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Colorado Legislature Approves Involuntary Inspections of Funeral Homes, Crematories

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After multiple cases of malpractice were uncovered in Colorado’s funeral industry, the state legislature passed a bill to allow inspections of funeral homes and crematories without getting an operator’s permission to enter the premises.

State senators unanimously approved House Bill 1073 on Wednesday, after the bipartisan bill cleared the House of Representatives in a 53-10 vote last month. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Jared Polis for final consideration.

“This bill comes to us under pretty horrific reasons and circumstances,” said bill sponsor Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail. “There were general complaints about the behavior of these individuals that were not respecting the process of death and burial … The state did not have the ability to inspect and respond to those complaints and instead had to take many months to build a case under which they could get a warrant.”

In 2020, the owners of Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose were arrested for allegedly selling body parts, and sometimes full bodies, of deceased individuals whose families had brought them to the funeral home to be cremated. Investigators said, from 2010 to 2018, hundreds of unknowing families received ashes composed of concrete, kitty litter and the cremations of strangers.

The next year, two counties away, Lake County Coroner Shannon Kent was arrested after investigators said they found severely decomposed bodies in his funeral home — one which had been dead since 2013 and another, an infant, which was so decomposed it could not be identified. Kent was also accused of keeping unrefrigerated bodies and bags of unlabeled cremains in his funeral homes in Silverthorne, Leadville and Gypsum.

If enacted, the bill would give the Division of Professions and Occupations the power to inspect registered funeral establishments and crematories without getting an operator’s permission to enter the premises if a complaint has been made.

“This is something we all go through. This very day, our family is dealing with a very reputable funeral home, but not all are,” said bill sponsor Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose. “I think it is vital that we give this bill full consideration and the families the respect they are due.”

The 10 opponents to the bill — all Republican representatives in the House — argued that the bill is unnecessary because law enforcement can enter funeral homes if they get a warrant. The bill sponsors said complaints aren’t always criminal and receiving probable cause for the prior criminal acts required entry to the premises.

The requirement that inspectors get an operator’s permission to enter is not in place for other establishments, such as hair salons and restaurants.


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Original Article: gazette.com

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Fire Under Control Near Fountain Creek Park

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Update 11:12 a.m.

Firefighters put out a wildland fire early Thursday in the Fountain area, officials said.

The blaze was reported about 3:45 a.m. on the east side of Fountain Creek and south of Duckwood Park, Fountain police said in news release. Crews from fire departments in Security, Stratmoor Hills, Fort Carson and Hanover responded to heavy smoke and flames.

The fire was about a mile west of Colorado 85.

“The mild weather conditions this morning made it easier for fire crews to get this fire under control quickly,” police said.

The fire burned less than an acre before it was fully contained, officials said. As of Thursday morning, officials said the area is being monitored and might take several hours before the scene is cleared.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but officials said a lightning strike Wednesday afternoon might have ignited it.

Update 11 a.m.: The fire is 100% contained and burned less than one acre. No structures were threatened and no reported injuries.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however, officials think it possibly started from a lightning strike due to later afternoon storms on Wednesday.

Fountain fire department battled a wildland fire near Fountain Creek Regional Park Thursday morning, Fountain police said.

The fire ignited around 3:30 a.m. between Hwy 85 and Comanche Village Drive and crews managed to get the fire under control, police said.

Containment was 50% as of 7 a.m. but police did not give any estimates of the fire’s size.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, police said.


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Original Post: gazette.com

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911 Lines Down in Fremont and Custer Counties, Officials Say

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Fremont and Custer counties have been without 911 services since Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

According to the Fremont County Emergency Management, the lines have been down since 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. The public is asked to not call 911 “to test or check your phone.”

Calls will be be routed to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, officials said. From there, they will be transferred back to Fremont County dispatchers.

This is a developing story. Check with gazette.com for updates.


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Original Source: gazette.com

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Alaska Rep. Don Young to Lie in State at US Capitol

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Rep. Don Young, the longest-serving Republican in U.S. House history, will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol on March 29.Read More

Original Article: seattletimes.com

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