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Father of man accused of starting Lake Christine Fire asks for trial in trespass case

EAGLE — Craig Miller said he is not guilty and will take his chances at trial.

Miller, whose son Richard is accused with Allison Marcus of sparking the Lake Christine Fire, pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to charges that he stormed to a neighbor’s house and confronted them, accusing them of telling police that Richard and Marcus were in his Missouri Heights home.

“Mr. Miller vehemently denies engaging in any criminal behavior. We look forward to clearing his name and telling his side of the story at trial,” Michael Fox, Craig Miller’s attorney, said.

Richard Miller and Marcus, both 23, each face felony arson charges. They are accused of firing incendiary rounds at a Basalt shooting range that started the Lake Christine Fire on July 3.

Craig Miller, Richard’s father, was arrested for his alleged behavior when Eagle County deputies received a tip July 14 that his son and Marcus were at his Missouri Heights home.

Craig Miller, 49, allegedly became upset that someone had tipped off law enforcement officials. Police say he angrily charged over to a neighbors’ house to confront them, according to his arrest affidavit.

There was reportedly some miscommunication about what date in July that Richard Miller and Marcus would turn themselves in.

District Attorney Bruce Brown said he interpreted it would be July 13.

Craig Miller said he interpreted it to be July 16, a Monday, and had asked that law enforcement stay away from the house that weekend because they were hosting family members.

Police say that when law enforcement officials arrived, Miller went to a neighbor’s house, “knocking on the door, screaming and trying to get into the locked home,” the incident report said. When law enforcement arrived, the neighbor said Miller had used a crowbar to try to get in.

Shortly after Craig Miller was placed in the back of a patrol car and placed under arrest, Richard Miller and Marcus exited the house with their hands in the air and said they wanted to surrender, police said.

All three remain free on bond.

Craig Miller’s three-day trial is scheduled to begin April 8, 2019, before District Court Paul Dunkelman on criminal trespass charges, a felony, and misdemeanor menacing charges. If convicted he faces between one and three years in jail.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan told Judge Dunkelman that prosecutors had offered Miller a plea deal. Miller rejected it and will go to trial.

Miller is back in court Jan. 11 for a hearing in advance of his April trial.

The Lake Christine Fire burned from July 3 through early October and consumed more than 12,500 acres in the Basalt State Wildlife Area and on Basalt Mountain in the White River National Forest. Firefighting costs are estimate at more than $17 million, part of a $40 million tab to fight four wildfires last summer, according to White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams.

Officials believe they’ve discovered body of missing Front Range man in North Routt County

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Authorities believe they have discovered the body of a missing Front Range man near a cabin in the Steamboat Lake area of North Routt County.

Foul play is not suspected as contributing to his death.

The 66-year-old man was last heard from Nov. 4, and family members contacted law enforcement Saturday, Nov. 10 because the family believed he might be at property the family owns near Steamboat Lake.

Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies found the man’s vehicle on the property Saturday.

Search and Rescue volunteers then searched for the man on Saturday and Sunday but were unsuccessful.

Undersheriff Doug Scherar said plans were made to have a cadaver dog help with the search, but it was not needed after a Classic Air Medical helicopter agreed to search the area Wednesday.

Scherar said the helicopter crew discovered what they thought was a body, and Search and Rescue volunteers then helped recover it.

Scherar said the body was located about 2,000 feet up a mountain across from the Steamboat Lake State Park Visitors Center and near the family's cabin.

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg arrived at the scene and will be responsible for identifying the man and his cause of death.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

Late night maintenance raises suspicions: On the record Nov. 13

Editor's Note: The Craig Regional Communication Center housed in the Public Safety Center in Craig was impacted by an internet and telephone outage on Monday, Nov. 12 and most of the day Tuesday, Nov. 13. During this time incident logs were handwritten and were unavailable to the press.

Craig Police Department

Tuesday, Nov. 13

6:53 a.m. In Craig, officers from the Craig Police Department received a Safe2Tell report. It was one of two such reports recorded as received on Tuesday. Both incidents are under investigation.

