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SUNRISE: Salamander inches closer to becoming state amphibian

February 24, 2012
photo - Fifth-grader Marko Babiak, 11, holds a Western Tiger Salamander on the floor of the House at the Capitol in Denver on Feb. 6.  Photo by ED ANDRIESKI, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Fifth-grader Marko Babiak, 11, holds a Western Tiger Salamander on the floor of the House at the Capitol in Denver on Feb. 6. Photo by ED ANDRIESKI, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

DENVER (AP) — The western tiger salamander is closer to being named Colorado's official state amphibian.

The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee voted 7-0 in favor of the designation Thursday.

A Denver primary school class suggested the designation, which has already been approved by the House.

The western tiger salamander is found in every Colorado county.


Jury deliberating in dragging death trial

After closing arguments Thursday, the jury in the trial of a woman accused of dragging a tow-truck driver to his death on Feb. 23, 2011 began deliberating and will continue doing so Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.

Detra Farries is accused of driving off in her SUV while tow-truck driver Allen Lew Rose was in the process of towing it. Rose became entangled in the tow line and was dragged for more than a mile. Gazette reporter Lance Benzel is at the trial and tweeting coverage live @lancebenzel. See Thursday's trial coverage.


Local school board to hold executive session

The Falcon School District 49 board is holding a special executive session at 11 a.m. Friday to discuss “departmental reviews or audits of service departments.”

The executive session, which is not open to the public, is reportedly about the Transportation Department.

But the district’s attorney would not be specific, said spokeswoman Stephanie Meredith. Services could mean any one of  several departments including transportation, maintenance, nutrition, facilities or information technology, she said.

The meeting is at the administration building.





You follow The Gazette's coverage of City Hall by reporter DANIEL CHACÓN. Want more insight behind Colorado Springs politics? Check out his Facebook page here.



Mostly sunny conditions are on the menu for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

After temperatures in the mid 30s for Friday, Saturday should prove to be the warmest day with highs predicted near 54 degrees. Sunday is expected to top out in the low to mid 40s.

Lows should be in the 20s with breezy conditions all weekend.



NTSB interested in weather before plane crash

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS (AP) — A federal investigator says a plane that crashed while approaching Yampa Valley Regional Airport in a snowstorm didn't have its landing gear down.

The twin-engine Cessna 414A crashed Sunday, killing the pilot and a passenger and injuring the passenger's husband and three children.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Jason Aguilera tells the Craig Daily Press there could've been many reasons the wheels were up.

Aguilera says the weather remains one of the most important factors investigators are reviewing. Airport officials have said the visibility dramatically fell from about 10 miles to less than a quarter of a mile before the crash.

The crash killed 75-year-old pilot Hans Vandervlugt and Gaby Humpal, whose family was traveling from Texas to Steamboat Springs for a ski vacation.

2 accused of selling Spice to public, students

DENVER (AP) — Denver police have arrested two people suspected of selling Spice, or synthetic marijuana, to the public, including students at East High School.

Police say they seized about 12 pounds of Spice and more than $36,000 from a store near the school this week.

Store owner Maher Awad and store clerk Abdelilah Dehry have been arrested on suspicion of selling synthetic cannabinoids.

1 pleads guilty, 1 convicted in stabbing death

PUEBLO (AP) — Jurors have convicted a woman in the death of a Pueblo County man who was stabbed and set on fire in what authorities say was a robbery that went bad.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports a jury convicted Acacia Lyndarr on Thursday of felony murder and second-degree murder in the death of Robert Piserchio in 2009. She was convicted just after Brandon Armijo pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery in the case.

Lyndarr also was convicted of first-degree arson, aggravated robbery, first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Lyndarr's trial included testimony from Matthew Barnes, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case and is serving 30 years in prison.

Lawyer who vanished appears ready to plead guilty

DENVER (AP) — A Breckenridge lawyer who fled to Mexico after vanishing in 2007 appears to have reached a plea deal.

