Headlines – October 28, 2021

Headlines October 28, 2021


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State Offers Free Youth Counseling

Governor Jared Polis announced a new youth mental health program yesterday that offers free counseling services to residents who are under 18. The program, called “I Matter,” will match youth with licensed behavioral health clinicians.

Colorado legislatures signed the $9 million program into law with bipartisan support earlier this year. That funding will expire June 30 of next year. According to The Denver Gazette, the state Office of Behavioral Health will provide a report on the program to the state legislature by January 1st and after the program ends. Registration for services is available online at imattercolorado.org.

Water Prices Set To Rise

The Denver Board of Water Commissioners adopted new water rates yesterday that will increase monthly water bills for customers serviced by Denver Water effective January 1st. According to Denver Water officials, the rate change will vary by location and will depend on how much water a customer uses. New rates are expected to increase a monthly bill by no more than two dollars for a typical single family residence.

The rate hike will help to cover the cost of upgrades, maintenance, and repairs. Funding investments include the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project, the Lead Reduction Program, and a cathodic protection program.

Longmont Receives Award For Renewable Gas Project

The City of Longmont has won an award for an innovative bio-gas project. The city received the 2021 Water Environment Federation Project Excellence Award earlier this month recognizing the city’s efforts to use bio-gas produced from its wastewater treatment plant. According to The Longmont Leader, WAFP gives the award to cities executing infrastructural innovation in the water sector.

Longmont operates 11 trash trucks that operate by compressed natural gas and began its renewable natural gas project in March 2020. Since then, it has offset the use of nearly 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year, saving $300,000 in fuel costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 1,000 metric tons. The Longmont Leader also reports the city plans to replace its remaining 10 trash trucks with compressed natural gas vehicles by 2024.


Federal Judge Declines Vaccine Exemption Request

A federal judge has denied a preliminary injunction request made by a Roman Catholic physician and a Buddhist medical student who sought a religious exemption under a University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus vaccine policy.

The Denver Gazette reports U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore issued the denial on Monday but cautioned the University’s recent revision to the mandate may bring about new arguments to the case. The revised mandate allows for religious exemptions for sincerely held religious beliefs, but not if it results in an unreasonable burden to the health and safety of others.

The anonymous plaintiffs say they base their religious objections on the use of fetal cells in the development or testing of some of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The university cited a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upholds compulsory vaccination laws based on public health grounds.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs have shown they intend to file an amended complaint seeking an injunction against the updated version of the mandate.

Denver Reconsiders Approach To Homelessness

Researchers from CU Denver and the Common Sense Institute released a report Monday saying that expensive housing, a shortage of paid human services staff and mistrust in the system are some reasons over 6,000 people remain homeless across the Denver metro area. The Colorado Sun reports homelessness worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report found the most effective means to curb homelessness is through a Housing First model that eliminates traditional barriers to housing like sobriety or mental health counseling as a precondition to housing. With this model, Denver’s Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond housed 300 people experiencing chronic homelessness, who were frequently involved with police, jails, courts and other emergency services. The people in this program remained housed and interacted less frequently with costly emergency services.