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Colorado Springs police: Injured student “targeted” during shooting near Doherty High School

September 22, 2017 - 7:04pm

A student who was shot on lunch break Friday near Doherty High School was “targeted,” Colorado Springs police said.

A male student was shot and is recovering in a local hospital, police Lt. Howard Black said. Shortly before 5 p.m., he was in serious but stable condition.

Another student suffered minor injuries after running into a tree while fleeing, Black said.

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The shooting, reported about 12 p.m., stemmed from “a confrontation,” Black said.

Read the full story at

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Colorado’s pitch to build Hyperloop track from Pueblo to Wyoming would cost $24 billion

September 22, 2017 - 5:59pm

Colorado’s ambitious plan to build a futuristic transportation system that would sling travelers along the Front Range and into the mountains in minutes also comes with an ambitious price tag: $24 billion.

In the state’s proposed route, named one of 10 global finalists this month by the Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One, the Rocky Mountain Hyperloop team gave that estimate for the 360 miles connecting Denver to Pueblo, Vail and Cheyenne. The routes, which include several stops, would be able to handle 45 million trips in 2040, and generate $2 billion in revenues per year, according to the state’s proposal.

The impact on the area’s economy would be much greater — thanks to the ability to transfer freight between cities and Denver International Airport — to the tune of an additional $25 billion of gross regional product by 2040, about 7 percent more than the expected GRP.

Hyperloop OneTeam Rocky Mountain Hyperloop was named one of 10 finalists in the global Hyperloop One competition. The 360-mile route would connect Vail, Pueblo and Cheyenne to Denver.

Of course, this is just a proposal and has the region thinking as big as it can as it strives to figure out how to provide convenient transportation for the state’s growing population. The report, shared with The Denver Post on Friday, was put together by the Colorado Department of Transportation, DIA, engineering firm AECOM, and the cities of Denver and Greeley.

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The plan proposes a “logical first phase” of building a 40-mile track between DIA and Greeley because there are “fewer complications in terms of alignment and rights-of-way, and a connection to the highest growth areas of northern Colorado,” according to the report.

A second line would include 75 miles of track through the mountains, including a stop at Silverthorne/Dillon. The main 250-mile, north-south line between Pueblo and Cheyenne would also have stops in Colorado Springs, the Denver Tech Center, Fort Collins and elsewhere.

As CDOT executive director Shailen Bhatt previously noted, Colorado must now study the feasibility of building and funding the project. That, he said, won’t be something the state pays for.

“I’ve said all along the state is not going to be the pockets for this,” Bhatt said. “The funding model will be key.”

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Brad Ausmus out as manager of Detroit Tigers after season

September 22, 2017 - 5:47pm

DETROIT — The rebuilding Detroit Tigers will start fresh next season with a new manager.

The Tigers announced Friday that Brad Ausmus will not return in 2018. General manager Al Avila said the team was not extending Ausmus’ contract, meaning the manager’s four-year tenure will end when this season is over.

“We didn’t win,” Avila said while announcing the move in the Detroit dugout before Friday night’s game. “The organization, the club, got to a point where we needed change on the field. We needed to change the roster, and we started trading players, so the conclusion is: OK, you know what? Let’s just take a whole brand new road and opening up to new things.”

Ausmus was 312-325 heading into Friday’s game against Minnesota. His tenure included an AL Central title in his first season, but the Tigers have not made the postseason since. Detroit has been shedding payroll this year, trading stars Justin Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez, and the Tigers are assured of no better than a fourth-place finish in their division.

“Al and I have become very good friends over the four years I was here, so it was a little emotional when he told me he wasn’t going to bring me back,” Ausmus said. “Quite frankly, I told him I fully understood, and I told him, if he had walked in and offered me a contract, I probably wouldn’t have come back, because I think this team, this organization is starting over. They need a new voice.”

Ausmus took over for Jim Leyland before the 2014 season, inheriting a star-laden roster, but one that was starting to show the effects of age. Now the Tigers face a rebuilding period.

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Detroit went 86-75 last year and nearly made the playoffs, and the Tigers kept their team largely intact, hoping they could contend again in 2017. Ausmus returned as well this year after Detroit picked up his option, but the Tigers weren’t even able to mount a serious challenge for a wild card.

Ausmus had little managerial experience when he took over for Leyland, but the former major league catcher initially looked like exactly the type of younger, fresher voice who could help the Tigers keep their run of success going. Detroit started 27-12 in 2014, but that turned into an up-and-down season in which the Tigers finally wrapped up their fourth straight division title on the final day of the regular season. They were then swept by Baltimore in the Division Series.

After an 11-2 start in 2015, Detroit eventually fell well behind first-place Kansas City, and the Tigers traded stars David Price and Yoenis Cespedes during that season.

The Tigers spent big in an attempt to return to the playoffs the following season, but after acquiring Upton and Jordan Zimmermann, the team fell just short of a wild card in 2016.

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Justin Thomas tied for lead as $10 million comes into view

September 22, 2017 - 5:45pm

ATLANTA — With two swings, Justin Thomas showed that every shot counts in the FedEx Cup, even at the season-ending Tour Championship.

Thomas had six players ahead of him Friday when he smashed a 335-yard drive down the bottom of the hill on the par-5 18th hole at East Lake, and then a 5-iron that settled 6 feet below the cup for a closing eagle.

Just like that, Thomas had a 4-under 66 and a share of the lead with Paul Casey and Webb Simpson and was back in control — a loose term the way this tournament is shaping up going into the week — of his chase for the $10 million bonus.

“It’s nice to have everything in my own hands and know that if I just take care of what I need to do, then it’s over,” Thomas said.

It’s not over yet, not even close.

Casey stumbled with some errant tee shots into the troublesome rough for back-to-back bogeys in a 67 that slowed his momentum. Simpson paid for a wild drive on No. 13 with a double bogey and made nothing pars coming in for a 67.

They joined Thomas at 7-under 133.

As one of the top five seeds, Thomas only has to win the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup. Even a third-place finish might be enough to take home golf’s richest bonus depending on who wins.

But that list is plenty deep after two sweltering days at East Lake.

Jon Rahm, the No. 5 seed who also has a clear path to the top prize, played bogey-free for a 67. He was one shot behind, along with Patrick Reed (65), Justin Rose (66) and Gary Woodland (67), all of them trying to win for the first time this year.

Dustin Johnson, the No. 3 seed, has been sputtering along. He failed to birdie either of the two par 5s, managed only a 69 and still was only four shots behind.

