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Drone helps find suspect hiding under cloak of darkness north of DurangoAztec man accused of stealing pickup, leading police on chase21131363Law enforcement used a drone with night vision to help arrest a man suspected of vehicular theft. (Courtesy of Durango Police Department)La Plata County Sheriff’s deputy Steven Reiter was patrolling U.S. Highway 550 near Hermosa on Monday night when he spotted a Ford F-150 with no taillights traveling southbound at 90 mph. Reiter turned on his emergency lights and siren and gave chase in a pursuit that continued at high speeds northbound on County Road 203 and then onto Hermosa Creek Road (County Road 201). Deputy Reiter broke off pursuit along Hermosa Creek because of the danger of driving fast on a gravel road. And because the road dead ends. During the pursuit, Durango Police Department officers learned the pickup had been stolen from the 700 block of East Third Avenue in Durango. Reiter was joined by four other deputies about 1½ miles up Hermosa Creek, and a spike strip was deployed. It wasn’t long before the driver of the pickup, later identified as Ronnie James, 48, came back down the road and blew all four tires on the truck when he hit the strip. James then ran from the vehicle and into thick brush where deputies lost sight of him. That’s when they called Durango police officer and drone pilot Dan Kellermeyer who arrived on scene at 8:50 p.m.Within three minutes of liftoff the infrared camera on the drone, which detects heat, located James hiding 30 yards west of the road. Deputies closed in and arrested him without further incident. 0VideoYouTube480360James’ last known address was in Aztec. Whether he has any prior criminal history is not yet known, said representatives at DPD and the Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with aggravated motor vehicle theft and vehicular eluding, both felonies. “We’ve had some good wins with the drone, as far as looking for bad guys,” Kellermeyer said. “We found the woman who escaped from the hospital who was an FBI fugitive. I don’t remember the exact dates but I believe it was in March or April that we captured some armed robbery suspects on the river trail using the drone.” In a release issued by DPD about the arrest, the drone is praised as a “great piece of technology that serves the whole community” and that the department wants the community to know how it will be utilized. Kellermeyer elaborated on that while talking with The Durango Herald about the incident.“I think when people hear drone, or especially in a government use, there’s maybe some concerns that some people have,” Kellermeyer said. “And we want people to know that we are intentional about the way we are building our policies and using drones to focus on public safety. We are not doing random surveillance or looking for crime. We solely deploy the drone in response to specific incidents in progress.” In addition to searching for suspected offenders, the DPD’s four drones can be deployed for missing persons, search and rescue, hazardous spills, disaster response, and crash investigations. “We’ve put the drone out on three different fatal accidents that we’ve had in the city,” Kellermeyer said. “And it only takes six or seven minutes to take a bunch of photographs on that scene that we can then take back to our office and stitch together into a map and do our measurements on that model, as opposed to spending an hour-and-a-half on scene doing manual measurements of everything. So that significantly cuts down on the amount of time that we’re processing accidents.” In the release about the incident, Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer praised the teamwork between the DPD and Sheriff’s Office. “It’s also a reminder that residents need to lock their cars and secure keys to help prevent these types of crimes,” he said. gjaros@durangoherald.com
Aztec man accused of stealing pickup, leading police on chase
Helicopter crashes at Durango-La Plata County AirportTwo people on board; neither injured. Runway reopens after nearly two hours20001240Emergency personnel respond to a helicopter crash Wednesday at the north end of Durango-La Plata County Airport. