2016 Year in Review for Moffat County
The past 12 months offered a plethora of news, including exciting stories that people will brag about for years and also news that many would like to forget.
One thing remains true for Moffat County, no matter how tough things get, the community always pulls together to offer a helping hand, a tissue, financial resources or applause for a job well done.
The following is a list of a handful of stories that had an impact on Northwest Colorado.
Craig Station’s Unit 1 scheduled to retire in 2025
Unit 1 at Craig Station will be retired in the next decade based on an agreement between the coal-fired power plant’s owners, government regulators and conservation groups.
As part of a proposed revision to the Colorado Visibility and Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP), the 427-megawatt unit will be out of commission by Dec. 31, 2025.
Unit 2 and Unit 3 at the 1,303 megawatt coal-fired Craig Station will continue to burn but with additional emissions controls to meet the SIP.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, an electrical cooperative that owns one of the plant’s three generating stations, is responsible for operations at Craig Station.
Tri-State is putting into place a transition team to work with employees and the community to understand the needs and assess impacts in order to move forward, the company said.
Retiring the unit was an agreement between Tri-State, PacifiCorp, Platte River Power Authority, Salt River Project, Public Service Company Colorado and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WildEarth Guardians and the National Park Conservation Association.
According to a news release from Tri-State, the 2014 implementation plan required significant reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions and Unit 1’s owners decided to retire the station rather than install emissions controls.
The same agreement shutting down Craig Station’s Unit 1 will also close Tri-State’s coal-fired Nucla Station by 2022 and cease coal production at New Horizon Mine.
According to Tri-State, approximately 283 people work at Craig Station and the plant is capable of producing 1,303 megawatts.
Georgie Hand sentenced to 82 years in prison
Georgie Hand, 44, was sentenced to 82 years in a Colorado Department of Corrections facility on June 13 at Moffat County Courthouse.
In April, a jury found Hand guilty of two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, two counts of menacing, two counts of disarming a peace officer and one count of third-degree criminal trespassing.
Charges were filed after Hand and her ex-husband, James Brent Damon, both Mississippi natives, disarmed and held Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Nathan Martinez and Moffat County Sheriff’s Deputy Bhrent Shock at gunpoint near Dinosaur National Monument in Moffat County on March 9, 2015.
Damon was shot and killed by Martinez after the officers initiated a struggle. Shock had one hand cuffed to his duty belt, but Martinez was unrestrained. When providing testimony at Hand’s trial, both officers said they were sure Damon intended to execute them.
Officers arrested Hand at the scene, and on April 7, a Moffat County jury convicted her for her involvement in the hostage situation.
In a news release, law enforcement officials and the district attorney said the 82-year sentence sends a strong message to individuals living outside the law.
Craig man intervenes in assault
Rich Sadvar was headed out for a relaxing Friday night with his family when he became a hometown hero.
On the way to Steamboat Springs to enjoy dinner and a movie with his family, Sadvar intervened in a violent domestic dispute and likely prevented two Craig women from suffering severe harm or potential death.
According to an arrest an affidavit from Craig Police Department, Karrissa Ramsey and her friend Haley Perryman attacked by Ramsey’s “estranged husband,” Brian Garcia, 37, of Craig, on April 8.
Garcia allegedly approached the pair wielding an aluminum baseball bat, which Perryman was struck with at least twice after putting herself between Garcia and Ramsey.
On his way down Yampa Avenue, Sadvar noticed the altercation and stopped to step in.
“I did what I felt was the best thing,” he said. “I stopped the car and went up to him to bring an end to it.”
Sadvar said he didn’t hesitate to act and thinks intervention was necessary to prevent the situation from escalating further. Garcia walked away after Sadvar confronted him.
For his actions, Craig Police Department awarded Sadvar its Meritorious Service Award.
2016 election brings new commissioner, new president
Moffat County voted resoundly for Donald Trump with 5,293 voting for him. Hillary Clinton received 874 votes and other candidates on the ballot received 94 votes.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Republican Darryl Glenn won 4,776 votes in Moffat County with Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet receiving 1,337 votes and other candidates earning 270 votes.
The three-way race for Representative for Congressional District 3 saw Republican Scott Tipton receive 5,024 votes in Moffat County, Democratic challenger Gail Schwartz earn 1,113 votes and Libertarian Gaylon Kent receive 258 votes in Moffat County.
Two candidates vied against District 1 incumbent John Kinkaid for his seat on the Board of Moffat County Commissioners and Craig Mayor Ray Beck walked into the District 2 spot — held by Commissioner Chuck Grobe, who elected not to run for reelection — in an unopposed race.
Republican Don Cook defeated Kinkaid with 2,694 votes and was followed by write-in candidate Andrea Camp with 1,931 votes. Kinkaid, who ran as unaffiliated, received 1,623 votes.
In the District 2 race, Beck walked away with 5,252 votes.
Dinosaur marijuana initiatives all pass
Three marijuana-related initiatives saw success in Dinosaur on Election Day.
Voters in the town, located in the Northwest part of Moffat County near Utah, approved the sale of recreational and medical marijuana as well as two initiatives on how it will be taxed.
With 152 votes counted Tuesday, Measure 3A — legalizing the sale of recreational and medical marijuana along with the facilities necessary to do so — received 102 votes in favor and 50 against.
Two measures about how the marijuana industry would be taxed were voted on as well.
Measure 3B establishes an operational tax of $5 on every transaction involving marijuana and is estimated to create $40,000 in new revenue. Out of 153 votes, 89 were for 3B and 63 were against.
