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Regional News Roundup

Western May Seek University Designation

GUNNISON – Administrators at Western State College (WSC) in Gunnison are considering changing the title of the school to ‘university.’

The idea was discussed with WSC faculty and staff in late September. College president Jay Helman cited the establishment of a graduate program, capital improvement projects at the college in recent years, and success in private fundraising as several indicators towards the new title, according to the Gunnison Country Times.

Mesa State in Grand Junction recently changed to Colorado Mesa University. Among other schools seeking ‘university’ designation are Adams State in Alamosa and Fort Lewis College in Durango. The state legislature would have the final say in designating the name change.


USAF Proposes Low-Altitude Pilot Training

A proposal by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to conduct low-level pilot training over parts of central Colorado is being met with concerns by area residents.

Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, New Mexico wants to use a 60,700 square mile area in northern New Mexico and parts of Colorado including Gunnison and Chaffee Counties and the San Luis Valley to conduct low-altitude training for its Special Operations Wing. Opponents fear the training flights will have a detrimental effect on wildlife, tourism and the overall quality of life in the targeted region.

The MC-130 cargo plane and the CV-22 “Osprey” are the two aircraft types that the USAF is proposing for the flights, most of which will take place on weekday evenings and may fly as low as 300 feet over unpopulated areas. The USAF claims the flights will stay at least three miles from “congested areas” such as Salida and Gunnison.


Recreational Act Clears Senate

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act is heading to President Obama’s desk for signing. The bill, which was introduced by Colorado Senator Mark Udall in 2009 and cosponsored by Sen. Bennet, cleared the House in early October.

The act will allow the U.S. Forest Service to grant permits to ski areas on federal lands to offer summer recreation activities such as mountain biking. The goal of the act is to attract off-season tourism and possibly create jobs and bolster local economies.

Regional Bluesman Dies

COLORADO SPRINGS – Blues musician John Alex Mason died at the age of 35 after complications from a surgery to remove cancerous tissue. The Colorado Springs-based musician was a regular performer in the central Colorado region and often offered his talents at no charge to help non-profit organizations. During his short-lived but acclaimed career he got to perform with many blues greats, including John Hammond, B.B. King and John Mayall, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.

Lake County Changing Districts

LEADVILLE – Lake County will see a change in both its state Senate and state House districts in 2012. Lake will join House District 60 which includes Chaffee, Fremont and Custer Counties. It will also become part of Senate District 5 with Gunnison, Eagle, Pitkin, Chaffee, Hinsdale and Delta counties.

Sell a Pie, Go to Jail

SAGUACHE – The Friends of the Saguache Library nearly had to cancel their annual bake sale when a representative of the state Health Department complained that the baked goods were not prepared in a commercially licensed kitchen, according to the Saguache Crescent. The inspector told the town clerk that bake sales were illegal in Colorado. Soon after the Front Range media got wind of the story the regional inspector was overruled by his superior.

Notable Quotes:

“Many people worry about money – especially if money isn’t coming in. I’ve had my ups and downs, but money is no cause to worry.” – Agnes Thornton of Howard who turns 105 years old on Nov. 19. – The Mountain Mail, Oct. 18, 2011.

“He shook my hand and said ‘Hi, how are you?’” – Avery Parsons Elementary fourth-grader Grady Bott on meeting President Obama at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. – The Chaffee County Times, Oct. 6, 2011.