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Ivan Gallardo’s 4 second-half goals leads Coal Ridge to 6-1 win over Telluride

Coal Ridge’s boys soccer team was very frustrated at halftime Saturday morning.

The Titans dominated play throughout the first half against the visiting Telluride Miners, yet Coal Ridge found itself trailing 1-0 on one shot before knotting the game up heading into the half.

Possession was grossly lopsided in favor of Coal Ridge, yet the Titans couldn’t finish chances in the final third, which had been a problem early in the season coming into Saturday’s matchup.

Senior team captain and striker Ivan Gallardo, who led the Titans in goals last season with 17, was visibly frustrated at the break. Fortunately for Coal Ridge, the senior captain turned that frustration into jubilation in the second half, scoring 4 second-half goals in an offensive eruption, carrying the Titans to a 6-1 win over the Miners on the final day of Coal Ridge’s home soccer tournament.

“I started checking more, and we started playing more possession instead of playing the ball over the top,” Gallardo said.

That possession kicked in right away as Gallardo finished off a great combination play from sophomore Eduardo Salazar, freshman Ezra Williams, and sophomore Tony Ayala, allowing Gallardo to slip behind Telluride’s defense for an off-balanced shot into the upper right corner of the net, stunning the Miners and setting into motion an offensive onslaught for Coal Ridge.

Thanks to a fired up halftime speech from head coach Michael Mikalakis, and timely leadership from Gallardo, the Titans turned on the jets and put away the Miners for good.

Shortly after taking a 2-1 lead, Gallardo made it 3-1 41 seconds later, tracking down a throughball behind the Miners’ back line, firing the shot past Telluride’s diving keeper, turning a close game in scoreboard only into a rout.

Just over two minutes later, Gallardo struck again as the Miners turned ball over in the final third. Coal Ridge senior JP Gallardo settled the ball, flicked a pass into the air and let Gallardo run under it, getting his left foot onto the ball in the air right before Telluride’s goalkeeper could get his hands on it, pushing the lead to 4-1 with more than 34 minutes left to go in the game.

“I said at the half that it was unbelievable we were dominating the way we were and just not finishing,” Mikalakis said following the 6-1 win. “We were dominating the back third, the middle third, and the front third, and nothing was happening on the scoreboard for us. Obviously that changed in the second half.”

Gallardo made it 5-1 with just under 30 minutes to go in the game, tracking down another throughball to slip his fourth goal of the half – and of the game – past the helpless Telluride goalkeeper, putting Saturday’s tilt out of reach for the Miners.

What was once a grimace across the senior’s face in the first half was a smile as wide as the valley as the senior helped flip the script, pushing his teammates to victory.

“Ivan’s a very passionate player and person,” Mikalakis said. “Once we can channel that passion the right way, he’s a wonderful player. That’s a key for him. Once he sees one go in, it’s a very positive change for not only himself, but the team as well.”

After Gallardo’s fourth goal found the back of the net, the final nail drove into the coffin of Telluride’s chances on the day as the Titans kept up the pressure and dominated the ball, suffocating Telluride’s offensive attack, forcing the ball back the other way for scoring chance after scoring chance.

Midway through the second half, junior Jack Price put the exclamation point on the win, firing home a penalty kick drawn by freshman James Webber, sending the Miners home dejected. Webber scored the Titans’ lone tally in the first half, tracking down a throughball from Ayala, slipping his shot inside the near post down the right wing with 8:52 left in the first half, getting the Titans back to even at 1-1.

The win pushes Coal Ridge to 2-2 on the season. Coal Ridge travels to Salida Thursday to take on a top 10 team in 3A, before then returning home Saturday for a tough showdown with 5A Mullen.


Sunday Profile: A call to service for new Rifle-area fire chief

For Randy Callahan, a career in the fire service was something he found early in life.

Pointing to a framed picture on his office wall of a 1956 Ford/Howe fire engine, Callahan explained that he, his brother and father all worked on the truck when he first began fighting fires in the suburbs of Detroit.

