Archive for December, 2017

Schools and breweries could become neighbors

Castle Rock schools and breweries could soon become neighbors.

As of now, the town’s code defaults to a state law requiring at least 500 feet between schools and liquor licensed establishments, like restaurants and pubs. Town staff will research the issue and potentially bring an ordinance to change the rule for areas zoned commercial or industrial before council early next year.

The move is thanks to a competitive real estate market, officials said, in which schools are locating where they haven’t traditionally, including industrial and commercial parts of town.

“There’s high cost of construction right now, there’s limited availability of space,” Castle Rock Economic Development Council President Frank Gray said. “All of those factors drive schools into industrial areas.”

This can unintentionally infringe on the property rights of their neighbors, Gray said, noting it’s an issue spanning across the Front Range, and not unique to Castle Rock.

For example, a developer owning property within 500 feet of the school could not then rent space to a restaurant serving alcohol. Existing businesses, say a brewery looking to expand, wouldn’t be able to do so because that also requires a new liquor license, Gray said.

Members of the Castle Rock Economic Development Council asked the town council to consider amending the 500-foot restriction, which the law allows municipalities to do, for commercial or industrial areas but not within residential areas. In a memo to the town, Gray wrote that Parker and Denver have created similar ordinances.

This could create an “enter at their own risk” scenario for schools, Councilmember Jason Bower said, in which schools could choose to locate in non-traditional areas but on the understanding there might be businesses holding liquor licenses closer to them than if they’d chosen a residential property.

Councilmembers seemed to agree with the EDC — they’d rather address the zoning conflict soon.

“I think it’s a pretty big deal,” Bower said. “Traditionally schools have always been in residential areas but now we see them popping up all over the place.”

Town Manager Dave Corliss explained schools can locate, “in virtually any zone.”

Corliss told council staff would conduct community outreach in preparation for a potential amendment. That, Councilmember Jess Loban said, would be key to making any changes.

“I just think this is a pretty complex thing because this is an emotional thing too” Loban said. “You want to have alcohol establishments within 500 feet, which is restricted today. That could be cause for some upset, and so we need to have some really clear and specific reach out to the community and make sure that we get good feedback as we put this together.”

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Arrest made in 2010 slaying of teacher

The Elbert County Sheriff’s Office announced it has arrested Dan Pesch, 34, in connection with the 2010 death of Kiowa High School teacher Randy Wilson.

Pesch was arrested on Dec. 19 in Littleton by Elbert County investigators, according to a sheriff’s office news release. Pesch was charged with first-degree murder, resisting arrest, obstructing an officer, and attempt to escape. Further details were withheld per a court order.

Wilson’s body was found with his hands tied behind his back, a belt around his neck and a bag over his head in a field in northern Elbert County on June 14, 2010, according to a Denver Post article from the time. Wilson taught physics and calculus at Kiowa High School for a decade.

Wilson, who was originally from Montana, was 52 when he was killed, according to an obituary. He was the father of five sons, and had taught in schools around the country and as far away as the South Pacific.

Wilson was last seen at a gas station in Bennett, heading back to Kiowa from visiting family in Montana, on the night before his body was found, according to a Colorado Community Media story from the time. His car was found abandoned near his body in the field, near the intersection of county roads 194 and 53, a remote area about halfway between Bennett and Kiowa.

Investigators in 2011 interviewed two people who may have spoken to Wilson at the gas station, but no arrests were made at the time.

Pesch appears to have moved to the south metro area in recent months from Summit County, according to social media posts. A LinkedIn profile appearing to belong to Pesch shows he worked as a chef, lived in Summit County until earlier this year, and held a degree from the University of Central Florida. Pesch’s Facebook features pictures of his young daughters, as well as a variety of furniture and children’s toys posted to a local yard sale page in early December.

Court records show that eviction proceedings were filed against Pesch and his partner in September 2017. Pesch was charged with several crimes in Breckenridge in November 2016, including criminal possession of ID documents from multiple victims and illegal possession of a weapon, though the charges were dismissed.

It is unclear if Pesch knew Wilson.

