Highlights from the Herald Democrat ten years ago:

TASER incident results in 21 charges

by Ann E. Wibbenmeyer

Herald Staff Writer

May 6, 2010


Former Lake County Deputy John Ortega has been charged with 11 counts of child abuse with injury, one count of child abuse without injury and nine counts of reckless endangerment.

These charges stem from his actions at the Lake County High School career fair held on April 8, where he used a TASER on students attending the fair.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert officially filed charges just after noon on April 28.

The child abuse with injury charges, all class-one misdemeanors, related to the students under the age of 16 that had a mark or other injury due to the application of the TASER.

There was one student under 16 who was tased without evidence of a mark, which corresponds to the child abuse without injury charge, a class-two misdemeanor.

For the students between the age of 16 and 17 that were tased, Ortega is being charged with reckless endangerment, class-three misdemeanors.

There are no charges being filed for students over the age of 18 who were tased, since they were of legal age to consent.

The problem with the situation, said Hurlbert, is there were a lot of potential dangers with the TASER, such as health problems some of the kids had. Ortega didn’t ask the kids about health problems.

The charges could carry up to six years and ten months in county jail for Ortega.

In a letter to the Herald in the April 22 edition, Sheriff Ed Holte wrote that Ortega’s position had been terminated. Holte later clarified that this was a self-termination, as Ortega sent in a letter of resignation around April 12.

Lake County Superintendant Dr. Bette Kokenes said that she will be watching as the case goes through its process, and will let the justice system take its course.

The school did not authorize the use of TASERS on the students, she said, and the charges confirmed the deputy’s actions were inappropriate.

Old ball mill rests on Mineral Belt Trail

by Ann E. Wibbenmeyer

Herald Staff Writer


The historic ball mill from Climax that was moved near the Mineral Belt Trail last year now has a final resting place on a newly formed concrete foundation located near Dutch Henry sledding hill.

It took a crane on April 21 to set the 16,700-pound ball mill in place, said Howard Tritz, chairman of the Mineral Belt Trail committee.

The foundation was constructed by Quandary Design, owned by Greg Race, and fit the mill nicely, said Tritz.

The next step, he said, is to place a small conveyor belt, a crusher, a cyclone classifier and a flotation machine in tandem with the mining car and mill. The idea is to illustrate the milling process.

The Mineral Belt Trail functions as an outdoor mining museum as well as a recreational trail, he said. This will be part of the display that demonstrates the mining process from the rock to the finished product.

News is news


There has been much talk around town lately about bad news and how to avoid it, and good news and how to promote it.

Some people are fretting over Leadville’s reputation being destroyed as event after event unfurl, many so unique that they capture the imagination of news outlets outside Colorado.

When the tasing incident made Comedy Central last week - that may have been the pinnacle. Or perhaps it was the “dirtball town” comment that made the national news on Fox. Or, the pinnacle may have come a few years back when the New York Times became convinced, after interviewing some local officials, that the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel was, at any moment, going to burst, covering all of Leadville with toxic waste, and said so in print. Remember the dog-fighting case six or seven years ago? We received letter after letter from people who said they’d never visit Leadville because of that.

We can envision the powers that be, back in 1879, voicing concern over the lynching of Frodsham and Stewart just as the Tabor Opera House was opening and eclipsing that news. Or someone wincing during Prohibition to read that Lake County had the largest percentage of “medical alcohol” users in the state of Colorado.

The truth is that, unlike Philadelphia, no one has ever dubbed Leadville the “City of Brotherly Love.” We’re a feisty, western mining community that today relishes the tale of the 1879 lynching even while the tale about a deputy arresting a firefighter raises our ire.

Time brings perspective.

We do the best we can in this community, and stories such as the community park or the recent “Fallen Heroes Highway” do provide some positive recognition, although perhaps not on Comedy Central.

But for those concerned about Leadville’s reputation, we have two suggestions from Public Relations 101.

Tell your own story, because if you don’t, someone else will tell it for you. Never assume that just because you hide your head in the sand and don’t return phone calls from the media the story won’t make the news. It will make the news as interpreted by someone else.

