Regional News Roundup

Police Close Case on Western Student’s Death
An investigation into the death of a Western State Colorado University wrestler, Dammion Heard, whose body was found hanging in a tree east of Gunnison on April 2, has officially been closed.
After conducting 45 interviews and receiving 187 pages of investigative reports, Gunnison police have determined that Heard took his own life. Heard’s family, who live in Fort Worth, Texas, has been critical of the investigation, citing a rush to judgment on the part of investigators and the lack of any positive testing of drugs in his system. They vowed to continue investigating his death independently.

Fossil Area Expanded
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Royal Gorge Field Office celebrated the expansion of the Garden Park Fossil Area National Natural Landmark (NNL) on Oct. 9.
In April 2013, the National Park Service and BLM expanded the Garden Park NNL from a 40-acre designation to 3,208 acres. The NNL area, located six miles north of Cañon City, now includes all the major Garden Park quarries, two of which are easily visited from Garden Park Road. The designation helps to preserve the history of the Garden Park Fossil Area, where 14 different Jurassic dinosaur species have been found.

Debating Chickens
Colorado’s 5th Congressional District Representative Doug Lamborn has refused to debate his opponent Irv Halter in this year’s House race, so a mock debate was held at the Penrose Library in Colorado Springs on Oct. 16, where three men dressed in chicken costumes took Lamborn’s place at the podium.
The he-hens were members of a newly formed campaign committee, Colorado Springs Chickens for a Congressman Who Won’t Chicken Out. The absentee Lamborn called the event a ridiculous stunt.

Humanity’s Noise
This is the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Wilderness Act, which has allowed U.S. federal land agencies to create broad swaths of public land in which motorized activity is not allowed.
But motorized activity overhead? It’s very much allowed – and a nuisance to Ed Spargo of Denver. In a letter in The Denver Post, he writes to complain that when in a wilderness area, once your ears become accustomed to the lack of leaf-blowers, motorcycles and other artifacts of modern life, only then do you begin to notice a “steady distant thunder,” that of jets passing overhead in a steady steam of traffic. His solution? Have the jets honor wilderness areas by detouring around them. – By Allen Best

The Young Prefer Denver
Speaking of Denver, a New York Times article, “Where Young College Graduates Are Choosing to Live,”  lists that city as the third-fastest in attracting college graduates who are relocating to urban areas.
The report lists Denver as having a 44 percent increase in the number of college graduates aged 25 to 34 from 2000 to 2012, just below Houston and Nashville. A quick drive through downtown Denver shows a large number of residential complexes under construction to help house the new influx.

A Brief Cotter History
At the beginning of the Cold War, Colorado was a center of mineral extraction and processing. While school kids learned to “duck and cover” under their desks, processing sites like the Cotter Mill near Cañon City churned out yellowcake from locally mined uranium.
The mill operated from 1958 to 1987. In 1965, a flood swept through the property, spreading production waste. Afterward, nearby Lincoln Park residents reported health problems and were then told to eschew their wells and leave the contaminated water in place.
But,groundwater doesn’t stay in place – in many cases it moves toward the surface water. In this case it traveled toward the Arkansas River alluvium.
When the final health report was released this fall, The Pueblo Chieftain reported, “The health report concludes that drinking water for many years from a private well that contains elevated levels of molybdenum and uranium could harm people’s health. Although nearly all residents who have contaminated wells have been hooked up to the city water supply, some still use the wells to irrigate.”
Many of the residents complain that the cleanup is incomplete, as they still can’t use their wells.
Currently the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency are taking comments and working on the final remediation study, which will lay out Cotter’s ongoing obligations.  – By John Orr
• Buena Vista hosted 1,700 locals for a community dinner on East Main Street, Sept. 29 for the anniversary of the Agnes Vaille Falls rockslide, which took the lives of most members of a local family.
• Colorado Parks and Wildlife has estimated the deer population in Salida this past spring at 147.
• Artist Conrad Nelson of Buena Vista has been named as Colorado’s Outstanding Philanthropist by the Rose Community Foundation.
• The Gunnison County Clerk’s Office issued its first same-sex marriage license on Oct. 9, shortly after the Colorado Supreme Court lifted an injunction on the practice.
• John Kawauchi has been chosen to fill the newly created position of vice president at Western State Colorado University.
• The Fremont County School District RE-3 in Cotopaxi earned the “Accredited with Distinction” award from the state.
Notable Quotes
“We try to make communities safe by banning weapons such as sawed-off shotguns, bazookas and machine guns. In this particular case, we weren’t taking anyone’s guns away.” – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaking to the Wet Mountain Tribune, when asked about gun safety issues on Oct. 3.

“I had said from the beginning that I didn’t wish to have Hoover Dam in our backyard, and we pretty much have that.” – Buena Vista homeowner Linda Skaret, regarding a boat chute created on the Arkansas River this past year. – The Chaffee County Times, Oct. 23, 2014.