2020 definitely will not be forgotten soon

Well, here we are at the end of the Year 2020, one that will not be forgotten soon for all the wrong reasons.
We were tempted to not even do a year in review this time, but realized a year like this definitely needs to be recorded. Besides, there were plenty of other news-worthy events that occurred in 2020 besides COVID-19, though it definitely played the major role over the year’s last 10 months.
Let’s get going on taking a look back at infamous 2020, and look forward to better things in 2021.

• Remember the innocent days sightings of drones in the night sky dominated the conversation? That is how 2020 began as reports of drones in the area finally hit closer to home with several residents saying they saw them around Yuma, as well as further west toward Otis. Local law enforcement said the drones have been tracked, but there did not seem to be any laws broken.
• The region’s law enforcement agencies formed a multi-agency task force in the second week of January to look further into the drone activity.
• Chris Wood announces he is running as a Republican for Yuma County Commissioner District 2 seat.
• A pursuit of a stolen vehicle passed through Yuma the morning of January 2. It was called off in Washington County because of the hazards posed to motorists and bystanders due to the high speed and reckless driving. The pickup was found abandoned in Akron. Two vehicles then were stolen, resulting in another pursuit, which finally ended near Wiggins. The suspects were not apprehended.
• Northeast Junior College began having onsite classes at its new Yuma campus. Marylu Smith-Dischner is hired as the campus facilitator.
• The Yuma City Council discusses possibly having a drone ordinance, but nothing ever comes of it.
• Yuma County 4-H leaders are honored during the annual banquet held in Wray. The leaders represented more than 200 years of volunteer service to Yuma County 4-H.
• Rick Seedorf installs gargoyles outside his shop at the west end of town, catching people’t attention. Rick and his wife Ruth commissioned Lundeen Studio in Loveland to do the sculptures. Seedorf explained in the January 23 Pioneer what the two gargoyles represent.

Gargoyle Medic

• A man named Michael Spicer submits a letter to the Pioneer stating that his group ArchAngel RECON is responsible for the drone sightings, but then never comes up with any evidence or updated information.
• January comes to an end with the City of Yuma about to begin a trap-neuter-return program of feral cats, with assistance from Denver Metro Cat and Animal Assistance Foundation. A public meeting is held to learn more about the program.
• The Pioneer runs an article in the January 30 edition from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stating the risk to the general public in Colorado is low for the novel coronavirus, but also is preparing for a swift response if the virus is found in the state. The focus is on people who have had a recent travel history to China and those with respiratory symptoms.
• Candidates for the municipal election in April are announced following the nomination deadline. Ron Swehla is the only candidate for mayor, while the four candidates for open council seats are Dan Baucke, Bryson Chrismer, Tim McClung, Jo Griggs and Daniel Ebersole.

• Scott Weaver of Wray announces he is running for the Republican nomination for the Yuma County Commissioner District 2 seat.
• Sergio Miramontes-Arteaga is arrested by Yuma police and charged with assault in the first degree with a deadly weapon, as the suspect of seriously injuring another Yuma man in a brawl.
• The Yuma area gets a little snow in early February, but does not contain much moisture as a very dry winter continues.
• The Yuma City Council votes to put a lodging tax question on the ballot for the April municipal election. The question calls for a 5-percent tax. The revenue would go into the General Fund.
• The are six candidates for five seats on the Eckley Town Board of Trustees — Cheryl Rogers, Robert Vance, Tim Probasco, Bud Hagemeier, Eric Colcleasure and Deanna Pletcher. Jessie Vance is the only candidate for mayor.
• Phillip Riggleman announces he is running as an unaffiliated candidate for Yuma County Commissioner District 3 seat.
• Ray Prentice announces he is running for the Republican nomination for Yuma County Commissioner District 3 seat.
• The LPAA Honor Band and LPAA Junor High Honor Band spent a full day at Yuma High School practicing, before putting on a concert that evening.
• Bryce Revell of Wray went before the Eckley Town Board of Trustees to lay out his plans of opening a marijuana dispensary in Eckley. He is scheduled to meet with he board of trustees again in early March.
• The Yuma-1 Board of Education approves the schematic design for the district’s $32 million renovation/expansion project.

Auxiliary gym. (Neenan Archistruction)

• Mindy Whomble announces she is running as an unaffiliated candidate for Yuma County Commissioner District 2.
• The City of Yuma and the Yuma Museum Board meet several times while trying to hammer out a new lease agreement as the museum tries to move forward with a grant application for its planned renovation project. Museum members initially found some aspects objectionable but the two parties were able to talk their way through it eventually.
• Local students, including several from Yuma, did very well in the regional science fair held at NJC in Sterling. Shelby Blach was the senior division grand prize winner.
• The first round of the city’s trap-neuter-release program for feral cats is held is held in the northeast part of Yuma at the end of February.

