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Updated: 1 hour 14 min ago

Army routs Air Force basketball at Madison Square Garden

December 17, 2017 - 4:03pm

NEW YORK — Jimmy Allen would not go so far as to say youth will be served.

Still, Army’s second-year coach is anticipating Patriot League play, and what transpired Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden is why.

“We’re mainly a lot of freshmen and sophomores. We’re looking to improve every time out,” Allen said. “I’m excited about this group.”

He should be.

Jordan Fox and Jimmy Funk scored 16 points each to lead Army to a 79-54 win over Air Force on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Black Knights (7-4) opened the game with a 25-12 spurt spanning the first 12:26. Crisp ball movement led to uncontested 3-point attempts for Army, which knocked down seven 3s during the stretch. It was 40-31 at halftime as the Falcons missed 22 of 31 shots in the first half, and committed 12 turnovers.

“We work really hard on that. We put a huge emphasis on in our program,” Allen said of the 3-point shooting. “If shooting the right 3s, we want to take as many of those as we can.”

Trevor Lyons scored 18 points for Air Force (5-6), which has lost three straight. Jacob Van added 14, and Ryan Manning finished with 12. The Falcons shot 24.6 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers.

“We have to correct things,” Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. “We have to correct things on both sides of the floor.”

The Black Knights outscored the Falcons 20-13 in the first 8:13 of the second half, highlighted by Fox’s straightaway 3 as the shot clock expired. Army’s lead grew to as much as 27 in the second half after Funk’s shot-clock expiring 3 with 99 seconds left in the game.

BIG PICTURE

Army: The Black Knights could be a handful for Patriot League opponents. Prior to Sunday’s matinee, Army averaged 80.4 points per game on 47-percent shooting from the field, including 42 percent from 3. Against Air Force, Army made 43 percent of its shots.

Air Force: The Falcons essentially entered the game with an even assist-to-turnover margin with 13.9 assists and 13.6 turnovers, but had 21 turnovers and nine assists against Army.

NOTABLE

Army: The Black Knights are in the midst of a season-high eight-game road trip. Army has won four of the seven games it has played during the stretch.

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Air Force: The Falcons have dropped four straight to Army, last winning on Nov. 8, 2013, and fell to 4-6 all-time in the series.

UP NEXT

Army travels to Boston University on Dec. 29.

Air Force hosts Johnson & Wales Friday.



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Cam Newton throws 4 TDs, Panthers spoil Aaron Rodgers’ return in Week 15 action

December 17, 2017 - 4:00pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers spoiled Aaron Rodgers‘ return from a broken collarbone with a 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Damiere Byrd had two touchdown catches, and Christian McCaffrey had 136 yards from scrimmage, including a 7-yard touchdown reception and the Panthers (10-4) won their fourth straight home game.

Greg Olsen had his most productive game since returning from a broken foot, catching nine passes for 116 yards and a TD and the Panthers kept pace with the first-place New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.

Rodgers, making his first appearance since Oct. 15, threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns but was intercepted three times as the Packers’ playoff hopes took a potentially critical blow.

Green Bay (7-7) had a chance to send the game into overtime for a third straight week, but Panthers cornerback James Bradberry stripped wide receiver Geronimo Allison of the ball after a completion at the Carolina 28-yard line with 1:48 remaining. Safety Mike Adams recovered the fumble.

The Panthers trailed 14-10 at halftime, but Newton threw TD passes to Olsen and Byrd in the third quarter to give them a 24-14 lead.

Byrd’s first touchdown, a 9-yard grab in the back of the end zone, came with some controversy. The play was initially ruled an incompletion, but coach Ron Rivera challenged the play and officials overturned the call ruling that Byrd’s backside landed inbounds and overturned the play.

After Green Bay’s field goal cut the Carolina lead to 24-17, Newton found Byrd again on a slant route to make it a two-possession game with 12:29 left in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers started bringing the pressure after that, sack Rodgers three times in the fourth quarter including a takedown by former Packer Julius Peppers on a fourth-and-14 deep in Carolina territory.

But Rodgers struck with a TD pass to Richard Rodgers and the Packers recovered the ensuing onside kick with 2:40 left.

ADAMS CONCUSSION: It didn’t help that Rodgers lost his most productive receiver in the third quarter with a concussion.

Davante Adams took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on an interception return by Colin Jones. As Adams was running to make the tackle on Jones, Davis appeared to launch himself at Adams with a peel-back block, immediately sending the wide receiver to the ground.

Davis was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.

Davis immediately appeared to know what he had done, cupping his head in hands as he sat on the Panthers bench. Adams had five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers before leaving the game.

COMING IN BUNCHES: After going 12 games without an interception, Panthers starting cornerbacks Bradberry and Daryl Worley both have interceptions in back-to-back games. Worley got Rodgers in the first half on a deep route along the left sideline, while Bradberry got one on an underthrown deep ball.

INJURIES

Packers: Linebacker Nick Perry left the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter and did not return.

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Panthers: Wide receiver Russell Shepard left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury and did not return.

UP NEXT

Packers: Host the Vikings on Saturday night.

Panthers: Host the Buccaneers on Sunday.



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Hanukkah is a sweet day at Western Center for Russian Jewry with giant menorah, Candy Land

December 17, 2017 - 4:00pm

Many of the children who gathered at the Western Center for Russian Jewry in Denver on Sunday were too young to understand the significance of Hanukkah, but they won’t soon forget the holiday’s sweetness.

The children, their parents and their grandparents celebrated the Jewish Festival of Lights with a Candy Land-themed party at the WCRJ Community Center in the Hilltop neighborhood.

A path made of construction paper wound past 3-foot-tall replica lollipops and candy canes, a reminder of the board game, which is almost 70 years old. A cheerful, pink troll with a mock cotton candy headdress was on hand, as well as a bouncy castle.

Children made their own “gelt,” a traditional Hanukkah gift of chocolate coins wrapped in foil. And they filled the arms of a 10-foot menorah, a candelabrum with nine branches, with 50 pounds of gum balls.

The eight-day festival, which began Tuesday and will end this Wednesday night, celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple after the Jews drove the Syrians from Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago.

Israel at the time was “ruled by a dictator, and he didn’t want the Jewish people to have Sabbath,” Rabbi Mendy Sirota told the children.

The Syrians “vandalized the Temple, erected an idol on the altar, and desecrated its holiness with the blood of swine,” according to the website myjewishlearning.com. 

Jews were subject to death if they studied Torah, observed the Sabbath or otherwise practiced their religion.

The Jews revolted and reclaimed the Temple Mount. During the rededication of the temple, the story goes, there was only enough oil to keep the menorah burning for a single day. But the flames continued to glow for eight nights.

The kids sat in small clusters and sorted gumballs from plastic trays into cardboard plates with each plate containing one color.

Then they trooped to the giant menorah, where the smaller children were held aloft so they could drop their gumballs into the hollow arms. The bigger kids stood on a step-ladder.

Sirota told them the “Torah and Jewish values are not only right for the world, but they will always be sweet. And they will always bring light to the world.”

Alla Shkolnik, 40, brought her 11-year-old daughter, Liyanna, who goes to Hebrew school at the community center, to the celebration. “It’s nice. They do something different every year, and they include everybody” not only those who are Orthodox Jews, she said.

“It is really cool,” Liyanna said. “Everybody comes together.”

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Many of the parents and grandparents who attended were born in the former Soviet Union, where they were subject to anti-Semitism and barred from celebrating the holiday, Sirota said.

Their history gives the festival even more meaning to the Russian Jewish community because under Communism members had to struggle to maintain their Jewish identity, Sirota said.

The celebration was an opportunity to demonstrate to even the youngest children that “the values of Judaism and Torah should always be sweet in their lives,” he added.

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Skiing, snowboarding athletes using slope-sized airbags to hone acrobatic trickery

December 17, 2017 - 3:44pm

BRECKENRIDGE — A few years ago, California’s slopestyle queen Jamie Anderson said there was no way she would follow the men into the inverted double backflipping trickery showcased in snowboarding’s increasingly acrobatic contests.

