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Clean Dishes Are Cool to Touch After Removing: For dishes to be clean and germ-free, you need hot, soapy water for washing. The FDA recommends using water around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which is uncomfortable for handwashing but perfect for dishwashing machines. If you find that your dishes are cold and clammy instead of hot and steamy when you remove them, your dishwasher might need a new heating coil.
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Latest News in Arvada, CO
Jeffco recommends closing 16 elementary schools
Jeffco has selected 16 elementary schools to recommend closing at the end of this school year.All the schools have fewer students than they did a few years ago, and all but one had fewer than 220 students as of Aug. 15. All but one of the schools have a higher percentage than the district average of students from low-income families.The district announced its recommendations Thursday and the school board will vote on the recommendations as a package on Nov. 10.In the meantime, the district will host community listening s...
Jeffco has selected 16 elementary schools to recommend closing at the end of this school year.
All the schools have fewer students than they did a few years ago, and all but one had fewer than 220 students as of Aug. 15. All but one of the schools have a higher percentage than the district average of students from low-income families.
The district announced its recommendations Thursday and the school board will vote on the recommendations as a package on Nov. 10.
In the meantime, the district will host community listening sessions, but has made clear that the goal isn’t to hear which communities can best persuade the board to save their schools, but rather to talk about what families want to see in their new schools.
“I really am hopeful that our community will shift from wanting to fight the decision to wanting to be partners with us,” Jeffco Superintendent Tracy Dorland said.
In total, the district said the closures will displace almost 2,600 students and affect the equivalent of about 422 full-time jobs. The student numbers include the children of 27 families displaced when Allendale and Fitzmorris elementary schools closed in the past two years and who again will have to relocate. The district is assigning staff to work directly with those families.
Each of the schools identified Wednesday has fewer than 220 students, excluding preschool students, or uses less than 45% of their building’s capacity. And each of them is located less than 3.5 miles from another school with the capacity to absorb their students and still feed to the same middle and high schools.
So, along with every school proposed for closure, the district has named a nearby school that will absorb the boundary area and students of the closing school. In some cases, a third school will receive displaced students from programs for children with specific disabilities. All together, the closures will directly affect 38 schools, nearly half of the district’s 84 district-run elementary schools.
As far as staff, the district will help place teachers who are non-probationary, and will offer help to all others. For certified staff, the district is also offering to pay for them to get endorsements in hard-to-staff areas to make them more competitive for positions the following school year.
As before, parents may apply to enroll their children in schools other than the one assigned them.
District leaders want disappointed families to think of the transition as an opportunity for school communities to reshape the receiving schools to welcome new students and serve them and their families.
If the school board approves the closures, the district will form committees at each school to hear ideas from families and staff.
In the case of Emory Elementary, the principal already has pushed for its dual language program to move to Lasley, which is absorbing Emory students, though the type of dual language model could change.
Even if approved, the school closures will leave the district with 16 schools with fewer than 250 students or less than 60% of a building in use in 2023-24. That’s one-third the current number of schools that fit that criteria.
The district expects savings of up to $12 million may help reduce its budget deficit. This year, the district is drawing $28 million from its reserves to cover expenses.
The district has used $16.3 million from its 2018 bond to upgrade schools now identified for closure, but more recently put on hold $12.2 million in projects planned for small schools.
District says small schools are affecting learning opportunities
Still, district leaders have emphasized that closures aren’t just about the money, but about the quality of learning.
“We knew we were spending more money to support our small schools, but the amount of money is not leading to more robust programming,” Dorland said.
Lisa Mahannah, principal of Emory Elementary School, said that the recommendation to close her school didn’t surprise her, but was still hard to hear. The district has named principals who will lead the receiving schools. In Emory’s case, Mahannah’s assistant principal will move with the students, but not Mahannah.
Still, she said she’s had time to say her piece and knows that the district isn’t making these decisions lightly, so she’s focused on helping her families understand. She’s also a parent of a high school student in the district.
“This is impactful for everyone,” Mahannah said.
At Emory, with declining enrollment, she can’t provide everything her students need.
