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Excess Tax Revenue, High-Speed Internet Option On Ballot

By Mike McKibbin

Should the City of Wheat Ridge spend more than $450,000 on four specific projects or send $14.72 checks to every city resident?

City voters will decide that question in the Nov. 6 general election, along with a question giving the city permission to pursue the installation of broadband services for residents and businesses at some point in the future.

City Council approved both ballot issues by 7-0 votes at its Aug. 13 meeting, after discussions in July and early August.

The refund question follows city voter approval of a November 2016 ballot question to increase debt by up to $33 million and increase the city’s sales and use tax rate by a half cent for 12 years, or when $38.5 million is raised, for the “Investing 4 the Future” infrastructure projects.

At that time, a required Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, election notice to voters included an estimate the tax hike would raise $3.7 million in 2017. However, the city received nearly $4.2 million, $457,931 more than the allowed amount.

A memo to council explaining TABOR’s “underestimate clause” stated if a new tax brings in more revenue in its first year than projected in an election notice, the taxing entity must refund the excess money and change the tax rate to match the actual revenue amount. Instead, a government may seek voter approval to keep the excess revenue and maintain the tax rate.

City voters will see this language on the Nov. 6 ballot:

“Shall the City of Wheat Ridge be entitled to retain all revenues from the 2016 voter-approved ballot question 2E, 'Investing 4 the Future' 1/2 cent per dollar sales and use tax rate increase, and to continue to collect the tax at the 1/2 cent per dollar rate and expend said revenues including any interest and investment income therefrom, until revenues from such tax increase reach $38.5 million or Dec. 31, 2028, whichever occurs first, in the following ways directed by the voters in 2016:

• Anderson Park improvements;

• Wadsworth Boulevard reconstruction – 35th Avenue to Interstate 70;

• Wheat Ridge – Ward commuter rail station area;

• Clear Creek Crossing – mixed-use development site on the west side of I-70 at 38th and Youngfield;

without refunding any amount for exceeding the revenue estimates in the election notice mailed to voters in 2016?”

City Manager Patrick Goff told the council he created a percentage breakdown of how much excess revenue could be directed to each project identified in the 2016 question.

“But a TABOR expert we talked to advised against that because they’ve found it’s very difficult to enforce and comply with,” Goff added.

Councilman Larry Matthews said he would rather the city be able to cover over-budget expenses on each project instead of potentially “adding more work just to spend the money” in the 2016 ballot question.

City Attorney Gerald Dahl explained if city voters decline the ballot question, things like free days at the city recreation center or a “tax forgiveness day” could be used as refund measures.

“Almost any effort, if it’s an earnest and honest effort, has been accepted by the courts,” he said.

Councilwoman Monica Duran noted the average refund to each Wheat Ridge taxpayer is an estimated $14.72.

“It’s not like anyone is getting two grand back,” she said.

Councilman Zachary Urban supported designating 25 percent of the excess revenue to each of the four projects to help voters understand where the money would be spent.

City Clerk Janelle Shaver, a former city councilwoman, noted Wheat Ridge voters had historically “easily passed” similar TABOR measures, “if the city was specific about the uses for the money.”

Dahl told council an El Paso County District Court ruling in March found ballot language to allow the county to keep and spend excess revenue overrides the TABOR amendment. That legal challenge was filed by the author of the amendment, Douglas Bruce, Dahl added, and Bruce has appealed the ruling.

Dahl said the city could wait until that issue is finally resolved through the appeals process. However, putting the excess revenue in escrow until that time would violate the TABOR refund requirement, he added.

Councilman George Pond favored waiting until the challenge was settled, while Councilman Tim Fitzgerald worried the city could also be sued if it waited, leading to late fines or attorney fees, which he said could add up to significant costs.

“I think it’s silly for us to spend $1 or $2 to mail $14 checks to everyone in the city,” he added. “We need the money.”

Broadband question needed due to state law

The broadband issue stems from a bill passed by state lawmakers in 2005 that prohibits local governments from providing cable television, telecommunication or high-speed Internet services, directly or indirectly, unless local voters approve.

City voters will see this language on the Nov. 6 ballot:

“Shall the City of Wheat Ridge, without increasing taxes by this measure, and to restore local authority that was denied to local governments by the Colorado General Assembly and foster a more competitive marketplace, be authorized to provide high-speed internet, including improved high bandwidth services, telecommunications services, and/or cable television services to residents, businesses, schools, libraries, non-profit entities and other users of such services either directly or indirectly with public or private sector partners, as expressly permitted by article 27, title 29 of the Colorado Revised Statutes?”

Goff noted the broadband question does not compel the city to do anything, it just gives the city the option to provide high-speed Internet access.

“We don’t really know the role of local government in this today,” he told the council. “We could provide the service directly or indirectly through a public/private partnership. But right now, it’s just way too soon to give a detailed plan about how these services will be provided.”

Fitzgerald noted all the cities surrounding Wheat Ridge – except Denver – already passed similar resolutions to ask voters for the exemption. Across Colorado, more than 90 municipalities have done the same, he added.

“This is simply a technicality that returns our rights to us,” Fitzgerald said.

