Briefs, Sept. 20, 2017

Did anybody know? Xcel holds rate hike meeting, nobody shows

The first of three public meetings for consumers to weigh in on a request from Xcel Energy to increase prices to its natural gas customers was Tuesday night at Grand Junction City Hall, but no members of the public showed up to the event.

The lack of public participation is likely a result of the fact that the Public Utilities Commission failed to directly notify local media of the specific data and time.  The PUC said that they notified the Grand Junction community broadly via a Sept. 7 news release, but the Daily Sentinel was not a recipient.

The Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel, which advises and advocates on behalf of consumers regarding state-regulated utility costs, did send a press release with the specific meeting date and time as a courtesy, but that was done just hours before the meeting was set to be held .

Xcel has requested to increase prices to its natural gas consumers in a collective amount of about $139 million over a three-year period starting on Jan. 1, 2018.

The next two scheduled public meetings are Thursday in Denver and Sept. 25 in Pueblo.

Lightning fire near Gateway contained

Fire crews were able to fully contain the Bucket Fire on Tuesday, which burned between five and seven acres near Gateway, The wildfire was burning in an area off Sky Mesa along John Brown Road.

Fire crews from the Bureau of Land Management, the Gateway Fire Department, the Lands Ends Fire Protection District and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office all responded to the fire.

Two engines are expected to stay on the scene until officials are confident that the fire has been completely contained, officials said.

Lightning was the suspected cause of the fire.

Man shot by police gets 27 years in crime


COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado man who was shot by police last fall after being suspected of breaking into a home in an attempt to steal the owner’s vehicle has been sentenced to 27 years in prison.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Christopher Lee Liles was sentenced on Tuesday to four years for aggravated motor vehicle theft and 27 years for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon specification, to be served concurrently.

Seventeen other charges were dismissed, including burglary charges.

Police were executing a search warrant related to a burglary investigation in September 2016 when their suspect, Liles, took off in a stolen vehicle.

Liles led officers on a short chase, which ended in him being shot. The District Attorney’s Office deemed the shooting justified, saying it avoided a hostage situation.

Death penalty ruled out in Collbran case


FORT COLLINS — Prosecutors say they won’t seek the death penalty for a teenager accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and taking her body to western Colorado.

Tanner Flores was in court on Monday ahead of a planned 10-day trial starting next week. The 19-year-old faces first-degree murder and kidnapping charges in the death of 18-year-old Ashley Doolittle.

The Loveland Reporter-Herald reports that 150 residents will be included in an initial jury pool and attorneys will narrow that to 14 jurors, including two alternates.

Doolittle’s mother reported her missing on June 9, 2016. Police have said the woman was killed after she and Flores broke up.

Authorities have said her body was found in Flores’ truck at his grandfather’s vacant property near Collbran.


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