For author Paula L. Silici the tests of a family members move made her wonder: What would certainly Jessie Driscoll do?

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Paula L. Silici

Paula L. Silici is proud to have been born and raised in the American West. A traveler who has been to scores of remarkable places throughout the world, she wouldn’t make her home anywhere else but close to the Continental Divide. Tales of the Old West have fascinated her since childhood, and her writing reflects the deep respect she has for the American cowboy’s enviable Code and abiding traditions. Paula’s award-winning fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have widely appeared in both national and regional publications. She lives with her husband Frank near Denver, Colorado.

The following is an interview with Paula L. Silici.

UNDERWRITTEN BY

Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.


What inspired you to write this book?

One afternoon out of the blue, the fictional character, Jessie Driscoll, dropped into my thoughts. I was feeling sorry for myself because my husband had just gotten transferred to another state with his job, which meant uprooting our family yet again and leaving behind everything and everyone we’d grown to cherish. I love my husband and trust his decisions completely, so refusing to move was truly not an option. Still, I felt helpless, like the corporation and he were making important decisions that affected my life too, but I had no real power to object. I asked myself, “What would Jessie do in my situation? How would she feel? If she were in my place, how would she react? What might she do to change things?”  These feelings of mine were the impetus for my writing Jessie and Mitch’s story. 

Place this excerpt in context. How does it fit into the book as a whole and why did you select it?      

In 1873 Jessie is living in a male-controlled world and in a time period where women had little or no say about how their lives were governed. It wouldn’t be until August 18, 1920, almost another half century later, that the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution would be ratified, which gave women the right to vote and therefore power over their own lives. 

When Jessie is falsely accused and thrown into adverse circumstances because of the patriarchal norms of her day, she must figure out how to survive. I chose this particular excerpt from the book because it exemplifies Jessie’s struggle. In this scene, Jessie and her cousin Curtis are being chased by a posse of lawmen. Curtis is guilty of his crimes, but Jessie is not. If she is captured she will most likely, and most unfairly, face a prison term or hanging. Our hero Mitch is among the lawmen, and Jessie holds out hope that he is there to save her, yet she can’t be certain of anything. 

Tell us about creating this book: any research and travel you might have done, any other influences on which you drew?

“Wanted” was a joy to research and write. The Post-Civil War / Westward Expansion era has always fascinated me. I grew up near San Francisco, where tales of the Old West abounded and never failed to set my imagination aflame. The notion of men and women leaving everything gentrified and familiar in the East and facing unimaginable hardships in order to begin a new life in the West has given me many ideas for stories. 

Aside from making many trips to the public library and Googling information online, I called on a good friend of mine whose family trekked west in the 1800s to homestead in Colorado. Along with other resources, she proved to be a deep well of information on what it was like to exist back in the 1800s, what men and women may have worn, how they spoke, what they might have eaten, and what their crude dwellings may have looked like. Further, during my childhood my family often took summer vacations camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I never forgot the impressions the beautiful but rugged land left on me, and many of the scenes in “Wanted” were created from memories of those times. The granite boulders, manzanita bushes, herds of wild horses, and fields of lupine flowers I used to authenticate my scenes are just a few examples of those wonders I remember so well from time spent in those breathtaking mountains.

On one of our family vacations we visited an old mining town in California. There I saw an 1800s jailhouse, whose crude design was the basis for the jailhouse Jessie is kept in. Then, too, for further inspiration, and probably most importantly, I drew upon the many wonderful books I’ve read over the years written by the great Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and others.

“Wanted” by Paula L. Silici

What were the biggest challenges you faced, or surprises you encountered in completing this book?

Looking back, the biggest challenge I faced while writing “Wanted” was making sure each scene reflected an accurate depiction of how life was lived in a time period that is not my own. Nothing zaps a reader out of “suspended disbelief” faster than when the author goofs and uses a contemporary word or phrase in a line of dialogue that the character would never have spoken back then. This is an exaggeration, but for instance, if Mitch or Curtis or Jessie had used the contemporary word “cool” to describe an object, of course that speech would have been totally inappropriate and disappointing for the reader. Same with placing modern tools or implements in a scene that never would have existed in the 1800s. So many times I had to research little things, such as the types of firearms that were common then, and even types of shackles that were used to restrain criminals. Again, making each scene accurate and using “props” and speech appropriate for the time period was of paramount importance to me.

As with every novel or story an author writes, segments of their personality and life experiences ultimately show up somewhere in the story. I’m always surprised by how much of myself is revealed through my characters, even though I may be unaware at the time of writing that this is happening.

Walk us through your writing process: Where and when do you write? What time of day? Do you listen to music, need quiet? 

I tend to be a “do it now” person, and when it comes to my writing habits this axiom holds true, especially. When it’s time to write, not much holds me back. I become completely focused on the task at hand and can’t much tolerate interruptions. That means I also need plenty of quiet while writing.

A typical writing day looks something like this: Household chores get done and out of the way early. I’m in my chair and at my laptop (at my job) by 9:00 a.m. and stay there until noon when I break for lunch. Afterward I remain hard at work for the rest of the afternoon, usually until around 4:00 or so. 

The first task in the morning is to review what I’ve written the day before. This takes time, as inevitably there are edits and revisions to be made. Once those are finished I am free to continue crafting the story.

When I’ve got a writing project underway I remain focused and diligent until the story is framed and the first draft is finished. Once I’ve completed the first draft I let it sit for at least a month or two. Then I go back to it and approach edits and revisions with a fresh set of eyes, sticking with the work routine described above. Then, once a project is completed, I usually take a long break of several months, until I feel rejuvenated and ready to begin again. This process has worked well for me over the years, and I rarely deviate from it. 

What’s your next project?

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, more than ever, long writing days have become the norm. Just last month my newest project, a contemporary inspirational romance novel called “A Change of Heart,” was published. “A Change of Heart” proved to be a fun deviation from my first two historical Western genre novels in that I wrote from the vantage point of my own time period. I was able to explore my hero and heroine’s world with complete confidence that I was “getting it right.” So what’s next? I’m enjoying that long break time I spoke about earlier. Still, there are several characters talking to me, encouraging me to write their stories. It won’t be long before I begin listening to their voices in earnest.

— Buy “Wanted” through Amazon.com.
— Read an excerpt from the book.

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  • For author Paula L. Silici, the trials of a family move made her wonder: What would Jessie Driscoll do?
  • Kin or hostage? In “Wanted,” a chase across the American West, a woman realizes she’s both
  • Opinion: I’m a lifelong Republican, and here’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden
  • Opinion: Colorado’s small business owners need protection from COVID lawsuits
  • Seven big takeaways from Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper’s third — and most fiery — debate

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/10/paula-silici-wanted-sunlit-interview/

Kin or hostage? In Desired a chase across the American West a female understands shes both

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Paula L. Silici is proud to have been born and raised in the American West. A traveler who has been to scores of remarkable places throughout the world, she wouldn’t make her home anywhere else but close to the Continental Divide. Tales of the Old West have fascinated her since childhood, and her writing reflects the deep respect she has for the American cowboy’s enviable Code and abiding traditions. Paula’s award-winning fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have widely appeared in both national and regional publications. She lives with her husband Frank near Denver, Colorado.

