Colorado’s News Roundup: Invasive caterpillars increasing spread across state forests (07.07.16)
DENVER — Fir trees along Colorado’s Front Range are wilting due to black-tusked tussock moth caterpillars that have munched away at 25,000 acres of forest in one year.
The Denver Post reports the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Springs have launched an effort to combat the bugs by spraying an insecticide on the caterpillars. The $293,000 aerial attack was conducted over a five-day period in June.
The fuzzy green caterpillars, which turn into tussock moths in July, have caused trees near Colorado Springs, Boulder and Larkspur to wilt and turn brown. Defoliated trees are more vulnerable to other invasive insects, such as mountain pine beetles and western spruce budworm.
Colorado State Forest Service data show the bugs spread across 26,000 acres in 2015, up from only 1,000 acres in 2014.
Man acknowledges sexually assaulting 5 children at day care
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs man has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting five children at his wife’s unlicensed day care service.
The Gazette reports 68-year-old John “Jake” Fredrick Frey, who entered his plea Tuesday, faces between 15 years and life in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 4.
Prosecutors say he committed a pattern of sexual assaults on young girls at a now-shuttered home business in northeast Colorado Springs. Frey was arrested in February after a young girl told her parents he had touched her inappropriately when his wife left him alone with children while running errands.
Police say he confessed to repeated attacks over a three-year span.
Man who harassed girls in Aspen sentenced to halfway house
ASPEN, Colo. — An Oklahoma man who acknowledged harassing two teenage girls in Aspen and seriously injuring a boy while running from police must spend four years in a secure halfway house.
The Aspen Daily News reports 23-year-old Stephen Moore, who was sentenced Tuesday, also was ordered to register as a sex offender. He pleaded guilty to child abuse and invasion of privacy for sexual gratification, among other charges.
Moore was arrested in August after following two teen girls and taking cellphone pictures up their skirts. He fled from police while in handcuffs, knocking down a 9-year-old boy along the way.
The boy suffered broken teeth, a wrist injury and required stitches for a cut on his forehead.
Former Colorado wildlife chief fined for hunting charge
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — The former head of Colorado’s wildlife agency has pleaded guilty to a hunting-related trespassing charge that happened while he was in charge of the Department of Natural Resources.
The Steamboat Today newspaper in Steamboat Springs reports that a judge signed off Wednesday on Mike King’s plea of guilty to hunting in a closed area. As part of a plea deal, a hunting-out-of-season charge was dropped.
King did not appear at Wednesday’s hearing. He was allowed to mail in his guilty plea.
King was fined $90 and had to pay $194.50 in other fees. He also could be assessed points on his hunting license.
King was cited in September 2013.
King left DNR in January and took a job as planning director with Denver Water.
Online program gets 3 more years in Denver suburb
DENVER — Colorado’s state education board has given an online-traditional school hybrid more time to show it can help Denver-area students.
Aurora’s school board voted last month not to renew its agreement for HOPE Online Learning Academy to operate centers in the district where students follow an online curriculum and work in person with teachers. HOPE appealed to the state board and brought dozens of parent and student supporters to a meeting Thursday at which Aurora’s denial was overturned in a 7-0 vote.
Aurora officials are concerned about student achievement and question the HOPE program’s rigor. Board members acknowledge HOPE needs to improve, but say its relationship with parents and students also is important.
The board gave HOPE, which also operates elsewhere in Colorado, three more years in Aurora, a Denver suburb.
Boulder softens stance on poolside ice cream
BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder is considering softening its stance on poolside ice cream after the public decried its decision to ban the treat at all Parks and Recreation facilities.
The Daily Camera reports that the city stopped selling the classic summer snacks because of the high sugar and fat content. Many residents were less than thrilled, including Andrew and Thomas Gafford, 7- and 6-year-old brothers who co-authored a letter to the editor objecting to the plan.
Boulder District Services Manager Alison Rhodes says the city is now exploring healthier ice cream options and will bring the Gafford boys on as taste-testers.
Andrew Gafford says it’s good news that the city is reconsidering, but he is concerned that Boulder won’t be able to find a tasty option that meets its self-imposed nutritional standards.
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