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Chambers: Cale Makar making seamless transition from NCAA to NHL, and impressing off the ice

April 21, 2019 - 7:00am

CALGARY, Alberta — The grounded Cale Makar won’t make waves with Avalanche. Character counts in hockey, and the Avs wouldn’t have introduced Makar to the lineup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they thought he would disrupt locker-room chemistry.

Makar, 20, didn’t play in a single shift in Colorado’s 82-game regular season but is now a top-four defenseman for a team that is uniquely deep at the position. He and the Avs are 3-0 together during a stretch Sam Girard, also 20 and a big part of the Avs’ blue-line, was said to be scratched because of injury.

But I wonder if Girard — a top-pair defenseman all season — was scratched in Friday’s series-clinching Game 5 because the Avs couldn’t alter their lineup after playing so well the previous two games. Makar and Girard are similar-style, puck-moving/skating D-men like Tyson Barrie, and stay-at-home guys Erik Johnson, Ian Cole, Nikita Zadorov and Patrik Nemeth have been too good to scratch.

Going with seven defensemen and one fewer forward is an option — and that may unfold in the second-round series against Vegas or San Jose — but Makar appears poised to get increased ice time as the Avs move forward.

Makar led Colorado in first-period ice in Friday’s Game 5 while Girard, listed as day-to-day with what is believed to be a slight shoulder injury, was scratched along with fellow defensemen Mark Barberio and Ryan Graves. Barberio was a regular for the Avs in the playoffs a year ago and Graves, an impressive rookie, is like Makar and Girard – a big piece of the team’s future.

This is the NHL and playing favorites based on the past is irrelevant. But seeing a college kid join the fray in the playoffs has to be somewhat unsettling for the defensemen who helped get the Avs into the playoffs.

Not to worry. The affable Makar is loaded with character and will handle his late arrival with class. He’s the kind of person who won’t act like he’s better than anyone else on the team.

But don’t just take my word for it.

En route to Denver last Sunday to begin his NHL career a day later in Game 3 at the Pepsi Center, Makar met two diehard University of Denver fans — two guys who were rooting against him and the University of Massachusetts in the April 11 Frozen Four semifinal game between the Pioneers and Minutemen.

Makar made a big impression on Jon Meredith and Bill Miller.

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“We had a chance to talk to him quite a bit while boarding in Toronto and at DIA baggage claim,” Meredith said. “He seems like a great kid who is very humble about his success and the expectations people have for him. When the Frozen Four ended, Massachusetts having lost, Cale stood by the door to the bench as his teammates filed off the ice. He hugged every one of them, the trainers and the coaching staff. He told Bill and I that leaving his teammates is one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.”

Makar, an alternate captain as a sophomore, was a great teammate at UMass. And he’ll be a great teammate with the Avalanche.

“Cale seems like a really grounded kid with his stuff together,” Miller said. “It was a pleasure talking to him.”

Last week the Avalanche added a great defenseman and perhaps an even better person.

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NFL Draft Preview: Broncos’ question — take prospect to play guard or center?

April 21, 2019 - 7:00am

BRONCOS STATUS

On the roster: Ja’Wuan James (RT), Garett Bolles (LT), Connor McGovern (C), Ron Leary (LG), Don Barclay (G), Elijah Wilkinson (G/T), Austin Schlottman (C/G), Nico Falah (C/G) and Sam Jones (C/G).

Level of need: High. Who’s the right guard? Who’s the swing tackle? Is McGovern the center? Myriad questions for the Broncos to figure out before the start of training camp. They spent big money to sign James in free agency to solidify right tackle. Drafting two players to start right away is a big ask, but don’t be surprised if one rookie starts in Week 1 along the offensive line.

Interior OL options

Jonah Williams, Alabama

Unlikely to fall to Broncos at No. 10. … Started all 44 games at offensive tackle in three years for Crimson Tide (29 left tackle/15 right tackle), but could be an elite NFL guard. … Played right tackle as true freshman before replacing second-round pick Cam Robinson at left tackle. … Listed at 6-foot-4/302 pounds.

Garrett Bradbury, N.C. State

Projected to be the first center drafted. … Redshirted for Wolfpack in 2014 as a tight end and moved to defensive tackle and eventually offensive line. … Started at left guard in ’16 and last two years at center (career totals of 48 games/39 starts). … Listed at 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds.

Erik McCoy, Texas A&M

Started all 39 games of three-year career (37 center/two left guard). … Blocked for SEC’s leading rusher, Trayveon Williams, in 2018. … Three-star high school recruit. … Listed at 6-foot-4, 307 pounds.

Dalton Risner, Kansas State

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Native of Wiggins, Colo., was three-time first-team All-Big 12 selection. … Started all 50 games of career (13 at center and final 37 at right tackle). … Second-team All-America as senior. … Visited Broncos earlier this month. … Projected as an interior offensive lineman despite tackle experience.

Chris Lindstrom, Boston College

Thirty-six of his 47 career starts were at right guard. … Third-team All-America and first-team All-ACC as a fourth-year senior. … Listed at 6-foot-4, 308 pounds. … Arrived at Boston College weighing 236 pounds.

Monday: Defensive backs.

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More than 200 killed in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday

April 21, 2019 - 6:56am

By Amantha Perera and Joanna Slater, The Washington Post

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – A series of coordinated explosions struck churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing at least 207 people and injuring more than 400.

Blasts ripped through three churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa at approximately 8:45 a.m. as worshipers were gathering for services. Explosions also took place at four hotels within Colombo, the nation’s capital, police said, while an eighth blast occurred under a flyover within the city.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the bombings, which represent the deadliest violence in the country since the end of its civil war in 2009. Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation but is also home to significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities.

At least 50 people were killed in Colombo and 62 in the nearby town of Negombo, said Anil Jasinghe, director of the National Hospital in Colombo, the nation’s capital. Kaneshlingam Kala, a hospital official in the eastern city of Batticaloa, said 25 people were killed at Zion Church.

The dead included at least eight foreigners, including three Americans, according to doctors who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The death toll is expected to increase, officials said.

Images from inside St. Anthony’s Kochchikade, the largest Roman Catholic congregation in Colombo, showed shattered wooden pews and floors stained with blood.

Another deadly blast took place at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a beach town about 20 miles north of the capital.

Two people at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo described a powerful explosion that made the ground shake just before 9 a.m. Photos showed broken windows and scattered glass on a street next to the hotel. At the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, the blast took place in a restaurant on the ground floor, the hotel wrote on Twitter. It said the injured were promptly evacuated.

In the wake of the bombings, Sri Lankan authorities announced a nationwide curfew, effective immediately. They also blocked Facebook and the messaging application WhatsApp to stop the spread of false and inflammatory messages.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s prime minister, condemned what he called “the cowardly attacks on our people today” and urged the country to remain “united and strong.”

Earlier on Sunday, Harsh de Silva, a minister in Sri Lanka’s government, wrote on Twitter that he had seen “horrible scenes” after the explosions and that there were “many casualties including foreigners.” He urged people to stay indoors.

Sri Lanka is a popular tourism destination and has been largely peaceful since the end of its long-running civil war a decade ago. Sunday’s bombings were the worst violence to hit Colombo since 1996, when a blast at the country’s Central Bank killed nearly 100 people. That attack was carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers, which waged a war for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north for more than thirty years.

Messages of condolence and condemnation began to pour in from around the world.

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President Donald Trump tweeted: “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”

The Church of England posted a prayer for the people of Sri Lanka on Twitter. India, Sri Lanka’s neighbor, strongly condemned what it called a “ghastly and heinous act” and said it stood with the people of Sri Lanka “in this hour of grief.”

Slater reported from Mumbai. Niha Masih contributed reporting from New Delhi.

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How Colorado’s Derrick White became 2019 NBA Playoffs’ breakout star

April 21, 2019 - 6:00am

You ask what Jamal Murray ever did to Derrick White to deserve this, and Alex Welsh just laughs. He swears it’s just like that tag line on the old Terminator 2 movie posters: It’s Nothing Personal. Also, he’s seen this before. The gliding. The swagger. The gall.

“I think it’s just who he is when he starts playing,” Welsh said of White, the Spurs guard from Legend High, his former roommate and the cat Nuggets coach Michael Malone used to light a fire under Murray’s backside before Denver’s 117-103 victory in Game 4. “He’s very humble, mellow, kind of a quiet dude. And then he steps on the floor and he turns into this ‘kill’ mode. I’ve seen it from him since we started playing in college.

“He’s kind of mellow all day. And then he starts playing and you’re like, ‘Who is this guy?’”

He’s the guy who dropped 50 on School of Mines at the Division II NCAA men’s tourney in 2015. The guy who averaged 28.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in his two career Pac-12 Tournament appearances after transferring to CU. The guy who lit Arizona — Elite Eight, 32-5 Arizona — up for 31 points at that same league tourney, then turned around to post 30 on UCF in the NIT.

