KRCC Local News

News from the KRCC Newsroom.

With Colorado's U.S. Senate race too close to call, both parties are on an all-out blitz to court as many voters as they can prior to the November election. The youth vote has traditionally helped Democrats, but Republicans see an opening with national support for President Obama falling among the millennial generation.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is planning a prescribed burn of 180 acres starting Monday.
 

The goal is to minimize fuel levels, mitigate wildfire risk, and to help protect the communities surrounding the monument. The fuels are mainly ponderosa pine and grass.

Florissant Park Ranger Jeff Wolin says there are specific conditions that need to be met before the project can start.

Democratic Senator Mark Udall and Republican Congressman Cory Gardner had a spirited debate Tuesday night hosted by The Denver Post. Both candidates are locked in a tight race and both stayed on message in the hour-long debate.

Udall attacked Gardner as extreme and out of touch, Gardner criticized Udall for being in lockstep with President Barack Obama.

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Update: 10/7/14, 10:38 am

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office has announced same-sex marriage licenses are available at the clerk's office, effective immediately.  In a statement, the office says they received "final clearance" from the office of Attorney General John Suthers.

It's a race that is largely flying under the radar in Colorado this election season, owing to what many say is its preordained outcome. Republican Ken Buck and Democrat Vic Meyers, the candidates vying for the open seat in Colorado's vast 4th Congressional District, squared off Wednesday in a debate hosted by Colorado Public Television and CBS 4.

This was the third such meeting for the candidates in advance of the mid-terms.

Colorado Springs

It’s only for two weekends before closing for the season, but the South Slope Recreation Area on Pikes Peak is now open to the public.  The watershed is home to bighorn sheep, cutthroat trout, and several reservoirs built more than a century ago.  It’s been closed to the public since 1913.
 

Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte says the ecological character of the place meant they had to tread lightly when considering opening the area to the public.

Voters in Colorado will decide whether or not they want the state to require labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The 2014 ballot measure highlights a much larger national conversation about the safety and prevalence of genetically modified foods.

If passed, food companies and farmers would need to affix on a food label the text: "Produced with genetic engineering" if the product contains certain genetically modified crops and their derived oils and sugars that end up in processed foods. Those in favor of the proposal, Proposition 105, claim consumers have a right to the information. Those opposed say it amounts to a fear campaign.

BLM

Fort Carson is in the process of working out a long-term agreement to use public land for high altitude helicopter training. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.

Since 2010, Fort Carson has had annual agreements with the Bureau of Land Management for training northwest of Canon City. The Mountain Post recently submitted a proposal for a 20-year agreement, which is now under review.

BLM spokesman Kyle Sullivan says the proposal is entering a one month long public scoping period.

Kate Perdoni / KRCC

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.
 

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.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The Pueblo Conservancy District, which oversees the Arkansas River levee, took action Wednesday to find a qualified contractor to repair the aging structure. The estimated $14 million project will involve cutting the height of the levee, resurfacing it and other work to improve structural stability and safety.
 

The levee was built following the deadly 1921 flood that killed hundreds and devastated downtown Pueblo. Now the levee needs to be brought into the 21st century in order to meet new FEMA requirements.

Colorado's U.S. Senate race is a considered by many to be a tossup. Incumbent Senator Mark Udall and Republican Congressman Cory Gardner are trying to win over as many key voting blocs as they can before Election Day – and that includes women.

In the previous close Senate contest between appointed Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck, women played a critical role. During the waning days of that 2010 race, Bennet focused his attention on the female vote – and narrowly won. With women making up 51.4 percent of all registered voters in Colorado this election, it's a scenario Democrats are hoping to repeat.

Governor John Hickenlooper visited Las Animas today to recognize the first year anniversary of the Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community. KRCC’s Hannah Fleming reports.
 

The former prison and Veteran’s Affairs hospital in Bent County was repurposed to provide mental and health care services, as well as vocational training for homeless individuals. The 550-acre campus is serving more than 200 people, with a target capacity of 300.

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.

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Farmers looking for help in paying for organic certifications have just a few weeks left to take advantage of a reimbursement program. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports. 
 