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)Two people avoided serious injury in a helicopter crash Wednesday afternoon at Durango-La Plata County Airport.The crash occurred at 1:14 p.m. on the north end of the runway, said Tony Vicari, director of aviation at the airport. Two people were on board, both of whom escaped without injury, he said.The helicopter lay on its side with “fairly significant damage,” Vicari said. The crash occurred on one of the busiest travel days of the year – the day before Thanksgiving. The runway was closed for about one hour and 45 minutes and reopened at 2:55 p.m. Four commercial flights were delayed, including two United Airlines flights and two American Airlines flights.The runway closure was expected to cause “cascading delays” throughout the day, Vicari said.The helicopter belonged to Colorado Highland Helicopters, which is based at the Animas Air Park south of Durango. The helicopter took off from the air park at 12:28 p.m. and signaled its arrival to DRO at 1:07 p.m., according to FlightAware, a website that tracks aircraft movements across the country.0VideoYouTube480360“They were doing training flights,” Vicari said. “It’s just normal for that operation at our airport.”He did not have any information about what may have caused the crash.Brandon Laird, owner and chief pilot of Highland Helicopters, said the helicopter was occupied by an “FAA representative” and a student pilot. The FAA representative was piloting the craft and demonstrating an emergency maneuver, called an autorotation landing, which is a transition from forward flight to the ground without power, Laird said.“The blades are rotating under their own aerodynamic force and gliding similar to an airplane,” he said. “The intent was to glide to the runway, which they did, but in that transition to touch the ground, he hit a little harder than what was intended.”A skid on the bottom of the aircraft broke away, as designed in high-impact situations, and the aircraft tipped onto its side, causing the blades to contact the ground and “tore everything up,” Laird said.The autorotation landing is “something that we teach and we practice, and it is a very, very dynamic maneuver,” he said. “You’re practicing for the potential eventuality of an engine failure, which would be scary, but that’s something that we train diligently for. I do thousands of those a year, and this was just a mild misjudgment that resulted in a bit of a hard landing.”Highland Helicopters has owned the MD 500 chopper since 2016, but the craft was built in 1971.“That was our first machine that we started our business with,” Laird said.The wind was blowing about 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph about the time of the crash, said Norv Larson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, which maintains a weather station at the airport. But there were no other weather impediments, he said. Visibility was clear in excess of 10 miles.16POINT (-107.74500765921633 37.1606639401768)The airport will be working with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration to preserve the crash debris. It is not unusual for helicopters to fly up and down the runway similar to a fixed-wing aircraft, so “this is a normal maneuvering area for helicopters,” Vicari said.Vicari could not immediately recall the last time the airport had an “alert 3,” or an incident involving an actual crash. After loading the aircraft onto a trailer, the airport underwent an intensive cleaning process to ensure all debris was removed from the runway so that other aircraft could resume operations. “These types of accidents can go very differently, and we’re very grateful – it’s a good time to be grateful right before Thanksgiving – that this didn’t go a different way,” Vicari said.20001226The helicopter that crashed Wednesday at the north end of Durango-La Plata County Airport is lifted onto a trailer and removed so the airport can reopen. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)20001333Emergency personnel respond to a helicopter crash on Wednesday at the north end of Durango-La Plata County Airport. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Two people on board; neither injured. Runway reopens after nearly two hours
Lake Nighthorse kokanee salmon help ensure next year’s stockThe 150,000 fish released into the reservoir will produce up to 1.5 million eggs this year20001372Kokanee salmon are a landlocked version of the sockeye species native to the northern Pacific Ocean. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)A persistent breeze off the chilled waters of the Lake Nighthorse reservoir made for contemptibly cold conditions on the small floating platform where Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Jim White and his small cadre of helpers work two days per week for a month each fall. On Nov. 4, five men worked aboard the platform, each clad in bright rubber fishing gear.Free fishKokanee salmon will be given away about 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, in the parking lot at Lake Nighthorse. Participants of the giveaway must hold a valid Colorado fishing license. Youths up to age 4 may receive kokanee if accompanied by a license-holding adult.The team’s work is methodical, nearly mechanized, and appears almost too simple given the great importance it carries. One CPW employee scoops a dip-net full of kokanee salmon out of a mesh enclosure suspended in the lake within the center of the platform. He dumps the fish into an bath-sized tub of water, where reduced oxygen levels lull the vivacious fish to into a semi-sedated state. Then, two men – White and his now-retired predecessor, Mike Japhet – alternate grabbing male and female fish, carefully aim the hole in the rear of the abdomen into the small plastic tubs in front of them, and squeeze. Most of the fish release a satisfying “splat” as their reproductive material, either spawn (eggs) or milt (sperm), shoots into the tub.Conversations on the platform are interrupted by the regular cry of “got one” from the biologists handling fish each time they spawn a female salmon. 