What’s News – Rick Langenberg

Commissioners join colleagues in saying no way to Gitmo prisoners
Rick Langenberg

County Commission Vice-Chairman Marc Dettenrieder has reaffirmed the Teller government’s staunch opposition to a plan by President Obama, aimed at transferring prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to a variety of domestic locations, including southern Colorado.

“We don’t want terrorists living in our back yard,” blasted Dettenrieder during his regular report at last week’s meeting in Cripple Creek.

The commissioner said he fully endorses the position the taken by U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who has been quite vocal in fighting a proposal by Obama to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and house the prisoners in possibly 13 locations across the country. One of these potential sites would involve federal and state facilities in nearby Florence and Canon City.

According to Dettenrieder, the opposition to having these prisoners housed in Colorado was echoed loud and clear during a recent meeting in Florence, attended by himself and Gardner. The commission vice-chairman hinted that Teller elected leaders would do what they could to continue this fight.

Verbal fireworks have ignited over this issue in recent months, with Gardner taking the position of “send us Gitmo prisoners over our dead body.”

“It’s illegal for the president to move these detainees, and administration officials know it,” said Gardner in previous comments, when the White House released more details of its plan to shut down the Gitmo facility. “The president cannot overturn single-handedly the law of this country.”

Gardner’s stand is strongly supported by county leaders and most state and congressional representatives. In a previous interview, Sheriff Mike Ensminger expressed big concerns over the possibility of these prisoners being located so close to Teller County. A group of Colorado sheriffs sent the White House a letter, outlining their opposition.

Even U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, a Democrat, who supports closing the Guantanamo Bay facility, is against the transfer of Gitmo prisoners to Colorado facilities.

“I’ve voted to close the prison, but I believe military detainees should be held in military prisons. Colorado does not have that type of facility,” he stated in an official statement.

There are currently 91 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Of those, 35 are expected to be transferred to prisons in the United States within the next six months. At its peak in 2003, Guantanamo held nearly 680 detainees, and there were about 245 when Obama took office.

But even with this opposition, Obama isn’t throwing in the towel. He sent a plan to Congress, outlining efforts to shut down Guantanamo and transfer prisoners to other facilities in the United States, without identifying specific prisons.

“I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is,” Obama said at the White House during a recent press conference. “If we don’t do what’s required now, I think future generations are going to look back and ask why we failed to act when the right course, the right side of history, and justice and our best American traditions was clear.”

Some of the facilities previously reviewed by a Pentagon assessment team in 2015 were the maximum and supermax facilities in Florence and the Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City, often referred to as the Centennial Correctional Facility; U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Midwest Joint Regional Corrections Facility at Leavenworth, Kan.; and the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, just to name a few.

Burial Completed for GMF Ambassador
The head ambassador of Green Mountain Falls has been laid to rest.

Last week, the honary burial rights were performed for “General Roy,” the town’s beloved goose, who served as the head mascot for eight years. He also became a symbolic figure during a lengthy controversy over the town’s tradition of feeding geese and ducks at the Gazebo, often referred to as “Goose-gate.”
He was buried next to Rudy, another popular goose, who was killed by a car.

Roy recently died at the lake in Green Mountain Falls, following an attack by two loose dogs. Roy reportedly went into shock after the canine assault and drowned in the lake. An investigation into the case still continues. The owners of the dogs have been identified and it’s still unclear what charges they could face.

The goose situation could be discussed this week by the GMF Board of Trustees, which will feature a new changing of the guard. Since the death of Roy, the Gazebo lake park has been devoid of its usual strong assortment of waterfowl. Ann Pinell, the caretaker of Roy, maintains that the regular armies of geese and ducks that assembled at the lake, haven’t returned. She believes they feel threatened by the death of Roy. Roy assumed the role as their leader and helped maintain order at the lake, noted Pinell.

Another memorial ceremony honoring both Roy and Rudy may occur later this spring at the Gazebo. Pinell plans to have a plaque made with Roy and Rudy’s names on it and add the plaque to the Gazebo walkway.