Archive for November, 2017

Holiday shopping with a twist

When it comes to holiday shopping, chain stores and online outlets will try to pull in customers with quantity of items and deals.

But to find that unique gift — one specially and limitedly created by local artisans, bakers and craftsman — you have to look locally. And that’s where the multitude of holiday markets in communities around the Denver metro area come in.

“We’re a place where you can shop and savor the season,” said Natalia Wobst, executive director of the Colorado Chamber of the German American Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual Christkindl Market in Denver’s Skyline Park. “There’s a real feeling of community effort at this market, and vendors really get to know the customers. And customers know we’re a reliable place for good Christmas finds.”

There are dozens of markets to choose from heading into the holiday season, so we picked a handful from our coverage areas to highlight.

Adams County Holiday Bazaar

WHERE: Adams County Fairgrounds, 9755 Henderson Road, Brighton

HOURS: Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The bazaar features more than 300 booths in two buildings, all focused on handmade crafts. Corporate vendors and home-based franchises are not allowed.

The event also doubles as a benefit fundraiser for the Adams County Historical Society and Museum.

WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “What makes a good market is new inventory and a variety of merchandise, and our vendors are personable and lovely to talk with,” said Marilyn Fingerlin, one of three co-organizers of the Adams County Historical Society bazaars. “They are always looking for new crafts to make to sell, and you will find quality handcrafted items for your home and all-occasion gifts.”

Arapahoe Ceramics Guild Holiday Sale

WHERE: Arapahoe Community College, 5900 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton

HOURS: Thursday, Nov. 30, 1 to 8 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The guild is composed of people who are students or former students in Arapahoe
Community College’s ceramics program.

Items on sale include functional and decorative pieces made by all skill levels. There are limited amounts of each piece, which means shoppers will see a rotating stock of new pieces, said Melanie Unruh, the guild’s vice president.

WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “Some of the proceeds go back to the department to fund workshops, equipment and everything else we need to teach our students,” Unruh said. “There’s a broad range of handmade art here at an excellent price and everything is unique.”

Denver Christkindl Market

WHERE: Skyline Park, 16th Street Mall and Arapahoe Street, Denver

HOURS: Nov. 17 through Dec. 23, Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The market sets up a German town square in the park at the base of the Clock Tower, similar to the traditional markets found in Germany. The market features everything from glass-blown ornaments, hand-carved wooden figurines, children’s toys, lanterns, Alpaca scarves and authentic dishes, such as European pastries and chocolate to savory chestnut soup.

You’ll also find live music in the festival hall and cultural performances, as well as collectible mugs and biersteins. These two items have been collector’s items for annual visitors, said Natalia Wobst, executive director of the Colorado Chamber of the German American Chamber of Commerce.

WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “What we see every year is an increase in the authenticity of our offerings, and an increase in an interest from shoppers,” Wobst said. “We have people come for brunch, lunch and happy hour. And in addition to our local vendors, we have German, European and international vendors who bring an old world flair to the market.”

Fine Art Market and ACES show

WHERE: Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada

Fine Art Market Show

Nov. 30 through Dec. 17: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday and Monday, 1 to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, Noon to 7:30 p.m.

ACES Show

Nov. 30 through Dec. 17: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The 31st annual market features all original works in a wide range of media, size and price by more than 90 artists throughout Colorado, while the 10th annual ACES (Arvada Center Education Studios) show features the work by the Arvada Center’s instructors and students.

Items range from jewelry, ceramics, handwoven pieces, woodworking, metalsmithing and handmade notebooks and cards to painting, prints, drawing, photography and mixed media works.

WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “The Fine Art Market stresses quality and originality when selecting artists for this show,” Bebe Alexander, ceramics program manager, said. “The Arvada Center houses one of the best ceramics studios in the area, and the ACES show gives us the opportunity to show the works of our very talented staff, who are all professional artists, as well as showcasing what our students have been able to learn.”