20001333Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials and volunteers work on a floating platform just off shore. The platform has nets suspended underneath it to trap and contain the fish. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)The biologists can often tell if a fish is “ripe,” meaning ready to spawn, before they squeeze. If the fish is not ripe, it gets tossed back into the water to be spawned next week. If it is ripe, it gets tossed into a separate pen to be given away to the public later in the day.“Think like bananas,” Japhet said. “If bananas aren’t ripe, we don’t eat them.”As the historic Colorado River Basin drought and a warming climate continues to alter the habitat of kokanee salmon, the spawning that CPW performs at Lake Nighthorse each year grows increasingly important. The species was first introduced in Colorado in 1951. Kokanee salmon are nearly identical to the sockeye found in the northern Pacific Ocean. Sockeye are anadromous, meaning they live most of their lives in saltwater but return to freshwater to reproduce. Unlike their anadromous relatives, kokanee salmon are landlocked and spend their entire lives in freshwater. Although they are nonnative to the region, they thrive in the cold water of Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs.0VideoYouTube480360“We’re primarily doing this to provide sport fishing opportunities all over the state,” White said. “... Not only will anglers benefit by catching them, but folks who like fishing for trophy lake trout (will benefit) because kokanee are a good prey fish for trophy lake trout.” White said that kokanee are not only fun to catch and a nutritious meal for trophy lake trout, but they are healthy eating for humans as well because they eat plankton, and thus do not accumulate mercury. He also said the salmon will not eat or crossbreed with native fish species. As of this year, CPW stocks 26 lakes and reservoirs with baby “fingerling” kokanee each spring. Next year, CPW hopes to have 10.2 million eggs with which to hatch kokanee to stock Colorado’s waters. 20001333Kokanee salmon eggs are fertilized, then washed and sterilized. They expand and harden in the first 30 minutes of their life, after which time they can be moved without risk of breaking. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)20001144After kokanee salmon eggs and milt, a seminal fluid, are collected from the spawning fish, the fish are given away by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to the public. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)jm@durangoherald.comAfter Japhet and White mix the salmon’s reproductive material, a fourth CPW employee rinses the eggs in a water bath. It takes just a minute or so for the eggs to become fertilized. They are then soaked in an iodine bath to disinfect them and prevent the spread of any viruses.After 30 minutes in iodine, the eggs have swollen up and hardened, allowing CPW officials to move them.“Once 30 minutes goes by, then we can put the eggs in those big coolers and then transport them,” White said. “We have about eight to 10 hours to get them where we need to get them before they need to be put out (in hatchery trays). At that point, they really can’t be messed with for about another 40 days.”White and his team will spawn somewhere between 1 million and 1.5 million eggs from Lake Nighthorse’s kokanee population this year. Most of those eggs are taken to the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery located upstream of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, near Gunnison, where CPW biologists will monitor them until they are fish roughly 2 inches in length. 9501425Jim White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist, squeezes eggs from a kokanee salmon on Nov. 4, at Lake Nighthorse. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)9501392Kokanee salmon eggs are collected by Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Nov. 4 at Lake Nighthorse. