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The Colorado House yesterday gave preliminary approval to a measure designed to help spur the removal of beetle-infested lodge pole pine trees. HB1269 would provide a sales tax exemption for the sale of wood products such as lumber or furniture made from salvaged trees killed in Colorado by mountain pine beetles, which are devastating sections of Colorado‚€™s forests. The bill is designed to encourage the wood‚€™s removal so that new growth can take place. It also requires sellers of the wood to disclose that it is from salvaged trees. The measure still requires a final vote in the house before it can move on to the senate for consideration there.
29-year-old Mario Valenzuela surrendered to Rio Grande County sheriff‚€™s deputies and Del Norte Police at about 4:30pm on Saturday after a standoff at the Mac Apartment building at the corner of Sixth and Cherry Streets in Del Norte. Valenzuela is facing charges of first-degree assault in Alamosa for an alleged Friday night stabbing in which Valenzuela‚€™s brother, Eric Valenzuela, 28, was listed as the victim. The assault took place at about 10pm on Friday at a residence on San Juan Avenue in Alamosa. The victim was taken to the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center in Alamosa and was then transferred to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. Valenzuela was free on $50,000 bond at the time of his arrest Saturday on charges related to an August 7th, 2007 home invasion and assault in Alamosa. Valenzuela had just entered a plea of guilty to felony first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon in that case last Wednesday.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Kane in Denver ruled last Friday that a legal dispute between the Arkansas River Power Authority and Raton, New Mexico, should be dealt with in a court in New Mexico, rather than in Colorado, and has therefore thrown out the authority‚€™s lawsuit against the city. Kane pointed out that Raton had sued the power authority in U.S. District Court in New Mexico in January, two days before the power authority sued Raton in U.S. District court in Colorado. The dispute between the two is over the escalating costs of a multi-million dollar project at a Lamar power plant operated by the authority. The project to increase the plant‚€™s capacity was estimated to be $76 million back in 2006. However, the authority issued an additional $28.6 million more in bonds last October to help finish the project. Raton officials have said that they don‚€™t want to have to pay for the extra bonds. The city is one of 7 municipalities that are members of the authority.
Three people were injured at 11:45am yesterday in a head on traffic accident that occurred at the intersection of Conejos County Road Z and Conejos County Road 28. According to the Colorado State Patrol, Eugene Salazar, 71, of Los Sauces, was driving northwest on County Road 28 when he failed to stop for the stop sign at the intersection. Salazar‚€™s 1986 Toyota pickup collided with a 1993 Oldsmobile Cutless, driven by Leslie Hawkins, 39, of Sanford. Hawkins was delivering mail at the time of the accident. Salazar, Hawkins and Lydia Mares, 56, of Antonito, a passenger in the Salazar vehicle, were transported to the Conejos County Hospital in La Jara. Mares and Salazar were later airlifted to Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs with serious injuries.
A coalition of environmental groups, the environmental protection agency and other agencies, say that further study and analysis is needed before any drilling is approved on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. The comments were made to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during a 45-day public comment period on an environmental assessment of the drilling proposal by Lexam Exploration, which owns the mineral rights under the refuge. The environmental groups went so far as to say that the environmental assessment should be scrapped and a full environmental impact statement should be conducted. In their statement, the coalition urged the fish and wildlife service to ‚€œmake a decision of a need for an [environmental impact statement] immediately so as not to burden other federal agencies, state and local government and non-governmental organizations and the public with additional review of a seriously inadequate [environmental assessment].‚€Ě