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Council distributes grants, fosters water infrastructure maintenance during Dec. 19 meeting

Your Town Council representatives meet twice a month, and during those meetings Councilmembers make decisions that impact you, our residents and business owners. Now, stay connected with those decisions by signing up for periodic email updates.

Visit and click the “Get Email Notifications” graphic link. Enter your email and watch your email inbox for a confirmation from to confirm your subscription.

Email updates are planned to include both summaries of top Council items as well as previews to Council meetings, so you know what your representatives will be discussing, giving you a chance to weigh-in on their decisions.

Here are some highlights from this week’s meeting.

Council approves fourth-quarter grants
Four local nonprofits will benefit from Council’s unanimous approval of their grant applications Tuesday night. The American Legion, Castle Rock Band, Clothes to Kids of Denver and Douglas County Living each received a $500 grant through the Council Community Grant Program.

•The American Legion will use its grant to replace MIA/POW flags.

•Castle Rock Band will use the funds for rehearsal space and music.

•Clothes to Kids will use the money to buy new socks and underwear for low-income or in-crisis students in Castle Rock and the Denver Metro Area.

•Douglas County Living will use the grant to offset costs for a Toys for Tots dinner that collects toys and raises money to buy toys for less fortunate children in the community.  

Each quarter, Council distributes funds to local nonprofit organizations through the Council Community Grant Program. The Town’s Finance Department receives the applications and reviews them for eligibility. The department then presents the applications to Council for consideration. The grants are funded by the Town Council Non-profit Grant Account in the General Fund.

Watch the video.

Jet/Vacuum Truck to help maintain water infrastructure
Maintaining local infrastructure will become a little easier when Castle Rock Water purchases an additional combination jet/vacuum truck in 2018. Council unanimously approved the purchase Tuesday night.

Castle Rock Water’s field services team uses these combination trucks for regular cleaning and maintenance of the Town’s utility systems. Additionally, the trucks are used during emergency situations like sanitary sewer backups and waterline breaks. This second truck – which will cost about $425,195 – will help the team maintain the community’s infrastructure more efficiently.

Watch the video.

Council seeks more research before deciding on changes to liquor code
State Law currently dictates there must be a 500-foot distance between a liquor-licensed business and a school. However, as more mixed-use projects move to Castle Rock, some commercially zoned districts are now home to restaurants, tech companies, breweries, churches with schools and charter schools. The Economic Development Council is asking Town Council to evaluate this unintended business impact.

Town Council directed staff to conduct more research on a possible liquor licensing ordinance. Staff will now gather additional information and may present a possible ordinance to amend Town Code to remove the Town’s distance restrictions in certain areas. That ordinance is expected to be considered in first quarter 2018.

Watch the discussion.

Get a full agenda at, or watch any Council meeting online at Questions? Email all Councilmembers at, or find your Council representative at

For a look at other email subscription lists the Town has, visit

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Letter to the editor: Just a handy slogan

The new school board has just decided that a monopoly education system controlled by them is the best for all students, ignoring any differences or desires for alternate educational paths that parents may have. One size fits all. We know best and that’s what you are going to get. The only choice will be the one we give you, which isn’t any choice at all.

Educating students in matters of finance isn’t something they think is important so it got blown off by David Ray et al as “too expensive,” the standard excuse that is trotted out when you have no reasonable argument. In almost the same breath, he pushes for an across-the-board raise for all school administration immediately, regardless of budget constraints. What happened to “Kids First,” the campaign slogan? I guess that was just a slogan, not something that requires any follow through.

Well, at least now I will know how to vote when the matter of increased school funding comes up in a future election. It’ll be sold as a “Kids First” need but then the money will go to other things. Hey, it worked during the campaign, so why not use it again? 

William A. Henning

Highlands Ranch

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`Abstracted Realism’ workshop coming to church in Littleton

Local painter Victoria Kwasinski will lead a workshop, “Abstracted Realism,” for Heritage Fine Arts Guild of Arapahoe County from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 6. It will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 1609 W. Littleton Blvd. Kwasinski, who counts 30 years of experience as a working artist and teacher, works in a variety of mediums. She attended Colorado Institute of Arts and received her degree from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Pre-registration required. (This would be a fine holiday gift for a local artist!) The cost is $35 for HFAG members and $40 for non-members: A list of materials is found on the website.

