News in Brief
ASPEN ” A plea deal is on the table for a man who allegedly led local police on a wild car chase that involved multiple stolen vehicles. Details of the plea deal were not available Monday.
Phillip Vigil, 28, has been in jail since July 23, when he was apprehended after the car chase and charged with 10 felonies. On Monday, his defense waived the right to a preliminary hearing in order to keep the plea deal alive.
Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols said the plea offer will remain the same until two weeks before trial or two weeks before the next trial-related hearing, though she would not comment on what the deal is.
Vigil was charged with three counts of felony vehicular eluding, aggravated motor vehicle theft in the second degree, aggravated driving after license revoked, possession of a handgun by a felon and possession of burglary tools, as well as various misdemeanors and traffic offenses such as driving under the influence.
Vigil faces two to six years in prison for the most serious charge and a required consecutive prison sentence of one year to 18 months for the handgun charge. He is in custody in the Pitkin County Jail on $45,000 bond.
PITKIN COUNTY ” Uninsured Pitkin County residents could get a break on their prescription drugs.
Caremark Health Systems and the National Association of Counties will offer a 20 percent discount for uninsured people at participating pharmacies beginning in mid-November, according to Susan Berdahl, the county health and human services contract manager.
The program is free for both users and local governments, Berdahl said.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Berdahl said. “We know with so many people who have seasonal work, they don’t always have a benefit program for drugs.”
Caremark funds the discounts by making special arrangements with local pharmacies in its network, Berdahl said.
RIFLE, Colo. ” More than $82 million has been set aside for cleanup of a former Rifle-area oil shale research site ” probably more than enough to do the job, the Bureau of Land Management says.
Jim Sample, a spokesman for the BLM’s Colorado office, said Monday he is “pretty sure there would be a significant surplus” left after the work is done at the Anvil Points site.
His comments came after the state’s two U.S. senators, Republican Wayne Allard and Democrat Ken Salazar, wrote to Energy Secretary Samuel L. Bodman and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne last week to seek an update on the project’s status.
The question is important because a 1997 law transferring the Roan Plateau near Rifle to BLM authority barred the sharing of any natural gas lease revenues on the Roan with the state until the federal government is fully reimbursed for the cleanup project.
The BLM is planning to proceed with gas leasing on the Roan, but a House of Representatives amendment to an energy bill would protect the plateau top from such development. Part of the continuing debate over the issue has surrounded how much in royalties and lease bonus payments the state could gain from gas development on the Roan. But as things stand, it won’t receive a penny until the cleanup occurs.
The government already has been collecting revenues from four pre-existing gas leases on the Roan Plateau, previously known as the Naval Oil Shale Reserve, or NOSR.
“If there are sufficient funds to pay for the necessary cleanup, excess NOSR revenues should go where they’re needed most, such as efforts to mitigate the impacts of gas development on western slope communities,” Allard and Salazar wrote in their letter.
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A temporary program to help wildfire mitigation efforts across the West could become permanent under new legislation introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse.