1/29/2007

Blizzards and Livestock

Earlier this month ranchers in southeast Colorado faced a tough challenge -- a huge blizzard that stranded cattle and other livestock. Several weeks later, the ranchers are still seeking and receiving aid, and thousands of cattle and other animals were lost. Colorado State University's Cooperative Extension has published a series of fact sheets dealing with livestock issues, and two of the fact sheets are especially pertinent regarding the blizzard situation: Caring for Livestock During Disaster, which specifically addresses snow and ice storms, among other types of disasters; and Caring for Livestock After Disaster, which describes not only what ranchers should do, but also gives tips for the best way to treat and handle animals that have just been through emotionally traumatic experiences.

1/25/2007

Snow in Colorado

Colorado has had more than its share of snow this winter. A 1997, but still relevant, title in our collection, The Snow Booklet, by the Colorado Climate Center at CSU, offers interesting reading for the casual reader and for students on such topics as the science of snow, challenges in measuring, climatology of snow in the U.S., historical storms; plus answers such questions as “Why is snow white?” and “How big can snowflakes get?” You can borrow this title from our library.

The Colorado Climate Center has an interesting web site, also useful to students. The Learn About the Climate of Colorado page describes winters on the Colorado plains as “dry winters with occasional wind-blown snow.” Obviously this winter is not the norm. On this site also click on For fun: Q & A for answers to more climate-related questions.

1/17/2007

The Colorado Governor's Mansion

Colorado's executive mansion at 8th and Logan streets on Capitol Hill is a beautiful home with a long history. It was built in 1907 and designed by the well-known architectural firm Marean and Norton. Walter Cheesman, one of Denver's wealthiest businessmen who had made a fortune in real estate and utilities, commissioned the home, but died before its completion. So his widow and daughter lived there until the house was purchased by Claude Boettcher, another of Colorado's leading businessmen, and his wife, Edna, in the 1920s. The Boettchers hosted many fine parties in their mansion, and for some elegant events, lighting and accents in the home would be changed to match the color of Edna's dress.

After the Boettchers' deaths in the 1950s, the mansion's future was in question. The neighborhood was changing, and as Capitol Hill's days as an exclusive and wealthy neighborhood had passed, the mansion was no longer practical as a single-family home. Other neighborhood houses were being torn down or converted into apartments and office buildings. So the home was given by the Boettcher Foundation to the State of Colorado for use as a governor's residence, where not only could the governor's family reside, but the home could also serve as space for official functions. Despite initial opposition from the State, the mansion was finally accepted in 1959 and Gov. Stephen McNichols and his family moved in.

Many of the Boettcher's furnishings can still be seen in the mansion, while others have been brought in during succeeding governors' administrations. Under former First Lady Frances Owens, significant restoration was done along with redecoration of some of the rooms. Well-known furnishings in the mansion include a Louis XIV desk; a chandelier that hung in the White House during the Grant administration (when Colorado became a state); rare 18th century tapestries; and china from the USS Colorado.

To commemorate the Boettchers' legacy in the mansion, Governor Bill Owens in 2003 issued an Executive Order officially renaming it the "Governor's Residence at the Boettcher Mansion."

For more on the mansion, its history, and availability for special events, see the mansion's brand-new homepage.

1/12/2007

Illegal Immigrants and Employment Verification

Starting January 1st, HB 06S-1017 goes into effect. Employers must affirm within 20 days after hiring a new employee, that they have examined the legal work status of the new employee. In response, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has developed the "Affirmation of Legal Work Status" form. General information on the bill and it's impacts on employers can be found at: http://www.coworkforce.com/ice/FAQsHB061343HB06S1017.pdf

Many employers are wondering how to verify documents provided by new employees. The CDLE recommends using two free online databases:
1) The "Basic Pilot Program" - a site maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau; and
2) The "Social Security Number Verification Service" - maintained by the Social Security Administration.

1/10/2007

The Legislative Process

With the Colorado legislature starting up this week, citizens may understand the legislative process better by going to the General Legislative Resources web site. On this site is a chart, How a Bill Becomes a Law, illustrating the steps a bill takes throughout the House and Senate. A companion narrative, The Legislative Process, explains the process in more detail. Another link, Terms Used in the Legislative Process, is helpful in understanding the above sites. Additional information on testifying, term limits, Colorado Revised Statutes, and links to relevant state agencies make this a good starting point for understanding our law making process.

1/02/2007

Impact of Amendment 41

November's passage of Amendment 41, the "ethics in government" or "gift ban" amendment, has caused many public employees to wonder if they are included among those who are now unable to accept gifts over $50 (aside from gifts from family members on "special occasions," which are not defined in the amendment.) The newspapers have been full of stories debating whether or not children of police officers can accept college scholarships or university researchers may accept a Nobel prize. This past week the Colorado Attorney General's office issued a press release in response to inquiry by CU President Hank Brown on whether scenarios like these would indeed be the case. Also, following the election, Colorado's Office of Legislative Legal Services issued a legal memorandum stating their analysis of this issue, with similar findings. Both seem to find that the plain wording of the amendment does impose these restrictions on most public employees, however, they agree it is likely that legislation will be introduced to clarify some of the gray areas. Although they do not draw firm conclusions, these two resources will provide important information to public employees wanting to know how this new law will affect them.

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