~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Teller County will experience a super busy 2020 with a slew of law enforcement issues and challenges with signature construction projects and growth. Here are a few highlights of what is on the county’s radar for next year.
Now that the Florissant resident’s infamous Teller County murder trial has ended, the media circus that surrounded the case, bringing national reporters into the area, has finally screeched to a conclusion. But a few serious legal details remain.
Even though Patrick Frazee has been sentenced to life without parole, plus nearly 200 years on top of it and has officially been transferred out of the county’s jail, there are still a few court dates surrounding the brutal murder of Kelsey Berreth of Woodland Park.
At the end of this month, Frazee’s mistress and a key witness in his conviction, Krystal Lee, will be sentenced for her crimes. As a part of a plea agreement made with District Attorney Dan May, Lee pleaded guilty to felony charges of tampering with evidence in exchange for her testimony against Frazee.
Lee is looking at a minimum of 18 months in a halfway house and a maximum of three years in prison. Several locals feel that Lee’s plea agreement was too lenient and they hope the killer’s mistress accomplice gets the maximum prison sentence allowed. District Judge Scott Sells will determine her fate on January 28.
Frazee now presides in a state penitentiary that is located in the eastern part of the state but he will return to the county courthouse at least one more time this year. Frazee is scheduled to be in Cripple Creek soon for a custody hearing that will decide the permanent home for the young daughter he and Berreth shared. Both Frazee’s mother and sister are fighting Berreth’s parents for custody, but it is believed that custody will get rewarded to the child’s maternal grandparents.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) started round two of its legal battle against the Teller County Sheriff’s Office. Early last year, one lawsuit was dismissed before a state law was passed that lead the organization to follow yet another suit.
This time the ACLU claims that the local sheriff’s office’s participation in the 287g immigration program violates a newly passed state law as well as the Colorado constitution. The sheriff rebutted by filing to dismiss the suit based on the fact that his participation in the immigration program is legal and needed to keep the county safe.
As of last year the ACLU asked for an extension from the court on their response on the motion to dismiss the sheriff filed. No more information has been released to the public regarding the situation of the current lawsuit.
This year local residents should expect some sort of finale in the legal battle against the local sheriff and the civil liberties union. The outcome of this case could impact how law enforcement is conducted in the county and the way illegal immigrants arrested in the area are handled.
Should the sheriff be victorious, the ACLU may come back with other ways to fight the county’s decision to team up with federal immigration agencies. If the ACLU wins the lawsuit, the sheriff may have to change his operations and possibly even opt-out of the 287g program, along with paying a hefty fee to the organization.
Teller County Sheriff’s Office Expansion
It has been a long time coming, but ground finally broke on a sheriff’s office expansion that has been in the works for over a decade in late 2019. The county commissioners have been putting money aside each year for a number of years to come up with $7.2 million to cover the costs of a new and improved sheriff’s office facility.
This year local residents will get to experience visible progress made to the property that started as a firehouse and was converted into a sheriff’s office in the 1990s. The construction started in late November, and the facility is expected to be completed sometime in the late part of 2020.
The county commissioners have argued that the updated building has been a long time overdue and that a new facility will help the county’s emergency services grow. The new facility will provide better working areas for the current staff as well as provide a place that will help the force expand in numbers as the county grows and requires more law enforcement agents. However, some critics maintain that the issue should have come to a vote of re citizens and question the $7.2 million project price tag.
One issue the county commissioners have discussed is the possibility for big growth within Teller. Over the last several years, the region is starting to attract more and more people. Recently, Colorado Springs has been rated as one of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. This trend will attract more people to Teller, El Paso County’s neighbor.
Many people believe that as Colorado Springs and El Paso County’s population expands to unprecedented numbers, Teller County will also see steady growth for the next several years. At a county commissioners’ meeting recently, one resident speculated that the county could grow to 75,000 people or triple its current population quicker than everyone thinks.
With the constantly growing population numbers, the county will continue to see rising property values and therefore rising property tax payments. The continued growth within the county could cause other problems to arise such as infrastructure issues as well as worsen the county’s problem with having a lack of affordable housing.
National and Local Sports
As far as professional sports in the state go, fans can expect probably the same trends as 2019. This year, the Avalanche are looking playoff-worthy for the second year in a row as they currently sit in second place in their conference. The Denver Nuggets are also looking pretty hot as they are second in their conference and are looking forward to post-season play again in 2020.
As far as baseball and football goes, fans can again probably expect much of the same as they saw in 2019. The Rockies have already made some questionable offseason changes but hopefully they can improve a little as they finished with one of the worst records in the MLB in 2019.
The Broncos kind of got it together towards the end of the season in 2019 but they fail to earn a playoff seat, get a winning record, or beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Who knows what drastic changes the team’s general manager and former star quarterback John Elway will make during their offseason.
As far as college sports go, two Colorado teams have seen some drastic changes that could help them improve in 2020. Colorado State fired their old coach and hired a new one for the 2020 season in a rather expensive move that they hope will help the team improve. Greeley’s University of Northern Colorado may have made a move that will gain the team more fans after they hired former Denver Bronco star player Ed McCaffery as their new head coach.
Air Force was the only Colorado college football club that was invited to a bowl game in 2019 and they have a good chance of seeing another successful season in 2020. The Falcons still have a young team and they have improved each of the last two years which could mean that they have a good chance of staying competitive in 2020.
The Colorado Buffaloes, on the other hand, have stayed mediocre-looking now for at least the last two seasons. Unless they get some new star players for 2020, fans can probably expect more of the same from them during next season.
As far as Woodland Park High School sports go, the Panther football team saw a drastic improvement in 2020. The veteran coach Joe Roskam seems to have things dialed in better and in 2020 he will be playing again with a group of boys that have played together for years. Look for the Panther boys to come up with another winning season in 2020.
The local high school’s volleyball team has also shine for two years in a row as they did well enough to host the regional tournament each season. The volleyball organization at the school has built a good program using club teams to ready the girls for high school level competition. Expect the Lady Panthers to continue to shine in 2020 and perhaps several more years in the future.
The WP high school boys’ wrestling team has been another one to watch for the last several seasons. The team’s coach, Keith Sieracki,× has been working hard training younger kids which has proven to make them very competitive once they start competing at the high school level. The coach’s goal is to create a stellar wrestling program years into the future.