The guy who averaged 24.8 points for Austin in the G-League playoffs last spring. The guy who forced Malone to move Murray off him defensively for Game 4 and have Gary Harris, Denver’s second-best perimeter defender, shadow him instead.

That guy.

“He’s always played big in big games,” said Welsh, the RiNo realtor and Westminster native who played with White, Parker’s favorite basketball son, at UC-Colorado Springs from 2012-2015. “These are the biggest games he’s played in to date. I think he’s just rising to the occasion.”

Rising over Murray.

Rising over Paul Millsap.

That guy.

“It’s been fun,” Jeff Culver, White’s old coach at UCCS, said of the Spurs guard, who’s averaged 19.3 points per game in the series, pouring in a game-high 36 vs. the Nuggets in Game 3. “I joke (that) he’s still not there yet.

“Even (in Game 3), he was getting gapped and people were going under him. For friends, and the people that know Derrick, they know that’s blasphemy. We can’t believe that. The confidence in that 3-point shot, once he starts shooting it the way we know he’s capable of doing it, teams won’t be able to go under and gap (him).”

Few around the metro know White’s ceiling better than Culver, whose narrative with the skinny kid out of Legend is a part of local legend now. The Mountain Lions coach first spotted White while recruiting for Johnson & Wales, then made him the first prospect he ever brought to campus once he’d landed the UC-Colorado Springs gig.

Culver’s also had fun watching national pundits scratch their heads at how White, who spent much of the last week running circles around former lottery picks, ended up signing with a Division II program 10 minutes from the Garden of the Gods.

Blame a slight frame, which seven years ago measured 6-foot and 150-ish pounds soaking wet. Blame coaches who misread the guy’s heart, and misread his genetics, too: Derrick’s father Richard saw a late growth spurt that pushed him from 5-11 to 6-2 after his high-school years.

So, no shock, the guy’s first season at UCCS was when the party really got started. First, Derrick shot up to 6-4 in a matter of months. Second, Culver decided to burn White’s redshirt and shift the guy from shooting guard to the point.

That guy.

“And he never looked back, really,” Culver said. “The rest is history.”

He’s the guy who never backed down, the guy who swam anytime someone chucked him in the deep end. The guy who used to rock a Nuggets hoodie around campus. The guy who’s coming back to host his own basketball academy at Parker Fieldhouse in late June. The guy who worked as a counselor four summers ago at one of Chauncey Billups’ camps, playing in the same backcourt as then-Clippers star Jamal Crawford.

“Most guys, when they play with NBA players, they either try to do one of two things,” recalled Marcus Mason, owner of Nothing But Net and one of White’s hoops mentors since the Spurs guard was in seventh grade. “They try to do too much to try and impress the NBA players, or they’re too nervous. And he looked like he belonged with (Billups and Crawford), two guys who had unbelievable careers.

“I just remember how Derrick looked playing beside these NBA players. I walked out of there going, ‘Man, that guy is close.’

That guy?

He’s arrived.

“Coming in, we were a little like, ‘How do we handle that?’” Richard said, chuckling out loud at the notion of a Denver kid trying to sink his hometown team. “It would’ve been better for (the Spurs) to play somebody else. But you take things as they come, try to win each and every game that you play.

“Everyone’s really happy and jazzed for him. For sure, he still has a long way to go.”

Different stage.

Same guy.

That guy.

“I saw him take over Division II,” Welsh said, laughing again. “I saw him find his rhythm at CU. I’m neither shocked nor surprised by it. But there’s nothing better than watching him do it.”

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20 years after Columbine, threat of school shootings adds anxiety to teachers’ already high stress

April 21, 2019 - 5:00am

Elizabeth McCord huddled dozens of fourth-graders under tables in a corner of her darkened Broomfield classroom.

The students, 9 and 10 years old, knew to stay quiet and still. The lockdown alarm had sounded just before the end of the day and there had been no announcement that there would be a drill. Minutes ticked by — too long for a regular drill. Some students started to cry.

One girl whispered to McCord: “My mom’s birthday is tomorrow — what if we don’t get to that?”

McCord didn’t know what to say.

COLUMBINE: 20 YEARS LATER

The Denver Post takes a look at the aftermath of the Columbine High School shooting and what has happened over the last 20 years. Click here to see more of the Denver Post’s anniversary coverage.

Broomfield police soon came to the classroom to let them out. An electrical issue with the alarm system had triggered the warning. But the memories from those minutes under the table remained visceral even two years later.

“All I could tell them was ‘I’ll keep you safe,’ ” McCord said in a recent interview. “That’s part of our job now. To reassure kids that they’re safe.”

Teachers are already stressed. But along with testing standards, parent relationships and growing class sizes, teachers and school staff in the post-Columbine era increasingly worry about keeping their students — and themselves — safe from shootings and other violence. The added pressure taxes teachers’ energy and prompts difficult questions: How far should teachers be willing to go to keep their students from harm? What is an acceptable price to pay to stay in the profession they love?

Such deadly events remain extremely rare, but they loom on the edge of teachers’ minds. A survey of 1,000 teachers conducted last year by the National Education Association found that 60 percent of those surveyed worried that a mass shooting could happen at their school.

RELATED: Since Columbine, Colorado schools see increase in lockdowns as students report more possible threats

Some teachers know exactly how many minutes they will have to wait for police response to their building. Others account for every window, assessing the vulnerabilities of their classroom. Secretaries hesitate to buzz strangers through the front door. For some school staff members, it has even created a wariness of their own students.

The fear of violence or the stress involved in preventing it sometimes factors into teachers leaving the profession — or students from entering it in the first place, said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest educators union.

Baca-Oehlert was finishing her second year as a teacher when news of the Columbine shooting rattled her. It was the first time she envisioned situations where she would have to put her life on the line for her students.

“That lived with you,” she said.

Lyn Alweis, Denver Post fileMany people came to be in Clement Park for the 11:21 am moment of silence marking one week since the Columbine High School shooting, April 27, 1999. Amid the ever-growing memorial of flowers, notes and cards in Clement Park, are a number of votive candles with the photos of the victims and a poster tribute to teacher Dave Sanders made by his step daughter and grandchildren. “The straw that broke the camel’s back”

Since 1999, 30 school staff members — including janitors, coaches, security officers and bus drivers — have been shot and killed in schools across the country, according to the National Memorial to Fallen Educators. Three others were stabbed to death. Hundreds of schools have experienced killings, including at least four in Colorado.

School violence and shootings add to teachers’ already high stress levels, said Patricia Jennings, a professor at the University of Virginia who studies teacher stress.

“It’s kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said.

Nearly half of all teachers leave the profession within five years of their first day, according to a 2014 Gallup report on education. Another poll by the research firm found that K-12 teachers reported the same level of high daily stress as doctors and nurses.

Stressed-out teachers are more likely to overreact to behavioral issues, Jennings said. That overreaction stresses out students, who are then more likely to act out. It’s a destructive cycle, Jennings said.

The anxiety spreads to other school staff as well, said Lara Center, president of the union that represents 4,000 of the Jefferson County School District’s nonteaching staff, including custodians, education assistants and bus drivers.

School paraprofessionals — such as teaching aides and other support staff — often watch large groups of students in cafeterias or at recess. They also need to have adequate safety training, she said.

Melissa Martinez, a secretary at Denver’s Castro Elementary School, is often tasked with buzzing visitors through the school’s front doors. She can see the person through the window, but if she doesn’t recognize the visitor, she will meet them at the door.

It can be a nerve-wracking walk, she said. She’s never had safety training, she said.

“You feel like you’re held responsible and accountable if something were to happen,” she said.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostClasses are canceled at Columbine High School on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 in Jefferson County. Authorities were looking for a woman from Florida suspected of making a “credible threat” to area schools. Student or threat?

After the shooting at Columbine, one question wove its way through conversation: How could people not have known what the gunmen were planning?

Teachers felt that the question, in part, was directed at them, said Elizabeth Hinde, dean of Metropolitan State University’s School of Education. Hinde was a high school teacher when the Columbine shooting happened and quickly felt the ramifications of that question.

Policies quickly developed that were meant to help teachers, counselors and other staff identify students who might pose a risk to the safety of themselves and others.

But those policies caused a fundamental shift in teacher-student relationships, Hinde said. Teachers started to see students as potential threats instead of children, she said.

“It created a different lens through which to see students,” she said.

BEARING WITNESS PODCAST: COLUMBINE AND THE NEWS MEDIA

The pressure to notice potential warning signs can feel overwhelming, said John Gallagher, a school psychologist for Denver Public Schools. But teachers should not be expected to handle every troubled or traumatized student, he said. Instead, they need to be able to recognize the signs and refer to the correct mental health professional.