Measure 3C creates an excise tax not to exceed 5 percent on the sale of marijuana between manufacturers and distributors is estimated to create $50,000 in new revenue. Out of 153 votes, 84 were in favor and 65 were against.
Net installation begins at Elkhead Reservoir
A $1.3 million net across the spillway at Elkhead Reservoir was installed in September.
The net install is part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program’s effort to keep nonnative northern pike and smallmouth bass from spilling out of the reservoir into the Yampa River where they prey on four native fish — the humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker.
The original thought was to use rotenone to chemically poison the fish in the reservoir, but that option turned out to be unfeasible and unpopular with locals.
As an alternative, the recovery program began to discuss the idea of a net with other stakeholders and eventually the project was funded through $500,000 from Colorado’s Native Species Conservation Fund and about $800,000 from the recovery program.
The net is approximately 575-feet long and extends to a depth of about 30 feet.
The net is fabricated from a sturdy polyethylene filament called Dyneema manufactured in the Netherlands and an Italian company weaves the Dyneema into a knotless mesh at their plant in Slovakia. It will be secured to the bottom via anchors that were put in place when the reservoir was expanded in 2006.
Ray Tenney, deputy chief engineer with the Colorado River Water Conservation District, said that water flow inevitably overwhelms the 575-cubic-feet-per-second capacity of the screened outlet towers year after year.
“We knew going into enlarging Elkhead that there would be a frequency that we wouldn’t be able to contain — we just didn’t know it would be as much as it is,” he said.
And although CPW wants to preserve the fish as a part of the recovery program, striking a balance with local anglers has been just as important.
As part of its effort to transition the fishery away from smallmouth and northern pike, CPW plans to stock approximately 20,000 largemouth bass in the reservoir over the summer with the help of local anglers like Burt Clements.
“Four or so of us came out with boats and we distributed largemouth around the lake,” Clements said.
Northwest Colorado fears Hickenlooper’s CO2 emission plan
Despite the federal Clean Power Plan being stalled in the courts, Colorado may still move ahead with plans to reduce green house gas pollution from power plants.
Northwest Colorado is home to two coal fired power plants, and many local officials take issue with what could come from the governor’s office.
Gov. John Hickenlooper helped draft a proposed executive order that would prompt state agencies to continue working on ways to bring 2012 carbon dioxide emission levels down by 35 percent by 2030.
Citing increasing temperatures and weather related to global warming as threats to Colorado’s economy, the proposal focuses on state agencies working with utilities to come up with effective pollution reduction while keeping energy prices stable.
Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said in a statement that Hickenlooper’s actions might rob citizens of the right to petition government through elected representatives and participate in enacting policy.
For coal-reliant communities, such as Craig and Moffat County, the executive order could have real implications if it were to become more than a proposal.
Faulty indictment prompts judge to acquit Craig doctor found guilty of killing patient
The Craig man who faced 20 years to life in prison for unlawfully prescribing controlled substances resulting in the death of one of his patients has been acquitted of the most severe charge brought against him due to a missing word.
Joel Miller, who practiced in Craig from 2008 to 2010 at High Country Medical, was indicted on 34 charges in August 2013, including health care fraud, money laundering and prescribing drugs without a legitimate medical purpose, state court documents.
In November 2015, a federal jury convicted Miller of six counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose, one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose resulting in death and one count of giving false information to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Miller would have been the first Colorado doctor to receive a sentence for causing the death of a patient, but a federal judge approved a defense motion for acquittal on that charge. The other five convictions remain intact.
As reported by FOX31 Denver, Federal Judge Robert Blackburn granted the motion for acquittal because the word fentanyl was absent in the charging document.
The initial convictions carried a sentencing range of 20 years to life imprisonment, but now, the state can only seek a maximum sentence of 10 years.
TMH hires Andrew Daniels as CEO
It has been nearly 30 years since The Memorial HospitalThe Memorial Hospital directly hired a CEO, but that changed when Andrew Daniels accepted the position offered to him by the hospital Board of Trustees in August. directly hired a CEO, but that changed when Andrew Daniels accepted the position offered to him by the hospital Board of Trustees in August.
The Memorial Hospital directly hired a CEO, but that changed when Andrew Daniels accepted the position offered to him by the hospital Board of Trustees in August.
Andrew Daniels accepted the position and became the first CEO hired by the board since 1987.
The contract with Quorum Health CorporationQuorum Health Corporation, that has provided management to the hospital, ended Aug. 31. Daniels and his family will relocated to the area. He started on Aug. 22. , that has provided management to the hospital, ended Aug. 31. Daniels and his family will relocated to the area. He started on Aug. 22.
Quorum Health Corporation, that has provided management to the hospital, ended Aug. 31. Daniels and his family will relocated to the area. He started on Aug. 22.
David Ulrich accepts Moffat County superintendent’s post
In May, David Ulrich accepted the position of superintendent with the Moffat County School DistrictMoffat County School District..
The board voted unanimously to offer the position to Ulrich, currently the deputy director of secondary education for North Kansas City SchoolsNorth Kansas City Schools, in Missouri., in Missouri.North Kansas City Schools, in Missouri.
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Moffat County fire updates: Skull Creek almost out; Moose, near Dinosaur, not threatening structures
Moffat County Fire Management Officer Todd Wheeler provided the following updates on two existing wildfires in Moffat County Thursday evening.