News in brief
The Eagle County commissioners voted unanimously Oct. 24 to spend up to $1.75 million to help acquire conservation easements on the Grange Ranch in Basalt’s outskirts.The governments of Pitkin County and Basalt also contributed funds for the $5 million deal. The purchase will eliminate the possibility of development on 245 acres just downvalley from the Big O Tire Store in Basalt. Billy Grange and his nephews will continue to run a cattle operation on the property for as long as they want.Pitkin County has committed $3 million to the purchase. Basalt has committed $250,000 from its general fund. The town will consider contributing an additional $500,000 if voters approve its proposal for a 1 percent sales tax next month.If Basalt contributes more to the deal, it could potentially reduce Eagle County’s contribution to $1.25 million, according to a news release from Eagle County. About 32 of the 245 acres of the ranch are in Eagle County, including wildlife habitat along the Roaring Fork River.Eagle County is using funds raised by an open space tax voters approved in 2002. Commissioners Arn Menconi, Peter Runyon and Tom Stone said in a prepared statement that the Grange Ranch was an ideal project for which to use open space funds.
PARACHUTE (AP) – Investigators found an illegal automatic rifle and two handguns when they searched the cabin of a man who took his own life after allegedly shooting and wounding a state trooper, court documents show.The search last week of the Garfield County cabin where Steven Joseph Appl lived turned up an AK-47 assault rifle that had been illegally converted to fully automatic operation, a 45-caliber handgun and a 38-caliber handgun authorities believe he used to shoot state trooper Brian Koch, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.The documents say investigators also found a homemade silencer, detonator cord, blasting caps and suspected methamphetamine powder.Authorities suspect Appl, 33, shot Koch in the left arm late Tuesday after a traffic stop on a Garfield County road. Koch’s bulletproof vest stopped two bullets that hit him in the chest, authorities said. Koch was in good condition after surgery.Appl shot and killed himself Wednesday while hiding in the back of a pickup that had stopped at a roadblock, a day after Koch was shot, authorities said.A woman driving the pickup, Cori Elizabeth Graham, 27, of DeBeque, was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to crime, tampering with evidence and obstructing a peace officer.Koch’s rented cabin was in the western part of the county, about three miles south of Interstate 70.Neighbors said he had lived there for about three months.Officials in Utah said Appl was wanted there for failure to appear in district court in Monticello, Utah, in April on drug, alcohol, weapons and driving charges.Appl also was wanted in Mesa County on charges of resisting arrest after a June 17 traffic stop near DeBeque and failing to appear in court.
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