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Nov. 22, 2016 Re: Paul Pitton residency, for Sustained Coverage Judges: One of the ongoing stories the Daily Sentinel is submitting for consideration in the Sustained Coverage category this year surrounds the election of Paul Pitton to our local school board. It should first be noted that the beginning of the story occurred outside of the category’s time frame. The news that Pitton, a candidate for the board, actually lived outside of the district he sought to represent broke in October 2015. Our coverage that fits the category begins with the news that the school district withheld the news of Pitton’s possible ineligibility — this while ballots were already being cast by voters. This angle on the story was directly due to a Sentinel open records request, and eventually cost the district spokesman his job. The rest of our coverage detailed the complicated legal fight that ensued and eventually ended at the Colorado Supreme Court. Thanks for your consideration.

Duffy Hayes City Editor, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (970) 256-4213

INSIDE: REMINDERS OF DALTON TRUMBO’S TIES TO GJ LIFESTYLE Fall back one hour Did you remember to set clocks back 11 12 1 one hour 10 2 at 2 a.m. 9 3 today? 8



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November 1, 2015

Your community news source since 1893


District withheld error for days By KATIE LANGFORD

District 51 knew it had mistakenly certified Paul Pitton as a District B candidate for school board but chose to keep that information under wraps for several days, apparently at the recommendation of its attorney and director of communications, according to emails obtained by The Daily Sentinel.

Official suggested trying to keep Pitton in race Before the district informed the public of its mistake, its director of communications, Dan Dougherty, suggested the district reach out to Pitton to encourage him to stay in the election, a recommendation

that had potential to influence the election’s outcome. The emails also reveal how district administrators, after making the decision to notify the public of the error, carefully considered how, when and what

to tell district staff, parents and the media about Pitton’s eligibility and whether votes for him would count. In a series of emails exchanged between Superintendent Steve Schultz, district

communications staff and other employees, Dougherty emphasized the need to flood media outlets and social media with positive stories about the district in an effort to overcome the negative public reaction to

A bond forged by

TRAGEDY, TRIUMPH Family of unsolved murder victim finds solace, stability in Collbran Job Corps



or most people, the difference between Exit 49 and Exit 47 off Interstate 70 through De Beque Canyon is one of topography. Exit 47 leads to a state park along the Colorado River, while Exit 49 takes a visitor up along Plateau Creek toward the Colorado high country, passing momentarily, as it happens, by the Collbran Job Corps campus. For the Bunting family, the difference between exits 49 and 47 looks a lot like the difference between despair and hope.

the district’s error. The Sentinel obtained the emails Friday under the Colorado Open Records Act. The newspaper requested access to all emails sent or received between Oct. 15 and Oct. 26 by all five school board members: Schultz; Dougherty; attorney for the district David Price;

See ERROR, page 4A ➤

Gunman kills 3 in Colorado Springs By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS COLORADO SPRINGS — A man marching down the street shot and killed three people on Saturday, before being fatally shot in a gunbattle with police, authorities and witnesses said. Officers were responding to a report of shots being fired when they spotted a suspect matching the description of the person they were trying to find, Colorado Springs police Lt. Catherine Buckley said. The suspect opened fire, and police fired back, she said. Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the suspect went down the street with a rifle. Matt Abshire, 21, said he looked outside his apartment window and saw a man shoot someone with a rifle. He said he ran to the street and followed the man and called police. The man suddenly turned

See GUNMAN, page 4A ➤

Russian jet crashes over Egypt, 224 on board die By BRIAN ROHAN and HAMZA HENDAWI Associated Press

Ivory Bunting of Cheyenne, Wyoming, hands his daughter, Geeya, the high school diploma that she earned during her 822 days at the Collbran Job Corps during graduation ceremonies at the center. It’s the difference between 18-year-old Geeya Marie Bunting, who graduated from the Collbran Job Corps on Thursday, and the fate of the aunt she never met, Phlisia Marie Bunting, whose murder in 1990 at Island Acres State Park remains an open investigation. Phlisia was 16 when she died, the same age as Geeya when she began attending Job Corps, but that’s the middle of the story. The end remains to be written. The beginning is in Denver, with 16-year-old Phlisia, who ran away from home — not for the first time — with three teen boys who promised they would take her to California. HOME PAGE OF WESTERN COLORADO

It’s known that the four of them made it to Exit 47 and the road to Island Acres — which had yet to open as a state park — in a stolen car, and that the three boys left Phlisia to drown beneath a rock under which one or more of them lodged her head. All of the boys are known; none were charged and two of them remain free. The third is dead after a car accident in Arizona. Mesa County Sheriff’s Office investigators have yet to find the strand of evidence that will make it possible to prosecute one or both of the surviving boys, now men.

Photos by GRETEL DAUGHERTY/The Daily Sentinel

Geeya Bunting grins as she gets a standing ovation from her father, Ivory Bunting, left, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the crowd as her achievements are highlighted during the graduation ceremony Thursday at Collbran Job Corps. Ivory Bunting, a Collbran Job Corps graduate himself, was one of two guest speakers See BOND, page 7A ➤ during the ceremony.



Commentary................. 4B Business .............. ........ 1B

Sports ........................ 1C Lifestyle ........................ 1D

Horseplay ................. 3B Obituaries ................. 3D

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — A Russian passenger airliner crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after taking off from a popular Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children. The cause of the crash was not known, but two major European airlines announced they would stop flying over the area for safety reasons after a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group claimed it “brought down” the aircraft. Russia’s transport minister dismissed that claim as not credible. Almost everyone on board the Airbus-A321-200 operated by the Moscow-based Metrojet airline was Russian; Ukraine said four of its citizens were passengers. Russian officials did not give a specific breakdown of the 217

See CRASHES, page 4A ➤ Vol. 122 No. 347


The Daily Sentinel • Sunday, November 1, 2015

ERROR: Dougherty emphasized providing an abundance of positive stories to the media ➤ Continued from Page One Terri Wells, the executive assistant to the school board who mistakenly certified Pitton; and district spokeswoman Emily Shockley. The district provided those emails, with the exception of emails to or from Price, citing attorney-client privilege. Wells inONLINE formed Pitton on Read School Oct. 15 that he District 51’s did not reside in emails online at District B. “In speaking with (Price), he stated the only option you would have to stay a candidate is to move into District B,” Wells wrote. “If that is not an option for you, I have attached a withdrawal form which the county and the District needs you to fill out and return.” Two days later, current District B board member Ann Tisue held a news conference to inform the public that Pitton did not live in the district in which he was certified to run. Also on Oct. 17, Schultz and Dougherty decided not to release a public statement addressing the error. “I suggest we hold this until tomorrow or Monday morning to see how it plays in the media and if it causes Pitton to make a decision, which would

change our response,” document of “thought Dougherty wrote in starters and response an email to Schulelements to the illogitz. He included two cal and nasty editorial options for a letter to in today’s paper.” He district parents and then went on to claim staff confirming the that The Sentinel’s mistake. “commentary clearly In response to the reveals that they are initial Oct. 17 Daily anti-public education Sentinel article about at their core.” PAUL PITTON Tisue’s revelation, The Sentinel’s Dougherty wrote: “... editorial criticized the I think it causes us district for being slow to wait until Sunday to notify the public. or Monday to release In the first sena statement … Let’s tence of the email, sit back and read the Dougherty wrote: “It community for now.” might be a good idea Later that day, to reach out to Pitton Schultz and Doughto encourage him not erty discussed adto withdraw at this dressing the mistake point. By staying in, DAN DOUGHERTY the will of the people and how to word a public statement. will be known and no Ballots for the elecvotes will have been tion, which included cast in vain.” Pitton as a candidate Pitton told The to represent District Sentinel on Saturday B, had been mailed to he had not been convoters well before, on tacted by the district Oct. 13. about whether he It wasn’t until just should withdraw from after 6 p.m. on Oct. the election. 19 that Shockley, in Dougherty also anresponse to questions ticipated a continued STEVE SCHULTZ negative public reacfrom The Sentinel, issued the district’s tion toward the school first public statement about the district. district’s error. “Actions taken after the elecOn Oct. 21, Dougherty tion will trigger new waves of emailed Schultz and Wells a animosity-filled commentary,”

DISTRICT 51 PAUL PITTON TIMELINE Oct. 13 — Ballots mailed to voters, with Pitton as a candidate to represent District B. ■ Oct. 15 — District is told, and confirms, Pitton does not live in District B. ■ Oct. 17 — Board member Ann Tisue calls press conference announcing Pitton is ineligible. Pitton announces he will stay in race. District decides not to notify public about Pitton’s ineligibility. ■ Oct. 19 — After questioning by The Sentinel, district issues first statement late in the evening explaining how the error occurred. ■ Oct. 23 — District updates its website with a dedicated update feed, and sends a letter to parents and staff explaining the error. ■ Oct. 27 — Three residents file a petition asking a judge to hold a hearing to determine whether Pitton is a viable candidate. ■ Friday — District Judge David Bottger schedules a hearing for Monday. ■

Dougherty wrote. “It’s to help contextualize these comments and letters that I think sending a letter to parents and staff may be wise.” He also recommended the district focus on its positive work. “We also want to continue with operations and communications as normal to show through action that this is but one raft in a sea of positive efforts,” he wrote. “As we suffer through undue criticism, please focus on the many great things we’re doing and remain undeterred in our mission,” Dougherty later wrote. Shortly after he sent that

email to Schultz and Wells, Dougherty sent an email to the district communications team outlining a plan to push out positive stories about the district and acknowledging the district should have released a public statement immediately. “...We should have spread the word immediately upon confirming the mistake,” Dougherty said. “That was our/my advice to leadership, but it was over-ruled by the legal team. Now, we will suffer a bit.” Dougherty emphasized the importance of “providing an abundance of positive stories to the media,” especially the new District 51 phone application.

“I want Cat (Foster), Jeannie (Smith) and Emily (Shockley) each writing releases and reaching out to the media if necessary to achieve a steady stream of daily contact,” Dougherty said. Schultz sent a letter to district parents and staff on Oct. 23 apologizing for the mistake, outlining the steps that had been taken to correct it, and listing the accomplishments and attributes of district staff and administration. Much of the letter was written by Dougherty in his Oct. 21 email to Schultz and Wells. “Our error caught us by surprise and the complexity of the situation delayed our response, but we did not want to follow one mistake with another made in haste,” Schultz wrote. “We felt obligated to the community and candidates to respond with accurate information.” Three Mesa County residents filed a petition last week asking a judge to rule on whether Pitton is eligible for election. Chief District Judge David Bottger will preside over the hearing, set for 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Mesa County Justice Center. The petition was filed by Kent Carson, Dale Pass and James “Gil” Tisue against Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and Wells.

One-third of voters have cast ballots Nearly one-third of active voters in Mesa County have already cast their ballots, according to the Mesa County Clerk’s Office. Of the 82,451 ballots that were issued in the county, 25,580 have been returned as of Saturday morning. It is unknown how many

more ballots were turned in during the day. Because the deadline for turning in ballots is 7 p.m. Tuesday, the office is recommending voters not try to mail them, but hand-deliver their ballots to any of the three polling centers in the county or five 24-hour dropoff boxes. Voters who have not received a mail-in ballot or are not regis-

tered to vote still can cast a ballot by going to one of the county’s vote centers. The vote centers are at: ■ Mesa County Central Services, 200 S. Spruce St. ■ Clifton Motor Vehicle, 325 I-70 Business Loop ■ Goodwill Industries, 630 24½ Road The 24-hour drop-off boxes are at:

■ Mesa County Central Services, 200 S. Spruce St. ■ Department of Human Services, 510 29 1/2 Road ■ Fruita Civic Center, 325 E. Aspen Ave. ■ Clifton Motor Vehicle, 3225 I-70 Business Loop ■ Mesa County Fairgrounds, Building C, 2785 U.S. Highway 50

CRASHES: Islamic militants known to be in area of wreckage ➤ Continued from Page One passengers’ ages and genders, but said 25 were children. There were seven crew members. A civil aviation ministry statement said the plane’s wreckage was found in the Hassana area some 44 miles south of the city of el-Arish, in the general area of northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces have for years battled local Islamic militants who in recent months claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group. The ministry said the plane took off from the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh shortly before 6 a.m. for St. Petersburg in Russia and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after takeoff. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail toured the crash site and later told a Cairo news conference that 129 bodies had been recovered. Photos from the site released by his office showed the badly damaged sky blue tail of the aircraft, with the Metrojet logo still visible. In the background, heaps of smoldering debris dotted the barren terrain. One photo showed a member of the search team holding the flight recorder, or black box, which Ismail said would be scrutinized as investigators try to determine what caused the crash. Russian investigators were expected to arrive in


The rear window of a Colorado Springs police car is shattered after a shooting Saturday in downtown Colorado Springs. Multiple people are dead, including a suspected gunman, after a shooting spree, according to authorities. Lt. Catherine Buckley said the crime scene covers several major downtown streets.

GUNMAN: Three crime scenes ➤ Continued from Page One and fired more shots, hitting two women, Abshire said. Their names and conditions were not available. It was unclear how many people were wounded in the spree. Alisha Jaynes said she was at an ATM when she saw a man with a gun walking calmly down the street. “They yelled, ‘Put the gun down,’ and he turned around, and that’s when they shot at him a good 20 times,” she said.

“There was a lot of gunfire.” Buckley said the crime scene covered several major downtown streets. Those streets were shut down most of the day while investigators tried to figure out what happened. Buckley said the investigation of the police shooting has been turned over to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. There were at least three crime scenes, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby.

Rescuers free entangled whale THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sherif Ismail, right, looks at the remains of a crashed passenger jet in Hassana, Egypt. A Russian aircraft carrying 224 people, including 17 children, crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous region in the Sinai Peninsula about 20 minutes after taking off from a Red Sea resort popular with Russian tourists, the Egyptian government said. There were no survivors. Egypt today. One Egyptian official, Ayman al-Muqadem of the government’s Aviation Incidents Committee, said that before the

plane lost contact with air traffic controllers, the pilot had radioed and said the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and that he intended to try

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and land at the nearest airport. It was impossible to independently confirm whether technical problems were to blame.


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The employees of The Daily Sentinel have joined together to adopt a local non-profit organization/charity of the month. We want to help raise awareness and badly needed funds for these organizations that are dedicated to helping people in our community. O C TO B E R / N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R J E A N S F O R C H A R I T Y O R G A N I Z AT I O N :

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fled. It was spotted off of San Diego on Saturday morning, and a rescue team from Sea World was called out. Spokeswoman Kelly Terry says in a three-hour operation, the team cut away more than 230 feet of rope. She says the whale still has some line in its mouth, but it didn’t appear to be in distress as it swam away.

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By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LONG BEACH, Calif. — California rescuers managed to free a humpback whale entangled in hundreds of feet of fishing line. The 35- to 50-foot whale was spotted off Southern California on Friday, and rescuers were able to cut away about 100 feet of rope and buoys, possibly from a lobster trap. But the whale then dove and



Adopt a Family for Christmas


Again this year, many local families will have to make the difficult decision to either put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads or to have Christmas. It can be a tough life lesson for children of all ages when Christmas becomes a time of sadness instead of joy. Hope of the Grand Valley invites you to help. When you donate to their Adopt a Family for Christmas program you’ll be giving local families the gift of hope and joy. The employees of The Daily Sentinel ask you to join with us and send a donation to Hope of the Grand Valley, 634 Main St, #4, Grand Junction, CO 81501 and designate Adopt a Family for Christmas on your check. For more information call 970-778-4880 or visit




November 3, 2015

Your community news source since 1893

Votes for candidate Pitton count By KATIE LANGFORD

Votes for District 51 school board candidate Paul Pitton will be counted today, Election Day, Mesa County Chief District Judge David Bottger ruled Monday. The ruling marked a victory for Pitton hours before he learned whether he had scored

Law requires school election to proceed, judge says a larger victory as the voters’ choice to join the school board. His eligibility was challenged because District 51 mistakenly certified him as a candidate in District B. Pitton, who actually lives in District D, has vowed to

move into District B should he win election. “Courts endeavor not to issue moot or academic decisions, and I decline to issue one here,” Bottger said at the end of a roughly hourlong hearing. “I

express no opinion on Pitton’s eligibility. For the court to take any action would be contrary to the Colorado Supreme Court decision that an election must be allowed to proceed. The petition is denied.”

