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Several years ago U.S. Rep. John Salazar sponsored legislation to prevent the privatization of Social Security, however with a Republican-controlled congress, the legislation didn‚€™t go anywhere. Now, with a Democratic-controlled congress, Salazar has teamed up with Rep. Dennis Moore, of Kansas, in sponsoring legislation that would block any social security contributions from being used to create private accounts. The bill also goes a step further in preventing the White House, congress or federal agencies from using Social Security contributions as an accounting gimmick to cover the size of the federal deficit in budget reports. Backers of private accounts argue that it would give taxpayers more direct return on their contributions without obligating the U.S. government. Critics, such as Salazar, do not want social security benefits to be dependent on Wall Street or contributions diverted away from the Social Security trust funds.
Gov. Bill Ritter, yesterday, signed a bill into law that allows judges to consider water quality for large water transfers. ‚€œWe as a state need to do all we can to protect water,‚€Ě Ritter told about 60 people who attended the bill signing at the El Pueblo Museum in Pueblo. The bill, HB1132, sponsored by State Rep. Buffie McFadyen of Pueblo West and Sen. Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village, allows for water judges to reject applications to remove 1,000 acre-feet or more from a river if such a transfer is environmentally harmful to the basin. McFadyen praised Ritter for fulfilling a campaign promise to sign a water quality bill. Ritter, in turn, praised McFadyen‚€™s ability to bring interests together that had once opposed water quality legislation.
Laura Gabaldon, 40, pled guilty yesterday to felony theft in connection to $22,000 that was taken from the Rio Grande Water Conservation District while Gabaldon was employed there between January of 1999 and September of 2005. Gabaldon accepted a plea agreement to a reduced theft charge, a class 4 felony. The plea agreement stipulates that Gabaldon must pay $21,933 in restitution to the water district. Alamosa District Judge O. John Kuenhold, who heard the plea, has scheduled sentencing for Monday, April 23rd. Gabaldon is facing 2 to 6 years in prison plus mandatory parole and a fine.
The old gymnasium located on the site of the former middle school in Walsenburg is expected to be torn down either today or tomorrow, according to Monica Kirby of the Spanish Peaks Library District. Pro Shed of Alamosa is doing the demolition. They are expected to use most of the material to recycle for other building projects. The company is not charging for the demolition.
A fire broke out yesterday morning at about 1:15am at a duplex located on State Avenue in Alamosa. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene after a resident smelled smoke and notified the fire department. The fire was confined to one half of the duplex apartment. No one was home at the time. Firefighters were on scene for about two hours with much of the time spent mopping up the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.