Week in review
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Local reactions were mostly negative to a bill that passed out of committee in the state senate Thursday. That bill proposes a $5 toll on Interstate 70 drivers west of Denver.
Mayor Bruce Christensen doesn’t like to imagine paying a $5 toll to drive to Denver.
“I think it’s a terrible idea,” he said. “It strikes me as being extremely unfair that the needs of I-70 have been ignored for so many years and hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to improve I-25.”
The Senate Transportation Committee killed Senate Bill 209, by Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver. The bill would have charged tolls during peak times on vehicles carrying less than three people and would have charged truckers more. Romer said Winter Park skiers bonked him in the head with their poles on a chairlift when they discovered he was the man behind the bill.
But Senate Bill 213, by Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, passed the transportation committee, and will head next to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It would charge I-70 drivers west of Denver a toll of up to $5 to raise money to improve the often gridlocked highway. However, even some of the bill’s co-sponsors said they might not support it before the full Senate.
Christensen said tolling I-70 drivers could hurt Colorado economically. Utah aggressively markets its easy access from a major airport to ski resorts, he said, and ski resorts in this part of Colorado are already at a disadvantage because of often unpredictable winter air travel.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A man accused of stealing an Army veteran’s identity and using it for 24 years will hide and avoid prosecution if he posts bond to get out of jail, the man’s brother said Tuesday.
Mark Mulcahy, 46, is being held in the Garfield County Jail on $45,000 bond on suspicion of identity theft, three counts of forgery of a public record and three counts of criminal impersonation. He also allegedly used the false identity to get free health care. During his Feb. 28 arrest, he told jail officials he lived in New Castle and worked for a drilling company.
Mulcahy’s brother, Mike Mulcahy, said in a phone interview he plans to contact local authorities and ask for a higher bond.
“Someone needs to get in contact with them and let them know he is a major flight risk,” he said.
Mike wasn’t sure why Mark allegedly stole the veteran’s identity, or how Mark’s life turned out the way it did.
“I have no idea why,” he said. “He just thinks it’s easier to con somebody or to steal from somebody. … He’s psychologically imbalanced, period.”
According to Mike, the two are from Springfield, Ill., with a total of eight siblings. He said their biological father was dying of cancer and committed suicide when Mark was about 5 and Mike was 15. Their mother, who stayed at home, remarried a man who served in the Air Force. Mike said he remembers Mark getting in trouble as early as 10 or 12 and stealing from his family to get money. Mike described his brother living the life of a con man with a rap sheet “as long as I am tall” in Washington, Oregon and California.
SILT ” About 988 ballots are circulating through the mail in Silt to determine who voters want to be mayor and serve on the Town Board of Trustees.
Silt Mayor Dave Moore faces a recall election. If voters decide to recall him, a majority vote is required, and then a second ballot question decides his replacement. Rick Aluise is the only candidate for mayor.
The recall committee says Moore violated the home rule charter when he became involved in an employee issue that should have been the town administrator’s responsibility. The committee also took issue with Moore giving a 35-minute PowerPoint presentation against a Stillwater Ranch developer’s application, then presiding as mayor over the meeting to decide on the project.
Moore has said that a presentation in favor of the project was also made by then-town administrator Rick Aluise. To become a mayoral candidate, he needed to submit 25 signatures from registered town voters.
GLENWOOD CANYON ” A ruptured penstock on June 20, 2007 left the Shoshone Hydroelectric plant lifeless. But Xcel Energy area manager Fred Eggleston said the plant will be producing power again by the end of April.
“Over the next couple of weeks we will know a little more,” Eggleston said. “We don’t want to rush it. We want to know that it will work correctly before we go online with it.”
The Shoshone station, located in Glenwood Canyon, produces 14 megawatts of power and has been in operation for close to 99 years. It was put out of commission after one of the large penstock pipes that delivers water to the plant ruptured and caused water and debris to flood the plant. But over the past 10 months the majority of the project has been cleaned up or replaced.
“The penstock is where the problem was,” Eggleston said. “We realigned both penstocks and have also reinforced them with concrete barriers.”
Along with repairing the penstocks, the generators that create the electricity have been rewound. Eggleston said it’s probably the first time the generators have been rewound in the plant’s history.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Water experts at the Colorado River Water Conservation District bet each year to see who can most closely predict peak river flows.
With extra snowpack this year, water resource specialist Mike Eytel’s guessing the Colorado River’s peak flow near Glenwood Springs could come in at 20,000 cubic feet per second or more. That’s more than two times the normal 6,000 to 9,000 cfs peaks the river sees in the middle or end of June, he said.
“We’re sitting at the best snowpack in easily a decade for this time of year,” he said.
The Upper Colorado River Basin currently has about 119 percent of the normal water content in its snowpack, compared to a 30-year average. The Bureau of Reclamation has predicted runoff this year will raise Lake Powell by 30 feet or more.
On Thursday, the Colorado River near Glenwood was flowing at around 2,200 cfs, slightly above average. Flows usually increase and get cranking in mid-April, Eytel said. A few consecutive nights without a freeze could lead to a significant increase in runoff, or colder, freezing nights and more precipitation could even continue to build snowpack and cause the peak flow to come later.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A judge ruled Wednesday that a felony stalking charge against Silt Town Trustee Bobby Hays could be changed to allege he stalked a woman as early as January 2000.
The charge originally alleged Hays, 49, stalked the woman from May to August 2007.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office arrested Hays Aug. 8 after he allegedly followed the woman home from a softball game and blocked her driveway. The woman said he’s followed her and driven by her house since 2000, and she made a report to the Sheriff’s Office in 2002 about the behavior, according to an arrest affidavit.
The woman told a deputy that she tried unsuccessfully to get a restraining order against Hays before, and that Hays said God told him they were married, the affidavit says.
Hays has said the accusations are bogus and he can’t discuss the matter further because it’s still going through the court process. He pleaded not guilty in January. His attorney, Greg Greer, couldn’t be reached.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” By the time a bear has it’s paws on the doorsteps to your house it’s too late to do anything about it, according to Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.
It’s that time of year again when the fuzzy neighbors are waking from a long hibernation period and are looking for food. Aspen has already seen one bear around town during March. It’s still a little early for activity, but April is the month when the bears begin to thaw from the winter.
“This is kind of when they start to come out,” Hampton said. “We would really expect over the next month to see more bear activity.”
However, the much talked about snowpack this year could leave the bears in hibernation for a little longer. And will provide the bear’s habitat with much needed moisture.
“If we get a nice steady warm up this spring, that is what we are hoping for,” Hampton said. “It will provide more moisture and that is what we really need.”
Last year was one of the worst in history for incidents with bears, not only in Garfield County but the entire state.
The DOW put down 63 bears across the state in 2007, a record year for the DOW. Seven of those bears were in Garfield County with another 57 bears in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties were relocated to more desolate habitat.
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