“I just want to get within striking distance,” Johnson said. “If I can get it within three, I would be happy.”

He was four behind, so it doesn’t require much math to figure out he’s not far away.

Jordan Spieth was lucky to still be just four shots behind. The No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup missed five straight greens in regulation on the back nine and kept in the game with some crucial par putts. He had to settle for a 70 and headed straight for the practice area.

Twenty players from the 30-man field were under par, meaning they were separated by just six shots with 36 holes ahead of them.

“It’s the easiest one to win because there’s only 30 guys,” said Kevin Kisner, who shot another 68 and was three behind. “But then I look up there and everyone is 6 under, and it doesn’t look so easy.”

Thomas made birdies with a wedge in his hand, failed to save par from a bunker on the fifth hole, and then turned a mediocre round into a solid one with that 5-iron into the 18th for birdie.

He already can state his case as the best player on the PGA Tour this year, with five victories and his first major at the PGA Championship. Thomas outlasted Spieth and Marc Leishman to win at the TPC Boston three weeks ago, and now he’s tied for the lead going into the weekend at East Lake.

Much like Spieth in 2015 when he ended his best season with the FedEx Cup, Thomas would love to have the perfect ending.

“I want to win any week,” he said, “but it definitely would be a nice cap.”

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Casey and Simpson are enduring long droughts. Casey last won at the KLM Open in 2014, while Simpson last won four years ago in Las Vegas. Both overcame a few stumbles on the back nine to share the lead.

Casey seems to have done everything but win the last three years, with six top-5 finishes in the last eight FedEx Cup playoff events.

“It would cap off a very good season, make a very good season a great season,” he said. “Yeah, it would be a lot of satisfaction in that. Hopefully, ask me again on Sunday and I can give you the full explanation. Right now, I’m too busy just trying to focus on trying to string together four great rounds of golf. It’s amazing how this golf course just bunches and you can’t seem to get away.

“Guys are right there, sort of biting at your heels,” he said. “So it’s going to be a tough one.”

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Colson Whitehead on “The Underground Railroad,” the book that was hard to write

September 22, 2017 - 5:36pm
Penguin Random House“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

A year ago, when Oprah Winfrey started singing the praises of “The Underground Railroad,” you could have said that author Colson Whitehead was having a big moment. Then he won the Pulitzer Prize for the novel. And the National Book Award. And made the long list for the Man Booker Prize.

A year has passed since his novel about a woman named Cora’s escape from a cotton plantation on a magically real subterranean rail line appeared on shelves, and the prizes and accolades are still causing a strange feeling for Whitehead — happiness.

“They all just lift my general depressive mood into one that perhaps resembles other people’s,” Whitehead said. “Basically it’s all come together in this really great constellation of great news. Usually I wake up at 4 a.m. worried and terrified, and instead I’m waking up saying, it’s a brand new day.”

What did he wake up worried about before all of this success eased his mind? “The usual anxieties of existence, whether it’s the mortgage, ‘is that student OK; he was acting weird yesterday,’ ‘are the kids OK?’ ”

Whitehead, 47, got his start as a writer at the Village Voice, and his books have made him a darling of the critics since his first novel, “The Intuitionist,” a story about the improbable nuance big-city elevator inspectors employ in their craft, earned praise in a prescient review from The New York Times. “Literary reputations may not always rise and fall as predictably as elevators, but if there’s any justice in the world of fiction, Colson Whitehead’s should be heading toward the upper floors,” critic Gary Krist wrote in 1999.

His eighth book is sober yet luminous, dark yet hopeful. In “The Underground Railroad,” Cora flees with the aid of a real, covert rail line that hides beneath the towns and fields of the 19th-century South. All the while, a ruthless slave-catcher named Ridgeway — a pitch-perfect arch-villain — traverses south, north, west and back again searching for Cora, driven by the nagging knowledge that her mother was the only one who ever got away. The flight and chase work into a pace that makes the book an impossible to put down literary thriller.

Whitehead recently wrapped up a European book tour and returned home only to continue touring the U.S. at a blistering pace. He’ll be in Denver Monday night to talk about “The Underground Railroad” and writing at The Denver Post’s Pen and Podium visiting author series, which is sold out. Ahead of his visit, Whitehead talked to The Post about doing terrible things to his characters, advice he offers to young writers and what made him finally decide to write the book that had been on his mind for 17 years.

Q: You had the idea for “The Underground Railroad” years ago, but you weren’t ready to write it yet. What made you decide you were finally ready?

A: In terms of the structure and having to do such a thorough investigation of slavery, I didn’t feel ready when I was 30, and as the years passed I felt I would be a good enough writer to pull it off in terms of story, and more mature.

I’d been avoiding it for so long, and not to get too self-helpy, but (I thought) I should write the book that’s hard.

Q: I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say terrible things happen to people — at the hands of other people — in this book. How did you handle writing about such visceral brutality?

A: The challenge was doing the research and realizing that what I’d have to put Cora and the rest of the characters through. I hadn’t done (a book on) something like slavery before, so I hadn’t done something terrible to my characters. … Before I started writing it and gearing up — that was the hard part.

Q: As Cora moves from state to state in the book, she is escaping one horrible situation only to find a new one that’s somehow worse. Does that journey mirror how racism plays out today?

A: If you end up writing about race and racism in 1850, you end up writing about race and racism now. (The chapter on) South Carolina has an examination of government intervention … but there’s also the darker side of government control in terms of eugenics and medical experiments. The white supremacist chapter, North Carolina, takes a lot of the racial terror of the Jim Crow period to its logical conclusion, which overlaps with Naziism and finds a final solution for a group that you demonize. So it’s about race now, (but) I think it’s about the demonization of the other, so it’s not just race, it’s about anti-semitism, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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Q: “The Underground Railroad” is going to be a television series — directed by Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight,” no less.

A: My agent sent it out to film producers when the book came out … (Jenkins) was early with good ideas, and that was before “Moonlight” had even gone to festivals. I think the contracts finally came through when he finally won the Oscar.

Q: Last year on “Fresh Air,” you said you tried to watch “12 Years a Slave” but couldn’t get through it because it was so hard to watch, even though you were writing about the horrors inflicted upon slaves at the same time. Are you going to be able to watch the series based on your novel?

A: I know these characters, and everything that happens happens in a way that makes sense to me. I imagine I’ll be able to muster up the courage.

Q: You’re coming to Pen and Podium to talk about both your book and about writing. What do you tell young writers when they ask you for advice?

