The Home Front: A ‘fight club’ in the El Paso County jail where jailers ‘tracked each time they used force against an inmate’

“Wearing a tiara and posing for a camera, El Paso County sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rincon smiled next to a cake with two candles on top displaying the number 50,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “It wasn’t her birthday. Instead, the Sheriff’s Office has confirmed, Rincon was being crowned champion of what one county jailer dubbed the “fight club” — an off-the-books contest in which deputies at the jail tracked each time they used force against an inmate, ranging from handcuffing to punching and kicking, and awarded bragging rights to the winners. Rincon, a deputy since 2007, won top honors in 2014 for more than four dozen such encounters, said Darold Killmer, a Denver civil rights lawyer who revealed the practice as part of a lawsuit alleging excessive force by jailers. Along with Rincon’s cake came a gift bag and paper plate that read ‘Princess,’ court records show. … Allegations of the so-called deputy ‘fight club’ spurred a short-lived kerfuffle for Sheriff Bill Elder last year, when the Colorado Springs Independent reported on his agency’s investigation.”

“A silent killer steadily encroaching on the most beloved of Western Slope fruit has moved into the crosshairs of peach growers and researchers,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “It’s a fungus so widespread that every orchard in the valley is infected, it’s estimated to cost the local peach industry about $6 million a year and there’s no silver bullet to eradicate it.”

“It’s a gray Sunday morning, and Omar Holguin is watching a bloodhound as it stands stock-still, snout pointed out toward a deep ditch and distant hay fields just east of Longmont’s Union Reservoir,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The dog, 5-year-old RC, suddenly darts down the side of the ditch, which is 10 feet deep and ends in marshy water covered in tall, green grass. His owner, dog handler Alan Duffy, tells him to come back up, and Holguin carefully heads down. Holguin is looking for anything suspicious that could lead him to his half-sister, Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, the Longmont woman who has been missing for nearly four months.”

“Dr. Deirdre Pilch, Greeley-Evans School District 6’s superintendent, was out of town last week, spending vacation with her family after a conference,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The first news she got about the Thursday crash involving a district school bus carrying 35 students and adults on Weld County Road 49 near Hudson was horrifying. It came in a text message from John Gates, the district’s security director.”

“The pain in Vincent Ramos Sr.’s knee went numb for a few minutes,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “With the bright stage lights at the Southwest Motors Events Center shining down on him, thoughts raced through the 58-year-old’s mind. Under his maroon graduation cap, he couldn’t help but reflect on the journey that took him from early struggles in life to this precious milestone. The pain, the hard work and the complications of life — as well as “a wonderful second chance” — ran like a slide show in his head.”

“The public will have its chance to weigh in at a special Glenwood Springs City Council meeting Monday evening regarding its sentiments about where the estimated $7.5 million 7th Street Beautification Project goes from here,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “For over two years, business owners and the public have been shown pretty pictures of a final project that would create a “festival street” along Seventh between Cooper and Colorado avenues, following completion of the new Grand Avenue Bridge.”

“A recently established endowment fund will benefit Routt County’s wildlife, from ‘fish to bugs to elk,'” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The fund will support a range of habitat projects, including capital projects, planning, research, studies, management, enforcement, education and other wildlife habitat improvement projects, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation wrote in a news release.”

“For Roger Barris, the Libertarian Party candidate running in Colorado’s 2nd Congress District this November, winning the race would be great — but coming in second would not be so bad, either,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Barris, 59, is a first-time candidate now living in Evergreen. He moved to Colorado last year after retiring from a career in entrepreneurship and investment banking in various European locations with firms including Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. No Libertarian has ever been elected to the United States House or Senate since the party was founded in Colorado Springs in 1971. As part of what Barris calls the ongoing “professionalization” of the party, which is registered as a minor party in Colorado, he said a second-place finish would send a message that the party is strengthening.”

“It was a day of fun and laughter, a day of heavy pulling and pushing, and a day of giving to those who are battling cancer,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “The Orchard of Hope Foundation presented the 18th annual Walk of Hope on Saturday at Veterans Park with the goal of raising money for local cancer champions and their families. “It’s local folks raising money for local folks,” Walk of Hope coordinator Lisa Drew said. The Walk of Hope had 18 teams that set up tents in Veterans Park for residents to donate money and some of those teams also competed in various events throughout the day.”

“A proposal for a “higher density, local-oriented housing” project in Edwards will go before the Eagle County commissioners on Tuesday, July 17,” reports Vail Daily. “The new Fox Hollow Planned Unit Development would change a previously approved land-use plan and combine four separate parcels located on the west side of Edwards. The proposal is for 87 new housing units on a nearly 4-acre site. Developer Populace Development LLC plans “attainability priced, for-sale housing” at the site.”

“It’s still a good time to sell a home in Fort Collins, but the tide may be shifting. A July market update from the Fort Collins Board of Realtors shows the supply of homes on the market is dwindling, even as the median sales price through June hit $415,000, up 4 percent from the first six months of 2017,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “In June alone, 254 Fort Collins homes sold for a median $425,000, up nearly 5 percent from June 2017 when the median price was $405,000.”

“The City Council on Tuesday will consider adding 442 acres of open space to Boulder, jointly purchased, owned and managed with Jefferson County,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The property, Lippincott Ranch, abuts four existing city open space parcels and could provide access to 80,000 acres of state, federal and locally protected public lands. “It’s one of the last remaining large acreage properties connected to city open space,” said Bethany Collins, a property agent in the city’s Open Space and Mountain Parks department. ‘It’s an exciting property and a great opportunity.'”

“On July 4, as a massive wildfire raged through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, about two dozen people sat around the front porch of the Lodge Motel along U.S. 160 eating hamburgers and drinking beer,” reports The Denver Post. “There were middle-aged couples from Texas who’d fallen so in love with this rural section of southern Colorado that they saved money to build vacation homes. There were people in jeans with long ponytails who moved to Costilla County to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city. As neighbors, the groups didn’t mix much. But the natural disaster had brought them together at the Lodge. “You’d think they’d known each other forever,” said Caroline Shafer, the motel’s manager.”

“The city of Durango could see some additional tax revenue thanks to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on internet sales, but not enough to solve a projected municipal budget shortfall,” reports The Durango Herald. “The Supreme Court recently ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair that states and local governments can require remote retailers with no physical presence in a state to pay sales taxes. “The Supreme Court has recognized that our tax system has changed, our economy has changed and we need to modernize,” said Ali Mickelson, director of legislative and tax policy with the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a nonpartisan organization.”

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.

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