Pueblo County, Colorado
Pueblo News 2000's

Page contributed by Karen Mitchell, news items contributed by Pueblo County Volunteers.
These news items are being extracted from the local newspapers. They are in chronological order. To search for any given name use your browers "Find" button.


Colorado Springs Gazette 12-4-2002 - Auction of Texas 7 Car Angers Victim's Mom - Pueblo Church's Listing on eBay Has No Takers - Dallas - The mother of a slain police officer said she is appalled a Colorado church would try to auction a getaway car driven by her son's killers. In an auction that ended Monday on eBay, the Word of Jesus Christ Church in Pueblo was asking for minimum bids of at least $10,000 for the 1986 Honda Accord used by the Texas Seven. There were no bids for the car, which has 169,000 miles on its odometer. Jayne Hawkins, the mother of Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins, who was killed Christmas Eve 2000, said the auction was disgusting. "It's sick, it's very, very sick," she said. "They have no right to capitalize off this type of thing." Church pastor Albert Struck said Monday night the church will relist the car Tuesday with a minimum bid of $2,000. The car's Blue Book value is about $1,300. It was not relisted by Tuesday night. "It's just a car," Struck said. "It's just a vehicle that they drove in. It wasn't used for anything but to transport them from Texas to Colorado." Struck got the car Jan. 11, 2001, at a Motel 6 after finding an envelope in the church mailbox containing the keys, directions to the car and a note that read: "May God bless you the way he blessed us." The description of the car on eBay calls it a "historical collectors item," and describes how the church received the car, after which FBI agents showed up during a church service and "told the pastor that the car we had, belonged to the Texas Seven, who at the time were still at large." Aubrey Hawkins is not mentioned in the ad. The church initially intended to donate the car to a needy family, but when police seized the car for more than a year, the church helped the family buy a different vehicle. About 60 church members decided to sell the car to raise money for a new building. The escapees bought the car with money from armed robberies, officials say.


