Other top stories of 2012
These stories didn’t make our Top 10 for 2012, but they ranked highest among the rest of the most noteworthy stories of the year:
• While Republicans held onto Mesa County’s two House seats, the 2012 presidential election proved to favor Democrats both in Colorado and nationally. Democrats retailed a 20-15 margin in the state Senate and regained the upper hand in the House, capturing 37 of the 65 seats. And although Mesa County overwhelmingly favored Mitt Romney, Colorado and its nine electoral votes helped re-elect President Barack Obama.
• Demonstrating that Colorado was indeed a swing state, presidential candidates and their vice presidential running mates visited the Western Slope early and often in 2012. Romney campaigned in Grand Junction in February, Craig in May, Grand Junction again in July and Basalt in August, while his running mate, Paul Ryan, visited Montrose and Grand Junction in the final two weeks before the election. Obama, meanwhile, visited Grand Junction in August.
• The 10 public trustees appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper were forced to resign in July after stories in The Daily Sentinel and The Denver Post revealed many trustees were mismanaging their offices. Five trustees were later reappointed, although Mesa County Public Trustee Paul Brown wasn’t among them. Brown changed where he published foreclosure notices without going to bid, then later promised he would go to bid even though he had already signed a contract to publish the notices with one publishing company. Grand Junction native Mike Moran was appointed to replace Brown.
• After years of lamenting their decades-old, cramped working facilities, Grand Junction’s public safety employees this summer moved into a new $32 million complex that fills two square blocks of downtown between Fifth and Seventh streets and Pitkin and Ute avenues. A new public safety center houses headquarters for the police department and the 911 dispatch center. Fire Station No. 1 also received a makeover. The project will be paid off through the city’s capital fund.
• It was a year of mixed news for the natural gas drilling business in western Colorado. On the positive side of the ledger, Encana USA inked a deal with steel maker Nucor that could enable Encana to drill more than 4,000 wells in western Colorado over the next 20 years, doubling its current well count. Williams broke ground on a $150 million expansion to its Parachute-area natural-gas plant. Dallas-based Summit Midstream completed a $207 million acquisition of local natural gas pipelines and processing infrastructure. But the drilling slowdown took its toll, too. In a two-week span in October and November, Bill Barrett Corp. announced it would sell roughly a quarter interest in its natural gas holdings south of Silt and Antero Resources sold its natural gas holdings in the Piceance Basin. And oilfield services company Schlumberger transferred dozens of its Grand Junction employees to North Dakota.