The following is an excerpt from “Wanted.”

UNDERWRITTEN BY

Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.


2020 Colorado Authors League finalist for Romance

Out of practice, pain screamed through Jessie’s muscles from hours of riding. Curtis had driven them hard for the last two days and nights. They’d covered more miles over rugged mountain terrain than she cared to count. When she paused to think about it, she wondered how she’d made it. Anger, resentment, and loathing for her cousin drove her, she supposed.

They were pushing due south. Toward Mexico. With every jolt and jog of her horse, the bones in her rear end and spine protested. Hunger and thirst gnawed at her. If they didn’t stop soon, Jessie feared she was going to end up falling out of the saddle from fatigue.

Several yards ahead, Curtis looked back at her and scowled. “Give that horse of yours a kick, Jess. You’re lagging behind.”

“We need to rest for a while, Curtis. Belle’s almost done in. The chestnut doesn’t look too chipper, either.”

Jessie observed her cousin as he looked past her into the distance. It was midafternoon, and they were crossing a long stretch of open ground, which left them little cover.

The sun blazed overhead, hot and merciless. Jessie squinted beneath the brim of her Stetson, then swiped the moisture off her forehead with the back of her sleeve. She saw the nervousness Curtis kept trying to mask and knew the reason for it. Their present position left them vulnerable to rifle fire.

“I said get a move on. We’ll rest soon enough.”

Author PaulaL. Silici

“Why don’t you just leave me behind? You’ll be able to cover a lot more ground a whole lot quicker by yourself. I’ve told you a million times I don’t want to go to Mexico. I’d rather take my chances right here.”

She hadn’t quite been able to keep the irritation out of her voice. Her testy attitude nudged Curtis’s temper.

“You’ll do as I say, and I say you’re coming with me. Once again, do I have to spell it out? The law’s looking for two men now, Jess. Walt and me. I need you in order to throw them off.”

Jessie gripped the reins so tightly the leather creased her palm. Before now, she hadn’t formed the word “hostage” in her thoughts, but the ugly word took shape in her brain now.

She’d been watching for escape opportunities all this time, but Curtis had pushed them so hard, both she and Belle had been in no shape to try. During the brief hours Curtis did stop to rest, Jessie felt too worn out to attempt anything more than drop from her horse and collapse onto her back in a bit of welcome shade.

Another half hour passed. Trees dotted the land now, as well as clusters of granite, but truly adequate cover remained scarce. Jessie could see denser forest a mile or so ahead, and she knew it was this cover Curtis was pushing for.

Perspiration dampened her blouse along her spine and trickled between her breasts. She was feeling somewhat faint, but she didn’t dare complain anymore for fear Curtis’s temper would explode. If she said the wrong thing and he decided to come at her swinging, she doubted she had the energy to defend herself.

So she kept her eyes on Mitch’s saddle, her thoughts on the man himself. She focused on his strength, on the wonders of his virile body, on the sweet way he made her feel inside whenever she lay cradled in his arms.

Mitch. Where was he now? If only she knew what had happened to him. Was he alive and thinking of her? Somehow, even though she couldn’t be entirely certain of anything, in the deepest part of her she wanted to believe he hadn’t been using her, hadn’t been biding his time in order to collect the reward money. Their intimacy together had been too precious, too soul deep between them. He may have never told her he loved her, but certainly he must have cared, even if just a little. When she thought about it, there were too many times that Mitch had, in his gruff but gentle way, pampered her and watched over her. She surely would have known it if he’d been deceiving her for his own selfish reasons. Wouldn’t she?

Curtis gave a shout.

Startled, Jessie’s head jerked up. Her cousin had reined in, his worried gaze riveted on a spot somewhere over her shoulder. She turned, her eyes sweeping their back trail.

There. A faint, smudgy line in the not-so-far-off distance. Horses? Riders?

Sweet mercy!

Curtis yelled at her again, shocking her out of her momentary paralysis. “Come on, Jessie! Ride!”

The safest cover lie only a mile or so ahead, but the horses, like Jessie, were already well past exhaustion. When Jessie refused to prod Belle, Curtis wheeled about and yanked the reins from her numb fingers, forcing Belle to follow as he spurred the chestnut into a run.

The rocky, uneven ground strewn with boulders here and there was far too dangerous for this savage pace, yet Curtis drove the horses onward like a madman.

Jessie, holding tight to the saddle horn, risked a quick glance back. The riders had begun to gain ground.

And then Curtis reined in, bringing both horses to an abrupt halt. Throwing Jessie’s reins back to her, he said, “Stick close. We’ll take cover over there.”

“Wanted” by Paula L. Silici

The safety of the trees still lie quite a distance away. With the horses lathered and near collapse, Jessie realized that unless Curtis wanted to risk killing their mounts, he had no choice but to make a desperate stand. By “over there,” Curtis meant a stout heap of boulders off to the left, just adequate enough to hide them and the horses behind.

A tight, sick knot formed in Jessie’s stomach as she followed Curtis until they reached the limited safety of their cover. When they were adequately concealed, he slid from the saddle, pulled Jessie to the ground, then slipped the reins of both horses under a heavy rock. The animals blew and snorted; sweat and lather flew from their withers as they tossed and stomped in agitation.

“What are you going to do?” Jessie demanded.

Curtis reached behind his back and pulled out Mitch’s Civil War pistol. “Take it!” he ordered, shoving the gun into her hands. “I’ll tell you when to shoot.”

Jessie gasped, reeling. “You can’t just shoot them, Curtis! You don’t even know who they are. Maybe they’re just regular folks.”

“Shut up and do as I say,” he snapped. “They’re the law, all right.”

Jessie paled. “And I suppose you know that from past experience?”

“That’s right, smart mouth.”

He didn’t say anything more until he’d dragged her behind a good-sized rock and pushed her to her knees, facing the riders. “You know how to use that thing?” he asked, squeezing her arm.

“Ow! Yes, but—”

Mitch teach you?”

“You’re hurting me!”

She heaved her body in defense and he dropped his hand. “When I tell you, point it at the knot of horses, then pull the trigger. Maybe you’ll get lucky and hit somebody. But if you learned anything or gained any competency at all in target practice, you know to pick your target and aim for the center of the chest. You got that?”

“Oh, I got it just fine, Curtis.” She lifted the revolver and pointed it at his chest.

Fuming, he shoved her gun hand down to her side. “Don’t you have any brains at all? You shoot me and you lose your ticket out of here. I’m the only one keeping you out of the hands of those lawmen, and if they catch us it means prison or a hanging, Jess. Think about it.”

She did think about it. All her nightmares had suddenly come upon her, and it took every ounce of her remaining strength to keep from falling apart. She gripped the gun tighter, but kept it lowered at her side.

