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Bank robber, dubbed the “Myopic Bandit” because of her glasses, strikes again in Denver metro

February 21, 2019 - 8:23pm

Police are asking for the public’s help identifying a busy bank robbery who has been dubbed the “Myopic Bandit.”

The robber, who wears eyeglasses, is described by the FBI as a white or Asian woman, likely in her 40s, about 5-foot-3 with a medium build. The robber struck in Littleton on Thursday.

.@FBIDenver, @ArapahoeSO, @DenverPolice, and the Littleton Police Department need your help. Please call @CrimeStoppersCO at 720-913-7867 if you have information regarding the “Myopic Bandit.” The suspect is pictured below and a reward of up to $2,000 is being offered. #wanted pic.twitter.com/cjkqgwjrA5

— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) February 22, 2019

Investigators believe the same robber has hit six metro area banks since October, according to a news release. In the first five robberies the bandit passed a demand note to tellers. In the most recent heist, on Thursday, the robber displayed a handgun and threatened a teller.

The banks robbed are:

  • Oct. 29, U.S. Bank, 8441 W. Bowles Ave., Denver
  • Nov. 5, Great Western Bank, 220 Josephine St., Denver
  • Nov. 20, 2:50 p.m., Chase Bank, 6900 S. University Blvd., Centennial
  • Nov. 20, 3:45 p.m., Key Bank, 7940 S. Broadway, Littleton
  • Feb. 4, 2:08 p.m., Bank of the West, 7995 E. Hampden Ave., Denver
  • Feb. 21, 2:39 p.m., Westerra Bank 8906 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton

The FBI and local investigators ask the public to be on the lookout for anyone matching the description, or photos, of the robber. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 (STOP). A reward of $2,000 is offered.

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Denver weather: Snow, sleet, fog could complicate Friday morning commute

February 21, 2019 - 8:14pm

If snow and freezing drizzle doesn’t slow the Friday morning commute in the Denver metro area, perhaps patchy fog will. Friday’s evening commute may also be slowed by wintry weather.

Mostly cloudy skies, freezing temperatures and a 60-percent chance of precipitation are in Denver’s frosty Friday forecast, according to the National Weather Service.

Snow is likely in Denver before 2 a.m. Friday, and the weather is then expected to change to freezing drizzle, the weather service said. Patchy fog is possible after 4 a.m., and the low temperature should be about 19 degrees.

Early morning snow accumulation should be less than one inch. The weather service expects little or no ice accumulation. Friday morning commuters should be prepared, however, to drive with caution under the wintry conditions.

RELATED: Denver’s seen less snow than Seattle this winter. But that could soon change.

During the day, snow and freezing drizzle is possible in Denver before 11 a.m., before changing to a chance of snow through 4 p.m., the weather service said. After 4 p.m., snow is likely and a mix of freezing drizzle is possible. The change of precipitation Friday in Denver is 60 percent and the high temperature will be about 31 degrees. New snow accumulation during the day is expected to be under one inch.

Snow showers are likely at night in Denver as well, mainly before 11 p.m., the weather service said. The chance of precipitation remains at 60 percent and snowfall in Denver could add up to 3 inches in the city before the night is through.

Here's the expected snow forecast through Friday night, heaviest snow will occur late Friday afternoon & evening. #COwx pic.twitter.com/KH29wcZ74M

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) February 21, 2019

In the mountains, snow is expected to decrease in the morning and pick up in the afternoon. Periods of snow will move east out of the mountains and across the Front Range and onto the eastern plains by Friday evening into early Saturday morning, the weather service said.

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On the plains up to 3 inches of snow is possible by Saturday morning in some areas, especially east of Sterling and down into western Elbert County. Winds on the plains will gust to 45 mph Saturday as the storm system exits Colorado heading east. Up to 8 inches of snow is possible in extreme eastern Colorado in and around Wray.

In Denver on Saturday skies will be mostly sunny and the high temperature will be around 41 degrees. In general, the weather from Sunday through Wednesday in northeastern Colorado will be settled and dry as temperatures slowly climb back toward seasonal norms, into the upper 40s and lower 50s during the day. Colder weather could linger in the far northeast corner of the state.

Categories: All Denver News.

Kiszla: The Rockies are “real World Series threat,” according to general manager Jeff Bridich

February 21, 2019 - 8:07pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As general manager of the Rockies, Jeff Bridich has aced every test. During each of his four full seasons on the job, the team’s number of victories has risen without fail. From Nolan Arenado to German Marquez, the franchise has never been stocked higher or deeper with talent. Baseball in LoDo finally feels like more than a way to kill time before Broncos season.

But can the Rockies keep rolling? At first glance, Colorado seems set up for a stumble in 2019. The Rockies parted ways with DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Ottavino and Gerardo Parra, while adding Daniel Murphy and welcoming back Mark Reynolds to Coors Field. No matter how fine a point you put on your No. 2 pencil, it’s difficult to decipher how the math adds up to a stronger 25-man roster.

Undaunted, Bridich is doubling down on his faith in Colorado’s homegrown talent. On a cold, gray Thursday in the Arizona desert, he stoked expectations for a season in which Las Vegas oddmakers and baseball analysts alike foresee the Rockies backsliding toward mediocrity.

“Now it’s really about what it actually feels like for this group to be a playoff team, be a playoff contender, have a legitimate chance to win the N.L. West and be a real World Series threat. Those are real things for this team,” Bridich told me.

RELATED: Rockies Mailbag: Nolan Arenado’s most-telling quote about his future may surprise you

“In 2014, ’15 and ’16, were those real goals? No, we weren’t talking about that stuff back then. Now, it’s real. And now that a lot of this team has a taste of success and has a sense of what it takes to win in the playoffs, it’s OK to talk about how we make ourselves just a little bit better to get to the World Series.”

But did Colorado do enough in the offseason to claim its first division title in franchise history? While the Dodgers added A.J. Pollock and San Diego splurged $300 million on marquee free agent Manny Machado, the Rockies sat back and trusted the same process that has seen homegrown talent such as Trevor Story and Kyle Freeland develop into stars.

Many of us would’ve liked to see the Rockies add another big bat, especially with the memory fresh of Colorado producing a paltry two runs while being swept away in three games by Milwaukee in the N.L. divisional series. And you know what? Bridich doesn’t disagree with that assessment.

In a display of how success has given a now-tested, 41-year-old general manager the confidence to reveal he sometimes swings and misses, Bridich said the Rockies pursued a deal for all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto, only to see Miami trade him earlier this month to Philadelphia.

“We’re always looking to add the right type of people and right type of talent that fit us well,” Bridich said. “But a lot of those things come up as dead ends.”

While Bridich might be sold on the idea David Dahl can pack wallop in the batting order, Ian Desmond can play sterling defense in center field and Scott Oberg has established himself as a shutdown relief pitcher, how much does any of it really matter unless Arenado buys in and makes a long-term commitment to the Rockies rather seeking greener pastures, not to mention mo’ money, in another major-league city?

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“Everyone knows how talented Nolan Arenado already is. But we know he can be even better,” Bridich said. “He’s better than the guy who was part of the team that struggled against the Brewers in the playoffs. He can be one of those great postseason performers.”

More than anything, Bridich deserves credit for building a brotherhood among players that wear a Rockies uniform, nurturing the belief it’s only a matter of time before there’s a World Series victory parade through the streets of Denver. Bridich said it’s more than happenstance Colorado has made fewer trades than any team in the major leagues during the past five years. There’s a rock-solid faith the Rockies can win it all their way, with their guys.

But to cement the feeling no baseball dream is too big for LoDo, what Bridich must do is convince Arenado to stick around long enough to win a World Series game as the home crowd goes wild at 20th and Blake.

If Arenado doesn’t believe that’s possible, why should we?

Categories: All Denver News.

The number of “rich” renters in metro Denver is surging

February 21, 2019 - 7:28pm

A common misconception about renters is that they rent because they don’t have any other option. Given enough time and a high enough income, they will eventually buy a home or condo. But in metro Denver, it appears that isn’t the case for a growing number of people.

Metro Denver had the largest percentage increase the past decade of any major metro in the number of households who rented and made $100,000 or more a year, according to a new study from Apartment List.

The number of renter households in metro Denver who clear that kind of income, which should be enough to buy a home or condo, shot up 146 percent between 2008-17. Nationally, the increase was 48 percent.

