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Cue The Music: The Holidays Are Here

By Meghan Godby

Mid-November is a tricky time of year. One day, you spot a few abandoned jack o’ lanterns on your neighbor’s front porch, while the next, you start to hear Christmas music on the radio. The weather is cool, a few leaves still cling to a hint of color, but holiday decorations are slowly creeping onto store shelves.  You’re bombarded with discounted Halloween candy, cornucopia displays and Christmas lights. It’s as if all the year-end seasons meld together into one big mash of holiday spirit.

The timing of all this is hotly debated, but there’s no doubt that the holiday season is coming at us fast. Need something to get you in the spirit? You’re in luck. There are plenty of family-friendly activities in the area and lots of ways to give back to your community this time of year.

Ridge at 38th Holiday Celebration

A longtime favorite, the Ridge at 38th Holiday Celebration, presented and organized by Localworks, will take place on Sat., Dec. 1 from 3 to 6:30 p.m.  Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa, delight in the sound of carolers, and enjoy arts, crafts and holiday shopping. A beautiful 25-foot evergreen will be lit at 6:30 p.m. at 7101 W 38th Ave., lighting up the city and heralding the start of the holidays. Have little ones? You may want to come early; the first 120 families will get a free professional photo with Santa! Food will be available for purchase.

For more information, including information on volunteering at this event, visit ridgeat38.com.

City of Edgewater Holiday Lighting Ceremony

Santa continues his grand tour of the area with the City of Edgewater Holiday Lighting Ceremony; the date and time have not been confirmed. Enjoy carolers, dance performances, hot chocolate, and even make a gingerbread house (there is a modest $5 fee for the gingerbread houses which supports Edgewater’s senior programs). Santa himself will help light up the city, sure to delight the kiddos and bring out the kid in the rest of us.

Holiday Lighting Contests

Do you fancy making a Christmas display of your own? The City of Edgewater and the Two Creeks Neighborhood Organization are hosting holiday lighting contests this December. Open to local residents, prizes include gift cards and, of course, bragging rights for the year ahead. Both organizations will judge lighting displays in mid-December. Even if you can’t participate, you’re sure to enjoy the colorful and elaborate displays created by your neighbors!

For more information on registration, please visit playedgewater.com and twocreeksneighborhood.org, respectively.

A Time To Give

While it’s always fun to celebrate, we can’t forget that there are less fortunate families in our community that could use a helping hand. It’s never too early to spread holiday cheer – after all, the season of giving lasts all year long.

The Wheat Ridge Police department kicks off this time of year with its annual Operation Blue Santa, which will take place on Sat., Nov. 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lakeside Wal-Mart, 5957 W. 44th Ave. Hosted in partnership with the Wheat Ridge Optimists Club, this event helps bring holiday cheer to needy families in our area by collecting new, unwrapped toys. It’s not only a great way to help those in need, but it’s also a wonderful way to meet and connect with our local law enforcement. In addition to toys, monetary donations are accepted - the funds will go towards gift cards to help with food and clothing. If you’d like to help wrap the gifts, head to Wheat Ridge City Hall on Dec. 14 from 4 to 6:30 p.m.; they will be distributed to families the following day.

The Boys and Girls Club is a nationwide organization with local chapters to help serve needy children in our community. Every year, they host a toy drive that runs from the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, Nov. 23) through Christmas Eve (Monday, Dec. 24). Donations can be dropped off at a variety of locations, including the Wheat Ridge (5301 W. 38th Ave.) and Edgewater (1725 Sheridan Blvd.) King Soopers. What to bring? New, unwrapped toys for ages 6 to 18. While gift cards are always a safe bet for older kids, consider creative alternatives like art supplies and sports equipment. Their website also has a wish list to help you brainstorm ideas. For more information, including a comprehensive list of drop off locations, please visit bgcmd.org.

Short on time but still want to help give back this holiday season? Consider making a donation to the Rotary Club’s Operation Warm fundraiser. This annual project helps collect funds to purchase brand new coats for less fortunate children. Donations can be made from the comfort of your own home via PayPal, by visiting wheatridgerotary.org. If you’d like to send a check instead, that information is also included on the website.

If you’re looking for more ideas on events, charity drives, and volunteer opportunities, consider checking your neighborhood NextDoor page (nextdoor.com), Facebook (click on Events to find all sorts of local activities near you), or milehighonthecheap.com.  These sites pull together events from a variety of sources, including smaller happenings that might get buried under more established events.

No matter how crazy or busy the world gets, this time of year brings out the best of us. With election season under our belt, let’s all join together and make the most of this holiday season. So mark your calendars - it’s time to give back, connect with your neighbors, and celebrate everything that makes our neighborhoods great.

So Many Homeless … And Winter Is Coming

By Nancy Hahn

Researching this article, the day was 70 degrees. The next, it was snowing.

Imagine how this feels if you’re homeless. Wandering websites, I read a short article on The Homeless Shelter Directory’s news section thanking McDonald’s for providing its dollar menu. In their survey of ways to survive with little or no money, local food pantries were named, but the number one answer by those surveyed was that McDonald’s dollar menu feeds them daily.

Next time I see someone with a cup or hat out on a corner, I’ll understand the difference a dollar can make.

Getting off a bus on Colfax in Lakewood, I discovered one issue facing the homeless. I went into a little restaurant to use the restroom. It was locked and had a keypad. You could only get the code with purchase and there was a long line. Four restaurants in a row were the same.

