The Home Front: The latest in an ex-detective’s charges linked to evidence in a Colorado cold case killing

“A motions hearing was postponed Monday in the case involving a former Fremont County Sheriff’s Office detective accused of altering an investigative file, two weeks after he was charged with an additional misdemeanor,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Robert Dodd is charged with two counts of second-degree official misconduct, abuse of public records and, as of Nov. 20, criminal possession of an identification document. In county court Monday, Dodd appeared by phone as his attorney, Randy Jorgensen, asked Fremont County Judge Norman Cooling to continue the hearing to give him more time to file a motion that would dismiss all charges, including the newest one. The new hearing is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 7. The charges against Dodd stem from the 2016 discovery of evidence in a storage unit that once belonged to him. The evidence, which included a bloody rope, an ax and boxes of paperwork, surrounded the Aug. 15, 2006, murder of 17-year-old Candace Hiltz.”

“The new head of the Colorado Department of Transportation made his case on Monday for adding toll lanes to widen Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Incoming CDOT Executive Director Michael Lewis said at a news conference that the toll lanes are the best solution for “reliability and mobility” and that the revenue they would generate will be needed to pay for maintenance on the widened stretch of highway. Under the proposal, a pair of Express Lanes – similar to the toll lanes on U.S. 36 from Denver to Boulder – would be added to the roughly 18-mile stretch of interstate known as the “Gap,” widening it from two to three lanes in each direction. A CDOT spokesman told The Gazette on Friday that construction on the project could begin in late 2018 – nearly a year earlier than expected – and end in spring 2021 if funding sources are finalized.”

“Monday was a day of celebration for people who say past presidents overreached in designating national monuments in Utah,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “It also was a day when backers of those previous actions could begin looking to the courts for support. President Trump on Monday visited Salt Lake City to announce the shrinking of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah to just over 200,000 acres, and the near-halving of the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, down to 1 million acres. “It was a good day for us Utah folks,” said Grand Junction resident Marjorie Haun. She’s a Trump supporter who grew up in southeast Utah and traveled to Utah’s capital Monday with friends from San Juan County, Utah, to hear the president’s announcement. San Juan County is home to the Bears Ears monument.”

“Numerous Greeley residents have made their feelings known in letters submitted to the Greeley City Council and The Greeley Tribune ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting, urging the council to prevent at-large candidate-elect Eddie Mirick from taking his seat on the council,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Mirick is scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday after winning election Nov. 7, but revelations shortly before Election Day that Mirick has a felony on his record have caused uproar. Greeley City Attorney Doug Marek has advised the council that the group cannot take action until Mirick is sworn in. At that point, the council can call for a due-process hearing and pass judgment on his qualifications. It’s unclear whether council members will do that, as there is a resident-led court action in progress and some council members would prefer to let that play out rather than take action on their own.”

“A Summit County judge recused herself from the felony sexual assault cases of two men late last week, delivering an easy if potentially fleeting victory to the pair’s defense attorneys, who ramped up their pre-trial maneuvering after a jury convicted a co-defendant in the case in October,” reports Sumit Daily. “In an order issued Friday, Dec. 1, Judge Karen Romeo granted the defense’s motion to recuse herself because prosecutors had requested she be assigned the case, which involved four men who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in Silverthorne in 2016 while she was incapable of consenting.”

“More than 100 people attended a meeting Monday night to give Larimer County Commissioners feedback on the proposal for a wolf sanctuary to move to a location near Red Feather Lakes,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “WOLF Sanctuary, a 501(c)3 nonprofit located in Rist Canyon northwest of Fort Collins, has purchased 180 acres of land on County Road 74E near Red Feather Lakes for a new sanctuary. The current location sustained damage in the Hyde Park Fire and in the 2013 Northern Colorado floods, and is no longer an optimal location, executive director Shelley Coldiron said. The center was founded in 1995 to care for abused, neglected and displaced captive-born wolves and wolf-dogs, and it engages in public education efforts, Coldiron said. However, opponents to the relocation raised health and sanitation concerns; concerns about a negative effect on tourism; and worries about excessive noise and the impact on the ranching community in the area. Supporters of the nonprofit praised the sanctuary’s educational benefit to the community, the care it provides for the animals and the benefit volunteers receive from participating.”

“After surviving several harsh winters and a recent legal battle over its upkeep, an iconic barn at the base of Steamboat Ski Area will face perhaps its final trial Tuesday when the city’s elected officials decide whether or not to pay for the barn’s restoration as a community landmark,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “If the city council approves the budget request, the nearly 90-year-old Arnold Barn will be moved a stone’s throw away from its current location to the hill in front of The Steamboat Grand. Here, the restored barn would be lit up at night and no longer sink and sag in a corner of The Meadows parking lot that is prone to flooding when the snow melts in the spring.”

