The case of the People of Garfield County vs. Christina Brusig was in court for the first time Monday. The 31-year-old former Director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts is accused of misdemeanor theft, a charge announced last month after a 7-month investigation by Glenwood Springs Police and the 9th Judicial District DA’s office. Her defense lawyer, former DA Sherry Caloia tells us of her client’s plea…

Brusig resigned in early April of this year, in what she says was a mutual agreement with the center’s board. The charge she faces covers a range, alleging somewhere between 750 & 2000 dollars was stolen. It’s unclear what the accusation actually is, since the Police and current district attorney Jeff Cheney have refused to release what their probe turned up. They say the reason is to prevent Caloia from being able to claim Brusig is the victim of too much unfair pretrial publicity. After her resignation, the arts center revealed it owed $68,000, but had only $5000 in its accounts. Those accusing Brusig of financial mismanagement, and now theft, claim she spent money she wasn’t authorized to, but Brusig and Caloia point out all spending was documented, and approved by the board. Trial has been set for next May, but Caloia says the case might not get that far…

A motions hearing in the case is on tap in March.

Over in Utah Monday, President Trump sharply reduced the sizes of the Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, to open up federal lands that had been protected and preserved by President Obama, to development by corporations, for things like coal mining. Native Americans and environmental groups demonstrated against the changes. Bears Ears, which has covered some 2030 square miles, is getting cut some 85%, to only 315 square miles. The Grand Staircase monument, set up by President Clinton, is being cut almost in half, from about 3000 square miles, to only 1569. The Bears Ears land, largely sacred to Native Americans of Utah, is said to contain countless historic artifacts. The Antiquities Act of 1908 not only lets Presidents protect federal lands as monuments, but allows such reversals, too.

We don’t usually pay much attention to the Aspen Times’ “What’s The Big Deal” feature, about the week’s biggest, most luxurious, most amazing real estate transactions of the week in Aspen. But, when it’s someone like the guy who’s made the latest buy in that series, it merits some attention… So this time the buyer of a nearly 11,000 square foot home on Eagle Park Drive with 5 bedrooms and 7 baths is Thomas Barrack, Junior. Don’t know the name? He’s one of Mr. Trump’s closest pals, and tried to explain the President’s ideas for the country to an Aspen Institute audience last summer. Barrack’s paying $15 ½ million for that house on almost 4 acres, and will pay almost $30,000 in property tax on it each year.

Congratulations are due again to our friends at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The Haunted Mine Drop ride that opened at the end of July was on USA Today’s list of most anticipated thrill rides in the country going into last season. Now, the word is the mine drop could get on another key list, now that it’s open, as one of the best new amusement park rides. The readers of 10Best.com are in the midst of voting online for their favorites now, through New Year’s morning. Jump in to make your voice heard… again the site is one-zero-best, dot com.

And remember after last week’s Giving Tuesday across the country, today is Colorado Gives Day, statewide. If you can make a contribution to someone or a group today, it’ll be very much appreciated. If you can’t think of an organization to donate some money or your time to, our friend Carla Jean Whitley put a terrific list together in Sunday’s Post-Independent. Last year’s Gives Day generated nearly $34 million for organizations statewide. Check out CJ’s list of groups you can help, at post independent dot com.

In Sports— Rifle may be dropping down a class in football, to suddenly become a big fish in the 2A pond instead of a smaller one in 3A, that has won a state championship there only 3 years ago, and made the playoffs just about every year. A committee of the activities association could stick the Bears right into the league where Basalt and other local teams play, later this week. More details for you in the high school sports report in a few moments, here on the Mammoth.