Craig briefs: Craig Police awarded reaccreditation plaque

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The Craig Police Department was presented with a reaccreditation plaque by the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police on Tuesday night at the City Council meeting.

The department has been accredited for about 15 years, but it recently had to re-apply, and Police Chief Walt Vanatta said he was proud to be recognized.

“It kind of documents that we took steps to ensure that our agency works to meet stringent standards,” he said.

The police department is one of only 41 in Colorado accredited by the state.

The process can boost the community’s trust in the police department, Vanatta said.

“Accreditation strengthens an agency’s accountability. It also develops and improves an agency’s relationship with a community,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in professionalism in the police profession, and this is one way to do that.”

Coffee and a Newspaper to discuss retail pot

The Craig Daily Press will host its monthly Coffee and a Newspaper event from 7 to 7:45 a.m. Wednesday at The Memorial Hospital Mountain Café. This month, General Manager Renee Campbell and Managing Editor Noelle Leavitt Riley will hold a discussion about retail marijuana.

The Craig Daily Press recently reported on a Maybell woman who wants to overturn the ban on retail pot cultivation and sales in Moffat County so that she can reap the financial benefits from cannabis. The newspaper invites anyone from the public who would like to weigh in on the topic. For more information, call 970-875-1788.

Assessment group works on development

A group of Craig residents set on boosting the local economy and community got together Wednesday to discuss and organize their improvement plans.

The groups represented subcommittees organized under the Craig Community Assessment that emerged in January as an economic development team after Downtown Colorado Inc. assessed the community’s strengths and shortcomings.

The four subcommittees of the Craig Community Assessment handle different takes on economic development: design, marketing and economic development, and there is a general steering committee to guide the overall progress.

The Wednesday meeting hosted representatives from each subcommittee to see what progress had been made and to develop a structured plan.

“We had very good ideas that came out, and we came up with a structure,” said Audrey Danner, interim director of the Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership.

One of those ideas was to en­courage community involvement.

Craig City Council member Ray Beck said he hoped the whole town could get together for community improvements in a fun way.

“Remember in the good old days when people would get their paychecks Friday, and go out on the weekend, and they called it ‘painting the town,’” he said.

Beck hoped a campaign could be built around “painting the town.”

They also discussed improving the aesthetic of the town, bringing the Colorado Entrepreneurial Marketplace to town in June and how to keep track of the progress the subcommittees made independently and together.

California poachers confess to crimes

MEEKER — After a Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigation spanning several states and two hunting seasons, a trio of men from California have pleaded guilty to numerous wildlife violations in Colorado and New Mexico, dating from 2011 through 2013, according to a CPW press release.

The three men admitted to their illegal activities and accepted a plea bargain in Rio Blanco County Court in late February. The men hunted on private property without permission, illegally killed an elk, nine mule deer, one turkey and a blue grouse. In several instances, the poachers only removed the head, cape and antlers from their illegal kills, or abandoned the entire animal, leaving the meat to waste, which could have brought felony charges and a prison sentence.

During the investigation, wildlife officials gathered a variety of evidence including taxidermy mounts from their homes and numerous photos of the men posing with the illegally taken wildlife.

“These individuals showed complete disregard for the wildlife laws of several states in a brazen and arrogant manner,” said Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde, of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Citizens have every reason to be outraged by their destructive behavior and we, along with the other agencies we worked with on this case, are satisfied to see that these individuals have been brought to justice”

Ringleader Anthony Bauer, 35, of Palm Desert, Calif., was convicted of willful destruction of big game wildlife — a felony in Colorado — four counts of hunting without a proper and valid deer license and illegal take of a mule deer. He was ordered to pay $5,754 in fines, make a $10,000 donation to the Meeker Sportsman’s Club and forfeit all evidence seized, including hunting gear and personal computers. Bauer also pleaded guilty for the illegal take of a bull elk in New Mexico. As part of his plea, Bauer was ordered to return the illegally taken elk mount, a mule deer mount and a Barbary sheep mount to New Mexico.

Bauer is the owner of Live2Die, an outdoor-themed hat and clothing company based in California. The company’s website is where investigators discovered the incriminating photos, which eventually were removed from the site under the terms of the plea bargain.

“It was the discovery of two hats emblazoned with the company’s logo found hidden in some brush on private property near two poached deer that led us to these individuals,” said Area Wildlife Manager Bill de Vergie, of Meeker.

Also pleading guilty in the case were Frank D’Anna, 29, of San Diego, Calif., and Hank Myll, 33, of Palm Desert, Calif. Myll pleaded guilty to hunting mule deer without a proper and valid license and illegal take of a mule deer. D’Anna agreed to pay a citation for hunting blue grouse without a license, hunting mule deer without a license, illegal take of a blue grouse, illegal take of a mule deer and hunting on private property without permission.

Several other men allegedly were involved in illegal hunting with Bauer, D’Anna and Myll and are facing possible charges in New Mexico.

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