Then 16-year-old Hailey Langland landed the first double-cork for women at this year’s X Games, earning gold. In June, Anderson landed her first double-cork 900, a trick she was so close to landing in Saturday’s Olympic-qualifying Dew Tour competition, where she earned second and qualified to compete in the Pyeongchang Games in February. She learned the trick by flying into a giant, sloping airbag at Mammoth, honing the twice-upside-down flip with the benefit of a billowy balloon.

“Which I think is really whack in general and I wish it was banned from snowboarding,” said the 27-year-old who won gold in the Olympic debut of slopestyle at the Sochi Games. “It was a complete game-changer from when you learn things from the ground up like back in the day when you had to wait for pow day and build a jump and to try the tricks you want to do. I think airbags are cool and they are definitely progressing the sport, I just am not the biggest fan. It’s just changing our sport a lot and it’s awesome in ways and it (stinks) in ways.”

The development of the sloping airbag this year is the wellspring behind the youthful generation of skiers and snowboarders who are suddenly capable of the gravity-defying trickery showcased by grizzled veterans. At a growing number of international training facilities, athletes are perfecting tricks that once required months of painful trial and error on snowy slopes. They flip on trampolines and bounce into a new type of airbag that allows skiers and snowboarders to ride away from their landings.

But not everyone is onboard the airbag train.

“It can be good but if you learn your tricks without all your mechanics it’s going to be really hard to go to a jump and put all those mechanics together. When you are not afraid to fall and then you get to snow, it’s like learning a whole new trick,” said Chris Corning, the Silverthorne snowboarder who has qualified to compete in slopestyle and big air for the U.S. in Pyeongchang.

Skier Nick Goepper, a slopestyle specialist whose gravity-defying triple-cork 1440 helped him earn silver at the Dew Tour, putting him a podium away from qualifying for his second Olympics, is not a fan of airbags.

“It’s like another half step to learning a trick,” Goepper said. “If you are trying to get from Point A to Point B, it doesn’t make sense to add another half step. You just have to go and do the leap from A to B.”

Snowboarding phenom Julia Marino, the New England 20-year-old who won the 2016 big air world cup contest on a scaffolding jump at Fenway Park, has spent the past three summers flying into airbags, including a slope-blanketing airbag at her coach’s facility in Canada.

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Some of Canada’s top snowboarders, such as Sebastien Toutant and Max Parrot, who won the Dew Tour slopestyle contest, also practice on coach Max Henault’s Progression Airbag in Quebec. So has Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut, who won the Dew Tour ski slopestyle contest. It’s becoming apparent that winning slopestyle athletes need to spend time soaring into airbags.

“It’s such a super safe set up,” Marino said. “Having that aspect with a pretty realistic jump takeoff into a close-to-realistic landing is so helpful in learning new tricks because you don’t really have a lot of fear knowing it’s a really safe landing. So you can pretty much try everything you want. The repetition part is so key because you can do that trick a bunch of times until it’s pretty much solid. Everyone is starting to use them now. Some people might say well, that’s not technically snowboarding, but I think it’s a good way to progress in a safe way. It’s a huge step in the progression of our sport.”

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association this past July opened a giant Progression Airbag jump at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, where a host of American skiers and snowboarders have honed their aerial talents.

It’s part of an evolving, year-round training regimen for Olympic snow sports. As more high-caliber athletes from around the world are drawn into freeskiing and snowboarding, the sports are unavoidably becoming year-round endeavors.

Summer camps on European glaciers. Airbag camps in Japan. Trampolines and pool jumps. Snow-like carpeted dry slopes into $700,000  airbags.

“People are making it much more of a year-round thing and I think that really showed in the runs today and I think that will carry through to the Olympics,” said 29-year-old Canadian Olympian Spencer O’Brien, who won the Dew Tour slopestyle contest Saturday.

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Moving forward, Avalanche rookie Alex Kerfoot will better protect his feet

December 17, 2017 - 3:35pm

Alex Kerfoot wasn’t looking after his right foot the right way. The Avalanche rookie wasn’t wearing the plastic skate-boot protection that used to be made manditory by the team.

Because of superior stick technology and training methods, slap shots in today’s NHL have never been harder — including the difficulty to see the puck — and more dangerous to block. Even with increased manufacturer skate-boot technology from the factory, players at the highest level need addition protection for their feet and ankles.

Dec. 9 at Pittsburgh, Kerfoot wasn’t wearing the plastic skate fenders he wore in Sunday’s practice — the same pair he likely will wear Monday against the Penguins after missing three games because of a severe foot contusion. Kerfoot, who inadvertently blocked a shot from teammate Erik Johnson a week ago, is questionable for the second meeting in eight days with Pittsburgh.

He wouldn’t have suffered the injury if he had been wearing the Skate Fender Pro, the Velcro-attached product available online for $69.99.

“I’ll never play at this level without them again,” Kerfoot said. “I’ve worn them for the last two days in practice and I can’t tell a difference. I’m already used to them.”

The Avs mandated the skate fenders for the 2015-16 season, after prized center Nathan MacKinnon suffered a broken foot and missed the last part of the 2014-15 season. Patrick Roy was head coach and vice president of the team at the time, and he ordered the extra protection. Jared Bednar took over for Roy as head coach before last season, and at some point the skate fenders were no longer mandatory.

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“We strongly encourage that they wear them,” Bednar said Sunday. “Some guys don’t like wearing them, but we like to see guys wear them. We have a handful of guys who don’t. I think it’s like anything else, like getting used to wearing your seat belt. Once you wear it for a week, you don’t notice that it’s on.

“Speaking for (Kerfoot) specifically, he’s a young guy trying to crack into the league and he (hypothetically) gets hit in the wrong spot and he breaks his foot and he’s out six weeks. Or he can wear them and not miss any time. So I think it’s important if guys wear them, if they can get used to them. There’s a bunch of different options for them now. You can get them built into your skate or wear the clear plastic ones that most of our guys have, and they can modify them for each particular guy.”

NHL hearing. Johnson was scheduled to have a hearing by telephone with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Sunday, to discuss his boarding penalty on Tampa Bay forward Vladislav Namestnikov in the Lightning’s 6-5 victory Saturday at the Pepsi Center. Johnson is facing a likely suspension.

Johnson declined comment just now in locker room #Avs https://t.co/W9SLBvH1p5

— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) December 17, 2017

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PHOTOS: The day in photos December 17, 2017

December 17, 2017 - 3:26pm

PHOTOS: The day in photos December 17, 2017

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87-year-old man still missing after crashing son’s pickup in Golden

December 17, 2017 - 1:43pm

An 87-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening has not been found, and Golden police are asking for the public’s help to locate him.

Provided by Golden PoliceJames Mitchell

James Mitchell disappeared after crashing his son’s pickup into some rail cars just after 8 p.m. Thursday. He apparently walked away before police arrived.

Mitchell is described as 5-foot-10 and about 180 pounds. He has blue eyes and thinning gray hair. He was last seen wearing a blue fleece vest, a solid black T-shirt, khaki cargo pants and black athletic shoes with Velcro closures.

Mitchell may have dementia and does not have any identification or a cellphone.

Police are asking the public to call 303-384-8045 if they have any information that could lead to Mitchell.

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Everything you need to know about Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder

December 17, 2017 - 1:23pm

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City

TV, radio: ALT, 950 AM

Spotlight on Carmelo Anthony: The former Nuggets star has been at the center of recent debate, with outsiders wondering if he should come off the bench to assist a Thunder lineup featuring fellow all-stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George that hasn’t clicked during the first two months of the season. Anthony is coming off a forgettable return to New York, scoring 12 points (zero in the second half) on 5-of-18 shooting while adding five rebounds, one assist and three turnovers in the Thunder’s 111-96 loss to the Knicks.

NOTEBOOK

Nuggets: They are coming off a dramatic win over the Pelicans, a game in which Will Barton scored 11 of his 19 points in overtime, standout center Nikola Jokic returned from a sprained ankle that kept him out for seven games and G League call-up Torrey Craig started. … Denver is 5-11 in road games, including a 2-4 performance on its recent six-game trip. … Gary Harris has scored at least 21 points in six of his last nine games. He remains Denver’s leading scorer at 16.1 points per game, while adding three rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game (which ranked sixth in the NBA entering Sunday). … The Nuggets entered Sunday sixth in the Western Conference at 16-13.

