Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday March 30, 2012

House District 54 Repubclians are holding their Assembly tomorrow, with two announced candidates for the seat held by Laura Bradford.  Bradford yesterday announced she will not run for re-election.  Palisade viticulturist Rusty Price and Fruita Police Officer Jared Wright.  The Primary is June 26th.

If you're looking to play the Mega Millions, you need to buy your ticket by 7:30 tonight. Colorado Lottery spokesman Tom Cargal says chances to win the big one aren't all that high, but you might win something.  A ticket sold at a King Soopers in Brighton matched 5 numbers Tuesday, and with the Megaplier option, is worth a cool $1 million.  The Jackpot is up to $540 million now, making it the largest jackpot ever in the world.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler is applauding passage out of committee, of an election clean-up bill he says helps clarify recall procedures and rationalizes election timelines.  Gessler says the bill joins a growing list of bi-partisan bills to improve election administration in Colorado.

Little moisture and worsening fire conditions have led Eagle County authorities to issue a ban on open burning.  All issued open burning permits are now suspended, and burning ouside approved areas is also prohibited.

Grand Junction Fire investigators looking for the cause of a fire that significantly damaged a home in Riverside this morning.  A neighbor called it in at 3:00.  A mother and teenage son were able to get out, but a dog died in the fire.  Spokesman Mike Page says the fire appears to have started outside and worked its way into the attic.

More violent and property crime in Grand Junction.  The Police Department says violent and property crime increased 23% last year to a five year high.  Police Chief John Camper tells the Daily Sentinel the spike could be attributed to "double counting" where a robbery investigation might also be counted as a theft, since theft is part and parcel to numerous other crimes.

Firefighters in Jefferson County say  they're trying to get ahead of winds forecast in the area this weekend.  The Denver Post says containment of the Lower North Fork fire has grown to 45% now, and most evacuees are being allowed to return home.  The forecast calls for near record high temperatures and 20 mph wind gusts -- 30 to 40 mph at higher elevations.

People buying Mega Million lottery tickets aren't the only ones with jackpots in their eyes.  With the jackpot now at $540 million dollars, the state says a single winner from Colorado would owe the state anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars in taxes over the next 26 years, to more than $18 million if they took the jackpot in one lump sum.

Powderhorn is closing this weekend, on schedule, but at least one Colorado resort is closing early.  Monarch Mountain says it's closing a week early because of a lack of snow.  The resort says this has been the 6th driest in the past 70 years.  Statewide snowpack is 60% of average.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday March 28, 2012

No 4-day week in District 51 next year. State budget projections of cuts less than anticipated is the reason.  The district will still make cuts, but not involving the school calendar or closing any schools.  The board also adopted boundary changes to deal with overcrowding in the Fruita area, sending some students to Loma where student numbers are down.

A Brazilian man jailed in Grand Junction on charges he flew to the United States to have sex with a mother and her two underage daughters has waived his right to a federal grand jury and will be arraigned in federal court next week.  According to the Daily Sentinel, the man who's jailed without bond, faces a maximum possible prison term of 30 years, or a fine of $250,000 if convicted.

Ute water is replacing old lines in the area of 27 and G Roads and expects to close G Road between 9 and 5 tomorrow.  2 breaks in the same area earlier this year caused Holy Family School to cancel classes and left about 400 homes without water.  Tomorrow's work will not interupt water service.

That wildfire in Jefferson County near Conifer has claimed two lives and continues to burn out of control. Officials say it's the first time they can remember any civilian dying in a wildfire. The Lower Northfork Fire has burned 4,500 acres so far, and 23 homes. 2,500 homes have been evacuated and another 6,500 are on alert.  

Smile, downtown Colorado Springs is about to be on camera.  The City Council there has approved funding for 10 surveillance cameras by this summer. The police department will be in charge and hopes the cameras will make the downtown area safer.

Boulder is on track for the driest March ever and authorities have enacted an emergency fire ban.  Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle says he's concerned about fire in shooting areas after two small fires Saturday.  He tells the Boulder Daily Camera he'll meet with the U-S Forest Service about an emergency ban on shooting.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday March 27, 2012

The Colorado State Patrol is looking for a car that caused a crash on I-70 near Frisco, killing  two people.  It happened yesterday morning when the car changed lanes in front of an SUV causing the SUV to spin out of control and roll several times. The driver and front seat passenger were killed, 3 people in the rear seat were injured  Troopers are looking for  a dark, older model—possibly maroon or black, Toyota or Hyundai.

