News in Brief
ASPEN If you think you’d like driving a school bus for a living, now’s your chance.The Aspen School District is short five drivers, and school officials acknowledged on Monday that they’re in a desperate situation with school set to begin next week.According to Superintendent Diana Sirko, the district has often had trouble hiring drivers, despite the offer of $20 per hour for a four-hour day (with some variations) and part-time benefits.The school principals have been approaching teachers about filling in as bus drivers until the requisite number can be hired, and Sirko has approached the Roaring Fork School District to see if Aspen can “borrow” some of their drivers. The RFSD, which comprises Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, starts school a week later than the Aspen district.Sirko also said the district has three unoccupied affordable housing units under its control, and that she may use the housing as an enticement to prospective drivers.
ASPEN The trial of Bradford Moore, 49, charged with possession of child pornography, has been delayed three months. Moore’s lawyer, Saskia Jordan, has come down with an illness that she said will likely take her three months to recover.The pretrial conference was scheduled for Monday in Pitkin County District Court, but was reset for Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. The trial, originally scheduled for mid-September, has been rescheduled to Dec. 4-10. Moore, a former drama teacher, has pleaded not guilty. He was formally charged last November, and subsequently resigned from his job with the Aspen School District. If convicted, Moore faces a prison sentence of two to six years and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. Moore also would have to register as a sex offender.
ASPEN A man accused of sexual assault on a child 14 years or younger and unlawful sexual contact with a minor, both of which are felonies, pleaded guilty to two lesser misdemeanors Monday in Pitkin County District Court.Fernando Morales-Valerio, 23, pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse as part of a plea agreement. He was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail and five years of probation. Prosecutor Gail Nichols said Morales-Valerio is an illegal alien and will be deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.According to Nichols, Morales-Valerio worked with two children, a 14-year-old and 15-year-old. During that time, Nichols said he repeatedly punched and harassed the children. Morales-Valerio has lived in the valley four years; he is married and has an 18-month-old child. The defense argued that since the children were fired from the job where they worked with Morales-Valerio, there may have been motive for them to report the crime. The defense further denied the more serious charge, that Morales-Valerio had humped one of the children with clothes on. “This offense resulted from horseplay gone too far,” said defense lawyer Lawson Wills. “The wrestling obviously got way too far out of control.”
RIFLE One man died and another was seriously injured after a suspected drunken driving accident east of Rifle just before 10 p.m. Sunday.The Colorado State Patrol arrested the driver, Justin Davis, 22, after he was released from the Grand River Medical Center for treatment of injuries. He was held on suspicion of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, DUI, reckless driving, no proof of insurance and driving with a revoked license, according to the patrol.The front-seat passenger was killed in the accident and was identified as 21-year-old Jonathan B. Schaffler of Rifle. A passenger in the back seat of the car, Charlie Steerman, 22, suffered serious injuries but was expected to be released from the Grand River Medical Center soon. Alcohol and speed are believed to be factors in the accident.The crash occurred on County Road 294 just east of the Rifle city limits, near East Seventh Street.According to a news release, a 1992 Mazda hatchback was heading east when it went off the right side of the road at high speed. It began to rotate counterclockwise and went off the left side of the road. It then hit a large tree about 10 feet north of the road on its passenger side. The Mazda spun clockwise around the tree and came to rest with its wheels facing south.None of the occupants were wearing seat belts, according to the patrol. (Glenwood Springs Post Independent)
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State and local public health officials are actively monitoring for the presence of a new COVID-19 variant from South Africa, though it has not yet been found in Colorado or the U.S.