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The latest 2010 census numbers seem to point to an emerging American where city boundaries will become indistinct and rural areas are growing ever less relevant with many communities becoming virtual ghost towns as businesses shut down and schools close, according to national demographers. Rural America now accounts for just 16% of the U.S. population, the lowest ever. While metro areas in the U.S. are becoming sprawling megalopolises, large swaths of the Great Plains and Appalachia, along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and north Texas, could face significant population declines. These places posted some of the biggest losses over the past decade as young adults left and the people who stayed got older, moving past childbearing years. While rural America is shrinking, larger U.S. metro areas have enjoyed double-digit percentage gains in population over the past several decades. Since 2000, metro areas grew overall by 11% with the biggest gains in suburbs or small- or medium-sized cities. In all, the share of Americans living in suburbs have climbed to an all-time high of 51%. Despite sharp declines in big cities in the northeast and midwest since 2000 due to the recession, U.S. cities increased their share by 3 percentage points to 33%.

The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife wants southern Colorado residents to know that hungry bears are causing problems in our area. A Wetmore rancher lost a llama this past week, the 3rd animal lost to bear attacks on the ranch this summer. And, a bear bit the leg of a teenager camping near Leadville on July 15th. As a result, wildlife officials are asking residents and vacationers to take extra care to avoid attracting hungry bears to homes, cabins, campgrounds and picnic areas. Because this has been a below average year for natural food for bears, bears are simply looking harder for something to eat. With prime feeding time for bears just ahead, wildlife managers are concerned that the number of bear encounters could increase and are advising people to remove food temptations from their homes and campsites to avoid confrontations with bears.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will hold open houses throughout Colorado to receive public input on various elements on Colorado’s State Freight and Passenger Rail Plan. The SFPRP will present potential methods for improving the movement of freight and passengers in a safe, efficient and reliable manner. It will also provide guidance for investing in future rail needs in ways that support economic growth and maintain the environment. The open houses will give the public an opportunity to comment on various aspects of the SFPRP. In our area, the open house will take place at the Alamosa County Administration Building, commissioners’ meeting room, in Alamosa, on Thursday, September 1st, from 5 to 6:30pm. For more information, call 303-757-9047.

The Huerfano County Director of Communications will present official commendations to communication officers Dee Pacheco, Darren Sanchez and Jordan Barela, on Wednesday, August 3rd, at 1:30pm at the Huerfano County Emergency Dispatch Center. Officers Pacheco and Sanchez will receive community service awards and Officer Barela will receive the life saving award.

The 69th Annual Chuckwagon Dinner will be held at the Gardner Methodist Church this Saturday, August 6th, from 2 to 5pm. There will be pit roasted beef, smooth gravy, homemade biscuits, creamy coleslaw, sliced vegetables, sweet corn-on-the-cob, delicious desserts, coffee and drinks. The suggested donation is $10 per adult and $5 per child under 12. Everyone is welcome.