Happenings – December 2022

A calendar with a yellow highlighter
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

City Snowplow Drivers Take Home Third in National Competition

Last month snowplow drivers from the City of Wheat Ridge’s Public Works Department competed in the Western Snow and Ice National Conference. Mike Ivancich and Kevin Dewey took third place overall as a team in the single-axle plow competition, according to a press release from the City of Wheat Ridge. Ivancich and Dewey, along with Lane Causer and Pete Peterson, took 21st and 22nd place overall in the tandem-axle plow competition.

The competition consisted of the timed obstacle course, with approximately a four-inch clearance on each side of the truck in certain places. A written test of 25 questions, which one contestant takes, is based on general knowledge and Department of Transportation regulations. The other contestant is tested on diagnostic evaluation of a truck. They are given six minutes to find six defects with a plow truck.

The first and second place winners were Greenwood Village and the State of Delaware. 

Cultural Commission’s Scavenger Hunt Celebrates The Art And Culture Of Wheat Ridge, Dec. 9-10, 16-18

The Wheat Ridge Cultural Commission is celebrating the art and culture of Wheat Ridge with a city-wide scavenger hunt! For two weekends in December – 9 through 11 and 16 through 18 – the commission will place pieces of art and/or cultural gift bags throughout the city, then drop clues to their whereabouts on the WR Cultural Commission Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WRCulturalCommission).

Interested community members can use those clues to find the dropped items, which in the past have included watercolors, sculptures, art kits, ornaments and jewelry. First person to find the item is the winner.

The commission encourages all winners to share their found items on its Facebook pages as well. Items will be dropped twice per day during the program for a total of 12 prizes.

All the items featured in the Arts and Culture Drop are local and acquired through a public submission process that ran in November. Artwork and other items featured in past Art Drops were purchased from Wheat Ridge Art League members, other local artists and nearby creative businesses. The goal is to connect Wheat Ridge residents directly to arts, crafts,  and culture while promoting and supporting local artisans, makers, creative business and arts organizations.

To learn more about the Wheat Ridge Arts and Culture Drop visit the Cultural Commission’s Facebook page.

Mark Your Calendar For Historical Society’s Historical Fashion Show & Tea Party, Jan. 14

Word travels fast: The piano tuner was here! That can mean only one thing: The Holiday Second Saturday Social at the Baugh House is approaching.

In the olden days, folks felt lucky if they could afford to have their piano tuned even once a year, but with no TV or radio, it was the main form of entertainment on many a Saturday night, not to mention daily use for young’uns practicing this week’s lesson. According to my maternal grandfather, who made his living for forty-some years as a tuner, if the piano was situated against an interior (warmer) wall, folks could sneak in a few extra months before the annual tuning; pianos located on an exterior wall were more stressed and had to be tuned every year. 

December’s arrival signals the season to don your favorite and most colorful holiday sweater, bake up a batch of your favorite cookies, select the perfect “white elephant” gift and get yourself over to Mr. Baugh’s charmingly decorated Victorian farm house on the corner of 44th and Robb Street. Take part in a song fest celebration of the season on Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We’ll have live music, some delicious goodies and a Christmas story or two, along with good conversation and some holiday crafts for sale.

Even in the coldest season Historical Park museums are open on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We take appointments for tours on other days and are happy to accommodate your needs; just call or email us at the contact information below. 

The new year will soon be upon us, which means the membership drive is just around the corner. Become a member now; update your current membership or, better yet, upgrade your membership. 

For more information visit wheatridgehistoricalsociety.org, email wrhistorical@gmail.com, call 303-421-9111, or stop by the White Family Home at the Red Brick House Fridays at 4610 Robb St., and be sure to like us on Facebook.

Wheat Ridge High School Marching Band Asks For Your Help To Replace Old Uniforms

Wheat Ridge High School’s marching band is looking to replace its 20-year-old uniforms, and have started a Go Fund Me page – search for “WRHS Music Boosters”

So Matt Pocernich tells the Neighborhood Gazette. His daughter joined the marching band after playing in Everitt Middle School’s band. 

“To play in the Carnation parade, Andy had four weeks of practice during the summer before her first day of class,” wrote Pocernich. “Who needs orientation when you know 40 students across all grades?”

The band also recently hosted a band from Stadt, Germany. Thirty students were here for 10 days, staying with band families. Pocernich remarks that WRHS has been doing the exchange since 2006 and this was the eighth time the Germans have visited.

“A funny side story is that apparently Stadt is a sister city to Lakewood. The Germans called a high school in Lakewood, [and] they said ‘no thanks.’ Looking at a map they saw Wheat Ridge, called the school and our band director said ‘yes.’”

‘The Covid Wife’ Runs Till Dec. 10, Concluding Benchmark Theatre’s ‘Aftermath’ Season 

Benchmark Theatre will present the world premiere production of local actress Suzanne Nepi’s “The Covid Wife” at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, through Dec. 10.