Colorado Springs Gazette 8-10-2003 - Seeking a Special Ship - Pueblo - Louis Carleo is an old-school success story. He grew up poor and fatherless when this was a rough-and-tumble steel town. He became a popular teacher and coach, then a construction company owner, and, finally, a car dealer and major developer. Carleo now wears monogrammed shirts and expensive after-shave. He drives a flashy Cadillac Escalante pickup. He displays in his office an autographed photograph of boxer Boom Boom Mancini, an acquaintance. The picture shares office space with a massive, 10-year-old piranha named Bubba that craves visitors' attention and thrives on a diet of bananas and apples. Louis Carleo, by all appearances, is a man who gets what he wants – and doesn't mind putting it on display when he does. But his latest project will take all his drive, wile and charm: He wants North Korea's brutal and strange leaders to give back the symbol of their one victory over American running-dog imperialists. Carleo wants the communists to return the USS Pueblo, a spy ship the North Koreans attacked Jan. 23, 1968. One crewman was killed, and several wounded. The remaining 82 crewman were imprisoned and mistreated for 11 months until they were released. Until recently, when it was moved to an undisclosed location, the ship was docked in North Korea's capital and used for propaganda. Getting a ship with that kind of history back sounds audacious enough. But that's just the beginning for Carleo. He wants the USS Pueblo towed back to the United States, perhaps to Texas, decommissioned by the Navy and then trucked – in one piece if possible – to Pueblo. Carleo envisions the crew accompanying the ship in one long national parade of honor. Once the 320-foot-long boat is pulled into town, he plans to sink it into a huge pond he'll build (and donate) in the parking lot of a downtown shopping center he owns. A light-and-fountain show and a small amphitheater would highlight the coup. To be fair, only the last part of the plan is completely Carleo's. Another civic booster, Robert Rawlings, publisher of the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper, started the effort to convince the North Koreans to return the ship a few years ago. He put together a group of movers and shakers who call themselves Puebloans for the Return of the USS Pueblo. On the face of it, the whole effort seems quixotic. Pueblo is a long, long way from any ocean. It's not a player in international affairs. It has no high connections to the State Department or Navy brass. And, at least, at first, the city had no connection to craft or crew other than being its namesake. But those involved with the effort said city residents have developed a relationship with the crew. While the crew was held captive, Pueblo residents were at the forefront of a grass-roots effort to keep politicians and Navy admirals focused on the sailors' welfare. In recent years, the city has hosted three reunions of the crew. The ship's commander, Lloyd Mark "Pete" Bucher, who once appeared on the covers of Life and Time magazines, has visited the city frequently, to give talks and stay with friends he made after his return from North Korea. Pueblo schoolchildren studied the history of the USS Pueblo and had a chance to talk to Bucher. Carleo and others acknowledged a minilake containing the ship would be a great tourist attraction and couldn't help but raise the profile of their city. They aren't exactly wild that Branson, Mo., home to a few crew members, has made a pitch to have the chip. But committee members say that's all secondary. They say they just want to help fulfill the wishes of the remaining crew members to get the ship out of North Korean hands. A former ambassador to South Korea thinks Carleo and a company might pull it off. Donald Gregg, U.S. ambassador to South Korea from 1989-93 and a CIA specialist in Asia for 30 years, said last week the deterioration of North Korea-U.S. relations in recent months has certainly thrown a wrench into Pueblo's plans, but he doesn't think all is lost. Gregg said he visited North Korea in April 2002 and suggested to North Korean leaders that they return the USS Pueblo. He said officials told him they didn't think the ship was of interest to America any longer, and the thought hadn't occurred to them. He was invited back in October and hand-carried a letter from the committee and Bucher saying the ship's return would mean a lot. By the time he arrived, the United States had accused North Korean leaders of supplying Pakistan with nuclear materials, and the communists weren't in the mood to listen. They told the former ambassador that talk about returning the USS Pueblo was off the table. Still, Gregg, now chairman of the New York-based Korea Society, said, "I'm hopeful with a change in climate the issue might arise again where they might see it is in their interest to return the ship." Alvin Plucker of Fort Lupton fervently hopes so. He was a 22-year-old seaman on the ship when North Korean ships and MIG jets fired upon it. The crew's 11 months in a North Korean jail was a descent into hell from which many of them never fully recovered, he said. "It was not a fun time," he said. "Outside of the usual beatings we got, the starvation was the worst. We had scurvy and horrible diarrhea. At one time I was down to 95 pounds." Plucker said he and the remaining crew members joined the effort of the Pueblo folks to push for the ship's return. "It's bad news for us, " he said. "It's a military ship and property of the U.S. Navy. It's also a personal thing. They took away the ship we were attached to. It was humiliating for us. It's all a part of us." Plucker and Gregg suggested it wasn't only the North Korean government that might not want the USS Pueblo returned to America. They said the incident embarrassed top Navy officers, who tried unsuccessfully to court-martial Bucher for allowing the ship's secrets to fall into the hands of the North Koreans. "It was a shameful chapter in naval history, and the Navy turned on Bucher and were very tough on him," Gregg said. "He wasn't fully exonerated until the first President Bush took office." Carleo, mover and shaker and big thinker, thinks Pueblo folks can overcome the obstacles and bring the ship back to the city for which it was named. He's taking his motto from the words a little kid uttered in the movie "Angels in the Outfield," about a longshot baseball team that gets some help from a band of angels. "It could happen. It could happen," Carleo said. "That's my answer."