The school has students in dual language programming and students in English programming. But Mahannah said the school has been unable to pay for bilingual mental health or special education staff.
“The budget really drives how much support you are going to have for students,” Mahannah said.
And as dual language enrollment has decreased, classes split between two teachers per grade level have become smaller, while non-bilingual classes may have up to 30 students.
Emory has about 385 students on a former middle school campus with capacity to hold nearly 900 students.
Now, she plans to work the school year with Lauren LeMarinel, principal of Lasley Elementary, to plan how the merged campuses can serve students.
Lasley, about a mile from Emory, has about 291 students and uses about half of its school building.
As Lasley enrollment has declined, LeMarinel said, it has had fewer resources for students. Lasley shares art, music, and physical education teachers with three other schools. And this year, Lasley lost its after-school care program run by the Boys & Girls Club, which needed more students to support its work. The group decided to operate at just one school, Emory, in the region.
LeMarinel and Mahannah plan to ask if Lasley may bus students to Emory to participate in the after-school programming, as the two schools work on merging their support for students. They plan to find ways to share other partnerships too.
“We will do our best to make sure our community understands and we grow together as one,” LeMarinel said.
Enrollment was top of mind as Dorland took the job
A year and a half ago, Dorland had scant time to ease into her job. The board approved her contract in the same meeting right after discussing an emergency measure to close Allendale with little notice, because its dwindling student body made the school unsustainable.
Dorland immediately began examining enrollment and other problems behind abrupt closures.
“I was extremely concerned and shocked,” Dorland said. “I knew we had some issues. I had no idea the magnitude of the issue.”
Since 2017-18, the district’s total enrollment dropped more than 8% to about 78,473 last school year. At just district-run schools, the decline has been faster, about 11%. From 2019 to now, the district estimates it lost about 5,000 students.
While families sending their children to charter schools or other districts may play a small role, the major driver of falling enrollment is the decline in the number of school-age children in the county and the declining birth rate.
“We are very concerned that if we do not take action at this scope, we run the risk of having emergency closures in the next couple of years,” Dorland said. “It also leaves small school communities in a place of fear and anxiety wondering if they’re going to be next. We need to not be in a place of fear and anxiety.”
Dorland wants the district to address the enrollment challenges so that schools can focus on accelerating student learning and have more resources to do that.
Next steps include a look at secondary schools
After the vote in November, the district will begin examining enrollment and capacity at secondary schools, and possibly identify some for closure in the coming years. The district also is working on reevaluating the formula it uses to fund schools. Leaders want to hire experts to examine attendance boundaries and feeder patterns for elementary schools to middle and high schools.
Staff, like families throughout Jeffco, have experienced school closures in the past.
In Arvada, Principal Lara Wiant offered ideas on integrating campuses. Her school, Campbell, recently received students from Allendale and Fitzmorris when those schools closed.
She created a student ambassador program pairing each new student with a Campbell classmate who would offer a tour of the school, tips about who to go to for help, and who could sit with them during lunch.
Tara Peña, the district’s chief of family, school, and community partnerships, was an assistant principal of a school in Arvada that closed in 2010. She learned about her school’s closure at the same board meeting when her students and families heard the news.
She keeps that bad experience in mind as she helps the district shape its engagement and communication to families and staff that are affected. This year, principals were informed a few days ahead of everyone else, and instructional superintendents are helping them be prepared to support students and staff when they learn the news.
Mahannah said as a principal, she primarily wants parents to know that despite everything, her teachers are already working hard with students two weeks into the school year, and that won’t change. Just as most teachers worked through the difficulties of the pandemic, they will now too, she said.
“We’re going to go through a grieving process, but we’re going to show up every day,” Mahannah said. “Our teachers are amazing. They’re going to show up.”
Yesenia Robles is a reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado covering K-12 school districts and multilingual education. Contact Yesenia at email@example.com.
Colorado shuts down “illegal” mining operation upstream from Jeffco communities
Colorado officials have shut down what they call an illegal mining and milling operation south of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge and above Jefferson County communities, saying uncontained chemicals like cyanide for gold processing are a hazard to the public and environment.Rocky Flats Environmental Solutions, which says it is not a mining operation but a testing and cleanup site for other mine operators, is shut down under a state cease-and-desist order until the mining reclamation board takes up the case later this month, Depar...
