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Moffat County commissioners to proclaim Veteran’s Appreciation Week

CRAIG — The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners is expected to honor local veterans with a Veteran's Appreciation Week Proclamation when it meets in regular session at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, in Suite 130 at the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way.

The proclamation, in part, reads: "Now, therefore, let it be proclaimed that we, the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners, by virtue of the authority vested in use by the people of Moffat County, do hereby proclaim Nov. 11 through Nov. 17, 2018, as Veteran's Appreciation Week, and that all citizens observe the same with appropriate ceremonies in honor of those who served to preserve the principles of justice, freedom, and democracy."

Commissioners are also expected to hear a presentation from the Elkhead Wranglers 4-H group about profits generated from a community service fundraiser for installation of fans in the Moffat County Fairgrounds Livestock Barn.

According to an email from Chris Rhyne, co-leader of the group, the club raised $1,000 selling pumpkins during Wyman's Fall Festival and proposes donating these funds to help with the purchase of the fans.

Commissioners will also approve the consent agenda, which includes the following items:

• Approval of minutes from the Oct. 30 commission meeting.

• Approval of a resolution to transfer payroll warrants.

• Approval of a resolution to tranfer intergovernmental funds for November.

• Approve voided warrants for November.

• Approve a resolution to pay warrants.

• Approve a resolution to amend Moffat County financial policies.

• Approve a corrections resolution.

• Approve a land use authorization form for Loudy-Simpson Park parking lot with Hatten Enterprises. The company proposes to use the parking lot for CDL driver skills testing.

• Approve 2019 operating plans for the Chaffee Foster Care Independence Program, a federally funded, county-administered statewide independent living program. The county's CFCIP services plan must be approved annually.

• Approve a renewal and associated adjustments pertaining to Colorado State Patrol's lease at the Public Safety Center.

Also on the BOCC's agenda for Tuesday:

• Commissioners will consider applications to the Moffat County Fair Board. The county has received applications from Karl Huntsman, Kelly W. Hepworth, Megan Kozey, Ian Duzik, and Bryanne Cossey.

• Commissioners will hear a monthly report from the Road & Bridge Department from Dan Miller, director. Miller's report will include updates on final settlements with Stripe A Lot, for a 2018 striping project, and with Kilgore Companies, LLC, Elam Construction, Inc., for a 2018 asphalt project.

• Commissioners will evaluate bids to purchase a 4X2, midsize SUV for the Department of Human Services. Bids include $29,157 for a Ford Explorer from Cook Ford; $28,280 for a Chevrolet Traverse from Cook Chevrolet; $32,495 for a Dodge Durango from Victory Motors; and $28,080 for a Ford Explorere from Larry H. Miller.

• Commissioners will consider and engineering services agreement with SGM for the Maybell Park RV Park project.

• Commissioners will consider an engineering services agreement with Riverwise Engineering for riverbank stabilization at Loudy-Simpson Park.

• Commissioners will hear an update from Annette Burrow, adult basic education director at Colorado Northwestern Community College, about programs offered at the college.

The BOCC's next meeting is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26.

Craig City Council to hold public hearing on 2019 budget Tuesday

CRAIG — Residents will have the opportunity to speak for or against the 2019 proposed budget for the city of Craig when the City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in Council Chambers at Craig City Hall 300 w. Forth St. City staff and council members will meet at 5 p.m. for a budget workshop before the regular council meeting.

Rather than voting for line-items or on sections of the budget, City Council members, after the public hearing, will vote on first reading of an ordinance setting appropriations for the revenues and expenditures and making and fixing the amount of property tax levies for the city of Craig.

Council will also consider the following items:

• An ordinance to increase water and wastewater rates.

• Approval of a bid of more than $500,000 for the Roundbottom Tank rehabilitation project.

• Discussion and possible approval of $15,000 for a shop local incentive program through the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

• A consent agenda that consists of proposed actions on business matters which are considered routine and for which approval is based on previously approved city policy or practice. The consent agenda will be approved by a single motion to Approve the Consent Agenda, and council members will vote without debate. Council members may move to remove a consent agenda matter for any reason and request it be handled separately for discussion and consideration. Matters removed from the consent agenda will be placed on the agenda as an item of "other business" for discussion and consideration.”

The city will also hear the following presentations:

• Jana McKenzie and Kristina Kachur, from Logan Simpson, will review the final draft of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

• Annette Burrow, adult basic education instructor from Colorado Northwestern Community College, will give an overview of the ESL, GED, and Read/Write programs offered by CNCC.