• It is reported that 13th Judicial District Attorney Brittny Lewton is indicted on three felony drug counts by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office. It is centered around Lewton reportedly taking a bottle of painkillers from an employee.
• Dave Blach announces he is running as a Democrat for the Yuma County Commissioner District 3 seat.
• Betsy Blecha announces she running unaffiliated for the Yuma County Commissioner District 2 seat.
• The Yuma County Commissioners come out with a long statement concerning any marijuana facilities locating in Yuma County, noting they are prohibited within the unincorporated areas of the county, and the commissioners have no intention of changing that position.
• Presidential primary was held in Colorado on the first Tuesday in March. Donald Trump easily won in Yuma County, while on the contested Democrat ticket, Mike Bloomberg won Yuma County, followed by Joe Biden, then Bernie Sanders and finally Elizabeth Warren.
• The State of Colorado announces its lab at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment can now test for COVID-19. The tests are only for those who meet certain criteria.
Plus, the March 5 edition includes a release from the Northeast Colorado Health Department and CDPHE that the risk to the general public in northeast Colorado is relatively low. The focus continues to be on people who recently traveled to China and have symptoms. Colorado had no cases at that point.
• Citizens comment about a possible marijuana dispensary opening in Eckley during the Town Board of Trustee’s meeting. People from Yuma and Wray also attended. Most comments were against it, but there were some in support. Some board members said they were not in favor of a dispensary in Eckley, but it should be put to the vote of the people in Eckley.
• The Pioneer reports in the March 12 edition about the plans being developed by Yuma District Hospital & Clinics, City of Yuma, Yuma School District-1 and Yuma Life Care Center. The plans include Yuma-1 assessing students and staff in regards to who has internet access at home and electronic devices to use, as well as developing a plan to provide those resources to those who do not have them. There has been some confirmed cases along the Front Range and in the mountains, but none yet in northeast Colorado.
• Yuma County Republicans and Democrats held their precinct caucuses in early March, with the county assemblies planned for later in the month.
• COVID-19 finally hits close to home, as the NCHD announces on March 18 that a Yuma County resident is the first confirmed case in the region.
• Even before that announcement, community buildings in Yuma, schools, many businesses closed for at least a few weeks. Spring break was extended for one week with the hope of resuming classes in-person on March 30. Schools continued to make plans for remote learning if it comes to that. City buildings were closed to at least April 6. Local restaurants offer carry-out service. All sorts of annual community events are called off.
• It also led to the inevitable hoarding as several shelves at Shop-All were laid bare. The grocery store had to limit the number of certain items customers could purchase, and shortened its hours of operation to allow for time to restock shelves and doing extra cleaning.

Shelves were empty in certain areas of Shop-All last weekend as locals stocked up on goods. (Pioneer Photo)

• In what turns out to be its last in-person meeting of the year, the Yuma City Council approved an order declaring an emergency for the City of Yuma, just in case it is needed.
• Great Outdoors Colorado awarded a $130,000 grant to Yuma County for the second phase of fairgrounds updates. These funds are for new animal pens, fans and curtains, and purchasing a new cattle scale. An earlier grant is paying for expanding the livestock building.
• Yuma County Republicans met in Wray for its county assembly, but did not hold the Lincoln Day Dinner. Scott Weaver and Chris Wood both received enough votes to get on the primary ballot for Yuma County Commissioner District 2, as did Robin Wiley for District 3. The Republicans also selected delegates and alternates to the state assembly.
• It is announced in the March 26 edition that Yuma-1 will go to remote learning on March 30. The same goes for all schools in Colorado as a state order dictates schools remain closed to in-person learning until at least April 17. The Yuma-1 board also approves a resolution granting emergency powers to Superintendent Dianna Chrisman.
• Though all city buildings are closed, the City of Yuma employees continue to do their jobs in relation continuing providing utilities to the candidates. The City Hall staff is working from home.
• The Harmony Home and Yuma Life Care Center asks the pbulic to please send cards, letters and other uplifting well-wishes as no visitors are allowed.
• The Easter Egg Hunt at Old Threshers Grounds is canceled.
• Yuma police arrest Pedro Avalos-Moreno following an assault at at Yuma residence, followed by him fleeing officers on foot and then in a vehicle. He is facing several charges.
• Yuma County also enacts an emergency declaration, just like the City of Yuma and Yuma School District-1.
• Yuma County Democrats pulled off their county assembly in Yuma. Dave Blach and Dean Wingfield were nominated as candidates for Yuma County Commissioner, District 3 and District 2, respectively. The Democrats also approved delegates and alternates for the state assembly.

