The Home Front: Hazing charges at Air Force Academy ‘are without precedent in the school’s 64-year history’

Your morning roundup of stories from the front pages of newspapers across Colorado

“The ritual was something out of a bad fraternity movie: blindfolded neophyte cadets, half-naked seniors and a threat of forced oral sex,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “It’s a tradition that had gone on for at least three decades on the Air Force Academy men’s swimming team, sources tell The Gazette. And, according to criminal charges announced Thursday evening against two cadets, it could be a federal felony. The hazing charges released by the academy are without precedent in the school’s 64-year history, with two seniors facing up to five years behind bars on allegations of obstruction of justice and dereliction of duty. In the past, hazing cases have been handled through the school’s administrative discipline process, making this the first criminal hazing case in academy history. “It must be emphasized that charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” the academy said in a news release.”

“With a comprehensive architectural survey of Pueblo City Schools’ (D60) network of schools and facilities underway, the possibility of school consolidation and/or closure has not significantly figured into the discussion of the aging buildings and infrastructure and concurrently, the district’s declining enrollment,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “But the board of education recently took a concrete step in bringing the issue to the forefront by accepting, on first reading, two district policies related to the closing of schools.”

“Since 2000, owner Glen Fritzler has operated a corn maze and a pumpkin patch, while adding new attractions each year, at the Fritzler Farm Park, 20861 Weld County Road 33,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Not much has changed in the philosophy of the place, and that’s because everything has changed. Fritzler adds new attractions every year. The rebranding just emphasizes that there’s a whole lot more than a corn maze at his place. This year’s new attraction, in fact, in the park’s 19th season features a Field of Fun, a collection of farm-related carnival games. Games include frog-flipping, farm animal cornhole and steer-roping, divided into two sections: an easier section for young kids and a more challenging set of games on the other side. Another new attraction is a small arcade with skee ball and basketball games. Previous attractions that have stuck around for the 19th season include the Pillow Jump, Slide Mountain, Pedal Go-Carts and more.”

“Nearly 700 gallons of water flows through a towering tank in the Eureka! McConnell Science Museum, down and through a winding, waist-high, 40-foot-long feature that mirrors the Colorado River,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The water rushes over gates and through a scale model of the Grand Valley Diversion Dam in De Beque Canyon while nearby, a tube pipes away some of the river to imitate a transmountain diversion. Water flows through the dam and a nearby fish ladder, with some diverted into a miniature Highline Canal, which then irrigates an orchard.”

“The Weld County District Attorney’s Office denies it is responsible for possible leaks to the media in the case of a Frederick man accused of killing his wife and children, and says the defense’s request to investigate who is responsible would take an unreasonable amount of time and money,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “In the response filed Sept. 6 and recently made public, District Attorney Michael Rourke says that no one in his office has made statements outside the courtroom that could prejudice a jury against Christopher Watts, 33, and that his office also has taken all possible efforts to prevent law enforcement from spreading such information. Watts made national headlines when he was arrested shortly after his wife and two daughters went missing. He is charged with five counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.”

“A Steamboat Springs couple recently had a scary encounter with a mountain lion at Mad Creek,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “…He was carrying a firearm, and he shot off a round to try and scare the animal. It ran off, and the couple started hiking again before discovering the animal again on the trail. They felt like they were being hunted.”

“The recently formed Western Colorado Independent Voters hosted a town hall forum Thursday at the Glenwood Springs Library between Republican incumbent Rep. Bob Rankin and his Democratic challenger Colin Wilhelm for the Colorado House District 57 seat,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Up for re-election, Rankin hopes to keep the HD 57 seat that encompasses Garfield, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties warm and red, while Wilhelm believes the position Rankin has held since 2013 needs a new, blue voice.”

“Larimer County has launched a website and is planning several meetings to facilitate public input into the 1041 permit process for the Thornton Pipeline project,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Public meetings are proposed for Oct. 8 and Nov. 15, though times and locations are not yet set, a working group has several meetings slated, and a website has launched with information. “Potential outcomes from the process include an understanding of alternatives, and opportunities for solutions while gathering input leading to better water conveyance,” the new website ( larimerwaterprojects.org) states. “The information will be included in a report to be shared with the Board of Larimer County Commissioners to aid in their decision-making on the … application in December.”

“When Colleen Davis and her family moved to the valley, they were concerned about the care their daughter could get from the local hospital,” reports Vail Daily. “These days, the family is thankful for the level of care available. The Davises moved to the valley when their daughter was 6 months old. She’s 3 now. Because of a fairly rare condition, Davis’ little girl is in the hospital several times a year, for two or three days at a time.”

“Natalie Condon doesn’t know much about the people who eat the vegetables she gives away from Isabelle Farm,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “She donates four shares a year, dozens of pounds of farm-fresh melons and carrots and kale. But she has never set foot in the kitchen where they are prepared, never met the women and children who eat them. She doesn’t even know all that much about the organization to whom she donates.”

“The biggest question facing Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday hinged on where the town should build its long-awaited parking garage,” reports Summit Daily. “Without a definitive answer to that question, the town and Vail Resorts have reached an impasse. Breckenridge appeared set to start construction on a parking garage straddling two town-owned parking lots — Tiger Dredge and F-Lot — before pumping the brakes on the project this spring.”

“Increased instances of juvenile violent crimes reflect an alarming new strategy by Denver street gang leaders to arm young recruits with guns and have them carry out vendettas against rival gangs, including fatal shootings because laws protect juvenile killers from serving lengthy prison terms, prosecutors say,” reports The Denver Post. “Adult and older gang members are becoming more sophisticated. They realize that young members don’t have the same severe consequences as they do. The guns are handed off to the younger kids,” said Kelly Waidler, senior deputy district attorney in Denver District Attorney Beth McCann’s juvenile unit. She formally served in the office’s gang unit. Teenage killers and robbers adjudicated in juvenile court spend a maximum of five to seven years in a Colorado Division of Youth Services facility depending on their age. It is possible, however, that teens tried in adult court could initially go to youth services and later be transferred to an adult prison to serve out a lengthier sentence, Waidler said.”

“First it was 2017. Then it was 2018,” reports The Durango Herald. “Now, it’s looking more like 2019 before the city of Durango will make serious progress on construction of a northern extension to the Animas River Trail. Officials with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department have spent the past two years designing the trail and Oxbow Park & Preserve and meeting with residents whose property abuts the route of the proposed paved path, said Scott McClain, assistant parks director.”

“The Seaman Fire remains the same size and level of containment, according to an evening update from the U.S. Forest Service,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Officials expect continued low humidity and warm temperatures on Friday and will continue to adjust their tactics to handle those conditions.”

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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