Later, talking with a homeless woman, she explained finding a bathroom is difficult.

“You can walk to Walmart or ARC,” she said, “or go behind a dumpster in an alley.”

How many things do the homeless confront daily that I never considered?

The homeless have been in the news lately. On Oct. 29, the largest homeless sweep since 2016 was conducted in Denver. About 100 homeless men and women had camped near Park Avenue and Lawrence Street. Denver Police Department officers, Public Works employees, and city dump trucks engaged in a large-scale sweep — or cleanup operation. Many homeless people had tents and sleeping bags thrown away. City workers explained that human waste, animal waste, needles, rats, and trash made the area unsafe.

The tiny home village, created for the homeless, was in the news, also. The homes must move from 38th and Blake. The Beloved Community Village of formerly homeless individuals needs a new location for the tiny homes. A developer offered a plot of land, but the land is on a floodplain and deemed unsafe. The city is searching for other locations, since the permit for the current location expires in January.

Food and Shelter is Available

Jeffco Eats is a nonprofit serving Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater and Arvada to ensure that hungry or homeless families don’t go hungry on the weekends. Jeffco students whose families have been identified as needing support take home backpacks of healthy foods every Friday. Food Bank of the Rockies, the Jefferson County Colorado Department of Education, Title One, and Homeless area directors work together to support homeless families.

There are many shelters and services throughout Jefferson County. Family Tree at 3805 Marshall St. in Wheat Ridge offers a variety of services. Family Tree’s Roots of Courage supports domestic abuse victims. Houses of Hope offers emergency residential services. There are other homeless programs, as well as, Safe Care Programs to support families. Shannon’s Hope offers a residential community for pregnant women without homes. Shannon’s provides a caring home for clients. They, also, help clients access community services and plan their future.

The Denver Rescue Mission has a growing number of shelter facilities and is constantly improving its work with the homeless. Its shelters are designed with great thoughtfulness and understanding about what homeless people need. The shelters for families have facilities for children and youth development activities. Some shelters provide meals. They also help parents with job or educational training, even getting a GED. Several shelters for individuals provide lockers, which are important because many homeless have jobs and can’t take their bundle of belongings to work. Having a safe place to leave their belongings makes them feel more established. While they may not have a home, they have a home base.

The Salvation Army, also, offers shelters. They provide blankets and snacks to area homeless, who choose not to stay in a shelter. The Salvation Army focuses on drug and alcohol rehabilitation, also. With seven locations within eight miles of Wheat Ridge, many services are within reach. The Lambuth Family Center, for example, at 2741 N. Federal Boulevard, has transitional housing for families, domestic violence services, a Boys and Girls Club, casework services, and food and nutrition classes. Their many shelters provide emergency housing, transitional housing, and other support.

Why Are People Sleeping Outside?

There are shelters for women and children, family shelters, shelters that provide meals, and those that provide employment services. So why are homeless people sleeping under bridges, camping along Clear Creek, and huddled in RTD bus shelters throughout the winter?

The homeless have their individual reasons for avoiding shelters. Some homeless people have dogs. A dog is protection, especially for younger homeless people or for women. A dog persuades passers-by to talk and give a dollar or two. A dog is a friend when the world isn’t friendly. Shelters don’t accept dogs. Some shelters have rules about when to be in line. The line can be long and exposed to the weather. Some shelters require counseling. One homeless man, Jack, explained that he has his spot outside. Sheltered from wind and weather; it is familiar, known. While not comfortable to anyone else, it feels safer than a shelter full of unknown problems.

Shelters come in all varieties. Shelters without entry restrictions with simply one big room with cots can have every problem imaginable. Crowding brings problems when some people are sick, haven’t bathed in a while, and not everyone is honest. Fights can happen. Some do have bugs, including lice. Some people do find their shoes were stolen. But better shelters are being created. Some shelters, including the faith-based shelters, offer counseling and support finding a path out of homelessness.

Finding paths out of homelessness is important. The long-term solution, though, must be creating programs preventing struggling individuals and the working poor from crossing that line into homelessness.

There’s Still Gold In Them Thar Creeks

By Elisabeth Monaghan

It’s unlikely anyone can live in Wheat Ridge for more than a year and not know about its agricultural roots, but some may be less familiar with the city’s significance in the history of the gold rush in Colorado.

Before there was Denver, there was Montana City, which was located just east of Evans Avenue and Santa Fe Drive. (Today that site is a the Grant-Frontier Park.) In response to rumors that gold was plentiful in Montana City,  a group of prospectors flocked to the area. Upon discovering there was no abundance of gold, the prospectors abandoned the site, hoping to have better luck farther downstream. Among the next locations where prospectors sought gold were the area that is now the Auraria Campus and the Arapahoe Bar (now the Arapahoe Gold Panning Park), which is located at 44th Avenue and Youngfield Street.

This is just one of the lessons about the Colorado Gold Rush members of the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies learn as they discover the history of gold in the Denver area. Not only does the prospecting group’s president, Jim Long, teach members about how to find and pan for gold, he also passes along the history of Colorado’s part in the gold rush boom that began in 1859.

When he was young, Long accompanied his father, who was a prospector mining uranium around the San Luis Valley in the late 1940’s and early ‘50’s.

“I was into sports and girls at the time, but I loved the outdoors, so I’d go with him,” explained Long.

While he claims not to have paid attention to his father’s prospecting efforts as a youngster, he considered prospecting for gold as a way to spend his time when he retired from his job in law enforcement.