• The playground equipment at the city of Yuma’s parks are taped off and closed to the public.
• The Yuma Hospital and many businesses are remaining opening, but staff admittedly are nervous as shoppers pour in. On the other hand, downtown Yuma is almost like a ghost town as very few businesses are open.
• Ag businesses also are featured in the Pioneer as feedlots, dairies, hog farms and many support businesses continue to operate. Ag markets also are taking a hit thanks to COVID-19.
• Yuma native Robert Smith is featured in the Pioneer as he lives in New York City in one of the hottest pandemic hot spots in the United States, mostly staying at home in his apartment.
• Yuma voters rejected the City of Yuma’s proposed 5-percent lodging tax in the mail-in municipal election. (Surprisingly, no one claims voter fraud with the mail-in voting.)
• As for the council election, Dan Baucke, Tim McClung, Bryson Chrismer, and Daniel Ebersole are elected, along with Ron Swehla, who was unopposed as mayor.
• Area churches offer online services for Easter and other Holy Week services.
• Online learning is proving to be challenging, as expected, but local schools and students, as well as parents, were doing all they could to make it work.
• COVID-19 cases are rising in northeast Colorado, but Yuma County remains at two, and has not had a new case since March 25, it was reported in the April 9 edition.
• Yuma businesses, and others in the area, are busy working the local banks applying for Payment Protection Program funds through the federal government.
• Yuma School District-1 Board of Education and the Yuma City Council hold their first meetings since the pandemic hit the area one month earlier. The Yuma-1 board met in person, but with a limit of 10 people allowed in the room, while the Yuma City Council utilizes Zoom. The Yuma County Board of Commissioners also goes to Zoom meetings.
• Eckley election results are announced with Tim Probasco, Bud Hagemeier, Cheryl Rogers, Deanna Pletcher and Robert Vance elected to the board, along with Jessie Vance for mayor.
• The 5:10 to Yuma 5/10K race and walk has been canceled in 2020 to to COVID-19.
• Yuma-1 announces on April 21 officially announced that school buildings will remain closed through the end of the school year. Remote learning will continue through May 19.
• A 3-2 vote by the Yuma-1 board of education approved with going for the barrel roof design above the new main entrance to Yuma High School. The other option was a pitched roof tower that was meant to be a tip of the hat to the towers that rose above both ends of the old Yuma High School opened in 1921. Thomas Holtorf, Lindsey Galles and Kim Langley voted for the barrel design, a tip of The Pit, while Duane Brown and Dan ross voted for the pitched roof design.

The barrel roof. (Neenan Archistruction)

• Many local businesses start anticipating opening again later in the month as Governor Jared Polis announces Colorado will go to the “Safer at Home” stage effective April 27.
• The new Yuma City Council was seated, virtually, after the last of old business was concluded, during the first council meeting held in one month. It was the last meeting for outgoing council members Bethleen McCall and Steve Hoch.
• Yuma County leaders begin working on their own COVID-19 variances, as allowed by the state’s new Safer at Home guidelines.
• Yuma County hospitals experienced a big drop in business during the month of stay at home restrictions, but are beginning to offer elective procedures and other services as Colorado moves to safer at home.
• Former Yuma Mayor Gene Seward picketed City Hall toward the end of the month. He had opened his downtown barber shop, but was told he had to wait until May 1 to reopen under the new safer at home rules. He finally did reopen, but also noted he did not picket very long because there just weren’t many people downtown during the tighter restrictions.
• The month ended with Yuma County seeing an increase from three to seven cases in one week.

• The month begins with more than 30 vehicles being involved in a May Day Parade that went past Yuma Life Care Center, The Harmony Home and High Plains Manor, providing a way for family and community members to say hello and brighten the day for the residents of those facilities.
• Yuma finally got some moisture in the first days of May with 1.19 inches of rain May 1 through May 4. Rainfall north of Yuma reportedly was up to 2 inches.
• Terry Meek of rural Yuma County was taken into custody and faces an attempted first degree murder charge following an altercation near the Yuma/Kit Carson county line near Highway 385.
• The Yuma City Council votes to not participate with Yuma County’s variance plan, instead choosing to stick with the state’s stricter Safer at Home rules. The vote was 4-1 with councilman Luke Goeglein casting the dissenting vote. (The county was still waiting on the state’s decision on its variance plan.)
• Yuma and California resident Steve Hoch is in the news as he shares recovering from a severe bout of COVID-19 that he got while flying on an airplane to his California home. He was in a coma for 15 days.