Colorado Springs Gazette 4-29-2004 - Major Nana - Pueblo Reservist Takes Nursing, Nurturing Skills to Iraq - Madeline Belarde is packing her footlocker with the essentials: family photos, a Bible, her father's military flag and a bottle of Miss Clairol. The 51-year-old Pueblo West grandmother is headed to Iraq for a year. She leaves Colorado on Monday with her younger comrades in the 1835th Medical Detachment Combat Stress Control Unit. She'll trade in her sensible nursing shoes for combat boots to provide mental health services to troops. It is Maj. Belarde's first call to active duty in 17 years in the Army Reserve, which until now meant an annual two-week mission away from family. "The butterflies of, 'Wow, we are really going away,' are setting in," she said. News of the matriarch's deployment this month stunned her large, close-knit family. Belarde never considered trying to get out of it, but her family did. "It crossed my mind," said her husband, Jim, getting nods of agreement from others in the room. "There is no safe place over there." The outside of their Pueblo West home is already decorated with yellow ribbons. I feel proud of her. And sad. I'm going to miss her," said her granddaughter Taylor, 11, wearing a "My Nana wears combat boots" T-shirt that the family had printed in her honor. Taylor is about the same height as her petite "GI Nana," who easily passed her age level's fitness test of 11 push-ups and 31 sit-ups in less than two minutes, and running 2 miles in less than 24 minutes. "Clinically, as a psychiatric nurse, I am ready," she said. "Militarily, I am getting 'trained up,' as they say. When I have a meltdown, I might cry a little while, but I am able to pull myself together. My brother-in-law always told me to enjoy the journey, whatever the journey is. So that is going to be my motto." And, she added, "I am going to get buffed." Although she joins a number of other grandparents serving in Iraq, her deployment has garnered national media attention from "Good Morning, America" and "Today." "It's the same thing of 'How do you feel, because of your age?'" she said. "Being female and older, you are setting a standard for the soldiers. The young soldiers who come in contact with me, their moms and dads can be assured they'll have someone taking care of them." Army Reserve Maj. Rod Tague said Belarde is "the nurturer" in the 1835th unit that, since its April 5 activation, has trained daily at a reserve center in Aurora. "She makes sure we have lots of snacks," he said. "She says, 'Are you warm enough? Are you getting enough to eat?' In clinical training she asks very practical questions that others may overlook." That doesn't detract from her soldier side. "The fact that she is a grandmother, mother and wife doesn't prevent her from being a soldier. She is very dedicated," Tague said. He doesn't know where in Iraq the unit will be based. "Eighteen months is the time frame they gave us," Tague said. "We'll be on the ground in Iraq at least for one year." The unit will board a bus Monday to Fort Riley, Kan., for a month of training in weapons and chemical warfare. Belarde will carry a gun and a gas mask in Iraq. She'll sleep on a cot in a tent and, if she is lucky, will have access to a portable toilet instead of a modified 50-gallon drum. In her trunk is a plain plastic bucket that can serve all hygiene purposes, if need be. "If anyone can do it, she can do it," said her daughter, Julie Aragon. This is, after all, the Nana who tries to get family members to jog with her at 5 a.m. Usually she doesn't have any takers, but this weekend she will. She'll also spend her dwindling time at home rollerblading with the four grandkids – and no doubt will make sure they have enough underwear and socks to last them the next 18 months. Motherhood was Belarde's primary mission while raising three children: Julie, 29, Terre, 26 and Christopher, 23. She went back to school in her 30s and is now a nurse manager at Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. Her upbringing as a "military brat" led her to join the Reserves. The oldest of 10 brothers and sisters who all live in Colorado, her house is the family gathering place – 72 people showed up at Christmas. The extended family often spends holidays, vacations and weekends together. "She is at the center," Aragon said. "I'm the planner, the organizer, the doer," said Belarde, who already has a trip to Disney World lined up for when she returns. Said her husband: "She's the world's problem solver. I tease her that it's a quality that drew me to her and it's the one that makes me crazy."


Colorado Springs Gazette 2-17-2005 - 8 Die as Jet Crashes Near Pueblo - Circuit City Plane Was Trying to Land in Freezing Rain -Pueblo – Federal authorities today will start looking for the reasons a corporate jet crashed and burned Wednesday morning east of Pueblo Memorial Airport, killing all eight people on board. The victims were the pilot and co-pilot, four employees of Circuit City Stores Inc. of Richmond, Va., and two others. The identities of those killed hadn't been released by late Wednesday. The twin-engine Cessna Citation C560 left Richmond on Wednesday morning en route to Irvine, Calif. It went down at 9:13 a.m. and burst into flames about five miles east of the Pueblo airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said. The crash site was near a dairy farm, west of the Pueblo Chemical Depot, where the military stores chemical weapons. The plane was attempting an instrument landing in freezing drizzle after filing a flight plan citing Pueblo as its destination, FAA spokesman Mike Fergus said. However, Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino said Pueblo was to be the aircraft's second of two fuel stops. "Two witnesses said they heard loud popping," Corsentino said, adding that they didn't actually see the crash. It was traveling with a companion aircraft, Corsentino said, which was 10 to 12 minutes behind it and landed safely. He did not identify who the second plane's passengers were affiliated with but said some of them boarded commercial flights out of Denver later Wednesday to "return home." He did not give their destination. Sheriff's deputies and investigators initially searched the site for survivors. When they found none, they cordoned off the site and waited for National Transportation Safety Board investigators. Pueblo Memorial Airport Manager Jerry Brienza said the airport has never experienced "a crash of this magnitude." "As far as I know, (the pilot) didn't declare an emergency," Brienza said after talking to air traffic controllers. He described the weather at 900 feet as "broken sky," at 1,400 feet as "overcast" and said the wind was at 7 knots – about 8 mph. A small Mesa jet had just landed at the airport minutes before. "It's not uncommon for aircraft to land safely in this weather," Brienza said. Circuit City confirmed on its Web site that a plane registered to the company had crashed in Colorado and had eight people on board, four of whom were employees of the company. None was an officer, the posting noted, adding no comment would be made pending notification of relatives. "Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones during their time of need," Circuit City CEO W. Alan McCollough said in a statement to the Associated Press. Circuit City owns about a half dozen stores along the Front Range and 50 stores within 100 miles of Irvine. The investigation will be conducted by an eight-member NTSB team from Washington, D.C., headed by chairman and CEO Ellen Engleman Conners. The team was to arrive in Colorado late Wednesday. NTSB teams are sent to multiple-fatality or air-carrier crashes. The crash site, which covered a half-mile radius, was bordered by sheriff's and coroner's vehicles who kept vigil over the wreckage and did not remove the bodies until federal authorities arrived. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Bryant said late Wednesday a representative from a local funeral home was on the scene to remove the bodies.

