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Early voting starts Saturday 

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Early voting starts Saturday

You didn't bother asking for a mail-in ballot, but you also don't want to deal with any lines at polling places for the Aug. 12 primary.

No problem. You can take advantage of early voting, which happens Saturday, Aug. 2, and then Monday, Aug. 4, through Friday, Aug. 8, at Centennial Hall (200 S. Cascade Ave.), Chapel Hills Mall (1710 Briargate Blvd.) and the Citadel (750 Citadel Drive East). Hours for those days will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Centennial Hall and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the malls. Besides being a registered voter, you'll need valid proof of identification.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 12. For info and locations, go to car.elpasoco.com/election or call the county election department at 575-VOTE (8683). RR

Beat cops set for Nevada
City Councilor Jerry Heimlicher confirms he has secured enough private donations to fund policemen walking the street on South Nevada Avenue, starting Friday night, Aug. 1.

Heimlicher tells the Independent that, as of Tuesday, donations totaled $6,000, enough to pay for the added police presence, which is hoped to ease ongoing crime problems in the area. RR

Proposed roadless rule unveiled
A proposed rule for Colorado roadless areas that conservationists say is weaker than the federal rule it would replace was released for a 90-day comment period last week.

Local wilderness and forest advocates traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to speak against the proposal at public hearings. They argue that the rule, if approved, will weaken protections for more than 4 million acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Colorado.

President Bill Clinton's administration adopted a national rule in 2001 protecting roadless areas in the nation's national forests from development. Though the rule still stands, it faced challenges soon after President George W. Bush took office, prompting some states to start their own rule-making processes. Conservationists say the state rule is unnecessary and could open the door to mining, drilling, logging and other activities.

Open houses in Colorado, where written comments will be taken, have tentatively been scheduled, with one set for Aug. 18 in Pueblo on the Colorado State University-Pueblo campus. Times have not been announced. AL

CSU-Pueblo going more solar
Colorado State University-Pueblo has formed a partnership to build a three-acre system of solar-electric panels to produce at least 10 percent of the power used at the campus.

The 1-plus-megawatt system, to be built this fall, is the result of a partnership including the school, Black Hills Energy (formerly Aquila) and BP Solar, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. CSU-Pueblo officials believe it could be the largest such solar-power project on any college campus in America.

BP Solar is installing and operating the system, which should be ready by late fall, then selling the electricity to the university at low rates.

CSU-Pueblo President Joe Garcia told the Chieftain the solar array "will serve as a strong statement about the university's commitment to supporting sustainable energy resources." RR

Mail ballots pour in
El Paso County election officials have received 26,000 mail-in ballots for the Aug. 12 primary elections, and 40,000 more are either in the hands of voters or on their way to them.

The request deadline for voters wanting a ballot mailed to them is Aug. 5. Primary voters must be affiliated, Republican or Democrat, to participate in either of those parties' primaries. Unaffiliated or independent voters can declare a party at their polling places or when they request a mail-in ballot.

Republicans in El Paso County will select candidates for district attorney and for the U.S. 5th congressional district. Depending on where they live, residents could also vote in one of three state legislative races.

Liz Olson, the county's election manager, anticipates 85 percent of mail-in ballots will be returned, setting the stage for a high rate of participation in the primary. AL

China limiting Net for media
Media members covering the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, including writers and broadcasters from the United States, already are encountering blocks on Internet sites as the Chinese government limits access.

Contrary to earlier statements that media at the Olympics would have unfettered Internet access, early arrivals at the Main Press Center in Beijing, as well as competition sites, are discovering they cannot open sites that might provide negative information about China. Some examples cited in coverage say media cannot perform searches for sites including Tibet or Taiwan in their address. There is no access to the Web site for Amnesty International.

Also, bloggers are reporting that inside the Beijing Main Press Center, where thousands of media will work, Internet access is costly. Media reportedly are being charged more than $1,000 (U.S. dollars) to obtain Internet access for August. Similar access at the 2004 Olympics in Athens cost about $50.

There was no comment from U.S. Olympic Committee officials. RR

Compiled by Anthony Lane and Ralph Routon.

  • Also: Early mail-in ballots, Nevada's beat cops, solar at Pueblo and more.

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