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)“We only stock about 150,000 kokanee in (Lake Nighthorse),” White said. “So it’s a pretty good return for the number of fish we stock.”There are 13 bodies of water in Southwest Colorado that will be stocked with fingerling kokanee in the spring, which will require CPW to procure almost 4.9 million fish. Of those 13 bodies of water, five are considered “brood lakes” like Nighthorse, where CPW biologists take eggs to raise for the next year’s stock. The 150,000 kokanee stocked in Nighthorse produce 20% to 30% of the total fish needed next spring in Southwest Colorado.The Vallecito Reservoir used be a wealth of kokanee spawn, but White said CPW gave up on the lake eight years ago. CPW spokesman John Livingston called the lake “no longer viable.”“When you get really low reservoir elevations from drought years, it’s just not good for kokanee,” White said. “It gets too warm, and where it’s cold, there’s not enough oxygen to support them. And where there’s oxygen, it’s too warm. So they get what’s called ‘squeezed.’” White said an influx of mysis shrimp and gill lice have reduced the productivity of the Blue Mesa reservoir. Increased water usage or changing conditions could also threaten productivity of Lake Nighthorse or McPhee Reservoir in Dolores, both of which are important sources of kokanee eggs, meaning CPW tries to maintain all five brood stocks to avoid putting all its eggs in one basket.20001289Jim White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist, takes a boat from the dock at Lake Nighthorse on Nov. 4, out to the platform where spawning kokanee salmon have gathered in a fish trap so that staff members and volunteers can collect eggs from the fish. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)9501200The line for the first kokanee salmon giveaway of the year at Lake Nighthorse began to form over an hour before the event’s start time. Anyone with a valid Colorado fishing license is eligible to receive free fish. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)By 2 p.m., White and his team had handled 1,650 fish. Those salmon, which are just 9 to 11 inches long as a result of cold conditions in Lake Nighthorse that limit growth of the plankton the fish feed on, were contained within one pen. Salmon die after they spawn, and those that are spawned in Lake Nighthorse are no different. To avoid both wasting the meat and the foul nuisance that thousands of decomposing salmon carcasses create, CPW gives away the live fish after spawning them. A line beginning at the water’s edge grew steadily as the biologists finished their work and towed the pen over to the boat ramp. Anyone with a Colorado fishing license is eligible to receive salmon. Adam Dalrymple said the kokanee salmon are a staple of his household’s winter food supply. He, his partner and their daughter eat the fish about once per week all winter. “If we don’t get a deer, I’m always here,” he said. “And then we are here if I have time if we do (get a deer).” Dalrymple said about 50% of his household’s diet is from food they are able to harvest themselves. “It’s a joy – it’s a part of why I live here,” he said.rschafir@durangoherald.com
The 150,000 fish released into the reservoir will produce up to 1.5 million eggs this year
FBI fugitive captured during escape attempt in Durango areaWoman was in custody two days before making a break for it during hospital visit358211Fugitive Corienne Anne Meyer was arrested in Durango by Durango Police Nov. 4, escaped custody after being taken from the La Plata County Jail to the hospital Nov. 6, and was subsequently recaptured 45 minutes later. (Courtesy of Durango Police Department)Corienne Anne Meyer was taken from the La Plata County Jail to Mercy Hospital on Sunday after showing signs of a seizure at about 6:25 p.m. Minutes after arriving in the emergency room, she slipped away from a sheriff’s deputy and ran from the hospital. As soon as Meyer’s restraints were removed so she could be examined, she leapt to her feet and ran out of the hospital and into the sage-covered fields between the hospital and U.S. Highway 160.La Plata County sheriff’s deputies and the Durango Police Department set up a perimeter and began searching with the help of a K-9 unit and a Flight For Life helicopter. Officers found Meyer’s discarded orange jail top but not Meyer. The Durango Police Department then deployed a drone, which quickly found her lying flat in the brush. What occurred next was caught on drone footage supplied to The Durango Herald by the Durango Police Department. Meyer then gets up and begins to run toward Wilson Gulch Drive as two sheriff’s deputies and their canine close in from the direction of the hospital. Meyer runs, then stops and crouches again, before making a final run onto Wilson Gulch. 