O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
October 2015

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — A new effort is under way to raise Colorado's gasoline sales tax to finance repair of the state's crumbling roads and bridges. Some say it would take an increase of up to twelve cents a gallon to fix the long-neglected problem.

Club 20, a coalition of individuals, businesses, tribes and local governments from twenty-two counties is considering a resolution to endorse a proposed increase after vehemently opposing it in past years as inequitable.

Colorado flag

Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was reported by one newspaper as supporting a 10-to-12-cent increase during a Club 20 round table in August but later denied it to another newspaper, saying he would support the proposal only if there was bi-partisan agreement. He also denied he named a dollar amount.

The sales tax has remained at 22 cents a gallon for two decades. A twelve-cent increase would provide an estimated $200 million for road projects.

As the state's infrastructure sinks further into decay conservative opposition seems to be lessening, Hickenlooper told Club 20. Two freshmen state legislators, J. Paul Brown of Ignacio, and Yeulin Willet of Grand Junction, both conservative Republicans, have revived the tax increase idea, suggesting it be put to a ballot for voters to decide. They represent Colorado's Western Slope where the road situation is especially bad.

Brown said he is not taking a position but thinks "it's worth looking at an increased tax."

Under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) passed in 1992 voters must approve any increase in taxes such as a gasoline tax hike.

DENVER — Colorado's gasoline prices are finally coming down but still remain above the national average.

In September the average price of a gallon of unleaded stood at $2.67 after reaching a record high for the year of $2.73. At the same time the national average was $2.42.

Even at that level Colorado's price was nearly a dollar lower than the previous year.

Colorado Springs registered the lowest price at $2.64. The highest was in Glenwood Springs at $3 and Vail at $2.92. It traditionally costs more in mountain towns where fuel must be transported from a greater distance.

Metro Denver showed a drop of 7.5 cents a gallon in one weekend, ending up at $2.73 a gallon.

A shutdown at an Indiana refinery that is a major supplier for Colorado and the annual requirement of an additive to combat pollution were blamed by industry analysts for higher than national prices.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A downtown 7-Eleven has found itself in the middle of a war over a proposed ban on sleeping, lying, or sitting on sidewalks or planters.

Merchants have asked the City Council for the ban, citing panhandling, littering, vandalism and other activities that keep shoppers away.

If passed the ordinance would levy a fine of up to $2,500 and a jail term of up to six months.

Vagrants, panhandlers and the homeless are not only impeding current business they also are giving the city a bad reputation that affects everything from attracting new business moving in to tourism, supporters told the Council at a hearing.

The 7-Eleven sits on a busy corner of downtown that has seen much of the problem. Harassment and intimidation from some who perch for hours on planters outside the store were among other complaints lodged with the Council.

The convenience store, which opened in 2010, is still trying to establish itself, management said. The building stayed empty for years after its last occupant left.

"There have been people sitting out there since the first day the store opened and it's impeding our business," said store manager Nate Metzler. "People are scared to walk here. At night there are 20 or 30 people sitting outside."

Russ Mallery, the convenience store owner, said eleven windows have been broken in the last year and some of the homeless have admitted to him they regularly work in groups, one set to distract management, while the others steal. He said supplies that cost him $1,000 a month at his other stores run $4,000 a month at the downtown location.

Nearby jewelry store owner Lane Williams, who was once homeless himself, is backing the ordinance. He said he has found feces in the doorway in the morning. One of his employees is so scared she has started carrying a gun.

And the owner of an elite hotel downtown who is about to purchase another said, "Intentional infliction of disruption of business needs to be penalized."

But a spokesman for the ACLU promised to take action and 27 other speakers at the hearing blasted the plan, some saying everyone is entitled to sleep. One man who runs a soup kitchen said the only people he saw sitting on the planters were a couple of lawyers.

The major issue said Nathan Woodliff Stanley, executive director of ACLU Colorado, is, "It makes illegal sitting in places at times that has nothing to do with safety. It violates the right to free speech and general assembly."

A professional woman said if the ordinance were in place and she purchased a sandwich at 7-Eleven it is doubtful she would be arrested. Only the most vulnerable would be targeted.

The owner of Seeds Community Cafe which feeds and helps the homeless, said he would support such an ordinance if the penalties weren't so stiff. "We should make it community service," said Lyn Harwell. Mayor John Suthers who proposed the ordinance, said he is open to reduced penalties.

Other speakers said the city should focus on solving the homeless problem, not punishing people.

FORT COLLINS — Maverik Inc., is planning to expand in Colorado. It now has six convenience stores in the state.