Wheat Ridge will participate in a coordinated election with Jefferson County and the approximate cost to include each question on the ballot is between $10,000 and $20,000, according to a city memo.

Looking Ahead: A New Season Of Community Music

By Elisabeth Monaghan

We are approaching the final quarter of 2018, which means local performance venues have begun posting their 2018-2019 season of concerts and shows. Here’s a list of these must-see shows.

Jefferson Symphony Orchestra

For its 2018-2019 season, the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra has a lineup of five great performances. Each of the following will take place at Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church, 7530 W. 38th Ave., in Wheat Ridge.

Oct. 14, 4.p.m.: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fidelio” Overture, Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, with guest artist Alexander Hersh on cello.

Dec. 2, 3 & 7 p.m. (two shows): Gioachino Rossini’s “Cinderella” Overture, selections from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites No. 1 and 2, and holiday classics featuring vocalists La Tanya Hall and Steven Taylor.

Feb. 10, 2019, 4 p.m.: Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” Overture, Joachin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjue” and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 3, with guest artist Masakazu Ito on classical guitar.

March 31, 2019, 4 p.m.: Young Artists Concert, with selections from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” Suites No.1, 2 and 3. The winner of the International Young Artists Competition will perform with the orchestra.

May 5, 2019, 4 p.m.: Cinco de Mayo Celebration! Featuring Aaron Copland’s “El Salon Mexico,” Silvestre Revueltas’ “Sensamaya” and Jose Pablo Moncayo’s “Huapango,” with guest vocalist Cristine Barbosa.

To order tickets, visit www.jeffsymphony.org/season-tickets.

Golden Community Chorus

The Golden Community Chorus’s Fall 2018 concert will take place at the Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church, 7530 W. 38th Ave., on Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. The choir will perform selections from Handel’s “Messiah.”

For tickets, visit www.goldenconcertchoir.org.

The Alpine Chorale

The Alpine Chorale will perform “Joy of our Desiring” Christmas concert Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4500 Wadsworth Blvd., in Wheat Ridge. Both performances start at 7:30 p.m.

Come spring, the Chorale presents “Ring Out, Ye Bells! A Celebration of Bells and Voices,” with guest artists The Rocky Mountain Ringers and the Alameda High School Mixed Choir, April 5 and 6, 2019, 7:30 p.m., at Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church, 7530 W. 38th Ave.

Additionally, the Chorale will perform “The Road Home” with special guest Dakota Blonde, May 31 and June 1, 2019, 7:30 p.m., at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4500 Wadsworth Blvd.

For more information visit www.alpinechorale.org.

Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra

The Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra will perform at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.:

  • The CJRO Goes Latin, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.
  • Christmas with CJRO (Lakewood Cultural Center, 480 S. Allison Parkway), Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.
  • Down with the Count, a Basie Bash, Jan. 19, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
  • Overjoyed, the Music of Stevie Wonder, March 16, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
  • A Tribute to Maynard Ferguson, May 11, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

The last time the CJRO played a Maynard Ferguson tribute, amateur trumpet players in the audience were encouraged to bring their instruments and join in on the final choruses of “Hey Jude” to close the show. It was a hoot! So, trumpeters, bring your horns. 

For more information, visit www.coloradojazz.org.

Keyboard Conversations

The Arvada Center is also home to Keyboard Conversations with Jeffery Siegel, concerts infused with exposition. Before performing each composition in its totality, Siegel informally and briefly expounds on the piece, inviting the audience to experience the music in new ways. All concerts take place in the Arvada Center’s Main Stage Theatre, Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m.

  • “Music from Time of War - 1914-1918,” stirring works of Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev, Oct. 3.
  • “The Intimate Beethoven,” the “Theresa” Sonata (who was she?), and the “Farewell Sonata.” Who was leaving and why was Beethoven so deeply affected? Find out Jan. 9, 2019.
  • “Chopin in Paris,” magnificent masterpieces written during Chopin’s “Paris years”: The Grand Polonaise, Barcarolle, Nocturnes, and Mazurkas, March 6, 2019.
  • “Fascinatin’ Rhythms!” Ragtime music of Scott Joplin, jazzy works of Gershwin, Stravinsky’s humorous Polka (for Young Elephants!), and Chopin Waltzes, May 8, 2019.

Additionally, Siegel performs his Coffee Concerts, which are casual one-hour musicals featuring musical selections different from the evening series of Keyboard Conversations. Siegel will briefly discuss and then perform in their entirety engaging compositions captivating his audience with his pianistic virtuosity, Wednesdays, 11 a.m., also in the Main Stage Theatre.

  • “The Miracle of Mozart,” the beloved Sonatas K. 545 in C Major, K. 332 in F Major, and K. 457 in C Minor, Oct. 3.
  • “The Immortal Melodies of Franz Schubert,” The Trout, The Serenade, Ave Maria, and Impromptus, Jan. 9, 2019.
  • “Childhood Enchantment,” music for people of all ages – with young ears! Children’s Corner Suite of Debussy, Scenes from Childhood of Schumann, March 6, 2019.
  • “Bach to the Future,” Romantic music of Bach, Shostakovich and Liszt, May 8, 2019.

