The Home Front: Felonies spike in northern Colorado, homicides rise in Denver

Felonies have spiked in northern Colorado, reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “The Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which spans Larimer and Jackson counties, filed 2,910 felonies in 2016, a 30 percent surge over 2015,” the paper reports. “Compared to the total number of felonies charged in 2014, the district that encompasses Fort Collins, Loveland and surrounding areas saw a 57 percent jump, data show. That surge came after a previous three-year decline. It also marks a trend that has puzzled many within the criminal justice world and baffled prosecutors who find themselves left to handle burgeoning case loads, tightly stretched resources and a very practical challenge — running out of courtroom space.”

The Durango Herald reports today on local support for public lands. “Dozens of residents packed a La Plata County commissioner meeting Tuesday in support of a resolution on public lands the panel was to vote on. Commissioners reaffirmed their support for keeping public lands public, which was met with a standing ovation. Commissioners voted unanimously to ratify a letter sent this month to state and federal leadership, reinforcing a resolution that received unanimous support from the same board in May 2015. The resolution, which Commissioner Gwen Lachelt read aloud, established support for the continued federal management of federal lands in La Plata County in light of national and state debate about privatization of federal lands and transferring ownership to states.”

“The number of homicides rose in Denver for the second year in a row in 2016, reaching a 10-year high of 56 people amid a sharp rise in domestic-violence deaths,” reports The Denver Post. “While the homicide numbers were higher, Denver police did see some success. The number of gang-related killings dropped significantly, and officers were able to solve more cases than the previous year. The 11 domestic-violence deaths more than doubled the violent death toll for women in the city. Women are more likely than men to be killed by their partners, and in Denver those women died after being shot, stabbed and strangled by their husbands, boyfriends or exes, according to a Denver Post review of police and coroner records.”

The Gazette in Colorado Springs reports on departing chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. “I look around now, and it has changed a lot, and I love to be a part of that because this region needs a comprehensive university,” she told the paper. “If you cut the state in half at Castle Rock, we are the only comprehensive regional research university with master’s and doctoral programs in that half of the state. And we take that very seriously.”

“In addition to the one known complaint against Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, five other female county employees have complained about Conway’s behavior toward them, according to a petition filed by Weld County in Weld District Court,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Weld County attorneys on Tuesday filed a motion with Weld District Court seeking the court’s opinion on the release of records requested by The Greeley Tribune. The records relate to a harassment complaint against Conway, as well as a subsequent investigation and report by Mountain States Employer Counsel. County commissioners, including Conway, discussed that report during executive session Monday morning, and The Tribune requested the report Monday afternoon.”

The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports how the “Garfield County commissioners were among the first on the Western Slope to support a major expansion of a Grand Junction psychiatric hospital, agreeing to contribute $50,000 to West Springs Hospital. West Springs Hospital is the only inpatient psychiatric facility between Denver and Salt Lake City. So its parent nonprofit, Mind Springs Health, is venturing far and wide for support.”

“Representatives for Erie and Lafayette clashed over a converging narrative for how Nine Mile Corner came to fruition in court on Tuesday, reaching back to the neighboring towns’ shared history to spotlight conflicting motives,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “At the heart of the 22-acre condemnation suit Lafayette filed against Erie last summer rests Nine Mile Corner, a 30-acre, mixed-use development situated at the corner of U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road that may best illustrate east Boulder County’s fundamental dilemma relating to recent commercial and residential growth. For the property to be condemned, which would derail Erie’s development plans, Lafayette must prove that transforming the parcel into open space serves the public good or purpose — a requirement under Colorado’s eminent domain law. On Tuesday, however, the burden fell on Erie — which is pursuing a motion to dismiss the condemnation suit — to produce convincing evidence.”

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports Palisade trustees “made a laundry list of decisions about the future of marijuana in their town at their Tuesday night board meeting.For starters, trustees decided Palisade will allow up to three retail recreational marijuana shops. The number includes the option for Palisade’s current and only medical marijuana dispensary, Colorado Alternative Health Care, to create a retail recreational marijuana storefront as well.There will be no limits to the number of marijuana cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities and testing facilities the town will allow.The ideas discussed by trustees Tuesday will be finalized after members agree to resolutions at their next meeting.”

“Black Hills Energy is asking the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to do something it may have never done before — have two commissioners vote to stop the third commissioner from hearing a matter,” The Pueblo Chieftain reports. “It is not unusual for a commissioner to recuse themselves from a case pending before the commission if there is a conflict of interest or personal involvement. But staff said they were unaware of any previous case where the full commission has voted to exclude, or recuse, the third commissioner. That’s what Black Hills is asking in a motion filed Monday. It wants new Chairman Jeff Ackermann and new Commissioner Wendy Moser to force Commissioner Frances Koncilja to recuse herself from any further participation in the utility’s request for an $8.5 million in additional revenue each year.”

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports how the Steamboat Springs City Council “thinks a developer’s latest water proposal for new neighborhoods on the west side of town still is too risky for the community and its taxpayers. But the council has resolved to try and keep the housing proposal afloat in the coming weeks through some negotiations. And the developer is committed to looking into how to further minimize any risk the council is concerned about.”

“In a move District Attorney Cliff Riedel said will save his office time and money, the Larimer County commissioners approved the position of diversion program coordinator Tuesday,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The full-time coordinator would be responsible for two juvenile diversion programs that would help juvenile first-time and low-level offenders avoid charges and jail time, which could permanently affect their records.”

The Boulder Daily Camera reports the city’ Human Services Department “recommended on Tuesday that the department increase to 30 percent the amount of money it uses toward combating poverty in the city, because the director of the department says that poverty spirals out into other social problems. “We know poverty is a core driver of a lot of other social issues — mental health, homelessness, not graduating,” Human Services Director Karen Rahn told the Daily Camera ahead of a City Council study session. The human services department recommended to the City Council — which took no official action on Tuesday night — that the department increase the funding to ‘economic mobility and resilience, one of six goal areas the department has developed, from 9 percent to 30 percent.'”