Bottger said state law dictates that in order for votes not to be counted for a candidate, the candidate must be deceased, have withdrawn from the race prior to Election Day or have declared himself or herself a write-in

Time for me to fly, drone guru says


A coalition of northwest Colorado counties is seeking a $380,000 state Department of Local Affairs grant for more detailed mapping of greater sagegrouse in the region. Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado hopes to tap money that’s being made available through a new state law aimed at improving cooperation between the federal government and local communities on public lands issues. The bipartisan measure provides for the state to play a role in helping local governments provide input to the federal government on land management matters, with the help of state energy impact and severance tax funds. The mapping push comes in response to the Bureau of Land Management’s recently finalized land-management plans for sage-grouse habitat in northwest Colorado and 10 other states. While those plans helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conclude that the bird doesn’t warrant Endangered Species Act protection, northwest Colorado counties worry that the BLM plans still will place onerous restrictions on grazing, oil and gas development, power-line construction and other activities. Garfield County already has paid for its own mapping project that county officials say used a finer-scale analysis and identified significantly less grouse



Ben Miller, left, talks about the new FAA regulations concerning drones as Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis listens. Miller, the quartermaster and unmanned aerial vehicle program manager for the Sheriff’s Office, is leaving his position to go to work for Draganfly Innovations Inc. time, his departure is not going to fold our program,” the sheriff said. “He’s probably one of a handful of people who have pioneered this in the United States for use by law enforcement.” Miller said he’s been courted for private-sector drone jobs for months. “That’s a derivative of the relationship (with Draganfly) we’ve had as clear back as 2008,” he said. Mesa County’s drone pro-

gram was born of brainstorming on doing things “faster and quicker,” Miller said — that and the fact the Sheriff’s Office couldn’t afford a helicopter. Mesa County’s first drone, the Draganflyer X6, was donated free of charge in 2008 by Miller’s new employer. Mesa County was what Miller describes as the company’s “beta customer.” Most improvements to the Draganflyer drone system in recent years happened as a result of Mesa County’s feedback

to the company, Miller said. “We never did do this to offer publicity to these companies, but a sincere desire to help an emerging technology find its place in public safety,” Lewis said. Aside from Miller, Lewis said three staff members are qualified to fly the Draganflyer X6, primarily used for mapping and photography at crime scenes and other events. The Sheriff’s Office also owns a fixed-wing Falcon drone.


officials uncovered a broken system for policing bad officers, with significant flaws in how agencies deal with those suspected of sexual misconduct and glaring warning signs that go unreported or get overlooked. The AP examination found about 1,000 officers in six years who lost their licenses because of sex crimes that included rape, or sexual misconduct


See GROUSE, page 10A ➤



GLENN COYNE Former GJPD officer was accused of raping woman in 2009, then took his own life

Miller’s notoriety is apparently worldwide, since he fields questions from as far away as South Korea, Lewis said. “It’s a loss for this organization,” he said. “But the program will survive.” Miller, meanwhile, hints at more ambitious plans locally for the industry. “Maybe, some day, there will jobs in the drone industry here ... that would be neat to see,” he said. “I have some plans there.”

Idaho rancher killed in shootout with cops planning to kill his bull

Broken system lets problematic officers jump from job to job Law enforcement officers accused of sexual misconduct have jumped from job to job — and at times faced fresh allegations that include raping women — because of a tattered network of laws and lax screening that allowed them to stay on the beat. A yearlong Associated Press investigation into sex abuse by cops, jail guards, deputies and other state law enforcement

See VOTES, page 10A ➤

Counties seek funds for mapping sage grouse

Pioneer for local program going to work inside industry Ben Miller made Time and National Geographic magazines in recent years, not the various sheriffs of Mesa County. That’s a humbling fact, the 38-year-old nationally renowned drone guru said. “(Former Sheriff) Stan Hilkey wasn’t in Time because he let me be in Time,” Miller said. “They (Hilkey, Rebecca Spiess, Matt Lewis) all had that choice.” Miller, a quartermaster, computer nerd and unmanned aerial vehicle program director at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, is leaving the Sheriff’s Office for a job in the growing drone private industry. Hired at the Sheriff’s Office in November 2000, Miller is joining Canada-based Draganfly Innovations Inc., a wholly-owned division of TRACE Live Network. Draganfly has a longtime relationship with Miller and the Sheriff’s Office. Miller will be a sales engineer for the company, working from the family home in Mesa County. Sheriff Matt Lewis said Miller agreed to continue assisting the agency in a volunteer capacity if called upon. Mesa County’s drone program, among the first nationally among law enforcement ranks, is not going away either, Lewis said. “We recognize the phenomenal and pioneering work that Ben has done, but at the same

candidate without providing a proper candidate affidavit. Three Mesa County residents, Kent Carson, James “Gil” Tisue and Dale Pass, filed a petition last week against Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and District 51 employee Terri Wells, who mistakenly certified Pitton


Daniel Holtzclaw is led from a courtroom in Oklahoma City on Friday. Holtzlcaw’s trial, on charges alleging he sexually assaulted women while on duty, was scheduled to begin on Monday. ranging from propositioning citizens to consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse. That number fails to reflect the breadth of the problem, however, because it measures only



Commentary................. 4A Business .............. ........ 5A

officers who faced an official process called decertification and not all states have such a system or provided records.

See OFFICERS, page 10A ➤

Sports ........................ 1B Comics.......................... 6B

Classifieds.................... 5B Obituaries ................... 6A

COUNCIL, Idaho — A crash between a car and a bull near a tiny Idaho town turned into a bizarre tragedy when an armed rancher confronted Idaho deputies planning to shoot the animal that was charging rescuers, leading to a gunbattle that left the wellknown businessman dead, authorities said Monday. A Subaru station wagon struck a bull on a highway Sunday just north of Council,

a town of roughly 800 people, and Adams County sheriff’s deputies responded to the crash. The injured bull began charging emergency responders as they worked to get the driver and passenger out of the car, said Idaho State Police, the agency that is investigating the shooting. “The bull was very agitated and was aggressive to emer-

There was an altercation, and the rancher and two deputies all fired their weapons.

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Vol. 122 No. 349

See RANCHER, page 10A ➤


The Daily Sentinel • Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Airline exec: External impact caused crash By DMITRY LOVETSKY Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Only an external impact could have caused a Russian plane to dive into the Egyptian desert, killing all 224 people on board, the airline said Monday, adding to a series of incomplete and confusing statements from investigators that left unclear why the plane broke up in midflight. “We rule out a technical fault of the plane or a pilot error,” said Alexander Smirnov, deputy general director of Metrojet. “The only possible explanation could be an external impact on the airplane.” But when pressed for more

British military analyst says bomb on board likely doomed jet details about the type of impact and what could have caused it, Smirnov insisted that he was not at liberty to discuss details because the investigation was ongoing. He also did not explain whether he meant something had hit the plane or that some external factor caused the crash. Viktor Yung, another deputy director general of Metrojet, said the crew did not send a distress call and they did not contact traffic controllers before the crash. An Egyptian official had previously said the pilot radioed

that the plane was experiencing technical problems and he intended to try to land at the nearest airport. The Airbus A321-200 crashed from 31,000 feet in the Sinai Peninsula just 23 minutes after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. Smirnov said the plane dropped 186 mph in speed and about 5,000 feet in altitude one minute before it crashed. Alexander Neradko, head of Russia’s federal aviation agency, told reporters on Sunday that the large area over which

plane debris fragments were found indicates the jet disintegrated while flying at high altitude. He would not comment on any possible reason for the crash, citing the ongoing investigation. When planes do break up in midair, experts say it’s usually because of one of three factors: a catastrophic weather event, a midair collision or an external threat, such as a bomb or a missile. With no indication that those events played a role in the crash, Todd Curtis, a former safety engineer with Boeing, said inves-

tigators will be looking at more unusual events, such as an on-board fire or corrosion that caused a structural failure. A local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group has claimed it brought down the aircraft, which crashed in the northern Sinai, where the Egyptian military and security forces have battled militants for years. Russian officials have dismissed that claim as not credible. British military analyst Paul Beaver said he thought the crash was most likely caused by a bomb on board, saying he

was certain IS does not possess a missile system — such as the Russian BUK — capable of hitting the plane. “I’m pretty convinced that ISIS doesn’t have a ‘double-digit’ SAM (surface-to-air missile) that is necessary to go up as far as 31,000 feet,” he said, using an alternative acronym for the terror group. “That’s a very serious piece of equipment, and I don’t think they have that sophistication.” He also said the Sinai desert is well-scrutinized by intelligence agencies, so a missile would have been seen. The flight recorders will provide key information, including the plane’s airspeed and whether it was on autopilot.

OFFICERS: Coyne accused of at least 3 assaults RANCHER: Well-known businessman in town ➤ Continued from Page One In states that do revoke law enforcement licenses, the process can take years. And while there is a national index of decertified officers, contributing to it is voluntary and experts say the database, which is not open to the public, is missing thousands of names. Some officers are permitted to quietly resign and never even face decertification. Others are able to keep working because departments may not be required to report all misdeeds to a state police standards commission, or they neglect to. Agencies also may not check references when hiring, or fail to share past problems with new employers. In 2010, a woman sued the Grand Junction Police Department in Colorado, insisting the department erred in hiring officer Glenn Coyne and then failed to supervise him. Coyne was fired, and killed himself days after he was arrested on suspicion of raping the woman in September 2009. That was sexual assault accusation No. 3, court records show. While Coyne was still with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, another woman accused him of subjecting her to a strip search and groping her. The complaint came after Grand Junction had completed its background check, and Mesa County officials — who declined comment — did not investigate or inform Coyne’s new employer, according to court records. A second complaint came in 2008 when a woman accused Coyne of sexual assault. Grand Junction officials placed the officer on probation and cut his pay and, even though the district attorney declined to prosecute, Coyne was still on probation when the third accusation was lodged. While the courts found no deliberate indifference by police in employing Coyne, one ruling said the “handling of Officer Coyne could and should have been better.” Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper said a subsequent evaluation of hiring proce-

dures found them to be sound, but added that “it’s safe to say that we’re more thorough than ever.” Prospective officers must sign a form allowing the department to review previous personnel records, and it’s considered a red flag if employers don’t respond. “If an agency won’t speak with us, or seems reticent to supply details, we’ll either dig further into other sources or we just won’t consider the applicant any further,” Camper said. Police standards agencies in 44 states can revoke the licenses of problem officers, which should prevent a bad cop from moving on to police work elsewhere. But six states, including New York and California, have no decertification authority over officers who commit misconduct. And in states with decertification powers, virtually every police standards agency relies on local departments to investigate and report questionable conduct. Those reporting requirements vary, said Roger Goldman, an expert on police licensing. About 20 states can decertify an officer only after a criminal conviction. Consider the variations between Pennsylvania and Florida. In Pennsylvania, the state agency responsible for police certification reported just 20 revocations from 2009 through 2014, none for sex-related crimes or misconduct. Florida decertified 2,125 officers in those six years, some 162 for sex-related misconduct. The difference: Florida is automatically notified when an officer is arrested and requires local departments to report any time an officer is found to have committed misconduct involving “moral character.” Pennsylvania relies on law enforcement agencies to report when an officer has committed a crime or misconduct. The records provided to the AP did not include any decertification for former Pittsburgh police officer Adam Skweres, who pleaded guilty in 2013 to extorting sexual favors from

five women and is serving up to eight years in prison. Another concern is the length of the decertification process. In Texas, Michael John Nelson was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old neighbor while working for the Hardeman County Sheriff’s Office. The local district attorney told the AP he did not prosecute in exchange for Nelson relinquishing his law enforcement license, an agreement reached with the victim and her family. Yet by the time his decertification was final in 2011 — a year after he left the sheriff’s office — Nelson had already worked briefly as a reserve deputy in the town of Bayou Vista. Nelson said he told his new boss when he learned he was under investigation and turned in his badge once charges were filed. Paul Odin, who replaced the Bayou Vista police chief who hired Nelson, said background checks often are limited by a department’s size and budget, and that “a lot of agencies, a lot of cities — to avoid lawsuits — won’t disclose anything negative.” A National Decertification Index contains the names of nearly 20,000 officers who have lost their licenses. But despite calls since 1996 to expand the index and require participation, contributing remains voluntary, and only 39 states do so. Goldman, the decertification expert, said he believes every state should license and ban officers the same as they do other professionals, such as doctors and teachers. But law enforcement unions call that unnecessary when departments can fire officers and prosecutors can pursue criminal charges. Ultimately, union officials said, policing the corps is the job of a chief. “You’ve got to start at the beginning,” said Jim Pasco, director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Did the process fail when they hired these people? ... And that’s a problem that shoots through a whole myriad of issues, not just sexual crimes.”



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➤ Continued from Page One gency services, as well as the other cars coming up and down the highway,” Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman said. Jack Yantis, the bull’s owner, arrived with a rifle just as deputies decided to put down the animal. There was an altercation, and Yantis and two deputies all fired their weapons, State Police

said in a statement. Yantis died at the scene, and one deputy suffered a minor injury. The bull also was shot and killed. Both deputies, whose names have not been released, were placed on paid leave. “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first officer-involved shooting that Adams County has ever had,” Zollman said.

“This is going to be a big hit to this community. The gentleman involved, Mr. Yantis, was a wellknown cattle rancher around here. It’s just a sad deal for everybody involved, for the whole community.” Both people inside the Subaru were taken to a local hospital by air ambulance. Their conditions and names were not known Monday.

GROUSE: State providing data on bird to feds ➤ Continued from Page One habitat than in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife map used by the BLM. County commissioners Monday agreed to chip in $15,000 in matching funds to the grant application. Bonnie Petersen, executive director of AGNC, told commissioners the regionwide mapping will “help us to refine exactly where the habitat is.” As a result, things can be done to protect the bird in that habitat while counties can plan for development in other areas, she said. Petersen and Garfield County officials say a CPW official told counties at a recent meeting that the CPW map the BLM used wasn’t meant for that purpose. That official, Jeffrey M. Ver

Steeg, CPW’s assistant director of research, policy and planning, said later Monday that in fact the Colorado map was created expressly for the BLM’s use in its planning process, at the BLM’s request. Ver Steeg said it’s just that CPW had no clear idea until later to what extent regulations or land-use restrictions would be tied to the map. He said CPW’s job was to provide the BLM with data, while it was up to the BLM to make land-use policy decisions to try to protect the sage-grouse based in part on that data. Ver Steeg said CPW stands behind its mapping “as a very good depiction of the highest priority habitats for the conservation of greater sage-grouse at the time,” and an appropriate tool for the BLM’s use. The CPW

is updating its mapping based on radio telemetry data from birds in North Park in northern Colorado and in northwestern Colorado’s Piceance Basin, and will be providing a revised map to the BLM. Ver Steeg said if the counties get the award for the mapping, the CPW also would like to collaborate with them if everyone can generally agree on what they’re trying to accomplish. “Counties have different approaches than ours and we’re going to have to see if there’s common ground,” he said. BLM spokesman David Boyd said if there is new information and the state changes its mapping, the BLM can update its Colorado sage-grouse decision. “We are not locked into the maps in the final decision,” he said.