“I do believe the American Dream is evolving. It no longer is about owning the single-family home with a white-picket fence. It is about flexibility and being able to pick up and move,” said Nancy Burke, vice president of government affairs with the Apartment Association of Metro Denver.

RELATED: Millennials face major hurdles to becoming home buyers in Denver housing market

A study last month from Zillow found that a little more than half the households buying a home in metro Denver earned an income of $100,000 or more. That kind of earning power should be enough to obtain a home, so why are so many people still handing over money to a landlord every month?

Much of the new housing supply this decade has come in multi-family and much of that has come in denser urban neighborhoods where millennials, and increasingly retiring Baby Boomers, are gravitating toward, said Igor Popov, chief economist with Apartment List.

“There is more rental supply for high earners today, especially in places like Denver,” he said. “People with higher incomes are clustering more in city centers than they used to. They are preferring to be closer to the action. We are seeing higher earners locating in downtowns.”

And it isn’t just young people who see value in renting to be closer to the action. Burke said some older adults who don’t want to deal with yard work or home maintenance see value in leasing.  Many are sitting on huge equity gains that will allow them to cover the rent payments for a long, long time.

She also said that developers in Denver have gotten into amenity wars, offering everything from goat yoga to lazy rivers. Although the rent may look high, a lot of extras are built into that monthly payment that homeowners don’t get.

What about the argument that millennials, once they start having kids, will want to buy a home?

Popov said so many investors swept in to buy homes and convert them to rentals during the real estate crash that it has limited the supply. Builders have also built few entry-level homes. That has pushed more families to rent homes, not just apartments.

And there is the elephant in the room — student loan debt. A college graduate who moved to Denver may be pulling down a big paycheck. But he or she probably is also carrying around a pile of student loan debt. Until that gets paid down, saving for a downpayment will remain a struggle.

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And it helps to take a bigger view. In 2008, there were 28,795 renter households in metro Denver who made $100,000 or more a year. That represented 9 percent of all renters, below the U.S. share at 13 percent, according to Apartment List.

With the impressive 146-percent gain, the share of high-income households who rent in Denver reached 70,860 or 16 percent of the total in 2017. Nationally, it rose to 17 percent.

So Denver, while the leader for gains in high-income renters over the past decade, is just approaching the national average in terms of its share of high-income renters.

Categories: All Denver News.

Denver fashion boutique Fancy Tiger to rebrand on South Broadway

February 21, 2019 - 6:25pm

Baker neighborhood fashion boutique Fancy Tiger Clothing will drop the fancy and the tiger from its name next month when it rebrands as FM. The name change will be accompanied by the addition of a permanent DJ booth, more house-made clothing and expanded services in the shop at 55 Broadway in Denver.

Officially taking effect March 15, the rebranding was announced in a news release Thursday from Fancy Tiger founder Matthew Brown.

In the release, Brown said more “elevated” clothing lines not part of the Fancy Tiger mix will be available at FM, as well as a broader selection of house-made items. The store will “continue to carry the more affordable brands that built Fancy Tiger’s reputation as an accessible boutique,” the release vowed.

FM will also offer on-site hemming and complimentary home delivery of hemmed items. The store will also produce a bi-monthly map of Denver’s retail landscape tailored toward foodies and independent retail devotees.

“We want to change people’s expectations about what a retail store can be to a city,” Brown said in the release.

RELATED: Fast-fashion brand Zara bringing first Colorado store to Cherry Creek Shopping Center

The birth of FM will be commemorated with an in-store party starting at 6 p.m. on March 15. An after-party is to follow at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 S. Broadway.

Fancy Tiger was founded in 2006. Its separately owned neighbor, Fancy Tiger Crafts, will not be impacted by the change, Brown said.

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NBA, union forward talks on ending “one-and-done” rule, according to AP source

February 21, 2019 - 6:01pm

MIAMI — The NBA and its players are continuing to move forward on plans to eliminate the “one-and-done” rule in college basketball, something that the sides have been working toward for months.

The league has sent a proposal to the National Basketball Players Association on lowering the minimum age for entering the NBA Draft from 19 to 18, and the union discussed the contents at a meeting in the Bahamas earlier this week, a person with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither side released the proposal publicly.

USA Today Sports first reported the proposal being sent.

The proposal changed hands before All-Star weekend and long before Duke star Zion Williamson, quite possibly the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, got hurt Wednesday night. Williamson was diagnosed Thursday with a Grade 1, or minor, sprain of his right knee. Williamson, a freshman, is widely expected to be in the NBA next season and forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility.

Neither the league nor the players’ union has hidden the fact that both sides want the current system changed. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last July that it was time to revert back to the policy that will allow players to go into the league right out of high school, something that will have to be collectively bargained with the players.

The NBPA has had previous talks with the NBA on the idea, which is likely to be in place by the 2022 draft.

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“I think it’s a good idea,” Boston’s Jayson Tatum, who went to the NBA after one season at Duke, said at All-Star weekend. “If you’re good enough to come out of high school, I feel like you should be able to. But I don’t make those decisions.”

Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins, who played at Kentucky, told reporters Thursday that knowing what he knows now makes him question why players need to play college basketball — especially if they’re NBA-ready.

“I don’t understand the point of it,” Cousins said of the ‘one-and-done’ rule. “What’s the difference between 18 and 19 and 17 and 18? You’re immature, you’re young, you’re ignorant to life in general. So what’s really the difference? You’ve still got a lot of growing to do as a man.”

The one-and-done rule has been in place since the 2006 draft. Silver, who was once a proponent of raising the draft minimum age to 20 before changing his mind, said last year that he believes the league and the players “can create a better system.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Broncos not expected to re-sign veteran nose tackle Domata Peko

February 21, 2019 - 5:26pm

The Broncos will be in the market during free agency and the draft for a new starting nose tackle.

Veteran Domata Peko, an unrestricted free agent next month, is not expected to return, a source confirmed Thursday.

Peko, 34, played the last two seasons ($7.5 million contract) for the Broncos after spending the first 11 years of his career with Cincinnati. He had 69 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 30 games for the Broncos.

Peko played 522 of 1,077 snaps in 2018. Per the Denver Post’s game charting, he had 11 run “stuffs” (gain of three or fewer yards). His eight penalties were tied for second on the team.

Minus Peko, the Broncos could lean on restricted free agent Shelby Harris (assuming he returns) and Zach Kerr (who is a free agent) or address the position in the draft.

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Denver thrift store donations on the rise as homeowners take Marie Kondo’s advice to heart

February 21, 2019 - 4:48pm

Like many busy parents, Jennifer Boltz found herself with very little time for keeping her home organized and tidy. In an all-too-relatable scenario, she regularly shoved Tupperware into her cupboard, then slammed the door shut before anything could fall out.

Then Boltz saw friends on Facebook chatting about Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant who created the “KonMari Method” of tidying and decluttering, so she decided to watch a few episodes of the new “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” series on Netflix.

Though Kondo published an English translation of her best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” in 2014, her popularity skyrocketed earlier this year after Netflix released eight episodes of her new series on Jan. 1 (Netflix told CNN that Kondo’s Instagram follower count was at 710,000 before the show launched; it’s now at 2.4 million). Each episode follows one family or individual as they work with Kondo to reorganize and simplify their homes and lives.

Boltz, 39, said she knew immediately after watching that she had to try implementing Kondo’s techniques in her house in Thornton. And she’s not alone: Across the Front Range, people are purging their closets, folding their T-shirts into Kondo’s signature small rectangles and expressing gratitude to their homes and belongings (another key tenet of Kondo’s philosophy).

Colorado thrift and consignment shops are feeling the Kondo craze, too, as their donation bins and clothing racks are overflowing, thanks in part to the show’s popularity.

“I knew we wouldn’t be perfect, but we had to try,” Boltz said. “It was worth the chance of not being angry every day at our surroundings.”

Provided by Jennifer BoltzThe laundry room of Jennifer Boltz’s Thornton home before she organized, left, and after.

Boltz and her husband piled all of their clothing onto their bed and went through Kondo’s process of deciding which items sparked joy and which items didn’t. In the end, they spent four days sorting and donated 11 garbage bags full of clothing to a local thrift store. They’ve since moved on to their two kids’ rooms, the kitchen and the laundry room.

