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Gazette Premium Content SUNRISE: Uncertain future for Fort Lyon appears settled

THE GAZETTE - Updated: May 7, 2013 at 8:34 am

DENVER - A plan to turn a former prison in southeast Colorado into a treatment center for the homeless appears to have cleared a final hurdle.

The Colorado Senate late Monday signed off a bill that included renovating the mothballed Fort Lyon Correctional Facility near Las Animas as a treatment center for long-term homeless, including homeless veterans.

The prison renovation was touted by Gov. John Hickenlooper as the best possible use for the century-old prison. But legislative budget-writers rejected the governor's request for $6 million over two years amid concerns the facility needs more renovation than advertised and isn't a good location for a homeless treatment center.

After a back-and-forth with the House over Fort Lyon funding, the Senate changed course Monday and sent the measure to Hickenlooper's desk.

 

WEATHER

The National Weather Service forecasts scattered showers, mainly after 5 p.m., with a high of 66 Tuesday in Colorado Springs. Expect an overnight low of 44.

 

AROUND COLORADO

House gives initial OK to immigrant licenses

DENVER (AP) - Immigrants in Colorado illegally are closer to having a chance at getting driver's licenses, a proposal Democrats say is aimed at improving safety on the roads, although Republicans remain skeptical.

The Colorado House gave preliminary approval to the bill Monday, advancing the measure to a final vote in the House. Proposals like Colorado's have gained momentum this year, with Nevada and Connecticut considering similar measures, and Oregon last week signing a bill into law.

Democrats have argued everyone on the roads should know the rules and be insured, and that immigrants are already driving now, regardless of their legal status.

'This bill allows for responsible people to follow the law. This isn't about extending citizen rights to noncitizens, ' said Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, a sponsor of the bill.

The licenses would be labeled to say they are not valid for federal identification, and can't be used to vote, obtain public benefits, or board a plane. Immigrants would have to prove they're paying state and federal taxes and have an identification card from their country to get driver's licenses.

New Mexico, Illinois and Washington allow driver's licenses for those illegally in the country. Utah grants immigrants a driving permit that can't be used for identification.

Marijuana regulation far from settled

DENVER (AP) - Colorado lawmakers have put off marijuana legalization until the last possible minute - and now they're facing some big deadlines to finish pot regulation debates.

The Senate had until midnight Tuesday to take action on separate bills to regulate and tax the newly legal drug. Those votes were derailed Monday by a short-lived attempt by leaders from both parties to seek possible repeal of recreation retail pot sales. The effort had the support of most senators, but it fell short amid threat of a possible filibuster and almost certain defeat in the House.

The Senate also needed to take a final vote on a controversial measure to set a marijuana blood limit for drivers. The driving bill won initial Senate approval Monday, after several defeats.

Unusually cool, wet April helps snowpack

DENVER (AP) - Colorado's snowpack is getting closer to normal after an unseasonably cool and wet April.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service said Monday that snow surveys on May 1 showed the statewide snowpack percentage climbed to 83 percent of the median, up from 74 percent on April 1.

The agency says peak snowpack totals for the state weren't reached this year until April 24, or more than two weeks later than the long-term average date of peak accumulation.

The storms that hit northern Colorado in April largely missed southwest Colorado, where snowpack levels remain far below average.

Melting snowpack helps provide water for municipalities and ranches to get through the summer. The NRCS says statewide reservoir storage volumes were 74 percent of average as of May 1.

Ethics panel says Gessler can form defense fund

DENVER (AP) - The state's ethics commission says Secretary of State Scott Gessler can establish a legal defense fund, as investigations continue into whether he improperly used taxpayer money to attend GOP events.

The Denver Post reports (http://bit.ly/16cHiKp ) the commission voted 3-2 Monday to allow him to form the fund, made of private contributions. The panel's two Democrats voted against it.

The Denver District Attorney and the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission are investigating Gessler's use of money from his office's discretionary fund to attend a conference of the Republican National Lawyers Association during the week of the Republican National Convention in Florida.

Gessler has denied wrongdoing.

Colorado Mountain College grants new degrees

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS (AP) - The Colorado Mountain College system has graduated its first class of bachelor's degree candidates.

Three years ago, former Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill allowing Colorado Mountain College to offer a limited number of bachelor's degrees after the college said there was a lack of institutions offering four-year degrees in north-central Colorado.

In 2011, the college started offering bachelor's degrees in business administration and sustainability studies. Over the weekend, bachelor's degrees were awarded to dozens of students who earned them after transferring in with previous college credits or associate degrees.

Colorado Mountain College has 11 locations.

Theater shooting suspect's lawyers file arguments

CENTENNIAL (AP) - Lawyers for the Colorado theater shooting suspect want heightened standards of fairness and reliability applied throughout his case, now that prosecutors say they intend to seek the death penalty.

James Holmes' lawyers said in court documents filed Monday that they want a hearing on the issue. They say prosecutors oppose their arguments.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a theater attack July 20.