Highlands Ranch Community Association’s Winter Market

WHERE: Town Center North, 1100 Sgt. Jon Stiles Drive, Highlands Ranch

HOURS: Dec. 1, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The Highlands Ranch Community Association is partnering with Metro Denver Farmers’ Market to bring shoppers an outdoor market full of unusual gift ideas, handmade items and foods like meats, pastries, breads, fudge and more for holiday meals.

Local farmers and crafters will set up booths for shoppers to peruse.

WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “The market is part of Highland Ranch’s holiday celebration, and something we’ve talked about for years,” said Sara Walla, marketing and special projects coordinator with the association.

“The market enhances our holiday events and gives people more options to be excited about.”

Holiday Art Market

WHERE: Foothills Art Center, 809 Fifteenth St., Golden

HOURS: Nov. 10 through Dec. 30; Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, Noon to 5 p.m.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The 43rd annual market features creations from 106 Colorado artists, including fine ceramics, fiber, glass work, jewelry, paintings, woodworking, photography and other holiday items. It is one of the longest-running markets in the state.

WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “Buying a gift from the market is meaningful because you find one-of-a-kind artisan gifts and you support Colorado artists,” said Foothills Art Center executive director Hassan Najjar. “It’s one of our most popular events due to the high quality and wide range of artwork and handicraft.”

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Strength training creates solid base for young athletes

Many things you believed might be simple take time.

For instance why is an iPad all of a sudden frozen? Then after going through an inventory of passwords, you find out that they are invalid. Despite making a little headway you end up after a long day with a device that is still immobile.

I should have called Patrick McHenry and maybe he could have made some progress.

McHenry is head strength coach and physical education teacher at Castle View High School. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association Board of Directors and co-chair of the NSCA Secondary School Coaches Working Group.

He isn’t a technology expert but admits some weight training methods are outdated and progress is being made to change those old-fashioned training procedures. It has taken time to convince trainers that overwork can cause injuries.

Integrated and not isolated training is the new way of training.

“Integrated means you are going to add components in,” explained McHenry. “Now we are isolated. Kids grow up and play one sport, never learning to move in other patterns.

“To help avoid getting knee injuries, one of the first things we look at is if they are squatting properly. Sometimes when a person hurts their ACL, it’s because they have weak glutes which are causing their legs to move wrong. It’s often a non-contact injury.”

Growth spurts in teenagers should not be ignored.

“I must pay close attention to whether they are getting taller because growing adds something to the mix,” said McHenry. “A freshman may come into the high school at 5-foot-5. Then he starts growing, which changes his center of gravity. He may have to back off the weights and re-learn the movement patterns.”

McHenry still endorses strength training.

“Strength training is safe, but it’s important that it’s taught by someone who understands pediatric and adolescent exercise physiology,” he said. “That’s a relatively new science.”

Specific sport training where athletes focus on individualized weight training and specific approach is helpful.

“With cross country, for example, I’ll work on stabilizing muscles so they can perform better later in the race,” added McHenry. “Golfers tend to do all their rotations on one side, so I help them work both sides equally.

“Tennis players have to be explosive. I help them work on that. Cheerleading is a sport with a notoriously high number of injuries. Can the base people handle the pressure of catching someone thrown high in the air? They may need the weight room more than most.

“The sport coach can be focused on strategy while the strength coach is focused on strength, recovery and nutrition. It frees up sport coaches to do their sport.”

McHenry, who has been at Castle View for 11 years, also has thoughts on burnout and creating well-rounded athletes.

“Much research says kids get burned out when they play just one sport,” he said. “I see that all the time. Kids don’t want to play any more after high school. In contrast, studies find that kids who play multiple sports will peak later and not burn out early.

“I talk with them all the time and explain that the more sports they play, the more well-rounded they’ll be. You’d never have a student just study math or science all through school. They take all the core classes — math, science, social studies and reading — to make them well-rounded. By the time they reach college, they have a good base and start to specialize.

“Sports should mirror school,” he continued. “We want kids to build on all the different abilities, because they are cumulative. As they get older, they are in better shape to specialize.”

