Craig briefs: Commissioners say ‘thank you’ to Jewell

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At their Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commissioners stated that they’re sending a “thank you” letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for making a trip to Moffat County in January to talk about sage grouse with the heads of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife service and Gov. John Hickenlooper. The BLM is working with Fish & Wildlife to determine the status of the species, whether it should be listed as a threatened or endangered species. Since 75 percent of Moffat County land would be affected by such decision, local residents and leaders have been working on conservation efforts to preserve the bird with minimal impact on the economy.

Jewell visited the Bord Gulch Ranch — which employs conservationist ranching methods so livestock and wildlife can cohabitate.

Commissioners opted into sending a thank you to encourage more conversations and working together.

“We like your hands-on approach regarding both the preservation of our local economy and the greater sage grouse,” the letter stated. “It was extremely helpful for us to be able to speak directly with you and your staff members. We think that there is real reason to believe that the evidence points to a win/win solution that both preserves the birds and protects our regional economy.”

Restaurant’s sales to aid Sunset Elementary

Sunset Elementary School’s monthly fundraiser is this Thursday. Vallarta’s Restaurant in Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way, will donate 20 percent of its sales from the evening to the school. For more information, call 970-824-5762.

315 drivers get DUIs Super Bowl weekend

Super Bowl weekend offered more to be upset about than just the outcome of the game, as the number of “Heat is On” DUI arrests throughout the weekend hit a total of 315, according to a press release. Law officials increased enforcement throughout the state from Jan. 31 through Feb. 3 to keep Colorado’s roads safe during the Super Bowl celebrations.

“We know that Broncos fans are some of the most respectful football fans in the country,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Unfortunately, a portion of fans acted irresponsibly and put everyone on the road at risk.”

Nearly 100 law enforcement agencies across the state joined forces to arrest the 315 drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; 148 of those arrests took place on Super Bowl Sunday. The highest number of arrests over the enforcement period took place in Denver (40), Aurora (34) and Colorado Springs (21). The numbers are down considerably when compared to 2013 when 421 arrests were made. Preliminary reports also account for one impaired driving fatality.

“We knew that this Super Bowl in particular would be a cause for celebration this weekend, but no matter who’s playing in the game, there’s no reason to drive impaired,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. “A DUI for those 315 people only made their weekend worse.”

Coloradans can expect even tougher enforcement during the next enforcement period during St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The next “Heat is On” DUI crackdown begins March 14 and lasts through March 17.

The “Heat Is On” campaign runs the entire year with 12 specific DUI enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large, public events. More details about the DUI enforcement plans and arrest results can be found at www.heatisoncolorado.com.

Colorado 9th in nation for solar jobs last year

Nationwide, solar employment is growing 10 times faster than rest of the economy, according to a press release from Environment Colorado.

Colorado has more than 3,600 people employed manufacturing and installing solar energy, according to a national Solar Jobs Census released today by The Solar Foundation. According to the analysis, Colorado ranks ninth in the nation for solar jobs. 

Solar has been on the rise across the country and in Colorado. Nationwide, solar power grew by almost 20 percent in 2013.

The Solar Foundation, an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, released its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013. That figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar jobs over the previous year, representing 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. Solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same period. Statistics on all 50 states can be found on TSF’s interactive map, available at www.solarstates.org. 

Lincoln Day events to debut Monday, Tuesday

“Lincoln’s Happiest Day” will be presented at 7 p.m. Monday in the Moffat County High School Auditorium. President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, as played by professional Lincoln presenters John and Pamela Voehl, will reflect on the struggles and successes of Lincoln’s presidency and life. They will then field questions from the audience in character. The event is sponsored by the Colorado Northwestern Community College Student Activities group and is free to all.

“The Gettysburg Address and the Rest of the Story” will be presented at 1 p.m. Tuesday at CNCC’s Media Center, on the second floor of the Academic Building. President Lincoln, portrayed by John Voehl, will discuss what went into the writing of the Gettysburg Address and its place in the Civil War and American history. This event is sponsored by the CNCC Student Activities group and is free and open to the whole community.

President Lincoln, as portrayed by John Voehl, also will give a presentation at 4 p.m. the Boys & Girls Club of Craig on Tuesday. Younger members of the community and their parents are welcome to attend as President Lincoln talks about his life and the difficulties he encountered.

EPA releases guidelines for fracking fluid use

On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a long-awaited guidance for regulating the use of diesel fuel in fracking fluid under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Investigations show that diesel fuel, known to be hazardous to human health, has been used in fracking operations in Colorado.

“Diesel fuel is a known carcinogen, but companies have reported using diesel fuel in fracking fluid in Colorado,” Environment Colorados Field Associate Lindsey Wilson said. “The EPA has made a small step toward curbing one of many threats from fracking. The agency can and should bar the use of diesel fuel in fracking fluid, once and for all.”

Fracking, a form of oil and gas drilling, uses toxic chemicals, sometimes including diesel fuel, mixed with millions of gallons of fresh water, to extract gas and oil reserves deep below the earth’s surface. Fracking is prevalent in Colorado, but recent studies have shown that fracking is adding stress to Colorado’s already scarce water supply. Diesel fuel is incredibly toxic. It contains benzene, a known carcinogen, as well as toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes, which can damage our liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Benzene alone is so toxic that the concentration in drinking water “below which there is no known or expected risk to health” is zero.