Colorado officials have shut down what they call an illegal mining and milling operation south of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge and above Jefferson County communities, saying uncontained chemicals like cyanide for gold processing are a hazard to the public and environment.
Rocky Flats Environmental Solutions, which says it is not a mining operation but a testing and cleanup site for other mine operators, is shut down under a state cease-and-desist order until the mining reclamation board takes up the case later this month, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Arend said.
The Mined Land Reclamation Board and its inspectors are working with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment water quality experts and other agencies to protect local community watersheds, Arend said.
In a 22-page inspection noting multiple alleged violations, state inspectors list tanks with thousands of gallons of cyanide solution sitting above a concrete berm that could not enclose potential spills. The owners of the facility use a proprietary chemical method for leaching precious metals from ore and used electronics. One owner told The Sun his methods “turn this waste into something that is useful.”
Regulators blasted the facility for a lack of emergency plans to prevent or halt a leak of dangerous chemicals. The facility is near homes and businesses off Coal Creek Canyon Road.
“A loss of solution from the tanks has the potential to flow off-site,” the inspectors said. “The facility is located immediately to the north and upgradient of Barbara Gulch, an ephemeral drainage that flows eastwards into Leyden Lake. Leyden Lake is a City of Arvada stormwater detention facility that is located between Colorado 72 and West 82nd Avenue. Leyden Lake flows into Leyden Creek, which is a tributary of Ralston Creek.”
Arvada officials said the operations do not present any threat to their drinking water sources.
Owners of the operation are adamant that they do not need state mining operations permits for their work.
“These guys came in hostile, they threatened us, and I’ve never had an agency act that way,” David Emslie, one of the listed owners of Rocky Flats Environmental Solutions, said in an interview. Emslie said the EPA and other agencies “love” the company for offering new methods of mining cleanup, and that state mining inspectors appear to have “a vendetta” against their operation.
Mining waste can be processed and “everything put to good and beneficial use,” Emslie said.
“Much of these metals have to come from somewhere and if we can de-Superfund Superfund sites and remove an environmental problem while at the same time creating jobs and creating local materials that don’t have to be shipped halfway across the world that can be used locally for the creation of everything from computers to solar panels to electric cars, it is a good idea to turn this waste into something that is useful,” Emslie said.
In November 2010, Emslie was featured in an I-News Network article published in the Boulder Daily Camera that showed him using a potent acid solution to re-refine gold in the garage of a rented home in Fort Collins. The method he used is called “aqua regia” and regulators were surprised to hear he was deploying the toxic process in Colorado. The process is more common in e-waste dumps in China and Nigeria.
A few days after the story was published, the Poudre Fire Authority ordered Emslie to stop metal refining in the home on College Avenue. In March 2011, the city published a notice in the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper that Emslie’s metal refining was operating without an industrial discharge permit and was not compliant with city code. The published legal notice of “industrial pretreatment noncompliance” noted that a January 2010 review by the city found that wastewater discharged from Emslie’s facility “did not cause … harm to the sanitary sewer, wastewater treatment plant or environment.”
In 2019, Emslie ran afoul of state regulators with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, who argued he should do a better job of disposing of gloves and filters used at his metal refining facility on Summit View Drive in Fort Collins.
The CDPHE’s November 2020 list of approved handlers of hazardous materials lists Emslie’s Prospector’s Gold & Gems as a “very small generator” of hazardous waste at that same facility in Fort Collins. Prospector’s Gold & Gems has posted dozens of online videos of him processing and milling ore and using his proprietary method to leach gold from used electronic parts.
The inspectors with the Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety noted 20 tons of ore on the Rocky Flats site from the Cross and Caribou Mine above Nederland, which itself was hit with a cease-and-desist order in November 2021 by the Department of Public Health and Environment after leaking heavy metals into creeks nearby. Water quality officials with the department ordered the mine owners to build a new containment and cleanup system, and threatened to impose fines of up to $54,833 per day for each of multiple violations for the toxic metals and for failing to report test results.