Subscribe now by calling the box office at 720-898-7200 or in person at the Arvada Center.

Front Range Youth SymphonyOrchestras

The Arvada Center also hosts the Front Range Youth Symphony Orchestras, bringing together talented young musicians from across the Front Range for unique study and training in orchestral repertoire. This season’s performances include: “Autumn Serenade,” Oct. 22; “Winter Interlude,” Feb. 4, 2019; and Spring Teacher Appreciation Concert, May 6, 2019. For times and additional details, visit www.arvadacenter.org/education/youth-symphony.

Musicals

For its musicals, the Arvada Center brings in some of the nation’s up-and-coming professional actors. Two shows you won’t want to miss are “Mama Mia!” playing through Sept. 30, and “Elf – The Musical,” which runs from Nov. 20 through Dec. 23.

For more information, visit www.arvadacenter.org/on-stage.

Chief Jim Lorentz Training First Responders To Deal With Dementia

lorentz IMG 1527IN ADDITION TO HIS WORK IN LAW ENFORCEMENT, Wheat Ridge Police Division Chief Jim Lorentz trains first responders around Colorado on identifying people with dementia. PHOTO COURTESY CITY OF WHEAT RIDGE

By Elisabeth Monaghan

For 37 years, Police Division Chief Jim Lorentz has served and protected the Wheat Ridge community, but his role as a police officer is only one of the qualities that make him a hero. In addition to his work in law enforcement, Lorentz trains first responders around Colorado on identifying people with dementia.

It started when his wife’s mother was diagnosed with dementia at age 58. To understand the disease as she took on her new role as long-distance caregiver, Jill Lorentz sought out resources. She began working with the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association – first as a volunteer, and then as a full-time employee. From there, she went on to establish Summit Resilience Training, which provides training and valuable information for anyone dealing with or wanting to know more about Alzheimer’s and dementia. In addition to her work with Summit Resilience Training, Jill also has a weekly podcast called Dementia Resilience.

After his mother-in-law was diagnosed, Jim Lorentz made it his mission to learn as much as he could about the disease. In 2009, he took advantage of training offered by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as part of its Alzheimer’s Initiative. Lorentz has drawn upon this “train the trainers” program, along with 10 years of volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association, to design the training he provides first responders throughout the state of Colorado under the umbrella of Critical Intervention Training (CIT).

Why does Lorentz believe this training is crucial? According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, an estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia. Of these, 5.5 million are age 65 and older, and about 200,000 are under age 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. Currently, one in 10 people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s; one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. On its website, the Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention estimates that one in six women and one in 10 men, who live past the age of 55, will develop dementia in their lifetime.

As the population ages, the number of people living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, will increase. This means police officers, EMTs, firefighters, etc., are likely to encounter individuals with dementia when responding to situations like car accidents, reports of shoplifting, domestic violence or disoriented and lost individuals. Of the different types of dementia, Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTP) is a form first responders are likely to encounter. When an individual has FTP, she or he frequently demonstrates lack of judgment, inappropriate social behavior and the inability to control themselves.

“That’s what we want to talk to first responders about,” explains Lorentz. “In the training, we discuss what questions we can ask. We’re just trying to handle things in the moment, so if the individual shows symptoms that look like FTP, we want to determine the best direction for us to take under these circumstances.”

When answering a call, first responders who have participated in Lorentz’s program are prepared to de-escalate a heated situation. One technique he teaches is redirection. For example, when confronting a hostile individual who shows signs of FTP or other forms of dementia, a police officer may redirect the discussion by commenting on the person’s shoes.

“We know how frustrating it is when people don’t understand us,” says Lorentz. It can be even more difficult when the misunderstood person has dementia.

“By redirecting the conversation and getting them to calm down so we can talk a little bit, we have a better chance of figuring out what they want or are trying to accomplish. If we can figure that out and help them, we have a better chance of success.”

Lorentz also emphasizes that the best outcomes happen when first responders take their time to address the situation.

Since launching his program, Lorentz has trained about 3,500 first responders from around the state including Vail, Eagle County, Englewood, Jefferson County, Denver, Arapaho County, Adams County and Douglas County. Lorentz plans to continue training first responders, but currently has no desire to package the training or write a book about it.

“I think the stuff that I do is not particularly unique,” says Lorentz, “but I like to think I’ve made a difference in metro Denver.”

Considering that Lorentz was recognized as a hero this past May by the Colorado Alzheimer’s Association, it is evident he has indeed made a difference and by continuing to pass along his knowledge of identifying and working with dementia patients, he will continue to do so.

Although the Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s took place on Sept. 15, there are other opportunities to donate time or money to the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s association. To learn more, visit https://www.alz.org/co

For more information about Jill Lorentz’s work with Alzheimer’s patients, their loved ones and their caregivers, visit https://summitresiliencetraining.com. To inquire about the training from Jim Lorentz, email him at jlorentz@ci.wheatridge.co.us.

Grant Helps County Continue Fight Against Food Insecurity

By Mike McKibbin

AJefferson County group formed in 2015 to address food insecurity and related issues is continuing its efforts, after a three-year grant was recently renewed.

