Teenage Raton murder suspect surrenders

RATON, NM — A 19-year old Raton man surrendered to city authorities Saturday afternoon after a warrant charging him with first degree murder in a deadly Friday afternoon shooting was issued. Flavio Rodriguez, 19, wanted in connection with the Friday, July 24th shooting death of Jacob D. Salas, 33, of Raton, NM surrendered to Raton Police without incident at approximately 4 pm Saturday, July 25, 2015. Rodriguez is being held at the Vigil-Maldonado Detention Center on a $1M cash bond set before his arrest by Magistrate Judge Warren Walton. Rodriguez is charged with one count of first degree murder, tampering with evidence, and child abuse. An arraignment date has not been set. Raton Police responded to the Sommerset Apartments at 1229 State Street about 3 pm Friday on a shooting call that sent Salas to Miners Colfax Medical Center where he later died from his wounds. When officers arrived on the scene they found Salas in the doorway of apartment 115 bleeding heavily from the upper right leg near the groin area. Officers rendered first aid till Raton EMS arrived and took over. Rodriguez had been last seen Friday afternoon in the

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Raton approves final budget

RATON, NM — The final budget for the coming fiscal year for the City of Raton was approved at the Raton City Commission regular session Tuesday. The city budget shows revenues of $4,759,392 and expenses of $4,912,234. The budget approved does include the budgets of the Raton Water Works and Raton Public Service. Commissioners heard from Michael Anne Antonnuci and approved the fiscal year end budget adjustments for the city and Raton Water Works. The final adjustment included transferring monies that had been left in grants or other funds that needed to be moved to the general fund. Antonucci is hopeful the city will see some increase in GRT this next year with some of the ongoing construction projects. She also noted the budget is a living document, and they will see adjustments throughout the year. Antonucci went over the financial reports with commissioners Tuesday evening. Commissioners then approved the year end financial reports which Antonucci indicated had a few bright spots, one of which was the city managed to control expenses to the point that they offset the 4% decrease in gross

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Trinidad City Council calls in Cougar Canyon performance bond

 “They didn’t perform, we want our money back”

 TRINIDAD — The Cougar Canyon development took a hit Tuesday evening when, during a regular meeting, the Trinidad City Council, voted 7-0 to call in a performance bond for the residential part of the unfinished development. A performance bond is required by the city as part of the planning process. It calls for real estate developers to put up the bond to cover the city’s cost of the infrastructure. It is used to cover the city’s cost in case the development doesn’t get finished. The bond covers the golf course, clubhouse and motel, making the bond worth about $3 million to $4 million to complete the infrastructure for that area. Developers did do some of the work however, installing utilities, curb, gutter, and sidewalks to a portion of the development. One area has only two homes but most don’t have any utilities. The City Public Works Director Mike Valentine told city council members at a workshop that using the developers figures about $3.5 million in work still needs to be done. There are 147 platted lots at the development but the rest of the residential area has never been platted. “We asked them to perform, they didn’t perform. We want our money back,” Mayor Joe Reorda said after the vote was taken. In other

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La Veta Town Board denies Flanders a second time

 LA VETA — In what was at sometimes a heated exchange between property owner Gary Flanders and Mayor Doug Brgoch, the town board, for a second time, denied Flanders request to have his property zoned by the town. With Flanders before the board, Brgoch explained that Flanders had not filed the appropriate paper work, adding that Flanders needed to submit a platte of the property. Brgoch also noted that a Planned Unit Development or PUD was needed from Flanders to move forward. Brgoch explained that the PUD provides the citizens of the town with idea of what is being proposed so they can weigh in on the project, as it addresses issues like power, water, and sewer needs to the site. Flanders replied, “The town cannot make up ordinances as they go. I am 73 years old and have no plans to develop the property. I want to prepare it for the next owner.” Brgoch pointed out that, “We have to act in the best interest of the town and to know what is coming.” One of Flander’s main concerns was not having to wait for six months to reapply for an extension for time to file an appeal. Brgoch agreed to allow Flanders to review the

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Cucharas District without a general manager

 CUCHARA — While the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District has yet to issue a formal statement or final decision about the situation, Bob Northup is no longer its general manager. Although Board Chairman Art Pierce told the WJ that Northup is on “administrative leave,” Northup, contacted at home earlier this week, had a slightly different explanation. He described to the WJ that he and the board of directors “have been feuding and … haven’t seen eye-to-eye for seven months or so.” Northup, who worked at CSWD for over 20 years, said he was notified by CSWD while he was on vacation to “not return to work.” He says the board decided to terminate him, but he has not yet met with the board members, who conducted most of their discussion about the matter in executive session. “I don’t know right now what will happen,” Northup said. “They’ll have to find a new general manager.” By Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulations, CSWD, as a public utility, needs to have on staff at all times

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State Treasurer visits Trinidad

