Category: Environment

CU Anschutz environmental toxicologist: Ascent Classical Academy’s lead remediation will have to meet tighter EPA standard of 3 micrograms/sq. ft. for floors, instead of the current standard of 10 mcg/sq. ft.

The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school eventually, after missing its initially-proposed September 5 date for occupancy. The gun club signs were still on the building as of early August.

Michael Kosnett, M.D., M.P.H., at CU Anschutz School of Public Health in Aurora, CO, an expert in medical toxicology, occupational and environmental health who specializes in occupational and environmental toxicology of heavy metals, including lead, weighed in about the type of post-remediation lead testing that should be used at the Ascent Classical Academy building (swipe or bulk testing), and what the residual lead levels are allowed to be in this situation.

Lead is a highly poisonous element that, according to UNICEF, is responsible for 1.5% of global deaths. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects.

The building set to house the new Ascent Classical Academy charter school at 545 31 Road was formerly used as an indoor firing range for seven years. This left it contaminated with diffuse lead dust which, if not adequately remediated, would pose a lead poisoning hazard to occupants, and a special threat to children. Ascent says the building has been remediated, but the post-remediation report Acsent published on its website (pdf) in August showing the lead levels that remain in different areas of the building show much of the building has not yet been remediated to acceptable levels.

Health effects of lead poisoning on children

There was also confusion among public health experts about the appropriate type of lead testing to be used in this situation, after a Colorado Department of Public Health employee who specializes in closed shooting ranges said swipe testing was an invalid method in this circumstance, and bulk testing should have been used instead.

Dr. Kosnett looked at Ascent’s post-remediation testing report (pdf), and wrote,

“Surface contamination inside buildings is typically assessed by wipe testing. Bulk sampling typically applies to soil. I agree with you that evaluation of residual contamination of the building and its contents, including the air ducts and the HVAC system, is of crucial importance. My recommendation is that the building owner independently consult with an industrial hygienist who is experienced and certified to  assess residential and commercial buildings for lead contamination. I can recommend Joe Gifford, CIH[Certified Industrial Hygienist] of AGW (formerly AG Wassenaar). I have collaborated with Mr. Gifford on projects for 25 years. He has considerable expertise. Mr. Gifford can not only assess the contractor’s report, but also conduct his own independent evaluation.”

Ascent’s building will have to meet an impending new and tighter standard for lead contamination of indoor floors in areas occupied by children

Dr. Kosnett added that,

“EPA, in response to a lawsuit, announced on August 1, 2023 that it is planning to reduce the clearance level for [lead for] indoor floors in areas occupied by children from 10 µg/ft2 to 3 µg/ft2. Therefore, the school should seek to meet the impending, more protective standards.”

The new rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is called Reconsideration of the Dust-Lead Hazard Standards and Dust-Lead Post-Abatement Clearance Levels, and it was published in the Federal register on August 1, 2023. It says that if a lead abatement is performed at a property, then “EPA’s regulations set requirements for doing so.”

The proposed rule sets a new, much lower limit of 3 mcg/sq. ft. instead of 10 mcg/sq. ft., for residual lead, and it will apply to elementary and secondary schools.

EPA proposed the change because,

“Lead exposure has the potential to impact individuals of all ages, but it is especially harmful to young children because the developing brain can be particularly sensitive to environmental contaminants. Because of this, reducing childhood lead exposure is a priority for both EPA and the Federal Government,” and “[B]enefits include avoided adverse health effects in children, including decreased attention-related behavioral problems, decreased cognitive performance, reduced post-natal growth, delayed puberty, and decreased kidney function.”

Once a proposed new rule is published in the Federal Register, the public has several months to comment on it. This rule is open for public comment until October 1, 2023. After that, EPA will consider the public comments before issuing the final rule in the Code of Federal Regulations, so the rule could be in place within a few months.

Valley foxes turning up dead

Emaciated, dead fox found near the Grand Valley Canal at 26 Road, seen August 1. (Photo: Anne Landman)

Three dead foxes have been reported in the Grand Valley within the last 6 weeks, all looking like they just dropped dead in their tracks, without overt injuries or bleeding. Two have been reported to the Colorado Department of Wildlife.