0VideoYouTube480360That’s when Durango police officer Savannah Horne streaks into the drone footage running along Wilson Gulch toward Meyer, whom she then tackles and takes to the ground. Reverse 911 calls were sent to nearby businesses and residents during the course of the search, which lasted 45 minutes from escape to capture.Meyer was taken back to the emergency room for a medical evaluation before being returned to jail where she faces the additional charge of “escape,” a class 4 felony. She was first arrested in Durango by Durango police on Friday after the department was alerted by the FBI that she had been sighted south of Camino del Rio. The FBI had been searching for Meyer, who was considered “armed and dangerous” for several weeks before the police apprehended her without incident. Meyer was wanted for several crimes including but not limited to aggravated motor vehicle theft, violating a protective order multiple times, assault on law enforcement, child abuse and burglary. Meyer’s is the fifth La Plata County Jail inmate to escape custody since 2018. She is the first to escape after being transported to the hospital. In 2018, an inmate walked away while working in the community on a day pass. In 2019, a trustee climbed the jail’s barbed-wire topped perimeter fence and escaped with the help of family. In September 2021, a man being held for animal abuse climbed a wall and got past two fences, one wrapped in razor wire and the other topped in barbed wire, before being apprehended in the Animas River. And then in December 2021, another trustee, Elias Buck, jumped the perimeter fence and escaped. He was arrested 11 days later, but not before allegedly shooting a Farmington Police Department officer in the arm. gjaros@durangoherald.com
Woman was in custody two days before making a break for it during hospital visit
Honeypot ant photo exhibit comes to Durango Public Library Former biology professor shares knowledge of the species20001333The Durango Public Library is showing a new photo exhibit about honeypot ants from research conducted by John Conway, a former biology professor. The ants were used as food sources by Indigenous peoples of Australia and are prominent at the Garden of the Gods. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)Durango Public Library welcomed a new photo exhibit this month based on honeypot ant research completed by retired biology professor John Conway.The Durango resident spent his career teaching human anatomy and physiology at the University of Scranton, but his real passion is studying ants. In 1975, Conway completed a honeypot ant survey at the Garden of the Gods as part of his doctorate thesis at University of Colorado Boulder. In 2018, the city of Colorado Springs hired Conway to conduct a new survey of the nest population in Garden of the Gods to see whether the population had decreased since his first study.He found 50 nests during his first survey, but when he returned in 2018, the nest population had decreased to 20. He speculates the decrease may be a result of increased human interaction, climate change and erosion mats causing habitat disturbance.Many people hike and ride horses on the trails which could cause disruption to the ants.“Honey ants can actually tolerate and sometimes build their nests in the middle of human trails,” Conway said. “But I never found them in the middle of a horse trail because horses really tear up the ground wherever they go.” Conway said warmer temperatures caused by climate change may have been related to the decline in the ant population. The ants tend to nest in dryer climates and will forage in cooler temperatures. “They tend to nest on the tops of ridges and in the Garden of the Gods,” he said. “The ridge tops go up roughly from 5,000 to 7,000 feet,” he said.Honeypot ants are a unique species drawing interest from those who visit Colorado Springs. There are two different types of honey pot ant: workers and repletes. The workers will go out and forage for nectar from plants like yucca or scrub oak. The worker ants forage the nectar and return to their nest where they regurgitate the nectar into a replete’s mandible. The replete’s abdomen will increase in size as it receives more nectar. Their job is to store the nectar for times when nectar becomes scarce and then feed the rest of the colony. They feed the rest of colony by hanging upside down from their dome-shaped nests. Conway said he hasn’t found honeypot ant species near Durango despite his best efforts. He said people have found honeypot ants near Towaoc, but he doesn’t know why the ants prefer certain parts of Colorado compared to others. He also said there is an abundance of nests in Portal, Arizona, where he has done research. The honeypot ants were used as a shrub food source by Indigenous peoples of Australia. They ate the ants as a form of carbohydrates during the 1800s when resources were scarce. Conway has even eaten some of the ants. “They don't taste like bee honey. They sort of taste like molasses, but they definitely have a nice sweet flavor to them,” Conway said.The Indigenous peoples of Australia also ate witchetty grubs which provided a great source of protein. Each grub has 15% protein and 10% fat and Conway estimated that eating 10 grubs would satisfy daily protein needs. Photos of the Indigenous peoples eating the ants and grubs are on display at the exhibit. Conway recently served as a consultant for a YouTube video created by PBS about the honeypot ants. He has also given lectures at the Garden of the Gods visitor’s center and at Fort Lewis College about the ants.tbrown@durangoherald.com0VideoYouTube480360
