The Home Front: About Denver’s rapid growth, area man tells paper he ‘wants the old Colorado back’

“Jack Keener is a Denver native who feels like he’s being robbed of his city, and he’s not alone,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “The 51-year-old McDonald’s manager walked out of the public library in Lincoln Park, lit a cigarette and made his way past a new apartment complex being built just across the parking lot. The new construction cuts the view of downtown Denver. Cranes slice into Colorado’s iconic blue sky as construction workers in yellow vests craft yet another multilevel contemporary building with straight lines and efficient use of space. ‘This makes no sense,’ Keener said, waving a hand at the work site. ‘My housing costs have already increased, and I don’t make squat. The prices just keep going up, they keep raising the costs on everything and nobody can afford to live.’ Keener wants the old Colorado back, the one where he was born and raised. ‘Now I’m poor because of this,’ he said. ‘I’m living in the ghetto. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the ghetto, but you don’t want to live there like me and my boy. We have to live where there’s gangbangers, it’s totally out of control.'”

“Two groups that support or oppose legalized recreational marijuana are looking at the same report and seeing something that supports their views,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The latest edition of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that teen use of marijuana in Colorado for ages 12-17 is down substantially. But that same report also shows a slight increase in pot use for those ages 18-25. Colorado attorney Brian Vicente, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol that got Amendment 64 passed in 2012, said the report is good news because it shows the rate of use among those aged 12-17 is lower than it was before legalization. “These survey results should come as welcome news to anyone who worried teen marijuana use would increase following legalization,” Vicente said. “As a proponent of Amendment 64 and a parent of two young children, they certainly came as welcome news to me.” The report shows that marijuana use for those aged 12-17 dropped to 9.08 percent in 2015-16, down from 11.13 percent in 2014-15. In 2011-12, the year before the measure passed, the rate was 10.47 percent, Vicente said. But the group Smart Colorado, a nonprofit that started after the amendment was passed, and whose mission is to protect youth from marijuana use, pointed to a 0.45 percent increase in pot use for those 18-25, saying those are still formative years for young people.”

“Bill Fales is a self-described ‘sucker for experiments,’ reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “The soft spoken, unassuming 64-year-old grows alfalfa on his 600-acre ranch just south of Carbondale. For 45 years, Fales has irrigated the fields of Cold Mountain Ranch with water from the Crystal River, which flows 35 miles from its headwaters in the Elk Mountains to the Roaring Fork River. In spring 2016, the Colorado Water Trust, a Denver-based nonprofit devoted to improving river health, announced a new water conservation initiative to ranchers in the Crystal River Valley. Fales was eager to jump on board. It sounded simple enough: The water trust would compensate any ranchers willing to leave some of their irrigation water in the Crystal River to boost flows during dry times. In 2013, Colorado had passed a law protecting water rights registered in conservation programs, and Fales assumed his interest would be met with approval. Instead, the rancher found himself embroiled in a bewildering disagreement with Pitkin County officials who insisted that Fales’ willingness to forgo some of his water when the river needed a boost would put his water rights at risk.”

“The Steamboat Springs City Council has some unfinished business to attend to in 2018. Some of the decisions they’ll weigh are nearly two years in the making, while others, such as whether to continue several new off-leash dog trails, are more recent additions to the city agenda,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “From potential budget cuts to new downtown development, here’s a look at some of the stories to keep an eye out for in 2018.”

“Jeremy McEachern had a gut feeling he and Catelyn Phillips were going to have a baby girl,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Turns out, the new father’s gut feeling was right. Sydney Janine McEachern was born at 4:22 a.m. Monday at North Colorado Medical Center to the Greeley couple, making her the first baby born in Greeley in 2018. She weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces and measured in at 21 inches long.”

“Abriella Lynn Wagner was born Jan. 1 at about 7 a.m. to Samantha Christensen and Cole Wagner, making her the first baby born in Loveland in 2018,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The baby was 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 20 inches. Christensen gave birth after 27 hours of labor that ended in delivery via emergency Cesarean section. She said she is proud to be a new mother.”

“After passing a town ordinance to help rein in short-term rentals earlier this year, Breckenridge elected officials are applauding the results of a new survey showing almost every short-term rental property is complying with town rules and remitting the proper taxes,” reports Summit Daily.

