News in Brief
The Rifle Packing Plant burned to the ground Monday. No one was hurt.
The building, constructed around the middle of the 20th century, was insulated with sawdust and could not be saved. Officials and the owners believe the fire started in the smokehouse just after 9 a.m. It was not suppressed until late afternoon.
“We spent about an hour and 10 minutes trying to get to the ceiling,” said Rifle Fire Protection District chief Mike Morgan. “But it was getting too risky and I didn’t want anyone to be hurt or killed, so I made the call to pull everyone back.”
Firefighters continued to put water on the fire in order to keep it from spreading and eventually brought in a tractor hoe to pull the walls down and finally suppress the inferno.
The Rifle meat packing plant was the only packing plant in the area certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The nearest alternatives are in Craig and Fruita.
The building and its contents were insured, but owner Buddy McNeel wasn’t sure if the insurance would cover enough to start over.
The Farmer’s Irrigation Co. and the Silt Water Conservancy District are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who opened the release valve at Harvey Gap.
According to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., Jan. 23-24, someone removed the lock and cut the chain on the release valve at Harvey Gap Reservoir, north of Silt, releasing 50 acre-feet of water. The words “Save the Gap” were also painted in the area, Vallario said.
Vallario called it a “malicious act, which destroyed property and endangered lives.”
Those with information about the crime can contact the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office at 945-0453.
Sunday liquor sales? Maybe for resort towns
DENVER (AP) ” Liquor store owner Tesfa Measho works 14-hour days, six days a week. But when Sunday rolls around, Measho looks forward to spending time with his four children and visiting friends and relatives in his close-knit community.
Measho isn’t interested in being allowed to do business on Sunday but he said he would have to if state lawmakers roll back a 1933 law outlawing liquor sales on that day.
Facing opposition from Measho and other Front Range liquor store owners, Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, asked lawmakers Monday to give her more time to work on a bill allowing local governments to decide whether to allow Sunday liquor sales.
Veiga said opposition to the change is stronger in metro Denver than it is in the rest of the state. She said she’s willing to change the bill so that only counties with less 100,000 people and ski resorts are affected.
The national trade group for alcohol manufacturers and marketers, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, backs the change, as do some liquor store owners in resort towns. There are 32 states that allow liquor sales on Sunday, including 11 that have changed their laws in the past 2 1/2 years, according to the group.
Veiga said she has no intention of expanding the law to allow supermarkets and others to sell alcohol but isn’t sure how the Legislature could prevent future lawmakers from doing that.
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Officials are investigating the source of a loud explosion at Smuggler Mine on Saturday morning.