The mining reclamation board eventually imposed a $17,000 fine on owners of the Cross and Caribou mines for water quality violations, but suspended all but $5,000 of the penalty as long as Grand Island Resources continues “good faith” efforts to install containment and cleanup equipment.
The owners of the Nederland mine, Grand Island Resources, said they had sent small amounts of materials to the Jefferson County facility for testing. State inspectors wrote that representatives from the mine said they had shipped 20 tons of ore to the facility in August and September last year. Grand Island Resources President Daniel Takami said his mine sent “low grade ore described as ‘stockpiled ore’ on page two of the inspection report” to the mill site in August last year for “extractive metallurgical testing, a type of laboratory analysis that is exempted from MLRB regulations.”
“The testing we asked Highway 72 mill site to perform for us has not been paid for or completed, while we await final approval from CDPHE,” Takami said, in an email.
CORRECTION: This article and headline were updated on Aug. 3, 2022, to reflect that Standley Lake is not in or owned by Arvada, and to update with Arvada’s assertion there is no threat to drinking water.
Jeffco votes to close another small school while looking ahead to long-term plans
Jeffco’s school district will close another Arvada elementary school at the end of this school year after learning the school likely would have less than 100 students next fall.Fitzmorris Elementary currently has about 114 students. After choice enrollment in the district closed, district leaders estimated the school would have just 88 students next school year.The school board voted 4 to 1 Thursday to approve ...
Jeffco’s school district will close another Arvada elementary school at the end of this school year after learning the school likely would have less than 100 students next fall.
Fitzmorris Elementary currently has about 114 students. After choice enrollment in the district closed, district leaders estimated the school would have just 88 students next school year.
The school board voted 4 to 1 Thursday to approve the superintendent’s recommendation to close the school.
Jeffco also closed Allendale Elementary last year. That school’s boundaries were adjacent to the Fitzmorris boundary areas. The district was criticized for closing Allendale without first engaging the community or asking the school board to vote on the decision. The district was also criticized for its timeline, which possibly violates district policy, giving parents only months to plan before the closure.
Tracy Dorland, who started as superintendent shortly after that decision, told the school board Thursday she tried to make this process different, but the short time frame couldn’t be avoided.
“We are smarter today than we were yesterday and we’re going to be smarter tomorrow than we are today,” Dorland said. “I have done what I can on the timeline that I’ve had to take lessons learned about what didn’t work … and try to make it better and more honorable of the Fitzmorris community.”
Jeffco, currently the second largest school district in the state, has had declining enrollment for years. Among the causes: An aging population, declining birth rates, and rising housing costs that have driven some families away. But even though school closure discussions have been ongoing, the district has yet to create a comprehensive plan to address how to support or choose closure for the increasing number of small schools.
District leaders are concerned that the quality of education at small schools has been declining as schools receive less funding for fewer students. At Fitzmorris, it had reached a point, Dorland said, that the opportunities for students were no longer going to be adequate.
Per pupil expenses at Fitzmorris are nearly 30% higher than at an average Jeffco elementary school, and with the loss of an additional 23% of its enrollment, the district expects the cost would have increased even further.
However, the money isn’t the real problem, Dorland said, but rather the quality of the education.
“We want to provide students a high-quality program and for the amount of investment that we’re making, the program is struggling and that’s the bottom line,” Dorland said. “We want to offer students a robust learning experience and we’re really struggling to do that at Fitzmorris.”
For example, the school cannot afford to have one teacher per grade level, Dorland said. The school has just five second graders this year so teachers work with students who are in multiple grade levels and take on extra roles. The school has tried to find community organizations that could help offer enrichment or afterschool activities the school can’t afford, but attracting an interested partner has been difficult with so few students, she said.
Fitzmorris families have been speaking to the school board for months seeking help for their school, and asking to be a part of the conversations around its fate. In February, the board held a special study session when Fitzmorris school leaders and parents were invited to present about their challenges, and what they still thought was going well.
By Thursday, when the board was scheduled to vote on the recommendations, just two parents spoke to the board. Both were resigned to the idea that the school would close, but thanked the district for the communication, and asked for a quick decision and for help keeping together the program for students with autism.