A: I got out of college in ‘91. There’s a big recession. And it seemed like there weren’t a lot of jobs for young people. I guess, find your place in the marketplace. When I started out, you could work in newspapers, and obviously newspapers have shrunk, and there aren’t as many jobs for young people. … There are opportunities to write for free, which is a shame. But the media environment is always changing … the appetite for media, for news, doesn’t ever go down — it’s just outlets popping up and replacing each other. I kind of lament that there isn’t a place like the Village Voice where you can start out and just get better and better.

Q: You were writing a book about the digital economy when you decided to write “The Underground Railroad.” Will you ever return to it?  

A: There are parts of that book I should resurrect, but I’m probably not the best writer to write about that nowadays. There’s probably some bitter millennial who is better keyed in to write about that nowadays.

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Kickin’ it with Kiz: The real reason for Trevor Siemian’s success with the Broncos? You won’t believe it.

September 22, 2017 - 5:26pm

Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian owes you at least a fraction of his paycheck after all the motivational columns you have written about him, Kiz. Pretty sure your columns are the primary reason he is starting to excel. Now focus on a new target to let them blossom, as well.

  • Tim, Pueblo

Kiz: The hard-working and dedicated staff here at Kickin’ It Headquarters is not in it for the money. But applause is always graciously accepted. And now that you mention it, if Siemian wants to say thanks, a lifetime supply of Skittles would be nice. Our next project? Well, if we help Joe Sakic get the Avs back in the NHL playoffs, we know some folks that could use ski passes to Whistler. And the Rockies’ $70 million man, Ian Desmond, could obviously use a hitting coach. But that would be a big project. Probably worth a Porsche. Maybe two.

What’s your prediction for Broncos at Bills?

– Roger, undefeated and unbowed

Kiz: It’s a hard league, as Denver coach Vance Joseph likes to say. And winning on the road? That’s harder. I thought there was an 80 percent chance the Broncos would beat San Diego and a 60 percent chance they would beat Dallas. OK, I’m going to ride that mathematical progression, with the thought there’s a 40 percent chance the Broncos return from Buffalo with a victory. Siemian will face a defense stacked against the run and a fierce pass rush. I’m saying Denver has a chance, but my prediction is: Bills 20, Broncos 17.

Two questions: What did Patrick Roy know. And when did he know it?

  • Bob, Golden

Kiz: On or about the time of the Stadium Series game between the Avs and Red Wings in February 2016, Roy knew his team was nowhere close to being a factor in the Stanley Cup playoffs, while Sakic and franchise president Josh Kroenke preached patience. Roy quit as coach not long thereafter, and we’re stuck with a long rebuilding project.

Charlie Blackmon is the Rockies most valuable player. My reasons? Chuck Nazty has the top batting average in the National League, record-setting RBIs from the leadoff spot, plus he leads the league in triples and runs, while having more than 200 hits.

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A.J., Highlands Ranch

Kiz: This is an amazing, career year by Blackmon, which would be a terrible thing for the Rockies to waste. But if they make the playoffs, the main reason will be third baseman Nolan Arenado, who hits like Blackmon and fields like Brooks Robinson.

The Rockies did their duty by making it interesting until the Broncos started. Compared to most seasons, they did remarkably well.

Brian, lowering the bar

Kiz: Snark much?

And today’s parting shot frames Buffalo in the best possible light: the rear-view mirror of a car.

Kiz, it’s not often I see the words Buffalo and beautiful written in the same sentence, but as a former Buffalonian, thank you for doing it. A typical summer in Buffalo is two weeks of bad ice-skating.

Hans, basking in Colorado sunshine


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Lakewood Crime Blotter: Man alleges that his neighbor won’t stop cussing at him

September 22, 2017 - 5:24pm

Neighbors who don’t get along: On Sept. 16, police received a complaint from a man regarding a neighborhood disturbance in 40 block of Yukon St. The man told police that his neighbor was yelling and cussing at him over a fence. The man alleged it is an ongoing issue, and his neighbor often gets drunk and plays loud music. Police reported the neighbor smelled of alcohol, and the neighbor was taken to Detox.

Stolen debit cards: A police officer was on foot patrol at a ravine at 1195 Benton St. on Sept. 13, when he noticed a woman trespassing. He approached the woman and learned she had a warrant for her arrest. When the woman was taken to jail, police searched her belongings and found eight debit and credit cards that didn’t belong to her. The woman said the cards were either from her dad’s wallet from when he was previously arrested, or she found them. The woman then started to talk to herself about people following her.

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Man breaks girlfriend’s phone after snooping: Police approached a man at 214 S. Ingalls St. on Sept. 16 after being notified of an altercation by the man’s girlfriend. The woman reported that the man threw her phone and broke it. The woman also alleged that the man went to her bedroom and started to take all of her clothing out of her closet. The man said he found a message in the woman’s phone from another male telling the woman how much he missed her. He was charged with criminal mischief, harassment and other charges.

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This BMX track in Centennial is home to international racers — and a new Lakewood track hopes to follow in its steps

September 22, 2017 - 5:17pm

At least twice a week, BMX racers of every age and skill level roll out of their homes in the South Metro suburbs and gather at the County Line BMX Track in Centennial. If it’s Wednesday, it’s a casual practice. If it’s Sunday, it’s time to race.

“We have USA BMX state qualifying races here every Sunday and also on Thursdays in the summer,” said Mateo Molina, a volunteer BMX track manager for South Suburban Parks and Recreation and a competitive BMX racer. “It’s one lap to qualify, but depending on how many people come out, it could last all day.”

Mateo has been coming to the BMX track inside David A. Lorenz Regional Park off County Line Road and South Colorado Boulevard every Wednesday for a couple of months to set up electronic starting gates for the dozens of local riders who come to practice.

“My buddies and I used to race downhill in the ’90s, and we’d come here to get in a little bit of riding,” Molina said. “That was back when the track was up over on the other side of the park. Then, when my kid said he wanted to start racing about six years ago, I took him here and found out the track moved. Now we’re here constantly.”

“The track is open to the public for use every day, but we don’t have the gates up except for practices on Wednesdays, when volunteers are there,” said Chelsea Jenkins, park and recreation’s County Line BMX track supervisor.

On a Wednesday, just before 5:30 p.m., Molina unlocks a storage shed near the scenic track in the heart of the park and pulls out a generator, a compressor and other equipment. Almost nothing happens at the County Line BMX Track unless its crew of dedicated volunteers is on site.