“My dad got me into this profession. He started as a volunteer, as did my brother and I, and we both turned it into a career,” Callahan said. 

“That picture is a reminder of the beginnings.”

Callahan said those beginnings were inspired in part by both the honor and spontaneity found in the firefighting profession.

“You never know when you go out that door if you’re going to be back in five minutes, five hours, or 10 hours,” Callahan said.

“You work until the job’s done, and then you come back.”

After moving from Michigan to Fort Collins in 1994, Callahan went to work for the Poudre Fire Authority.

Callahan spent 23 years in Fort Collins before retiring.

“I thought I was done with the fire service, and that was not the case,” said Callahan who has served 43 years.

With years of service and knowledge Callahan couldn’t stay away from the fire service for long.

“He will forget more than I will ever know. He very much loves to pass along the knowledge he has and it brings a positive attitude to the workplace,” Colorado River Fire Rescue Operations Division Chief Leif Sackett said.

After he retired, he worked on the fire certification board and then with Boulder County Rural Fire before coming to Rifle at the beginning of 2019.

Callahan is now serving as Fire Chief for Colorado River Fire Rescue serving New Castle, Silt and Rifle. He initially came to the role temporarily in January after former Chief Rob Jones stepped down at the end of 2018. He said he’s extended his stay at the request of the board.

“I’ve made an 18 month commitment to stay, to finish up a project we started, we have a lot of good projects going on,” Callahan said.

Callahan oversees 55 career firefighters and around 30 volunteer firefighters covering an 850 square-mile area from Rifle to New Castle.

“Chief Callahan has been a godsend to us, he has taught us how to work well with one another. He has changed our thinking and views. He is so big on training and always giving us a lesson out of what we do and giving us a purpose,” Administrative Director PJ Tillman said.

“It has really made us a strong team.”

Colorado River Fire Rescue has four staffed stations including Station 41 and 43 in Rifle, Station 61 in Silt and Station 64 in New Castle. Colorado Fire also has Interagency Station 42 they share with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management fire agencies. A second station in New Castle, Station 63, is an unstaffed location.

“We are in a time business, our challenge when we are spread out like we are is once that bell rings, the window of opportunity closes on us,” Callahan said of the area CRFR covers.

“That’s why we have to get there, and is why we have the people and stations to do that.”


Callahan said firefighting is about the people, from the firefighters to the citizens. 

“Its all about the folks here in the fire station and in the community, CRFR and its community has a heart and soul, and it’s incredible,” Callahan said.

“I love that.”

Callahan said a great example of the character of the people of Colorado River Fire Rescue occurred recently when the firefighters organized an event to honor the fallen firefighters on Sept. 11. 

He said as many firefighting companies that could came over to Station 41 and made their way up and down the stairs of the training tower in memory of the firefighters.

“It’s only a three-story training tower, but they all took turns climbing those stairs and ringing that bell 343 times,” Callahan said.

“That’s the heart and soul of people, and I love that,”

“When he says he is all about the people of CRFR, he truly means that. He has a passion for the fire service, a passion for people and he has a passion for the citizens of our district,” Sackett said. 

“Its fun to work with him because you see that in how interacts with people and the department.”


When he is not working between fire stations or working to educate the community Callahan enjoys time with his wife Patsy and their two dogs.

“I’m blessed, my wife is a giant in my eyes, and she is the nicest, kindest person I’ve ever met,” Callahan said.

Callahan said he is a self-professed winter nut, and he and his wife love the outdoors.

“I love snowshoeing and skiing,” Callahan said.

Callahan mostly skis the backcountry because of the solitude of it, and he can take his dogs.


Rifle resident skips sentencing after manslaughter conviction

Cody Christopher, convicted by jury of vehicular manslaughter in June, failed to appear for his sentencing hearing Friday and is now wanted on $50,000 cash-only bond.

Christopher, 41, was out on bond throughout his trial.

“I’m disappointed the defendant did not appear. I sincerely hope he is alright,” Ninth District Judge John Neiley said Friday.

At 9:15 a.m., Neiley entered the courtroom and noted Christopher’s absence.

