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Republicans and democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives vowed during speeches that began the new legislative session yesterday to disprove expectations that the general assembly will be mired in partisan gridlock. The legislature’s work sits between the democratic victory in the redrawing of state legislative and congressional boundaries during the off-season, and a hotly contested election cycle ahead in November. Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the Colorado House, while democrats control the senate by a margin of 20 to 15. House Speaker Frank McNulty, a republican from Highlands Ranch, and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, a democrat from Denver, both praised Governor John Hickenlooper’s work luring big businesses to the state during his first year in office. Ferrandino and McNulty both also expressed the shared objective of creating jobs in Colorado, but they outlined drastically different courses for arriving at that destination. Governor John Hickenlooper delivers his state of the state address today.

A proposed solar project near Center could assist water management sub-districts with their goal of reducing water consumption in the valley by taking current agricultural land out of production. Adam Green, who represents Solar Reserve, told the Rio Grande Roundtable on Tuesday, that the solar facility proposed by solar reserve would be located on 6,200 acres of private agricultural land about six miles outside of Center. The permits to support solar facilities would encompass about 4,000 acres with the remainder serving as a buffer, according to Green. The land currently supports 39 center pivots watering such crops as potatoes, carrots and wheat. Green said that currently about 8,800 acre feet of water is pumped from the aquifer every year on the property to support its agricultural uses. The proposed solar facilities would consume 150 acre feet per year, and none of it from the underground aquifer. Green said that Solar Reserve is purchasing senior surface rights to supply the facility’s needs, primarily for maintenance uses. The solar facility would incorporate 17,000 mirrors, or 11 million square feet of glass, over about 1,500 acres, according to Green.

Trinidad City Councilwoman Linda Velasquez who is charged with alleged liquor and gambling law violations at a bar she co-owns, faces a new court hearing in March. Velasquez, along with her brother Joseph Cordova, was charged following a July raid at Gino’s Sports Bar. Velasquez’s attorney, Joe Koncilja of Pueblo, asked District Attorney Frank Ruybalid for a bill of particulars in October. That requires Ruybalid to specify facts that are going to be the basis of the prosecution. Ruybalid presented that information yesterday in Las Animas County Court. Koncilja has 30 days now to file other motions based on the bill of particulars. Velasquez has been charged with two felony counts of unlawfully permitting gambling on premises with a liquor license on July 14th and July 28th. She also faces counts of attempting to influence a public servant, obstructing a government official and harassment. Koncilja, who is asking for the case to be dismissed, said the allegations are “stupid”. The next hearing in the case has been set for March 14th.

The Boettcher Teachers Program is interested in bringing quality teachers to rural school districts. The program combines research and practices for teacher recruitment, preparation, induction and support in high-needs schools. The Boettcher Foundation, a Colorado-based non-profit, funds the program that mixes traditional and alternative graduate level teacher education. Dr. Edward Crowther and Kurt Cary, of Adams State College, informed the San Luis Valley Superintendent Advisory Council this week that Boettcher representatives said that they are looking to start the Adams State College Residency Program in August of next year. If the program is successful in the valley, it could be a model for nationwide education in rural areas.

Artists from Aesthetic Ice return to Alamosa tomorrow to sculpt 300-pound blocks of ice for the 2012 Alamosa Ice Fest. “Back to the Stone Age” is the theme with inspiration drawn from Fred and Barney and the rest of the “Flintstones” characters. The festival begins tomorrow and will run through Saturday, with ice carving exhibitions on both days. The festival will also include a faux snowman decorating contest, a 5K race and snowshoe races. The faux snowman decorating contest will be held Saturday at 10am. The 5K fun run will begin at 1pm Saturday at Cole Park. And, the snowshoe races will begin at 2pm, also at Cole Park.