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The Colorado State Supreme Court yesterday ruled in favor of opponents of a campus gun ban who claim the prohibition is illegal because it was not approved by the legislature. Opponents of the gun ban say that the University of Colorado rule was challenged as part of a nationwide effort to standardize rules on the issue. The group “Students for Concealed Carry on Campus”, a nationwide student advocacy group, filed the lawsuit. The ruling covers about 30 public universities, colleges and community colleges in Colorado. The Colorado high court cited widespread inconsistencies among jurisdictions as one of the reasons for its ruling. Kyle Hybl, chairman of the Board of Regents, said that the ruling has stripped the university of its right to make its own rules. Hybl said that the university has the “constitutional and statutory authority to protect the health, welfare and safety of students”. Hybl said the case was less about firearms than the constitutional and statutory rights of the Board of Regents.

Aerial survey results released last week show that the spruce beetle infestation on the Rio Grande National Forest increased by 80,000 acres last year. The jump was the largest annual increase since the infestation began in 2002 and brings the total impacted area to 275,000 acres on the national forest. Last year, foresters thinned infested trees near Trujillo Meadows and Big Meadows campgrounds. Rio Grande Forest officials are asking visitors to the forest not to hike, ride or drive in beetle-killed areas on windy days. Campers also should not pitch their tents beneath tall trees in beetle-killed forest. The agency also cautions visitors to carry a saw or an axe when driving through an infested area, given the possibility that a tree could fall and block your return. The beetles, which kill trees by tunneling beneath the bark and cutting off the circulation of nutrients and sugars, have killed more than half of the 530,000 acres of mature spruce forest on the Rio Grande.

Alamosa business leaders, chamber and economic development leaders, members of Sacred Heart’s Social Justice Committee and others met last Friday to see what they could do to keep Rakhra Mushroom Farm open and to keep local residents employed there. With declining production at the farm, Rakhra management laid off many of the workers and in January filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. At full strength, the farm employs about 280 people. The group that gathered Friday talked about how the immediate needs of the displace workers could be met and how a permanent solution could be reached to save the farm. Ideas included a leveraged buy-out, private investors buying the farm, and cooperating with new management at the farm to keep the community informed and keep pressure on Rakhra to solve its financial and managerial issues so that the farm can be viable once again. A former Rakhra staffer told the group that the farm’s debt is more than $6 million including secured and unsecured debt, and he estimated upwards of $1 million in repairs and rehabilitation are needed at the farm.

The fire that destroyed a Colorado City home Saturday evening remains under investigation. The cause of the fire is still unknown. The fire broke out shortly before 8pm Saturday at a home in the 6000 block of Waco Mish Road in Colorado City. A woman called 911 to report a fire in the master bedroom closet of her home. Michael Baker, 39, was transported to University Hospital in Denver for multiple injuries late Saturday. Sheriff’s deputies and the Rye Fire District responded to the fire and rescued Baker from the fire. Damages to the home are estimated at $150,000.

The 63rd San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair will be held this Thursday and Friday at Plachy Hall on the Adams State College campus in Alamosa. Students in grades 4th through 12th will be attending. Registration of participants will begin at 9am on Thursday with judging at 1pm. The public is invited to visit on Thursday as the fair will be closed to the public during judging on Friday. The award ceremony will begin on Friday evening at 7pm. For more information, call fair director Lucy Adams at 719-587-5412.