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Rep. Tom Massey, of Poncha Springs, and Rep. Anne McGihon, plan to jointly introduce a bill into the state legislature as soon as today that is designed to help make health insurance for employees of small businesses more affordable. The measure would end the insurance company‚€™s practice of basing premiums for group insurance policies on medical claims and pre-existing health conditions, which the pair believes have led to the increasing cost of insurance for small business. McGihon said that Colorado used to ban setting premiums on medical history and pre-existing conditions however, the poor economy caused the legislature to change that to give insurers more latitude in setting rates. Last year, Massey and McGihon teamed up to pass a measure that created a bipartisan health insurance task force. It is hoped that that task force will come up with more sweeping reforms to address the rising costs of insurance.
About 200 acres of brush were consumed yesterday when a controlled burn north of Blanca got out of control due to a shift in the direction of the wind. More than 15 firefighters arrived on the scene about 3:15pm yesterday and were able to control the blaze before any homes were damaged. The fire destroyed a truck, tractor and trailer however. The blaze was considered under control by 5:30pm. Area residents also helped firefighters in the effort in an effort to help save the homes in the area. Forest service officials remained at the fire site last night about 8:30pm to make sure that none of the hot spots re-ignited.
Joycelyn Rachel Garcia, 39, remains in custody in the Rio Grande County Jail after her arrest on forgery and theft allegations. The mother of two was arrested on allegations that she embezzled an estimated $100,000 from her employer, the Arrowhead Title Company in Monte Vista. Garcia reportedly gave both a written and oral confession to police admitting that she took money from the company over the past 2 years so she could meet family needs and give her children what they needed and wanted. She was reportedly employed by Arrowhead as a bookkeeper for three years before her arrest on March 12th. Garcia mad her first court appearance yesterday, however, formal charges have not yet been filed. She remains in custody on $50,000 bail.
Interstate 25 was closed for at least an hour Sunday morning after a charter bus caught fire near the Pueblo/El Paso County line. The blaze fully engulfed the Ramblin‚€™ Express bus that was carrying 25 people on their way to Cripple Creek. The fire began about 9:15am and is believed to have started near the rear engine and fuel lines. The fire also lit a small grass fire along the northbound shoulder of the interstate.
The Colorado State Patrol is scheduled to take over emergency dispatch services for Costilla County beginning on April 1st. The county wants the state patrol to provide full-time radio dispatching services for its emergency services, including police, fire and ambulance services. Under the agreement, the state patrol will provide 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year service to the county. The service will cost the county between $36,000 and $40,000 a year. The state patrol already handles dispatching for E911 calls in the valley as well as fire, police and ambulance for several communities in the valley.