Vehicles carrying members of the YHS Class of 2020, along with up to two escorts, ring the outside of the track Sunday, while the scoreboard is lit up with 2020. (Pioneer Photo)
• Yuma High School ends up having a “drive through” graduation for the Class of 2020. It actually went fairly well, as the graduates were allowed a driver and two guests in a vehicle, drove the around the outside of the track at the football field, got out with their parents/guests and went up to receive their diploma.
• The Bank of Colorado announces that Heather Klein from Yuma Middle School is is the 2020 Teacher of the Year.
• Washington County Justice Center announces an outbreak of four inmates testing positive for COVID-19.
• The first part of Yuma-1’s $32 million expansion/renovation project — updates at Yuma Middle School — begin in the middle of the month, including asbestos abatement at the YMS kitchen.
• Speaking of YMS, the eighth-grade class celebrated promotion by having a vehicle parade up and down S. Main St.
• Yuma County’s variance plan to the state’s Safer at Home rules finally is approved by the state in late May. The Yuma City Council held a special meeting a few days later and approved going with the county variance, in large part because the state announced new relaxations for businesses such as restaurants, that were the same as in the Yuma County variance.
• Vicki Bushner’s long tenure as the Morris Elementary School music teacher officially comes to an end as the school year closes out remotely.
• There was not a Memorial Day service at the Yuma Cemetery, but the Yuma VFW/American Legion Color Guard still showed up as Dave Hoch played “Taps” in front of the pavilion. A handful of people showed up for the brief ceremony.
• The City of Yuma announces it will go ahead with the annual spring clean-up the first week of June.
• The Yuma County Fair Board announces at the end of May that there will be a Yuma County Fair in August, though it is not clear at this point what exactly it will look like.
• The Yuma Police Department’s three new officers are featured in the Pioneer — Don Newcomb, Chris Holmes and Trevor Buchanan.

• Things got a little bizarre in Yuma in the first days of June. A local pastor, Jamie Fiorino, invited on Facebook anyone who wanted to join her for a Black Lives Matter silent vigil on June 2, as the country was embroiled in protests over the George Floyd murder. Her post was shared on Facebook by the Pioneer, and the ensuing comments about the event exploded into a social media frenzy about busloads of out-of-town protesters showing up to cause trouble. Businesses along Highway 34 closed early, or at least temporarily, extra law enforcement was called in from area agencies in case they were needed, and City of Yuma workers set up traffic cones and barricades around Veterans Park, where the vigil was moved. In the end, about 60 locals showed up to participate in the peaceful vigil, and there were no problems.
• Some churches and restaurants start reopening to in-person activities,
• The recently-approved Yuma County variance remains in place despite a jump of nearly 30 cases in less than two weeks, mostly due to an outbreak at one workplace in Yuma County.
• It is announced that the Diamond Rio night show at the Yuma County Fair in August has been canceled, due to not being able to have a full crowd for the concert.
• City of Yuma buildings started reopening on June 8.
• The area is hit by wild swings of weather in early June. Highs in the 90s with strong winds quickly gave way to highs in the 50s, heavy rains, and damaging winds that rocked neighboring communities Akron and Haxtun. Yuma avoided any major wind damage. Akron had a 102 mph wind burst. There were power outages all over, including in Yuma, and an outage of nearly six hours in Eckley.
• Despite the terrible weather, Yuma School District-1 still was able to pull off a brief ground breaking ceremony at Yuma High School for its $32 million renovation/expansion project.
• Tragedy struck on the road as 18-year-old Trace Alexander of Otis was killed in a one-vehicle accident, and his passenger, Jacob Miller, seriously injured. The fatal occurred on Highway 63 in Washington County.
• The Yuma Municipal Pool finally opened on June 15 with separate swim sessions. However, it had to close after one day, only for a few days, after one of the employees tested positive for COVID-19, but was not working the day the pool opened. After that, the pool remained opened without incident the rest of the summer.
• It is announced a domestic goat in Yuma County has been diagnosed with rabies. A skunk in Yuma County also was diagnosed with rabies.
• The Old Threshers Group announces it will not have its 40th Old Threshers Show in 2020, instead having it September 10-12, 2021.
• Lone Star holds an in-person outdoor graduation for the four members of the Class of 2020 at the football field on June 20.
• Volunteers from Yuma went to Akron to help with the clean-up after the devastating microburst. Also, Y-W Electric reports that a total of 117 poles went down throughout the region during the strong winds. It took a couple of days to return all services.
• An algae bloom causes a significant fish kill-off at Pioneer Lake, Yuma’s fishing pond located at the east end of town.
• Two residences on the 400 block of N. Buffalo St. sustained substantial damage in a fire on June 21. An investigation determined the fire was considered accidental and likely started by the car port by a batter charger that had been placed on a motorcycle.
• The City of Yuma opens up the playground equipment at the parks, but it requires a lot of sanitation work each day.
• Colorado’s primary election was held on June 30. Locally, Scott Weaver defeats Chris Wood to be the Republican challenger to Democrat incumbent Dean Wingfield for Yuma County Commissioner District 2.
• Multiple lightning strikes caused a series of grass fires over the northern portion of Yuma County. Several fire departments were kept hopping from one spot to the next for about three hours.

