Headlines March 2, 2021
Coronavirus Cases Rise in Colorado
Cases of COVID-19 rose in Colorado last week — the first increase since the holidays. The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and the Environment reported almost 7200 new cases for the week ending Sunday. That’s up from about 6600 cases the previous week. The Denver Post reports that it’s not clear if the increase represents the start of another surge or a plateau. Vaccination rates are increasing but more contagious variants are spreading.
State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said Monday says that overall Colorado is still doing okay in controlling the spread. So far, the state has identified 100 cases of the B 117 variant and 54 cases of the California variants. State officials warned against relaxing personal virus precautions.
Denver Adds to Mountain Park System
For the first time in 82 years, Denver added another property to its mountain park system. The city council on Monday approved the donation of the 450 acre Axton Ranch property from the Axton family. The land is in Jefferson and Gilpin counties. It’s a former cattle ranch with forests, meadows, ponds, and trail access to two mountain peaks.
BVSD Starts Teacher Contract Negotiations
The Boulder Valley School District opened contract negotiations Monday with the teacher’s union. Issues raised by the union include job security for educators who teach elective classes, teacher planning time, and special education caseloads. Teachers are the district’s largest employee group with over 1700 personnel. Their current three-year contract expires in July.
Boulder County Commissioners May Officially Withdraw Plan to Develop Compost Facility
The proposed compost facility was to be located on the former Rainbow Nursery tree farm, 40 acres of land south of Longmont that was purchased by the county in 2018.
The Daily Camera reports that the project has prompted at least two lawsuits filed by neighboring property owners objecting to its development on the current county open space property. Withdrawing will allow commissioners to analyze new information about engineering and financing, and also allow for more public dialogue. The commission will then decide if the project should continue.
The lawsuits assert that there is still a conservation easement on the property. One lawsuit alleges that Boulder County violated TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights because it used open space tax dollars to buy the property.
Attorneys for Boulder County have filed a request that the Boulder district court dismiss the lawsuit, claiming they lack legal standing. They added that among other arguments, TABOR does not create a legally protected interest in how revenues from a voter-approved tax measure are spent.
Erie’s Town Board of Trustees and Longmont City Council told the Boulder County commissioners that their residents were concerned and frustrated about how Boulder County has handled the proposed compost facility.
Denver to Continue to Use Hotels for Those Experiencing Homelessness
Denver will spend another $10 million to house people in motel and hotel rooms at least through June. It’s a partnership with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and includes about 800 rooms spread out over six hotels and motels around the city.
Most of the rooms are for unhoused people over 65 with health conditions that place them at greater risk for COVID-19. The Denver Post reports that the rest of the rooms are for people who exhibit COVID symptoms or are presumed to have the virus.