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The New Elk Coal Mine west of Trinidad laid off 200 of its 235 workers yesterday and suspended operations saying that demand for coal from the mine is low. Workers will be laid off for at least 60 days although they will continue to receive health, vision and dental benefits, according to mine officials. The 35 employees who were not laid off will work as needed at the mine. Mine manager Ron Thompson said that the mine has “70,000 tons of coal stored that’s ready to sell and [they] just haven’t been able to sell it to any companies”. He said, “There’s just no room to store the coal so [the mine] had to shut down operations”. Cline Mining Corporation, which operates the mine, said the layoffs were necessary to manage costs. The Canada-based company laid off more than 70 workers in may. The New Elk Coal Mine first opened in 1951 by the former CF&I Steel to provide metallurgical coking coal for its blast furnace iron and steel production plant in Pueblo. Mine operations had shut down in 1996 but reopened last year.

Alamosa District Attorney David Mahonee cleared three police officers of any criminal wrongdoing on Monday in the fatal shooting of a suspect who threatened officers with a sword on April 22nd. Mahonee’s decision found that Alamosa Police Captain Robert Jackson, Corporal John Valdez and Officer Brian Cooper were justified in the shooting death of Tran Davis, 40, of Alamosa. Investigators found that Davis had barged out of his bedroom with a sword in hand after two hours of negotiations with police where Davis told them that he would not come out of the bedroom alive. Davis held the sword over his head in an attack or hacking position and aggressively came at the officers, according to a letter that Mahonee sent to the police department of his decision. Police had gone to the home where Davis was renting a room to question him about an assault earlier that morning in which he allegedly attempted to cut a woman’s throat.

Colorado State Patrol Troopers Mark Buneta, Clayton Mock, Rodney Noga, Gary Schaaf and Brian Kohnlein were honored with special pins for their uniforms yesterday at the governor’s mansion in Denver for their role in apprehending the Dougherty gang last August on the north side of Walsenburg. Stephen Straight, the chairman of the group Citizens Appreciate State Troopers (or C.A.S.T.), said that the group feels, “Law enforcement officers in general and our state troopers in particular receive too little thanks and appreciation from the public for the work they do”. He said, “These awards are a way of demonstrating the gratitude of the public for the officers’ efforts”. State troopers were tipped off last August 10th that the three wanted Dougherty siblings were in the Colorado City area at a nearby gas station. A high speed chase ensued down I-25 ending after stop-sticks were used on the north side of Walsenburg.

A fight between two women that began at a bar in Alamosa early Saturday morning nearly turned deadly and ended with one of the women in jail and the other in the hospital with multiple stab wounds. Police and medical personnel became involved at a residence on 9th Street in Alamosa about 1:50am Saturday morning. Police arrested Sasha Chacon, 22, of Alamosa and transported her to the Alamosa County Detention Facility. She faces charges of criminal attempt to commit second-degree murder, a class 3 felony, and first-degree assault, also a class 3 felony. The other female was transported to the SLV Regional Medical Center for multiple stab wounds resulting in serious bodily injury.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will close State Highway 69 to traffic, about 8 miles south of Westcliffe, on Tuesday, July 17th, for detour paving. Highway 69 will be closed from 9am to 11am, allowing crews to remove temporary asphalt millings and to pave the one-line detour parallel to the Antelope Creek Bridge. CDOT is in the process of replacing the current 64-year-old structure with a concrete box culvert. While the highway is closed, drivers can use I-25 to State Highway 165 in Colorado City north to State Highway 96, west on Highway 96 to the Westcliffe/Silver Cliff area. When the detour reopens, a signal will alternate northbound and southbound traffic through the work zone about every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.