• The Yuma County Fair Queen Committee announces, along with the county commissioners and Yuma County Cattlemen’s Association that there will not be a fair royalty competition in 2020. Yuma County Fair Queen Morgan Jones and Lady-In-Waiting Grace Schaffner will continue in their current roles for another year.
• Yuma County moves to Tier 3 of its variance, allowing for gatherings of up to 175 people, where appropriate.
• Thefts are on the rise again in Yuma County, and the Sheriff’s Office is encouraging everyone to take extra precautions in securing their belongings. A variety of items are being taken, including ATVs, bumper pull trailers, fuel, license plates, jewelry, tools, and garden equipment such as mowers.
• Lance Pool is introduced as the new administrator at Yuma Life Care Center.
• The City of Yuma’s annual Independence Eve celebration is not held, but the Yuma Volunteer Fire Department still does the July 3 fireworks show, attended by a large crowd at the ball park complex at the east end of town.
• Fireworks are the expected cause of a residential fire on July 4 on the 500 block of N. Buffalo St. The shop behind the residence fully caught fire, and the residence itself also sustained damage. There was another structure fire near the intersections fo Yuma County roads M and 49. Several fire departments were called to help with the fire. A grass fire flared up north of Eckley at the same time.
• The Harmony Home and Yuma Life Care Center announce they are open to outdoor visits with a reservation for their residents.
• The 2020 wheat harvest was not one of the better ones in recent memory, thanks to a lack of moisture throughout the growing season, then hot and wind conditions toward the end. Most yields fall into the 25 to 40 bushel range. Irrigated wheat did not do much better.
• Yuma County’s school districts have worked together to come up with a plan to reopen to in-person education in the fall.
• It is announced senior and junior Yuma County Events still will be a part of the Yuma County Fair in 2020.
• Tragedy occurs on the road as
• Sedgwick County has its first confirmed COVID-19 case on July 13, the last of the counties in the region to have a confirmed case.
• Liberty School holds a graduation for its Class of 2020, along with its eight-grade promotion, on July 25 in the gymnasium. There are six seniors in the Class of 2020.
• Yuma High School holds a barbecue for its Class of 2020, rather than another graduation, alloing fo ra relaxed good-bye cookout with with their classmates and parents. About 30 fo the 42 members attended at the football field.
• Yuma City Council members Luke Goeglein and Bryson Chrismer both resign.
• Governor Jared Polis finally issues a statewide mask mandate for indoor public spaces. It is does not go over particularly well in the Yuma area as employees at some businesses are yelled at by customers, and many businesses post signs about not having to wear a mask if one has a health issue, and they could not ask you about the health issue.
• The pre-cast panels for the auxiliary gym walls at Yuma High School start being put in place by a huge crane. Renovation and upgrade work at Yuma Middle School also continues on schedule.
• The Yuma City Council decides against putting sales tax and lodging tax questions on the ballot for the November election.
• Internet and phone customers are impacted by an outage that lasts for nearly two days over the last weekend in July.
• Wray is pounded by a 100-year type rain storm that dumped six to 10 inches in about two hours, causing flooding damage, especially along Highway 34 at the west end of town. Some residents were evacuated in case the culverts on a temporary bridge did not hold.