“They don’t need to be hyper-vigilant, they need to be hyper-responsive,” he said. “You don’t have to be an ER doctor to call 911.”

But that’s not always possible in school districts where counselors and psychologists are overworked or nonexistent.

In rural southern Colorado, one counselor tends to the needs of more than 200 students at Monte Vista Middle School, where history teacher John Camponeschi works.

In rural areas, law enforcement can be few and far apart, he said. Schools can’t rely on local sheriff’s offices to be able to respond to an emergency quickly. And they often don’t have security officers embedded in the schools. When Camponeschi’s school performs lockdown drills, sometimes federal wildlife officers help because they’re some of the few law enforcement nearby, he said.

Camponeschi said he is often hyper-aware of his surroundings: who is in the building, where the exits are, how many windows are in each room. Vigilance has become his modus operandi.

“That level of alertness, that level of attention to your environment and your student and your lesson — that is so taxing,” he said.

The day after a former student shot and killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Camponeschi proposed forming a safety committee within the Colorado Education Association union. At the vote to create it, nearly every teacher supported it.

“People who spoke in favor of it had tears in their eyes,” he said.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostFuture teacher Yarrow Sullivan on Thursday, March 22, 2019. Teachable moments

Yarrow Sullivan watched dozens of unsuspecting teachers stampede down Broomfield High School’s central hallway as a trainer fired a gun — filled with blanks — at the panicked crowd.

Sullivan, an education student at the University of Colorado Boulder, had been in active shooter training all morning at the high school, where he planned to complete a semester of in-school placement. But the trainers had not announced this ambush.

Sullivan scurried into a nook in the hallway with a staff member. He heard the footsteps of the trainer advancing toward them. Was he responsible for the other person hiding with him? He could hear the gun casings clink on the school’s hallway as they fell.

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He dashed for safety, but heard the gun fire. If this were a real shooting, he would have died.

The 23-year-old had envisioned how he would respond to a school shooting since middle school. But after the drill at Broomfield High, such a situation seemed less hypothetical. It cemented in his mind vivid images of fleeing teachers and of a gunman in the hallways.

“That was my ‘Oh, shit’ moment,” he said. “After that whole thing, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do teaching anymore.”

“I have 40 years of teaching in front of me,” he said. “It doesn’t seem unfathomable that it would happen to me.”

Most undergraduate students studying to become teachers now are too young to remember the Columbine shooting. Some weren’t even born yet.

Many grew up practicing drills and lockdowns, but the fear becomes more intense when they are placed in schools and charged with caring for the lives of their students, said Hinde, the Metropolitan State University dean. After high-profile incidents such as Parkland, some student teachers fear returning to their classroom placements, she said.

“It’s a teachable moment,” Hinde said. “How are you going to handle this?”

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High-profile school shootings such as Parkland and Sandy Hook always prompt intense, frank conversation among students at CU Boulder’s School of Education, said Liz Meyer, associate dean for students at CU Boulder’s School of Education. It’s a good opportunity to help students think critically about the realities of their future career.

“It’s really, really important for them to understand that these are real children whose lives are in your hands,” Meyer said. “It’s a heavy burden.”

Teacher preparation programs have evolved rapidly over the past two decades, Hinde said. Instead of strictly teaching curriculum and basic classroom management, future teachers now learn about recognizing trauma, building healthy relationships with students and caring for their own needs. The goal is to help future teachers  address the underlying issues that sometimes prompt shooting: isolation, mental illness and abuse.

“We’re teaching them to say ‘What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’ ” Hinde said.

The teachers who remain in the field said they feel a deep calling to the profession, despite the stresses and challenges. Teaching is a direct opportunity to create good in the world, they said.

For McCord, the music teacher, her joy in watching the “little lightbulbs” go off in her students’ heads makes the stress manageable. She beams watching them bloom.

“Once you’re in front of your kids and teaching, it all kind of falls away,” she said.

Sullivan, the CU student, still plans to become a teacher. He will move to New York City in the fall to begin his career. He hopes to pursue alternate philosophies of teaching. Something different.

“Not everyone needs to be a soldier,” he said.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Denver City Council race: East Denver voters must decide how much development is too much

April 21, 2019 - 5:00am

The political history of eastern Denver is written in rezoning applications.

For the neighborhood insider, life is punctuated by hours-long public hearings about new apartment and condo buildings. If someone wrote a textbook, the chapter titles would be “Holly Street,” and “Mt. Gilead Church” and all the other shorthand names that have developed for the neighbor-on-neighbor brawls that periodically rack District 5.

It may just be the perfect breeding ground for development politics: There’s an old way of life — the rows of mid-century ranches — that’s quickly been overlaid with a patchwork of scraped houses, new condos and other changes. The pace of change isn’t the fastest in the city, but it’s happening among million-dollar homes and powerful neighborhood groups, although the district also includes East Colfax Avenue and less politically connected neighborhoods.

It’s all crystallizing in this year’s elections as incumbent Mary Beth Susman fights for a third term amid a strident challenge from three candidates: Amanda Sawyer, Stephen Replin and Michele Fry.

The outspoken urbanist

Susman, 71, is an outspoken “neo-urbanist” and a 46-year resident of Hilltop. She found her entrance to city politics in the Lowry development of the 1990s, when she was chair of the community advisory group.

Courtesy photoMary Beth Susman

RELATED: 2019 Denver election guide

“It was the birth of what was known then as neo-urbanism — the thought that you could put commercial areas right inside residential. There was so much pushback, even for a small community center,” she said.

She won election in 2011 in a tight race and went unopposed in 2015. While in office, she has focused on transit issues and housing, saying the district should embrace its fair share of growth. She also wants a stronger bus network and greater city ownership of transit issues.

“We should preserve the character of these neighborhoods but understand we might need to increase the number of people who can enjoy these very special neighborhoods,” she said.

She’s met fierce neighborhood resistance at times. Most recently, she supported a doomed and controversial rezoning proposal that could have put 23 residential units on South Holly Street. Some residents protested that it would make a busy road more dangerous.

“I feel strongly about what kind of community I want to live in,” said Susman, who holds a doctorate in sociology. “You can’t live in a democratic society if only one group of people gets their way all the time.”

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At times, the rezoning fights have turned serious: In 2015, residents sued the city over an earlier development decision, alleging that Susman’s communications with a development lobbyist had tainted the process, among other problems.

The courts rejected their arguments, with a district court judge finding that Susman had only discussed public information and hadn’t committed to any position before the hearing. The incumbent ultimately voted against that rezoning.

Susman leads the fundraising pack with more than $100,000 raised or carried over from the last election cycle. Sawyer follows with about $85,000 raised, including $40,000 from herself. Fry has raised $27,000, including $19,000 from herself. Replin has self-funded $1,900.

The new activist

Amanda Sawyer, 40, moved from San Francisco with her husband and three kids in 2016, buying a four-bedroom in Hilltop. She’s not new to Colorado, having split time as a kid between a Chicago suburb and Avon, Colorado..

Courtesy photoAmanda Sawyer

“Pretty quickly I realized that the Denver I flew in and out of as a kid and hung out in with my brother is not the Denver of today,” said Sawyer, an MBA and attorney who consults for health care companies.

The argument over the 23 units on Holly Street opened her eyes. She liked the building, but thought it was the wrong location, feeding into her general doubts about the city’s redevelopment.

“Do we want to be a city of high rises with no soul? Or do we want to be Denver? Because the Denver I grew up hanging out in cared about green space and cared about the residents who grew up here,” she said.

Sawyer doesn’t describe herself as a NIMBY — not-in-my-backyard — but she thinks Susman is “out of touch” with constituents. East Denver doesn’t have the right infrastructure for growth, she said. And Sawyer feels that the neighborhoods have been unfairly ignored as the city focuses sidewalk construction on low-income neighborhoods.

And where new infrastructure is planned, she worries that Denver could overdo development. For example, she worries that city officials could go for five-floor development or higher along the new East Colfax bus-rapid transit line. She wants to see something closer to three floors. (City planning officials haven’t announced their ideas yet.)

“It’s not an anti-development, pro-development issue, it is an issue of being thoughtful, of making sure that East Colfax stays with the heart and soul of East Colfax as this sort of funky area of Denver that has struggled,” she said.

Her passion, she said later, “stems from a real desire to bring the community back into the process.”

The political veteran

Michele Fry, 47, says she falls between Sawyer and Susman on development issues.

Courtesy photoMichele Fry

“I’m right in the middle,” said Fry, the chief of staff for Rep. Jovan Melton. On the controversial Holly Street rezoning, she falls closer to Susman: She saw the proposal as a net gain for the area because of its sustainable design and for-sale units.