Former biology professor shares knowledge of the species
30002000Tuesday’s total lunar eclipse will last from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday. The moon will start to get red just after 2 a.m. and reach a maximum eclipse about two hours later at 3:59 a.m. (Associated Press file photo)Election Day will get last lunar eclipse until 2025The moon will be close to Mars and a red star called Antares, a ‘fortuitous placement’ of three red things in the skyIf you beat the crack of dawn on Election Day, there’s a stellar reason to step outside and look up at the skies in the hours before polls open: the last total lunar eclipse for more than two years.Tuesday’s total lunar eclipse will last from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday. The moon will start to get red just after 2 a.m. and reach a maximum eclipse about two hours later at 3:59 a.m.A lunar eclipse happens when the sun, the Earth and a full moon are all in alignment. The sun shines on the Earth, creating a shadow behind the Earth and making it possible for the moon to move through the Earth’s shadow, said Andrea Schweitzer, astronomer with the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud and physical sciences professor at Western Governors University.The moon will start out white, become gray, and then transition to an orange-red. Because the moon is in the Earth’s shadow and not directly illuminated by the sun, the only light the moon sees is reddish light that first passed through Earth’s atmosphere.0VideoYouTube480360The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Boulder forecasts clear viewing conditions in Denver. There may be a few clouds, but nothing blocking the moon, National Weather Service Meteorologist Zach Hiris said Friday. The forecast does not indicate any meaningful precipitation anywhere in the state, he added.“All things considered, for an eclipse in November it certainly could be much worse weather to peek out and try to see it,” Hiris said.The lunar eclipse is a global event. The red moon will be visible across North and Central America, as well as in Ecuador, Colombia, and western parts of Venezuela and Peru, during the totality phase, when the moon is completely in the Earth’s shadow, according to NASA. People in Asia, Australia and New Zealand will also be able to see the eclipse.18001013“During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight. The blue light from the Sun scatters away, and longer-wavelength red, orange, and yellow light pass through, turning our Moon red. *This image is not to scale.*” (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio)While the moon is eclipsed Tuesday, it will also be close to Mars and a red star called Antares. While this won’t necessarily affect the color of the moon, it is a “fortuitous placement” of three red things in the sky, said Jennifer Hoffman, interim director at the University of Denver’s Chamberlin Observatory. “Celestial events like this help connect us to our solar system environment,” Hoffman said. “When you know the moon looks red because the sunlight hitting it has already passed through Earth’s atmosphere, it helps you feel a connection between the three celestial bodies.”Ron Hranac, past president of Denver Astronomical Society and a member of the group’s board of directors, recommends people find a location to watch the lunar eclipse with a relatively unobstructed view to the southwest and west. You don’t have to find a dark sky location to see the eclipse, he said.Because the Earth’s shadow is big in comparison to the moon, the lunar eclipse will last several hours. You don’t have to rush outside to catch it at a specific time, and you don’t need special equipment to see it, either.“It’s something that people can look at with the naked eye. There’s no need for binoculars or a telescope,” said Hranac, a longtime amateur astronomer. “There’s no need for any special filters or eclipse glasses or anything else. Because you’re looking at the moon, you just step outside and enjoy the view.”These reddish lunar events happen even less than once in a blue moon. You’ll get to vote on the next president well before the next total lunar eclipse comes in March 2025.Read more at The Colorado SunThe Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.
