Greeley Tribune



PHOTOS: Hundreds gather to honor lost loved ones at Lights of Hope

The Community Grief Center in Greeley hosted its second Lights of Hope ceremony Sunday. Hundreds gathered to decorate lanterns illuminated with electronic candles to honor those they lost.

Lindsey Miller, her daughter Emerson Miller and her mother Terri DeMoney place an illuminated candle to honor Lindsey Miller’s late brother Travis Demoney at the second Lights of Hope event Sunday at the Community Grief Center in Greeley. (Adam Poulisse/apoulisse@greeleytribune.com)

 

Sean Bane, 6, of Windsor, decorates a lantern to honor his late grandfather at the second Lights of Hope at the Community Grief Center on Sunday in Greeley. (Adam Poulisse/apoulisse@greeleytribune.com)

 

Terry Stewart, of Eaton, decorates lanterns to honor her late granddaughter and husband at the second Lights of Hope at the Community Grief Center on Sunday in Greeley. Both of Stewart’s relatives died a few months apart in early 2017. (Adam Poulisse/apoulisse@greeleytribune.com)

 

Lanterns spelling out the word “HOPE” illuminate the lawn of the Community Grief Center during the Lights of Hope on Sunday in Greeley.

— Adam Poulisse is the go and do reporter for the Greeley Tribune. Let him know of anything fun going on in the area by calling him at 970-392-4440 or emailing him at apoulisse@greeleytribune.com.

 



Obituary for Juan Reyna Sr.

Juan Reyna Sr.

March 26, 1953-Nov. 20, 2018

Age: 65

Residence: Greeley

Juan Reyna Sr., 65, of Greeley, went to be with the Lord on Nov. 20, 2018, in Greeley.

Juan was born March 26, 1953, in Brownsville, Texas, to Daniel Reyna-Garcia and Constantina Martinez-Hernandez.

He loved coffee, singing and worshipping at The Rock Church.

Juan is survived by his children, Jacob (Crystal) Reyna-Casillas, and Ashley Reyna; grandson, Vicente Reyna-Casillas; siblings, Sara, Idalia, Mariquilla, Daniel, Mencho, Graciela, Rosy, Lola, and Guillermo; and a large loving extended family.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and son, Juan "Juanito" Reyna Jr.

To leave condolences with Juan's family visit NCCcremation.com.



Sights & Sounds: Greeley Ice Haus presents ‘A Country Christmas’ ice show

More than 40 figure skaters took to the ice this weekend at the Greeley Ice Haus’ winter performance.

The rink, along with the Mountain View Skating Club, deemed the U.S. Figure Skating-sanctioned show, “A County Christmas,” a tribute to individuals who serve the United States. Patriotic songs mentioning first responders and soldiers and Christmas songs with a twang filled the arena as skaters of all ages turned and jumped.

See the full show below.

 



Terry Frei: Abusing Safe2Tell, at Roosevelt or anywhere else, is disgusting insult to school shooting victims

Roosevelt High School in Johnstown. (Weld RE5J School District.)

It’s Safe2Tell.

It’s not Safe2MakeItUp.

That was the moral in Johnstown last week, when a Roosevelt High School female student was charged with suspicion of false reporting of an explosive device and interference with an educational institution in the wake of concocted bomb and shooting threats reported through the Safe2Tell  system.

It came against a backdrop of planned student walkouts and protests over multiple teachers being placed on leave.

Using Safe2Tell as an indirect means of protest, which I’m assuming this was, is disgusting. It illustrates a complete lack of understanding that Safe2Tell primary is a reaction to the horrific April 20, 1999, murders of 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Jefferson County — a day of carnage that led to “Columbine” to this day being a catchword for school shootings and the loss of young lives. More shootings have followed with both revolting and numbing regularity, but April 20, 1999 remains the day America changed.

Think that’s overdramatic? Next time you’re in the Denver area, go to the Columbine Memorial in Clement Park, adjacent to the school. Read the memorial messages saluting the 13 murdered. Think of the young lives ended too soon. Consider what has followed, including the shootings elsewhere, usually with the talking-head experts citing Columbine as the reference point.

On the same day threats were received though the Safe2Tell system, leading to the Thursday arrest of a female student, Roosevelt High School students walk to the Johnstown-Milliken Re-5J School District administration building last Tuesday. Students say they were demanding answers from the administration about why several teachers at the school and in the district have been placed on leave. (Megan Garcia/For The Tribune)

Frank DeAngelis was Columbine’s principal from 1996 to 2014. Yes, he remained on the job for 15 years after the shootings before retiring, more than fulfilling his pledge to stay on as principal until all students in the Columbine feeder system in 1999 had graduated.

Even in the eyes of many law enforcement officers on the Columbine scene that day, the passive, secure-the-perimeter response protocols in place for such events as school shootings at the time were maddening. Those protocols have been overhauled.

DeAngelis makes appearances around North America, speaking at conferences and symposiums, and he begins every presentation by reciting the names of the 12 students and one teacher murdered at Columbine. He is a Safe2Tell proponent.

“As I go around the country speaking, that’s one of the recommendations I give to the various states, to have some type of program that empowers students to come forward,” DeAngelis told me Friday. “Our students really need to be thinking, ‘See something, say something,’ and, ‘Hear something, say something.'”

And the response from his audiences?

“They’re on board,” DeAngelis said. “In a lot of different places, they have something similar and I think more and more states are going to it.”

The credibility of the program takes a hit when anonymous individuals make reports they know to be false about others making threats, or when — as in this case — the system is used to make a false threat.

“The anonymity is important,” DeAngelis said, “but if it goes to the point where students are abusing it, in situations such as at Roosevelt, or in situations where students just want to get other kids in trouble … there has to be consequences for students that are false reporting.”

John McDonald is executive director of security and emergency management with Jeffco Schools. Unfortunately, he frequently deals with and has to track down threats. By the time I talked with him Friday, he already was  familiar with what happened at Roosevelt.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, whose office is in charge of Safe2Tell. (File photo.)

“The point that’s a little different here is that instead of somebody calling to report that, ‘I overheard so and so make a threat,’ this is somebody who made a threat using Safe2Tell,” McDonald said Friday. “The ballgame changes with the threat itself. They did a good job up there from all indications in identifying the student. The issue that we’re facing is that this wonderful program, Safe2Tell, as been responsible for saving so many lives, every once in a while you’ll find someone using it for this kind of purpose.

“She used a walkout and chaos to create even more chaos. The ‘Interference’ charge that they hit her with is a great charge. It’s a legitimate criminal charge. You can’t get away with disrupting hundreds of lives like that.”

Here’s how Safe2Tell came about in Colorado: In the late 1990s, a hotline concept was tested as a pilot program in Colorado Springs. Students could call and report potential crimes. Authorities agreed it did some good, and the results were forwarded to Attorney General Ken Salazar and a group of Colorado leaders. They proposed taking the program state-wide.

Then came April 20, 1999.

Salazar and Governor Bill Owens commissioned a report about the Columbine killings that, when released in final form in 2001, was flawed.  But it met the challenge of suggesting ways to attempt to prevent future incidents in Colorado schools. (Or, by extension, anywhere.) It endorsed Salazar’s proposal to implement the hotline statewide. However, it was little used and tweaking was necessary.

John McDonald, executive director of security and emergency management with Jeffco Schools, is third from right; and former Columbine principal Frank DeAngelis is second from right in this photo taken at the school district’s Frank DeAngelis Center, a first-responder training center in Wheat Ridge. Local, state and federal agencies all visit and use the facility. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., is at the center. 

With a Colorado Trust grant as the seed money, Safe2Tell Colorado was founded as part of Crime Stoppers, then became an independent 501(c)(3) in 2006. Finally, in 2014, it was incorporated under the auspices of the state attorney general’s office, and the Colorado Legislature voted to fund it.Cynthia Coffman took office as attorney general in January 2015 and essentially has been the overseer of Safe2Tell Colorado ever since. She unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor this year and will leave office next month.

The program offers assurances of anonymity. Yet after the false Safe2Tell reports, Johnstown police said they tracked down the student through her IP address. That’s an exceptional circumstance — a response to the use of the Safe2Tell system to commit a crime, which is what the false reports were, at least according to the charges against the Johnstown student.

“In many ways, I inherited the Safe2Tell program,” Coffman told me on the phone Sunday morning. “It think it’s a tremendous gift to the state and to our school kids. It’s one of the best legacies of a horrible tragedy, at Columbine High School. It has saved lives. We have stopped suicides, we have taken guns from kids, we have kept kids from driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“But when the system is abused, it affects all those students. It potentially takes away from the success of the program. It’s very important that when a student makes a direct threat against a school or a classmate, that law enforcement take that very seriously and use our best efforts to identify the person making the threat. False reporting and using the system to make threats should have consequences. And they should be significant.”

And then there’s this twist: Coffman’s ex-husband, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., in the most recent session of Congress sponsored HR 6713, the Safe to Tell Act of 2018. It proposed funding mechanisms and standards for Safe2Tell programs nationally and in September was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. Coffman served five terms as the 6th Congressional District’s representative before Democrat Jason Crow unseated him in the general election.

Former Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis outside the Hope Columbine Memorial Library. The former library, above the cafeteria, was removed and the new one is is a different location. (John Leyba / For The Tribune.)

For DeAngelis, the unanswerable question is what might have  happened if a Safe2Tell program had been in place in early 1999. The two killers recorded their venomous views and horrific intentions on the infamous “Basement Tapes,” made in one of their homes, but as far as anyone knows, no other students saw them.

In 1998, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigator looked at the web site of one of the killers and wrote a draft affidavit for a search warrant of his home. The future killer had threatened a fellow student, and that student’s  parents reported it to the  Sheriff’s Office. But the search warrant never was filed.

“The question that I really deal with on a daily basis is did people know,” DeAngelis said. “And if they did, did they take it seriously? But I know for a fact that there have been so many things learned from Columbine, as far as police protocol on different things. I think we’re looking at things differently. Everything changed.”

For now, Colorado’s Safe2Tell will remain one of the leading examples of trying to head off additional school tragedies. McDonald noted that after 18 were killed in shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, Jeffco school and law enforcement received 169 reports — mostly via Safe2Tell — after two threats about Jeffco schools in social media.