Directed by Neil Truglio, and starring Suzanne Nepi and Tanis Joaquin Gonzales, “The Covid Wife” is billed as Nepi’s true story: in October 2020 she made national news when her husband, Mark, was hospitalized with serious complications due to COVID-19. Separated for three weeks with her husband in an ICU bed and hooked up to a ventilator, Suzanne had to confront and overcome her own history in order to gain the strength to help her husband fight for his life, according to a press release from the theater company.

It is the seventh and final production of Benchmark’s 2021/2022 season since it returned to live programming after a year and a half of dormancy due to COVID-19. 

According to Benchmark’s announcement, the 2021/2022 season is themed “Aftermath” with all titles chosen for season selection as a response to the period of dormancy the theater and all other cultural organizations endured due to the pandemic and subsequent shutdown as well as the cultural and social changes which developed and were impacted by the pandemic.

Performances are Thursday through Saturday evenings starting 8 p.m., and Sunday afternoons, 2 p.m.

Admission is $30 general, $25 senior/student/military and $18 Thursdays. A $15 Healthcare Worker Discount is available (proof of employment required).

For more information visit: www.benchmarktheatre.com

Hat- And Mask-Making Classes Offered By Lakewood Arts In January

Lakewood Arts is offering a class on hat making on Jan. 14, and mask making on Jan. 21, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Geared to high-school students and older, cost is $18 per session for LAC members and $20 for nonmembers.

Other opportunities at the LAC gallery are wall rentals to display your art, and Open Studio sessions every Friday to create your art.

Current Lakewood Arts exhibits are the Holiday Art and Gift show in the Acorn Gallery and the Artist’s Choice exhibit at the Lakewood Cultural Center. Both run through the end of December.

Lakewood Arts is located at 6501 W. Colfax in the 40West Arts Hub.

To sign up for classes or for more information go to lakewoodarts.org or call 303-980-0625. 

Wheaties Get Their Man: Charges Referred In October Car Theft That Resulted In Serious Injury, Multiple Collisions 

Wheat Ridge Police Detectives have referred Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, Vehicular Assault, and Theft (between $20,000 and $100,000) as well as numerous traffic-related charges against 22-year-old Jose Merino-Ramos (who is currently in the Denver City Jail on unrelated charges), according to Wheat Ridge Police Department Public Information Officer Joanna Small.

On Oct. 17 Merino-Ramos committed a string of crimes that began when he stole a local arborist’s work truck (with an attached trailer hauling very expensive equipment) outside the arborist’s Wheat Ridge home, Small alleges in a recent press release. 

“The victim attempted to stop the theft by jumping on the hood of the truck but was thrown off, and Merino-Ramos drove off with what detectives later learned was his getaway vehicle – a white Escalade – in tow. 

“Merino-Ramos struck several occupied vehicles while fleeing the scene, eventually hitting a Toyota Highlander; the driver of that SUV got out and Merino-Ramos hit her with the truck, briefly pinning her against another vehicle. Although she sustained a severe bodily injury, she managed to roll out of the way of the truck and into the trailer it was pulling. Merino-Ramos continued driving a few additional blocks, then abandoned the truck with the victim still in the trailer, got into the passenger side of the Escalade, and fled the scene.” 

Detectives were able to identify Merino-Ramos through DNA evidence recovered in the stolen truck, said Small. The investigation into the identity of his accomplice – the female driver of the Escalade – is still ongoing. 

“Many people were impacted by this crime spree, which was a very chaotic scene that morning and for hours and even days afterward,” said Small. “We are pleased to be able to bring about some resolution to those who suffered physical and emotional injuries as well as property damage as a result of these criminal acts.”

Lutheran Medical Center Receives Major Gift from Community First Foundation 

The Community First Foundation (CFF) has made a major contribution to the Lutheran Medical Center Foundation’s Legacy Continues Campaign.  

The $3.1 million gift will support the replacement Lutheran Medical Center project at Clear Creek Crossing, as well as help advance the health of people in Jefferson County and surrounding communities, according to a press release from Lutheran. 

To show gratitude and acknowledge the partnership, the hospital will name the new central courtyard and public gathering space for Community First Foundation.

Lutheran is building a replacement hospital to replace its current, aging facility.

   Community First and Lutheran have a shared legacy of caring for Jefferson County. In 2007, when the hospital joined what would later become SCL Health and is now Intermountain Healthcare, the proceeds from the transfer of the hospital were used to help create the Lutheran Community Foundation, which is today known as Community First Foundation. 

Since its creation, CFF has invested in a variety of projects to promote community health and has grown into one of the largest community foundations in Colorado. CFF operates grantmaking programs that serve the Jeffco community.

This gift advances the success of the Lutheran Foundation’s capital campaign, which has reached nearly 70 percent of its five-year fundraising goal of $12 million to support the replacement hospital.  

