Colorado statehouse incumbents lead challengers in Jeffco, Denver in early returns

Sitting state lawmakers in the Denver area are leading their primary challengers in early results Tuesday night.

In the House District 22 race for the seat representing south Jefferson County, incumbent Rep. Colin Larson of Littleton had 56% of the vote compared to former Rep. Justin Everett’s 44% in the Republican primary just after polls closed at 7 p.m.

The race has become a contentious one as part of a larger battle within the GOP over what extent candidates should toe the party line — particularly on social issues. House District 22 is one of the most expensive statehouse races on the primary ballot, with nearly $359,000 in outside money spent, some of it on attack ads.

In the House District 6 race, three Democrats are vying for the seat currently held by Steven Woodrow of Denver. Woodrow was appointed by a committee in February to replace Chris Hansen, who stepped down to fill Sen. Lois Court’s seat. Woodrow had 45.7%, Steven Paletz 30.5% and Dan Himelspach 23.8% in early results. This was another expensive race, with Democrats spending $366,000 — more than 50% of it their own money, according to Follow the Money CO.

In Hansen’s race to retain the Senate District 31 seat, he was leading with 55.7% of the vote to Maria Orms’ 44.3%.

Some races in Weld County have been as contentious as the Jefferson County race, with outside groups spending tens of thousands of dollars to back candidates in the solidly Republican districts. For example, in the House District 48 race — a race that some Republicans say, like Larson’s, could play a role in challenges to House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s leadership — $314,000 in outside money was spent. Tonya Van Beber had 56.8% votes and Grady Nouis 43.2% in early returns.

Early results in other contested primaries in the Denver metro area:

Senate District 23
Democrats: Sally Boccella 54.5%, Galina Nicoll 45.5%
Republicans: Barbara Kirkmeyer 57.6%, Rupert Parchment 42.4%

House District 30
Republicans: Kerrie Gutierrez 51.9%, Cynthia M. Sarmiento 48.1%

House District 38
Democrats: David Ortiz 66.2%, Candice Ferguson 33.8%

House District 40
Democrats: John Ronquillo 50.9%, Naquetta Ricks 49.1%

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Colorado nonprofits struggle to stay afloat as pandemic captures funders’ attention, dollars

This was the year that Shalelia Dillard wanted to hire more staffers to expand her program that supports students of color taking advanced classes. Heather Korth planned to focus more on fundraising for a nonprofit that helps families who’ve lost their homes in fires.

Now, Dillard’s SCD Enrichment Program and Our Front Porch, founded by Korth and Maggie Babyak, are struggling like other nonprofits across Colorado to stay afloat as the immediate needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic have captured the public’s attention and donations.

“We’ve tried to apply for a lot of grants. Pretty much every funding source has changed the focus to COVID-19,” Korth said.

She and Dillard said they understand the urgency of addressing the pandemic. But Korth said organizations like hers are wrestling with ongoing needs and demands that in some cases are aggravated by the crisis.

“Everyone’s focused on COVID, as they should be,” Korth said, “but other things are happening on a daily basis that we don’t talk about.”

The picture of the economic toll on Colorado’s nonprofits should become more clear as the year goes on, said Renny Fagan, president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association. Nonprofits are experiencing the same problems other businesses are, he added. If they provided in-person services and couldn’t shift to online, such as arts and theater programs, they’re losing money.

Organizations that rely on big events to boost their income have had to cancel or postpone them or try to go virtual. Those that depend on volunteers might be short handed as people have stayed home to avoid exposure to the virus.

COVID-19 relief funds generally went to organizations serving people immediately affected by the pandemic, Fagan said. “Now, those funds and communities are turning toward, ‘Well, what about the other nonprofits that are still very important to the fabric of our community’s life.’”

Although the overwhelming majority of Colorado’s approximately 23,000 nonprofits are fairly small — with annual budgets under $500,000 — their economic contributions are big, according to a 2017 report. The organizations added more than $20 billion to the state’s economy in 2017, measured by gross regional product, employed nearly 190,000 people and accounted for 5.6% of the state’s economy based on direct spending.