“It was a 24-hour-a day run for two weeks for the entire district leadership team and making sure we were doing the right work in protecting the schools,” McDonald said. “Every one of these has to be taken seriously because studies have shown that a majority of attackers broadcast in advance. You have to take the broadcasts serious.”

That’s another reason why false reporting is a disgrace.

— Terry Frei writes features and columns for The Tribune. He’s the author of seven books, including “Third Down and a War to Go.” He can be reached at (970) 392-4424 or tfrei@greeleytribune.com. His website is http://www.terryfrei.com. Twitter: @tfrei

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Action Line: I cooked a huge holiday meal. What should I do with the leftover cooking grease?

Question — I cooked a huge holiday meal. What should I do with the leftover cooking grease?

Answer — I'm going to start the answer to this question with the place Greeley water department officials said kitchen grease and food definitely shouldn't go: down the sink.

For the water department and homeowners, excess grease in the water system can cause serious plumbing issues, and it's harder for the city's sewer department to process solid scraps of leftover food. Gross, right? It's about to get worse.

In London last year, sewer officials found a mass of congealed fat, wet wipes and diapers stuck in the sewer system. According to The Guardian, the London fatberg was 130 tons and 820.21 feet — 32.81 feet longer than the Tower Bridge and as heavy as 19 African elephants.

The paper reported that if London officials hadn't come across the fatberg during a routine inspection, it could have resulted in raw sewage flooding onto the streets. Workers had to remove it by using high-pressure hoses and pickaxes. People were fascinated, so a chunk of it went on display at the Museum of London. Yep, that's gross.

"Not that it would get that way in Greeley," said Natalie Stevens, a city of Greeley marketing coordinator who works with the water and sewer department. "But it can cause problems — and it has in other places."

To get rid of cooking grease, Stevens recommended heading to the Weld County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, located at 1311 17th Ave. in Greeley. The facility is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Saturday, with the exception of holidays.

The county also has a facility in Dacono located at 5500 Colo. 52. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information about the facilities, call (970) 304-6415.

If you don't want to make the trip, Stevens said, pour the grease into a sealable container, such as a coffee can, and throw it away once it's full.

When it's time to clean up after a large meal, officials said to use a paper towel to wipe grease off of plates. They also said to use the garbage disposal sparingly.

— If you have a question for Action Line, send it to Sara Knuth, sknuth@greeleytribune.com, or call (970) 392-4412.



Weld County clerk and recorder, commissioner threaten legal action in overtime dispute

In an ongoing dispute about overtime in the Weld County Motor Vehicle Department, Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes suggested taking legal action against the county — and Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said there could be consequences for spending money on overtime without permission.

Koppes, in a Nov. 25 email to Director of Finance and Administration Don Warden and county attorney Bruce Barker, said she could sue the commissioners to clarify that money generated by her department should pay for overtime. Kirkmeyer said Koppes wasn't authorized to spend $100,309 worth of overtime between January and May.

The warnings haven't materialized into legal action — Koppes said she'd prefer to work with the commissioners, not sue them — and the county already has paid workers for the overtime. But emails obtained through a Colorado Open Records Act request show frustration between the clerk and recorder and some members of the Board of Weld County Commissioners about overtime in the office.

In first half of the year — before the Weld County Motor Vehicle Department switched to a new system that caused wait times to clock in at up to three hours — the Weld County Clerk and Recorder's Office racked up $100,309 worth of overtime.

Plans to address overtime

Here’s what the commissioners did in 2018 to address demands on the clerk and recorder’s office:

  • Approved a 2018 supplemental appropriation for the two positions authorized to be overfilled in 2018 for $106,848
  • Approved a 2018 supplemental appropriation for four temporary positions for four months, September through December, for $43,515
  • Approved a 2018 supplemental appropriation for the two 2019 additional positions authorized on Sept. 18 to begin immediately for $31,164
  • Approved the overtime for the months of June through December due to the DRIVE system conversion for $143,648
  • Did not approve the unauthorized overtime from January through May for $100,309

Here’s what the board decided for 2019:

  • Two additional positions were authorized for 2019 on Sept. 18 to begin immediately
  • The clerk and recorder will change the office hours Jan. 1 to eliminate the structural overtime. The hours would be 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Greeley, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the southwest Weld County office and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the southwest Weld County office.
  • During peak months, between March and May, temporary and part-time staff are needed in the backroom to free up regular staff to wait on customers. The board authorized $20,000 for this.
  • Between June and September, the board authorized $40,000 for workers.
  • The clerk and recorder will work with the county’s accounting department to develop a report for the Commissioners showing the use of the contract labor funds during the months of March through September.
  • In February, the clerk and recorder will schedule a work session with the board to give an update on the status of the DRIVE system, staffing and elimination of overtime.

Information from Weld County Director of Finance and Administration Don Warden

After the switch to the Colorado Department of Revenue's Colorado DRIVES system, the office had $143,648 in overtime from clerks who had to stay at work later to work with customers who had to spend more time in line for items such as tags and license plates. The commissioners approved the second round of overtime, but the majority did not approve overtime hours between January and May, saying Koppes couldn't justify them.

Kirkmeyer said Koppes didn't keep an eye on the overtime hours the way leaders of other county departments do. And she said the commissioners needed a plan from Koppes about how she would address the extra hours.

"We don't treat her any differently than we treat the other department heads and elected officials," Kirkmeyer said, adding Koppes told the commissioners her overtime hours were under control. "She told us that she was good on the numbers. … I don't know why she didn't know that she had so much unauthorized overtime."

Koppes said Warden, the county's director of finance and administration, is responsible for keeping track of the numbers.

She added that overtime hours between January and May were the result of office hours and extra work and training conducted to prepare for the transition to the new system.

"But three commissioners decided to vote no for it," Koppes said. "That's their decision, and that's their failure, not mine."

In an email obtained by The Tribune through a Colorado Open Records Act request, Koppes told Warden she could sue the commissioners.

"I can take legal action to clarify that the use of surplus funds for any use other than motor vehicle tax collections is an improper use of the funds per the statute by the commissioners," she wrote. "And/or we can reach an agreement about the true cost to the county and that my budget has not been exceeded when as clerk and recorder I have not spent more than the amount generated."

In a phone interview Friday, Koppes said she doesn't want to take it to that point.

"It's always an option," she said. "I would rather work with Don Warden and (Weld County Attorney) Bruce Barker and the commissioners than do that. I would rather us be supportive of each other than have to take that step."

From the board's perspective, though, it's a moot point. Kirkmeyer said Koppes isn't in charge of deciding where the money goes. Though the county already paid workers for the overtime hours out of the Weld County general fund, she said, Koppes wasn't allowed to spend the money from the first half of the year.

"The county has already paid for it, but she didn't have the authority to authorize that overtime. Only the board of county commissioners has that," she said. "It's very clear in statute — the only people who have the authority to appropriate funds are the board of county commissioners. Her overtime is unauthorized and she did not give us any justification for the overtime between January and May."

In a November work session, Kirkmeyer and commissioners Steve Moreno and Mike Freeman did not support approving overtime hours from the first half of the year. But since the county already paid the employees for the overtime, the decision doesn’t change anything.

"It is symbolic to a point," Kirkmeyer said. "But there are other things that could happen to an elected official who, basically, has gone over budget and over appropriation."

In a reply to the email from Koppes, Warden said Koppes was correct that the clerk and recorder hire fee is intended for defraying expenses in the motor vehicle department. But, he said, the money does not completely cover the costs of the motor vehicle department.

Instead, the county's general fund is subsiding the clerk and recorder's office by more than $1.1 million.

— Sara Knuth covers government for The Tribune. You can reach her at (970) 392-4412, sknuth@greeleytribune.com or on Twitter @SaraKnuth.



Does cannabis cost, or pay? CCU study claims marijuana costs $4.50 for every $1 it generates

EAGLE — Coloradans spend $4.57 to mitigate marijuana’s effects for every tax dollar it generates, claims a recently released study.

Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute scoured 2017 data to try to understand the economic and social costs of legal marijuana, said Jeff Hunt, CCU’s vice president of public policy and director of the Centennial Institute.

“No matter where you stand in the marijuana legalization debate, having more information is critical to making the best decisions for the future of Colorado and our nation,” Hunt said in a statement.

The tab taxpayers pick up will likely increase as commercial marijuana’s long-term health consequences become more clear, Hunt said.

“Like tobacco, commercial marijuana is likely to have health consequences that we won’t be able to determine for decades,” Hunt said, adding that those costs are not configured in the report. “The economic and social costs in this report are intentionally low and the comprehensive costs are likely much higher.”

INDUSTRY DOUBTS THAT DATA

The Marijuana Industry Group takes a different view, said Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Colorado-based industry group.

“We’re always going to have different interpretations of the data,” Kelly said.

The Marijuana Industry Group is fond of state statistics, instead of mining its own data.

Coloradans say opioids, not marijuana, is the state’s top health issue, Kelly said.

In fact, the state just awarded $1.5 million to study the impacts of marijuana on opioid addiction.

“We’re talking about a product, cannabis, that has shown indicators that it can be helpful in battling the state’s No. 1 health problem,” Kelly said. “Why are we focusing our time and energy on a possible prohibition instead of focusing on what the state says it needs. Imagine how much more quickly we could address these issues if we worked together.”

The National Cannabis Industry Association takes an even more jaundiced view of the Centennial Institute’s study. For example, the Centennial Institute’s study attempts to connect legal marijuana with low birth weights, Morgan Fox, National Cannabis Industry Association media relations director said.

“There is no causal relationship shown between marijuana legalization and most of the costs they mention,” Fox said. “Blaming all low-birth-weight babies on marijuana legalization and lumping those costs into the total is ridiculous.”

Fox said lawmakers and state regulators, as well as independent oversight groups, have access to the same data.

“Yet this vehemently anti-marijuana group is the only one that seems to have arrived at the conclusions in this study,” Fox said. “I don’t think this report is very scientifically rigorous and would like to see it be peer-reviewed. I’m guessing it would not pass muster, aside from being clearly biased.”

