On Monday the Delta County Commissioners went into executive session to discuss ongoing litigation over the Hostetler hen-laying operation on Powell Mesa. The closed door sessions with county attorney Christine Knight have become a hallmark of the commissioners’ regular meetings as the case has dragged on for two years.
Two weeks ago, the coal mine near Paonia owned by billionaire Bill Koch laid off more than half of its employees. The Koch owned Oxbow Mining company hopes to expand operations again in the future and rehire some of the workers. In the meantime the layoffs are creating hardships for a number of communities.
“It’s very sad time around the mine, you know to lose your income and lose your job is real traumatic, so it’s very painful decision for us," says Mike Ludlow, the Executive Vice President of Oxbow’s mining operations.
The Powell Mesa Hen House dispute has renewed questions about zoning and the "right to farm" in Delta County. Adopted in 1996 by the state of Colorado and the county, the "Right to Farm and Ranch" policy lays out some parts of rural life that residents are expected to accept, including noise from tractors, manure, odor from animal confinement and the use of pesticides.
For some historical context on the policy, KVNF’s Marty Durlin spoke with former Delta County Commissioner Jim Ventrillo about the early days of the right-to-farm policy.
Officials with Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s new online health exchange, said the website saw 79,000 unique visitors for its first day on Monday.
Alicia Plantz with the Montrose Connect for Health Office says she’s received plenty of calls and some walk-ins over the past few days. She says most of the people she’s talked to so far want to know whether they’re eligible for financial assistance.
Attorneys for Delta County and the operators of a Powell Mesa Hen House say the two-year-long battle over the facility’s fate isn’t over yet. That's despite a ruling that Western Slope Layers would have to cease and desist operations immediately, handed down by Judge J. Steven Patrick last week.