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Thunder: Its perplexing season continues, entering Sunday in the coveted eighth slot in the West at 14-15. Oklahoma City’s last six games have included wins against Memphis, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (in triple overtime), but losses to Brooklyn, Charlotte and New York (without star Kristaps Porzingis). … The Thunder entered Sunday ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating (101.4 points per 100 possessions) and leading the league in steals (9.9 per game). But it ranks 25th in offensive rating a 102.2 points per 100 possessions. … Russell Westbrook leads the NBA in assists (9.9 per game), while adding 22.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and two steals per contest. Paul George entered Sunday leading the NBA with 2.4 steals per game. … Starting center Steven Adams missed Saturday’s game against the Knicks with a concussion. Dakari Johnson started in his place.

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PHOTOS: Denver Ugly Sweater Run 2017

December 17, 2017 - 1:06pm

Running (or prancing) a 5K race in an ugly sweater? Sounds itchy. The Ugly Sweater Run raced through Denver Saturday, and brought with it inflatables, music, photo stations and games to keep running spirits bright. Awards were given for the ugliest sweater, pet attire, facial hair and more. After the race, four bars held post-race parties.

See the photos on The Know. 

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Road made famous by transgender candidate not a simple fix

December 17, 2017 - 11:39am

MANASSAS, Va. — A dreary, congested Virginia highway has reaped an unexpected measure of fame through its role in a historic legislative campaign.

Last month, Danica Roem became the nation’s first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature. She credits her victory to staying relentlessly focused on the issues, as opposed to her gender.

The centerpiece of her campaign was a promise to fix gridlock on state Route 28, which she promoted ceaselessly, even as others wanted her to discuss gender.

“We’ve now made Route 28 world famous,” she said in a call with reporters shortly after her election over incumbent Republican Robert Marshall, a social conservative.

Roem even gave Route 28 a plug on the red carpet when she was singer Demi Lovato’s guest at the American Music Awards earlier this month.

Matt Barakat, Associated Press fileFILE – In this Nov. 29, 2017 file photo, traffic backs up during the morning rush hour in Centreville, Va., on northbound Route 28. Danica Roem made history when she became the first transgender woman elected to a state legislature. In the process, she made a northern Virginia highway famous by relentlessly touting her plan to fix the clogged road. Route 28 connects northern Virginia’s outer suburbs and runs through Roem’s district. Some transportation officials, though, say Roem’s preferred fix won’t do nearly enough to solve the problem. (AP Photo/Matt Barakat, File)

“I just want to be a good delegate. I just want to fix Route 28,” she said when asked about the significance of her election.

Everyone agrees Route 28 is a problem. But officials who’ve been working to improve the corridor find Roem’s favored solution lacking.

The state highway running through Roem’s district connects some of northern Virginia’s outer suburbs, which have grown tremendously in the past two decades. Route 28 gridlock has grown even as northern Virginia — synonymous with traffic — has taken major steps to address congestion on Interstates 66 and 95, which funnel commuters directly into the nation’s capital.

Earlier this year, a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority study of Route 28 narrowed about 15 potential options to four. Remaining options include creating a bypass to take pressure off the highway or widening it from four lanes to six.

Roem, though, has embraced a wholly different idea: replacing the stoplights on Route 28 with flyovers to eliminate stop-and-go traffic. She says the overpasses would create “flow-and-go” on the road and would obviate the need to condemn homes and businesses along the corridor.

Marty Nohe, chairman of the transportation authority and a supervisor in Prince William County, said Roem’s idea would spend a lot of money for little improvement.

“What we need is more capacity,” Nohe said. Removing traffic lights is not helpful if more lanes aren’t created, he said.

Prince William transportation officials said in a statement that they are focused on long-term solutions for Route 28 and flyovers don’t fit that bill.

“Simply removing signals at selected locations will not relieve future volumes,” the statement said.

Roem acknowledged that none of the study’s recommended alternatives appeal to her, for various reasons. In particular, she opposes one proposal that would require removing a mobile home park to acquire the necessary right of way.

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“I’m not just looking at dollars and cents. I’m looking at quality of life,” she said.

She said she realizes compromises will be necessary and allowed that she may be able to support a bypass if the route can be tweaked to minimize condemnations.

“I’ve done my homework on this,” she said. “I’ve really thought it through.”

Drivers, like politicians, have different views on what would work best. Ashok Gupta of Nokesville drives 40 minutes a day to the service station he owns on Route 28. Fifteen years ago, he said, the same commute took 20 minutes.

Gupta suggested frequent, reliable bus service would help immensely.

“In my opinion, adding lanes is not going to fix it. Adding buses is going to fix it,” he said.

Gladis Cespedes, filling up her tank at Gupta’s service station, said her husband regularly contends with the worst of the 28 gridlock.

“It’s time to grow Route 28,” she said. “Four lanes is not enough.”

Though Nohe, a Republican, disagrees with Roem, a Democrat, about the best options for improving the corridor, he said he is thrilled that she has brought the issue into focus. He said he got calls from reporters about the highway after she mentioned it at the music awards.

“That is flippin’ fantastic,” he said.

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Federal judge temporarily blocks Trump contraception rule

December 17, 2017 - 10:51am

A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a Trump administration rule that allows virtually any business to cite religious or moral objections and opt out of a federal requirement that they cover contraception as part of employee health plans.

In a 44-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia sided with the plaintiff, the state of Pennsylvania, which argued that the rule was harmful to working women and would force the state to shoulder the costs of their birth control and unplanned pregnancies.

“The Commonwealth’s concern is . . . women will either forgo contraception entirely or choose cheaper but less effective methods – individual choices which will result in an increase in unintended pregnancies,” Beetlestone wrote, calling the potential harm to women there and nationwide “enormous and irreversible.”

She detailed how the rule could play out. “It would allow an employer with a sincerely held moral conviction that women do not have a place in the workplace to simply stop providing contraceptive coverage,” she wrote. “It is difficult to comprehend a rule that does more to undermine the Contraceptive Mandate or that intrudes more into the lives of women.”

The ruling stems from a long-running legal and political conflict over a provision of the Affordable Care Act, the health-care law passed under President Barack Obama, that requires most employers to cover as part of their workers’ health plans any birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration, without a co-pay.

Reproductive-rights advocates cheered the requirement, saying it recognizes that birth control is integral to women’s health care and critical to their ability to control their futures.

Some religious groups objected to the requirement because of their opposition to certain forms of birth control, particularly intrauterine devices and the morning-after pill. Both, they say, are akin to abortion because they may halt a pregnancy after an egg has been fertilized.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that certain closely held corporations with religious objections could opt out of the contraception mandate. Many entities still had objections, and the Trump administration announced in October that it would give organizations and businesses a broad right to opt out.

Religious-liberty groups, which have lauded President Donald Trump’s efforts to protect people of faith, said they were confident the latest judicial ruling would not withstand scrutiny by other courts.

“We are confident that the appeals court or the Supreme Court will overturn this ruling and ensure that the government can do the right thing and continue to protect religious groups,” Lori Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement.

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But Beetlestone’s ruling was applauded by lawmakers and other officials who oppose Trump’s efforts to dismantle the ACA and hard-won victories on issues of reproductive rights.

“Today is a critical victory for millions of women and families and for the rule of law,” said Josh Shapiro, attorney general of Pennsylvania, one of the several states challenging the Trump administration rule. “The harm from this rule was immediate. Women need contraception for their health because contraception is health care, pure and simple.”

Women’s advocacy groups also praised the decision as a victory, at least in the short term. Multiple cases are still moving through the court system, and it is likely that the administration will appeal Friday’s outcome.

“A nationwide injunction is a really great step for women across the country, who now know at least for a while they can take a breath and know their birth control coverage isn’t going anywhere,” said Mara Gandal-Powers, senior counsel for the National Women’s Law Center.