The Utah corporation is asking the city of Fort Collins to annex a property on east Interstate 25, former site of a Colorado Feed & Grain cookhouse, so it can build a convenience store and gasoline station. The feed store closed in 2011.

The site is in Larimer County, but Maverik officials say it makes sense to annex it as it is surrounded by the city on three sides. On one side is the Interchange Business Park.

Maverik already is building two more stores in Aurora.

"Our intent along the Front Range," said Don Lilyquist, permits manager, "is to get about fifteen to twenty stores built at the same time so it makes more of an impact."

LITTLETON — Circle K's refusal to share a driveway with another merchant has led a judge to deny the convenience store's own usage.

The easement the city of Littleton granted provided for the two properties to share the driveway at the corner of West Bowles and South Platte Canyon Rd, but Circle K and Arc Camelback, owner of the Shoppes at Columbine Valley, could not reach an agreement on how it would work.

A judge issued a permanent injunction against Circle K based on Arc Camelback's argument that the center would see negative impact if there was no access to the shops from an easement off of Bowles Avenue.

The injunction came after Arc filed suit against Circle K.

DENVER — Car Wash Express, based in Centennial, plans to open its sixth business in the state. It will renovate a building near downtown Denver that has stood vacant for six months.

The site is the former home of Denver Car Wash. Car Wash Express purchased the building in the fall of 2014 for $1.3 million. It plans to spend another couple of million on the remodeling.

President Brett Meinberg said a lot of money will be used just to make the facility "gorgeous" as well as practical. For instance, he has hired an artist to paint a mural with lots of flowers on the facade.

The car wash advertises a three-minute wash for $7 and an unlimited wash pass for $30 a month. He said there is a need for a speedy car wash for the many time-starved people moving into the area. Many have opted for apartment or condo living where they cannot wash their own vehicles.

Meinberg said the company is looking for more sites. They have locations in Centennial, Highlands Ranch, Broomfield, Aurora, and Northglenn.

There are many full-service car washes, he said, but not for those in a hurry in crowded urban areas.

His firm's development has been gradual but he said they are now planning to expand more quickly.

GRAND JUNCTION — A car wash's owners decided to eliminate their monthly electric bill by installing 300 solar panels.

Horizon Drive car wash, owned by TJ Stevens and her husband, Todd Rubano, hired Atlasta Solar of Grand Junction to do the job.

The owners designed the facility to be green in 2008. One of its practices was to recycle gray water to wash undercarriages. They wanted to use solar power at that time but the recession caused them to delay putting it in until now.

There was a sense of urgency as federal tax subsidies are expected to be repealed after this year.

LITTLETON — Kwik Car Wash held a "Dog Days of Summer" promotion in late August featuring real dogs.

Called "Clean Your Car and Your Dog," the car wash advertised fifty percent of sales would go to the Youth & Pet Survivors organization. Poochmobile agreed to sponsor the dog wash.

GRAND JUNCTION — Apparently the thief was only interested in cooling off.

The Mesa County sheriff's office reported a man entered a convenience store here and snatched $21 worth of ice. He took nothing else.

LOVELAND — A teenager reported a man posing as a police officer ordered him to accompany him to a convenience store where he robbed him of his wallet and cell phone.

The 15-year-old and his 14-year-old friend were in the parking lot of a bank at night when the impersonator accosted them. They believed he was an officer although he was not dressed as one and showed no ID to prove it.

The youth said the robber took off running from the convenience store after the robbery.

Authorities hope surveillance videos of the robber they obtained from the store and posted online will help them apprehend him.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A customer who persuaded a 7-Eleven employee to give him a ride home, then sexually assaulted him, was sentenced to six years to life in prison.

Just Hatfield, 39, was convicted of kidnapping as well as sexual assault in the December 2014 incident.

GRAND JUNCTION — Go-Fer-Foods, a convenience store and gas station in Monument Village Shopping Center, changed gears to help out a community that suddenly had to do without a major grocer.

Go-Fer-Foods was a store where you could pick up coffee or gasoline and mail packages but, after Safeway abruptly closed down, manager Ryan Sarten felt he had to add products so residents wouldn't have to drive long distances.

Now a customer can buy milk, eggs, meat, cheese and paper products.

It is the first time in fifteen years that the store has stocked groceries. While Sarten said he was motivated by wanting to fill a need he has also benefited. Sales increased by fifteen percent.

Sarten said he would consider other customer requests.

Originally published in the October 2015 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2015 by KAL Publications Inc.

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