“Obviously, we can’t proceed without him here,” Neiley said.

Ann Roan, an attorney representing Christopher at the hearing, said she thought Christopher was going to be there. Roan also said she didn’t know where her client was.

Neiley said he would give him some more time to arrive, in case Christopher was stuck in construction traffic.

“I don’t think that should be a valid excuse,” Ninth District deputy prosecutor Sarah Nordgaard said.

Christopher was likely coming from Rifle, Nordgaard said, and would not be affected by ongoing construction in south Glenwood Springs.

“There are plenty of people who made it here,” Nordgaard added, referring to more than 20 of Christopher’s friends and supporters, many of whom attended the trial.

Neiley reconvened the hearing at 9:40, and issued the bench warrant for Christopher’s arrest.

Christopher was convicted of vehicular homicide for crashing a Ford Excursion while intoxicated Dec. 29, 2017, killing Matt Smith, then 41, and Trent Johnson, then 36.

Johnson’s son, then 10 years old, was severely injured in the crash.

In his testimony at the trial, Christopher maintained that he was not drunk at the time of the crash, but drank heavily after hiking from the site of the crash, along Puma Paw Road north of Rifle, to a ranch house with the 10-year-old survivor.

Christopher also suffered a head injury in the crash.

Christopher’s sentencing hearing was initially scheduled on a docket day, Aug. 22, where there would be limited time for the hearing.

Christopher’s defense attorney requested an “off-docket” hearing, because they wanted to schedule more time to present evidence at sentencing.

Neiley noted that he was willing to listen to any and all friends or family of Christopher who wanted to speak regarding the sentencing.

Defense attorney Roan declined further comment, as did several friends of Christopher.


Autopsy report confirms Allan George shot in the back

An autopsy report confirms Allan George was fatally shot in the back by Rifle Police as they attempted to arrest him on Aug. 5 for alleged possession of child pornography.

The report also shows George had neither drugs nor alcohol in his system at the time of death.

In a 10-page autopsy report, dated Aug. 22 and released by the Garfield County Coroner’s Office on Thursday, Grand Junction pathologist Dean Havlick wrote the gunshots were fired from a distance.

“Both gunshot wounds had entrance wounds on the right aspect of the back and exit wounds on the right aspect of the chest,” Havlick wrote in the report.

According to the autopsy, which was conducted Aug. 7, George was pronounced dead minutes after arriving at the Grand River Hospital in Rifle on Aug. 5.

The autopsy notes that George had defibrillator pads on his chest, and breathing tube in his throat, indicating he received medical treatment.

The autopsy included a full panel of toxicology tests, and George’s blood and urine tested negative for all substances, including drugs, alcohol and cannabis.

George also had a small abrasion on his chin, and a small gunshot wound on his right hand that likely was made by one of the bullets through his chest, according to the autopsy.

The report also notes that while George’s hands were cuffed behind his back when his body arrived for the autopsy, “there (were) no injuries from the handcuffs around the wrists.”

A 5-minute video of the incident obtained by the Post Independent shows two Rifle Police officers attempting to calm George before the shooting.

Police were attempting to arrest George, then 57, on charges of sexual exploitation of a child, a felony, for possessing pornographic images of children on his phone.

It’s unclear from the video, shot by an eyewitness on the bridge, what happened when police first made contact with George.

But for several minutes in the video, George pointed a handgun at his own chest, then placed it in his pocket and appeared poised to jump off the bridge into the Colorado River. The two police officers had guns drawn on George, and are heard speaking to him, though it’s unclear due to traffic noise in the video what exactly was said.

In the video, George is seen crossing the guardrail into the road, and jogging north across the bridge. After several seconds officers are heard yelling stop, two gunshots are heard and George falls forward on the ground.

Denver attorney David Lane, who represents George’s estate, said he intends to file a civil rights lawsuit against Rifle police. After reviewing the five-minute video of the fatal shooting, Lane said he thought it was a clear example of excessive force by law enforcement.