• Craig Middle School sixth-grade engineering students will present their ideas about the world's plastics problem.

• Monthly reports.

The city has clarified its process for public comments, making the following note on the agenda:

“Regular City Council meeting agendas and council packets are posted on the city's website to keep city residents informed of City Council actions and deliberations that affect the community. This public comment time is set aside for citizens to address the City Council on matters that are listed on this council meeting agenda. Each speaker is allocated three minutes to speak. Speakers may not cede their time to another speaker. If your comments concern an item that is not on this agenda, please address the council during the public comment period at the end of the agenda. Comments should be limited to matters within the jurisdiction of the city. The City Council can only take action on matters that are on the agenda, but may place matters brought to its attention at this meeting on a future agenda for consideration. If you have documents to present to the City Council, please provide a minimum of eight copies.”

Mayor John Ponikvar said that he is working with city staff and council members to increase the opportunities for public comment and expects to hold more public hearings like the one planned for Tuesday.

To review the complete meeting agenda and associated documentation visit ci.craig.co.us/government/city_council/council_packets/november_2018.

Moffat County educators disappointed by failure of Amendment 73

CRAIG — Moffat County voters were clear in their opposition to tax increases when they went to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6, and among the taxing initiatives facing defeat was Amendment 73.

It proposed to change the way public education is funded by establishing a progressive state income tax schedule, increase the corporate income tax rate for C-corporations, decrease the property tax rate for school district levies, and establish a Quality Public Education Fund to set aside revenues generated by the new taxes to fund preschool through 12th-grade.

Moffat County voters rejected the proposal with 3,611, or 69.03 percent, voting against, compared to 1,620, or 30.97 percent, voting for the amendment.

The local result was in step with the rest of the state. Across Colorado, voters rejected Amendment 73 by a 54.88 percent to 45.12 percent margin. The amendment would have needed a super majority of 55 percent to pass.

"We are obviously disappointed in the results for Amendment 73. I’m proud of our teachers, other staff members, and board members who worked so hard to engage the local community," said Superintendent Dave Ulrich.

Had the measure passed, it would have meant an estimated 1.6 billion in additional funding for public schools across the state. Moffat County School District stood to gain about $2.6 million annually.

"Our current students have never attended a fully funded public school in their lifetimes," said Educator and Moffat County Education Association President Lauren Pontious-Powell.

Separate from the operating budget, roughly $17 million is needed for deferred maintenance, to replace aging equipment, to replace the old bus fleet, and address a long list of capitol needs based on a Colorado Department of Education Building Better Schools Today audit of public schools in Moffat County.

"I have communicated a clear message that the status quo cannot be maintained. We consistently live within our means operationally and have made difficult choices to provide new and better opportunities for our students. However, we are woefully behind in meeting our capital needs," Ulrich said

Funds totaling more than $7.4 billion that should have gone to Colorado's schools have been "withheld" since 2009, Pontious-Powell said. "The funding shortfalls have taken learning opportunities away from students and led to a massive educator shortage and the least-competitive teacher wages in the country."

School District Executive Director of Staff Services and Personnel Renae Dove has said teacher compensation is not competitive, making recruitment and retention of teachers, especially for positions requiring special certifications, increasingly difficult.

In the short term, the district will continue to look to the school board to prioritize where dollars are spent.

"We have a lot of work to do to begin to prioritize how we are going to go forward. We have a strategic plan and goals, and to the best that we can, we will try to fulfill goals," said school board President JoAnn Baxter.

Over the longer term, the campaign to better fund Colorado schools isn't over.

"As educators, we are resolute in our purpose to serve our Moffat County and Colorado families, and we will come together for all kids," Pontious-Powell said. "Our work will continue, and we will find another way forward in the 2019 legislative session or on a future ballot."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

‘Red wall’ in Moffat County not enough to stop ‘blue wave’ crashing across Colorado state offices

CRAIG —While Moffat County was among the majority of Colorado counties favoring Republican candidates, the red wall was not enough to prevent a blue wave from delivering Democratic control to nearly all Colorado’s state offices.

A map showing the counties voting for Republican versus those voting Democrat candidates for state office in 2018. While the number of red counties was greater, the number of people voting in blue counties was larger ultimately resulting in a sweep of races in favor of Democratic candidates for state offices.

