As the first light of day began to creep above the horizon, this group of friends --; a young couple, a photographer, fitness enthusiasts, a college student and 20 Wheat Ridge High School choir members --; snuggled under blankets, waiting for the sun to light downtown Denver and the Front Range.
At 5:15 a.m., to the sound of chirping birds and clean-up crews power washing the first few rows of the amphitheatre, a pale pink-and-yellow sun began to emerge.
"There it is!" a choir member shouted.
"Look up!" another said as a pale orange orb began to rise above the shadow of downtown.
Softly, the male group of singers began to chant the Zulu lyrics to Disney's "The Circle of Life" from "The Lion King."
As they chanted, 10 female singers arrived and joined in, singing the first few lyrics and chorus of the song.
As the sun rose higher, the group grabbed phones and cameras to take photos, selfies and time-lapse videos.
At 5:55 a.m. the sun was up.
And the watchers left.
For the choir --; a mix of veterans and new members --; this was not an ordinary sunrise.
It was tradition.
The new singers, kidnapped by their upperclassmen counterparts, were being initiated. Dressed in their favorite pajamas and puffy painted shirts representing their voice section, the "kidnapped" members sang in the new day before heading back home to their books to study for finals.
"This has been fun and all, but I have to go take a biochem final," one shouted as he left.
Those remaining sang the final line of the song.]]>
After months of hard work, we passed a fair and balanced state budget that reflects our priorities--;roads, health and schools--;while avoiding many of the harsh budget cuts we originally feared would be necessary. That being said, every day I sit in traffic or hear a neighbor tell me about her daughter's overcrowded and underfunded classroom, I know we can do better.
There was a bill on the table to free up millions of dollars to be dedicated to our transportation system, our schools and our hospitals. It unfortunately failed this year in the Senate, but we will bring it back. Colorado belongs at the top and I intend to make sure we get there.
I worked hard to bring good, common sense, bipartisan bills to the legislature. I was a prime sponsor of 20 bills, 19 of which passed both chambers. My bills addressed a variety of issues important to Colorado but focused mostly on job growth, cutting red tape for businesses, protecting Colorado's most vulnerable citizens and improving mental health care.
Three of my bills to highlight:
HB 16-1290: Extend Transitional Jobs Program - This law continues the successful ReHire program until 2019. The program has already helped those who are having the hardest time getting work. More than 1,000 veterans and other adults have found permanent work by focusing on job coaching, skills training and transitional job opportunities for under-employed and unemployed Coloradans. Working through local agencies, the program prioritizes veterans, Coloradans over age 50 and parents making child support payments.
HB 16-1288: Industry Infrastructure Grant Program - An important piece of our bipartisan job growth package, this bill works toward a system in which businesses are engaged in the education system as centers of learning and drivers of career-focused education content. It creates a matching grant program within the Colorado Workforce Development Council to assist industry associations to define the skill sets they need and collaborate to facilitate training and education in the classroom and the workplace.
HB 16-1187: Sales Use and Tax Exemption Retirement Community Food --; I like to call this my "Don't Tax Grandma's Meatloaf" bill. I don't think any senior should have to pay taxes on the meals they eat in their home, so this bill creates tax exemptions for the sale or consumption of food, beverages and meals in retirement communities.
I also passed a bill to help victims of domestic violence or natural disasters recover their necessary identification documents like driver's licenses or Social Security cards. I'm most proud of the work I did with CDOT to refund the $15 for the transponders for people who ride in the HOV lanes.
That's just a taste of the bills I brought this year--;and with your support the types of bills I will pursue next session. I'm dedicated to a Colorado that works for those who work hard.]]>
I recently undertook a 21-day journey to lower my cholesterol, following strict proportions of healthy fats, carbs and protein. It worked - my numbers dropped 47 points in just three months. The other good news is that, by practicing good nutrition, I've gained new habits I can use for a lifetime.
I also learned that habits are easy to fall back on - that's why we rely on them so much. What's become ingrained in us requires little conscious thought, and, once we've formed them, our habits - for good or ill - have predictable outcomes.
Lowering my cholesterol with a healthy diet is an example of a good outcome. Hunting for my keys every morning because I have a habit of dropping them just anywhere when I walk in the door after work is an example of a less-than-desirable, but still completely predictable, outcome.
Watching Donald Trump these past few months - first with amusement, then with amazement, anger, fear and now dread - I recognize that he relies on habits he has formed over the years. Calling people names (or worse) when they disagree with him. Denigrating entire religions, races and genders. Inciting violence with veiled references to cheating, riots and vigilantes. Hiding behind bankruptcies and tax returns that he won't reveal or discuss.
Trump lies and pretends he's not. Or perhaps he doesn't even know that he is, such as when he cited nonexistent news footage of nonexistent Muslim crowds cheering as the Twin Towers came down. He considers himself the center of the universe, boasting of his sexual prowess and conquests, and once compared his fears of STDs in his dating life to fighting in the Vietnam War.