• The Yuma County Fair is not exactly like it normally is, but it still goes off as a relative success. Ema Richardson has the Grand Champion Market Steer, Lea Richardson the Grand Champion Market Hot, Rylie Robson the Grand Champion Market Sheep, Jayci Mekelburg the Grand Champion Market Goat, Grace Schaffner the Grand Champion Senior Horse, Will Noble the Intermediate Champion, and Addie Noble the Junior Champion, while Jailyn Mekelburg had the Grand Champion Dairy, and Jazmine Danner the Grand Champion Dog.
• As expected, the total receipts from the Junior Livestock Sale were down, coming in at $286,650, well below 2019’s $322,400.
• Tragedy again strikes on local roads as local residents Clayton Roundtree, 66, and Sharon Lohmeyer, 67, both die from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident at the intersections of Yuma County roads 40 and K just a few miles northeast of Yuma.
• Northeastern Junior College announces it will have in-person classes at its Yuma campus, beginning August 24.
• Yuma police arrest Allan Wise, 42, on numerous felony counts out of Logan County, after observing him driving north on N. Main near the Foch Ave. intersection. He tried to flee the policy but his vehicle was disabled on Centennial Road by a Yuma officer using a pursuit intervention technique.
• Yuma-1 lays out its Return to School plan to the public.
• Good news: COVID-19 cases in the region continue to stay low as area schools near the return to in-person education. Yuma County had only one new case over a one-week period, and only six active cases as of August 11.
• It is reported that dryland fields in the region are struggling big time thanks to overall very dry conditions.
• U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Yuma visits Box Elder Ranch south of Wray during his Farm Tour in eastern Colorado.
• Local law enforcement gets a big break in regards to a rash of recent thefts, as the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, along with other local agencies, arrest Jacob Henderson after he allegedly tried to elude them following a report of a theft on County Road E near Yuma. His vehicle ended up getting stuck ina corn field south of Yuma, eventually exiting the field and surrendering.

The suspect vehicle is towed from a corn field southeast of Yuma, last Saturday, August 15. (Photo from YCSO Facebook page)

• It is reported the renovation and updated work at YMS and Morris Elementary campus is nearing completion in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
• There will be a full ballot for Yuma County Commissioner District 2 and District 3 seats as unaffiliated candidates Phillip Riggleman, Mindy Whomble and Betsy Blecha all gathered enough signatures to get on the November ballot.
• Yuma County has zero active cases of COVID-19 in the days leading up to the start of the new school year. It is the first time since April 17 the county did not have any active cases.
• It is reported the City of Yuma’s sales tax revenue is outpacing 2019 at a significant case despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Online internet sales have been subject to local sales tax since the end of 2018.
• A Yuma man, Marcos Loya, 26, is in Yuma County Jail facing felony drug charges after parole officers paid a visit to his home.
• The Yuma City Council is back to a full seven members are Marylu Dischner-Smith and Steve Hoch are approved as new council members, following the earlier resignations of Bryson Chrismer and Luke Goeglein. Hoch had just served two years on the council, but chose not to run for re-election earlier in the year. Both seats are up for election in April 2022.
• School starts in Yuma on August 30 without a hitch, though with plenty of COVID-19 protocols in place. All other area schools also return to in-person schooling, the first time since mid-March.
• The Yuma area receives a drenching rain of about one inch at the end of August, but the region remains in a severe drought.

• While the 5:10 to Yuma 5/10K run/walk was cancelled earlier in June, organizers announce it will go ahead with a 5K race on October 17, limiting the event to 175 people.
• U.S. Senator Michael Bennett visits Yuma County discussing efforts to allow Yuma County farmers to use dryland farming practices on land enrolled in the Republican River Conservation Reserve Easement Program (CREP).
• The Yuma-1 Board of Education approves the final guaranteed maximum price for the renovation/expansion project, with it being $1.2 million under budget.
• A healthy snow fell in Yuma on September 9, with about 3 inches falling. It is one of the earliest measurable snowfalls in Yuma, but not the record.
• Yuma County went August 4 to August 30 without a new COVID-19 case, but then recorded seven new cases and three hospitalizations, in the first week in September.
• Yuma County youth shine at the Colorado State Fair with Ema Richardson, Lyndsey Mekelburg, Lea Richardson, Rylie Robson and Jayci Mekelburg making the livestock sale. Ema Richardson had the Grand Champion Market Beef, which sold for $50,000.
• The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association held a Rally for Rural Colorado at the Yuma County Fairgrounds, attracting a sizeable crowd of local ranchers discussing how to education the urban areas of Colorado about agriculture’s contributions to the state.
• Governor Jared Polis makes a brief visit to Yuma during a swing through northeast Colorado, visiting at the Rural Communities Resource Center and the Early Childhood Council for Yuma, Washington and Kit Carson counties at Quintech.
• Otis R-3 is the first area school district impacted by COVID-19 early in the new school year. Two confirmed positive cases result all grades going to remote learning for two weeks.
• Yuma-1 followed shortly thereafter as five confirmed cases within the Yuma schools, with approximately 280 students and staff under 14-day quarantine, leading to YHS to go to remote learning for two weeks, as well as one class each at Morris Elementary and Yuma Middle schools.
• The Harmony Home and Yuma Life Care Center stop outdoor and window visitations due to rising cases in the community.
• The SWAT team from Sterling was called in to help end a standoff at a residence at the northwest edge of Yuma, leading to the arrest of Jaime Varela, Sr. being taken into custody on several charges.
• Yuma County governments are offering grants of up to $5,000 through the Small Business Relief Program, thanks to CARES Act funding appropriated to the county through the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
• Otis’ remote learning is extended by four days as positive cases increased to six.
• Yuma-1 is experiencing transportation challenges due to the lack of drivers. Staff are being utilized to drive mini-buses on routes before and after school.
• September ends up being the busiest month yet when it comes to COVID-19 cases in Yuma County. The county had 54 active cases at the end of the month, after having only two on September 1. Plus, the first death of a Yuma County resident is reported.
• There is good news on the farming front as the early harvest of sugar beets, coming close to setting a record for sugar content.
• Parents attend a special meeting of the Yuma-1 Board of Education meeting in the YHS auditorium to discuss the district’s responses to COVID-19 cases. The board votes 4-1 to allow seventh and eighth grade to combine for the junior high football season.