The first one was spotted August 1 on the south side of the Grand Valley Canal just east of 26 Road.

A second dead fox was spotted August 28 in the vacant lots behind Crossroads Blvd., also near the Grand Valley Canal:

Residential trash services vary widely in cost

City of Grand Junction garbage truck

Thinking of shopping for a new residential trash service? There may be good reason.

Republic Services recently bought Monument Waste and Rocky Mountain Sanitation, but the consolidation of the companies reduced competition and did NOT result in lower prices for customers.

The following prices are for one 96 gallon can, picked up once a week in the 81505 zip code, in 2023:

Waste Management ….. $40.74/month

Republic Services ….. $43.56/month for the first year, plus a $50.00 deposit, plus $15 to deliver the can, and after the first year the rate increases to $48.00/month

City of Grand Junction trash service ….. $19.75/month, and they supply the can.

There is a privately owned service called 970 Trash Wizard, but their routes are full and they aren’t currently accepting new customers.

The City of Grand Junction only services residences inside City limits, but they are by far the most efficient, with one operator driving an automated truck that hoists, empties and replaces each can automatically, without any wear and tear on a human being. The City is also implementing a new residential recycling service as well, phasing it in area by area, which will allow customers to recycle plastics #1, #2 and #5, as well as fibers like newspaper, clean cardboard, magazines and egg cartons, all for no extra cost for trash customers.

Lead contamination a concern for new Ascent Classical Academy charter school, which plans to open in August at the former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building

 The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school this August. The sale of the building closed recently. It was listed for $7 million.
Ascent Classical Academy, a new charter school, plans to open in Grand Junction in August, 2023, in the building at 545 31 Road, that was formerly the Rocky Mountain Gun Club.
Parents contemplating sending their kids to this school should be concerned.
The building was used as an indoor shooting range for seven years, closing in 2021.
Lead contamination is a well-established problem at shooting ranges.


Derec Shuler, CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, in 2018 (Photo: YouTube)
Every time a bullet is fired, a puff of fine lead dust is emitted that gets onto floors, walls, countertops, door handles, the shooter’s clothing and, at indoor shooting ranges, into the ventilation system. Lead particles can be inhaled and ingested with food and drink. Elevated blood lead levels have repeatedly been found in recreational shooters who visit shooting ranges regularly, as well as employees of these ranges. Being exposed to lead contamination on an ongoing basis can have dire health effects. Professional remediation of these sites is an absolute necessity before they can be safely used for other activities.
The adverse effects of lead contamination on human health, especially on children, are well-documented.
According to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on lead poisoning, “there is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.”
WHO writes:
Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health impacts, particularly on the development of the brain and nervous system. Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage.
This situation should be of concern to parents contemplating sending their kids to this school, especially since the District 51 School Board’s conservative majority voted recently to cede control of the charter school to the Charter School Institute, an out of town, state-level organization, as a way to bypass local input and forego control over it.
No one is taking responsibility or answering questions about possible lead contamination at the site.
I contacted ReMax realtor Amy Rogers, whose name appeared in an online ad for the old Rocky MountainGun Club building. Rogers said she was not the listing agent for the property, and said “It is always the buyer’s responsibility to do the due diligence. Perhaps reach out to the buyer?” She gave me the number of the selling agent, Ray Ricard, but Mr. Ricard did not return a voicemail left on March 21 asking for contact information for the buyer. I also left a voicemail on 3/21 for the CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, Derec Shuler, at (720) 728-6300, ext. 1, the number posted online, since he would likely have to have approved the purchase of the building for the school, but Shuler did not answer the voicemail as of the writing of this article.
The community deserves to know if the Ascent Classical Academy’s organizers are aware of the lead contamination problem at sites used as indoor shooting ranges, and that this problem is highly likely to exist at the property they just purchased for the school. Parents and the public should know if Ascent has a plan in place to remediate the building prior to it opening as a school this August, and if they plan to verify that the remediation was effective enough to assure the building is safe enough for children and adults to inhabit for hours every day for years on end.

Open burning still a scourge in Mesa County in 2022


It’s a beautiful spring day in Mesa County, and once again the time of year when palls of thick smoke from open burning envelope entire neighborhoods, turning beautiful, fragrant, warm spring days into days of physical illness, suffering and despair for Grand Valley residents.

