The Home Front: A Colorado jail guard assaulted an inmate. Now he’s going to jail for it.
Your morning roundup of stories from the front pages of newspapers across Colorado
“A former Department of Corrections employee will not go to trial next week after he accepted a plea deal Thursday,” The Cañon City Daily Record reports. “Anthony Martinez, 40, a former correction officer with the Centennial Correctional Facility, was charged with second-degree assault and third-degree assault, as well as attempting to influence a public official. According to the arrest affidavit, Martinez used excessive force against an inmate Sept. 11, 2014. In the affidavit, Warden Travis Trani said, “it was the worst case of excessive force he had seen in his career,” the paper reports.
“The case of a Firestone home that exploded earlier this month continues to reverberate throughout Colorado after the company that owns a nearby oil and gas well voluntarily shut down its entire inventory of vertical wells in northeastern Colorado,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Now, others are calling on all of the state’s oil and gas operators to do the same. On Wednesday, Anadarko Petroleum announced it had voluntarily shut in, and plans to inspect, 3,000 vertical wells out of caution after the April 17 explosion, which was near a 24-year-old producing vertical well it has owned since 2014. Drilling vertical wells is largely a thing of the past in Colorado, though thousands of them continue to produce throughout the state. Oil and gas operators today drill horizontal wells, which are seen as more efficient, produce more and take up smaller footprints.”
“The Boulder County commissioners in a statement Thursday called for oil and gas operators in the county to halt all vertical wells following Anadarko Petroleum Corporation’s shutoff of more than 3,000 in northeast Colorado,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Ten of those wells are located in the county — a fraction of about 300 total wells — said Kim Sanchez, senior planner in Boulder County’s Land Use Department, after confirming with Anadarko and county public health staff. The commissioners also are asking that operators don’t reopen their wells until they inspect and confirm that the sites do not pose any safety risks. An Anadarko well located less than 200 feet from a house that exploded and killed two men in Firestone is being looked at by investigators as one aspect into the probe of the origin and cause, which has not yet been released.”
“Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen will now have a say on how police officers throughout Colorado are trained,” reports The Steamboat Springs Pilot & Today. “Gov. John Hickenlooper has appointed Christensen to sit on the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, a division of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. “I am very pleased that Chief Christensen will be joining the POST board,” Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in an email. “I believe his experience and expertise will be of great value to his fellow board members and the peace officers they serve. It will also be really beneficial to have the added input from Northwest Colorado.”
“The Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, whose finances are the subject of a police investigation, is unable to pay its instructors and vendors and, “barring some miracle,” will close after its annual “Dancers Dancing” production on May 12-13, the center’s board said in a news release Thursday evening,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “The Board of Directors has determined, at the present time, without further financial support from either the city of Glenwood Springs or from significant donations, it cannot meet its expenses, including current liabilities to vendors and its instructors,” said the news release from board attorney Charles Willman.”
“The Fremont County elections clerk on Thursday OK’d a petition for circulation by the Fremont Freedom Fighters, a committee seeking to recall Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker. Beicker, a Republican, has served as sheriff since 2003,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “He has served two years and four months of his fourth term having run unopposed in 2014. Beicker’s office has come under scrutiny this year due to three officers being placed on administrative leave, a civil lawsuit filed in the death of an inmate at the Fremont County jail and the “overbroad” confiscation of horses in an alleged animal cruelty case which led to a judge’s order to return 24 of the animals.”
“A bill that caused consternation among Colorado Department of Transportation officials and elected leaders in Northern Colorado passed through the House Local Government Committee on Wednesday night — but minus one “yes” vote leaders were lobbying against,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Rep. Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, was a co-sponsor on the bill, and until the last minute, he said he hadn’t decided yet how he’d vote — he passed on the vote during initial roll call and then voted against the bill when called a second time. House Bill 17-1348 still passed the committee and was referred to the Transportation and Energy Committee for consideration on a 7-6 vote.”
“Phyllis Johnson has said it in writing, said it in a newspaper story and, this week, the 92-year-old resident said it directly to members of the Eagle Town Board — her private property located adjacent to the planned Eagle River Park is not for sale,” reports Vail Daily. “Johnson made her statement at Tuesday’s meeting, during which she shared the history of the 7.5-acre Barnes Ranch property, which she co-owns with Harlan House, of Goodland, Kansas.”
“In the world of trash, there’s no roller coaster ride quite like the recycling market,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Once upon a time, trash haulers made money off your recyclables. But the value of those cans, bottles, cardboard and newspapers plummeted during the last five years, which trickled down to consumers in the form of rate increases and service surcharges. Now, the recycling market is showing signs of recovery, albeit hesitantly. That’s good news for haulers, and it’s even better news for Fort Collins residents who want to recycle without coughing up a lot of cash.”
“Not only is the Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District investigating the cause of a deadly blast at a Firestone home last week, but the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and an international petroleum company have confirmed their involvement in the probe,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Fire investigators, police and environmental consultants as well as oil and gas crews continue to look for clues in the rubble at 6312 Twilight Ave., where the blast and fire killed two men in the basement and a woman was seriously burned. Meanwhile, construction workers continue work on future apartments behind the neighborhood.”
“Nearly two years after she was convicted of neglecting eight horses — including a famous quarter horse and sire named Dual Peppy— a Black Forest woman must serve her time,” reports The Gazette. “Former horse breeder Sherri Brunzell must report by 7 p.m. Thursday to begin serving a 60-day jail sentence she was initially given in August 2015. El Paso County Judge Stephen Sletta imposed the penalty after previously agreeing to postpone her sentence while her appeals were pending.”
“State regulators are investigating whether oil and gas operations near the Oak Meadows neighborhood in Firestone caused a home explosion that killed two men and severely injured a woman a week and a half ago,” reports The Denver Post. “The stepped-up investigation, along with Anadarko Petroleum’s decision to shut down 3,000 of its older vertical wells in northeast Colorado, left residents in the area on edge despite repeated reassurances they are safe. “The COGCC believes there is no immediate threat to the environment or public safety associated with oil and gas operations in the neighborhood,” said Matt Lepore, director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission at a news conference Thursday. Depending on what investigators find, Lepore said the state may ask other producers to follow the example of Anadarko, which owns seven wells in the Firestone neighborhood.”
“Early childhood care, a key service for those in poverty, is tough to find for families across La Plata County, a Colorado Children’s Campaign report released Thursday found,” reports The Durango Herald. “The annual “Kids Count in Colorado” report tracks child wellbeing at the state and county levels by measuring family income, access to health care and other factors. Data mostly from 2015 showed that racial disparities persist across the state. The report also used information gathered in focus groups held in Denver, Alamosa, Fort Morgan and Durango. Durango was chosen as a focus group site, in part, because La Plata County is home to the Southern Ute Indian tribe. In La Plata County, the percentage of children living in poverty declined from 13 percent in 2014 to about 11.5 percent in 2015. This is slightly below the state average of 14.8 percent, according to the report. The child poverty rate in Montezuma County, at 28.7 percent, is nearly double the state’s average, according to the report. Montezuma County is home to the Ute Mountain Ute tribe.”
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