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Week in review

staff reports
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GOLDEN, Colorado ” In just a few minutes, the bidding raced past $10,000 an acre. And when it stopped, one bidder was on the hook for $25.2 million to buy a 2,139 acre-parcel on the Roan Plateau.

The Bureau of Land Management raised about $114 million in little more than four hours from four bidders on Thursday as the agency auctioned off 31 parcels encompassing 54,631 acres of the Roan Plateau Planning Area, which is northwest of Rifle in Garfield County.

The total collected in the sale is far below a Golden energy group’s prediction that the Roan sale would bring in about $1 billion. Colorado stands to collect about $55 million from Thursday’s sale.



Those who snapped up the vast majority of the area’s parcels were mostly brokers who bought the parcels for natural gas operators in the area.

Thursday’s lease sale of Roan Plateau acreage is a development that many environmentalists and sportsmen groups have been battling against for almost seven years.



They prize the area for its wildlife, and have sought to protect it because it provides important habitat for mule deer, elk and genetically pure native cutthroat trout. Many environmentalists have argued against drilling in the area because they say 70 percent of public lands leased for oil and gas production in the state are not producing, and that 70 percent of drilling permits issued in the state are not being used.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A 74-year-old woman told a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office detective she was too afraid to fall asleep in her own bed after waking to a man sexually assaulting her in the middle of the night May 29.

She still couldn’t sleep, even after bars were put on her bedroom window, and her pastor put new dead-bolts and locks on the doors and windows.

On Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office said it arrested the man who did it after months of investigation that turned up DNA evidence linking him to the crime. Dale R. Loper, 31, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of six felonies including sexual assault armed with a deadly weapon, sexual assault on an at-risk victim and sexual assault causing serious bodily injury.

Loper was still being held in the Garfield County Jail Thursday on $85,000 bond. He lived in New Castle and Glenwood Springs for about a year and is originally from New Mexico.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A federal judge has sent back to state court a lawsuit filed by the daughter of a Garfield County commissioner against the Garfield County Board of Commissioners, the sheriff and the county’s jail commander.

U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham, in mid-July, dismissed the Garfield County commissioners from a lawsuit filed by Lisa Martin, the daughter of Commissioner John Martin. He also dismissed several claims that were a part of her lawsuit “with prejudice,” and remanded the remaining claims to Garfield County District Court.

Lisa Martin’s complaint named the Garfield County Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Lou Vallario and Jail Commander Scott Dawson as defendants.

Nottingham issued his order, which was handed down on July 18, after attorneys for Martin, the commissioners, Vallario and Dawson filed a motion that sought those specific actions.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Chief District Judge James Boyd dismissed a contempt of court citation against two members of the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team last month.

A two-day hearing on the contempt citation scheduled to begin Wednesday was canceled after Boyd signed a July 23 order dismissing the charges.

Attorney Chip McCrory had accused TRIDENT of failing to obey a March 19 subpoena and disclose records about a confidential informant in Nichole Brownell’s 2005 drug distribution case. District Judge Denise Lynch signed a May 9 citation and order for TRIDENT agents to show cause why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court. It could have led to fines or jail time.

Attorney Kenneth Jaynes was appointed as a special prosecutor to handle the contempt charges. He investigated and asked Boyd to dismiss the citations. Jaynes concluded that TRIDENT provided its records to the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and that he doesn’t know of any criminal investigation records that haven’t been given to the defense in Brownell’s case, according to Boyd’s order.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Garfield County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a special use permit for Orion Energy Partners to build temporary housing for up to four people in the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area.

Orion is currently building one exploratory well and natural gas and water pipelines in the habitat about 3.9 miles south of New Castle after the company reached a surface-use agreement with the Colorado Division of Wildlife in June.

That agreement mandates several requirements the company must follow to lessen its drilling impacts on wildlife in the area, which the DOW owns and uses as winter range for elk and deer.

The need for temporary housing at Orion’s well pad “is dictated by the location of Orion’s operations and the requirement to have personnel on site 24 hours a day during typical drilling operations,” wrote Jerry E. Holder, operations superintendent for Orion Energy Partners, in a letter to the county’s building and planning department.

“The installation of this housing will reduce daily traffic to and from this well pad and enhance the safety of Orion’s operations,” Holder wrote.


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