12:30 p.m. Near the intersection of East 13th Street and Yampa Avenue, officers responded to a crash resulting in property damage. A gray Chevrolet Avalanche collided with a deer. The driver was not injured. The deer survived the initial impact but was on the ground injured. The fate of the deer is unknown.

5:15 p.m. Near the intersection of Woodbury Drive and West Victory Way, officers responded to a crash resulting in property damage. Two older model SUVs, one a Ford Explorer, collided in the intersection. There were no injuries. One driver was issued with a traffic citation.

5:42 p.m.  On the 2000 block of Baker Street, officers responded to a caller reporting broken pipes and requesting to have the water turned off at the curb. Officers notified the water department.

6:45 p.m. On the 600 block of Wickes Avenue, officers responded when a caller reported possible domestic violence in progress. The caller said a woman was heard yelling, "stop hurting me." Upon investigation, officers discovered it was verbal only. The woman said she was injured at work.

8:03 p.m. On the 800 block of Russell Street, officers received a call reporting a possible scam. The caller stated that she had 11 messages on her voice mail from someone claiming her social security number has suspicious activity and should be suspended immediately.

8:36 p.m. On the 2000 block of West Victory Way, officers cited a 23-year-old Craig man for trespassing.

9:23 p.m. On the 900 block of Taylor Street, officers investigated a report of suspicious people with flashlights inside a house that had been vacant for six months. Officers contacted the suspicious people. They are winterizing houses and provided offers with an address for a second house they were working on that night.

10:25 p.m. On the 400 block of Tucker Street, officers responded to a report of a possible domestic violence incident. The caller reported that a man and woman, who did not live in the unit they were near, were fighting or threatening to fight each other. Upon investigation, officers learned it was a verbal argument between brother and sister.

CNCC to host community networking meeting on Craig campus

CRAIG — Colorado Northwestern Community College will hold its monthly community networking meeting at noon Monday, Nov. 19, in Room 185 at CNCC Craig Campus, 2801 W. Ninth St. Presenting will be officials from the city of Craig. City Manager Peter Brixius, joined by staff members, will update attendees about current issues facing the city, as well as plans for the future. For more information, email Keely Winger at keely.winger@cncc.edu.

New ambulance service coming to Northwest Colorado

A Steamboat Springs organization is expanding to offer medical ground transport to Craig and Meeker.

Steamboat Springs-based company Event Medical Solutions Unlimited — doing business as EMS Unlimited — will base an ambulance in Hayden to offer services throughout the region, including round-the-clock, advanced life support ground ambulance transports for clients in Craig and Meeker. The service is set to begin in December.

EMS Unlimited offers event medical services throughout Colorado but has always remained locally rooted.

“Communities and health care facilities from Meeker to Craig and Steamboat to Kremmling have shown a demand for a dedicated provider to offer the specialized service of advanced life support ground transport to hospitals in Grand Junction and Denver,” the company stated in a news release.

Patients with acute medical conditions requiring transportation to larger hospitals on the Western Slope or the Front Range are currently served by medical aircraft or local 911 assets.

"We are very excited about this new service to the region and hope that our expansion will benefit patients, hospitals, and local emergency response agencies," said EMS Unlimited President Ebin Latrimurti.

The ambulance will be garaged in Hayden to offer the best possible geographic access to communities within 100 miles. Operations will be available 24/7, with capabilities for paramedic-level advanced life support.

“Local citizens rely on their dedicated 911 resources to be available when minutes count,” Ebin said. "We look forward to working closely with all partners in the emergency response and health care arena to ensure our communities are safe and well cared for. Feedback from health care facilities has already been overwhelmingly positive.”

Transports can be requested by calling 800-674-7764, with an option to request services online expected later in the spring.

‘Mary Poppins’ to bring magic to Meeker

MEEKER — Songs and dances first made popular by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke will come to life in Meeker during a production of “Mary Poppins, Jr.” — a musical based on the 1964 Disney movie.

