Colorado News Roundup: High-ranking Colorado Democrat sentenced for driving drunk (07.20.16)
DENVER — A high-ranking Democrat in the Colorado House has pleaded guilty to driving drunk.
Rep. Dan Pabon of Denver has been sentenced to community service and alcohol education and treatment.
The lawmaker must also appear at a victim impact panel. That’s a requirement for drunk-driving offenders sponsored by Pabon and other lawmakers.
Pabon pleaded guilty to driving drunk on March 17 near the state Capitol.
Pabon was also fined $1,303.
Pabon is speaker pro tem, meaning he holds the gavel when the House Speaker is absent. Pabon was elected to the state House in 2010 from a district in northwest Denver.
Tire-filled northern Colorado ranch to get up $500K cleanup
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Larimer County officials are moving forward with plans to clean up a ranch property where hundreds of thousands of tires have been strewn in piles since the 1970s.
The Coloradoan reports the county recently received a nearly $500,000 state grant for the cleanup of the Roberts Ranch, a 17,000-acre conservation easement.
The tires were first dumped there in the 1970s with the idea of having them serve as protection against erosion from irrigation runoff. But Sallie Ross with The Nature Conservancy says the tires do the exact opposite by preventing the growth of native plants.
Ranch manager Zach Thode says the estimated 200,000 to 300,000 tires have become a habitat for mosquitoes. There’s also concerns about wildfire risk.
A $100,000 state grant a couple years ago removed about 22,000 tires.
Woman dies after falling off cliff in western Colorado
CRAIG, Colo. — A 73-year-old woman is dead after falling off a cliff at a campsite on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument.
The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office says the woman’s body was found on Tuesday.
According to the Craig Daily Press, the woman was part of a rafting trip that camped for the night and the woman apparently climbed to the top of a cliff.
The name of the victim has not been released.
2 hospitalized after lightning strike in El Paso County
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Two people have been hospitalized after a lightning strike at the El Paso County Fairgrounds.
A woman was struck by lightning as she left a building at the fairgrounds in Calhan Tuesday evening and a man nearby was also injured.
County spokesman Dave Rose says there was no lightning or thunder in the immediate area before the strike.
Lightning is also suspected of starting a house fire in Colorado Springs. KKTV reports that the fire started after a storm moved over the northeast side of the city. A young girl called 911 after she and her friend noticed smoke coming from the house.
Judge allows Peabody Energy to pay property taxes
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A judge on Wednesday agreed to let Peabody Energy go ahead and pay nearly $30 million in property taxes in four states while the coal company goes through bankruptcy reorganization.
The decision in federal court in St. Louis should help end uncertainty for communities in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Indiana.
Those affected by missed property taxes include a Colorado school district, which lost out on about $1 million due in June. Colorado education officials agreed to loan the South Routt School District money and put up state funding to cover the shortfall.
The northwest Colorado district is home to the Twentymile Mine, which last year produced 3.2 million tons of coal.
“I’m very excited about this good news, but I’m very cautiously optimistic,” Superintendent Darci Mohr said Wednesday, adding she hoped the county would be paid soon.
St. Louis-based Peabody, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, owes Routt County a total of $1.7 million in delinquent taxes. The coal company asked earlier this month to go ahead and pay its local taxes to correct such shortfalls.
Peabody began talking to county treasurers Wednesday about making the payments, company spokeswoman Beth Sutton said by email. “Peabody appreciates the continued support from our stakeholders as we work through the Chapter 11 process to emerge stronger on the other side,” Sutton said in a statement.
The property tax payments should also help Campbell County, Wyoming, where Peabody has three open-pit mines and owes about $1.8 million in property and land taxes for 2015. In Wyoming, missed property tax payments, even big ones like Peabody’s, have relatively little effect on public schools because the state funds districts on a per-pupil basis.
Lost revenue from stalled coal leasing, which began a few years ago and will continue under a three-year federal coal-lease moratorium, will cost Wyoming’s school construction account more than $700 million by the decade’s end, however.
Peabody’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Campbell County produced almost 118 million tons in 2014 and was the nation’s top-producing coal mine.
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