“While Coloradans have been very generous in giving to these COVID relief funds, there’s a lot of uncertainty for individual families,” Fagan said. “One important message, though, is that everyone can help their community by getting involved with a nonprofit, either by volunteering or through donations. Any amount is really meaningful.”

Since starting GroundFloor Media 20 years ago in Boulder, Laura Love has participated on boards or worked with nonprofits. She created the Get Grounded Foundation in 2015 to provide grants to groups focused on at-risk youths, childhood hunger and child abuse and neglect.

“I didn’t know anyone in Colorado and when I moved here and started this business; it was really the nonprofit organizations that allowed me to get involved in this community. So, it’s been a passion of ours to support the community,” Love said.

As the pandemic has battered businesses and upended people’s lives, Love and her staff have worried about the fate of nonprofits, especially smaller ones that aren’t as well-known, aren’t necessarily on the front lines of dealing with the coronavirus and so might not have access to pandemic-related aid. GroundFloor Media set up a page on its website to highlight three to four organizations each week and put out the word on its social media channels. The website gives information about the groups and their most pressing needs.

“Within two weeks after the state-issued shelter-in-place order, we developed the Doing My Part Colorado page to get the word out,” Love said. “We sent it out to all of our nonprofit partners and all of our corporate partners.”

And the foundation started hearing from people across the state. Organizations have asked for blood donations, contributions to small food banks, diapers, money to feed and shoe horses used for therapy and volunteers. The foundation has started a podcast called “Good & Grounded” with local business and civic leaders.

The foundation promoted a summer program offered by SCD Enrichment Program, which works with Denver schools to provide support and mentoring to middle and high school students of color who are taking advanced classes. Dillard, the founder and a graduate of Denver’s South High School, said the program has received funding to pay students’ way for the summer program.

Dillard started the SCD Enrichment in 2018 after 11 years in teaching. The school-based programs grew out of interviews with students and some of Dillard’s own experiences.

“I was a gifted student from first grade on and I was typically one of the only people of color in my classes,” Dillard said. “I needed support. The misconception is that gifted students can teach themselves anything and they don’t need assistance.”

The organization offers ethnic studies, mentoring by college students and leadership training. Dillard has offered some online programs since the coronavirus broke out, but the closing of the five schools she works with meant the canceling of workshops and other revenue-raising activities. She received a disaster loan and money through a campaign launched by an organization that promotes education leaders.

“There is funding coming in. It’s just not as much as school contracts would be. It’s a thousand dollars here, $2,000 there,” Dillard said. “We’re really pinching our pennies to try to still provide services for our students and just keep afloat financially.”

Korth said Our Front Porch has seen a recent increase in new donors, which might be due to being featured by the Get Grounded Foundation.

“It all helps. There are so many great organizations out there and getting the word out is the hardest part because it costs money,” Korth said.

Korth, an architect, and her co-founder, Babyak, a licensed clinical social worker, started working in 2014 with families who lost their homes in fires. Both have extensive experience in disaster response work and saw a need for long-term help for people who have lost everything in fires.

“There’s an average of two fires a day in the Denver metro area that leave people homeless. They obviously don’t get the publicity that a wide-scale disaster would get,” Korth said.

The nonprofit hasn’t received any of the grants it recently sought to help provide assistance to families, which includes temporary housing. It is in the middle of an initiative to raise $40,000 through $20 donations.

“We’ve been super fortunate to have some really great individual donors who kept us afloat the last couple of years. This was going to be our year to really delve into fundraising,” Korth said.

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World News

Colorado Civil War statue toppled, set on fire in Denver

DENVER — Police in Denver have arrested one person for suspected arson after a small group of protesters attempted to set fire to the pedestal of a Civil War statue that was toppled last week.

About 75 protesters had been demonstrating peacefully around the Capitol late Saturday night when a small group broke off and went to the statue site, a Colorado State Patrol spokesperson told KUSA_TV.