Meeker Arts and Cultural Council’s Center Stage Youth Theatrical Group will present “Mary Poppins, Jr.” with shows at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 15 and Nov. 16, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Meeker High School auditorium, 550 School St.

The cast of Mary Poppins Jr. prepares for opening night.

General admission is $7. Children in kindergarten through eighth-grade will be admitted free if accompanied by a paying student or adult. Tickets will be handed out to elementary and middle school students during production week.

“Mary Poppins, Jr.” is the ninth annual musical presented by the CSYTG since the group was created in 2010 by MACC founders Gary and Laurie Zellers and features youth from third- through eighth-grade as cast and crew members. More than 45 youth are participating in the cast, and 39 youth and adults are supporting members of the crew for the musical production. Numerous community volunteers and organizations are providing assistance with production roles and support functions.

Additionally, Meeker High School Drama Club and International Thespian Society Troupe 1284 members are assisting and mentoring in technical and backstage crew positions.

Previous musicals in Meeker have included “Seussical, the Musical,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“The magic that happens with the imaginative scenic design and special effects is catalyzed by the creative artistry embodied in characters that come alive with each youth thespian's personal creativity and talent and are immense and captivating … ranging from the first-time novice young actors to experienced youth veteran thespians," said Bob Amick, member of the MACC Board of Directors.

Memorial Regional Health Board of Trustees to consider physician contracts at Thursday meeting

CRAIG — A contract for a new physician and the third quarter risk management report are expected to be approved when the Memorial Regional Health Board of Trustees meets Thursday, Nov. 15.

Before taking action, the board will convene an executive session pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(e) for the purpose of negotiation, pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(f) to discuss personnel matters related to physician contracts, and pursuant to C.R.S. 25-3-109 for matters required for hospital quality management information.

Board members will also:

• Consider adopting a consent agenda to approve meeting minutes and a consent agenda to approve projects and equipment recommended by the finance committee.

• Consider approval of medical staff privileges.

• Receive regular monthly reports from CFO Kelsea Henry and CEO Andy Daniels.

Dinner will be served at 5 p.m., followed by the meeting at 6, in the boardroom at The Memorial Hospital, 750 Hospital Loop.

Assault on deputy in Moffat County jail results in arrest for attempted murder

CRAIG — A Craig man is facing first-degree attempted murder charges after he allegedly assaulted a deputy while in the Moffat County Jail.

Geoffrey Duzik

According to a joint news release issued by the Craig Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office for the 14th Judicial District, Geoffrey Duzik, of Craig, was arrested Sunday, Nov. 11, on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder following an attack on a Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy in the jail Saturday, Nov. 10.

No information was provided about the condition of the deputy.

Duzik was in jail for parole violations. He remains in custody in lieu of a $100,000 bond, and his next court appearance is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The incident is under investigation by the Craig Police Department and the District Attorney's Office.

“All charges are merely accusations of guilt, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” according to the news release.

G’day, mate: Moffat County’s Coltyn Terry raising funds to run for Down Under Sports

Moffat County High School’s Coltyn Terry has been no stranger to adapting to new terrain week after week during the fall cross country season, going from a lush golf course to a plain dirt path with ease.

But, his latest destination may just be the most unusual.

Terry was recently approached to compete for Australian high school program Down Under Sports, which offers American athletes the opportunity to engage in their favorite activity as part of a lengthy summer trip to the Southern Hemisphere.

The excursion will take place from June 29 to July 8, though the fundraising has already begun in order to finance it.

Those who compete with Down Under Sports must pay $4,700 altogether to participate and travel. Terry’s early goal is to raise $1,000 by the end of November, which will knock an additional $500 off the price tag as organizers see he’s serious by starting early.

The MCHS harrier first received a letter from Down Under expressing interest midway through the cross country season.

“They sent the letter straight to the school, so they came in during my math class and showed me all this,” he said. “I opened it up and thought, ‘this is pretty cool.'”

He added that his race times early in the fall, including September’s Liberty Bell Invite, helped draw attention. He was also among the top five Bulldog boys runners at both the 3A Region Meet, where the squad took second, and at the 3A State Championships, as part of a 12th-place team finish.