The Ninth District Attorney’s Office will consider whether to bring criminal charges against the two officers involved, identified by Rifle Police chief Tommy Klein as  D. Ryan, hired in 2005, and S. McNeal, also a patrol officer, who was hired in 2018.

Both officers are on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

There is no estimated time for the completion of the investigation.


Prescribed burns planned for some Garfield County public lands

Fire managers may conduct prescribed burns on more than 5,300 acres of public lands in Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle and Mesa counties in the coming weeks.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit announced the location of the regional burn areas Thursday for White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands.

“Prescribed fires are an important tool land managers can use to create fuel breaks that can make fire suppression efforts more effective and reduce risk to firefighters and nearby communities,” said Larry Sandoval, BLM Colorado River Valley field manager. 

Land managers conduct prescribed fires to improve habitat for big game and other native wildlife, and reduce fuels to lesson potential growth and severity of future wildfires.

During a prescribed burn, low-intensity fire consumes overgrown fuels while promoting suckering and sprouting of nutrient-rich vegetation.

Smoke from the prescribed burns could be visible from nearby communities and roadways, the BLM said.

This fall’s potential prescribed burn locations include:

June Creek Prescribed Fire, BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office (Garfield County) – Up to 727 acres, 11 miles south of Silt.

Roan Plateau Prescribed Fire, BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office (Garfield County) – Up to 846 acres, 7 miles northwest of Rifle.

Braderich Prescribed Fire, Aspen/Sopris Ranger District (Pitkin County) – Up to 500 acres, 14 miles south of Carbondale and 4 miles west of Redstone.

Cattle Creek Prescribed Fire, Aspen/Sopris Ranger District (Eagle County) – Up to 2,000 acres 8 miles north of Basalt and 12 miles south of Gypsum.

Cottonwood Creek Prescribed Fire, Colorado River Valley Field Office (Eagle County) – Up to 472 acres, 3 miles northwest of Eagle and 6 miles northeast of Gypsum.

Sheep Gulch Prescribed Fire, BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office (Eagle County) – Up to 238 acres, 4 miles northwest of Gypsum.

Farmer’s Canyon Prescribed Fire, BLM Grand Junction Field Office (Mesa County) – Up to 70 acres, 18 miles south of Grand Junction.

West Divide Prescribed Fire, Rifle Ranger District (Mesa County) – Up to 500 acres, 18 miles south of New Castle and west of Carbondale.

“We will only ignite these prescribed fires if conditions are conducive for safe, effective burns, as well as for good smoke dispersal away from nearby communities,” said Lathan Johnson, a fuels specialist with the fire unit.

This spring, fire officials completed more than 3,600 acres of prescribed burns on BLM and White River National Forest lands. 

“As an interagency unit, we continue to collectively focus on areas where we can reduce fuel loading and improve wildlife habitat,” said Lisa Stoeffler, deputy forest supervisor for the Forest Service. “Prescribed burning is a cost-effective and efficient way to target these areas for long-term benefits.” 

For more information on the prescribed burns, contact Lathan Johnson at 970-640-9165.

From the farm to the table

For the last three seasons, the Rifle Farmer’s Market has wrapped up each market season with a dinner and fundraiser.

With the seasonal end of the 12-week market last week, the fourth annual event will be held 5-9 p.m. this Saturday at the Bookcliffs Arts Center in Rifle.

“We started it four years ago, the board decided they needed a fundraiser for the market,” Rifle Farmer’s Market Board Member Elissa Nye said.

“It’s a four-course dinner, with food prepped from our local farmers and vendors from the market.”

Nye said they added a cash bar three years ago; the night also includes a silent auction and live music.

The money raised at the event helps with the operating costs of the market, from the rental of Heinze Park, to the marketing of the event and helped the board hire a paid position for this years market.

“We actually were able to hire a market manager this summer,” said Nye.

The new position helped alleviate some of the work for the 5 members of the all-volunteer board.

Tickets are still on sale for this years event, $55 per person.

The four-course meal will highlight all the best from market vendors.

Live music from the Noodle Soup Group will provide the entertainment.