I-70 open through Glenwood Canyon this morning after crews moved a blown-over semi from the westbound lanes.  The state patrol says a wind gust blew the semi onto its side, pinning a small car against a wall.  Westbound I-70 was closed from about 2:15 to 4:15.

Crashes on rural roads account for over half the state's fatalities last year and authorities are trying to do something about it.  The State Patrol and 21 rural law enforcement agencies are teaming up for a special "click it or ticket" campaign targeting rural drivers who don't buckle up. 58% of those killed in rural areas were not wearing seatbelts.  Rural areas of Mesa and Montrose Counties are being targeted in the enforcement and education campaign next week.

C-DOT's holding an open house to let people know about construction on I-70 B at 25 Road. The project's already underway, but will kick into full gear next week.  The $5.8 million project finishes widening on the loop between 24 3/4 Road and 25 Road and will last throughout the summer with reduced speed and lane and turn-lane closures.  The open house is tomorrow from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Outlaw Cafe in the Cottenwood Shopping Center.

They like their security fence at the airport in Montrose.  Operations Manager Larry Blackwell  says the fence keeps out deer and other wildlife, making flying in and out of the airport safer.  Airport staff also use pyrotechnics and hazing to prevent birds and waterfowl from nesting on the property.  The Montrose Daily Press says the airport is safer because of the wildlife work in place since 2008.

A 19 year old Montrose County man has waived formal reading of charges and will have a bond hearing in two weeks.  Isaac Garcia is charged with 2nd Degree Murder in the stabbing death of Zachary Culmer at a party in 2010.  Garcia claimed self defense, was arrested after the stabbing, then later released without charges.  He was indicted last month.  According to the Montrose Press, Garcia's lawyer claims Garcia has been questioned without counsel, a charge dismissed by the Sheriff.  A bond hearing is set April 9th.

The State's homestead property tax exemption for seniors is being restored by the state legislature.  The Daily Sentinel says the 2012 budget forecast is the reason.  The forecast also means the Joint Budget Committee can increase funding to higher education, not take more severance tax money from local governments, and keep K-12 spending at current levels with funding for enrollment growth.

D-51 5-DAY?
Whether all students in District 51 will go to school 4 days a week or five is being decided by the School Board tonight.  Also on the agenda is boundary changes for elementary schools to ease overcrowding on the west side.  District officials say changing to a four-day week would save $1.5 to $2 million.  The meeting tonight is at 6:00 at the BTK Center.

It's not your imagination, there's ALOT of pollen in the air.  The Mesa County Health Department says Tree pollen, specificly elm and juniper, is the big culprit with very high readings.  Warm and windy conditions have allowed large concentrations to accumulate.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday March 26, 2012

Wind Advisories are up for much of eastern Utah and western Colorado today.  The National Weather Service says the highest winds will be across northwest Colorado with sustained winds 30 to 40 mph and gusts exceeding 60 mph. The strongest winds are expected this afternoon, gradually tapering off by early evening.

C-DOT gets started today on a new interchange on I-70 west of Parachute.  The new interchange includes on and off-ramps and will use the existing U-S Hwy 6 overpass bridge.  The $12 million project is being paid for by CDOT, the Town of Parachute, Garfield County, Battlement Mesa Company and the State Department of Local Affairs.  Gas production companies Encana and Williams are also chipping in. The project's expected to be finished by the end of October.

Mesa county's Finance Department is getting an award this morning from the Government Finance Officers' Association for making financial documents accessible and user-friendly.  It's the 21st year in a row the department's won the award.

The price of gas in Colorado has gone up nearly 9-cents a gallon in the last week to an average $3.68 a gallon. says that's 57 cents/gallon higher than one month ago. Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says the average price nationally has increased 21 consecutive days.

The state legislature's taking up a bill this week to focus the Governor's Energy Office not just on renewable energy, but oil and gas development,too.  The Daily Sentinel says a bill in the House would change the name of the department to the Colorado Office of Energy Development.  The office was originally set up to promote energy conservation, then to promote renewable energy.  This bill would set the focus on all forms of energy.

A 19 year old Kansas State student has died in an accident at the Wolf Creek Ski Area.  The man was injured Saturday after hitting a tree while skiing with friends.  A nurse happened by, but immediate attention and CPR failed to revive the man.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday March 23, 2012

A 25 year old man is under arrest after police say he barricaded himself in home on Grand Avenue. Joshua Drahn  was reported as an escapee from community corrections and refused to come out of the apartment when officers tried to arrest him at 9:45 last night. SWAT officers made their way inside the home just before midnight and arrested Drahn in the attic.