Colorado Springs Gazette, 6-5-2005 Springs man killed near Pueblo. A 29-year-old Colorado Springs man was killed Saturday while riding his motorcycle south of Pueblo Motor Sports Park in Pueblo County. The man, whose name was not released, was jumping hills north of Pueblo Reservoir on a Honda motorcycle, according to a preliminary investigation by a Pueblo Parks officer and the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office. As the rider topped a hill, the motorcycle became airborne about 4 feet above ground and came down on the other side of the hill, landing on the front wheel, according to a statement issued by the Sheriff's Office. The driver lost control and hit the handlebars which caused chest trauma. The driver landed 116 feet on the downhill side, which had a vertical drop of 20 to 25 feet, according to the Sheriff's Office. Authorities were summoned at 4:27 p.m., but the rider, who was wearing a helmet and protective pants but no chest protection, died before the rescue helicopter arrived. Pueblo Sheriff's Sgt. Anthony Colletti said an autopsy will be performed. Although the driver's next of kin had been notified, Colletti refused to identify the man, saying the Coroner's Office would release his name when the autopsy is completed.

Colorado Springs Gazette 7-11-2005 - The Mason Gulch Fire - 8,000 Acres and Growing - Beulah: Residents Among 5,000 Told to Leave - Beulah – They sat in lawn chairs and drank beer as hundred-foot flames crested the ridge. The Mason Gulch fire was a distant cloud of smoke two days ago for Jim Frederick, his girlfriend and neighbors. By Sunday afternoon, the now 8,000-acre blaze forced the evacuation of their mountain town. "I was born and raised here, so I'm not going to just jump up and leave," Frederick said in defiance of the evacuation order. His group was among the last in the community of Beulah. Most residents had loaded cars and trucks with cherished belongings and driven toward Pueblo. The thin man with dusty work boots and faded jeans pointed to a house on a hill in front of the flames. If it burned, he said, he would leave. The fire made a miles-long run to the southeast through thick stands of oak and ponderosa pines Sunday, prompting authorities to ask 5,000 people from the Beulah valley and the North Creek area to evacuate. A community farther south, Rye, was told evacuation was possible. Colorado Highway 78, westbound from Pueblo into Beulah, and Colorado Highway 96, westbound from Pueblo to Wetmore, were closed to general traffic. No structures had burned, and no one was injured Sunday. For a third day the fire thrived on hot, dry conditions to balloon in size. Even before noon, billowy rolls of smoke thousands of feet high swallowed the sky. More than 420 firefighters attacked the blaze from land and air, but progress remained modest. The blaze was only 5 percent contained. It was declared a Type I fire, the highest priority given by the federal government, and a designation that should bring more people and equipment. In Beulah, Frederick argued with Gary McCain, a commander with the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, who ordered him to leave at 4:30 p.m. "You'll have to take me by force," Frederick said, " I will leave when I feel in danger." After McCain left, Frederick loaded his Ford Explorer with several of his 20-30 guns, his version of a "life savings," just in case. Late Sunday, he, his girlfriend and her two children remained at home. Earlier that day, the phone at the Beulah General Store rang steadily as storekeepers explained what they knew. Owner Mike Rose, a 21-year resident, said, "It'll be a shame if all of this beauty burns up, that'll just really bring you to tears." Outside, the streets were empty except for a few departing residents. Roger Musso and his wife returned from a Gunnison vacation to hear that they shouldn't stay at home. With an SUV full of belongings, they left, the last on their street to do so. At an intersection for North Creek Road on the fire's western side, Claudia Willis-Bunch, a paramedic, marveled at the exploding trees and mushrooming clouds. "That is just phenomenal, whatever is going on over there," she said. Evacuees were sent to Pueblo West High School, where they were assured that authorities would watch over their nearly abandoned community. The fire, sparked by lightning Wednesday, is the largest in Colorado and is burning under conditions similar to 2002, one of the most severe wildfire seasons in state history. "It frankly surprised me that we didn't lose some homes today," said Brian Scott, fire information officer. The firefighting effort has cost $1.1 million, Scott said.

