Headlines July 19, 2021

Headlines July 19, 2021

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Boulder Police Officer Dies from Fall while Hiking in RMNP

An off-duty Boulder police officer died in a fall while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday.

35-year old Ashley Haarmann fell about 200 feet. A release from the Boulder Police Department said she had worked as an officer for a year and a half.

According to the release, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold sent members of the police department’s command staff to the park to make sure Haarmann’s body was covered with the American flag until it was flown to the coroner’s office.

Haarmann is the second Boulder police officer to die this year. The first was Eric Talley, who was killed in a shooting in the Table Mesa King Soopers store on March 22.

Boulder Valley Schools Likely Will Not Require Masking in the Fall

The Boulder Valley School District has not yet made a final decision, but it looks like masks will be optional for all students this fall.

The Daily Camera reports that the district is waiting for more guidance before issuing a final decision.

Stephanie Faren, the district’s health services director told the paper that the high vaccination rates and low case numbers in both Boulder and Broomfield counties will likely make masking optional when school starts.

Last week the district made masks optional for students in all its summer programs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance this month saying that unvaccinated students, including those too young to get shots should continue to wear masks, but did not say they are required.

However, the Boulder district has heard from some parents who want all students to be masked regardless of vaccination status. Others want masks to be required only for students who aren’t vaccinated.

According to Faren, the district will continue to work with public health officials to monitor local conditions and change policies, if needed; and will “strongly encourage” those who aren’t vaccinated to wear masks in school.

Across the state, Chalkbeat reports that a few districts have announced that they intend to make masks optional this coming school year, including Douglas County, Weld RE-4, Adams 12, and Westminster, but there officials say the decision is not yet final.

Aerial Monitoring of Emissions from Oil and Gas Begins

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has started a program to monitor methane emissions from oil and gas operations over Boulder County.

A single engine-plane made the first of several planned flights last week over the Julesberg Basin – that also includes Weld and Larimer counties – to monitor plumes of emissions of the potent greenhouse gas.

CBS4 reports the aerial monitoring will measure observable plumes of emissions, mainly looking for methane but also ethane, benzene and toluene.

Earlier this year, CDPHE staff said that the surveys have the potential to identify and significantly reduce leaks from pipelines, flowlines, tanks and other oil and gas production facilities.  They can lead to reduced exposure to organic compounds that can impact public health and lead to ozone pollution.

Funding for the monitoring comes from the Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin Memorial Public Projects Fund. The two died about 4 years ago when natural gas leaked into a Firestone residence from an abandoned flowline leading to an explosion.

Federal Judge Question Lawyers over Election Lawsuit

On Friday a federal judge in Denver pointedly questioned two lawyers about their conduct in bringing a case that challenged the November presidential election, and asked them whether they had allowed themselves to be used as “a propaganda tool” of former president Donald Trump.

Last December attorneys Gary Fielder and Ernest Walker filed a class action case in Denver against Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, and elected officials from four states questioning the outcome of the presidential election. Judge Reid Neureiter dismissed the case 3 months ago.

Colorado Politics reports that the judge pressed the two lawyers about whether they had facts or were basing their case on political talking points and if they had investigated whether Dominion was designed to throw the election with the help of China and other foreign entities.

The two lawyers said they had a good-faith belief that the election was stolen, and they did not trust government officials or others who had said it was secure and that there was not widespread fraud.

Former Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, who represents Dominion, told the court that the suit was based upon nonsense from the Internet and the two lawyers didn’t research the facts.

The judge is now deciding whether the lawyers should be sanctioned by paying the attorney fees for the defendants, among other penalties.

Muddy Slide Fire Declared a Disaster Emergency

On Friday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis officially declared the Muddy Slid fire in Routt County a disaster emergency.

The executive order allows state agencies to coordinate their response and suppression efforts,

The fire, west of Kremmling, started on June 20 and has burned over 4,000 acres

The Steamboat Pilot reports that the Muddy Slide Fire is now 70% contained, and a new crew took over the management of it yesterday. Warm and dry conditions may bring an increase in fire activity in that fire and the Morgan Creek fire in Routt County which is not contained to any extent.