C-DOT's opening the bike path through Glenwood Canyon tomorrow.  Some of the path remained closed all last summer because of high runoff damage,  because of this year's dry conditions, crews have been able to begin inspections and maintenance earlier than ever.  Crews have spent an estimated $1.5 million to make repairs, including moving in 1,800 cubic yards of rock material to stabilize eroded areas under the path.

A Montrose man has been convicted of 1st degree arson in a fire at the Affordable Inns in Montrose.  The Montrose Daily Press says a jury deliberated three hours before returning the verdict against Ronnie Barrett.  Prosecutors said Barrett was agry about being evicted from the Inn which offered cut rates to help homeless people.  Barrett's attorney says he'll appeal the decision after sentencing in May.

That huge wind-whipped wildfire on the front range last week has left a fire fighter hospitalized in critical condition.  Jennifer Struckmeyer was burned in the 37 square mile fire near Wray.  40 to 50 head of cattle were killed or euthanized and about 400 head are still unaccounted for.

Even though nearly $10 million has been spent on an energy efficiency makeover, Grand Junction's Federal Court House is on the chopping block.  The Daily Sentinel says the building is 43rd on a list of 60 court sites being considered for closure.  The General Services Administration's Denver office says it hasn't heard of plans to get rid of the building. The $15 million remodeling project is being paid for with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The trial for Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Kirk Firko has been moved to July, two years since Jason Kemp was shot to death at his home on the Redlands. Firko faces trespass and other charges, Trooper Gene Lawyer is charged with criminally negligent homicide in the shooting. The Daily Sentinel says  Firko's trial had been scheduled first and that would've prevented testimony from Lawyer.  Lawyer's trial is to begin April 9th.

Grand Jucntion fire investigators are looking for the cause of a fire at American Auto Salvage near South 5th Street and the Riverside Parkway.  The fire was reported just before 1:00 this morning and took nearly an hour to control.  A mobile home, several cars and other junk was burned.  No injuries, and damage about $3,000.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday March 22, 2012

A Grand Junction man is under arrest, facing federal charges for alleged threatening facebook posts.  Kenneth Wheeler was arrested at the Grand Jucntion Regional Airport Tuesday.  Wheeler reportedly made the threats in posts from Rome, Italy.  The Daily Sentinel says Wheeler is accused of threatening three Grand Junction Police Officers and their families, and of urging a massacre at a local preschool.

Authorities in Montana believe a body found yesterday in North Dakota is that of a Montana High School teacher reported missing January 7th.  Two Parachute men have been charged with aggravated kidnapping, and now could face federal charges because the body was found across the Montana state line.

A 21 year old Rifle man is facing vehicular homicide charges in a firey crash on I-70 early Sunday morning.  Anthony Bracamontes was released from the hospital and arrested Tuesday.  19 year old Christina Flager of Rifle died in the crash.  26 year old Erick Fernandez of Grand Junction was injured.

A Delta County Couple has pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals after the death of one of their horses.  Charles and Patricia Keune also face additional charges after 5 horses and 6 cattle were taken from their residence on 2900 Road.  According to the Daily Sentinel, Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said the couple did not follow instructions on care for the animals.

Garfield County Coroner's investigators are continuing to look into the death of a Silt woman hit by an Amtrak train last Saturday.  27 year old Ashley Vale apparently was wearing ear buds and walking down the middle of the tracks just before she was hit.  Deputy Coroner Lanny Grant says Vale gave no indication she may have wanted to end her life before telling her family she was going for a walk that day.

The Garfield County Health Department says a resident in the western part of the county has contracted hantavirus and is urging precautions to avoid the disease which can be fatal.  Hantavirus is carried in urine and feces of deer mice.  The Health Department says areas inhabited by the mice should only be swept or vacuumed after the area has been wetted down with a bleach and water or lysol solution. Sumptoms of hantavirus can occur in a few days to 6-weeks after exposure.

At least one family is homeless after a fire in an apartment complex in Battlement Mesa.  It happened just before 2:00 this morning. The fire was contained in only one unit, but smoke forced the evacuation of several units.  No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

15 years after the death of his wife in Grand Junction, Marcus Bebb-Jones will stand trial for her murder.  Bebb-Jones was ordered bound over for trial after a 3-day preliminary hearing.  Bebb-Jones was arrested in England after Sabrina Bebb-Jones' skull was found in Garfield County in 2004.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday March 21, 2012

1st Degree Murder charges have been filed against two Clifton brothers in the March 1st stabbing of a 31 year old Fruita man. The Daily Sentinel says Julio and Jose Ortiz will return to court April 25th.  The pair were arrested two days after Abel Roper was found dead outside his vehicle in the Pioneer Village Mobile Home Park on F Road.  Arrest affidavits remain sealed, and attorneys are under court order to not disseminate information.

