Our Latest News

june 2012 report to the county commissioners


The sheriff and undersheriff…

The sheriff attended the funeral service for Englewoood PD officer Jeremy Bitner in Denver and the memorial service for Ed Quillen in Salida.  The sheriff and undersheriff attended the memorial service for Nancy O’Connor in Buena Vista.  The sheriff and a deputy attended the funeral service for Denver PD officer Celena Hollis.

The sheriff attended the summer conference of County Sheriffs of Colorado held in Sterling, Logan County.

The sheriff, along with Chaffee County and Salida fire chiefs, recorded interviews at two local radio stations on the subject of wildfire dangers, restrictions, prevention, and mitigation.  By the end of the month, Chaffee County, BLM and USFS lands, Salida, Buena Vista, and Poncha Springs all were under Stage II fire restrictions.  Fire danger rating has been raised to EXTREME throughout the county.  All community fireworks displays for Independence Day were cancelled. 

From Lisa Ortega, Chaffee County Emergency Manager, regarding persons displaced by fires and the local response:

The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce has sent out information to their contacts, including the Salida Chamber of Commerce, to help find needed or anticipated resources and has agreed to be the contact for people who have need for these resources. Both chambers have received requests for assistance from evacuees.  We will all be working together to ensure the people who need help receive it.  During regular business hours, the chambers will help in this, and after hours I will help facilitate any requests.

Through these contacts, the following has been established or can be made available:

•           Lodging, both private homes and public

•           Large animal sheltering

•           Companion animal sheltering

•           Food

•           American Red Cross shelter (if needed, we can activate)

If there are any other avenues to assist people, please let me know and I will add to the list.      –Lisa Ortega, Emergency Manager


Deputies responded to a residential area on CR 276 on the report of a man firing a handgun at his neighbor then randomly shooting other firearms from his house.  After an hour and a half operation, the man, still armed with a handgun, was taken into custody as he attempted to enter the neighbor’s home.  He was treated for minor injuries at HRRMC then transported to Denver Health’s psychiatric unit for evaluation.

A body was discovered in Buena Vista’s town lake in McPhelemy Park.  At the request of Chief Tidwell, our detective was assigned to assist.

  Training Attended


The Mountain Mail featured an article about our detective’s five-year-old son and the presentation to him of a baseball signed by Chicago Cubs ball players before a crowd at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

An article on emergency preparedness in Chaffee County written by our communications manager was carried on the Salida Citizen website.

  Complaints / commendations

The sheriff received a voicemail message from a man living in the Chalk Creek area who complained about receiving a summons from a sheriff’s sergeant after the sergeant found him burning trash in several barrels at his home in violation of the County fire ban.  The sheriff commended the sergeant for his diligence.

The sheriff received a letter from a Poncha Springs man commending a deputy his work on a fraudulent theft case and its successful conclusion.  The man wrote that the deputy’s action in the case “was truly above and beyond the call of duty” and that the deputy “is one of the best there is at what he does.” 

Friends and relatives of the late Dr. Michael VonGortler and his daughter, who both died in a tragic accident on Mount Missouri last summer, are visiting Chaffee County on the anniversary of the event to commemorate their lives.  The sheriff received a card from one of the friends who was unable to attend but who wished to thank our deputies, volunteers, and search and rescue members for all their efforts during the mission.

The sheriff received a card from a couple in Poncha Springs.  Enclosed were notes from their two children, ages 6 and 8, apologizing for their actions.  The two had decided to run away from home and were found by our patrol commander as they were walking along the street heading who knows where.  The commander convinced them that it would be best to return to their homes and gave them a ride back.

Communications Center


A dispatcher, while working on pawn tickets, found a warrant on a male party out of Fremont County who had shown an address in Salida.  She advised Salida PD who arrested the man on a warrant charging Sex Assault on a Child.  He is now in custody with a bond of $100,000.

  Training received

All dispatchers attended WebEOC training.   

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue North volunteers searched for over a day and a half for a 59-year-old Salida man whose car and camping gear were found unattended for two days in the Clear Creek Reservoir campground.  On Monday, the man emailed his sister from the library in Leadville saying that he had walked from the campground to Leadville, a distance of more than twenty miles, carrying his sleeping bag, leaving his car and camping equipment in the campground, without notifying anyone. No reason for his actions was given to the sheriff’s office. Untold hours of volunteer searchers’ time were wasted looking for him and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars in salary expenses for authorities participating in the search were incurred by taxpayers. It is difficult to fathom the man’s motive for creating this debacle.

While the search at Clear Creek was wrapping up for the day, members were paged to Mount Princeton to aid a hiker with a serious injury.  The victim had a rib injury from a fall and possibly a punctured lung but could walk slowly with assistance. The victim was airlifted to a Front Range hospital by Flight for Life.  SAR volunteers also helped reunite a group of six very underprepared hikers who separated when one had an asthma attack. 

Records and Administration

Detention Facility


An inmate who suffered a seizure during a court appearance was released from the hospital after a six-day stay.  The jail commander, in reviewing the hospital bill, discovered that for at least the final two days in the hospital the man had not received any medical care that could not have been provided by our jail nurse in our facility.  The commander notified hospital authorities of his concern.  After a review of the bill, hospital authorities agreed to cancel charges for two days of the man’s stay, a total of over three thousand dollars.

  Personnel status change

One corporal resigned.  Two deputies are taking the recently-offered retirement option. 

We are in the final stages of the hiring process for two part-time employees and a nurse.