She wanted to shoot someone, all right. She really did. Namely, Curtis. Shoot him point blank, between the eyes. But somehow, the decent, God-fearing side of her wouldn’t allow it. Curtis was vermin, but vermin or not, he was her only living relative. She couldn’t murder anyone, let alone her own blood.

Apparently satisfied she wasn’t going to shoot him, Curtis eased over to his own chosen cover, a flat-topped boulder positioned slightly to the right and behind Jessie. From this vantage point, her cousin had a clear view of the terrain and the approaching riders. They were close now.

“With luck, they’ll think we made it to the trees. They won’t be expecting an ambush. But Lord help us if they get past us, Jess. We won’t have any place else to hide.”

Curtis’s words trailed off as a wave of dizziness swept through Jessie. This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. Desperate, she retraced the events of the past months since leaving the wagon train, thinking that nothing, ever, had prepared her for this kind of terror.

“Keep low, Jess, until I tell you to start shooting. And don’t go all worm-bellied on me at the last minute, either. For once in your life buck up and do as you’re told. I expect you to take out as many of those men as you can. Our lives depend on it.”

The pistol lay heavy as an andiron in her hand. Head and heart pounding, she swiped the sweat from her eyes and squinted into the distance. She could see the shapes of the men now. She counted five of them in all, coming at them fast.

“Steady, Jess. Don’t you dare panic or I’ll shoot you myself.”

Jessie heard a quaver in his voice, stark desperation that he couldn’t hide, which affirmed that Curtis was not as calm as he wanted her to believe he was. Not at all.

“Steady…steady….”

The men were only about thirty yards away now. Peeping over the edge of the boulder, she could see the grim determination on each face as they spurred their horses onward. Her gaze settled one rider in particular, on the confident way the man sat his horse and those broad shoulders leaning over the pommel.

 Mitch?

“Fire, Jess, fire!”

Curtis’s Colt exploded, startling her so much she nearly sprang to her feet. All else forgotten, Jessie raised her weapon high and squeezed off a couple of shots, intentionally missing the men.

When first the posse’s leader, then his men, realized they were heading straight into an ambush, they split up, scattering like rabbits, drawing their guns and shooting as they fled beyond range toward the safety of the trees. One of Curtis’s bullets had hit a man, staggering him. But the lawman stuck to his saddle and, like the others, within minutes had hastened out of harm’s way.

Wildly, Curtis fired, again and again, but his handgun had little distance power. He needed a rifle for this kind of shooting if he ever hoped to eliminate anyone now.

Jessie drew in a long breath. For the moment the gunfire had stopped, and blessed stillness prevailed.

Curtis broke the silence. “I told you to shoot, Jessie,” he hissed. Scrabbling to her side, he gave her a killing look. “You let them get past us! Thanks to you, now they’ve got the advantage, and we don’t have any chance whatsoever of getting out of here alive.”

Her mouth went dry. She could barely push her next words past her thick tongue. Not that she was even trying to hit anybody, but in her opinion, Curtis hadn’t done much to hinder the posse, either. “I did fire the gun,” she protested, reaction setting in, making her teeth chatter.

The smell of gun powder hung in the heated air. Desperate for control, Jessie looked away to stare at the peeling bark of a twisted manzanita bush growing, impossibly, between two massive rocks nearby. A beautiful survivor, she thought. Like her own limbs, its glossy gray-green leaves trembled in the breathy stillness.

Curtis snatched her gun and smelled the barrel, then checked the chamber. A shot rang out in the distance. Jessie heard a faint curse from one of the lawmen, making her think of Mitch.

Was Mitch out there? Had she truly seen him for that one brief moment before all hell had broken loose? Or was it just her overwrought brain playing tricks on her?

— Buy “Wanted” through Amazon.com.
— Read an interview with the author.

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  • For author Paula L. Silici, the trials of a family move made her wonder: What would Jessie Driscoll do?
  • Kin or hostage? In “Wanted,” a chase across the American West, a woman realizes she’s both
  • Opinion: I’m a lifelong Republican, and here’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden
  • Opinion: Colorado’s small business owners need protection from COVID lawsuits
  • Seven big takeaways from Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper’s third — and most fiery — debate

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/10/wanted-paula-silici-sunlit-excerpt/

Opinion: Im a lifelong Republican politician as well as heres why Im voting for Joe Biden

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Donald Trump’s insistence on destroying health care and taking it away from millions of families is personal to me and personal to countless Coloradans. It’s why as a lifelong Republican, I will be voting for Joe Biden in November. 

For me it’s incredibly important that we elect a president this November who not only understands the struggles my family has experienced, who supports families with disabilities and individuals with pre-existing conditions, but who also works to expand, not undermine, our health care. 

Joe Biden understands the importance of providing health care for families like mine who have relied on private insurance and Medicaid to get the coverage we needed to get by. 

Kelly Stahlman

My twin boys, Mark and Eric, were born 12 weeks prematurely, and soon after were both diagnosed with profound cerebral palsy. From the beginning of their lives, they required around-the-clock care that insurance would not cover, and that as a family we struggled to cover on our own.

Without Medicaid, we would have had to abandon our kids (at a hospital) and/or live under a bridge. As my husband frequently said, it’s like falling down the rabbit hole. Plus we had their older brother to care for, too.

Our medical bills were extensive. In the first year of their life, the twins nearly reached their lifetime maximum. Two years after they were born, when Colorado cleared the waitlist for a Children’s Medicaid Waiver, and our boys qualified to live at home instead of the hospital and get the daily care they needed, our lives were completely changed.

Medicaid literally meant the difference between life and death for my sons. While my husband’s employer covered major medical evaluations, medical testing and hospital visits, Medicaid kept our children alive providing the ventilator, breathing machines, feeding pumps, power wheelchairs and hospital beds. Medicaid paid for nurses aides to assist with their care.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Even at the end of their lives, the twins stayed home because they were eligible for nursing care, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital costs. 

Both of our sons lived full, though shortened, lives. They coached sports, went to school and had girlfriends. Mark had a Stephen Hawking body with a Drew Carey sense of humor. 

Eric was passionate about the Rockies, Phineas and Ferb and his fiancee. Their personalities shined and they were beloved in their community. Eric proposed to his high school sweetheart just three weeks before his death when he was 23.

Medicaid was a lifeline for my family for nearly a quarter of a century, and it’s critical millions of Americans continue to be able to rely on it for years to come.

Joe Biden will ensure that families like mine can continue to access life-saving coverage as we did from Medicaid, and that the children, seniors, people with disabilities, rural Coloradans and countless others who this program is supporting are not left behind. 

When my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer the same type as both Beau Biden and John McCain we again relied heavily on our health insurance.

Bruce is achieving excellence, working full time, running and after 35 years of marriage, we get to spend this time together, with our surviving son, his wife and two grandsons.

We absolutely couldn’t spend this quality time together without access to private health insurance that covered the surgery, chemo and radiation that is keeping him alive. Access to health care is vital.

We need a president who realizes that, who won’t play politics with care and economic security that so many Americans are relying on. 