“We’re just too small anymore to give our kids an enriching environment,” said Michelle Miley, a parent of a third grader in the school’s autism program. “Although I love Fitzmorris and will miss the connections that my son has made…we need a determination as quick as possible to allow us time to adjust and prepare our kids.”
In her recommendation, Dorland said just 48 of the 224 elementary students who live in the school’s boundary attend Fitzmorris. The school has attracted students from other areas, but still loses more students than it gains.
Most students next year will go to Lawrence Elementary nearby, while the autism center program will move to Stott Elementary.
Some board members said hearing from the principals at the schools receiving the Fitzmorris students helped them to accept the recommendation.
Board members and Dorland also said Thursday that they hope the district will be able to have a finalized plan before another school needs to be closed due to low enrollment. The district has started conversations about a plan it’s calling Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools, and has begun discussions about how to define “thriving schools.” The plan would consider regional solutions instead of waiting for individual schools to have such low enrollment they must close independent of other factors.
“The ability for us to collaborate and share resources across these areas — it’s going to be awesome at some point,” said board member Danielle Varda. “I am sorry we haven’t been able to do that with Fitzmorris as part of that broader project.”
Yesenia Robles is a reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado covering K-12 school districts and multilingual education. Contact Yesenia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wildfires burn hundreds of homes in Colorado, thousands flee
An Arvada firefighter walks back to the firetruck as a fast moving wildfire swept through Louisville, Colorado. | Marc Piscotty/Getty ImagesBy Associated Press12/31/2021 10:30 AM ESTDENVER — Tens of thousands of Coloradans driven from their neighborhoods by wind-whipped wildfires anxiously waited to learn what was left standing of their lives Friday after the flames burned an estimated 580 homes, a hotel and a shopping center.At least one first responder and six other people were injured in the blazes that e...
An Arvada firefighter walks back to the firetruck as a fast moving wildfire swept through Louisville, Colorado. | Marc Piscotty/Getty Images
By Associated Press
12/31/2021 10:30 AM EST
DENVER — Tens of thousands of Coloradans driven from their neighborhoods by wind-whipped wildfires anxiously waited to learn what was left standing of their lives Friday after the flames burned an estimated 580 homes, a hotel and a shopping center.
At least one first responder and six other people were injured in the blazes that erupted outside Denver on Thursday morning, unusually late in the year, following an extremely dry fall and amid a winter nearly devoid of snow so far.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said there could be more injuries — and also deaths — because of the intensity of the fast-moving fires, propelled by winds that gusted up to 105 mph (169 kph).
“This is the kind of fire we can’t fight head-on,” Pelle said. “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun.”
Mike Guanella and his family were relaxing at their home in the city of Superior and looking forward to celebrating a belated Christmas later in the day when reports of a nearby grass fire quickly gave way to an order to leave immediately.
Instead of opening presents, Guanella and his wife, their three children and three dogs were staying a friend’s house in Denver, hoping their house was still standing.
“Those presents are still under the tree right now — we hope,” he said.
As night fell, officials watched the behavior of the wind and flames to determine when crews could safely go in to assess the damage and search for any victims.
About an inch of snow was forecast for the region Friday, raising hopes it could help suppress the flames.
The neighboring cities of Louisville and Superior, situated about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Denver and home to a combined 34,000 people, were ordered evacuated ahead of the flames, which cast a smoky, orange haze over the landscape and lit up the night sky.
The two towns are filled with middle- and upper-middle-class subdivisions with shopping centers, parks and schools. The area is between Denver and Boulder, home to the University of Colorado.
Residents evacuated fairly calmly and in orderly fashion, but the winding streets quickly became clogged. It sometimes took cars as long as 45 minutes to advance a half-mile.
Small fires cropped up here and there in surprising places — on the grass in a median or in a dumpster in the middle of a parking lot — as gusts caused the flames to jump. Shifting winds caused the skies to turn from clear to smoky and then back again as sirens wailed.