This type of behavior comes so easily on the campaign trail because it's habitual for this megalomaniacal bully who just so happens to be seeking the highest office in the land. It's easy because it's a habit, and effective because Trump knows exactly what the outcomes will be.
There are only two months until the Republican National Convention, where Trump will likely emerge as the presidential nominee (hence, my dread). Then he would have about 120 days until the general election. In that time, Mr. Trump, surely you can find 21 days in which to develop habits that befit our Commander in Chief.
It's probably too much to ask that, in this short amount of time, you develop tolerance, empathy and thoughtful and considered policies. So if you can gain only one habit, here it is:
Stick to the facts. The very Establishment politicians you rail against have a far better grasp of reality than you do.
Try talking regularly and repeatedly only about that which can be proved as truth, on topics relevant to more of the American people than just your supporters. Of course, then you won't have much to say, which, in my opinion, would be the most desirable outcome.
Andrea Doray is a writer who also dreads the upcoming election season, which is sure to be full of sordid tactics, personal attacks and deceitful maneuverings from both sides. Contact her at email@example.com.
Aspen was past her 15th birthday - a blessing of a long life in itself.
She still looked forward to our evening walks - however shorter or slower-paced.
She continued to follow me about the house - to stay close.
I felt the strength of her eyes with a wondering expression - questioning why she was weaker.
Expressions were almost apologetic - when her appetite was waning.
I knew she still wanted to make that ride in the Jeep - closeness for both of us. She would give me a clear look for help - to make that step from the porch into the house - and expressions of appreciation when her legs needed support.
During these days, however, there were no apologies, only, seemingly, an acceptance of her aging and declining strength.
The weakness, diminished level of activity, physical changes and longer time in sleep gradually accelerated over the past three years. I saw it and felt it creeping into Aspen's life and into mine. The change was difficult to witness, but I resolved to alter our time together, to keep her active, support her health and adjust our routines.
Pet owners can struggle with that change, sometimes to the extent of failing to see the need for accommodation pets require. It occurred to me the gradual aging process for our pets can be so similar to that of aging parents, family or friends - or literally our own lives. Yet regardless, each deserves the same sensitivity, attention, time, patience and support.
Yellow labs are sizable and sturdy, but when they cannot get themselves into our vehicles, they deserve a ramp or a lift so that they never are ignored or left behind. Walks should become a slower and more patient experience to provide a quality of life they deserve. Close attention and observation of food types and changes in body functions can require accommodation.
Unlike humans, the pain that comes with weakening hips, shoulders or body organs typically is not always apparent to us. So that requires periodic veterinarian examinations and, possibly, medication. When our companion's health changes, it is our call to adjust, to be sure the unconditional love they bring into our lives is extended back in their care and comfort.
A friend of mine who had a long line of Golden retrievers in his life observed that "when we bring a pet into our lives we need to be aware we will most certainly live past their days and we must be willing to provide compassionate support as their lives fade."
Those sunrises over the duck blind, the decoy days on the river, flushing birds from the fields and the high mountain hikes will be very different. But the memories will remind me of my good fortune in having had that special companionship with Aspen.
Outdoors writer Ron Hellbusch can be reached at Ron-Hellbusch@comcast.net.
The bill allows "unaccompanied homeless youth" to be defined as residents and get in-state tuition at state-supported secondary schools.
"The number of homeless youth in Colorado increased by 50 percent from 2009-10 to 2013-14," said Mary Giggy, Financial Aid Advisor at Aims Community College in Greeley. "We know education is the key to the future, and today we're handing that key to these students who want to continue their education."
Pettersen said the high costs of secondary education is a prohibitive factor for many homeless youth, and the bill aims to make it easier.
"These are Colorado kids who went to Colorado schools, and this bill helps level the playing field to allow them an opportunity to pursue their goals, just like their peers," Pettersen said.]]>
On May 21, 24-year-old Cristina Covington died from injuries sustained in the May 14 fire that claimed the life of her 4-year-old daughter.
Covington's cause of death was reported as smoke inhalation and inhalation burns to her airways and lungs, according to Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Dan Pruett.
Covington was a resident of the home at 6152 Robb St., which caught fire at 1:30 a.m., May 14. Six individuals were inside at the time, including Covington's four-year-old daughter, and two developmentally disabled individuals. Her daughter and one of the disabled individuals, 39-year-old Tanya Bell, both passed away from smoke inhalation on May 14.
Arvada Fire continues to investigate the cause of the fire.
According to her Facebook page, Covington was married to Skylar Covington and working as an independent Herbalife distributor in Miami, Florida.
Four GoFundMe pages have been set up by neighbors, friends and family of the Covingtons and the Moores to assist in funeral costs and hospital bills. One of the four GoFundMe pages set up for Covington and her family mentioned additional members in the house belonged to the Moore family. https://www.gofundme.com/24g5emshttps://www.gofundme.com/25uc94khttps://www.gofundme.com/24qjreq4https://www.gofundme.com/24ugw2ng]]>
The avid bicyclist has lived at a senior living community in Westminster for 18 years, and daily physical activity is part of his plan to keep strong, flexible and healthy.