New in town

Opera Colorado announced that it has moved its administration and rehearsal spaces to a 1930s industrial warehouse in Englewood at 4121 S. Navajo St. Englewood Mayor Joe Jefferson and other city representatives spoke at an open house celebration on Dec. 14. Performances will continue to be at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver, but this move allows business and artistic activities to be under one roof.

Writers’ Retreat

The Englewood Library will offer a two-day Writer’s Retreat on Jan. 13-14, with authors as speakers. Free, but registration is required: 303-762-2555.

One night film showing

“The Meshuga Nutcracker,” a musical comedy celebrating Chanukah, puts a unique spin on the familiar story. It will debut in theatres nationwide, only on Dec. 19, with eight stories that pay tribute to the celebration of Chanukah, written by Scott Evan Guggenheim, Shannon Guggenheim and Steven Guggenheim. A Klezmerized orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” accompanies this musical comedy, set in the mythical town of Chelm. Showing at River Point 14 (Sheridan); Meadows 12 (Lone Tree); AMC Highlands Ranch 24; Colorado Mills 16 (Lakewood); Westminster Promenade 24 (Broomfield); Aurora 20; and Denver Pavilions 15.

`The Nutcracker’

The Denver Ballet Theatre presents its classical version of “The Nutcracker” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 22, 23 at the Newman Center, 2344 E. Iliff Ave., Denver. Tickets are $36/$29/$18: 303-871-7720.

Plan ahead

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” based on Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved story, will play Jan. 19 to Feb. 11 at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker. Tickets:

Elvis sightings

“Elvis Night” at Lone Tree Arts Center starts at 7 p.m. Dec. 28 with a screening of “Viva Las Vegas,” Elvis Presley’s film, followed by cocktail night in the lobby: casino games, drinks, appetizers and a costume contest. Tickets: 720-509-1000,

Sprick film

“Daniel Sprick : Pursuit of Truth and Beauty,” a film produced in conjunction with the Museum Outdoor Arts exhibit of Sprick’s paintings: “Daniel Sprick: Painting Out-of-Doors,” will show at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Dec. 27 on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. (60 minutes.)


“Sangre Colorado” will be a mid-career exhibit of Denver artist and Metropolitan State University professor Carlos Fresquez. It will run Jan. 12 to March 24, 2018 at the Center for Visual Arts, 965 Santa Fe Dr., Denver. Reception: 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 12.

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Changing the way we look at the ‘now’ moments of life

Jimmy Buffett sings about a tattoo being a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling. Maybe for some that’s true, and for others, their tattoo carries a reminder of something powerful and meaningful to them. It will be with them forever.

Whenever my family would take a vacation to the Jersey Shore, I would take them all out on a boat and we would go crabbing. I would take them to the same places that I fished and crabbed with my grandfather. It is a memory built for them and one that they still talk about, and one that, surely, I will remember forever as well.

I love when I hear or read stories about someone’s relative or friend who built that bridge, that school, that building, or that house. Or someone who worked on the railroad or pipeline decades ago, a railroad or pipeline that still exists and serves us to this day.

Have you stopped recently and thought about what you are building or have built? Maybe sometimes we feel like we are only in the here and now and that whatever our job is, it is only for today and not for tomorrow. If we are only there for the paycheck, we are missing a huge opportunity, regardless of the position we have. Who knows where that company will go, who will lead it, or maybe who will acquire it one day. But if you played any part of the company’s success, you built something that will last for a very long time.

Perhaps we have lost sight of the fact that even within our families and in our family time, we have the opportunity to build memories that will last forever. We are raising children who will one day grow up and change the world in some way. And they will raise children who will someday have an impact on this world too. Could be a small or little impact, or who knows, they could be the next Bill Gates.

This idea of instant gratification and getting caught up in what we can have right now has eroded our ability to think of the overall contribution we can make at home, at work, and in our community. The “now” is here, in this moment, as you read this column. And everything we do right now builds something for someone in the future.