Learn to bridge to your own objectives. Every person who might ever be interviewed should always have some positive things to say that can, with a little skill, be inserted into an interview. “Such and such was unfortunate, but you should be aware that...” Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but why not try?

Speaking of good news, the Herald has received many positive comments about the “It’s a Leadville Thing” page. Remember that this is supposed to be your page. Thanks to all the people who have submitted photos and memories or provided other information, but we need to hear from more of you. We want the photos of your children, pets and family celebrations as well as older photos and memories of Leadville that others might enjoy. Send them to allnews@leadvilleherald.com or PO Box 980, Leadville, CO 80461.

Marcia Martinek, Herald Editor

Impersonation charges filed

by Ann E. Wibbenmeyer

Herald Staff Writer

May 13, 2010


Wendy Lyall, 36, of Golden, raced the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 bike race under Katie Brazelton’s entry, and now both women are facing felony charges.

Lyall’s finish put Brazelton, 40, in second place for 40 to 49-year-old women. This moved Rachel Farrett, of Parker, into third place and Jacqui Wood, Carbondale, into fourth in that category.

In 28 years of running the Leadville Trail 100 races, never has Ken Chlouber, of the Leadville Trail 100, seen someone cheat to the point of taking a prize away from another racer, especially someone in her 30s taking that prize from an older age group.

The entry information clearly states that the entry fee of $250 is non-refundable and no entry transfers are allowed. Despite these rules, Brazelton sold her entry to Lyall for the $250 she spent on the entry fee.

Lyall was charged with criminal impersonation on April 9 and Brazelton was charged with conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation on Tuesday, both class-six felony charges.

“It is a felony to assume someone’s identity,” said Deputy District Attorney Shasta Smith.

The suggested sentence upon conviction is 18 months in prison, said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.

The women won’t go to prison, though, he said. He is sure that a deal can be worked out for this case.

The case is important, said Hurlbert, because the race costs money to enter and the switch left people off the podium.

The switch, said Chlouber, also left a huge liability issue for the race. For instance, if Lyall had been injured during the race, the medical crew would have treated her as if she were Brazelton.

Chlouber turned the incident over to the authorities after receiving an anonymous call from a polite, well-spoken gentleman, he said.

He called Brazelton, who admitted to the deception. She and Lyall both sent apologetic e-mails, said Chlouber, but were only remorseful after being caught.

The moment for Farrett and Wood is lost forever, said Chlouber. They will never get their moment at the 6th Street Gym with Lance Armstrong and all the other racers there to receive their proper awards.

Both women will be getting their awards during the pre-race meeting in 2010.

For the 2010 race, Lyall, who was successful in the lottery, has been disqualified. Wood, who was not successful in this year’s lottery, was given Lyall’s spot, said Chlouber.

Wood was excited to learn that she will be entered in the race.

To our grads

May 27, 2010


In this day and age, graduating from high school and college is a sobering experience for many, due to the current economic situation and the lack of jobs.

In the process of putting together the graduation information in this week’s paper, we spent some time with the LCHS yearbook and noticed that the graduating seniors were asked to predict what they’d be doing ten years from now.

For the most part, we found their predictions quite realistic. A number of graduates of both sexes saw themselves with spouses and families ten years down the line. Future careers included beautician, chef, plumber, electrician and the military - all certainly doable - along with a few more glamorous aspirations in the entertainment and professional sports arenas.

A few said they’d be continuing after college with graduate work.

Some specified that they’d be living somewhere other than Leadville in 10 years, and the places mentioned included Mexico and Tokyo, California and New Mexico, and places closer to home such as Denver and Greeley.

Some simply said that they’d be living their dreams.

Our advice to the Class of 2010? Stay strong. Approach life with determination. Follow those dreams, but always have a plan B. When faced with the opportunity to do something that’s crazy and wonderful, do it. Help rather than hurt. Be safe. Be happy.

Time after time in places all over the world, similar thoughts are being expressed as graduations occur. What’s new and exciting are the individuals receiving those diplomas and the potential of great things that some are sure to accomplish.

We look forward to covering these things in the Herald. Congratulations, class of 2010! And don’t forget where you came from.

Marcia Martinek

Herald Editor

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