ABOUT THAT TAX REVENUE

Since recreational marijuana became legal in 2014, it has generated $641,978,779 in tax revenue for the state, about 1.8 percent of Colorado’s tax revenues, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Marijuana sales taxes surpassed alcohol in 2014, and cigarettes and tobacco products by $47 million in 2017, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Those marijuana sales taxes are generated by 3,065 facilities with marijuana licenses: 1,459 medical marijuana licenses and 1,606 recreational marijuana licenses, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Eagle County voters earmarked a marijuana tax for mental health facilities and programs, the first in Colorado to do it.

That tax money may be tougher to come by with wholesale prices continuing to drop, from $2,007 per pound on Jan. 1, 2015, to $846 in July of this year, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Despite that price drop, Colorado dispensaries sold more than $233 million of marijuana products through October of this year, close to the $247 million through all of 2017.

NOT A CANNABIS CRIMEWAVE

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was against legalizing marijuana as the state’s voters considered it in 2012. Over the years, his perspective has shifted, he told the Economic Club of Chicago.

“The things we most feared — a peak in teenage consumption, a peak in overall consumption, people driving while high — we haven’t seen,” Hickenlooper told the Chicago Tribune. “I’m not quite there to say this is a great success, but the old system was awful.”

Legal weed does not appear to have created a Colorado crime wave, but both legal weed and the data are new, according to a state report.

The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Office of Research and Statistics released Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado, a report that analyzes data on marijuana-related topics including crime, impaired driving, hospitalizations and emergency room visits, usage rates, effects on youth and more.

State lawmakers ordered the study in 2013 after Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalized the retail sale and possession of recreational marijuana for adults older than 21.

A Rocky Mountain regional drug enforcement task force that includes Eagle County analyzed data from 2003 to this year and found that 43 percent of drivers in fatal accidents had drugs in their systems, and 36 percent of drivers in fatal accidents had marijuana in their systems, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

That’s compared to 37 percent of drivers in fatalities whose blood alcohol levels were above the legal limit.

Read the original story at VailDaily.com.

Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.



Broncos ownership dispute: Bill Bowlen files objection to trustees’ request for delay in lawsuit

Bill Bowlen, a brother of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, submitted an objection Saturday in Arapahoe County District Court to the stay motion request by the Pat Bowlen Trust filed two weeks ago.

Giovanni Ruscitti, Bowlen's attorney from the Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti law firm in Boulder, filed the brief on his client's behalf. The filing asserts that granting a stay will "prejudice" Bill Bowlen.

In late October, Bowlen filed a lawsuit asking the trustees be relieved of their duties. The trustees — Broncos president/CEO Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary Kelly — responded with the stay request and asking the NFL for arbitration with two of Bowlen's daughters, Beth Bowlen Wallace and Amie Bowlen Klemmer.

In the document, Bill Bowlen's legal team called the trustees' request "nothing more than a delay tactic and attempt to interfere with the Court's ability to decide important issues relating to (the) Defendants' misconduct."

Read more from The Denver Post.



Business Spotlight: interworksHR

Business: interworksHR

Owner: Rachel Cox

Location: 1039-B Main St., Windsor, CO 80550

Phone: (970) 541-0320

Website: http://www.interworksHR.com.

Description: interworksHR offers stress-free and affordable HR, payroll, benefits and employer compliance solutions to small and mid-sized businesses. The company’s solutions enable its clients to provide affordable benefit plans to their employees, reduce payroll tasks, minimize risk, stay on top of employer compliance and gain HR support without increasing headcount.



Weld County oil and gas spill report for Dec. 9

The following spills were reported to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in the past two weeks.

Information is based on Form 19, which operators must fill out detailing the leakage/spill events. Any spill release that may impact waters of the state must be reported as soon as practical. Any spill of five barrels or more must be reported within 24 hours, and any spill of one barrel or more, which occurs outside secondary containment, such as metal or earthen berms, must also be reported within 24 hours, according to COGCC rules. Spills and leaks typically are found during routine maintenance on existing wells, though some actual "spills" do occur among the 23,000-plus wells in the county.

• NOBLE ENERGY INC, reported Dec. 4 a historical tank battery spill about 5 miles southeast of LaSalle, near Weld County roads 42 and 43. Between one and five barrels each of oil, condensate and produced water spilled. Crews found impacts while dismantling the tank battery. A total of 50 cubic yards of impacted soil was taken to Buffalo Ridge Landfill, and 16 soil samples were collected for site investigation.

• NOBLE ENERGY INC, reported Nov. 29 a flowline spill about 7 miles south of Kersey, near Weld roads 46 and 43. Between one and five barrels each of oil, condensate and produced water spilled. Waters of the state were impacted or threatened. Crews found the release during operations.

• NOBLE ENERGY INC, reported Nov. 29 a historical partially-buried vessel spill about 2 miles southeast of LaSalle, near Weld roads 40 and 53. Between one and five barrels each of oil, condensate and produced water spilled. Crews found impacts while dismantling the tank battery.

• KP KAUFFMAN COMPANY INC, reported Nov. 28 a historical flowline spill about 3 miles northwest of Firestone, near Weld roads 18 and 5. An unknown amount of more than five barrels of oil spilled. A contractor for Extraction found the release while boring a new line under a KP Kauffman consolidation flowline and an abandoned flowline. Extraction’s contractor is finishing the pipeline and clearing room for KP Kauffman to remove the impacted soil.

• HIGHPOINT OPERATING CORPORATION, reported Nov. 28 a tank battery spill about 3 miles southwest of Hereford, near Weld roads 132 and 75. About 200 barrels of produced water spilled into containment. A hole in the produced water tank formed near the bottom of the load out valve.



Greeley weather forecast and conditions for Sunday

Mostly sunny and cool across Weld county this Sunday. A high of 44 degrees is expected in Greeley this afternoon. Winds will pick up from the northwest through the afternoon.

Tonight, skies stay mainly clear, with low temperatures dropping to the low teens. Sunny and milder weather moves in on Monday, with highs in the low 50s. Temperatures stay in the upper 40s to around 50 degrees through Wednesday.



Weld County Big Sales for Dec. 9

NE of 47th Ave. & US 34, Greeley. $3,200,000. Buyer: Tru Grit NoCo LLC. Seller: Greeley Center Homes LLC.

255 WCR 46, Berthoud. (Weld County Assessor’s Office/For The Tribune)

255 WCR 46, Berthoud. $3,000,000. Buyer: Tri State Generation Transmission. Seller: Daniel G. Stroh.

NE of Crossroads Blvd. & WCR 13, Windsor. $2,210,000. Buyer: Melody Homes Inc. Seller: Raindance Communities LLC.

19750 WCR 7, Berthoud. $1,800,000. Buyer: ECO Ind LLC. Seller: Barry Veneveren.

6749 W. I-25 Frontage Road, Frederick. $1,490,300. Buyer: Frederick Dev. Co. Inc. Seller: Billings MA & MA Trust.

24335 WCR 67, Kersey. (Weld Assessor/For The Tribune)

24335 WCR 67, Kersey. $1,350,000. Buyer: Platte Land Water LLC. Seller: Ronald J. & Earlene K. & William E. & Kelly J.

5988 Iris Parkway, Frederick. $540,000. Buyer: North Range Behavioral Health. Seller: Team Baur LLLP.

Source: Jim Neufeld, RE/MAX Eagle Rock-Commercial Division.



Human Bean raises more than $35,000 for NCMC Breast Cancer Fund; Greeley Chamber hosts 12@12 — YourBiz for Dec. 9

The Human Bean recently presented the North Colorado Medical Center Breast Cancer Fund with a check for more than $35,000. The Human Bean raised money Oct. 19 with its annual Coffee for a Cure. All Weld County Human Bean locations contributed to the fund, which provides financial assistance to overcome barriers related to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. (Human Bean/For The Tribune)
Investors with the Greeley Chamber of Commerce join Sarah MacQuiddy, far right, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, and Bryce Jacobson, lower left, board chairman, for a 12@12 lunch at Pellegrini Ristorante Italiano, 2400 17th St. MacQuiddy hosts 12@12 monthly with a dozen Chamber investors on a rotating basis. (Greeley Chamber/For The Tribune)


Records: Christopher Watts’ co-worker went to site, looked for clues day after family’s disappearance

Shanann, right; Bella, top; and Celeste, bottom.

The day after Shanann Watts and her two daughters went missing, Troy McCoy found himself out at the site where their bodies eventually would be recovered.

McCoy, an Anadarko co-worker of Christopher Watts, didn't yet know Watts killed his wife and kids or that he placed the girls' bodies in separate oil tanks and buried his wife in a shallow grave at the rural tank battery north of Roggen.

But he had suspicions.

McCoy detailed those suspicions in an at-times emotional interview with law enforcement Aug. 17, saying he knew it looked bad that he was at the site Aug. 14, the day after Watts dumped the bodies.

"This is horrible; I've never been in trouble in my life," McCoy told investigators. "I know this looks terrible."

So why did he go?

After attending a training, McCoy had some time on his hands, he said. He had been thinking, "What the hell's going on?"

"I thought, 'Well, if nothing else, I'll go out to 3-19 and see if there's something out of the norm," McCoy said.

It was the first place he saw Watts after the family disappeared. It was the place Watts told co-workers he would go to alone the morning of Aug. 13. It's where Watts was wearing different boots than normal, where he parked in a weird spot and where Watts left rather casually the day before when his family was missing.

GPS tracking data from Christopher Watts’ work truck the day he disposed of his wife’s and kids’ bodies. (Court documents)

"I'm a father," McCoy said. "If my wife was gone, I'd be freaking out. He's just like, 'Hey guys, I gotta go.'

"Everybody's looking for clues and tips, and I just wanted to help.”

He wouldn't stay long, seemingly spooked by a guy out at the site with a water truck. He lied about why he was out there, signed a form and slowly drove away.

McCoy said he didn't have a good answer for investigators when they asked why he didn't tell the truth at the site, but he was adamant he was telling the truth in the interview.

It's doubtful investigators fingered him for any wrongdoing with Watts being arrested on suspicion of murder two days before the interview, and they let him know in the interview they understood his reasoning.

The day before, Aug. 16, police were re-interviewing Watts, who confessed to killing his wife and dumping his family's bodies at the tank battery site. They wanted to know if he was lying about where he put the girls' bodies. Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, were small, but the hatches at the top of the tanks were much too small, the interviewer said.

Watts explained how he dropped them in feet first while holding their arms.

But why in different tanks, the interviewer asked.

