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While some on a national level are debating about reviving gun control laws following last Friday’s killings in Aurora, that debate isn’t taking place in the 3rd congressional district race between U.S. Representative Scott Tipton, a republican, and State Representative Sal Pace, a democrat. Both Tipton and Pace are advocates for gun owners. Tipton said that “Governor John Hickenlooper said it well: This was the work of a madman”. He said, “We’ve got laws on the books already. This man was intent on killing.” Tipton touted his 100% endorsement from the National Rifle Association in his two campaigns for congress. Sal Pace also called the Aurora shooter a “madman”. He said providing support to the victims of the tragedy was more important than starting a debate over gun control. Pace said, “Now is not the time to be making these kinds of decisions, when there are victims still in the hospital and especially when you are talking about restricting constitutionally guaranteed rights”. Like Tipton, Pace is expecting an “A” rating from the NRA.

The Pueblo Police Department has announced, along with the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol, that all three agencies will put extra officers out along Pueblo Boulevard to monitor issues connected to speed, seat belt usage, driving under the influence and many other preventative enforcement efforts. Concern about traffic safety along Pueblo Boulevard has been amplified since the car crash in April that killed three Alamosa girls at the intersection of Pueblo Boulevard and Northern Avenue by a man who was reportedly drunk and speeding when he ran a red light and slammed into their car. Two other girls were ejected in the crash, but survived. Following a four-hour saturation of Pueblo Boulevard last night, the Colorado State Patrol reported 19 seat-belt violations, four driver’s license violations, seven speeding tickets, one person cited for not having insurance and two defective vehicles.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar this week released the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for potential utility-scale solar development on public lands in the west that includes solar hot spots in the San Luis Valley. The final P.E.I.S. identifies 17 solar energy zones totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands in six western states as priority areas for utility-scale solar development. All of the solar zones identified in Colorado are located in the San Luis Valley for a total of 16,300 acres. The solar P.E.I.S. planning effort focused on locations on Bureau of Land Management lands most suitable for solar energy development characterized by excellent solar resources, good energy transmission potential and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural and historic resources.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack this week has issued instructions for four farm-assistance programs to be modified to provide more help to farmers and ranchers who are losing crops and livestock to the widespread drought. Vilsack is waiving restrictions on the Federal Conservation Reserve Program to allow ranchers to graze livestock or cut hay on land otherwise set aside for recovery and enrolled in the Federal Conservation Program. The CRP pays ranchers and farmers to leave land out of production. Vilsack issued similar rule changes in the wetlands reserve program, the environmental quality incentives program and the federal crop insurance program. The federal department has designated 1,297 counties in 29 states suffering disaster conditions, making all of those farmers and growers eligible for low interest emergency loans.

Lathrop State Park west of Walsenburg invites you to the amphitheater this weekend. Tomorrow, July 27th, beginning at 8:30pm, the author of “Around the Spanish Peaks”, Mike Butler, returns to Lathrop State Park to talk about the Spanish explorers from Mexico that followed legends of gold to Colorado. Then, on Saturday at 8:30pm, join Jon Sudar, a retired Grand Canyon National Park interpretive ranger and Walsenburg native for “Geology 00-3/8”, a simplified geology program. All programs are free, however, all vehicles entering the park must have a valid $7 park pass. Call the park visitor center for more information at 719-738-2376.