“After a year that saw an unusually high number of homicide deaths, the Boulder County District Attorney’s and public defender’s offices are bracing for a busy year in court,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “There are currently five homicide trials scheduled to take place in 2018, which Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said is the most he has seen in his time as the DA.”

“We spend a lot of time talking about workforce housing in Eagle County,” reports Vail Daily. “We talk about the sobering numbers in the county’s housing report, which show the need for 4,466 housing units now and 11,960 units by 2025. We see social media postings from desperate would-be renters who can’t find an affordable place to live. We hear horror stories from people who have be victimized by unscrupulous landlords.”

“Most people can probably conjure up an image of a national park. Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome is a standard computer screen background,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “The Grand Canyon or Longs Peak are fixtures on office walls. It’s likely harder to imagine what those places sound like. In a basement at Colorado State University, students fight to preserve the natural soundscapes of America’s most protected places. The CSU Listening Lab analyzes recordings from U.S. national parks. It’s all part of an effort to combat man-made noise pollution.”

“After the blizzard of 1984 knocked out power throughout town, the Dunn family still had to go to work,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “‘Being a grocery store, you’ve got to be open,” said Suzi Dieter, one of the owners of Hilltop Market. ‘So, my brother and I had to go out to the meat tubs and get snow out of the parking lot to put in, you know, along the milk and eggs, and put a little here and there around the produce and the packaged meat.'”

“Boulder is developing a strategy for managing its urban forest as it faces 2018, and as has been the case for several years, managing the ongoing infestation of emerald ash borer will continue to be a key component of its plan,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Boulder City Council members were briefed on the state of what is known as urban canopy at a meeting in late October. In coming months, the public will have a chance to weigh in at an open house with their views on the subject. Within Boulder city limits, trees cover about 16 percent of the land. Of the areas that are under the urban canopy, only about 25 percent is on public turf — which includes property owned by the city, Boulder Valley School District, the University of Colorado and federal labs. The other 75 percent of the trees grow on private property.”

“Wyoming authorities warned Lone Tree police about bizarre implied threats more than six weeks before a gunman killed a Douglas County deputy and wounded four law enforcement officers, officials say,” reports The Denver Post. “University of Wyoming detectives called Lone Tree police and warned that Iraq war veteran Matthew Edward Riehl, 37, had made veiled threats against professors of the UW law school, where he earned a law degree, and that his vulgar, nonsensical rantings were indicative of a mental illness, said Chief Mike Samp of the University of Wyoming Police Department. The warning to Lone Tree was made in mid-November, more than six weeks before Riehl shot and killed Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish. Samp said it’s possible that Colorado authorities faced the same conundrum Wyoming officials do when an apparently mentally ill and dangerous person makes veiled but not direct, imminent threats.”

“Proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would threaten on-going environmental protection efforts in Denver — particularly Superfund site cleanup and maintenance — two Denver city councilwomen say,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “The two council members, Robin Kniech and Debbie Ortega, penned a post last week on the city’s website detailing their concerns about the cuts to the EPA’s 2018 budget and the critical work the agency does in the city.”

“It’s nearly midday at Suntastic Fresh produce in Frederick, and an assembly line full of workers are busy sorting through fresh tomatoes,” reports Denverite. “Virtually everything that makes it this far down the conveyor belt is ready to eat, but 10 percent of it, as much as 12,000 pounds of product every day, could very well be thrown out. And that’s just for this one facility. Produce can be ugly. Yellow peppers can look a little too green, tomatoes can have slight bruising, squash might be a little too big or a little too small. While beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, commercial grocery stores have objective specifications all their products must meet. Those pounds of produce that Suntastic removes from its assembly line just aren’t pretty enough. “Throwing food away every single day is sad,” says operations manager Nolan Smith. “There’s a lot of hungry people out there.” But Smith won’t be sad today. He put a call out to We Don’t Waste, a Denver-area nonprofit that will help clear out his rejects. When Tim Sanford and Dana Van Daele show up with the truck, there are three pallets of vegetables waiting for them. All of it will be transported to metro area food pantries and homeless shelters within a matter of hours. That, in turn, helps another Denver problem: food insecurity.”

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.

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