“The Elizabeth Hotel, the long-awaited 164-room hotel in downtown Fort Collins, opened Monday, completing a decades-long journey to bring more rooms and conference space to Old Town,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “The city’s lone four-star hotel joins the smaller, boutique Armstrong as the only lodging in downtown. Hopes are high among city leaders that the hotel, restaurant and lounges at the Elizabeth will continue to energize Old Town in the midst of its own building boom.”

“An overnight wildfire that scorched six to seven acres in Sandstone Ranch east of Longmont was sparked by a heater in a homeless encampment, fire officials concluded Monday,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “There were no injuries and the fire did not threaten any structures. Longmont Fire spokeswoman Molly Cropp said the origin of the fire was determined to be an abandoned Coleman camp-fuel heater that ignited combustibles on the south side of the soccer fields in Spring Gulch around 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Cropp said nobody will be charged with starting the fire, but some people who had been in the area could be cited with trespassing in the park after-hours.”

“Health insurance enrollment on the state’s Obamacare marketplace jumped by nearly 30 percent this year compared to last, according to Connect For Health Colorado officials, meaning Coloradans at least seem to be shaking off federal uncertainty in favor of being insured,” reports Vail Daily. “With only two weeks left to enroll for January coverage, I am pleased with the pace of plan selections,” Connect For Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson said in a news release. “I know people are busy this time of year, but I encourage everyone who buys their own health insurance to check to see if they qualify for financial assistance, review the available plans and complete an enrollment before the last-minute rush,” Patterson added. “Many will be surprised that they qualify for financial help.” Open enrollment kicked off Wednesday, Nov. 1, and so far, Coloradans have signed up for 43,881 medical plans this year, compared to 34,085 in November 2016. Eighteen percent are new enrollees for 2018 insurance plans, and 82 percent are renewing Connect for Health customers.”

“It’s become something of a tradition in Boulder: Every few years, a developer proposes a plan to build on Hogan-Pancost, the 22-acre county enclave surrounded by southeast Boulder,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Neighbors fight vigorously to stop the development, centering their arguments largely on the potential of any buildings on Hogan-Pancost to exacerbate existing flooding issues in the area, which sits just south of 55th Street and Baseline Road. Meanwhile, the Planning Board and City Council spend hours and hours studying the site, and whether it’s suitable for annexation into the city for the purpose of future construction. This requires them to take in loads of information, from various parties with opposing interests, on complex hydrological issues.”

“The redevelopment of the former Westminster Mall has been billed as an opportunity to redefine suburban America,” reports The Denver Post. “A piece of that renewal attacks a growing problem across the Denver metro area: the scarcity of affordable housing. To that end, at least 118 apartments at the heart of the marquee site will be open to people making anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of the area median income. They will be among more than 600 affordable housing units in Westminster that have been proposed, are planned or are under construction — other suburban communities are making similar efforts — as home values and rental prices continue to spike in Denver.”

“The Colorado Democratic Party is still looking for a name for its annual fundraising dinner — for the time being, the upcoming one is known as the 85th Annual Dinner — and plans to conduct a poll after gathering suggestions,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “The party is also accepting nominations in four categories for awards that will be bestowed on Democrats at the dinner. For decades, it was called the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, until party officials decided to drop the moniker a couple years ago because its namesakes, Democratic presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, no longer represented the party’s ideals. “Both men’s legacies and both men’s fortunes were built and sustained by enslaved human beings,” wrote then-Chairman Rick Palacio. “Failure to acknowledge their participation in slavery, or Jackson’s part in removing Native Americans from their lands, would be irresponsible revisions of our American history and the history of our own Democratic Party.”

“Sheriff’s Capt. James Johnson was standing by as deputies piled on Michael Marshall in Denver’s Downtown Detention Center in 2015,” reports Denverite. “Marshall vomited, lost consciousness and later died. The coroner ruled that Marshall’s death was a homicide, and Denver reached a $4.65 million settlement with his family. Johnson received a 10-day suspension without pay for what officials described as an “overall lackadaisical approach and passive management of the situation.” But a hearing officer recently overturned that suspension after finding that Johnson acted appropriately for a supervisor. To reach that conclusion, hearing officer Bruce Plotkin cited the testimony of Jeff Wood, a former captain who retired with an open use of force complaint against him. According to a summary of the complaint and security video of the incident, Wood punched an inmate in the face after the inmate was verbally disruptive during a search of his pod for contraband. Plotkin found that Wood’s actions had no bearing on his credibility.”

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