Food insecurity can occur in areas that lack quality, variety or desirability of diet, and may have signs of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Jefferson County Food Policy Council was funded by a $200,000, three-year grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Cancer, Cardiovascular and Chronic Pulmonary Disease grant program. The grant ended on June 30 but was recently renewed for another three years.

The council also wanted to address the limited use of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps), the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program and rising child obesity numbers in the county, a well as food insecurity, according to Marion Kalb, food systems coordinator for Jefferson County Public Health.

Kalb noted a county-wide health assessment required by public health regulations found food insecurity to be the second of four main concerns.

Kalb said the council tries to target many of its efforts on areas of high need, or those living below the poverty level. She said the community health assessment estimated that includes 11 percent of the county’s 565,524 residents. Poverty levels were found to be increasing among households with children.

Kalb identified areas in Golden, Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Lakewood as among those with a high need.

“Then later, we want to also focus on the mountain region such as Evergreen,” she added. “The people who work in the service industries in those types of areas often have trouble affording basic necessities like healthy food, so we need to reach them, too.”

The council’s mission is to influence policy to increase equitable access to healthy, local and affordable food and support a sustainable community food system.

Council membership includes farmers, nonprofit organizations, health care staff, community residents, researchers and local municipalities. Those include CSU Extension, the cities of Lakewood, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Westminster, Golden and Edgewater, LiveWell Colorado, Kaiser Permanente, Centura Health, Senior Resource Center, Arvada Community Food Bank, Jeffco PTA, Jeffco Conservation District, Food Bank of the Rockies and Jeffco Schools.

Kalb said the council works with other agencies such as the Tri-County (Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties) Health Department and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment “to make sure we have policies that go beyond county lines.”

For example, Kalb said a mobile van that brings fresh fruit and vegetables to high-need communities in Denver has seen only limited success.

“We believe that a policy of serving nearby areas would expand its reach,” she noted.

Other areas the Food Policy Council focused on included establishing a 12- to 15-plot community garden that is planned to be expanded to 30 to 35 plots next year. The council also works with close to 10 area farmers markets to encourage the use of SNAP benefits and double the amount of eligible food purchased to $20, which is then matched by the SNAP program.

“We’ve seen some pretty tremendous growth in that area,” Kalb added, to around $20,000 this year.

A council goal of seeing the federal Farm Bill include small farms, urban farming and conservation was recently endorsed by the county, Kalb noted.

For instance, the Senate version of the bill includes a provision to encourage and expand the use of steel “hoop” houses as year-round greenhouses to protect crops from hail and extend growing seasons and incomes of small farmers, she stated.

Crop insurance for urban and small farmers is another policy area of focus with the Farm Bill, Kalb said.

The council meets the third Thursday of every month and is open to anyone with an interest in increasing food security and providing access to healthy foods for all county residents.

For more information, contact Kalb at mlkalb@jeffco.us or 303-239-7159.

Contrast, Harmony Fuel Wheat Ridge Couple’s Artistic Passion

Oxelson EirhartIN THEIR HOME ART STUDIO, artists Jeanette Oxelson and Mark Eirhart pose in front of Eirhart’s “non-objective” paintings. PHOTO BY KEN LUTES

By Ken Lutes

Just go throw some paint on a canvas.”

Those words, spoken by Jeanette Oxelson to husband Mark Eirhart, helped get him started painting more than a decade ago.

“I’m an abstract painter – a non-objective painter, meaning that I don’t work from a model or a reference,” said Eirhart.

He plays with paint, strictly making marks with his brush until an image starts to form through the textures and colors he applies.

“Sometimes I play for a long time.”

“Unlike Mark, I need a reference,” Oxelson said. “I can’t just paint what’s in my head. When I paint a portrait, I work from a photograph – I don’t want people to pose for me.”

Oxelson prefers to work with oil paints; Eirhart uses acrylics and pastels. He sometimes incorporates collage into his paintings: pieces from newspapers, magazines or photographs that get glued to his canvas by brushing on a translucent acrylic gel medium.

”I’ll chop them up so you can’t really tell what it is.”

Having worked for nine years in customer service for Dish Network, Eirhart believes that working on the phone may have had an effect on the dark moods of his paintings.

“I’d get loaded with negative stuff from people on the phone, and that had a profound effect on me – hey, I’m sensitive! That may be part of the reason why my paintings are mostly strange and dark.”

“Right now, I’m kind of in flux,“ said Oxelson. She’s in the process of remodeling a room in their home that will be a new studio space for herself.

“I haven’t done any [art] for a while, but I’m getting back into it. When I was painting, what I liked best were portraits.”

Her portraits are truly realistic. One portrait of her young daughter in a highchair was made referencing a black and white photo. She added a tiny bit of color to it to make it look like a tinted photo of the 1930s.

Oxelson has always been keen on detail. When she was nine, she took apart her father’s watch, lining up all the parts in the order she’d dissembled them. He came home from work and told her, “That’s a new watch; you’d better put it back together and it better work.” She did and it did.

Her penchant for detail was further enhanced by her training at an engineering drafting school, in which she enrolled after a divorce from her first husband. There, she put to work her attention for fine detail and received an associate’s degree. Her interest in painting was sparked while in a graphic design class.

“When it comes to painting, I had no formal training, but drafting gave me a good eye for space.”

She wants to do some landscapes, and some of Eirhart’s approach could be rubbing off on her.

“I can be too detailed and exacting; I feel I need to loosen up to do some landscapes,” she said.

As a Libra, Eirhart says he keeps weighing whether a piece is done.

“Sometimes I have to ask Jeanette what she thinks of a painting, because otherwise I’ll just keep going. I need to learn when to stop and not over-analyze.

In the fall of 2007, Eirhart took “Best of Show” with the Mountainside Art Guild at the Foothills Art Gallery in Golden – his very first show.

“Now, I’m being encouraged by everybody to go big, because it’s important for an abstract artist to paint large.”

He feels challenged by the belief that he can succeed because he’s most comfortable painting on a 16-by-20-inch canvas; he’s now considering a minimum size of 30 by 40 inches and says he’ll focus on his strengths of composition and contrast.

Being in a comfortable environment and having the physical space to work in is number one with both artists. Their previous house in northwest Denver was costly to maintain and the neighborhood environment was distracting, Oxelson said. Moving to their home in Wheat Ridge is a better emotional and psychological environment for both artists, according to Eirhart.

“It has an almost country feel. We have great neighbors, and we’re not struggling against where we live.”

Oxelson added, “I want to make my new studio a place where if I want to knit, I can work on that; if I want to paint, it’s all there and I don’t have to put it away. I work on furniture, too. I like to take old furniture and make something really cool out of it. When an idea hits you, you just want to go do it, so having the physical space is really important.”

Music is another aspect of their creative talent. In high school, Oxelson wanted to go into musical theater. That didn’t work out, but later on she sang for about 10 years in a Sweet Adelines barbershop quartet and chorus; when she left that organization, her quartet was ranked second internationally.

For a few years during the early 2000s, Oxelson and Eirhart performed as a singing duo that incorporated Eirhart’s original songs and Oxelson’s harmonies. That effort culminated in a professionally produced CD of their music. They’re both proud of that achievement. Oxelson looks forward to the day when they will perform again, but the focus for now is on their art.

All But 15 Units Sold At Lakehouse

By Sally Griffith

If you are looking for a penthouse, row home or condominium that overlooks Sloan’s Lake, there are only 15 units that are currently for sale. The complex that houses these units is called Lakehouse.

NAVA Real Estate Development is working to make Lakehouse the first residential project in the state to pursue the WELL Building Standard. Lakehouse has floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies that maximize natural light and offer views the mountains, the lake or downtown Denver. The design of Lakehouse represents modern comfort with a blend of glass, stone, steel and wood. There are a large number of extra services and amenities designed to provide recreation, food and health-focused services.

In addition to striving to be a beautiful place, Lakehouse is piloting the WELL Building Standard. This standard certifies programs that integrate human health and wellness into the design, construction, maintenance and operations of the community. Working with nonprofit Realwell, NAVA uses evidence-based medical and scientific research combined with best practices in design and construction to create a place where residents have the tools to live healthier and happier lives. Lakehouse uses WELL’s seven key elements:

  • Air: Fresh air improves heart and lung functions, so Lakehouse units will all have open-air balconies and patios. A sophisticated air-filtration system will be used throughout the community.
  • Water: Living near water can be calming and Sloan’s Lake’s proximity provides stunning views of its calming waters. In addition, Lakehouse offers several hydration stations around the community. The UV-filtering of the pool and hot tub will reduce exposure to pathogens.
  • Nourishment: An on-site urban farm will give residents access to fresh vegetables that can prepared and stored in the Harvest Room. Indoor/outdoor kitchens and state-of-the-art juicing stations will be available.
  • Light: All units are designed to maximize natural light and views. Blackout and solar shades are used to promote sleep.
  • Fitness: A lap pool and hot tub are available. The Wellness Center has a fitness lab, dry sauna, and yoga and meditation studio.
  • Comfort: Lakehouse is designed for thermal, visual and acoustical comfort leading to a quiet and peaceful environment, which includes an outdoor fire pit.
  • Mind: Residents have a number of serene places including beautiful landscaping, a meditation garden and a creative workshop.

Additional amenities include lobby attendants, business center, guest suite, pet spa and electric vehicle charging stations. Parking spaces are included in the cost of each unit.

Of the 196 units in Lakehouse, as mentioned above, only 15 units are still available for sale. These units range from a penthouse, with 3,357 square feet and three bedrooms and four bathrooms, to a 761-square-foot condo with one bedroom and one bathroom. This condo, by the way, is listed for sale at $532,500. The penthouse is listed for a mere $3.3 million.

You may need to hurry if you want to live at Lakehouse. Then you may have to wait, because NAVA doesn’t expect completion of Lakehouse until next summer.