VOTES: Judge cites prior Supreme Court ruling ➤ Continued from Page One as a District B candidate. The petition asked a judge to find Pitton unqualified for election and order Reiner not to count the votes for him. Tisue is the husband of current District B board member Ann Tisue. Pass and Wells didn’t attend the hearing. About 40 people filed into Bottger’s courtroom and listened to arguments, including fellow District B candidates George Rau and Cindy Enos-Martinez, who sat next to each other. The attorney for Carson, Tisue and Pass, Mario Nicolais of Denver, said after the hearing that he was disappointed in Bottger’s ruling, and that his clients are considering their options on what they might do next. Pitton, who sent a letter to Bottger requesting to be a part of the petition process, attended the hearing but declined to comment to The Daily Sentinel afterward. He couldn’t be reached for comment later in the evening. Assistant Mesa County Attorney Nina Atencio, who was representing Reiner, said she had no position as to whether Pitton was a qualified candidate. School district attorney David Price asked the court to declare Pitton ineligible. “As far as the district goes, it takes no position and will proceed as the court directs,” Price said. William DeFord, an attorney for Pitton, said based on state statutes, the election must continue without interruption. “We don’t know what will happen if Pitton gets the most votes, and it’s inappropriate for us to speculate what will be done,” DeFord said. In his arguments, Nicolais cited similar court cases in which candidate eligibility was not challenged soon enough. “Effectively, the court is foreclosing any opportunity for anyone to challenge candidates in the future, absent of that five-day window (after certifica-

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel

Paul Pitton is seen outside the Justice Center after the hearing to determine the eligibility of his candidacy for the District 51 school board election. Chief District Court Judge David Bottger said in his ruling that ordering Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner to not count votes for Pitton would be contrary to her statutory duty. tion),” Nicolais said. “It’s leading to a situation where it’s the legal equivalent to the dog ate my homework, and that’s certainly not something I think the court should do.” Bottger cited a prior Colorado Supreme Court decision before denying the petition. “Does the court … have the authority to determine if a candidate can be found eligible and have their name on the ballot? Can a court declare those votes cannot be counted? The question answers itself,” Bottger said. “It is not this court’s authority to ignore what the Colorado Supreme Court has

told it.” Bottger also noted that ordering Reiner to not count votes would be contrary to her statutory duty. “There’s a huge gap between not counting votes because the election officer can’t tell the vote and not counting votes even though voter intent was clear,” he said. “Courts don’t issue hypothetical, advisory decisions. The court cannot undo what has been done.” Bottger said the petitioners must seek a legal remedy after the election is over. District 51 has said it will take additional legal steps if Pitton wins the election.

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Pitton, Levinson win board races District B seat winner’s house on market; he plans to move within borders By KATIE LANGFORD

Colorado allows state to hold on to pot taxes

District 51 school board candidates Paul Pitton and Doug Levinson each won by a landslide Tuesday night, with Pitton garnering 53 percent of votes for the District B seat and Levinson with 54 percent of votes for District A, based on the latest results Tuesday night. While Levinson’s seat on the board is assured, Pitton’s win means a new set of legal questions. Pitton, who lives outside District B, was mistakenly certified by the school district as a District B candidate, but he now appears legally elected, a situation similar to one that ended up in a Colorado Supreme Court case earlier this year. Because of Pitton’s current residence outside the district, School District 51 will seek a court ruling as to whether he can be seated on the board, district spokeswoman Emily Shockley said Tuesday. Pitton Tuesday said his house is on the market and, pending final election results, will start looking for a place to rent before moving into the district he seeks to represent. State statute specifies that a candidate wishing to represent a school director district must simply reside in that district, with no time element figured

By KRISTEN WYATT Associated Press

DENVER — Colorado voters agreed Tuesday to allow the state to keep $66 million worth of marijuana taxes despite an accounting error that could have forced the state to refund the money to taxpayers and pot growers. An error in a pot tax measure approved two years ago led to the proposition. The error required the state to ask voters again if it could keep the revenue collected last year from a 10 percent sales tax and 15 percent excise tax on recreational pot. The vote means the state won’t have to refund the $66 million and the 10 percent sales tax won’t be cut almost entirely for a time. Instead, the state will put the money toward school construction and educational and anti-drug efforts. Proposition BB had broad support from Democrats, Republicans, the marijuana industry and nearly every newspaper in the state. Lawmakers insisted that the marijuana money would be spent as voters generally intended when they approved the taxes in 2013. For example, the measure sends $40 million to a school construction fund. But it also gives money to some new recipients, including the 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America. In the case of 4-H, the money is actually going to the Colorado State Fair, which expects to receive $300,000 for renovations. The Colorado Department of Education will get $2 million for a new “school bullying prevention and education cash fund.” An additional $200,000 goes to the Department of Law to train police. Roadside marijuana impairment could be the training topic.

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel

Doug Levinson, left, and Paul Pitton are applauded at the Grand Vista Hotel by supporters after the first wave of results came in, showing big leads for the District 51 School Board election on Tuesday night. Both Pitton, running for the District B seat, and Levinson, running for District A, went on See DISTRICT, page 7A ➤ to win by a landslide in their respective races.

De Beque voters approve new school bond plan By CHARLES ASHBY

Thanks to revenues earned from the sale of recreational marijuana, De Beque town residents felt comfortable Tuesday approving going into debt and continuing a property tax mill levy to fund several school improvement projects. Voters there approved Ballot Issue 3A with nearly 68 percent of the vote, allowing the town to issue bonds of up to $11.4 million — with a repayment debt of about $16.3 million — to build a new school and three other school projects. The measure also calls for

continuing a property tax increase in the 49-JT school district by up to $1.4 million to help pay off those bonds. The projects the town wants to use the money for include a new elementary school built as an addition to the district’s middle/high school. The money also will be used for a new school library, multipurpose room, updates to its music and art rooms, and an auxiliary gymnasium that would be available for all school grades. Additionally, the money will go toward a vocational agricultural addition for middle and high school students, and an

Keystone supporters place hopes on Obama’s successor

“People saw that we really have a need. Plus the fact that because of the way that the mill levy works, there’s already a mill levy for the old high school and this would just carry that on for another 10 years or so.” KIM LATHAM Yes! For Future Dragons Committee athletic field equipped with a three-lane track, parking lot and exterior lighting improvements. The town plans to use money recently awarded it from

the state’s Building Excellent Schools Today grant program. In June, the town was awarded $5.35 million from the BEST program for its school construction projects.

By JULIE CARR SMYTH Associated Press


dian energy giant’s request, the White House said “there might be politics at play” and Obama still intended to make the decision. It was an unusual reversal of roles for TransCanada, which complained bitterly for years about Obama’s delays before suddenly requesting one of its own. Likewise, Obama’s administration, after seven years of delay, seemed to discover a newfound sense of urgency when faced with the prospect of letting the next president make the call. The State Department, the official arbiter of the pipeline

See KEYSTONE, page 7A ➤ High 49, Low 39 COMPLETE FORECAST ON 2A

See DE BEQUE, page 7A ➤

Ohio votes down medical, recreational pot

By JOSH LEDERMAN WASHINGTON — The company pleading for permission to build the Keystone XL pipeline looked beyond President Barack Obama on Tuesday in apparent hopes a future Republican president would greenlight the project. But the administration signaled it was in no mood to hand off the decision to the winner of the 2016 election. TransCanada insisted its request for the U.S. to suspend its review of the proposed project had nothing to do with presidential politics even though a delay could thrust the decision a year or more into the future, likely putting it in the hands of Obama’s successor. Questioning the motivation for the Cana-

The citizens group that helped get the measure passed, Yes! For Future Dragons Committee, had raised more than $6,000 to campaign for it. Kim Latham, one of the leaders of that group, said people in town knew that the school was in such disrepair and needed to get replaced. “People saw that we really have a need,” she said. “Plus the fact that because of the way the mill levy works, there’s already a mill levy for the old high school, and this would just carry that on for another 10 years or so. People


Patrick Riley wears a sticker to show he voted outside a polling station at The Ohio State University student union on Tuesday. Ohio voters headed to the polls Tuesday and struck down a measure that would have allowed marijuana to be grown, processed and consumed within the state’s borders.



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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio voters rejected a ballot proposal Tuesday that would have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana in a single stroke — a vote-getting strategy that was being watched as a potential test case for the nation. Failure of the proposed state constitutional amendment followed an expensive campaign, a legal fight over its ballot wording, an investigation into petition signatures — and, predominantly, a counter campaign against a network of 10 exclusive growing sites it would have created. It was the only marijuana legalization question on the 2015 statewide ballots. About 65 percent of voters opposed the measure, compared to 35 percent in favor.

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Issue 3 would have allowed adults 21 and older to use, purchase or grow certain amounts of marijuana and allowed others to use it as medicine. The growing facilities were to be controlled by private investors, leading opponents to label it a “marijuana monopoly.” That featured heavily in opposition campaigns and a separate ballot question to prevent monopolies from being inserted into Ohio’s constitution for the economic benefits of a few. Campaign director Ian James assured supporters at a downtown Columbus gathering that the fight was not over, calling Tuesday’s defeat “a bump in the road.”

Vol. 122 No. 350

See POT, page 7A ➤

The Daily Sentinel • Wednesday, November 4, 2015


POT: Advocate: Defeat ‘relatively insignificant’ ➤ Continued from Page One “We need to not only address compassionate care for the chronically ill, we need to also remain vigilant in protecting direct democracy,” he said. “Because when the Statehouse refuses to deal with the voters, the voters have to make them deal to make sure that their voices are heard.” After his remarks, the an-

ti-monopoly measure passed. Ethan Nadelmann, founder and director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading drug policy reform organization, said defeat of the pot proposal is “relatively insignificant” because of its unconventional call for “a constitutionally mandated oligopoly over an agricultural product.” “This Ohio vote has been sort of a side-show that no one else

was either worried about or excited about elsewhere in the country,” he said. Two older voters in downtown Cincinnati who said they support legalization of marijuana both said they voted against Issue 3 because they didn’t like the “monopoly” element creating exclusive growing sites. “I can’t believe I voted ‘no’ when it was finally on the ballot,” said Marty Dvorchak, 62.

Want your photo on the You Saw It page? Email your high-resolution photos that have a person in them to yousawit@ Include names of those pictured and who took the photo. GRETEL DAUGHERTY/The Daily Sentinel

Kevin Chesney of Grand Junction drops his ballot into the box as he casts his vote on Tuesday at Mesa County Central Services.

DE BEQUE: Town pulled in about $100,000 in excise tax revenue in 6 months of pot sales ➤ Continued from Page One here just love kids and want to do what they can for them. All of those things just measured in.” The town’s plan is to demolish its existing elementary, preschool, library and district office building on the north side of the district’s campus, located on the northeast corner of town, and combine them in the planned addition to the junior/

senior high school on the south side of the campus. In the first six months after opening its first retail marijuana store, the town pulled in about $100,000 in excise tax revenue, equal to all other sales taxes the town collects each year. Owners of that store, Kush Gardens, and a second one that opened in September, Elk Mountain Training Post, were among several local business and groups that also have con-

tributed money toward the school building project. In an unrelated race, in a tooclose-to-call race, Adrian Walck was holding onto a narrow lead over Travis Graham for an at-large seat on the De Beque Board of Education by a handful of votes. Meanwhile, Rodney Graham ran uncontested for the second opening on the board. Currently, Graham is the board’s president. He will serve a two-year term.

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DISTRICT: Both Pitton, Levinson say they plan on being a regular presence in schools ➤ Continued from Page One into the calculation of a candidate’s eligibility. In the meantime, Pitton and Levinson enjoyed their victories Tuesday night. “I’ve got a lot of visions for things to do in this district, to get pride in the community back up to where it should be for our school district,” Pitton said. “To get things to stabilize for the teachers and help the kids as we have been, getting them moving in the right direction toward their career paths.” Levinson acknowledged the hard work of the man he will replace on the board, fellow candidate Jeff Leany. “This is a volunteer position, this is all people’s passion for it, and I look at Jeff, a guy who gave four years of his life to commit to something he feels strongly about, and I always appreciate people who do that,” Levinson said. “My hope is that I can contribute. The first thing is, what-

ever I can do to help support our teachers that are doing the work and get them the resources they need, then I think great things can happen and we can have a healthy environment,” he said. Pitton and Levinson said they plan to be a regular presence in schools around the district. “I was a principal for years and it wasn’t often we had board members visit our schools or departments. I’ve challenged myself to be out and about and talking to people about what’s happening and not just have it filtered through board meetings,” Levinson said. Pitton said despite the hurdles that he’s gone through already as a candidate — and others presumably coming up — running for the school board has been worth it. “The kids are worth it,” he said. “My students and their parents and the teachers I work with, they’re worth it. Otherwise I don’t think I’d be doing it.” Leany, the incumbent District A candidate, said he has

no regrets about his time on the school board. “I feel good about what we’ve done. They’re really positive things, and I’m happy with what we’ve done,” Leany said. District A candidate Kelly Reed said he congratulated Pitton and Levinson on their wellrun campaigns. “I think they’ll contribute greatly to the board,” Reed said. District B candidate Cindy Enos-Martinez said she was disappointed with the election results. “It’s disappointing to see that someone that’s not qualified to represent this district carried the majority of the votes,” she said. District B candidate George Rau declined to comment on the outcome. Pitton summed up his mindset as taking things as they come. “Right now, I’m just enjoying all of these people and thinking about the campaign committee and just taking it a moment at a time,” he said.

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KEYSTONE: Pipeline is opposed by all major Democratic candidates, including Clinton permit, said it was considering TransCanada’s new request but in the meantime the pipeline review would move forward unabated. “We’d like to finish this review process as swiftly as possible,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said Tuesday. That was 2,601 days after TransCanada first proposed the $8 billion project. For TransCanada, a delay into 2017 might improve the prospects for approval — if a Republican wins the White House. The GOP presidential field is unanimous in its support for Keystone, while Obama has downplayed its benefits and emphasized environmental risks, setting up a high bar for approval. All of the major Democratic candidates oppose it — including front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who oversaw the early phase of the pipeline review as Obama’s first-term secretary of state. Ahead of TransCanada’s request, Keystone supporters had

feared Obama would seize on a brief window between Canada’s recent elections and the conclusion of global climate talks next month to kill the project in grand fashion, solidifying his environmental bona fides. Obama hopes to make a global climate pact the capstone of his environmental legacy and has sought to show aggressive action to curb carbon dioxide emissions as world leaders prepare to finalize an agreement in Paris. For Obama, the 1,179-mile proposed pipeline has swelled over the years into a behemoth political hot potato. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama had sought to “shield this process from politics,” but the president’s many delays have only injected more politics and posturing into the national debate. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., a vocal Keystone supporter, said it would be inconsistent for Obama to reject TransCanada’s request since the company has worked diligently to meet every legal and regulatory hurdle. “Are they going to have a

double standard here? They’ve held TransCanada up for almost seven years,” Hoeven said in an interview. While most cross-border pipelines take less than 18 months to approve or reject, Keystone’s has dragged on since September 2008 — shortly before Obama was elected. In late 2011, Obama announced he would hold off until after the 2012 election, taking the issue off the table for his own re-election fight. When Congress tried to force his hand, he rejected the application but allowed TransCanada to re-apply. As envisioned, Keystone XL would extend from Alberta’s tar sands to Nebraska, where it will connect with existing pipelines carrying crude oil to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Another delay in 2014, ostensibly prompted by a dispute over the Nebraska route, further pushed the decision until after the 2014 midterm elections. The pipeline has drawn intense ire from environmental groups who say it’s inconsistent with Obama’s goal to cut emissions and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

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➤ Continued from Page One





November 5, 2015

Your community news source since 1893

School district fires its spokesman By AMY HAMILTON and KATIE LANGFORD The Daily Sentinel

School District 51 Communications Director Dan Dougherty was terminated Wednesday, but will receive nearly $67,000 in severance pay.

Move comes after flap over school board candidacy Dougherty, who started with District 51 in the 2014-15 school year, earned an annual salary of $93,919.

“Mr. Dougherty and the district will not discuss or disclose personnel matters concerning Mr. Dougherty’s employment

with the district or his termination from such employment,” District 51 spokeswoman Emily Shockley said.

came three days after The Daily Sentinel reported on how he orchestrated an effort to hide from the public for several days the district’s mistaken certification of Paul Pitton as a District

Shockley said Dougherty did not supply a resignation letter “that we’re aware of.” Dougherty’s termination

See FIRES, page 7A ➤

Address fixes in Palisade put on hold Fire chief wants better map, but complaints stall his effort By AMY HAMILTON

Illustration by ROBERT GARCÎA/The Daily Sentinel

Three Mesa County residents will take to the Colorado Supreme Court their fight to keep District 51 School Board member-elect Paul Pitton from taking office. Pitton, a 34-year teacher in District 51 and a football coach at Palisade, was elected Tuesday to represent District B, even though he lives in District D. Pitton, who was mistakenly certified by District 51 as a District B candidate, says he plans to move into District B before he’s sworn in.

