Week in Review
SILT – One teenager is dead and three others injured after a one-car rollover accident July 4 in the Silt Mesa area.Three of the four teenage boys in the vehicle were on their way to an informal summer basketball practice when the accident occurred around 9:15 a.m., according to Coal Ridge High School varsity basketball coach Mike Cox.Zach Schwartz, 16, of Silt, died while being airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Cox said.Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, whose department assisted the Colorado State Patrol at the scene, said the accident happened on County Road 236 (Harness Lane) about two miles north of Silt.”It was a single-car accident,” Vallario said. “They apparently lost control and rolled. Two were ejected from the vehicle.”According to a press release from the Colorado State Patrol, a 1998 Ford pickup was westbound on County Road 236 when the driver failed to negotiate a slight left-hand turn. The driver then lost control of the vehicle and the truck went of the left side of the roadway. It then rolled one and one-half times before coming to rest on its roof.Cox said the injured included driver Braxton Jackson, 16, of New Castle, Alex Klein, 15, of New Castle, and Ian Martinez, 16, of Silt.
With his wife accused of pointing a gun at a family, alleged Rifle arsonist Robin Jay Clifton continues to have run-ins with the law.Robin Jay Clifton and his wife Robin Pearl Clifton, both of Collbran, were arrested last weekend on felony menacing charges after Robin Pearl Clifton aimed a gun at a family of three in a Clifton park near Grand Junction. Mesa County Sheriff Sgt. Todd Rowell said that the family called authorities June 12 after being chased by Robin Pearl Clifton, who was aiming her gun at the mother and her young son. Rowell said the Cliftons were sitting in their car at the park near 32 Road when the pair had a verbal exchange with the family. Robin Pearl Clifton allegedly began running after the family with the gun pointed at them. Robin Jay Clifton was driving the car, but did not point a gun at the family, Rowell said. Robin Jay Clifton was arrested Saturday for felony menacing and two unrelated charges, including being a fugitive from justice – a Mesa County charge – and theft. Robin Pearl Clifton was arrested Sunday on a felony menacing charge and then bonded out of jail. Robin Jay Clifton was being held Monday at the Mesa County Jail on $553,000 bond.
A national group that backs lower taxes and less government spending is planning to visit Glenwood Springs to protest a federal earmark for the South Bridge project.Americans for Prosperity (AFP) representatives plan to arrive July 11 to object to $6.2 million secured for the project by U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa.Colorado Department of Transportation Director Tom Norton already has criticized the Glenwood funding, which was procured outside the accepted local process for prioritizing highway spending needs. Said CDOT spokesperson Stacey Stegman, “When someone goes around the process and gets that earmark it puts that project at the beginning of the line when all those other local projects have been waiting in the wings.”Garfield County Commissioner John Martin has voiced that same concern, and labeled the Glenwood project a “bridge to nowhere” because the city has yet to decide on the future of its airport. That decision would affect the eventual alignment of a road going from Highway 82 south of Glenwood Springs across a new bridge over the Roaring Fork River, and on to the Midland Avenue/Four Mile Road intersection.Despite his concern, Martin and fellow commissioner Trési Houpt recently said the county is continuing to partner with the city in pursuing the project.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario on Wednesday denied allegations of inmate abuse at the Garfield County Jail. He also said that a visitation policy will be added to the jail’s written policies and procedures after the jail’s visitation rules were questioned in federal court in Denver. U.S. District Judge Walker Miller denied the American Civil Liberties Union’s motion for a restraining order against Vallario to prevent him from limiting attorneys’ access to inmates at the jail. The ACLU accused Vallario of changing an unwritten visitation policy following the group’s May 11 visit to the jail to interview inmates in person about alleged human rights abuses there. ACLU lawyers were allowed to speak with the inmates that day. But when the lawyers returned to interview more inmates on June 15 and 16, a new jail policy was in effect requiring jailers to ask inmates who their lawyer is, and if they didn’t say they were represented by the ACLU, the ACLU wasn’t allowed to talk with the inmates. Vallario said his jailers on May 11 assumed that the ACLU lawyers were actually representing the inmates they wanted to interview, when they actually did not. The policy was revised again after the June 16 visit. That version, requiring jailers to ask inmates who their attorney is or if they are seeking representation from the attorney or legal organization who wants to meet with them, will be in writing by the end of the week, Vallario said.
William Baine Langley, one of the Garfield County Jail inmates who instigated the American Civil Liberties Union’s investigation into human rights abuses there, on Thursday pleaded not guilty to rioting at the jail. Langley, who decided to represent himself June 15 before the recently deceased Judge T. Peter Craven after dropping lawyer Peter Rachesky as his attorney, had previously pleaded guilty to burglary charges, which he asked Judge Tom Ossola to dismiss Thursday because more than six months had passed since his plea.Langley burglarized the Glenwood Springs Coca-Cola distribution facility in 2004 and burglarized and a man’s home in West Glenwood in 2005. He is also considered a fugitive from justice in Navajo County, Ariz., where he is accused of DUI. Ossola was unmoved by Langley’s motion to dismiss. Since the original burglary charges, Langley picked up new charges stemming from an alleged November 2005 jail riot involving four inmates who were so unruly that it took 10 Sheriff’s deputies, armed with Tasers and a pepperball gun, in full riot gear, and three Glenwood Springs Police officers to subdue the inmates. Langley and the other rioting inmates had allegedly blocked the drains in their toilets and sinks, flooding their cells with water and backing water up into the plumbing so that it leaked into Sheriff Lou Vallario’s office.After Ossola denied Langley’s motion to dismiss, Assistant District Attorney Amy Fitch suggested the court follow the recommendation of the Probation Department, which suggested Langley receive anger management counseling. Ossola sentenced Langley to two years of probation and a mental health examination.
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