Wed February 18, 2015

Massive Colorado Music Party Lineup Announced For SXSW

Fort Collins hip-hop artist Qbala gets her makeup done prior to a SpokesBUZZ photo shoot.
Stacy Nick KUNC

SXSW will again be in a Colorado state of mind.

More than 120 bands representing the state will be at the Colorado Music Party in Austin next month, with five days and nights of live performances on Sixth Street starting March 17. Founded by Fort Collins-based music organization SpokesBUZZ, the unofficial SXSW showcase allows local musicians to market themselves at the famed music fest.

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Tue February 17, 2015
Energy U

Price Dip, Industry Cuts Leave Petroleum Engineering Students Facing Job Uncertainty

In Vladimir Alvarado's petroleum engineering class at the University of Wyoming there are no signs enrollment is shrinking, although job prospects are getting slim.
Stephanie Joyce Wyoming Public Media

With six-figure starting salaries for a bachelor's degree and endless optimism about the shale revolution, a petroleum engineering degree seemed like the ticket to a bright and well-paid future. Now that the oil price slide has turned to an oil price slump, the luster is wearing off.

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Mon February 16, 2015

Colorado Tech Start Ups Bet The Farm On Agricultural Drones

Farmers want to use drones to scope out problem spots in crops fields or check in on livestock.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A highly anticipated batch of federal laws governing the use of drones could change the regulatory landscape and lead to an explosion in drone use by farmers.

Farmers see drones as a way to get a birds-eye view of their fields to find problem patches with crops. That information can allow farmers to be more precise with fertilizers and pesticides and, ultimately, save them money. But getting them in the sky without running afoul of federal regulation is proving to be a challenge.

Commercial use of drones is still widely banned in the U.S., though some companies have secured exemptions. Other farmers have gone rogue, flying drones over their property without all the proper permissions, daring federal regulators to put a stop to it. But the new federal rules due out later this year are expected to usher in a new era of farm machinery.

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Fri February 13, 2015
Love Letters

Loveland’s Still The Biggest In The Romantic Postmark Business

Dozens of community volunteers vie for a position as a Loveland Valentine stamper
David Rupert U.S. Postal Service

Since 1947, more than 12 million cards and letters have been sent to Loveland, Colorado's post office to be hand-stamped and mailed to the lucky recipient. In 2014, they received more than 150,000.

"That's from all around the world – in fact, 110 countries, 50 states," said U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Rupert. "It's amazing how this is a worldwide phenomenon.”

While Loveland is the biggest, it certainly isn't the only place with a romantic name and a remailing program. There's also Loveland, Ohio, Valentine, Nebraska, and Cupid, Maryland.

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Thu February 12, 2015
Wage Investigation

Entrepreneur's Fraud Case Encapsulates Colorado's Wage Theft Challenges

Christy Lodwick in a Douglas County Courtroom in Castle Rock, Colo., during her sentencing hearing Jan. 26, 2015.
Joe Mahoney Rocky Mountain PBS I-NEWS

Christy Lodwick – who has also been known as Christy Kemper, Christy Messer, Christy Hosey and Christy Workman over the years – has a long history of forgery, fraud and failing to pay workers according to court records, as she serially entrepreneurs health and aesthetics related enterprises, which serially go kaput.

What wasn't included in the criminal case was the $67,273 in wages eight former workers say they are owed. Her case demonstrates how impotent state labor authorities have been when faced with employers who cheat workers and business partners as a matter of course.

Under the Colorado Wage Act, illegally withholding wages is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $300 fine, penalties that are more lenient than the punishment for careless driving and have remained the same since 1941.

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