"I wasn't thinking," Watts said. "I was scared out of my mind; I didn't know what to do."

The interviewer was concerned for first responders' safety, and how the process of getting into the tanks could set off an explosion and hurt more people. That would be on Watts' hands, he said.

"They're in there," Watts said.

— Tyler Silvy is the deputy editor for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at tsilvy@greeleytribune.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.



Victim advocates in Weld County do the work of ‘angels’

The Victim Services Unit is comprised of two supervisors and 15 volunteers, some of whom are pictured here. Top row: Francis Villalobos, Heather Sterling, Samantha Berry, Tamara Strang, Pam Crowley, Billy Chadderdon and Craig Ostrander. Bottom Row: Diana Baylon, Brooke Coughlin, Heather Wright and Savanna Schmidt.

This past month, Evans police Cmdr. Dan Ranous hosted a presentation about a tragic attempted double murder-suicide from 2014.

The incident was one of the worst Evans cases in recent memory and in the spirit of sharing lessons learned, Ranous has been teaching classes about the case for the past four years to neighboring law enforcement agencies, students studying criminal justice and other organizations.

But each time Ranous taught a class about the case, he held something back out of respect for the victims. He decided to teach the class for the last time this past month. He deliberately invited volunteers with Greeley's Victim Services Unit to be his audience.

"I've taught this case a number of different times, in a number of different capacities, but this is the very first night I'm releasing information that has never been made public before," Ranous told a group of about 20 volunteer victim's advocates. "Some things I wouldn't allow to be released until now, but I know you can handle it. I refer to you guys as my angels."

Victim Services Unit

The Victim Service Unit is housed out of the Greeley Police Department, but serves 10 Weld County law enforcement agencies, including the Greeley, Evans, Windsor, Eaton, Ault, Johnstown, Milliken, Kersey, LaSalle and Nunn police departments. Victim’s advocates respond to crime scenes along with other first responders to ensure the needs of victims and their families are being met.

For more information about how to volunteer as a victim advocate, go to http://www.GreeleyPD.com/victim-assistance or call Supervisor Brooke Coughlin at (970) 350-9620.

At 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, Evans police responded to a check well-being call at a house in the 2400 block of Marina Street. Within a few hours, Ranous, who was a patrol sergeant at the time, would be one of 37 officers deployed to the scene.

The home belonged to Richard Perrin, 63, a respiratory therapist in nearby Loveland. Perrin's human resources director reported to police he was a no show at work. The HR director also told police Perrin had been taking advantage of company resources to try to manage his depression.

Further investigation revealed Perrin's wife, Natalya, also was absent from work and their daughter, 17-year-old Danika, was not at school at Dayspring Christian Academy.

Fearing the worst, Evans police called in the SWAT team to assist with the scene. The first to get into position at the rear of the house was the sniper.

"Snipers are great, not just for their shooting abilities, but for their visual capabilities," Ranous told the group. "I remember his first radio transmission like it was yesterday, 'We've got blood splatter on the window.' We all knew."

The investigation would later reveal sometime during the late night hours of Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, and the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, Richard Perrin loaded his 9 mm semiautomatic pistol. He walked into his bedroom, placed the barrel to his wife's temple and pulled the trigger.

Perrin then went into Danika's bedroom and fired two more rounds before placing the barrel against the side of his own head and firing one last time.

Miraculously, Natalya Perrin survived her wound. During her initial contact with officers when they responded that Thursday, Natalya complained of a migraine so bad she couldn't see. It wasn't until after police were able to enter the home that they realized not only had Natalya survived, but she'd also been stumbling around her home for the better part of 36 hours.

Ranous called Brooke Coughlin at the Victim Services Unit. When she responded with now supervisor Heather Sterling, it was like walking onto the set of a horror movie. Police had removed drywall where there were bullet holes and other evidence, as well as cut up sections of carpet and flooring soaked with blood. Because Natalya had been stumbling around the house for a day and a half, there were bloody hand and fingerprints, as well as hallway-long red smudges all over the house.

Not only are victim advocates sometimes among the first responders to the scene, they're also the ones who stay behind after the police are gone to help victims and families pick up the pieces.

"We see everything the first responders see," Coughlin said. "But we stay behind to deal with the emotional and recovery aspects of it as well."

Coughlin and Sterling walked the house taking notes about all of the things that needed to be cleaned, which was pretty much the entire house. They made contact with family members, the closest being in Grand Junction, and started the claims process for home repairs with the Perrin's home insurance company. Then they packed Natalya a bag and brought her some of her things.

It was a small gesture that blossomed into a four-year friendship through which Ranous would receive the blessing he thought he needed to finally lay out publicly all of the facts of the case.

Recently, Natalya called Ranous out of the blue and said she was ready to talk about her case. She had been living for years under the assumption Danika died peacefully in her sleep, and she wanted to confirm her suspicions were true. It pained Ranous and Coughlin to tell the strongest woman they'd ever met that wasn't the case.

Danika woke after her father fired the first shot into Natalya's head, and she was waiting for him when he walked into her room holding the pistol.

"She put up a hell of a fight," Ranous told her. "She fought him hard to save her life."

The Perrin case is admittedly an extreme example of the work done by victim's advocates, but everyone who comes into contact with one seems to walk away with the same opinion.

Evans resident Prairie Boyer also referenced a certain heavenly being when she became a client of the agency in October after her son died by suicide.

Brooke Coughlin, stands in front of the Selfie Wall, which showcases photos of her clients during her six years as a victim’s advocate in Greeley.

"They set a lot of appointments for me. They helped me with my to do list and organized meals. They checked in a lot and picked me up off the floor," Boyer said. "They were like angels helping me through this. I couldn't have done it without them."

Yesika Hernandez-Trinidad met Coughlin more than five years ago after her father stabbed her mother to death. Coughlin helped Hernandez-Trinidad gain custody of her younger siblings and helped coordinate resources to make sure the family would be able to meet their basic needs.

Trinidad-Hernandez called Coughlin a big sister, saying in the years since they met she's been there for several family milestones, including graduations.

"I always tell my volunteers as long as you treat people, or their friends and their family members, the way you would want to be treated in that situation you can't go wrong," Coughlin said. "We walk in at the worst time in people's lives, but we walk away as family."

— Joe Moylan covers crime and public safety for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at jmoylan@greeleytribune.com, (970) 392-4467 or on Twitter @JoeMoylan.



The route to the University of Northern Colorado is less traveled by player from Kenya via Canada

University of Northern Colorado freshman Kur Jokich takes a breather from practice on Friday afternoon. (Tribune photo: Samuel G. Mustari)

Kur Jockuch’s name is indicative enough he’s not from these parts.

According to his bio on the University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball website, Jockuch is from London, Ontario Canada, but was born in Kenya.

The chapters in his life along the way from Kenya to Canada aren’t found on a map.

You need a globe.

Jockuch

Technically, the 19-year-old, 6-foot-9 UNC forward is Sudanese, indirectly associated with the infamous Lost Boys of Sudan — the survivors of Sudan’s cival war who successfully reached refugee camps. Jockuch was a baby at the time.

“His story is an amzaing one,” UNC men’s basketball assistant coach Steve Smiley said. “Kur is a bright young man who has experienced a lot.”

To hear Jockuch tell the story about his travels is like taking a history lesson about the outbreak of the civil war in Sudan in the early 1980s.

By the late 80s, the civil war drove thousands from their families and villages in southern Sudan to escape death or induction into the northern Sudan army.

“We moved around a lot,” Jockuch understated. “I don’t remember much because I was so young, but I have an older cousin who remembers a lot. So do my mother and father.”

From south Sudan, Jockuch moved to Ethiopia, Nigeria, northern Sudan, Egypt …. “all countries in that area,” Jockuch said. “We really didn’t have any real set area when the war was taking place.”

At the time, there was an abundance of available oil in south Sudan, and rebels were raiding villages and killing residents.

“It wasn’t safe to live there I was told,” said Jockuch, who was born in Kenya in 1999. “We would be moving one day and then there was a war happening in Bor and Juba. You’d never know where an attack would come from. I’ve seen lots of photos of it.”

LEARNING HIS PAST AND ENGLISH SIMULTANEOUSLY

Jockuch said his family was homeless due to “walking on foot from country to country when I was probably 1 year old.”

He didn’t formally start school until his was in the first grade, knowing very little English.

“I was in the ESL (English as a second language) program and I spent a lot of time with other refugees,” said Jockuch, whose family travels settled in London, Ontario Canada.

Before learning English, Jockuch primarily spoke Pinka and some Arabic. Now, it’s English, 24/7.

“My father was fluent in English, but he was also getting his education,” Jockuch said. “He would teach me English while he was learning other things, and then I would teach English to my mother.

“You could say that I struggled …. I was behind the 8-ball because everything was taught in English. To understand things like math, I had to first learn English, so at first, it set me back some. Eventually though, about the fourth grade, I started to learn science and geography.”

ON TO BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS

Living in London, Ontario opened a lot of doors to Jockuch’s future.

He went to prominent Catholic schools St. Michael and St. Thomas.

It wasn’t until he was in the eighth grade that Jockuch was introduced to basketball, and he didn’t take a liking to the sport at first.

“I was asked to just try it out,” Jockuch said. “I didn’t like it at first … I didn’t understand the point of it.”

With some encouragement from Tommy Brinji (from south Sudan, but born in Canada), and Willy Mboko (The Republic of Congo), Jockuch took a liking to football.

“Those guys are still my best friends to this day,” Jockuch said. “Football sort of grew on me and I liked it more than basketball.”

Jockuch played competitive football in high school, but a back injury sent him back to the basketball court.

FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO BASKETBALL ACADEMY TO UNC

University of Northern Colorado freshman Kor Jockuch goes up for a layup against Colorado College. (Photo: UNC Athletics).

The London Basketball Academy was Jockuch’s next stop, and a new friend — Michael Provenzano — re-introduced him to basketball.

“I also hated the cold weather, and they play football in the winter, so basketball  became more fun,” Jockuch said. “Besides, my back was still hurting a lot, and I didn’t want to injure myself again.”

Well into his first season at the prestigious London Basketball Academy, Jockuch learned that he could further his education at the collegiate level if he took the game more seriously and improved.

At first, Jockuch had his sights set on Western University, a prestigious public research university in London, Ontario.

