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Collin Smith

Stories by Collin

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Jail cooks, inmates make Thanksgiving dinner for 77 people

For anyone who thinks cooking Thanksgiving dinner is hard, try making turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce for 77 people. That was the task set in front of Mary Buchanan, Patti Disch and their staff, who made a traditional feast Wednesday and Thursday for the guards and inmates at the Moffat County Jail.

Parade of Lights on Saturday

There was no Parade of Lights when Kristi Shepherd was a young girl growing up in Craig, but she’s doing her best to give today’s youths memories of the holiday parade she never had.

County shows staff how this year’s spending decisions affect future

With revenue shortfalls looming, Moffat County officials took a different approach to their budget this year to show department directors how decisions made this year could affect the next five.

DOLA denies county road request

Agency has limited funds; county preparing for year without grants

Moffat County received confirmation Friday that it will not receive any of the $17 million in severance tax grant funding made available this year by the state Legislature. The county applied for almost $5 million to repave 28 1/4 miles of Moffat County Road 4, which officials said is in disrepair because of increased energy industry traffic between Wyoming and the Piceance Basin.

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Council passes medical marijuana ordinance

ATVs approved on 1st reading

Although there have been heated discussions in recent months, the Craig City Council’s final vote Tuesday on an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits was relatively calm and quick. The council approved the ordinance, 6-1, at its regular meeting Tuesday

Study shows possible coalbed methane effects

Research reports potential water impacts

An ongoing study into the possible effects of coalbed methane production in the Sand Wash Basin now shows the area has deep faults potentially connecting coal seams and near-surface water reservoirs.

Lee appears in court

Craig resident James Lee, who has three ongoing assault cases against him in the Moffat County Combined Courts, appeared last week for a preliminary hearing on all charges.

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Blee family observes anniversary of daughter’s disappearance

Paul and Mona Blee like to keep out photos of family vacations, and the homemade art projects made by their children. All of it is a memento of happy times, when Marie was Paul and Mona’s little girl. Marie vanished Nov. 22, 1979, from a party in the Shadow Mountain subdivision outside Craig. The 30th anniversary of her disappearance is Sunday.

Group collecting donations to send to overseas troops

Marci Valicenti does not want soldiers fighting overseas or their families to feel alone, like the wars are their burden to carry alone. For the past seven years, Valicenti and other Steamboat Springs residents have run Support the Troops, a donation and delivery service for American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is run through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.

Sales tax drop hits Craig, Moffat County

County collections $93K less than expected

City and county sales taxes took what local officials called a “major drop” in September, darkening hopes that the holiday season will buoy revenue.

County considers proposed 2010 budget

Declining revenues are, and will continue to be, a major issue for Moffat County officials for the foreseeable future, Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber said.

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Residents hope city passes ordinance for ATVs on public streets

Bruce White, DeLaine Brown and other proponents of allowing all-terrain and off-highway vehicles on city streets never second-guessed the openness of local officials, they said.

Former Craig resident wins volunteerism award

When Pres Askew moved to Craig in the 1990s, it was to help take care of his grandchildren after retirement, not to help take care of the entire community’s children. Soon, however, he found himself doing exactly that

Former detective’s case continued to Dec. 8

Ken Johnson’s charges stem from reported misconduct

The case against former Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson was continued Friday until 11 a.m. Dec. 8 in Moffat County District Court.

Break-in at courts, offices on Veterans Day

Law enforcement investigates burglary at Courthouse

Law enforcement is investigating a burglary that occurred Wednesday morning at the Moffat County Courthouse, while it was closed for Veterans Day.

DA investigating former officer, ACET member

The 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is investigating a former Craig Police Dep­artment officer and All Crimes Enforcement Team task force member for an incident regarding $500 in lost ACET funds. Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said officer Bob Brabo resigned Nov. 5 after an internal investigation revealed he violated internal department policies.