Leah Angstman and her husband were returning to their Louisville home from Denver International Airport after being away for the holidays. They recounted leaving clear blue skies and instantly entering clouds of brown and yellow smoke.
“The wind rocked the bus so hard that I thought the bus would tip,” she said.
The visibility was so poor the bus had to pull over. They waited a half-hour until a transit authority van escorted the bus to a turnaround on the highway.
“The sky was dark, dark brown, and the dirt was blowing in swirls across the sidewalk like snakes,” she said.
Vignesh Kasinath, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado, evacuated from a neighborhood in Superior with his wife and her parents.
“It’s only because I am active on Twitter I came to know about this,” said Kasinath, who said he did not receive an evacuation notice from authorities.
The first fire erupted just before 10:30 a.m. and was “attacked pretty quickly and laid down later in the day” with no structures lost, the sheriff said. A second blaze, reported just after 11 a.m., ballooned and spread rapidly, Pelle said. It covered at least 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers).
Some of the several blazes in the area were sparked by downed power lines, authorities said.
Scientists say climate change is making weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
Colorado’s Front Range, where most of the state’s population lives, had an extremely dry and mild fall, and winter has been mostly dry so far. Denver set a record for consecutive days without snow before it got a small storm on Dec. 10, its last snowfall before the wildfires broke out.
Ninety percent of Boulder County is in severe or extreme drought, and it hasn’t seen substantial rainfall since mid-summer.
“With any snow on the ground, this absolutely would not have happened in the way that it did,” said snow hydrologist Keith Musselman.
Guanella said he heard from a firefighter friend that his home was still standing Thursday night. But he could only wait and see.
“You’re just waiting to hear if your favorite restaurant is still standing, if the schools that your kids go to are still standing,” he said. “You’re just waiting to get some clarity.”
Moog opens spacecraft-integration facility
COLORADO SPRINGS — Moog Inc. is quadrupling the size of its Colorado space vehicle production capacity as the New York-based company long known as a spacecraft component supplier expands its role as a space vehicle integrator.“It’s a proud moment for our company,” Maureen Athoe, Moog Space and Defense Group president, told SpaceNews. “This step takes us to the mission level. We’re going to hear from our customers about what they need not just with components, but with the actual mission.&rd...
COLORADO SPRINGS — Moog Inc. is quadrupling the size of its Colorado space vehicle production capacity as the New York-based company long known as a spacecraft component supplier expands its role as a space vehicle integrator.
“It’s a proud moment for our company,” Maureen Athoe, Moog Space and Defense Group president, told SpaceNews. “This step takes us to the mission level. We’re going to hear from our customers about what they need not just with components, but with the actual mission.”
This year, Moog is scheduled to integrate nine space vehicles in its new 8,800-square-meter facility in Arvada, Colorado, and its existing 3,000-square-meter plant nearby.
“If customers would like to buy components, we’re happy to sell them,” Hallie Freeman, Moog Integrated Space Vehicles business unit director and site manager, said at the Space Symposium. “If they want to buy integrated subsystems, we’re happy to provide that. This gives us one more option for our customers who bring the payload and are looking for someone to be the integrated bus provider.”
Moog held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening April 4 for the new Arvada facility. Now, the company is moving employees and components into the plant in preparation to begin production this summer.
After decades of producing components and subsystems, Moog began selling entire small and medium spacecraft buses in 2018. Moog also offers a propulsive version of the company’s popular ESPA secondary payload ring and a Small Launch Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle.
Moog won its first contract to supply its Small Launch Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle to a government customer that plans to launch it from the United Kingdom’s Sutherland, Scotland, launch site.
Space industry expansion provided the opening for Moog to become an integrator.
“There are so many more missions, so many more satellites,” Athoe said. “Because we have all of the component expertise that makes it much easier for us to go ahead and do the integrated vehicle.”
Moog, a firm well known for providing spacecraft avionics, flight software and propulsion systems, relies on its supply chain for guidance, navigation and control sensors and the other components the firm does not produce internally.
“Our avionics solutions are proven in geostationary and low Earth orbit,” Athoe said. “Our niche is providing dozens of high reliability space vehicles that can meet the government’s need for responsive missions that have to work.”