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How Wheat Ridge Voted & Spent This Election

By J. Patrick O’Leary

By the time you read this, it’s old, well-traveled news: William “Bud” Starker beat out Joseph DeMott for mayor of Wheat Ridge, Zachary Urban retained his District II seat against challenger Rachel Hultin, and Leah Dozeman prevailed over three contenders for the District IV seat to be vacated by Genevieve Wooden.

Eleven days before the election, the candidates had raised a total of $70,147 and spent $55,732, with fundraising and spending bearing no clear relationship to victory. Turnout was low, with the least participation in the most crowded race.

The financial information available only reflects part of each candidates’ campaign spending. Data used is from the first candidate finance report, due Oct. 27; the second and final report is due Dec. 7. Copies of the filings can be found on the City of Wheat Ridge website.

Vote totals are unofficial, and the official abstract of votes from the county are not due until Nov. 24. Election returns are available from the Jefferson County Clerk’s website.

Big Bucks for the Big Race

The contest for Wheat Ridge mayor drew $43,883 in contributions and spent $32,645 – almost two thirds of the total raised, and 60 percent of the spending. Only 8,172 (35 percent) of the 23,345 registered voters in the city cast ballots.

“Bud for Mayor” raised $28,935 and spent $18,372 by the end of October, and Starker gathered nearly 54 percent of the 8,172 votes cast (4,326). DeMott raised about half the funds of his opponent – $14,948 – and spent about 22 percent less, $14,273.

Starker had the support of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, the Realtor Candidate Political Action Committee and the Metro Housing Coalition Political Committee, each contributing $1,000.

DeMott’s largest contributor was himself, with a total of $11,329 cash and non-monetary contributions. Of note was a $300 contribution from Citizens for an Inclusive Wheat Ridge, a political issue committee formed to support Ballot Initiative 300, which placed restrictions on the city’s use of Tax Increment Financing. (The committee amended its registration in July to be a political action committee in the this year’s mayoral and council election.)

Expensive Four-Way Fightin District IV

The most expensive council race – $18,301 contributions and $15,797 spending – involved four candidates vying for Wooden’s District IV seat. Those figures are about a quarter of the totals raised and spent in the city. Yet it had the lowest turnout: only 1,414 (26.5 percent) of the District’s 5,335 registered voters cast ballots.

Of those, 541 (40 percent) put Leah Dozeman into the seat, after her campaign raised and spent $5,987 and $4,001 – about one-third and one-quarter of money in that District. Of note, her campaign received $500 from the Realtor Candidate Political Action Committee, as well as $300 from Citizens for an Inclusive Wheat Ridge.

Despite Val for Wheat Ridge 4 raising $8,240 and spending $8,027 – 38 and 100 percent more than Dozeman – runner-up Valerie Nosler Beck received just under 30 percent of the votes (402). That’s 45 percent of the contributions raised, and 51 percent of spending in the district.

      Andrew Rasmussen raised $2,489.19 and spent $2,183.37, and received 300 votes, or 22 percent of ballots cast.

Neighbors4Ruth raised and spent the least in this race – $1,584 and $1,584, respectively. For that, candidate Virginia Ruth Baranowski garnered 118 votes, just under 9 percent.

Lowest Spending, Strongest Turnout in District II

In District II, $7,962 had been raised and $7,289 spent in the weeks prior to the election. It had the highest turnout of the council races, with 2,169 (38.1 percent) of 5,689 registered voters casting ballots.

Urban retained his council seat by 46 votes, earning 51 percent (1,086) of the votes cast. His challenger, Hultin, raised 75 percent more in contributions ($5,071.26 to Urban’s $2,891.17, 64 percent of total) and spent 53 percent more ($4,406.51 to $2,882.50, 60 percent of total).

Urban was his own largest campaign contributor at $1,416.17, and also received $300 from Citizens for an Inclusive Wheat Ridge.

Hultin was also her own biggest booster at $775, followed by the Denver Metro Realtors Candidate Committee, which provided $500.

Here’s Why Your Train Has Not Arrived

By Jennifer LeDuc

Apassenger train eight cars long, going 75 miles per hour, will make three, five-minute long stops before arriving at the station, 11 miles away. Another train, 85 cars long and carrying several hundred tons of freight, is traveling 25 miles per hour and is 8 miles away from the station. Calculate not just how long it takes for each train to stop (factoring in weight, of course) but predict when each train will pass through the crossings (factoring in, of course, unexpected delays like a passenger holding the doors open and delaying departure from a stop) and synchronize your calculations with wireless technology and global positioning satellites orbiting the earth, harmoniously collaborate land access, radio frequencies, public utilities and traffic signals with the appropriate agencies, municipalities, and other railroads, and then synchronize and transmit all of that data, commanding the safety gates to drop, and rise again, within seconds of the train passing. And please, no train whistle.

Confused? You should be. This is not a sinister twist on the algebra equation you never did quite master. This is what might be considered a barbaric, if not rudimentary, explanation of the technological ballet that is the RTDs multi-billion-dollar commuter line project.

