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Gov. Bill Owens, yesterday, signed legislation that reduces mandates for health insurance coverage that should reduce premiums. While signing the legislation yesterday, Owens said that more than 14,000 small companies dropped out of the health insurance market over the past two years due to the rising costs of insurance. The new law, which takes effect on July 1st, would exclude coverage for mammograms, mental illness, hospice care, alcoholism treatment, prostate screenings and general anesthesia for dental care for minors, or a "Chevy" coverage plan, as Owens put it. Employers could still offer a more expensive, or "Cadillac" plan that would be more extensive. The law also creates a pilot program to allow small businesses to pool together to buy group health insurance.
Alamosa County's tobacco prevention and education project will receive a $23,000 grant from the cooper institute. The grant will run from July 1st of this year through June 30th of next year and is being made possible by the institute and its research project, the web-based support for community tobacco control coalition funded by the national cancer institute. The county had previously lost funding for the tobacco prevention program from the state's tobacco settlement funds, which were diverted to help offset the state's budget problems. Nelda Curtiss, the county's tobacco education and prevention project manager, said that some small modifications in activities might be needed as the grant from the cooper institute is less than what the program had originally applied for from the state tobacco settlement funds.
The Las Animas County Commissioners yesterday unanimously passed accountability standards for any agency that receives county financial assistance or is using space in county-owned facilities. The resolution says that county resource-assisted agencies 'be publicly accountable for the use of such resources and to conduct business in an open and public manner'. Commission chairman Robert Valdez said that "there are some organizations in the community that use public money, yet the citizens of the community do not have any idea what their money is being used for". He said that he believes that the public has a right to attend board meetings of those organizations if public funds are being used and the county is supporting those organizations.
In an effort to clean up the county, Alamosa County Commissioners on Monday asked the Alamosa County land use staff to target properties that appear to be creating blight in their neighborhoods as well as potential health hazards. Commissioners encouraged land use officials to make a personal contact with property owners, then issue official letters that would be followed by board and possibly court action if necessary for any property determined to be a blight in its neighborhood. Commissioners are targeting properties which have an accumulation of items such as inoperable vehicles, old appliances and trash. Health concerns and neighborhood complaints are prompting the county's action.
If you live in Alamosa County and have a well, you may want to have it checked for arsenic levels. Higher than normal levels of arsenic have been found in wells 10 miles either side of the Rio Grande in Alamosa County. To get a testing kit, call the environmental bio lab at 303-692-3048. Unfortunately, a telephone number in a previous press release was not correct, however, this is now the correct number... Once again... 303-692-3048. Test kits run under $20.
Kenneth Duran, 31, who suffered critical head and neck injuries after being struck by a car last November 20th, died Monday in Alamosa. He was hit by a car while walking across the 2600 block of Park Street. The car, a 1987 Ford Taurus, was being driven by Mark Copley, 24. Copley was cited for careless driving causing injury. Duran was also judged to be at fault as he was crossing mid-block outside of a crosswalk.