Royal "Scoop" Daniel is charged with eight counts of theft and five counts of commercial bribery on accusations he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients.

KCNC-TV in Denver reports the 66-year-old appears ready to plead guilty to two counts of felony theft in exchange for dismissal of other charges. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert says that under the pending plea agreement, Daniel would face up to 16 years in jail.

Daniels' attorney didn't immediately return calls from KCNC seeking comment.

Man charged with escape from Denver hospital

DENVER (AP) — A patient who authorities say escaped from custody at a Denver hospital has been formally charged.

Denver prosecutors said Thursday that 22-year-old Samuel L. Govea is now charged with escape.

Govea was at Denver Health Medical Center on Sunday for treatment of a gunshot wound in his leg. He was shackled to his bed after authorities learned he was wanted on suspicion of escape, burglary, assault, menacing, criminal mischief, violating a protection order and failing to register as a sex offender.

Sheriff's officials say he dismantled the bed to break free.

Police arrested him two days later.

Former Quality Paving owner Rhea seeking new trial

BRIGHTON (AP) — The former owner of a paving company that's accused of billing Adams County for work it didn't do is asking for a new trial.

Jerry Rhea was convicted this month of 23 felony counts, including theft and attempting to influence a public official. The charges stem from contracts Quality Paving and Quality Resurfacing held with Adams County in 2007.

The Denver Post reports Rhea's attorney Anthony Leffert wants a new trial on grounds that prosecutors improperly raised allegations in opening and closing arguments that Adams County officials were enriched by their dealings with Rhea, when no such evidence had been presented to jurors.

Prosecutors contend they were allowed to comment in closing arguments on evidence and "reasonable inferences" drawn from it.

Hickenlooper: Rural lawmakers' pay hike is right

DENVER (AP) — Gov. John Hickenlooper says a scheduled $33 daily pay hike for rural lawmakers is "the right thing to do," even though it's politically unpopular.

Hickenlooper says he's sympathetic to the issue because the per diem daily increase would go to lawmakers who live furthest from the state Capitol. Hickenlooper made the comments Thursday during a luncheon with newspaper publishers and editors with the Colorado Press Association.

The per diem increase from $150 to $183 takes effect July 1 unless lawmakers pass legislation to delay it, like they did in 2010.

Lawmakers passed a bill without debate last week authorizing $189,420 for the per diem increase. The Pueblo Chieftain first reported on the bill's approval, which some lawmakers see as bad timing because of tough budget times.

The bill passed 34-28.



In 1920, the German Workers Party, which later became the Nazi Party, met in Munich to adopt its platform.



-- In-store wine tasting - “National Tortilla Chip Day,” 3-7 p.m., Vintages Wine & Spirits, 9 S. Tejon St., free.

-- “Let’s Play Chess” all ages chess and checkers club, 3:30-5 p.m., Briargate Branch Library, 9475 Briar Village Point, free.

-- Teen fiction writer’s club, 4-5:45 p.m., Rockrimmon Library Branch, 832 Village Center Drive, free.

-- “Indian Corner” exhibit reception and gallery talk, 4:30 p.m., Colorado College, I.D.E.A. Space, Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave. Exhibit runs 12:30-7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays through March 14, free.

-- The Mitguards, 6:30 p.m., The Margarita at PineCreek, 7350 Pine Creek Road.

-- “Hope and Action Film Series - Black Gold” — 6:30-9 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 420 N. Nevada Ave.; 471-8522 or

-- Rocky Gene Wallace, 7-10 p.m., Cucuru Gallery Café, 2332 W. Colorado Ave., $10 minimum purchase.

-- Black Rose Acoustic Society open stage headlined by The Matt Flinner Trio: 7 p.m., Black Forest Community Center, 12530 Black Forest Road, $4-$7.

-- Mystic 7 Band, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., Meadow Muffins, 2432 W. Colorado Ave., free cover.

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