News in brief | AspenTimes.com

News in brief

Road crews are scheduled to stripe the Baltic Avenue intersection with Highway 82 and do work on the traffic signal on Tuesday.According to Pitkin County public works, the highway traffic will be down to one lane in each direction starting after 9 a.m. Motorists are asked to drive with caution near crews and be aware of wet paint.In the case of bad weather, the schedule may change and the public will be notified. For more information, call the Pitkin County public works office at 920-5390.

DENVER (AP) – The cost of dealing with Colorado’s welfare benefits computer, which continues to sputter a year after coming online, is on pace to reach $20 million this year.Lawmakers have set aside $13.4 million for unanticipated costs from the Colorado Benefits Management System, but some counties could end up shouldering some of the costs of the system’s problems.Arapahoe County expects to be out $1.8 million by the end of the year, even with an $843,000 check from the state. Boulder County has spent $1.24 million on overtime and extra staff costs since last September, but the state has reimbursed just $663,469 of those expenses, said Paula McKey, director of social services for the county.Despite that, McKey said the system has the potential to be better than the system it replaced.”(The system) was just rolled out too soon,” she said.Despite warnings from counties that the system contained too many bugs, Gov. Bill Owens ordered the system to go online last September.The system that determines eligibility for benefits, including food stamps and Medicaid for 550,000 people and processes checks, immediately developed problems. Thousands of residents said they didn’t get their benefits or that their applications languished for months.After a lawsuit was filed, a judge in December ordered the state to establish an emergency-call center for benefits applicants and set a schedule for processing 30,000 applications that missed federal deadlines for completion.

DENVER (AP) – With shelters in Louisiana and neighboring states overflowing with people fleeing flooding from Hurricane Katrina, Colorado officials on Saturday said up to 1,000 refugees will be housed at dorms at the former Lowry Air Force base.Military and civilian planes were to begin arriving at Buckley Air Force Base with those displaced by the storm as soon as Sunday, Gov. Bill Owens said at a news conference. News of the arrival came on the same day as 700 Colorado National Guardsmen left to the Gulf Coast to aid in the search and rescue efforts.Once here, refugees will be given credentials for access to Lowry, most of which is being converted into a residential development, given a health screening and bused to the emergency housing.”Our focus for these people is the next 48 hours,” said Gov. Bill Owens. “This (housing) could be weeks, even months for some of these people.”Owens said he did not have details on the people being flown to Colorado.”We don’t know who they are,” said Joe Morales, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. “All we know is that they only have the clothes on their backs.”