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Two pit bulls mauled their owner to death during a walk in the woods in Virginia, sheriff says

December 17, 2017 - 10:04am

Bethany Lynn Stephens had been gone for about a day since she left to walk her dogs. So her father went out to look for her at the area she frequented.

There, authorities say, he found her two dogs, guarding what he first thought was an animal carcass.

“Much to his horror, discovered that it was not,” Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew told reporters at a news conference Friday.

Investigators in Goochland, Virginia, a rural community about 30 miles outside of Richmond, say the petite, 5-foot-1 young woman, who weighed a little more than 100 pounds, was mauled to death by her dogs, which had a combined weight of about twice hers, while out on a walk earlier this week. Her father found her Thursday evening in a wooded area that used to be a farm, about a half a mile from the main road, Agnew told The Washington Post.

During the conference, Agnew described the dogs as “very large brindle-colored pit bull dogs.”

“The dogs clearly, at least in our estimation in a dark night, had something to do with this. It was an absolutely grisly mauling,” Agnew told reporters. “In my 40 years of law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Hope I’d never see anything like it again.”

Officials from the county’s animal control department and sheriff’s office spent at least an hour trying to tranquilize the animals, Agnew said. Investigators also found bloody articles of clothing scattered in the area.

“We spent a lot of time there at the scene and made some observations that, out of respect for the family, we’re not releasing,” Agnew said.

Agnew said investigators still do not know why the animals turned on Stephens. According to the medical examiner’s office, the 22-year-old had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, which indicated that she was attacked while still alive. Investigators say she was first attacked on her throat and face.

“It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness and the dogs mauled her to death,” Agnew told reporters. “There were no strangulation marks. The victim had puncture wounds in the skull, and this was not a homicide.”

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Stephens’ friend, Barbara Norris, was not convinced by the authorities’ account of her death, saying the dogs, which Stephens had been raising since they were puppies, would never turn on her, ABC affiliate WRIC reported.

“They’d kill you with kisses,” Norris told NBC affiliate WWBT, adding that the dogs’ kennels looked as though they had been forced open. She suggested that something may have happened to Stephens after walking the dogs, and the dogs then forced themselves out to help her.

Norris has not responded to a Facebook message asking for comment.

Asked about Norris’ comments Saturday, Agnew said the evidence found at the scene, including the defensive wounds, clearly showed that the dogs were responsible for Stephens’ death.

He said Stephens’ relatives have requested for the dogs to be euthanized.

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Denver firefighter injured fighting campfire set by homeless

December 17, 2017 - 8:46am

A Denver firefighter was injured on Saturday fighting a fire set by some homeless people who were staying in a storm sewer near South Cherry Creek Drive and Quebec Street.

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The firefighter was treated for minor burns at Denver Health medical center.

Someone reported smoke coming from the gutter at 10:58 p.m., said D. Granado, fire department operator.

“Some transients were in the sewage area and built a camp. They were probably burning a fire to stay warm.”

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Rock climber falls 60 feet to death in Cañon City

December 17, 2017 - 7:50am

A climber died after falling 60 feet from a climbing area in Cañon City on Saturday, according to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.

The climber, who hasn’t been identified, fell near the climbing area called “The Piggy Bank.”

Fremont County deputies were dispatched to the Banks Hiking Area, off Red Canyon Road near mile marker 10 at 12:20 p.m.

The climber, who fell about 60 feet, was not breathing.

Lifesaving measures were taken, but the rock climber was pronounced dead at the scene.

The name, age and gender of the rock climber were not released pending notification of relatives.

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New Life Rehabilitation Program aims to free people in Denver from substance abuse, homelessness

December 17, 2017 - 6:01am

These days, John Ware is an intake chaplain with the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Rehabilitation Program, helping people free their lives from substance abuse and other dangerous situations. He’s good at what he does — really good — because almost 17 years ago, he was the one seeking help, looking for a way to get his life back on track.

“I got tired of being sick and tired,” Ware said, describing what drew him to the program. It was 2001, he was homeless, his relationships with friends and family were crumbling, and he didn’t know how to turn his life around.

But with a roof over his head and a lot of support from rescue mission staff members and volunteers, Ware graduated from the program in January 2003. He spent about a year as a commercial truck driver, then found himself back at the New Life Program in 2004 — this time, to help others.

“I always wanted to help people,” Ware said. “It’s an excellent feeling — (seeing) people who are broken give their lives to Christ.”

The Denver Rescue Mission, a recipient of this year’s Denver Post Season to Share campaign, is a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals facing homelessness and addiction by providing services, including emergency assistance, rehabilitation, transitional programs and community outreach.

The New Life program, one of the rescue’s free rehabilitation services, fosters a “community-oriented environment” in which participants can gain the skills and self-esteem needed to become self-sufficient. Through case management, Christian counseling, life-skills classes and work therapy, the program aims to help individuals overcome destructive habits, get a job and maintain sustainable housing.

The program takes about 18 months to complete. More than 80 participants are housed at any given time in three locations — The Crossing and Champa House in Denver and Harvest Farm in Wellington — with newcomers settling in as graduates filter out.

The program helps people earn their GEDs, go back to school, get their commercial driver’s licenses, practice job readiness and more — under one condition: They must adhere to a zero-tolerance drug policy.

“It’s a pretty big decision for (the participants). This is how we can help, but also, are you willing and able and ready?” said Stacy Parker, public-relations coordinator with Denver Rescue Mission. “We do see dropouts. We do see relapses. It’s just the reality. Rehab is a continual choice that someone is making. That addiction is always going to be there. It’s just making the right choice for their life.”

Evertt Hurtado joined New Life in July after he was released from prison with nowhere to go. He already senses a change in his life.

“In areas where I didn’t think I was going to look at myself, I’m starting to look at myself to be able to make a difference in the person I am,” he said. “When I first came here, I pretty much thought I had it all figured out, but getting involved in everything they have going on here has given me a different perspective.”

Hurtado has already suggested the program to other people. He hopes to get his commercial driver’s license and pursue a career as a truck driver.

The program aims for graduates to leave with a steady job, sustainable housing and the confidence to maintain a sober lifestyle. Each graduate receives a donated car, because New Life leaders believe that eliminating stresses related to a lack of transportation will help graduates hold down jobs and advance at school.

“At the end, we hope they’ve left with more tools in their toolbox for success,” Parker said. “When they leave, they can see a sense of hope that they didn’t see before.”

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In 2016, 636 people participated in New Life.

“We know through Christ there is always the redemptive possibility through faith,” Parker said. “There is no one thing or reason that someone’s heart can’t be changed, or their life can’t be changed entirely. The most important thing is just accepting everyone who comes to us.”

For more information about New Life, visit denverrescuemission.org

Name of program: New Life Rehabilitation Program, part of Denver Rescue Mission
Address: 1130 Park Ave. West, Denver
Year is started: 1989 (Denver Rescue Mission, 1892)
Number of employees: 25 employees (DRM, 200)
Annual budget: $8,172,667 (DRM, $34 million)
Percentage of funds that goes directly to client services: About 43 percent (DRM, more than 80 percent)
Number served last year: 636 (DRM, nearly 15,000)



Categories: All Denver News.

The Denver Post’s 2017 All-Colorado football team

December 17, 2017 - 6:00am

The 2017 All-Colorado football team, as selected by The Denver Post staff based on statistical analysis, relative value to team success, postseason production and the old-fashioned eye test.

QB Zach Cozzolino, Pueblo South, Sr., 6-foot, 190 pounds

  • While throwing for 48 touchdowns, the second most in state history, and leading Class 4A with 3,442 yards, he quarterbacked his team to its first state championship.

QB Ty Evans, Palmer Ridge, Jr., 6-3, 190

  • One of the nation’s most highly recruited quarterbacks in the Class of 2019, Evans led the state with 3,627 yards while also throwing for 42 touchdowns and leading the Bears to their first state title.

QB Alex Padilla, Cherry Creek, Jr., 6-2, 190

  • As the frontman for the Bruins’ dynamic offense, he led Class 5A with 40 touchdowns passing while also throwing for 2,678 yards after seeing a promising sophomore season derailed by a broken thumb.

