Top Berthoud news stories of 2019

Invasive and destructive Emerald Ash Borers was discovered in Berthoud in 2019 after measures were implemented state wide to prevent the pest from spreading.

By Rudy Hemmann

The Surveyor

Another year has passed us by and as is the tradition we again dug through the Surveyor archives to report the major news stories of 2019. The following

Berthoud man charged with Second Degree Kidnapping.

On Feb. 2, 2019, at approximately 1 p.m., an employee of Berthoud Hometown Liquor located at 425 Meadowlark Dr. called the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) to report an employee missing. The caller said a regular customer known to him as Will McDonough, came into the store around 8:30 a.m. and asked for a ride because his car was out of gas. An adult female employee agreed and they both left. When the woman did not return to the store, the caller contacted LCSO. An investigation revealed that William Phillip McDonough, of Berthoud, convinced the woman that he should drive her car because he knew where they were going. Instead of driving to his home, McDonough drove to the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel located at 1550 Court Pl., despite the woman’s pleas to the contrary. At the hotel, McDonough disrupted a large group in a ballroom which prompted calls to the Denver Police Department (DPD). DPD arrived and arrested McDonough for a municipal violation for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Investigators obtained a Second-Degree Kidnapping arrest warrant for McDonough. He posted a $20,000 bond for the warrant and was released from the Denver City jail that afternoon.

The McDonough case has been postponed multiple times in 2019, and at a November court appearance, he was ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation Dec. 13. The last scheduled court appearance for McDonough and/or his attorney was Dec. 23, 2019, with another hearing scheduled for March 26, 2020, at 10 a.m. in Larimer County Court.

Two incidents involved shots being fired were reported to the Surveyor.

Late Friday night, May 10, a former employee of the Lehman Printing Center in Berthoud fired a gun into the air outside the building after entering the facility looking for a previous supervisor who was not there at the time. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) received reports of shots being fired at approximately 11:37 p.m. outside of 801 Second St. in Berthoud at the printing facility. The building where the incident took place also houses the Loveland Reporter Herald newspaper offices.

On Jan. 8, 2019, at about 6 p.m., Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the area of West County Road (CR) 4 and CR 23E west of Berthoud to reports of a man yelling and cursing in front of a home. When deputies arrived, they encountered a man they believed was armed with a weapon, and a deputy fired his weapon at the man. The man was not hit and barricaded himself inside the home. At approximately 7:12 p.m., he exited the home and was taken into custody. He was identified as Bret Alan Hanson of Berthoud. He was transported to the Larimer County Jail without further incident.

Principal resigns from Berthoud High School

Just about 24 hours before the Saturday morning May 25, 2019, graduation ceremony at Berthoud High School (BHS), the school’s principal, Dr. Sarah Beth Bliss, announced she was resigning her position effective immediately. Bliss did not attend the school’s graduation ceremony. Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Michael De-Wall, who had informed the Thompson School District (TSD) of his intent to resign earlier in May, rescinded his resignation and said he would be returning to BHS in the same capacity for the 2019-20 school year. TSD provided no official comment regarding Bliss’ decision to resign but did confirm De Wall would be returning.

Citizen Initiative.

Former mayor, Milan Karspeck announced his intention to circulate a petition which put before the citizens of the town an initiative that attempted to place limits on the type and amount of debt to which the town board could obligate the town. A special election was held where the initiative lost by two votes.

A drug trafficking organization with ties to Berthoud was dismantled.

The Northern Colorado Drug Task Force (NCDTF) executed eight search-and-arrest warrants Tuesday morning, Sept. 10, using SWAT teams in Arvada, Aurora, Campion, Denver, Fort Collins, Thornton and

Berthoud. The large coordinated effort, dubbed Operation Malverde, began eight months prior and became the primary focus of the task force following the May 2019 fatal heroin overdose of a 40-year-old man in north Fort Collins. The house that was part of the operation in Berthoud was located near the 900 block of Bruce Drive. Several residents reported on social media seeing heavy police activity and a SWAT team around the intersection of Bruce Drive and Ninth Street around 6:30 a.m., as commands were being given to individuals inside the home through amplification.

Emerald Ash Borer detected near Berthoud.

National and state experts have confirmed the presence of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) – an invasive, highly destructive tree pest – only 3 miles from Berthoud. This detection represents the first-ever in Larimer County and the third confirmation of EAB in Colorado outside of a federal quarantine in less than two months.

An estimated 15% or more of all urban and community trees in Colorado are ash species susceptible to being killed by EAB. In Berthoud, ash trees make up around 22% of trees within the right of way, public parks and cemetery, but it’s estimated a much higher percentage of these trees are on private property.

Berthoud High School receives threat of violence.

The state’s Safe2Tell system – an anonymous system where students can report threats – received multiple alerts about a potential threat of violence at Berthoud High School (BHS). According to the information uncovered, a male student, who at this point has not been identified, created and shared an Instagram message that reportedly stated he wanted to “shoot up” Berthoud High School. The post also reportedly included pictures of dead bodies from the mass shooting at Littleton’s Columbine High School in 1999. Word about the threat spread quickly through the Berthoud community and a large number of parents stated on the Berthoud Community Facebook page they were electing to keep their children home from school that morning.

“Honorable mention” status goes to the following headlines.

The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor celebrated 15 years of proudly serving the Berthoud community in June 2019.

Berthoud High’s Michael Doolittle earned the prestigious Boettcher Scholarship.

Three Berthoud educators win TEF’s Educator of the Year awards.

Three Berthoud educators won nearly half of the awards presented April 3 through the Thompson Education Foundation. The winners of the 11th  annual Educator of the Year awards include Rick Bowles, Principal at Ivy Stockwell Elementary School, Principal of the Year; Annamarie (Rataj) Pike, kindergarten teacher at Berthoud Elementary School, Elementary Educator of the Year; and Margaret Skrobacz, early childhood speech therapist, Staff Member of the Year.

Pedestrian/vehicle fatality on U.S. 287 in Berthoud.

On Monday, June 3, at approximately 9:37 p.m., the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) received reports of a motor vehicle crash in the 1000 block of US 287 in Berthoud. The LCSO Collision Reconstruction and Scene Handling (CRASH) team responded and was assisted by the Berthoud Fire Protection District, Thompson Valley EMS and CDOT. CRASH team investigators determined that a 60-year-old man from Berthoud was traveling southbound on US 287 in a Chevrolet pickup truck. The pickup struck a 23-year-old Fort Collins man who was walking in the southbound lanes of the roadway and he was pronounced deceased at the scene. Investigators believe impairment was a factor and were working to determine how drugs and/or alcohol contributed to the crash.

Berthoud man accused of sexual assault on a child.

A trial for Benjamin Macaluso, accused of three counts of sexual assault on a child, was continued due to a family emergency on the defense attorney’s behalf. The five-day trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning, May 20 and conclude Friday, May 24.

Larimer County District Attorney’s office representative, Jodi Lacey, said a hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, to set a new trial date. On April 24, 2018, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) investigators arrested Macaluso who posted a $1,750 bond and was released. On Dec. 10, 2018, Macaluso pleaded not guilty to allegations of sexual assault on a child as well as two counts of sexual assault on a child in a position of trust between the ages of 15 and 18, all class 4 felonies. At the conclusion of a five-day jury trial, which began Nov. 18, 2019, Macaluso was found to be not guilty of all charges.

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