Just before 11 p.m. a fire was set atop the mostly-concrete pedestal using wood and other materials. the spokesperson said. The Denver Fire Department extinguished the blaze within about 20 minutes and the damage was minimal.

— ♥️👩🏽‍🎓♥️👩🏽‍⚕️♥️👩🏽‍🏫♥️👩🏽‍💻♥️ (@pinklaurenade) June 28, 2020

A 22-year-old suspect was being held on suspicion of second degree arson, according to the Denver Police Department.

The statue, erected in 1909, had been pulled down Thursday. It recognized a Union cavalry regiment that fought Confederate forces but also acknowledged soldiers’ role in an 1864 massacre of Native Americans.

Its toppling came as protesters across the nation have defaced and torn down statues of historic figures during recent demonstrations against racial injustice. Most of those pieces have explicit ties to colonialism, slavery and the Confederacy, including imagery of Christopher Columbus and former U.S. presidents who owned slaves.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has said the Denver statute will be repaired.

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World News

Civil War monument at Colorado Capitol toppled overnight – The Denver Post

The Civil War monument erected in 1909 outside Colorado’s Capitol that commemorated, in part, the Sand Creek Massacre was toppled overnight, the latest act by protesters across the nation to tear down statues honoring perpetrators of racist acts.

Trooper Gary Cutler, spokesman for Colorado State Patrol, which polices the Capitol grounds, said “individuals” brought the statue down around 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Denver Police Department took over the investigation, with spokesman Doug Schepman saying they are reviewing surveillance camera footage of the incident, but currently have no suspects or any individuals in custody.

“It’s too early to have further context on what the intent was or who the individuals were,” Schepman said, adding that the act of tearing down a statue would be classified as “criminal mischief,” similar to vandalism or graffiti.

At the very least, “It was up yesterday and it was down today,” said Doug Platt, communications manager at the state’s Department of Personnel and Administration, which maintains the grounds and building.

The base of the monument is covered in graffiti — “Defund cops,” “Denver where are you?” — but Cutler said he didn’t know whether it was fresh or left over from the demonstrations that have taken place at the Capitol in the weeks since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a nationwide movement for racial justice and police reform.

Platt also said he believes this is the first statue to be toppled during the protests since Floyd’s death, but said “just about everything in the complex has been vandalized.”

A little after 9 a.m. Thursday, work crews used construction equipment to remove the fallen statue from the Capitol grounds. Platt said he does yet not know if the statue will be put back up.

The statue on the west side of the Capitol portrays a Union soldier, and not, as some have believed, Col. John Chivington, who led the 1864 massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians in what is now Kiowa County.

It includes a commemoration of 22 battles and names 279 soldiers who died, but only 18 of those battles were against Confederate soldiers. Four of them were against American Indians, with the final battle listed being Sand Creek — which was a massacre of Indians by U.S. Army soldiers, not a battle.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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World News

Summer activities at Colorado ski resorts during the coronavirus outbreak

Colorado ski resorts that were closed March 15 due to the coronavirus are beginning to reopen with limited summer on-mountain activities including hiking, mountain biking, mountain coasters and scenic chairlift rides.

Difficult as it was for resort managers to shut down with more than a month left in the ski season and great snow blanketing their mountains, it’s also been challenging for them to work through decisions regarding when and how to reopen for summer operations. Each resort had to figure out what amenities could be offered with social distancing and other measures in place to keep guests safe, working in concert with county health guidelines.

“We should expect that as we reopen there will be many differing opinions about our approach, from both inside and outside our company,” Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz wrote in an email to employees. “Some will think we are moving too slowly; others will think we are moving too fast. Some will say it must be about money, others will say we are being too cautious or too cavalier. We can’t eliminate that chatter and it’s always important to listen to the feedback, but we also need our own view.”

Indeed, although Arapahoe Basin reopened for skiing from May 27 through June 7, Katz considered reopening Breckenridge last month but decided against it. And while two of Vail Resorts’ Colorado mountains reopen Friday for summer operations (Crested Butte and Keystone), the other three (Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge) don’t open until next week.

