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Weekly news wrap-up: Fracking, murder, and groundhogs


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It’s been a fast week for news in Boulder County, from fracking to murder convictions, so on this snowy Friday—whether you’ve braved the forecasts and trekked to work a little disgruntled, or stayed home and are fending off guilt that it’s not really all that bad outside—here’s a quick recap of top news in BoCo this week:

›› Fracking jockeyed for the top spot among news items this week (competing with the murder trial of Kevin McGregor, more on that below), starting with the news that the state’s top oil and gas regulator has decided to join the state’s top law firm representing oil and gas companies. Dave Neslin practically wrote Colorado drilling regulations and once he joins Davis Graham & Stubbs on March 1, he’ll be assisting well operators to navigate them. Late in the week, Boulder County announced that it is imposing a moratorium on oil and gas drilling by suspending development planning for drilling applications that are in the pipeline. The issue of local control over drilling operations is one of the many issues dividing the state. Local governments responding to citizen concerns about potential health impacts of fracking are powerless to ban the practice outright … and that’s just the way that oil and gas companies, as well as some state officials (including Neslin and Gov. John Hickenlooper) want to keep it. Still, cities and counties have the power to impose certain guidelines through land-use rules and several (including Longmont and Commerce City, to name just a few) have halted new approvals while studying what other tools they might have at their disposal. Or, as Boulder County officials explained about its moratorium in a press release Thursday: “This will give us time to make sure that, within the limits of our legal authority, we are able to mitigate local impacts from these activities and to maximize protection for the people and environment of Boulder County.” The county will hold a public meeting on March 1 at 4 p.m. in the Commissioners Hearing Room on the third floor of the Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl St. to get input from citizens.

›› Also late on Thursday, a jury in the first degree murder trial of Keven McGregor, accused of shooting and killing 20-year-old University of New Hampshire football player Todd Walker during a botched hold-up on The Hill was found guilty on all counts and immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole. The jury rejected the defense’s contention that McGregor accidentally shot Walker in a struggle over control of the gun. A Colorado Bureau of Investigation firearms expert testified earlier in the trial that evidence showed Walker could not have been shot from closer than five to six feet, casting doubt on the “grappling for the gun” theory. McGregor’s attorneys said they will appeal. See a comprehensive article about yesterday’s verdict in the Daily Camera here.

›› In the lightening round of lighter fare we have: Boulder Police arrested a very hungry man who gives a new perspective on folks who say “I’m going to destroy this meal” before scarfing into a plate of vittles … he’s accused of literally destroying (and eating) about $1,000 worth of prepared food he pawed through after breaking into the Alfalfa’s Market to satisfy a case of the late night munchies. / Judy Volc, the beloved storytime reader from the Boulder Public Library who was unceremoniously and arbitrarily fired from the volunteer position she’d held for more 50 years by new library Director Valerie Maginnis, essentially told Maginnis to pound sand when rejecting Maginnis’s feeble counter-offer intended to turn down some of the heat the decision has generated. Maginnis wanted Volc to act as a “greeter” at the library, for free. According to the Daily Camera, Volc responded by saying, “If I wanted to drive four or five miles to meet and greet, I would do it at Walmart and get paid.” BAM. / And lastly, while Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter, some rodent called “Flatiron Freddy” saw overcast skies in Boulder and prematurely called for the onset of spring. As we dig out from a nice winter drubbing less than 24 hours later, it’s easy to see that Freddy still has a to learn from Phil.

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