RB Jeremy Hollingsworth, Skyline, Jr., 5-10, 191

  • Immediately became the Falcons’ most explosive weapon after transferring from Niwot in the offseason, pacing Skyline to its first playoff appearance since 1999 while rushing for 1,913 yards and a Class 4A-best 31 touchdowns.

RB Max Borghi, Pomona, Sr., 5-10, 198

  • The Washington State commitment could create long touchdowns with a burst through the slightest of holes, and he ranked first in Class 5A with 27 rushing scores — not to mention his 1,690 yards rushing and array of big plays in the return game.

RB Ben Frenette, Chatfield, Sr., 6-0, 212

  • The heart and soul of a Chatfield offense that was unstoppable throughout the regular season finished with 1,517 yards and 23 touchdowns by ground, while his leadership helped cement the Chargers among the Class 4A elite.

RB Noah Roper, Erie, Jr., 6-0, 195

  • Paced all of Colorado in rushing yards (2,631) and touchdowns (36) while also playing a primary role in the secondary as his speed and field vision led Erie to its first state title game showing since 2008.

WR Billy Pospisil, Pomona, Jr., 5-11, 190

  • The long-range atomic weapon in the vast Pomona arsenal, Pospisil built off a strong sophomore season by leading Colorado with 1,591 yards receiving this year, posting 18 total touchdowns, including three in the Panthers’ Class 5A title game win. 

WR Marcell Barbee, Pueblo South, Sr., 6-2, 195

  • A primary reason the Colts’ offense was electric down the stretch, Barbee’s 23 touchdowns receiving led Colorado and rank third in state history, while he also racked up 1,390 receiving yards — 199 of which came on eight catches in the title game.

WR Dimitri Stanley, Cherry Creek Sr., 6-0, 178

  • As Alex Padilla’s favorite weapon, the Colorado commitment finished with 1,192 yards and 20 touchdowns as he displayed quickness, route running and sure hands rivaled by few other wideouts in the state.

OL Kevin Singer, Columbine, Sr., 6-6, 268

  • One of multiple giants on a Rebels offensive line that racked up 3,712 yards rushing this season, his leadership was also key throughout Columbine’s bruising march to the Class 5A semifinals.

OL Barrett Miller, Eaglecrest, Jr., 6-5, 260

  • His physical play up front set the tone for the Raptors to get to the Class 5A title game, and with still one prep season to play, he’s in position to further add to his legacy of redefining the grit of Eaglecrest football.

OL Dom Pallotto, Cherry Creek, Jr., 6-3, 280

  • Once again, Pallotto was the head henchman charged with protecting Alex Padilla, and he made good on his job in a complicated offense that gave its quarterback and running backs time to compile 4,515 total yards. 

OL Blake Carette, Arapahoe, Sr., 6-3, 280

  • As the lynchpin of the Warriors’ line, the Air Force commitment displayed athleticism in space in Arapahoe’s counter-heavy offense, with the speed to get out on screens and a consistent physicality up to each and every whistle.

OL Austin Johnson, Highlands Ranch, Jr., 6-4, 260

  • One of two future Division I players on the Falcons’ offensive front, the guard enabled junior running back Dominic Bettini to run wild to help the Falcons reach the Class 5A playoffs for the second straight season.

OL Max Bruner, Ponderosa, Sr., 6-3, 280

  • The versatile lineman is holding an array of FCS offers thanks to an athletic frame that allowed him to pave the way for one of the top offenses in Class 4A, playing with a take-no-prisoners attitude matched only by his motor.

ATH Luke McCaffrey, Valor Christian, Jr., 6-2, 180

  • With the same undeniable athleticism of his father and three older brothers, McCaffrey led a balanced Eagles offense with 1,172 total yards while also playing a key role in the secondary and on special teams.

ATH A’Jon Vivens, Mullen, Sr., 6-0, 185

  • The Colorado State commitment did a bit of everything for the Mustangs this year, racking up 1,262 total offensive yards while seeing significant time at both wideout (six touchdowns) and running back (five touchdowns).

ATH Ryan Marquez, Pomona, Sr., 6-2, 175

  • The centerpiece of a Panthers offense that set a state record for total offense with 6,362 yards, Marquez played fearlessly at quarterback and shored up the team’s secondary while leading Pomona to three straight title games.

ATH Jalen Mergerson, Eaglecrest Sr., 5-11, 180

  • The elevation of the Raptors from good to elite is in large credit to Mergerson, who racked up 3,615 total yards and 33 touchdowns while leading Eaglecrest to a second straight undefeated regular season and first title showing since 1993.

LB Jacob Stanton, Chaparral, Sr., 6-2, 220

  • A nearly unblockable plug in the middle of the Wolverines’ defense, Stanton posted 128 tackles, including 19 for loss, as he proved his ability to both contain the second level and make plays in the backfield.

LB Tama Tuitele, Regis Jesuit, Sr., 6-1, 230

  • In addition to contributing at H-back and long snapper, Tuitele set the physical tone for the Raiders’ defense with 156 tackles, and the middle linebacker holds offers from the three major service academies.

LB Adrian Jackson, Mullen, Sr., 6-3, 215

  • The Oregon commitment led the Mustangs with 65 tackles, including 54 solo, while playing the game with a raw physicality and speed matched by few players in the state.

DL Tate Wildeman, Legend Sr., 6-6, 250

  • Despite missing a couple of games because of injury, the Nebraska commitment recorded six sacks and 61 total tackles as he helped assert the Titans as a physical force in the top-heavy Class 5A landscape.

DL Drake Nugent, Highlands Ranch, Jr., 6-2, 260

  • In addition to his prowess on the offensive line, Nugent was a force on the defensive line while posting 71 tackles and three sacks — and looking the part of a future Division I player in the details on film as well.

DL Jake Heimlicher, Regis Jesuit, Sr., 6-4, 215

  • Despite facing double-teams all fall, his 18 sacks paced Class 5A for a second straight season, and his other stat lines — 100 tackles, 26 of which were for loss — has him weighing an array of Division I offers.

DB Vic Garnes, Eaglecrest Sr., 5-10, 180

  • With freakish ability, Garnes managed to be most impactful player on the field on most occasions, recording 84 tackles while leading a championship-caliber Eaglecrest secondary — not to mention his 13 offensive touchdowns.

DB Chad Muma, Legend, Sr., 6-3, 200

  • The Wyoming commitment recorded 77 tackles, including eight for loss, on a stacked defense featuring several other Division I athletes, and his leadership in the secondary elevated the Titans’ defense as a whole.

DB Cameron Murray, Overland, Sr., 6-2, 180

  • Clearly the Trailblazers’ most talented player, the Wyoming pledge recorded 39 tackles out of the secondary, with his ability to wrap up in the open field complemented his speed and ball awareness in one-on-one coverage.

DB Patrick Roe, Regis Jesuit, Sr., 5-10, 155

  • A prototypical shutdown corner, Roe went toe to toe with an array of top receivers this fall and still ended up leading Class 5A with eight interceptions while helping the Raiders’ defense push the team to the Class 5A quarterfinals.

DB Xavier Hill, Pine Creek, Sr., 6-2, 175

  • He tied for the lead in Class 4A with six interceptions, including two pick-sixes, and his athleticism showed in the playoffs while helping the Eagles’ defense hold three opponents to one total touchdown en route to the title game.

K/P Issac Power, Ponderosa, Sr., 6-2, 185

  • As one of the top kicking recruits in the country, the Baylor pledge lived up to his reputation this year by averaging 41.3 yards per punt, with a dozen placed inside the 20, while also leading Class 4A with nine field goals and a long of 58 yards.

Coach Ryan Goddard, Pueblo South

  • The 2001 Pueblo South graduate led the Colts to their first championship in the program’s 59-year history. In the title game, the Colts completely outplayed defending champion Pine Creek in order to accomplish the feat.
Colorado Prep Stats

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Max Borghi of Pomona wins 2017 Gold Helmet Award

December 17, 2017 - 6:00am

When Max Borghi hobbled on in crutches to The Denver Post building for his photo shoot for last year’s All-Colorado team, the Pomona tailback looked the part of a player who just had major knee surgery.