The red/blue political divide is no longer clearly split between the Western Slope and the Front Range, or even urban versus rural. Instead, it might be more accurately defined as a difference between the haves and the have-nots. An analysis of voting trends shows that counties voting Democratic are some of the most affluent and populous in the state.

Republican incumbent Secretary of State Wayne Williams lost his re-election bid 46.31 percent to 51.24 percent to Democratic candidate Jena Griswold. In stark contrast, 78.15 percent of Moffat County voters voted to retain Williams, with only 18.6 percent favoring Griswold.

The state treasurer’s position, vacated when Walker Stapleton decided to run for governor, was a contest between Republican Brian Watson and Democrat Dave Young. In Moffat County, Watson received 79.05 percent of the vote compared to 17.41 percent for Young. However, with 50.85 percent of the total votes across Colorado, Young defeated Watson, who earned 46.46 percent of the total vote.

The trend continued in the race for Colorado’s Attorney General, a seat vacated when incumbent Cynthia Coffman made an unsuccessful primary bid for governor earlier this year, as Democrat Phil Wieser earned 50.04 percent of the vote compared to the 46.94 percent earned by George Brauchler. In Moffat County, 79.47 percent of voters favored Brauchler, with only 17.27 percent casting their votes for Wieser.

State offices include regents for the University of Colorado system — a nine-person governing board established in an amendment to Colorado’s Constitution.

A map showing the proportion of counties supporting the Republican (red) versus the Democratic candidate for Regent of the University of Colorado to represent the Third Congressional District.

This year, Moffat County voters helped select one at-large representative and the representative for the 3rd Congressional District.

Democrat Leslie Smith earned 50.48 percent of the vote, edging out Republican candidate Ken Montera, who had received 44.75 percent of the vote. In Moffat County, however, Smith earned only 17.53 percent of the vote, compared with 77.56 percent who voted for Montera.

Bucking the blue trend, Republican candidate for Regent for the University of Colorado for the Third Congressional District Glen Gallegos won his seat with 50.98 percent of the vote, compared to the 43.25 percent received by Democratic challenger Alvin Rivera.

Support for Gallegos was strong in Moffat County, where he received 77.82 percent of the vote, compared to 16.32 percent of votes cast for Rivera.

While Moffat County voters did not cast ballots in the race for regent to represent the 5th Congressional District, it was also won by a Republican — Chance Hill —who received 62.62 percent of the vote, compared to the 37.38 percent earned by Democratic candidate Tony Wolusky.

Hill and Gallegos joined State Board of Education member for the 4th Congressional District Debora Scheffel as the only Republican candidates to win their races for state office.

In a politically divided state, the ripples of the blue wave will have long-lasting impacts across Colorado.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

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Definition of industrial hemp to be removed from state constitution

Colorado’s voters spoke clearly on Tuesday regarding the state’s official definition of industrial hemp, voting in support of a proposed state constitutional amendment on the issue.

Statewide, Colorado voters cast 1,098,264 ballots in favor of Amendment X, or 61 percent, and 711,070 ballots, or 39 percent, against the measure.

Moffat County voters, on the other hand, opposed the amendment, with only 2,309 voting in favor, compared to 2,704 voting against.

Amendment X asked residents whether the state should remove the definition of industrial hemp from the state constitution and instead use the definition of industrial hemp found in state and federal statutes.

The basis of the ballot measure comes from Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in the state when the voters approved it in 2012. Amendment 64 also created a constitutional definition for industrial hemp.

Amendment X will delete that definition from the state constitution and instead define industrial hemp by the same terms used in federal law or state statutes. The current federal law classifies all varieties of cannabis, including industrial hemp, as controlled substances.

Judge retention questions on ballot to be simplified following passage of Amendment W

Residents of Colorado will find a different format for judge retention questions in future elections, thanks to voters’ approval of Amendment W in this Tuesday’s election.

Amendment W, a 2018 ballot measure that sought to change the format of judge retention questions in future elections, was approved by the Colorado voters. Across the state, a total of 965,239 votes were cast in favor of the measure, while of 846,838 votes were cast against. These numbers translate to 53 percent in favor and 47 percent against.

In contrast, Moffat County voters were not in favor of the amendment, with 1,622 voting to approve and 3,406 voting “no.”

Amendment W is primarily a cosmetic measure and will not change a voter’s ability to vote on the retention of judges and justices. Rather, Amendment W will change the format of ballots as it relates to judge retention questions.