Maybe it’s your child who crosses the bridge you painted. Maybe your friend’s cousin lives in that house you helped build. Maybe your great-grandchild gets a job at the company you worked for. Maybe hundreds or thousands sleep in a shelter you helped fund. Maybe someone you know or love, or someone generations from now is cured through a therapy you helped to create.

The worst permanent reminder of a temporary feeling isn’t a tattoo, regardless of how silly that one tattoo was. No, the worst permanent reminder of a temporary feeling is when we look back and say I wish I would have done this or I wish I would have participated in that. It doesn’t matter what age we are, we can all contribute to something that will be permanent. Something that will make a difference in this world, big or small.

If you want someone to have a permanent and positive memory of you, love them, love on them, forgive them. If you have wronged them in any way, reach out and make up for it if you can. It’s never too late to create new things, build new and permanent places in someone’s heart. It’s never too late to start appreciating our jobs, our roles, and all that we have a chance to contribute to in this life. All we have to do is replace the temporary feelings with a permanent belief system. We can do all of this while enjoying the “now” for exactly what it is, the “now.”

And yet looking past the “now,” and into the future, here we are at the end of one year and looking into the next. As we prepare for this next year, as we get ready to launch into next year, let’s think about doing so with a sense of permanence and longevity, because together, we are building the future.

So how about you? Are you caught up and stuck in the “Now” kind of thinking? Or do you know that you have a much bigger role in this world? I would love to hear your story at and when we can focus on the “Now” moments of our lives and how they contribute to the bigger picture and the future for all of us, 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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Looking for good things is a matter of life and life

A reader reminded me that it’s time for my annual “What Makes Life Worth Living” top 10 list.

She also reminded me that I listed our neighborhood rabbits years ago. I had forgotten. I forget more and more these days. However, I forget some things I wish I didn’t, and can’t forget some things I wish I could.

These lists are impulsive. I could write a different one each day for a month. Good music and good films would be on every list. Other things would appear and disappear, depending upon the moment and the whim.

I would include McDonalds’ French fries, but then I would hear my doctor say “poison,” and remove them.

He says the same thing about Diet Coke. I have tried to wean. But asking for “sparkling water” just doesn’t sound right, coming out of an old piece of crust like me.

Coffee? Absolutely.

God and gods don’t make my lists. This isn’t the place.

Jennifer? She’s at the top now. If you’re a faithful reader, you know why.

I realize this could be an opportunity to show off, and list something that might make me look good, or worldly.

Arromanches-les-Bains, France. Great towels and sumptuous views.

I haven’t left the country.

I have been to the Degas room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it needs to be on the list. If not this year, next year.

Likewise, the wall-length (502 inches) Monet at the Museum of Modern Art.

Let’s get started.


The English language. Not drabble, spew and slang: clarity, concision and cleverness.

“Stardust” by Louie Armstrong, recorded on November 4, 1931. The trumpet intro, the syncopation, and Armstrong’s vocal cadence are brilliant. Someone said “he sounds like he is gargling peanut butter.”

Peanut butter could be, should be, on the list. There’s not enough room this time around.

The best part of waking up is waking up. The second best part of waking up is a bowl of hot, black coffee.

Memories, good ones, old ones, new ones. Strange ones.

Walking into my eighth-floor art studio at UCLA and seeing Tony Curtis, sitting on a stool in the middle of the room. He was taking life drawing classes with my mentor. Thought I knew where he was. I didn’t.

“City Lights.” I have yet to watch the ending without tears in my eyes.

Documentaries. I can’t get enough of them. And I watch, and watch again, every episode of “Modern Marvels.” How something is made, like a toothbrush, captivates me.

Blue. Blue skies, blue eyes, blueberry pies. Let’s go Blue, “Am I Blue?,” “Kind of Blue,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

That’s nine.

Who am I leaving out? “Whom,” that’s who.

I left out my house, my home. I can’t do that. This is the best place on earth.

I haven’t traveled far, but I know the difference between my home and anyplace else.

Being home, staying home, coming home.

The only sounds I hear now are my own sighs of contentment. (I lived in an apartment, the walls were so thin I could hear my neighbor’s stomach conjugate his lunch.)

I know my house was built fast (I watched, 1993), and it looks like all of the others. But inside, it’s one of a kind.