“It’s 100-percent volunteer based,” Jenkins said. “We have some BMX instructors who run camps, but the volunteers are the heart of the track. We have a core group of head volunteers who have been out every week for practices and help run the races and events every Sunday. On big races, they’re out there for eight to 10 hours prior.”

For decades, the tightly-packed dirt BMX track has been the only BMX practice track in the metro area from Colorado Springs to Dacono. Racers say the layout is ideal for USA BMX qualifying races. That’s about to change, however.

“County Line is special because it’s community run,” said Kevin Nielsen, who has volunteered at the track since 2011.

Nielsen is an international BMX racer who was ranked in the top 10 nationally last year, but has been off the track since breaking his wrists. He qualified for the 2017 BMX World Championships after he got out of the hospital, but couldn’t compete because he dislocated a collar bone.

“It can be a dangerous sport,” he said. “But I love it.”

He loves it so much that he’s opening his own BMX track in Lakewood at the end of the month after about five years of planning. Mile High BMX, about 85 percent built out, will hold its first race Sunday.

“The location is ideal,” he said. “We have a straight line to DIA and are surrounded by restaurants and hotels. We’re holding mainly national and international events.”

Until now, the only Colorado track that could host a USA BMX international race was in Grand Junction. Mile High BMX will include a 1,500-foot track and Olympic-style course, Nielsen said.

“We match all international rules for length of the track, width of the track and so on,” he said. “It’s been a really long time coming.”

Still, it won’t replace County Line.

South Denver-area resident Mika Shaw, 21, is ranked 16th in the world among BMX elite women and 6th nationally. She started her racing career at County Line.

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“I still come here every Wednesday, and I try to make it out here on Sundays when they race,” Shaw said. “It’s a good place to get started. When I practice, it’s either here or I fly out to the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in California.”

South Suburban owns and maintains the BMX track, but Jenkins said the district is largely hands-off when it comes to USA BMX.

“Our track is a member of USA BMX, and we report our scores that the volunteers track to them,” she said. “We also organize summer camps for BMX.”

The camps, too, are led by community volunteers.

“They’re actually run by the 16-year-old son of one of our main volunteers,” Jenkins said.”His name is Wyatt Smith and he races nationally, and then in the summer, fall and spring months he comes and runs our BMX camps. They are by far our most popular camps for summer. I can’t keep enough open for the demand.”

Nielsen hopes to expand the metro area’s BMX offerings.

“My hope is that opening Mile High BMX will fill a gap in the (metro Denver) BMX community that has been there for a long time,” he said. “And I think the BMX community here is ready for it.”

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As Trump plan threatens ski resort tourism, industry mobilizes to protect visa worker program

September 22, 2017 - 4:22pm

The nation’s ski industry is mobilizing in a unified and sweeping effort to thwart potential cuts to a cultural visa program that allows young foreign students to work temporarily in the U.S.

Ski resorts have become reliant on J-1 Summer Work Travel visa workers in the past five years, weaning from the heavily regulated H-2B visa program that once stocked resorts with young workers from the Southern Hemisphere. Recent reports that the White House is considering slashing or even eliminating the J-1 visa program as part of President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, could have sweeping impacts on the American resort industry.

“It would be worse than the drought,” said Andy Wirth, whose Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadow ski areas in California endured three consecutive seasons of meager snow in a crippling drought. “We cannot, as an industry, have Trump sign that two months before we open.”

Wirth said the same thing in an Los Angeles Times article in late August, but the last few weeks have galvanized the resort industry in an all-hands-on-deck campaign to thwart Trump’s anticipated cuts to the J-1 program. The fight has grown urgent as the snow begins to fall and unemployment rates across the West reach historic lows.

“Andy is absolutely right. I’ve had human resources directors from resorts across the country calling me in a panic saying, ‘If I don’t have access to J-1 workers, I’m quitting this job,” said Dave Byrd, the director of regulatory affairs for the 313-resort National Ski Areas Association who has been in Washington, D.C., for two months lobbying a growing roster of lawmakers to fight the plan.

Earlier this month, Byrd and the NSAA joined an effort to force an amendment into the U.S. Senate’s proposed State & Foreign Operations budget that would prevent Trump from using an executive order to cut or eliminate the J-1 visa program.

The amendment marked progress in the resort industry’s battle to protect visa programs that bolster rural resort operator staffs. In July, the ski resort industry hailed federal approval of a one-time 15,000-visa bump in annual H-2B visas. As unemployment rates plummeted, ski resorts had joined golf course operators, fisheries and landscape companies in lobbying the federal government to bolster that program. But the win was short-lived. Resorts have turned away from the once essential H-2B visa program because of onerous regulations — such as proving no American workers wanted the job, guaranteeing at least 35 hours a week and paying travel expenses for foreign workers.

But the J-1 visa program took up the slack. Especially for ski resorts where the three- to four-month busy season aligns perfectly with the summer break of college students in the Southern Hemisphere. The ski season does not align with American student breaks, so J-1 visa students from Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina account for about 8,000 of the ski industry’s roughly 130,000 seasonal workers.

“All ski resorts hire Americans first and only augment staffing requirements with J-1 visas — this program does not take a single job from Americans. To recruit and employ J-1s actually costs ski areas more  due to the recruiting and visa-processing costs,” said David Perry, the longtime Aspen Skiing Co. executive who recently took the reins of the new Denver-based, yet unnamed — resort company that corralled more than a dozen of North America’s top ski areas. “If the program changes, it will hurt rural economies where ski resorts are often the biggest economic engine by forcing resorts to host fewer guests and curtail operations.”

The resort industry is one of the West’s top rural economic drivers. And unemployment in those rural locales is staggeringly low. In Colorado’s ski-area counties, unemployment rates are some of the lowest in the state, at 2.1 percent in Winter Park’s Grand County, 1.9 percent in Vail’s Eagle County and 1.8 percent in Aspen’s Pitkin County. The 1.3 percent unemployment rate in the four-resort Summit County is the lowest of any resort-anchored county in the country. Colorado’s unemployment rate of 2.4 percent is the lowest among 11 states that host 217 ski areas.

It’s not just the big resorts that could suffer if the J-1 visa program is cut. Resorts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina rely on the cultural exchange visas, Byrd said. And it’s not just ski areas. Small businesses outside tourism could be impacted if there are cuts to the cultural exchange program. The Alliance for International Exchange shows summer-work travel exchange J-1 visa participants contributed $509 million to the U.S. economy in 2016, including 4,675 J-1 workers in Colorado contributing $24.8 million.

