7.27.2006

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious problem in Colorado and around the nation, and keeps growing as scammers think of new and creative ways of tricking their victims. The best defense against identity theft is to be aware of scams such as phishing (scam emails that ask for your bank account and other personal information) and phone calls pretending to be law enforcement or some other "trustworthy" institution, asking for your personal info over the phone. There are various other schemes such as theft of mail, check washing, etc.

The State of Colorado website has various resources identity theft, including the legal issues and how to protect yourself:
-Identity theft concerning motor vehicles/drivers license
-Issue Brief: Identity Theft with Social Security Numbers
-Office of the Attorney General, identity theft page
-Colorado Bureau of Investigation: What Should I Do if I Become a Victim of Identity Theft?

Searching "identity theft" in the state homepage will yield other helpful sites as well.

7.25.2006

Colorado Historic Markers

While traveling Colorado’s highways and back roads you may have noticed signs that say “Historic Marker Ahead” and thought that sounds interesting, but lacked the time to stop.

How long it would take to see every historical marker in Colorado? There are more than 220 Colorado Historical Society markers across the state. What once took days, even weeks, can now be done in seconds—at the click of a button! Search the database by location or keyword to view details, including the text, of each marker.

Colorado boasts one of the oldest historical marker programs in the nation. The Daughters of the American Revolution and the state legislature placed Colorado’s first known historical marker in 1907. From the 1920s the Colorado Historical Society took the lead in commemorating our state’s people, events, and issues by creating nearly 180 bronze and wooden markers. In 1995, the Society began placing a new generation of historical markers that present information along with full color photographs, maps and graphs. These markers give due consideration to topics neglected in earlier years—topics ranging from water rights to women’s suffrage.

7.21.2006

Public Utilities Commission investigats Xcel Energy

During last weekend's sweltering temperatures several power outages, some long lasting, occurred in the Denver metro area. The newspapers' headlines reporting the situation may have reminded some people of President's Day weekend last February when upslope cold front moved in, dropping temperatures far below what Xcel predicted for its power load requirements. At 08:47 on Saturday morning, February 18, 2006 Xcel Energy "initiated rolling blackouts due to a power supply shortfall of nearly 400 megawatts on its electric power system. More than 371,000 Colorado electric service customers lost power for an average of more than 41 minutes on one of the coldest days in several years." The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) asked Xcel Energy for a report on the cause of the outages, the length of time of the outages, and the poor communications the company provided to the people who called to report outages.
Xcel's reports and the PUC's staff response reports are found on the on the PUC web page.
Maybe these reports will be joined by reports explaining the July outages.

7.18.2006

Child Passenger Safety

Since becoming a first-time grandmother recently, I have taken an interest in child and infant safety while riding in an automobile. The laws are tougher since my own children were small, and with good reason. The Colorado’s Child Passenger Traffic Fatalities Under Age 16 report shows that 86% fatalities involved unrestrained passengers in 1995, with an improvement of 61% in 2002, but still too high. In 2003 changes to the child restraint law went into effect. You can read about the new requirements in CDOT’s brochure Colorado’s New Child Passenger Safety Law. CSU Extension has put out an informative publication on this topic, Child Restraint in Automobiles. Both should help people determine if they are providing the safest ride for their passengers. Additional information is listed below:

CDOT web site: Brochures Available for Printing or Viewing
Car Seat and Seat Belt Use by Age Group in Colorado (1990-2002)
Colorado State Patrol Child Passenger Safety information

7.13.2006

Highway Construction

This week, a driver in Massachusetts was killed when a concrete tunnel caved in over her car. The tunnel was a part of that state's massive construction project known as the "Big Dig." Colorado is undergoing its own highway project - "T-REX" - and CoSPL has information on the project from the Colorado Dept. of Transportation, including,
-T-REX Fact Book (serial) for 2002 and 2003
-A Trip Through T-Rex Central: Colorado Boulevard to I-25/I-225 and the I-225 Corridor
-A Trip Through T-Rex North: Broadway to Colorado Boulevard
-Wall Art on the T-Rex Project
-T-Rex Year in Review (serial) for 2002 - 2005

Although there was nothing the Massachusetts driver could have done to avoid the accident, it is still important to remember to use precautions when driving in construction zones. CDOT has published a guidebook, Work Zone Safety, that deals with these concerns.

7.11.2006

Trail Finder

Looking for a recreation trail for some summer family fun? Colorado's 40 state parks offer over 500 miles of trails for a variety of activities including hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, snowshoeing and off-highway vehicle use. Colorado State Parks of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources provides an online guide to statewide trails called "Trail Finder".

A wide variety of trail environments exist in the state such as:
  • On the eastern plains is the Bonney Prairie Nature Trail to learn about short-grass prairie.
  • In the southern part of the state is Navajo State Park with several trails including around Navajo Lake and the Sambrito Wetlands Area.
  • High mountain trails are accessible from Vega State Park near Grand Mesa on the western slope.
  • Near Ft. Collins is Lory State Park with 25 miles of trails to explore wildflowers to wildlife.

7.06.2006

Special Session Begins Today

A special session of the Colorado Legislature begins today, July 6. The session was called primarily to deal with the issue of illegal immigration, but some other issues will be covered as well. Colorado has not had a special session of the legislature since August 2002, when the the "hot" issue was wildfire and drought. That was the summer of the Hayman Fire and other disastrous fires that prompted Governor Owens to remark, "All of Colorado is burning." This year, the extra session on illegal immigration was spurred by reaction to the Colorado Supreme Court's decision on initiative 55, a ballot proposal that, if approved, would deny non-emergency taxpayer services to illegals. The court ruled that it could not be placed on the ballot, reasoning that the measure had more than one subject; but this decision drew many critics, including the governor. The 2006 special session will also deal with efforts to strengthen requirements that only U.S. citizens be allowed to register to vote. And, according to Governor Owens, other topics besides illegal immigration that will most likely be brought up this session include human trafficking and common law marriage.

For legislative calendars, bills, status of bills, and other information, see the Colorado Legislature's hompage. These items are also available from CoSPL.

7.05.2006

Emergency Water Supplies and Treatment

These days we all hear about two threats, terrorism and bird flu pandemic, and the need for preparing, including an adequate supply of water. We hear that we should store water, but no details are given. Colorado State University Extension has recently published Emergency Water Supplies and Treatment, which is a unique piece of information detailing how much, how long, and how to safely store water. It even tells you how to raid your hot water heater and your toilet tank! So if this is a topic that concerns you, take a look and print it out. It’s not enough to bookmark this information, as you may not have computer access as well!

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