Now, Boltz said, where she was once frustrated and tense, she is now calm, happy and relieved.

“My mood is better, our space is better and it impacts everything in a positive way,” said Boltz, a stay-at-home mom who runs a business selling toothpaste from her phone. “My family is getting the best of me now, rather than the worst.”

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostEva Macias, sales lead, pulls clothes off the rack to display on store mannequins at the Goodwill Thrift Store at 21 S. Broadway on Feb. 18.

Places like Peak Thrift in Denver are also reaping the benefits of the Kondo movement. The store is a social enterprise of Urban Peak, a nonprofit that provides services for children and young adults who are experiencing homelessness or who are on the verge of being homeless. In addition to the thrift store, Urban Peak has an overnight shelter, a daytime drop-in center, education and employment programs, and supportive housing.

Since the show dropped in January, the store has seen a massive influx in donations, says Chris Venable, manager of social enterprise for Urban Peak and Peak Thrift. By his estimate, clothing donations have doubled.

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“It’s pretty crazy,” he says. “Pretty consistently, starting that second week of January, we’ve had people coming in and saying, ‘I just watched Marie Kondo and here are 12 bags of clothes we don’t need anymore.’ ”

Peak Thrift regularly accepts donations from the Denver location of Buffalo Exchange, a national chain that buys and sells used clothing and accessories. The retailer has also noticed a huge uptick in the number of people trying to sell their clothing after implementing the KonMari method.

“People seem to be really responsive to this idea of sparking joy and only keeping things that make them happy,” says Greg Maronde, operations facilitator for Buffalo Exchange in Denver. “It seems like two out of every 10 people have said, ‘I saw the show and that’s why I’m bringing my clothes here today.’ ”

Maronde says sales have also been higher recently, perhaps because bargain-hunters are hoping to capitalize on the wave of new items hitting the shelves of local thrift and resale shops.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostAmina Gilbert, left, and Peter Muschinski try on hats while they shop at the Goodwill Thrift Store at 21 S. Broadway on Feb. 18.

Case in point: Dustin Moody, 34, and his wife Laura, 30, were inspired by Kondo to organize and declutter their Westminster home. But then, Moody found himself affected by the show in another way: He visited nearby thrift shops while looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for his wife, an uncharacteristic choice on his part.

“Thrift stores are not somewhere I go when I’m looking for things,” Moody said. “But I started at the mall, which I hate, and realized there’s no reason to go looking for a bar cart new — surely someone has gotten rid of one. With so many people donating right now because of the show, I figured I could find something good.”

At Denver-area Goodwills, donations have been “steady and strong” for this time of year, says spokeswoman Jessica Hudgins Smith. While it’s difficult to separate normal spring cleaning and New Year’s resolution donations from Kondo-inspired donations, Goodwill is happy that the show is drawing attention to local charities, she added.

“By donating to Goodwill, what no longer ‘sparks joy’ for you will certainly ‘spark joy’ for tens of thousands of Coloradans in need through Goodwill’s career development programming,” she said.

The series may also be raising awareness about the field of professional organizing at-large, though Denver-area professionals are quick to point out that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to organizing and decluttering. In fact, many professional organizers use methods that differ greatly from the one shown on the show, so if KonMari isn’t your style, don’t worry — there are tons of other options out there. And, you don’t have to go it alone when you feel the urge to tidy up your home.

“We always get a lot of January business, but I’m guessing the show may be in the back of people’s minds,” said Christina Morton, owner of The Organizing Co. “It’s definitely creating awareness, which is wonderful, and we really appreciate that. We’re happy to help people.”

16 tips from Front Range professional organizers to help you get started

Provided by Jennifer BoltzA cabinet in Jennifer Boltz’s Thornton home before she cleaned it up, left, and after.

Even if you haven’t watched the “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” series on Netflix, you might feel inspired to take a stab at organizing, rearranging and generally decluttering your home. Since the process can be a lot to wrap your head around, we asked Front Range professional organizers for some advice. Here are 16 tips to help you get started.

  1. Start small

It’s OK to organize one cupboard or one drawer at a time, says Meghan Siddall Maxson, owner and organizer at Streamlined Living Colorado. The important thing is that you just get started.

  1. Be realistic

Set yourself up to succeed by creating realistic goals and deadlines, Maxson says. After all, this type of work can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. “Pay attention to how you’re feeling and give yourself attainable deadlines like, ‘I will declutter and purge one bathroom cabinet by the end of the week,’ ” she said.

  1. Set a timer

Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of spending an entire Saturday decluttering and organizing? Set a timer for 15 minutes and start there, Maxson says. If you can break this seemingly giant task down into smaller chunks, it won’t be so intimidating.

  1. Ask for help

Don’t feel defeated or ashamed if you feel like you can’t tackle organizing on your own. On “Tidying Up,” Kondo often gives instructions and then leaves a family to their own devices before returning a week later. In reality, many local professional organizers will be there with you every step of the way, or they can offer a more tailored level of guidance, depending on your preference.

“So many people are like, ‘I could never do that on my own,’ especially if they’re had a really rough year or they moved or they have a new baby,” says Samantha Tobia, owner of Demessify. “These are things we all deal with and it’s OK if you need to hire out some extra help and support.”

  1. Declutter first, then organize

And not the other way around. You first need to know how many items you have before you can create a system for keeping that area tidy, Tobia says.

  1. Get creative

Use whatever organizing devices are handy. You don’t have to run to The Container Store and spend hundreds of dollars on fancy boxes and systems — use old shoe boxes or other items you have around the house, Tobia says.

  1. Value your time and energy

Don’t overlook the importance of a tidy space. Kondo makes this abundantly clear on the show and in her books, but it’s a point that deserves repeating: A happy, organized home can help you in other areas of your life. “A lot of clients have found that because their home is organized, they had the mental and emotional energy to tackle some bigger goals in life, like losing weight,” said Christina Morton, owner of The Organizing Co.

  1. Get an estimate

Hiring someone may not be as expensive as you think, in part because professional organizers do this every day, so they’re quick and efficient, Morton says. While you might look at your closet and think, “This will take me all weekend,” a professional organizer might be able to get it into tip-top shape in just a few hours. Some organizers, including Morton, also offer free estimates.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostThe Goodwill Thrift Store at 21 S. Broadway has a variety of clothing, accessories, furniture, kids toys, household items and more.
  1. Don’t worry about purging

You don’t necessarily have to get rid of things, Morton says. Her theory is that you’ll naturally get rid of items as a result of organizing. Once you see all of your clothes, you might realize you have several variations of the same shirt and feel inclined to get rid of the duplicates. “It’s not always so much about getting rid of things,” she said. “It’s about being organized and using your space better.” 

  1. Look to the future

Don’t get hung up on your old life, Morton says. Maybe you worked at an office, but are now a stay-at-home parent. While you may someday return to the world of business casual, that’s not necessarily a good reason to keep a closet full of pantsuits for years and years, Morton says.

  1. Downsize and optimize

Look for efficiencies. Do you have one product or tool that can do the job of multiple items? This may be especially useful advice in the kitchen, where gadgets tend to take over every nook and cranny, Morton says.

  1. Make it easy to put back

Make sure you create a system that encourages you to put items back where they belong. This will help prevent your home from devolving into total disarray again. “If it’s not easy to put back, then nobody’s going to do it,” Morton says.

  1. Start fresh

Since the process can require quite a bit of mental and physical energy, consider blocking off some time in your schedule when you are fresh and can really “attack” an area, such as first thing in the morning, says Katie Siefermann, owner and organizer at Fall Into Place Organizing.

  1. Keep it moving

While it may be tempting to go down the rabbit hole when you’re organizing, try to keep the big picture in mind while you sort through items, Siefermann said. Rather than prolong the process by overthinking it, keep pushing forward. Sort items into categories, then deal with trickier or more emotionally charged items later.

  1. Change your habits

Organizing is not a one-time event, Siefermann says. It requires ongoing maintenance. One easy change? Stop bringing so many items into your home in the first place. “Cancel junk mail, curb your Amazon spending habits, create an ‘experience’ wishlist instead of a gift wishlist for birthdays and holidays and say no to freebies,” she said.

  1. Let go of gifts

Siefermann says people often have a hard time getting rid of gifts. But, in the spirit of Marie Kondo, if an item does not spark joy but instead sparks guilt, it’s time to let it go, she said.

