Bank robbed on Glenwood’s bustling Grand Avenue | PostIndependent.com

Bank robbed on Glenwood’s bustling Grand Avenue

As tourists and downtown workers crowded Glenwood Springs sidewalks at 5:30 p.m. Friday, a man robbed a bank at the town’s busiest intersection and fled on foot down Grand Avenue.

Police Chief Terry Wilson said a white man “wearing a really odd straw bucket hat and big sunglasses, so he was very concealed,” walked in the front entrance of Vectra Bank at Eighth Street and Grand Avenue. One of his hands was concealed, Wilson said, and “he implied he had a weapon.”

No one was injured and the man ran away with an undisclosed amount of cash, heading south on Grand.

Glenwood police and Garfield County sheriff’s deputies were at the bank, and Wilson said the FBI was notified.

“What’s amazing to me is he ran down Grand” in unusual attire “and the only call we got was the 911 call from the bank,” Wilson said.

Bank robberies are rare in Glenwood. The most recent one before Friday was June 30, 2014.

20-acre wildfire near Carbondale prompts evacuations

A wildfire that grew to 20 acres Friday afternoon in the lower Crystal River Valley prompted the evacuation of a housing area and campground and closed Colorado 133.

Officials said shortly before 7 p.m. that the highway would be closed for at least two hours.

Homes along Red Dog Road 7 miles south of Carbondale were evacuated and a shelter set up at Roaring Fork High School. The KOA campground 5 miles from Carbondale also was evacuated.

The fire itself, according to a Pitkin County alert, is in ranchland about 4 miles south of Carbondale. Smoke was visible from as far away as Cattle Creek along Colorado 82.

At 6:20 p.m., an update from the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District said the fire was about 10 percent contained.

An airplane had done one drop on the blaze and was returning to Grand Junction to reload for another drop. Helicopters also were working the blaze.

Fire crews from Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Snowmass, Aspen, Upper Colorado River Fire Crew, Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control, the U.S. Forest Service Control and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department were working the emergency.

An early alert indicated that the blaze, which started at around 3:30 p.m., probably was ignited by a power line. A recording at Holy Cross Energy said the utility had a power outage in the area. Initally, the fire was about 5 acres, but a wind shift shortly after 4 p.m. apparently helped it grow.

Letter: Triumph on the Fourth

The Glenwood Springs Lions Club and the Mountain Lions Club would like to thank all our sponsors and contributors that helped make our third annual Firekracker4k and the city’s Fourth of July celebration a great success.

We also want to thank the 72 runners who helped start the day with a bang. Our goals of having a fun activity for our community and families on the Fourth as well as raising funds for our vision care projects in the valley were achieved. The Lions Club will also be able to provide scholarships to help our youth.

It was great to see the city, police and fire departments, service clubs, Symphony in the Valley, and other local organizations come together to make the Fourth of July meaningful again in Glenwood Springs. The fireworks were great. Good job.

Darrell Stanley

Glenwood Springs Lions

Letter: Old library for arts center

Tolstoy wrote:

“Art is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward wellbeing of individuals and of humanity.”

To quote another poet: “The artist is not a special kind of person but every person is a special kind of artist.”

The arts are the great unifier of our community, bringing together people from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and races, inspiring all to bring beauty and harmony to our hectic lives.

For this reason alone the Center of the Arts should near the beating heart of our city and not at the periphery. At this very moment we have a unique and fortuitous opportunity to make this happen: For two years now our old library building has been languishing dormant and vacant, while city has been searching for a new use and occupant. At the same time, the current facility of the arts center is only partially functional due to heavy and costly flood damage.

This being the case, I urge the City Council to expedite deliberations and approve the relocation of the Glenwood Center of the Arts to the old library at the corner of Ninth Street and Blake Avenue.

This move will bring new creative and positive energies to our downtown core and greatly enhance our existing attractions, i.e the new library, the Tuesday market and our bar and restaurant venues.

Both our high school and elementary students will be within easy walking distance of the new center to pursue their creative energies during after school hours.

True, the Center of the Arts will not directly add to the city’s tax revenues, but neither is a building that has been vacant for over two years. In addition to the cultural benefits, there will be indirect additions to the city’s coffers. Visitors, students and patrons will likely spend more time downtown to shop, dine and recreate.

