News, September 24th

FLAT TOPS FIRE HUMAN CAUSED

New Castle–The Middle Elk Fire 30 miles north of New Castle was caused by a hunter leaving his campfire unattended. The fire, which started last Thursday, more than doubled in size from Saturday to Sunday to over 200 acres. No structures are threatened but officials with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit say the Meadow Creek Campground and all side roads east of the Buford New Castle Road at Hiner Spring are closed for the time being. The fire is being fought by crews on the ground and in the air.

CARBONDALE- A dispute over hydraulic fracturing regulations is heating up. Some 60 mayors and city council members from 17 communities have asked Gov. John Hickenlooper to have the state drop a lawsuit challenging oil and gas drilling rules adopted by the city of Longmont. The signers include the entire boards of Carbondale, Crested Butte, Lyons, Westminster and Bennett. The issue is whether the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission alone has the power to regulate oil and gas drilling or whether local communities can add stipulations to how and where drilling can be performed. Hickenlooper and industry officials say a patchwork of regulations is not workable. Longmont and other communities say local governments should have more say.

DENVER (AP) – Republican election officials who promised to root out voter fraud so far are finding little evidence of a widespread problem. State officials in key presidential battleground states have found just a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected. Searches of voter lists in crucial swing states from Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers of ineligible voters that amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state. Democrats argue that the searches waste time and, worse, could disenfranchise eligible voters who are swept up in the checks. Republicans say voting fraud is no small affair, even if there are just a few cases, especially when some elections are decided by hundreds of votes.

SEDALIA (AP) – A prize-winning lamb is dead and a family is distraught after a mountain lion killed the lamb in the owner’s backyard in Sedalia. Fourteen-year-old Jesse Lautenbach says she knew mountain lions roamed nearby but never expected a cat to attack. The teen says she thinks it was a mother teaching her cubs how to feed when it attacked two weeks ago. The family is now concerned the mountain lion might return.

GRAND JUNCTION (AP) – Colorado’s health department is coming under scrutiny from a western Colorado lawmaker who says the agency is wrongly using tobacco tax money for lobbying efforts. Health officials reply that lobbying local governments to pass anti-tobacco policies not covered by the state’s no-smoking ban is an appropriate use of the money. Republican Sen. Steve King says he may propose a bill to ban tobacco taxes to be used on lobbying. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been spending about $3.5 million a year promoting local anti-tobacco policies. The practice was reviewed by a legislative audit. Auditors concluded that the law wasn’t clear on whether the tobacco tax could be used to lobby for policy initiatives.

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