Trio fighting Pitton’s eligibility Residents heading to high court to appeal school board decision By KATIE LANGFORD

Three Mesa County residents who were denied a petition Monday to declare school board candidate Paul Pitton ineligible to run to represent District B are appealing the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Kent Carson, Dale Pass and James “Gil” Tisue filed a petition on Oct. 27 to prevent “undermining the integrity of the election” because Pitton was wrongly certified as a District B candidate but still running for the position. Pitton lives in District D, but the school district re-

lied on outdated district boundary maps to improperly qualify him as a candidate in District B. District 51 school board members will hold a special meeting tonight at 5 at the Basil T. Knight Center to gather

See COURT, page 7A ➤


When: 5 p.m. today Where: Basil T. Knight Center, 596 N. Westgate Drive. Topic: To discuss legal options following Paul Pitton’s election win on Tuesday.

An effort to clean up some addresses in the Palisade area is being tabled after some residents complained about the pending changes, according to Palisade town officials. Palisade Fire Chief Richard Rupp said he’s been working for the past year and a half on a road map to create logical and consecutive addresses in the town and bordering Mesa County areas, but the decision to put the effort on hold came after some county residents on North River Road complained. Rupp said he’s working on a plan to change addresses for 47 parcels in the county and 149 parcels in the town’s limits. The changes are needed for public safety issues and to eliminate misleading addresses, he said. “The town manager (Rich Sales) just wanted to make sure we don’t change more (addresses) than we have to,” Rupp said. Examples of problem addresses include neighboring parcels that aren’t in consec-

The changes are needed for public safety, said Fire Chief Richard Rupp.

Governor, top cop in court battle

Bomb may have downed jet, American, British officials say By JILL LAWLESS and KEN DILANIAN Associated Press

LONDON — British and U.S. officials said Wednesday they have information suggesting the Russian jetliner that crashed in the Egyptian desert may have been brought down by a bomb, and Britain said it was suspending flights to and from the Sinai Peninsula indefinitely. Intercepted communications played a role in the tentative conclusion that the Islamic State group’s Sinai affiliate planted an explosive device on the plane, said a U.S. official briefed on the matter. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss intelligence matters publicly. HOME PAGE OF WESTERN COLORADO

Britain said it was suspending flights to and from the Sinai Peninsula indefinitely. The official and others said there had been no formal judgment rendered by the CIA or other intelligence agencies, and that forensic evidence from the blast site, including the airplane’s black box, was still being analyzed. The official added that intelligence analysts don’t believe the operation was ordered by Islamic State leaders in Raqqa, Syria. Rather, they believe that if it was a bomb, it was planned and executed by the Islamic


State’s affiliate in the Sinai, which operates autonomously. Other officials cautioned that intercepted communications can sometimes be misleading and that it’s possible the evidence will add up to a conclusion that there was no bomb. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said there was a “significant possibility” the crash was caused by a bomb, and Britain was suspending flights to and from the Sinai resort of Sharm elSheikh indefinitely. After a meeting of the British government’s crisis committee, COBRA, Hammond said Britain was advising its citizens not to go on vacation to Sharm el-Sheikh, which is visited by hundreds of thousands



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utive order. Two addresses are identical along G Road on parcels that are two miles apart. Some people complain they can’t find correct addresses on their global positioning systems and some residents, including those who live in the Rio Vista Mobile Home Park, have requested town officials clean up their addresses. Rupp, a longtime firefighter and emergency worker in the Palisade area, said he knows local addresses inside and out and is confident he can find any address in an emergency. However, he said, inconsistent addresses can become a problem for emergency responders and they create problems with the push toward geographical informational system mapping. “Hopefully when you order pizza, the pizza guy can find you,” Rupp said. “In public safety, if your house is on fire there’s enough smoke we’re going to find you. If you have a heart attack, you can’t put enough smoke out.”



Russian and Egyptian experts work at the crash site of a passenger plane bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, that crashed in Hassana, on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Intercepted communications led American and British officials to tentatively conclude that the Islamic State group’s Sinai affiliate planted a bomb on the jet. of Britons a year. Meanwhile, Russian and Egyptian investigators said Wednesday that the cockpit voice recorder of the Metrojet Airbus 321-200 had suffered sub-

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stantial damage in the weekend crash that killed 224 people. Information from the flight data recorder has been successfully copied and handed over to investigators, the Russians added.

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Attorneys for Gov. John Hickenlooper filed a petition with the Colorado Supreme Court on Wednesday to ask it to determine if the governor, and not the state’s attorney general, has the ultimate authority to decide when the state can sue the federal government. The petition was spurred because Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has filed three such cases against federal agencies without approval from the governor, something Hickenlooper said is a separa-

See BATTLE, page 7A ➤ Vol. 122 No. 351


The Daily Sentinel • Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pot-grow pesticides poisoning wild animals By DAVID PERLMAN

© 2015 San Francisco Chronicle

Fishers, those rare little forest animals barely larger than a big house cat, are dying from rat poisons left behind by illegal marijuana growers in California who abandon their plantations when the law closes in. Ecologist Mourad Gabriel should know: He lives in Blue Lake, a Humboldt County town not far from the area's fast-moving hidden pot farmers. Nyxo, his pet Labrador retriever, died of a powerful rat poison last year while Gabriel was investigating the unusual deaths among fishers. Fishers, related to the weasel family, live in forests along the West Coast from Oregon to Yosemite and the southern Sierra and are already proposed for federal protection as a threatened species. Once abundant, their populations have been declining for years as civilization closes in on their habitats. But now Gabriel, along with colleagues at UC Davis and the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation's tribal forest-

ry department, have found that a variety of poisons are killing some of the fishers, although their primary enemies are still predators. ``Fishers are the forest's flagship species, and this is going to get worse unless we do something to rectify the threat,'' Gabriel said. ``We need to think of so many other wild species, like the Sierra Nevada red foxes, the spotted owls and the martens — they are all potentially at risk.'' Three years ago, the researchers surveyed abandoned pot farms hidden in the reservation's 140 square miles of forest lands, and found only four fisher deaths caused by the killer compounds. This week in the journal Plos One, Gabriel and his colleagues report that they have studied the deaths of 167 fishers in the region and counted at least 13 animals that had clearly died from the poisons, while 70 percent of the deaths were caused by predatory animals like bobcats and mountain lions.

Attacker stabs 4, is killed by police By JULIET WILLIAMS and PAUL ELIAS Associated Press

MERCED, Calif. — A male college student burst into a morning class at a California university with a hunting knife Wednesday and may have killed his intended victim if not for the heroic intervention of a construction worker who ran into the room to break up the attack. The construction worker and three others were injured, but all are expected to survive. The alleged assailant, described as a college student in his 20s, was shot and killed by campus police as he fled the scene at the University of California, Merced. Two of the injured had to be airlifted to nearby hospitals, and the other two were treated on campus. Authorities didn’t release the name of the assailant or his victims. The incident began when the assailant used a knife to stab two people in a second-floor room around the start of an 8 a.m. class, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. A construction worker outside rushed into to check on the commotion, distracted the attacker and was also stabbed. Warnke credited the worker with saving the life of one of the victims. “I think he prevented this first student from dying,” Warnke said during an afternoon news conference. “He didn’t go in knowing that there was a stabbing taking place. He went in thinking there was a fight.” The Merced Sun Star identified the construction worker as Byron Price, 31. Price’s father said he was treated and released from the hospital. Neither Price returned calls for comment to


University of California, Merced student Justin Dick, right, hugs his sister as his parents look on after a stabbing in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday. An assailant stabbed five people at the rural university campus in central California before police shot and killed him, authorities said Wednesday. Justin was one of 15 students in the core class where the incident took place Wednesday morning. The Associated Press. Warnke said the suspect fled the room after attacking the construction worker and ran down two flights of stairs to outside where he stabbed a school employee sitting on a bench. The suspect fled the building. He was shot and killed by pursuing campus police on a nearby foot bridge. Authorities are investigating a motive. Warnke said the knife contained a blade that was eight to 10 inches long. All the victims were conscious when paramedics reached them, Assistant Vice Chancellor Patti Waid said. University senior Phil Coba,

a student government representative, said numerous students told him that the stabbings started inside a classroom and continued outside before campus police shot and killed the attacker. Lensy Maravilla, 19, a firstyear student, said she was in a biology class on the second floor of the same building, when a female student ran in. Maravilla said the student “was crying hysterically and came in and said that she had seen somebody get stabbed, or slashed, in the throat and she ran.” Maravilla did not have other details, but she said that short-

ly afterward someone came in the class and said classes were canceled. Student Itzel Franco, 18, said half of her dorm remains evacuated because it is close to the site of where the assailant was shot. She said it happened in an area known as the “passing bridge.” Student Alex Lopez was heading to class when he realized something was wrong on campus. “I was listening to a podcast, and there was a break in talking, and I just hear a gunshot,” he said. He said police and first responders flooded the scene. “You see this stuff all over the news and stuff, and you see it happen to all these other schools,” but you don’t expect it to happen at your school, said Lopez, 21. The university about 120 miles south of Sacramento in the farm-rich San Joaquin Valley was locked down for about an hour and a half after the stabbings. The lockdown was lifted, but classes were canceled and entrances to the campus were blocked off. Campus officials said the university, which has about 6,000 students, also would be closed today and urged the community to seek counseling services that were available. The campus in the city of Merced opened a decade ago and is the newest one in the University of California system. It was erected in the state’s farm belt in response to the burgeoning enrollment in the nine other University of California campuses. Regents also felt the mainly agricultural region was unrepresented by higher education.

FIRES: Dougherty did not return a call seeking comment ➤ Continued from Page One

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B school board candidate. Emails obtained by the Sentinel through the Colorado Open Records Act showed Dougherty recommended to Superintendent Steve Schultz that the district hold off on sending a letter to parents and staff “to see how it plays in the media and if it causes Pitton to make a decision, which would change our response.” Dougherty sent that email to Schultz on Oct. 17, the same day School Board member Ann Tisue announced

to the media that Pitton lives in District D, not District B. The Oct. 17 email from Dougherty contradicted one he wrote four days later to his communications staff. “We should have spread the word immediately upon confirming the mistake. That was our/my advice to leadership, but it was over-ruled by the legal team. Now, we will suffer a bit,” he wrote. That same day, Dougherty recommended in an email to Schultz and District 51 employee Terri Wells, who erroneously certified Pitton, that the district

encourage Pitton not to drop out of the race. “By staying in, the will of the people will be known and no votes will have been in vain,” Dougherty wrote. He then directed his communications staff to inundate local media with positive stories about the district in an effort to counteract the negative public reaction to the district’s error. Dougherty also took shots at the Sentinel, claiming an editorial that criticized the district’s handling of notifying the public of its error revealed the newspaper is “anti-public education

at their core.” Dougherty had worked in communications for the Eagle County School District before obtaining a position with District 51, according to a social media profile. Dougherty did not return for a call for comment Wednesday night. He will be paid $66,831 for his separation with the district, minus money owed to PERA, insurance and taxes. The amount includes $4,219 of unused, accrued vacation time, the district said.

COURT: ‘From our point of view, it’s not over,’ petitioner says ➤ Continued from Page One 31788-01


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information and receive legal advice about if and how Pitton can serve as a District B school board member. Pitton won the District B seat by a landslide Tuesday night, receiving 54 percent of votes. He told The Daily Sentinel his house is on the market and he will begin to look for a place to rent in order to become a resident of District B. Chief District Judge David Bottger denied the petitioners on Monday, stating that the election must be allowed to continue based on previous Colorado Supreme Court rulings. Mario Nicolais, a Denver attorney representing the three petitioners, confirmed Wednesday that he filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on Tuesday. “It had to be filed within three

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we can. If there’s a (Supreme Court) decision or not, we’ll be able to act on it in a judicious and speedy manner.” Current District B school board member Ann Tisue was noncommittal when asked if she would recuse herself from tonight’s meeting. Her husband, Gil, is one of the petitioners asking that Pitton be declared ineligible, and Tisue herself brought the wrongful certification to light during a news conference on Oct. 17. “I need to find out more of what the meeting is about,” Tisue said Wednesday. “At this point I’ve been informed of it and it’s on my calendar and I have to respond and ask what the details of the meeting are.” Pitton was certified as a District B candidate but actually lives in District D, and ballots had already been sent out when

the error was discovered. The situation is similar to a school board race in Adams County School District 12, a case the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on earlier this year. Nicolais said this case is a “different fact pattern” from what happened in Adams County, because a petition was filed before Election Day. He was also the attorney for the petitioner in that case, Figueroa v. Speers. “I think it actually happens far more often than anyone realizes in the state of Colorado,” Nicolais said. “You can’t expect all of those people to be experts on what is an extraordinarily complex set of laws, which is what election law is. My guess is that this happens all the time.” Nicolais said it could take several months for the court to move forward with case briefings.

BATTLE: Coffman has acted on her own in joining lawsuits ➤ Continued from Page One

currently serving in the

days of the decision,” Nicolais said. “We were up against a very tight timeline in any case.” Tisue said he knew “pretty soon after” Bottger’s decision that he wanted to pursue further legal action. “From our point of view, it’s not over,” Tisue said. “This is the third time it’s happened and it’s likely to happen again, and that’s why it’s proceeding in that direction.” School board President Greg Mikolai said members will not vote or make an official decision about how to proceed at the meeting today. “If nothing else, we can start to gather information, start to get some legal advice so we can start processing it,” Mikolai said. “There may be a lot of ‘what-ifs’ involved, but I think it’s better for us to start getting out in front of this as much as

tion-of-powers issue between his office and hers. Both offices are elected directly by Colorado voters. While Coffman has said she clearly has that right, Hickenlooper’s legal experts argue that the governor is the chief executive of the state and, therefore, speaks for Colorado in such matters. “The attorney general has filed an unprecedented number of lawsuits without support of or collaboration with her clients,” said Jacki Cooper Melmed, chief legal counsel for Hickenlooper. “This raises serious questions about the use of state dollars and the attorney-client relationship between the governor, state agencies and the attorney general.” Since taking office in January, Coffman has joined with other states in three federal cases, naming Colorado as a plaintiff in each. Those cases involve a suit against the Bureau of Land

Management over hydraulic fracturing rules, and two cases against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the most recent over its Clean Power Plan to force coal-fired power plants to reduce carbon emissions. The governor’s petition does not address the merits of any of those cases, only Coffman’s legal authority to speak for the state on federal issues. “The governor’s disagreement with the attorney general’s filings is not based on the legal merits of the federal lawsuits,” the petition reads. “It is about the direction of Colorado executive department policy, which is, he is empowered to direct under our constitution and laws.” Roger Hudson, spokesman for Coffman, said the attorney general’s office received the petition Wednesday afternoon and still is reviewing it. “General Coffman remains confident that the court will continue to affirm her independent authority as an elected

constitutional officer,” Hudson said. “She looks forward to an expedient resolution so both the attorney general and the governor can continue the people’s work.” The governor’s legal team said that Coffman is free to express her opinion on federal lawsuits, but is limited to filing friend-of-the-court briefs, and not involving the state as a whole in lawsuits. Her immediate predecessor, John Suthers, did that often, though he did involve the state in a lawsuit challenging the federal Affordable Care Act. Coffman worked as Suthers’ chief deputy for his entire 10-year time as attorney general. It is unknown when, or even if, the court will accept the governor’s petition. It only takes three justices on the seven-member court to accept a case. Coffman has set her legal authority on a case filed by another of her predecessors, former U.S. senator and Interior De-

partment secretary Ken Salazar. That 2003 separation-of-powers case pitted the Colorado Legislature, the executive branch and the courts against each other over congressional redistricting. In that case, the state supreme court ruled that the Legislature overstepped its authority in trying to draw a new congressional district map after the courts had already approved one. Salazar said Coffman is wrong to use that case as her legal authority. “The only exception for the attorney general to take a position adverse to the governor is where the governor has taken a clearly unlawful position, and then only when certain traditional protocols are followed,” Salazar said. “Here no such argument can be made against Governor Hickenlooper’s position concerning the Clean Power Rule. Hence, in my view, Attorney General Coffman’s actions exceed her authority as attorney general.”