And this is why, for those anxiously awaiting the G Line, your train has not arrived.

The G Line, formerly known as Gold, is 11 miles long and will make seven stops from Union Station to Ward Road in Wheat Ridge in 25 minutes. Originally slated to open in October of 2016, the line, while not stalled as some may suggest, is nearly a year delayed due to testing and technological differences that have overshadowed the RTDs inagural A Line, which offers roundtrip service between Union Station and DIA.

Although the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) gave approval on Oct. 12 to resume testing on the G Line, RTD still awaits approval of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which, in September, rejected RTD’s application to finish testing.

While these delays and the emotions surrounding them have received prominent attention locally, the revolutionary technology that is federally mandated to rule the nations railways – including RTD’s Positive Train Control – has not.

“We have a system working as it was intended to,” explains John Thompson, a rail industry veteran and the executive project director of Denver Transit Partners (DTP), the private consortium in partnership with and contracted by RTD to finance, develop and manage the A, B and G lines. “What we have to do is get regulators comfortable with the new technology.”

This “new technology” had been conceptually on the radar of the rail industry for several years, when on Sept. 12, 2008, in Chatsworth, Calif., 25 people were killed. A Metrolink commuter train traveling about 40 mph crashed head-on with a freight train traveling about the same speed, which five seconds earlier emerged from a tunnel. The engineer of the freight train pulled the emergency brake lever on his 100 tons of metal two seconds before impact. An investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Bureau revealed the engineer of the commuter train, who perished in the accident, had been sending text messages throughout his shift that evening and missed a series of red signals that should have prevented him from proceeding on the single track section. Further, the conductor on the commuter train could have pulled an emergency lever – known as a dead man’s switch – when he failed to receive a signal report from the engineer, as are the operating rules when there is only one engineer.

The following month, on Oct. 16, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was signed into law after swift passage through Congress. The act mandated a number of safety measures, most significantly installation of “new technology” called Positive Train Control, across the nation's railway system by December 2015.

Positive Train Control (PTC), as explained by the FRA “uses communication-based/processor-based train control technology that provides a system capable of reliably and functionally preventing train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train through a main line switch in the wrong position.” Essentially, if the the engineer does not slow or stop the train appropriately anywhere, for any reason – distraction, impairment, misjudgement, etc. – the system overrides human control, applies the brakes and stops the train, theoretically averting disaster and saving lives.

It is widely accepted that if Metrolink had functioning PTC in place at the time, the crash most likely would have been avoided and no lives lost. But, unfortunately, at the time of the crash, and certainly not a month later upon passage of the Rail Safety Act, PTC was hardly a fully developed technology and both freight and commuter railroads, including Amtrak, were now required to invest millions to do so, despite rail travel being one of the safest forms of travel in this country.

According to the Department of Transportation, between the years 2000 and 2007 the average number of train accident fatalities, excluding deaths due to trespassing and at grade crossings, was 12. Between 2009 and 2016 the average was eight. Still, since 1960, the total number of train accident fatalities is 394, less than the number of people killed riding a bicycle in any of those years, and still less than the 559 pipeline-related deaths deaths between 1962 and 2016. Between millions of dollars awarded in government grants, development, construction, implementation and improvement costs, taxpayers have spent a lot of money on PTC. While it’s impossible to quantify a life, neither the FRA nor the DOT were available to answer why.

Metrolink completed its implementation, testing and approval of its $200 million PTC system in 2016 after a year of disastrous glitches and delays. While the first commuter line to do so, many other freight and commuter rails around the nation have not despite millions of dollars invested, and like RTD, have extended deadlines with the FRA.

“It’s so complicated,” said Nate Currey, senior manager of public relations at RTD, explaining the technology and the exceptional levels and degrees of collaboration required among agencies. “You just don’t think about everything that’s involved.” Like radio frequencies, signaling systems, gate crossings, land easements, utility access, satellites, wireless communication, and hardware and software that performs consistently and exactly in an environment with extreme weather and temperature variations.

To further complicate things, Currey explained that PTC is just “one layer of three systems” that DTP has put in place. “We are the only ones in the country with this unique technology.

“We got ambitious when we put the bid out,” said Curry. “We thought ‘this is going to be the future so we may as well put it in now.’”

PTC is one layer, and Automatic Train Control (ATC) – a century-old but fairly reliable standard method of speed control – is the second layer, and thirdly are the electric signals at gate crossings.

That third layer – the at-gate crossing functionality – has been the crux of the issue with the A Line. Not just in working out timing and software issues and other kinks that are par for the course when developing anything, but in relation to being tested and approved by the FRA and CPUC. It’s so new, explained Curry, that the agencies initially looked at it and said, “Wow. How do we regulate this?”

Although the approval process has been and will continue to be slow, both Curry and Thompson are effusive in their confidence with the technology and implementation, and despite being still stuck at a very long red light with the FRA, RTD and DTP are proudly reporting the A and B lines are operating on time, with stats better than the commuter rail’s cousin, light rail.

