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Last Thursday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. That prompted republican legislators in Colorado to circulate a petition opposing the relocation of some of those prisoners to the Supermax Federal Prison in Florence. Governor Bill Ritter reacted on Friday saying that republicans such as Senator Ken Kester of Las Animas, and Representative Cory Gardner of Yuma, are jumping the gun on the possibility and are exaggerating the potential danger. Ritter said that he supported the president‚€™s decision to close the controversial center in the 12 to 18 months it will take to do so, but a lot of questions need to be answered before any of them will end up at Supermax, if at all. Gardner and Kester said that they don‚€™t want to see the facility receive that kind of prisoner because they likely would disrupt operation of the facility, and pose an unacceptable threat to nearby residents if some were to escape.
Several Colorado lawmakers have introduced a measure to create a new division of transit and rail that would oversee state efforts to promote a statewide high-speed train system. Simultaneously, a Fort Collins legislator is trying to go one step further and establish a Colorado Railroad Authority that not only would own and operate such a system, but also have the power to impose a tax to pay for it. The idea is to create a statewide passenger rail service that would extend from New Mexico to Wyoming and from Denver to Grand Junction. The Rocky Mountain Rail Authority has been doing a feasibility study on the idea, but that study is not expected to be complete before summer, so the measures that have been introduced are being called premature. The rail authority is a coalition of 11 counties, 26 cities and three transportation districts. Its members include the city of Pueblo and Chaffee, Pueblo, Las Animas and Huerfano counties.
Alamosa business owners met with the Alamosa City Council during a work session last week to express their concern about the downtown‚€™s disheveled appearance and how that would deter customers. The owners listed items such as lights that are out on Main Street, unsightly dumpsters in the alleys and dirty streets. The city on Friday responded to some of those concerns, saying that the city‚€™s street sweeper should be on the road again following a setback due to needed repairs. The city is also responding to dumpster enclosure concerns, particularly in the alley south of Main Street. The city has contracted with Garrison Fence to make the enclosures less unsightly. The city is also planning on making other improvements this spring, including painting the curbs.
Former Pueblo City Manager Lew Quigley has been hired as interim city manager by the city of Walsenburg. This will actually be the second time that Quigley has served the city. Quigley says that he wants to help coordinate the city‚€™s government and help it find a qualified replacement for outgoing City Administrator Eric Pearson. Quigley actually helped hire Pearson the first time that Quigley acted as interim city manager for Walsenburg.
Preliminary results from an aerial survey of the Rio Grande National Forest show that the infestation of spruce beetles in the forest has expanded by 42,500 acres, but for the first time, foresters are seeing significant signs of sudden aspen decline on the 1.8 million-acre forest. The largest pockets of aspen decline are in Saguache County with 13,800 acres and in Mineral County with 8,200 acres. Researchers with the forest service have pointed to the drought in the early part of the decade as having stressed aspen at lower elevations on south- and west-facing slopes. The drought, in turn, made it more difficult for the trees to resist disease and insects.