Western, as it’s commonly referred to, competes in the Ontario University Athletics Conference.

“I figured I might as well try to get better because I had nothing to lose,” Jockuch said. “I started to go to basketball camps instead of playing in a travel league. I was hoping to get a scholarship to Western.”

Then UNC came calling.

“His name came across our desk and we watched film on him,” said Smiley, who was instrumental in recruiting Jockuch. “We brought him here and decided to roll the dice.”

Jockuch explained that he “learned the game” in his fifth season of playing at what would be equivalent to high school, and eventually joined Canada Elite, a traveling team.

“We went to places like Dallas and Indiana … all sorts of places across the United States,” he said. “A lot of people came and watched and that’s when coach Smiley found me and the connection was made.”

Smiley explained that Jockuch’s progress from the start of his days at the London Basketball Academy until he arrived at UNC were “shocking,” and it answered any questions the UNC coaching staff had about him early on.

“His name was out there and he had some offers from some of the top junior colleges in the nation,” Smiley said. “His coach, Angelo Provenzano, is one of the most highly respected coaches in Canada.

“Kur came here and he was bigger, stronger and more skilled than we thought,” Smiley added. “He was definitely as athletic as we figured.”

In the second week of his freshman season, Jockuch is described by Smiley as “a high-level kid.”

LIFE IN GREELEY AND AT UNC WORKING OUT JUST FINE

Life in Canada isn’t that much different than in Greeley, Jockuch said.

Now, the food is a different thing altogether.

University of Northern Colorado freshman Kor Jockuch (15) celebrates a basket with his UNC teammates. (Photo: UNC Athletics).

Jockuch longs for his mother’s cooking, which was reason to never go out to eat.

“She cooked food from my native land (Sudan) and one thing I really miss is Sambusa,” Jockuch said.

Sambusa is a sort of Sudanese fried meat pie.

“It’s much different than what I eat here at the cafeteria,” Jockuch said. “It took an adjustment for my stomach. Food in Sudan is straight from the farm. More organic.”

Grabbing something for lunch means “going to get a burger,” to Jockuch, who added, “doesn’t matter where.”

Going out for dinner would require “eating something with beef in it,” he said.

Pizza isn’t off limits, but too much at an early age while living in Canada has made it less popular to Jockuch.

“My fallback meal is two Big Macs at McDonald’s,” Jockuch said.

LEARNING TIME MANAGEMENT LIKE MOST COLLEGE STUDENTS

Jockuch missed his free time while adjusting to a structured schedule that includes weight lifting, school, basketball practice and studying.

A true freshman, Jockuch loves studying psychology and early space science at UNC.

“A lot of my friends back home have free time,” he said. “I wish I had more free time on my hands, but his is what I signed up for. I’m blessed to be able to play sports and go to school.”

He prefers listening to TED Talks over movies and would rather listen to audio books as opposed to reading.

“I find research really interesting,” Jockuch said.

Daily conversations with his mother are a must and he stays in constant contact with younger sisters Ivy, 5; Kenya, 12; and Yom, who is 16.

“I also talk to my Godparents (Maurice and Elaine Breeanan), who live just outside London Ontario,” Jockuch said. “I talk to them a lot. In fact, Maurice is like another father to me.”

Despite being thousands of miles from home and a lifetime removed from his native south Sudan, Jockuch can’t visualize life being any better than the present.

“I couldn’t be more happy than what I am right now,” Jockuch said. “There’s nothing here that I don’t need. I have friends, people who love me and take care of me. I’m going to school, playing basketball … I can’t see life getting any better.”



Mind over matter with a little muscle mixed in is the right remedy for success

Tyler Ramos prepares one of his warm-up lifts for the Colorado Youth Weightlifting Championships in Windsor. (Tribune photo: Samuel G. Mustari)

WINDSOR — To pass Tyler Ramos in the hall at Windsor High School wouldn’t strike fear or intimidation into anybody.

In fact, the Windsor senior looks more like a lady’s man than a weightlifter. Slender, wavy dark hair with personality plus.

On Saturday afternoon, the rail-thin Rams was all business on the platform, hoisting weight above his head as a competitor in the Colorado Youth Weightlifting Championship.

Ramos, all 128 pounds of him threw up 123 kilos — that’s 271 pounds for those keeping track at home — with no more effort than carrying around a backpack between classes.

“I’ve been lifting for about a year,” said Ramos, who also plays tennis. “I’ve loved doing this, but I love to do rock climbing as well.”

Windsor weightlifting coach Matt Cooper gives Tyler Ramos some technique advice. (Tribune photo: Samuel G. Mustari).

Ramos hasn’t yet graduated to rock climbing where you use ropes and carabeeners, but it’s a good bet he’ll get there.

Early on, he was an observant of his friends weight lifting, and decided he’d give it a try.

Ramos explained that being successful in the snatch and clean-and-jerk events — both Olympic sports — it’s more about technique than it is strength.

Well, sort of. A little testosterone doesn’t hurt.

“Contrary to popular belief, it’s about technique,” Ramos said. “Sure, you have to be strong, but you really to have balance and position to get the bar up over your head.”

It takes the balance of a ballerina and the positioning of a pulling guard.

Ramos had both, achieving a personal best for total weight on Saturday, including three lifts of 65 kilos (143 pounds), 68 kilos (150 pounds) and 71 kilos (156 pounds) on his first try on all three lifts.

Now, do the math.

His total lifts of 272 pounds is more than double his weight.

When you calculate his warm-up lifts, Ramos put up more than 1,000 pounds on Saturday.

Not a bad day’s work when hordes of high school kids are camped in front of a computer screen playing video games.

Pound-for-pound, Ramos is a behemoth.

“He’s the nicest kid you’ll ever meet,” Windsor High School physical education teacher and weight lifting coach Matt Cooper said. “I remember the first day I met him … he was as nice as he could be. But you put him out there to compete and it’s completely different. He goes into a different mode. He has a fire in him.”

Ramos

That’s not to say Ramos rages behind the scenes before his name is called to stand in front of three judges and perform.

In fact, this kid never lets you see him sweat. Humble might be his middle name.

“I’m really nothing special,” Ramos said. “There’s (bigger) guys here who have probably lifted more than 2,000 pounds today, including their warm-up lifts.”

Ramos was under the watchful eye of Cooper in the Wizards’ wrestling room, going through his warm-up routine, which is simplified, but to the point so a competitor doesn’t get fatigued physically or mentally before stepping on the competition platform.

Cooper initiated the Windsor Weight Lifting Club five years ago and figured he’d see some crossover from student-athletes in other sports.

He didn’t.

Cooper

“Not at all,” Cooper said. “It’s quite the opposite. For the kids we have in the club, this has become their passion.”

Cooper’s brainchild is the only one associated with a high school in the state.

“I can’t even count how many national competitors we’ve had,” Cooper said. “We brought home two more national medals this year. These kids are really committed.”

Ramos looks forward to lifting three days a week while prioritizing his workouts around studying and his new adventure of rock climbing.

“I climb indoors a couple of time a week, and when the weather is nice on the weekend, I climb with my buddies.”

The outdoor rock climbing Ramos does is referred  to as Bouldering, “where you put a pad underneath you, but you still have to be careful if you fall.

“My main focus is on Bouldering right now,” he added. “It’s a blast.”

Depending on how well his back holds up as he gets older, Ramos plans to continue his weight lifting routine, possibly at Menlow College, a business school in Atherton, Calif., located in the Silicon Valley.

“I really love lifting,” Ramos said. “It’s what I do.”

On Saturday, it showed.

Samuel G. Mustari  has covered sports for The Tribune for 41 years, primarily the University of Northern Colorado.  Reach him at (970) 392-4437 or follow him on twitter @TribuneMustari.

 

 

 



Greeley roofers focus on quality amid high demand after this year’s hailstorms

Roofers for Slaughter Roofing use thousands of nails and special techniques to install a new roof. Harnesses are used to ensure their safety. (Jordan Reyes/For The Tribune)

Since founding Slaughter Roofing in 1987, Mike Slaughter said he had never seen broken windshields due to hail in Greeley. This year’s hailstorms changed that.

“This is by far the most amount of hail (I’ve seen), those two storms back-to-back, June 19 and July 29,” Slaughter said. “We probably had 6,000 phone calls since the middle of June.”

Roofing resources for residents

Large hailstorms, like the two this summer that caused an onslaught of roofing work in Greeley, can attract door-to-door solicitors who sometimes deceive residents into signing roofing contracts, according to the Colorado Roofing Association. The association warns that these contracts probably include a 20 percent cancellation clause and should not be signed without a thorough reading.

The association offers resources for consumers, including a search engine for local association members, at ColoradoRoofing.org/consumer.

Greeley Chief Building Official Tim Swanson said the city’s Building Inspection department has processed more than 6,000 roofing permits so far this year, compared to 2,749 roofing permits in 2017. That was a busy year, too, he added. In 2016, the department processed more than 1,800 permits. The most recent “normal year,” was in 2015, when they processed 500 permits, he said.

“After the second of the two hailstorms hit, we had all hands on deck entering permits in the system. Any admin in the building was giving us a hand,” Swanson said.

About a month and a half ago, Building Inspection acquired new permitting software to allow contractors to apply directly, pay for and be issued the permit without ever walking through the department’s door. Unfortunately the late arrival meant a lot of this year’s 6,000 permits had to be entered manually, Swanson said.

Slaughter said new development in Greeley has been a factor in this year’s heavy roofing season, but most of the work has been driven by re-roofing due to the hailstorms. All around the Front Range, hailstorms struck Cheyenne, Wyo., Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, Lafayette, Firestone, Frederick, Denver, Parker and Colorado Springs. The spike in demand for roofing and re-roofing caused almost monthly 5 to 10 percent price increases for materials, Slaughter said. The demand was so much, Slaughter said, that the Owens Corning Denver Roofing Plant couldn’t keep up, meaning materials had to be brought in from other states.

“We’re just lucky the rest of the nation didn’t have a lot of hail, so they were able to bring (materials) in,” he said.

At Bob Behrends Roofing in Greeley, Office Manager Stacy Haupt said crews were doing about 35 re-roofings per week after the storms. Since she started at Bob Behrends in 2001, Haupt said it’s probably the busiest re-roof season she’s seen in the area. She said the price increases for materials were also impacted by national industry increases to keep up with inflation, something the industry had yet to do over the past several years.