Gerry VanderBeek

Glenwood Springs

Letter: The IRS doesn’t call

Please be reminded that the IRS does not use phone calls. If you get one, just hang up.

I just had one recently and they left a message. If you listen to the message its the same one as before.

The lady starts out by saying: “You must call this number back. If you do not call this number, you will be liable for any consequences for failing to call this number back.” So I am a traveling notary and I called it back.

It doesn’t dawn on me that this person didn’t identify herself. So I call back and man answers and I didn’t say who I was, so if you do call back, don’t say this is so and so returning your call. I just said, “Can I help you?” and he said, “Are you returning the phone call that was left on your machine?” and I said no. He said, “Are you sure you are not returning the phone call that was left on your machine?” I said, “I just called this number. So what do you want?”

He said, “What is your name?” and I said, “What do you want?”

He wanted my name. I thought my name is on the answering machine so this is another one of those fake IRS calls. I refused to give my name.

He said, “I am from the IRS” and I said, “You’re another one of those fake calls. You’re a fake and if you call back again, I am calling the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office and giving them this phone number.”

He hung up. This is not the IRS. Do not engage them in any conversation and don’t give them your name.

Jane Spaulding

Carbondale

Jerry Neil White

Longtime local Jerry Neil White passed away peacefully on the 20th of July in his home.

After serving in Vietnam as a decorated Marine, Jerry came to Aspen in 1976 and enjoyed skiing biking and the mountain lifestyle. He worked at Schlomo’s, The Little Nell and Little Annie’s in various capacities, the main being bartender. He retired as a 17 year veteran driver for RFTA in 2014.

Jerry was originally from St. Elmo Illinois.

He will be missed by his wife Diana, his dogs, Gunner and Gabriel, his brothers, Ben and Mike, and sister Patty. Jerry was proudest to have served as a Marine and been the grandson of Annabelle McKenzie.

His family will be eternally in debt to the Hospice workers of the Valley. A wake will be held September 3, 2016, for information please call 970-379-5188.

Katrina Ruth Clayton (October 04, 1986 – July 24, 2016)

Katrina Ruth Clayton, age 29 of New Castle, Co. Passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning July 24th. She was born Oct. 4th, 1986 at Valley View Hospital. Katrina grew up in this area she attended Glenwood elementary school and middle school. She graduated high school from the Garden School in Apple tree. She is survived by her “Ma” Marian Clayton, her sister Beth Hultquist and brothers Logan Henderson-Clayton and Nicholas Henderson, her nieces Kadie Westmoreland and Ashley Hultquist and her birth mother Brenda Henderson. As well as many aunts, uncles, cousins and adopted family members and friends. Preceded in death by “Papa” Ray Clayton, Great Grandmother Alma Davis,and Birth Father Mark Henderson.

She is a well known local bartender, photographer, model, promoter and princess. We loved her so much and are so sad she is lost to us so young. She has touched so many lives it is amazing. “She never knew there was anything she couldn’t do.” There is a Celebration of life coming up and we will notify on Facebook as to where and when. Donations may be made to her family at the following link https://www.gofundme.com/2gq38z5w

Fire near Carbondale prompts evacuation, closes Colorado 133

A  wildfire that grew to 20 acres Friday afternoon in the lower Crystal River Valley prompted the evacuation of a housing area and campground and closed Colorado 133.

Homes along  Red Dog Road  7 miles south of Carbondale were evacuated and a shelter set up at Roaring Fork High School. The KOA campground 5 miles from Carbondale also was evacuated.

The fire itself, according to a Pitkin County alert, is in ranchland about 4 miles south of Carbondale. Smoke was visible from as far away as Cattle Creek along Colorado 82.

At 6:20 p.m., an update from the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District said the fire was about 10 percent contained.

An aerial tanker had done one drop on the blaze and was returning to Grand Junction to reload for another drop.

Fire crews from Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Snowmass, Aspen, Upper Colorado River Fire Crew, Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control, the U.S. Forest Service Control and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department were working the emergency.

