Weld County is still part of Colorado. For better — or for worse — voters there rejected a proposal last month to explore the idea of making the state's ninth-most-populous county into the nation's 51st state. And that's a shame, at least from an economic-development standpoint, because Weldistan, as some were jokingly calling the proposed new state, would surely have landed several Colorado gun and ammunition manufacturers who have threatened to move out of state or are actually doing so.
The latest, according to the Wyoming Business Report, is Littleton-based Maverick Ammunition, which plans to move to Laramie, Wyoming — just across the state line from Weldistan — where it will employ fifty people who will be producing 1.8 million rounds of ammo per week by the second half of 2014. The Report says that Colorado firearms accessory manufacturer HiViz Shooting Systems is also moving to Wyoming.
"The announcement of this business expansion is especially exciting because the company is a great fit for Wyoming. We are a solid pro-gun state. We are passionate about hunting and sport shooting, and we support a renaissance in manufacturing," Wyoming governor Matt Mead told the paper.
Weld County is a "solid pro-gun state," too. Er, solid pro-gun county. County sheriff John Cooke helped lead an effort by sheriffs across the state to sue Colorado after the gun-control laws were passed, and he has been a staunch supporter of just about every effort to increase the number of guns in existence and the number of people who carry them.
In October, for instance, he gave his approval to the Briggsdale School District, which decided to allow teachers and employees to carry concealed weapons; the superintendent of the tiny district told media outlets that since the school is located twenty minutes away from first responders, administrators there want to be prepared.
And last week, the Weld County Sheriff's Office announced that it had received the 10,000th concealed-handgun permit application — something it has a special section for on its website. And the lucky winner? Alphretta Erdman, whom the office identified as a Briggsdale School Board member (she posed for a photo with Cooke). "The Weld County Sheriff's Office has seen exponential growth in concealed-handgun permit applications over the past several years," the office said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Erie-based Magpul Industries, which produced the magazine used by the shooter in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, last year, is still located in Colorado, despite its pledge to leave after the Colorado legislature passed five gun-control laws last spring, including the one that bans high-capacity ammo magazines to fifteen rounds or less — the one that Cooke wanted to sue over.
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That part of the effort was halted last week, though, when a federal judge in Denver ruled that the Colorado sheriffs' coalition doesn't have standing to join the legal fight. There are still more than twenty other plaintiffs who do have standing, however, and the lawmen can join the case as individuals. Then again, maybe those sheriffs would prefer to move to Wyoming (except for Cooke, that is, who's planning to run for the Colorado Senate this year since the incumbent, Scott Renfroe, is term-limited). We hear the economy there is really booming from all the Colorado companies that are crossing the border.
Scene and herd: Kyle Williams, known on Facebook as "The Wullums," recently came up with a novel way of altering one of "The Dancers," the Jonathan Borofsky statues installed near the Denver Performing Arts Complex — by yarn-bombing one with a Colorado-flag Speedo. Williams tells us his "Project Speedo" was inspired by a desire to create some street art. But he says the actual execution ended up being tougher then he had planned. "It was very difficult, actually," he notes. "If you look at the front, it kind of looks like a diaper, because we didn't get a big enough ladder, apparently."
Still, "Project Speedo" isn't the only street art Williams plans to create. "Keep your eyes peeled for more stuff," he hints. "Hopefully I can do more projects like this." Find a picture of this one on the Latest Word blog at westword.com.