Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday May 11, 2012

Independence Pass above Aspen is opening today, nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. The 12,000 foot pass is closed every winter, usually through Memorial Day weekend, but a lack of snow this year has moved that up.  Last year, CDOT crews worked non-stop for weeks to get the pass open on time, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center says snowpack last year was more than 400% of average.  This year, data show zero % of average. [The road opens this morning, but will close overnight for Ride for the Pass, an annual fundraiser for the Independence Pass Foundation.  The highway reopens at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon.]

Palisade's new Fruit and Wine Byway gets its official kick-off this afternoon.  A Specialty Crops Grant helped pay for signs for the route aiming to improve visibility, ease of travel and road safety while traveling from one vineyard or orchard to the next.

Members of a committee charged with making a decision on whether to seek National Park status for the Colorado National Monument are divided and say they need more time.  The Daily Sentinel says half the committee members took part in a conference call yesterday, the other half agreeing to a face to face meeting with  Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton in July.  Community leaders say a name change would bring more international travelers, others say there needs to be a balance tourism benefits and quality of life.

State lawmakers are headed back to Denver Monday for a special session called to deal with a Civil Unions measure and several other bills killed during last minute wrangling over the Civil Unions measure.  Other bills on the table include funding $55 million in water projects and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs.

The girlfriend of a man who admitted killing a 16 year old Thanksgiving night on Orchard Mesa has been arrested on suspicion of buying the gun used in the shooting illegally.  23 year old Tamika Wilson is accused of buying the gun used by Joshua Ringold who pleaded guilty last month to second degree murder in the death of Cody English.  The Daily Sentinel says the couple who were the target of a failed burglary attempt that night now face charges including illegal possession of drugs.

Colorado's Day of Prayer has been ruled unconstitutional by the state Court of Appeals.  According to the Denver Post, when the state sponsors such a day, it undermines the premisee that the government serves believers and nonbelievers equally.  The case against the Day of Prayer proclaimations was filed against Governor Bill Ritter in 2008 by the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Stamp Out Hunger, the largest single-day food drive in the country is tomorrow.  Mail carriers will be collecting food left at mail boxes across the country.  In the Grand Valley, the food will be split among area food banks to help restock shelves.

Sales tax collections in Glenwood Springs are up.  The Glenwood Post says several factors have played into the first double digit climb since the end of 2007.  City Finance Director Mike Harman says the opening of Ross Dress for Less in the Glenwood Springs Mall is getting a lot of the credit for a 41% jump in the city's apparel/accessories category.