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“They call it ‘Hire American, Buy American,’ but it could end up being a ‘Fire American’ policy,” said Ilir Zherka, the executive director of the Alliance for International Exchange. “Businesses that rely on international workers for supplemental employees would have to shut down. This could be devastating to many local economies around the country.”

The privately funded cultural exchange visa program was born in 1961 as the U.S. sought to foster better diplomacy by hosting temporary foreign workers — usually students — who would return home with American friends, a deeper understanding of democracy and a greater appreciation of the United States.

“We can’t lose that people-to-people diplomacy and at the same time hurt local economies,” Zherka said. “Even if we prevent this J-1 visa program from getting cut, we need to prepare for three years of challenges from this administration surrounding immigration issues.”

Byrd said he expects Trump may act on the J-1 visa program next week.

“We really hope he doesn’t,” Byrd said. “We may have to sue him to stop him if he comes out and tries to eliminate the J-1 program.”

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Drivers of Mexican tour bus arrested after 264 bricks of weed found on board

September 22, 2017 - 3:54pm

TOMBSTONE, Ariz. — Two drivers of a Mexican tour bus have been arrested near Tombstone after 320 pounds (145 kilograms) of marijuana was found in a hidden compartment.

Willcox Station Border Patrol agents at the Highway 80 immigration checkpoint made the arrests Wednesday night.

They referred the bus for an immigration inspection of the occupants, all identified as residents of Mexico.

A Border Patrol drug-sniffing dog alerted agents to an odor emitting from the rear of the bus.

Read the rest of this story at

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Opera Colorado will soon be singing in Englewood

September 22, 2017 - 3:53pm

Opera Colorado is packing up its sopranos, tenors and baritones and heading south. And its office staff is coming too.

The nonprofit arts organization, long based on Colorado Boulevard in Denver, announced this week it will soon move into a 7,000-square-foot space at 4121 S. Navajo St. in Englwood. Housed in a 1930s warehouse renovated in recent years as part of the Oxford Station apartment project, the new headquarters will allow Opera Colorado to consolidate its office and rehearsals space under one roof for the first time in 30 years, officials say.

The organization is calling its future home the Opera Colorado Opera Center. It will mark the end of rehearsals at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver.

“The idea of moving Opera Colorado’s office has been years in the making, and we are thrilled to finally see all the pieces align this past year, and our vision of creating an opera center come to fruition,” General Director Greg Carpenter said in a news release.

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The company has signed a 10-year lease for the space, located near the Oxford Station light rail stop. It hopes to move in late November, after it wraps its run of performances of “La Boheme” at Ellie Caulkins,  officials say. The City of Englewood is providing some construction tax rebates to the company as part of incentive program for employers bringing jobs into the city, according to a news release.

“Opera Colorado had many options for their new location and we are very pleased that they chose Englewood,”  city Community Development Director Brad Power said in a news release.

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Oregon cops get more complaints about marijuana grows than they can handle

September 22, 2017 - 3:50pm

A bizarre kidnapping and robbery case sparked a raid by law enforcement Wednesday at a house off West McAndrews Road where police say they seized 180 pounds of illegal marijuana plants and arrested three men.

“We received a report of a car jacking at gunpoint from the victim,” Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. “That turned out to not be entirely true, but it did lead us to an illegal marijuana deal involving several hundred pounds.”

Budreau, with the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE), said further investigation determined three suspects took the victim’s car on Saturday to recoup a drug debt.

Arrested for felony kidnapping and robbery were Rafael Olivera Valencia, 36, Adrian Rivera-Espinosa, 41, and Jose Alfredo Butanda, 32, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records. The victim is Cesar Andres Olmedo-Pena, who was allegedly compelled by the suspects to deliver money or property as ransom, according to the court records.

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Friday Night Lights live blog: Updates from Colorado prep football Week 4

September 22, 2017 - 3:27pm

Live tweets, updates, photos and more from #copreps football Week 4 across the state of Colorado. Mobile users, if you don’t see the live blog, tap here.

(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="//";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, "script", "scrbbl-js"));In battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, Yuma volleyball wins first set 25-21 over Lyons in The Pit. #copreps #2A In battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, Yuma volleyball wins first set 25-21 over Lyons in The Pit. #copreps #2A Bear Creek 36, Fossil Ridge 23 - Final - Full Scoreboard: #copreps Final: Bear Creek beats Fossil Ridge 36-23 to move to 1-3. SaberCats fall to 0-4. #copreps Live coverage: Week 4 football games around the state #copreps 5A final: Bear Creek 36, Fossil Ridge 23 #copreps 5A boys final: Hinkley 3, Northglenn 0 #copreps 6-man final: Sierra Grande 61, Cheraw 6 #copreps Final: Bear Creek beats Fossil Ridge 36-23 to move to 1-3. SaberCats fall to 0-4. #copreps Football final: @SierraGrande_HS 61, Cheraw 6 @CHSAANow @coloradopreps #copreps Cross Country: Wet and chilly, but Dave Sanders meet rolling along at Clement Park; plenty of Aurora teams in field #copreps #aurora Live coverage: Week 4 football games around the state #copreps volleyball Tuesday on KAT Country 98.3 and with Lone Star hosting Idalia! Varsity starting around 5:30pm #copreps The @sterling_tigers take on the @Eaton_Football team at 7 tonight and we have the call and will be tweeting. #copreps About 90 minutes until kickoff of Durango at Bayfield football!… #copreps Two hours away from LIVE HS Football on CET as @Chatfieldftball faces @columbineftball from Jeffco Stadium. #XSR #copreps Brandon Russell wins #1 singles championship match of the Fountain Fort Carson Tournament. Good work Brando……Softball
Brush 1
Strasburg 11
Final 5 innings
#copreps Looking forward to @football_cths tonight at Legacy at 7:30 vs. Eaglecrest (their home game)Wear white for a white……BSOC, halftime at Rangeview, Smoky Hill trails Rangeview 1-0. @aurorasports @ClarenceBuff @SmokyNow Bear Creek busts a long TD to seal the win…2A final: Del Norte 3, Center 0 #copreps After a sudden death playoff, Legacy wins the 2018 #BroomfieldCup .Knutsen scores on pitch and @FossilFootball cuts Bear Creek lead to 30-23 with 2:40 left in game #copreps