In northern California, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit has recently completed a very similar system to the RTD’s, and was, until mid-August, reporting similar delays in federal approval despite satisfactory performance. However, at the end of August their system was finally given the green light and their new service is up and reportedly running smoothly. The FRA was not available to answer inquiries into the SMART’s system or the approval of it.

As PTC implementation and technology has evaded the public’s understanding in relation to RTD’s challenges with the A and G lines, so to has understanding as to how very different the the A, B and G lines are from RTD’s light rail network. Why are there not the same technological and regulatory issues on the W Line that are hampering the G Line? Why didn’t RTD contract with the same firm behind the W Line’s development? Why do gates on the W Line work when the A Line’s do not?

If the light rail is a Schwinn cruiser bicycle, the commuter rail is a BMW motorcycle. They both have two wheels, and are ridden, but the similarities stop there.

The commuter rail is built around a 70-ton, steel-bodied train car manufactured in South Korea by Hyundai-Rotem. RTD purchased 66 cars for the A, B and G lines. The commuter lines run on tracks that are parallel to, but do not share, freight rail. The level of comfort and accommodations differs on the commuter rail, with capacity for more passengers, and it is markedly faster than the light rail, traveling up to 79 mph. The light rail lines have more frequent stops, enabled by the light rail’s ease at accelerating and deaccelerating quickly, although its top speed is 55 mph. The light rail operates along more urban corridors. Since the commuter line shares corridors – and crossings – with the freight railroad, the compliances and the required operating technology necessary to be in accordance with the 2008 safety act are vastly different.

School Board Wins and Losses: What it Means

By Mike McKibbin

Jefferson County School District R1’s board of education will remain the same, after voters returned all three incumbents in the Nov. 7 general election.

In District 1, Brad Rupert was retained by a 73,684-48,209 tally over Matt Van Gieson; District 2 incumbent Susan Harmon defeated Erica Shields by a 72,632-49,190 count; while incumbent Ron Mitchell was unchallenged for his District 3 seat. He had 96,438 votes.

The board has five members, elected to alternating four-year terms.

Rupert said he was relieved and excited “that the voters approved what we’ve done for the last few years.”

“We can’t ever assume that everything we do is the right thing to do,” he said.

Two years since Rupert and several others were elected in a controversial recall election, the district has stabilized, he added.

“I think we’ve reminded ourselves of the importance of caring for our schools and we’re back on a constructive course,” Rupert said. “I’m not trying to beat my chest and say I’ve done everything right, but we have a chance to get this district to a great place.”

“I wanted to bring a voice of the people that wasn’t being heard” by the current board, Van Gieson said. “I think I helped do that.”

Van Gieson said he and Shields got their opponents to admit the district has an over $1 billion budget. That figure had been disputed by Rupert and Harmon.

The acknowledged split between the challengers and incumbents on issues such as vouchers and the pending move of most sixth-grade students to middle schools should not be a distraction to the school board, Van Gieson added.

“It’s kind of a necessary evil” to have differing points of view, he said.

Harmon said she “had a good feeling as (Election Day) got close.”

“But I’m also kind of excited to put it behind me and re-engage with our new superintendent and board members and start moving the district forward,” she added.

Harmon said she did not see stark differences between herself and Shields.

“We disagreed about things like vouchers and the sixth-grade move,” Harmon added. “But overall, I’m not sure how much difference there was.”

Shields said she ran to offer voters a choice to the current board’s direction.

“A school board should be diverse and work together with communities,” she said. “This board is now a 5-0 majority on one side, so it will be interesting to see if that’s a good thing or they end up working against people.”

“I hope they continue to listen to the 40 percent who voted for us and make sure the decisions they make are the right ones for all of Jefferson County,” she continued.

Anderson Park at Bat: Bye Bye Baseball Field

By J. Patrick O’Leary

There is no joy in Anderson Park: mighty baseball has struck out.

Despite impassioned testimony by Wheat Ridge’s baseball community and an attempt to delay the vote till November, Wheat Ridge City Council on Oct. 23 voted 4-3 to approve the Anderson Park Master Plan recommended by the Parks and Recreation Commission, which replaces the existing baseball diamond with a multipurpose field.

At its Sept. 20 meeting the commission recommended approval of its preferred plan, but at council’s Oct. 16 study session a consensus of council members asked for an alternate plan to retain the existing, 50-plus-year-old baseball field – the only regulation diamond in Wheat Ridge – and replace its aging lights when funding became available.

The flip vote a week later was the result of District III representative Tim Fitzgerald changing his mind, as well as District I representative Janeece Hoppe (absent from the study session) showing up and voting against the change. Additionally, District II representative Kristi Davis, a ballfield proponent, was absent from the regular session.

No other elements of the $5.4 million preferred renovation plan were challenged by council members or the members of the public speaking at the meeting.

The renovation of Anderson Park is one of four “Investing 4 the Future” projects funded through the November 2016 2E ballot initiative, which raised the city’s sales tax by a half cent.