TRINIDAD — Stopping in Las Animas County, during a summer long tour of the stateʼs 64 counties, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton met with county commissioners and some of the county’s staff to discuss concerns and answer questions. “We are covering all 64 counties in Colorado this summer to talk to county commissioners and county treasurers to discuss important economic issues: issues in the counties, issues dealing with the State of Colorado, unfunded mandates, challenges at the county level,” Stapleton said The Colorado health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, is a big fiscal challenge said Stapleton. Currently the exchange is being audited, and when the State Treasurerʼs office sees the audit, they will find out how much money it is losing and see whatʼs not viable about the exchange. Then it may be decided to switch to the federal healthcare exchange. However the cost of such a move would probably be prohibitive. County budget issues Chair of the Board of County Commissioners Gary Hill opened the Las Animas side of the discussion bluntly stating two numbers: they “are looking at a 65 percent to 70 percent loss of the countyʼs assessed valuation over the last four to five years” largely because of

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Garland Street work progresses in La Veta

LA VETA — At the July 13 meeting of the La Veta School Board, Gaye Davis reported the construction company is making good progress on the Garland Street project. According to Davis, weather has not interfered with the work, and substantial completion is planned by August 15. However, some alterations to the original plans have been made, and instead of constructing three crosswalks, only one will be constructed, which will go from the high school to the elementary school. There will also be only one ADA ramp instead of two, and no ramp will be built up to the music room, because, “It would go up to stairs.” The board approved employment renewal for Judy Fisher as check and connect coordinator, with compensation provided by the IOG Grant and benefits funded by the school district. The school board also accepted the resignation of Samantha LaGow “with regrets and best wishes.” The board approved the second reading of policy CBI_E3, which is a self-evaluation form for the school superintendent. It also approved the first reading of a new draft for policy CBI, an evaluation of the school superintendent. The school board plans to wait until the Garland Street construction project is finished to do more work on the pending energy assessment. Representatives from the State of Colorado Energy Office are

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Green business growing strong in Trinidad

TRINIDAD — The marijuana business in Trinidad has grown into the city’s second largest industry, according to City Manager Gabriel Engeland. And not only that, owners of the businesses are refurbishing the buildings they purchase or lease. Some of the buildings they are moving into have been sitting empty and have fallen into a state of disrepair for as long as a decade. The refurbishing of old and dilapidated buildings by the owners and operators in the marijuana industry is a slow process, but when completed, will make the downtown area look more attractive to businesses thinking of relocating or starting up in Trinidad. “It increases the value of the properties as well,” said Engeland. “This dovetails with the city’s near and long term plans for economic development,” said Engeland. “We’ve shifted away from coal and gas, but we’ve not yet shifted to something. Right now this helps us focus on diversifying the local economy, which will help us build a sustainable economy.” So far this year, the marijuana business, both medical and recreational combined, has seen a growth rate of around 17 to 18 percent and the business seems to be

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Lily Lake and Mt. Blanca out of reach

HUERFANO — Huerfano County Commissioner Max Vezzani said Tuesday, “In our world it’s a huge slide”referring to a July 4th landslide that closed a portion of CR 580 that cuts through private land. Vezzani said the slide was an eighth to a quarter mile wide and reaches depths between 25 and 30 feet. No one was injured when the large landslide occurred, but the ranch manager of the Joe Luter property had to cut a trail on the private land to allow a few vehicles full of holiday campers to get down from above the slide area. Vezzani said the board of commissioners were meeting with a US Forest Service representative Tuesday during their weekly session and will be talking about options concerning getting the road reopened. He said the commissioners are working under the impression the configuration of the county road will have to be changed. He said when surveying the scene, without a reconfiguration of the road, the county would have to end up in the tunnel building business. The road is located on the west side of the valley Vezzani said, and the affected area slid down nearly to the river, closing the road. The commissioners have a meeting set with the property owner, Luter, later this month. County Road 580, is located above Gardner and Huerfano County Commission Chairman

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Defense attorneys don’t want television cameras in court at murder trial

WALSENBURG — Defense attorneys for accused murderer Ralph Candelario of Walsenburg have filed an objection to the latest request for expanded media coverage of his upcoming October 2015 trial. Leslie Neigher, an associate producer for CBS News/ 48 Hours, filed a request on June 26 with the Third Judicial Court seeking full audio and video coverage of the October 13, 2015 trial. In the request, Neigher said, “ At least one CBS News/”48 Hours” producer will be present at trial with at least one other crew member and agreed upon number of cameras. Should the request for coverage of the entire trial be denied, we respectfully submit a secondary, reduced pool request for coverage of the opening statements, closing argument, verdict and dependent upon the verdict, sentencing proceedings if applicable.” In a letter to Judge Claude Appel, Lindsey Gutterman of the CBS news magazine, “48 Hours,” said, “Our cameras are small and can be placed in very discreet locations that can be wired into another room outside of the main courtroom.” Gutterman also said in the late June letter that “48 Hours” has covered trials in Colorado in the past, and in fact have covered trials involving special prosecutors Ryan Brackley and Matthew Durkin, who are prosecuting the Candelario case. She said in the past CBS has used small remote control cameras to cover trials in Colorado and ensures cameras are turned towards the ceiling of the courtroom when jurors are being seated or leaving for

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