“In the mid-‘80s, I knew I was coming up on retirement and thought ‘Well, maybe I ought to see what this is all about,’ so I got involved with the Gold Prospecting Association of America and became a member in the late 1980s.”

Starting out dabbling in gold prospecting, Long decided to get into it full time after he retired in 2007. Initially, Long joined a gold prospector club based in Colorado Springs, but the drive from north of Denver to the meetings grew tiresome.

In 1995, Long learned of the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies, which is in Lakewood and contacted its president about membership. At the club president’s invitation, Long attended his first meeting as a guest and enjoyed the group so much, he joined it that evening. Immediately, Long became an active volunteer for the club, first as a member of its board, and then as the organization’s president.

Long describes the gold prospectors’ group as an organization dedicated to the amateur prospector and family-oriented groups that want to learn about mining. According to Long, the organization has roughly 175 family memberships, which breaks down to about 350 members, total. The annual fee to belong to the organization is $30, and members range from as young as 7 to individuals in their 90s, and reside in locations as far as South Carolina and Texas, to nearby states like Nebraska and Wyoming.

Although he didn’t become interested in gold prospecting until later in his professional career, Long, who has a minor in geology, knows a lot about rock formations and minerals – especially those in Colorado.

“Colorado is unique when it comes to our minerals,” said Long. There is a mineral belt that runs from Gold Hill in Jamestown all the way down to Leadville, and then to other areas around Cripple Creek, Victor, the San Juan Region, Steamboat Lake and the Great Divide.”

His familiarity with geology makes it easier for Long to tell which formations along the mineral belt contain gold and which do not. As a result, every time the club goes prospecting, someone always finds gold.

Granted, small-scale prospectors are not going to get rich with their findings, but that fact doesn’t lessen the thrill of finding the shiny yellow nuggets. Long says his best prospecting day turned up 3/16ths of an ounce, which he estimates would be worth $250. The club collectively found seven ounces, which today is worth a little over $8,000.

Since stepping in as president, Long has increased the club’s excursions from three or four outings a year to at least 20. A day of prospecting generally begins at 9 a.m., but it can go as late as 6 p.m. Long takes the group to pan at sites like Cripple Creek, Idaho Springs and Central City, but the Arapahoe Bar Panning Park is a closer spot that is popular among club members.

In 1858, after their disappointing experience with Montana City, some prospectors went on to found Arapahoe City, named after the Arapaho native tribe. Although that city is long-gone, Arapahoe Bar Gold Panning Park remains a local area that is open to the public. There was a time when the City of Wheat Ridge considered shutting down mining at Arapahoe Bar. Fortunately, Long, who had already developed rules and regulations for the Clear Creek Open Spaces area in Jefferson County, was able to work with the City of Wheat Ridge to create a set of rules and regulations for gold panning at Arapahoe Bar.

As part of his effort on behalf of the prospector organization, Long conducts a small-scale mining demonstration twice a year. He also presents a program about gold and where it comes from to 1,500 elementary-aged school children in Aurora, along with a three-day program for 2,000 school-aged children in Highlands Ranch. In both, he talks about how planets were formed and how minerals like gold were deposited.

For anyone curious about small-scale gold mining, Long recommends joining a prospector club to learn where and how to pan for gold legally, safely and in a way that does not harm the environment. Of course, Long is partial to the Gold Prospectors Club of the Rockies, emphasizing his group is the largest prospector organization in the Denver area, while also being the cheapest, easiest and “probably the friendliest” to join. He also points out that guests are always welcome to check out the monthly meetings.

“Sometime it may take two or three meetings, but rarely do we have a visitor who does not join the club after the first meeting,” says Long.

As a draw and to remind members why they are in the club, Long always gives away 10 gold nuggets at each meeting. With an average of 80 people attending the meetings, chances are pretty good a visitor may come away with some shiny gold of their own.

To learn more about Jim Long or the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies, visit www.goldprospectorsoftherockies.com.

Tutoring Help On The Way For Students Through The Wheat Ridge Community Foundation

By Mike McKibbin

With funding help from the Wheat Ridge Community Foundation, struggling students at Wheat Ridge High School are now able to seek tutoring help from fellow students who can help them achieve their academic goals.

Chad Meyers, speaking on behalf of the Foundation, is an employment specialist with Jeffco Public Schools and the School to Work Alliance Program, or SWAP. That program is a collaborative effort between the school district and the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. SWAP’s mission is to help youth between the ages of 15 and 24 transition from school to work and become successfully employed. Through matching employers’ needs with student interests and capabilities, SWAP hopes to expand employment opportunities for young adults, engage local businesses in a community partnership that supports local youth in a successful school-to-work transition, among other benefits. SWAP youth have a mild to a moderate barrier to employment; are either graduating, have graduated, dropped out or are at risk of dropping out; have some degree of difficulty finding meaningful employment; display a strong desire and motivation to work in their community, and are unemployed or underemployed.

Meyers, a Foundation board member, said that for several years, the Foundation had awarded scholarships to graduating high school students seeking careers through certificates or in trade-related areas. However, not all the students, awarded scholarships, followed through with their post-secondary plans for various reasons.

“When we started looking at why that was happening, one thing we came upon was a need for tutoring help for struggling students,” Meyers said. “Some of the students had trouble proving they could handle college-level courses with their reading and writing skills. For example, if a student wanted to go to Red Rocks [Community College] for an electrician certificate, they might have trouble passing their math classes or even an entrance exam that demonstrates they know the material.”

