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Week in review

from staff reports
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Garfield County commissioners on Monday gave the go-ahead for the county to possibly file civil litigation against Bill Barrett Corp. after county staff discovered the company was allegedly running an unauthorized operation near Silt.

That operation was apparently using one pit for storing produced water from several well pads in the area ” a use of the land that would require a special-use permit from county commissioners, according to county staff. Possible litigation filed by the county would largely seek to have that operation stop until the company receives a permit.

The county’s problem with Bill Barrett, which says it has complied with all state and county regulations, is based on what is occurring on a 280-acre property near Silt.



That property has an Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT) conservation easement covering it, which precludes industrial operations and auxiliary oil and gas facilities.

In June, the company sought a special-use permit to build a facility that would have collected produced water from on-site and surrounding gas wells, separate oil and recycle the used water through a pipeline back into its operations, according to county records.



GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Secret Service agents stood next to Garfield County commissioner candidate Mike Samson. Three feet away was Todd Palin, the husband of Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. He wanted Samson to talk about the important issues facing the county.

Samson’s conversation with Palin came about 14 hours after the Rifle Republican spoke in front of a crowd of about 20,000 at Suplizio Field in Grand Junction Monday night as a warm-up to a speech by Sarah Palin.

It was a dramatic change from what Samson is probably used to. Just four days ago, he was speaking in front of a crowd of about 40 people.

“Who would have thought six months ago you would be doing something like all this?” Samson said of his sudden experience in presidential politics.

With just 14 days left until Nov. 4 and Colorado’s king-maker status in this year’s presidential election, the McCain-Palin campaign sent Todd Palin to meet with Republican supporters Tuesday morning at a Glenwood Springs Village Inn. His appearance is the third high-level visit that representatives from the McCain and Barack Obama presidential campaigns have made in Garfield County this election.

“It is nice to be down here,” Palin told a crowd of about 40 people at the restaurant. “We appreciate all your support and help.” He later said it was “an honor for our family” to be part of the McCain campaign, then turned away from further questions.

Tom Kise, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, described Mesa and Garfield counties as “battleground” areas in the close fight between McCain and Obama, a Democrat, to capture the state’s nine electoral votes. He said turning out Republicans on the Western Slope, especially in Mesa County, was important to the McCain campaign.

He then teased Roaring Fork Valley-area reporters by saying McCain plans to return to Colorado on Friday, hinting that one of the places the candidate will visit is a town where a presidential candidate hasn’t been to in a “long time.” Republican county commissioner candidate John Martin, a three-term incumbent who is running against Stephen Bershenyi in the District 2 commissioner race, said no modern-day presidential candidate has made a visit to Garfield County.

PARACHUTE, Colorado ” A disagreement over a contract for pipeline work near Parachute has left around 150 people without pay for a little over two weeks, employees of U.S. Central Pipeline say.

U.S. Central Pipeline called an emergency meeting at noon Friday ” on payday ” and told its employees that Energy Transfer Corporation (ETC) was not paying any more to central pipeline, central pipeline employees said.

The company says ETC owes it a large amount of money, but ETC says it has paid the amount of the contract in full and even paid additional sums of money to central pipeline. The workers just want to get paid.

“They shut the job down and they’re not paying nothing,” said Brandon Thompson, of Shreveport, La. “That’s 180 hours that I’ve worked for absolutely nothing. … I’m mad about it. They owe me about $3,000.”

Thompson said he recently drove with his wife from Illinois after hearing about the job, which started about six months ago and was reportedly going fine until Friday.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The four Garfield County commissioner candidates outlined their top goals for the next year on Tuesday night should they win a spot on the commission this Nov. 4. Two seats are up for grabs this election year.

The candidates explained their goals during the 23rd annual Issues and Answers Night at the Glenwood Springs City Hall, an event that was hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

John Martin, a three-term Republican incumbent, is running against Carbondale blacksmith and artist Stephen Bershenyi in the District 2 race. Steve Carter, a former Garfield County judge, is battling Mike Samson, Rifle High School’s dean of students, in the District 2 race.

If victorious against Samson, Carter said his top goal next year would be to change the manner in which county commissioners conduct meetings. He said if residents look at the minutes of the commissioners’ meetings this year, they would indicate that they held an executive session in each meeting. Those sessions are generally closed-door meetings for county commissioners to discuss legal advice and personnel matters.

“If you look at the reasons for (those executive sessions), some were called for legitimate reasons, some weren’t,” he said. If elected, Carter said he would work toward minimizing executive sessions.

Samson said his first goal for the year would be to work harder to find common ground among the county’s residents.

“I would like to see more people coming to the table and going away with a compromise every one can live with,” he said.

He added that if Amendment 58 passes, he would like to see the county make an effort to change it to return more money to energy-impacted communities. Samson opposes Amendment 58, which removes a property tax credit that allows energy companies to significantly reduce their severance tax bill. Most of the money generated from that move would go toward college scholarships.

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” Garfield County election judges Bronwyn Kelch and Nancy Selzer were enjoying the calm before the storm Tuesday afternoon.

By then, they had seen about 50 people who came in for early voting Tuesday morning. That number had doubled by the time the polls shut down later that night.

“We seem to have a little rush after lunch,” Kelch said. “We are expecting it to be busier the closer it gets to October 31st.”

Halloween is the last day of early voting for Garfield County, and County Clerk Jean Alberico agrees that the early voting lines will grow as the deadline closes in.

“I’m sure it will, that’s what we saw in the ’04 election,” Alberico said. “The closer you get to a deadline, we’re all the same, you know, we wait until the last minute to do it.”

Alberico said Thursday that her office had seen approximately 241 people cast ballots through Wednesday.

Not a great number, but it’s still better than nothing.

“It’s kind of like we expected,” she said. “It’s always slower the first week. We had a really good turnout on opening day.”

Kelch thought that one reason for low turnout was the hours in which the polling places are open: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. But that is going to change next week when early voting at both locations, the Glenwood Springs Courthouse room 101C and the Human Services Building on 14th Street in Rifle, will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.


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