dramatically hike entrance fees to some National Parks. Since many of these iconic parks are in the Mountain West, this change may have an outsized effect on our region.

Too many decisions about the West get made in Washington, D.C. At least, that's what the Secretary of the Interior thinks. Ryan Zinke plans to move thousands of the department’s employees out west to manage water, public lands and energy from there. How might this seemingly dull, bureaucratic plan affect the West in interesting ways? Here's how people with a vested interest responded–starting in Wyoming.  


The Bureau of Land Management plans to put up more than 20,000 acres of Colorado land for lease by oil and gas drilling companies. Much of that land sits near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

From the roof of Chuck McAfee’s adobe farmhouse in rural southwestern Colorado, you can see into three other states: Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Mountain peaks are just barely visible above the horizon.

Even though this part of Montezuma County is considered the high desert, it’s common for these grass and sagebrush hills to be snow-covered into spring. This year they’re bare, and have been since last winter.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado Springs is the second best place to live in America, according to a new ranking out from the U.S. News and World Report, and city officials are celebrating the recognition.

States like Colorado and Wyoming require that new oil and gas wells be built at least 500 feet away from existing homes. But new research shows that might not be far enough away to protect people’s health.

A 235-page report from an outside consultant says the culture at Colorado’s state capitol is unhealthy -- and the system in place to detect and deter harassment is not working. It contains about two dozen recommendations on how to improve the culture and strengthen policies to deter workplace harassment – which means legislative leaders have a lot to wade through and some tough decisions ahead.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland spoke with Brian Eason of the Associated Press and John Frank with the Denver Post about how lawmakers might use the information to make changes.

HopSkipDrive

Denver just became the first city in the region to offer an Uber-like rideshare service focused on kids. And the business model seems to be gaining some traction.

A more than 200-page report from the Denver-based Investigations Law Group reaffirms that there are systemic cultural and sexual harassment problems at the Colorado state Capitol.

Our reporting first uncovered the problems in November, which has led to multiple allegations and investigations into a handful of lawmakers and the historic expulsion of former Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock.  

Patagonia

The Patagonia website recently took another swipe at the Trump administration over its decision to shrink national monuments in Utah. This political activism may be the new norm for the outdoor recreation industry.

The Colorado River Basin is likely to see one of its driest spring runoff seasons on record this year, according to federal forecasters.

Scientists at the Salt Lake City-based Colorado Basin River Forecast Center say current snowpack conditions are set to yield the sixth-lowest recorded runoff into Lake Powell since the lake was filled more than 50 years ago.

In parched states like Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, water is a big issue, especially with growing populations that constantly need more and more. But there’s a big question: How do we accurately forecast the amount of water that will be available any given year? It’s not easy. But some Colorado scientists think they’re onto a possible solution -- inspired by Pokemon.

I’m marching through a stand of blackened, towering pine trees with fire ecologist Philip Higuera. He stops and sniffs the air.

“We can smell the charcoal here,” he says. “You smell that?”

Higuera is a low-key guy with a trimmed beard and sporty sunglasses. But when I ask him whether the massive wildfire that raced across Lolo Peak in Montana last summer was bad, he corrects my choice of words. 

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