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

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Moving forward from Thanksgiving, a gratitude challenge can be rewarding

This year there are exactly 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know I just stated the obvious and probably upset those who are never quite ready for Christmas, regardless if we were 32 days away or three days away.

With our Thanksgiving leftovers almost finished, Black Friday behind us, and now well on our way into the Christmas holiday zone, it’s time to gear up and step up our pace to meet the oncoming Christmas train head-on.

I mean the Christmas music seems like it has already been playing for months, sales are everywhere, parking lots are jam-packed, so I guess it is time to shop. By the way, did you ever wonder why the stores do not play Thanksgiving music?

And as much as we shared our gratitude just last week and vowed to spend more quality time with our friends and family, maybe all of those nice words and best of Thanksgiving intentions have been swept up in the madness of the December Dash.

Now I know we are all working crazy hours to try and finish the year. Some of us are even working two or more jobs to fulfill Christmas wish lists.

So throwing anything else into the mix may be too much to ask, right? Maybe, but then again maybe not, as what I am suggesting is just one small gesture of gratitude each day as we go into December and into the New Year. Who knows, it may be something that we can actually turn into a positive habit as well.

The challenge I am putting forth is to express just as much love and gratitude as we felt during Thanksgiving, and to carry those feelings and that philosophy into Christmas and beyond.

What if every day we found something to be grateful for? What if we shared with someone else just how much we appreciate them during the holiday season?

We can thank the cashiers, we can share our appreciation with the valet parking attendants, we can give up our close parking spot for someone who may need it more than we do, and we can be grateful for the mail carriers and delivery drivers who make sure our gifts arrive on time and who deliver our packages to us.

Thanksgiving the holiday may have ended last week, but the spirit of Thanksgiving should be a positive habit we strive to live by. It is so easy to get angry or caught up in the holiday mayhem, this is true.

But I have found that people who maintain the attitude of gratitude tend to have a much more pleasant holiday season, and their stress levels are reduced dramatically.

The reason for the season is not about how many gifts we buy and give away, or how many gifts we receive. The real reason for the season is found in the Christmas story.

It is found in the Hanukkah story. The real reason for the season is summed up in love and gratitude.

Do you have it in you to extend your gratitude and appreciation bucket beyond Thanksgiving?

Can we all try and walk with the halo effect of Thanksgiving as we enter into the season where we should naturally experience gratitude and appreciation, love and kindness, and goodwill towards all men and women? Will you personally accept this gratitude challenge?

Either way, I would love to hear all about your own December Dash between Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hanukkah at gotonorton@gmail.com.

And when we can extend the spirit of gratitude and appreciation and make it a habit to live by, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.

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On to the next big adventure, friend

Smitty looked over his shoulder as he was carried away, and said, “Where am I going now, Dad?”

I said, “I’ve heard it’s a very big adventure.”

I knew why he was asking that question: Before we made eye contact at the MaxFund Animal Adoption Center in 2008, he was frequently moved from place to place and person to person.

And for the first three months, he spent as much time at the Doggie Dude Ranch in Watkins as he did with me, because my father and mother decided they wanted to see what it was like on the other side of the looking glass.

So I went back and forth to Michigan — for their funerals and then to settle their estates.

That summer, I reintroduced myself to Smitty, a smooth-coated, red dachshund, and we became best friends.

I have written about him for years, so I won’t go into his attributes all over again. Whenever Smitty is mentioned, I receive more messages than for anything else I write about.

I wanted to let you know I am working on a novella about Smitty.

(I got serious about this, and took an online novel writing class through the UCLA Extension School.)

There are cute and clever books about dogs all over the place. Mine won’t be either. At least it won’t be cute. Smitty never sat on the top of his doghouse and philosophized.

He never rescued anyone. Except me.

He came along after I retired and before Jennifer. It was a sketchy time in my life. I guess I was meant to have it: Single men who retire often head south, for a number of reasons.

I was heading in that direction, and then a friend sent a photograph of Smitty she had seen on MaxFund’s web site.

I called to find out if Smitty was still available.

“Let me go see.”

