LYONS — A Lyons business owner who has refused to comply with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) mandates shutting down his restaurant, now finds himself dealing with threats from one the town’s trustees.
That same trustee also threatened to shoot anyone who stepped onto on her property during a recent rally in support of the business.
Randall Yarbrough, who owns the Lyons Den Restaurant and Taphouse, recently received a private message from Town Trustee Wendy Miller, whose residence is across the street from Yarbrough’s restaurant, admonishing him for his choice to fight the health mandates that have forced restaurants to close, despite the state offering no data showing restaurants are major sources of spreading coronavirus to customers.
Also disturbing, Yarbrough said, is in addition to the private message, Miller was texting him during a recent town board meeting where board members were discussing suspending both his liquor and his business license, which they eventually voted to do.
“She was texting me during the meeting saying, ‘why don’t you just comply? Isn’t it better to keep your business?’” Yarbrough said. “This is not about Lyons anymore. It is much bigger than the town at this point. I understand the town may not like us. We get hate messages every day. But then again we get support every day, too.”
Miller asked him if he realized by not complying, he would not get his license back for years, Yarbrough said, adding the messages are just Miller’s personality.
“She’s good at voicing her opinion whether people like it or not.” However, this time she went too far, he added.
“The stupidity of some people,” Miller wrote. “I can’t (expletive) believe you are really going to try and have a rally for your “rights” and shut down one of the only holiday festivities for your own selfish reasons.”
Miller, who sent the message a few days before the planned rally, was referring to a fundraiser for the Lyons Fire Protection District organized by another business owner next door to the Lyons Den for the same date as his rally (which was originally planned for Dec. 12.) Yarbrough said.
However, Yarbrough said as soon as he learned of the event, and knowing his rally made the organizer of the fundraiser nervous, he changed the date to Sunday. He notified the other organization of the change early Friday, the day before, but that organization chose to cancel their event anyway late Friday evening.
“It is exceedingly clear that you do not give a folly (expletive) to this community,” Miller continues, calling Yarbrough’s supporters “irrational,” while continuing with: “WOW, you, Denise and Debbie (Yarbrough’s wife and another supporter) all need to get a (expletive) CLUE.”
It’s at this point where Miller threatens those attending the rally.
“I swear to GOD if one person sets foot on my property in an aggressive manor, I WILL SHOOT THEM, because IT“S MY RIGHT (sic).”
She did not clarify what she deemed as “aggressive,” but she further tells Yarbrough that antoher member of her household will also exercise his rights to protect his family.
“It’s a good thing Tom isn’t a complete (expletive) idiot and will be here to exercise his Rights!! (sic).” … “This is not about “Rights” or the Constitution. This is about a business owner who doesn’t know what the hell they are doing, and trying to place blame on everyone else. You have succeeded in creating a giant baby fit” (sic).
Miller continues with more accusations and expletives throughout the message that Yarbrough said took him completely by surprise. He said she could have expressed her displeasure in a much more pleasant way, and called it unprofessional, despite the attempted disclaimer she put in the message that read “These are my angry words to you and are not reflective of anybody else. My words are my own.”
Yarbrough said that’s not good enough.
“All these public town board members, when they go on a big rant always put ‘my words are my own,’” Yarbrough said. “Like that is going to save them or release them from the town. That doesn’t release them from anything.”
Former Greeley City Manager Leonard Wiest agreed with Yarbrough. Wiest, who was also the town administrator for the small community of Milliken said although administrators work for the board, he still would have sat them down and had a conversation with them about the inappropriateness of Miller’s actions.
“I would have a private conversation with her,” Wiest said. “In my 35 years of experience, this has never been the proper thing to do. What she did reflects on the whole council and the staff, even if she says those are her words.”
It appears Lyons Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen plans to do just that.
Complete Colorado reached out to Miller, Lyon’s Mayor Nicholas Angelo and Simonsen for comment. Only Simonsen had responded at press time.
“Thank you for your inquiry,” Simonsen said in an email. “This is the first I have seen this. I will make the Board of Trustees aware of the issue, and it will be reviewed internally before comment. Unfortunately, that is not likely to occur prior to your deadline. Please reach out again following any formal Board of Ethics meeting that may be publicly noticed. Thank you.”
Wiest also said it was inappropriate for Miller to be texting during the meeting and the outcome could be trouble for the trustee, as the comments are bordering on extortion if she knew she had the votes to change the outcome of the meeting.
“They should be giving their whole undivided attention to the meeting at hand,” Wiest said. “They shouldn’t be on a cell phone. It fits the definition of extortion.”
Yarbrough has plans to reopen the week of Christmas and continue to fight. He is in the process of filing several legal suits against everyone from health department officials to Lyons town officials to Governor Polis.
“The majority of my business is summer and spring tourism,” he said. “I have about 50 percent of the town’s loyalty. The other 50 percent has never come in or even attempted to meet us, they just hide behind their computers and say ugly things about us on social media.”