The few weeks of immobility since the Panthers’ star tore his ACL and MCL in the state quarterfinals had taken some muscle off his frame, and as he hobbled around the studio for his portrait, a big question hung in the air: Would Borghi be able to be Borghi again, the back with breakaway speed and gifted field vision not seen in the state’s prep ranks since Christian McCaffrey?

It’d be a question that Massimiliano Christopher Borghi, the 2017 Gold Helmet winner, would come to answer with a resounding yes during a senior season in which he racked up 2,101 all-purpose yards and 29 touchdowns while leading the Panthers to their first Class 5A state championship.

“My comeback was all in the mindset,” Borghi said. “I knew I wasn’t going to let the injury stop me, and that if I worked hard, took my physical therapy seriously and took my training seriously, I could come back the same me. And I did.”

The senior went off for 164 yards rushing in his 2017 debut against Fountain-Fort Carson, Pomona’s second game of the season, and followed that up with a five-touchdown performance the next week against Ralston Valley.

Colorado Prep Stats

But the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Borghi — who with a 4.35 40-yard dash and 335-pound max bench press is described as “a genetic freak” by Dr. David Schneider — was just getting his comeback started en route to becoming Pomona’s first Gold Helmet winner.

“Watching him live (against Ralston Valley), I knew he wasn’t there yet — he was only nine months from surgery at that point,” said Schneider, who oversaw the tailback’s operation and rehabilitation. “Usually every game, I’d say, ‘Max, my eyes tell me you’re 80 percent there, or you’re 85 percent there.’ In the semifinals he was 95 percent. And in the state championship — when he trucked (an Eaglecrest player) at the goal line — I knew he was 100 percent.”

And, as Borghi’s explosiveness skyrocketed, so too did his recruiting profile. Originally pledging to Colorado before flipping to Washington State in late June, Borghi’s play down the stretch this fall has now drawn interest from Stanford, who had its running backs coach on the sideline at Sports Authority Field for the state title game.

The Cardinal’s late push for Colorado’s top prep tailback — as well as still-strong interest from North Carolina and California — should make for an interesting Dec. 20 early signing deadline for Borghi, who currently remains verbally committed to the Cougars and is hungry to prove himself at the next level.

“I’m going to go into college and be a no-name, and that’s what I’m most excited for,” Borghi said. “Here in Colorado I’ve made a name for myself, but when I go out of state, no one knows who I am. I have to establish myself again.”

Regardless of where he plays in college, Pomona coach Jay Madden believes Borghi’s ceiling is as high as it was for McCaffrey, the 2013 Gold Helmet winner who went on to be a Heisman finalist — at Stanford, no less — and now plays for the Carolina Panthers.

“The last half of this year, he started to show the skills he has to be an unbelievable Division I running back — that’s power and the ability to get the tough yards,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said. “We all know he can make the big play, but he’s shown how he can be consistent and make those four, five yard runs you have to have to keep drives alive.”

Borghi has also risen to the task in the classroom, where the senior boasts a 3.86 GPA and earned a 29 on the ACT — that in addition to various community service work such as volunteering in soup kitchens and at retirement homes.

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In all, the senior’s “school and family-first mindset”, as junior teammate Billy Pospisil noted, is what makes him a magnetic leader at Pomona both inside the school and on the field.

“He set the tone for this year — it was clear from him, and how he went about his business in and out of football, that he had his mind set on some goals for himself and the team was mirroring those goals,” Pomona principal Andy Geise said. “After two years of coming up short in the title they wanted to be able to taste that championship, and they followed Max’s lead to do it.”

And as Borghi — who has the option of graduating a semester early — prepares to embark on his next chapter, he emphasized the crucial role Pomona’s football culture played in his amassing of 6,473 all-purpose yards throughout a storied prep career.

“The tradition of the Big Black is something I’ll carry on forever, and it’s embedded a lot of traits into myself — the hard work, not taking things for granted, and continuing to grind even though certain things don’t come easy,” Borghi said. “That’s what the Big Black is — it’s mean, determined kids who work for what they want.”

Max Borghi’s Statistics RUSHING Time Att. Yards TDs 2017 170 1,690 27 Career 468 3,987 57 RECEIVING Time Rec. Yards TDs 2017 10 115 0 Career 79 1,113 10 RETURNING Time Att. Yards TDs 2017 15 296 2 Career 60 1,373 7

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All-Colorado Coach of the Year: Pueblo South’s Ryan Goddard led Colts to program’s first state championship

December 17, 2017 - 6:00am

Last year, Pueblo South finished on the wrong end of two blowouts.

First, the Colts lost by 40 points to Ponderosa to end the regular season, and then were thumped by 32 the next week by eventual state champion Pine Creek in the first round of the playoffs.

But instead of sulking about the 2016 finish, Pueblo South coach Ryan Goddard made sure the Colts used it as a learning lesson — which they did, en route to a 13-1 mark and the first state championship in the program’s 59-year history.

“Last year, losing to those two teams in back-to-back weeks to end the season set the tone for our offseason,” Goddard said. “It taught our kids a lot about how we needed to go about our business and the type of commitment we needed to have to be an elite team.”

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The Colts’ Class 4A title is an accomplishment that earned Goddard, a 2001 Pueblo South graduate who just finished his eighth season as the head man on Hollywood Drive, 2017 All-Colorado coach of the year honors.

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Pueblo South’s finish this fall contrasted the agony of last, as the Colts stomped then top-ranked Ponderosa to win the league title Nov. 2, giving them the momentum to slug through the playoffs and past Pine Creek, 25-14, in the state championship Dec. 2.

And though the Colts were certainly equipped with their fair share of firepower — senior quarterback Zach Cozzolino and senior wideout Marcell Barbee are All-Colorado selections, while senior running back Steven Brock was also dominant — Goddard and his staff had to work around the program’s deficiencies in depth and size in order to be successful.

“We did have some challenges in front of us, as we started three offensive linemen that didn’t have a whole lot of experience,” Goddard said. “And defensively, we were playing some guys who may have been defensive backs at another place, but they played linebacker for us.”

Other finalists for All-Colorado coach of the year were Skyline’s Michael Silva, who led the Class 4A Falcons to their first playoff appearance since 1999; Grandview’s John Schultz, who despite several key injuries, guided the Wolves past behemoth Valor Christian to the Class 5A semifinals; Palmer Ridge‘s Tom Pulford, who led the Class 3A Bears to an undefeated season and their first state title; and Pomona’s Jay Madden, whose Panthers won the Class 5A title in their third straight championship appearance.



Categories: All Denver News.

Meet the Gold Helmet finalists: Zach Cozzolino, Jalen Mergerson, Jake Heimlicher star on and off the football field

December 17, 2017 - 6:00am

Pomona running back Max Borghi is the winner of the 2017 Denver Post Gold Helmet Award, beating out three other worthy senior finalists. Here’s everything you need to know about those finalists, who are elite football players and scholar-athletes in their own right.

Zach Cozzolino, Pueblo South, QB

The senior threw 48 touchdowns — the second most in state history — and led Class 4A with 3,442 yards passing, including 297 yards and two scores to pace the Colts past favored Pine Creek to their first state title. But those who know Cozzolino best understand his football success this fall is a byproduct of the young man he is off the field.

He’s a dedicated student (3.88 GPA) and slick with a guitar in his hand, too, as evidenced by his performance of Kenny Chesney’s “Boys of Fall” at a pep assembly this year. Plus, the quarterback who’s drawing heavy interest from CSU-Pueblo as well as several other RMAC schools is an expert in the building and flying of giant-scale, remote-controlled aircraft, and he belongs to the Academy of Model Aeronautics. An accomplished welder — what first son of the Steel City wouldn’t be? — he also has donated his time helping weld signage for the Pueblo Zoo.

