Western Slope Media Round-Up for February 9, 2013

BLM again defers all North Fork parcels

PAONIA – In the wake of vocal opposition by local activists, some of whom made a lobbying excursion to Washington, D.C., the Bureau of Land Management has once again deferred all of the North Fork Valley parcels scheduled for the Feb. 14 oil and gas lease sale in Lakewood.
The BLM issued a press release on Feb. 6 announcing their decision to defer 20 North Fork parcels, totaling 20,555 acres, from the scheduled sale.
“We’ve listened to concerns raised in numerous comments and public meetings and we are responding by deferring the North Fork Valley parcels at this time,” stated state BLM director Helen Hankins in the press release.
“The decision is consistent with our reform efforts that emphasize a comprehensive approach to oil and gas leasing so as to ensure that energy development occurs in the appropriate places,” added acting state BLM director Mike Pool.
The BLM’s quarterly oil and gas lease sale will continue, sans the North Fork parcels, on Feb. 14 in Lakewood. (Delta County Independent)

‘Save Dutch,’ vet’s therapy dog, plea grows

MONTROSE – A petition to “Save Dutch,” a 107-pound American Allaunt therapy dog serving a Montrose veteran and which is facing court-ordered euthanasia, has gained thousands of signatures via the Internet.
Dutch was “convicted” of being a vicious dog and sentenced to death following a November 2012 incident in which he was beaten by his former owner, who told Montrose animal control officers she used her fists, feet and a metal pole to break up a fight between Dutch and her family dog; Dutch bit the woman after being dragged by his collar into her home.
Dutch, age 4, belongs now to Jeremy Aguilar, a disabled Army veteran who had Dutch trained as a therapy dog after the November incident. Aguilar had left the dog with its former owner while driving a family member to the airport.
Aguilar, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, says the dog showed no aggressive behavior before or after the incident. An American Kennel Club trainer, Carrie Williams, who calls Dutch a “sweetheart,” has volunteered time “to try and save his life.”
Aguilar has been ordered to turn Dutch over to Montrose Animal Control by Feb. 14, when the veteran must appear in court and learn if he will be sent to jail on vicious animal charges.
He just wants his dog to live, although that could cost him a year of his life. (Montrose Daily Press/DogHeirs.com)

Lt. gov. praises GJ’s homeless vet services

GRAND JUNCTION – Visiting a Grand Valley shelter for otherwise homeless veterans on Friday, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia praised the network of organizations that offer a broad range of services here and even pitched in to help serve a meal to homeless people.
Garcia toured St. Martin’s Place, a 15-bed shelter for homeless veterans, and Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, 245 S. First St., to learn more about Grand Junction’s homeless support services.
One veteran, Mary Sonneborn, 59, said she had been “couch-surfing” prior to receiving a housing voucher from the Department of Veterans Affairs, like 139 other Grand Valley veterans.
Grand Junction has gained a statewide reputation for inter-agency cooperation to provide shelter, food and other basic services to the area’s homeless.
Garcia said homelessness “so often goes unaddressed in other communities. That’s clearly not the case here.” (The Daily Sentinel)

Aspen’s traffic count nears boom years’

ASPEN – Traffic volume here increased in 2012 to levels not seen since before the recession began.
The 24,788 vehicles that crossed the Castle Creek Bridge into Aspen in December 2012 was the highest monthly number measured since 2004, and represented a seven percent increase over December 2011.
The December figure is only 1.6 percent below Aspen’s targeted traffic-level benchmark, established during the peak traffic year of 1993. Traffic concerns then caused a host of traffic management measures, said city transportation director John Krueger.
Overall, traffic in Aspen was up 3.4 percent in 2012, which indicates an improving economy, Krueger said.
“Increased traffic usually relates to increased jobs and activity in the city,” he said.
City sales tax figures for 2012 were tracking at seven percent higher than 2011, according to the latest figures released in November 2012. (Aspen Daily News)

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