Big bucks in GMO campaign, market finds home, museum land announced, and more 


Big bucks in GMO fight

There's big money in the fracas brewing over state Proposition 105, which would require labeling of some genetically modified foods, or GMOs.

Well, at least one side has money.

The No On 105 Coalition is the issue committee that's opposing Prop 105. As of Sept. 10, it had raised over $1.62 million in contributions, and still had over $1.27 million in cash. In contrast, Right to Know Colorado GMO, the issue committee supporting the labeling, had raised just over $201,000 by Sept. 10 and had a little more than $14,000 in cash.

So who's so opposed to GMO labeling? Filings with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office show that PepsiCo gave the anti coalition $500,000, the J.M. Smucker Company gave $345,000, ConAgra Foods gave $250,000, and Smithfield Foods gave $200,000. Several other companies also gave tens of thousands to the campaign. — JAS

Public market finds a home

The Colorado Springs Public Market, which has remained in a conception phase since 2009, has announced a location that it aims to open sometime in 2015. In partnership with landholder Nor'wood Development Group, CSPM says to expect a mixed-use hub at 30 S. Prospect St., in the former Gazette building, just over a half-mile east of City Hall.

Many details remain forthcoming, and in fact the process is open to community input, says board chair Dave Anderson. He speculates that a restaurant and perhaps a brewery will likely join anchoring outfit Ranch Foods Direct. RFD plans to relocate its processing facility from 2901 N. El Paso St., and to tie into its remote mobile slaughtering units to form a truly local food-supply chain.

Anderson points to a 2012 Transition Colorado study titled "The 25% Shift" that examines "The Benefits of Food Localization for Boulder County." It finds that moving 25 percent of the way toward "fully meeting local demand for food with local production, processing and distribution" would generate nearly 2,000 new jobs and $12 million in tax revenue in Boulder County. A similar effort here, he says, will likely be a 10-year project for CSPM. "The increase in local wages and tax revenue, and the number of good jobs, is dramatic — for a very low level of investment," he says.

Dollar figures for the cost of the whole project also remain speculative, though an early feasibility study cited something around the $7 million mark. Renovation efforts on the 30,000-square-foot structure have already begun. View our IndyBlog for more. — MS

Museum land announced

Nor'wood Development Group on Saturday formally announced its gift of 1.7 acres of downtown property to the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame project, as the Independent reported last month.

Noting that his family has lived in the area for 100 years, Nor'wood president Chris Jenkins pledged in a release to "continue to leverage our assets and make intentional decisions, such as partnering with the one and only U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, because I am confident that our community's best days are ahead."

The site lies west of Sierra Madre Street where Vermijo Avenue ends, although the release said the final configuration will be decided by working with the museum designers, adjacent landowners and others.

Museum president Dick Celeste said in the release that the gift is significant and will create ties to downtown. — PZ

State wildfire money flows

The state has given $3.7 million in wildfire mitigation grants for 37 projects in 18 counties. Locally, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District received $90,000, Black Forest Together received $148,980, and El Paso County received $20,000. All of the grants require a 100 percent match.

This is the third round of 2014 grants to come out of the newly created Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant Program. It has spent $9.3 million across the state this year to mitigate non-federal lands along the "wildland-urban interface" — where the forest meets developed areas.

The program is part of the state's response to a rash of destructive wildfires that have claimed homes and businesses and left behind barren landscapes that are prone to flooding, including the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires.

"Colorado has endured more than its fair share of natural disasters," Gov. John Hickenlooper stated in a press release. "We continue to learn many valuable lessons, and one of them is that there is much we can do proactively to make our communities and residents safer." — JAS


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