But her platform is focused more on good governance than development, she said. She thinks the city has done a poor job of getting neighborhoods involved in decisions.

“There is no transparency. There is zero accountability. You don’t know what’s being built in your neighborhood. And I don’t understand how that happens,” she said. Fry also has said she’d focus more on seniors and working families.

“There are some community meetings, just everybody is not included in them. It seems to be the ones that have the time, that are dialed in,” she said.

She previously ran for the seat in 2011, the year Susman took office. She criticizes the incumbent, but she’s also perturbed by the tone of the campaign. She pointed to a radio interview that Sawyer did: Interviewer Chuck Bonniwell referred to Susman as a “developer’s ho,” and Sawyer did not admonish him.

“You can disagree with Mary Beth’s propensity to be overly pro-development. I do,” she said. “But at some point, you stop that vitriol. I’m out to win to bring cohesiveness back to our community.”

Sawyer said she was caught off-guard in the interview and wished she had pushed back more strongly.

The absolute opponent Courtesy photoStephen Replin

Stephen Replin, 71, has the staunchest stance against development — not just in the race, but perhaps across the city elections. He has called for a complete two-year moratorium on rezonings, which would freeze numerous development proposals.

“Let’s let the city absorb the units that are under construction,” the business coach and attorney said at a recent forum. At the moment, the regional market appears to be  absorbing a surge of new apartments, but a downturn is always possible.

“It was a fabulous, fabulous place without intensive traffic, without much crime,” Replin said. “I want those days back.”

Learn more about the candidates from their elections questionnaires.

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Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of April 15-21

April 21, 2019 - 5:00am

Thirty members of school staff have been shot and killed at work since 1999. To an already stressful career of ensuring a classroom of kids, who may or may not have arrived at school rested, fed and ready to learn, these people have added the role of protector.

Reporter Elise Schmelzer, who last week won a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association for her writing on the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder, explores this dynamic and the impact it has on a school’s staff.

I’d also like to point your attention to a piece by one of our political reporters, Nic Garcia, just back from some training on covering a presidential election. Nic reports that while Colorado hasn’t set a date for a primary, we can expect it to be early enough — perhaps on Super Tuesday — to get pretty serious attention from the wide field of Democratic candidates. We’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad one.

Lee Ann Colacioppo, Editor of The Denver Post

Five of The Denver Post’s best stories this week Lyn Alweis, Denver Post fileMany people came to be in Clement Park for the 11:21 am moment of silence marking one week since the Columbine High School shooting, April 27, 1999. Amid the ever-growing memorial of flowers, notes and cards in Clement Park, are a number of votive candles with the photos of the victims and a poster tribute to teacher Dave Sanders made by his step daughter and grandchildren. 20 years after Columbine, threat of school shootings adds anxiety to teachers’ already high stress

In light of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting yesterday, teachers share their growing stress and anxiety when it comes to keeping their students safe. Teachers are asking themselves tough questions: How far should teachers be willing to go to keep their students from harm? What is an acceptable price to pay to stay in the profession they love? Read more from Elise Schmelzer.

MORE FROM COLUMBINE: 20 YEARS LATER Joe Amon, The Denver PostThe Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s oil and gas team and Air Pollution Control Division members give an overview of inspection practices to operators and interested parties at the Troudt battery along Highway 52 in Weld County on April 17, 2019. Colorado’s unannounced air-pollution inspections at oil and gas sites are showing results — yet emissions are up as production increases

The unannounced state health inspections on about 2,000 oil and gas operations across Colorado last year and found leaks of heat-trapping methane and volatile organic gas at 13 percent of those sites. Last year’s leaks were half the frequency that they detected five years ago. Read more from Bruce Finley.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostTravelers make their way through Denver International Airport amid construction taking place as part of the Great Hall terminal renovation project on Dec. 14, 2018. 18-month setback? DIA hopes for shorter delay on terminal project as contractors peg impact of weak concrete

Due to an assessment of weak concrete, Denver International Airport renovation contractors are delivering increasingly startling forecasts of the potential impact on a renovation project’s timeline. The $650 million-plus project is now expected to be completed in May 2023 or later. Read more from Jon Murray.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostMembers of an Alpine Rescue Team carry out the body of 18-year-old Sol Pais, near Echo Lake Campground in Arapaho National Forest, on April 17, 2019 in Idaho Springs. Sol Pais likely killed herself Monday, long before “massive manhunt” that closed hundreds of schools, undersheriff says

Sol Pais, the Florida teenager who authorities said was “infatuated” with Columbine, likely killed herself on Monday at Mount Evans. That means she would have been unaware of the panic that shutdown hundreds of schools on Wednesday. Read more from Kirk Mitchell.

Pais’s death by suicide highlighted the conversation of mental health and mass tragedies ahead of the 20th anniversary of Columbine. Read more from Jessica Seaman.

Kathryn Scott, Special to The Denver PostDemocratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren holds a political rally and answers questions from the crowd at the Hanger at Stanley Marketplace on April 16, 2019 in Aurora. Super Tuesday in Colorado: State’s Democratic primary may play big role in choosing 2020 presidential candidate

Colorado’s shift to a primary and our state’s changing demographics have drawn more attention from 2020 presidential candidates. According to Colorado Democrats, there is a strong possibility Colorado will vote on Super Tuesday next year. Read more from Nic Garcia. 

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Broncos Journal: Evaluating draft-eligible quarterbacks “not the same” as 15 years ago

April 21, 2019 - 5:00am

The question for Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after Wednesday’s minicamp practice: During the pre-draft quarterback visits, how do you challenge their football knowledge?

“I can tell you some of that,” Scangarello said with a laugh.

And he did … kind of, illustrating the challenge for coaches, scouts and executives entering this week’s NFL Draft. Assessing the quarterback position is more difficult than ever because of the schemes college teams run and the skills possessed by said passers.

“I think this: My background in college has really helped me in the evaluation process just because the college and NFL games have gone two different directions,” Scangarello said. “I don’t think you can do it the way it was done 15 years ago. I just believe you’re not evaluating the same thing.”

Scangarello’s entire NFL experience before joining the Broncos in January was working for Kyle Shanahan, one year in Atlanta and two years in San Francisco. He said he was “proud” to have learned from Shanahan.

“Kyle had a lot of success (evaluating quarterbacks) and (he) showed me some things that I use in the evaluation process,” Scangarello said. “It’s a tough position to evaluate. You just get them in (the meeting room) and you try and find out what you can about them.”

The Broncos have the 10th pick in Thursday’s first round and a quarterback could be on their radar. Has the direction of the college game forced more projecting on the part of NFL teams? Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins started for one year. Other quarterbacks who will go high in the draft rarely played under center, which is required in the Broncos’ offense.

“You’ve got to evaluate some physical and mental qualities that you may not be able to evaluate on tape,” Scangarello said. “You have to just get creative on how you can get to the bottom of those things.”

Draft memories. Two Broncos players were recently asked to recall their draft weekend experiences.

Defensive end Derek Wolfe (second round in 2012): “I never even talked to the Broncos. Every team I thought I was going to go to, they just went the complete opposite direction. I was just like, ‘I don’t know what the (heck) is going on here.’ And then I get a call from (general manager) John Elway and I was like, ‘All right, cool, I’m going to Denver.’ I had no clue I was going to come here. I’m glad I did.”

Center Connor McGovern (fifth round in 2016): “The teams I had the most contact with were Seattle and the (New England) Patriots. Dallas was my only top-30 visit. (The Broncos’ interest) kind of came out of nowhere. In my draft year, what I think happened was I had to play left tackle (at Missouri) and I wasn’t built to play tackle. I hadn’t played guard or center in a year. I got hurt in the first Senior Bowl practice so teams were really questionable (about me) and I went down (the board) a little bit. But it worked out.”

About the schedule. Five thoughts on the NFL schedule …

1. The Broncos play three games against teams with long rest: Chicago in Week 2 and Jacksonville in Week 4 play the previous Thursday and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13 will be returning from their bye. The Broncos will have the rest advantage when they play at Indianapolis (Week 8, after a Thursday night game) and at Minnesota (Week 10, following a bye),

2. The Broncos play Cleveland, Houston and Kansas City (second meeting) a week after those teams play New England.

3. Easy travel: The New York Jets don’t play a game outside the Eastern time zone. Tough travel: Oakland and the Chargers make six trips apiece to the Central/Eastern time zones and trips to London and Mexico City, respectively.

4. Easy schedule: New England’s first game against a 2018 playoff team isn’t until Week 9 (at Baltimore). Tough schedule: Washington plays at Philadelphia and is home to Dallas, Chicago and New England in the first five weeks.

5. Seven NFC teams have the maximum five prime-time appearances, but only three AFC teams (Patriots, Chiefs and Steelers).