The Montrose Downtown Development Authority says it can get to work now that the city council has signed off on the authority's Plan of Development.  Director Scott Shine tells the Montrose Daily Press, several projects are ready to go including a revolving loan fund for property improvements or expansions, or even new businesses within the DDA's boundaries.

Average temperatures, below average precipitation, and drought conditions in west central Colorado.  That's the National  Weather Service's climate prediction for the next three months.  The Daily Sentinel says the 2011-12 winter was one of the driest and had the lowest snowfall total in Grand Junction since 1980.

A memorial service has been set for next Monday for Gene Taylor, the founder of Gene Taylor's Sporting Goods and community philanthropist.  Taylor died last week at Hospice, he was 79.  The service Monday is at the 1st United Methodist Church in downtown Grand Junction at 2:00.

4 Colorado legislators are working on a bill that would set up a scratch lottery ticket to raise money for veterans.  The Denver Post says the plan would require a constitutional amendment since lottery proceeds are already dictated.  A 2/3 majority is needed to get the measure on the November ballot. Under the bill, the Colorado lottery would oversee ticket sales and promotion, ... the Department of Military Affairs would handle distribution of funds.

A bill that would recommend holding back students if they can't read by 3rd grade has won initial approval in the Colorado House.  The policy wouldn't mandate retention, but would require districts to measure reading progress through 3rd grade and leave the final decision up to each district.  The Denver Post says some lawmakers worry it will make kids held back, more likely to drop out. The House gave the bill first-round approval on a voice vote and still must take a recorded vote before sending it to the Senate.

The Colorado Tourism Office is looking at a $5 million budget cut for the coming fiscal year as the Joint Budget Committee sticks with it's proposed $9.6 million budget.  Tourism Office Director Al White tells the Denver Post it seems counter-intuitive considering annual studies show commuities harvesting $7 in tax revenue for every dollar invested in marketing the state to vacationers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday March 20, 2012

A 34 year old Grand Junction man has been charged in the June, 2011 death of his 5-week old son.  A warrant was issued yesterday for Dartanin Mitchell in the death of his son Lucius. According to the Daily Sentinel, Mitchell was first arrested last summer in connection with burglaries and other crimes in the grand valley.  He was free on bond and failed to appear in court in September before finally being arrested in Tennessee in October.  He escaped from custody while being returned to Grand Junction and was eventually arrested in Denver in December as a suspect in four armed robberies in the Denver area.

Grand Valley liquor establishments are not selling to minors in the same numbers as just three months ago.  180 businesses were evaluated in a compliance check over the weekend, and only 7 were caught selling to minors.  Grand Junction Police Cheif John Camper gives credit to the businesses taking seriously their duty to check IDs, and their comitment to the safety of youth,

The Center for Independence in Grand Junction is showing off a new solar electric system being paid for with a grant from Xcel Energy.  Atlasta Solar Center is installing 44 panels this afternoon and tomorrow at the CFI on  Gunnison Ave.  The work is the final step in a four year effort to improve energy efficiency.

A woman struck and killed by an Amtrak train Saturday has been identified as 27 year old Ashley Nicole Vale of Silt.  The accident happened Saturday afternoon near Silt.

A new study by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Denver says people living near fracking by energy companies face a higher risk of health problems from air pollution.  According to the Daily Sentinel, the study found higher levels of air pollution near the wells making  the cumulative risk of getting cancer 10 in 1 million for those living within a 1/2 mile of wells, compared with 6 in 1 million for those living farther away.

Budget forecasts for the upcoming fiscal year are setting off some battles at the state capitol.  The Denver Post says there may be an extra $149 million and Democrats and republicans are arguing over a property tax break for seniors. Republicans want to restore the break, Democrats want only the poorest seniors to get it.  Governor Hickenlooper in the meantime wants to use the extra money to ease cuts to education and other programs.

A hearing today for the man on death row in the killings four people at a Chuck E. Cheese Restaurant in Aurora in 1993 may be his last chance to live.  Nathan Dunlap's attorneys will argue Dunlap is mentally ill and his trial lawyers failed to adequately represent him.  According to the Denver Post, it's been 15 years since Colorado executed someone. That execution was the state's first in 30 years.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday March 19, 2012

No word on the cause of a motel fire that sent 19 people from 12 rooms to other motels for the night. The fire at the Value Lodge was reported about 10:45 last night, and when fire crews got there, they found one room filled with smoke and smoke throughout the entire lodge.  One person was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation.  More information is expected later today.