Break-in at the courthouse

Courthouse closed while investigation proceeds

Law enforcement officers believe someone broke into the Moffat County Courthouse Wednesday morning while it was closed for Veterans Day.

Council acts on ACET budget, college funding

Actions taken by the Craig City Council at its Tuesday meeting.

Crews to start on Little Snake community center soon

With funding secured for a new community center, Little Snake River Valley residents can soon see the building rise from the dirt.

City, law enforcement bring in outside investigators

2 probes will look at Police Department investigation, ACET policies

The Craig City Council has hired an independent investigator to examine the Craig Police Department’s internal investigation in March of a former detective now charged with three felonies in Moffat County District Court.

County appoints new MCTA board members

Commission votes to close swinging bridge through May 2010

The Moffat County Com­mission said it made one of its hardest decisions Tuesday: the appointment of new board members to the Moffat County Tourism Association.

Residents angry about marijuana ordinance

Council approves 1st reading, 6-1

The Craig City Council spent far less time discussing its medical marijuana ordinance Tuesday than in the past few months, but it heard far more voices.

Man pleads guilty to drug charges

A local man charged in two separate drug distribution cases pleaded guilty to reduced charges Nov. 3 in Moffat County District Court. Jerry David Flannery, 46, was first arrested in February at the Holiday Inn of Craig, where Craig Police officers reported they found him in a room along with $4,840 in cash, as well as meth crystals and various other drug paraphernalia.

High school plans daylong Veterans Day celebration

Moffat County High School wanted to do more for Veterans Day this Wednesday. Deborah Roberts, head of the high school social studies department, said the experience left a profound impression on everyone who went, and there was an immediate push upon their return to do something special for Veterans Day from then on.

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Business owner creates fracturing fluid machine

Around April, Jay Forbes decided to reinvent his business by inventing something new. One night this spring, as Forbes sat at his dinner table mulling the future of his business and how to put people back to work, his mind settled on one idea. Hydraulic fracturing fluid.

City ATV, OHV proposal has county support

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray, for one, hopes the Craig City Council passes a proposed ordinance to allow all-terrain and off-highway vehicles on public roads.

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City, ACLU reflect on campaign spending limit provision

The Craig City Council was an even split on a ballot question in Tuesday’s election that asked voters whether they wanted to delete a city charter provision on campaign spending.

City, county discuss medical marijuana

City officials said they were under no delusions that any ordinance they pass regarding medical marijuana would be perfect.

Dan Maes visits Craig

Gubernatorial candidate preaches old conservative values

Dan Maes freely admits he's not among the better-known names in the 2010 governor's race, but that's a good thing, he told a crowd of about 25 people Wednesday at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

Craig voters have their say

Residents keep campaign spending limit despite constitutional concerns

Craig voters defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and a recent Moffat County District Court settlement Tuesday when they voted to keep a controversial campaign spending limit in the city charter.

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Voter turnout among lowest ever

Just 11.5 percent cast a ballot in Tuesday's general election

The general election Tuesday tied the lowest voter turnout in Moffat County for any election since 1990, other than two primaries in 2000 and 2008.

Officials review CNCC funding request

If construction at the new Colorado Northwestern Community College campus in Craig has the effect college president John Boyd thinks, the project may become a milestone in Moffat County's history.

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Local residents gather to kick off National Runaway Prevention Month

A crowd of about 30 gathered in front of the Moffat County Courthouse to celebrate the kick off to National Runaway Youth Prevention Month in Moffat County.

Governor's race comes to Craig

Candidates start statewide tours

Although the Colorado governor's race is about a year away, candidates have started statewide tours to get their information out to voters early. Dan Maes, Republican candidate for Colorado governor in the 2010 general election, plans to appear from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn of Craig, 300 Colorado Highway 13.

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Moffat County Drug Court helps residents overcome addictions

One of the funny things about Moffat County Drug Court is that even though it's still court, complete with a judge and probation officers, Paul Ridenour looks forward to going.