Mike Slaughter, owner of Slaughter Roofing, said this year's hail was likely the worst he's seen in Greeley since he started in 1987. (Jordan Reyes/For The Tribune)

Despite the influx of demand for roof work, Slaughter and Haupt said their local companies stick with the same core crews to maintain their quality. Though Bob Behrends hired some additional roofers, Haupt said they’ve kept the same crew leaders. A quality inspector checks re-roofing projects to make sure the jobs meet the company’s standards, she added. Slaughter said he sticks with his 25 employees that work for him year-round, and most people are willing to wait. Slaughter said he’s sold some roofs as far out as 2020.

“I could have used 75 roofers this year, but where are you going to find the other 50? If they were any good, they were already working for somebody,” Slaughter said.

For Slaughter, that formula has brought in several repeat customers in the past 32 years. With that ambition for quality work, Slaughter said he’d like to see the city require licensing for roofers. Bidding against the door-knocking salesmen from out-of-town companies can make it difficult for an insurance-holding local company to get those new customers, he said.

“Anybody can come in and pull a roofing permit, and you don’t know if they have workman’s comp, insurance, because you don’t have to prove any of that stuff to do roofs in Greeley,” he said.

Swanson said Building Inspection has twice attempted to bring licensing requirements for general contractors since about 2004, but local contractors met both attempts with a lot of resistance. He said the department got closer to licensing requirements in 2004, but contractors didn’t like a requirement for liability insurance nor that local, established contractors would have had to apply for the licenses just like new contractors would. In the second go-round Swanson headed in about 2007, they didn’t even get to any specifics.

“The resistance was immediate,” he said.

Since that effort, Swanson said he hasn’t even attempted revisiting the issue.

“I know how the local contractors feel,” he said.

— Trevor Reid covers business news for The Tribune. Connect with Trevor at treid@greeleytribune.com, (970) 392-4492 or on Twitter, @treid71.



Rev. Ben Konecny: Christians should remember Galileo, accept observations of man’s impact on earth, environment

"And yet it moves." Galileo purportedly said these words after being condemned of heresy and sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest. This was the final verdict for man whose observations challenged the dominant ideology held by the institutional church of his day.

Utilizing newly available scientific tools, Galileo had gathered empirical evidence that convincingly showed the earth revolves around the sun. But no amount of evidence would likely have changed the verdict for Galileo during his lifetime. While his observations were accurate, they were initially seen simply as an affront to the proper reading of scripture.

As a result, Galileo faced the medieval equivalent of Internet trolling. But in the face of slander, intimidation, and threats of hellfire, Galileo did not back down. Maybe surprisingly to some, it was Galileo's Christian faith that compelled him to continue his work. He famously remarked, "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

Galileo's unwillingness to cave to the pressures of the prevailing ideology of his day was truly an act of courage. Though his convictions initially drew the ire of many, eventually a sea change occurred in the church. This movement began when individual Christians considered Galileo's observations for themselves. Increasingly, people concluded that the lens of biblical literalism had blinded them from seeing the truth of Galileo's findings.

Today there is little controversy regarding Galileo's observations. Even though the scripture verses that had once been used to refute Galileo are still in the Bible, very few Christians argue that they disprove the observations Galilee made about the universe.

This episode in church history is important for Christians to keep in mind today. As it's said, those who don't know history are destined to repeat it. While accusations of heresy are no longer leveled against those who believe the earth revolves around the sun, there are other observations about the world that are currently rejected in a remarkably similar fashion.

For decades, observations have been made of the impact human activity has on the earth. Simply stated, these observations show that our decisions regarding how to produce energy and how to extract and consume resources are not without consequence. And the mounting empirical evidence found by widespread observation shows that our choices are causing dire and potentially irreversible wounds on creation.

But, as with Galileo's observations, current observations about the impact human choices have on creation are met with skepticism by many church communities. These observations are often rejected out of hand as a threat to prevailing religious beliefs. Viewed through this lens, it's likely no amount of evidence showing the consequences our choices have on creation will be convincing.

While humanity survived the initial rejection of Galileo's observations, that may not be in the cards if the church allows history to repeat itself.

There is hope, however, that many Christians have learned from our past. Even as many churches continue to dismiss environmental observations, a sea change is occurring in Christians' sentiment towards the care of God's creation.   In a similar vein to Christians who accepted the truth of Galileo's observations, a growing and diverse coalition of Christians today recognize that being faithful to God does not require denying the truth of observations currently being made regarding the impact of our actions on the world. In fact, as Galileo so courageously showed, this Christian witness emphasizes that using our God given senses, reason, and intellect is a faithful act as children of God.

I hope that Christians who are concerned about the perilous state of God's creation know they are far from alone, and that their witness and action is both urgently needed and truly faithful.

Rev. Ben Konecny is one of the ministers at First Congregational Church of Greeley, an Open and Affirming church of the United Church of Christ.



Rev. Rick Mawson: Idea that Jesus died for our sins shameful, offensive

It is with a sense of joy for me to witness people tenderly holding hands, especially the young or the elderly. Holding hands can be very comforting. It is a way of being connected to another person. We all know that the experience of being embraced in another's caring is life giving and life enhancing. Being intimately in touch with other human beings is a universal human hunger.

From the time we were conceived in our mother's womb, we have begun to learn how important it is to be connected to another person. At our birth we experience a world separate from our mother. After being born we also start to experience something called separation anxiety even though our world is expanding to include other family members. The threat to intimacy that occurs after birth is a universal human experience. At some level, deeply embedded in us, we yearn to re-establish that connectedness with the "Source of Our Being."

Mawson

As humans we need each other to survive and thrive. Behavior that damages human relationships and their ability to thrive is a form of "sin."

Our Hebrew ancestors told stories to explain the estrangement that humans experience in regard to the Ultimate Source of Life and Being, which we usually referred to as "God.” The earliest biblical creation story is told in Genesis chapters 2 and 3. It speaks of the disobedience of the original human couple, Adam and Eve. Their failure to obey God introduced "original sin" into what was presumed by our ancestors to be a perfect and complete world. In the story, God, acting like a stern tribal leader, condemns Adam and Eve for their disobedience by punishing them with hard labor and the pain of childbirth. The story says our ancestral parents were then banished forever from the garden of perfection.

Given the knowledge available to those ancient Hebrew storytellers, the story seemed to make sense. When humans make greedy or sinful choices there may be unwelcome consequences. The storytellers did not have, as we do today, any awareness of how life and culture continue to evolve over millions of years. The ancient creation story should never be taken literally, as if it actually happened that way. We now know our world has never been perfect and complete, it has always been in a process of becoming more complex and interrelated. Our world is a work in progress.

The sense of estrangement experienced by many humans generates a desire to be embraced by the Source of Life. That quest is for "atonement" (at-one-ment). It is a yearning to become whole again by being united with the Holy.

"Substitutionary atonement" is the commonly held, yet theologically primitive, shameful idea that God required the humiliating sacrificial death of his only son Jesus to pay the restitution price for the sins of all humanity, by suffering punishment on our behalf, so that we may ultimately be reunited with the Source of our Being. Think about the implications of that assertion. It presents the Creator, who loved us into being, as judgmentally incapable of forgiveness and a bloodthirsty child abuser. That limited view of the Divine does not make sense to me and is offensive. The theology of substitutionary atonement is based on the primitive concept of an "original sin" the stain of which is genetically passed on generation to generation from our first ancestors. This is the belief that we are all, from the time of our birth, depraved sinners in need of saving from eternal damnation, the kind of saving that can only come from the same God who requires, and can only receive, satisfaction by brutally sacrificing God's own child.

I have come to believe that the theology that affirms, "Jesus died for my sins" is bad theology. It is our human attempt to make God take care of our problems. This primitive theology is designed to try to relieve us of responsibility for how we live our lives and treat one another.

Starkly missing in the substitutionary atonement analysis of our situation is any acknowledgment of the unlimited and unconditional grace that is offered by the Holy Source we call Love. In the life and teachings of Jesus we find one who embodied love by loving people into wholeness and by showing us how to do the same. In the freedom that comes with love, we have the choice to flourish within that abundant grace or resist it.

How can we experience intimacy with the Holy in our lives? How can we achieve a healthy sense of being at one with the Divine, the Holy, the Source of our Being? The story of the life examples and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth has been transformative to many in this regard. Guidance on how to restore intimacy with the Holy can be found in Matthew's biblical writing (25:31-46) where Jesus is said to be speaking about how, in caring for others, we experience our most intimate contact with the One who created us. Simply said, we achieve atonement with the Love that brought us into being by compassionately loving others in response to their needs. We are ultimately accountable for what we do to provide all people with what they need to thrive.

Regardless of our particular faith tradition, we are encouraged to embrace peace, to be compassionate toward our neighbor, to love our enemies, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to heal the sick, to visit with those in prison, to welcome the stranger, and in the process of loving others into wholeness we will be experiencing an intimate relationship with the Source of our Being.

Tenderly holding hands is a small yet significant sign of our human connectedness to each other and to our Source of Life. We are all in this together.

— Rev. Rick Mawson, is an 83-year-old retired United Church of Christ minister and licensed marriage and family therapist. After retirement in 2002, Rick moved back to Greeley with his wife, Wynne, to be near his children and grandchildren. They are members of First Congregational Church where Rick leads a class on Progressive Theology.



Our Savior’s Lutheran Church to host service for those who have experienced loss

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church will host a special “Blue Christmas” service for those who have suffered loss or are going through a difficult time.

The service takes place at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at the church, 1800 21st Ave., in Greeley.

“Christmas can be a time of painful loneliness and emptiness for those who have suffered a tragic loss or are going through a difficult time,” according to a release from the church. “This is a special service of remembrance for those whose hearts ache with pain and loss this Christmas season.”

All those dealing with loss of any kind are welcome to attend. For more information, call (970) 352-4816 or go to greeleylutheran.org.



Bethel Lutheran Church to host musical

Bethel Lutheran Church in Windsor will host a musical presentation of “Jesus! The Advent of the Messiah.”

The event takes place at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 16 at the church, 328 Walnut St., in Windsor.