The state patrol says it looks like speed and alcohol were factors in a fatal crash early yesterday morning on I-70 near DeBeque.  3 people were in a car headed east when it went off the road and hit a rock structure in the median and burst into flames.  Passersby pulled all three from the crash, 19 year old Christina Flager from Rifle died at the scene.

It's no secret gas prices are going up almost daily.  The latest report from Colorado shows drivers paying $3.57 a gallon yesterday, up nearly 15 cents in the past week.  The website says that's close to 53 cents a gallon higher than a month ago.  Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says a surge in wholesale prices late last week will likely mean another hike for consumers this week.  [The average price nationally is $3.80/gal, up 4.3 cents in the past week]

Crimestoppers in Garfield County are looking for theives who broke into the Carbondale Public works Facility on Hwy 133 and stole thousands of dollars worth of hand and power tools.  It happened late Tuesday February 28th, or early the 29th.  Anyone with information should visit

Mesa County Emergency Responders are working a full-scale training excerise today to make sure local, state, and federal response agencies work together to manage a major incident.  The training is designed to be as realistic as possible, so people may see a lot of activity happeneing around the valley, as the different agencies frespond to the situation.

For the next two weeks, you can buy next year's pass at Powderhorn, and get in on a first: a $150 5-pack lift ticket for Steamboat Springs.  Powderhorn's new owners tell the Daily Sentinel the pass promotion is an effort to attact western Colorado skiers and give them a chance to get a "big-mountain" experience at a little-mountain price.

The Colorado Association of School Boards is helping Delta County School District 50J in its search for a new superintendent and has 20 people to choose from.  The Daily Sentinel says interviews are scheduled next month for the job which officially begins July 1st.  The District's community relations director says none of the 20 applicants live in Delta.

A growing trend of foreclosures on churches is hitting home in Colorado.  The Denver Post says a record 138 churches were sold nationwide last year.  In Colorado, 25 churches are on the market right now, 15 in the Denver area, several others near Colorado Springs.

About 84 square miles and at least two homes have burned in a wildfire in eastern Colorado.  The Denver Post says 45 mile an hour winds and blowing dust were making it hard to see where the fire was burning.  3 firefighters went to hospitals with minor injuries and hundreds were evacuated in Washington and Yuma Counties.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday March 15, 2012

3 uncontrolled ag burns have fire officials in the Grand Valley sending out a warning.  Grand Junction Fire spokesman Mike Page says very dry conditions are causing fires to burn hotter and travel
faster than expected, getting out of control quickly. Enough resources were available yesterday to keep the fires from causing significant damage, but Page says more wind is expected today and those with burn permits should use caution before conducting their burns.

In Garfield County, firefighters have responded to 9-wildland fires this week alone, and county officials are advising caution.  Emergency responders say burns should be completed by noon to allow embers to cool before dry afternoon winds move into the area.

A bill to strengthen anti-stalking laws in Colorado is one step away from the governor's desk.  "Vonnie's Law" would require an arrested stalker to go before a judge and be issued a restraining order before possible release from jail.  The bill passed the Senate yesterday and goes back to the House for consideration of amendments made in the Senate.

Colorado Senator Mark Udall has introduced legislation that would lift a cap on credit unions, allowing them to loan capital to smaller small businesses to expand and create jobs.  A move with not cost to tax payers.  Udall says his Small Business Lending Enhancement Act could make a huge difference in local communities.  He says small businesses don't need help with a billion dollar IPO, they need a small bridge loan.

C-DOT crews will be closing stretches of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon tomorrow to bring down unstable rocks above the intersate.  Spokeswoman Nancy Shanks says the work is scheduled  near the Shoshone Power Plant with closures expected on a 2 1/2 mile stretch.  Starting at 10 tomorrow morning through 6 tomorrow night, delays up to 15 minutes will occur.  A rockfall contractor may finish early depending on how much rock is brought down.

The Garfield Re-2 school district is going to a 4-day week next fall, but exactly how that will work hasn't been determined.  The move, expected to save the district about a half million dollars, is being worked on through staff and community conversations.  A specific calendar for the 2012-2013 school year is expected to be adopted later this spring.

At one foreclosure sale for every 706 households in Mesa County, the county had the highest rate of foreclosure sales in the state last month.  The Daily Sentinel says the closest county was Adams where sales translated to 1:858 households.  One realtor says the news isn't really bad...that properties on the market for a long time are finally selling.  The bad news would come if the high number of foreclosure sales continues.