What to donate and what to trash

Remember that it costs thrift stores and charities money when they have to dispose of trash and other items they cannot accept. Generally speaking, you’ll want to stick to donating “gently used” items when possible, says Chris Venable of Peak Thrift. But it’s also a good idea to call ahead or check the specific organization’s website for guidance before you load up your car.

Some places, including Goodwill and Best Buy, can help you recycle electronics — but not all electronics are accepted, so check first.

For a list of the items Goodwill can and cannot accept, visit goodwilldenver.org/donate/stuff/stuff.html.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Colorado “red flag” gun bill testimony begins, with law enforcement arguing both for and against

February 21, 2019 - 4:38pm

Colorado law enforcement officials, gun owners and those directly touched by gun violence renewed the debate Thursday over a bill that would allow the removal of firearms from owners believed to have a high risk of harming themselves or others.

The debate at the House Judiciary Committee hearing kicked off state Democratic lawmakers’ second attempt to pass a red flag bill, also called an extreme risk protection order bill. In 2018, a similar piece of legislation failed to pass out of a Republican-controlled Senate. This year, however, Democrats hold the majority in both chambers.

“I have to tell you that this is a strange day for me. Today would have been Zach Parrish’s 31st birthday,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told the House Judiciary Committee during testimony in support of the bill.

Spurlock’s deputy, Zackari Parrish, was shot and killed by Matthew Riehl at a Highlands Ranch apartment complex in December 2017 after trying to negotiate with Riehl, who was in the midst of a mental health crisis. The bill’s sponsors, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, named the bill after the fallen deputy.

Spurlock told the committee he believes Parrish would be alive today had this law been in effect back in 2017. His deputies knew Riehl was spiraling out of control for weeks.

“His mother called law enforcement,” Spurlock said. “His mother said, ‘Help me.'”

The bill would let law enforcement, a family member or a household member ask a judge to temporarily remove a person’s firearms. The judge would hold a hearing — without the gun owner being present — to decide whether to grant that order for up to 14 days.

During those two weeks, all the parties would have to appear before the judge, who would then determine whether the firearms should be kept for up to 364 days.

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams asked the committee to vote against the bill said lawmakers should instead focus their efforts on changing Colorado’s emergency mental health hold law.

“I know that mental health reform seems like a daunting topic, but that is the true issue here,” Reams said.

The threshold for committing someone on a 72-hour mental health hold in Colorado is “imminent danger,” whereas the proposed extreme risk protection order would let a judge to look at the “preponderance of the evidence” to decide whether someone “poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody.”

Lowering the threshold for a mental health hold to something like significant risk isn’t without its own problems, Garnett said, noting that being mentally ill is not a crime.

“Amending the mental health law will not fit this need,” Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown said. “We are broadening the scope of who this could apply to, to people who are not mentally disabled but are just really, really angry.”

Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, a Republican, was an outspoken supporter of Colorado’s 2018 red flag bill, but he testified against the 2019 version Thursday night. He said the changes made over the last year “went too far.”

Brauchler’s main problem with the current bill is a shift in the burden of proof for returning firearms from the petitioner to the gun owner.

“When it comes to depriving someone of their rights, I think the burden ought to always be on the petitioner,” he said.

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Two other concerns repeated throughout the hours of testimony by opponents were the potential for abuse of this law by a spiteful former spouse and the risk of someone being shot by police because they are surprised by a knock at the door to serve a warrant for their weapons.

Spurlock told the committee his officers would have waited until Riehl left the apartment to serve an order for his weapons, but Maryland police shot and killed a man in November 2018 while attempting to enforce their state’s extreme risk protection order law.

Kelly Murphy, whose brother is serving a life sentence after he shot his wife and killed his neighbor during what she described as a delusional episode, said this law could have helped her family intervene before the shooting happened.

“We had no way to intervene. His poor wife was waiting until he was crazy enough to call 911 … ,” Murphy said. “I have had talks with my brother in prison. He’s told me he wishes to God there was something someone could have done to have stopped it from happening.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Categories: All Denver News.

Jussie Smollett gave detailed instructions for fake attack, prosecutor says

February 21, 2019 - 4:18pm

CHICAGO — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett gave detailed instructions to two brothers who helped him stage a racist, anti-gay attack on himself, including giving them specific slurs to yell, telling them to shout “MAGA country” and pointing out a surveillance camera that he thought would record the beating, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Police said Smollett planned the hoax because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career. Before the attack, he also sent a letter that threatened him to the Chicago studio where “Empire” is shot, police said.

Smollett, who is black and gay, turned himself in to face accusations that he filed a false police report last month when he told authorities he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two masked men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck, police said.

The actor “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

“This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve,” he added.

As part of the instructions, Smollett also told the brothers to put the rope around his neck, Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier told a news conference.

His plans for the surveillance camera were thwarted. Police say it was pointed another way and did not have a view of the beating.

At Smollett’s first court appearance, a judge set bond at $100,000, meaning that he had to post $10,000 to be released. Smollett’s attorneys asked for him to be freed on his own recognizance, but the judge, who is also black, rejected that idea and said he was particularly bothered by the allegations involving the noose.

Smollett, who was released a couple of hours after the hearing, said little during the proceedings, except to state his name. The actor, his attorneys and supporters left without speaking to reporters.

One of the attorneys, Jack Prior, told the judge that Smollett “maintains these are outrageous allegations” and denies they are true.

The FBI has been investigating the threatening letter. Johnson would not say whether Smollett could face additional charges for that.

The companies that make “Empire,” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, issued a statement Thursday saying that they were “evaluating the situation” and “considering our options.”

In less than a month, Smollett went from being the seemingly sympathetic victim of a hate crime to being accused of fabricating the entire thing. The 36-year-old was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct, a charge that could bring up to three years in prison and force the actor to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a Jan. 29 beating.

Police treated Smollett as a victim until the two brothers , who had been taken into custody for questioning, admitted to helping him stage the attack, Johnson said.

It was the brothers who also explained Smollett’s motive to detectives. Authorities have a check for $3,500 that Smollett paid the brothers, he said.

Smollett, who plays a gay character on the show that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry, said he was attacked as he was walking home from a downtown Subway sandwich shop. He said the men yelled “This is MAGA country” — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” — before fleeing.

In describing what police believe actually happened, Johnson made it sound as if Smollett was casting and directing a short movie.

“He probably knew he needed somebody with bulk,” he said of Smollett’s decision to hire the two muscular brothers. Police have said at least one of the brothers worked on “Empire,” and Smollett’s attorneys said one of the men is the actor’s personal trainer.

The brothers, who are not considered suspects, wore gloves during the staged attack and “punched him a little bit,” Johnson said. The scratches and bruising Smollett had on his face were “most likely self-inflicted,” Johnson said.

Detectives found the two brothers after reviewing hundreds of hours of video. They released images of two people they said they wanted to question and last week picked up the pair at O’Hare Airport as they returned from Nigeria. Police questioned the men and searched their apartment.

The brothers, who were identified by their attorney as Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, were held for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett.

The two appeared before a grand jury on Wednesday to “lock in their testimony,” according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. Smollett was charged by prosecutors, not the grand jury.

Speaking outside the courthouse where the grand jury met, the brothers’ attorney said the two men testified for about two and a half hours.

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“There was a point where this story needed to be told, and they manned up and they said we’re going to correct this,” Gloria Schmidt said.

She said her clients did not care about a plea deal or immunity. “You don’t need immunity when you have the truth,” she said.

Smollett has been active in LBGTQ issues, and initial reports of the assault drew outrage and support for him on social media, including from Sen. Kamala Harris of California and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Referring to a published account of the attack, Trump said last month that “it doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.” On Thursday, he tweeted to Smollett: “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Peter Lambert drawing attention as Rockies’ top pitching prospect in camp

February 21, 2019 - 4:10pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — At every spring training camp there is a young pitcher who draws attention like a lightning rod. For the Rockies, that pitcher this spring is right-hander Peter Lambert. He’s 21, looks like a teenager and is maturing on the mound at a rapid rate.

“The thing that impresses me about Peter is his feel to pitch for such a young pitcher,” manager Bud Black said Thursday. “He’s not a thrower like you see with a lot of younger players with good arms. He truly has a plan. He knows himself. He knows his stuff. That’s really, really great for a guy his age.”