An early alert indicated that the blaze, which started at around 3:30 p.m.,  probably was ignited by a power line. A recording at Holy Cross Energy said the utility had a power outage in the area. Initally, the fire was about 5 acres, but a wind shift shortly after 4 p.m. apparently helped it grow.

BLM takes big step to canceling Thompson Divide leases

A much-anticipated Bureau of Land Management decision Friday to move forward with plans to cancel 25 previously issued but never-developed oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide region met with the usual praise from conservation groups and industry criticism.

The BLM formally released its final environmental impact statement for its review of 65 existing leases on the White River National Forest that were issued over the past 20 years.

The preferred alternative in the document lays a path to cancel the controversial Divide leases that cover a swath of land stretching from Sunlight Mountain Resort southwest of Glenwood Springs to McClure Pass south of Carbondale.

It’s a huge victory for the Carbondale-based Thompson Divide Coalition, which has been fighting for years to protect the higher-elevation eastern fringe of the natural gas-rich Piceance Basin from drilling.

“This is a very gratifying moment for me, my family, and our entire community,” Jason Sewell, board president for the TDC, said in a statement issued by the coalition made up of ranchers, outfitters, outdoors groups and conservation interests that has sought to preserve the area.

“For nearly a decade, we’ve worked to protect these lands and the livelihoods they support,” he said. “BLM’s decision makes it clear that overwhelming public support can and should make a difference.”

The preferred alternative is consistent with the BLM’s earlier-stated intention to cancel the Thompson Divide leases. The final EIS will be open for a 30-day public comment period starting Aug. 5, and a final decision is expected this fall, the BLM said.

Industry groups have indicated that they will likely challenge any lease cancellations in court.

Other groups said the BLM didn’t go far enough in extending protections to other parts of the forest.

“Canceling 25 leases in the Divide is something to celebrate, indeed,” said Peter Hart, conservation analyst and attorney for the Wilderness Workshop, also based in Carbondale.

“If this is the agency’s grand compromise, it falls short by failing to ensure even the minimum necessary protections for important public land values across all of the areas that were illegally leased.”

Under the plan, the BLM would also apply new stipulations to 13 other undeveloped leases farther west on the forest, including restrictions on surface facilities and new roads. The remaining leases, including some that are already developed, would continue.

“The BLM’s proposed action strikes the right balance in land management,” BLM Colorado State Director Ruth Welch said in a news release. “It respects last year’s decision by the U.S. Forest Service to maintain the character of the White River National Forest while also facilitating oil and gas development.”

White River Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams last year removed most of the Thompson Divide area from new leasing under the 20-year forest oil and gas leasing management plan.

The BLM decided to do a retroactive review of the 65 leases, including 40 located farther west on the White River Forest toward De Beque, because of a failure to adopt a 1993 Forest Service environmental review or to do its own review before the leases were issued between 1995 and 2012.

During the BLM review, thousands of comments were submitted by area residents, organizations and local governments urging the BLM to cancel the Thompson Divide leases, arguing they were issued illegally in the first place.

The decision to release the EIS comes despite a recent effort by industry and some members of Congress to reopen the review for new public comment, in light of a U.S. Geological Survey study showing a much higher estimate than previously thought of natural gas in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin.

“The decision to cancel natural gas leases retroactively is beneath the U.S. government,” said David Ludlam, executive director for the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

“It’s in our collective best interest to continue challenging the decision to demonstrate our belief in the value of fairness and protection under the law,” he said. “While additional administrative appeals are important and necessary, we continue viewing the legal and justice system as the best hope for ultimately restoring confidence in the integrity of BLM and their willingness to honor their commitments.”

A spokesman for Ursa Resources, which holds seven of the Thompson Divide leases, was more reserved in his reaction to the BLM’s proposed action and said it came as no surprise.

“We’ve been prepared for this for a while,” said Don Simpson, vice president of business development for Ursa Resources. “We will look at the document and evaluate our position, and if we have any comment we will make it by Sept. 4.”

As for any legal challenges, Simpson said Ursa individually has not had those discussions. The other 18 Thompson Divide leases are held by SG Interests. SG spokesman Robbie Guinn did not return a phone call seeking comment.

If the leases are canceled, the BLM would have to negotiate with the lease holders for repayment of any financial losses.