Plans to build a new fire station in Palisade keep getting scaled-back.  The Daily Sentinel says the town orginally wanted to build a multi-purpose $3.6 million facility next to the town hall.  That budget was trimmed to $1.3 million for a scaled down structure, and now it looks like the bdget for that is too small.  Town officials are looking for an extra $300,000 to cover the cost of new bays for the town's two fire engines.

Former state legislator and gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland has died at the age of 79.  Friends tell the Denver Post Strickland had been in poor health.  Strickland was first elected in the State House in 1968 and the State Senate two years later, and was Senat President from 1983 to 1992.  Strickland was lieutenant governor from 1973 to 75, ran unsuccessfully against Dick Lamm in 1978 and against Roy Romer in 1986.

The CU Board of Regents are looking at a couple of different options for increasing tuition at the Boulder campus.  The Denver Post says one option is for a one-time tutition hike.  The other, a multi-year approach.  No decision on the hike is expected today.

The legislature's Joint Budget Committee is trying to fix the state's computer system that manages programs from food stamps to Medicaid, but doesn't look to be even close.  Governor John Hickenlooper has asked for $13.7 million for improvements to Colorado Benefits Management System.  The Denver Post says the JBC doesn't want to put up the money without guarantees the repairs will work.  The CBMS's problems include delays in processing eligibility for benefits, erroneous information being sent to recipients and a nubmer of technical glitches.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday March 14, 2012

The Colorado National Monument is closing the west entrance to the park tomorrow for rockfall work. A big slab of rock over the second tunnel on the west side is considered unstable, so it's coming down.  Rimrock Drive from the entrance to the campground, will be closed beginning at 8:00 tomorrow morning, and could be closed all day.

If you haven't gotten a look at the new Mesa County Central Services Building, this afternoon is your chance.  The motor vehicles office, clerk and recorder, elections, and several public works divisions have been moved to the new facility in the old City Market Warehouse on North 1st Street at Main.

The Grand Junction Fire Department is trying to get the word out about where to get a permit for open burning.  The Department's Administrative Offices have been moved for construction of the new Public Safety Complex, and the temporary location is where the permits are available.  The offices are located at the City Shops complex off Broadway at West Avenue near the Riverside Parkway.

The U-S Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines, alleging the company failed to compensate a pilot's employee benefits while he was serving in the Colorado Air National Guard.  The company is accused paying only the minimum to the man's account, instead of full-time benefits he would have received.

The Montrose Downtown Development Authority says it didn't receive state funding as a "Creative District," but will continue to work to strengthen arts and cultural opportunities.  Director Scott Shine tells the Montrose Daily Press Durango may have won grant money because of its status as a college town, and Telluride because it's economy is purely tourism-based.  He says they'll continue to partner with those communities to reap benefits from them.

Colorado’s January unemployment numbers are out and show an increase of 7/10 of a percent to 8.4%.  In Grand Junction, the numbers were similar, up  nearly a whole percentage point to 9.6 in January.  The unemployment rate in Montrose County climbed to 11.1% and Delta County saw a drop of more than a percentage point from 9.7 to 8.4%.

Grand Junction State Representative Ray Scott is firming up a bill to allow County Commissioners with state appointed Public Trustees to decide whether they want to fund those offices, or handle the job with their own elected County Treasurer.  Scott tells the Daily Sentinel the bill would allow counties to save that salary and office money.  Public Trustees are charged with overseeing foreclosure sales.  Scott says money from those sales is used for the trustee's salary and office expenses.  He says that money could be returned to the county instead.

Students in the Garfield Re-2 School District are going to school one less day a week next year.  The school board voted for the move yesterday--part of budget cutting.  Superintendent Susan Birdsey says the 4-day week will save the district about a half million dollars next year.

Backers of two more marijuana questions that would loosen marijuana laws have gotten the go ahead to collect signatures in an effort to get the measures on the November ballot.  Proposed Initiative 70 would make it a constitutional right for people 21 and older to possess up to 4-ounces of marijuana.  Proposed Initiative 65 would allow doctors to prescribe pot for any medical condition.  The Denver Post says the latest OKs bring to five, the number of marijuana issues potentially heading to the ballot.

Another death on Colorado ski Slopes.  A 71-year old man injured on an expert run at Loveland Ski Area Saturday died of those injuries in Denver.  The man's name wasn't released.