Today as millions of Americans battle with COVID-19, Trump wants to end coverage for pre-existing conditions and cut Medicaid for the poor, the elderly, children and people with disabilities. He’s even trying to gut social security. 

For my family, and for many other families in Colorado, these decisions are personal. They have a profound impact on quality of life, our finances and our futures.

It’s so important we elect a president this November who respects how personal these decisions are, who will stand up for our health care. That’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden, and I hope you will, too. 


Kelly Stahlman is a disability rights activist. She lives in Littleton with her husband, Bruce.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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  • For author Paula L. Silici, the trials of a family move made her wonder: What would Jessie Driscoll do?
  • Kin or hostage? In “Wanted,” a chase across the American West, a woman realizes she’s both
  • Opinion: I’m a lifelong Republican, and here’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden
  • Opinion: Colorado’s small business owners need protection from COVID lawsuits
  • Seven big takeaways from Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper’s third — and most fiery — debate

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/10/joe-biden-donald-trump-health-care-opinion/

Opinion: Colorados small business proprietors need security from COVID claims

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Safe bet that maybe only a handful – if that many – of candidates for the Colorado General Assembly even brought the issue up on the campaign trail.

It’s almost a certainty that candidates for the legislature in neighboring Utah, Wyoming and Nevada didn’t bring the issue up. They didn’t have to, because their legislatures did something about liability protection for small-business owners from COVID-19 lawsuits when they had the chance. Not Colorado. Not a single bill cropped up during the last session.

It not only should have, it now must when a new session of the Colorado General Assembly starts in January.

Tony Gagliardi, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business

Attorneys Michael Shalhoub and Steven S. Vahidi, in an article in Claims Journal, explain why.

“Just the mere threat of litigation may cause many businesses to remain closed or delay reopening because few businesses can afford the costs of defending a lawsuit following weeks of business disruption amid the sudden economic recession. Plaintiffs’ lawyers across the country are already recruiting individuals to sue businesses by pouring millions of dollars into advertising.”

Right now, only 13 states have some form of liability protection holding harmless small-business owners, civic and health institutions from being slapped with a coronavirus lawsuit by plaintiffs who could have contracted it anywhere.

Many state legislators across the country, including some of Colorado’s own, probably banked on Congress coming up with a federal law that would handle the matter. That certainly was the wish of 22 states’ attorneys general who co-signed a letter to Congress in support of S. 4317, the Safe to Work Act.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to create a surge in frivolous civil litigation targeting well-intentioned businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations that have implemented and utilized applicable pandemic mitigation measures,” the letter said.

“In fact, lawsuits are already being filed. We know that in order for our economy to fully recover, customers and employees have to have the confidence to return to the marketplace, students need to be able to safely return to school, and at the same time, entities of all types that follow applicable guidelines need to be protected from devastating civil liability litigation concerning baseless COVID-related claims. Therefore, we are encouraged by this common-sense framework to provide federal liability protections for much-needed goods and services while still ensuring victims are able to seek legal redress and compensation where appropriate.

“As you are probably aware, states across the country have taken steps to address the need for timely, targeted and temporary civil liability protections in light of the pandemic, but the need for a uniform national baseline of liability protection still exists.”

Five months ago, NFIB, the nation’s largest small-business association, provided Congress such a “uniform national baseline” with liability protection principles to work with. The four principles were:

  • The Workers Compensation system should be the exclusive vehicle employees who suffer serious physical injury from COVID-19 at work use to adjudicate their claims.
  • Businesses should be protected from liability to customers and other third-parties unless those customers or parties prove the business knowingly failed to develop and implement a reasonable plan for reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and that failure caused the injury.
  • Permitted lawsuits should be limited to persons who experience a serious physical injury due to COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization.
  • Fines should be imposed on unscrupulous trial attorneys bringing frivolous COVID-19-related lawsuits. 

As of this writing, S. 4317 remains mired in the Senate. Similar legislation contained in another bill as a section received 52 votes, including Sen. Cory Gardner’s, but came up short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed.

Unless liability protection is thrown into some last-minute bigger deal, the issue runs the risk of getting swept under the rug, which means it will be up to the next Colorado General Assembly to do something about it.

Together with NFIB’s principles and examples from three nearby states, our legislators have something to work with while they consider the manifest consequences of doing nothing.


Tony Gagliardi is Colorado state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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The latest from The Sun

  • For author Paula L. Silici, the trials of a family move made her wonder: What would Jessie Driscoll do?
  • Kin or hostage? In “Wanted,” a chase across the American West, a woman realizes she’s both
  • Opinion: I’m a lifelong Republican, and here’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden
  • Opinion: Colorado’s small business owners need protection from COVID lawsuits
  • Seven big takeaways from Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper’s third — and most fiery — debate

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/10/colorado-business-coronavirus-politics-opinion/

Whats Working: Lost incomes obtains a brand-new deadline overpayment mercy small company updates and even more

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Remember M. Hurley, who started a petition last month to bring attention to the plight of jobless Coloradans suddenly facing a massive bill from the unemployment office? 

The M was Meggan, and I spoke to her the day after President Donald Trump told officials to stop negotiating a new relief plan until after the election (that really bummed Hurley out). A day later, life began looking up for her and thousands of other unemployed Coloradans who were overpaid unemployment benefits and then stuck with a repayment bill. Hurley’s bill was $13,969.

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • MAP: Known cases in Colorado.
  • TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • STORY: Colorado unveils draft plan for who will get a coronavirus vaccine first

>> FULL COVERAGE

On Thursday, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced it would essentially forgive $1.4 million in overpayments affecting up to 9,000 Coloradans receiving benefits from the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, or PUA. Elsewhere in the country, Trump said he’d approve a new round of $1,200 checks for Americans, plus aid to airlines and small businesses, though there was no mention of more money for the unemployed. 

But back to the state’s reversal of overpayments: A confusing PUA form had some gig workers not understanding that they needed to submit their net income — what they made after expenses and deductions — and not their total income. Total income, by the way, is how folks on regular unemployment file for benefits, so that’s what the unemployment office considered during its reversal. A new PUA form will be introduced Oct. 29.

“I would emphasize that this impacted 7%” of PUA claimants, said Jeff Fitzgerald, the state’s director of unemployment insurance. The other 93% “did not have issues with regards to understanding the forms and properly reporting their wages. But we have understanding about how the confusion was caused, and we’re taking steps to address it.”

Hurley, however, said there’s more to this a confusing application form. In her case, she said she was asked for business income and her income, which has some duplication. The unemployment office added both up to calculate her income. When she questioned the high amount, she was told not to worry about it. But when letters demanding repayments arrived, Hurley and many others found their unemployment benefits zeroed out. 