“The case for banning diesel in fracking fluid is clear. And given the other threats to our drinking water, air, health, parks and forests, and communities, we need to keep fracking away from our national parks and forests, close the loophole in our nation’s hazardous waste law, and allow communities to decide for themselves whether or not to allow drilling within their borders,” Wilson said.

Tipton gives statement to explain debt vote

On Tuesday, U.S. Congress-man Scott Tipton, R-Colo., issued the following statement about the vote in the House on a clean raise of the debt ceiling. Tipton voted against the measure.

“The $17.3 trillion national debt didn’t happen overnight. It will take a long time and a lot of work to dig our nation out, and we won’t be able to do that if we continue business as usual in Washington. Unfortunately, that’s all that the President and Congressional Democrats will accept — more of the spend-now-think-later status quo that got us here,” Tipton said.

“In the past, we’ve been able to get a dollar in spending cuts per dollar of debt ceiling increase. Given our nation’s staggering debt, raising the debt ceiling without at least getting comparable spending cuts in exchange is not appropriate. We’re on the path to bankruptcy, and many vital programs will cease to exist if we continue. That’s a crisis we need to address now. Washington needs to spend less, and chart a responsible fiscal course that ensures future generations aren’t left paying the bill for today’s decisions. I will support legislation that makes responsible spending reforms, ensures the fiscal solvency of vital programs like Social Security and Medicare, and provides the American people — this and future generations — with the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

Artist accepting horse painting nominations

Equine artist Karen Brenner is accepting nominations for her newest series of paintings, “Beautiful Horses of Colorado.” This will be the 10th state to be featured in a series that eventually will include all 50 states if everything goes as planned and the artist lives to be 100 years old.

This summer, Brenner will travel to Colorado to photograph the horses that are selected for the project. She will use them as reference shots for the paintings in the series.

The “Beautiful Horses of Colorado” series will include one painting of each selected horse. As the paintings are completed, they will be posted in a special section of the Horse Paintings by Karen Brenner website. This special section also will include short stories about the selected horses and photos of the horses with their owners.

To nominate a horse, complete the online form at www.karenbrenner.com. To enter by mail, send the following information: a description of why this horse should be included in the project (300 words or less), horse’s name, breed, age, color, sex, owner’s name, address (and address for horse if different), email and phone number. Include the name and contact information for the nominator if different from the owner. Mail the information to Karen Brenner, 3613 Triway Lane, Wooster, OH 44691. (If the owner is younger than 18, list a parent’s name so permission to photograph the horse can be coordinated with a parent.)

The deadline for nominations is April 30. Owners of selected horses will be notified by May 15.

Brenner has been working on the “Beautiful Horses” series since 2005. Paintings from the previous nine states are posted on her website at www.karen

brenner.com/beautiful_horses_of_list.html. States completed include New York, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin; Maryland and Delaware are the states for which series are currently underway in Brenner’s studio.

If you have questions about the project, email Brenner at kmbrenner@hotmail.com.

Grand Junction Film Festival in February

The Grand Junction Film Festival is seeing growth in the number of submissions and general interest for its second installment, which will take place Friday and Saturday at Colorado Mesa University. The rundown for this year consists of more than 50 short and feature films.

Filmmakers from across the country, as well as western Colorado, will be on site viewing their work and answering questions for an audience. The majority of the films screening are self-funded works from up-and-coming directors looking for their first break in the filmmaking business. A list of the movies being screened can be viewed at www.gjfilmfest.org.

The Grand Junction Film Festival has achieved international status in a very short time. Without an entry fee or any restrictions on genre or subject matter, many filmmakers who made their debut in 2013 have returned for the 2014 festival with groundbreaking improvements to their craft. The event draws a crowd throughout the Grand Valley, with last year bringing in hundreds of movie watchers ranging in age from teens to retirees.

The 2013 winners included “Happiness ... Promised Land” (Best Feature) and “Audio Tour” (Best Short).

For interviews or questions, call Hilary Martin at 562-310-1978.

Shooting enthusiasts reminded of closure

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding shooting enthusiast that the Byers Canyon Shooting Range in Hot Sulphur Springs is now closed due to the agency’s continuing efforts to protect wintering elk and deer herds.

Because the animals have moved onto their winter range in and around the shooting facility during especially cold conditions this year, wildlife officials remind the public to give them plenty of space to help prevent additional stress that can lead to mortality, including the deaths of displaced animals due to road and railroad collisions.

“We’ve experienced very cold temperatures in this area recently,” said property technician Doug Gillham, from Hot Sulphur Springs. “We ask everyone to respect the closure and remember that it exists to protect wildlife by keeping noise and human activity at a minimum over the winter months.”

Gillham said that the closure benefits area residents as well, reducing the number of wintering elk and deer that are forced onto private land in search of safety and food.

The shooting range will remain closed until the animals move toward higher ground in the spring, which typically occurs in early April.

The Byers Canyon Shooting Range, which is owned and operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is very popular with sportsmen from across the western slope, including the Front Range due to its proximity to the Denver metro area.

For more information about Colorado Parks and Wildlife shooting ranges and alternative places to shoot, go to www.wildlife.state.co.us/hunting/shootingranges/pages/shootingranges.aspx.

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