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

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Blessings emerge amid veteran’s toughest fight

Christian Redman, 50, sits on the edge of the couch, hands slightly trembling — a side effect of the chemo — as he clasps and unclasps them, a melancholy shadow in his eyes.

For as long as he can remember, Redman — the former Army cavalry scout, the retired police officer, the can-do construction entrepreneur who finds a solution to every problem — has been the one giving to others.

Raising money to help bury a fellow officer’s daughter. Shopping for toys for needy children at Christmas. Helping organize fundraisers too numerous to count to help a firefighter’s family, a World War II vet running out of money, wounded soldiers.

“It seems like someone was always needing help,” Redman says. “You can’t say no.”

But the past year and a half have hit Redman hard: A sudden diagnosis of stage four colon cancer and the subsequent needed medical care have upended his burgeoning construction business, wiped out his savings and left him unable to work and pay his bills.

And now, he finds himself on the receiving end of the good will he so generously gave to others.

For him, it’s not an easy place to be.

“It’s hard to accept help,” Redman says, his voice low and quiet. “I’m used to doing everything on my own. I never thought I would need one for me. It’s humbling, very humbling.”

‘We all go through hard times’

The “one” is a fundraiser, held Dec. 9 at Takoda Tavern in Parker. Redman’s friends, Ron Meier and Bob Nobles, no strangers to doing for others, organized the benefit when they learned of Redman’s predicament.

Meier is president of the homeowners’ association of the Parker condominiums where Redman lives. Nobles owns Takoda Tavern, a well-known hangout for veterans tucked in a nondescript, small shopping strip.

The decision to “Call out the Cavalry for Christian,” as the sign on the placard advertising the fundraiser reads, was easy.

“He’s got a heart of gold,” Meier, 58, says of Redman. “We all go through hard times, right? Any one of us could end up with unfortunate circumstances.”

Meier, Nobles and Redman, along with Aaron Davis and Mac McCrory, organized a benefit two years ago for Jack Frank, a WWII veteran who was running out of money.

Extending a helping hand, building community, they said then, is what matters in this world.

Today, thanks to the money raised and a careful financial planning strategy, Frank and his wife no longer worry about having enough to live on until they die.

“We live in a time where there’s a lot of negativity going on,” Nobles, 57, says. “But there’s always something positive in helping people out.”

Nobles’ passions are evident in the American flags and Native American art that cover just about every inch of the tavern walls. He was deeply influenced, he says, by a Native American friend who treated everyone with dignity and kindness. He named his bar and restaurant Takoda, which means “friend to others” among the Lakota Sioux. And although he didn’t serve in the military, he considers all those who did — or do — his family.

Like Redman.

“He’s a good man,” Nobles says. “He served his country and he’s getting dealt a really tough, tough hand. . . . We can all do a little more to help out our kids — they’re all our children.”

During the fundraiser, Meier stands by the donation table near the entrance, thanking people, writing down names and amounts in a dog-eared booklet, meticulously documenting the generosity.

Jack Frank, 92, the WWII vet walks in, cane in hand, and pulls out $75 from his wallet.

“Appreciate that, Jack,” Meier says.

“I wish I could do more.” Frank recounts how he fell recently and injured his ribs. But, he says, “I had to make sure I could be here.”

‘The motto: never quit’

Redman remembers the exact moment his life veered.

5:33 p.m. June 10, 2016. The phone rang. He didn’t really want to answer it. He knew hernias, his first suspicion, weren’t causing his troubles.

The unanswerable questions flooded his mind. Would he die? Would he wither away to nothing as he’d seen happen to others fighting cancer? He didn’t want to be that person.

A month later, he was in the hospital, undergoing emergency surgery that saved his life. Doctors removed his colon. When he woke, he had an ileostomy bag outside his stomach area to collect the waste products from his body.

He was devastated.

Redman has always been a burly man, 230 pounds, jovial, outgoing, committed to being the best at whatever he did. A cavalry scout for the Army, he was stationed in Germany near the border with the Soviet Union when the Chernobyl nuclear explosion occurred. He later taught armor operations warfare and was called up in the reserves during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He spent 23 years as a police officer in Kentucky before moving back to Parker, where he grew up, to help care for his aging parents. Here, he began working in construction.