The BLM’s plan to go forward with the lease cancellations and stipulations on the other leases drew praise from statewide groups ranging from Conservation Colorado to Trout Unlimited. Pitkin County commissioners, who have also taken a position in favor of canceling the Divide leases, also weighed in.

“We’ve worked very hard to support the cancellation of these leases and we will keep a close eye on the process until the decision is final,” Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Rachel Richards said. “The preferred alternative reflects a uniquely balanced approach to land management that accommodates various and often incompatible uses and demands on federal lands.”

The final EIS can be found online at: http://www.blm.gov/co/crvfo.

3 sisters go from homeless shelter to junior track stardom

NEW YORK — Every morning, three young sisters wake up together with their mom in one bed in a Brooklyn homeless shelter. Every afternoon, they train in a sport that they hope will put them on a path to a better life.

Tai Sheppard, 11, and sisters Rainn, 10, and Brooke, 8, have all blossomed since taking up track and field a year and a half ago, rising to the top tier of age-group national rankings and earning a spot in the Junior Olympic Games, now underway in Houston.

“This is a means to get them to college,” says their mother, Tonia Handy, “to opening doors that maybe I can’t open for them.”

Handy, a 46-year-old who works answering phones at a car service, has been raising her family alone for nearly a decade, enduring constant financial hardship and even tragedy. Three years ago, the girls’ 17-year-old half-brother was fatally shot in the street by another teen over what investigators said was a perceived insult.

She always managed to make ends meet, though, until early last year, when she and the girls were evicted from their apartment in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section for failing to pay the rent, landing them first in a motel shelter in Queens and then in the apartment shelter on a gritty Bed-Stuy street.

“The first time we got there, there was just roaches everywhere,” Tai says. “Every time I looked on the floor, a roach. And every time I looked on the ceiling there was a roach. It was horrible.”

Handy, however, has worked to make the apartment clean and livable. But she has also made a point of not getting too comfortable in what she hopes is a temporary situation. The only decorations are the many awards the girls have won on the track, with trophies crowding the top of the lone dresser and medals hanging from every doorknob.

“I don’t bring in anything,” she says. “When I’m ready and I have an apartment, I’m just gone.”

The girls, who still have their estranged father’s last name, Sheppard, got into track in January 2015 when their baby sitter, looking for some kind of activity to keep them occupied, signed them up for a track meet that did not require any entry fees.

It just so happened that the founder of the Brooklyn-based Jeuness Track Club was at the competition scouting for new talent. By the end of the first day, Jean Bell had given her business cards to each of the girls separately with the instructions to have their mother call or just show up to practice.

It wasn’t until they turned out for practice together that Bell realized the girls were sisters.

“It’s been very tough for them,” says Bell, an administrative law judge who grew up in the nearby projects. “They’ve been moved from one shelter to the next. Their belongings are shuffled around. They don’t have a lot to work with but they do the best with what they have.”

The 20 girls on the Jeuness team come from a variety of backgrounds, but none of them are rich. Parents and coaches pool their money to provide the funds for the girls to go to the Junior Olympics.

The mission of the team is to keep girls on track, both academically and athletically to set them up for college scholarships.

The sisters are well on their way.

Each has qualified for the Junior Olympics in multiple events. Eleven-year-old Rainn was the top qualifier for the 3,000-meter run with a time of 10 minutes, 44 seconds — 30 seconds faster than the next-closest qualifier.

Tai runs the 400 and 800, as well as the 80-meter hurdles.

Brooke, the youngest, qualified for the 800, the 1,500 and the high jump, even though the team doesn’t have the equipment to allow her to practice. Her only jumps have come in competitions.

The girls are set to board a plane with the rest of their team for their first time Sunday to head to Houston for the track and field events, which begin Monday. But their mother won’t be with them.

“I’m not going, because the shelter has a curfew and I still have to work,” Handy says. “It’s not that kind of job where you can take time off. You don’t go, you don’t get paid.”

But Handy is hopeful she will soon land a new job that would make it possible to get a place of her own again, and to get most weekends off so she could attend more of her daughters’ meets.

“Next year,” she says, “I think it will be different.”