GRAND COUNTY MAN TAKES PLEA DEAL IN VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CASE
A Grand County man accused of hitting and killing a man and injuring 4 other members of his family in a car crash on the 4th of July, has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors. Gregory Westley was killed when Ackerman hit him and the other family members, while the family was walking along Highway 34 after a fireworks show. Ackerman was reportedly drunk at the time. The District attorney says the accident would have happened whether Ackerman had been drinking or not, but that state law makes it mandatory that drunk drivers be prosecuted. Yesterday, Ackerman appeared in Grand County District Court to enter his plea. He pleaded guilty to one count of Vehicular Homicide and three counts of Vehicular Assault subject to deferred judgment and sentences for four years. He also pleaded guilty to one count of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) without any deferment. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 28th. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ackerman could be sentenced to up to a year in the Grand County Jail for the DUI charge. He will also be required to complete supervised probation with alcohol treatment and community service as a condition of the deferred sentences for the Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault charges. If at the end of the four years Ackerman has fulfilled the terms and conditions of his four-year deferred sentences, the Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault charges will be dismissed. The DUI will remain on his record. If he fails to comply, the felony convictions become permanent and he could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.
WILDLIFE OFFICIALS URGE PUBLIC TO RESPECT CLOSURE SIGNS
Local wildlife officials believe that threats to winter range for elk and other big game species are negatively impacting the prized herds in north central Colorado. As big-game winter range on private land becomes developed, public lands become more important for wintering elk and deer herds. Thus, the Routt National Forest is asking recreational users to stay out of designated elk and deer winter range areas from November 15th to April 15th. Courtesy closure signage has been posted at trailheads where conflicts between wildlife and people are inevitable. The closure areas provide pockets of habitat where deer and elk find security and food during the harsh winter months without being disturbed by human activities. Voluntary closures employed over the last several years have had limited success because a large portion of users have ignored the signs. As a result, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is considering implementing legal closures to the affected winter range areas.
MOFFAT COUNTY EDUCATION BOARD SEEKS PUBLIC’S HELP IN SELECTING NEW SUPERINTENDENT
The Moffat County Board of Education is beginning the process of searching for a new superintendent and has asked the firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to help the Board with the process. Joe Petrone is leaving the district to take a job elsewhere. As one of the initial steps in the process, the Board is seeking public input on the desired characteristics and skills that the community would like to see in the next superintendent. To access the survey, click here.
JOHNNY SPILLANE BUYS STEAMBOAT BUSINESS
Former Olympic skier Johnny Spillane is tapping into another big passion for his second career. The three-time Olympic medalist in Nordic skiing purchased a fly fishing shop in his hometown of Steamboat Saturday. Spillane says he used to work as a guide for Steamboat Flyfisher in the offseason and he approached owner Tim Kirkpatrick in the spring as he got ready to retire. Spillane won three silver medals in Vancouver in 2010, including the United States’ first medal for the combined event. Spillane says he hopes to reach out to more destination travelers but says he probably won’t be guiding as much now that he’s the owner. Pictured: Johnny Spillane
PARKS AND WILDLIFE OFFER NEW YEAR’S DAY HIKES
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will sponsor guided hikes in 18 state parks on New Year’s Day. The First Day Hikes initiative offers individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1st. Parks and Wildlife says First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family. The hikes themselves are free but park visitors must have either a daily parks pass or a valid annual pass. Those wanting to participate locally can go to Stagecoach State Park. Meet at the park office for an easy, two mile guided snowshoe hike on the Overlook Trail. A limited number of snowshoes will be available for free for participants, if there’s snow on the ground. This is a family-friendly hike and leashed pets are welcome.
SALMON EGGS DECLINING IN LAKE GRANBY
From a recent high of nearly 4 million in 2006 to just slightly more than 350 thousand this year, the number of kokanee salmon eggs collected by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Lake Granby has declined, leading officials to begin exploring solutions that could reverse the trend. Kokanee are land-locked Pacific sockeye salmon found in several high-elevation reservoirs in Colorado. The fish feed primarily on zooplankton; however, biologists say competition and pressure from both mysis shrimp that also feed on zooplankton and a significant lake trout population that prey on kokanee are the primary reasons for the drop in their numbers in Lake Granby. Because many of the state’s kokanee come from eggs collected in Lake Granby, increasing their numbers to meet management objectives is a priority for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials plan to invite the public to several meetings in March, where they can review biological data and discuss the direction of fishery management in Lake Granby with state wildlife officials. For more information, click here.
IN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Steamboat beat Aspen (2-1).
Little Snake River Valley hosts Rangely. Both boys and girls play at 6:30.
Soroco hosts Hayden. The girls play at 7 and the boys at 8:30.
Steamboat hosts Glenwood. The girls tip off at 1:15 and the boys at 3.
Rangely heads to North Park. Both the boys and girls play at 1:30.
Little Snake River Valley is home against Saratoga. The girls tip off at 2:30 and the boys at 4.
Moffat County goes to the Warrior Classic in Grand Junction.
Rangely heads to the Wray Duals.
Steamboat is home against Columbine at 6:30.
In girls swimming:
Moffat County swims at Montrose.
In Alpine Skiing:
Steamboat goes to Loveland.