• Rising COVID cases in Yuma County catch the attention of the state, which states the county needs to get cases to go back down or face stronger restrictions. Wray High School goes to remote learning for two weeks.
• Interviews with Yuma County Commissioners candidates are featured in the Pioneer.
• Just as Yuma County catches the attention of the state, its COVID cases drop significantly. It was expected by county leaders as many of the active cases were due to expire.
• Yuma County voters begin to receive their mail-in ballots.
• Josh Stutevillle, 31, of Otis, is arrested by Haxtun Police after he allegedly agreed to meet an underage 13-year-0ld femail with plans on engaging in a sexual encounter. He is facing several charges.
• On and on it goes, just as Yuma County’s COVID cases are dropping the state informs the county it was denying its local plan and moving it to Safer Level 2 immediately, revoking the county’s variance and limiting the size of gatherings.
• A large amount of area residents gathered together to participate in a vehicular Trump Train through the streets of Yuma. Approximately 50 vehicles and their drivers and passengers, participated in the rally showing support for the president. Many vehicles featured U.S. and Trump flags. There also was plenty of honking as the parade wove its way through town.
• The 5K to Yuma was held on a beautiful Saturday morning with nearly 90 runners participating.
• Yuma County leaders announce a second round of $5,000 grants to small businesses through the Small Business Relief Program. The response to the first round was good, but more funds remain, so a second round is being offered for those that have not applied.
• The Yuma City Council decides against a proposal pursuing an ordinance that would expand liquor consumption outdoors in downtown Yuma.
• Early Saturday, October 24, Yuma officers were dispatched to a report of multiple shots fired in the 200 block of W. 8th Ave. (Highway 34). The involved parties had fled the scene when officers arrived. Police contacted several possible witnesses, all who had conficting recollections of what occurred. After a search of the area, at least 10 9mm shell casings were recovered. On Sunday, October 25, of­ficers responded to an apartment in the 100 block of W. Railroad Ave. in an attempt to arrest a party with a warrant. While there, officers contacted another party who came back with two felony warrants out of Phillips County. A search as completed subsequent to arrest, and officers recovered seven grams of suspected methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia. The suspect, Gustavo Almanza-Pena, was arrested and transported.
• Trick or Treat Street is held in downtown Yuma, and along Highway 34, on the Friday before Halloween, and it turns out to be a big success with a huge number of kids and their parents participating.
• October tops September’s record for new COVID cases in Yuma County with 97, well above September’s previous record of 67.