The moon will be close to Mars and a red star called Antares, a ‘fortuitous placement’ of three red things in the sky
Bennet, O’Dea trade jabs in contentious final U.S. Senate debate‘You’re a liar, Joe,’ Bennet says after O’Dea persists in false legislation claims1024576Sen. Michael Bennet, left, and Joe O’Dea, right. (Bennet: Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline O’Dea: Courtesy of Sage Naumann/O’Dea campaign)As the only televised debate in the race for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat began in Fort Collins on Friday night, each candidate stuck to some of their campaign’s most familiar themes.High inflation, said Republican nominee Joe O’Dea, won’t subside “until we end the war on diesel, the frivolous spending and the government intervention.”Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, seeking a third full Senate term, touted his efforts to pass an expanded child tax credit and fix “an economy where for 50 years, even before this inflation, (working people) felt like they couldn’t get their families moving ahead.”But the night soon took on a more contentious tone as the candidates exchanged some of their harshest words of the campaign to date, with Bennet growing visibly frustrated and O’Dea, who made several false or unsubstantiated claims throughout the debate, persisting in a debunked lie about Bennet’s legislative record despite repeated clarifications from moderators and his opponent.O’Dea claimed four times during the debate, hosted by 9News, KRDO and Colorado Politics at Colorado State University, that Bennet had written “one bill in 13 years that became law.”O’Dea’s lie rests on a misleading Congress.gov search result and a false impression of how legislation is routinely passed in Congress. A review of the congressional record shows dozens of substantive bills authored by Bennet have been passed and signed into law as part of larger packages of legislation.“You’re a liar, Joe,” Bennet replied after O’Dea refused to retract the claim.0VideoYouTube480360In an uphill battle to unseat Bennet in a state that has trended increasingly toward Democrats, O’Dea has sought to portray himself as a moderate, especially on social issues. He again affirmed his support for limited abortion rights early in pregnancy, and for preserving elements of the Affordable Care Act.On most issues, however, he has remained staunchly aligned with his fellow Republicans, relentlessly criticizing President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats for their passage of a COVID-19 recovery bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, a package of clean energy and health care measures. On immigration, O’Dea has endorsed the completion of former President Donald Trump’s border wall and said Friday he would not support a stand-alone bill to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, insisting instead that it be paired with border funding.“Michael Bennet doesn’t deliver results. What he does is vote with Joe Biden 98% of the time,” O’Dea said. “And the result is an economy that’s trashed. We’ve got a border that’s still wide open. It hasn’t been solved.”Bennet defended the Inflation Reduction Act and other Democratic policies that he said were popular among Coloradans. He portrayed inflation as mostly the result of global economic conditions and supply chain issues, and objected to O’Dea’s characterization of government spending as having “paid people to sit on the couch at home.”“I think it’s so insulting to Coloradans when Joe says that Coloradans need to get off the couch,” Bennet said. “People in this economy, with this inflation, are killing themselves – and even before it, they were killing themselves to afford housing, and health care, and higher education and early childhood education. The problem is not that people need to get off the couch.”O’Dea said that while he wants to reduce the size of government, he would oppose any cuts to entitlement programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While he falsely claimed that he had “been saying that all along,” he suggested to an interviewer in June that “in order to manage the debt, you’re going to have to grab everything,” and added that that would include a “reduction in some of those programs.”O’Dea also sparred with moderators over unsubstantiated claims that his campaign advertisements had been censored by Google. He declined to provide evidence for the censorship claims, which continued to appear in online ads on Friday.Following a Daily Beast report this month that Bennet had invested in a hedge fund that profited from the Puerto Rican debt crisis, O’Dea accused Bennet, who has endorsed a stock-trading ban for members of Congress, of hypocrisy.Bennet said that his assets are held “in a trust that’s not administered by me.”“I don’t make the investment decisions,” he added. “I have absolutely no visibility into the investments that the funds themselves are making.”Bennet has consistently led O’Dea in polling throughout the year, and there have been few signs that the race is narrowing in its final weeks. Elections analysis website FiveThirtyEight estimates Bennet’s average polling lead at nearly 11% as of Oct. 25, and the race has attracted far less outside super PAC spending than Senate contests in states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona.“We have to create an economy in this country again that when it grows, it grows for everybody, not just the people at the very top,” Bennet said. “That’s what I will do for you if I go back to Washington, D.C. I think Joe has kind of the opposite view of the work ahead.”To read more stories from Colorado Newsline, visit www.coloradonewsline.com.
