Craig briefs: Young professionals to host pizza mixer today | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig briefs: Young professionals to host pizza mixer today

— Join the Yampa Valley Young Professionals for a pizza social from 5 to 7:30 p.m. today at Carelli's. The group creates a place for young professionals to gather and socialize. Pizza and beer will be on hand. For more information, call 970-629-5915.

Photo contest underway for Welcome to Craig

Craig Daily Press is hosting a photo contest for readers. The newspaper is asking residents to submit photos of scenery, events or activities throughout Craig and Moffat County. The paper also is looking for strong cover photo options for the Welcome to Craig magazine. Deadline for submissions is March 11. Submit photos and vote for favorite photos online at CraigDailyPress.com/photocontest/.

Heating help available to low-income households

If history repeats itself, Coloradans will see lots of snow this month, which means home heating will continue to be crucial, according to a news release.

The Low-income Energy Assistance Program offers help to those who are having trouble affording their home heating bills.

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LEAP is a program of the Colorado Department of Human Services that helps eligible Coloradans from November through April with cash assistance for their home heating bills. As of mid-February, LEAP had approved nearly 63,940 benefits, and the average benefit was $389.

Those interested in applying can call 1-866-432-8435 to order a mailed application. Alternatively, applications are available at all county department of social or human services, most utility companies and many community agencies such as Catholic Charities. Applications also can be downloaded from colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.

LEAP applicants must be Colorado residents and U.S. citizens or legal aliens. They also need to provide a copy of a valid identification and a completed affidavit to comply with regulations found at 9 CCR 2503-7.

Customers reminded to protect gas meters

Atmos Energy is reminding customers to keep the areas above and near natural gas meters clear of snow and ice, as heavy snow continues to fall across the state, according to a news release.

Buildup of snow or ice can cause significant damage to gas meters and external pipes, in addition to impact the accuracy of meter readings, and prevent quick access to the meter in case of an emergency.

The following is how to safely remove snow and ice from gas meters and appliance vents.

■ Carefully hand-dig snow away from the meter and/or use a broom to sweep off snow.

■ Do not allow snow to accumulate on a roof directly above a gas meter.

■ If using snow and ice removal equipment on rooftops, use extreme caution while diverting it away from the meter.

■ Do not allow snow or ice to pile up against the meter when snow plowing or shoveling a yard or street.

For additional winter safety tips, visit atmosenergy.com/wintersafety. As a reminder, if you smell natural gas, leave the area immediatley and call 911 or the 24-hour emergency number at 1-866-322-8667.

Average Colorado gas prices increase to $1.65

Average retail gasoline prices in Colorado rose 12.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $1.65 per gallon Wednesday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 2,158 gas outlets in Colorado.

That compares with the national average that has increased 3.7 cents per gallon in the past week to $1.74 per gallon, according to gasoline price website gasbuddy.com.Including the change in gas prices in Colorado through the past week, prices Sunday were 52.2 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 5.7 cents per gallon lower than last month. The national average has decreased 6.5 cents per gallon during the past month and stands 65.1 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"We knew it was inevitable. The 8-month decline in prices at the pump that brought the national average as low as $1.67 has come to an end," Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said in a statement. "The plateau, or pause, in price movement is now behind us as we've had a full week in which the national average has climbed steadily. Some areas, such as Southern California, are weathering significantly higher increases as their refineries transition earlier from winter blend to summer blend production, while Great Lakes states suffer from refinery run cuts. As expected, this is the beginning of the seasonal price climb, and we'll have to wait and see if last week's rally for crude gains momentum to underscore the trend."

For up-to-date fuel price averages, visit media.gasbuddy.com.

Novice female hunters can apply for turkey hunt

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is accepting applications from novice women who wish to participate in a private-land turkey hunt with experienced mentors. The two-day event is offered in partnership with Encana and the Western Slope chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The hunt will take place on Encana's private property, near Parachute.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. March 25 and can be found at Colorado Parks and Wildlife's website, cpw.state.co.us/learn/pages/outreachwomen.aspx

For more information about the turkey hunt, call Kathleen Tadvick at 970-255-6181.

Late winter is best time to prune area trees

According to a news release from Colorado State Forest Service, late winter — from February through early March — is the best time to prune most trees. Trees are still dormant at this time of year and, unlike in early winter, wound closure will be rapid if pruning occurs just prior to when new growth emerges.

"Pruning trees during the late dormant season reduces impacts on tree health and builds a strong structure for our community trees in the long term," Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service, said in a statement. Wood added that, though some elms, maples, birch and walnut trees may visibly exude sap if pruned in the late winter or early spring, this should not harm the tree.

The forest service offers the following tree pruning tips.

■ Know what you want to accomplish before you saw. Don't remove branches without a reason.

■ Remove any torn, dead or broken branches.

■ Develop or maintain one dominant vertical top stem, or leader, and don't cut off the tops of trees.

■ Space main branches along the trunk, and prevent branches below the permanent canopy from growing upright or too large.

■ Always prune just outside the branch collar — the point at which one branch leaves a larger one, or the trunk), often discerned by raised or wrinkled bark.

■ Limit pruning of newly planted trees to the removal of dead, damaged or crossing limbs or those interfering with the main stem.

■ Avoid removing more than 25 percent of a tree's branches in any one year.