Colorado News Roundup: Woman pleads guilty to defacing rocks at 7 national parks (06.15.16)
Here’s what’s going on around Colorado today:
A San Diego woman who painted and drew on treasured natural rock formations at national parks across the West and shared her work on social media pleaded guilty Monday to defacing government property.
Casey Nocket, 23, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Fresno, California to seven misdemeanors for the autumn 2014 painting spree at seven national parks including Yosemite in California and Zion in Utah.
She also admitted to defacing rocks at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Nocket used Instagram and Tumblr to document her trip and her graffiti-like work, which led to broad outrage on social media.
She was sentenced to two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service.
The vandalism in September and October of 2014 caused serious cleanup problems at the national parks. The sandblasting and chemical stripping used to remove paint can cause even more damage to irreplaceable natural features.
At two parks, Crater Lake and Death Valley in California, the cleaning has yet to be completed nearly two years later.
A later hearing will determine how much restitution Nocket must pay to help with the cleanup.
Woman gets 82-year sentence for holding officers at gunpoint
CRAIG, Colo. — A woman convicted of helping kidnap two law officers who were held at gunpoint while checking out a suspicious vehicle in Moffat County has been sentenced to 82 years in prison.
Georgie Hand was sentenced Monday after being found guilty of kidnapping, disarming a peace officer and other charges in connection with the March 2015 incident.
Investigators say Hand and her ex-husband, James Damon, stripped the officers of a firearm, stun guns and radios and nearly took one of their vehicles before an officer got his gun back and Damon was shot and killed.
Neither officer was injured in the confrontation near the small town of Dinosaur, about 10 miles from the Utah border.
Court records say Hand told investigators she and Damon had been injecting meth throughout the week.
Jail mistakenly releases suspect wanted on weapons charge
DENVER — Authorities are looking for a suspect wanted on a federal weapons charge who was released from the Adams County Jail by mistake.
The Denver Post reports that 22-year-old Isaiah Claypool was released from custody on Saturday after posting bond on warrants from Denver and Douglas County. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office says he shouldn’t have been allowed to leave without clearing the federal warrant for the weapons charge.
Senior Deputy Michael Kaiser says an investigation into Claypool’s release is ongoing.
The sheriff’s office says the suspect is likely still in the Denver area.
Few comment before deadline on Colorado mines Superfund plan
DENVER — Time is up for people to comment on a proposed Superfund cleanup for leaking mines in southwestern Colorado, and not many have spoken up.
A few hours before the Monday deadline, 34 people had submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the planned Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site.
The site would include the Gold King Mine north of Silverton, which released 3 million gallons of acidic waste into Colorado, New Mexico and Utah rivers last August.
A final tally on comments is expected later Tuesday.
The low number of comments came as a surprise after years of controversy over a Superfund site. Some worried it would hurt the region’s tourist economy or give the federal government too much power over local affairs.
Colorado to begin Highway 34 repair work in October
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Colorado Department of Transportation will close a 30-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 34 for nine months so it can perform rock-blasting and construction work.
The Coloradoan reports that CDOT announced Monday that the highway will be closed between Estes Park and Loveland from late October to June 2017. Permitted vehicles, including Big Thompson Canyon residents, will have daily access that stretch of highway during certain hours.
Transportation officials will be repairing damage from the floods that devastated the canyon in 2013.
The agency is also planning short-duration lane closures and traffic stops beginning July 4. CDOT officials say the work will add about 20 to 30 minutes to a trip through the canyon.
CDOT says it chose the off-season to minimize the impact on tourism and business.
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