Top Berthoud news stories of 2017

By Surveyor staff

As has been our tradition, as a New Year commences, the Surveyor staff takes a few minutes to reflect on the year just ended. Here is our take on the top news stories of 2017 in Berthoud.

Regrettably, the top news story of the past year is one which wrote the final chapter for a Berthoud area youth. Tanner Flores was convicted of first degree murder in the shooting death of Ashley Doolittle. He will spend the rest of his life in prison without the option of parole.

Photo by Austin Humphreys, The Coloradoan – Tanner Flores arrives in court for sentencing after being convicted of first-degree murder at the Larimer County Justice Center on Thursday, October 5, 2017. Flores was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole for the death of ex-girlfriend Ashley Doolittle in June 2016.

A former Berthoud resident, Shannon Renke, suffered a wound to her foot at the Las Vegas massacre on October 1. A bullet had apparently entered and exited her foot before also grazing her calf. In her interview she recounted the terror felt by herself and her husband, Craig, as they searched for a location that was both safe from the gunfire and where she could get medical attention. Her prognosis is good, although surgery may be required. She noted the physical healing will go with the psychological healing.

Courtesy photo- From left to right: Craig and Shannon Renke, Amy and Rob Brink, Cindy and Stacy Balman, Amy and Ray Wagner stand in front of the stage at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival adjacent to Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Shannon was shot in the foot and calf during the Oct. 1 mass shooting that left 59 people dead and over 500 wounded.t board meetings with the latest information concerning the deleterious effects of the chemicals used to fog for the pests, and to raise protests against any town policy which might allow fogging to occur.

A former Berthoud High School student, Skylar Hill, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief for driving a stolen car to Berthoud and plowing through two sets of outer doors at the high school, causing extensive damage to the building. Hill is currently in jail and his case has been continued to March 2nd. He has been formally charged with 8 felony charges and one driving charge of reckless driving.

The Berthoud Board of Trustees spent a considerable amount of time in 2017 wrestling with a pesky problem – mosquitos; namely, whether or not to conduct spraying (fogging) operations to combat the pesky critters. A small but vocal group of town residents would materialize at board meetings with the latest information concerning the deleterious effects of the chemicals used to fog for the pests, and to raise protests against any town policy which might allow fogging to occur. The board came up with a doubly refined policy regarding when fogging operations would be allowed, along with close scrutiny of the number of West Nile Virus (WNV) carrying Culex mosquitos
found in town traps. It is worth noting that there were 32 confirmed cases of WNV in Larimer County in 2016.

In other “man against nature” endeavor town staff and the trustees continued to prepare for an expected invasion by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The pest is a threat to all ash trees in the area. Each year confirmed infestations of EAB move closer to town. The board has threatened to make it illegal to include ash trees in any new development plantings.

Other high-profile stories of the past year dealt with raw water. In late spring it was announced that after more than three years of drying out and the completion of a reclamation project, water began flowing into Berthoud Reservoir.  “This project was to deepen the reservoir, dredge it out, increase storage, and provide better water quality for the raw water treatment plant,” said Stephanie Brothers, public works director for the Town of Berthoud.

The town made a concerted effort in 2017 to increase the amount of raw water storage by purchasing shares of water from Loveland Lake and Ditch in Loveland Reservoir. The town also invested in the Windy Gap Project by purchasing three units and an additional three cubic feet per second of capacity in the outlet at Carter Lake from Platte River Power Authority. Berthoud’s water portfolio had been quite strong without these additions, and since these additions have been made the water portfolio is now one of the best of any small town on the front range.

Town Administrator Mike Hart retired at the end of November 2017, the town board did an extensive search for a new town administrator. The board selected Christopher Kirk from Tehachapi, Calif. Kirk accepted a three-year contract at $135,000.

The town board considered allowing the sale and use of recreational marijuana within the town limits during a study session. The trustees had two options, one being to, make a decision at the board level to approve the sale of recreational marijuana, or to let the residents of the town vote in the April election to make the decision. Berthoud citizens have approved taxing recreational marijuana if it is approved in the election.

The Town of Berthoud offices moved to new town hall at 807 Mountain Ave., during January of 2017. The building the town offices moved to had been owned and used by Guaranty Bank as a banking facility. The town purchased the building from Guaranty Bank in 2016 and, as part of the sales agreement, the town agreed to lease a portion of the building back to the bank. That lease agreement along with agreements with two other tenants has the town making money each month on its town hall. The town administrator at the time, Mike Hart, stated he was “not aware of any other community with a similar public/private partnership involving their town hall.”

The Berthoud Common commercial property, located west of Main Street CarCare was purchased by MCT Enterprises, who then enticed O’Reilly Auto Parts to locate on the property. In other development news Planning and Building Technician Sue Bowles reports that the town has issued more than 400 permits for single family residential homes. The demand for single family homes remains strong. The subdivisions which are the current leaders in permits being issued are PrairieStar, Hammond Farm and Heritage Ridge. Homes in these subdivisions are selling as fast as they can be built.

Two Denver area men were killed when a small aircraft they were in crash landed onto Culver Reservoir southwest of Berthoud. They were identified as Patrick Blankenmeier, 58, of Arvada and James Griffeth, 23, of Denver. The pair spent approximately 50 minutes in the water before rescuers were able to pull them out. They were transported to a local hospital where they were pronounced dead.

Photo by Lloyd Mobley Jr. A flight instructor and student pilot were killed Feb. 27 when their Cessna model 172S single-engine airplane crashed into Culver Reservoir southwest of Berthoud






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