Colorado Prep Stats

Jalen Mergerson, Eaglecrest, QB/DB

A three-year starter for Eaglecrest, Mergerson led the Raptors’ surge into an elite Class 5A program. As a dual-threat quarterback, he racked up 3,615 total yards and 33 touchdowns this season, including 363 yards and three touchdowns in Eaglecrest’s shootout loss to Pomona in the championship game. Though the Raptors fell short of their first state title since 1993, it was because of Mergerson’s ice-in-the-veins play that they were able to rattle off consecutive undefeated regular seasons. During those two campaigns, the senior came through in countless clutch moments to keep the Raptors’ perfect record intact.

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He’s also a community-oriented, school-first guy off the field, where he holds a 3.6 GPA and is a member of Eaglecrest Male Student Leadership as well as the school’s Veterans’ Day committee. He has received scholarship offers from the Colorado School of Mines, Western State and Nebraska Kearny, all to play defensive back.

Jake Heimlicher, Regis Jesuit, DE/OLB/TE

As Class 5A’s sack leader for the past two seasons, Heimlicher’s been virtually unblockable. This fall, he recorded 18 sacks, 32 hurries, 100 tackles and 26 tackles for loss. His 44 career sacks over three seasons of varsity football rank second in state history behind Windsor’s Corte Tapia, who finished with 46 from 2013-16. A versatile defender, Heimlicher could also drop back and play linebacker, tackle in the open field and cover wideouts. The senior also played tight end, nabbing 15 receptions for 227 yards and four touchdowns this year.

He’s still deciding on his future based off offers from California, Colorado, Penn, Princeton, Brown, Hawaii, Air Force, Wyoming, Montana State and Northern Colorado — a list heavy in high-academic colleges that speaks to Heimlicher’s work in the classroom (3.5 GPA) an regard to community service, as he volunteers through his church in addition to being a certified foster caregiver with the Dumb Friends League.



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Otter spotted eating trout at Colorado toxic mine site raises hope for new kind of cleanup

December 17, 2017 - 6:00am

RICO — An otter popped up in the once-toxic water.

Its appearance last winter — devouring a trout — has ignited hopes around an experiment to transform a scarred, mining wasteland into a naturalistic mountain valley.

This re-engineering along headwaters of the Dolores River requires replanting wetlands with native grasses and laying in soil to mimic natural processes — an innovative approach that may be deployed more widely across the water-challenged West, where tens of thousands of toxic mines foul rivers and streams. So far, the experiment is working, removing fish-killing zinc, manganese linked to birth deformities and cancer-causing cadmium from muck flowing from the Argentine Mine complex uphill from Rico.

“Mining is what brought communities to life at the turn of the 19th century, but now residents and visitors would like to see these scars restored as much as possible — especially focusing on water cleanup,” San Miguel County commissioner Hilary Cooper said from her perch in Telluride, 22 miles north of the mess. “For many of these areas, human intervention is required to initiate the cleanup. But planning, which ultimately allows native vegetation, restored natural floodplains and the engineering skills of beavers to assist with the cleanup is generally preferred when possible. In the end, we will find it is more effective.”

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostThis is the historic “main” street or Glasgow Ave on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. The town functions as a historic and tourism site. The population was 265 at the 2010 census, up from 205 at the 2000. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880’s. In 1892, Rico was in its heyday. Its population had soared to 5,000 people. The community was supported by 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red­light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, boarding houses, 14 first class hotels.

The cleanup near Rico stands out at a time when Colorado’s track record has been less than stellar in dealing with repeat mine disasters such as Summitville, where an ill-issued state permit left taxpayers perpetually burdened after mine owner Robert Friedland fled to Canada, and the Gold King, where an EPA mistake highlighted degradation of the Animas River. A state government survey completed last year found more than 140 toxic flows still unaddressed, poisoning more than 1,800 miles of waterways.

Wildlife, including river otters, may be reviving in Rico because multiple factors favor environmental recovery.

First, federal agencies enforced laws. The Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 issued an emergency order compelling action to stop contamination of Dolores headwaters after state regulators and mine owners failed to get a grip. Then, EPA officials swiftly identified and enlisted a private company legally responsible for the mess — something agency officials haven’t done at other sites, including the Gold King Superfund district, where a potentially responsible corporation is fighting the EPA in court.

And the company, Atlantic Richfield — now owned by global energy giant BP — resolutely embarked on a cleanup, investing tens of millions of dollars. This compares with less than $5 million that the EPA has mustered for cleanup of the 48-site Gold King district above Silverton. For another Superfund disaster that the EPA declared in 2008 in Creede, federal funds have been so scarce that cleanup has barely begun.

In 2012, Atlantic Richfield contractors at Rico faced rising water inside mine tunnels that threatened a ruinous blowout. The St. Louis Tunnel, within a few hundred yards of the Dolores River, had collapsed and was oozing as much as 1,300 gallons a minute of toxic muck. A lime water treatment plant installed to neutralize sulfuric acid in the flow, churning out thousands of cubic yards a year of waste solids, wasn’t working. (The acid, private contractors later determined, is mostly neutralized by natural calcium deposits inside the tunnel before the muck flows out.) Cleanup crews also had to deal with eroding, unlined tailings ponds where rain and melting snow leached toxic metals into the river.

“The Dolores was pretty severely impacted for a number of miles downstream of the mine effluent. There was no natural reproduction of trout and the density of trout was depressed,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jim White, whose agency continues to stock the river with fish.

The innovative cleanup by Atlantic Richfield modernizes the standard approach of installing water treatment plants in the high country along with bulkhead plugs to try to control leaks. Contractors scooped out and lined the old ponds, planted grasses interspersed with stones and put in a sediment mix of manure, hay, alfalfa and woodchips — all aimed at filtering out toxic metals.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    These are the lower St. Louis ponds at the Rico-Argentine mine site on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. The lower ponds are clean and on the way back to being in their more natural state. The site is in the process of using experimental processes to help clean metal contaminants from the water that flows out of the St. Louis tunnel. These contaminants include cadmium, copper, iron, zinc and manganese.

  • Chris Sanchez, vice president of Anderson Engineering Company Inc, stands in front of what used to be the mouth of St. Louis tunnel at the Argentine-Rico mine site on Dec. 12, 2017 in Rico. The St. Louis Tunnel is connected to mines on Telegraph Hill to the north and mines in the Rico-Argentine mining district to the south. The first approximately 200 feet of the St. Louis Tunnel behind the portal structure collapsed and the tunnel is partially exposed to the surface. Clean up continues at the tunnel where a variety of processes are being tested to clean metal contaminants out of the water that flows from the St. Louis tunnel. These contaminants include cadmium, copper, iron, zinc and manganese.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Louis tunnel towards a damn at the Rico-Argentine mine site on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. The St. Louis Tunnel is connected to mines on Telegraph Hill to the north and mines in the Rico-Argentine mining district to the south.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chris Sanchez, vice president of Anderson Engineering Company Inc, stands in front of a damn that slows water coming out of the St. Louis tunnel at the Argentine-Rico mine site on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. The St. Louis Tunnel is connected to mines on Telegraph Hill to the north and mines in the Rico-Argentine mining district to the south.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Alex Wing, left, field lead, and Sara Cline, a chemical engineer, both with Copper Environmental Consulting, pull out a water quality sonde from one of the bio cell treatment ponds at the at the Rico-Argentine mine site on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. The ponds each have experimental processes that are helping to clean metal contaminants from the water that flows out of the St. Louis tunnel.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    The orange soil here are precipitated solids that were cleaned out of the Rico-Argentine mine site when the facility built the new water treatment ponds on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. The ponds each have experimental processes that are helping to clean metal contaminants from the water that flows out of the St. Louis tunnel.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Remnants of the mining days are seen along the historic "main" street or Glasgow Ave on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880's. In 1892, Rico was in its heyday. Its population had soared to 5,000 people. The community was supported by 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red­light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, boarding houses, 14 first class hotels.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    These are the lower St. Louis ponds at the Rico-Argentine mine site on Dec. 12, 2017 in Rico. The lower ponds are clean and on the way back to being in their more natural state. The site is in the process of using experimental processes to help clean metal contaminants from the water that flows out of the St. Louis tunnel. These contaminants include cadmium, copper, iron, zinc and manganese. The goal of remediation is to get the area back to itÕs natural state.