Lakewood To Choose Between Tax Refunds And Parks, Police And Safety

By Sally Griffith

Lakewood City Council is calling a special election on the TABOR Amendment again. For those of you who don’t remember, TABOR stands for Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR restricts the amount of money the city can collect and spend each year to the rate of inflation plus a growth factor. If the need for funds and services grows faster than the limits of TABOR, the city may do one of two things: 1) ask the voters to allow Lakewood to keep and spend the money on services or 2) refund the money to property owners. Keep in mind that some of this is money it has already collected and unless this vote is passed, city must go to the expense of returning the money.

This will be the fifth time that the city has asked to lift the TABOR limits on the city budget. These votes occurred in 1994, 1999, 2005 and 2007. These votes focused on lifting TABOR limits on specific projects and types of funding. Some of these projects include Colorado Mills, the city’s sales, motor vehicle use and construction use tax, open space revenues and grants for public safety, transportation and cultural activities.

Voter approval of this ballot question will allow the city to keep and spend $12.5 million on the following items: $8.5 million for open space and parkland purchases, $2 million for police protective gear and other safety-related equipment, $2 million for infrastructure and transportation needs.

Excess future revenues are the concern of the second part of the ballot question. Approval would allow the city to keep and spend excess future revenues through Dec. 31, 2025. Those funds will be divided in the following ways:

  • One third for open space and parkland purchases, improvement, and maintenance.
  • One third on infrastructure such as new sidewalks, paths and lighting and high-priority public safety issues.
  • One third on police agents, safety equipment, capital needs.

There will be a separate budget for the $12.5 million and any future revenues to be sure that the money is spent on these needs.

If voters vote yes on these ballot questions, TABOR limits will be lifted for seven years and Lakewood can spend money on services that Lakewood voters have deemed important. If voters vote no, the TABOR limits will remain in place and refunds would be made to property owners. According to Lakewood City Council, services in Lakewood can remain at current levels or there can be more parks and recreation, more transportation improvements and improved safety.

For Lakewood residents, this is their opportunity to determine how their money can be spent for the next seven years and for what they think best for their community. But to do that, they must vote on Nov. 6.

Jazz Vocalist Overcame Challenges To Succeed As Full-Time Musician

Tina PhillipsA JAZZ VOCALIST ON DENVER’S MUSIC SCENE for 40 years, Sloan Lake resident Tina Phillips says singing has always brought her joy. PHOTO BY KEN LUTES

By Ken Lutes

I’ve been singing since I was child. It has always brought me joy,” says Denver jazz vocalist and composer Tina Phillips, who also teaches private vocal lessons.

“Some people don’t realize the depth of what I do, that I really am a full-time musician. I’m a serious performing musician. I have dedicated my life to music.”

During a recent visit to her home in the Sloan Lake neighborhood, Phillips spoke about difficult challenges that she and artists of all kinds face in this country.

“[To be] an artist in this country, whether you’re a dancer, a visual artist, a photographer, or a musician, you have to work your butt off constantly. The economy can change, and clubs constantly go [out of business].”

She said the biggest challenge is staying positive while you’re trying to make a living, and not giving up. The business side of the career can discourage artists, too.

“People think that musicians just go out and perform, and they don’t realize how much time it takes to talk to club owners, or find venues; or to put contracts together and hire the other musicians and put the music charts together; and to produce a concert and make sure everybody gets paid. Being a musician is a full-time job, and the performance is the small part of it.”

Once the business end is settled, she concentrates on the performance, the fun part, the part that connects her to “the brilliance of music.”

“I’ve always loved jazz,” she said, “and I knew that if I wanted to be serious about music I’d have to go to music school. I became a vocal performance major at CU Denver and studied that for years. I got my skills up and made some connections.

“I had my son, got a divorce; I knew that I needed to support my son, so instead of continuing with school I started performing professionally and teaching.

“When my son was in grade school, I had a part-time retail job that enabled me to take care of him, and I did that for about 10 years until I was able to perform and teach full time. I wake up every day just totally grateful and in awe that I get to do this.

“There are two things I’m most proud of and they’re equal. I’m most proud of my son – the man that he is – and his family. And I’m most proud of my having been able to raise him as a single parent while I continued to do my music and succeed at that.”

Phillips grew up in a family of musicians. Her grandfather was a professional saxophone player, and his brother was a professional jazz piano player in Denver. When they were growing up in southern Colorado, they had a family band, playing mariachi music. In the 1970s, she bought a Martin D-18 and took some guitar lessons. That inspired her to start singing and performing.

She says she’s attracted to the brilliance of music, whether a tune is a really sad song about the emotions of life and life experiences or a more fun song like “Cheek to Cheek.” The artists who play and sing these songs with such depth of emotion and experience inspired her to want to perform.

“I was attracted to the way [Thelonious] Monk wrote, the way Bill Evans played, the way Billie Holiday or Sarah Vaughn sang a tune and inspired me to want to do those tunes.”

Her students also inspire her.

“The other day, one of my students, who just graduated from the Denver School of the Arts as a performance vocal major, wanted to work on a tune that I hadn’t sung for 30 years: ‘Am I Blue,’ a song from the 1920s. When she left, I started woodshedding that tune and fell in love with it all over again.”