Nye said the group is made up of members of the Symphony of the Valley.

“They play Dixieland type music, really fun and up beat,” she said.

There will be yard games during the event.

“It’s a great evening with really good local food and music. It is a really nice relaxing atmosphere,” she said.

“Grand River is a huge sponsor, they purchase and cook the prime rib that is being served as the main course.”

Nye said they try sale around 80 tickets to the event every year. She also said they cap at 80 because of capacity concerns.

“We kind of like the feel of a smaller atmosphere,” she said.

“We probably feed 20-30 volunteers each year as well.”

Tickets are available online at RifleFarmersMarket.com/farm2table


CVES’s Bankey named Teacher of the Year finalist

Throughout his teaching career spanning more than two decades, Justin Bankey has nominated many of his peers for teacher of the year. This year, someone nominated him.

“I received an email from a very nice lady at (the Colorado Department of Education) congratulating me,” Bankey said about being notified Monday that he is one of seven finalists for the statewide award.

He was one of 43 nominated, all of whom went through a lengthy application process.

Bankey said the application process was very intensive and extensive, including an essay on a subject he is not use to talking about.

“The hardest part is you have to talk about yourself As a teacher, you’re so use to thinking about the students and supporting the staff, and all the sudden the essay questions are all about you,” Bankey said.

Bankey said one of the things he focused on in his teacher of the year application was his role in revamping the teacher-mentor.

“One of the things I became passionate about last year is helping with the mentor program,” Bankey said.

“We are creating a better mentor program for teachers here. One of the top reasons (teachers leave the job) across the nation has always been besides pay, has been support new teachers feel from admin and staff.”

Bankey said between 19 and 30 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years on the job.

“I felt pretty strongly about redoing our mentor program here, so with support and working with our head of the program, we have been able to revamp it,” Bankey said.

Bankey said the new program began this year and they are already receiving positive feedback from new teachers.

“That’s been one of my focuses, pretty thrilled to do that. Teaching is a pretty noble profession,” Bankey said.

Last Friday Bankey traveled to Denver for an interview in front of a dozen people, fielding questions.

“Which was kind of nerve racking,” he said.


A 19-year veteran of the Garfield Re-2 School District Justin Bankey has introduced thousands of Silt elementary school students to music over the years.

“My favorite part about being a music teacher is I get to see them as they grow, kindergarten through fifth, I get to know the kids and their families pretty well,”

Bankey moved from Montana to Colorado to teach at Cactus Valley Elementary because the area reminded of the rural area he grew up in Eastern Montana.

“One of the reasons I picked this area is that I’m from a rural community and I really believe in education in a rural community,” Bankey said.

He said his favorite thing about teaching at CVES for the last two decades is really getting to know and being part of the community he teaches in.

“I really feel the support of the community is really awesome for out kids,” Bankey said.

“I have some great friends, we think of each other as family here.”

When he is not teaching, refereeing football or working a the Rifle pool, Bankey spends as much time as he can traveling, camping, hunting and fishing with his wife Jamie and their two daughters.

When asked about what it would be like if he won the awards he was quick to say it was more about his students, school staff and administration.

“For me I feel like if I win teacher of the year it’s not me that won, because I don’t know if I would be the same teacher I am if I wasn’t in this building and this community. So for me personally it about the school I teach in and the staff that I work with and the district I’m in. I really believe in learning all you can and sharing what you know, I really believe in that,” Bankey said.

“It’s more about not just me, it’s everybody. For me just coming here everyday I get to put on my teacher hat and that makes me pretty happy.”

Other finalists

Other nominees include Richard Green (Shelledy Elementary School, Mesa Valley School District No. 51), Claudia Ladd (McMeen Elementary School, Denver Public Schools), Machin Norris (Franklin Middle School, Greeley-Evans School District 6), Erika Siemieniec (Sand Creek High School, School District 49), Hilary Wimmer (Mountain Range High School, Adams 12 Five Star Schools) and William Yerger (Horizon Middle School, School District 49).