With the biggest medical center between Denver and Salt Lake and a wide variety of retirement housing, Grand Junction has long been an attractive area for retirees. But many people who settle here are unaware of the archaic open burning tradition here that exacerbates health problems and can pose an extraordinary health threat to sensitive people with illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis and those who use supplemental oxygen for lung and heart disease.

Rep. Boebert promotes herself while I-70 shutdown causes national emergency

Boebert promotes herself at the Rifle County Fair Demolition Derby August 2 while the nearby shutdown of I-70 chokes off the flow of supplies, gas, mail, groceries and other commerce to and from her district.

CD-3 House Representative Lauren Boebert was busy making a video of herself at the Rifle Demolition Derby August 2 while at the same time Colorado Governor Jared Polis was declaring a state of emergency and requesting a federal disaster designation in her district due to the shut down of I-70, the major east-west artery that supplies groceries, gas, tourism, mail and other key commerce to Boebert’s district on Colorado’s western slope. The shutdown of I-70 is also hampering national commerce, hence Gov. Polis’ request for a federal disaster declaration.

Boebert didn’t even mention in her video the major highway disaster unfolding nearby.

Once-pristine Hanging Lake defiled by mudslides and debris

Photo of Hanging Lake taken yesterday by a Denver-based CBS News helicopter that was covering the I-70 mud/debris flows. (Photo credit: CBS)

A CBS News helicopter flying over I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to film the mud and debris slides yesterday posted a devastating photo of Hanging Lake on Twitter that shows the once amazingly pristine, crystal-clear lake now full of muddy water.

The the amazement of many, Hanging Lake survived the massive Grizzly Creek fire unscathed last year, but it has taken a serious hit this summer from the thunderstorms that are now washing massive amounts of debris and mud down the mountainsides.

In Facebook video update, CDOT says Glenwood Canyon has 10 different debris slides between No Name and Dostero

CDOT photo of Glenwood Canyon today

Upwards of ten separate debris slides occurred last night in I-70 in Glenwood Canyon between No Name and Dostero as a result of thunderstorms, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported in a live video update on Facebook at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.

Bear seen this morning near 27 and G Roads

Photo provided by neighbor in the area of 27 and G Roads (via Nextdoor Network)

Neighbors on the Nextdoor Network report seeing a young bear wandering around the neighborhoods near 27 and G Roads and on Horizon Glen, off Horizon Drive between 7th and 12th Streets, this morning, Monday, August 17, around 11:00 a.m.

If you live in the area, beware! Bring in trash cans if possible.

Ray Scott trounced in Republican Assembly

Ray Scott

Republican State Senator Ray Scott got only 107 out of 349 total delegate votes cast for County Commissioner in yesterday’s Mesa County Republican Assembly. Scott, who is running for the District 1 commissioner seat, is seeking to abandon his state senate seat halfway through his term and seize the job of County Commissioner instead, which would pay him three times as much ($30k vs. $90k/ year).

Scott got crushed at the assembly by Cody Davis, former chair of the Grand Valley Drainage District, who won 231 votes. Even with that miserable result, though, Scott will still be able to appear on the primary ballot in June.

Modern-day Republicans oppose progress

Results of a news quiz printed in today’s Daily Sentinel demonstrates the backwards thinking that is the hallmark of conservative, right-wing Republicans.

A short blurb in the Sunday, Feb. 8, 2020 Daily Sentinel offers a lesson on why Republicans are such harmful elected officials.

The Sentinel has a regular weekly news quiz on Fridays, and gives the results in the following Sunday paper. An item today stood out for what it demonstrates about the ramifications of conservative Republican views not just for the western slope, but for society.

History shows that if Republicans had their way in the last century, most of America wouldn’t have electricity.

Citizens protest Pendley at new BLM office in G.J.

Protest Jan. 2 at BLM’s new offices on Horizon Drive.

About 35 people turned out in 27 degree weather to protest a visit from Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) William Perry Pendley, a right wing anti-government zealot who was appointed to head the BLM without Senate approval.

Pendley was scheduled to visit the new Grand Junction BLM office on the morning of its first opening day.