John Ramsey, the father of 6-year old beauty queen JonBenet killed in Boulder in 1996, is speaking out about putting children on public display.  Ramsey tells ABC it now believes it's not a good idea.  Ramsey's promoting a new book and says thinking about those things now makes him cringe.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday March 13, 2012

District 51 continues to look everywhere for budget cuts with a projected $5.1 million to $8.1 million shortfall expected for the 2012-2013 school year.  The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel says the district owns 75 properties on 800 acres and theoretically all could be sold.  Officials say school property is worth the most, but not always sellable. The Basil T. Knight Center is one administrative building that could be closed, sending 35 workers to other district buildings.  The value of that property those is only about $619,000 with no guarantee of a sale.

The bones of Paige Birgfeld, found south of Grand Junction last week, are headed to Denver for examination by a forensic anthropologist.  The Daily Sentinel says the skeleton was examined Friday at Community Hospital and the Coroner's Office is now taking it to Denver, hoping the specialist might see something local investigators missed.  When the bones will make the trip hasn't been decided.

Students at Colorado Mountain College are looking at another tuition hike, this one 5.6% to 7.1%.  The Boad of Trustees voted for the increase yesterday in response to expected state revenue cuts of as much as $300,000 or more next year.

Re-2 4-DAY?
District 51 in Grand Junction isn't the only western slope district looking at 4-day school weeks.  The Garfield Re-2 school board has a proposal up for consideration at its meeting this afternoon.  Re-2's anticipated budget shortfall for next year is $1.7 to $2.2 million.  The Daily Sentinel says the 4-day week option is one of several options being considered.

A 21 year old man remains jailed after a high speed chase with state Troopers.  According to the Daily Sentinel, Jordan T. Criswell was arrested on 17 charges about 1:00 Sunday morning.  He's accused of running from the trooper at speeds as high as 80 miles an hour in a 30 mile an hour zone.  Criswell is held on $50,000 bond.

The BLM is rolling out a new website to allow people to easily get involved in the quarterly oil and gas lease process.  The goal is to encourage public participation by making it as easy as possible.  There's a public involvement calendar and information on upcoming oil and gas lease sales from the BLM's Colorado office at

A man who supplied drugs in the meth for sex ring involving former Arapaho County Sheriff Pat Sullivan has been sentenced to 3 years in prison.  The Denver Post says 49 year old Timothy Faase pled guilty to dealing meth last month. Sullivan was arrested in November on charges of possession and distribution, attempting to influence a public servant and misdemeanor prostitution charges.

A new study by The American Journal of Sports Medicine says snowboarders have a slightly higher rate of injury than skiers.  According to the Vail Daily, the most common type of injury for snowboarders is wrist injuries; while for skiers, it's an ACL sprain.  The study found the highest rate of injury among young, inexperienced, female snowboarders.

Fruita Police Officer jared Wright announces his candidacy for the State House District 54 seat held by Laura Bradford.  While a student at Mesa State College,  Wright worked as an aide for Satee Representative Matt Smith.  He'll announce in Delta at 10:30 this morning and in Grand Junction at 12:45.

3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton is in  Grand Junction today, continuing talks with small businesses about what can be done in Washington to generate growth and job creation.  Tipton was in Delta last night for a town hall meeting, another is scheduled in Grand Junction Thursday at 5:30.  Tipton will finish the week with a tour of Intermountain Resources Lumber Mill in Montrose.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


March 7, 2012

Remains Found in Wells Gulch Identified

Mesa County, Colorado— On March 6, 2012 at approximately 12:30pm the Delta
County Sheriff’s Office received a report of human remains found in the Wells
Gulch area by a hiker.  Delta County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance in
recovering the skeletal remains from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the
Delta County Coroner’s Office, the Mesa County Coroner’s Office, and the Mesa
County Sheriff’s Office.
Forensic odontology has been used to tentatively identify the remains as
belonging to Paige Birgfeld of Grand Junction.  A DNA comparison will be
requested through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to confirm these results.
The remains may be forwarded to a forensic anthropologist in an attempt to
identify any evidence of trauma.
Other personal items were found along with the remains and will be considered
for DNA testing based on past successes with trace evidence.
Paige Birgfeld was reported missing in a 2007 Mesa County Sheriff’s Office
Investigation that has since been classified as a homicide.  
The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office continues to be informed of
developments in this case as they occur.
Investigators are continuing to search the Wells Gulch area for any clues that
would show how the body arrived in the area or any clues as to how Paige
Birgfeld died.

