Craig briefs: Community calendar available online and in print

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The Craig Daily Press has a robust and thorough community calendar that can be found on page 4 of the Craig Daily Press or online at www.CraigDailyPress.com/events. Check out the newspaper’s calendar for your event needs. If you’d like to submit a calendar event, email your listing to editor@CraigDailyPress.com or call 970-875-1790.

Free carpool matching service available online

Residents of Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties have access to a free, online carpool matching service sponsored by Yampa Valley Data Partners, according to a news release.

Organizers hope the website, www.carpoolworld.com/northwestcolorado, will be a resource to help Northwest Colorado residents save on transportation costs. The project was created as part of the Northwest Colorado Energy Education Plan, which was funded by a grant from the Colorado Energy Office.

Enjoy Art Walk, Taste of Chocolate Saturday

The annual Art Walk and Taste of Chocolate will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday in downtown Craig.

Businesses along the 400 and 500 blocks of Yampa Avenue will be featuring art works and chocolates galore for patrons strolling by, and people will be able to view the talents of local artists and sample some delicious confections.

This is the 19th year for the Art Walk and the eighth for Taste of Chocolate.

Tickets to participate in the sampling are $12 and are limited to 125 people. They can be purchased at The Kitchen Shop, KS Kreations and Favorite Things.

For more information, call 970-824-8244 or 970-824-7898.

Agreement signed to build new wind facility

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. announced that it has entered into a 25-year agreement with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC for a 150-megawatt wind power generating facility to be constructed in eastern Colorado, according to a press release.

Under the 25-year power purchase agreement, Tri-State will purchase the entire output and associated environmental attributes of the Carousel Wind Farm. The 150-megawatt facility will be Tri-State’s largest wind energy PPA to date. When the project begins commercial operation, the wind farm will provide affordable electricity to Tri-State’s 44 member cooperatives across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

 “This was a timely and cost-effective opportunity for us to diversify our generation fleet and deepen our expertise in the challenging area of integrating variable energy resources,” said Brad Nebergall, Tri-State’s senior vice president.

 The Carousel Wind Farm agreement was the result of a solicitation for renewable resources issued by Tri-State in early 2013, months before the Colorado legislature approved a new mandate doubling the renewable standard for the state’s rural electric cooperatives. Although the project will assist the association in meeting that mandate, as well as a renewable energy standard in place in New Mexico, Tri-State believes such mandates are unnecessary and that the not-for-profit cooperative’s resource decisions should be directed by its democratically-elected board. 

 A NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary will construct, own and operate the Carousel Wind Farm. The Carousel Wind Farm will be so named because of its relative proximity to the Kit Carson County Carousel, an antique amusement ride and national historic landmark located in nearby Burlington.

 Based in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is a not-for-profit wholesale power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts serving approximately 1.5 million consumers throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Wise electricity usage saves money in winter

Atmos Energy is encouraging its customers to save money on their winter heating bills by reducing their energy usage.

“A little planning goes a long way when it comes to reducing winter heating bills,” Colorado/Kansas Division President Gary Gregory said.

Energy-saving tips:

■ Change or clean furnace filters once each month during the heating season.

■ Set your water heater’s temperature at 120 degrees.

■ Set your thermostat to 70 degrees during the day and 58 degrees when away from home for more than a few hours.

■ Close vents and doors in unused rooms and close cabinet and closet doors on outside walls.

If you are having trouble paying your utility bill, visit www.atmosenergy.com to learn more about energy assistance programs. Low-income customers are eligible for federal energy assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps pay energy bills and weatherize homes.

Metering during peak times on I-70 for safety

Tunnel Safety Metering may be implemented along the I-70 mountain corridor prior to the Eisenhower Tunnel during peak travel times along I-70 eastbound. This type of metering is used sparingly in this area but when implemented, it is done so for safety reasons. Due to the lack of shoulders and pull offs inside the tunnel, CDOT is unable to allow backups inside the tunnel. Traffic must remain moving throughout the entire tunnel, which is nearly 1.7 miles long. Should an emergency occur within the tunnel in stopped traffic, emergency vehicles would not be able to maneuver inside the tunnel or in the immediate tunnel vicinity. When stop and go traffic congestion on I-70 east of the tunnel threatens to back traffic into the tunnel, Tunnel Safety Metering is put into effect. Alternating red and green traffic lights keep traffic moving eastbound through the tunnel at a consistent rate, while allowing the congestion on the east side of the tunnel to dissipate.

