Colorado

Poets of the High Plains, get your pens ready! Seward County Community College’s English department is accepting entries for its annual poetry contest, and the deadline is 12:00 a.m. CT on WEDNESDAY, March 10th! I caught up with Dr. Lori Muntz, English instructor at SCCC, and student poet Dulce Perez. They shared more info about the contest, it’s history, and we even got a poem.

A statue honoring victims of Colorado's Sand Creek Massacre is likely to soon replace a Civil War Monument on the west end of the state Capitol that was toppled during protests last summer.

Descendants of the massacre see the steps of the Capitol as an ideal spot for the Sand Creek memorial because historians say it was where soldiers displayed victims’ bodies during a victory parade through Denver in 1864.

Ryan Ortiz, of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, says putting a new memorial there will promote healing.

Colorado has shuffled its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan once again.

Starting March 5, the state will start offering doses to grocery store workers, Coloradans ages 60-64, agriculture workers and all residents over 16 who have two or more pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk from the virus.

Gov. Jared Polis said the new phase will encompass almost 1 million people.

The city of Greeley wants to keep growing, and it needs water to do so.

Over the last couple years, city leaders have focused their energy on testing and developing an underground water supply to make that growth possible. The Terry Ranch project, estimated to cost upwards of $318 million to fully build out, would give the city access to an untapped water source — a rarity on the fast-growing, water-tight Front Range.

Updated at 3:45 p.m.

Gov. Jared Polis told lawmakers during his annual state of the state that Colorado has been “bruised, battered, and shaken to its core” over the last year.

But with vaccines being rolled out — and case numbers dropping — he sounded optimistic about what lies ahead.

“Coming out of this traumatic year, we can finally live up to our fullest potential to truly create a Colorado for all,” he said. “There’s a lot of work ahead. But we’re more than ready.”

As Colorado embarks on an effort to reintroduce gray wolves, two competing packs are starting to form.

One wants to run, and the other wants to walk.

Gov. Jared Polis is leading the pack wanting to speed up the process, saying wolves “take care of themselves” and will be easier to release into the landscape than other animals Colorado has already brought back, including the Canada lynx and the black-footed ferret.

Polis says he has already lined up the first batch.

Dry conditions are the worst they’ve been in almost 20 years across the Colorado River watershed, which acts as the drinking and irrigation water supply for 40 million people in the American Southwest.

As the latest round of federal forecasts for the river’s flow shows, it’s plausible, maybe even likely, that the situation could get much worse this year.

Lyle Darrah was on a conference call at work in rural Weld County, north of Denver, when the riot at the U.S. Capitol started on Jan. 6. When his boss mentioned what was happening, he turned on news coverage — and immediately felt his last allegiance to the Republican Party slipping away.

Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan.

As the weather continues to chill our bones, I thought we might take a moment to appreciate one of the prettiest sights on our High Plains winter landscape. Whatever the variety, the Colorado Blue Spruce remains among the more striking trees in our region. On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll look at this slow-growing conifer, which is also the state tree of Colorado. It serves as a welcoming home for many winged creatures across the High Plains due to its wide growing range and adaptability across a range of different types of soil.

Government workers in Colorado are busy this month building the new websites and application forms that will let residents get their share of more than $240 million in coronavirus relief approved by lawmakers during a special session.

“This stuff is working at breakneck speed, so we’re working as quickly as we can to get this up,” said Brett McPherson, a spokesman for the Department of Local Affairs.

The general public will probably have to wait until summer 2021 to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to a new distribution plan Gov. Jared Polis and top public health officials unveiled on Wednesday.

The plan includes three phases. Hospital workers who treat COVID-19 patients, nursing home residents and their caretakers are first in line for the vaccine, which could arrive as soon as Monday.

Colorado lawmakers passed a state-funded stimulus package worth more than $200 million during a three-day special session that stayed mostly cordial and bipartisan.

They also gave Gov. Jared Polis an additional $100 million to respond to the pandemic and rejected Republican lawmakers’ attempts to limit Polis’ power to issue more executive orders during the virus outbreak.

Lawmakers stressed the stimulus package is far short of what the federal government could provide.

Kurt Papenfus, a doctor in the small town of Cheyenne Wells, Colo., started to feel sick around Halloween. He developed a scary cough, intestinal symptoms and a headache. In the midst of a pandemic, the news that he had COVID-19 wasn't surprising, but Papenfus' illness would have repercussions far beyond his own health.

Papenfus is the lone full-time emergency room doctor in the town of 900, not far from the Kansas line.

Saying it’s been a rough year for regional artists might qualify for understatement of the century, but High Plains Morning was grateful to see that we have some regional music on the horizon from a folk favorite, The Annie Oakley. Identical twin sisters, Jo and Sophia Babb, have owned their lockdown with nonstop music composition, creation, innovation (and more than a few colorful, coated candies).

