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Guilty Knowledge: One Year Later

Kara Mason returns to the Eiler’s neighborhood, one year after PULP’s seminal investigation as the community prepares to clean up the pollution form the Colorado Smelter.

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After almost two years of debate, community meetings and data collection, the Eiler’s neighborhood on Pueblo’s south side, near the site of the old Colorado Smelter, is finally being submitted to the National Priority List for elevated levels of lead, arsenic and other toxic contaminants.

City council was advised to send a letter to the governor requesting that the neighborhood be placed as an NPL site by Jan. 24. Though further testing requested by both the neighborhood and city council has not been published yet, City Councilwoman Sandy Daff, who represents the area, said it’s time to clean up.

The letter urged the governor’s approval, Daff said. It was unknown how long it would take for the governor to reply, Daff said the city wanted to guarantee they had enough time to receive the recommendations prior to the April list date.

“The site can be finalized in October 2014, but at proposal several other processes would begin at the same time because (the) EPA can begin to use some existing funding to begin what is called the Remedial Investigation.  It is important to note that getting community input will be part of all steps of the process,” said Sabrina Forrest, NPL coordinator for region 8 of the EPA.

Remedial investigation includes testing of the area for site conditions, determining the nature of the contaminant and addressing issues related to health and the environment.

A feasibility study is also done at this time, which is the development process of the cleanup.

Next, more community outreach is done. This is to educate the neighborhood on how to minimize exposure until the cleanup is complete, for example, washing hands, leaving dusty objects outside and frequent baths for kids and pets. There has also been talk about fencing and placing a sign around the slag pile stating there is hazardous material present.

“There would also be a compilation of existing data and data gap identification.  Detailed sampling plans would need to be developed to fill the data gaps, and those plans would be reviewed by the community too.  This data would help describe where site-related contamination is that needs to get cleaned up.  It would also explain where there are areas that do not need cleaning up,” Forest said.

It is likely this part of the process would take two to three years. Pam Kocman, a member of the Eiler Heights Neighborhood Association, said the community is urging a five-year timeline.

The NPL handbook states that 800 homes can be cleaned up per year, so Kocman said she has no reason to believe it should take more than five years for the entire process.

When Kocman started researching the process, she said the timeline was a scary aspect of listing. She and her neighbors were worried about job continuation that would keep the project going. To alleviate their worry, a citizen advisory board has been created, and nearly 20 of her neighbors have said they want to take part in it.

When the initial evidence from the Environmental Protection Agency was brought to city council’s attention, Daff said she was shocked, but since receiving that data, the city has been hesitant to list the neighborhood.

City council collectively said their reason for being hesitant was the evidence. While it was present, the data wasn’t conclusive enough.

In 2006, Professor of Biology Moussa Diawara sampled 33 sites across Pueblo. All 68 samples taken exceeded the carcinogen levels. However, Diawara concluded that further testing should be done, which would highlight the hotspots.

In 2010, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the EPA took samples from around the Bessemer neighborhood: 47 residential lots, three vacant lots and a frontage road near the old smelter site. Their findings concluded that lead levels were three times the average level for lead in Pueblo, and more importantly, the EPA had shown levels that met the numbers that proved the neighborhood could be listed.

Those elevated levels introduced a lot of fear words, said David Balsick of the Bessemer Association of Neighborhood Development. They brought up words like “cancer” and “toxic.”

He, along with a lot of other people, still doesn’t believe there’s reason for cleanup.

“I believe somebody has yelled fire in the theater without seeing the fire,” Balsick said. He explained that people have grown up and lived in the neighborhood, and they aren’t sick and they don’t have cancer.

Recently, however, Daff said she saw a shift of opinion from the people living in the area.

“More people were saying fix it than fight it,” she said. An additional study from Diawara found that residents in the neighborhood were twice as likely to have elevated levels.

After meeting a man in the neighborhood with a child with levels of just below 4.5, the toxic level, Daff said she’d made up her mind about the clean up. It had to happen.

Though the EPA can only take care of the exterior of the home, Kocman and Daff both said it was decided that if a clean-up was going to happen, they were going to clean the interiors too.

The city is currently working with Housing and Urban Development to find money to help fund that separate process, which can include replacing pipes and walls covered in toxic lead paint.

“I’m proud of the residents. We are coming together and we’re going to make sure it’s done right,” said Kocman. She, along with Daff, said the biggest concern was the children’s health; that’s why it was decided to take care of both the inside and outside of each home.

They made it clear they do not want a recontamination.

It is still unclear how much it will cost to rid the inside of homes of any contaminants, but the price tag on the exterior and soil is around $20 million, Daff said.

All agreed delving into the NPL process has been a lot of work and has taken a lot of time, but they don’t regret any of it. They said they wanted to do it right and not rush into something they weren’t 100 percent certain about.

The three say they are putting their trust in the EPA to do what’s right for the neighborhood.

“We won’t be disappointed if they live up to our expectations,” Balsick said.

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet

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Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.


Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.


Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.


Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days

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There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter

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WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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