The Foundation approved a $2,500 grant for the 2018-19 academic year to be spent in three areas: $500 for curriculum development, $1,500 to pay tutors and $500 for incentive compensation to be paid to tutors when the students they are tutoring  achieve their academic goals.

The main goal of the tutoring grant is to provide help to struggling students by matching them with exceptional students through the school’s Gifted and Talented Center. The grant will introduce tutors to entrepreneurism by paying them to help students achieve their academic goals, according to the grant application to the Community Foundation.

To measure the success of the grant and tutoring program, students receiving the services will accomplish the academic goals for which they are being tutored, and those hired to be tutors will take a post-tutoring survey to identify the areas where they have developed more skills, such as leadership, content knowledge, a better understanding of the world of small business, etc.

Student tutors will enroll in the program through a federal tax form 1099, submit invoices to the school’s bookkeeper and be paid when the school issues regular payroll checks. “The tutors will get the experience of some of what it takes to run their own business,” Meyers said. Tutors are paid $15 an hour, must have an interest in tutoring, and are recommended to the program by Gifted and Talented teachers. If the students they tutor achieve their academic goals, another $50 bonus is earned by the tutor. The program plans to have 10 tutors provide 10 one-hour tutoring sessions to each participating student.

The grant provides for 20 students to participate in the program this school year as either tutors or those who receive tutoring help.

Meyers noted if the program is successful at Wheat Ridge High School, it may be expanded to Everitt Middle School next year, if funding is available.

“It could be we find the tutoring works well at the high school level, [and even though it] might get complicated at the middle school level, that may be where it could be more beneficial,” since it could instill good study habits at a younger age, Meyers added. The Foundation board and Gifted and Talented Center will evaluate the effectiveness of the grant at the end of the school year.

For more information about SWAP or enrolling in the Gifted and Talented tutoring program, contact Chad Meyers, chad.meyers@jeffco.k12.co.us, 303-982-7014.

Rats: Not Quite The Wildlife You Want

By Sally Griffin

This is the yuckiest story about wildlife in our city that I have ever had to write, but I felt this story needed to be told.

According to pest control company Orkin, the Denver area is the 10th “rattiest” city in the United States. We beat out Minneapolis for this spot. (Not that I think Minneapolis minded their displacement!) We are now in the same league as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The ranking is based on the number of new residential and commercial rodent treatments performed between September last year and September this year.

Yuck, right?! So, let me tell you about some pretty disgusting creatures.

If you think this is just a problem in the seedier areas of Denver, think again. Last year, Jefferson County Public Health had to deal with a massive rat invasion of a house in Lakewood. There were rats on the downspout, rats on the roof and rats on the rocks leading down to the neighborhood reservoir. One neighbor declared, “I’ve never smelled anything quite as bad in my life.”

At the same time, Littleton noted that cases of mange had culled the number of predators (think coyotes) that feed on rodents, thus contributing to a noticeable increase in rats.

Arvada also had sightings of rats near a dumpster not far from a string of businesses.

Denver parks, including Civic Center, have telltale signs of rat infestations.

Rat experts (can you imagine that as a job title?) say that you are going to find a lot more rodent activity in those places that have water, food and shelter readily available. That means a home by a lake or stream can be a rat vacation spot.

Rats Don’t Like New Construction, Either

There are other things that can cause rat problems. According to Ryan Riley, Orkin branch manager, part of the problem is caused by the building boom in the Denver area.

“Whenever you have new construction, whatever was living there before you started building has to go somewhere,” said Riley. This means rats can be a problem near any construction site whether it is in the heart of Denver or the western suburbs.

And now is the worst time. Once the snow starts these mammals don’t hibernate, they look for warmer places to spend the winter. They only need a hole the size of a quarter to enter their new winter residence. In case you didn’t know, rats can climb walls or climb trees to jump to roofs. Rats will eat any food that humans or their pets will consume. They love bird feeders, dog pens, vegetable gardens, chicken coops, garbage cans, dumpsters and compost piles. They are ultimate omnivores. The food not eaten is hoarded in walls, furniture or appliances.

Rats reproduce in the spring and fall. A female rat can have 20 or more offspring in a year. Although the average lifespan of a city rat is only five to 12 months, they will infest the same area, returning to produce more litters.

They spread more than 35 diseases worldwide. These diseases are spread through direct contact, contact with their waste or saliva, and through the ticks, mites and fleas that have fed on a diseased rat.

They will chew through almost anything and cause structural damage. They will gnaw on electrical wires, including electrical wires in cars. They can even take out gas lines, plumbing line and support beams. One estimate is that almost 25 percent of unexplained fires start from rodent chewing.

Know Your Rat Neighbor

The most common kind of rat in Colorado is the Norway rat, also known as brown rats. But Colorado also has pack rats. Norway rats have coarse fur that is reddish to grayish brown with a gray belly. They are large and robust, weighing in at 12 to 16 ounces. Pack rats have long tails that are covered in fur, white feet and a white underbelly. Pack rats are larger than other types of rats and can grow to almost eight inches in length. While most rats live in fairly large groups, pack rats usually live alone. At any rate, if you see what looks like a very large and not so cute mouse, you are probably seeing a rat.

Now, the real reason for this article: to give you some ideas on how to avoid and solve rat problems. Keeping things well sealed and keeping food where they can’t get to it are two best ways to prevent a rat problem.