In March, council awarded a contract to MIG, Inc. to prepare a concept plan for the park, including concept designs for improvements to the Anderson Building and outdoor pool bathhouse.

Although the commission argued the preferred plan was the result of an extensive public input process and would meet demands for an additional grassy area for play and festival events, youth classes and athletic league practices, baseball proponents claimed the process neglected them and the would erase a part of Wheat Ridge’s history.

The contest opened with District II representative Zachary Urban moving to delay the vote until the next council meeting so Davis could be present to vote. After Parks and Rec Director Joyce Manwaring indicated a delay might jeopardize the park opening in time for the August 2019 Carnation Festival, Hoppe noting people were waiting to comment, and Mayor Joyce Jay noting a “healthy quorum” was present, the motion failed 3-4; Fitzgerald, Hoppe, District III representative George Pond and District IV representative Genevieve Wooden voted no.

Staff presented the details of the plan and fielded questions for 50 minutes before 35 minutes of public comment began.

Don Ryan, residing on Everitt Street, six house away from the baseball field, told council that baseball was the soul of American sports, and said there many soccer fields and asked “so why pay big dollars to take it out?”

Wheat Ridge High School baseball coach Adam Miller (of Golden) said Anderson field is where the freshmen practice.

“Without this facility, with or without lights, I’m not sure where they would play,” said Miller. “It’s a great facility and I’d hate to lose that.”

Pomona High School head baseball coach Eric Mapps (of Arvada) echoed Miller’s comments and urged council to retain the baseball field.

“When a field like that goes away, it’s hard to get it back.”

“There are three on council who came to me for your vote…now I come to you for your vote,” to save the ballfield, said Rolly Sorrentino of Wheat Ridge, asking why there was no outreach to the baseball community, and stating that the three soccer fields in front of his Teller Street house were not used much.

Another Wheat Ridge resident, and a Lakewood resident who stages baseball tournaments, spoke in favor of keeping the ballfied.

Three Wheat Ridge residents – Guy Nahmiach, Brittany Fitzsimmons and Rachel Hultin – spoke in favor of keeping the original plan, warning council against ignoring the public who did participate in the process.

“Not only have you insulted those citizens, you also put candidates in upcoming elections in an awkward position,” Nahmiach said. “No one in the community asked for baseball, that’s why it’s not included in the plan.”

Fitzsimmons said in the past the city has created community groups for input, only to ignore them, and that that council was attempting to change, at the last minute, what the community worked hard to create.

“If we ask citizens to participate in the public process and disregard, it will create apathy,” Hultin said.

Council members asked questions for a dozen minutes before Mathews moved to amend the resolution, to keep the ballfield.

“This was an open process, all the way along,” said Wooden. She said the plan would allow the greatest number of people to use the park.

Pond said he believed the public process was fairly executed, but did not believe single use of a ballfield was “a prudent choice for the extraordinary demands on our facilities.”

Hoppe also defended the public process, and said a single-use baseball field was “no longer a prudent use of the park.”

Fitzgerald confessed that he responded emotionally at the study session in asking to keep the ballfield, but had changed his mind since. Although he expressed reservations about the process, he believed the city tried to be inclusive, and that it must honor the choices of those who showed up to the meetings and not delay the project.

Urban said that the baseball users were shut out of the process, and that he was concerned that no replacement field would be found.

Duran said she respected the public process, but that more voices needed to be heard, and their concerns should not be dismissed.

Mathews suggested that the city had a predetermined outcome for the public process, and that had it informed users of the ballfield, there would have been more participation.

Jay said she was concerned that the city staff and their opinions were not being respected.

The motion to keep the ballfield failed 3-4, with Fitzgerald, Hoppe, Pond and Wooden against. The following motion to approve preferred plan passed 4-3, with Mathew Urban and Duran opposing.

Call Them Merriam’s or Rio Grande, But Never Dumb

By Sally Griffin

Do you ever wonder were turkeys got their name? Did they come from the country Turkey? The answer is yes and no. Guinea hens and cocks were first imported into England from Africa by way of the area of Turkey and came to be called turkey cocks and hens. When the Pilgrims became acquainted with “our” turkeys, they confused them with the African version and gave them the same name – Turkey. When, many years later, scientists tried to differentiate between the two birds, they also got things wrong and retained the name of the African bird for our American model.

Maybe, this name confusion explains why turkeys lost by one vote to the bald eagle to become our national bird. Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to his daughter, said, “For in Truth, the Turkey is in Comparison (to the bald eagle) a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true Native of America … He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

Our first close-up encounter with a certain turkey was when he was defending his territory — not from the British — but from what he thought was another tom turkey. We had a house built into the hillside and one window was on ground level. When the sun hit just right, this window functioned as a mirror and this tom, on seeing his own reflection, did not hesitate to attack and attack quite noisily. Unfortunately, the mirror effect usually worked in early morning and our household often had a rude awakening.

