Status conference held for upcoming Feb. 2016 Candelario murder trial

 WALSENBURG — First degree murder defendant Ralph Candelario made what was likely his last court appearance in Huerfano County Monday, Jan. 25 for a status conference before the upcoming two week trial set to begin late next month in Trinidad. Prosecutors Ryan Brackley and Matthew Durkin and their team and defenders Dariel Weaver and Matthew Ragland appeared with their client before Third Judicial District Judge Claude Appel in a short session to work out details prior to the February 22 trial. Discussions centered on the jury questionnaire, a network television expanded media request and various transportation and security issues. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys will contribute to the questionnaire that will be filled out by potential jurors for the two week trial. Judge Appel said he was not prepared to rule on the Dateline NBC expanded media request at the hearing Monday. He said he will have to look into the power availability and some logistical issues associated with the enormous district courtroom in Trinidad, but he did say if the request was granted it would only allow video recording of opening and closing statements and the verdict. It is expected Judge Appel will rule on the request as soon as the end of this week. If granted, NBC would act as a pool video provider for other media outlets. While saying the courtroom in Trinidad was one of the most beautiful in the

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Trinidad P and Z okays Cimino application, moves to city council

TRINIDAD — A divided Trinidad Planning and Zoning Commission approved, with a 5-2 vote, to move the application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a new Toyota of Trinidad automobile dealership to the Trinidad City Council for final approval. The move was met with resistance from members of the city’s historical preservation group and the city’s culture and heritage group during a public hearing Wednesday evening, January 20, at City Hall. The dealership will occupy a 6.1 acre parcel starting on Commercial Street and spreading eastward beyond Chestnut Street. It will extend northward and stop just north of the city’s Cedar Street extension. Pressure to begin the development is increasing with a demand by Toyota corporate to get it underway by March 1, 2016. If the development fails to start on that date the franchise will be moved to Alamosa. With zoning of the area as established historic preservation-mixed use district (E-HP-MUD), a conditional use permit is required to build a vehicle sales business. One of the businesses that will be surrounded by the new dealership is M and M Dispensary. John Micheliza, from M and M, spoke against the issuance of a CUP saying he feels it will interfere with his business. “It will block my alley, the only access I have to the back of the building to maintain it.” The alley is on the

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LAC DHS reconciling numbers

TRINIDAD — County Department of Human Services Director Arlene Lopez appeared before the county commissioners on Jan. 26 during a meeting wrapping up the reports from DHS to the commissioners for budget year 2015. The monthly meetings between the commissioners and Lopez took a look at the expenditures for the various services and programs the department provides to county’s residents. According to Lopez, the November 2015 expenditures were over $800,000 but below the $861,000 normally spent by this time of year. Expenditures were down 1.7 percent overall with 92 percent of revenues collected with only 88 percent being spent by the end of November. By the end of December 2015 DHS had spent $935,000 out of a revenue of $910,000. However the department underspent in some offices while other offices overspent, which put revenues ahead of expenditures by $177,000. This leaves the department with a 2016 starting balance of $320,000. Not so good, noted commission chair Mack Louden. “The direction human services is going in two years it will be done.” DHS had started 2015 with a beginning fund balance of $635,413 and cut the beginning balance by $315,413 by overspending. Some of that spending found itself in the $50,000 a month DHS is spending for foster care. Another expenditure for the 2015 budget year is the $55,000 to $57,000 per month spent on caseloads dealing with children. For 2015 those expenditures reached $700,000. Old age pension spending for seniors totaled another $700,000 for 2015. But the gorilla in the room is food stamps. The DHS spent around $4 million in 2015, about $400,000 per month on over 1,600 cases. However a study by Hunger Free Colorado shows only 71 percent of those who may be eligible in the county had enrolled in the program. This means the areas grocery stores have missed out on about $1.6 million in sales. Medicaid enrollment was up for the 2015 budget year with the department serving around 3,000 cases per month. New cases for November rose by 60 with December showing an increase of 77 new enrollments. Administrative funds, the money needed to initiate, process, and manage the system were overspent, but according to Lopez, the state reported most of Colorado’s counties overspent in this area. This has caught the eye of the state auditors and inspectors.

City of Raton to get armory building

RATON — Raton City Commissioners accepted a one-year lease agreement for the National Guard Armory located on city property near the Crews Field airport. The National Guard no longer has a use for the facility and has vacated the building. The National Guard Armory Board approved the lease agreement at their meeting this week in Santa Fe. The agreement will not cost the city any money. After the Guard cleans up lead contamination at an indoor shooting range, they will turn the building over to the city. City officials did not announce an immediate use for the facility In other business, commissioners approved a grant from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department for fire equipment. Grant matching funds will come from monies the fire department received from wild land fire fighting. The total of the grant is $17,119.30. In financial matters, commissioners heard the deficit in gross receipts taxes is indeed an error at New Mexico Taxation and Revenue in the hold harmless funds in lieu of taxes on food products. They

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Trinidad City Council looks at changing meeting times

TRINIDAD — The Trinidad City Council heard from city staff during a work session, Jan. 26, about options for time changes of meetings and work sessions. The options offered council members could result in flexibility of scheduling. The other option offered was a change in the formatting of the agenda allowing for a speedier meeting. Five options around meeting times were offered for their consideration. The first option shown was to schedule both work sessions and council meetings for the same night with the work session starting at 5:30 pm. and running until 7 pm when the council meeting begins. A second option is to change the work sessions meeting time from Tuesday afternoons starting at 1:30 pm to the evening thus allowing the public to come to the meetings. The third option looked to change the time city council meets for regular meetings from Tuesday at 7 pm to Tuesday at 6 pm and have a work session when needed. This option drew comments from council member Anthony Mattais, “I think 6 pm is too early. People