Cats may help, but some cats have an aversion to hunting rats. And I really can’t blame them.

Managing the landscape around your house can help. Avoid low shrubs and tree branches next to the house. Keep grass and weeds mowed down. Remove any clutter, both inside and outside. Don’t store firewood next to the house. Remove old cars, old furniture and appliances.

Manage food sources. Store pet food and birdseed in metal or heavy-duty plastic. Secure compost piles and recycling bins. Remove animal waste: rats will eat it!

Carefully inspect the outside of the house and seal any hole bigger than a quarter; bigger than a dime if you want to keep mice out, too. Use steel wool, copper mesh, wire screen or sheet metal to keep those pesky rats from chewing through it.

The Big Three No-No’s

Three things to remember: 1) Avoid giving rats a place to hide; 2) Don’t give rats a home; 3) Don’t give rats a food source.

To know if you have a rat problem there are several things you can look for. Look for them to be most active at dawn or dusk. Look for nests in drawers or boxes in the garage or shed. Look for rat droppings — 40 to 50  pellets a day. Look for burrows about three inches in diameter with compacted and smooth entrances that are close to the building, under slabs or along foundations. Look for gnawing damage around openings. Look for rub marks caused by their fur rubbing along walls. Lastly, scrambling or squeaking noises and a musty smell are dead giveaways that you have rats.

If you think you have a rat problem, you may want to call an exterminator. If you want to try to deal with the emergency yourself, snap traps are recommended. Use ones that are like a standard mouse traps but bigger. Poison is not usually recommended because of the risks to children, pets and other wild animals. There are also environmental concerns with poison.

If you want more information on how to use the traps effectively, the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management has lengthy rat information at http://icwdm.org/wildlife/NorwayRat.aspx.

Red Rocks Program Strengthens Community Nonprofits

By Sally Griffin

Nonprofit organizations provide so much to our communities. However, according to Forbes, over half of them are destined for failure. This is because most of them are started as a good cause, but with no idea of the key issues and challenges facing them.

Luckily, we have a program right here in our community that is designed to provide training to address these challenges. Red Rock Community College has launched Nonprofit Pathway, a certificate program for people who wish to launch or advance their career in the nonprofit sector.

“To have a program like this where people don’t just stumble their way into the sector, but instead think about it as a career, is exciting,” says Marla J. Williams, President and CEO of Community First Foundation, which partnered with Red Rocks to develop the program. “The Nonprofit Pathway is a unique program designed to help diversify and strengthen the nonprofit workforce by defining affordable career paths where few currently exist.”

The courses are designed to provide direct, hands-on participation in the community. It is a 16-credit certificate that can be completed in just one year. Participants focus on one course at a time. Courses are offered in the evenings to accommodate busy schedules. Each course is offered over an eight-week session and combines classroom and online learning. A 135-hour internship or capstone project offers students the opportunity to put their learning into practice.

Credits earned in this certificate can stand alone or can be transferred to meet major requirements towards a Bachelor of Public Services at the University of Colorado-Denver or a Bachelor of Human Services at Metro State University of Denver.

Classes include Intro to Nonprofit Organizations, Program Design and Evaluation, Building Support for Nonprofits, Nonprofit Financial Management, Conflict Resolution, and Internship or Capstone, providing hands-on field experience.

The program costs approximately $3,000, and students can complete the entire certificate or just take the courses they need. Scholarships are available specifically for those currently working in a nonprofit organization and interested in this program. These scholarships cover about half of tuition and fees for the total certificate.

Students are affiliated with a diverse group of organizations, including the Wheat Ridge-based Family Tree. A sample of other organizations include Foothills Animal Shelter, Christian Action Guild, Community Faith in Action, Denver Brass, Denver Indian Center, Environmental Learning for Kids, Evergreen Audubon, Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Animal-Assisted Therapy of Colorado, BIONIC History Colorado, Colorado Railroad Museum, Florence Crittendon Services, and 40W Arts.

The program is designed so students can practice what they have learned immediately by working with local nonprofit organizations. Colorado Homeless Families (CHF) partnered with the Building Financial Support course to address some needs around fundraising. This also provided students with a community-based learning experience. After learning about the organization, students went to work researching various databases of potential funding sources that would fit the organization’s criteria. They also updated the organization’s case statement or funding appeal.

Vicky Reier, CHF Board Vice-President, noted that working with the students provided an opportunity to reflect on the clarity of the organization’s current messaging around homelessness. This was a very valuable exercise for both the students and CHF.

Executive Director, Karen Allen, said, “I was really impressed with the students’ engagement and the incredible quality of instruction.”

This program is designed for current nonprofit employees, those just starting their careers and drawn to the nonprofit area, or those seeking to change careers, particularly after completing successful careers in other areas. This program can help translate skill sets learned elsewhere. Career changers can learn about what nonprofit organizations do, about how their skills can help nonprofits, and how to effectively serve on nonprofit boards. Having an active and well-informed board is vitally important to the success of any nonprofit. In the future, the program may offer more training focused on this board development.

As you can see, this program has great potential for making the community nonprofits that you support into stronger and more resilient organizations. Having the skills and knowledge in nonprofit operations, alongside talent and discipline-specific expertise, is necessary to keep nonprofit organizations from failing. This program will continue to evolve as more needs become evident. In the meantime, the following quotes show how well the program is working for current students:

“Being around students who are currently working in the non-profit sector has been encouraging and inspiring.”