November 6, 2015

Your community news source since 1893

Pitton’s fate up to board? Unless court intervenes first, that’s the case, counsel says



District 51 school board members are juggling time limits, residency requirements and a pending Colorado Supreme Court case while trying to figure out whether District B board member-elect Paul Pitton can be seated on the school board by the end of the month. Board members called a special public meeting Thursday night to receive legal counsel about what the next steps are for Pitton to be seated as District B director. Pitton — unofficially elected as District B director for the school board, following his win with voters Tuesday — actually lives in District D. The certification error was made by the district and brought to light by current District B board member Ann Tisue on Oct. 17, several days after ballots listing Pitton as a candidate were mailed to voters. Pitton said he intends to move into District B and that his house is on the market. “Unless a court determines that issue (of Pitton’s residency) prior to the time Mr. Pitton takes office, then it will be up to this body to determine whether he is a resident or nonresident of the district he is intending to represent,” said David Price, an attorney for the


Paul Pitton, center, listens Thursday during a special public meeting of District 51 school board members as they discuss what steps can be taken to determine whether Pitton can be seated on the board as the District B director by the end of the month. The meeting convened at the Basil T. Knight Center, where the next regular board meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. school district. There are no specific rules for determining residency to serve on the school board, so that would also be at the discretion of board members. Another factor in the future of Pitton’s place on the school board is a Colorado Supreme Court appeal filed by three Mesa County residents asking the high court to determine Pit-

ton’s eligibility and whether the court can order him removed from the ballot and votes for him not be counted. Chief District Judge David Bottger denied the initial petition on Monday and an appeal was filed with the Supreme Court on Tuesday. If a court does not intervene beforehand, Pitton can be sworn into office pending proof of District B residency,

and must be sworn in within 10 days of votes being certified. If a court does intervene and stops Pitton from being sworn in until legal issues are resolved, it’s likely Tisue would continue to serve on the board until that time. Wednesday’s meeting was open

See BOARD, page 7A ➤

King at Blagg hearing: I did not steal By PAUL SHOCKLEY

Pressed Thursday by lawyers for accused killer Michael Blagg, former state senator and Mesa County Sheriff’s investigator Steve King stopped short of admitting he stole money from Colorado Mesa University and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. This, after pleading guilty Jan. 23 to embezzlement and official misconduct.

“I screwed up my bookkeeping, yes,” King replied, when asked by Blagg public defender Tina Fang if he stole funds from CMU and the law enforcement agency he once aimed to lead as its elected sheriff. King, whose testimony came during a motions hearing in Blagg’s case, was given the chance to clarify his answer. “I’m saying I didn’t realize my limitations,” King testified. “By that, you mean you stole

‘Sovereign citizens’ jailed after explosive encounter with cops

from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office?” Fang hounded the former Blagg investigator. “I was working three jobs and should have asked for help on my bookkeeping but didn’t,” King answered. Fang continued to press: Was the theft of money King admitted to in January — in another courtroom on another floor at the Mesa County Justice Center — an “intentional act or mistake?” “It was a mistake,” he an-



See SOVEREIGN, page 7A ➤ High 46, Low 28 COMPLETE FORECAST ON 2A

STEVE KING Former investigator See KING, page 5A ➤ in Blagg case




Former Western Slope doctor Sam Jahani, accused of overprescribing prescription drugs that resulted in the deaths of four people, is expected to enter into a plea agreement today, according to a notice of disposition filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday. The details of the agreement won’t be known until after today’s court hearing. Jahani, along with another former doctor, Eric Peper, were charged with multiple felony counts in connection with the deaths of four patients. Both SAM JAHANI doctors initially Was accused of pleaded not guilty, but Peper has since causing overdose deaths of four changed his plea. Peper pleaded patients guilty in July as part of a plea agreement to conspiracy to violate controlled substance laws, committing health care fraud and money laundering. The two were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as part of an alleged scheme to enrich themselves by overprescribing pain-control narcotics. The two operated Urgent Care Inc., which had clinics in Grand Junction, Delta and Montrose. The clinics were shut down after a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2009. The two were indicted by a federal grand jury two years later. Peper’s plea agreement calls for him to testify in Jahani’s trial, which currently is scheduled in January if Jahani doesn’t change his plea today. The trial, if it happens, is expected to last 10 weeks. Peper is to be sentenced Dec. 1. He faces up to four years in prison. The two former doctors were accused of causing the overdose deaths of four patients who were identified in court documents only by their initials. According to Peper’s plea agreement, the two were seeing up to 80 patients a day at the Delta clinic and prescribing “unprecedented” levels of Oxycodone. Local pharmacists told authorities they couldn’t keep enough in stock as a result.

Senate Democrats propose fees to help pay for mining cleanups Associated Press

Court Judge Bruce Raaum during a bond hearing on Thursday. Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told the judge that Tice and his son, Leviathan Tice, 25, were arrested on warrants Wednesday night in a bizarre traffic stop: Ronn Tice continued driving for a considerable distance before yielding to a patrol vehicle with activated, overhead flashing lights. Ronn Tice placed a handgun on the dashboard in an

swered. “I did not intentionally steal.” If cause was raised for revocation of King’s probation or deferred judgment, would the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office be making that decision, Fang asked. “I’d have to ask my lawyer that,” King answered. In a plea agreement resulting



A family of three men with ties to the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement are facing allegations that they were living in a home they had no legal right to, which prompted an explosive confrontation with Grand Junction police officers two weeks ago. Ronn Tice, 56, was ordered held in lieu of $10,000 cash bond after his arrest Wednesday night on suspicion of first-degree burglary, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer. “I waive all benefits and privileges, good afternoon to you, too,” Tice told County

Former local physician to enter plea agreement

DENVER — Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Thursday proposed new fees for mines on federal land to help pay for cleaning up sites such as Colorado’s inactive Gold King Mine, where 3 million gallons of wastewater spilled into rivers that run through three states. Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general said it was broadening its investigation of the spill — which an EPA-led crew triggered — to include more than a dozen new lines of inquiry. The senators want to revise an 1872 federal law to include a reclamation fee on all hard rock mines, new and existing. Hard rock mining generally includes gold, silver, copper and other minerals. The reclamation fee would raise about $100 million a year, but total cleanup costs will be in the tens of bil-

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lions of dollars for thousands of sites, they said. Money would be distributed to federal, state and tribal agencies for cleanup projects but remain distinct from the Superfund program, which pays to remediate a range of toxic waste sites including mines. The lawmakers also proposed a separate royalty on minerals extracted from new mines on federal land that would go into the cleanup fund. The lawmakers said they don’t know how much money it would generate because mining companies currently aren’t required to report their production. The bill is the latest of several proposals prompted by the Aug. 5 spill at the Gold King mine. A cleanup crew supervised by the EPA inadvertently triggered the release of water tainted with heavy metals. Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were polluted. The Democrats’ bill would revise

Comics ...................... 6A Obituaries ................. 8A

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the 1872 law that critics say is antiquated and doesn’t require enough from mining companies in exchange for access to valuable minerals on public land. The law currently doesn’t require royalties for hard rock mining. “We’re still basically giving away land to multinational mining corporations,” said New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, one of the sponsors. “Coal, oil and gas companies have paid royalties for many decades. Hard rock mining companies should do the same.” The environmental group Earthworks, which monitors mining and energy development, said an overhaul of the mining bill is long overdue. “If this bill had been law before the Gold King Mine waste disaster, the Animas River might never have been polluted, and downstream communities in Colorado and New Mexico might never have suffered,” said

See FEES, page 7A ➤ Vol. 122 No. 352

The Daily Sentinel • Friday, November 6, 2015


SOVEREIGN: Police officers left the home after scuffle when trying to handcuff man at door ➤ Continued from Page One

BOARD: ‘Sensitive to perception’ of community ➤ Continued from Page One to the public despite Colorado Open Meetings law allowing closed executive sessions to confer with legal counsel. The decision was intentional, school board President Greg Mikolai said. “We felt that this process is

going to better serve the community and better inform the public if it was done in an open meeting,” Mikolai said. “We are sensitive to the perception of the community and how the district has handled some of these issues over the last couple of weeks. We recognize the mistakes that we’ve

made and we’re going to correct those mistakes, and in many ways this meeting was an example of how we intend to go forward from this in a very transparent way,” he said. The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Basil T. Knight Center, 596 N. Westgate Drive.

Martian atmosphere likely stripped away by solar wind By MARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Mars-orbiting Maven spacecraft has discovered that the sun likely robbed the red planet of its once-thick atmosphere and water. On Thursday, scientists reported that even today, the solar wind is stripping away about 100 grams of atmospheric gas every second. That’s about a quarter-pound a second lost to the stream of charged particles shooting away from the sun at 1 million mph. Big solar storms traveling at twice that speed increase the escape rate by 10 to 20 times — and more. Because of their prevalence billions of years ago, these storms would have been enough to gut the atmosphere of ancient Mars and transform it from a moist, warm place potentially capable of microscopic life to the cold, dry desert of today. “I can’t help but imagine

hamburgers flying out of the Martian atmosphere, one per second,” Maven scientist Dave Brain told reporters with a smile. “It’s instead oxygen and carbon dioxide that are leaving the planet, which are important both for water and for the climate of the planet overall.” These latest Mars findings by robotic scouts such as Maven are a key part of NASA’s push to send human explorers to the red planet in the 2030s. Just over a month ago, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter revealed evidence of salt water trickling down Martian slopes, at least in the summer. NASA’s next mission begins in March with the launch of another orbiting explorer. Principal scientist Bruce Jakosky and his team reported that during massive solar ejections of gas in March, the spacecraft noticed oxygen ions were flung higher into the atmosphere than expected. At the same time, streams of fast-moving magnetic activity shot 3,100

FEES: Bennet is a bill sponsor ➤ Continued from Page One Jennifer Krill, Earthworks executive director. National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich said his group doesn’t oppose a small royalty if Congress will streamline the process for getting mining permits and pass a “Good Samaritan” bill, which would encourage third parties to clean up old mines by limiting their liability for accidental environmental damage. But Popovich said the reclamation fee would make mining too expensive. Other sponsors of the hard rock mining bill include Sens.

Michael Bennet of Colorado, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Edward Markey of Massachusetts. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., is sponsoring similar legislation in the House. The EPA inspector general said some of the new questions in its investigation were raised by Congress and others by a review of the spill by the Interior Department. The new questions include whether the agency was following its own rules when it triggered the blowout, as well as what kind of legal protection EPA gave the contractor and whether that affected the way the work was done.

New raptor found in S.D. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LAWRENCE, Kan. — A dinosaur fossil found in South Dakota’s Hell Creek Formation has led to the discovery of a new giant raptor. A research team that includes

University of Kansas paleontologists named the estimated 17-foot-long feathered creature a Dakotaraptor. The raptor would probably have been as agile as the vicious Velociraptor.

miles out into space. That led the researchers to conclude Mars’ atmospheric decline may have been driven in large part by major solar events such as this, early in the planet’s history. The atmosphere likely would have disappeared over a period of a few hundred-millions years. Mars no longer has a global magnetic field, but when it did 4 billion years ago, that would have prevented this wholesale loss of atmosphere, the researchers said. Earth’s strong magnetic field seals in our own atmosphere, preventing direct erosion by the solar wind. Jakosky said further analysis will allow scientists to better define the atmospheric escape rate of ancient Mars. In any event, given the current loss, the existing thin atmosphere would be gone in another few billions of years, he noted, although the gas is also locked up in the polar caps and in the subsurface.


The trio face criminal allegations in connection with a home at 612 26½ Road, which was the subject of a trespass complaint on Oct. 22. claiming he did not want to enter into ‘verbal contracts’ or ‘verbal misunderstandings’ with the officers,” the affidavit said. Ronn Tice claimed he’d bought the house a week prior. He presented documents that appeared to officers to be “abnormal” and “not credible.” When one of the officers tried to handcuff Ronn Tice for the outstanding warrant, he allegedly started pulling away, pulling an officer back inside the residence, the affidavit said. The two officers tried handcuffing him as the scuffle moved inside the home. Another man, alleged to be Leviathan Tice, grabbed his father’s arm and tried pulling him away from the officers, the affidavit said. “Officer (Brett) Boyer pushed the younger male in the chest and yelled, ‘Get back,’ ” the affidavit said. Officer Scott Donaldson called on his radio for “code three” — an emergent response — backup from other officers. “A third male (later identified as Paul Tice) ... appeared from within the house and approached the struggle with what both officers described as an ‘angry’ look on his face,” the affidavit said. “Officer Boyer noticed that this male was look-

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Greg Mikolai, left, School District 51 board president, questions an attorney for the district during a Thursday evening meeting about Paul Pitton’s recent controversial election and subsequent seating on the school board, at the Basil T. Knight Center in Grand Junction.

act of intimidation aimed at the arresting officers, Rubinstein told the judge. “They continue to not recognize the authority of law enforcement and that’s a concern,” the district attorney said. Tice disputed any notion he was trying to intimidate officers. “I am a non-resident alien ... I don’t know if that makes any difference to you,” he told the judge. “No, it doesn’t,” Raaum replied before setting bond. Tice’s son, Leviathan, was released from jail Thursday on a personal-recognizance bond after his arrest on a warrant for suspicion of first-degree burglary, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer. His grandfather, Paul Orville Tice, 81, signed out of jail Wednesday on a warrant for suspicion of first-degree burglary, menacing, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer. Paul Tice had no prior arrest record. The trio face criminal allegations in connection with a home at 612 26½ Road, which was the subject of a trespass complaint to Grand Junction police on Oct. 22. A Realtor told officers the property had gone through foreclosure, but noticed on Oct. 10 that the locks had been changed. The home is currently owned by the lender, Fannie Mae. Ronn Tice had an arrest warrant for failure to appear on a traffic charge when he was contacted by two officers at the front door on Oct. 22, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. “The male (Ronn Tice) was visibly shaking during the encounter and would not answer simple questions, repeatedly

ing directly at him while holding a sharp, metallic object in his right hand. The male continued to approach officers in an aggressive manner and grabbed onto Ronn, pulling him away from officers.” Paul Tice allegedly raised a knife toward the officers, prompting them to pull guns and retreat outside. “With little hope for nonviolent compliance, law enforcement elected to leave the area and not pursue the matter until further investigation could be completed,” the affidavit said. Later that same day, Ronn Tice sent an email to Grand Junction officers replete with “sovereign citizen” rhetoric, including documents signed by Tice identifying himself as “a private man, a non-resident alien, an American National.” “I have been making diligent efforts to ascertain the nature and signing judge of the alleged warrant which your two Officers ... indicated was outstanding against Ronn Tice or any derivative thereof, which was the stated cause of the two Officers’ trespass and attempted abduction of Ronn Tice from his domicile at 612 26½ Road,” Ronn Tice wrote in another email. Grand Junction investigators confirmed deeds that showed the home had been sold to lender Fannie Mae on Sept. 18. With the assistance of FBI agent Alex Zappe, investigators were provided documents filed by Ronn Tice with the Colorado Secretary of State. “In review of those documents, they appear nothing more than a bizarre attempt by Ronn and Leviathan to make a superficial legal status out of the counterfeit and unlawful inhabitation of said property,” the affidavit said. 1 1/2 MILES WEST OF MESA MALL Admin fee of $150 included in sale price plus tax. Photo for illustration purposes only - color may vary. Subject to prior sale. See Dealer for details. Sale ends 11/13/15

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November 13, 2015

Your community news source since 1893

Appeal on Pitton set for December By KATIE LANGFORD

The Colorado Supreme Court accepted an appeal Thursday of District 51 school board member-elect Paul Pitton’s candidacy and will hear the case in December, the latest development in a month of legal challenges

Tisue could serve through year-end, February, Mikolai says for the District B seat. With the court taking the case, the district is presented with a new set of questions as to how and when the school board will fill the District B director

seat. Pitton earned enough votes to represent District B on Nov. 3, but during the campaign it was learned that he was incorrectly qualified for the ballot using

out-of-date district maps and, in fact, lives outside of District B. “At this point I can’t tell you what the implications are, because I don’t know what the other lawyers involved might

Making a comeback

do,” District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz said Thursday. School board President Greg Mikolai said it’s likely the Supreme Court will order a stay of the District B election.