A woman put the phone down, and walked away. I could hear her footsteps. Then I could hear her coming back.

“He’s here.”

His name wasn’t Smitty at the time. I thought he needed a new one, to go with his new life.

Displayed near me right now is my father’s World War II flight jacket. In script, on the front right side, it says “Smitty.”

Later on, I called him every name imaginable — names of endearment — even after he was completely deaf.

Is your dog, like mine, a good excuse to stay home?

Would you rather meet the Gundersons for lunch, or stay at home with your dog and watch Hitchcock?

I never put a hat on Smitty. People do things like that, I’ve heard. Dress up their dogs like dolls.

People make jokes about dachshunds all the time, but my friends know better than to try that around me. I make an exception when it comes to cartoonist Gary Larson.

“Give me a hand here, Etta. I got into a nest of wiener dogs over on Fifth and Maple.”

When he was younger, Smitty crawled into sweatshirt sleeves, and fell asleep. Later on, he could sleep anywhere at any time, and napping became one of our favorite things to do together.

If I said, “Let’s nap,” he just looked at me — and smiled.

A few days ago, Smitty went on life’s final big adventure.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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Douglas County calls for volunteer drivers

Winter months can be especially difficult for Douglas county residents who are homeless, housing-challenged or don’t own a vehicle, according to Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge. This year, Douglas county wants to make sure vulnerable populations have a ride when they need it. Whether it’s a ride to and from work, or a much needed ride to one of the homeless shelters in the Winter Shelter Network.

“My district is mostly rural areas,” said Partridge, whose District 2 includes Castle Rock and Castle Pines, but also less-developed areas, including Franktown, Larkspur and Sedalia. “Here, you have yourself, your friends and your neighbors if you need a ride.”

Douglas County has partnered with ride-share service Lyft, to create the new Ride Together program, which will offer free or reduced-price rides to at-risk or vulnerable populations in the county. Through the program, drivers can sign up to be a driver with Lyft, and donate rides through the cold winter months to residents who are transit dependent, which means they have no other means of transportation, such as a personal vehicle. The service can also be utilized by people who might need to travel between and among winter shelter programs.

Success of the program, said organizers, depends on the willingness of Douglas County residents to volunteer their time.

“This project came to mind after seeing the generous outpouring of volunteers in winters past,” said Mike Polhemus, Pastor of the Rock Church in Castle Rock. “From the faith-based community side, we have a large population that has a heart for the community, and sometimes they don’t know what they can do, or how they can help.”

Signing up to be a Lyft driver is a great way for them to help, according to Polhemus.

“One of the main things we see is through the winter, we have a winter shelter network for women and children who are homeless,” he said. “One of the issues that came up during the winter was they had no transportation to get to the churches or shelters to stay.”

The Ride Together program is a partnership between the faith-based community, Lyft and Douglas County. A $50,000 RTD grant was used to create an initial transit community fund, which will pay for the six-month pilot program. As drivers sign on with Lyft and start offering rides, fares and tips will be donated back into a transportation community fund, which will then fund the program in the future.

“Eventually, the program will be funded completely by charity,” Polhemus said.

Gabe Cohen, general manager for Lyft Rockies region, said the program is unique, and Lyft is happy to be part of the pilot.

“From our position here at Lyft, we see some of the trickiest transportation challenges,” Cohen said. “We keep people from driving drunk or high. But the county is really going after some of the trickiest challenges — helping underserved populations. We’re ecstatic to be part of the program.”

Income eligibility is a requirement for the program, with families receiving food assistance qualifying for free rides. Others may qualify for reduced-fare rides or other services offered through Douglas county, including RTD services, taxi vouchers or on-demand services. Rides must be within Douglas county to be eligible.

An event to enroll drivers will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at 500 Fairgrounds Drive in Castle Rock. Screenings will be done on site for vehicle inspections, physical exams, background and DMV checks. Once drivers have been enrolled, they can begin donating rides. Drivers must be at least 21 years of age, drive a 2004 or newer four-door vehicle, possess a valid Colorado driver’s license and plates, have personal vehicle insurance and an iPhone or Android mobile phone.

