Wednesday, September 2
MINE WASTE LEAK-WARNINGS
Colorado mine spill prompts changes in warning system
DENVER (AP) — A wastewater spill from a Colorado mine has prompted state officials to expand the list of downstream users they warn after such accidents.
Colorado officials notified only agencies inside their state after 3 million gallons of water tainted with heavy metals gushed out of the Gold King mine Aug. 5, eventually reaching rivers in New Mexico and Utah.
Colorado health department spokesman Mark Salley says the agency is changing its guidelines and will warn downstream states in the future. He says Colorado officials didn't know the magnitude of the spill when they issued their warnings.
New Mexico officials are unhappy because they say the federal Environmental Protection Agency never alerted them, even though an EPA-supervised crew inadvertently triggered the spill.
EPA officials didn't immediately respond to phone calls Wednesday.
Teen arrested after school officials find gun in backpack
GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — A teen suspected of smoking marijuana near school was arrested after administrators found an unloaded gun and ammunition in his backpack.
The 17-year-old was one of four students reportedly smoking near Greeley Central High School Wednesday morning. Administrators asked them to come inside the school where officials searched their backpacks. They found an unloaded .38 caliber handgun and ammunition in the 17-year-old's bag.
It's illegal to bring a gun to school but school district spokeswoman Theresa Myers says there's no evidence the teen intended to use the gun to harm anyone there. She says he had no previous disciplinary problems.
NORTHERN COLORADO RESERVOIRS
Fort Collins opposes reservoir project as planned
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Greeley and Fort Collins are raising concerns about a $600 million project that would pump water from the Cache la Poudre (kash-luh-POO'-dur) River into two new northern Colorado reservoirs.
The Fort Collins City Council voted Tuesday to oppose the Northern Integrated Supply Project as currently planned, citing concerns about how the quality and quantity of river water will be affected and other issues.
Greeley city officials said Tuesday they support the project but that studies of water flow and quality were inadequate. They also said the project would raise their costs for treating drinking water and restoring wildlife habitat along the river.
The Poudre flows through both cities.
Project spokesman Brian Werner says backers of the reservoirs have studied the impact thoroughly and want to work with affected cities.
Douglas County will ask Supreme Court to review voucher case
DENVER (AP) — A suburban Denver school district plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to save its private school voucher program.
The Douglas County School District said Wednesday that it plans to ask the high court to review a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court that found the program violates the state constitution because it provides funding for students to attend religious schools.
That ruling reversed an earlier Colorado Court of Appeals decision upholding the program.
School district officials say their voucher program was modeled after one in the city of Cleveland's schools, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was constitutional in 2002.
The legal team defending the program includes Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general who has argued many cases before the Supreme Court.
NATIONAL PARK-ANNIVERSARY DEATH
Jury selection starts for man accused in wife's cliff fall
DENVER (AP) — Jury selection is beginning in the trial of a man accused of shoving his second wife to her death off a cliff in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Opening statements in the federal trial of 58-year-old Harold Henthorn are scheduled for Tuesday. He is charged with killing his wife, Mississippi native Toni Henthorn, during a scenic hike they took in September 2012 to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
A judge will let prosecutors present evidence they say suggests Henthorn also killed his first wife, Sandra, who was crushed to death by an SUV in 1995. Officials reopened their investigation into her death.
Investigators say Henthorn could not explain why he had a park map with an "X'' drawn where Toni fell. They say he stood to benefit from her $4.5 million in life insurance policies.
Former Senator Gary Hart: Bennet will back Iran deal
DENVER (AP) — Former Senator Gary Hart thinks Colorado's current senior senator will soon back the Iran deal.
Hart says he and another former Colorado senator, Tim Wirth, have discussed July's Iran nuclear deal with Sen. Michael Bennet in recent weeks. Bennet is one of the few Democratic senators who haven't taken a position on the agreement.
On Wednesday, President Obama gained support from enough Democratic senators to uphold a possible veto of Republican legislation that would annul the deal. Liberals are still pressing Democrats like Bennet, who is up for re-election next year. Hart spoke at a press conference with veterans who back the deal.
Bennet has also come under pressure to vote no. Another veterans group is scheduled to hold a press conference later Tuesday urging him to reject the deal.
CROWDED NATIONAL PARKS
National parks seeing huge spikes in visitation this year
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — Visitors headed to the Grand Canyon lately know to expect two things: breathtaking views and long waits.
Tourists are showing up in big numbers at Grand Canyon and other national parks like Zion, Yellowstone and Yosemite. The crowds are driven by good weather, cheap gas and marketing campaigns ahead of next year's National Park Service centennial.
With the busy Labor Day weekend still ahead, the Park Service already has recorded 5 million more visitors from this time last year.
Park officials are making due with the resources they have and paying overtime to keep as many entrance gates open as possible. Visitors are encouraged to use shuttles.
The Park Service launched a campaign this year to reintroduce the parks and is giving free passes to fourth graders and their families.