Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Grand Junction Police are looking for a man who held up the Bradley Sinclair Gas Station at 2nd and North Avenue early this morning.  He's described as about 6 foot to 6-2 with a slender build, and dressed in all black with a hoodie and black cloth mask with white stripes.  He reportedly pointed a handgun at the clerk and then got away.  It happened at about 2:00 this morning.

Work is underway to move the main branch of the Mesa County Public Library into temporary quarters at the old Ashley Furniture building on 1st Street.  Workers are packing and moving each morning this week, so the library is opening at noon each day.  The library will be closed starting this Saturday and reopen in the temporary location the week of August 13th.

The Ponderosa Boat Ramp at Blue Mesa Reservoir is being closed because of low water levels. Superintendent Connie Rudd says boater safety and damage to trailers, boats and vehicles are the biggest concerns. The lake level is dropping about a foot every four days, and there's a possibility the Steven's Creek ramp will closed this week, too.

The Mesa County Health Department is offering two T-DAP immunization clinics before school starts in August. The state health department requires the tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccines for all students entering kindergarten and sixth through 12th grades this fall. The clinics are on the 14th and 15th.

The BLM has put in a plan to help rehabilitate the 14000 acres burned in the Pine Ridge Fire. The plan is to install 5 new sedimentation retention dams and reseed 4,800 acres of grass for short term stabilization. The Daily Sentinel says the plan is expected to cost nearly $2 million.

The cost of death certificates in Colorado is going up...from $17 to $20.  Additional copies will also go up from $10 to $13. A new law requiring the Office of Vital Records to begin providing electronic death records to offices statewide is the reason.  The change makes it possible for a customer to get a certified copy anywhere in the state.

Aurora theater shooter James Holmes has been formally charged with a total of 142 criminal counts including two separate counts of murder for each of the 12 people who died in the massacre July 20th.  The next hearing in the case is scheduled Aug. 9, when attorneys will debate a motion from 20 news media organizations to unseal the case file.  Another hearing is scheduled August 16th on arguments filed by the prosecution and defense over a notebook Holmes is reported to have mailed to his psychiatrist before the shootings.

Things are getting better over Tennessee Pass which has been closed since early July when an underground railroad tunnel collapsed creating a huge sinkhole in Highway 24.  C-DOT has been working to make repairs and now has one lane open to alternating traffic. Wide loads are still prohibited, but the entire roadway is expected to be opened sometime next week.

House District 54 candidate Jared Wright says he's been the target of a vindictive police chief who sought to remove him for the Fruita Police Department where he's been an officer for five years.  Wright resigned from the force earlier this month having been accused of insubordination and lying, both of which call into question his integrity as an officer. KJCT TV says Wright will continue his campaign in full and not let the allegations slow him down.

Mesa County's Drought Response Inforamtion Project or DRIP is recognizing School District 51 for aggressive leadership during the 2012 drought. A presentation is set this morning to pass on the accolades.

Rocky Mountain Sanitation is being recognized among the top 100 largest solid waste companies in the country in the new Waste Age Magazine.  The Grand Junction based company ranks 89th on the list of "Industry Players," with $3.1 million in revenue last year.  Rocky Mountain Sanitation shares the recognition with copmanies in large metro area from Houston to Atlanta.

ATF agents have indicted two Denver area men, accused of unlawful acts with explosives.  U-S Attorney John Walsh says undercover agents purchased hundreds of cartridges of explosives similar to dynamite and sawed-off shotguns. The investigation began in early June, with the indictments handed up last week.  Both men face fines and federal prison time if convicted.

A non-profit agency helping veterans across Colorado is changing its name from Denver Options to Rocky Mountain Human Services.  They say the change better reflects what the group does, helps military veterans who've fallen on hard times get back on their feet.  Rocky Mountain Human Services has offices in Denver, Colorado Springs, and in Grand Junction. Information is available at RMhumanservices.org.

The Grand Junction Rockies have their new bat girl. 16-year old Zoe Wright beat out dozens of applicants for the honor of polishing cleats, collecting bats and chasing down balls for the local team. Grand Junction Subaru will officially announce Zoe's selection at Saturday's game against the Ogden Raptors.

Some Federal Transportation money has been freed up for projects in Mesa, Ouray and Archuleta Counties Senator Michael Bennet says will help complete projects to keep some vital roadways safe and support local economic development.  Bennet says C-DOT is getting a $1.9 million grant for the North Avenue Complete Streets Project to improve infrastructure along North Avenue in Grand Junction.
[Additional money is being used to replace a cribwall and widen lanes along U-S 550 over Red Mountain Pass in Ouray County.