After years of being in charge, he didn’t want to get out of bed.

Then his 16-year-old daughter, Alexis, who lives in Kentucky with his ex-wife, called. “You can’t leave me yet, Daddy,” she told him.

Nine days later, he walked out of the hospital.

The fight has been unrelenting. Chemotherapy, every Tuesday, leaves him breathless, nauseous, trembling, prone to infections and insomnia. Complications have sent him to emergency rooms more than 20 times. He lost 90 pounds. The stress has revived panic attacks related to PTSD from his Army days.

He is quieter. His shoulders hunch slightly when he stands. There is a heaviness, a worry, in his gaze. The battle is depleting. And it forces what matters most into focus.

“You learn to forgive a lot when you’re sick,” Redman says. “I learned never to say never — it’s a humbling disease. As they say, pride goeth before the fall. I used to be laser-focused on being the best. Now, I just want to see my little girl graduate college, walk down the aisle.”

His father, Dave Redman, 77, a retired Navy command master chief, is his constant companion. He has accompanied him on every doctor and hospital visit. And when Christian’s spirits dip too low, he helps lift them back up.

“It’s a fight,” Dave Redman says. But “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel — it’s there.”

The disease can’t be cured, Redman says, but the hope is that he can live in remission someday.

So, he prays. And he draws on his military training: “I will win. I will survive. You can’t give up. I’ve never given up, never quit. That’s the motto: Never quit.”

‘Pay it forward’

At Takoda Tavern, a silent auction table hugs the front wall. A few bottles of aged, expensive whiskey. Several beer bar signs. A Benchmark knife. And more.

Jason Adamson, 37, a Takoda regular from Highlands Ranch, is sitting at the bar. He has bid $500 each for two of the whiskey bottles. He doesn’t know Redman.

“Why not?” he says about his donation. “It’s for a good cause. Bob tells me it’s a good thing. That’s all that matters to me. I feel there’s too many stories out there nowadays that are more sad than happy. That’s what people tend to focus on. Sometimes, the good stories go unmentioned.”

This, the rallying of a community for one of its own, he says, is a good story.

Sam Treat, 54, walks up to Meier at the table, $40 in his hand.

“How does this work?” he asks. An Air Force veteran, he has come from Aurora with his daughter. He, too, doesn’t know Redman.

“It’s a good cause,” Treat says. “You’ve got to take care of people, always pay it forward. I just hope he gets better.”

Air Force veteran Bob Barns, 84, walks through the door. He hands Meier an envelope that says “from Bill and Jane.” He can’t stay — his grandchildren are visiting — but he had to stop by to support a fellow serviceman.

“I’ve had some medical problems myself, and I just wanted to help a little bit,” says Barns, who also has never met Redman. “I have been very lucky . . . but I may be here someday.”

A belief in humanity

Perhaps the most difficult part of this unwanted journey has been losing the ability to support and take care of himself, Redman says.

His monthly insurance premium is about $950. He spends about another $500 a month in co-pays. Then there’s the medicine, the monthly rent, food, other basic living expenses. His $40,000 in savings quickly disappeared once he had to stop working. His business crumbled.

He is in the process of pursuing veterans’ benefits. But for now, his only income is about $2,000 a month in disability pay, which is enough to cover either medical or living expenses, but not both.

When Meier became aware, through other sources, that Redman was falling behind in his rent, he approached his friend about holding a fundraiser. Aaron Davis, the condominium complex’s property maintenance manager, also set up a GoFundMe account. The goal altogether: $15,000 to cover Redman’s rent for a year.

As of Dec. 18, a little more than $15,000 had been raised — $10,000 from the Takoda benefit.

The amount humbles Redman. He is amazed at how many people showed up to support him and, of those, how many he didn’t know.

“I am,” he says simply, “very blessed.”

But maybe this blessing is for everyone.

For Meier. And Nobles. And Davis. And Frank and Barns and Adamson and Treat and all the people who looked into their hearts to try to make life a little better for someone who was hurting.

And all of us who share in this story that shines a light on the goodness of humanity, reminding us what matters most: Love for our fellow man, woman and child, especially in the toughest of times.

