Top five stories of the year
A missing woman turns up dead. The city welcomes a new mayor. And, oh those 38th Avenue road diet blues.
These are just a few of the biggest stories that came out of Wheat Ridge in 2013:
‘Annie’ Meyer murdered; killer convicted
LeAnne “Annie” Meyer of Wheat Ridge had been missing since February before her remains were found on a private property in Park County on July 4.
For months, law enforcement suspected that her former lover, Melissa Miller, had somehow been involved. They were right.
In November, Miller pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Court documents showed that they two argued about yard work during a trip through Park County, before Miller took a walking stick and struck her former partner in the head and leaving her for dead.
Meyer, 51, was a Minnesota native who once served in the Air Force before becoming a bank technology expert in Colorado.
Changes to the council
Joyce Jay, a Wheat Ridge councilwoman and former photography business owner, was elected mayor in November.
Jay defeated fellow council member Mike Stites in an open seat contest to replace term-limited Mayor Jerry DiTullio.
But DiTullio will continue to work at City Hall next year. That’s because he defeated incumbent District I Councilman Davis Reinhart and two other opponents in a hotly contested race.
Reinhart wasn’t the only council member to lose in the fall. Joseph DeMott lost his council seat to Genevieve Wooden.
Tim Fitzgerald and Zach Urban also became new members of the council, after winning open seat races.
The 38th Avenue debate rages on
The issue that could very well have decided the November municipal election was that of the road diet project along the heart of 38th Avenue.
The 2012 road diet reduced lanes of travel to one, each direction, as part of the city’s 38th Avenue Corridor Plan, which is meant to revitalize the areas of 38th Avenue between Wadsworth and Sheridan Boulevards into a vibrant main street.
The road diet has plenty of supporters who believe that it’s done wonders for business in the area. But other say the opposite is true, also arguing that the lane reduction project has led to traffic problems.
The road diet proved to be a source of contention among members of the council last year and the polarizing issue was one that council and mayoral candidates often tackled throughout the campaign.
Joyce Jay, Tim Fitzgerald and Genevieve Wooden, key supporters of the 38th Avenue revitalization project, won in an election cycle that was seen as a referendum on the efforts surrounding 38th Avenue.
Sales tax veto
It was supposed to pump about $6 million in revenue to a city that needs it. But voters were not given an opportunity to weigh in.
An ordinance that sought a one percent sales and use tax increase was vetoed by then-Mayor Jerry DiTullio last year.
The council approved sending the measure to the voters. But DiTullio said no, arguing in part that the tax hike would cause Wheat Ridge to have one of the highest sales tax rates among neighboring communities.
Wheat Ridge is struggling to keep up with capital improvement projects and the money was supposed to go toward fixing that problem. The council could take up the issue again in the new year.
Investigation clears officials of wronging
An investigation cleared the city manager and a city council member of any wrongdoing stemming from a complaint dealing with the viewing and dissemination of sales tax receipts of businesses in town.
The investigation looked into Councilman Davis Reinhart’s and City Manager Patrick Goff’s roles in the request and disclosure of sales tax information of businesses along the 38th Avenue Corridor.
The investigation was spurred by a complaint by Councilman Joseph DeMott.But a 25-page report – authored by an outside attorney – cleared Reinhart and Goff of any wrongdoing.
However, changes to city code pertaining to how sales tax receipts are disclosed in the future are expected to come, as a result of the investigation.