Briefs for Jan. 3

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A Wyoming home is a loss after a Friday afternoon blaze, said Baggs Fire & Rescue Chief Ryan Kudera.

The Baggs volunteer department was paged at 2:54 p.m. to fight a fire at a two-story house on Moffat County Road 144, just north of the Wyoming State line. Baggs firefighters arrived on scene at 3:10 p.m., then Craig Fire/Rescue was called to assist.

Kudera said the house was engulfed with flames when the crews arrived. The house burned to the ground but a shed on the property was salvaged.

"Really, there wasn't much we could do when we got there but protect the outbuilding and propane tank," Kudera said.

No one was injured in the fire. The owners had left a fireplace burning when they left the house, which Kudera said is the suspected cause of the blaze.

The Craig and Baggs departments each sent one engine and one water tanker to the scene. The property owner will pay the Craig department's costs because the fire was outside its district.

The Baggs department has five members. Two members were away for the holidays at the time of the fire.

"We sure appreciated (Craig Fire/Rescue's) help because we needed it," Kudera said.

He said the Baggs department's New Year's resolution is to recruit new members.

Harper's Corner Road closed for winter

The National Park Service last week closed the upper section of Harper's Corner Road in Dinosaur National Monument for the winter.

The service closed the road, which is a scenic drive, to motor vehicle traffic beyond the Plug Hat Butte picnic area.

The service will open the road to snowmobiles if there is sufficient snow.

The closure means no vehicle access to Echo Park by Echo Park Road and no access to the Harper's Corner Trail.

Depending on weather conditions, Yampa Bench Road may be used to access Echo Park. Yampa Bench Road is not maintained during the winter.

The service will reopen Harper's Corner Road in April if weather allows.

Need legal advice? Free services offered

The Northwest Colorado Legal Services Project and the Moffat County Library will sponsor a "Ask a Lawyer Night" at 5:15 p.m. today.

The groups will offer the services at the Moffat County Library, 570 Green St. The service is a first-come, first-served private consultation for 10 to 15 minutes with a member of the Northwest Colorado Bar Association.

"Ask a Lawyer Night" is a free service for low-income residents. The service does not accept appointments. For more information, call (970) 276-2161.

Utility payment assistance available

Low-income residents can qualify for assistance with their utility payments through the Low-income Energy Assistance Program, available through the Moffat County Department of Social Services.

The program assists residents in paying their natural gas bills from November through April.

"It's not meant to cover the full cost of heat in any situation," department spokeswoman Laura Willems said. "It's meant to supplement."

To be eligible, a family's household income must not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The maximum monthly income for a household of one is $1,435, for two is $1,926 and for three is $2,416.

Applications are available at the Moffat County Department of Social Services or online at www.cdhs.state.co.us.com. Call 824-8282 for more information.

Atmos Energy encourages customers to sign up for budget billing, in which a person pays an average rate so there bill each month doesn't change.

Customers can call (888) 442-1313 or enroll online at www.atmosenergy.com.

The Community Budget Center also offers assistance on a one-time, emergency-only basis. That help includes utility bill payments. Call 824-7898 for more information.

Xcel Energy invests in renewable resource

Xcel Energy will acquire 775 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2007 for its Colorado system. The additional capacity would make Xcel Energy the nation's largest utility user of wind power.

The company currently owns or purchases 282 megawatts of wind energy.

One megawatt of power can meet the electricity needs of about 1,000 homes.

Xcel Energy isn't the direct energy provider for Craig residents, but a majority of the electricity purchased by Yampa Valley Electric Association and sold to residents comes from Xcel.

Weather broadcasts, alerts new to county

The Craig Colorado Department of Transportation FM 99.7 radio station has begun broadcasting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather forecasts for the Craig and Hayden areas.

The radio station is a new resource for Northwest Colorado. Services include:

Emergency activation for specific weather warning-related messages and civil emergency messages issued for anywhere in Moffat or Routt counties. The messages include flash flood, severe thunderstorm, tornado and blizzard warnings along with severe weather watches.

Weather forecasts for Craig, Hayden, Meeker, Rabbit Ears Pass, Clark, Hahns Peak and Columbine.

Current weather conditions when available from automated observation stations in Craig, Hayden, Meeker, Denver, Rawlins, Vernal, Rifle, Grand Junction, Aspen and Mount Werner.

Daily and monthly climate information for Craig.

Seasonal weather safety messages.

Park plans ski, skate open house

Yampa River State Park will host a Full Moon Ski and Skate Open House from 2 to 8 p.m. Jan. 14.

Several activities are available at the park, two miles west of Hayden on U.S. Highway 40, including cross-country skiing, skating on the pond and roasting hot dogs. Hot cocoa and coffee also will be available. Visitors are encouraged to bring ingredients to make S'mores so they can roast marshmallows around the fire.

Also, Colorado State Parks annual passes will be for sale and visitors can register snowmobile, Off Highway Vehicles and boats at the park.

For more information on Colorado State Parks, visit www.parks.state.co.us.

Commission will reconsider runoff rules

The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, at a meeting this month, will consider changes to the state's storm water runoff from petroleum drilling operations.

The meeting will be at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South in Denver.

Commission officials will reconsider last year's decision to require drilling companies to file for permits for storm-water runoff.

Habitat stamp aimed at helping wildlife

The Colorado Division of Wildlife will begin a new program this year to help raise money to protect wildlife habitat

Division officials expect the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp Program to raise $2.3 million next year.

The division will raise the money through the sale of a $5 mandatory habitat stamp sold to hunters and anglers. The state will require sportsman to buy a stamp with the first two licenses he or she purchases during each calendar year.

The governor will appoint a citizen's committee to recommend how the state should spend the money raised by the stamp sales.

Until 2010, 60 percent of the money the state collects through the program must be spent on big-game winter range and big-game migration corridors. The state will use the balance on other habitat types critical to animal species in Colorado.

Stamps are available wherever hunting or fishing licenses are sold. The stamps also are for sale on the division's Web site, http://wildlife.state.co.us/licensefee/habitat_stamp.asp, or by phone at (800) 244-5613.

Licenses won't be available for purchase at State Wildlife Areas.

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