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Week in Review

The Glenwood Springs City Council denied an application for a development at the Glenwood Meadows that would have been 100 percent retail.The application included an 88,000-square-foot retail building, a parking lot and a small restaurant on the 10-acre plot of undeveloped land between the Community Center and existing Meadows development. A major clothing store and major electronics goods store were likely choices for the retail building.”This application does not meet the intent of the (annexation agreement), and 100 percent retail is not acceptable,” said council member Kris Chadwick.A contentious point was a variance request that called for 100 percent retail use while an annexation agreement requires there to be a maximum of 25 percent retail in the lot.”There was a very strong desire by the community to have mixed use,” council member Dave Merritt said.But retail could bring more sales tax revenue to the city that could be used to fund other projects.Council Member Chris McGovern said retail has provided many amenities and benefits to the community, and that Glenwood Springs is fortunate to be a retail hub.The council ultimately voted 4-3 Thursday night to deny the application, finding it didn’t meet the intent of the original annexation agreement. Christensen, McGovern and Council Member Joe O’Donnell voted against denial.

A worker died Thursday morning in an accident on a natural gas well pad off County Road 301 between Battlement Mesa and Rulison.The accident occurred on an EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) drilling site, said EnCana spokesman Doug Hock. He said the victim was working for a subcontractor of Nabors Drilling, which is itself a contractor for EnCana.James Edward Ramsey, 47, of Texas died when he was struck in the back while moving a piece of boom equipment off County Road 301. His hometown could not be immediately confirmed.The county coroner’s office pronounced the victim dead at the scene, Hock said.Garfield County sheriff’s spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis said the accident remains under investigation.

GRAND JUNCTION – A U.S. Department of Energy official says it makes sense to maintain current drilling restrictions around the Project Rulison nuclear blast site while a future management plan for the area is considered.Tom Pauling, an environment team leader for the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management, declined to make any preliminary recommendations Tuesday for management changes based on a new DOE computer modeling study that analyzes the danger of drilling near the site.He told the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission at a meeting in Grand Junction that he doesn’t want to pre-empt scientific discussion of the study, and also wants to give COGCC staff a chance to study it.”The model is a tool. It’s an initial step. It’s certainly not the final word,” Pauling said.The long-awaited study found there was a 95 percent chance of no contamination by a key radioactive isotope at a hypothetical well producing gas just outside the current drilling exclusion area at the site.Project Rulison involved the underground detonation of a 40-kiloton nuclear bomb 8,426 feet underground on Sept. 10, 1969, outside Rulison and Battlement Mesa. The experiment was an attempt to free up commercially marketable quantities of natural gas, but the gas it produced proved to be too contaminated.The DOE prohibits drilling lower than 6,000 feet in a 40-acre area around the site. The COGCC requires a hearing for any gas wells proposed to be drilled within a half-mile of the site.The state notifies the federal government of wells to be drilled within 3 miles of the blast site. “I’m comfortable with that going forward until we can come to a more definitive path forward,” Pauling said.



A year after shutting the front doors of the Garfield County Courthouse to the public, county officials think they’ve come up with a way to reopen them.County Commissioner John Martin and Sheriff Lou Vallario said they’re working on a plan that would allow people to visit the clerk and recorder, assessor, treasurer and surveyor’s offices without having to go through the security check that was implemented last year at the courthouse’s east entrance.All those offices are located on the building’s second floor. Under the plan, people could get to that floor without going through security.The plan would involve using walls and other means to seal off the first, third and fourth floors from the second floor. People would still have to go through security to get to those other floors, which have court-related facilities.Vallario called the plan an innovative approach for properly securing court operations while addressing the concerns of people who dislike having to go through security for non-court functions such as buying license plates.Martin, who never liked the idea of closing the courthouse’s front doors, said the new plan came about as he and others who were rethinking the existing security system took a look around the building.”We just walked through and said, ‘I think we can secure it,'” Martin said.Part of the plan involves building a glass wall at the top of the third-floor stairs. Access beyond that point could be gained through a security card swipe system.

RIFLE – Times were far different when Aron Diaz graduated from Rifle High School in 1993.The local coal mining and oil shale industries had closed down over the preceding decade or so, making it harder to find good-paying jobs in the area, particularly right out of high school.”It took me 13 years to be able to move back here,” said Diaz, now executive director of Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.Today, jobs aplenty await high school graduates, as participants in the AGNC Energy Career Day at the Garfield County Fairgrounds were reminded Wednesday.But Diaz pointed out that the event was a career fair, not a job fair. The focus was on helping high school students consider employment opportunities that might serve them for decades, not just until Garfield County’s current energy boom slows down.The idea of thinking long-term is important to Tom Keenan, a career counselor at Palisade High School, which had about 40 students attend Wednesday’s fair.Job growth in the energy industry has skyrocketed, even since Keenan attended the AGNC’s first Energy Career Day a year ago.But with jobs paying $1,500 a week luring graduates, Keenan encourages students to not just look at pay, but what they might be passionate about doing as a long-term career. He also preaches the need for caution about natural resources jobs, after previously having taught in Granby, where high school graduates went on to lucrative work in molybdenum mining and then found good-paying jobs hard to find after the mine operations closed.



The plastic flamingo perched on a Midland Avenue planter will have to find a new home.The planters that met criticism from the get-go will be removed soon. They’re in shoddy condition and don’t seem to do much, if anything, in the way of slowing traffic or increasing safety.”The planters are in poor condition, and either need to be repaired, replaced or removed,” city manager Jeff Hecksel wrote in a memo. “Recent data on speeds in the area indicate the effect of the planters has worn off and they are having no effect on speed.”Planters were installed as a temporary measure in spots in the road along Midland Avenue in 2005 to slow traffic. They drew criticism from people concerned about safety and aesthetics. Two vehicles struck planters within weeks of their installation, although drivers appeared to adjust to them after that.City engineer Mike McDill said the planters would probably be removed next week or shortly after.The Glenwood Springs City Council voted Thursday night to remove the planters and proceed with engineering a design for other Midland Avenue traffic calming solutions not to exceed $250,000.Loris and Associates will design a plan for Midland Avenue. The end result should be all the necessary documents for the project to be put out to bid. It will include some public involvement process, but the exact scope of the design work may still be revised. Actual work is expected to begin in 2008 and continue for at least a couple of years.


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