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Governor John Hickenlooper yesterday signed an executive order that bans open burning and the private use of fireworks throughout Colorado due to the high fire danger in the state. The ban does not apply to campfires in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed camp and picnic grounds or recreation sites, and people can still use liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves. The ban also doesn’t cover indoor fireplaces, charcoal grills at private homes or specific prescribed or controlled burns for agricultural or irrigation purposes. Commercial, professional and municipal fireworks displays are allowed with written approval by the county sheriff. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management has also banned open fires and smoking on public lands due to high winds, low humidity and dry conditions. Fireworks are also not allowed on any forest service lands at any time.
U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez in Denver last week ordered the City of Trinidad to stand trial on a firefighter’s allegation that he was called an ethnic slur directed toward Hispanics and was subjected to harassment numerous times by fellow firefighters. Judge Martinez denied the city’s request to throw out the 2010 lawsuit of David Guara, a Hispanic and city firefighter since 2001. Martinez said there was sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that the plaintiff was subjected to a severe or hostile work environment based on his race or national origin. Guara claims that years of derogatory comments from co-workers and two occasions when his firehouse locker was vandalized violated federal anti-discrimination law. Martinez said Guara showed evidence that at least once a week he was referred to as “just a Mexican”, called an ethnic slur, or was made fun of for being a “Spaniard”. Contrary to the city’s arguments, the judge stated that the evidence describes more than simply isolated incidents.
The effort to recall Trinidad City Councilman Al Pando has once again been revived. Last month, Trinidad City Clerk Audra Garrett ruled that recall petitions filed against Pando by the Trinidad Recall Action Committee were not valid because they did not specifically ask for a recall election. The group amended the petitions and resubmitted them to garret once again last week. Garrett said that the committee filed an amendment to its petition last week and that she has made a determination that it was sufficient and valid. Pando filed a protest over Garrett’s acceptance of the amended petition yesterday saying that the recall group added things to the petition after they had already collected all of the signatures, which isn’t right. Pando said that those who originally signed the petition didn’t sign the amended petition. Garrett will hold a hearing on the matter on Wednesday.
The National Audubon Society has announced that it will award the owner of the Trinchera Ranch with the Audubon Medal for Outstanding Work in Conservation and Environmental Protection. Louis Bacon, owner of the 171,000-acre ranch in Costilla County, will join previous winners of the award like Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner and the Rockefeller family. The society cited his support of the Audubon Society and his work in preserving hundreds of acres of wildlife and bird habitat in North Carolina, New York and in the Bahama Islands. Bacon, who bought the Trinchera ranch in 2007 for $175 million, was named the ranch conservationist of the year by the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts in 2010.
Saying that he’s running because he thinks we need to start learning to work together, Joe Richards, a building inspector with Las Animas County, has announced his intention to run for the district 1 seat on the county commission as an independent candidate. Richards says that we need to look for new ways to spur the economy and thinking about issues like that got him excited to run. Richards will need to secure the signatures of 134 voters by July 15th to be eligible for the election in November. The signatures will be subject to challenge. Richards says that he started collecting signatures last week and has garnered 60 so far. Richards previously built a steel contracting business in Arizona where he employed 50 people. He and his family moved to Las Animas County six years ago.