Colorado Springs Gazette 8-19-2005 - Gagliano's Like Slice of Little Italy - Market Has Served Locals For More Than 80 Years - The smell of garlic begins its seduction as soon as you open the door. It's one of the many signs that Gagliano's Italian Market is the real deal – not some artificially contrived chain recreation of an Italian grocery, but an authentic, fourth-generation institution. It's been operated by the Gagliano family from Sicily since 1923. During a typical Friday afternoon, Vincent Gagliano works behind a deli case filled with meats and cheeses. A customer asks him about the Supremo Bread, stuffed with ham, salami, pepperoni and cheese. Many of the breads are ordered in advance, but he says the one in his hand is for sale. "Not anymore!" says Randy Schade, who's ahead of that customer in line. Vincent smiles and sends the loaf home with Schade, a longtime customer, with recommendations for a nice red wine to wash it down. Meanwhile, Grandma Josephine thrills customers with a steady stream of free samples – marinated olives, prosciutto from Italy, lady fingers warm from the oven. Her 11-year-old granddaughter Bittanie works the register, which, at 98 years old, happens to be even older than the shop. It's like a tiny slice of New York's Little Italy before it turned into a tourist attraction. Sure, there are a few tourist gifts here – including T-shirts that say "I'm not only perfect, I'm Italian, too." But those aren't the main draw. "Gags," as the regulars call it, is all about the homemade breads, imported meats, sandwiches to go and, perhaps most of all, the mild and spicy homemade Italian sausages. Grill them up with onions and peppers and you'll never eat fair food again. Shop 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays at 1220 Elm St.


Colorado Springs Gazette 8-27-2006 - Storm Floods Pueblo, Traps Motorists - Part of Roof at King Soopers Collapses - Pueblo - A severe thunderstorm pounded the Pueblo area Saturday evening, sparking the partial collapse of a grocery store roof, the rescue of motorists trapped in flooded underpasses and unconfirmed report of minor injuries at the Colorado State Fair. The National Weather Service said more than 8 inches of rain fell in about an hour in the Pueblo West area and more than an inch at the airport on the city's east side. Pea-size hail in Pueblo West fell so heavily it "looked like a snowstorm," said meteorologic technician Randy Gray. Gray said wind gusts of up to 65 mph accompanied the storm as it moved from Fremont County into Pueblo County at 5:30 p.m. The same storm system was much less severe in the Pikes Peak region. A quarter-inch of rain fell at the Colorado Springs Airport, and the upper portion of Pikes Peak Highway was closed for several hours because of snow at higher elevations. Colorado Springs police said portions of Constitution Avenue were damaged near Union Boulevard. Gray said the Weather Service was unable to confirm reports that the storm sparked tornadoes in the Pueblo West and Pueblo area. He said ham radio operators reported seeing the base of low-lying clouds rotating, indicating the potential for tornadoes. A section of roof collapsed over the floral section of a King Soopers grocery store near 29th Street east of Interstate 25 in Pueblo, but the collapse did not cause injuries, said an employee and her husband who declined to give their names. Employees turned away customers at the front door, where hastily made closed signs were posted. Inside, water stood in the store's main entry way. In the parking lot, a car sat half-submerged in a low spot that filled like a pond. At the nearby underpass for 29th Street at I-25, a woman in an SUV was swept off the road as she tried to drive through the flooded area. Her car slowly sank.. Rescuers swam to the car, almost entirely submerged, and freed her. In neighborhoods, tree limbs and debris littered roads and yards, and throughout the city many traffic signals flashed red or yellow. As of late Saturday evening, downed power lines and power outages were reported in the northern and central portions of Pueblo. Roads in areas of the city and in Pueblo West also were reportedly washed out. The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office said State Fair officials reported that the high winds blew over some temporary structures, and a couple of fair-goers may have been slightly injured in falls. Gray said late Saturday that the storm appeared to have spent its fury over Pueblo and was lessening in severity as it entered southeastern Crowley and Otero counties.

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