215 Rice Street Grand Junction Colorado     81501

Wednesday March 7, 2012

A new group looking to plan, develop, build, manage and maintain trails and trail systems has formed and looking to get users involved.  It's called the Grand Valley Trail Association and coordinator David Grossman they're hoping to bring together various user groups that would benefit from unified trail management The GVTA is holding an open house tomorrow at the CMU Ballroom. Details at

Skeletal remains have been found in north Delta County, and teams from Delta and Mesa County Sheriff's Departments are investigating.  Delta Sheriff Free McKee tells teh Daily Sentinel a couple hiking found the remains near the county line yesterday afternoon. Investigaators are expected to return to the area today.

Phillip Lochmiller. convicted of scamming more than 400 investors in the failed Valley Investments is to be sentenced Friday, and prosecutors want him to report to prison immediately.  Lochmiller was convicted in July and at 64 years old, faces what could amount to a life sentence.  According to the Daily Sentinel, Assistand U-S Attorney Michelle Heldmyer urged the court to reject a request by Lochmiller to hold off reporting to prison in order for him to have knee replacement surgery.  She says the investors will never see thier $30 million returned and at least deserve to see Lochmiller begin serving his sentence promptly.

District 51 School officials are hoping to reduce the number of drug expulsions by offering counseling to first time offenders.  The Daily Sentinel says those caught with drugs are suspended for 5-days, a second offense results in a 1-year suspension.  Under a pilot program, first offenders will be given a choice of a two-day suspension with four 1-hour counseling sessions. The idea, to help students learn from the experience.

Abstinence-only sex education in Utah.  The legislature has passed a bill prohibiting teachers from teaching about contraceptives, homosexuality or premarital sex.  One lawmaker tells the AP it needs to be made clear than an abstinence-only curriculum is the only acceptable method for sex ed.  The law is on the governor's desk.

Garfield County is getting closer to hiring a new County Manager.  A search began after county commissioners fired 13-year manager Ed Green without cause.  According to the Glenwood Post, a search firm has 53 applicants, with a list of finalists expected in two weeks.  In the meantime, Green is a finalist for two city manager jobs, one in Centennial on the front range, the other in Cape Coral, FL.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Mesa County Sheriff's Investigators are saying very little about the stabbing death of a Fruita man last week. 31 year old Able Roper was found dead in a trailer park at 32 and F Roads Thursday morning.  Over the weekend, brothers Jose and Julio Ortiz of Clifton were arrested.  Both are being held on suspicion of 1st degree murder.  No details have been released.

A bill in the State Senate that would prevent state agencies from confiscating firearms without due process during a declared state of emergency is expected to die in committee today. Grand Junction Senator Steve King says he is disappointed, that the issue is not a republican or democrat one, but a second amendment issue.  The proposal is on the agenda this afternoon in the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee – known in the Capitol as the “Kill Committee."

The Board of Mesa County commissioners is expected to approve an application for a $4.5 million River
Initiative Grant from the State Board of Great Outdoors Colorado.  The grant would be used to pay for Colorado Riverfront Trails, Fruita Connection Phase 3 and Kokopelli Connection. 

When the price of gas goes down, more often than not, it's by a penny or two.  When it goes up.... The price of gas in Colorado this week is 7-cents a gallon higher than last week at $3.21 a gallon. says that compares with the national climb of 5.2 cents to 3.71/gallon.  Including the change during the past week, the average cost in Colorado is 7.2 cents a gallon lower than a year ago, and 20.6 cents a gallon higher than a month ago.

Grand Junction attorney Dan Robinson is expected to enter the race for the newly drawn State House District 55 which includes only the city of Grand Junction.  The seat is currently held by Republican Ray Scott. Robinson, a democrat, has a press conference set this afternoon and confirms to the Daily Sentinel he will enter the race.

A Redvale, Colorado man has been identified as the victim of an avalanche in the La Sal Mountains near Moab.  The Daily Sentinel says 18 year old Garrett Carothers was found dead yesterday, his snowmobile buried under 12 feet of snow. Utah officials say Carothers and three others were snomobiling in a remote area when the slide happened Saturday morning.

A Collbran woman has been arrested, accused of trying to cash two altered checks.  The Daily Sentinel says 51 year old Lisa Kay Eisenbarth was booked by Grand Junction Police on suspicion of forgery, drug possession and distribution.  Eisenbarth reportedly was out on bond on two similar cases.

A Grand Junction man is facing charges he trapped mountain lions and bobcats, and released them for hunters who paid thousands of dollars to hunt them.  The Daily Sentinel says Marvin Ellis was arraigned last week.  Federal authorities say Ellis was employed as a hunting guide for a licensed outfitter in Mack.  The paper says a plea agreement may be in the works.