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KSJD Local Newscast - June 14, 2024

Plans for a biochar facility at the former Ironwood mill site got a thumbs-up Thursday night from the Montezuma County Planning and Zoning Commission. On a 5-0 vote, P&Z recommended approval of special-use and high-impact permits for Palaterra-USA, the new operator at the site, which sits between Cortez and Dolores. Ironwood, the former owner, ran a mill there starting in 2019 but was eventually sued by Montezuma County and the state health department because of enormous wood piles sitting on the property. Representatives for Palaterra say they want to use that debris to make organic biochar, a carbon product that can be used to filter out toxins. Thursday’s hearing on Palaterra’s proposal had been continued from P&Z meetings in March and May. At May’s meeting, a number of locals voiced concerns about issues including noise, light pollution, hours of operation, and truck traffic. On Thursday, members of P&Z said those issues have been satisfactorily addressed by the applicant. The proposal will now go before the Montezuma County Commission.

A local man whose actions sparked concern early this month when he twice approached children in Cortez and offered them money has been cleared of any wrongdoing. That’s according to Assistant Police Chief Andy Brock. He said in an email that the man has been interviewed and found not to have done anything criminal or to have shown criminal intent. The man had come forth voluntarily after hearing about community concern about his offering kids some money and reportedly told police he was only trying to help them, not to lure them anywhere.

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Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.