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Bad Santa busted in the ‘Burg last week

WALSENBURG — Lakewood Police were in Walsenburg last week to interview a suspect in a Christmas Eve stabbing incident in the suburban metro Denver area. The suspect, identified by Lakewood Police as 34-year old Brian Delorme, was arrested on two Denver warrants here in Walsenburg last week that were not associated with the Lakewood investigation. Walsenburg Police Captain Vince Suarez said Delorme was contacted by police following a suspicious person call from the Western Convenience store on Wednesday, January 20. Delorme was taken into custody on one of two Denver Marshal Office warrants, for failure to appear. That warrant called for statewide extradition. Captain Suarez said when Delorme was arrested he was in the company of a female, who was trespassed from a number of local businesses, but was not arrested. Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman saidDelorme was picked up from the county jail by DMO officers on Friday, January 22. Lakewood detectives came to Walsenburg and interviewed the suspect and have prepared arrest warrants for him charging attempted first degree murder and first degree assault. Lakewood Police Public Information Officer Steve Davis said detectives from that agency did not take custody of Delorme at the end of their interview as he was being held on the Denver warrant. According to reports, Delorme is suspected of stabbing a 31-year old man after an argument on a bus on December 24, 2015. Delorme was reportedly wearing a Santa suit at the time the incident occurred. The unidentified victim survived. Lakewood police said last Friday they had identified the suspect early on in the case, but had trouble locating him because he was believed to be homeless. Investigators got their Christmas wish when they noticed the man had been arrested in Walsenburg in connection with the unrelated warrants from Denver. The suspect apparently left his cell phone behind on the bus after the stabbing leading to his identification.

Suspect faces federal charges of aggravated battery against mail carrier

RATON — On January 20, 2016 at approximately 10:12 am, Raton police department officers were dispatched to the 600 block of North 2nd Street in reference to a male subject beating a mailman with a brick. When officers arrived on scene, the male victim identified as David Boyer (62) of Trinidad was located unconscious and face down, bleeding from the head. Raton EMS was summoned to the scene to treat Boyer’s wounds and transported him to Miners Colfax Medical Center. Police Chief John Garcia told KRTN Boyer has since been transported to Pueblo, Colorado with several serious injuries. Officers located the suspect not far from the scene on the 100 block of Maxwell Avenue still carrying the brick used to assault Boyer. Cody A. Martinez (29) of Raton, was taken into custody without incident and transported to Vigil Maldonado Detention Center where he is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence, criminal trespass and

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Las Animas County okays payroll for sheriff’s deputies

Las Animas County—The Las Animas County Commissioners, after meeting with the County’s attorney, decided they will pay Sheriff’s Deputies for the second half of December. This pays overtime through the 15th of December, including holiday pay as well as regular pay for the second half of December, according to Las Animas County Administrator Leeann Fabec. The total payout to the Sheriff’s budget from the County’s reserve funds amounts to $53,000.

Trinidad youth shot in head Boy, 9, in critical condition

 No arrests made in case

TRINIDAD — A shooting Monday afternoon in Trinidad left one child severely injured and another uninjured. The shooting happened around noon Monday, Jan. 4 at the Sparks Natural Gas station near the Shell gas station on Goddard Street. When EMS arrived they found a 9-year-old boy in a vehicle in the parking lot with his 8-year-old brother. The 9-year-old had been shot in the head. The victim was taken to Mt. San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad then transported via flight-for-life to Denver Children’s Hospital where he underwent surgery. He is currently listed in critical condition. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has been called in by Trinidad police to help with the investigation. According to a TPD press release, forensic interviewers who had been called in from the Pueblo Police Department assisted with the interview of the 8-year-old boy. Officers learned the victim had been in a parked vehicle at the Shell station with his 8-year-old brother. The two boys found a loaded gun in the vehicle. While handling the gun, it discharged, striking the 9-year-old in the head. The boys were in the care of a family friend, James Howard, while their parents were at a medical appointment. Howard, 63, of Trinidad, is an employee of the Sparks Natural Gas station and was working on a pump at the time of the accident. No arrests have been made. Once the investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office to determine what charges, if any, will be pressed.

Council takes first step towards gas rate hike

WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night approved an ordinance on first reading that will allow for an eventual ten percent rate increase for all natural gas customers served by the city run enterprise. Ordinance 1083 will mark the first gas rate increase since February 2011 and calls for an approximate 80¢ per month increase in the base customer charge; from $7.98 per month to $8.78 per month. Councilman Charlie Montoya suggested council approve two ordinances, one with an in-town price and another with a probable higher gas rate for out of city limits customers. Walsenburg’s natural gas enterprise services customers outside of the city limits, such as the town of Aguilar. The suggestion, made during the finance committee work session, did not carry over into the regular session when council voted on the issue. Montoya and councilman Dennis Hoyt voted against the ordinance and Montoya also voted no on the motion to set a public hearing on the issue. Both motions passed and a public hearing on the rate increase will be held at 5:30 pm, Tuesday, February 9th. In other business, city council approved Ordinance 1082 on second reading. The ordinance allows for larger signs to be located adjacent to highways around the city. Council approved a resolution changing personnel

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