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Week of 02/09/11 - Vecinos

By Joe Contreras

Piñata terrorizes shoppers

The bomb squad was called, a robot deployed and the superstore was on lockdown when an odd-looking package left in the parking lot of a Costco store.

One shopper at the Costco called sheriff’s officials to report seeing a suspicious package in the parking lot. The caller said the package was “partially burned and had wires protruding from it,” according to sheriff’s office.

Another customer parked her car on top of the package and told deputies she believed there was a bomb beneath her car, officials said.

After some tense moments and expert investigation the suspicious package turned out to be a Mexican piñata.

Superior got its name for the superior quality of coal that was found in the area back in the early 1900’s. Superior is located along the Denver-Boulder corridor and the Hispanic population is less than five percent.


Coming to a potted plant near you

You might expect something like this to come out of Boulder but instead it was derived on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. No it’s not a new kind of synthetic medicinal marijuana, but rather a different type of reengineered plant that can detect explosives and toxic chemicals like meth.

The plants are fixed with custom made proteins that when in the presence of deadly vapors turn from green to white. The plants could be placed at airports, buildings and even convoy routes.

The only problems are that the plants currently take three hours to change colors and they could cross pollinate with other vegetation. To help speed up the detection and color change process the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency has granted nearly $8 million to the university for that purpose.

Fort Collins is just 57 miles north of Denver and is the fifth most populous city in the state. Ten percent of the more than 120,000 people living there are Hispanic.


Say it isn’t so

Located six miles east of Boulder with a population of about 20,000, Louisville has a small town ambiance. It’s proud of that charm and works hard to develop and retain business. So it was a surprise when one of its rising stars crashed and burned last week.

The Colorado Division of Banking has shut down Louisville-based First Tier Bank. Investigators found that commercial real estate loans had depleted the bank’s capital, leaving it insolvent.

All customers with deposits of less than $250,000 will be protected. The FDIC, a federal agency funded through insurance premiums paid by banks, estimates that it will cost $242.6 million to cover the bank’s insured customers.

The bank — with seven branches along the Front Range, including in Boulder and Broomfield — concentrated in commercial real estate loans, particularly land acquisition, development and construction loans. That “resulted in an elevated risk profile and exposed the bank to the full impact of the downturn in the real estate market in Colorado,” said that state banking board.


Open for business $5 bucks at a time

The town of Erie has been around since 1874 but if something isn’t done to keep people and businesses from leaving it may not be around much longer. In an attempt to motivate residents to shop in their own community town leaders have a plan.
The program, called Erie Bucks, is an attempt by the town to stimulate spending in Erie and stop the flow of consumer dollars into neighboring cities, such as Louisville, Lafayette and Broomfield. The vouchers would appear in the water bills of 7,000 Erie households in May.

“It sends a message to businesses in town that we’re interested in their success and we’re willing to invest money in that,” said Trustee Colin Towner, who introduced the concept at a board meeting a few months ago.” And it helps people discover the large number of businesses in Erie.”

“They’ve got to do something to get business back in Erie and get the word out that we have businesses here that need to be supported,” said one resident.





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