Founded as a tuberculosis sanitarium in 1905, Lutheran Medical Center is Jefferson County’s first hospital. Today, Lutheran operates one of the busiest Emergency Departments in Colorado, provides Jefferson County’s only Labor and Delivery program, and offers unique emergency and behavioral health programs that prioritize the wellbeing of older adults.  

The new hospital will: 

• Expand access to emergency and critical care for families up and down the Jefferson County and West Denver suburbs, with easy and quick access from I-70, Hwy. 93, and U.S. 6/Sixth Avenue. 

• Elevate health care in the region with a well-designed, energy-efficient, and flexible facility designed with the patient and caregivers top of mind.  

• Provide more comfort for patients and families, with all rooms being more open and brighter with floor-to-ceiling glass, making for more natural light in the room.  

• Help drive economic growth in Jefferson County and West Denver, employing 2,000 people in well-paying jobs and contributing more than $1.1 billion. Lutheran remains the largest employer in Wheat Ridge. 

Learn more about the replacement hospital at TheLutheranLegacy.org. 

Your E-Bike Can Now Ride Along On RTD 

Regional Transportation District customers are now permitted to travel with battery-powered electric bikes, commonly known as e-bikes.

E-bikes can be brought aboard RTD transit vehicles, with some exceptions: 

• Those exceeding 55 pounds may not be loaded onto any bus-mounted front bicycle rack 

• For regional buses, such as those used for Flatiron Flyer service, e-bikes must either fit on the front bike racks or in the luggage compartment beneath the vehicles 

• Gasoline-powered vehicles remain prohibited aboard transit vehicles 

E-bikes may not be brought onto the light rail “high blocks” – those elevated ramps for boarding – which are intended for use by individuals with disabilities and are not intended to accommodate devices that are not primarily designed or intended to assist persons with mobility disabilities.

RTD has updated the Bike-n-Ride webpage to reflect additional policies or best practices around e-bikes that have been put into place.

The rule change took place in mid-November. To arrive at the decision to allow e-bikes, RTD staff worked with the American Public Transportation Association and researched the e-bike policies of nine U.S. transit agencies to understand their practices and consider whether such vehicles can safely be accommodated on the RTD system.

Lutheran Medical Center Awarded ’A’ Hospital Safety Grade

Lutheran Medical Center received an “A” Hospital Safety Grade from The Leapfrog Group for the 11th consecutive time, and the 15th time since 2014, according to a press release from the hospital. This national distinction celebrates Lutheran’s achievements in protecting hospital patients from preventable harm and errors. 

  The Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization with a 10-year history of assigning letter grades to general hospitals throughout the United States based on a hospital’s ability to prevent medical errors and harm to patients, per the release. The grading system is peer-reviewed, fully transparent, and free to the public. Hospital Safety Grade results are based on more than 30 national performance measures and are updated each fall and spring.  

“I applaud the hospital leadership and workforce for their strong commitment to safety and transparency,” said Leah Binder, president, and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “An ‘A’ Safety Grade is a sign that hospitals continuously evaluate their performance to protect patients best. Your hospital team should be extremely proud of their dedication and achievement.” 

Founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for “giant leaps” for patient safety.

To see Lutheran’s full grade details and to access patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit HospitalSafetyGrade.org and follow The Leapfrog Group on Twitter, Facebook, and via its newsletter.

Lakewood Offers Free Audit And Retrofits To Help To Lower Household Water And Heating Bills

Lakewood has a new program to help qualified Lakewood families lower their water and heating bills with a free energy audit that can include two free water-saving toilets and other water and energy fixture upgrades, according to a press release from the city.

Lakewood is now a partner with Mile High Youth Corps to provide in-home water and energy assessments and retrofits. During the free energy audit, the following items will be assessed and potentially replaced, all free of charge: Shower heads and faucet aerators; up to two toilets; thermostats; light bulbs; and carbon monoxide/smoke detectors.

Mile High Youth Corps hires and trains young adults to provide these free energy and water conservation measures to income-qualified homes. These adults are part of the AmeriCorps network and are certified on a variety of installations including toilets, showerheads and lighting.

The income qualifications vary by household size.

Lakewood residents interested in the program can visit the Mile High Youth Corps’ website at MileHighYouthCorps.org/free-install-services or call 720-974-0500, option 2. 

Red Cross Asks You To Heat Your Home Safely As Cold Weather Sets In

Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths, with most occurring from space heaters. So the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter urges everyone to safely heat their home by following critical steps to avoid a home fire.

Last year, volunteers responded to over 180 home fires across the Mile High area and assisted nearly 830 people. Overall, home fires account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S. – where home fire responses are 23 percent higher during cold months than warmer times of year.

Follow these safety tips and visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family:

• Keep children, pets and anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.

• If you must use a space heater, never leave it unattended. Place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes. 

• Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never into an extension cord. Turn the space heater off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. 

• Never leave a fire burning in the fireplace unattended. Make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep embers in the fireplace.

• Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary. 

If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for help. 

Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information.

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