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Roster room. As of Friday, the Broncos had 64 players under contract, leaving 26 open roster spots for the draft and undrafted free agency. According to the NFLPA’s website, only the Los Angeles Rams (60) and New Orleans (61) had fewer signed players.

Risner’s status. Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner, a native of Wiggins who visited the Broncos earlier this month, will be an interesting name to watch on Thursday-Friday. Is he a right tackle or a center? “I have him in the early second-round range,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “I have him (as) a right tackle. Some teams want him to go back and play center. I think you talk to some teams, they have him in the second round, some teams have him in the fourth round.”

Donatell talks Harris. Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, who will be heavily involved coaching the secondary, has no concerns that cornerback Chris Harris is falling behind by not participating in the offseason program. “He’s really easy to fit (into) 11-on-11 football because he’s so competitive and tough,” Donatell said. The next key date on the Harris Watch is May 13 for the start of organized team activities.

Learning the roster. Coach Vic Fangio said last month he hadn’t watched much Broncos 2018 tape, choosing to wait for the on-field workouts. What about Donatell? “We went through it just to see the players and get acquainted,” he said. “(Fangio) likes to just come in, get a fresh start with guys, see them move around and make (his) own choices with our teaching.”

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Explosions hit 2 churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday

April 20, 2019 - 10:50pm

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The Latest on explosions in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed at least 30 people and wounded 283 others.

National Hospital spokesman Dr. Samindi Samarakoon says the nearly 300 wounded have been admitted to the capital Colombo’s main hospital.

A security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters says that six near simultaneous explosions hit three churches and three hotels frequented by foreign tourists.

The official suspects at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.

___

10:50 a.m.

A security official says six near simultaneous blasts have hit three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

The official says the explosions have caused multiple fatalities among worshipers and hotel guests.

The official says they suspect the blasts at two churches were carried out by suicide bombers.

One church, St. Anthony’s Shrine, and the three hotels are in Colombo and are frequented by foreign tourists. The other two churches are in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo, and the eastern town of Batticaloa.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with reporters.

___

10:10 a.m.

Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers.

The first blast ripped through St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo.

Alex Agileson who was in the vicinity says buildings in the surrounding area shook with the blast.

He says a number of injured were carried in ambulances.

A second explosion was reported at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo.

The church has appealed for help on its Facebook page.

Sri Lankan security officials say they are checking for details.

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“He’s our general”: Jamal Murray rebounds as Nuggets seize control of first-round series

April 20, 2019 - 7:53pm

SAN ANTONIO — About 20 minutes after the Nuggets had seized control of their first-round series against the Spurs, Jamal Murray stood outside of the interview room Saturday spinning a basketball on his finger and tossing bounce passes off the wall in the corridors of the AT&T Center.

Evidently, he hadn’t feasted enough during the Nuggets’ rollicking second-half surge in Game 4.

Murray was paramount to their 117-103 win — Denver’s first in San Antonio since 2012 — and any chance the Nuggets had in wresting back control of this series laid in the hands of their third-year point guard.

With momentum teetering in the third quarter and the Nuggets up 71-69, Murray’s 3-pointer and ferocious dunk stretched the lead to 76-69. The energy changed, and the margin never got closer than five points the rest of the game.

“It happened so fast,” said Murray, who finished with 24 points and six assists. “I remember the sequence, but I was like … I didn’t even see the dunk. I haven’t seen it yet.”

J-A-M[AL MURRAY]#MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/OgqKfG4syO

— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 20, 2019

Murray’s backdoor dunk was the crescendo of a 37-point quarter, which saw Denver’s three most valuable players deflate any hope of a Spurs victory and change the trajectory of the series. Nikola Jokic scored 11 of his game-high 29 points in the period, and Torrey Craig, starting in place of Will Barton, drilled two of his five 3-pointers. The Nuggets hit 15 3-pointers as a team, which countered their abysmal 37 percent shooting in the first half.

“(Jamal) needs such a little trigger to step on another level, and when he steps on another level, he just brings us all with him,” Jokic said. “He’s our point guard, he’s our leader on the floor, he’s our general, so when he has great energy, we just follow him.”

Murray’s defense drew the brunt of criticism after Spurs point guard Derrick White went off for a career-high 36 points in Game 3. Multiple players said they took his game — and the way the Spurs had imposed their will on the Nuggets — personally. As a result, Nuggets coach Michael Malone switched up his team’s defensive assignments. Murray drew Spurs guard Bryn Forbes, while Gary Harris took White. It was Craig who was left to nag DeMar DeRozan.

White managed just eight points while committing four turnovers. DeRozan was flustered into 19 points and an ejection. Forbes scored an inconsequential 10 points.

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“I thought (Jamal) was a lot more engaged, I thought he played a lot harder, played with a lot more urgency,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I’m not surprised because we all know what Derrick White did last game.”

Denver’s win is a monumental step for this group, most of whom are taking in the postseason for the first time. Think about what they learned throughout the course of four days in steamy San Antonio. Their defense got exposed in Game 3; they had their toughness questioned by their coach; they were taught the difference between regular- season and postseason fouls; and they weathered another awful first quarter in Game 4 to steal home-court advantage right back.

As the Nuggets exhaled on the plane back to Denver, not only could they rest easy with the knowledge that two wins at Pepsi Center means they’ll advance to the second round, they could take solace in the fact that this group has now won on the road in the postseason. That knowledge will pay untold dividends as far as they go this season — and in future runs.

“I just feel like we’ve seen it all at a young age so far,” Murray said. “Going to the playoffs is a big experience for us, and we’re all learning on the fly.”

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Kiszla: Nuggets put their guts on the table, force Spurs to blink in crucial 117-103 playoff victory

April 20, 2019 - 7:24pm

SAN ANTONIO — Years down the road, at the victory parade, as the Nuggets roll through the streets of Denver and hoist that shiny NBA championship trophy for all to see, remember this day, when a young, talented team stood up when it would have been far easier to back down.

The Nuggets beat San Antonio 117-103 in a playoff game where failure was not an option. The victory was as glorious as it was essential. But there was nothing pretty about it, unless you count the 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists from center Nikola Jokic.

This one was grimy. A gut check. It was a moment of truth, when the Nuggets were forced to let it all hang out and discover if their best was good enough, without an ounce of fear or a moment of regret.

“I saw a lot of (guts) on the table,” Malone said Saturday.

Print the T-shirt.

While Malone’s exact words might not be fit for the family newspaper, his rough-hewn wisdom would look sweet printed on 100 percent cotton and worn across the chest of Denver fans.

Suffice it to say: The heart of the Nuggets grew three sizes this day.

They entered Game 4 against the Spurs training 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. This Denver team had been bullied by San Antonio, with many Nuggets overwhelmed by the bright lights, physicality and intensity of playoff basketball many of them had never experienced.

Malone challenged his players’ manhood, daring them to stand and fight after a bad road loss in which he said the Nuggets were so soft, “We looked like a bunch of ticket takers. Take a ticket, come right in.”

But maybe, just maybe, the Nuggets finally learned the NBA postseason is often more about fortitude than finesse.

“The Nuggets played harder and smarter than us. It’s the playoffs. So to have a performance like that is very, very disappointing,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.

Grumpy, old Pop was grouchier than usual, and I suspect it was because Pop knew Game 4 was the Spurs’ last, best chance to steal this series from the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed.

In the Book of Malone, the victory and his gutsy summation of what made it possible were both keepers. On a team that hides its swagger under an invisibility quote, Malone does the talking around here. Does his in-your-face confidence remind anybody else a little of Patrick Roy?

The Nuggets now have a battle cry for the playoffs. Put “Guts on the table” on the front of the T-shirt. And what goes on the back? Add everyone’s favorite Malone quip, which set the tone for a 54-victory regular season: “Take that L on the way out.”

Having lost 14 straight road games to the Spurs, Denver broke the curse of the Alamo. Where were you in 2012? We ask for a reason.

“I was in college. Learning how to write papers. Being studious,” recalled Denver guard Torrey Craig. The proud University of South Carolina-Upstate alum replaced struggling Will Barton in the starting lineup. Craig not only provided Master Lock defense, he also drained five shots from 3-point range.

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Although winning a game deep in the heart of Texas for the first time in seven years was no small feat, Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray didn’t want to talk about no stinking history.

Where was Murray on March 4, 2012, the last time Denver won a road game here? It had to be high school, right? Where was he hanging out? Plopped on the sofa, playing “Halo 4,” perhaps?

He briefly scanned his memory bank and Murray, now 22 years old, quickly reached a grown-up conclusion: Does it really matter?

“I was here tonight,” Murray said.

