Delays in state grants trouble addiction nonprofits, Xcel adapts to prevent wildfires in Boulder area

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    AMHeadlines_03_11_2024 Kennedy Pickering

Xcel adapts to prevent wildfires in Boulder area

Xcel Energy has initiated a new protocol to turn off power lines.

The utility company said, via a March 2nd email, that their power lines will turn off when triggered by strong winds or fallen tree branches. Rather than turning back on automatically within a couple of seconds, Xcel will now wait until a crew member can check on the line before returning its power.

Xcel acknowledged last week that their power lines may have triggered the largest wildfire in Texas history.

Plaintiffs from Boulder claim Xcel power lines allegedly caused the 2021 Marshall fire, which became the most destructive fire in Colorado state history, destroying more than 1,000 structures.

The lawsuit against Xcel alleges sparks from a power line in high winds ignited dry vegetation. Xcel has denied the accusations.

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Delays in state grants trouble addiction nonprofits

Colorado nonprofits are accusing the state’s behavioral health administration: that repeatedly changing the rules and regulations around behavioral health grants and funding is making it impossible for them to stay open. 

The state created the Behavioral Health Administration two years ago to oversee mental health providers and addiction treatment programs across Colorado.  Since then, they have  faced criticism for employee turnover, failure to meet grant deadlines and a lack of leadership. The second head commissioner to oversee the program begins later this month according to the Denver post. 

The Behavioral Health Administration has given out more than $145 million in American Rescue Plan grants. The state has until the end of the year to designate a specific purpose for the money which they will then need to spend by 2027.

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Bill to protect victims of sexual assault clears another hurdle

The Colorado House of Representatives voted Tuesday to advance a bill that prohibits the use of hairstyle and clothing as evidence of consent in sexual assault cases.

According to The Daily Camera, attorneys have to submit such evidence in a separate hearing before trials, and judges will determine whether the evidence is relevant and to be used. The bill is related to the 2018 Civil Rape Shield Law that determines that a victim’s sexual history is irrelevant to the trial unless it evidently shows the defendant did not commit the crime.

The bill had 63 votes for and 2 votes against it and is now awaiting action at the Judiciary in the Senate.

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Employees at Denver Art Museum vote to unionize

A supermajority of eligible Denver Art Museum employees have voted to unionize.

The results came in late last week. Nearly 70% voted in favor of the new Denver Art Museum Workers United, or DAMWU, union, despite what union officials called an intense anti-union campaign from upper management. That’s according to the Denver Post.

The 120-59 vote makes the Denver Art Museum the first unionized art museum in Colorado. The museum released a statement saying they support their employees’ decision and are working towards a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The vote to unionize follows allegations of unfair practices in the museum, including failing to grant part-time workers full-time positions after their contract ended.

The Denver Art Museum Workers United will be represented by AFSCME, a labor union which represents 55 museums and 129 cultural institutions around the country.

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New moves in Dark Horse Redevelopment debate

The Dark Horse once again took center stage at the Boulder City Council.

Last Thursday, community members voiced their concerns about the proposed Williams Village II project, which would redesign the 2900 block at Baseline and as a result remove the legacy bar. The site would be demolished to create space for residential units – which the project leaders say could be rented by CU Boulder students – as well as commercial space, a hotel, and parking.

The Dark Horse has been in Boulder for five decades, at the same location.

The Williams family – who is part of the lead in the project – proposed to create an alternative site for the Dark Horse, after the project has received a lot of criticism.

Speakers during Thursday’s meeting also urged the planners to make the new housing units affordable, but according to The Daily Camera, the developers avoided giving specific figures

The Boulder City Council referred the project to the city’s Design Advisory Board, Transportation Advisory Board, and Environmental Advisory Board.

There, it is awaiting further review before a site review hearing can be scheduled.

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