// at Jeffco Stadium
1st half photos
Pueblo West 18, Dakota Ridge 7
@PuebloRdoSports @DRHS_Athletics @DakotaRidgeHS @CHSAA #copreps">">"> at Jeffco Stadium
1st half photos
Pueblo West 18, Dakota Ridge 7
@PuebloRdoSports @DRHS_Athletics @DakotaRidgeHS @CHSAA #copreps">">"> at Jeffco Stadium
1st half photos
Pueblo West 18, Dakota Ridge 7
@PuebloRdoSports @DRHS_Athletics @DakotaRidgeHS @CHSAA #copreps">">"> at Jeffco Stadium
1st half photos
Pueblo West 18, Dakota Ridge 7
@PuebloRdoSports @DRHS_Athletics @DakotaRidgeHS @CHSAA #copreps">">"> final: Regis Jesuit 7, Highlands Ranch 2 #copreps And that's a wrap for the first half as the @cyclonespwhs lead 18-7 against Dakota Ridge6-MAN FOOTBALL - Three Finals already
Eads beat Kim/Branson 65-0
Sierra Grande beat Cheraw 61-6
Prairie topped Weldon Valley 71-7
#copreps Prairie 71, Weldon Valley 7 - Final - Full Scoreboard: #copreps Football FINAL: Prairie 71, Weldon Valley 7. Mustangs remain unbeaten, improve to 4-0 this season #copreps Football FINAL: Prairie 71, Weldon Valley 7. Mustangs remain unbeaten, improve to 4-0 this season #copreps Overland Football taking on Rangview tonight at APS Stadium! @BLAZERFB @aurorasports 1250 Chambers Rd, Aurora
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Shakeup at Denver’s East High School after cheerleader splits controversy

September 22, 2017 - 3:17pm
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostOzell Williams.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg on Friday announced a shakeup at East High School stemming from complaints that cheerleaders were forced to do splits by a coach who pushed them even though they were in severe pain.

East principal Andy Mendelsberg has retired, and assistant principal and athletic director Lisa Porter has resigned, Boasberg said at a news conference. He said both had failed to take corrective actions after cellphone videos surfaced showing former coach Ozell Williams forcing girls to do splits as other team members held them down.

DPS presser at 3:30 pm on East HS cheer coach fallout.

— kieran nicholson (@kierannicholson) September 22, 2017

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John Youngquist will return as principal of East High, Boasberg said. Officials are releasing a full investigative report on the episode. Boasberg has previously described the video footage as “deeply disturbing.” Williams was fired shortly after the videos went viral.

One clip, first shown by KUSA-Channel 9, showed freshman Ally Wakefield screaming in pain and repeatedly asking Williams to “please stop.”

The incidents were recorded on video the first week of summer cheer camp. At least one video was sent to Porter. Kristen Wakefield, Ally’s mother, sent an email to Porter saying her daughter had suffered a leg injury. The mother inquired about what actions would be taken to correct the situation.  Wakefield told 9News that complaints were ignored by the school for two months.

Williams was fired in 2016 from his job as a paid consultant by the Boulder Valley School District after similar complaints.

Denver police are investigating the cheerleading incident at East High.

Williams, who is also the founder of Mile High Tumblers 5280, has said that what is shown in the video is being taken out of context.

“You can definitely say that what was in the video could be seen in a different light,” Williams said. “I would love to tell my story, but I can’t say anything else at this time.”



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“Mad Pooper” saga reminds runners that nature sometimes calls at inconvenient times

September 22, 2017 - 3:13pm

Colorado Springs’ “Mad Pooper” saga has generated headlines across the world amid fascination and revulsion about a runner accused of repeatedly defecating on a family’s lawn.

But it also brings up a topic many long-distance runners know all too well but can be reluctant to discuss: Sometimes nature calls at inconvenient times.

“Inevitably, you’re going to find yourself out on the run and looking for the nearest facility and, unfortunately, sometimes the nearest facility is nowhere in sight and you’re pressed to make a decision sooner than you’d like,” said Paul Smith, a coach with Runners Roost Race Services.

The urge affects everyone at some point, whether they are a casual fitness runner who may go out for 30 minutes several times a week or a runner training for a marathon, he said. Beginners typically need to learn about their body and how it responds to the change in their lifestyle.

Most long-distance runners have stories of when the urge struck, or at least know someone who has a tale. And the topic can be a source of conversations or, of course, jokes.

“It’s our way of comfortably, awkwardly dealing with what is typically a closed topic that most people don’t talk about in a workspace or outside of close friends,” Smith said.

Smith said he’ll map out a 20-mile route by where he can access the restroom facilities, whether it’s at a park or a corner store. It’s a piece of advice he gives to beginners and experienced runners alike. It’s also not unheard of for long-distance runners to don an adult diaper.

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When trail or mountain running, Smith said he and his friends will bring a sandwich bag “with a good portion of our favorite toilet paper, be it Charmin or Angel Soft. Whatever it is that keeps you happy.”

But Smith was adamant that it’s important to be considerate of others. When on a long trail run, he said to dig a hole 100 feet from the trail, relieve yourself and then cover up that hole.

Daniel Freese, a doctor at UCHealth Gastroenterology in Longmont, said the urge to defecate is a natural one for long-distance runners.

“It’s pretty logical because of the mechanism of the motion of the legs pumping,” he said. “We’re not exactly sure how this quite works, but it does cause the bowel to want to move.”

Doctors try to get patients to walk as soon as possible after surgery to stimulate the bowels, which are paralyzed by the procedure, he said.

Although it affects women more frequently than men, Freese said half of runners will feel the need to defecate when running long distances. Additionally, 15 to 40 percent will develop diarrhea at some point.

Sometimes the situation gets worse, causing damage to the GI tract and prompting bloody diarrhea. But Freese says the problem heals quickly and has no long-term problems. Those runners probably should scale back.

To curb the need to go, Freese recommended avoiding food high in sugar, fat and calories at least three hours before exercising. And don’t take any anti-diarrheals.

“(It’s an) extension of the norm,” he said. “You’re not just moving your legs, you’re really moving your legs for a long distance. That’s naturally going to stimulate the bowel movement.”

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Denver gets a little help from other states, nations as it hosts annual marijuana regulatory conference

September 22, 2017 - 3:13pm

Denver once again will play both host and marijuana authority to policy makers from around the globe seeking to learn the nuts and bolts — and the twists and turns — of cannabis legalization.

But this time around, the brain trust extends well beyond Colorado.

The city and county of Denver will conduct its Marijuana Management Symposium from Oct. 18 to 20. More than 350 public policy makers are expected to attend the conference that will include panelists from seven states and four countries that have legalized or are planning to legalize marijuana.

The third iteration of the conference will include two full days of educational panel discussions covering topics such as law enforcement, community health, youth prevention, permitting, fire safety, finance, licensing and technology. The symposium is preceded by a day of optional tours of marijuana businesses.

