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Governor John Hickenlooper yesterday signed two bills into law authorizing the closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City and launching a study of prison use in Colorado to guide future decisions that affect corrections. No jobs are expected to be lost in the prison closure. A shift in correctional philosophy about management of administrative segregation inmates, those sent to solitary confinement, for disciplinary or behavioral reasons, precipitated the closure of the prison. The state opened CSP II just two years ago. The $220 million financial obligation on the prison stretches into the next decade. The state is hoping to sell the prison. Colorado’s overall prison population is in a steep decline, which also figured into the decision to close the prison. Factors such as inmate distribution between public and private prisons and the impact of prison closures on the communities whose economies rely on them will be among the factors eyed in the study. The closure of CSP II is the second in as many years in southern Colorado last year the legislature voted to close the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility in Bent County.

HB1345, a bill to amend the “Public School Finance Act of 1994” to modify the funding for public schools from kindergarten through the 12th grade for the 2012-2013 budget year, passed the Colorado House last month and is now under consideration in the senate. The proposed bill would increase total program expenditures for K-12 education by an estimated $57 million next year. It is proposed that statewide base per pupil funding be increased to $5,843.26 to account for a 3.7% inflation rate. The bill also proposes a $57.2 million general fund appropriation for the Department of Education and almost 2.8 million in cash funds appropriations. While the state is searching to find ways to increase district budgets, they are also working within a system that includes a “negative factor” which reduces total program funding to $5.23 billion.

More than 600 people are believed to have attended the memorial service last night at the Alamosa High School Gymnasium in Alamosa to celebrate the lives of the three young women who were killed in Pueblo last weekend by a suspected drunken driver in a horrific traffic accident. The service included photo montages of girls from baby pictures on up to those of young women. Friends in the gym called out in happy recognition or simply clapped as the images came up and then faded into each other. There were also t-shirts in the crowd emblazoned with photographs of the girls or with messages of love to them. But the grief was also there. The service was steeped in the Christian fellowship that the girls were sharing when they were killed. The three had been in Pueblo at a church concert last Saturday. The Reverend Montoya, Anisa’s father, told the crowd that the girls were on their way to Starbucks when the accident occurred. Alamosa Superintendant Rob Alejo said that the entire Alamosa community has been stunned by the girls’ deaths.

The San Luis Valley Bureau of Land Management Field Office will continue to implement the 2009 Travel Management Plan this year by signing roads and, in some places, constructing barricades. BLM roads and trails are being signed as funding allows. Signing and some barricading have already occurred in the elephant rocks, Penitente, Trickl Mountain and Poncha Pass West areas. This year, the SLV field office will focus on the San Luis Hills, Poncha Pass East and Limekiln areas. The plan limits travel in sensitive areas and also allows for the rehabilitation of previously disturbed areas, thereby minimizing soil erosion, water contamination and the loss of forage for both domestic and wild animals. For more information, call 719-852-6267.

The San Luis Valley Chapter of Ducks Unlimited presents the 2012 Greenwing Event for children up to 17 years old this Sunday, May 6th, from 11:30am to 4pm. The event will start and end at the Del Monte Gun Club. Registration and lunch will run from 11:30am to 12:30pm, and the fun will include wildlife identification, outdoor survival skills, BB guns, a trap shooting clinic, casting techniques, archery and much more. Each child will receive a Greenwing membership, subscription to Puddler Magazine, and prizes. For more information, contact Damian Arellano at 719-850-1645.