The protest was at the BLM’s new offices at 760 Horizon Drive, which is also the same building that houses the corporate offices of oil and gas purveyor Chevron.

Why I voted “no” on Proposition DD

Proposition DD on the November 5 ballot would legalize gambling on amateur and professional sports and tax the proceeds at a rate of 10% to pay for “water projects,” purportedly projects proposed in the Colorado Water Plan.  I wasn’t sure how to vote on Prop DD until I did some research on it and put some thought into. What I found convinced me to vote “no.”

Here’s what I found out:

Sen. Ray Scott’s tweet opposes progress and planning for future

Ray Scott’s tweet lamenting planning for the future, and indicating he can’t wait for such folly to end

Is Republican State Senator Ray Scott concerned about Colorado’s economy and workforce?

It sure doesn’t look like it, judging from his twitter feed.

On September 4, Scott posted a tweet that said “2022 an’t come fast enough.” It was his response to an announcement that Governor Polis had just created a new government office to deal with pressing new problems facing Colorado’s workforce. Scott’s tweet referred to the year when Governor Polis’s first term in office will be over.

Sen. Scott tweeted his disdain Governor Polis’ newly-created “Office for the Future of Work,” announced September 4.

Sen. Scott either 1) failed to investigate the need for this office, or he 2) doesn’t care what’s going to happen to Colorado workers in the near future if we fail to plan for coming trends.

Job openings with the county pay $87,500/year plus benefits and require no experience

Salaries for each of the three Mesa County Commissioners for the month of June, 2019

Mesa County has two job openings right now that pay $87,300/year gross salary with additional generous perks and benefits, and that require absolutely no experience and no required level of educational attainment. That’s a pretty good wage in Mesa County for someone with no experience and no particular educational attainment, since the wages here are so low compared to the rest of the state. (The average weekly wage in Denver in the last quarter of 2018 was $1,414. In Mesa County it was $895). The opening is for two new county commissioners. The only requirements to be county commissioner — literally — are that you have to be a minimum of 18 years old and have lived in either County Commissioner District 1 or District 3 for at least one year. That’s it. In case you don’t believe me, the photo above gives the salaries for each of our three county commissioners for just one month — the month of June, 2019. The information was printed in the legal notices in the Sunday, August 11, 2019 issue of the Daily Sentinel. You can see the minimal requirements for the job yourself posted on Mesa County’s website. Multiply the above salary by 12 to get your new annual gross salary if you land this job ($87,500/year). Oh, and did I mention it’s also free to apply? You can even have a criminal record and it’s okay. This position can be held for up to 8 years.

Sen. Ray Scott sponsors bill to eliminate price break for low-income energy consumers

Colorado State Senator Ray Scott

Last week State Senator Ray Scott embarrassed Mesa County residents and made a fool of himself by actually saying out loud on the Senate floor that climate change has led to “massive improvements” in our climate.

Now Scott is co-sponsoring a bill, SB 19-250 (pdf), that will deal a blow to low income people served by Black Hills Energy, the gas and electricity provider for residents of Pueblo, Canyon City, Ordway and Westcliffe. Scott’s bill would do away with a two-tiered rate structure Black Hills Energy put in place in 2017 to help low income energy consumers by giving them more protection from a state-approved rate increase that happened that same year.

Come on, G.J.: It’s time to charge a fee on single-use plastic grocery bags

Darrell Blatchley of the museum shows the plastic found in the young whale that beached itself near Davao, Philippines, last Friday

A necropsy done on a beached juvenile whale last Friday in the Philippines revealed it had nothing but 88 pounds of plastic in its digestive tract and likely suffered for up to a year with pain from bowel obstruction before dying. D’Bone Collector Museum, whose mission is retrieving dead animals rarely seen by the public and preserving them, collected the whale off the beach and performed the necropsy. They said it was the most plastic they had ever seen in a whale.

National Geographic reports that nearly every seabird on Earth now has plastic in its system. A 2016 study by the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. on the effect of plastics in the environment concluded that threat is “geographically widespread, pervasive, and rapidly increasing.”

Americans use about 100 billion single-use plastic grocery bags every year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. Every plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes, and can take up to 500 years to degrade in the environment.

All this has some big implications for Grand Junction and Mesa County residents.