Another important aspect of Phillips’ life is composing music and writing poetry, which she’s done since she was 6, when she wrote her very first song. Composing is “a big part of my life and what keeps me sane as I walk on this planet.”

Over the years that Phillips has “been blessed” to make a living doing what she does best, she has maintained a modest yet comfortable lifestyle. She says she could not now buy the charming home she lives in, located a scant half-block from Sloan’s Lake Park.

“My son is 38, so I’ve lived and worked in this space for 37 years. As a musician, I don’t know how I’ve been able to do this. To me, it’s miraculous.”

Phillips is working on more originals and eager to get back into a recording studio. She and mentor musician Art Lande have been talking about doing a jazzy Beatles night.

“Not sure just when that will come together, but I have some charts ready to go. I want my music to bring healing and joy to the people who come to the concerts – that’s the prayer I say before each show.”

Phillips’ love of music is the wind in her sails that keeps her going. Her dedication to the craft has maintained her professional presence on Denver’s music scene for more than 40 years.

“I wake up every single day, look around, and I say, ‘Thank you, God.’ I feel so humble to have such a beautiful space to live and work in; that is so inspiring.”

The Stalker At The Kitchen Window

squirrel

By Sally Griffith

It seems we have acquired a friend or perhaps a stalker. The window outside our kitchen has several large trees in close proximity. My husband often eats his quick breakfast over the sink in front of the kitchen window. There is one branch that dips right in front of the window and our new friend has taking to eating his meals from that branch while my husband is eating his. We have taken to calling him “Hammy” after the character in the movie, “Over the Hedge.”

That is the friend part.

The stalker part comes in when, after greeting Hammy and getting a cup of chai, I returned to my office. Suddenly the skylight over my desk had a shadow come over it. I looked up and didn’t see anything. Suddenly, I heard the scampering of little feet and the shadow returned, I looked up and was being waved at by Hammy. Since then, he has taken to having breakfast with my husband and various breaks with me.

In case you can’t guess, my friend/stalker is the rusty red fox squirrel, the most common tree squirrel in our area.

Fox squirrels are not native to Colorado, but there are two native tree squirrels: the Abert and Pine squirrels. These two squirrels live in the mountainous part of the state, leaving the fox squirrel to inhabit the Denver metro area. These squirrels are active year-round, gathering up food, robbing bird feeders, and making nests that are difficult to distinguish from bird nests.

Evidently the area outside our kitchen is a safe area with proximity to the neighbors’ bird feeders. A sprinkler system supplies necessary water. A quick jump can take him to our roof and skylight and, also, provide quick access to the back of our house and more trees. It is an easy jump for Hammy because stalkers of his kind can jump up to six feet vertically, eight feet between branches and more than 20 feet in free-fall with soft landings on a limb or trunk.

Fox squirrels have excellent vision and well-developed senses of hearing and smell. (I hope Hammy found my office by hearing, not smell!) They have several sets of hair or whiskers that they use to touch and sense their environment. These are located above and below their eyes, on their chin and nose and on each forearm. They are most active during the day, are non-territorial and spend more time on the ground than other tree squirrels. They are, however, agile climbers and jumpers. They have a large vocabulary and they warn the listening world of approaching threats with distress screams. They can be quite loud when they get together in the spring and fall and combine their efforts to make a small ruckus.

They construct two types of homes, called dreys, depending on the season. Summer dreys are often little more than platforms of sticks high in trees. Winter dens are usually hollowed-out tree trunks. Multiple generations over as many as 30 years may use these winter dreys.

These tree cavities work well as nurseries if there are winter litters. They normally produce two litters a year, usually in March and July. At birth, the young are blind, without fur and helpless. Eyes open in four to five weeks and ears open in six. Juveniles usually disperse in the fall, but may den together or with their mother during their first winter. Their life expectancy is almost 13 years for females and almost 9 years for males.

Relatively few natural predators can capture adult squirrels on a regular basis. But raptors, foxes, cats and dogs will take advantage of an easy opportunity to capture fox squirrels, if one presents itself. We saw a falcon in Minnesota take out a squirrel occupied with fighting other squirrels while raiding a bird feeder. The falcon had difficulty lifting its prey off the ground and his buddies were so petrified that they were stuck running in place until the falcon finally lifted his catch and took it elsewhere. Raccoons and snakes will go after nestlings if they can.

Fox squirrels’ favorite foods are acorns and nuts, food high in fat and not inclined to spoil easily. They can consume up to 1-1/2 pounds of seeds and nuts each week. But their food habits may vary depending on where they are located. In addition to nuts, they will eat tree buds, insects, tubers, bulbs, roots, bird eggs, fungi, and pine and fruit tree seeds. They often bury their food for later consumption and will favor foods that don’t spoil easily.

Of course, if given the opportunity, they will avail themselves of garden crops, bird feeders and anything else presented for them by humans. They must have water at least twice a day. Hammy brings many interesting things to eat while at our kitchen window and many come directly from human sources. However, some may not be food, but hard materials that he gnaws on to wear down his incisors that grow almost six inches per year. I don’t know what he brings for breaks on the skylight above my office, since, after checking that I am working, he usually eats on one side or the other of the rounded skylight.