“I feel as though I have learned so much from these classes. When I bring up ideas that were discussed in class, most coworkers haven’t heard of them.”

“The Intro to Nonprofit Organizations course has really helped me to gain a broader understanding of the nonprofit world, the role of a board, how to read a budget, and it also pushed me to complete a project that has already benefited my career!”

“I have already been able to motivate my board of directors to be more engaged with one another.”

If you are interested in knowing more about the nonprofit arena, or are looking for a career change that will lead you to a role in nonprofit leadership, you can go to www.rrcc.edu/nonprofit. You can also learn about the scholarships that are available for this program. The scholarships build capacity in middle-to-small size nonprofits by supporting professional development.

Tariana Navas-Nieves, Director of Cultural Affairs of Denver Arts and Venues, says “This program supports the development of leaders in the nonprofit sector, in particular, those that are engaging our community through arts, culture, and science.”

Behind The Scenes As Civic Center Nears Completion

By Mike McKibbin

Drills punched holes in walls, sanders smoothed steps and workers scurried hurriedly from room to room and floor to floor as Edgewater’s new civic center neared completion on a recent sunny Monday afternoon.

City Manager H.J. Stalf happily looked around in anticipation of the local government’s new home, a 55,000-square-foot building at 1800 Harlan St.

In November 2016, more than 80 percent of Edgewater voters approved building the civic center in Walker Branch Park, on the east side of Harlan Street between 16th and 18th avenues. Voters approved two questions: The first allowed the use of the parkland and the second increased city debt by $7 million.

The total cost will be around $12.5 million, Stalf said, and will be paid for through a 25-year lease-purchase agreement known as certificates of participation, or COPS, and marijuana tax revenue. The latter funding source is limited to capital purchases, Stalf added, so all the furniture and equipment was purchased with that money.

“We spent a little extra, but we didn’t want to cut any corners,” he said and noted the building will likely be used for at least 50 years. “We’re a land-locked city, so we wanted to build so we can expand. And we had the money to do it.”

Edgewater has about 5,300 residents just west of Sloan’s Lake and is surrounded by Denver, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge.

Stalf said construction work was to be finished by Friday, Nov. 9, and the nearly 30 affected city employees — all but public works — were scheduled to start to move into their new offices Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 12 through 13. Stalf planned to open the doors of the civic center to the public the Monday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26.

The building includes a 5,000-square-foot fitness center, 10,000-square-foot gymnasium, 10,000-square-foot library, 6,000-square-foot police department, plus 6,000 square feet for administrative offices, 5,000 square feet of basement space, 3,000 square feet of public meeting, entry and atrium space, and 3,000 square feet of unfinished space for future use.

Through competitive bid processes, the city hired D2C Architects|NV5 as the architects/owners representatives and Alliance Construction Solutions as the design-builder. Stalf said around 80 workers built the facility in over a year.

Police Chief John Mackey said his department’s move into larger, updated space will help it become accredited.

“That covers everything we do and requires we meet best management practices,” he said.

Due to the lack of space and amenities in their current location, Mackey said two separate assessments found the department “lacking” in meeting current standards. He added while it is difficult to estimate cost savings from accreditation, “it’s a definite plus” to have that status.

Stalf noted the department will also be the only one in the county with a fenced-in headquarters.

Mayor Laura Keegan called the new building a long-time need. She recalled her involvement in an effort to establish a recreation center in Edgewater around 20 years ago.

“It’s been an uphill battle and finding space for something like this is so tough,” she said.

City council and staff studied the project for five years.

“There’s always a lot of naysayers whenever a big project like this is proposed,” Keegan added. “But we kept the process very public with open houses and holding the election. We told the voters exactly what we planned and that helped expel a lot of fears.”

Library grows 10-fold, expands hours

The current 1,500-square-foot library will have nearly 10 times more room and compares to the Golden branch at 13,000 square feet and the Wheat Ridge branch at 4,500 square feet. Jefferson County Public Library Executive Director Donna Walker said the district paid about $2.6 million to furnish the new library, thanks to a 2015 voter-approved mill levy increase.

“That was passed to allow us the flexibility to expand when the opportunity came up,” Walker said. “We can barely fit people and books in our current location, so this has been a much, much-needed improvement.”

Visitors to the new library will find community spaces, more books and materials (from 9,369 to 26,500 items), enhanced technology, a quiet reading room with a fireplace and a designated family place.

Hours of operation will expand from 48 to 65 per week, seven days a week, and Walker said they have hired a few additional staff members.

“I think this is a great example of being able to do more together,” she added. “Taxpayers and residents want to see good use of their tax dollars and this is a way to meet those expectations for both the city and the library.”

The library foundation and library district are offering naming rights for the new library. Individuals, families, organizations, foundations and corporations can pay between $5,000 to $50,000 to name major areas and service offerings. Name recognition from $1,000 to $5,000 helps provide updated technology and other library amenities. Individual donations of $100 or more will be listed on a donor wall in the library.

The new building will make the current police department and library at 25th Avenue and Gray Street and city hall at Sheridan Boulevard and 24th Avenue available for commercial uses.

“All the current buildings were transitioned from other uses and they’re just tired, old buildings,” Stalf said. “We think the new site is much better, it’s only a block from public works and we want to help really activate the use of the park with events and concerts and gatherings. It was terribly underutilized and we think this can get the park used most of the year.”

