The Home Front: In Colorado, woman jailed for charging a phone. Critics say police ‘penalize the homeless’

“Gaya Jenkins missed her bus. She was headed to Denver, to receive treatment for cancer, but now she would have to catch a later ride,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “While she waited, she decided to charge her phone through one of the outlets in front of the old courthouse on the Pearl Street Mall. It was a decision that would, nearly a year later, land her in jail. Jenkins was one of nine people in the past two years to receive a ticket from the Boulder Police Department for using city outlets to charge their phones or other devices. The charge: theft of a public utility. Cops say those tickets are rare, and officers issue them only if offenders don’t heed warnings. Critics allege police were twisting city and state laws in order to penalize the homeless. ‘Charging a phone represents a fraction of a penny in electricity use,’ said Darren O’Connor, of Boulder Rights Watch. ‘To call that stealing is a stretch.'”

“The same political consulting company hired by Sen. Ray Scott to help with his re-election campaign also was hired by a political action committee to produce negative flyers and robocalls attacking Scott’s challenger, Rep. Dan Thurlow,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “But whether that constitutes coordination between a candidate and a third-party group, which is against the law, is unclear.”

“The local organization that led the effort for Longmont voters’ 2012 passage of a fracking ban has announced that it is closing down,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont’s steering committee members said in a Wednesday post on Longmont ROAR’s Facebook page that they’d decided “that it is time to celebrate our accomplishments and pass the mantle on to the many others that have valiantly picked up the cause to ban dangerous and destructive fracking from our communities.” Steering committee member Karen Dike said Thursday that ‘we’ll continue working’ on trying to protect the community from the impacts of oil and gas exploration and production, “if we need to.'”

“The city of Steamboat Springs announced Thursday it was canceling Fourth of July fireworks due to dry conditions,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Instead, there will be a laser show at the base of Howelsen Hill the evening of July 4. City leaders decided to cancel the fireworks for the safety of participants and volunteers, as well as the potential wildfire threat.”

“Glenwood Springs will, once again, witness bridge history on Friday,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “The brand new Grand Avenue Bridge — gateway to a city known for its defiant, roaring history a la Doc Holliday to the more serene hot springs — will officially be dedicated with a special ceremony. The event marks the official completion next week of the two-and-a-half-year-long, $126 million bridge project.”

“You may see them in the Pueblo skies soon, or maybe you already have. With training completed, the Pueblo Police Department has actively started deploying two drones in the field that it purchased earlier this year,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “By the start of June, seven of the police department’s officers had obtained their licenses to be able to operate the drones, which are going to be used for a number of purposes including helping in locating missing people, apprehending suspects that run from police and scanning big buildings when there is a burglary alarm going off, among other functions.”

“The Loveland City Council will discuss the adequacy of sidewalks along North Wilson Avenue at a future council study session in response to the death this month of a local 13-year-old,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Gavin, a seventh-grader at Lucile Erwin Middle School in Loveland, was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver June 8 as he walked along the sidewalk in the 4000 block of North Wilson Avenue. The council decided to discuss the lack of a complete sidewalk in the area of the crash via a rule of four, meaning a vote in favor of discussion from at least four councilors, over email Monday. Mayor Jacki Marsh and councilors Don Overcash, Steve Olson, Kathi Wright and John Fogle responded to a request for discussion from Councilor Jeremy Jersvig.”

“At a time when theology schools and seminaries are downsizing, merging or closing, Denver’s Iliff School of Theology is holding steady,” reports The Denver Post. “The United Methodist-related school, tucked next to the University of Denver on South University Boulevard and East Iliff Avenue, is little known around the metro but has garnered a national reputation as a progressive theology school rooted in social justice causes. And that reputation might be what’s saving them. Fewer students have been attending theological schools; enrollment dropped 9 percent in the U.S. and Canada from 2007 to 2017, when there were 72,896 students. That drop comes as Pew Research studies find that fewer Americans identify as religious, a change largely attributed to the growing number of millennials who aren’t members of any organized religion.”

“Two projects in Eagle County have netted nearly $54,000 in Great Outdoors Colorado grant money,” reports Vail Daily. “Eagle Valley Land Trust received a $33,399 grant to cover closing costs associated with the conservation of the Minturn Boneyard Open Space. Sylvan Lake State Park received $20,000 to restore a historic schoolhouse in disrepair.”

“For a person to be healthy, they need to eat well and also keep their brain active. It’s those ideas that children are getting to express through art with the help of the Fremont Center for the Arts by painting a mural on the Garden Park Building on Sixth Street,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “I think Cañon City has a lot more to offer,’ said FCA Director Nan Sullivan. ‘I think we can do so many murals so that Cañon City is known as not just a prison town.'”

“High in the San Juan Mountains, one week before the start of the 416 Fire, a small crew of trainees cleared brush and cut fire lines, preparing for the real thing,” reports The Durango Herald. “It was the first time in Southwest Colorado that the U.S. Forest Service hosted a weeklong firefighter training course for a crew of combined veterans and Southwest Conservation Corps members.”

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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