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Governor Bill Ritter on Saturday named Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet as his choice to fill a senate vacancy that will be created once Senator Ken Salazar is confirmed to be the next Secretary of the Interior. Bennet had been mentioned as a possible choice for President-Elect Barack Obama‚€™s education secretary, but Obama chose Ame Duncan, the chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools, for the cabinet post instead. The move to appoint Bennet surprised both republicans and democrats since Bennet, 44, has never campaigned for or held public office previously. Ritter praised Bennet as a proven leader and problem-solver in both the public and private sectors. Bennet said that he was ‚€œready to take on the serious challenges facing our country and our state‚€Ě. He said his experiences ‚€œhave taught [him] that when people come together, put aside partisan differences, and focus on pragmatic problem-solving, we can accomplish great things.‚€Ě
Colorado state lawmakers are hoping that a statewide transportation package will open up jobs for tens of thousands of Coloradoans to work in construction-related industries, providing raw materials, maintenance and engineering. Senate President Peter Groff of Denver said that the benefits of increased funding for transportation would ripple across the state, creating jobs for people who would support the workers on new highway and bridge projects. House Speaker Terrance Carroll, of Denver, said that studies show a 10-fold increase for every dollar spent on transportation. Colorado has already identified dozens of projects that are ready to go if congress wants to jump-start the economy, but some of those projects could be in jeopardy if the U.S. Congress decides that more money should go to states where the need is greater. The 2009 Colorado Legislative Session begins on Wednesday.
A hearing on conditional release for Carolyn Gloria Blanton, now known as Jane L. Woodry, was held Friday in Alamosa District Court before Judge Pattie Swift. Blanton was declared not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder, dismemberment and partial cannibalism of Peter Green of Alamosa back in 1994. The state hospital in Pueblo is seeking a conditional release for Blanton as a part of her continuing treatment. Dr. Elissa Ball, Blanton‚€™s psychiatrist, testified that Blanton is ‚€œtotally committed‚€Ě to her treatment, that she now shares her anxieties or misgivings where she would previously hold them in, and that she recognizes right from wrong. Ball said that while she is recommending this conditional release, she doesn‚€™t anticipate any request for unconditional release in the foreseeable future. Judge Swift said that she would render her ruling in writing.
The death of Jeff Caylor, 25, of Springfield, has been ruled a suicide. Jeff‚€™s father Norman Caylor, 65, was found dead of gunshot wounds in his home just outside Springfield on December 26th. The elder Caylor‚€™s death is being investigated as a possible homicide. Officials say it is too early to determine if the deaths are connected. The younger Caylor was interviewed last week regarding the homicide of his father, along with other family members and acquaintances. Anyone with any information regarding the death of Norman Caylor is asked to call the Baca County Sheriff‚€™s Office at 719-523-6677.
The Huerfano County Chamber of Commerce is looking for artists who might be interested in displaying their artwork at the chamber of commerce office. There are lots of empty walls at the chamber office that are waiting to be covered. Anyone interested is welcome to stop by the chamber office in the old train depot in Walsenburg, see the space available, and talk to the community representative.