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Teens, organizations gear up for homeless prevention month

Justin Zufelt, 18, moved to Craig a little less than two months ago from Arizona, where he was staying with his grandfather and grandmother. He didn't come with family. He said he came to find a new home. Zufelt's story is not unique.

ACET approves policy changes

Board meets after ex-PD detective's arrest

In light of an ongoing criminal investigation into former Craig Police detective Ken Johnson, the All Crimes Enforcement Team board plans to implement some changes to internal policies.

Council approves social host ordinance

1st offense is at least a $500 fine, community service

The Craig City Council gave final approval at its meeting Tuesday night to enacting a social host ordinance. The ordinance's second reading passed by the same margin as its first, 4-3.

Woman connected to ex-cop investigation in court

Tausha Merwin appears in Moffat County Court in relation to Ken Johnson case

A local woman charged in connection with the investigation into former Craig Police detective Ken Johnson appeared Tuesday in Moffat County Court.

Senate candidate to appear Wednesday in Craig

Colorado has a new but familiar face entering the 2010 U.S. Senate race, and she plans to make a local appearance at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

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Picking up the pieces: The day after the Craig Motel fire

Before the fire Wednesday at the Craig Motel, Lisa Wu had a home. She worked as the manager and lived in the motel's office with her family, including her three-week-old son. The office was quiet Thursday, with the blackened rubble of rooms 5 through 21 surrounding it, as Wu and her boyfriend spoke to a State Farm Insurance agent over the phone.

DA gives out information on former detective

Arrest could affect more than 100 cases

For the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office, the time put toward digging through old case files since former Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson's arrest has been incalculable, officials said.

Local organizations regroup after Ken Johnson arrest

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta and commanders Jerry DeLong and Bill Leonard said there is no chance they will ask the court for leniency in sentencing if former detective Ken Johnson is convicted in his ongoing felony case.

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Police 'fooled' during internal probe

City Council questions Police Department investigation into former detective

Craig City Councilor Ray Beck told Police Chief Walt Vanatta he was "concerned and disappointed" in the way the Craig Police Department handled its investigation of former Detective Ken Johnson.

Marijuana ordinance bound for council

Craig Planning and Zoning Commission approves proposal

The city's proposed medical marijuana ordinance survived a brief hiccup Monday night, and is on track to be approved before the city's 60-day emergency moratorium expires in early December. The Craig Planning and Zoning Commission approved the draft ordinance on a 4-0 vote, though chairman Jim Meineke and commissioners Randy Kloos and Mike Tucci were absent.

DA's office plans to keep Johnson case

Former police detective makes 1st court appearance

Elizabeth Oldham, 14th Judicial District Attorney, said her office does not plan to seek a special prosecutor to handle the case against a former Craig police detective facing felony charges. Ken Johnson, a police department veteran, worked closely with prosecutors on various cases until he resigned from his position Sept. 8.

City Council OKs 1st reading of social host provision

1 vote left before ordinance is official

The Craig City Council was split in its endorsement of a social host ordinance, but concern about underage drinking convinced the majority of city officials to support the proposal. The City Council approved, 4-3, the first reading of an ordinance that would make it a municipal crime to provide a place for underage drinkers to consume alcohol.

Flu calls up at VNA

Seasonal flu vaccine availability limited

There have "definitely" been more people calling and booking appointments for flu this year than last, said Gisela Garrison, Northwest Colorado Community Health Center director.

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Fire Rescue seeks recruits

Self-fulfillment is what keeps Samantha Johnston at Craig Fire/Rescue. It's not the pay, which doesn't cover all the hours invested each week, and it's not for any public glory.

Parrotheads hosts music, art festival

Music always has been a part of Beth Gilchrist's life. It started when her mother taught music in Moffat County. Thus, it came to be that she joined the Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrotheads, an organization that has dedicated itself to encouraging music education in the Moffat County School District.