Meggan Hurley, a self-employed DNA health worker, was shocked to learn she was overpaid $13,969 in unemployment benefits after being told to not worry about it. Colorado’s unemployment office told her she must pay it back. (Provided by Meggan Hurley)

“My biggest thing is it’s just wrong, it’s just wildly wrong. And to tell people to pay it back is incredible,” Hurley said. “And it’s unfortunate because we’re trying so hard to do the right thing and calling and trying to make sure everything’s OK. And we were told over and over it was fine. And then you just get hit with this bill, and I mean it’s been anywhere from $600 to one woman who had close to $20,000.”

If your overpayment was due to confusing forms and causes a financial hardship, the state will waive the overpayment. I’m still trying to get details of the process. 

Those unable to qualify for the waiver can appeal. Typically, users must appeal within 20 days of the notice, but the state is allowing 180 days so folks affected by overpayments last spring can file an appeal — and even get some money back if they’d already paid it back or had the overpayment garnished from their benefits.

Fitzgerald said the appeals process is “running quite timely,” and about 88% of appeals are heard within two weeks. A decision is typically made within a few business days.

Read the update: Colorado won’t try to collect the $1.4 million in overpaid unemployment benefits it distributed after all

MIA: Thousands who haven’t claimed their $300+

There is so much money left in Colorado’s share of the federal Lost Wages Assistance program that the state extended the deadline for two more weeks. Those who qualify must certify by Oct. 24, a Saturday night. 

An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 are eligible, but for some reason they haven’t certified for the money, which amounts to $300 a week for six weeks. This group is made up of people on regular unemployment who were paid at least $100 a week between July 26 to Sept. 5. If that’s you, go to coloradoui.gov and type “lost wages” into the chat box to certify that your unemployment is due to COVID-19 disruptions. 

PUA folks are automatically qualified, as long as they also meet the $100 minimum and were unemployed during those six weeks. And if that’s you, you should already have been paid.

State officials are scratching their heads as to why so many workers haven’t claimed their share, which totals $1,800 for those who qualify for the entire amount.

As of Wednesday, the state paid $364 million of LWA to about 300,000 Coloradans. That leaves $189 million left of the $554 million allotted to Colorado by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We’d love to see citizens that are able to take advantage of this get this potentially $1,800,” Fitzgerald said. “I, by no means, want to return any of this money to FEMA.” 

Some folks trying to certify may have had issues if their zip code begins with zero, but for the most part, certification issues have been fixed. The department is now calling and emailing those folks who are still eligible.

About that new online portal

Last week, What’s Working reported on the unemployment office’s new tool for people to send in tax forms, IDs and other personal documents. They’ll contact you — with a link.

This week, I heard from a reader who got the link but felt odd about sending her personal documents to some random link that was not going to the labor department. 

Could she trust it? 

Angela Pfannenstiel, with the state labor department, said here’s how to tell if the email is from the labor department: It will include the agency’s logo and a 16-word sentence that it’s an official communication from the department. 

As for the link, it goes to Box.com, which uses “the strongest encryption cipher suite available starting with 256-bit AES” to encrypt the information during transit and in storage.

The Department of Labor rolled this out because people were sending their documents to random emails and fax machines. This way, everything is stored in one spot in a queue so investigators can get through accounts with payment holds and backdated claims.

Colorado’s unemployment numbers

I’ve been following the state’s staggering unemployment numbers each week since the pandemic toppled local businesses in the week ending March 21. This week, Ryan Gedney, the labor department’s senior economist, shared the contrast of how devastating this has been — and showing how much the labor department had to scramble.

Since mid-March, more than 734,000 people have filed for unemployment. About 75% were on regular unemployment, with the rest filing as PUA, the special federal benefit for gig workers. 

Gedney says that’s more claims than were made in the entire six years before the pandemic kicked in! 

The state has also paid out $5.7 billion in the same period, most of which came from federal funding. 

“That is roughly equivalent to the amount of combined total benefit payments from 2009 to 2011 during the height of the Great Recession,” Gedney said. “The department estimates that 280,533 Coloradans received a UI payment in September.”

Unfortunately, we’re not close to being done, and I’ll keep writing this column until there’s no need for it. If you have a story to share about jobs, unemployment or work, let me know at tamara@coloradosun.com.

Need help with housing? 

Affordable homes in Colorado, especially in the Denver area, are tough to find and seemingly, getting rarer. Last month, Westword reported that Denver’s average home price was $606,300. People who can afford to buy a house are doing so and pushing up prices because there just aren’t enough available homes.

On the flipside, Colorado apartment rents are down 1.9%, according to a Denver Post report.

Some private and nonprofit organizations are stepping up to help out during COVID. This week, FirstBank pledged $60 million to support Habitat for Humanity of Colorado and Impact Development Fund, two nonprofits focused on affordable housing. That translates into more homes they can build and preserve for low-income families. 

Leah Dirks, FirstBank’s president of mortgage and consumer lending, said the bank also has several in-house affordable housing programs that include limited fee mortgage programs and down payment assistance.

“We also work with various land trusts to provide mortgages to their borrowers, which is unique and helps foster affordable housing in communities, because the buyer purchases the house, not the land, providing a sizable costs saving,” Dirks said in a statement.

In other housing-help news:

  • The nonprofit Brothers Redevelopment and a few state agencies have launched Colorado Housing Connects. It’s a free service to Coloradans if you need financial assistance to pay rents or mortgages or get legal advice to prevent an eviction. >> 1-844-926-6632.
  • The state Department of Local Affairs Division of Housing handed out $13.9 million to prevent evictions and offer homeless relief in September. The money is helping affordable housing projects in Salida, Brighton, Fort Collins, Loveland, Colorado Springs and Fremont County. >> Check out the projects

Small businesses, citizen resources 

There are all sorts of small-business loans available, but if you’re a startup with no experience or revenues, it’s tough to get a loan from a traditional bank.

This week, I explored the niche of community development financial institutions. These are mission-minded lenders supported by the U.S. Department of Treasury and non-profit and private organizations. 

One is Colorado Enterprise Fund, which focuses on small business loans. In 2018, CEF loans helped create or retain 1,981 jobs. Late or missed payments, limited collateral or a low credit score doesn’t automatically disqualify one from a loan, said Ceyl Prinster, its CEO.

“We’ll look at whether this is the result of medical issues or divorce or something that’s a one-time thing. Or is it a chronic disregard for financial obligations?” she said. “We can take a little bit more of an individualized approach on that and discount for those factors.”

There are 19 CDFIs in Colorado (here’s a list) so check them out if you are considering starting your own business. 

Read the story: A mission-minded loan source that doesn’t care if you’re a startup with no experience, revenues or credit

PPP Update: The federal Paycheck Protection Plan program that helped more than 100,000 small businesses in Colorado debuted a forgiveness form for those with loans below $50,000. I’ll explore this more in a future story but if you have PPP questions, ask me!

Help for the unhelped: The city of Denver added $1 million to its relief fund to help Denver residents who’ve lost their jobs. The Left Behind Worker Fund was created out of concern for those who don’t qualify for state or federal aid. That’s an estimated 17,000 immigrants, some of whom are undocumented, who were left out of public relief efforts, according to the city. >> Apply here


That’s it for this week’s What’s Working. I’d like to give Jeff Fitzgerald a special thank you for his efforts. He’s the state’s director of unemployment insurance and someone who has quickly responded to questions from readers. He is moving on to a job with the U.S. Department of Labor, so we wish him the best.