Lambert, who advanced to Triple-A Albuquerque on June 30 last season, is not an immediate candidate to make the starting rotation, but he’s certainly a pitcher on the rise.

“I try to keep that out of my head as much as possible, just because I don’t want that distraction,” he said about the possibility of making his big-league debut in 2019. “I don’t want to look too far ahead of myself.”

Lambert, selected out of San Dimas (Calif.) High School in the second round of the 2015 draft, went 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA at Double-A Hartford last season, then went 2-5 with a 5.04 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A. His fastball can touch 94-95 mph, but usually comes to the plate in the low 90s.

“He’s got a lot of great pitching qualities to go with a good arm,” Black said. “It’s a package of pitches that’s going to play in the big leagues. He still needs a few things to be finished off. But his arsenal is solid — fastball, he’s got a curve, he’s got a good change. He commands the fastball. The fastball’s got life to it. He’s working on a bit of a slider to become his fourth pitch, but he’s got a good one.”

RELATED: Rockies’ fifth starter: Chad Bettis, Antonio Senzatela or Jeff Hoffman?

Fuentes update. Infield prospect Josh Fuentes shrugged his shoulders.

“What are you going to do? I just have to sit this out and make the most of my next chance,” Fuentes said Thursday, a day after undergoing surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand.

“Because of the stitches, I can’t really do much of anything right now,” Fuentes said. “So that’s kind of tough. But it is what it is. Injuries are going to happen.”

Fuentes,  26, signed with the Rockies as an undrafted free agent in 2014. A terrific season at Triple-A last year earned him his first invitation to big-league camp. “It’s frustrating, but I was going to start at Triple-A this year anyway,” he said.

Fuentes, the younger cousin of Rockies all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado, is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. He injured his hand on Sunday during live batting practice.

Categories: All Denver News.

Rockies’ fifth starter: Chad Bettis, Antonio Senzatela or Jeff Hoffman?

February 21, 2019 - 4:07pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Freeland doesn’t mess around when he talks about the potential of Colorado starters.

“Our rotation can stack up against anybody’s,” said the left-hander, who finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award voting last year.

Raw numbers support Freeland’s sunny sentiment. The Rockies’ rotation posted a 4.17 ERA last season, the second-lowest mark in franchise history behind the 4.10 mark of the 2007 World Series team. The Rockies’ 87 quality starts were third-most in the NL behind the Dodgers (95) and Brewers (91).

Barring injury, the first four spots are set, with Freeland backed up by right-hander German Marquez, lefty Tyler Anderson and righty Jon Gray. That leaves one slot wide open.

The three main candidates — Chad Bettis, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman — are all right-handers. Following is a closer look at the trio:

Bettis: He’s the club’s oldest and most-experienced starter. Bettis, 29, has endured a lot over the last two years, battling back from testicular cancer in 2017 and dealing with painful blisters on his middle-right finger last season. Now the veteran is in limbo, wondering if his future is in the rotation or the bullpen.

“I want to be a starter, but really, I’m here to win, so whether that’s starting or being in the bullpen, I really don’t care. I just want a ring,” he said.

Bettis, whose low-90s, four-seam fastball disqualifies him as a power pitcher, makes up for the lack of raw heat with command, an excellent changeup and a savvy game plan. Early last season, he showed how effective he can be, starting out 4-1 with a 3.27 ERA through nine starts before persistent blisters sent him to the injury list.

“It was such a frustrating situation for Chad,” said Rockies manager Bud Black. “There was nothing he could do about that. But when he was healthy, he pitched well.”

During the offseason, Bettis worked on developing a more effective and dependable slider.

RELATED: Peter Lambert drawing attention as Rockies’ top pitching prospect in camp

Senzatela: The phrase “work-in-progress” defines him at this stage of his career. He’s 24 and throws a 94.5 mph fastball, but that’s not enough to win consistently. He still needs to develop effective secondary pitches.

“His fastball plays,” Black said. “In his curve, his slider and his changeup, we have seen flashes of big-league quality pitches, but his breaking ball has to become more consistent. You can’t have one good, one bad. You can’t pitch like that in the big leagues.”

“The (key) for me is being able to make pitches come out of my hand looking like a fastball,” Senzatela said. “And I want to be able to throw my (secondary pitches) in any count.”

Hoffman: There is no question that the 6-foot-5 Hoffman has the pedigree and the raw talent to be a big-league starter. After all, he was the ninth overall pick of the 2014 draft, throws a fastball that can reach 99 mph and can snap off a big-breaking curveball.

“He was a No. 1 draft pick for a reason,” Black said. “He still has the capability to show that talent, with his fastball and with his stuff.”

But, he has yet to produce in the majors. Since making his big-league debut in 2016, Hoffman is 6-9 with a 5.88 ERA in 37 games, including 22 starts.

“For me, it’s about getting back to who I am, and that’s being a powerful pitcher,” said Hoffman, who was slowed by a shoulder injury suffered during spring training last year.

Taking the fifth
Three candidates are competing for the Rockies’ fifth spot in the rotation:

RHP Chad Bettis
Age: 29
2018: 5-2, 5.01 ERA (20 starts, seven relief appearances)
Best pitch: Changeup
Developing pitch: Slider

RHP Antonio Senzatela
Age: 24
2018: 6-6, 4.38 ERA (13 starts, 10 relief appearances)
Best pitch: Four-seam fastball
Developing pitch: Slider or curveball

RHP Jeff Hoffman
Age: 26
2018: 0-0, 9.35 ERA (one start, five relief appearances)
Best pitch: Four-seam fastball
Developing pitch: Curveball

Categories: All Denver News.

USGA announces six U.S. Amateur sites including a return to Cherry Hills Country Club in 2023

February 21, 2019 - 4:04pm

The United States Golf Association announced Thursday sites of six future U.S. Amateur Championships — 2021 through 2026.

The updated list of future courses is comprised of classic tracks that have historical significance to the USGA and its oldest championship.

Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania will host the U.S. Amateur in 2021, followed by 2022 at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. The USGA then heads Cherry Hills Country Club in 2023.

After Cherry Hills, the U.S. Amateur stops in Minnesota in 2024 at Hazeltine National Golf Club, followed by The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. in 2025 and Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania rounds out the list.

The 2023 event will mark the third time Cherry Hills has hosted a U.S. Amateur Championship, which will be its 10th overall USGA event. The last U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills was won by Steven Fox in 2012.

“To have the U.S. Amateur back at historic Cherry Hills is amazing,” said Fox in a USGA news release. “It’s one of the best courses to play but what makes it special are the staff and members. It’s truly an honor to win at such a great club.”

The other U.S. Amateur winner at Cherry Hills is a 44-time winner on the PGA Tour who has captured five major championships, Phil Mickelson. A 20-year-old Mickelson took home the championship in 1990 when he was a student-athlete at Arizona State.

Cherry Hills has hosted three U.S. Opens. Arnold Palmer shot a 65 in the final round back in 1960, the only U.S. Open win of his career. Other winners are Ralph Guldahl in 1938 and Andy North in 1978, the last time Cherry Hills hosted a U.S. Open.

RELATED: Arnold Palmer begins new era with U.S. Open win at Cherry Hills

The last tournament Cherry Hills hosted was the BMW Championship in 2014.

Categories: All Denver News.

Book review: Heller’s “The River” is a fiery tour de force

February 21, 2019 - 3:54pm

Fiction
The River
By Peter Heller
(Knopf)

There is a line in Peter Heller’s newest book, “The River,” that one could use to explain it.

On the page, it’s referring to the northern lights, but it’s also a perfect description of the captivating and poetic thriller: “It was terrifying and unutterably beautiful.”

Jack and Wynn are college buddies, men whose friendship has been forged by their mutual love of books and the outdoors. They’re on a long canoeing trip in northern Canada that unexpectedly takes a turn into part mystery (a man, likely in shock, whose wife has gone missing in the woods) and part action-adventure (there’s a giant, hellish forest fire burning behind them).

“The River” is Heller’s fourth work of fiction, and it recalls his debut, “The Dog Stars,” with its poetic, staccato sentences and masterfully crafted prose. Not to mention a Colorado connection — Heller lives in Denver. “The Dog Stars” was set along the Front Range, and, here, Jack grows up on a ranch outside of Granby, learning survival and toughness in the rugged Colorado landscapes.