After getting torched and tormented by Spurs point guard Derrick White in Game 3, Murray scored 24 points. No basket was bigger than his rim-shaking and guns-flexing dunk midway through the third period that put Denver ahead 76-69. Murray’s slam was loud, and it declared to San Antonio, as well as the the rest of the league:

The Nuggets aren’t afraid. Get your money out. Guts on the table.

Wanna play?

 

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Columbine community gathers for tearful, hopeful ceremony

April 20, 2019 - 6:20pm

“How are we doing 20 years later?” asked Dawn Anna, mother of Columbine High School shooting victim Lauren Townsend on the 20th anniversary of her 18-year-old daughter’s death. “We are surviving.”

Anna spoke to the hundreds gathered in Clement Park on Saturday afternoon to honor the 13 lives lost in the 2-decade-old school shooting that stunned the world. Her message preached to recommit to a life of service, kindness and love in the fallen’s honor.

The celebration to remember Cassie Bernall, Corey DePooter, Matthew Kechter, Daniel Rohrbough, Isaiah Shoels, Lauren Townsend, Steven Curnow, Kelly Fleming, Daniel Mauser, Rachel Scott, William “Dave” Sanders, John Tomlin and Kyle Velasquez drew current and past governors and a video message from former President Bill Clinton, but the real luminaries of the evening were from the Columbine High School community.

When Sean Graves walked to the stage, people in the crowd were so moved they took to their feet and couldn’t help but cheer for him with tears streaming down their cheeks.

Graves was shot six times during the 1999 tragedy and learned to walk again after his injuries paralyzed him from the waist down, he shared during his speech.

COLUMBINE: 20 YEARS LATER

The Denver Post takes a look at the aftermath of the Columbine High School shooting and what has happened over the last 20 years. Click here to see more of the Denver Post’s anniversary coverage.

BEARING WITNESS PODCAST: COLUMBINE AND THE NEWS MEDIA

“I’ve acquired a decent amount of scars,” Graves said. “Not all of the scars are visible on the skin.”

Survivors and family members reminded the community that though the current students attending Columbine High School weren’t even born when the horrific shooting happened, those most closely impacted were still grieving and learning how to live with their “new normal” every day.

“Can it truly be 20 years since I’ve seen my Lauren?” Anna asked. “She could walk through my back door this afternoon, and I’d just look at her and say, ‘Where ya been?'”

Anna said there is no secret to making it through difficult days — the birthdays and anniversaries that are celebrated with a twinge of sadness because someone is missing.

“Surviving takes every breath that you struggle to take,” Anna said. “And then one day you realize it’s not so dark, and the sun is shining, and you can feel the sun on your face again.”

When Anna is having a particularly rough day, she thinks of her daughter saying: “Mom, do something wonderful for me.”

“If we can’t take this horrible pain and turn it into something loving, then how can we honor them?” Anna asked.

Anna rejoiced as Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed April 20 a day of service where the Columbine community would give back to those around them through service projects. More than 40 charitable projects were completed by the Columbine community before the 3 p.m. memorial, Anna said.

The memorial featured tearful speeches delivered with courage, but it was also resplendent with joyful reunions as decades of former Columbine students, teachers, staff members, parents and members of the community united together again. Alumni swapped stories of the joys and pitfalls of high school — stink bombs, school dances, beloved and cursed teachers.

Patrick Ireland, who was shot twice in the head and once in the foot during the massacre and still managed to graduate with his class as valedictorian, made the audience chuckle as he recounted watching administrators pour out his buddy’s 10 cases of beer in the school parking lot.

Ireland admitted the week was emotionally draining.

“Our innocence was stolen,” Ireland said. “How can that ever be repaid? Unforgiveness is a silent killer negatively affecting your life. …The key to forgiveness is to stop focusing on what others have done to us and focus on the blessings others have done for us.”

Amber Newcomb, a Columbine alum who graduated a year before the shooting, said she came to the memorial because she will never forget what happened and the lives lost that day.

“Those events inspired me to do the career that I am doing now,” Newcomb said. “I’m a school psychologist because of Columbine.”

Former students wanted to make sure that teens who walk the halls of Columbine today understood the unity that bonded the school — one so fierce it could have come only from collective heartache — was to be treasured and sustained.

“To future Rebels,” Graves said, referencing the school’s mascot, “it is your job to represent this community the way we did. … Learn from our mistakes. … It took tragedy for us to realize we can move past hate.”

Bethany Duffy, current student body president at the high school, thanked the students who came before her for their resiliency — for keeping the school’s spirit and edifice intact so that she could get to experience the magic of the Columbine family.

“I am the product of this incredible community,” Duffy said. “Thank you for rebuilding it.”

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Where’s Mikko? The Avalanche’s Rantanen attacks from all angles

April 20, 2019 - 5:54pm

CALGARY, Alberta — Mikko Polo.

Mikko Rantanen is the Marco Polo to Avalanche opponents. It takes guesswork to anticipate when and where he’s going to beat you. This is no neighborhood water game, but the Avs use Rantanen to hide in relative obscurity before he attacks.

One shift he’s the right winger on the second line with center Carl Soderberg and Colin Wilson. And the next shift he’s the right winger with fellow NHL all-stars Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog — aka the MGM Line. He’s also dropped to the third and fourth lines at times.

The MGM guys are a feared threesome throughout the league, arguably the best in the NHL. They prefer playing together — and always are on the power play — but they recognize the team is better balanced at even strength when the 6-foot-4, 218-pound Rantanen is used as a floater.

“I don’t mind it. I know both lines really good,” Rantanen said before Game 5 on Friday, when he produced his fourth consecutive multi-point game in just his fifth game back from an eight-game injury absence to lead the Avs to a series-clinching 5-1 victory at Calgary. “I know Carl and Willie really, really well. And I obviously know Landy and Nate really well. It’s good for the team, hard for the opposing team. It gives us some options.”

In Game 4 against the Flames, Rantanen scored the game-tying goal on the power play, off an assist from MacKinnon. And then in overtime, Rantanen won it with a goal off a feed from Soderberg.

When Colorado clinched the series in Game 5, Rantanen had his fourth consecutive multi-point game — becoming the first Avalanche player to do so in the playoffs since Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic in 2002 — by scoring with the Soderberg line, assisting on a Wilson goal and scoring a power-play goal with the MGM guys.

Rantanen finished the series with a team-high nine points and five goals, and stands third in league playoff scoring behind Vegas teammates Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty (both with 10). Rantanen is second behind Stone (six) in playoff goals.

The Avs would be hosting Game 6 on Sunday in Denver if Rantanen hadn’t scored the game-tying and game-winning in Game 4’s 3-2 overtime win. The same could be said for his two-goal, three-point night on Friday when Colorado punched its ticket to the second round for the first time since 2008.

Calgary’s Norris Trophy-worthy defenseman Mark Giordano said MacKinnon might be the world’s best player — and definitely the best in the playoffs — but Rantanen would probably get the nod as Colorado’s MVP in the first-round upset of the Flames.

MacKinnon (eight points, three goals) and goalie Philipp Grubauer (1.90 goals-against average, .939 save percentage) also had remarkable success in leading Colorado to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

Avs coach Jared Bednar said using Rantanen as his ace in the hole is possible because of second-year forward Alex Kerfoot, who only had one assist in the series but steers MacKinnon and Landeskog in the right direction.

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“He’s ramped up his game down the stretch and has been an impact player playing with Mac (MacKinnon) while Mikko was out,” Bednar said of Kerfoot. “He’s continued it in the playoffs. He’s quick on pucks, more physical. He’s skating. He’s creating. He’s executing. So that allows Mikko to come out of that injury. Game 1 was just OK — I thought he looked better as the game went on. Game 2 he was even better.”

In Games 3, 4 and 5, Rantanen was unstoppable.

“Mikko looked like a bull on the puck,” Bednar said.

Rantanen, 22, is a pending restricted free agent who could become the Avs’ highest-paid player this summer at $9 million or more annually.

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Nuggets seize control of playoff series with massive Game 4 victory over Spurs

April 20, 2019 - 5:13pm

SAN ANTONIO – As improbable as it seemed after their coach questioned their toughness and pleaded for more fight, the Nuggets came to Texas and did what they set out to do.

Nikola Jokic played like an MVP, Jamal Murray looked like Denver’s fiery lightning rod, and Torrey Craig played the game of his life. The Nuggets beat the Spurs 117-103 on Saturday at the AT&T Center to send this riveting first-round series back to Denver tied 2-2.

Game 5 is Tuesday night.

The Nuggets snapped their ominous 14-game losing streak in San Antonio, which dated all the way back to 2012. Now back in control of their destiny, they might not need to win here again.

“I saw confidence. That’s what I saw,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “I saw a young team that was not thinking about 2012. … Torrey Craig gets his first playoff start. He was in the G League last year, and he had that kind of game.”