His attorneys say heightened standards are constitutionally required in death penalty cases at trial, not just during sentencing, so that there is certainty that a jury's verdict is sound. They mention an Alabama death-penalty case in which the U.S. Supreme Court said unreliability was introduced when jurors weren't told they could've convicted a defendant of a lesser offense.

Denver chef, Boulder restaurant win food awards

DENVER (AP) - A Denver chef and a Boulder restaurant are among winners of awards from the James Beard Foundation this year.

The James Beard Foundation on Monday honored Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja in Denver as one of the top regional chefs in the country. Jasinski won the honor for the Southwest region.

The foundation also recognized Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder with its award for 'outstanding wine program. '

Editor gets death threats after anti-NRA column

AURORA (AP) - The editor of a Denver-area newspaper is receiving death threats for a column comparing the National Rifle Association to terrorists.

Dave Perry is editor of the Aurora Sentinel. He wrote on April 25 that the NRA's role in blocking congressional gun control legislation was 'a clear act of terrorism and treason. '

The newspaper says it received tens of thousands of angry calls and emails over the piece, and some of them were threatening. The newspaper says its site was also apparently hacked Monday.

Managing Editor Aaron Cole says the newspaper reported the threats to Aurora police on Monday.

The Sentinel covers the Denver suburb of Aurora, the location of last year's mass shooting at a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70.

Rockslide leaves truck-sized boulder on Colo. 133

PAONIA (AP) - Colorado transportation officials say it may be later this week before they reopen Colorado Highway 133 south of McClure Pass after a rockslide left at least one rock the size of dump truck on the road near Paonia Reservoir.

The Colorado Department of Transportation closed Colorado 133 Sunday morning about 13 miles south of McClure Pass after about seven or eight rocks fell from the hillside. The rockslide left a hole about two feet deep, 12 feet long and 10 feet wide in the road.

The highway closure means people traveling between Paonia and the Roaring Fork Valley will need to take a detour of about 140 miles.

Bury suspected Boston bomber in Denver-area?

AURORA (AP) - The founder of the organization that built Colorado's largest mosque is offering to bury suspected Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Denver-area Muslim cemetery.

Sheikh Abu-Omar Almubarac said Monday he will pay for a traditional Muslim burial - no headstone, monument or casket - at a plot at a Muslim cemetery in Denver or Bennett.

Almubarac refused to say which one out of concern for 'undue publicity. ' He says he'll bury Tsarnaev as long as his family can get the body to Denver.

Almubarac incorporated the Colorado Muslim Society in the late 1960s but made his offer independently of the organization.

Tsarnaev's uncle Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Md., has been unable to bury his nephew in Massachusetts because of protests.

Almubarac says only God can judge Tsarnaev.

  

TODAY IN HISTORY

In 1789, the first inaugural ball was held in New York in honor of President George Washington and his wife, Martha.

In 1824, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, had its premiere in Vienna.

In 1825, composer Antonio Salieri died in Vienna, Austria.

In 1833, composer Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany.

In 1840, composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, Russia.

In 1915, nearly 1,200 people died when a German torpedo sank the British liner RMS Lusitania off the Irish coast.

In 1942, U.S. Army Gen. Jonathan Wainwright went on a Manila radio station to announce the Allied surrender of the Philippines to Japanese forces during World War II.

In 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, ending its role in World War II.

In 1954, the 55-day Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam ended with Vietnamese insurgents overrunning French forces.

In 1963, the United States launched the Telstar 2 communications satellite.

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford formally declared an end to the 'Vietnam era. ' In Ho Chi Minh City - formerly Saigon - the Viet Cong celebrated its takeover.

In 1992, the latest addition to America's space shuttle fleet, Endeavour, went on its first flight.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush ordered the lifting of sanctions against Iraq, and called on members of the U.N. Security Council to do the same. The White House announced President Bush had chosen New Mexico oilman Colin R. McMillan to be secretary of the Navy and Air Force Secretary James Roche to replace the dismissed secretary of the Army, Thomas White. (However, McMillan died in an apparent suicide in July 2003, while Roche's nomination languished in Congress before being withdrawn in March 2004.)

Five years ago: President George W. Bush, addressing the Council of Americas, said Cuba's post-Fidel Castro leadership had made only 'empty gestures at reform ' as he rejected calls for easing U.S. restrictions on the communist island.

One year ago: Education Secretary Arne Duncan broke ranks with the White House, stating his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage one day after Vice President Joe Biden suggested on NBC that he supported gay marriage as well. Vladimir Putin took the oath of office as Russia's president in a brief but regal Kremlin ceremony.

 

HAPPENINGS

-- Honors Convocation Celebration, 11 a.m., Colorado College, Shove Memorial Chapel, 1010 N. Nevada Ave., free.

-- Chamber Orchestra Concert, 7:30 p.m., Colorado College, Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache La Poudre St., free.

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