The Home Front: The still-imprisoned ‘second character’ in a Colorado redemption narrative

Michael Clifton understands that he’s a secondary character in another man’s redemption narrative – the improbable story of Rene Lima-Marin, whose mistaken early release from prison led to rehabilitation, re-incarceration and now possibly freedom, if he can resolve some thorny immigration issues, reports The Denver Post. But while Lima-Marin attracted support from social justice advocates to legislators to the governor, Clifton – his co-defendant in two 1998 video store robberies – has continued to serve a 98-year sentence that many, including the trial judge, found disturbing. Now, after watching his childhood friend prevail in the state courts and receive an official pardon, Clifton wishes him nothing but the best. He also hopes all the attention might shine a light on his own circumstances.

Weld County commissioners on Monday sent the fundraising arm of its struggling college grant program to Upstate Economic Development, a nonprofit workforce development organization. Commissioners also agreed to lease county office space for $1 per year and will pay Upstate a 15 percent premium on top of paying staff salaries, reports The Greeley Tribune. The major shift comes nearly two years after Weld officials unveiled Bright Futures, a program that promised up to $3,000 per year for higher education to every Weld high school graduate, honorably discharged veteran or GED recipient.

A decade-old eminent domain case from Telluride could be reshaping Colorado’s local government dynamics and creating an new opening for land disputes to flare, reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. In 2008, the town of Telluride won a lawsuit that had gone to the Colorado Supreme Court, a divisive battle over development on a 570-acre stretch of private property on the coveted valley floor that is the gateway to town. Telluride was seeking to block development on this land and preserve its rural character, but this property was outside of the town limits. Nevertheless, Telluride moved to condemn the property and designate it as open space, battling construction of multimillion dollar homes and commercial development.

State officials are planning this year to conduct the latest in a series of periodic investigations into pesky underground coal fires along the ridge-like Grand Hogback formation, which stretches across much of northwestern Colorado, reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. The work will help the state formulate its latest plans for responding to some of the long-lived fires, which pose safety hazards that include the potential to touch off wildfires. That danger was driven home by the 2002 Coal Seam Fire, a wildfire in Garfield County’s South Canyon area that blew toward Glenwood Springs and destroyed some 30 homes.

The Thompson School board will discuss how to address facilities needs for the future and will vote on a proposal to sell advertisements on school buses at its Wednesday meeting, reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. Margaret Crespo, the district’s chief operations officer, will lead a discussion on what direction school board members want the master plan committee to take as they look at the maintenance, renovation and construction needs for growth within the district.

President Donald Trump’s recently-proposed 2018 budget, which would cut $4.5 trillion in federal spending over the next decade, has raised questions about the future of public broadcasting programs and what potential cuts could mean to Northern Colorado’s arts and entertainment scene, reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. The budget proposes to defund the National Endowment for the Arts by next year and eventually do the same to the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB), cutting $445 million from the entity that supports 1,500 television and radio stations and helps them subscribe to National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service programming. As its largest source of funding, CPB grants KRFC-FM roughly $80,000 a year, KRFC executive director Brian Hughes said.

A 45-year-old Longmont man was sentenced to 16 years in prison Friday, following his conviction of sexually assaulting boys at the church he had been a member at for about four years, reports The Longmont Times-Call. Jose Hernandez-Montero was found guilty in March of two Class 3 felony counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust as a pattern of abuse and one count of crime of violence. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the case came to light in October 2015 after a boy told his parents Hernandez-Montero had touched his private parts after a service at Calvary Church, 2101 Gay St.

Everyone at the University of Colorado seems to agree creating more programs designed to enhance a student’s first-year experience is a noble goal, reports The Boulder Daily Camera. The problems arise with implementation. Staff overseeing residential academic programs said the existing first-year dorm experiences are suffering from death by a thousand cuts. Provost Russell Moore dismisses the notion, saying he doesn’t know where his employees are getting this impression. After the unexpected closing of three residential academic programs in the fall, Sewall RAP director Eric Stade said the RAP community is shaken, fearful for the loss of their jobs and plagued by low morale that’s making the job all the more taxing.

Callie Rose Cowden was asleep in her studio next to her mobile home when it caught fire early Monday morning in Penrose, reports The Caon City Daily Record. Cowden and her 7-year-old German Sheppard, Caina, were both safe when the fire occurred, but the house is considered a complete loss. Penrose Fire Chief Calvin Sundermann said they responded to 990 Third St. in Penrose at about 3:30 a.m and took about an hour to extinguish the fire. He said it was an electrical fire.

After a day of four-wheeling, fishing or other frolicking in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, an unwelcome surprise awaits many motorists heading back to the big city. A traffic jam, reports The Gazette. A recent timing change to the signal at eastbound U.S. 24 and 31st Street at times produces a line of vehicles stretching west to the Manitou Springs exit. We realize it’s causing a little backup, said Michelle Peulen, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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