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Youth football team to play in national championship tourney

A local football team will play for a national championship.

The Castle Rock Knights Pop Warner JV team (seventh through ninth grade) will be representing Rocky Mountain Pop Warner at the Pop Warner National Championship Tournament in Orlando, Florida. Tournament games will be played between Dec. 2 and 8.

The Knights (9-2) won the Southwest Regional Championship game in San Antonio on Nov. 18, defeating Mercedes (Texas) 28-0. Two weeks earlier, the Knights defeated the Parker Wolfpack 19-18 to win the Pop Warner Division II state championship.

A page has been set up on gofundme.com to help raise the nearly $34,000 it will cost for the Knights to make the Orlando trip. To help, go to www.gofundme.com/castlerock-knights

Players from the Knights will feed into the Douglas County Huskies and the Castle View Sabercats football programs over the next one to three years. The Castle Rock Knights are coached by Kurt Klopfenstein, Lorenzo Urrutia, Will Parker, Dennis Johnson, and Steve Madonia.

In addition to the JV team’s success, the Knights’ Pee Wee squad, comprising sixth- and seventh-graders, also had a stellar season. The team won seven straight games and claimed the Southwest Regional Pee Wee crown in San Antonio on Nov. 18.

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Packer dogged is search of success

Arapahoe senior David Packer didn’t mind when he heard the odd compliment paid to him by boys golf coach Harry Bucker, who referred to him as a dog.

“He is a real bulldog,” said Buckner. “Every time he made a bogey he would say, `Don’t worry coach, I’ll get it back.’ Then he would make a birdie. He thrived on pressure.”

Packer is the 2017 Colorado Community Media South Metro Boys Golfer of the Year.

“I have that mentality,” said Packer, when asked about Buckner’s comment. “I used to be a little bit worse after a bad hole and it would cause problems on the next hole. I kind of figured it out.

“Especially this year, whenever I had a bad hole, I just believed in my game and would get it back on the next hole. I just decided to let it go.”

Packer won the Class 5A West Regional at the Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield with a 1-under-par 71 to help the Warriors win the regional title.

“As an individual, I was all-league (Centennial) and I won the regional,” said Packer. “I don’t have anything to complain about. In the state tournament on that second day you could see guys giving away two or three shots for losing their mind because of one shot.”

At the Oct. 2-3 state tournament at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora, Packer finished tied for fourth after back-to-back rounds of 1-over-par 72.

“My putting was better than it has ever been this season,” said Packer. “I’ve always been a pretty good ball striker and been able to keep it in the fairway. Last year I averaged almost two putts a hole but this year I was able to get in down to a putt and a half a hole.

“I improved a lot and that helped my scores, especially in the state tournament when it was cold and the balls were just bouncing and you couldn’t get them to stop and you had to be able to get up and down. It was nice to know that I was going to make that 4-footer to make a par and go on to the next hole.”

Packer’s putting improved when he reduced the time spent reading putts.

“My putts had always had good speed but I didn’t have the best aim,” he explained. “I always used to line up my ball but I found on the shorter putts when I lined up my putt I almost looked at it too much to be able to read the putt. I just kind of went off feel and it helped me a lot this year.”

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Tennis player serves up stellar season as senior

Ryan Neale decided to play on Ponderosa’s boys tennis team this fall and the senior had a standout season.

He won the Region 5 tournament and finished third in the Class 5A state tournament on Oct. 12-14 at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver.

Neale suffered only his second loss of the season in the Class 5A state semifinals with a 6-1, 6-2 loss to eventual state champion Christian Holmes of Chatfield.

He came back to capture third place with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Javier Valenzuela of Mountain Range.

Neale has been selected as the 2017 Colorado Community Media South Metro Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

“I was a little hurt that I lost in the semis,” confessed Neale. “I wanted to make it to the finals. I lost to Christian in the semis and he won the tournament so that made the loss hurt a little less. Overall the season was not too bad.”

It took a little persuasion before Neale decided to play high school tennis.

