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HB1301, a bill that includes more money for rural lawmakers, was approved by the Colorado State Senate yesterday on a vote of 21-13 with little debate. The bill has already passed the house and now awaits Governor John Hickenlooper’s signature. The bill has been characterized as an accounting measure for the legislative branch, but includes a scheduled increase of $33 a day in expense pay for lawmakers who live 50 miles or more away from Denver. Pay for non-metro members of the legislature would climb to $183 per day from the current $150 per day on July 1st under the bill. Some lawmakers from both sides of the aisle voted against the bill to show their disapproval of the per-diem hike. The measure now awaits the governor’s signature, who has said that he will sign it because the per-diem hike is the “right thing to do”.

The last inmates that were being housed at Fort Lyon’s medium-security prison were transferred to other jails last Friday, leaving the campus in Las Animas as it was when the Veterans Administration closed its hospital in 1998. The Colorado Department of Corrections has used the former hospital as a medium security prison for the past nine years, housing 485 geriatric and disabled inmates. The state opted to close the prison to save $6 million annually. The 200 jobs it provided represented about one in eight positions in the workforce in Bent County. Efforts are currently underway to find a new use for the buildings on the 550-acre campus. Governor John Hickenlooper was at the pentagon on Monday to talk to officials there about repurposing the building with the military, according to Katheine Sanguinetti, a spokeswoman for the DOC. She said that a decommissioning ceremony for the prison will likely be held in the spring or early summer.

The 18th Judicial District Attorney in Aurora is expected to file murder charges against Michael Jim Medina, 49, in connection with the killing of his first wife, Kimberly Greene Medina, who was 19. The case had grown cold, but now may be on its way towards a resolution. Medina is currently serving a 48-year prison sentence for the killing of his 16-month-old son, Degan, in May of 2005. Medina allegedly told his second wife, Becky Garel, that he had beaten Kimberly with a bat and buried her alive in Elbert County, covering her with mud and listening to her gasp for air. The body has never been found, however, some items believed to have belonged to Kimberly were found in the area. Publicly, Medina has claimed that Kimberly walked to a gas station for cigarettes, but he has also claimed that she went there to make a phone call. Medina was awarded custody of his 2 daughters with Kimberly following her disappearance and ended up in Alamosa. While Medina has claimed his son’s death was an accident, he entered into a plea bargain and was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

The Gardner School Carnival will take place tomorrow, March 2nd, with dinner beginning at 5:30pm. Cost is $3 for children and $5 for adults. There will also be games from 6 to 7:30pm including a cake walk, face painting, bingo, a silent auction and much more. Everyone is welcome.

Any high school student and their parents interested in spring track should attend a parent and athlete organizational meeting tonight beginning at 5pm in the John Mall High School Cafeteria. Information about spring track will be given, fees collected and necessary paperwork will be done. Track practice will begin at 4:30pm on Monday, March 5th, at the sports complex.