The Home Front: Man ‘convicted of throwing two large rocks and a Bible’ through Islamic Center window gets 3 years in wellness court

“The man convicted of throwing two large rocks and a Bible through the windows of the Islamic Center of Fort Collins in March was sentenced Thursday morning,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Joseph Giaquinto, 36, was sentenced to three years in wellness court and six months of work release for the March 26 vandalism, which ultimately became the highest-profile hate crime conviction in recent years in Fort Collins. Giaquinto’s sentencing hearing at the Larimer County Justice Center on Thursday included arguments by the prosecution and the defense, as well as statements by members of the Islamic Center and supporters. The prosecution argued Giaquinto made a conscious choice that distinguished the crime from simple vandalism. Not only did he overturn benches and bikes and smash rocks through the Islamic Center’s windows — the only Muslim house of worship in Fort Collins — but he also returned home to fetch his Bible and toss it through the shattered glass.”

“One month after swearing in a convicted felon, the Greeley City Council will be required to replace that council member following a Weld District Court ruling Thursday,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Eddie Mirick, who was elected Nov. 7 and served as a council member for nearly a month, pleaded guilty to felony forgery in 1978, and despite arguing the felony was later reduced to a misdemeanor, Mirick was found to still have the felony on his record after a group of residents petitioned the court. Those residents, led by Deb Suniga, the campaign manager for Stacy Suniga, who lost to Mirick in November, wanted a judge to declare Mirick ineligible based not only on his felony conviction, but also on the Greeley City Charter, which prohibits people with felony convictions from serving on city council.”

“Since 2010, the median size of new homes replacing teardowns in Boulder is greater than 5,000 square feet,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “This is of concern to the City Council, which on Thursday re-engaged with a question that’s been kicked around Boulder often in recent years: From a policy standpoint, how can this spate of scrapes be thwarted? No decisions were made during that discussion, which was a broad check-in on the council work plan, particularly on housing issues, leading up to the council’s annual retreat Jan. 19 and 20. But several members made clear they’d like to see something done about scrapes in Boulder soon.”

“This time last year, Emily Schoendorf complemented her music studies with an outreach program in Los Angeles,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “The 26-year-old bassoonist substituted in concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as she earned a master’s degree in bassoon performance from the University of Southern California. This year, her primary teachers are much younger. Schoendorf now spends her days at Basalt Elementary School, where she works alongside teacher Maureen Hinkle in 30 music classes a week. Schoendorf is one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s inaugural ArtistYear fellows. The first-of-its-kind service program is based in Philadelphia, but it grew out of relationships in Aspen. ArtistYear and Aspen Music Festival and School, together with the Roaring Fork School District, partnered this year to bring the Americorps-funded program to Colorado. The Roaring Fork Valley is ArtistYear’s third location, and first rural effort.”

“U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday ended the Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana in Colorado, drawing immediate criticism from local leaders even as they acknowledged the move likely will not change how the state handles recreational pot,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Sessions rescinded a memo written in 2013 by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole stating that the Obama administration would not stand in the way of states legalizing marijuana — so long as officials acted to keep the drug from migrating to places where it remained outlawed, and out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. The move by Sessions allows U.S. attorneys in each state to decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts.”

“Steamboat Springs residents and visitors might notice some members of the local moose population have a new accessory hanging around their neck,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Nov. 20 started a new research project that involves tracking the movements of the moose using GPS devices attached to collars. Researchers hope to gain a better understanding of moose behavior with the goal of minimizing conflicts with humans.”

“Summit County got a break from the smoke over the holidays, but in the coming weeks, foresters will again be burning up some of the last slash piles that have dotted the landscape for years,” reports Summit Daily. “Those piles represent just a fraction of the roughly 10,000 acres the U.S. Forest Service has clear cut in Summit in the past decade to help hasten the forest’s recovery from the pine beetle epidemic, which reached its peak in the early 2000s. In November and December alone, crews burned more 2,000 slash piles, compared with around 6,000 for the past two winters combined. A combination of favorable weather and funding availability allowed the Forest Service to make that push, and the agency is finally close to catching up with its backlog of pile burning needs.”

