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The Government Accountability Office is scheduled to release two comprehensive reports tomorrow that examine the U.S. Army‚€™s plans as well as its conduct in attempting to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site northeast of Trinidad. Both reports have been long awaited in the nearly 3-year fight between the army and its critics, landowners and other opponents of the expansion of the 238,000-acre training facility. The government accountability office works for congress and conducts investigations at the request of lawmakers. The first study requested back in June of 2007 asked the GAO for a review of the army‚€™s land acquisition planning and methods. The second study requested early last year asked the GAO to review an army report, its analysis and conclusions, regarding the expansion. The third request asks the GAO to look into the army violating a congressional ban on spending money on the expansion project.
Representative John Salazar, meeting with officials from Pueblo, Huerfano and Las Animas counties on Saturday, brought both good and bad economic news. The good news Salazar says is that the House Appropriations Committee intends to have an economic recovery plan totaling at least $750 billion finished in February, including some $600 million for Colorado highway projects that are ready to begin immediately. The bad news is that Salazar and others want more for the infrastructure package, at least $200 billion, but President-Elect Barack Obama‚€™s staff is holding that to just $85 billion in its proposal. Salazar also found himself having to defend Governor Bill Ritter‚€™s decision to appoint Denver Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet to take Senator Ken Salazar‚€™s seat in the senate. Salazar said he did not pursue the senate nomination because he believed that he could better serve the state as the only Coloradoan on the House Appropriations Committee and said his new positions on the Energy and Water Subcommittee, as well as Military Construction Subcommittee, would be very important for Colorado taxpayers.
Xcel Energy on Friday opened a request for proposals to develop up to 2,200 megawatts of electricity in the San Luis Valley by 2015, including 700 mw generated from wind or solar power, with the possibility of another 600 mw of solar with either storage capacity or natural gas backup. Mark Stutz, spokesman for Xcel, said the company could bid the 700 mw of generation to more than one proposal. Should the company choose a number of proposals, some could be wind and some could be solar. Proposals also could vary in the amount of electricity they generate, but they must be above a 30 mw minimum. Coal-fired generation is also an eligible source of power, but any such facility must be able to capture and sequester at least 50% of their carbon dioxide emissions. Friday‚€™s announcement opens up an evaluation process that Xcel hopes will be wrapped up by the fall of this year.
Planners at the Colorado Department of Transportation are anticipating between $250 million and $500 million to come to the state as part of a federal economic stimulus bill. If the actual money received is closer to the $500 million figure, as many as four valley road projects could get funding ‚€“ mostly resurfacing of portions of U.S. 160 and U.S. 285. But, if the money received is closer to the $250 million figure, only some roadwork will be possible and basically just resurfacing of U.S. 285 south of Saguache. A final decision on how the money would be divided up will come from the Colorado Transportation Commission once the amount coming to Colorado from the federal government is known.
Alamosa Police Sergeant Leroy J. Chacon officially retired from the department last month. Chacon had worked for the Alamosa Police Department since 1972 as a patrolman and rose to the rank of sergeant before retiring. A retirement reception was held in honor of Chacon at the Elks Lodge in Alamosa on December 19th. About 250 people from the community showed up to congratulate Chacon and watch him receive a plaque commemorating his 36 years of service. Chacon is now working in the community corrections center as a client manager.