UP — A fledgling oil boom emerging from activity in San Juan County's portion of the Mancos Shale formation was a dominant topic at this week's Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference. The conference was well attended with 2,200 people and 400 vendors registered. Although there wasn't much new information presented about the viability of the play, it is encouraging to see this much interest. Organizers also noted that some of the companies attending likely have a finger in the wind to see if there is investment potential. That's a good thing and could add to the momentum needed to get the local economy firing on all cylinders again. We were also encouraged to see an increase in the number of drilling rigs from five last week to seven this week. If that trend continues, it will be good news for businesses that support the industry and are doing much of their work outside the county, and the cities and county that depend on the tax revenue.
DOWN — San Juan Regional Medical Center is looking for a way to pay for uncompensated medical bills — generated by people who are uninsured or otherwise unable to pay for their care. And the county is looking for a way to cover the cost of inmate medical care and other services. The roughly $4.2 million deficit was created by an ill-conceived law passed in the most recent legislative session that takes money from counties and puts it into a statewide pool for uncompensated health care coverage. The impact might have been avoided if the Medical Center qualified for disbursements from the fund. Hospitals with more than 200 beds don't qualify for funding from that pool and the Medical Center has 254. Medical Center CEO Rick Wallace says the law assumed that more people would be insured under the Affordable Care Act. So it's up to the county — by redistributing tax money, increasing taxes or cutting services — to pay to clean up the Legislature's mess.
UP — The San Juan County Sheriff's Office released two patrol car videos and a report related to an incident that left a Crouch Mesa man in the hospital last week. Ralph Cruz says he was celebrating his birthday when a sheriff's deputy trespassed on his property and shot him with a Taser. The videos — most of the evidence is from the videos' sound track as the cameras were pointed the wrong way — indicate that the deputy was trying to find a person who reportedly broke into a residence and then fled to Cruz's tool shop. The deputy made an attempt to call Cruz through a third party and then asked a man on the property — not Cruz — whether it was OK to crawl over a fence as he searched for the person. He received no response and climbed the fence. Once inside, the deputy was confronted by a barking dog and grabbed his pepper spray. At that point, a voice identified by law enforcement as Cruz yelled that he would kill the deputy if he shot the dog. Cruz then began yelling and advanced on the deputy before he was hit with the Taser. We will not play judge or jury, but we commend the Sheriff's Office for its transparency. It's been nearly two months since John Marszalek II was shot by a U.S. Marshall's deputy as Marszalek was ramming a police car at 20th Street and Butler Avenue. The Farmington Police Department issued a timeline with some valuable information, but has not yet released the video or other information related to that incident.