Doug Levinson and Paul Pitton were set to be sworn into office on Nov. 30 at a special school board meeting, following the predicted certification of election results on Nov. 20. “It’s a supposition on my part, but it’s a fairly high

See PITTON, page 8A ➤

2 are accused of crime wave across Junction Records tie them to burglaries in Redlands, museum gun heist By PAUL SHOCKLEY

ANDREW SPENCER/Special to the Sentinel

A Columbian sharp-tailed grouse is seen on reclaimed land that was surface-mined for coal at the Trapper Mine near Craig. Numerous grasses and forbs provide food for the grouse, while also providing habitat for grasshoppers and other insects on which young sharp-taileds rely for food. By DENNIS WEBB

CRAIG — There’s no denying the drastic disturbance caused by surface coal mining, from scraping off the surface, to excavating and blasting to get to layers of coal lying sometimes hundreds of feet below. But when the mining is over and the land is put back together, it actually can be an inviting place for many animals, from iconic species such as pronghorn and elk to less familiar ones such as the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse and the grasshopper sparrow. That’s something folks at the Trapper Mine near Craig will tell visitors. And experts at Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Reclaimed coal mine land proves inviting to grouse, other wildlife will back them up, particularly when it comes to efforts involving the grouse. “Their mine-land reclamation is excellent. It’s everything sharp-taileds need in (plant) species diversity and height and cover,” Tony Apa, a wildlife avian research biologist, said of Trapper’s work.

Colleges may take hit with guv’s plan By IVAN MORENO Associated Press

DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper warned lawmakers Thursday of several cuts they’ll have to make to close a $373 million budget for next year, painting a dire picture for colleges, public schools and medical providers for the poor and uninsured. But Hickenlooper’s budget plan will likely be challenged by a politically divided Colorado Legislature with different ideas on how to solve the shortfall. Hickenlooper released his proposal last week, but the briefing with lawmakers was the first forum to discuss it. To balance the budget, Hicken- HOME PAGE OF WESTERN COLORADO

looper is proposing: ■ Reducing funding for public colleges by $20 million, possibly resulting in higher tuition for students. The current budget for higher education is $857.4 million. ■ Using nearly $240 million from the state’s rainy day account for education to help with school funding. That would bring the account’s balance down to about $103 million. This at a time when the state still hasn’t backfilled nearly a billion dollars in cuts to schools during several tough recent budget years.

See PROPOSAL, page 8A ➤ High 49, Low 24 COMPLETE FORECAST ON 2A

That work led to be it being recognized in 2002 by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement as one of the top three examples nationally for mined-land reclamation in the modern history of coal mining. Forrest Luke, the mine’s environmental manager, said

during a recent tour of the mine that when visitors see reclaimed land there, “sometimes they’re pretty skeptical that that was all disturbed.” More than 4,500 acres have been reclaimed at the mine to date. Part of the work involves grading and restoring the land to its approximate original condition and then laying topsoil. “Here at Trapper we mine on steep slopes, so a lot of work goes into re-establishing drainages that are hydrologically stable,” Luke said. Erosion control measures such as check dams are installed to dissipate the energy of flowing water and trap sediment, and reseeding of

See GROUSE, page 8A ➤

a search warrant at a storage Authorities say evidence unit tied to the suspects. ties two men to at least 10 Additional charges against burglaries involving tens of Quick and Jeremiah Slaughthousands of dollars in stolen enhoupt, 25, are expected as property across Grand Juncowners of stolen property are tion and Mesa County, while identified, the affidarecords suggest vit said. possible ties to a Slaughenhoupt rash of burglaries on Thursday was orearlier this year dered jailed in lieu of in the Redlands $25,000 cash bond for and the Nov. 2 suspicion of criminal break-in and theft mischief of more than of firearms from $5,000, secondthe Museum of the degree burglary, and West. theft of more than Toby John TOBY QUICK $5,000. Quick, 35, was In a recorded jail ordered jailed phone call, SlaughenThursday in lieu of houpt claimed he had $50,000 cash bond $1,000 buried in the following advisedesert, “that he could ment on two counts retrieve and pay of second-degree someone back” for burglary, theft from posting his bond. a building of more The men are than $20,000, theft accused in an Oct. 19 from a building of burglary and theft of more than $5,000, more than $40,000 in and criminal misJEREMIAH property from a home chief of more than SLAUGHENHOUPT at 2288 Rock Valley $5,000. Road — a pellet pistol; As of Tuesday, a 1911 model .45-calia Grand Junction ber handgun with magazines detective wrote in an arrest and a clip belt; a .20-gauge pisaffidavit, authorities were tol grip shotgun; two knives; a still sorting through “a myriad” of evidence seized on Nov. 6 when officers executed See CRIME, page 8A ➤

Vending machine thief suspected to be former owner of carwash By AMY HAMILTON

As far as police investigations go, this one practically solved itself. The former owner of a Grand Junction carwash was arrested Wednesday for allegedly repeatedly burglarizing the business she used to own and stealing money from a vending machine. Grand Junction police spokeswoman Heidi Davidson said Thursday that police suspect 56-year-old Roxanne Lewis was involved in multiple burglaries, but that the exact number is still under investigation.



Commentary................. 4A Business .............. ........ 7A

also captured a license She also said police plate. are looking at one othTwo police officers er possible suspect. staked out the busiJohn Pugliese, the ness starting at owner of Canyon 6 p.m. Wednesday, View Car Wash, 2258 and a dark-colored Broadway, reported to sedan pulled up just police that a machine after 8:30 p.m. A percollecting money to son walked into the operate a dog-washROXANNE LEWIS dog-washing station ing station had been and used a key to burglarized a dozen unlock the product times in the past four dispenser, took out money and months, usually on Wednesday turned to leave, police said. nights between 8 and 9 p.m. The officers stopped the perPrevious surveillance video son, identified as Lewis, who is showed a person in a jacket the former owner of the busiwith the hood up leaving in a ness. She had collected about dark-colored sedan. The video

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$20 in cash, according to an arrest affidavit. In an interview with police, Lewis told the officers she previously owned the business before it was taken back by the bank. “Roxanne also admitted she had stopped by the carwash on previous Wednesdays and checked the same product dispenser. Roxanne estimated she had done this approximately five times but there was not always money in the dispenser,” the affidavit said. Lewis and her husband,

See THIEF, page 8A ➤ Vol. 122 No. 359


The Daily Sentinel • Friday, November 13, 2015

CRIME: Anonymous tip made ➤ Continued from Page One gold pocket watch; $6,500 worth of jewelry; two sets of sterling silverware; a book of checks; title to a pickup; $400 in cash; a .300 H&H Mag rifle with a scope and a .44-caliber MAG semi-automatic carbine. Most of it was kept in a 500-pound safe, stolen as well. Witnesses told police they saw two white men driving away from the property in an older-model white pickup. Officers located a broken window where entry was made in the home. The opening was such that whoever entered, “had to have been of small stature and/ or flexible,” the affidavit said. “This method of entry was similar to other burglaries reported to the GJPD and MCSO between about June of 2015 and October of 2015,” a detective wrote. Authorities announced on Sept. 14 a joint investigation by the Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office involving at least eight break-ins on the Redlands. Asked about Quick and Slaughenhoupt, Grand Junction police spokeswoman Heidi Davidson said an investigation is ongoing. The men are also accused of involvement in an Oct. 31 burglary involving multiple storage units at Grand Junction Warehouse Association, 708 23 1/10 Road. The suspects apparently left behind a .22-caliber handgun with a homemade, illegal silencer, the affidavit said. Police were called just after 5 p.m. Nov. 2 to the Museum of the West, finding two Glock handguns owned by former Mesa County sheriffs Stan Hilkey and Riecke Claussen were missing. Also stolen: A gold-plated pistol owned by the late actor Leo Carrillo. The latter weap-

on was estimated to be worth $40,000, according to Quick’s and Slaughenhoupt’s affidavits. Police received an anonymous tip on Nov. 5 that Quick may be involved and that he was driving a small white truck during the museum burglary. “It was also alleged that Toby was melting down jewelry and selling the melted gold for cash,” the affidavit said. Quick was living with a woman who owns a white Mazda truck, similar in description to the vehicle observed by witnesses in the Rock Valley Road burglary, the affidavit said. Quick and Slaughenhoupt were arrested Nov. 5 in a traffic stop in a white Mazda truck. Inside, officers found a homemade silencer similar what was left behind at 708 23 1/10 Road. The affidavit highlights Quick’s size — 5 feet 7 inches and 135 pounds — in comparison with the narrow opening on the shattered window in the Rock Valley Road break-in. In a bizarre episode, Quick allegedly tried to escape while in custody at the Police Department on Nov. 5 after being left alone, and unrestrained, inside an interview room. He’s seen on video taking his shoes off and stacking chairs, allowing him to reach the ceiling. At one point, he fell before trying again. Quick was, “able to fully crawl up into the suspended ceiling before some of the material fell and alerted officers, who responded and pulled him out,” the affidavit said. “Toby was charged with attempted escape.” “Due to the scope of these investigations, law enforcement is combating a burdensome workload, but it is still actively investigating and continues to make progress uncovering more and more evidence and cases,” a detective wrote in the affidavit.

THIEF: ‘Like her personal ATM’ ➤ Continued from Page One Mikel, owned the car wash until they closed it late in 2013. The carwash then was seized in a foreclosure. John Pugliese purchased the business and opened it in September. Lewis was booked into the Mesa County Jail on Wednesday on suspicion of third-degree burglary, possession of burglary tools and theft from a building of less than $50. Lewis had bonded out of jail for her first appearance Thursday. Pugliese said by phone Thursday that he had changed all of the locks on the other dispensers after buying the business. He had the locks changed in part because he found a note in one of the machines that indicated the owner knew someone was breaking into the machines and that person would

be caught soon. The first surveillance video shows two suspects trying to break into all of the machines, but they only were able to access the dog-washing station, Pugliese said. Pugliese said he didn’t want to believe the former owner was a suspect, as others surmised. In the past couple weeks, the suspect or suspects were stealing from the machine nearly every other day, he said. He estimated about $100 a week was stolen from the machine. “It was like her personal ATM for the past few weeks,” Pugliese said. “I had flirted with the idea of camping out here and trying to catch them myself. Literally, the police department was instrumental. They came down here on the first try and they got her.”

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TIME FOR REFLECTION Shadow Lake in the Ridges reflects the autumn colors and Colorado National Monument.

PROPOSAL: Including federal funds, the budget is $27 billion ➤ Continued from Page One ■ Cutting reimbursements by nearly $20 million to doctors who provide indigent care for the state in Medicaid, human services, and prisons. Those items alone would be enough to prompt big debates among lawmakers. But Hickenlooper’s plan also tries to reduce refunds to taxpayer’s required under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — known as TABOR — when the state collects revenue in excess of the growth of inflation and population. Democrats, who are in control of the House, have long criticized TABOR as restrict-

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ing their ability to fund crucial budget areas like education and transportation in the aftermath of recessions. But Republicans, who run the Senate, view TABOR as a tool to prevent overzealous government spending. The state owes taxpayers $289 million in refunds over the next two years, and that figure is expected to grow in the future. To minimize refund amounts, Hickenlooper is proposing a legal maneuver to reduce the amount the state collects from a fee charged to hospitals for occupied beds. The collected fees are used to get a federal match to help with Medicaid costs.

Hickenlooper is suggesting capping collections at $656 million, instead of an anticipated $756 million. The $100 million that is not collected would reduce the state’s refund liability to taxpayers because the money would not count as revenue exceeding Colorado’s TABOR limit. But that reduction in fee collections also means hospitals would lose $100 million in federal dollars to serve Medicaid patients. Lawmakers will finalize a budget to vote for in the spring. Including federal funds, the budget is $27 billion. The general fund, which is made up of

tax collections, is about $10.4 billion. The budget shortfall is happening even though the state economy continues to grow. Through October, tax collections in the general fund are 5 percent above the same period last year, Hickenlooper noted. Hickenlooper argues the hospital fee is problematic because it creates a refund liability for the state, even though the money never goes into the general fund. But Republicans have always viewed the fee as a tax and have said they won’t budge on anything that reduces TABOR refunds.

PITTON: Oral arguments scheduled Dec. 8 in Denver court ➤ Continued from Page One likelihood that there will be a motion on the part of (Dale) Pass and (James) Tisue to stay or hold up the results of the election,” Mikolai said. “We would still swear Doug (Levinson) in on the 30th, but take no action for District B. It’s basically all on hold until the state Supreme Court makes a

decision.” Kent Carson, James “Gil” Tisue and Dale Pass filed a petition on Oct. 27 asking the district court to intervene in the election in order to stop votes for Pitton from being counted. The petition was initially denied by Chief District Judge David Bottger. Carson, Tisue and Pass submitted an appeal to the Colora-

do Supreme Court on Nov. 3. Current District B board member Ann Tisue will likely remain in the seat until the court decides Pitton’s eligibility, Mikolai said. “In all likelihood, Ann will be serving through at least December, possibly February,” Mikolai said. Though there are many ways the court could rule, Mikolai said

at this point nothing is certain. “Until we get to oral arguments on Dec. 8, we won’t know what’s going on and we won’t know how to proceed with this,” Mikolai said. Case briefs must be filed with the court by Nov. 30. Oral arguments are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Supreme Court Courtroom in Denver.

GROUSE: Efforts at other area mines also benefiting the bird ➤ Continued from Page One

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native vegetation is accomplished both by airplane and on the ground. Luke said installation of stock ponds has benefited wildlife, as has planting of islands of shrubs in areas that before mining had become overgrown with dense, mature mountain brush. That breaks up and diversifies the vegetation that provides food and cover for animals. Everything from ermine to badgers to rattlesnakes populates the reclaimed land. Luke said the mine was home to one of the first documented nestings of the rare grasshopper sparrow on Colorado’s Western Slope. Pronghorn were nonexistent before mining began, and now number several hundred. “They really like our reclaimed land,” Luke said. Brian Holmes, a conservation biologist with Parks and Wildlife, said the reclaimed land is more grass-based in its early stages of regrowth, which is attractive to pronghorn. That habitat also has proven highly attractive to elk, almost to the point that it can create a challenge for further regrowth, he said. “In sufficient numbers they can consume a lot of plant material,” he explained. Arguably the biggest reclamation success story for the mine from a wildlife perspective has been the Columbian sharptailed grouse. Apa long has studied the bird, doing his doctoral degree work on it. He said it occurs basically from Colorado to British Columbia, but has lost about 90 percent of its range. It’s been petitioned twice for listing for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found a listing

“... In our experimental design, Trapper Mine is what we’re going to try to create in conservation reserve programs on private land.” TONY APA Avian research biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to be not warranted thanks to successful mined-land reclamation programs and a conservation reserve program making use of former agricultural land. Luke said Trapper started monitoring the grouse’s leks — the mating grounds where males strut and dance to woo females — in 1998, and the numbers of leks and strutting birds have been increasing since then. “So they really are flourishing,” he said. Reclamation efforts at other area mines including the Colowyo Mine between Craig and Meeker and one owned by Peabody Energy east of Trapper also have benefited the bird. Luke said reclaimed mine land makes up 1 percent of the land in northwest Colorado but is home to 18 percent of the grouse’s leks in the region. He said survival rates for the birds at Trapper are more than double what they are for nearby native habitat, according to one study. The mine is being looked to as the standard for the kind of conditions that are desirable in conservation reserve program lands to help the bird, Luke said. Said Apa, “Pretty simply, we are evaluating the population response of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse to habitat improvements. Trapper is basically our example site. “… In our experimental design, Trapper Mine is what

we’re going to try to create in conservation reserve programs on private land. What we’re trying to achieve is what Trapper Mine has.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife is replicating Trapper’s approach on private land in Routt and Moffat counties to evaluate how the bird fares. Apa said reclaimed Trapper Mine land has numerous grasses and forbs that provide food for the grouse, while also providing habitat for grasshoppers and other insects on which young sharp-taileds rely for food. Holmes said Colowyo likewise is working to promote revegetation diversity, through steps such as experimenting with different topsoil depths. Soil typically is deeper in drainages than ridgetops, for example, and different plants do best at different topsoil depths. Apa said that ironically, some current sharp-tailed dancing grounds at Trapper are at almost the exact same places where a researcher had found them in the 1960s, while the coal was still in the ground. “It boggles my mind that they actually have re-established areas where they were pre-mining,” he said. Similar behavior has been reported in the case of the Gunnison sage-grouse in the Gunnison Basin. Erik Molvar, a biologist with the conservation group WildEarth Guardians, has said

males returned to the ice atop a former lek site flooded by Blue Mesa Reservoir for three years after the reservoir filled. One reason for the Columbian sharp-tailed’s success at Trapper Mine is its willingness to take advantage of grasslands. Apa said the greater sagegrouse, by comparison, is more reliant on sagebrush, which is harder to re-establish on reclaimed lands. So it has been more challenging to get greater sage-grouse to return to the Trapper Mine area. Still, the mine continues to work toward establishing more sagebrush and other types of brush. Holmes said deer, which currently have generally stable numbers at the mine, likewise should respond well as the reclaimed vegetation matures and more trees and brush grow. Apa said that in some cases, birds can be more productive and successful on reclaimed mine land than native habitat. But as to whether it’s better to have reclaimed land that’s highly beneficial to wildlife, or land that’s left undisturbed to begin with, is more a values judgment that both Apa and Holmes believe is up to society rather than them to make. They recognize the role that coal plays in the region’s economy and providing a significant energy source. Where that occurs through strip mining, the question for them is whether it can be done in a way that wildlife eventually can benefit once the land is restored, and they believe area mines deserve credit for their work in making that happen. “It’s great to think they create a giant hole in the earth, and they put it back and it’s a well-functioning system” for wildlife, said Holmes, who called such results “pretty amazing.”