"Biking has kept me alive and healthy," says Hadduck, who says he has no plans of slowing down.
On May 25, millions of older Americans across the country celebrated National Senior Health & Fitness Day, a day-long celebration to increase awareness of the benefits of a regular exercise program for older adults. This year's theme is "Improve Your Health for a Better Self."
This approach to health and wellness is something residents like Hadduck practice every day. Some, like Hadduck, still tackle the trails, but others incorporate exercise into their daily routines by taking walks, gardening, participating in a T'ai Chi, yoga or water aerobics class, or using the exercise machines at the fitness center.
"The key is to keep moving," says Nicole Barabas, fitness coordinator at Covenant Village of Colorado. "You don't have to run a marathon --; unless you want to! --; but you do need to participate in physical activity every day."
Studies show 30 minutes of physical activity at least three days a week can help reduce the risk of major illness, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Falls are a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but many can be prevented by building strength and improving flexibility and balance.
Other benefits of daily exercise include better immune and cardiorespiratory function; improved bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis; and more efficient gastrointestinal function. Exercising seniors sleep better, are less prone to anxiety and depression, and benefit from socializing with their peers during group exercise classes.
Studies also point to better brain health among seniors who exercise. University of British Columbia researchers report that regular aerobic exercise, "the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus," the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
The good news is that it's never too late to start exercising, and it's never too late to start reaping the health benefits. Here are some tips to help get you started:
* Check with your doctor to determine an exercise regime that's best for you.
* Start with one class a week or take short daily walks and work yourself up to longer ones. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
* Find an exercise buddy to make exercise fun and keep each other accountable. * Check out the local YMCA, the city of Westminster website or the Senior Resources Guide for group exercise classes. Better yet, simply get outdoors, move, and breath in the fresh Colorado air.]]>
Legislative sponsors were Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Golden and Wheat Ridge; Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo; and Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs.
"This new law will ... connect people with their water usage more closely, and encourage water conservation," Danielson said. "In our state, when it comes to water, even small efforts like this will add up to help us protect our most precious resource."
1. Homeowners can now collect rainwater to use for outdoor purposes such as gardening.
2. The collected water cannot be used for drinking or other indoor purposes.
3. Collected rainwater is limited to two 55-gallon barrels or a total capacity of 110 gallons.]]>
The sales mark the latest step in Sports Authority's bankruptcy filing. The sale was authorized May 24 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Judge Mary Walrath approved the company proposal to have a team of liquidators start the going-out-of-business sales that will include all inventory and fixtures. The sales must be completed by Aug. 31.
The liquidators are a joint venture group made up of a trio of companies: Gordon Brothers Group, Hilco Merchant Resources and Tiger Capital Group.
On their website, Gordon Brothers also released a statement by Michael Foss, Sports Authority CEO.
"We cannot adequately express the disappointment we feel with the need to shut down our stores," he said in the statement. "We pursued both a plan of reorganization as well as a sale of our business but were unsuccessful in reaching an agreement that would have allowed Sports Authority to continue to operate."
In the statement, Foss thanked loyal customers for supporting the company over the years and encouraged them to shop early for tremendous values on sporting goods.
Sports Authority's corporate headquarters are in Englewood. Efforts to contact the company about the future of the headquarters have been unsuccessful.
At one time, Sports Authority was among Englewood's largest employers, with about 900 people in the two buildings that house the corporate headquarters. At that time, just about every space in the expansive parking lot was taken, but since the bankruptcy filing in March, many empty parking spaces can be seen.
Eric Keck, Englewood city manager, said he has received no information about the plans for the corporate headquarters and the people who work there.
"We only hear what everyone hears about Sports Authority, such as the announcement of the going-out-of-business sales at all their stores," he said. "This is a difficult situation for everyone. We know the reduction of the staff at the corporate headquarters will have a negative impact on surrounding business and on our community."
According to a bankruptcy court document, the judge's order finalized the bid by the joint venture to handle the liquidation. The bid contained sales guidelines for what is a basic agreement to guarantee Sports Authority a specific sum, and the joint venture will profit if the sale goes well.
The document said the venture will pay Sports Authority between $368 million and $393 million plus a $1.8 million augmentation fee, which is an agreement that could provide additional funds to Sports Authority, provided the going-out-of-business sales prove profitable to all parties.
Because the company reportedly was $1.1 billion in debt, Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 protection in March. On May 3, it was announced in the bankruptcy court in Delaware that the company would not be able to reorganize but instead would pursue sale of its assets.
The company located its headquarters on the Englewood campus on Jason Street just south of Hampden Avenue about 2001. The campus includes expansive parking lots and about 200,000 square feet of space in two buildings.