The Home Front: Sheriffs’ office shakeup in Denver

“A reorganization in the top ranks of the Denver Sheriff Department has stripped the sheriff of his budget staff and elevated a former sheriff who had fallen from grace after a colleague secretly recorded him criticizing his bosses,” reports The Denver Post. “Under the new organization, effective Jan. 1, Sheriff Patrick Firman’s budget staff will report to a deputy director in the city’s safety department. Firman’s chief of staff, an appointee from the mayor’s office, will gain more oversight, including beefing up the department’s public relations efforts. Firman said the changes are part of the department’s ongoing efforts to improve the culture and are no more unusual than any business making leadership decisions. The department is preparing itself to move from reform mode to one of “continuous improvement,” he said.”

“While each season is different, a low-snow Groundhog’s Day is playing out in the mountains as we enter yet another December with little snowfall,” reports Summit Daily. “Only eight lifts are open at Breckenridge, and conditions aren’t much better at other resorts. Snow is the fuel for Summit’s economy. No powder means less terrain open for winter play, which means slower business and fewer hours for the thousands of seasonal workers who make Summit home during the winter. Lift operators, servers, and hospitality workers are among the many workers feeling the crunch of high rents and little pay. Basic necessities like food become luxuries. These temporary residents, many whom come with expectations of 40-hour weeks to cover the bills, slide further into dire straits with each passing powder-less day. Fortunately, Summit’s non-profits and charitable organizations are once again stepping up to offer a helping hand.”

“Alcoholism and a bad breakup derailed Jose Erevia’s life,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “He wants to get better, but for now he has to survive. He’s been homeless in Greeley for about a year, and he usually sleeps under a plastic tarp outside. He spends the days trying to stay warm. He’ll go to Catholic churches to pray, keep warm and charge his phone. Sometimes he goes to the library, too. When the temperature drops at night, as it did Thursday to 11 degrees, Erevia finds some relief at the cold weather shelter run by Catholic Charities and the United Way of Weld County. “If I didn’t have this place here, I don’t know where I’d go,” Erevia said while sitting in the shelter. For now, the shelter is stationed at the old Mazda dealership, 870 28th St. But they’re only allowed to use it until Jan. 1.”

“Area residents gathered Sunday evening at the McKee Conference & Wellness Center in Loveland for the Worldwide Candle Lighting Vigil,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The event was hosted by the McKee Medical Center Foundation, 3Hopeful Hearts, and Pathways Hospice, and was held on National Children’s Memorial Day, which exists to acknowledge the grief of families who have lost children and to pay tribute to the children’s memories. Above, Pat M. Young adds a flower to the Angel for Lost Children statue for his son, Pat M. Young II. At right, Josaphine Hood, 5, is illuminated during the Worldwide Candle Lighting Vigil.”

“Some in law enforcement have called it a game-changer: one state-of-the-art portable device that could be used in investigations of bomb blasts and violent crime scenes, and maybe even in space explorations,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “As a doctoral student in physics at the University of Leicester in England, Alex Smyth noticed there wasn’t a lot of scientific research on post-blast fingerprints, so he decided to investigate. The result: a device he created, called FINDER, that he’s working to get patented and make available worldwide. One of the test sites he chose for the device was in Larimer County. The device is intended to be used to track blood, other bodily fluids, fingerprints and explosive residues found after explosions. It is also being tested for other uses, such as identifying biological material on other planets.”

“During a recent visit to our nation’s capital, I met many friendly, hard-working Americans, walked for miles to take in the history and then a bald eagle made a prickly landing on my arm,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The last time I really got to take in the sites in Washington, D.C. was as a seventh grader. I remembered some parts of that first trip, like flying into Reagan National Airport and lightning striking the plane’s wing. My primary goal for this trip was to visit the capital during a period of heightened social and political unrest and to see an important institution that might disappear.”

“Longmont’s City Council on Tuesday night is to consider the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board’s recommendations for awarding a total of $630,837 to 28 human services agencies in 2018,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The city funds would be distributed to agencies whose programs assist low- to moderate-income Longmont residents in meeting individuals’ or families’ basic physical, social, economic, or emotional-well-being needs.”