The City of Montrose has received awards for creating an strengthening a positive safety culture in 2011.  The Montrose Daily Press says the city's insurance carrier singled out the city for Loss Prevention, Safety Champion and Safety Manager of the year.  Safety Manager Jim Hougnan says he's honored to receive the award, but quickly passed the credit on to the staff.  He says the bottom line is the city's commitment to a strong safety culture, something that didn't exist five eyars ago.

The Colorow Family Medical Center in Olathe and the Uncompahgre Medical Center are recieving grant money from from the Colorado Rural Health Care grant program. The Montrose Daily Press says Colorow is getting 49 thousand while the Uncompahgre is getting 50 thousand dollars. The grants are part of a five year, 7.5 million dollar program funded by United Health Care.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday July 30, 2012

The Colorado State Patrol is still investigating a crash near Craig that killed three men.  All 3 were in a car headed west on Highway 40 about 2:30 Saturday morning when the car crossed the center line and smashed head-on into a semi. The semi caught fire, but the driver was able to escape with moderate injuries.

The Aurora movie theater shooter will hear formal charges today.  The Denver Post says James Holmes faces numerous counts of murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and other offenses.  New details could also be released.  Media outlets are asking the judge to unseal the case file.  They also want access to a notebook Holmes allegedly mailed to his psychiatrist prior to the shootings.

The Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction continues it's 75th anniversary celebration with a St. Mary's Blood Bank donation drive of 75 pints of blood.  The goal reached last week with donations from Kiwanis Club members and others who donated in the name of the club.

The price of gas in Colorado is down another 3 cents a gallon to an average $3.48 yesterday.  ColoradoGasPrices.com says that compares with the national average of $3.50/gal.  The website says prices are now 12 cents a gallon lower than a month ago, and one cent a gallon lower than a year ago.  GasBuddy.com's Senior Petroleum Analyst believes higher fuel commodity prices will lead to higher prices at the pump over the next week.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says a large fish kill on the Colorado River above Dotsero can likely be blamed on heavy rains flushing mud, debris and sediment into the river.  Wildlife managers say it appears thousands of fish found dead along the river likely succumbed to the contaminated water. They say the fish were especially susceptible because of earlier stress from low flows and high temperatures brought on by drought conditions.

The Grand County Council in Moab is still looking for a new council administrator after their top candiate turned down the job.  Martin Black said the $75,000 salary offer wasn't enough, that another $10,000 would do it.  But in the end, the County Council said no.  The Moab Times says the Council is expected to take up the matter at its next regular meeting August 7th. 

Grand Junction is still way behind normal for rainfall on the year, but rain early Sunday morning is making a dent.  The Daily Sentinel says .98 inches of rain has fallen so far this month, nearly twice the usual amount.  Total rainfall for the year though, is still about 2 1/2 inches below normal.

The former Fruita Police Officer running for the House District 54 seat in the state legislature says he'll hold a press conference today to clear the air about why he resigned his post in Fruita last week.  KKCO TV says Jared Wright issued a press release promising full transparancy.  The City of Fruita has said only that a personnel issue led to Wright's resignation last week.

The Aurora Victim Relief Fund has taken in $3.1 million.  The manager of online giving for the community First Foundation tells the Denver Post the money is being divided among ten trusted nonprofit organizations providing a host of services to survivors and their families. 

A group called Operation Homefront is holding its annual Back-to-School Brigrade to collect school supplies for military kids.  It's a national movement with links at OperationHomefront.net, or on facebook.  In Grand Junction, Dollar Tree stores at Teller Arms and in the Rim Rock Shopping Center are offering to help get supplies to Operation Homefront.

20 needy children in Mesa County are getting a back-to-school shopping trip from the Salvation Army.  20 volunteers are being matched up with the kids for $80 shopping sprees for new clothes, coats and shoes. The trek to Target is tomorrow morning in Grand Junction.

Colorado Mesa University's 5th residence hall in the past six years is set to open this fall and a public open house today will show off the new construction at 12th and Orchard.  The Daily Sentinel says  the $11 million apartment building has 59,000 square feet and room for up to 192 residents.  Construction on another student housing project is expected to begin in two weeks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday July 19, 2012

Xcel Energy is stepping up its social media with a contest in which one winner will get a year's free electricity and 7 runners up will get a month's free power.  Spokesman Mark Stutz says the "Volt of Knowledge" facebook contest is designed to educate customers about Xcel Energy programs and services. You get entered by answering 3 trivia questions on the Xcel Facebook page. The contest runs through Sept. 3rd.

Grand Valley Transit is about to be swimming in a $1.2 million Department of Transportation grant.  Colorado Senator Michael Bennet made the announcement yesterday saying the money's to revitalize the community's transit infrastructure.  The Bus Livability Program money is targeted for the GVT West Transfer Facility.