As always, email me at tamara@coloradosun.com your stories, questions, tips and concerns so we can figure this out as a community. And spread the word about this column. I write it for you (especially you, who has read all the way down to this point). ~tamara


What’s Working is a new Colorado Sun column for anyone whose lost a job or trying to survive as a business. Read the archive and don’t miss the next one. Get this free newsletter delivered to your inbox by signing up at coloradosun.com/getww.

MORE: Read stories on Colorado jobs and unemployment

  • What’s Working: One third of Colorado’s share of “Lost Wages” still unclaimed, plus a new portal to the unemployment office
  • What’s Working: Thousands of fraud holds lifted for Colorado unemployed, while more face pricier health insurance
  • The $300 “Lost Wages” bonus begins, Amazon is hiring like crazy and answers from Colorado’s labor department
  • What’s Working: Extra $300 unemployment benefit gets a start date and how Colorado overpaid $40 million in jobless aid
  • What’s Working: The situation with PUA benefits. Plus, why action is needed to get extra payments.
  • What’s Working: Spanish-speaking virtual agents, extra $300 weeks approved and a new small business fund
  • What’s Working: Why it takes two months to get a callback on unemployment: 25% of scheduled calls are “no shows”
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Republicans UNITED STATE Supreme Court press might box in Cory Gardner

get headlines https://thecherrycreeknews.com

By Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press

Six years ago, Colorado Democrats failed to convince enough voters to reject Cory Gardner’s bid for the U.S. Senate. Their warnings that the Republican could, someday, be the confirming vote for a Supreme Court justice who could overturn Roe v. Wade proved ineffective.

Now Gardner, 46, is poised to be one of the votes that places President Donald Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court just before the election. And Democrats think they have the votes to punish him for it.

Gardner has long been considered both one of the nimblest Republican politicians and also one of the most vulnerable. His 2014 run was praised as the best Senate campaign that year for defusing Democratic attacks about his role in a “war on women” and staying on message. But he’s also a Republican in a state that has shifted sharply to Democrats since Trump was elected — the president lost the state by 5% in 2016 and then Democrats won the governorship by 11% and every other statewide race in 2018. Gardner has struggled to escape the president’s long shadow.

“Luck and timing are everything in politics, and Cory’s on the wrong end of all these elements,” said Mike Stratton, a Democratic strategist who advised the man Gardner ousted in 2014, Sen. Mark Udall.

Gardner is now up against John Hickenlooper, a popular former two-term governor of Colorado and Denver mayor.

MORE: Seven big takeaways from Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper’s third — and most fiery — debate

Gardner’s reelection hinges on convincing the state’s crucial slice of independent voters he’s a nonpartisan problem-solver who will look out for the state. On the campaign trail, he’s emphasized his work on state-centric, uncontroversial issues — moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to western Colorado, co-writing a bill to fund maintenance at national parks and creating a national suicide prevention number.

“I vote 100% of the time for the people of Colorado,” Gardner said during a debate Friday evening..

But Gardner’s also been a reliable vote for his party under Trump. The president praised Gardner for being on his side “100% of the time” at a rally in February, and voters got another reminder of that when Gardner said he supports Barrett’s nomination. Republicans acknowledge that may be enough to prevent him from escaping Trump’s downward pull.

“I’m saying a prayer he doesn’t get swept out by our president,” said Linda Heintz, 71, a registered Republican in suburban Denver who plans to vote early for Gardner. Heintz still hasn’t decided whether she can vote for Trump but figured Gardner was a no-brainer.

“He’s done nothing to not deserve reelection,” she said, acknowledging she doesn’t think many others in the state agree with her view.

Amy Coney Barrett, left, meets with Colorado’s Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner at the U.S. Capitol. (Handout)

Joan Kresek doesn’t. The 65-year-old graphic design professor is an independent-turned-Democrat who exemplifies Colorado’s transformation from a swing state into an increasingly blue bastion.

“Cory Gardner is attached to Trump, whom I’m 100% against,” Kresek said, saying Gardner’s support for a rapid replacement to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “is what he stands for.”

GOP pollster David Flaherty noted that the Barrett nomination is especially difficult for Gardner. The independents he needs to win aren’t just non-partisan, they’re anti-partisanship, disliking even “the impression of partisan decision-making,” he said. Republicans’ push to confirm Barrett before the election, when they thwarted Democrats’ attempt at a less-rushed confirmation four years ago, is a tough sell.

Laura Chapin, a Democratic operative who focuses on abortion rights, noted that Coloradans will also be voting on a ballot measure backed by conservatives that would ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy. They’re also facing the prospect that Barrett could vote to overturn the court decision protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion, and rule against the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, it was easy for Gardner to dismiss these scenarios as partisan fever dreams.

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“We were dealing with hypotheticals,” Chapin said. “We’re not in the realm of the hypothetical anymore.”

Gardner exemplifies the bind several Republicans have found themselves in during the Trump era. In 2016, he reluctantly endorsed Trump, only to withdraw his endorsement after the “Access Hollywood” tape revealed Trump had boasted about sexually assaulting women.

But once Trump was elected, Gardner tied himself to the president. In 2018, he lead the GOP’s effort to win Senate seats, and advocated for candidates to tout their support of the president. He’s carefully expressed displeasure at some of Trump’s more controversial statements, such as the statement that there were “good people” on both sides of a white supremacist march in Charlottesville. At Friday’s debate, Gardner without hesitation condemned the extremist group known as the Proud Boys and white supremacism — two things Trump would not do on the debate stage last week.

But Gardner has generally been a reliable vote for Trump’s top priorities, including repealing the Affordable Care Act. He has voted to confirm conservative judges and against removing the president from office following his impeachment.

MORE: Cory Gardner wants to get rid of Obamacare. But it’s not clear what he plans to replace it with.

Gardner swiftly endorsed Trump’s reelection in early 2019, and during the rally in late February, Trump returned the favor. “Cory is a champion for the people of Colorado,” Trump told a packed arena in the conservative stronghold of Colorado Springs.

Democrats have repeatedly tied that around Gardner’s neck. “Cory Gardner has stood beside him 100% of the time, he has supported Donald Trump 100% of the time,” Hickenlooper said at a recent debate, where he also repeatedly noted Gardner’s support of Barrett’s confirmation.

Hickenlooper also repeatedly dismissed barbed attacks from Gardner as “typical Washington” and said “new blood” is needed in the capitol.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at a “car rally” at Denver’s East High School on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

It’s an ironic echo of how Gardner won in 2014, when he tied the incumbent Udall to then-unpopular President Barack Obama, portrayed himself as a fresh face and promised in one ad that “when my party is wrong, I’ll say it.”

Stratton, the Udall strategist, was bemused by the parallels. “Six years later, Gardner is Udall to some extent,” he said.


Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.

