Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

John Hickenlooper rides into the Pinon Canyon controversy

So many St. Patrick's Day parades, so little time. Gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, decked out in a shamrock-green blazer, had to zoom from Denver's shamrock celebration to the Pueblo Democratic Party's St. Patrick Day's fundraiser. And there, he weighed in on one of Scott McInnis's pet projects: the proposed expansion of the Army's 235,000 acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site -- right onto private ranchland in southeastern Colorado.

While McInnis supports the land grab, Hickenlooper does not.

"Unless there is a deal embraced by the residents of Southeastern Colorado that they feel is better for their community, it's hard for me to support it," the Denver mayor told the Pueblo Chieftain. "I don't think the military is so foolish that they want one part of the community to thrive at the expense of another."

Hickenlooper said he plans to visit farmers and ranchers who live near the site, "hearing their side, hearing what their specific issues are and seeing if there's any kind of solution."

For a tour guide, he couldn't do better than state representative Wes McKinley, a rancher from Walsh who's toured politicians -- including house speaker Terrance Carroll -- through the Pinon Canyon area before.

"What the agricultural community needs is a governor who can be a salesman and who can actually promote their products, and not just in-state," Hickenlooper told the Chieftain. "That creates the value of what they produce."