“Habitat for Humanity is poised to build a 19-unit project in north Boulder, its largest housing development ever in the city, following a unanimous approval from the Planning Board,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The build site is about an acre in size and sits at 2180 Violet Ave., on a slice of unincorporated county land. In addition to approving the construction plan, the Planning Board also gave approval to a proposal to annex the parcel into the city. The annexation needs a final OK from the City Council, which is expected to review the matter early next year. Assuming the council grants final approval, Habitat is planning a $3.6 million build that will bring a mix of spaces, with a majority of three-bedroom units aimed at families and some one-bedroom units meant for seniors who wish to age in Boulder but may be lacking affordable options to do so.”

“Sexual harassment is one of those terms can be tough to define, but we think we know it when we see it,” reports Vail Daily. “Television legend Katie Couric smiled at the talk show host with whom she was chatting and said her least favorite part about the 15 years she worked with Matt Lauer was him “pinching her on the a– a lot.” Yeah, that meets almost all Americans’ standards for sexual harassment. The Barna Group, a faith-based research firm, conducted a nationwide survey of Americans to find out what we mean when we call something sexual harassment.”

“La Plata County may have to find a contractor to conduct health inspections on marijuana facilities. When marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2014, San Juan Basin Public Health took the lead in performing annual health inspections at those facilities, Assistant La Plata County Attorney Kathleen Lyons said Wednesday,” reports The Durango Herald. “However, about a year-and-a-half ago, Lyons said San Juan Basin Public Health became concerned about its ability and authority to conduct those inspections, and ceased doing so. Lyons and the health department is not currently interested in entering an intergovernmental agreement to carry out those inspections, leaving the county with two options: find a contractor or do away with health inspections.”

“The Cañon City Council will conduct a special meeting to discuss a potential economic development assistance agreement with Sun Cañon/Four Mile Ranch,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Mayor Preston Troutman called the special meeting that will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday at John D. Havens City Hall, located at 128 Main St. In a memo sent to the mayor and council, City Administrator Tony O’Rourke states that officials representing the city, county, fire district and school district met with Kevin Quinn, the sole owner of a proposed 2,200-residential unit planned development district on Dec. 6 to discuss Sun Cañon/Four Mile development’s financial status.”

“Carl Wilber Newcomb and his wife spent many days taking long drives, exploring Colorado in an attempt to help her dementia,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “After she died, Carl, 78, continued the habit as a way to keep her memory alive. “He’d say, ‘I’m going out for a drive with your mom,'” said his son, Roy Newcomb. His most recent drive may have gone awry, though. Carl, who has been living in the basement of Roy’s home in the 8500 block of Champie Road outside of Falcon for the past three years, was last seen by family on Nov. 14, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has few leads on where he may be.”

“Maybe the Colorado Democrats should rename the party’s big annual fundraising dinner after Donald Trump, since their enmity toward the Republican president could be the only thing that unites them,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “Or, if the party is looking to past presidents who didn’t own slaves and are unsullied by sex scandals, how about honoring Grover Cleveland and Harry Truman instead of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, as one local pundit suggests? Colorado Public Television’s public affairs discussion show Colorado Inside Out opened Friday with a brief spin around the table to weigh in on a conundrum Colorado Politics first reported last week. After ditching the name of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner a couple of years ago and settling for the Annual Dinner, state Democrats have been seeking suggestions for a less generic name. The Inside Out panelists had some thoughts.”

“Forest City, the master developer of the Stapleton community, recently made a change, quietly and without fanfare. The company took down the word ‘Stapleton’ from the signage around the shopping center at East 29th Avenue and Quebec Street,” reports Deverite. “Now it’s just E. 29th Avenue Town Center. In an interview, Forest City Stapleton Vice President Tom Gleason downplayed the significance of the change and cast it as part of a natural evolution. “As the town center became more established, we felt it didn’t need the name,” he said. For some people, Stapleton has never been just a name, but any movement to formally change the name of the community that’s been built on the site of Denver’s old municipal airport — an airport that was named after the mayor who helped develop it, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and installed Klan members throughout city government — has proceeded in fits and starts.”

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.