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  • William Perry Pendley says he’s still on the job as acting director of Bureau of Land Management
  • Republicans’ U.S. Supreme Court push may box in Cory Gardner
  • What’s Working: “Lost wages” gets a new deadline, overpayment forgiveness, small business updates and more
  • For author Paula L. Silici, the trials of a family move made her wonder: What would Jessie Driscoll do?
  • Kin or hostage? In “Wanted,” a chase across the American West, a woman realizes she’s both

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/10/cory-gardner-amy-coney-barrett-reelection/

One dead one jailed after firing in the middle of Denver demonstrations

more news https://northdenvernews.com

One person is dead and one person has been arrested after a shooting Saturday afternoon in Denver amid dueling political protests.

Denver police said the shooting, which happened about 3:30 p.m. near the intersection of 14th Avenue and Broadway, is being investigated as a homicide.

Investigators initially said two people had been arrested in connection with the shooting, but then revised their statement.

Videos taken at the scene showed a confrontation in a crowd of people near the Denver Art Museum followed by a single gunshot being fired. Police quickly rushed in, apparently detaining one person and tending to someone in distress nearby who was motionless on the ground.

Denver police Division Chief Joe Montoya told reporters at a news conference that a verbal altercation preceded the shooting. 

“There were two guns recovered at the scene,” Montoya said, adding that mace was also found by investigators. 

Montoya said it’s unclear if the victim and suspect were affiliated with any groups.

“We’re still trying to determine that — who they were affiliated with,” he said.

The person killed in the confrontation has been identified only as a man.

Denverite reports the shooting happened amid competing demonstrations in Denver’s Civic Center park. The news outlet says one group, led by conservative activist John Tiegen, was holding a “Patriot Muster” while the other was holding a “A Black Lives Matter Anti-Fascist Soup Drive.”

Tiegen is also well known for surviving the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, where he was working on a security team.

Authorities say the demonstrations were wrapping up when the shooting happened.

Police did not immediately release further details on the shooting. They said more information will be released once it becomes available.

“We don’t want any erroneous information going out, any speculation, because that’s really what hurts us,” Montoya said. “That’s what gets everybody angry and motivated to commit more violence. And that’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

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  • Dry weather worsens in Colorado; 17% of state is in “exceptional drought”
  • William Perry Pendley says he’s still on the job as acting director of Bureau of Land Management
  • Republicans’ U.S. Supreme Court push may box in Cory Gardner
  • What’s Working: “Lost wages” gets a new deadline, overpayment forgiveness, small business updates and more

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These hay fields might know something we dont: How to save the Colorado River

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Grand County rancher Paul Bruchez stands in a hay field near Kremmling, holding a small tuft of hay between his fingertips, twirling it back and forth, seeing how quickly it disintegrates after a summer without water.

The plant, known as timothy, is native to Colorado and feeds thousands of cattle here in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

This hay species and others are being closely watched this year as part of a far-reaching $1 million science experiment, one designed to see if ranchers can take water off of hay fields and successfully measure how much was removed, how much evaporated, and how much was used by plants. They also need to know how reducing their irrigation in this fashion affects the nutritional value of the hay.

Research technician and Grand County rancher Wendy Thompson collects hay samples on Aug. 12, 2020, as part of a far-reaching experiment to see if ranchers can fallow hay meadows and conserve more water for the Colorado River. (Dave Timko, This American Land)

If certain hay species retain more nutrients than others when they’re on low-water diets, then ranchers know their cattle will continue to eat well as they evaluate whether they can operate their ranches on less H20 — not all the time, but perhaps every other year or every two to three years.

“We’ve spent centuries learning how to irrigate these lands,” Bruchez said. “Now we’re learning what it’s like not to irrigate them.”

Any water saved could be left in the Colorado River, allowing it to become more sustainable, even as the West’s population grows and drought cycles become more intense.

(Chas Chamberlin, Fresh Water News)

Scaling up

While similar small-scale experiments on five or 10 acres have been done before, this one by comparison is vast in scale, involving 1,200 acres of high-altitude hay meadows, nine ranch families, a team of researchers spread across Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and the backing of powerful water groups, farm interests, and environmentalists.

“We’ve never had a project this large in the state of Colorado,” said Perry Cabot, a Colorado State University researcher who is the lead scientist on the project.

The undertaking is sponsored by the Colorado River Basin Roundtable, whose members include Bruchez.

“We set out on a mission to ensure we have as much science and data as possible,” Bruchez said.

The data being collected serves several needs. It should help ranch families see if they can afford to participate in these modern-era conservation efforts.

It will allow researchers to better understand what works on the ground and what to do, for instance, when rambunctious bulls destroy research equipment enclosures 25 miles from the nearest town.

And it will give policy makers insight into the political problems that will have to be solved, as well as how much money could need to be raised, to make large-scale conservation on the Colorado River feasible.

The $1 million, three-year project is being funded by the state and several environmental groups, with the money being used to pay researchers, buy equipment, and compensate ranch families who temporarily fallow their fields.

Water for Lake Powell?

Agriculture uses some 80 percent of the water in the seven-state Colorado River Basin, and hay meadows that grow feed for cattle are among the basin’s largest water users.

Last year, under an historic drought agreement on the Colorado River, a new specially protected drought pool in Lake Powell was authorized.

Now Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico, the four states that comprise the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, above Lake Powell, are studying whether they can or should help save enough water to fill that drought pool. The pool, authorized at 500,000 acre-feet, is intended as further insurance that the Upper Basin won’t be forced to involuntarily reduce water use from the river under the terms of the Colorado River Compact.

Colorado expects it would need to provide roughly half the water for the drought pool, and, led by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, is working out difficult questions about how that water would be saved and ushered downstream to Lake Powell under a possible voluntary program known as demand management. The research being done near Kremmling will help answer several critical questions.

Wendy Thompson is a rancher who also serves as the research technician for the pilot program, cutting hay samples and gathering soil moisture and precipitation data, among dozens of other tasks. She has driven hundreds of miles across Grand County this summer, checking each of the program’s 24 research sites every week or so, lugging an aging laptop from one meadow to the next.

She knows better than most that ranch families will need real information, such as how fallowing affects crop yields and soil health and production costs, in order to make decisions about whether to join in a voluntary multi-state conservation effort or to back away.

Intuition vs. facts

“The experiment is important to us,” Thompson said. “We want to make decisions based on the science and the data, not a gut feeling.”

Much of the work is grueling, like cutting hay samples week after week, and low tech, like measuring water levels in rain gauges.

But dramatic advances in satellite imagery and global evapotranspiration databases are helping people like Perry Cabot create science-based templates that eventually will be useful not just in Colorado, but Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and perhaps even farther downstream, on cotton fields in Arizona and avocado groves in California’s Central Valley.

“We now have the ability to measure the whole field,” Cabot said. “It’s becoming more accurate and it’s tremendously convenient if you’re trying to get a good understanding of patterns. We don’t have to rely on one data point anymore.” [Editor’s note: Cabot sits on the board of Water Education Colorado, which is a sponsor of Fresh Water News.]