Along those lines, the city was close to an agreement to purchase two parcels of land adjacent to the park at 1730 and 1790 Harlan St., known as the Toteve property, to help replace the land lost to the civic center, Stalf added. The parcels total one acre and Edgewater hopes to work with Lakewood to develop a joint-use park, he said.

The official grand opening event will be Sunday, Nov. 18, from 2 to 6 p.m. A group walk/bike from the current city hall to the new center is scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m., with ribbon cutting between 2 and 3:30 p.m. From 4 to 6 p.m., a family-friendly movie is to be screened in the gymnasium.

Pre-opening tours of the new building are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, but only for those who pre-register online at playedgewaterco.com. For more information, call 720-763-3012.

Brewery Takes Joyride To The Next Level

By Ken Lutes

Patrons of Edgewater’s Joyride Brewing will have prime viewing of Sloan’s Lake and Downtown Denver from the rooftop deck nearing completion at 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard.

“The deck will comprise about 2,300 square feet, including bathrooms,” said Grant Babb, Joyride’s business developer, who co-owns the brewery with brewmaster Dave Bergen. Babb and Bergen expect the rooftop to be open to the public by the end of the year, depending on the weather.

“We’re proud to be Edgewater’s first, oldest and favorite brewery,” Bergen said. The rooftop patio will be another first for Edgewater on Sheridan Boulevard. “Denver has such a great rooftop culture. People want to be outside. I don’t think you move to Colorado to spend time indoors.”

Hanging radiant heaters and a gas fire pit will take off the chill during winter months; misting units will operate in the summer, under a pergola that eventually may sport a retractable canvas top for sun protection.

“We’ll have 12 taps for beer, same as downstairs, and we plan to plumb in some lines for kombucha as well,” said Babb. “With the deck, we can more than double the capacity of people we now serve,” Bergen added. More than 100 seats will fill the space, and there will be plenty of standing room.

The deck is not actually built on top of the roof. Because of the lake and the ground water beneath this part of Edgewater, the rooftop is anchored with steel bracing into bedrock 20 feet under the building.

“We ended up putting beams throughout the whole building, then placing a substructure on top of those beams,” Babb said. “Once that structural component was under control, everything else was classic building technique.”

“Our most popular social media posts are when we do construction updates,” Bergen said. “People have been waiting for this [deck] for four years.”

As a manufacturing facility with a tasting room, Joyride’s license does not include food preparation and will continue its practice of bringing in food trucks.

“We really don’t have a desire to do food – it’s a completely different bear,” Bergen said. “We’ll concentrate on doing what we do really well, which is making beer, and we’ll let the food trucks do what they do really well. It’s a great relationship.”

As a board member of the Colorado Brewer’s Guild, Bergen claims the industry is changing a lot right now.

“The consumer wants to go hyper-local. People want to have the experience of going out to a place, being social, and drinking a beer directly where it was manufactured.”

The owners are confident this venture will be a success. The tap room model leads the majority of growth in Joyride’s industry right now, according to Bergen, with a majority of sales occurring right in Joyride’s tap room, rather than the distribution model of bottling and canning by major beer manufacturers, such as Coors and Budweiser.

Bergen said that major brewers can spend their profits on Super Bowl commercials, “but we’ll invest our money where we think it makes more sense, which is to make better beer, and to provide a world-class experience on a rooftop in beautiful Edgewater, Colorado.

Contact Ken Lutes at ken.ngazette@gmail.com.

A Gold Crown Clubhouse For Edgewater Kids

By Ken Lutes

We believe in the power of one.”

That’s the motto of the new Gold Crown Clubhouse in the heart of Edgewater, where individuals aged 10 to 18 can go to be creative and learn or improve technology skills. “We’re a completely free afterschool drop-in program for kids,” said Michael Nimmo, one of the Clubhouse facilitators.

Each day, approximately 25 to 30 kids can be found in the Clubhouse, exploring or nurturing skills developed on the STEAM model of education, which uses science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics as access points for students to discover their ability to create and think critically. Clubhouse membership stands at about 200.

Edgewater’s Gold Crown Clubhouse opened in January, after two years of renovations to the one-time community church at 2501 Chase St.

“We couldn’t be happier with the location, because our program depends on kids getting to it on their own,” said Fran Baker, Gold Crown Enrichment’s director since 2003.

“The kids are here because they want to be here. Anyone aged 10 to 18 is welcome. This location in the middle of the neighborhood is wonderful.”

Gold Crown Enrichment (the Clubhouse) is a division of the Gold Crown Foundation, which has had a long-standing relationship with Jefferson County Schools, including Jefferson High School and Edgewater and Lumberg elementary schools.

A tour through the clubhouse boasts seven main learning centers where members can explore and employ their abilities in digital arts, graphic design, painting and illustration, fashion and screen printing, engineering and robotics, film and photography, and a recording studio.

It may sound like a lot for newcomers to take in, but Nimmo says there’s no pressure put on kids to get involved with anything right away.

“In fact,” he says, “we have three phases: hanging out, for kids new to the programs who might only want to come to the lounge to talk to their friends; checking out, where they see the opportunities available; and geeking out, when they’ve found their niche, and we can help them build a portfolio that will help them in moving up to higher education.”

While the clubhouse focus is on high-tech tools, “analog” opportunities abound for creating other projects such as utilizing a manual silk-screen printing process.

“We’ve had multiple kids start their own clothing line,” said Nimmo. “The kids create their own designs and learn to ‘burn’ them into an emulsified silk screen and print them onto clothing.”