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Hertz discriminated against Colorado job candidate with mobility impairments, lawsuit claims

September 22, 2017 - 3:01pm

The Hertz Corp. unlawfully discriminated against a man with mobility impairments who applied for a car sales position at the company’s Englewood branch office, claims a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday.

The lawsuit claims Hertz denied employment to Norman Newton “because of Mr. Newton’s disability and/or because defendant regarded Mr. Newton as having a disability.”

Newton suffered a stroke in 2011, which resulted in him walking with the assistance of a cane or wheelchair, the lawsuit states.

The claim states that in April 2014, Newton interviewed for a sales position in the Hertz car sales division with a sales manager at the Hertz office in Englewood. Despite Newton having over 10 years of car sales experience, “the sales manager expressed to Mr. Newton that he had concerns about Mr. Newton’s mobility,” the lawsuit states.

The sales manager later left a voice message for Newton stating he had hired two other individuals, one with no car sales experience and the other with the less than four years of experience.

The company failed to see if there were any potential accommodations that could have been made for Newton’s mobility limitations, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver. The lawsuit alleges the actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The federal agency is seeking back pay, compensatory pay and punitive damages, along with injunctive relief against any further disability discrimination.

The EEOC said in the lawsuit that it investigated Newton’s claims. “Based on evidence obtained during the investigation, the EEOC issued a determination finding reasonable cause to believe that Defendant Hertz engaged in certain unlawful practices identified in the determination,” the lawsuit states.

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Efforts to reach a pre-litigation settlement that would alleviate the federal agency’s concerns were unsuccessful, according to the lawsuit.

Derek Zuver, the Hertz sales manager in Englewood, declined comment.

“Refusing to hire someone because of his disability is unlawful as well as unfair,” said Elizabeth Cadle, district director for the EEOC’s Phoenix district, in a prepared statement. “Employers should not make employment decisions based on myths, fears and stereotypes about people with disabilities.”

Hertz, which has corporate offices in Park Ridge, New Jersey, has about 9,700 locations worldwide, encompassing both vehicle rental and car sales, according to the company’s website.

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Xcel and other Mountain West power providers move to join larger regional group

September 22, 2017 - 2:56pm

A group of 10 electricity service providers, including many that serve Colorado, on Friday said it’s moving ahead to join a larger organization that would ultimately reduce customer costs. A timeline was also set that could finalize a deal by late 2019.

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The Mountain West Transmission Group, which includes Xcel Energy’s local operation in Denver, has been exploring membership into the Southwest Power Pool regional transmission system since January. The SPP, which has nearly 100 member companies, serves a wider region from North Dakota to northern Texas.

“Mountain West has reached a point in its negotiations with the Southwest Power Pool management where it believes it is now appropriate to take our potential membership proposal to all SPP stakeholders,” Steve Beuning, Xcel director of market operations, wrote in an email. “We believe there is sufficient evidence at this time that forming a regional transmission organization in the Rocky Mountain West would provide opportunities to reduce customer costs, and maximize resource and electric grid use.”

Mountain West Transmission GroupUtilities in Colorado and Wyoming and parts of other nearby states that serve 6.4 million customers are weighing a decision to join the Southwest Power Pool.

Supporters say joining the 14-state SPP, which has abundant and affordable wind generation and a robust wholesale power market, could bring $1 billion or more in economic benefits to the region and smooth out operations. But any switch, if not done right, could leave the region more vulnerable to outages, regulators have warned.

Stakeholder meetings to discuss findings, objectives and next steps will start Oct. 13 in Denver and Oct. 16 in Little Rock, Ark. The meetings will be open to the public. If a decision to join SPP is ultimately reached, the Mountain West group would file the request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in mid-2018, with integration completed as soon as late 2019,

The Mountain West group includes Colorado Springs Utilities, Platte River Power Authority in Fort Collins, Public Service Company of Colorado (the Denver operating company of Xcel), Tri‐State Generation and Transmission Association in Westminster, Loveland Area Projects and Colorado River Storage Project. The group serves approximately 6.4 million customers and 16,000 miles of transmission line primarily in the Rocky Mountain region.

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Why Wyoming QB Josh Allen is a strange study for NFL scouts

September 22, 2017 - 2:25pm

LARAMIE, Wyo. — The stands of War Memorial Stadium are mostly empty as Josh Allen makes his way toward midfield, ball in hand.

Allen is wearing a T-shirt, brown baggy basketball shorts and headphones. Wyoming’s game against Oregon is still about 90 minutes away, but the show is about to start. Representatives from 16 NFL teams are gathered on the sideline to see one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in the country, and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s big, but nimble, and the ball explodes from his hand effortlessly.

He looks like a natural, only there’s a problem.

This will end up being the best part of Allen’s day. During the game, he took a beating and completed just six passes.

Allen is a fascinating case study of the NFL evaluation process. He is a rare physical talent, but his teammates have been overmatched by top-notch competition. As a result, so has he. While some fans look at Allen’s underwhelming stats against Power Five competition and proclaim: ‘OV-ER-RA-TED!’ scouts are digging deeper. A player’s draft stock does rise and fall from week to week. In the long run, how Allen deals with failure could be more valuable to him than if he had thrown four touchdown passes against the Ducks.

“Everything is not black and white,” former NFL general manager and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian said. “What goes on this season is important. You’re going to want to watch the tape. You’re going to want to watch his team live. You’re going to want to see how he handles adversity. You want to see how he performs with a lesser team around him than he had last year.

“All of that is part of the equation.”

When it comes to dealing with adversity, Allen has already overcome so much. He was a zero-star high schooler who grew up on his parents’ ranch in Firebaugh, California, about 40 miles northeast of Fresno. He was not a product of the quarterback industrial complex. He did not receive hours of private coaching as a teenager or play seven-on-seven tournaments year-round.

“I would say this is a benefit to him because he’s emerged as a legitimate candidate without all the bells and whistles that are attached to all of the formal training that goes on now with these quarterbacks,” said former NFL general manager Phil Savage, who is executive director of the Senior Bowl.

Allen played baseball and basketball in high school. He also swam, and learned karate as a kid. He worked on the ranch, attending to the cantaloupe, wheat and cotton. From that he learned “you don’t want to do it for the rest of your life.”

He landed at Reedley College, a junior college in central California, and there the long, lanky kid began to fill out. Wyoming coach Craig Bohl and offensive coordinator Brent Vigen — who at FCS power North Dakota State developed Carson Wentz from a no-star to the second-overall NFL draft pick — came across Allen while looking into a lineman at Reedley.

