Colorado News Roundup: Colorado flew American flag at half-staff 8 times in 2015 (07.01.16) |

Colorado News Roundup: Colorado flew American flag at half-staff 8 times in 2015 (07.01.16)

The flag at the Dillon Cemetery. Colorado lowered the flag to half-staff eight times in 2015.
Ben Trollinger / |


DENVER — On nearly 90 percent of days last year, one or more states were flying the American flag at half-staff to memorialize the deaths of military members, public officials, police, first responders, prominent citizens and victims of mass killings and disasters, The Associated Press found in analyzing information requested from all 50 states and the federal government. Instances of Colorado ordering the American flag flown at half-staff last year on at least some government property, separate from proclamations that came from the federal government:

—May 29: State Patrol Cadet Taylor Thyfault, hit by man fleeing unrelated traffic stop

—July 21: Denver firefighter John Whelan, died of injuries from warehouse fire

—Aug. 7: Breckenridge firefighter Todd “TJ” Johnson, died of brain cancer complications

—Oct. 16: North Metro firefighter Craig Moilanen, died of leukemia

—Oct. 26: Retired Maj. Gen. John L. France, longest-serving adjutant general of Colorado, one of the last Minute Men pilots

—Nov. 12: Springfield paramedic Rick Hartley, died in an ambulance crash

—Nov. 23: State Trooper Jaimie Jursevics, hit by a suspected drunken driver while on duty

—Nov. 28-Dec. 3: Victims of Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who issues the statewide proclamations, says lowering the flag to half-staff helps Coloradans unite and demonstrates respect and mourning.

Funeral services Friday for 5 killed in Amtrak van crash

TRINIDAD, Colo. — Funeral services are being held Friday for five people killed when their van was hit by an Amtrak train.

The Colorado State Patrol says the parents and three children were killed when their van failed to yield right of way to the train.

The Colorado State Patrol says a girl survived and was hospitalized with serious injuries after the train headed from Chicago to Los Angeles hit the van at a railroad crossing in a rural area near Trinidad, about 15 miles from the New Mexico border.

The crossing is marked with signs but doesn’t have gates to stop vehicles.

The girl’s parents were identified as 32-year-old Stephen Miller and 33-year-old Christina Miller of Trinidad. Their daughters, ages 6, 2 and 8 months, also died.

Report released on fatal southern Colorado plane crash

LONGMONT, Colo. — An investigation into a plane crash in southwest Colorado that left three people dead suggests the plane may have been experiencing engine problems.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s report released Thursday says witnesses to the June 15 crash did not hear the Cessna 320’s engine when it tried to land. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft’s nose suddenly drop and enter a steep, descending left turn when it was about 1,000 feet in the air.

The Times-Call reports that investigators haven’t yet determined what caused the crash.

The report says the plane was being used to take photographs under a contract with the U.S. Forest Service.

The crash killed 51-year-old pilot Jere Ferrill of Castle Rock, as well as 17-year-old David Louwers and 28-year-old Mykhayl Sutton, both from Longmont.


Boulder to stop selling ice cream at municipal pools, parks

BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder residents will no longer be able to cool off with an ice cream cone by the pool as the city has discontinued the sweet treat as a vending options at all Parks and Recreation facilities.

The Daily Camera reports that the city dropped ice cream cones, bars and sandwiches in an effort to cut down on sugary, unhealthy snacks. City-run facilities can only sell treats that satisfy a series of nutritional standards, meaning chips and other junk food also left snack stands this year.

Boulder District Services Manager Alison Rhodes says the aim is to give kids healthy choices, but that all facilities allow outside food to be brought in — including ice cream.


Man gets 72 years for rape on Fort Collins riverbank

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A 33-year-old man has been sentenced to 72 years in prison for raping and robbing an 18-year-old woman on the banks of the Poudre River in Fort Collins.

The Coloradoan reports that Dustin Harmon was sentenced Thursday for the September 2014 attack. He was convicted in May of sex assault and robbery and has an ongoing sex assault and robbery case in Weld County.

In a statement to the judge, Harmon said he regretted his actions but stood by his claim that the sex was consensual. He said he wished he had been a “gentleman” and taken the victim home.

Harmon met the victim at a gas station and arranged a date near the river. He provided her with alcohol and marijuana before assaulting her in the woods.

Ex-Ignacio employee admits to stealing $66,000 from town

DURANGO, Colo. — A former employee of Ignacio has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $66,000 from the southwestern Colorado town to feed her gambling addiction.

The Durango Herald reports that Jacquelyn Mejia pleaded guilty to theft charges Thursday.

Court documents say Mejia had worked as an administrator for the town in January when she walked into the Ignacio Police Department and confessed to stealing money from the town’s coffers. The documents say she told police she had a gambling addiction and had been taking county money since November.

Mejia faces up to 90 days in jail and 10 years of probation when she’s sentenced in September.


Burlington prepares for prison closure, economic loss

DENVER — State officials are working to help Burlington prepare for the closure of its prison — a move that will result in a loss of more than 140 jobs in the small community and have a large impact on tax-funded services and schools.

The Denver Post reports the Kit Carson Correctional Center closes at the end of July.

The prison has paid $1.2 million in property taxes to fund schools, the city and county. It’s also the town’s largest electricity customer.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office says he’s looking to use $3 million the Legislature previously approved to keep the facility open to help Burlington recover from the loss.

The closure comes as Kit Carson’s population has declined. The facility has about 400 inmates, less than 30 percent of its capacity.

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