Resorts are requiring face masks where it is practical, along with social distancing and capacity limitations, and gondola cabins typically will be limited to immediate parties. Resort websites have detailed descriptions of precautions and guidelines that will be in force.

Here’s a rundown of Colorado’s major ski resorts with summer operations and what they plan to offer:

Aspen and Snowmass (open): The Silver Queen gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain (elev. 11,212 feet) is running for sightseeing, disc golf, hiking, yoga and nature programs. At Snowmass, the Elk Creek gondola and Elk Camp chairlifts are operating. The mountain coaster, Treeline Trial, Challenge obstacle course and climbing wall are open. Hiking trails and the Snowmass Bike Park also are open, as are some food and beverage services.

Crested Butte (opens Friday): The Butte will offer scenic chairlift rides via the Silver Queen Express, which terminates near the mountaintop at 11,400 feet. Hauling bikes on the lift will not be allowed, but guests are free to ride up the mountain under their own power. The mountain also is open for hiking, and The Butte 66 Bar & Grille will offer grab-and-go food and drink.

Keystone (opens Friday): Open on weekends (Friday-Sunday) for River Run Gondola scenic rides and hiking. The Summit House will offer grab-and-go food and drink. Mountain biking is allowed on the mountain, but you can’t ride the gondola with a bike. One of Keystone’s two golf courses, the River Course, has been open for three weeks. The Ranch course will not open this summer.

Steamboat (opens Friday): Operating on weekends (Friday-Sunday), scaled-back mountain operations will include the mountain coaster, a mini-golf course, some base-area dining and scenic gondola rides to the Thunderhead Lodge at mid-mountain with grab-and-go food and outdoor seating. The Steamboat Bike Park will not be open but biking and hiking will be allowed on multi-use trails. Just be aware that there will be no patrol services, bike rentals, guides or trail maintenance. Features, jumps and downhill trails in the bike park will be closed, and you will not be allowed to take your bike on the gondola.

Winter Park (opens Saturday): The alpine slide won’t operate this summer, but the gondola to the summit at Sunspot (elev. 10,700 feet) will be in operation to provide access for hiking trails and the Trestle Bike Park, which has 45 miles of trails and terrain features. The Lodge at Sunspot will be open for to-go lunches with picnic spots outside but no indoor seating. Some dining operations at the base area will be available, along with bike rentals and some retail.

Ski Sunlight (open): Hiking and mountain biking is allowed now, and a two-day race event will happen on the mountain July 18-19. The first day of the Sunlight Showdown is a 13-mile bike race and the second day is a 13-mile trail running race. Participants can register for one or both days.

Beaver Creek (July 1): The Centennial Express lift from the base area to mid-mountain at the Spruce Saddle lodge will be operating for scenic rides. Hiking and mountain biking will be allowed, and you can haul your bike up the mountain on the lift. Spruce Saddle will be open for grab-and-go food and drink.

Vail (July 1): Gondola One scenic rides will be operating to Mid-Vail for hiking, and the Mid-Vail lodge will offer grab-and-go food and drink. Gondola 19 from Lionshead to Eagles Nest is scheduled to open in mid-July with hiking, Epic Discovery interpretive trails and the mountain coaster. Mountain biking is allowed, but you can’t take your bike on the gondolas. Grab-and-go food and drink will be available at Eagle’s Nest when it opens.

Breckenridge (July 4): The BreckConnect Gondola will be operating for scenic chairlift rides. On-mountain activities will include hiking, an alpine slide and a mountain coaster, and mountain biking is allowed. The Ski Hill Grill at the Peak 8 base will offer grab-and-go food and drink.

Copper Mountain (July 4): Scenic chairlift rides on the Woodward Express lift to mid-mountain for hiking and mountain biking. Limited dining options will be available and the Copper Creek golf course will open July 3. Woodward Copper’s new summer lessons lineup will offer a full day of professional instruction for adults and youth in a variety of disciplines including ski, snowboard, skate, scooter and BMX.

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