Region Briefs

Storms ruin 25 percent of Colorado cantaloupes

COLORADO SPRINGS – Melon lovers waiting for Rocky Ford cantaloupes won’t have the abundant harvest this year.

The Gazette reported that storms have claimed a fourth of this year’s cantaloupe crop. That’s according to the Rocky Ford Growers Association.

Third-generation farmer Matt Proctor lost his entire crop. A hail storm in May pummeled most of this crop, and a storm last weekend damaged the rest.

According to the Growers Association, about 100 acres of the 360 acres of the super-sweet melons planted this season fell victim to the weather.

Association spokeswoman Diane Mulligan says growers lost about $500,000 in sales.

Last year, Growers Association farmers harvested 280 acres and pulled in about $4.5 million from the famous cantaloupes.

Lawsuit against Oprah dismissed

TELLURIDE – A lawsuit accusing Oprah Winfrey of blocking access to hiking trails near her property above Telluride has been dismissed.

The Telluride Daily Planet reports a judge dismissed the case from San Miguel County District Court, saying it should have been filed in Mountain Village Municipal Court.

Seventh Judicial District Judge Steven Patrick said there was little case law to support claims by Charles D. Goodman, who owns property next to a 66-acre parcel that Winfrey’s Yellow Brick Road closed on in March.

In the lawsuit, Goodman claimed Winfrey’s company, the property’s former owners and the town of Mountain Village made a secret deal to close access to the trails.

Winfrey reportedly plans to build a mansion and guest home on the property.

Appeal filed by Navajo leader on paid leave

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The speaker of the Navajo Nation Council is appealing a judge’s decision that kept him away from his administrative duties.

The Navajo Nation Council placed Johnny Naize on paid administrative leave months after he was charged with bribery and conspiracy in a criminal case. He has pleaded not guilty.

He challenged his colleagues’ decision, saying it was invalid and denied him due process.

Window Rock District Judge Carol Perry disagreed. She said due process was afforded when the council discussed a bill to remove Naize from his post in executive session. It was amended to place him on paid administrative leave.

His attorneys filed a notice of appeal Friday with the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

Naize retains his seat as a delegate on the Tribal Council, representing parts of Arizona.

3K workers, JBS reach tentative contract deal

GREELEY – JBS USA and the United Food Commercial Workers Local 7 union have reached a tentative five-year contract agreement for the 3,000 workers at the beef plant in Greeley.

The Greeley Tribune reported the contract announced Friday calls for wage increases and affordable health care over the life of the contract. A ratification vote is scheduled Tuesday.

JBS and the union had been negotiating for 11 months. Union officials hailed the agreement, which also includes paid bereavement leave, seniority rights and other guarantees in case the plant closes or shifts are eliminated, as bringing “justice” to the workers and their families.

In a statement emailed to the newspaper, JBS USA calls the agreement “great news” for the entire Greeley community.

Missing Boulder teen found in Chicago

BOULDER – A 17-year-old girl missing for two weeks has been found outside of Chicago.

The Daily Camera reported Saturday an Illinois state trooper found her on Friday. The trooper noticed her panhandling.

Anne Pendergrast, the girl’s mother, said she has no idea how her daughter got to Illinois or why she was there. Pendergrast said $2,000 donated by the community to help the family hire a private investigator to help with a search will be returned.

The girl went missing from the Boulder Transit Center July 4. Authorities are working with her family to return her to Colorado.

Fugitive found in Nepal back in N.M. custody

ALBUQUERQUE – The Federal Bureau of Investigation says a New Mexico man who fled sex-abuse and kidnapping charges 14 years ago has been returned following his capture in Nepal.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said 47-year-old Neil Stammer arrived Saturday afternoon at the Albuquerque International Sunport.

Authorities say a federal arrest warrant was issued in June 2000 for him for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Prosecutors say the former Albuquerque resident already had an arrest warrant for failing to appear at his arraignment.

Fisher said the FBI used investigative photos to determine that Stammer had used a fraudulent passport to enter Nepal.

Fisher said Stammer has been living there since 2006 under a different name.

Stammer now is in custody of Albuquerque authorities to face state charges.

Woman accused of church embezzlement

ALBUQUERQUE – An Albuquerque woman is accused of siphoning more than $70,000 from her church.

KOAT-TV reported that the woman was free on bond Thursday following her arrest on an embezzlement charge.

According to a criminal complaint, she used her volunteer position at Indian Nation Baptist Church to access church bank accounts.

Treasurer since 2011, she allegedly used cash withdrawals and checks at grocery stores and restaurants. She also depleted another account reserved for buying the church a new building.

Pastor Scott Tafoya says the embezzlement came to light after the bank called about a check bouncing. The check was made out to a day care center attended by one of White’s children.

Police say the amount of stolen money will likely rise as the investigation continues.

Associated Press