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High winds gusting up to 65mph forced the closure of Interstate 25 to high-profile vehicles yesterday between Pueblo and the New Mexico border. The highway was closed to high-profile vehicles at 2:20pm yesterday and didn’t reopen until 5pm. Restricted vehicles were routed to Colorado City and Walsenburg to wait out the winds. A high-wind advisory for another storm front recommended against high-profile vehicles traveling overnight and early today. The worst winds in the state yesterday were along the southern foothills. According to the National Weather Service, a cold front moving across the state caused rapid mixing of cold air with warmer air – the perfect recipe for creating high winds along the front range. Winds are expected to ease today with mostly sunny skies, warmer temperatures and southwesterly winds of only 10-15 miles per hour this afternoon.
HB1301, a bill that would authorize an additional $189,000 in per-diem reimbursement for Colorado lawmakers who live outside of Denver, gained preliminary approval yesterday in the state senate. Unlike representatives in the house, who narrowly passed the bill with no debate, senators defended their positions on both the spending measure and the concept of increased per diem. More of those who spoke favored the bill than opposed it. Senator Angela Giron, of Pueblo, said she could not vote for the bill with so many people hurting in the state. Senator Jean Nicholson, of Black Hawk, also said that she didn’t think it was an appropriate time to give a per-diem increase to some of the state’s legislators. Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, of Colorado Springs, is one of 41 lawmakers eligible for the higher per-diem. He defended the per-diem increase saying a no vote on the appropriation for the increase would not stop it from taking effect. Senator Kevin Grantham, of Canon City, voted in favor of the bill and agreed with Cadman’s logic. Senator Gail Schwartz, of Snowmass Village, did not have a vote yesterday because she was presiding over the senate, however she said she would have supported the spending bill. The bill makes its final pass through the senate today.
Six days after routine testing found e. Coli bacteria in the water system in San Luis, state public health officials lifted the boiled-water advisory for the town yesterday. The move allows the town’s residents to use their tap water, which will now be chlorinated by the San Luis Water and Sanitation District. No illness related to the outbreak have been reported and no cause for the contamination has been found. Crews began flushing chlorinated water through the town’s water mains last Thursday to neutralize the bacteria. Water samples were taken on Monday and were sent for laboratory testing before state officials lifted the ban yesterday. The water and sanitation district had operated under a state disinfection waiver before the outbreak, distributing untreated groundwater from two wells to residents. The district decided to abandon the waiver last week and begin chlorinating the town’s water.
The Trinidad City Council yesterday delayed action on the proposed firing of Trinidad City Manager Ed Gil De Rubio. Citing a provision in the city charter, council member Bernadette Baca-Gonzales objected to a special meeting called to discuss Gil De Rubio’s termination, but then voted not to adjourn the meeting. Baca-Gonzales lashed out at council members Joe Bonato, Al Pando, Linda Velasquez and Mayor John Rino over the proposed firing. Rino said Baca-Gonzales’ objection ended the meeting. Council voted 4-3 to adjourn the meeting. Rino, Velasquez, Pando and Bonato voted to adjourn. Baca-Gonzales, Carol Bolton and Frank Shew voted against the motion. After adjournment, Rino allowed Phil Rico, president of the Trinidad Community Foundation, to speak. Rico said the foundation wants a 6-week moratorium on any action against Gil De Rubio and also wants to mediate a recall of Pando begun last week.
The South Conejos School District Board of Education voted on Monday to begin negotiating a buyout of its contract with first-year superintendent Todd Lancaster. The move finalizes the process begun in January when three of the five-member board voted not to renew a contract with Lancaster for next year and placed him on administrative leave. The buyout would apply to the remainder of this school year. The move prompted a student walkout in January and angered some parents who pointed to the firing for the withdrawal of a $500,000 curriculum and instruction grant by the Colorado Department of Education. Neither side would discuss the reasons for Lancaster’s firing, noting that to discuss personnel matters publicly could open the district up to legal action.