The Nuggets caught fire from the 3-point line, draining 15-of-31 shots from deep, and Jokic dictated the game with 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Murray chipped in 24 points, and Craig had 18. The latter two sunk eight 3-pointers and made up for San Antonio’s 32 trips to the free-throw line.

In a number that might please Malone more than most, Denver secured 16 second-chance points compared to just seven for San Antonio.

Spurs star DeMar DeRozan, his frustration building all game, finally lost it with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter after he was called a for a foul and whipped the ball in the direction of an official. He was ejected with 19 points in 34 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge paced the Spurs with 24 points, but he was outplayed by Denver’s superstar center.

Momentum swung decidedly in favor of the Nuggets in the third quarter when Denver flew around on defense and pummeled the Spurs on the offensive side of the court. Jokic had 11 points in the quarter alone, but it was Murray’s eyebrow-raising jam that silenced the entire crowd. He flew through the lane off a feed from Jokic, elevated and soared between Spurs defenders Derrick White and Rudy Gay.

Murray’s grimace was one for the ages, and the Nuggets fed off that fuel en route to a 91-79 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Since Game 3’s loss, the message from the Nuggets’ camp had been a need for more physicality and pride.

“The rebounding will speak volumes,” Malone said. “And then our inability to guard the paint. In Game 1, we looked like a bunch of ticket takers. Take a ticket, come right in. That can’t be the case.”

As such, Malone made a tactical decision and started Craig, a defensive ace, over Will Barton to aid on the glass and swallow the Spurs’ scorers. Craig ended up being just as valuable on offense with his floor spacing and his 3-point shooting.

He opened the game on DeRozan, while Denver’s other defensive star, Gary Harris, checked White. Off the bench, Barton found his rhythm from outside with several huge 3-pointers.

Malone said prior to the game he thought some of his players treated Game 3 like a regular-season affair and implored them to play with more fight.

“And (I want to see) some emotion,” he added. “I told Jamal this. Jamal is one of those guys that plays his best when he has emotion. I didn’t see any emotion in Game 3. He played a very flat game. I’m not talking about makes, misses, turnovers, assists. Emotion. How engaged are you? Are you ready to participate in the fight? I want to see some emotion.”

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After a lackluster start, the Nuggets looked like the message finally had kicked in. There were numerous instances of guys diving on the floor and scrapping for loose balls. They also finally found a little edge on second-chance opportunities — one of Malone’s priorities.

The Nuggets climbed back from an early 12-point deficit and surged in the second quarter behind Jokic’s assertiveness and an improved effort on the defensive end. Denver ratcheted up its pressure, allowing just 20 points in the second quarter, and headed into halftime tied at 54.

Denver managed to claw back despite shooting just 37 percent in the first half and giving up 20 free-throw attempts.

San Antonio got off to another strong start and has now outscored the Nuggets by 31 points in the first quarters over the first four games.

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Zookeeper hospitalized after tiger attack at Topeka Zoo

April 20, 2019 - 3:54pm

TOPEKA, Kan. — City officials say a tiger mauled a zookeeper at the Topeka Zoo in northeastern Kansas.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the incident happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, when a Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv tackled the worker in an enclosed outdoor space.

Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley says the zookeeper suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to her head, neck and back. Wiley says she was awake and alert when she was taken by ambulance to a hospital and was in stable condition Saturday afternoon. The zookeeper’s name has not been released.

The zoo was open at the time of the attack and was witnessed by some people. It reopened about 45 minutes after the attack.

Officials are investigating what led up to the attack.

Sanjiv came to the Topeka Zoo in August 2017 from a zoo in Akron, Ohio.

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Kickin’ it with Kiz: Young Nuggets’ playoff jitters make what Cale Makar is doing for Avs even more amazing

April 20, 2019 - 3:20pm

The Nuggets got tired and slowed down leading into the NBA playoffs. I knew they didn’t stand a chance against San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Avs have done nothing but turn it up in the NHL playoffs. Bouncing a No. 1 seed in the first round? Whoop! Whoop!

Michael, loves the hockey, eh?

Kiz: Everyone who predicted the Avs would advance and the Nuggets would lose in the first round, please raise your hand. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Kiz, having read your apt description of the unmatched atmosphere of playoff hockey, I’m sure you and the faithful in the Pepsi Center are happy the Avs didn’t listen to that moron who suggested in a late-season column that they “Lose for Jack Hughes.”

Neil, Littleton

Kiz: OK, now I know why there was an “M” stamped on my forehead when I looked in the mirror the morning after Colorado eliminated Calgary. I’m happy to eat crow, along with my peas and carrots, because it’s good for me. But I’m also happy to remind you of the headline on a column I wrote prior to NHL playoffs: “The Flames are fat walleye, ripe for Avalanche to catch with first-round upset.”

Kiz, your column on the Avalanche’s 6-2 victory in Game 3, was awesome for my wife and me. That “Dude! Where’s Makar?” sign was ours, based on a suggestion by our son, Daniel, who teaches physics at Rock Canyon High School. That is the most we have ever spent on hockey tickets, and it was the best return on our money we’ve ever had. It was a magical evening.

Randy and Linda, movie buffs

Kiz: Jitters from all the difficult playoff firsts this young Nuggets team have faced are legit. But Cale Makar experienced a lot of those same firsts during a whirlwind week of playoff hockey. He seems to have handled it all pretty well. And Makar is 20 years old.

When the Spurs drew Denver in the playoffs, I knew San Antonio would likely win the series in six games and was hopeful you, Mr. Kiszla, would still be working for The Denver Post. When I read your prediction the Nuggets would win the series, I smiled waiting for the inevitable columns on why you were wrong. You don’t disappoint, sir, and are a fave to read when I’m on the commode.

Michael, Spurs fan

Kiz: Let me get your opinion on something, Michael, as multi-tasking seems to be a personal strength. In 2019, is it cool to talk on the phone while sitting on the commode in a public restroom? Am I wrong to find that a little weird?

And today’s parting shot is a kind-hearted concern for our fearless leader at Kickin’ It Headquarters. This is sincere concern, right? Or did we miss the sarcasm font in the email?

Kiz, you aren’t getting any younger and hope you don’t have a stroke or worse while writing about the Nuggets. I can’t figure out why you are so worked up. This team is just another display of the recent Nuggies’ mediocre performance, coaching and players.

Mike, chronic worrier

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A new rite of passage for NFL draft hopefuls: Scrubbing your social media history

April 20, 2019 - 1:45pm

Before they could celebrate their new partnership two winters ago, Patrick Mahomes and agent Leigh Steinberg needed to have one final talk over dinner at a restaurant in Tyler, Texas. Steinberg warned Mahomes of the potential pitfalls his impending fame would bring, and with the 2017 NFL draft just a few months away, he asked Mahomes if there was anything about his past that he should know about.

Then he told Mahomes that there was one final step he needed to complete before the quarterback’s draft process could truly begin: The agent would conduct one last scan of Mahomes’s social media accounts.

The audit turned up nothing, as Steinberg expected, and Mahomes would go onto become a top-10 pick of the Kansas City Chiefs that spring and a league MVP by his second season. But it was a reminder that, even for prospects with squeaky-clean online images like Mahomes, there is a new rite of passage during the evaluation process this time of year. Old tweets, Snapchats and Instagram posts are being reviewed and dissected, and can be as influential to a player’s draft stock as his 40-yard dash or vertical jump.

“Teams are looking at Twitter and Facebook and Instagram as another research tool,” Steinberg said. “[The players] get to explain whatever it was, but they are being held to account on postings, pictures. This didn’t even exist 15 years ago. It’s a big change, because some players are under the illusion that when they post on social media, it’s like going to their friends in a private form of communication. But it’s an international broadcast system.”

In 2016, offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil was a projected top-five pick, but fell to No. 13 after someone hacked his Twitter account minutes before the draft and posted a picture of Tunsil smoking out of a bong with a gas mask on. Last spring, racist tweets sent by Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen surfaced, and the story consumed the day of the draft. Allen apologized for the tweets, which he had sent when he was in high school, before being drafted seventh overall that night by the Buffalo Bills.

Now agents and teams are vetting the accounts of top prospects more fervently than ever in the run-up to this month’s NFL draft, and two of this class’s top prospects have already seen their social media pasts come under fire.

On the night he won the Heisman Trophy in December, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray – who is widely expected to be drafted first overall by the Arizona Cardinals – was forced to issue an apology after homophobic tweets from years earlier came to light. In March, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa told an ESPN reporter that he deleted a string of tweets from his past – including those supporting President Donald Trump and one calling former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick “a clown” – because he could very well be drafted by the 49ers with the No. 2 overall pick.