The show features the Congregational Choir and Children’s Choir, including two children’s solos by Isabella Flores and Isabella Aman. MCs Steve Heinke and Lori Hoffner will lead the show, sharing the story of the birth of Jesus. Gary Schmidt, an award-winning pianist, composer and instructor, is the director for the musical.

For more information, go to http://www.windsorbethel.com.



Obituary for Doris J. Dunbar

Doris J. Dunbar

Oct. 16, 1925-Dec. 5, 2018

Age: 93

Residence: Pointe Estates, Lansdale, Pa.

Doris J. Dunbar of Brittany Pointe Estates, Lansdale Pa., died Dec. 5, 2018.  She was born in Pierce, on Oct. 16, 1925, to Fred and Sara (McLean) Walker.

She is survived by two granddaughters and their husbands, Sarah Weidner Astheimer (Bryan) of Philadelphia and Emily Weidner (Jacob Mason) of Washington, D.C.; son-in-law, the Rev. Christopher Weidner of Gilbertsville, Pa.; and three great-grandchildren, Maeve Elisabeth Astheimer, Laurel Jane Astheimer and Luka Bruce Mason.

Doris was preceded in death by her husband, Robert B. Dunbar; daughter, Jane Laurel Weidner; brother, Russell Walker of Castle Rock; and sister, Marceil Wiseley of Missoula, Colo.

Doris attended Pierce High School in Pierce and University of Colorado Boulder, where she met her future husband. They married in 1947 and relocated to New Jersey, living in Somerville and Martinsville for 34 years. Doris was active in the Martinsville United Methodist Church, Girl Scouts, and the Martinsville Players. She worked as a reporter for the Somerset Messenger Gazette in Somerville, N.J., and as a freelance writer. The Dunbar family traveled widely and hosted many students and visitors from abroad. Following the Vietnam War in 1975 they welcomed Ngoc Phi Ma of Culver City, Calif., into their home.
She and her husband built a home and lived at Panther Lake, South Sterling, Pa., where they were active in the community and Hemlock Grove Methodist Church. In 1997 they moved to Brittany Pointe Estates, a life care community, where they researched and wrote several family genealogies and where Doris was active in the Intergenerational Committee of North Penn High School, the Brittany Pointer, Quilters, Arts and Crafts and Bridge groups. She enjoyed counted cross-stitch and watercolor. She was an active member of Christ United Methodist Church.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 13, 2018, in the Brittany Pointe Auditorium, Brittany Pointe Estates, 1001 Valley Forge Road, Lansdale, Pa., with a family visiting hour at 10 a.m. Memorial gifts may be made to The Samaritan Fund of BPE or to Christ United Methodist Church, 1020 Valley Forge Rd., Lansdale, PA, 19446..



Obituary for Connor Gillmore

Connor Gillmore

Oct. 7, 1996-Dec. 3, 2018

Age: 22

Residence: Greeley

It is with deep sadness and pain that our family announces the passing of Connor Alexander Gillmore, age 22, on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, at North Colorado Medical Center. He was born Oct. 7, 1996, in Denver to Travis and Jennifer (Artery) Gillmore.
He grew up in Greeley from the age of seven. He attended Saint Mary Catholic School through the 8th grade and graduated from Greeley West High School in 2015. While in high school, Connor was a member of the swimming team specializing in the butterfly. He also helped design and build sets for all of the GWHS theatrical performances.
Gusher Oilfield Services employed Connor. He had a brilliant mind, a wonderful sense of humor and always wanted to make people laugh. He was a loving son and a terrific big brother. He loved working on his Toyota vehicles and he had just finished his latest project — the MR2. Connor enjoyed off-roading in his 4Runners and was a member of the Larimer County Four Wheel Drive Club — The Mountaineers.
Connor had a big heart and made the courageous decision to be an organ and tissue donor. He will live on through the lives of the five organ recipients.
Connor is survived by his parents, Travis and Jennifer Gillmore of Greeley; sister, Meghan; brothers, Caden and Carson; grandparents, Glen and Jan Gillmore of Manhattan, Kan. and Sharon Artery Staff of Lake Bluff, Ill.; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Michael Artery.
Recitation of the Rosary will be at 9:30 a.m. followed by Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, at Saint Mary Catholic Church, 2222 23rd Ave., Greeley.
Memorial donations may be made to “Saint Mary Catholic Education Foundation” or “Donor Alliance” in care of Adamson Life Celebration Home, 2000 47th Ave., Greeley, CO, 80634.
Condolences may be left for the family at AdamsonCares.com.



Campaign finance reports: After election, Weld politicians spend campaign cash on apartments, office furniture and more

Winning Republican politicians in Weld County this past November won twice, according to December campaign finance reports, with politicians buying computers and office furniture, expensing years worth of mileage and paying for Denver apartments for the upcoming legislative session.

In some cases, the spending falls well within the realm of acceptable campaign expenditures, including state Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, who spent more than $3,000 on a computer, printer and monitor, and another $2,000 on office furniture from Woodley's Fine Furniture after winning re-election to Senate District 13.

Colorado Campaign Finance law explicitly allows spending for official duties, including the purchase or lease of office equipment and supplies.

That covers state Rep. Steve Humphrey, R-Greeley, who won re-election to House District 48 and then spent more than $2,000 on a laptop computer, video equipment and editing software Humphrey said he'll use to record and post committee meetings.

Other post-election campaign spending raises questions and highlights differences between federal campaign finance laws and those in Colorado.

State Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, won re-election to House District 49 then promptly spent $4,000 to pay the rent and utilities for her Denver apartment for the upcoming 2019 legislative session.

Perry Buck

Federal law prohibits spending campaign money for personal use and calls mortgage, rent and utility payments "automatic" personal-use spending.

Buck said in a phone interview Saturday she previously has cleared the spending with former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and current Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

"There's a rule down at the Legislature that you can use campaign monies to do whatever helps you be a better legislator," Buck said. "For me to drive back and forth makes no sense."

Williams said Colorado politicians can spend campaign money on anything that helps them do their jobs, adding that many politicians use campaign money for apartments or even to pay additional legislative aides.

“When it comes to campaign expenses, the state is pretty flexible,” Williams said. “Ultimately, you don’t want the government telling you how to spend your campaign dollars. You start getting into First Amendment issues.”

Gessler didn't return a phone message seeking comment, but the following section of the Fair Campaign Practices Act explains these allowable expenses further:

"Any expenses that are directly related to such person's official duties as an elected official, including but not limited to, expenses for the purchase of lease of office equipment and supplies, room rental for public meetings, necessary travel and lodging expenses for legislative education such as seminars, conferences, and meetings on legislative issues, and telephone and pager expenses."

Jerry Sonnenberg

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, after winning re-election to Senate District 1 paid himself $12,668.93, claiming mileage reimbursement for 23,246 miles in the past four years.

Based on calculations, the mileage appears to represent about half of the weekday trips between Denver and Sterling in the past four years. It's acceptable for politicians to use campaign cash for travel and lodging, but Sonnenberg also is eligible for about $18,000 in per diem for mileage, meals and other incidentals. It's unclear whether Sonnenberg takes the full per diem amount, but the most recent time his per diem was scrutinized, in a 2010 Denver Post story, Sonnenberg took the full $18,000.

Sonnenberg didn't return a phone message seeking comment on the mileage reimbursements.

 

The campaign finance reports

House District 48

*Steve Humphrey, Republican

Total raised — $7,400

Notable — Humphrey spent $1,669.99 on a laptop on Nov. 26, three weeks after election day. He also spent $351.84 on video equipment and $191.88 on an Adobe software subscription after the election.

Gbenga Ajiboye, Democrat

Total raised — $10,442.71

Notable — Ajiboye spent $1,136.59 in the days leading up to the election to send text messages to voters, paying the Colorado Democratic Party for the service.

House District 49

*Perry Buck, Republican

Total raised — $16,750

Notable — Buck spent $4,000 in campaign money on rent and utilities, paying the money to Denver-based METREX Property Group, which bills itself as a boutique property management company offering quality apartment living. (Campaign finance violation).

Connor Duffy, Democrat

Total raised — $7,405.17

Notable — Duffy donated $1,554.32 to his own campaign after the election.

House District 50

*Rochelle Galindo, Democrat

Total raised — $150,091.45

Notable — Galindo spent $7,750 on video advertising, including $4,000 for digital TV spots.

Michael Thuener, Republican

Total raised — $46,605.50

Notable — Thuener spent $2,705.37 on mailers leading up to the election.

House District 63

*Lori Saine, Republican

Total raised — $16,240

Notable — Saine spent more than $2,000 in campaign cash on travel and lodging to various conferences before and after the election. She also paid a $50 fine for late filing.

Brandon Bobian, Democrat

Total raised — $10,687.50

Notable — Bobian spent more than $350 on Facebook advertising in the most recent filing period.

Senate District 1

*Jerry Sonnenberg, Republican

Total raised — $41,210

Notable — Sonnenberg paid himself $12,668.93, claiming mileage reimbursement for 23,246 miles in the past four years. Sonnenberg also had to pay a $50 fine for late filing on a major contributor report.

Debra Gustafson, Democrat

Total raised — $4,799.85

Notable — Gustafson spent more than $200 on travel and lodging, including $61 after the election.

Senate District 13

*John Cooke, Republican

Total raised — $65,336.31

Notable — Cooke spent $3,289.35 on a computer, printer, monitor and other office equipment, and $1,958.34 for office furniture three weeks after the election.

Phil Kelley, Democrat

Total raised — $5,549

Notable — Kelley spent about $500 on rooms and entertainment at the Doubletree downtown Greeley hotel on Election Night.

Weld County Commissioner At-Large 

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*Steve Moreno, Republican

Total raised — $32,143.70

Notable — Moreno spent about $600 on Election Night entertainment, including Kenny's Steakhouse and The Tavern at St. Michael's Square.

Carl Erickson, Democrat

Total raised — $1,942

Notable — Erickson spent about $100 on Election Night entertainment at the Kress Cinema and Lounge.

Lynette Kilpatrick, American Constitution Party

Total raised — $817.43

Notable — Kilpatrick had just one donation on record in the final filing period: $300 from Rebecca Koppes Conway. Conway's husband, Sean Conway, is on the Board of Weld County Commissioners with Moreno.

Weld County Commissioner District 2

*Scott James, Republican

Total raised — $59,310.40

Notable — James had to pay a $50 fine for filing his November campaign finance report one day late. He also spent $68 on bank overdraft fees.