Terry, who also has competed in wrestling and track at MCHS, is currently the only runner in the region who has committed, as well as one of only eight from within Colorado. About 300 distance runners from across the nation are expected to join the program, which also offers opportunities for basketball, football, volleyball, golf and other sports.

Immersing himself in another culture is part of what drew him to the program, as well as networking with other runners.

“A lot of people have told me it’s about getting to know people while you’re down there as much as it is getting the chance to compete,” he said. “I’m a pretty social person, so I like to go out and talk with a lot of people.”

A few extra perks and tourist activities will also be part of his itinerary provided he raises enough money. He hopes to be able to pay for a skydiving session as well as possibly meeting some uniquely Aussie animals.

“You get to take a picture with a koala, and I’m wondering if I could try and bring one back and convince people it’s stuffed,” he laughed.

Terry is approaching businesses and individuals to sponsor him through donations, and the page to do so is available at DownUnderSports.com/DTS-LLC.

“I am honored to be an ambassador of not only my community and state, but also our country,” Terry wrote in a letter for potential sponsors.

Donations specifying the recipient can also be mailed to the program’s North American office:

Down Under Sports
PO Box 6010
North Logan, UT 84341

For more information, call 435-753-4732.

Perfect pitch: Moffat County’s Mackenzie Marshall signs for CNCC softball

Moffat County High School’s Mackenzie Marshall has grown used to traveling to Rio Blanco County on a regular basis, so it only made sense that would be where she takes her next big step.

Marshall signed her letter of intent Tuesday to compete next fall for the women’s softball program at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Rangely campus. She will serve as a relief pitcher and utility infielder for the Spartans in the 2019 season.

“It’s going to be really competitive. I’ve already practiced with their team, and they have such amazing girls,” she said.

Marshall said she will enroll in CNCC’s dental hygiene program in addition to her time with the team.

“Living on my own, it’s going to be pretty cool,” she said.

Spending time in Rangely, about an hour-and-a-half from Craig, will hardly be an adjustment after competing for the Meeker varsity softball team, which required constant travel south of Craig.

Since MCHS does not field a team in the sport, Marshall has been part of the Lady Cowboys’ roster all four years of high school, and she has been instrumental in the team’s success, said coach Briana Williams.

“She has shown an amazing ability to persevere and work through the ups and downs. The things she has sacrificed to play softball in high school are things other kids can’t wrap their heads around, what it takes to travel every single day, what that takes out of you and to still show up and be a positive influence every day,” Williams said. “I think she’ll adapt really well to the next level. She should be proud.”

Marshall achieved All-Conference and All-State distinctions from Colorado High School Activities Association — as well as All-State through Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports — this fall as one of the group’s pitchers. With a 15-11 overall record, Meeker finished the regular season as the 3A District 5 runners-up with a 9-3 tally and made it as far as the 3A state semifinals.

The Cowboys were felled 10-9 at that point by familiar foes Delta in their third consecutive year at state. Even so, Marshall challenged the experience.

“It was just a fun, good last memory,” Marshall said of the final game.

Marshall was ranked second in the conference’s strikeout totals at 72. In addition to throwing one no-hitter, her ERA was 7.72 for the season, sharing the mound with Meeker’s Tori Lasker and Hailey Knowles.

At the plate, her .526 batting average was behind only Lasker’s and Cowboy slugger Megan Shelton, complete with eight doubles, one triple and a home run this season.

CNCC head coach Kenneth DeCook said he had seen Marshall in action multiple times and was especially intrigued by her all-around capabilities.

“Mack has tremendous ability not only pitching but as an infielder and in her hitting,” he said. “She brings a complete package to us. She’s got the character that we look for and an absolutely magnificent attitude.”

He noted that her being a local of the region was also a plus, and he hopes to bring in more athletes from Moffat and Rio Blanco counties or surrounding areas.

“We certainly look for that connection, and Mack is certainly going to help us get going in that direction,” he said.