Shooting tops year’s news |

Shooting tops year’s news

Election, Iraq also make headlines

It was no surprise that 2004 — an election year — had politics stamped all over it. Early on, commissioners had to deal with the fallout of a fiscal crisis that forced them to cut funding for several nonessential services. An unsuccessful recall attempt soon followed. But voters had the ultimate say about the direction of the county and country at the polls on Election Day.

But 2004 wasn’t just about politics. Several servicemen with ties to the area made headlines out of Iraq, including a former Moffat County High School student who was killed in action. However, the biggest story of the year — one that had the entire town talking — was a fatal shooting in a Craig apartment complex in October.

Below are the top news stories of 2004:

n James Pogline killed in shooting — Prosecutors have charged a 17-year-old Mexican immigrant with second-degree murder in connection with the Oct. 22 shooting of James Calvin Pogline, a 32-year-old Army veteran of Desert Storm who had been in and out of jail in 2004 on numerous charges, many of which were dismissed.

The shooting took place at Timberglen Apartments. Pogline succumbed to a head wound the next day at The Memorial Hospital.

Investigators testified that Hugo Antino Silva-Larios admitted to possessing and shooting a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle, but they have yet to provide a motive for the shooting. Prosecutors were granted a motion to try Silva-Larios as an adult, and a district judge set his bond at $1 million.

Silva-Larios is expected to appear for a preliminary hearing Jan. 26.

n Craig comes to grips with meth — Craig Mayor Dave DeRose, Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead and other civic leaders spearheaded the formation of a task force aimed at establishing resources to fight a growing methamphetamine problem in Moffat County.

The Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse task force has begun raising money to fund a public awareness campaign and prevention programs. Eventually, the group hopes to land grants to establish a treatment center and provide affordable counseling for those who want help.

The Craig Daily Press examined the effects of the meth trade — on users and the community — in a four-part series that was published in May and June.

n War in Iraq inflicts local casualties — The war in Iraq hit home — again — in 2004, starting with the death of 19-year-old Marine Pfc. Chance Phelps, who spent much of his short life attending Moffat County schools. He was killed on Good Friday during a firefight west of Baghdad.

In light of the ongoing war in Iraq, the community came out to support local veterans and active servicemen and women at many services throughout the year.

Phelps was remembered at the Hometown Heroes Picnic and the late Army veteran Valden McFarland was one of many buried at Craig Cemetery who was honored at the Memorial Day service.

Army Ranger Joshua White’s family was happy to have him home for Thanksgiving while Marine Cory Hixson’s homecoming was bittersweet. Hixson lost the vision in his left eye after getting hit with shrapnel during a battle in Fallujah, Iraq. He served in the honor guard during the Veterans Day program at Moffat County High School after returning home for a short visit. He will soon receive a prosthetic eye, but probably won’t return to the war overseas, where his brother Greg, also a Marine, still fights.

n Recall attempt fails — After a year of rumors, a group of residents calling themselves the Concerned Taxpayers of Moffat County filed a petition to recall commissioners Marianna Raftopoulos and Les Hampton.

The group alleged both commissioners had mismanaged funds.

The group needed to collect 1,306 signatures of registered voters to recall Hampton, and they needed 972 signatures to recall Raftopoulos.

The Concerned Taxpayers never released the number of signatures they collected. The deadline for filing their petitions came and went without public comment from the group.

Later in the year, Raftopoulos would receive some vindication when Colorado commissioners honored her with a distinguished service award.

But Hampton would lose a second run for office to political newcomer Tom Gray.

n Austin Sadvar prosecuted — Austin Sadvar found himself facing disorderly conduct charges for fighting with a Mexican student at school.

The 12-year-old student’s parents, Rich and Nancy Sadvar, thought their son was unfairly targeted by District Attorney Bonnie Roesink and waged a seven-month legal battle to clear his name.

A special prosecutor was appointed to prosecute the case, but he asked to dismiss the charges because the alleged victim had moved from the area and the prosecutor didn’t believe he could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The story made headlines statewide and was fodder for Denver talk radio stations.

n Police standoff ends without incident — A 23-year-old Craig man, who allegedly harbored a “dangerous weapon,” held police at bay for about 12 hours outside of his Barclay Street home in a late-July incident. Police went to look for Jonathon Crook in response to a domestic violence complaint lodged by his girlfriend. Crook was arrested and taken to jail after officers surrounded the house and launched a canister of gas inside. Upset that she couldn’t talk to her boyfriend, Crook’s girlfriend, Megan Valenzuela, 18, admitted to damaging two Colorado State Patrol cars a few days later. Valenzuela pleaded guilty in court to a felony charge in the case, but Crook’s case may be headed to trial. Both Crook and Valenzuela have attended drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers as part of their court-ordered requirements.

n TMH settles hospital location controversy — Members of The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees are ready to move forward with the building of a new hospital that has been stalled by controversy nearly since its inception in 2001.

An 18-member advisory committee has been selected to propose one of three sites for a new hospital. Committee members hope to make their recommendation by consensus vote to the TMH board by the end of January. TMH officials have said they hope construction will begin by the spring.

n Boys and Girls Club opens — After more than a year of planning, the Boys and Girls Club of Craig became a reality in 2004. The club offered summer activities for elementary school children at East Elementary until the old Armory on U.S. Highway 40 was ready to host the club at the start of the school year.

Interest in the club grew quickly. More than 100 youth spend time involved in Boys and Girls Club activities each night.

In November, state legislature’s capital development committee accepted the city’s offer to purchase the armory. The city, in turn, will lease the building to the club for $1 a year. The club will use the gymnasium during the afternoons for its programs and the city will be able to use it in the evenings for Parks and Recreation Department programs.

n MRI deal negotiated in secret — The Memorial Hospital’s administrator, Randy Phelps, inadvertently leaked the details of a plan to acquire a Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine in July, touching off a debate about the profit potential of such a deal and whether the hospital was willing to pay too much to make it happen.

But TMH board members said the monetary figures in an e-mail Phelps accidentally sent to hospital staff members were merely starting points for negotiations. In subsequent meetings, they made assurances that the lease deal was a winner for the hospital and taxpayers because it could be terminated if the projected profit margins didn’t pan out.

The acquisition awaits approval from Moffat County commissioners, who instructed the board to get an appraisal of the Northwest Health Specialist building, which houses the MRI and is part of the deal.

In the meantime, the MRI has proven to be a money-maker for the hospital, according to figures provided to board members at their last several meetings.

n County delivers handsome majorities for GOP — Moffat County voted Republican on every political level in 2004.

Voters elected county commissioner Republican candidates Tom Gray and Saed Tayyara by landslide margins. Both won on platforms of building county reserves and monitoring spending closely.

Voters here also helped carry Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, to a narrow victory against Democratic challenger Jay Fetcher.

Although the Salazar brothers carried the Democrats to victory in the Western Slope’s congressional races, Moffat County provided hefty support for Senate candidate Pete Coors and House of Representatives candidate Greg Walcher.

And of course, Moffat County voters could share in George W. Bush’s presidential election victory.

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