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U.S. Representative Mike Coffman says that “since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide election ballots in a language other than English makes no sense”. Coffman is introducing legislation to repeal portions of the 1973 Voting Rights Act so that county clerks are not required to publish ballots and other election materials in anything but English. Clerks in 16 counties in Colorado are waiting for a Justice Department decision as to whether or not they must begin printing dual-language ballots this year. Some clerks have told Coffman’s office that the additional cost will be significant. 10 counties in Colorado already offer dual-language ballots and election materials. They must do so because the 1973 legislation requires dual language materials if 5% of more of the county’s population demonstrates an inability to converse in English. Coffman says, “Whether or not dual-language ballots are used ought to be up to local election officials and shouldn’t be mandated by the federal government”.

The Front Range Water Council is planning to hire Grand River Consulting Corporation for $600,000 over two years to work on Colorado River issues that affect Colorado’s largest water providers. The water council began meeting about 3 years ago after the state renewed studies of Colorado’s entitlement of water under the Colorado River Compact. The council represents Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Twin Lakes Reservoir & Canal Company, the Northern Water Conservancy District and Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. The groups provide municipal and industrial water to 80% of the state’s population, using about 6% of the total water supply. The 7 members have a common interest in importing water from the Colorado River. They came together after the Colorado Water Conservation Board began studies of how the state would deal with shortages if there were a call on the river by California, Arizona and Nevada. Up until now, the council members have been relying on their own staff to provide input to state planning on Colorado River issues, but the tasks have grown so much that full-time staff is needed to work on the issues.

The Land Rights Council in San Luis yesterday announced that the Torcido Creek Road litigation has been settled, subject to court approval. Upon approval, the settlement will open the Torcido Creek Road and the Torcido gate, providing Costilla County landowners with access to the Taylor Ranch for livestock grazing, firewood gathering and timber cutting. The litigation is part of the 30-year-old Lobato vs. Taylor case and specifically emerged from the Colorado State Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling that confirmed access rights to the ranch. The 2003 ruling, however, did not include Torcido Creek Road, which runs through the Mountain Lake Ranch subdivision and is the only entry to the Torcido gate. The road was blocked with boulders last fall, prompting a group of Costilla County landowners to bring suit on April 8th of this year. The settlement will grant road and gate access to all people with rights to the Taylor Ranch portion of the Cielo Vista Ranch. It does not cover people with rights only to the Salazar Estate portion of Cielo Vista.

Join the Spanish Peaks Library in Walsenburg, community supporters and a number of state elected officials in celebrating the launch of the new public computer center. The launch event will take place next Tuesday, August 23rd, from 4 to 6pm at the library. The public computer center will provide free access to the internet along with training for many levels of users. Those seeking new computer skills, looking for a job, or researching health information can learn at the library. A number of trainings will be held at the center of the next several months.

Artists working in all media are invited to enter the next show entitled “Transitions” at the Gallery in the Park at 132 West Ryus in La Veta, this Saturday, August 20th, between 10am and 2pm. Entry forms are available in advance online at www.spanishpeaksarts.org or at the gallery. Artists may enter up to 4 pieces and all submitted entries will be accepted as long as they conform to the show rules. A fee of $5 per item will be charged to help defray gallery operating expenses.