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Friday, March 31st - Fire Danger Creeping Upward... 

The fire danger across eastern Colorado is again creeping slowly upward with parts of southeastern Colorado already reaching extreme danger levels. 

While recent precipitation across the area has brought temporary relief from the previous high fire danger, in the long term it will help the area situation very little. Should soaking rains not develop this spring, Coloradoans across the plains and foothills could be in for a very active fire season.

March, one of our two snowiest months, provided little in the way of heavy precipitation and lasting relief. Current forecast models are predicting lower than average precipitation and warmer than average temperatures in upcoming months, further increasing the threat of a dangerous fire season across the area.

As is always suggested, area residents should take steps now to make their homes and property as fire-safe as possible. Wildfires will occur this year, that is a fact. Preparedness is a homeowner's number one defense against these wildfires. Helpful information and recommended steps that you can take to make you home safer from wildfires can be found at

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Newly placed "Von Kaenal Way" sign.

Newly placed "Von Kaenal Way" sign.

Thursday, March 30th - Name Changes Confuse Area Residents... 

Several road names in the Cedar Park/Cedar Springs Subdivisions have recently been changed both confusing and angering some residents in the area.

These name changes were reportedly unauthorized by Larimer County and could potentially cause serious problems for emergency services responding to 911 calls in the area, as the new road names are not found on any area maps or in any current databases.

The road signs are reported as have being changed by members of the homeowners' association and SMERT (see update below). However, it is also being reported that this action was not voted on and approved by a majority of homeowners.

Unofficial statements from Larimer County Officials are that no sign changes have been authorized by the county, no new names have been decided on, nor has any entity yet been chosen to perform any changes, if and when any were to be be approved. We are currently awaiting an official statement on the issue from the county.

Current changes include the renaming of portions of Palisade Mt. to Von Kaenal Way, after a former association board member, who is currently living in Fort Collins. This may be in violation of County regulations, as it was reported that at a recent meeting at Big T Elementary School,  County Commissioner Glenn Gibson clearly stated, "no road may be named after a living person."

The filing of formal complaints to the County and State are reported as being considered by some area residents challenging the validity of the name changes, and also alleging that those who changed the signs without proper authorization are guilty of impersonating a government official, now possibly a Federal crime under the Patriot Act.

More information and official comments on this important community issue will be posted as it becomes available.

UPDATE: As of 8Am Saturday the official response from Larimer County is none. We will assume this is another case of ignore the problem and it will just go away, as has been the case in previous issues concerning the county. And we will remember the lack of concern for our community shown by the current County Officials at election time.

SMN has  received a statement from SMERT denying any involvement whatsoever in the changing of any signs or renaming of any roads. As quoted from the statement, "Our only concern is that whatever road name changes are made that we be made aware of them so we can continue to assist in getting authorized personnel to their destination without difficulties."

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Larimer County Hot Topics

Larimer County Hot Topics

Tuesday, March 28th - Proposed Land Use Changes Voted Down... 

In a unanimous decision the Larimer County Board of Commissioners on Monday evening voted down the proposed changes to the land use code by a vote of 3 - 0. 

The proposed changes would have limited the number of livestock and other animals permitted on properties in Larimer County. These changes were opposed by many county residents and animal organizations including the Larimer County Horseman's Association.

Official information regarding last night's decision and what will happen next is expected to be released shortly.

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Candidate for Larimer County Assessor, Barbara Liebler

Candidate for Larimer County Assessor,
Barbara Liebler

Monday, March 27th - Liebler Announces Candidacy For County Assessor... 

Long time Larimer County resident and businesswoman Barbara Liebler has officially announced her candidacy for the Office of County Assessor, as a Democrat on this November's ballot.

In a letter to Storm Mountain News, Liebler stated the following:

"The Larimer County assessment process has big problems. Larimer County had the highest number of 2005 property assessment protests of any county in Colorado. Larimer County's protests were nearly 15,000 while the next highest was Adams County at 9,000. We had even larger protest numbers under the previous assessor's 2003 numbers.

I am a candidate for Larimer County Assessor, and these two ineffective assessors are my opponents in this race. I can do better for the property owners of Larimer County.

We need Fair Value -- fair not only to those nearly 15,000 protestors but also to the frail, the timid, or the overworked who did not protest their high valuations. We need to be fair also to the schools, human services, county services, and county infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) whose funding suffers when property is undervalued.

We need Responsive Government -- an assessor's office that explains the process, makes it easy to research other comparable property sales, and welcomes citizen input in improving the assessment process.

We need Good Management in the assessor's office, smoothing the way for the appraisers to be out in the county looking at properties, improving the computer program used in assessments, and keeping all of the work flow aimed at the goal of fair value.

I can provide good management in this office. I know how to get things done in a government setting: I've served on the city councils of both Fort Collins and Loveland and, among other activities, was the Vice-Chair of Loveland Planning Commission and served on the Fort Collins Downtown Development Board. I was the founder and, for 11 years, the president of a successful Colorado corporation. I have experience with citizen participation, both as a citizen and as chair of the citizen input meetings for Loveland's 20-year planning effort.

Please see my website at or email me at, or call me in Fort Collins at 482-6648 to learn more about my campaign.  Assessor is too important an office to take lightly."

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Venus and crescent Moon rising on Saturday morning

Venus and crescent Moon rising
on Saturday morning.

Sunday, March 26th - Photo Of The Week... 

While most area residents were asleep, Venus and the crescent Moon made a wonderful early morning appearance, rising over Palisade Mountain on Saturday just before sunrise.

Venus, the jewel of the sky, was once know by ancient astronomers as the morning star and evening star. Early astronomers once thought Venus to be two separate bodies. Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. 

A Venusian day is 243 Earth days and is longer than its year of 225 days. Oddly, Venus rotates from east to west. To an observer on Venus, the Sun would rise in the west and set in the east.

Venus is the brightest object in the sky other than the Sun and Moon. This level of brightness is due to a dense layer of clouds surrounding the planet, reflecting nearly all of the sunlight that reaches Venus back into space. 

This dense atmosphere also produces a run-away greenhouse effect that raises Venus' surface temperature by about 400 degrees to over 740 K (hot enough to melt lead). Venus' surface is actually hotter than Mercury's despite being nearly twice as far from the Sun.

Often know as our "Sister Planet", Venus will remain visible in the eastern sky from our area until late summer.

Above: The path of Venus through the morning sky in 2006. Venus will remain a brilliant morning star until autumn. Credit: Terri Field of Astronomy Magazine.

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2006 Storm Mountain News