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News in Brief

St. Patrick’s Day keeps police busyASPEN Aspen Police handed out two DUIs and responded to three reported assaults on Saturday evening, St. Patrick’s Day. A Texas Red’s patron was playing pool when someone allegedly bumped into him and started a fight, according to a police report. Sgt. Steve Smith said the patron pushed the man who bumped into him and then received repeated punches in the face. Police did not make an arrest and are looking for the suspect. Police did make an arrest later in the night, however, after Marcelo Cerrano-Leiva, 30, allegedly broke the window of a RFTA bus. Police cited him for criminal mischief. Finally, Aspen police also are investigating an alleged assault near Marolt, but they would not comment in greater detail.

Ski-pass fraud leads to arrestsPolice have made 10 arrests in March in connection with the improper use of others’ ski passes. Police on Sunday cited Adam Caslow, 24, of New York, for use of someone else’s pass. Authorities also arrested Peter Storms, 52, and William Bitzer, 28, on theft charges Saturday.

Mine oppponents take appeal to U.S. Supreme CourtCRESTED BUTTE (AP) Environmentalists are making a last-ditch effort to stop a giant mining company from taking the Red Lady to the dance.At issue are the plans of Phelps Dodge Corp., a company with annual revenues of $11.9 billion, to begin mining molybdenum on 12,392-foot high Mount Emmons, adjacent to a ski resort known for its residents’ strong environmental views.For years the city of Crested Butte, Gunnison County and the nonprofit High Country Citizens Alliance have tried to stop mining companies from developing the area. It is called the Red Lady because of the rouge color of the soil.Now opponents of the potential mine are taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.A spokesman for Phelps Dodge did immediately return a call asking for comment.Western Mining Action, which represents the mine’s opponents, contends that an 1872 mining law that allowed Phelps Dodge acquire the land for relatively low prices should be overturned because it favors private developers over the public’s right to public lands.It has argued that the transfer of land to Phelps Dodge violated federal law because the company didn’t show that a molybdenum mine would be profitable as required.”This is a question about the public’s right to challenge government decisions which applies broadly, and in this individual case it is the 1872 mining law,” said Jeff Parsons, a lawyer for Western Mining Action.He told said that under the outdated law the 155 acres for the mine were sold for $5 an acre in a scenic area where housing lots start at around $224,000.Opponents filed a lawsuit in 2004. Federal appeals court judges and a lower court have found that third parties couldn’t legally challenge mining patents – essentially deeds – on public lands.Parsons said an appeal was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26. Although the question of sovereign immunity and the old mining law should be important enough issues to get the court’s attention, Parsons noted the court only hears a small fraction of appeals.

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