Evidently, the tom wasn’t too embarrassed by the window episodes and settled into our yard with seven or eight hens. They would spend their days scrounging up insects to eat. We must have had quite a few insects, because they stayed around for some time. Once, as we were quietly watching them from the window, our neighbor let the dog out. He started barking and, much more quickly than we could have imagined for such big birds, they flew into nearby trees and perched motionlessly. They were amazingly well disguised. If we hadn’t known where they had perched, as long as they stayed still, we could never have found them. Eventually and sadly, they ate up the insect population around our house and moved on.

When we researched our turkey flock, we learned some interesting things about turkeys. They can burst into short flight at over 55 mph and they can hit this speed very quickly. Although we never saw this, they can also run at up to 30 mph.

“Wild turkeys are cunning, wary birds,” said Ed Gorman, small game manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). “They have excellent eyesight and they can move very fast to avoid predators. These characteristics have been bred out of the game-farm and commercial turkeys served at Thanksgiving dinner.”

Wild turkeys mate in the early spring. The mating begins while they are still flocked together for the winter. The toms compete with each other in an elaborate mating dance. The toms strut from left to right with their breast outthrust, head drawn back, wingtips dragging and tail feathers spread as wide as they can make them.

After the hens have made their choice, I’m not exactly sure what happens next. But when it is time for egg-laying, the hens scratch depressions in the ground and build their hidden nests. Laying an egg for up to 20 days, the hen returns to courtship ritual each morning.

After an incubation period of less than a month, the hens will have sole responsibility for the chicks until the next spring. The chicks are little bundles of fuzz that can run as soon as they hatch and can make short flights at the tender age of two weeks. This is good because before their first year, they are on their own for the rest of their lives.

While the hens are rather dull looking, the full-grown tom turkey can be quite spectacular. His feathers have hints of red, purple, green, copper, bronze and gold iridescence. The tom’s head becomes bright red during mating season, in sharp contrast to the rest of his plumage.

Many Native American tribes thought highly of turkeys and often made coats and other clothing of turkey feathers. The turkey was so important to the Aztecs that they revered the turkey as a god. Southwestern tribes buried their dead in turkey-feather robes so that the turkey could guide their loved ones into the next world.

Colorado has two distinct kinds of turkeys: the native Merriam’s Turkeys and the Rio Grande Turkeys, which were introduced to the state in 1980.

The Merriam’s species are primarily found in open meadows with nearby ponderosa, oak brush and pinion juniper stands. They like more mountainous zones west of I-25.

The Rio Grandes like cottonwood and rough areas next to agricultural lands. These are more likely to be found in the eastern parts of our state.

The reintroduction of wild turkeys in Colorado has proved so successful that CPW has increased hunting licenses to help manage turkey populations, because, in some areas, they have actually been thriving too well. Wild turkey now live in 53 of our state’s 63 counties. Colorado’s program ranks among the most successful species conservation efforts in CPW’s history.

Their burgeoning numbers do not mean that you can hunt the wild turkeys that you spot in your neighbor’s backyard. They do require a permit and can only be hunted in designated area.

The CPW hunting guide for turkeys points out that wild turkeys are wary enough that you can seldom come upon them by surprise. They recommend that you scout out a good spot and use turkey calls to lure them to you.

It is the domestic turkeys that have given rise to some of the derogatory use of the name. Any bird, like the domesticated turkey, that can drown by looking upward during a rain storm, perhaps, deserves a bad name (and to be the central part of Thanksgiving dinner), but not the unique, resilient and crafty wild turkey.

Shelter Network Has New Intake Site, But Volunteers Needed

By Alexander Rea

The City of Arvada will be providing a building for the Severe Weather Shelter Network to use during its shelter season.

On declared severe weather nights, the network offers shelter to single men, single women, and couples without children who live on streets across Denver. The network has plans to utilize the building as a “warming site.”

The warming site’s purpose is to provide a meeting place to verify registered guests, check them for intoxicants, and eventually wait for transportation to a participating host church.

“Once a guest arrives, they will be checked off the registration list,” said Severe Weather Shelter Network’s Executive Director, Lynn Ann Huizingh.

In order to be permitted access to the site, a guest must register for the season, in person, at one of the network’s registration sites. “Volunteers would arrive at 5:30 and get everything ready, coffee and such. Guests would arrive at 6, and would be asked to relax and not to worry before the vehicles show up at 7,” added Huizingh.

Guests would be transported to one of the three Arvada host churches, where they are given a roof over their head and a warm meal for the night.

The building that will serve as the warming site is located off of Ralston Road and Balsam Place in Arvada.

The placement of the site is valuable, as it not only stands close to the host churches, but it must be within fair walking distance from where possible guests are camping. It is also close enough to the Wheat Ridge-Arvada border that it also remains accessible for people at the edge of Wheat Ridge.

“We have been working with Arvada since the end of July,” said Huizingh. The city approached the network with the building, to contribute to the construction of a sheltering network in Arvada.

The network’s Arvada branch is in its third year of development, but still needs more volunteers to kick off the operation.

“We really need volunteers on all facets,” Huizingh said. “We need drivers, overnight hosts for all churches, and warming site volunteers.”