Colorado voters have decided to bring back a wild animal that was eradicated from the state in the 1940s because of the threats it posed to livestock and ranchers’ livelihoods.

But don’t expect to hear a gray wolf howl on Colorado’s West Slope just yet.

Following the narrow passage of Proposition 114, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will now spend the next three years coming up with a plan for how to reintroduce the animals by 2023.

The planning process will include public hearings to help determine how many wolves will be released in Colorado, and where.

Colorado voters have narrowly endorsed a movement to change the way the United States picks its presidents.

With the passage of Proposition 113, Colorado will stay in the so-called National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

The initiative consists of a group of states wanting to award all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. on 11/4/2020

Colorado voters rejected a measure that would have prevented women from getting an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy unless the procedure was needed to save the woman's life.

Proposition 115 failed 59% to 41% with 85% of votes tallied as of Wednesday morning.

As a result, Colorado will remain one of seven states in the country without restrictions on abortions.

Colorado workers who need paid time off to care for a newborn or a sick relative are one step closer to having access to such a benefit after voters passed Proposition 118.

The measure, which was winning 57.09% to 42.91% will create a new statewide leave program allowing all Colorado workers to take up to 12 weeks off for a number of medical reasons while still collecting most of their paycheck.

Starting in 2023, workers and their employers will begin paying premiums each month for the benefit, which won’t start until 2024.

Boosted by the state’s deep disapproval of President Donald Trump, former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner and flipped a U.S. Senate seat in Colorado.

Hickenlooper, a two-term governor who led the state through floods, wildfires and the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, ran a campaign largely focused on criticizing Gardner for supporting Trump and attempting to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper spent more than three hours together in recent weeks trading attacks and making their pitches to voters. If you didn’t watch all three of their debates, here are some of the main takeaways to catch up on.

Lagging in the polls, Gardner is trying to make the race about character.

For many communities in the West, the water that flows out of kitchen faucets and bathroom showerheads starts high up in the mountains, as snowpack tucked under canopies of spruce and pine trees.

This summer’s record-breaking wildfires have reduced some of those headwater forests to burnt trees and heaps of ash. In high alpine ecosystems, climate change has tipped the scales toward drier forests, lessened snowpack, hotter summers and extended fire seasons.

Colorado is among the states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. In August, the state logged about 2,000 new cases a week. Last week, that number jumped to more than 8,000.

The state's Democratic governor, Jared Polis, warns that the situation could worsen in the coming months.

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the hardest hit areas were big cities, from Seattle to New York. But now, eight months after the crisis hit the U.S, new cases are surging in some small towns and rural areas around the country.

Colorado is among more than a dozen states that set a seven-day record for positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

Major wildfires have burned through the Western U.S. in 2020, breaking records for their scale and damage. As firefighters tamp down their immediate effects, those who live nearby are coming to grips with the lingering danger of wildfires. Even long after the flames are gone, residents face a serious increase in the threat of flooding.

Giuliana Day says the 22nd week of a woman’s pregnancy is an important milestone.

“That is over five months into the pregnancy when a baby is fully formed and is a fully alive human being, and we treat them like a human being,” Day said.

It’s also when Day says a fetus can survive outside the womb. Its why she says she is leading an effort to stop abortions after this phase unless the mother’s life is at risk because of her pregnancy. Day’s effort to get Proposition 115 on the ballot was boosted by several Catholic churches, which helped circulate petitions.

Of the 11 ballot questions Colorado voters will decide in November, Amendment B is by far the most complicated. It seeks to repeal a 38-year-old state law affecting how much residents must pay in property taxes.

If you own a home or commercial property, your bank account has been affected by the Gallagher Amendment in some way. Voters approved the amendment in 1982 to put more of the property tax burden on businesses, which must pay 55% of the state’s property taxes. Meanwhile, homeowners pay 45%.

In Glenwood Springs, Colo., the restaurant Masala and Curry was having its best summer ever. Residents of the densely-populated Denver Metro Area eager for a COVID-19 summer staycation flooded the mountains along the critical transportation artery that is Interstate 70. And many stopped in to try the restaurant's Indian cuisine.

Tonja Jimenez is far from the only person driving an RV down Colorado's rural highways. But unlike the other rigs, her 34-foot-long motor home is equipped as an addiction treatment clinic on wheels, bringing lifesaving treatment to the northeastern corner of the state, where patients with substance use disorders are often left to fend for themselves.

Dan Thompson says he has seen wolves at their best, and their worst.

As the big carnivore supervisor for Wyoming Fish and Game, Thompson has gotten to step within a few feet of a wolf after biologists prepared to tranquilize the animal in a trap.

“Just to see that yellow in the eyes and that little bark and howl, I mean, it kind of penetrates your soul quite honestly,” Thompson said last month from his home in Lander, Wyoming.

But on the flip side, Thompson says he has seen a more unflattering side of wolves.

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