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Phillip Crone, a deputy undersecretary of defense, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, told U.S. Senator Wayne Allard that the army is looking at leasing agreements and easements as options to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site by 418,000 acres without having to purchase or condemn land. Fort Carson officials have previously said that they want to discuss many options with landowners around Pinon Canyon however Crone‚€™s testimony was the first time that Pentagon officials have made such an offer. Allard has already said that he will not support the army‚€™s use of eminent domain to expand the Pinon Canyon site. He credited Fort Carson officials with looking at ways that ranchers in the area may retain their land and grazing ability even if Pinon Canyon is expanded. ‚€œHowever, the Pentagon has not been as forthcoming‚€Ě, Allard said yesterday. He said he believes, ‚€œCongress and the local communities in southeastern Colorado need more information before [they] can decide whether this proposed expansion is necessary and appropriate‚€Ě.
The Colorado Senate preliminarily approved a measure yesterday that would create a 14-member advisory committee to establish minimum building-safety standards for the poorest Colorado schools, and then help those schools get the funding they need to fix up their buildings. The measure, which was introduced by Sen. Gail Schwartz, of Snowmass Village, is also designed to help the poorest schools upgrade their facilities to be able to offer classes they can‚€™t currently, particularly courses needed to get into college. Senate Republicans were upset with the preliminary approval yesterday, saying that the measure will take money away from schools just to do a study. Schwartz says the study will only cost the state about $650,000. Republicans say it could cost millions. Former Gov. Bill Owens vetoed a similar measure last year saying that there was no objective data available to set the standards.
Colorado State Water Engineer Hal Simpson told more than 100 people in Alamosa yesterday that Colorado over-delivered more than 11,000-acre-feet last year on the 1938 compact that sets deliveries based on the amount of water flowing down the Rio Grande. Simpson explained that it was last summer‚€™s monsoons that broke the drought in the San Luis Valley and provided the extra water in the Rio Grande. However, despite the rains, Simpson said that the aquifer in the San Luis Valley is still not being replenished. Colorado had to deliver 225,000 acre-feet last year to New Mexico and Texas. Actual delivery plus a 10,000-acre-foot cushion was 237,100 acre-feet. Colorado had an accrued credit of 15,500 acre-feet as of January 1st.
A group of law enforcement officers, educators and parents was formed in Trinidad shortly after well-known Trinidad teenager Catherine ‚€œCady‚€Ě Elizabeth Raye, 17, a student at Holy Trinity Academy, committed suicide on March 6th. The group was formed to find out why such a tragedy occurred and to work to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. Officials from Hoehne and Aguilar have also been invited to participate in the group. It is hoped that a teen crisis intervention team can be formed. So far, group meetings have been private due to the subject material, however, it is hoped that the group will be opened to the public in an effort to help everyone participate in finding a solution.
Travis Smith, 53, a long-time San Luis Valley resident, has been elected the new chairman of the statewide Colorado Water Conservation Board. Appointed by the governor, Smith previously served as vice chairman of the board. He represents the Rio Grande Basin on the board. Smith was elected at the board‚€™s meeting last week. Smith and his wife Maureen live in Del Norte.