Buen Tiempo Assault Leads to Two Arrests
by Samantha Wright
Jul 26, 2012 | 4124 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

OURAY – A New Mexico couple were arrested at the Buen Tiempo restaurant in Ouray last Saturday night, July 21, following a violent assault in which one of the perpetrators smashed a crutch over a Ouray local’s head, and the other slugged a Ouray Police Department officer. Both assault victims are okay.

Ouray Police Officer Ted Wolfe described the incident as an altercation between two parties, Derek Raring and Kelsey Houser of New Mexico, and a group of locals from Ouray with whom they were loosely associated.

The incident happened at about 10 p.m.

“They were all together, when a young man came in to see his family and he was mistaken for someone else,” Wolfe said.

Raring hit him over the head with a crutch. The victim “was not seriously injured,” Wolfe said, “but the crutch broke over his head.”

Law enforcement officers from the Ouray Police Department and the Ouray County Sheriff Department responded to the scene.

“The lady (Houser) then slugged (Ouray Police officer) Tony Schmidtt,” Wolfe said.

Houser, 26, and Raring, 47, were both arrested and transported to the Montrose County Detention Center. Houser faces a charge of 2nd Degree Assault on a Peace Officer, a felony. Raring has been charged with 3rd Degree Assault. They have both “bonded up,” Wolfe said.

The incident is still under investigation, and Wolfe declined to release the names of any of the other parties who were involved. He said that overconsumption of alcohol was a factor. No significant property damage occurred.

Changing of the Guard at the OPD

Longtime Ouray Police Department officer Ted Wolfe retired this week after 14 years on the job in Ouray, and an additional 18 years before that with the Montrose Police Department. Wolfe said he is looking forward to traveling with his wife, enjoying his grandkids and engaging in volunteer work with Ouray County Emergency Medical Services.

As Wolfe departs, the OPD will see some staffing changes. Former part-time officer Justin Crandall has been made full-time, and a new part-time officer named Phil VanWhy has also been hired. VanWhy, who currently lives in Fruita with his wife and four young children, formerly worked in as a police officer in Grand Junction. Among his areas of expertise are rescue diving and high angle and low angle rope rescue.

VanWhy will undergo a period of field training in Ouray before his job is made official. In the meantime, he will not need to comply with the OPD’s rule that all officers must live within a 10-minute response time from the City of Ouray.

Pay Raise Was Never Enacted

Ouray City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli confirmed this week that his controversial pay raise, which was the topic of dissent at last week’s city council meeting, never actually went into effect.

Ouray Mayor Bob Risch had conducted a performance evaluation of Rondinelli last spring and authorized a merit-based raise, but council never actually voted on it until last week – when the raise was denied by a vote of 3-2. There was some question as to whether the raise, which Risch authorized, may have gone into effect retroactive to Rondinelli’s contract renewal date in February, but this turned out not to be the case.

Councillors who opposed the raise last Monday alluded to circumstances regarding Rondinelli’s job performance. Rondinelli told The Watch this week that council has not told clarified specifically what their concerns might be.

Water Tank Work Progresses

Ouray residents and visitors were asked to conserve water on Wednesday this week to allow work to take place on the city’s second water tank, a million-dollar largely grant-funded capital project to provide redundancy to the city’s water supply.

Workers were planning to shut off and drain the city water main above the old tank to allow valving work to take place that will connect the old and new systems. City officials anticipated there would be enough water in the tank and the line below it leading into town to cover municipal usage during the three or so hours while the operation took place. The entire project is scheduled for completion in September.

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