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Ranchers around the Pinon Canyon maneuver site officially received word yesterday that the Defense Department has approved the army‚€™s request to begin the process of adding 418,000 acres to the training area northeast of Trinidad. Lon Robertson, a Kim-area rancher and president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition said yesterday, ‚€œWe‚€™re not going to take this lying down‚€Ě. Robertson said the expansion would ‚€œbe a total misuse of taxpayers‚€™ dollars to take our land, our heritage, from families who have lived here for a long time‚€Ě. Fort Carson spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Johnson said that army and Pentagon officials will confer next week to work out a rough plan of public meetings and other steps in the process of expanding the 238,000-acre training site. The army has announced that it wants to acquire land from willing sellers, and recently announced that it wants to explore leasing land for the expansion, however, the army still hasn‚€™t ruled out condemnation as one of its options.
John Singletary, president of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, testifying before the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee yesterday, said that HB1132, a water quality bill, will go a long way toward protecting Colorado‚€™s rivers. Singletary said that linking water transfers and water quality has been a long time in coming. Singletary told the committee, ‚€œIt‚€™s time that Colorado shows a leadership role in water quality as well as quantity.‚€Ě The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Buffie McFadyen of Pueblo West and Sen. Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village, allows a Water Court judge to take into account the potential environmental damage that approving a large transfer of water could have on a river basin. The measure passed the senate panel yesterday by a vote of 6 to 1. The bill now heads to the full senate for debate.
Laqun Murphy, 25, has been released from jail after DNA results cleared him as a suspect. Murphy was arrested last October for the September 25th robbery of the Paperback Trading Post in Walsenburg and beating of the owner Diana Roth. Murphy was charged with felony counts of aggravated robbery, first-degree assault and theft. Murphy‚€™s DNA, however, did not match DNA left on a pair of latex gloves and a mask found near the store. Walsenburg Police Chief Larry Baldonado said that his department does not have any other suspects in the case, but will continue to follow up on any further leads.
A dedication ceremony for the newly restored Pike‚€™s Stockade in Conejos County near Sanford will take place on Saturday as part of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Zebulon Pike Expedition. A new monument will also be unveiled at 1:30pm at the stockade. Further improvements to the site are planned over the next few years. Even though the stockade has been restored, its appearance hasn‚€™t changed. The stockade was taken apart, logs numbered and the unusable logs were discarded.
Eugene Benedict Aquirre, 58, of Gardner, may be facing bond revocation after law officers allegedly found illegal drugs and weapons in a raid at his home last year. Aguirre was charged with possession of cocaine for distribution and two separate special offender charges for possession of weapons and cash after the October 30th raid. Aguirre was freed on $30,000 bail and ordered to undergo random drug tests. Aguirre has reportedly tested positive for controlled substance six times since October. Aguirre is scheduled to appear in Huerfano County District Court on February 28th for a preliminary hearing and possible revocation of his bond.