“It was an extreme pleasure having a player with the talent of Ryan playing for Ponderosa,” said Mustangs coach Steve Prosowski. “Ryan toyed with the idea of playing along with his good friend Henry Cox last season, but his tournament schedule and training in Texas was too much.

“This season he made the choice to play high school tennis, which was encouraged by his current teammates, myself and his parents.”

Neale was a success on the court for Ponderosa.

“Ryan had a hugely successful season going 10-0 in the tough Continental League, going 3-1 at the Pueblo South tournament and going 3-1 in the state tournament to finish with an overall record of 16-2,” said Prosowski. “Ryan with his talent is all class and hard work.

“He would often be the first one to show up to practice, to warm up for matches and he really set a great example of what it takes to play such a high level of tennis.”

And he as an influence off the court too.

“He also stepped into the team dynamic quite well and earned the trust and respect of all his teammates,” added Prosowski. “It was an absolute pleasure to be his coach and I know he will do great things in the future.”

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Changed graduation requirements affect Douglas County students

In October 2016, the Douglas County School Board approved changes in the school district’s graduation requirements. The new requirements begin with the freshman class of the 2017-18 school year. Students must meet two additional requirements by their 2021 graduation date.

Below are three things to know:

Credits are the same

Students still need 24 credits to graduate.

Each student is required to complete 16 credits in Common Core State Standards, part of Colorado Academic Standards, including four language-arts credits, three math credits including at least one credit of algebra, three science credits, three social studies credit including at least a half credit of civics/U.S. government, one practical arts credit, one fine arts credit and one physical education credit. And each student must complete eight elective credits.

No change in community service hours

High school students must document at least 20 hours of community service to graduate.

Academic plan, college and career readiness are new

Beginning with the class of 2021 — or the freshman class of the current school year — students will create and complete an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) and/or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that meets the district’s graduation requirements, according to the DCSD website.

To receive a diploma, students will also be required to demonstrate college and career readiness by documenting proficiency in English and math through one of 10 approved methods, including ACT, SAT, district capstone or industry certificate. A list of methods can be found at www.dcsdk12.org/graduation.

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I-25 ‘Gap’ project gaining momentum

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner recently attended a briefing with the I-25 Gap Coalition to discuss the progress of accelerating improvements along the stretch of road.

“Our highways look like they did in the ’70s,” Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, said on Nov. 10 of the 18-mile stretch of I-25 that connects Castle Rock with Monument.

According to Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge, that stretch of road, known as the “Gap” has been neglected since the 1960s, but with the help of the I-25 Gap Coalition, improvements on the road could begin as early as November 2018, nearly 10 years sooner than if the coalition had not gotten involved.

Slow traffic patterns through parts of the Gap are only part of the problem, according to Partridge and Gardner. Safety issues are also a concern, both for motorists and first responders. Some stretches of the Gap lack any type of emergency lane or shoulder, making it dangerous for vehicles that are involved in an accident to be moved out of traffic, and for first responders to safely navigate an accident scene.

Partridge said the Gap also serves as a designated route for vehicles hauling hazardous materials, which require additional safety measures in case of an accident. I-25 is also a major roadway for freight haulers, and the area has a lot of wildlife. The highway also carries traffic to several defense facilities, including the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson and Buckley Air Force Base.

The I-25 Gap Coalition was created in April with the purpose of speeding up improvements by helping organize and assemble financing for the project. The coalition members consist of representatives from Douglas, El Paso and Arapahoe counties, as well as seven cities, various HOA organizations and business alliances. The advocacy group operates independently of CDOT’s current I-25 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study focusing on the highway from Monument to C-470, but in parallel and collaboration with CDOT.

The coalition has amassed several funding sources to cover the estimated $350 million cost of the project, including state, county and transportation money. They recently applied for an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant seeking $65 million for the Gap.

Partridge said based on everything falling into place, construction on the project could begin as early as November 2018, with a tentative completion date of September 2020.

Members of the public are invited to attend an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Road in Castle Rock, where they can receive updates and information regarding the project.

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