The judicial retention section on Colorado ballots is currently broken down into separate segments. In future elections, the format will change by moving the retention question language from the section beside each judge’s name to the heading of the various courts. Each judge’s name will then be listed below the heading alongside the spaces for voters to choose if each individual judge or justice should be retained.

Colorado payday loan limits measure passing early

Although Colorado Proposition 111, limiting payday loan rates, did not garner anywhere near the attention as some of the bigger statewide ballot initiatives, it does appear to be earning voter approval.

Proposition 111 places interest rate limits on payday loan services.

In Moffat County, 3,256 voters supported the proposition, while 1,881 voters did not, and roughly 77 percent of all Coloradans voted in support of the measure. 

Currently, the industry adheres to a fee structure, which allows lenders to first charge an origination fee of up to 20 percent on the first $300 borrowed and an additional 7.5 percent on any amount over that.

Lenders could also charge customers a 45-percent interest rate per year, per loan.

Proposition 111 will do away with the current fee structure and instead implement a maximum annual percentage rate of 36 percent on the payday loan industry.

Colorado age requirement for public office to remain at 25

Colorado voters on Tuesday, Nov. 6, decided not to lower the age limit to serve as a representative or senator.

Amendment V would have lowered the minimum age from 25 to 21 years old.

In statewide results, 1,231,448 Coloradans, or 65 precent, voted against the measure, compared to 660,326, or 35 percent, in favor.

Moffat County voters agreed with the rest of the state, with 4,095 ballots cast against the amendment and 1,136 in favor, a margin of 78 percent to 22 percent.

Opponents of lowering the age felt that the current requirement strikes a balance between youth and experience. They argued that younger candidates might lack the expertise and maturity to function as effective legislators.

However, proponents of Amendment V argued that a 21-year-old is legally an adult, and excluding 21- to 24-year-olds serves no purpose, since voters can determine for themselves whether a candidate is mature, able, and competent enough to serve.

Proponents also argued that lowering the age would encourage civic engagement among younger residents of the state.

Colorado’s current age requirement, along with Arizona and Utah, is the highest minimum age to serve in the legislature in the country. Three states have no minimum age requirement, and 10 states have a minimum age requirement of 18 years, according to Ballotpedia.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the average age of Colorado legislators in 2015 was 55.

In 2008, a similar measure to lower the required age to 21, Referendum L, was on the ballot and failed, with 53.5 percent of voters against the measure.

Colorado voters reject Proposition 112; Moffat County follows suit

Seeking to establish new setback restrictions between oil and gas operations and homes, Proposition 112 was shot down by Colorado voters on Tuesday, Nov. 6; as a result, oil and gas facility statewide setbacks will remain 500 feet from residences.

Statewide, 1,085,656 ballots were cast against the measure, while 827,152 were cast in favor, a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.

In Moffat County, the margin of defeat was even broader, with 4,376 county voters, or 82 percent, voting against the measure compared to 987, or 18 percent, voting in favor.

While the proposal received both widespread criticism and support from officials throughout Colorado, just being on the ballot, which required nearly 100,000 signatures from Colorado residents, may open the door for future setback rules discussion in Colorado, supporters said.

The current setback rules, established by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2013, set a 500-foot statewide setback from residences, as well as a 1,000-foot setback from high occupancy buildings such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

Proposition 112 sought to push that setback to at least 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other vulnerable areas.

Voters remove slavery exemption from Colorado Constitution

Slavery is officially prohibited under all circumstances in the state of Colorado after voters approved Amendment A, which removes the exception to allow slavery or indentured servitude in cases of punishment for a crime.

The majority of voters, 65 percent, voted to remove the exemption from the Colorado Constitution. These results were reversed in Moffat County, however, where 1,926 voters, or 38 percent, voted in favor of the amendment, while 3,184, or 62 percent, rejected it.

Supporters argued it was important to remove the exception for moral and ethical reasons. Though the measure will not have a direct impact on prison reform, proponents believe the change reflects the state’s values of freedom and equality, and the vote was symbolically important.

Opponents countered that Amendment A was redundant and unnecessary, saying the state already pays its prisoners 33 cents to $2.49 per day, depending on the assignment.

A similar measure, Amendment T, was on the Colorado ballot in 2016, but it narrowly failed, with 50 percent of voters against the change. Supporters believed that was due to confusing ballot language.

Both the 2016 Amendment T and this year’s Amendment A passed unanimously in the state legislature, according to Ballotpedia.