The story itself resembles a trip down a river — some parts are peaceful and allow for quiet introspection and big, deep breaths. But then you hit the rapids and the danger and risk jump off the page, forcing a sense of urgency.

In those thrilling parts, reading required self-discipline. I wanted to know what happened so badly that I’d read too fast and had to retrace my steps to savor Heller’s storytelling.

And what a story he tells. On the technical side, it’s brimming with authenticity and there was more than enough gear talk. (I have never been in a canoe. I have seen “Deliverance,” and that’s close enough, but I didn’t get lost in jargon.) Heller is an experienced outdoorsman and whitewater kayaker, (so, of course he lives in Colorado), and it shows here.

The wilderness is more a character than a setting, and Heller captures its duality. The serenity of drifting down a calm river at night: “They loved how the darkness amplified the sounds — the gulp of the dipping paddles, the knock of the wood shaft against the gunwale. The long desolate cry of a loon.” And the sheer terror of a wildfire baring down: “The burning debris rained down, they swiped it off arms, shoulders … an inconstant blizzard of sparks, bunches of pine needles flaming like flares, birch leaves ignited to molten lace rained down, but the wind had gone quiet, it eddied as if confused, circled around them like a dog settling for sleep … .”

With Heller’s background, the fully developed main characters are entirely credible. Jack is cautious and watchful, his childhood shadowed by a tragedy, and Wynn is a Vermont kid who believes in the goodness of people. But they are both just carefree college boys who are largely unprepared for the events that await them on what was supposed to be a trip full of fishing and stargazing.

That includes finding the wife of the man who Jack and Wynn encounter, severely injured and near death, and crossing paths with two drunken rednecks before the wildfire — and the intention of the man the find paddling down the river — forces a fight of survival.

At the heart of the book is the delicate dance of beauty and brutality. And it plays out in the wilderness that Jack and Wynn seek out and in the characters themselves — and in the people they meet.

The wildfire is fearsome and unpredictable, burning one tree down, only to leave another unscathed. So, too, is one man’s violence or another man’s hubris.

I could not put this book down. It truly was terrifying and unutterably beautiful.

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From yogurt to spaghetti to stew, Instant Pot does it all

February 21, 2019 - 3:38pm

It appears that my aptitude with a kitchen appliance is in direct proportion to my faith in its name.

For instance, my Crock-Pot truly is a paleo appliance, no pretense, just a piece of crockery atop a hotplate. Easy peasy. Same with my Smart Stick immersion blender. I’m still surprised how it just purees slop into silk when all I do is stick it into the pot.

But sometimes an appliance’s name or instructions seem extreme to me, in the too-good-to-be-true way. For instance, in 1980, while on a babysitting job, the child’s mother told me that “17 minutes” in the Amana Touchmatic Radarange would cook the chicken thighs through.

“Yeah,” I said to myself, “right.”

After she left, I set the High Power button for 70 minutes because, obviously, that’s the number she meant.

The chicken’s bones blackened from the inside out and exploded.

Then, for Christmas two years ago, my son, Colin, and his mom gave me an Instant Pot.

“Instant, my frijoles,” I said (not to myself).

Christmas morning, I looked at this little R2-D2 with a plug and put it away. I couldn’t believe that this thing could improve on Ye Olde Crock Pot.

I was wrong. So wrong.

Colin made a shoulder of pulled pork with his Instant Pot, in an hour and a half, that was in every way — especially tenderness — like that of a six-hour slow cook. (Below, he makes green chile. And others provide recipes for Instant Pot Spaghetti; Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder; and Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowls with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette.)

I’ve made jasmine and basmati and Louisiana Long with the Instant Pot’s rice cooker function and they are all three far better — and less stressful — made that way than anything I’ve ever done with raw rice atop the stove or in the oven.

And I get rhapsodic about Instant Pot yogurt. I adore yogurt and eat at least half a quart a day. The Instant Pot lets me batch up a gallon at a time. Its great asset, in this area of the lactic arts, is how it holds a perfect incubation temperature of exactly 110 degrees for as long as you desire it. (I pull a nice 12-hour all-nighter.)

Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver PostColin St. John closes the lid and sets a timer to 25 minutes while preparing green chili in an Instant Pot Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.

So I now longer use Ye Olde Crock-Pot. (Well, maybe to keep things warm for a buffet item at a large dinner.)

Moreover, the Instant Pot has taught me several important things about itself:

  •  Use at least 1/2 cup of liquid when cooking anything on Pressure Cook.
  •  If using a standard recipe (say, from a non-Instant Pot cookbook), add 10 to 15 minutes to the overall cooking time stipulated in the recipe. The Instant Pot needs those extra minutes to do its initial pressurizing warm-up.
  •  Set the venting lever before you set any cooking buttons.
  •  Learn the difference between Natural Release (leaving the machine to drop the pressure slowly on its own after its cooking) and Quick Release (when you manually turn the venting knob to finish or stop the cooking).
  •  Do not use your fingers to move the venting lever from Sealing to Venting; use a spoon handle or some other implement. And keep your face away from looking at the valve as you turn it.

Instant Pot Yogurt 

After you make yogurt in the Instant Pot way, you may take the further step to “Greek” it, if you wish. Or you can make “labni” (sometimes spelled “labneh”), a sort of yogurt cheese popular in the Levant made by draining yogurt of its whey for more than merely a few hours. This main recipe makes 1 gallon yogurt, or 2 quarts of Greek-style, or less of labni. I do not use the Instant Pot for the initial heating of milk (and, in this recipe, cream), but rather Ye Olde Stovetop. It’s quicker, less messy and, in this instance, safer and more reliable. — Bill St. John

Colin St. John, Special to The Denver PostTo make Greek-style yogurt: Place the finished yogurt in a sieve or colander, lined with rinsed and squeezed muslin or several layers of open-weave cheesecloth, and set over a bowl sufficiently large to catch one-half of the volume of the yogurt of its whey.

Ingredients

1 gallon whole milk

1 quart half-and-half

2 tablespoons plain yogurt with active live cultures (store-bought or from a previous homemade batch), in a cup or bowl, at room temperature

Directions

In a large pot on stovetop, heat milk and half-and-half over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until temperature reads 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. FIll the Instant Pot’s inner pot halfway with hot water from the tap and set aside to warm it.

Cool the milk, either off the heat or in a water and ice bath, until the heat lowers to 108 degrees measured on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. Empty and dry the inner pot and place inside the Instant Pot. Quickly temper the 2 tablespoons of yogurt with some of the heated milk and stir back into the heated milk. Transfer the milk to the Instant Pot, close the lid, press the Yogurt button and adjust the time to your taste, from 8 hours (slightly tart yogurt) to up to 12 hours (appreciably tart yogurt).

To make Greek-style yogurt: Place the finished yogurt in a sieve or colander, lined with rinsed and squeezed muslin or several layers of open-weave cheesecloth, and set over a bowl sufficiently large to catch 1/2 of the volume of the yogurt of its whey. Place in very cold or refrigerated spot for between 4 hours (moderately firm Greek style) to up to 8 hours (very firm Greek or labni/labneh style).

———————

Colin St. John closes the lid and sets a timer to 25 minutes while preparing green chile in an Instant Pot on Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

My father traveled a lot when I was a kid. He attended many food and wine conferences, festivals and junkets, all over the world. But when he’d get back from the Rhône Valley or Mendoza, an American boy stepped off the plane. Not just any sort of American boy: one born and raised in Colorado. He’d often want a burger to welcome him home, yes, but he’d want it with a side of or smothered in green chile.

My mother and I happily obliged. We usually got take-out from the old location of Annie’s Cafe on Eighth Avenue in Denver, which was close to our house. I can still remember the salty fries being slightly limp from the Styrofoam-encased journey home and that chile, same as it is today: big chunks of pork swimming in just the right amount of spice.

In time, this Colorado-bred boy became addicted, too. We’d sit in the corner booth at the Cherry Cricket and, soon, I didn’t even need a burger: just a bowl of the green stuff. Later, Dad and I would belly up to El Taco de Mexico and I’d experience green chile as more of a sauce than stew — didn’t matter to me; keep it coming.

