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A subcommittee of the board charged with establishing a health insurance exchange in Colorado is considering a draft budget for its federal grant application that would create 24 positions and pay those employees a total of more than $3 million annually to manage the health care co-operative. The action grabbed the attention of democrats and republicans alike yesterday. The average annual salary of a health benefits exchange employee would exceed $125,000 under the plan. The highest salaries would be paid to the CEO, namely $200,400, and chiefs of finance, operations and communications would make $165,000 each, just $7,200 less than the White House director of communications. Senator Bill Cadman, a republican from Colorado Springs, said that “we have executive directors [of state departments] that are in charge of thousands of people here that make significantly less than that”. Cadman said that he believes the public is going to be very cynical of this, and rightfully so. Cadman criticized the proposed salaries as a disservice to taxpayers in Colorado and nationally.

Jensen Farms in Holly has issued a voluntary recall of Rocky Ford whole cantaloupe that it shipped to several states because they have the potential to be contaminated with listeria. The melons were shipped to Colorado and to 16 other states between July 29th and last Saturday. Officials say the threat of contracting listeria from contaminated melons is still in effect for members of high-risk groups. Listeriosis, according to the federal food and drug administration, is a serious illness caused by eating food contaminated with listeria bacteria. At last count, 16 people in five states, including 11 in Colorado, have been diagnosed with the disease. Ten other cases have not been linked to the same strain. People 60 and over, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women are most at risk of infection. People are urged to continue washing their hands and cooking utensils, scrubbing fresh produce before eating it and taking other precautions to avoid food-borne illness.

The Divide Ranger District will hold a field trip open to the public on Tuesday, September 20th, to view and discuss the proposed Village at Wolf Creek Land Exchange Environmental Analysis. Forest service specialists, representatives for the third-party contractor writing the analysis and representatives for the proponent will also be available to answer questions. The field trip will run from 10am until approximately 2pm. Those wishing to participate should meet at the Wolf Creek Ski Area parking lot at 9:45am. Participants may want to bring a lunch and should wear the appropriate clothing and footwear to walk up to two miles on uneven terrain at over 10,000 feet in elevation. For more information about the field trip, contact the divide ranger district at 719-657-3321. Additional information about the proposed land exchange may be viewed at the Rio Grande National Forest website at

A “Booster Seat Blitz” will take place on Saturday, September 17th, from 10am to 2pm, at the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center south parking lot at 106 Blanca Avenue in Alamosa. Car seat safety checks are free, however if a car seat needs to be replaced with a new one, a donation of $25 will be requested.

Cries of “Stella” will soon be heard in the Main Stage Theater as the Adams State College theatre program presents “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams. The production will run September 23rd, 24th, 30th and October 1st at 7:30pm each evening. There will also be a 2pm Sunday matinee on October 2nd. Call 719-587-8499 for reservations and more information.