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As Allen grew to 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, the buzz started. His first chance to impress on a big stage was at Nebraska last season, and he threw five interceptions. He went on to help the Cowboys reach the Mountain West championship game. He considered entering the NFL draft last season, but stayed after being advised he would benefit from another year of development, gaining a better understanding of what it takes to play quarterback at the highest level.

“I think his ability to understand the game, understand preparation, attention to detail. Really, truly, being consumed by that part of it is still a work in progress,” Vigen said. “I think that’s part of his maturity and part of the reason his coming back will be so beneficial to him.”

The team Allen returned to, though, is depleted. Star running back Brian Hill was drafted in the fifth round by the Falcons, and center Chase Roullier was a sixth-round pick by the Redskins. The Cowboys’ three leading receivers from 2016 are gone. Both wide receiver Tanner Gentry and tight end Jacob Hollister made NFL rosters out of training camp.

But because of Allen, who had been hyped as a possible first-round draft pick all summer, expectations for the Cowboys were still high. Reality set in when Wyoming was beaten 24-3 in the opener at Iowa and Allen threw for 174 yards and two interceptions.

“Of course it would have helped him (to play well against Iowa), but I didn’t expect that,” said former NFL scout Chris Landry of “Those ends at Iowa really just torched (Wyoming).”

Still, there were moments when Allen’s gifts were on display.

“Third down, rips an absolute freakin’ dime on a rope 45 yards, hits the guy on the facemask. Incomplete,” said former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, who works with the Elite 11 quarterback competition for top high school prospects.

Then came Oregon last weekend, and it got even worse. The Ducks were all over Allen and he went 6 for 24 for 64 yards with an interception and two fumbles in the 49-13 loss.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said watching the Oregon film, he counted five dropped passes in Wyoming’s first 26 plays.

“He’s getting pressured, not every time, but just about I’d say 70 percent of his drop backs, he’s either getting pressure early — before 2 1/2 seconds — or his receivers aren’t separating so he’s forced to hold the ball and move and avoid pressure and then try to reset and throw. Or throw on the run while a defender is closing in on him,” McShay said. “What are you supposed to do?”

Well, first off, Allen deleted Twitter from his phone after the Oregon game.

“Those guys on Twitter aren’t making draft picks and putting together teams in the NFL,” he said. “All I really care about is respect from my teammates and my coaches here.”

What Allen also did was try not to show frustration on the sideline and to keep encouraging his teammates. On the Monday after facing Oregon, he acknowledged it was a rocky day, vowed to play better and expressed confidence that the team will improve.

“We have a saying in our family,” Josh’s father, Joel Allen, said. “It’s APO. Adjust. Persevere. Overcome. And apply that to just about everything you do.”

The quarterback class for the next NFL draft has a chance to be exceptionally strong, with UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold likely to enter. Dilfer said that could be to Allen’s benefit.

“We have over-drafted quarterbacks the last few years,” Dilfer said.

Evaluators generally agree that Allen is physically ahead of Wentz, who blew away NFL executives with his competitive character, leadership skills and willingness and capacity to learn.

Those traits usually make or break quarterbacks in the NFL. That part of evaluating Allen is incomplete, but will have a far greater effect on where he will be drafted than his stats against Oregon. Faking those traits is more difficult when times are tough.

“And I hope people see that I’m going to be battle-tested,” Allen said “I’m going to be put through the ringer. Mentally, physically, whatever the case may be, it’s going to make me a better quarterback.”

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Colorado elections system may have been scanned for weaknesses by Russians, federal officials tell Secretary of State’s Office

September 22, 2017 - 2:21pm

Colorado may have been among nearly two dozen states whose election systems were scanned for weaknesses by Russian-linked actors leading up to the 2016 election, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Friday, though officials feel strongly that there was no breach.

Trevor Timmons, chief information officer for the Secretary of State’s Office, says information that a Department of Homeland Security agent passed along Friday didn’t explicitly mention Russia but that it otherwise mirrored a warning federal officials gave Congress over the summer that did.

“Colorado is considered by DHS to be on that list of 21 states that were impacted. He said that Colorado systems were scanned,” Timmons said. “He said there’s no evidence of penetration or compromise but scanned.”

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Colorado was one of 21 21 states DHS contacted Friday to say their election systems were targeted by hackers last year, mostly without success. By contrast, DHS told Congress over the summer that 21 states’ elections systems were targeted by hackers linked to the Russian government.

“We’ve reached out to local DHS resources as well as federal DHS resources to get more detail on what exactly they are talking about,” Timmons said. “Are they attributing the scanning that they saw or that they are aware of to Russian-based actors or Russian-affiliated actors? I do not know the answer to that.”

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office says it is routinely scanned by potential bad actors and that it has a robust security system to block any kind of infiltration.

Rich Schliep, chief information security officer for the secretary of state, said it’s possible that DHS found out about the suspicious scanning linked to the 21 states because of data state officials turned over to federal investigators.

“There is a strong possibility that the reason we are on the list is we notified them in the first place,” Schliep said, adding that it shows the office is ahead of the ball.

In Colorado, DHS told state officials, the scanning likely happened in September and October.

The Secretary of State’s Office took in-depth steps on Election Day in November to ensure that the state’s voter systems were safe. That included having the contest monitored by two teams of three cybersecurity experts from the Colorado National Guard and a local FBI special agent who focuses on election issues.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said in June that it does not think it was targeted by Russian-backed hackers.

Officials say they block anywhere from 10 to 15 IP addresses daily that it finds are linked to suspicious behavior toward the office’s systems.

“According to Homeland Security, we were not attacked, probed, breached, infiltrated or penetrated,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a written statement. “This was a scan and many computer systems are regularly scanned. It happens hundreds if not thousands of times per day. That’s why we continue to be vigilant and monitor our systems around the clock.”

Earlier this week, the state’s budget writers approved diverting money from an unused election account to spend an additional $1.2 million to upgrade the office’s cybersecurity measures for its voter registration system and business database.

The new funding, approved unanimously by the Joint Budget Committee, will cover the cost to add a centralized risk management platform to protect and monitor who accesses the state’s voter registration system, as well as upgrade the existing firewalls to allow real-time threat intelligence.

Other new cybersecurity measures will help minimize the potential impact of hackers and add masking tools to create multiple layers of defense for voter registration and elections data.

In an interview earlier this week, Williams said the current system was secure but the office “continues to work to harden the process.”

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