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Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate are wrestling over how to shore up the slumping housing market leaving Colorado senators Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar on opposite sides of the aisle. Allard, who serves on the senate banking committee, said that he urged President Bush to issue a veto threat this week over any mortgage legislation that would allow homeowners in default to rewrite their mortgages in bankruptcy court. Allard said that if judges could change the conditions of a loan, the risk to lenders would increase and therefore make mortgages harder to obtain. Salazar took the opposite view. He says that congress needs to reopen the bankruptcy code to allow defaulting homeowners more protection. Salazar says there are 49,000 homes in foreclosure in Colorado and that is pushing down the home values for more than 700,000 homes across the state. The other provisions of the Foreclosure Protection Act of 2008 include providing an additional $10 billion in mortgage revenue bonds to encourage lenders to modify loans headed for foreclosure.
Representative Buffie McFadyen and Leena Mather are working to slow traffic through Colorado‚€™s highway construction zones in the name of Charles Gabriel Mather, the Colorado Department of Transporation worker that was killed on the job on Interstate 25 south of Colorado City in 2006. McFadyen has introduced bills to use photo radar and increase speeding penalties to get motorists to slow down through construction zones. HB1036, the ‚€œCharles Mather Highway Safety Act‚€Ě, will be heard by the House Transportation and Energy Committee today. The bill calls on the Colorado State Patrol to contract with a private vendor to use photo radar vans in random locations where highway construction is taking place. Those vans would take pictures of speeders in construction zones and mail them a speeding ticket. HB1010, which has already been approved by committee, would increase traffic fines across the board. Under the bill, speeding violations would be as high as $400 in construction zones.
After more than one failed election to expand the overcrowded Alamosa County Jail, Alamosa County officials are struggling with what to do next. The facility is holding almost twice the number of inmates for which it was originally constructed, averaging 97 inmates per day with more than 16 housed elsewhere because the county cannot pack any more into the facility. County officials reviewed their options yesterday, estimating that they could place an additional 40 inmate beds in a dormitory style setting in the area that will soon be vacated by the Alamosa Police Department. Renovation costs to make that happen would total about $500,000. Officials also decided to invite area residents to form a citizen committee to help the county develop solutions for the inmate overcrowding situation.
Presco Energy, a natural gas drilling company out of Woodland, Texas is looking to come into the Twin Lakes Ranch subdivision near Walsenburg. The company met with the Huerfano County Planning Commission on Tuesday in a room packed with unsympathetic homeowners. The company wants to drill five coal-bed methane wells in the area, which is located six miles west of Walsenburg. The company is currently asking for permission to drill a test well to determine if the area is even worth drilling. Commission members told the company that they would have to meet a list of stipulations not addressed in their application, including weed management, dust mitigation, noise abatement and wildlife and historical artifact assessments.
The Sargent School District Board of Education has chosen four finalists from 12 applicants for the superintendent position. The board will now interview the 4 finalists on March 4th, and will include opportunities for staff and community members to interact with and talk to the candidates. The staff forum will take place at 4:30pm on the 4th with the community forum following at 7pm in the school cafeteria. The board hopes to secure the position by March 13th, with a starting date of July 1st.