The program is part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2013, which was put into place by the USDA. It aims to assist farmers seeking organic certification by reimbursing up to 75% or $750.00 of the process per category, including crops and livestock.

Multiple polls on Colorado's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races were recently released and there are some different perspectives on where things stand with just seven weeks until the November election.

Most polls show the U.S Senate race as being too close to call. The Denver Post recently gave incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall a narrow edge over his Republican challenger Congressman Cory Gardner, but within the margin of error. A separate USA Today Poll gives Gardner a one point edge. The most recent Quinnipiac Poll was more of an outlier. It gave Gardner the lead, 48 – 40 over Udall.

A new poll released today from Quinnipiac University shows Democratic Senate incumbent Mark Udall 8 points behind his Republican challenger Congressman Cory Gardner. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

Colorado State University-Pueblo is reporting increased freshmen enrollment. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

CSU-Pueblo saw a 15% increase in freshman enrollment with an expected decline in continuing student enrollment. The increase included a higher ethnic diversity of students, especially Hispanic. The percentage of out of state and international students also rose.

University officials credit the increase to several new facilities and beefed-up recruitment strategies and outreach, and they expect this trend to continue.

Public Domain

Crew members from the USS Pueblo are holding a reunion in Southern Colorado after the ship was captured by North Korea nearly half a century ago.  KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar has more.
 

Originally an Army freight vessel, the USS Pueblo was transferred to the United States Navy and became an American spy ship. It was renamed after Pueblo County in the 1960’s. In January 1968, North Korean patrol boats captured the ship while it was cruising alone off the North Korean coast.

Beauprez-U.S. House / Hickenlooper-State of Colorado

Less than a week after a Denver Post poll listed the Governor’s race as too close to call, a new poll out today has Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez ten points ahead of Governor John Hickenlooper. Bente Birkeland has more.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

The state board of health has voted against setting maximum patient caps for medical marijuana caregivers. The proposed rule would have limited caregivers to just ten patients. After a tense and at times tearful hearing on Tuesday, the board said the change was unnecessary. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

D. Utterback

Political debate season kicked off in Colorado over the weekend with candidates running for Governor and U.S. senate among those facing off in Grand Junction. Club 20 hosted the debate. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland analyzes the major themes and arguments.
 

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Efforts to preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief long-distance passenger train service that runs through southern Colorado got a financial boost.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports on a grant from the federal Department of Transportation that will help fix some of the regional track that’s in most need of repair.

Colorado's Volunteer Firefighting Corps Face Staffing Issues

Sep 2, 2014
Joe Mahoney / Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

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.

Phil Riggan

Colorado’s legislature this year created the state’s own air fleet for fighting wildfires. The endeavor includes four helicopters, two single engine air tankers, and two PC-12 single engine planes equipped with new thermal imaging technology.  The move has put Colorado at the forefront of utilizing advanced technology to battle the destructive blazes.  Reporter Ryan Maye Handy wrote a series of articles for the Colorado Springs Gazette about this new technology.  She spoke with KRCC's Andrea Chalfin about it.
 

The Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force charged with coming up with new recommendations for the energy industry is getting off to a slower than anticipated start. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

The USA Pro Challenge makes its way to Colorado Springs on Thursday for Stage 4. Cyclists will start at the Broadmoor and make their way through downtown before heading up to Garden of the Gods. They'll repeat the downtown to Garden of the Gods circuit four times for a total of 70 miles.

In preparation, road closures will begin on Wednesday, with various reopening times on Thursday.

Roads closures Wednesday start at 9:00 AM:

Tejon between Kiowa and Colorado
Pikes Peak between Cascade and Nevada

5:00 PM Wednesday:

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.

Colorado's Water Plan

Aug 14, 2014
Colorado Foundation for Water Education

It’s been over a year since Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order calling for the creation of a state water plan.  It won’t be a legal document, but the plan is expected to make recommendations that will guide future water planning and funding decisions.  The process is well underway, with a deadline to deliver a draft plan by this December.
 

Mike Preston, manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District, which stores and delivers water from the Dolores River, stands next to an irrigation outlet on McPhee Reservoir, near Cortez. 

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