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The Colorado State Attorney General’s office in a filing yesterday says that school funding should be up to the legislature, not the courts. State attorneys are defending the state against a lawsuit over how it funds education that’s pending in the Colorado Supreme Court. The attorney general’s office says that education funding is a political question outside the courts’ power. The lawsuit, called the Lobato Case, was brought by parents and school districts contending that how Colorado funds schools violates the state constitutional mandate that requires a “thorough and uniform” education system. A Denver district judge ruled last year that Colorado’s educational funding system is “irrational and inadequate”, and that there isn’t a single district that is sufficiently funded. Government attorneys yesterday called that ruling an “unprecedented intrusion into public policy”. The case could be heard later this year by the state supreme court, with major implications on how lawmakers wrestle with the state budget.

In a 600-page environmental assessment, Fort Carson officials have said that having a new combat aviation brigade of 113 helicopters and support troops conduct training at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site northeast of Trinidad won’t do any permanent damage to the 238,000-acre training area. The assessment says that Fort Carson officials will modify the route of helicopters flying from Fort Carson to Pinon Canyon in response to landowners’ concerns. It also says that any environmental damage from training the brigade at Pinon Canyon could be repaired or mitigated. Jean Aguirre of the group “Not One More Acre!” said that the army is pressing ahead with ramping up training at Pinon Canyon even though a federal district court ruled in 2009 that its environmental assessment to support more training was inadequate. In that court ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said the army’s own reports showed it had significantly damaged the training range.

Charles Ruiz, 24, of Alamosa, a prisoner at the Alamosa County Jail, was found dead in his cell early Tuesday morning. An autopsy was slated for yesterday at the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. Alamosa County Sheriff Dave Stong said that the cause of Ruiz’s death remains under investigation by his office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Ruiz had been in jail in Alamosa since May 3rd. He was scheduled to face sentencing for third-degree assault and resisting arrest, both misdemeanor charges, on July 26th. Ruiz lived at the La Puente homeless shelter at the time of his arrest, according to Stong.

A small fire was reported about 2pm yesterday just south of the Fremont/Custer County line near Wetmore. The fire was about an acre in size and was burning in a remote area in the Adobe Creek area just west of Colorado 67. An emergency alert went out to a few residents in the area as a precaution. Firefighters from the Wetmore, Custer County, Williamsburg and Florence fire departments, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management had to hike into the area to reach the fire. A helicopter was also used to assist ground crews fight the fire yesterday.

Fire restrictions have been lifted on all federal and private land in the San Luis Valley with the exception of Costilla County. The lifting of the ban on federal lands was announced on Tuesday, ending a 6-week stretch with restrictions. The ban was lifted because of an extended period of moisture in the valley. Public land managers, however, urge visitors to be careful with fire and to make sure campfires are completely extinguished before leaving an area. Fireworks remain prohibited on federal lands. Alamosa, Conejos, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache counties have lifted bans that were in place on private land, leaving only Costilla County with restriction still in place.