The Colorado River flows through the Grand Valley near Kremmling on Aug. 13, 2020. (Dave Timko, This American Land)

That this particular team has agronomists, economists and environmentalists pitching in with their expertise is also helping move the science forward.

Brass tacks

“What makes this different is the scale and the depth of the questions we’re asking,” said Aaron Derwingson, an agricultural water specialist with The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado River Program, which is helping to fund the project.

“When we’re done it will be relevant to more people than just the ranchers. We will be able to extrapolate these field conditions and what it means for water savings and the recovery of different species,” he said.

“It’s tough to figure all that out on paper. Here we’re getting down to brass tacks,” Derwingson said.

With irrigation season over, Cabot and his team have serious number crunching to do before they begin monitoring next year, measuring how the hay fields survived their fallowed season, how quickly they return to health, and precisely how much water was conserved.

Early estimates indicate that the ranchers may have saved 1,500 acre-feet to as many as 2,500 acre-feet of water this year. If this process can be replicated, scientists and ranchers could begin to see how long it might take to fill the 500,000 acre-foot drought pool at Lake Powell.

No collateral damage

But even more important to Bruchez and state policy makers is the impact the pilot is having on a highly skeptical ranching community, some of whom are deeply worried that they will lose control of their water.

“We wanted a project that would be as smooth as possible,” Bruchez said. “We wanted to simplify it and ensure there weren’t unintended damages to neighbors who weren’t participating.

“Some people were comfortable about what we were doing and others had great fears,” he said. “We just had to keep telling them, ‘We are not delivering water to Lake Powell. We are trying to fill data gaps.’”


Jerd Smith is editor of Fresh Water News. This story first appeared on Oct. 7, 2020 at wateredco.org.

Fresh Water News is an independent, nonpartisan news initiative of Water Education Colorado. WEco is funded by multiple donors. Our editorial policy and donor list can be viewed at wateredco.org

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  • These hay fields may know something we don’t: How to save the Colorado River
  • Littwin: Cory Gardner tries to put some distance — maybe a fly’s length — between himself and Trump
  • Nicolais: The ad attacking Brianna Titone is an ugly miscalculation
  • Opinion: I’m a CU Boulder resident adviser. Administrators have grossly mishandled COVID-19.
  • Shooting amid Denver protests leaves man dead; 9News security guard detained as suspect

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/11/ranchers-experiment-to-save-colorado-river-drough/

Did you miss our previous article…
https://danpabon.com/denver-will-certainly-stream-a-live-24-hour-video-clip-of-tally-processing/

Denver will certainly stream a live 24-hour video clip of tally processing

Colorado News

By Patty Nieberg, Associated Press/Report for America

Strengthening efforts to counter the Trump administration’s baseless narrative that mail balloting is rife with fraud, elections officials in Denver, Seattle and a growing number of cities are giving voters live video of their ballot processing in a symbolic effort to assure voter trust in the November election.

In Denver, the effort by that city’s Elections Division complements an aggressive campaign by Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, to tell the nation that the state’s all-mail voting, long embraced by both Republicans and Democrats, is efficient, secure and has generated record numbers of people voting.

Starting Monday, citizens can watch live 24-hour camera footage from the room where Denver ballots are received and counted at Denvervotes.org. The camera won’t be close enough to identify individual ballots or disclose voter information.

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Watching people sort and stuff reams of paper might not make for the most compelling viewing. But in this highly charged presidential election year — and heated national debate over a vote count that could take record time as more states adopt mail balloting — the public should be informed about the process, said Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, an advocacy group pushing for a nationwide vote-by-mail electoral system.

“It definitely directly pushes back on those that want to cast doubt in the election process. And so while it’s boring and most people will probably stop watching — it still educates the public on the process, what it looks like, how it happens,” McReynolds said. “They can see that their neighbors are in that room you know, and part of the population and part of the public is actually part of this process. It’s not done behind closed doors.”

Its purpose is to show the public exactly what happens when their ballots arrive. And because the coronavirus pandemic is forcing many to vote by mail or at drop boxes, the video stream is one way of increasing trust in the system, said Alton Dillard, spokesperson for the Denver Elections Division.

“Given the pandemic and the limitations on in-person tours of our ballot processing rooms, we wanted to provide some transparency into the process,” Dillard said.

Denver borrowed the idea from the King County Elections division in Seattle, which has done live webcasts of its ballot processing rooms since 2012. Like Colorado, Washington is a mail ballot state. Others taking the video route include Yuma county in Arizona, Los Angeles and San Francisco in California.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail balloting is rife with fraud — and that its expansion in many states this year because of the pandemic presages a fraudulent presidential election. Democrats, including Griswold, insist his repeated claims of lost ballots and other alleged irregularities is misinformation designed to sow enough doubt to enable him to ignore any result that’s not his own re-election.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “Here we go. This will be the most corrupt Election in American History!”

Mail-in voting began in Colorado in 2013. Voters can also drop their ballots at drop boxes or vote in person. This year, Colorado has increased the number of drop boxes and expanded a tracking system in which voters can receive text and email notifications that their ballots have been received and counted.

The video will be available by 10 a.m. on Monday and by visiting Denvervotes.org, clicking on “Voter Information” and then the “Learn More About Mail Ballots” tab.


Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/11/denver-ballot-processing-live-stream/

Denver cops identify 9News guard detained in deadly demonstration capturing

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Denver police on Sunday identified the 9News security guard arrested in a fatal shooting during a protest downtown Saturday afternoon.

Matthew Dolloff, 30, is being held for investigation of first-degree murder. 9News said he worked for the private security company Pinkerton.

Matthew Dolloff, 30, is being held for investigation of first-degree murder. (Denver Police Department)

“This remains an active investigation,” the Denver Police Department said in a tweet. “Any additional updates will be released as it becomes available.”

MORE: Shooting amid Denver protests leaves man dead; 9News security guard detained as suspect

9News says Dolloff is a contractor who was accompanying one of its producers at the demonstrations Saturday at Civic Center Park. Far-right and far-left groups held dueling protests in the hours leading up the shooting.

Videos and photos of the shooting show Dolloff firing a single shot at a man after an altercation. It appears the man may have fired mace at Dolloff.

A man sprays mace, left, as another man fires a gun, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Denver amid highly charged political protests. Denver television station 9News says a private security guard working on its behalf has been detained as a suspect in the shooting. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP)

“It has been the practice of 9News for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests,” 9News reported.

The name of the man killed in the shooting and information on any affiliations he may have had have not been released.

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  • Denver police identify 9News security guard arrested in fatal protest shooting
  • Denver will stream a live 24-hour video of ballot processing
  • These hay fields may know something we don’t: How to save the Colorado River
  • Littwin: Cory Gardner tries to put some distance — maybe a fly’s length — between himself and Trump
  • Nicolais: The ad attacking Brianna Titone is an ugly miscalculation

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/11/matthew-dolloff-arrested-denver-shooting/