After hearing Hammy on our roof, I know that he can be quite loud for someone that weighs less than two pounds. I have heard from those unlucky to have a squirrel invade their attic that this is a most unpleasant experience. They can be live-trapped using peanut butter as a lure. But they often become wary of these traps and have been known to find ways to retrieve the peanut butter without setting off the trap. To coexist with squirrels, you may want to do the following:

  • Prevent them from climbing trees by placing 18-inch metal cylinders on tree trunks.
  • Trim branches hanging over the roof to prevent them from accessing attics.
  • Seal small holes under eaves and along roof lines.
  • Screen attic vents on the inside with hardware cloth to keep squirrels out.
  • Eliminate easy food sources like bird feeders.
  • So far, our attic has stayed sealed from Hammy and his friends. So, I guess for now we will keep eating our meals in conjunction with our friend/stalker or, maybe, outside pet.

Check Out Unique Programs For Local Libraries’ Patrons This Fall

LibrariesEDGEWATER LIBRARY WILL MOVE INTO THE NEW EDGEWATER CIVIC CENTER in Walker Branch Park this fall, continuing to support its patrons, provide services, and do much more than simply provide books. PHOTO BY NANCY HAHN By Nancy Hahn

Students are back in school and many of the great activities offered all through the summer for school-aged children have ended for the school year, but there are many other ongoing activities and programs to take their place.

Edgewater Library (5843 W. 25th Ave.), Wheat Ridge Library (5475 W. 32nd Ave.) and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Library (1498 N. Irving St.) are very different libraries and each support their patrons, provide services, and do much more than simply provide books to be checked out.

If you are a student back in school and struggling with homework, help may be waiting for you if you have a Jefferson County Public Library card. You can reach a tutor online at the Jeffco libraries website between 2 and 11 p.m. for English, writing, math, science, social studies, language studies and adult education topics. You can, also, schedule a one-on-one session with a JCPL librarian at Book a Librarian for research or computer help.

Certainly, libraries are places to find the perfect book, music CD or movie. Book Clubs, also, meet to discuss books.

The Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales holds a R.A.D.A (Read. Awareness. Dialogue. Action.) Book Club for teens and adults. The club is designed as a safe place to discuss current issues.

Book club bags containing 10 copies of the book, great information and discussion questions are available at Edgewater, Wheat Ridge and other Jefferson County libraries. There is even a BYO(Book) Group that meets at West Fax Brewing Company in Lamar Station Plaza once a month. Each meeting readers bring a specific type of book to discuss. On Oct. 10, members will bring a book translated from another language. November is for nonfiction graphic novels.

There are available computers and other technology for patrons to use at all the libraries. With students back in school, community members use computers for many different purposes. On any given day, patrons at Edgewater and Wheat Ridge libraries may receive help writing a resume, performing online job searches or getting started with online genealogy. Classes can be taken on the computers, too. Faxing is also available for free at Wheat Ridge and Edgewater libraries. The Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Library has drop-in technology help for adults and teens. The patrons learn about using email, social networks and the Internet.

The Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Library offers a great variety of services for its patrons. The library has many immigrant and refugee patrons. Every few days the library opens a large community space for immigrants from anywhere in the world to gather, meet new friends and learn about resources. Help is provided in English, applying for citizenship, with job searches, and there is even some fun making crafts.

Little ones may have mom or dad to themselves now that older siblings are in school. Wheat Ridge, Edgewater and other Jefferson County libraries offer Stories-to-Go to provide some fun to take home. A Stories-to-Go book bag contains books, activities and make-it fun for little ones, all about a common theme. Pirates, construction and bears are just a few of the themes. Check online to see all the possibilities!

If your family is looking for something to do together, all three libraries offer Culture Passes. Many museums, other area activities, and even all Colorado State Parks accept Culture Passes. The State Parks Pass even comes with a backpack holding maps, brochures and binoculars! You do need to contact the library ahead of time, reserve, and then pick up your pass.

If you have a family member suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, many family activities can become much more difficult. Wheat Ridge Library has a program for both caretakers and for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Memory Café is a monthly event held from 1 to 2:30 in the afternoon for people living with memory loss and their families. The meetings are held in Wheat Ridge Library’s Ye Old Firehouse Meeting Hall. This ongoing series, presented by the Alzheimer’s Association, provides a quick, fun activity or presentation. There is also a time to drink a cup of coffee, relax, socialize and talk to someone else who understands. There will be a meeting Wednesday, Sept. 19, then Oct. 17.

Edgewater Library is as small as a library can be, but a very active part of its community. Edgewater's Teen Advisory Board meets every month in the library to plan teen library events and services. The seventh- to 12th-grade members of the board discuss plans and what they want in a library. Sustainable Edgewater meets on the third Tuesday of every month. The group discusses energy solutions with the thought that sustainability is possible. Discussions address many environmentally based topics, led by Xerxes Steirer, Research Assistant Professor at the Colorado School of Mines.

This fall, Edgewater Library will move into the new Edgewater Civic Center in Walker Branch Park. The new library will be 10,000 square feet, and is sure to continue to be very valuable part of the community, as all these libraries are.