Duane Leise, Democrat

Total raised — $7,410

Notable — Leise was penalized $250 for late filing.

Weld County Clerk and Recorder

*Carly Koppes, Republican

Total raised — $20,217.69

Notable — Koppes spent $1,834 on text messages. Koppes also had to pay a $50 fine for late filing.

Susie Velasquez, Democrat

Total raised — $14,504

Notable — Velasquez spent $861 on a radio ad in the days before the election. Velasquez also had to pay a $50 fine for late filing.

Unopposed candidates

Weld County Sheriff

*Steve Reams, Republican

Total raised — $5,401.09

Notable — Reams' final report had just one expenditure: $81.47 for consultant and professional services.

Weld County Assessor

*Brenda Dones, Republican

Total raised — $11,500

Notable — Dones spent $549.11 on a victory party in Johnstown.

*Winning candidates

— Tyler Silvy is the deputy editor for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at tsilvy@greeleytribune.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.



Photo Gallery: UNC Fall 2018 Commencement

(Joe Moylan/jmoylan@greeleytribune.com)

Undergraduate students in the University of Northern Colorado’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and University College graduated at 9 a.m. Saturday during a Fall 2018 Commencement ceremony in the Bank of Colorado Arena in Butler-Hancock Athletic Center.

More than 600 undergraduate students received their degrees during two commencement ceremonies on Saturday. The second, which took place at 12:30 p.m., recognized graduates of the Monfort College of Business, College of Natural and Health Sciences, and College of Performing and Visual Arts.

Almost 270 graduate students were honored during their commencement ceremony Friday night.

The undergraduate student speaker was Hannah Beebe, a double major graduating summa cum laude in English Liberal and Communications Studies.

The undergraduate keynote speaker was Brian Davidson, M.D., who is an alumnus of UNC's Department of Chemistry. He currently serves as president of SCL Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction.

Dr. Davidson, who kept his address brief, provided the graduating undergraduates with two pieces of advice: Don’t be afraid of failure because quitting is far worse, and treat people with dignity and respect because the world is a little better place when everyone is kind to one another.

— Joe Moylan covers crime and public safety for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at jmoylan@greeleytribune.com, (970) 392-4467 or on Twitter @JoeMoylan.

 

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Rick Raemisch: Why I ended the horror of long-term solitary in Colorado’s prisons

In Colorado, long-term solitary confinement used to be a tool that was regularly used in corrections. The problem is that it was not corrective at all.

It was indiscriminate punishment that too often amounted to torture and did not make anyone safer.

The practice was pervasive because it was considered reasonable and effective. It was neither. In practice, long-term isolation punished people in a way that not only lacked humanity but sense. And when a program lacks both sense and humanity, the results are as clear as they are disastrous: dehumanization and harm.

We have ended the use of long-term solitary confinement in our state and limited its use to 15 days at a time. This limitation follows the international human rights standards from the United Nations' Nelson Mandela Rules, which state that keeping someone in solitary confinement for over 15 days is torture.

Since 2017, solitary confinement in Colorado has only been used in cases of a serious disciplinary violation. It is the only state in the nation that has limited the use of solitary confinement in this way.

We made this policy change because we are committed to public safety. The research has shown that housing someone in a cell the size of a parking space for 22 or more hours per day for extended periods of time damages him or her both mentally and physically. Since most people who go to prison — 97 percent — return to their community, that means we were releasing people back into their communities in worse shape than when they arrived. That's why long-term restrictive housing needs to end, not only for the health and well being of incarcerated people — but for the communities to which they will return.

Those who tout "law and order" criminal justice or claim to be "tough on crime" do not see prisoners as human beings whose humanity is larger than the crimes for which they were incarcerated.

I spoke with one prisoner who had been in solitary confinement in Colorado for over 15 years. The reason? He verbally threatened to assault a correctional officer. Did he assault that officer? He did not. The reason for the 15 years in near-total isolation was he was caught in a cyclic system of punishment where if you "earned your way in" to isolation, you also had to "earn your way out."

The system was set up so that if you failed at any juncture of working your way back to general population, you had to start over and stay in solitary. It was a real-life version of that space on the Monopoly board game that says, "Do not pass go, go directly to jail." You are forced to skip over any opportunity for rehabilitation. Under the old policy, a single month in isolation could turn into decades.

It was obvious to me that the prisoner who spent 15 years in isolation had some mental health issues, and I am convinced that long-term isolation worsens mental illness and, in some cases, is the root of mental health crises.

My predecessor as director of corrections, Tom Clements, who began reforms in this area, was assassinated in 2013 by a man who had spent seven years in solitary confinement. That man had been diagnosed as having mental health issues, and he was essentially released directly back to the community from isolation.

Prisoners must be provided services for both mental health issues and reentry, both of which will help them progress while incarcerated and when they return to their communities. With this lesson in hand, we initially banned solitary in our two prisons devoted to people with mental health issues. Instead of long-term restrictive housing cells, we developed de-escalation cells where incarcerated people could go for a "time out."

Assaults, forced cell entries, and the use of heavy restraints declined by 40 percent. Since September 2017, Colorado's supermax facility has been changed to house prisoners who still pose security issues, but without the use of solitary confinement. Prisoners are now using the gym, day halls, and re-entry units as we undergo a cultural shift away from employing counterproductive punishments. The results of our reforms have been positive for both staff and prisoners.

I am convinced that ending long-term solitary confinement and instituting programmatic reforms can be accomplished in prison systems across the country. There's a lot to do. State departments of corrections have a responsibility to uphold the rights, health, and dignity of prisoners in their charge while taking into account the structural oppression in the design of prison facilities.

To uphold human rights, America needs to move as far away from the status quo of mass punishment system as we can. And corrections officials need to embrace reforms so that there are fewer victims, safer institutions, and safer communities.

Rick Raemisch is the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.



Tribune Opinion: Community lucky to have 5 qualified school board candidates

Being a school board member can be a pretty thankless endeavor.

At least, it seems that way to us. It's a volunteer job that eats into someone's personal and/or free time, and can involve mitigating some messy conflicts.

But filling those positions with qualified, passionate residents is vital in the pursuit of providing our children with the best education possible. Having good, qualified candidates is the first step.

In Greeley, as Roger DeWitt retires from the Greeley-Evans School District 6 school board, opening one vacancy on the board, we have been blessed with five qualified candidates who have expressed interest in being appointed to fill the vacancy, and then run in fall 2019 to fill it permanently.

Five. Think about that.

There have been times, here as well as elsewhere, when districts struggle to find enough interested candidates to fill vacancies, and other times when candidates in races to fill a seat go unopposed.

Here, we have five candidates — Natalie Mash, Pepper Mueller, Mary Lauer, Stacy Bailey and Ray Talley — interested in just one spot.

What's next

The District 6 board of education reviewed the five candidates interviewed in late November and will make a decision on an applicant to fill the vacancy at its Monday meeting.

We thank each of them for pursuing the opening on the District 6 board. We feel they all have a lot to offer the District 6 community, and we strongly believe the emergence of that many high-caliber candidates can only mean good things for District 6.

While reviewing the qualifications of the candidates, we felt two stood out, even in such a strong field. Mueller — an academic adviser at the University of Northern Colorado who has been in Greeley since 2005 — and Lauer — a retired educator with almost 40 year's experience and a lifelong Greeley resident — struck us as particularly strong candidates.

Both have substantial professional experience in the education field, both have experience being parents in District 6 and both have deep roots in Greeley.

While we would encourage the board to consider one of those two candidates for the appointment, the great part about this decision is there isn't really a bad option. As we said before, we feel Mash, Bailey and Talley would each make good board members, as well.

And, in our continuing effort to maximize the educational opportunities available to our children, that's a great spot to be in.

We wish all the candidates well heading into Monday's meeting.

— Tribune Editorial Board



100 Years Ago: Oil man arrested for bootlegging, says liquor sales better than ‘fading’ oil business

100 years ago, the third week of December, 1918, from the pages of the Greeley Tribune-Republican newspaper.

At the Red Cross meeting in Greeley, members volunteered to meet every incoming train to welcome the soldiers and sailors home from the war. There will be welcoming banners and posters for each train.

Because of the plague of Spanish Flu, teachers are asked to meet and learn how to give inoculations. There will be a door-to-door campaign to inoculate the entire city, at the city's expense.

Imagine the popularity of a boy who would give his girlfriend an ironing board instead of a ring for their engagement! For an engagement and for Christmas, it's better to give jewelry. Give her the ironing board on Labor Day. From your jeweler, Nelson.

Does anyone know where Loren Baker is? The former Holyoke man lived and worked in Greeley, but all letters to him here have been returned. His father is trying to contact him and has a Christmas present for him. If you know, please contact Chief of Police Ben Florance.

A man arrested for bootlegging booze testified in trial today that he used to be in the oil business, but that's fading out now, and the liquor sales were better. For bootlegging, he was fined $500 and sentenced to 150 days in jail.

The city's night police have not been overly busy lately. In the past 10 days there hasn't been a night crime or night arrest. Because of that, the police have been helping the fire department in fighting fires.

With the "Bone-Dry" liquor coming into effect the next day, which would outlaw selling liquor in Colorado, a Denver liquor store had a line of 600 customers waiting to purchase booze.

B. Moody and family of Greeley went to the train depot to welcome his parents for a Christmas visit. Only his mother was on the train when it stopped. She said the train stopped outside of town for another train to pass, and the conductor told them that would be the only stop in Greeley. Her husband, Moody's father, got off with the luggage, but the train started up before his wife could get off. The father had to walk to the station carrying the luggage.

A Kuner farmer who was involved in a civil lawsuit, did not show up for the trial. His attorneys and the judge were angry, but then found he had to good excuse. All seventeen of their children were home with the flu and needed help. They are all getting better.

Sheriff's deputies have been at work all week smashing hundreds of bottles of whiskey that the department has confiscated.

Two fake photographers hit Windsor this week. They went door-to-door to sell the taking of family Christmas photos. Then returned the next day with the photos in an envelope that couldn't be opened for a day because they said the photos would fade in the light. The families paid, then when they opened the envelopes the next day, there were only pieces of paper. The photographers were supposedly heading to Greeley, but the police are watching for them.