Ann Macari Healey writes about people, places and issues of everyday life. An award-winning columnist, she can be reached at ahealey@coloradocommunitymedia or 303-566-4100.

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Gold Award Girl Scout: Melissa Wilson

This is the first in a four-part series interviewing this year’s Girl Scout Gold Award recipients from Castle Rock.

Four Castle Rock Girl Scouts recently received their Gold Award, the highest honor in the organization. The Girl Scout Gold Award is a seven-step project in which girls strive to solve a community problem.

Girl Scouts of Colorado Highest Awards Manager Aimee Bianca said the process has a lasting effect on the Girl Scouts.

“They learn so many things, but they really learn how to manage a project efficiently and communicate with adults,” Bianca said. “For the girls, it means that they have the power to create change in their community in a meaningful way and that they have the power to pull together a team of people who support the things they are about.”

One of this year’s Gold Award recipients, Melissa Wilson, is a Castle View High School graduate and student at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, where she is majoring in English with minors in business administration and writing. She answered questions about her Gold Award project and about its impact on her and her community.

Why did you join the Girl Scouts?

I initially participated in Girl Scouts as a young girl because it looked like fun. I decided to stick with Girl Scouts because of the sisterhood.

What was your Girl Scout Gold Award project and what were its goals?

My Gold Award project was raising awareness for the deaf community in Castle Rock, and the world. I created a website, held community presentations, created a Facebook page, brochures and YouTube videos in the hopes to educate the hearing population on how to interact with the deaf community and teach basic American Sign Language (ASL).

Looking back, what do you think you were able to accomplish through this project?

I was able to come out of my shell a little, seeing as I needed to talk to people in the community that I had not yet previously spoken to.

How do you think this project has impacted your local community of Castle Rock and the nearby areas? Were you able to learn more about your own community by doing it?

Castle Rock actually has a decent size deaf population. Several teachers as Castle View are deaf, some of whom are also married to deaf people. While I cannot see my impact on the deaf population directly, I can see that I educated hearing people in Castle Rock who are able to use that knowledge when they come across a deaf person in the community. I learned that the community around me is so supportive of young adults and wanted to help me in every way possible.

How did this project influence you and what did you personally learn from it?

This project influenced me by opening my eyes to new issues that need to be dealt with. I feel like I am a more active citizen because of it. Personally, I feel as though I learned business skills and public speaking skills that I will be able to use going forward in my education career.

For more information on the Gold Award and this year’s recipients, visit the Girls Scouts of Colorado blog at

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Jewish center hosts menorah lighting in park

Blue lights illuminated a crowd gathered on stage at the Philip S. Miller Park Amphitheater in Castle Rock the evening of Dec. 13 as they sang in celebration of Hanukkah. While their voices rang out, a young volunteer assisted Rabbi Avraham Mintz in lighting a menorah.

Mintz, of the Chabad Jewish Center of South Metro Denver, led the event recognizing the Jewish holiday, which runs from Dec. 12-20. It was the first time the center organized a public menorah lighting in Castle Rock. Mintz hoped the event would inspire the community as a whole, including Jewish and non-Jewish people, he said.

“Hanukkah is a universal message for people of all backgrounds,” he said following the menorah lighting. “Goodness, kindness, light always outshines darkness.”

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday honoring the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following religious persecution of Jews in ancient Israel.

Those gathered for the Dec. 13 event cheered once the menorah was lit and then stayed to enjoy traditional foods like latkes, which are potato pancakes, and doughnuts. Mintz handed out Hanukkah-themed fidget spinners and greeted people with “Happy Hanukkah” throughout the night.

For Natalia Henley, the event was a special opportunity to teach her children about their heritage. Although she now lives in Founders Village, Henley was born and raised in Israel. She attended with her three children and said it was meaningful to have a menorah lighting in her new hometown.

“It’s nice that I can keep it close to my heart,” Henley said, “and my customs and my traditions and expose my children to it just like I was exposed to it growing up.”

Mintz said the turnout, which he estimated to be about 50 people, was a good start. He hopes to bring it back to Castle Rock next year and see more people join the celebration then.

When asked if she’ll attend, Henley excitedly replied, “Of course.”

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