Elizabeth, Colorado

Elizabeth, Colorado


Growth concerns prompt recall attempt in town

Residents of a town in Elbert County want to recall their elected officials, saying they aren't doing enough to regulate growth.

The town clerk in Elizabeth recently verified signatures on recall petitions for the six town trustees and mayor. Recall proponents accuse the town leaders on a website of pleasing developers with "reckless annexations and approvals."

Elizabeth is 40 miles southeast of Denver and has 1,700 residents. Some locals say they don't want Elizabeth to become like nearby Parker, which over 30 years grew from 6,000 to 55,000.

Mayor Megan Vasquez says Elizabeth will not become like Parker.

Still, town planners expect Elizabeth to grow to 20,000 over the next two decades. Town Administrator Matt Cohrs said change is coming and must be managed.



Assisted suicide fight headed back to state court

A legal battle over Colorado's assisted suicide law will be fought in state court, the venue favored by a terminally ill man and a doctor fired for trying to help him end his life.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock said that he agreed with Centura Health that the case raises important questions about religious freedom protected by the Constitution but he ruled that other criteria requiring the case to be heard in federal court weren’t met.

It will be sent back to state court in Arapahoe County where Neil Mahoney and his former doctor, Barbara Morris, originally filed it. Babcock says the religious freedom issues could still be addressed there.

Centura says the state can’t stop a religious organization from disciplining employees who encourage assisted suicide in violations of its beliefs.



Grand jury to look into police shooting

A grand jury will decide whether two Colorado Springs police officers were justified in killing a teenager running away from them.

Prosecutors in Colorado Springs announced that they were referring the shooting of 19-year-old De'Von Bailey to a grand jury rather than making a decision themselves based on the sheriff office's investigation.

Body camera footage shows Bailey running away as he and another man are about to be searched during an investigation of an armed robbery Aug. 3.

Officers say they found a gun in Bailey's pants.

Bailey's family has said prosecutors work too closely with law enforcement to be objective and asked for an independent prosecutor. Family lawyer Mari Newman said that the decision came "too late" and is concerned prosecutors are too reliant on police in presenting evidence to jurors.



Soil tests at Rocky Flats show safe plutonium levels

Soil samples collected in the area of the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near a spot with a previously elevated plutonium reading have tested within safe margins.

State health officials requested tests on new samples from the periphery of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to ensure they were within safe levels.

The wildlife refuge is on the buffer zone around a now-demolished plant that manufactured plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons.

Officials say an August soil test from a different part of the buffer zone yielded a plutonium reading five times higher than the government-defined standard.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released test results from within the refuge showing samples were well below risk levels.

Officials say the latest samples were each tested twice using different methods to detect the radionuclide.



Man sentenced to prison for bulldozing federal land

A Colorado man has been sentenced to 13 months in federal prison for destroying 3 acresof federal land with a bulldozer.

Robert Timothy Allen was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger at a hearing in Grand Junction.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Allen claimed to be legally prospecting on federal land as he bulldozed terrain in Saguache County in 2013 and 2014.

Allen was indicted after ignoring notices to stop from the federal Bureau of Land Management and Colorado’s Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.

He avoided arrest for nearly two years before being taken into custody in Durango in 2018.



AG Weiser approves sale of state hospital

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has approved the sale of a state hospital and cleared up some questions addressing a potential risk of assets or services leaving the state.

Weiser signed off on the $285 million sale of the North Colorado Medical Center to Banner Health.

Weiser says the primary concerns were that the entity selling the hospital remained a nonprofit and that access to medical care wasn't likely to become unattainable for any reason for area residents because of the change in ownership.

Officials say state law mandates that the attorney general approve all non-profit and some for-profit hospital sales.



Man sentenced to 7 years for marijuana grows

A man has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for growing thousands of marijuana plants in Rifle and in southwest Colorado.

Long Luong was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger during a hearing in Grand Junction.

Luong had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to grow and distribute more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana.

Luong and co-defendants Guoying Tang and Heung Yu Wong were arrested by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in 2016 at the illegal grow in Rifle. Agents seized 2,420 plants there.

Luong was arrested again in 2017 after agents seized 110 pounds of marijuana harvested from another illegal grow in southwestern Colorado.

Tang and Wong have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.



CSU enrollment sets record

Enrollment at Colorado State University this fall sets a record.

University officials say total enrollment tops 34,000 students, up by about 2,000 compared to four years ago.

Undergraduate enrollment is up from about 24,500 in 2015 to 26,500 now.

At the Fort Collins campus, over 64% of new first-year students are Colorado residents, 57% are women and 24% of the new class are first in their family to attend college.

Total enrollment at CSU-Fort Collins, CSU Global and CSU-Pueblo tops 57,000 students.



Neighbors of cement plant raise concern about dust

People who live near a cement plant are raising concern about dust.

The group Save Our St. Vrain Valley recently filed a report with Boulder County Public Health about dust clouds rising from Cemex's Lyons plant.

Local resident Richard Cargill tells Boulder County commissioners the dark gray dust appeared frequently during the summer.

The group showed a video of the dust to local health officials, who say they've met with Cemex about the situation.

Bill Hayes with Boulder County Public Health says the clouds don't appear to violate any existing regulations but Cemex officials promise to look into the issue.

Cemex spokesman Walker Robinson says the company has ways to reduce dust and welcomes hearing from people so it can address any concerns.



Company fined $31K for fatal trench collapse

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined an excavation company for the deaths of two Colorado workers who were trapped for hours in a collapsed trench.

Firestone-based Backhoe Excavating was fined $31,446 for five citations. The largest fine was more than $13,000 for failing to provide an adequate protective system for the workers, 26-year-old Cristopher Ramirez, of Boulder, and 41-year-old Jorge Valadez, of Denver.

The company also received two citations totaling more than $10,000 for not following specific excavation requirements.

The workers were installing sewer pipe in a 15-foot-deep trench in Windsor on April 16 when it gave way. They were dead when emergency crews reached them.

Crews had used a PVC pipe to communicate with one of the men during the rescue effort.



Former Air Force football player sentenced for cocaine use

Former Air Force tailback Joseph Saucier will serve three months behind bars after pleading guilty to cocaine use and marijuana possession.

Saucier entered his pleas at an Air Force Academy hearing in which military prosecutors agreed to drop allegations that he also intended to distribute illegal drugs.

Saucier, a senior, hasn't played this season after he was arrested in his native Arkansas in December for investigation of drug possession.

He told the judge he also used cocaine last November, citing academic pressure and his frustration over a knee ligament tear that ended his 2018 season.

Saucier was not sentenced to dismissal from the Air Force, but serious conduct violations usually lead to administrative expulsion from the academy.


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