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This massive experiment now covers 55 acres, closed inside fences and berms, below the newly dammed St. Louis Tunnel. The toxic muck still flows at rates fluctuating from 700 to more than 1,000 gallons a minute but now is channeled through three black tubes that carry the muck through the engineered ponds and wetlands.

In one pond, the toxic mine water seeps down vertically 2.5 feet through sediment, where chemical reactions help break out the manganese, zinc and cadmium. Native sedge and rush grasses are starting to grow atop that sediment layer. In other ponds, water is pushed through wetlands created using stones and grasses that grow naturally in the San Juan Mountain to filter out and chemically extract toxic metals.

Once contractors figure out which method or combination works best, they say they’ll seek EPA approval and then fully install engineered wetlands, eventually removing fences and roads.

“That’s what a lime water treatment plant looks like,” Atlantic Richfield cleanup supervisor Chris Sanchez said last week at the site, pointing to the decommissioned water treatment plant, comparing it to patches of sandy-colored sedges and rushes.

“These grasses and rocks, similar to the river bed,” Sanchez said, “it seems less harsh on the eyes.”

Atlantic Richfield mining project operations supervisor Anthony Brown said the work has been costly, but the approach holds promise for mining cleanups elsewhere.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostDucks float in the water in the lower St. Louis ponds at the Rico-Argentine mine site on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. The lower ponds are clean and on the way back to being in their more natural state. The site is in the process of using experimental processes to help clean metal contaminants from the water that flows out of the St. Louis tunnel.

“The huge lesson learned at Rico is that you have to look at each site as a unique situation,” he said. “You have to be innovative. You have to bring the right technology to the site.”

And so far, the water-cleaning systems seem to be working, judging from data provided to the EPA. Cadmium flowing out the St. Louis Tunnel at levels as high as 80 parts per billion has been reduced to traces. The systems cut iron from levels up to 60,000 ppb to around 10,000 ppb. Manganese has been cut from concentrations as high as 23,000 ppb to 2,000 ppb, still likely a problem. Zinc has been reduced to 100 ppb from 6,000 ppb.

It was at the lowest pond, near where treated mine waste is discharged into the Dolores River, that Atlantic Richfield contractor Ben Loomis saw something moving on the ice as he made maintenance rounds solo in his truck on Jan. 12.

Maybe it was a beaver. Or a coyote. Loomis said he was excited, got closer and determined it was a river otter, a species that in recent decades almost disappeared from western Colorado.

“He was sitting up on the ice, on his back, eating a fish,” Loomis said.

The photo he took was fuzzy. But in the absence of state data from sampling along the Dolores, it gave evidence that water quality may be improving.

Atlantic Richfielld —- An otter surfaces into ice and chews on a fish Jan 12 below the toxic mine cleanup experiment along headwaters of the divorce river at Rico in southwestern Colorado.

Polluted water often is blamed for nearly driving river otters extinct in the early 1900s.

“River otters can be considered a sentinel species, indicators of acceptable habitat conditions that support the habitat and diet needs of otters,” said Eric Odell, species conservation program manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Seeing an otter, especially one eating a fish, indicates that there is a prey base that can support at least one individual otter. Seeing an otter there, especially since it is seen eating a fish, indicates relatively good water quality.”

How good remains unclear. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials are legally required to take sufficient samples — where practical if they deem waterways accessible — to determine water quality. The agency’s mission includes protection of and restoration of water quality. But only one sample has been taken from the Dolores below Rico in recent years. An agency spokeswoman cited budget and staffing concerns as a factor and said sampling may be done in the future.

The CDPHE has not designated the river as “impaired,” although a tributary creek that enters at Rico is. CPDHE officials declined, through the spokeswoman, to discuss the situation at Rico. “No interviews,” she wrote in an email. She offered no comment on the otter, because “otters are not used” by CDPHE “as determinant of water quality health.”

Colorado residents increasingly may demand a more aggressive approach to protecting the environment from mining’s toxic legacy, said Jennifer Thurston, director of the Colorado-based Information Network for Responsible Mining, who has been tracking cleanups. Engineered wetlands may be a useful tool, she said.

“The bill is finally coming due for historic mining disasters. We are at the point where we really do need to start dedicating a lot more money and other public resources to addressing this problem that really is significant,” she said. “A lot of these mines have been left to fester in the mountains for a long time and are polluting creeks and rivers.”

At EPA regional headquarters in Denver, David Ostrander, the director of disaster response and preparedness, called the otter eating a fish “a pretty big indicator that water quality and natural biological activity are improving.”

Yet EPA officials have determined “we are still above the state’s ambient water quality standards for the Dolores River,” Ostrander said.

“(The cleanup so far) is really a great effort by Atlantic Richfield, and what they are doing is generating a lot of interest. A lot of industries — and we — are going to be looking at where we can adapt this to other sites,” he said. “It just doesn’t generate as much waste.”

Notions of harnessing natural filtration and break-down processes to clean water have been around for more than a decade. Proponents tout cost advantages over waste-generating water treatment plants and risky bulkhead plugs that can force leaks from other mine tunnels and holes. But environmental experts emphasize that engineered wetlands, while appearing “natural,” must constantly be monitored and maintained to keep removing toxic metals.

Atlantic Richfield crew leaders said they envision scooping out and recharging wetlands every three to 10 years depending on water-testing results.The metals-laced sludge collected in ponds would be placed in a lined repository adjacent to the tunnel that has the capacity to store 30,000 cubic yards before it would have to be emptied. Company officials said they’d commit to constant monitoring at the site.

“There is really no such thing as a passive treatment system that you get to leave to its own devices at this scale,” Ostrander said. “The hope here is that it is cheaper and easier to operate than more traditional systems.”

Nearly 11 months have passed since Loomis spotted the otter in the newly cleaned water below the mine. White, the parks and wildlife aquatic biologist, said he’s looking into conducting a fish survey on the Dolores River to determine the extent to which trout can reproduce naturally and check for invertebrates such as dragonflies, grasshoppers and beetles.

And environmental cleanup workers who monitor the wetlands daily said they’re hoping to see that same otter, or another, this winter.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    This is "main" street or Glasgow Ave on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. The town functions as a historic and tourism site. The population was 265 at the 2010 census, up from 205 at the 2000. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880's. In 1892, Rico was in its heyday. Its population had soared to 5,000 people. The community was supported by 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red­light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, boarding houses, 14 first class hotels.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    This is the historic "main" street or Glasgow Ave on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. The town functions as a historic and tourism site. The population was 265 at the 2010 census, up from 205 at the 2000. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880's. In 1892, Rico was in its heyday. Its population had soared to 5,000 people. The community was supported by 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red­light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, boarding houses, 14 first class hotels. (

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    The Rico Community Church is lit by the setting sun on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. The town functions as a historic and tourism site. The population was 265 at the 2010 census, up from 205 at the 2000. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880's. In 1892, Rico was in its heyday. Its population had soared to 5,000 people. The community was supported by 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red­light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, boarding houses, 14 first class hotels.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    This is the historic Rico Mercantile building on "main" street or Glasgow Ave on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. The town functions as a historic and tourism site. The population was 265 at the 2010 census, up from 205 at the 2000. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880's. In 1892, Rico was in its heyday. Its population had soared to 5,000 people. The community was supported by 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red­light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, boarding houses, 14 first class hotels.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Tall Aspen trees are lit by the setting sun along Colorado highway 145, also known as the San Juan Skyway, on December 12, 2017 near Rico, Colorado. Despite no snow for months the trees look as if they are covered in frost.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Charlie Lynch paints the exterior of Motherlode Liquors along the historic "main" street or Glasgow Ave on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. The town functions as a historic and tourism site. The population was 265 at the 2010 census, up from 205 at the 2000. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880's.

  • Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Remnants of the mining days are seen along the historic "main" street or Glasgow Ave on December 12, 2017 in Rico, Colorado. Rico is an incorporated small town in Dolores County. It was settled in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. Many historic buildings still exist that remain from the mining boom of the 1880's. In 1892, Rico was in its heyday. Its population had soared to 5,000 people. The community was supported by 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red­light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, boarding houses, 14 first class hotels.

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