November 28, 2015

since 1893

District paid ex-exec more than was due

School official got severance, reimbursements for GJ trips By KATIE LANGFORD

Former District 51 Communications Director Dan Dougherty received $66,831 in severance pay that was not required by his employment contract, as well as thousands of dollars in compensation and reimbursements for commuting from his home in Eagle, according to receipts and documents obtained by DAN DOUGHERTY The Daily Received nearly Sentinel. $67,000 in For the last three severance that months of wasn’t owed to him his employment at the district, Dougherty worked from home, traveling to Grand Junction an average of four times per month. When school started in August and Dougherty needed to travel to Grand Junction more often, he stayed in hotel rooms, paid for by the school district. Dougherty’s employment with the school district ended on Nov. 4, three days after the

Sentinel published an article detailing his role in withholding information from the public about the school board election. District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz said Dougherty was not fired and didn’t do anything to prompt the district to consider firing him. “He wasn’t dismissed STEVE SCHULTZ for cause, didn’t Said compensating he do anyfired District 51 thing that official was “the would be fair thing to do” considered a reason for firing, so we felt it was just important to do (the severance payment) since it was a sudden thing,” Schultz said. “It was a mutual separation … we felt it was the fair thing to do.” The hiring of Dougherty, who started working for the school district in September 2014 at a $93,919 annual salary, was part

See PAID, page 7A ➤


Consultant Jim Cooper points out a motorcycle and bicycle trail across the slickrock that is marked by a pair of painted rock cairns behind him in the Castle Rock area southwest of De Beque.

Consultant: Don’t close this trail

Castle Rock area should be managed, not cordoned off, expert says By GARY HARMON

Miles of routes that run through sage and across slickrock behind the Bookcliffs offer rare opportunities that should be managed, not cordoned off, said the consultant handling Mesa County’s appeal of a plan by the Bureau of Land Management. “I think this place has an incredible aura about it,” said Jim Cooper, as he surveyed a well-used trail across a sheet

of white rock below the purple and green outcrops of the Morrison Formation, about seven miles outside De Beque. Cooper is a former BLM employee who was hired by Mesa County to present the county’s appeal of the travel-management portion of the Grand Junction Field Office’s resource management plan. The lands generally known as the Castle Rock area that Cooper visited north of Grand Junction bear a similarity to

Low prices take bite out of gas revenues

A police officer is taken to an ambulance near a Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday in Colorado Springs. A gunman opened fire at the clinic on Friday, killing three people and wounding nine more. The dead included a police officer and two civilians.

By MEAD GRUVER Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Bad news for Rocky Mountain states with lots of fossil-fuel development on federal lands: Low prices for oil and natural gas have driven federal minerals revenue down to the lowest point in five years, even as oil and gas production booms nationwide. The federal Office of Natural Resources Revenue tracks federal revenue from sales of fossil fuels including oil and gas. Revenue from both offshore and onshore development nationwide over the 2015 federal fiscal year was $9.9 billion, down 26 percent from 2014’s $13.4 billion, according to figures released by the agency this week. The federal government shares its minerals revenue with American Indian tribes and 37 states with minerals development on federal land. Home to vast expanses of federal land and a top producer of oil, gas and coal, Wyoming gets a bigger slice than any other state by far. Wyoming’s share



Police: 3 killed, 9 wounded in attack at Planned Parenthood By SADIE GURMAN Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS — A gunman who opened fire inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic was arrested Friday after engaging in gun battles with authorities during an hourslong standoff that killed three people and wounded nine others, officials said. Two people and a police officer with the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs were killed in the rampage, law enforcement officials said.


The university police department identified the officer killed as 44-year-old Garrett Swasey, a six-year veteran of the force. Nine other people, including five police officers, were shot and are in good condition, police said. The gunman is in custody. His name was not immediately released. Authorities said they haven’t determined a motive or whether the shooter had any connection to Planned Parenthood. “We don’t have any infor-



mation on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” Buckley said. Planned Parenthood released a statement that said it did not know the full circumstances or motives behind the attack, or whether the organization was the target. A number of people were evacuated during the standoff — some wrapped in blankets in the blowing snow — to a nearby Veterans Affairs clinic.

See ATTACK, page 7A ➤

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the Bangs Canyon area that Cooper, as a BLM employee, planned. Bangs Canyon includes Billings Canyon, whose trail network is something that Cooper said could be reproduced in Castle Rock. “It needs definition,” Cooper said of Castle Rock. “It needs to be managed.” Mesa County has filed an appeal of the BLM plan with the Interior Board of Land Appeals. BLM officials said they couldn’t comment because the

appeal is pending. The agency, however, has noted in documents associated with the resource management plan that the 58 miles of trail in the Castle Rock area cannot be included within an extended recreation management area because of the presence of sensitive cultural resources and endangered plants. “Consequently, popular motorcycling and mountain

See TRAIL, page 7A ➤

Mournful France honors 130 victims of terrorist attacks By LORI HINNANT Associated Press

PARIS — A subdued France paid homage Friday to those killed two weeks ago in the attacks that gripped Paris in fear and mourning, honoring each of the 130 dead by name as the president pledged to “destroy the army of fanatics” who claimed so many young lives. With each name and age read aloud inside the Invalides national monument, the toll gained new force. Most, as French President Francois Hollande noted, were younger than 35, killed while enjoying a mild Friday night of music, food, drinks or sports. The youngest was 17. The oldest, 68. Meanwhile, in Belgium, authorities charged a man with “terrorist attacks” as investigators worked to hone in on culprits. The federal prosecutor’s office said the man was arrested a day earlier in Brussels and

was “charged with terrorist attacks and taking part in the activities of a terrorist group.” He was not identified and it was not immediately clear if he was one of two fugitives authorities have been seeking. France’s somber homage to the victims bespoke the horrors of Nov. 13. Throughout Paris, French flags fluttered in windows and on buses in uncharacteristic displays of patriotism in response to Paris’ second deadly terror attack this year. But the mood was grim, and the locked-down ceremony at the Invalides national monument lacked the defiance of January, when a million people poured through the streets to honor those killed by Islamic extremist gunmen. Hollande, who in January

Throughout Paris, French flags fluttered in windows and on buses in uncharacteristic displays of patriotism in response to Paris’ second deadly terror attack this year.

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See FRANCE, page 7A ➤ Vol. 123 No. 9

The Daily Sentinel • Saturday, November 28, 2015

TRAIL: Some effort already geared toward protecting trails ➤ Continued from Page One biking opportunities would be eliminated in the immediate Castle Rock vicinity,” the BLM said. Nearby lands already have been cordoned off from the public to protect the hookless cactus, Cooper said, adding that the agency has specified what cultural resources are at risk. The area was well known to the Ute tribe before its members were forced out of the Grand Valley in 1882. That ought not be a barrier, Cooper said. “Just because I’m Jewish and not an Indian doesn’t mean I can’t come here,” Cooper said. There have been some primitive efforts to manage some of the trails, Cooper said, pointing to green-painted rocks stacked like cairns to mark either side of a trail across slickrock. Tracks left by bicycles, dirt bikes and ATVs are clear on the loose-dirt areas of the trail, and fire pits also have been constructed there. Several miles to the south, Cooper toured the Billings Canyon trail, pointing out the management tricks that can direct users to the appropriate trails. There is an abundance of signage near the trail heads, and fences at the trails limit the kinds of vehicles that can pass through them to those for which the trails are designed.


Heavy signage isn’t needed farther down the trails because they are frequented by responsible users, Cooper said. “The yahoo factor goes down real quickly” the farther along the trail one goes, he said. Sections of slickrock trail are even marked with daubs of the same kind of paint used to mark highways, Cooper said.

When it comes down to it, Cooper said, users want to know there is a trail and where it is. “People want to be on the trail,” he said. While the agency couldn’t comment on the lands under appeal, BLM spokesman Christopher Joyner pointed to Billings Canyon, as well as ATV trails in Bangs Canyon and the Sarlaac

Trail in the Bookcliffs, as evidence the BLM provides appropriate recreational experiences. “Now that we are done with long-range planning, we can get back to building projects like these, working closely with our partner groups” on projects such as the Tabeguache connector, BLM spokesman Chris Joyner said.

ATTACK: Three responding officers shot just before noon ➤ Continued from Page One For several hours, the firing of a long gun was the only indication police had that the shooter was in the building, Lt. Catherine Buckley said. Officers finally made voice contact by shouting to him and persuaded him to surGARRETT SWASEY render, she said. Police officer killed Video in shootout with from The Denver Post with Colorado a Springs gunman showed tall man in a white T-shirt being led away by police as snow fell on the frigid evening. With the immediate threat over, authorities turned their attention to inspecting unspecified items the gunman left outside the building and carried inside in bags. Three officers were shot while responding just before noon to


Police take a man into custody near a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday in Colorado Springs. the initial report of shots fired. More than two hours later, the gunman shot another officer in an exchange with police inside the clinic, Buckley said. The suspect surrendered about five hours after entering the building. The shots sent people inside

the clinic racing for cover. Jennifer Motolinia hid behind a table inside the clinic and called her brother, Joan, who said he heard multiple gunshots in the background. “She was telling me to take care of her babies because she could get killed,” Joan Motolin-

ia said of his sister, the mother of three. He rushed to the clinic but was frustrated because a police barricade kept him from getting close. “People were shooting for sure. I heard someone shooting. There was a lot of gunfire. She was calm, she was trying to hide from those people,” he said. Police inside the building ushered staff and patients to the second floor without saying why, employee Cynthia Garcia told her mother-in-law, Tina Garcia. Then Cynthia Garcia heard gunshots, but she couldn’t tell where they were coming from, Tina Garcia told The Associated Press. Police cordoned off the clinic, nearby medical offices and a shopping center. Authorities ordered everyone in the area to take shelter where they were. Denise Speller, manager of a nearby hair salon, said she heard as many as 20 gunshots in less than five minutes. She told The Gazette newspaper that she saw two officers near a bank branch, not far from the Planned Parenthood facility.

FRANCE: No one without an invitation was permitted inside ➤ Continued from Page One locked arms with world leaders in a show of global unity against terrorism, sat alone in a hard-backed chair in the cavernous Invalides courtyard, the assembled mourners behind him as victims’ names were recited. France’s military provid-

PAID: Official lived in Eagle, commuted to GJ for business ➤ Continued from Page One

A sign posted along V 2/10 Road where private land ends and public land begins southwest of De Beque warns against cross country travel on Bureau of Land Management land.

ed the only images of Friday’s ceremony, and no one without an invitation was permitted inside. The night of Nov. 13, three teams of suicide bombers and gunmen struck across Paris, beginning at the national stadium — where Hollande was among the spectators — and ending in the storming of the Bataclan

concert venue. In all, 130 people died and hundreds were wounded or otherwise injured in the aftermath. The crowd at the stadium shakily sang France’s national anthem as they filed outside that night; a military band played the Marseillaise again on Friday, lingering slightly on the refrain: “Aux armes, citoyens!”

The courtyard went silent after the reading of the names finished, broken finally by a mournful cello. Hollande stared straight ahead, before finally rising to speak. “To all of you, I solemnly promise that France will do everything to destroy the army of fanatics who committed these crimes,” Hollande said.

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of the district’s plan to improve communication with the community, Schultz said. Dougherty’s background in marketing set him apart from other local candidates for the job, Schultz said. Two years ago, the school district hired an advertising agency to gauge public perception of the district. The results, Schultz said, showed that “people weren’t getting our whole story, people needed information about what was going on in the school district.” Dougherty’s position was created to fill that void, according to Schultz. “The vision was we wanted to try and flip the switch, if you will, from being reactive to proactive,” Schultz said. “That we could also be developing a comprehensive plan for communication and promoting the district’s transformation efforts, because the roots of this go that far back. So that’s why the position was created.” That was still the goal when Schultz and Dougherty decided in July to start a trial period of Dougherty working from his home in Eagle. During the three months Dougherty worked from Eagle and commuted to Grand Junction, he was reimbursed $2,607 for mileage expenses and charged $1,324 to his district-issued credit card for 11 nights at the SpringHill Suites and DoubleTree by Hilton hotels in Grand Junction, including four charges for room service and meals, according to receipts the Sentinel obtained after filing a request for information under the Colorado Open Records Act. Those expenses were one indicator that long-distance employment would not work,

Schultz said. “As time went on and we required his presence here more frequently, that was part of the measuring of this probably isn’t going to be practical,” Schultz said. “There was already conversation of, ‘I’m not sure this is working.’ I really don’t expect we would have continued it past January.” During Dougherty’s out-oftown days, district spokeswoman Emily Shockley was the goto contact for the school district. “The situation with Dan, that’s something everyone knew about,” Shockley said. “All the (public information officers) in town knew to call me first if something was breaking news.” Schultz said he doesn’t know if, or when, Dougherty’s position will be filled. “We’re kind of just rethinking that whole thing,” Schultz said. “Trying to improve communication was really important and we want to continue to do that. I think we’ve established some practices that Dan helped design that we’re going to continue, but I think we just want to rethink how we do that and we still need to continue to improve communication, but there may be other ways that we would do it. It’s just under consideration, but we’re not rushing to post the position.” The district’s communication goals will not change going forward, school board President Greg Mikolai said. “I don’t believe the goals have changed,” Mikolai said. “The goals are to let the community know in a proactive sense what we are doing to improve education for our students. “As for any entity, we need to try to let the community know what we’re doing and try to do it the best we can.”

GAS: Colorado fell to $124M from $169M the prior year ➤ Continued from Page One last year was $886 million, down from $1 billion the year before. Elsewhere in the region: ■ New Mexico, a top gas-drilling state, claimed $496 million in federal minerals revenue in 2015, down from $579 million in 2014; ■ Oil-rich Colorado claimed $124 million, down from $169 million; ■ Gas-rich Utah’s share was $116 million, down from $171 million; ■ Montana’s portion was $34 million, down from $37.7 million. Oil prices, especially, plunged over the second half of 2014. An onshore oil and gas boom brought about by hydraulic fracturing and other extraction technologies continues, however, as wells drilled when prices were relatively high continue to produce at high rates. The production volumes in turn help to keep prices low in the U.S. and

worldwide. The low prices are primarily responsible for the drop-off in revenue, Office of Natural Resources Revenue spokesman Patrick Etchart said. This year, average oil prices have been down around $55 a barrel, compared to around $100 a barrel last year. Gas prices are down from about $4.30 to $3.10 per thousand cubic feet. Wyoming also is dealing with slack demand for coal, a power plant fuel suffering from competition from cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas. No new coal is being leased for mining in the southern Powder River Basin and state officials project revenue from new coal leases will decline from $740 million in the state’s 201314 budget cycle to just $26 million in 2019-20. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has imposed a state hiring freeze and is considering other measures to deal with the expected shortfall.