Then came college, Boston, graduation and New York City. Those beginning years were lean for chile verde consumption. I eventually learned that the only way I could eat the defining dish of my childhood was to make it myself. I would get frozen Hatch chiles from a Denver grocery store and slide them into my suitcase. (Believe it or not, to this day, it’s still almost impossible to find roasted green chiles in Gotham.) I tried a few recipes and eventually settled on a favorite that is, quite fittingly, from The Denver Post.

When the Instant Pot hype reached the point that my kitchen would feel incomplete without one, I was most excited to use it as a rice cooker. And there’s no doubt it does a bang-up job in that department. But my interests and appetites soon pivoted to meat and how well the Instant Pot could break it up — and how quickly. So, I used it to put a beating on all sorts of inexpensive cuts, from pork butts to beef briskets. And what a terrific job it did.

Then, one day I was making green chile the old-fashioned way, on the stovetop, as my Instant Pot sat within view — lonely, unplugged. Wait a second, I thought. Why haven’t I tried to make it in that?

The next time I did. I wouldn’t be going back to the stockpot anytime soon. — Colin St. John 

Instant Pot Chile Verde

Colin St. John prepares green chile in an Instant Pot on Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

Adapted from a recipe created by legendary Denver Post food editor Helen Dollaghan. It was reprinted in 2014, with an introduction by Kristen Browning-Blas. Serves 4

Note: The most ubiquitous chiles on the Front Range are from Select New Mexico (which is actually a Denver-based company) and Bueno. Chiles almost always only come in “hot” and “mild.” If you prefer a medium heat, buy a package of each and double the recipe. Or add some jalapenos or serranos to a mild batch. If you use fresh chiles, chop them and add at least enough broth to cover to the rest of the ingredients.

Many stores carry “pork stew meat” that is already cut into pieces, which works just great. Also,  this recipe can easily be doubled; brown the pork in batches so as not to overcrowd the pot.

Ingredients

1 pound pork, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (lean pork shoulder, loin or chop)

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 1/2 tablespoons dark chile powder

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 medium onion, diced

1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth

1 24-ounce package or 2 13-ounce packages frozen roasted green chiles, defrosted (or the equivalent in fresh-roasted green chiles)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 lime, halved

Sides of flour or corn tortillas, crumbled tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges, shredded cheese

Directions

Set Instant Pot to Sauté and, once hot, add oil and pork. Brown pork on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Add cumin, chile powder, oregano, garlic and onion, and stir well. Add broth, chopped chiles, tomato paste and squeeze of one half of lime. Stir well; sauté until mixture in pot just begins to bubble. Press Cancel.

Close the lid and cook on High Pressure for 25 minutes, then allow for 5 minutes Natural Release followed by a Quick Release. Open the lid and serve with the sides.

For additional chile heat: Add seeded and chopped jalapeño or serrano chiles along with the chopped and roasted green chiles in the cooking pot, or the same, fresh, seeded and finely chopped as part of the sides.

———————————

Instant Pot Spaghetti on Feb. 13, 2019 in Denver. (Photo by Amy Brothers/ MediaNews Group/The Denver Post)

This isn’t dinner-party-level spaghetti. This is I-need-to-feed-my-toddler- something-she’ll-actually-eat spaghetti. The I-came-home-late-dear-God-what-are-we-having-for-dinner spaghetti. And with the miracle of the Instant Pot, once it reaches pressure, this spaghetti only takes 8 minutes to cook. I use a mixture of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage, but you can use all beef or ground turkey if you’re looking for something leaner. And, yes, you can skip the spices and add actual chopped onion and minced garlic, but who has the time? — Alison Borden

Instant Pot Spaghetti

Recipe adapted from thesaltymarshmellow.com

Ingredients
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 lb spaghetti noodles
24 oz spaghetti sauce (you can make your own, but conveniently, this is the size of one jar)
1 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
36 oz water

Directions.
Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the beef and sausage. Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Cook the meat, breaking it into pieces, until it’s browned. Turn the Instant Pot off. Drain any excess grease, if necessary.

Break the spaghetti noodles in half and place them on top of the meat in the Instant Pot. Crisscross the noodles when adding them to avoid them clumping together.  Pour in the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain) and water. Push the noodles down to ensure they are submerged.

Turn the valve to Seal and set the Instant Pot to manual mode or pressure cook, at the high pressure setting, and add 8 minutes of cooking time. When the time is up, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to Venting. Stir the spaghetti well. Serve immediately.

Note: When you first open the lid after cooking, it will appear a little liquidy. Stir well to incorporate the liquid with the noodles. I will occasionally add more spaghetti sauce at this point (another half jar or about 12 ounces of homemade sauce), just to thicken up the mixture.

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Instant Pot Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder on Feb. 13, 2019, in Denver. (Photo by Amy Brothers/ MediaNews Group/The Denver Post)

The reason I love this recipe, aside from sneaking corn into my almost exclusively spaghetti-eating child’s diet, is that the Instant Pot makes quick work of soup-sized potato chunks. Seriously, you get perfectly cooked potatoes in one minute. One minute! — Alison Borden

Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder

From “How to Instant Pot” by Daniel Shumski, Workman Publishing, 2017

Ingredients

5 slices of bacon, cut in half
1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 lb unpeeled red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 bay leaves
2 cups reduced-salt chicken stock
3 cups frozen corn kernels
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp hot sauce

Directions
Line the bottom of the Instant Pot with the bacon slices. Set it to Saute and use the adjust button to select the middle temperature (“Normal”). Cook with the lid off, and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to move the bacon around so it cooks evenly. Cook until the bacon is crisp.

Remove the bacon, allowing it to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate, but leave the fat.

With the Saute function and middle temperature (“Normal”) still selected, add the onion and celery to the bacon fat. Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes and bay leaves. Pour in the chicken stock. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing, press Cancel and then select Pressure Cook at high pressure and set the time to 1 minute.

When the cooking cycle ends, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to venting.

Remove the lid and discard the bay leaves. Add the corn, thyme, salt, pepper, milk and hot sauce. Press Cancel and set the Instant Pot to Saute and adjust to the lowest temperature (“Less”). Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the chowder is hot.

Chop the bacon. Add about half the bacon to the chowder and stir to distribute. Reserve the rest of the bacon to use as garnish.

Serve the chowder hot, garnished with bacon. A little shredded cheddar cheese works, too.

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Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowl from “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook” by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, 2019). Colin Price, for “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook,” Ten Speed Press)

Putting together a grain bowl is even easier when you can cook two of the ingredients in the Instant Pot at the same time. Here, sweet potatoes steam on a tall rack over the quinoa below. Crunchy raw vegetables and a fresh, citrus-based vinaigrette brighten up the bowl. It’s especially important to seek out small, single-serving sweet potatoes for this recipe, since larger ones won’t cook through by the time the quinoa is done. — “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook,” by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, February 2019)

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowls with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Serves 6

2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 1⁄2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

6 small (5-to 6-ounce) sweet potatoes, 1 1⁄2 to 2 inches in diameter

Vinaigrette:

1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)

1⁄3 cup avocado oil or grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1⁄2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1⁄2 small red cabbage (12 ounces), shredded

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips

2 Roma or plum tomatoes, cored and diced

3 medium or 6 tiny avocados, sliced

hot sauce for drizzling

The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, February 2019)

Directions

Add the quinoa and broth to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure all of its legs rest firmly on the bottom of the pot. Place the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the rack.

Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure Cook setting and set the cooking time for 10 minutes at low pressure. (The pot will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)

While the sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a tightly lidded jar, combine the lime juice, oil, agave, salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro. Shake to combine. Set aside.

When the cooking program ends, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and, using tongs, transfer the sweet potatoes to a dish. Wearing heat-resistant mitts, remove the rack, then lift out the inner pot. Use a fork to fluff the quinoa. Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds.

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and tomatoes, and pour in the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Divide the quinoa and cabbage mixtures evenly among serving bowls. Arrange the sweet potato rounds on top, along with the sliced avocado. Drizzle with hot sauce and serve warm.

 

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Failed takeoff at Centennial Airport injures one person in third flight incident in two days

February 21, 2019 - 3:32pm

Another small aircraft incident happened at Centennial Airport Thursday afternoon, the third mishap in two days.

UPDATE: Single-engine light sport aircraft off edge of RWY 10/28. Two persons on board. One injured, being treated by @SouthMetroPIO medics. Aircraft was departing the airport. pic.twitter.com/dRT8rXHuUm

— Centennial Airport (@FlyCentennial) February 21, 2019

The single-engine plane, with two people on board, ran off a runway during takeoff, according to airport officials.