A 125 acre lightning- caused wildfire is burning near Douglas Pass on BLM land 17 miles east of the Utah border.  The Brush Creek fire was reported just after 10:00 yesterday monring and by 3:30, crews were working to protect 9 structures, two within a mile west of the fire.  Smoke jumpers, air tankers, a helicopter and a hand crew were deployed quickly. By 10:00 last night, Engines were providing protection for some structures and oil and gas facilities a few miles northeast.

Grand Junction Firefighters are looking into the cause of a house fire on Grand Avenue.  It apparently started in the basement and when crews got there, there was smoke pouring from the entire house. They were able to control the fire in about 10 minutes. A passerby first noticed the fire and called 9-1-1 before going inside the house.  Officials say that action was very dangerous and they stress the importance of waiting for trained and properly outfitted firefighters to arrive.

Fire Restrictions across western Colorado are being lifted and lightened almost daily, and fire managers are urging people to check with local authorities before lighting any fires.  Lower elevation BLM areas are still very dry and Stage II bans are still in effect.  White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams says the major fires in the state this summer have been naturally caused, and people are still being urged to use caution.

Crimestoppers has gotten into the investigation of an altercation in the early morning of the 4th of July outside Village Inn on North Avenue.  The fight may have involved several people, including Daniel Marques who walked away from the scene and was found later in a parking lot.  He died at the hospital.  Crimestoppers is offering a cash reward for information in the case.  You can call 241-STOP or go to 241STOP.com.

The West Central Public Health Partnership has received a $25,000 Leadership grant from the Colorado Trust.  The group works as a partnership with agencies across several counties to increase access to public health services not previously available. The Montrose Daily Press says the money is being divided to help supplement the regional cooredinator's position.

Arrest affidavits in an attempted armed robbery show two suspects stalked the victim, following her after she cashed a check during a break from her job at Barnes Electric.  23 year olds Jeremiah Woolbright and Brianna Kuiper were arrested Tuesday night after a standoff at the Motel 6 on Horizon Dr.  Investigators used video surveillance from Wal-Mart, where the victim had cashed a check, and spotted the suspects. The victim was beaten with a handgun and was treated at a hospital.

A move by the Grand Junction City Council to drop sales and use taxes on lumber killed by bark beetles could cost the city $5,000 to $20,000 in tax revenue.  The council last night agreed to remove the tax at the request of Doug Jones Sawmill who says it falls in line with state policies.  Jones tells the Daily Sentinel he's likely to invest more in beetle killed lumber, and pass the savings on to consumers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday July 13, 2012

9 grand valley businesses are looking at sanctions after failing liquor compliance checks.  Local law enforcement agencies and state liquor enforcement sent underage persons into 111 businesses Wednesday, 3 liquor stores and 6 restaurants sold to the minors.  Compliance checks are funded by a grant awarded to the Grand Junction Police Department last October.

The long 4th of July holiday was a deadly one on the roads in Colorado. The State Patrol says five people were killed in alcohol related crashes between June 29th and July 5th. During the same period, 632 DUI arrests were made. C-DOT and the state patrol are continuing the 100 Days of Heat anti-drunk driving campaign through September 4th.

Xcel Energy is warning customers about a national scam targeting some Colorado utility customers.  The scam via telephone, Twitter and texting claims President Obama is applying payments to utility bills in an attempt to get people to hand over social security and bank routing numbers. Xcel says it is a scam and customers should only use authorized methods to pay their bills.

Even though statewide fire restrictions have been lifted, Stage 2 restrictions are still in place on lands managed by the White River National Forest, and the Colorado River Valley and Grand Junction BLM Field Offices. The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Office says conditions are still extremely dry and could lead to large fires. Recreationists are urged to call their county sheriff's office and local fire protection districts for the latest fire restrictions on non-federal lands.

More allegations against a Grand Junction man being investigated on charges of sexual assault on a child while serving as a mentor in the Mesa County Partners program.  The Daily Sentinel says 50-year Mark Bustamante was arrested after two boys said they had been molested. A third victim came forward yesterday and  Bustamante's bond was raised from $100,000 to $150,000.

A 22 year old Grand Junction man has been sentenced to 42 years in prison after shooting a 16 year old friend during a botched burglary.  Joshua Ringold plead guilty in April to shooting Cody English as the pair ran away from a home where they tried to steal some pot last November.  The Daily Sentinel says two admitted acomplices face 24 year prison sentences.

A Homeland Security team based in Denver has shut down 22 websites selling counterfeit merchandise.  The sites are among 70 seized across the country.  The US Attorneys Office in Denver says many of the sites were so close to the real ones, even the most discerning customers couldn't tell the difference.  A list of the seized sites is online at ICE.gov.