On July 11th of last year, Routt County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the home of Larry and Christie Appel.   Deputies found both dead of apparent gunshot wounds.  The Routt County Sheriff’s Office investigated the matter with support from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Routt County Coroner’s Office, Steamboat Springs Police Department, and 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  On May 6th of this year, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office completed their investigation and forwarded it to the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review.  Their investigation concluded that Larry Appel killed Christie Appel, then killed himself.  After reviewing the investigation, District Attorney Barkey announced today that he concurs with the investigators’ findings and will consider the case closed.  District Attorney Barkey stated, “I greatly appreciate the thoroughness of each of the officers from every agency working to piece together what happened in this incident.  As we bring this investigation to a close, my thoughts go out to the Appel family as they struggle to understand this tragedy.”


As the result of a lengthy undercover drug investigation, members of the All Crimes Enforcement Team, the Craig Police Department, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Joint Moffat/Craig Special Response Tactical Team executed two arrest warrants and search warrants on two different residences yesterday morning. One of the search warrants was executed at 796 Barclay, where 46-year old Conny Mullis and 32 year old Maria Saenz, were arrested on charges of Unlawful Distribution of Methamphetamine. The second search warrant was executed at 974 Aiken St. The contents of that warrant have been sealed by the Court.  Photo courtesy of the Craig Police Department.  Pictured officers taking one of the subjects into custody.  Click on the photo to enlarge.



The Disappointment Fire was reported yesterday afternoon on BLM land four and a half miles northwest of Elk Springs off Highway 40, and a couple miles south of Dinosaur National Monument. It was ten acres when wildland engines arrived and high winds pushed it to 60 acres in a few hours. The cause of the blaze is lightning and it is burning predominately pinion and juniper trees.  A helicopter is dropping water and two heavy air tankers are dropping retardant to slow the fires spread and allow the ground crews an opportunity to construct containment lines.  No structures are threatened.  Two other one tenth acre fires that flared up yesterday are contained. One was one quarter mile north of the Disappointment Fire and the other was in the Piceance Basin in Rio Blanco County.  A Red Flag warning remains in effect Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties for low relative humidity, high winds and dry fuels. Weather reports are also calling for above normal temperatures.  Fire danger is very high in Moffat County and high in Rio Blanco, Routt, Jackson, and Grand Counties.



Firefighters are in what is known as the “mop up” phase on the Wild/Hacking fire. During “mop up,” firefighters ensure that there are secure perimeters around the fire and that any hot spots that may be sources for potential re-ignition are suppressed.  The official estimate for the size of the fire remains at 370 acres.  Fire crews will begin the demobilization process today, but some staff will remain on site through at least Saturday.  Originally, the Wild/Hacking fire began as two separate fires, the result of lightning strikes on Thursday, but had merged into one fire by Friday. Located in a remote portion of the monument without any threat to structures, fire managers analyzed a number of factors and decided to manage the Wild/Hacking fire for the natural benefits fire provides, including fuel reduction, returning nutrients to the soil and improving wildlife habitat and forage.  The Canyon Overlook and Picnic Area along the Harpers Corner Road remain closed to the public for use as a helicopter landing spot.



The Bureau of Land Management will lift seasonal closures Saturday in the Emerald Mountain Special Recreation Management Area near Steamboat due to unseasonably warm weather.  The majority of the Emerald Mountain SRMA is normally closed from Dec. 1 to June 30 to protect wintering and calving elk. Only the Ridge Trail and the area north of the Ridge Trail are open during the closure period. The closure corresponds with Colorado Parks and Wildlife lands to the east of the SRMA and the Humble Ranch property to the southeast.  However, after discussions with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, BLM Field Manager Wendy Reynolds says all public lands at the Emerald Mountain SRMA will be open for recreation use due to the warm weather this year.



Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe will testify to the Small Business Subcommittee on Ag, Energy and Trade in Washington D.C. tomorrow.  The committee is chaired by Representative Scott Tipton.  Grobe plans to talk to the committee about new business in relation to oil and gas, and the oil and gas industry in general.  His goal is to show how oil and gas production benefits U.S. business, specifically small businesses.  Grobe plans to testify at 10 tomorrow morning.



Shell Exploration and Production Company (Shell) has announced an investment in energy education at Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC). Shell recently authorized the expenditure of $263,000 to be used by CNCC for the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These funds will be used for educational supplies, laboratory and classroom furniture, fixtures, and equipment in the upcoming renovation of the Rector Building, one of the nine original buildings built on the Rangely Campus in 1962. CNCC and the Rangely Junior College District have begun a $3.6 million project to fully renovate and expand the building into a state of the art facility to be known as the Rector Arts and Sciences Education Center.  This donation mirrors a similar gift of $340,000 made by Shell to CNCC in November 2006 which was used for the purposes of growing local energy industry workforce development opportunities in the area, attracting and retaining local students and their intellectual talent within the region, enhancing the education and skill of existing area workers, and providing sustainable process technology and energy courses at the college.



A recall petition against a Colorado lawmaker who supported gun rights and sponsored a rural electric bill he claims to know nothing about, was deemed sufficient Tuesday, setting up the first potential recall of a state lawmaker in Colorado history.  Lawyers for Democratic Senate President John Morse immediately vowed to challenge the recall effort. They argued that the petition was improperly worded and therefore invalid.  The recall campaign has become a national flashpoint in the gun control debate. Gun-rights activists from across the country have vowed to defeat Democrats who steered through laws that made Colorado the first state outside the East Coast to curb gun rights in the wake of mass shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut and a movie theater in suburban Denver.  Rural Colorado residents and lawmakers are also upset with Morse for pushing through Senate Bill 252, the rural electric mandate.  Morse admitted during testimony that he didn’t know much about the bill, which exempted his district, as well as the districts of the other sponsors.



Xcel Energy says gas and electricity bills are beginning to creep higher as the price of natural gas rises in Colorado.  The average electricity bill for the 2013 summer quarter is projected to rise almost 6 percent to $76 a month when compared with the summer of 2012.  The spot price of natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange has risen more than 47 percent to $3.90 for a million British Thermal Units.


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