Ramp metering is a different type of metering and is used along U.S. 40 to relieve the congestion along I-70 eastbound during peak travel times. The delays travelers experience on U.S. 40 prior to entering I-70 help keep their overall delay shorter by not overwhelming I-70 with so many vehicles that it makes delays grow so large that travel times won’t recover until late at night. U.S. 40 traffic can add more than 800 vehicles per hour to I-70 from 2 p.m. through 6 p.m. on weekends and Holidays. Travelers are encouraged to take advantage of peak hour dining and lodging deals to avoid long delays.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has launched a campaign to encourage mountain visitors to “Change Your Peak Time” when traveling back to Denver, by skipping the rush between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Instead travelers can “Press Play, Avoid Delay” by spending an extra hour having fun in the mountains instead of spending an extra hour in peak traffic. CDOT has partnered with the I-70 Coalition, a consortium representing the mountain communities and resorts, to give travel tips and travel forecasts, and to offer discounts, deals and incentives for travelers interested in avoiding traffic by staying in the mountains for an extra hour or two. Peak Time Deals at www.goi70.com list locations of restaurants, entertainment options and retailers along the I-70 corridor that offer weekend discounts. In addition to deals offered near resorts, Idaho Springs and Georgetown also offer incentives for travelers who want to leave early to beat the peak traffic, or who have already hit the road but would like to take a break from traffic on their way home. We encourage motorists to take advantage of these offers and to change their travel times in order to take advantage of all that our mountain towns have to offer.

CDOT encourages all drivers using this stretch of roadway to anticipate and prepare their vehicles for a winter storm. Stocking your vehicle with essentials like water, blankets, windshield wiper fluid, hand warmers and nonperishable food items is highly encouraged. Various options for vehicle preparedness encouraged along I-70, include but are not limited to using four-wheel drive during appropriate conditions and snow socks for passenger vehicles. Heavy traffic and winter driving conditions, as well as vehicles unable to maneuver through icy and snow packed conditions, add to delays along this corridor in the winter.

 To receive real-time updates about road conditions in your area, visit www.colorado

dot.info and click on the green cell phone icon in the upper right hand corner of the page. Information about weekly lane closures will be available at www.coloradodot.info/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html. Updated road conditions are available at www.cotrip.org or by calling 511 from anywhere in the state. Download our CDOT mobile app for more information, road conditions and project updates. Up to date information is also available via Twitter, @coloradodot, and be sure to “Like” our Facebook page www.facebook.com/coloradodot. 

Colorado Farmers can grow industrial hemp

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has adopted the first industrial hemp rules in state history. The rules became effective Dec. 30, 2013, according to a release. Producers can begin to register with CDA’s industrial hemp program March 1.

“These rules are the first step to allow Colorado producers to legally grow industrial hemp,” Colorado Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Carleton said.

Producers must register with CDA by May 1 if they would like to grow industrial hemp during the 2014 growing season. The annual registration fee for commercial production of industrial hemp will be $200 plus $1 per acre. The annual registration fee for production of industrial hemp for research and development will be $100 plus $5 per acre. All registrations will be valid for one year from date of issuance.

All registrants are subject to sampling of their industrial hemp crop to verify that the THC concentration does not exceed 0.3 percent on dry weight basis; as many as 33 percent of the registrants will be inspected each year. During the inspection, the registrant or authorized representative must provide the department’s inspector with complete and unrestricted access to all industrial hemp plants and seeds whether growing or harvested, all land, buildings and other structures used for the cultivation and storage of industrial hemp, as well as all documents and records pertaining to the registrant’s industrial hemp growing business.

The rules were developed in response to the recent passing of Amendment 64 and legislation enacted by the Colorado General Assembly. SB13-241 delegates to the department the responsibility for establishing a registration and inspection program. 

“The General Assembly, with SB13-241, has made it clear that cultivation, for either commercial or research and development purposes, is not authorized unless the prospective grower first registers with the department,” Carleton said.

The rules and additional information about industrial hemp can be found by visiting www.colorado.gov/ag/dpi and clicking on “industrial hemp.”

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