The network was hoping to open its Arvada wing earlier, but due to lack of volunteers at the moment, they are shooting for a early 2018 opening.

For more information, including volunteering, visit

11 Ways To Navigate Holiday Stress

1. Remember you are not alone: no matter what your friends’ social media looks.

2. Plan ahead: create a support system for yourself now – through friends, rituals, enrolling in a yoga or exercise class – so you have tools available should something challenging arise.

3. Conduct a “Holiday Audit”: Examine what brings you joy, what brings you stress.

4. “No” is a complete sentence and it’s OK not to say yes to every invitation or gift request.

5. Exercise: a brisk walk, a game of tag with kids, parking farther from the store entrance, taking the stairs, a quick hike with a friend before hitting the mall.

6. Create new traditions and rituals that are meaningful: lighting a candle at the table to remember a loved one, skipping the office party for a more fulfilling volunteer opportunity.

7. Whole body health: Getting enough sleep, proper nutrition and nurturing your body and mind with healthy practices like prayer, meditation, massage, or taking in an uplifting book or movie.

8. Unplug: disconnect from the news, social media, email.  Embrace uninterrupted you and family time.

9. Get local:  there are numerous resources for navigating this time of year, from food and nutrition workshops at grocery stores, holiday support services at religious and spiritual centers, special holiday offerings at fitness centers … Pick-up store event calendars or look up holiday specials for opportunities that speak to you.

10. Set limits: Limits help balance expectations within yourself and for others. Setting up healthy boundaries with family members, work through wish list with children and explore what are meaningful gifts, create a realistic budget

11. Be grateful: Numerous scientific studies support an association between gratitude and happiness.  Even in the most challenging dysfunctional, or seemingly disappointing situations, find something to be grateful for. Studies support that if we can find something to be grateful for, our well-being follows suit.

For those experiencing an emotional crisis, there are mental health support centers throughout the state and Jefferson County.  To connect with someone who can assist you confidentially, anytime, call Colorado Crisis Support line at 844-493-TALK or text TALK to 38255. – Jennifer LeDuc

Better Mental Health for Kids – That’s LAUNCH Together

By Sally Griffin

Ihave a new granddaughter and I am responsible for her one day a week. The rest of her family are teaming up to ensure that she has a healthy childhood. This is a big responsibility and one I want to make sure that we do right. I found out some important information that every parent, grandparent and child-care provider in our area should know:

• According to the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2004), “As young children develop, their early emotional experiences literally become embedded in the architecture of their brains.”

• The early years (birth to age 3) are among the most sensitive periods for brain development. All aspects of a young child’s development – mind, body and relations with others — are interconnected, and healthy development in each of these areas provides a foundation for long-lasting health as a child grows.

• While 26.5 percent of Colorado’s parents have concerns about their child’s emotions or behaviors, less than half of such health problems are detected before children enter school.

• Research shows that high-quality birth-to-five-years programs for disadvantaged children can reduce the likelihood of problems later in life.  These programs cause significant gains in future educational attainment, health, social behaviors and employment for these children.

• These points are especially important because Colorado, between 2000 and 2014, had the eighth-fastest growing child population in the country.

Luckily, Edgewater and Wheat Ridge and other parts of Jefferson County have a wonderful collaborative project for the young children in our communities. This is one of four such initiatives in the state. LAUNCH (Linking Action for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) Together is modeled after Project LAUNCH, a first-in-the-nation initiative designed to improve social, emotional, behavioral, physical and cognitive outcomes for young children and their families.

The LAUNCH Together initiative serving Edgewater is led by the Jefferson County Partners, a collaboration of community partners with Jefferson Center for Mental Health at the helm. LAUNCH Together is completely funded by a unique collaboration of eight Colorado-based foundations.

This program supports communities in enhancing mental health practices for young children, in helping communities to coordinate their systems, and in developing partnerships that will provide the infrastructure for early childhood mental health services.

Decades of research show that programs that support families are effective and, ultimately, result in significant cost savings for taxpayers. When communities adopt evidence-based programs that focus on healthy development in early childhood, the result is increased family self-sufficiency, lower costs for health care, reduced need for remedial education and for incarceration.

“LAUNCH Together recognizes that no matter how we interact with young children — whether we are parents, grandparents, health care professionals, friends, or neighbors — we all play an important role in giving children a strong start in life,” said Dr. Catherine Greisch, Psy.D., project coordinator at Jefferson Center.

LAUNCH Together is in the second year of the grant that funds the program.  The first year was spent in careful planning with a wide range of community partners. This year, they are focusing on:

• Raising awareness of the importance of early childhood social and emotional health and development.

• Relationship building with community partners in the early childhood field, including Early Care and Education, Home Visitation, Pediatric Medicine, and Parent Support organizations.

• Training for early childhood providers, parents and caregivers, and community members.

• Enhancing early childhood work through a variety of settings and services.

What do social and emotional skills look like in childhood? A child with these skills makes friends easily, is able to wait patiently (a least for a little while), and shows caring for others. They also know how to resolve conflicts peacefully, control their emotions, and follow the rules.