“U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to revoke an Obama-administration policy that had let legalized marijuana flourish without federal intervention across the country is a betrayal,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “‘Reports that the Justice Department will rescind their current policy on legal marijuana enforcement are extremely alarming,” Gardner said in a statement. “Before I voted to confirm Attorney General Sessions, he assured me that marijuana would not be a priority for this administration. Today’s action directly contradicts what I was told, and I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the attorney general lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.'”

“The Colorado Department of Transportation finalized a contract Thursday to build an additional traffic lane in each direction on Interstate 25 between Fort Collins and Johnstown,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Construction on the new tolled lanes by CDOT’s contractor, Kraemer/IHC, will begin this summer, a CDOT press release states. The project will cost $248 million and is funded in part by a $15 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, or TIGER grant. The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2021. During construction, motorists can expect two lanes of travel in each direction to remain open during the day, with lane closures occurring at night when traffic volumes are lower, the release states.”

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy that allowed Colorado and other states to legalize marijuana without federal interference,” reports Vail Daily. “Even before Sessions’ announcement on Thursday, Jan. 4, Colorado’s federal lawmakers said Sessions would get little cooperation from them, and maybe a political fight.”

“Mandy Murray recently announced her candidacy for Fremont County Clerk and Recorder in the 2018 election,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Murray, who is running as a Republican, is seeking to replace Fremont County Clerk Katie Barr, who was placed under investigation earlier this year after financial discrepancies were discovered. The Fremont County Board of Commissioners reached out to the Cañon City Police Department on Sept. 29 to investigate what appeared to be “irregular financial activity” stemming from Barr’s office.”

“Coloradans reacted strongly Thursday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that the federal Justice Department he heads is reversing its hands-off approach to legalized marijuana in a growing number of states,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Sessions rescinded the so-called Cole memo, the Barack Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states where it was approved by voters. The memo, named for the then-deputy U.S. attorney general who issued it, James Cole, discouraged prosecutors from bringing federal marijuana charges unless it involved sales to children, gangs or out-of-state trafficking. Colorado’s top federal law enforcement officer, U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, said the announcement wouldn’t alter his office’s approach to marijuana.”

“A portal to another world is cracking open near downtown Denver. In early 2020, Meow Wolf, the artist collective responsible for Santa Fe’s immersive art exhibit the House of Eternal Return, will open a permanent installation in Denver,” reports The Denver Post. “The $50 million reality-wrinkling playhouse will rise 30 feet above Interstate 25, Colfax Avenue and Auraria Parkway viaducts that wrap it on three sides. It’s the first step, Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek said, in transforming the DIY group into a nationally known name. And Denver is just the beginning: Meow Wolf plans to announce expansions to three other major markets around the U.S. in 2018. It’s been scouting cities including Austin, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.”

“Can the natural gas industry pull itself off the canvas to once again be an engine for the Four Corners economy?” asks The Durango Herald. “Will Colorado’s 90-cent increase to the minimum wage, which took effect Monday, help or hurt? Why is wage growth so sluggish in Southwest Colorado? Geeks for all things economic should set aside the morning of Thursday, Jan. 11, when the School of Business at Fort Lewis College will present its SW 2018 Economic Outlook.”

“Attorney General Cynthia Coffman had no advance warning from the Department of Justice that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was planning to reverse nine years of marijuana policy issued by the Obama administration,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “That said, Coffman, a Republican, advised both Colorado consumers of marijuana and the dispensaries that sell it to stay calm while the state reviews the changes. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said much the same Thursday. He said he doubts the Justice Department has the resources to conduct investigation and raids plus bear the massive legal costs of lawsuits brought by states such as Colorado, where voters have legalized it. ‘We don’t see this having an impact on how we’re operating,’ the governor said.”

“Colorado officials work hard to attract talented workers, new companies and millennials to the state, but not everyone is happy about those efforts,” reports Denverite. “State legislators will head back to the capitol this month with what seems to be a backdrop of growing discontent about growth from some of their constituents. Party heads shared ideas to deal with anti-growth concerns Thursday during the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual Business Legislative Preview. Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican, called all the new residents and businesses flocking to the Front Range ‘a wonderful problem to have.'”


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