The latter move not only underscores what is potentially at stake for a player of Bosa’s stature in one of America’s most progressive cities, but also highlights the delicate balance between an outspoken player’s freedom of speech and the possible rift it could cause in an NFL locker room.

“It kind of lets you into a guy’s life off the field at times,” NFL agent Shawn O’Dare said. “[Teams] are doing every research possible. They’re making multimillion dollar investments into these guys. It’s easy for them to go through their social media and find a red flag if there is one.”

The cases of Allen and Murray in particular followed a familiar pattern in pro sports in 2018, where a number of high-profile athletes had homophobic, racist and misogynistic tweets from their past surface. Brewers pitcher Josh Hader, Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb and Nationals shortstop Trea Turner all apologized for racist and homophobic tweets – each sent from their high school days – and former Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo deleted his Twitter account after a string of racist and homophobic tweets from his teenage years emerged during his team’s win over Michigan in the 2018 national championship game.

Most athletes who are exposed have at least in part chalked up the exposed tweets to youth in their apologies, but it has nonetheless spurred more awareness within NFL circles during the draft process. More and more prospects are scrubbing their own accounts. Agents such as Steinberg have devoted more resources to evaluating social media accounts over the past several years; Steinberg dispatches a couple of assistants at his agency to scan Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn profiles of clients after they have signed.

NFL teams now routinely include a thorough review of social media during the pre-draft process and consider it a crucial part of a player’s background check – including devoting staffers to scanning the accounts while the players are freshmen and sophomores, before they’re even old enough to declare for the draft.

“By this point, it’s too late,” said Daniel Jeremiah, a draft analyst for the NFL Network. “Most of the teams have already done that work well before these guys are even draft eligible. . . . Especially after the Tunsil thing, there’s really no excuse not to be prepared for everything. If you’re smart you will have addressed this with all the teams and would have been up front about it before now.”

In 2012, when Jeremiah was a scout with the Philadelphia Eagles, the front office completely removed a player from their board after discovering photos of guns on his social media accounts. “We didn’t interview him,” Jeremiah said. “We didn’t bother doing any homework on him. We were just like, ‘He’s off our board, he’s done.'”

Major college programs are trying to get ahead of that curve, often bringing in social media consultants to address the issue. One of those consultants, Kevin DeShazo, has spoken to more than 200 college teams and often points to the case of Tunsil in the 2016 draft as a prime example of how it can affect a future.

“That drop to the 13th pick lost him a projected 20 million dollars. So no matter what he does in life — he’s doing well, he’s doing great in the NFL – that 20 million dollars is not going to come back,” DeShazo said. “So it’s letting student athletes know: Is it worth the risk? Is that joke you want to tell, is that picture you want to put up, is it telling the best version of you?”

The campaign to make prospects more aware has even permeated the high school level, including at two elite programs in the Washington area that have produced NFL players. Over the past five years at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, for example, former head coach Elijah Brooks, who recently was hired as an assistant at the University of Maryland, said he had assigned a couple of assistant coaches to create aliases and monitor players’ social media posts. At Wise High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Coach DaLawn Parrish often will review his players’ tweets at night. If he doesn’t like what he sees, he will call them right away and tell them to take it down, he said.

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The message got through to one of his top recruits, Isaiah Hazel, who will play for the University of Maryland this fall. More than four years ago, Hazel said he erased six tweets from his childhood after Parrish talked to the team about the potential perils of social media and how it can affect recruiting.

“Before I played football, you know, I’m young, I’m just tweeting anything, saying anything, retweeting anything. When colleges look at you, it’s bigger than that,” Hazel said in an interview last summer. “They want to see how you are as a man, how you carry yourself on social media . . . when you think they’re not looking.”

Everyone is now looking at Mahomes, who has 1.2 million followers on Instagram and nearly half a million on Twitter. He is the poster boy for what Steinberg wants his clients to be on and off the field, and also in the digital realm, where he has used his accounts to grow his brand considerably. But there was a time when he had to pass the pre-draft test like everyone else. And with another draft day approaching, even with the heightened awareness across all levels of football, Steinberg is convinced there will be more cautionary tales to come.

“It’s almost inevitable,” Steinberg said. “The level of scrutiny that the contemporary draftees are under is exponentially higher.”

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Trump administration says immigrants working in legal marijuana industry lack “moral character” for citizenship

April 20, 2019 - 1:25pm

Immigrants who use marijuana or who work in the cannabis industry can be denied citizenship, even if they are doing so in states where it is legal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Friday.

The guidance, issued – coincidentally or not – just before pot advocates’ national celebration of 4/20, confirms what immigration and marijuana advocates have cautioned is a legal gray area that exposes would-be citizens to greater barriers because they’ve broken a federal law.

Although recreational marijuana use is legal in 10 states and decriminalized in 14 more, it is still classified as an illegal substance federally.

“The policy guidance . . . clarifies that an applicant who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws,” the guidance states.

Earlier this month, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr asking that he clarify and adjust policy that threatens permanent residents’ path to citizenship if they have worked in the marijuana industry. Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana use, in 2012. The expansion of marijuana use beyond prescribed medical purposes has cultivated a thriving retail cannabis industry in the state.

In his letter, Hancock wrote:

“This week, I met with two legal immigrants – one from Lithuania, another from El Salvador – who have lived here for more than two decades. They have graduated from our schools. They have paid their taxes. They are working to achieve the American dream and complying with the processes in place to become a part of our great society, but were denied naturalization solely because of their cannabis industry employment.

“Denver understands the need for federal laws and regulations regarding citizenship and immigration, but we are seeing the heartbreaking effects that those federal laws and regulations are having on our residents. However, under current federal policy, lawful, permanent residents like the Denver residents I have met with are being denied naturalization and may lose their legal status based on their lawful employment in the cannabis industry.”

The war on drugs has disproportionately hurt communities of color, and this is just another example of that, said Michael Collins, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. But Collins views this particular crackdown as more indicative of the Trump administration’s views on immigration than drug policy.

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“Taking a step back, this has nothing to do with cannabis – this has to do with this administration never passing up an opportunity to prosecute immigrant communities,” Collins said. “They see cannabis as a ripe opportunity for persecuting these individuals.”

“The Trump administration has used the war on drugs since the beginning to go after migrant populations,” Collins added, pointing to President Donald Trump’s rationale that a border wall would keep drugs out of the country and his blaming of migrants for the opioid epidemic.

In an emailed statement, USCIS spokeswoman Jessica Collins said the agency is “required to adjudicate cases based on federal law. Individuals who commit federal controlled substance violations face potential immigration consequences under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which applies to all foreign nationals regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which they reside.”

During the Obama administration, the federal government eased up on enforcing federal laws against marijuana, allowing states to chart their own paths on the issue. In January 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that policy, arguing that it was his job to enforce federal laws.

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Nuggets at Spurs Game 4 live blog: Real time updates from the NBA playoffs

April 20, 2019 - 1:00pm
(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, "script", "scrbbl-js"));We’re going back to Denver tied 2-2. What up?! #MileHighBasketball https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D4pSK23UIAA4ItF.jpgBasketball: Up now on @projectspurs - #Spurs get outworked, outplayed, and outlasted in Game 4 as #Nuggets tie series at 2-2, setting up a critical Game 5 on Tuesday. STORY
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Five classic bike rides in Colorado that every cyclist should do

April 20, 2019 - 10:45am

On weekends when the weather is good — and sometimes even when it’s not — the intersection of 13th Street and Washington Avenue in the heart of Golden becomes a hub for ambitious Front Range cyclists who see mountains and want to climb them.

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There is a Starbucks on one corner that always seems to have helmeted, Spandex-clad customers in line or out front, click-clacking on floors and sidewalks in their cycling cleats. Situated catty-corner from Starbucks is a bike shop, Peak Cycles, and there are two more cycle shops a few blocks away. Restaurants along Washington often have clusters of bikes locked up out front.

One reason for Golden’s bicycle buzz is its proximity to one of the Front Range’s classic rides: the ascent of Lookout Mountain, with a peak elevation at 7,400 feet. Almost every weekend, a parade of pedalers rolls out of Denver and its western suburbs via 32nd Avenue to Golden, bound for Lookout and the spectacular views it offers for those who are up to its thigh-burning challenge.

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Lookout also has been featured in Colorado’s pro bike races, attracting spectators by the thousands.

We’ve got five classic Front Range rides, two involving Lookout Mountain. There are others that are popular among Front Range cyclists — Squaw Pass from Bergen Park to Echo Lake, Guanella Pass from Georgetown, the Morgul-Bismark loop near Superior and Lefthand Canyon north of Boulder for example — but these are good places to start your must-do list.

(Information and maps for the rides listed here were provided by Adam Kazilsky, Dan Dwyer and Nicky Down of Peak Cycles.)

If you have a classic Front Range ride you think belongs on our list, please share it in the comments below.

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