• The month begins with a strong turnout to the mail-in ballot election. Long-time Yuma County Commissioner Dean Wingfield sees his tenure end at six terms as he is defeated by Republican Scott Weaver. However, Republican Robin Wiley earns a sixth term in District 3 as he defeats two challengers. In Yuma, electors approve moving the municipal election to November beginning in 2025. The Town of Eckley voters approved a 2.1-percent sales tax for community infrastructure and maintenance, but defeat allowing marijuana facilities within the town limits.
• Yuma’s Cory Gardner easily carries Yuma County in his bid for another term as U.S. Senator, but overall loses to Democrat John Hickenlooper.
• Brittny Lewton, district attorney for the 13th Judicial District is placed on probation for the remainder of her term, which ends in January, after pleading guilty to abusing an employee’s prescription painkillers. She was sentenced to two years of probation. She will be replaced next year by deputy DA Travis Sides, the only candidate in the general election.
• Yuma High School has a Homecoming Week the first week of November. Homecoming Queen candidates are Kimberly Guerrero, Shelby Blach, Ema Richardson and Gislele Gutierrez, while the King candidates are Lane Remmich, Cade Morton, Braden Smith and Brandon Mendoza. Guerrero and Remmich are crowned queen and king during halftime of the football team’s win over Wiggins.
• The local corn harvest comes to an end earlier than usual, with lower yields but improving market prices.
• The sugar beet harvest ends on a sweet note with the regular harvest continuing to showcase high sugar content first displayed in the early harvest in September.
• Yuma fireman Trevor Neb and Otis firemen Jarryd Smith, Trent Alexander and Eklin Ehrman are featured as they went to help with the Cameron Peak Fire.
• It is decided the Yuma Ambulance Service will go from being an Enterprise Fund to being part of the General Fund because it cannot generate enough funds to support itself independently.
• Pheasant season opens in Yuma County with a large number of hunters visiting for the opening weekends.
• Yuma County’s COVID cases are dropping significantly, and a chance in testing procedures and quicker results are being credited.
• A coyote is found on a porch at High Plains Manor. The coyote apparently was hit by a vehicle finally finding a resting spot at the Manor. It is eventually captured and euthanized.
• Yuma County Jail has implemented proactive and innovative procedures that have kept the COVID-19 virus at bay, and has been commended by the Northeast Colorado Health Department for the jail staff’s innovative approach.
• About one-third of the YHS students and staff are put on quarantine through the end of Thanksgiving break after four cases arise in the school.
• It comes and it goes — Yuma County is praised by state leaders as a “shining star” as COVID cases decline significantly during the first weeks of November as active cases drop nearly in half. However, other counties in the area, including Washington, are moved to Red level as cases rise.
• The Yuma-1 Board of Education learns the auxiliary gym is on pace to meet the early January completion date. Plus, it gets a great audit report.
• A suspicious vehicle parked in an alley fled from policy at a high rate of speed. The vehicle ran into a power pole, knocking power out to a neighborhood. Yuma police arrested Kevin Carranza, 26 after finding him hiding next to a fence. He was charged with several violations.
• Yuma’s fifth and sixth grades were moved to remote learning on Novemger 23 after two new cases were confirmed within the YMS community. Also, it is announced that all students on Yuma buses now have to wear a mask.
• Yuma police track down two stolen vehicles within the city limits. One was stolen out of Washington County and the other out of Kit Carson County.
• After seeing cases drop significantly early in November, Yuma County sees a surge in COVID cases again by the end of November.

• The final month of 2020 begins with the state moving Yuma County to Orange Level as cases keep rising. The county ended November with 69 new cases over 14 days.
• Yuma businesses report overall that the start of the Christmas shopping got off to a good start.
• Christmas concerts are called off, at least in regards to in-person events.
• Most Yuma-1 students are able to stay in school despite rising cases thanks to students and staff being vigilant about wearing masks in the schools and maintaining social distancing as much as possible.
• It is announced the Washington County Nursing Home in Akron there are five positive cases involving residents. There also is another outbreak at the Washington County Detention Center.
• Area law enforcement raise the alarm again that an organized theft ring is behind the recent spate of vehicle and tool thefts throughout the region.
• It is announced that a limited amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses are headed to northeast Colorado.
• Yuma County’s Small Busienss Relief Program comes to an end with $575,508 in $5,000 grants awarded to 117 Yuma County businesses. Some of the funds also are used by county leaders to purchase personal protective equipment for frontline workers and more disinfecting equipment for each school building in the county.
• The Yuma City Council approves the final budget for 2021. The city ends with the council preparing to begin discussions in early 2021 on how to raise more revenue for the General Fund in order to keep providing all current services.
• Yuma churches plan a hybrid of in-person and online Christmas services.
• Yuma County gives itself a present with a significantly dwindling number of COVID cases as the holidays approach. However, the county was up to six deaths.
• Felicia Rodriguez is re-elected to the Yuma Chamber Board of Directors, along with new board members Marylu Smith-Dischner and Tanya Flemister.
• Yuma County’s assessed valuation increases slightly from $255.4 million to $264.1 million.
• Two Wray residents suspected of being involved in the recent rash of vehicle thefts are arrested in Broomfield and are transported to Yuma County Jail. Cristal Carrasco-Diaz, 30, and Diego Nevarez, 22, were in jail on warrant arrests but had not been charged yet.
• The year ends with the first COVID-19 vaccine shots being given in Yuma.