One person suffered “moderate” injuries and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, said Eric Hurst, a South Metro Fire Rescue spokesman. On Wednesday, two planes had runway accidents at the airport.

All three incidents are under investigation by the Denver Flight Standards District Office, said Deborah Smith, an airport spokeswoman.

The general aviation airport does not schedule commercial airline traffic. About 340,000 planes take-off and land annually at Centennial, making it one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country, according to its website.

 

Categories: All Denver News.

Colorado’s four-time high school state wrestling champions

February 21, 2019 - 3:20pm

The 2019 Colorado high school state wrestling tournament takes place Feb. 21-23 at the Pepsi Center and four seniors — Ponderosa’s Cohl Schultz, Greeley Central’s Andrew Alirez, Pomona’s Theorius Robison and Pueblo County’s Brendon Garcia — are vying to join the illustrious list of four-time state champions.

Here is the list of Colorado’s 21 four-time high school state wrestling champions:

Wrestler School Years Fr. So. Jr. Sr. Bob Thompson Montrose 1956-59 165 165 175 175 Dale Stryker Montrose/GJ 1960-63 127 120 127 127 Kevin Barth Holly 1977-80 105 105 112 112 Brent Van Hee Fowler 1983-86 105 112 119 126 Dusty Fix Wray 1985-88 98 112 112 119 Joel Gillmore Arvada West 1991-94 103 103 112 112 Jon Archuleta Alamosa 1992-95 103 103 112 119 Jared Haberman La Junta 1996-99 103 112 112 119 Chris Nissen Standley Lake 2000-03 112 119 140 145 Kyle Sand Arvada West 2001-04 160 171 189 189 Chad Romero Fort Morgan 2001-04 112 119 130 130 Mikael Smith Nucla 2002-05 112 119 130 140 Torben Walters Crowley County 2002-05 171 189 189 189 Kevin LeValley Limon 2004-07 119 130 140 145 Tyler Graff Loveland 2005-08 103 119 130 130 Jake Snider Ponderosa 2007-10 125 140 140 145 Phil Downing Broomfield 2011-14 119 138 145 160 Jesse Reed Paonia 2012-15 113 120 126 126 T.J. Shelton Meeker 2013-16 160 170 170 170 Hunter Willits Pueblo County 2014-17 132 138 152 152 Jacob Greenwood Poudre 2015-18 113 132 138 145 Source: CHSAA Related Articles
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Head of Boulder-born Shambhala, accused of sexual misconduct, will continue leave from leadership role for “foreseeable future”

February 21, 2019 - 2:22pm

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche announced Wednesday that he will “continue to step back” from his role with Shambhala International after dozens of leaders and teachers in the Boulder-born Buddhist community said they no longer could condone his “abusive behavior.”

More than 40 Acharyas, or high-ranking spiritual teachers, signed an open letter issued Tuesday that asked Mipham to step back from his teaching role in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct that first were made public last summer.

“I have decided to honor these requests and will continue to step back from my teaching and administrative duties in Shambhala for the foreseeable future,” Mipham wrote in an email to the Shambhala community on Wednesday.

RELATED: Catholic churches in Colorado will allow former federal prosecutor to review allegations of sex abuse by priests

The request from the Shambhala leaders followed the release earlier this month of a third-party investigation into the allegations that had been commissioned by Shambhala International. Weeks after that report was published, new allegations from six of Mipham’s former bodyguards were aired in a 35-page open letter that claimed the Buddhist leader’s behavior was worse than what was described in Shambhala’s report.

The third-party report released by Shambhala and the open letter from Mipham’s bodyguards detail behavior that included sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

Mipham originally stepped aside in July after the allegations of sexual misconduct first surfaced in the Buddhist Project Sunshine’s three-part report. He previously has acknowledged causing “harm” in his relationships, and on Wednesday offered a fuller public apology. He remains at his wife’s family’s monastery in India.

“I want to express wholeheartedly how sorry I feel about all that has happened. I understand that I am the main source of that suffering and confusion and want to again apologize for this. I am deeply sorry,” he wrote.

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It is unclear how long Mipham will remain in India and away from his role as the spiritual and hereditary leader of Shambhala. The organization, now based in Nova Scotia, was founded in Boulder in the early 1970s by Mipham’s father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

“Even though I will not be engaged in the activities of Shambhala, I will be sending my love and support,” Mipham wrote. “For those students who want to maintain a relationship with me, I will be available for contact and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I plan to stay connected by writing occasional messages and will be in touch with my Vajrayana students in the coming days.”

Mipham’s spokeswoman could not be reached for comment to clarify who is in charge of Shambhala International and how long Mipham will remain away.

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Denver weather: February likely to be metro area’s coldest month in years

February 21, 2019 - 2:13pm

We won’t know for sure until the end of February, of course. But there’s a good chance Denver is in the midst of its coldest month in a few years.

Through Wednesday, the average monthly temperature in Denver was 28.8 degrees, which would make it the city’s coldest average monthly temperature since December 2016, when the average monthly temperature was 27.8 degrees. That 28.8 degrees temperature would also make it Denver’s coldest February since 2014, when the average reading was 28.2 degrees.

That average monthly temperature number, however, will likely fall further over the next few days as an unusually chilly weather pattern stays in Denver through the upcoming weekend. Friday will once again feature well below-average temperatures (along with light snow and freezing rain chances). By this weekend and into the final few days of February, however, the mercury will finally start to climb back up again.

If Denver drops below the 27.8 degrees average monthly temperature reading – a possibility, considering the bitterly cold temperatures that’ll hang around the Front Range through the start of the weekend – that would potentially make this February Denver’s coldest month in nearly a decade. The last time Denver’s average monthly temperature got below 27.8 degrees (the December 2016 reading) was in December 2011.

Long story short: It’s been a solidly cold month in the Mile High City. Through Wednesday, Denver was running almost 3 degrees below average for the month. That’s the biggest gap compared to the norm since May 2015, when Denver was a full 4.1 degrees below average.

RELATED: Denver’s seen less snow than Seattle this winter. But that could soon change.

The cold readings are especially impressive when you factor in the fact that Denver’s had three days so far this month with a high temperature of 60 degrees or above, and another four at 50 degrees or above.

But, a deep trough of low pressure has been anchored over the western U.S. for much of the month, keeping Denver and the Front Range locked into a persistently colder-than-average pattern. It’s also brought us a few shots of snow, though we’re still running a tick below average snow-wise this month.

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That same cold pattern across the West has kept the mountains covered in their deepest powder in years, and it’s even brought snow to places like Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas saw measurable snowfall on Thursday for the first time in over a decade.

Highs in Denver will be stuck in the low 30s on both Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service, before slowly rebounding into the 40s for the weekend. Temperatures could rebound into the 50s by the early-to-mid portion of next week as the core of the coldest air moves east.

Denver’s average high temperature for February 21st is 47 degrees.

Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNation TV.

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Denver police arrest man for investigation of murder in connection to fatal Wednesday shooting

February 21, 2019 - 1:08pm

Denver police have arrested a 38-year-old man for investigation of murder in connection to the shooting death of another man late Wednesday night.

Jarod Raijai Walker, who sustained two gunshot wounds himself, was being held on a first-degree murder in the death of the victim, who has not been identified.

The victim was found lying in a parking lot east of an apartment building at 6900 E. Evans Ave., according to a Denver Police Department probable cause statement.

The victim was pronounced dead at 11:27 p.m. at Denver Health Medical Center, the probable cause statement said.

A witness, whose name was redacted, said he saw a man yelling before shooting another man about five to six times. The witness went to the parking lot and tried to help the man, identified by the police statement as Walker.

Another witness reported seeing a man believed to be Walker fire three shots at another man. The person took cover and then heard two or three more gunshots.

A woman, whose name also was redacted from the report, said she saw Walker carrying a handgun.

The deceased man was found lying about 100 yards from where the shooting took place.

RELATED: Two injured in southeast Denver shooting, police say

 

UPDATE: The shooting investigation in the 6900 block of E. Evans is being investigated as a homicide. One adult male victim was pronounced deceased. The other person transported with GSW is a suspect in this investigation and is being held for investigation of 1st degree murder.

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) February 21, 2019

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