These skills are all critical in a child’s ability to learn, have academic success, and grow into a successful adult. Mental health in early childhood is characterized by secure and loving adult relationships, the ability to experience and manage a range of emotions, and the opportunity to explore and learn from their environment.

For the families within the 80214 ZIP code (32nd to 6th avenues; Sheridan to Carr streets), the Jefferson County Partners have several efforts that promote healthy children.

They provide training and consultation to nurses and other health care workers that perform home visitation services. They also plan to work with the Edgewater Collective and Families First to connect parents with each other for peer support in raising healthy children.

They work with three early learning centers to provide embedded consultation and help for parents. They are developing curricula that can be used to train early childhood teachers and caregivers in how to recognize early mental health problems and how to provide supportive environments for young children.

They are collaborating with other integrated care projects to help pediatricians understand mental health issues with those in their care and which of these children may need screening, intervention or support.

As if these services were not enough, LAUNCH Together is also looking to influence policy makers and legislators to find ways to continue to provide these services after the end of the grant period and to provide them to ever-expanding populations and communities.

The one thing that is becoming increasingly self-evident is that these services are needed. Early childhood providers are seeing much more significant behavior problems with younger and younger children. There are 3-year olds that are being suspended from day care because of challenging behavior.

It is clear that we as a community need to get better at recognizing stressful situations in our communities, and we need to help make families and children more resilient and strong. Parents, are you feeling stressed? Then your children are probably stressed as well.

Learn more about the program at If you are an early learning provider or a parent of a child in early care in Jefferson County and would like more information about social emotional consultation, call 303-432-5455.

Smoke Clears on Crowded Edgewater Election

By Mike McKibbin

An experienced Edgewater City Council member will slide into the mayor’s seat, after city voters chose a mayor and three City Council members in the Nov. 7 general election.

Along with current mayor Kris Teegardin, incumbents whose terms expired this year include Mayor Pro Tem Todd Riddle and councilwomen Laura Keegan and Janet Spangenberg. Keegan and Riddle were among four candidates for mayor, along with Grant Babb and Bonnie McNulty. Keegan won the four-way race with 312 votes, Riddle received 274, Babb 253 and McNulty 200 votes.

Keegan, who will serve a two-year term, said she was very honored to have been chosen mayor and felt her more than eight years on the City Council helped.

“I’m familiar with the city and the growth we’ve seen,” she said. “I really reached out to people to say I’ve actively participated and I want to continue.”

John Boltran garnered the most votes among the six city council candidates – 618 - and called the campaign a “rewarding and validating experience.”

“Now I want to take the ideas and suggestions I heard from the voters to help the city work toward solutions,” Boltran said.

Caleb Rountree, with 495 votes, and Spangenberg, with 443, were also elected to four-year terms. Other candidates and vote totals: Cory Reid-Vanas, 390; Darrin Levy, 378; and Virgie Carr, 208.

Riddle said he was disappointed at his second-place finish and felt four candidates for mayor in a smaller community was too many. “The vote was split too many ways,” he said.

Responsible growth and land-use issues were among the top concerns Riddle heard from voters, along with a desire to have the city’s code enforcement officer work full-time instead of part-time in response to the city’s growth rate.

Code enforcement efforts, home affordability and development were the top issues Boltran heard from voters.

“I was surprised to hear how important the issue of code enforcement is to Edgewater residents,” Boltran later wrote in an email. “Addressing this issue, as well as concerns on development and affordability, will be top priorities for me. I heard several ideas for solutions to these issues while campaigning. Going forward, I plan to turn these ideas into action through collaborative efforts with the community, my fellow councilmembers, and city staff.”

Keegan said city administrators will soon address the code enforcement officer situation.

Boltran added Edgewater needs to strengthen relationships with its citizens, and the City Council, along with Keegan, need to take a team approach to tackle issues. Keegan said the city needs to improve its communication with residents.

The new mayor and council members will be sworn into office at the first regular City Council meeting following certification of election results.

Local Holiday Activities and Celebrations

By Elisabeth Monaghan

If you’re looking for activities to celebrate the holidays locally, the your cities, libraries, nonprofits and churches have got you covered. Here is a rundown of the activities taking place through mid-December:

Fall Vendor Event

Saturday, Nov. 18, Wheat Ridge Recreation Center, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4005 Kipling St., Wheat Ridge

The Fall Vendor Event will have products you can purchase and take with you, and products you can order. Businesses include: Color Street, Damsel in Defense, HELO, LipSense, Life Designs Real Estate, LuLaRoe, Monat, Norwex, Origami Owl, Pampered Chef, PartyLite, Premier Designs, Red Bandana Bakery, Serve the Line Foundation, Shaklee, Stitchin’ A Dream, Usborne, Wildtree and Young Living. Just in time for holiday shopping! Come and buy local and support some home-based businesses.

For details, call 303-231-1300.