Bankey said he will find out next week whether the committee will come for a site visit, and the winner will be announced by Oct. 31.

“These seven teachers serve as inspiring examples among the thousands of teachers across the state who every day go above and beyond to teach our children,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s Education Commissioner, according to a news release. “These finalists are dedicated, innovative and pushing our students to new heights. Any one of them would make an excellent Colorado Teacher of the Year.”


Rifle’s September Construction Fall Update

As fall begins to set in on Rifle and western Garfield County, construction will continue as a number of projects may affect driving and pedestrian traffic throughout the city in the upcoming months.

Centennial Parkway

The Centennial Parkway project is complete. Please pay attention to the new turn lane signals. Because there is opposing traffic using the same turn lane, a mountable median was required to prevent head on accidents. Due to the fact that large trucks and trailers use this road, the straight lanes on Centennial Parkway are on the right and the left lane is for left turns only.

The new Park and Ride is also finished. Notifications will be disseminated beginning this week. Starting on September 9th, the bus pick up will be on Centennial Parkway and the Park and Ride will be in its original location. West Second Street will go back to being a two lane street.

Whiteriver Avenue

Beginning on Sept. 9, improvements will be made to Whiteriver Avenue from First Street to Fourth Street. The first part of the project will replace the wood retaining walls which will necessitate the closure of the sidewalk and street side parking between West Second and West Third streets. The project is also reconstructing the intersection of Third Street and Whiteriver Avenue. This will require road closures and detours.

Palomino Park

The valley pan and 24th Place on East Avenue are being replaced. This will result in closures on both of these streets starting on Sept. 13. Also to be repaired in this same area will be Dakota Court and Fairway Avenue.

Firethorn Drive

Firethorn Drive will be reconstructed between Oct. 14 and Oct. 25. This work will require temporary closures.

Waterline Project at Deerfield Park

The waterline project at Highway 6 is complete. We now have a reliable water source that is capable of providing an additional 1 million gallons per day. A new waterline is being installed from the water tanks above Deerfield Park to the homes below. This will require temporary water shutdowns. If you are going to be affected by one of these shutdowns you will receive notice a minimum of 24 hours in advance.

For updated information on all City matters, please go to our website, www.rifleco.org or our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Unofficial Rifle city election returns

City Council

The 3 candidates receiving the most votes will be elected for a 4-year-term

Brian Condie — 341 | 41.9 percent

John Max Doose — 206 | 25.3 percent

Joe P. Elliott — 388 | 47.7 percent

Ed Green — 368 | 45.3 percent

Clint Hostettler — 310 | 38.1 percent

Raquel Mendisaba — 291 | 35.8 percent

Dana Wood — 305 | 37.5 percent

Ballot Issues:

A: Change the date that terms or newly elected Councilmembers will begin.

Yes | No

697 | 88 | 88.8 percent

B: Coordinate City Election dates with State/County Elections.

Yes | No

656 | 128 | 83.7 percent

Re-2 school board candidates confirmed

The Garfield Re-2 School District has four school board seats up for election as part of the November 2019 election.

Director Districts B currently held by Jay Rickstrew, C, currently held by Jacquelyn Johnson, and D currently held by Brock Hedberg are up for four-year terms.

Director District A currently held by Tom Slappey will be up for a two-year term.

Dir. Slappey was appointed to the seat earlier this year and must run to retain the seat for the remainder of the term. This seat will return to its regular four-year cycle in 2021 and the successful candidate will run again at that time.

The following Garfield Re-2 School District residents will be on the ballot for the 2019 School Board Election:

Director District A (2-year term)

Tom Slappey

Seth McMillen

Director District B (4-year term)

Chris Miller

Kirk Wilson

Director District C (4-year term)

Katie Mackley

Director District D (4-year term)

Meriya Stickler

Each candidate obtained at least 50 petition signatures from registered Garfield Re-2 School District voters and turned in their completed candidate petitions by 12 p.m. August 30. The petitions and signatures for each of the candidates has been verified by Sharon Donohoue, the Garfield Re-2 election official.