In the course of this manual process, the designs may be created or enhanced using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and other digital tools. “The Clubhouse is also a psychologically safe place for kids to come to,” said Nimmo, “where kids can talk about their personal problems. Recently, we had a student, a junior in high school – an amazing artist – who came in September for the first time; we’ve built a relationship of trust and now he’s come out of his shell and says he wants to become an illustrator, and we’re helping him to build a portfolio of his work.”

Another success story is that of Celine, a young lady who came in on a tour from Jefferson High.

“She realized there are kids here just like her here, who feel they aren’t in the mainstream,” Baker said. Celine was helped to advance from an illustrator to a graphic designer and wound up not only winning the poster contest for this summer’s Edgewater Summer Events but also a laptop.

“We chose her to go to Boston for the Teen Summit, along with two members from our Lakewood site. They got to stay five days on Boston University campus and be with kids from other parts of the world.”

“Celine is a prime example of that model of a kid who came to hang out and eventually starting geeking out,” added Nimmo. “When she got here, she was quiet and reserved, but she gained her confidence and blossomed into a natural leader for some of the other members.”

It’s a must for facilitators to have fairly deep experience in all the learning areas at the Clubhouse. Nimmo attended the Art Institute of Colorado and then taught art and painting for seven years in Florida; he’s worked for Nintendo and comic book companies; and for a YouTube channel with two million subscribers; and he’s in charge of IT for the facility. Along the way, he accrued the skills and talents that serve the young Clubhouse members. He’s even been a stand-up comedian.

“When we go through the hiring process,” Baker said, “we look for people who are curious learners themselves and can help level the playing field for many of the kids that we serve, by giving them skills to change their lives.

“Our mission is to teach technology, and through that to teach kids the skills that help them become self-sufficient; to help them either to get into college, or, now more than ever, into careers or certifications.”

Gold Crown Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation based in Lakewood, founded in 1986 by former Denver Nugget Bill Hanzlik and Colorado business leader Ray Baker. In 2003, Gold Crown Enrichment joined the Clubhouse Network, founded by The Museum of Science, Boston, Mass., in collaboration with the MIT Media Laboratory.

Kids can drop in at the facility Monday through Friday, 3 to 7 p.m.; from 1 to 6 p.m. during summer months. For more information, call 720-536-8864, visit goldcrownfoundation.com, or check out their YouTube channel: bit.ly/2DjsFwe.

Contact Ken Lutes at ken.ngazette@gmail.com.

Builders Top Off Lakehouse Residences Off Sloan’s Lake

The 12-story Lakehouse development was officially topped off on Nov. 8, as crews poured the 13th level to conclude construction of the concrete structure, according to NAVA Real Estate Development, the developer. The general contractor is G.H. Phipps.

Located near the south shore of Sloan’s Lake on the corner of 17th Avenue and Raleigh Street, the new mixed-use community offers 196 condominium and rowhome residences. Condominiums range in size from approximately 704 to 3,357 square feet, with one-, two- and three-bedroom options. Current prices range from the low $500,000s to $3.3 million. The two- and three-bedroom rowhomes range in size from 1,578 square feet to 2,230 square feet and are priced from $880,000 to $1,125,000.

Since breaking ground in May of 2017, the site’s two red cranes have become a beacon in the Denver skyline. The smaller of the cranes was taken down in early October and the second will be removed later this year. To date, the project has placed over 26,000 cubic yards of concrete and 350 tons of reinforcements. With completion scheduled for next year, the development team is working diligently to finish programming the exterior and interior spaces and expects to have a mock-up unit ready for hard-hat viewing soon.

“We commend and congratulate G.H. Phipps and their subcontractors for keeping the project on track,” says Don Larsen, Vice President with NAVA. “The team successfully managed a complex design paired with challenging site conditions that included ground water, ground water treatment, a sloped site and multiple building floor elevations to ensure that pour dates were met. NAVA is truly grateful for their dedication to the project.”

“We are now at the point where we are selecting furniture for the common areas, equipment for the fitness lab and even permanent signage and artwork,” states Brian Levitt, who along with his business partner and fellow Denver resident, Trevor Hines, founded NAVA to develop architecturally significant communities in prime locations that are sensitive to the environment and building occupants. “We’ve partnered with a talented team of experts to help us bring Lakehouse to life and fulfill our promise for a community that is both healthy and beautiful.”

As one of just a few high-rise for-sale residential buildings under construction in Denver, Lakehouse is further differentiated by its unique pursuit of WELL Building Certification. The internationally recognized performance-based system is the first to focus solely on promoting human health and wellness in the built environment. The WELL Building Standard is based around seven key elements of wellness - air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Lakehouse is the first residential project in Colorado to pilot and pursue WELL and has been designed specifically to support these elements. Healthy features include open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light, improved air quality through a MERV-13 air filtration system, an onsite Urban Farm to encourage healthy eating and even a Creative Workshop to inspire the arts.

Lakehouse is located on the former site of the St. Anthony Hospital in the LEED-certified SLOANS district. The residences are being listed exclusively by Dee Chirafisi, Kevin Garrett and Matt McNeill of Kentwood City Properties.

The Sales Center at 17th Avenue and Raleigh Street is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as by appointment. It will move down the street to 1565 Raleigh St., #W108 after the first of the year to make way for construction.

The development’s website complains a complete list of finishes and amenities, as well as floor plans, renderings and 360° Virtual Reality Tours

For more information, visit the Lakehouse website at www.Lakehouse17.com.