City of Wheat Ridge Holiday Celebration

Saturday, Dec. 2, Stevens Elementary, 3 to 7 p.m., 7101 W. 38th Ave., Wheat Ridge

Start off your holiday season with carolers, hot cocoa, crafts, Santa and Mrs. Claus, train rides and more! Localworks and the City of Wheat Ridge are excited to kick off the season with the sixth annual Holiday Celebration on Ridge at 38.

Fun family activities include free hot chocolate, cider, and cookies; live holiday music; free horse drawn carriage and train rides; free professional photo with Santa; live reindeer petting; Artisans Market with handcrafted holiday gifts; arts and crafts for the whole family; and local restaurants and food trunks.

The tree-lighting ceremony will begin in front of Stevens Elementary at 6:30 p.m.

This is the city’s official tree-lighting ceremony with more than 12,000 multi-color bulbs to light up the spectacular 25-foot evergreen!

Please bring a nonperishable food item to donate to a local food bank!

For more info, call 720-259-1030.

Holiday Open House & Kids Craft Party

Saturday, Dec. 2, Wheat Ridge Library, noon to 4 p.m.

Start your holiday season with us at our festive holiday open house and create fun holiday crafts! Get your face painted between noon and 2 p.m. Suitable for all ages.

For details, visit

DIY Holiday Gift ‘Buffet’

Sunday, Dec. 3, hOMe Collective, 1 to 4 p.m., 6101 W. 38th Ave., Wheat Ridge

Learn how to handcraft a thoughtful set of gifts for yourself or your loved ones this holiday season! Master herbalist and Reiki healer Alana Watanabe will offer a widely varied “buffet” of handcrafted gift tutorials including herbal salve, essential oil massage candles, exfoliating scrub, shaving lotion for all genders, aromatherapeutic cologne, chakra balancing blends, handcrafted herbal tea, and much more. Each item costs $10, please complete a minimum of three items per person. To enroll, you must first purchase a ticket.

For more information, visit

Gingerbread House Decorating

Saturday, Dec. 9, Wheat Ridge Library, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., 5475 W. 32nd Ave., Wheat Ridge

Prepare for the holidays by decorating a festive gingerbread house during winter break! Show off your artistic engineering and decorating skills with your friends!  Suitable for: Tweens and Teens.

Limited to 10, registration required at the library, or 303-235-5275.

White (Elephant) Christmas Party

Thursday, Dec. 21, Wheat Ridge Active Adult Center, noon to 2:30 p.m., 6363 W. 35th Ave., Wheat Ridge

Back by request! Strive to be the one who brings the most coveted white elephant gift, wrapped of course, for this hilarious gift exchange. A tasty lunch will be served and then the fun will begin! There will be a short presentation on The Seeing Eye Organization, by Rick and his  seeing eye dog, Chekov.  Registration is $8.

To register call  303-205-7500.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Mountair Christian Church

Thursday, Nov. 23, 1390 Benton St., Mountair Christian Church, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This is the 33rd Thanksgiving Dinner held at Mountair. In collaboration with Lakewood LDS, Two Creeks Neighborhood Organization, St. Bernadette’s Catholic Parish, and community volunteers, Mountair Christian Church prepares dinner for those who need community in giving thanks.

The meal is free. Meals will also be delivered within three miles of the church to the disabled and elderly only. Call 303-237-5526 to make a reservation for delivery meals. Limit four meals per address. If you leave a message, please provide your name, address, phone number and how many meals are needed. Meals may be requested to pick up at the church. No reservations for pickup or delivery accepted after 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

Contact the church at 303-237-5526 for more information.

The Christmas Craftapalooza

Saturday, Dec. 2, New Life in Christ Church, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1380 Ammons St., Lakewood

The Christmas Craftapalooza is a different kind of craft fair. Vendors not only sell their own handmade items, but also present a mini-workshop where participants make their own crafts! The fair is free to attend, and vendors pay a very low table fee plus 10 percent. Vendors are asked to bring a simple craft for fair goers to make that would be suitable for gift giving for a low fee – $5 to $10 – or even free.

The Craftapalooza targets families with children who are mid- to low-income and is presented at a facility that provides a cold weather shelter for families. This is an excellent opportunity to minister to individuals and families who have fallen on hard times, and may not have an opportunity to give their families and loved ones a special Christmas.

To reserve a table as a vendor, please call 303-406-1917.

Holiday Open House

Wednesday, Dec. 6, Edgewater Library, 3 to 6 p.m., 5843 W. 25th Ave., Edgewater

Come enjoy food, get your face painted and talk to Santa!  Fun for all ages!

Visit for more information.

Edgewater Holiday Lighting Ceremony

Friday, Dec. 8, Edgewater Recreation Room, 5 to 8 p.m., 5845 W. 25th Ave., Edgewater

For details, call 720-763-3010.

Fifth Annual Holiday Market

Saturday, Dec. 9, The Conflict Center, 1 to 5 p.m., 4140 Tejon St., Denver

Come shop from unique local vendors offering a variety of gift items just in time for the holidays! Twenty percent of all vendor sales supports The Conflict Center’s work for more restorative practices in schools and better access to skill building classes for all groups of people.

For more information, visit