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December 9, 2015

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School board keeps Pitton

Lack of banking plagues pot shops

Members decline to take action against him

Cash-only deals increase hazards, store owner says


Paul Pitton, the Palisade High School math teacher and football coach elected to the District 51 board on Nov. 3, will continue to serve his term on the board for the foreseeable future, barring an intervention by the Colorado Supreme Court. Pitton was elected to the board despite his residence being outside of the district to which he was elected. It was determined during the campaign that Pitton was improperly qualified as a candidate for the race. The Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday as to Pitton’s eligibility as a candidate for the seat he eventually won. Pitton was able to keep his seat for now after the board reviewed evidence of his residency and declined to take action to remove him during their regular meeting Tuesday evening. Tom Parrish, board vice pres-


as ballots were mailed to voters — which happened days before Pitton’s residency issue was discovered — and therefore the challenge did not happen soon enough. Pitton’s attorneys also argued that the two five-day windows for challenging a candidate’s eligibility, as mandated

A Carbondale marijuana store robbery in which armed, masked men handcuffed an employee ended well with the suspects’ arrests Monday, but points to the need for the industry to have access to banks, one of the store’s owners says. “Absolutely, that’s our main concern. This is another example of why we need a banking system,” Dieneka Manzanares with the Sweet Leaf Pioneer dispensary said Tuesday. Three adults and a juvenile were arrested in the incident. Police say two people allegedly stole about $1,000 in cash and also took marijuana and marijuana concentrate from the store, drove off in one car, abandoned it and then were apprehended with two others in a second car outside Glenwood Springs. Manzanares said one of the suspects, who she declined to identify, was familiar to the store as one of its Cannabis Club members, who receive a 10 percent discount. Arturo Nuno-Cervantes, 20, of Glenwood Springs; Erik Jose Colon, 25, of Glenwood Springs; and Bryan Flores-Calix, 19, of Silt were all taken to Garfield County Jail and a 17-year-old juvenile was released to the custody of his parents, authorities say. Nuno-Cervantes, Colon and Flores-Calix were being held in jail Tuesday on suspicion of aggravated robbery of a con-

See COURT, page 5A ➤

See POT, page 5A ➤


Paul Pitton grins broadly after the Mesa County District 51 Board of Education decides to accept his proof of residency in District B, allowing him See BOARD, page 5A ➤ to retain the seat to which he was elected. The board made its decision at Tuesday’s meeting at the Basil T. Knight Center.

Supreme Court hears Pitton’s eligibility case By KATIE LANGFORD

DENVER — Colorado Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments Tuesday as to whether District 51 school board member Paul Pitton was a qualified school board candidate. The seven justices listened to arguments from Mario Nico-

lais, attorney for the petitioners in the case, and Barbara Butler and William DeFord, attorneys for Pitton. Matthew Grove, assistant solicitor general for the Colorado secretary of state, also presented an argument in support of the petitioners. On Oct. 27, while ballots were being cast in the District 51 election, Kent Carson, Gil

Tisue and Dale Pass filed a petition in district court asking the court to order that votes for Pitton not be counted because he was not a qualified candidate. Pitton was mistakenly certified as a District B candidate and actually lived in District D at the time he was certified to be on the ballot. Chief District Judge David Bottger denied the petition on

Nov. 2, and Carson, Tisue and Pass submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court on Nov. 3. Nicolais’ arguments Tuesday challenged the district court’s ruling that it did not have the authority to determine whether Pitton was a qualified candidate, and therefore erred in not finding Pitton unqualified. Butler and DeFord argued that the election started as soon

Anti-Muslim ideas pit GOP leadership against front-runner

Uranium contaminates West’s drinking water, AP investigation reveals By ELLEN KNICKMEYER and SCOTT SMITH


Associated Press Writers

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States is shoving the Republican Party to the edge of chaos, abruptly pitting GOP leaders against their own presidential front-runner and jeopardizing the party’s longtime drive to attract minorities. Unbowed, Trump fired a searing warning Tuesday via Twitter to fellow Republicans carping about his proposal. A majority of his supporters, he

tweeted, “would vote for me if I departed the GOP & ran as an independent.” The crossfire between Trump and frustrated Republicans became a furious blur the day after the billionaire businessman announced his plan. Beleaguered 2016 rivals condemned his proposal and complained that his divisive positions were dominating attention in the crowded Republican contest. Party elders,

The crossfire between Donald Trump and frustrated Republicans became a furious blur the day after the billionaire businessman announced his plan to ban Muslims from entering the country. HOME PAGE OF WESTERN COLORADO



Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., right, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leave a news conference after a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. Ryan dismissed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments on Muslims, saying such views are “not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.” meanwhile, warned that too much criticism might indeed push him to abandon the GOP and launch a third-party bid that could hand the presidential election to the Democrats. And Republicans up for re-election in the Senate grew terse in the Capitol hallways



Business......................... 6A Classifieds ..................... 1C

as they were asked again and again to respond to Trump’s remarks — a glimpse of their political futures if the former reality show star captures the GOP nomination.

Comics ...................... 8B Food .......................... 10A

See GOP, page 5A ➤ Sports ...................... 1B Obituaries ................ 9B

FRESNO, Calif. — In a trailer park tucked among irrigated orchards that help make California’s San Joaquin Valley the richest farm region in the world, 16-year-old Giselle Alvarez, one of the few English-speakers in the community of farmworkers, puzzles over the notices posted on front doors: There’s a danger in their drinking water. Uranium, the notices warn, tests at a level considered unsafe by federal and state standards. The law requires the park’s owner to post the warnings. But they are awkwardly worded and mostly in English, a language few of the park’s dozens of Spanish-speaking families can read. “It says you can drink the water — but if you drink the

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water over a period of time, you can get cancer,” said Alvarez, whose working-class family has no choice but keep drinking and cooking with the tainted tap water. “They really don’t explain.” Uranium, the stuff of nuclear fuel for power plants and atom bombs, increasingly is showing in drinking water systems in major farming regions of the U.S. West — a natural though unexpected byproduct of irrigation, drought, and the overpumping of natural underground water reserves. An Associated Press investigation in California’s central farm valleys — along with the U.S. Central Plains, among the areas most affected — found

Vol. 123 No. 20

See WATER, page 5A ➤

The Daily Sentinel • Wednesday, December 9, 2015

POT: Owners fear for safety of employees ➤ Continued from Page One trolled substance and false imprisonment, and, in the case of Flores-Calix, complicity to commit armed robbery. Bond for Nuno-Cervantes and Colon was set at $200,000, and bond for Flores-Calix was $100,000. Carbondale police said Nuno-Cervantes and Colon are the two suspected to have robbed the dispensary. Police have impounded the two vehicles and say they expect to find what was stolen and the handgun in the vehicles once they obtain a search warrant. Manzanares said when an employee opened the store Monday, the robbers came in and pulled a gun on him, and he complied with their demands for cash, marijuana and other

items. She said someone near the dispensary got a license plate for the robbers’ vehicle, launching a search effort by police that ended when they arrested the suspects in another vehicle within a few hours. “It was definitely a community event — everyone pitched in and everyone helped and the police acted very fast,” she said. Manzanares said the arrests have helped put the employee at ease after what was a frightening situation. But she added, “We’ve been very concerned with our employees being put in that kind of situation.” Marijuana businesses operate on a cash basis because the industry still is illegal under federal law. Manzanares said a lot of banks want to serve the industry.

GOP: Party stuck between ‘a rock and a jerk’

“Until they change (the law) on a federal basis the banks’ hands are just tied,” she said. Having access to bank accounts would be safer for stores and their employees, Manzanares said. Still, Manzanares said while people may assume stores have a lot of money on hand, “they forget we have to pay bills.” She said that fortunately employees in Carbondale had just been paid over the weekend, and the store was waiting for a marijuana harvest to come in midweek, so there wasn’t much cash or marijuana in the store at the time of the robbery. She added that, as required by the state, stores also have 24-hour video monitoring and a security system that lets them notify police, so they’re not the easiest places to rob.

COURT: County, district gave no arguments ➤ Continued from Page One by Colorado statute, are sufficient. Both sides also argued that a candidate or a person challenging a candidate’s eligibility could use the time between the five-day windows to manipulate an election. “It is possible that those opposing the candidate would be incentivized to wait out the waiting periods, then … raise their challenge — effectively sheltering and bolstering the campaign of a second-place candidate,” Butler said. “To rely on the idea that challenges to a candidate’s eli-

gibility … may be made at any time prior to Election Day, even when the election is presently underway, invites the very potential for abuse petitioners allege a candidate would deploy,” Butler later said. Nicolais said it was more likely a candidate would influence an election as opposed to an outside challenger. “It is much more likely the system would be gamed if there’s no review,” Nicolais said. “If there’s no review, without relief, then you could absolutely create a roadmap where you do have candidates who run and try to slip by that five-day (window) and say, ‘I am


deemed to be a valid candidate, by operation of law you cannot question anything else about whether I’m eligible to be elected or not.’ I think that is a far greater danger than the system being gamed.” Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and Terri Wells, District 51’s school board secretary and designated election official, were also listed as respondents on the Supreme Court appeal. Attorneys for Mesa County and the school district were at the hearing but did not present arguments. They previously have stated that they take no position on Pitton’s qualifications for candidacy.

➤ Continued from Page One “This is not conservatism,” declared House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s top elected leader. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.” One by one, Republican officials across the country lashed out at Trump’s plan, announced the night before, which calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” to help quell the threat of terrorism. But party leaders are well aware that he could leave the GOP, run as an independent and challenge the party’s presidential nominee next year. It’s a threat they have long feared. The Republican Party, said Jeb Bush adviser Ana Navarro, is stuck between “a rock and a jerk” less than eight weeks before the first primary-season votes are cast in Iowa. In New Hampshire, Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey called Trump’s idea “abhorrent.” At the same time, he reminded Trump of his Republican loyalty pledge, say-

ing, “I know him to be a man of his word.” And in Mississippi, RNC member Henry Barbour said Trump’s comments “aren’t worthy of someone who wants to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.” He said Trump would be a “disaster politically for the GOP if he won the nomination.” “It’s embarrassing at best,” Barbour said of Trump’s impact on his party. Barbour helped author the Republican National Committee’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” after a painful 2012 presidential election that forced party leaders to re-evaluate their strategy in presidential contests to reflect the nation’s demographic shifts. Among other things, the report cited an urgent need for GOP leaders to adopt an inclusive and welcoming tone on issues such as immigration. “If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity,” it read, noting that white voters made up a record-low 72 percent of the electorate in 2012 and would represent less than half of all voters by 2050.

Yet Trump has vaulted to the top of the Republican 2016 field by attacking immigrants in many cases. He called some Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals” in his announcement speech and intensified his criticism of Muslim immigrants or visitors Monday evening. While experts widely consider his proposal unconstitutional, Trump’s continued popularity underscores the deep divide between Republican leaders and the party’s conservative base, which holds outsized influence in the presidential nomination process. Indeed, Trump’s plan was cheered during a South Carolina rally Monday evening, and vocal supporters across the country defended the Muslim ban as necessary for national security. Polling suggests the sentiment is likely fueled by sharp strain of xenophobia: A new AP-GfK poll found 8 in 10 Republicans think there are too many immigrants coming from the Middle East. Trump showed little concern for critics on Tuesday. “I don’t care about them,” he told CNN. “I’m doing what’s right.”

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BOARD: Old house up for sale, Pitton says ➤ Continued from Page One ident, along with directors Greg Mikolai and Doug Levinson, all spoke in favor of retaining the 59-year-old, lifelong educator, as District B director. “If everyone on the board feels (Pitton) … meets those residency requirements, no motion is made and we move on,” Mikolai said. By taking no action Tuesday, the board determined Pitton was properly seated. Pitton presented a sworn statement, a signed lease on his new residence in District B, and a stack of change-of-address forms for the board to consider during a discussion of his resi-

dency during the board’s first official meeting of the 2015-16 school year. “My wife and I have been living, sleeping and eating meals at the new address for a little more than a week,” Pitton wrote. “Our Whitewater home (in District D) is up for sale and hopefully will sell soon. “The (new) residence is now and will be my permanent residence,” he wrote. Terri Wells — board secretary and treasurer, and the person who improperly signed off on Pitton’s original candidate residency — confirmed for the board Tuesday that she independently verified Pitton’s new address was in District B. Pitton said he was uncertain

about how the case pending before the Colorado Supreme Court would turn out, but said even if he loses, he still wins. “All it would mean is, I get to go back to being a math teacher and football coach,” he said. Should the Colorado Supreme Court intervene and rule to remove Pitton, School Board President John Williams said he was uncertain what the legal impact would be on the votes in which Pitton took part, like the unanimous vote Tuesday to certify the District 51 mill of 36.572 for 2016. “I don’t have an answer to that,” Williams said Tuesday. “This is just speculation, but I suspect that any vote he made would not be counted.”

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WATER: Damages kidneys, raises cancer risk Groundwater uranium contamination High uranium concentrations has led to the removal of at least 23 public-supply wells from service within the last 20 years.

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San Joaquin Valley makes up the southern two-thirds of the Central Valley





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authorities are doing little to inform the public at large of the risk. That includes the one out of four families on private wells in this farm valley who, unknowingly, are drinking dangerous amounts of uranium. Government authorities say long-term exposure to uranium can damage kidneys and raise cancer risks, and scientists say it can have other harmful effects. In this swath of farmland, roughly 250 miles long and encompassing cities, up to one in 10 public water systems have raw drinking water with uranium levels that exceed safety standards, the U.S. Geological Survey has found. More broadly, nearly 2 million people in California’s Central Valley and the U.S. Midwest live within a half-mile of groundwater containing uranium over the health limits, University of Nebraska researchers said in a study in September. Entities ranging from state agencies to tiny rural schools are scrambling to deal with hundreds of tainted public wells. That includes water wells at the Westport Elementary School, where 450 children study outside the Central California farm hub of Modesto. At Westport’s playground, schoolchildren take a break from tether ball to sip from fountains marked with Spanish and English placards: “SAFE TO DRINK.” The school is one of about 10 water-well systems in Central California that have installed on-site uranium removal facilities in recent years. Prices range from $65,000 to millions of dollars. Just off Westport’s playground, a school maintenance chief jangles the keys to the school’s treatment operation, locked in a shed. Inside, a system of tubes, dials and canisters resembling scuba tanks removes up to a pound a year of uranium from the school’s well


➤ Continued from Page One


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water. The uranium gleaned from local water systems is handled like the nuclear material it is — taken away by workers in masks, gloves and other protective garments, said Ron Dollar, a vice president at Water Remediation Technology, a Colorado-based firm. It is then processed into nuclear fuel for power plants, Dollar said. Before treatment, Westport’s water tests up to four times state and federal limits. After treatment, it’s safe for the children, teachers and staff to drink. Meanwhile, the city of Modesto, with a half-million residents, recently spent more than $500,000 to start blending water from one contaminated well to dilute the uranium to safe levels. The city has retired a half-dozen other wells with excess levels of uranium. State officials don’t track spending on uranium-contaminated wells. But the state’s Water Resources Control Board identified at least $16.7 million


the state has spent since 2010 helping public water systems deal with high levels of uranium. In coming years, more public water systems likely will be compelled to invest in such costly fixes, said Miranda Fram, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey in Sacramento. Fram and her colleagues believe the amount of uranium increased in Central Valley drinking water supplies over the last 150 years with the spread of farming. In California, as in the Rockies, mountain snowmelt washes uranium-laden sediment to the flatlands, where groundwater is used to irrigate crops. Irrigation allows year-round farming, and the irrigated plants naturally create a weak acid that is leeching more and more uranium from sediment. Groundwater pumping pulls the contaminated water down into the earth, where it is tapped by wells that supply drinking water.



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