‘You’re a liar, Joe,’ Bennet says after O’Dea persists in false legislation claims
562421Sen. Michael Bennet and John O'Dea, top. Heidi Ganahl and Gov. Jared Polis, bottom. Colorado’s candidates were interviewed by college students. Here’s how it went.Michael Bennet, Joe O’Dea, Jared Polis and Heidi Ganahl spoke with panelThe Colorado Sun teamed up with “The Solution Studio” at Metropolitan State University of Denver and a few other organizations to give college students a chance to interview the state’s candidates for governor and U.S. Senate ahead of Election Day on issues like water, mental health and homelessness.Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and his Republican challenger, Joe O’Dea, as well as Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and his Republican challenger, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, spoke with panels of MSU Denver students.You can watch each of the interviews below:Gov. Jared Polis, Democrat0VideoYouTube480360University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, Republican0VideoYouTube480360U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Democrat0VideoYouTube480360Joe O’Dea, Republican0VideoYouTube480360More information on the projectThe Solution Studio was made possible by a collaboration with New Voices Strategies and the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization. Colorado Public Radio, PBS12 and Univision Colorado were also key to the initiative.
Michael Bennet, Joe O’Dea, Jared Polis and Heidi Ganahl spoke with panel
720579Odis Sikes: “I’m not a politician. We don’t need a politician, and I’ve never been in law enforcement, so I’m not a cop. I don’t think like a cop. I think like you think.” (Odis Sikes for Montezuma County Sheriff)Sikes touts Constitutional values, vows to fight drug trafficking Candidate cites support from leader of Freedom Rides, says ‘I think like you’ Odis Sikes, the unaffiliated candidate running against Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin, touts Constitutional values, tough-on-crime policies and community relationships.Sikes has lived in Montezuma County since the late 1980s, but only considered running for sheriff early last year.He said he was hesitant to run but began to consider it after encouragement from J. Fargo’s manager and Montezuma County Patriots Freedom Rides leader Tiffany Gray (formerly Tiffany Ghere) and other members of the community.“I said, ‘Let me pray about it, and let me think about it,’ because I’m definitely not going to do this if I didn’t pray about it,” Sikes said.Gray said she and Sikes shared beliefs about the Constitution.“We share the common belief that our Constitution was bought and paid for by blood; it was not given to us by our government, therefore cannot be taken away from us by our government,” Gray said. “Given the position and authority that the sheriff’s position has, we need someone who’s strong and stands on the Constitution.”When asked why he decided to run for sheriff, Sikes said, “I’m not a politician. We don’t need a politician, and I’ve never been in law enforcement, so I’m not a cop. I don’t think like a cop. I think like you think.”While Sikes, 72, doesn’t have experience in the police or sheriff’s department, he spoke of his combat experience in the Army’s 1st Infantry Division during the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1969.Sikes referenced the Constitution often, and said its principals, which he believes were faith-based, would guide his decisions.“I believe the Constitution was faith-based, and like the Founding Fathers, I believe our rights are God-given rights, and the Constitution is based on that. The Constitution protects our God-given rights,” he said.The government, Sikes said, should never come before the Constitution.“I would like to see law enforcement in Montezuma County, not just the sheriff’s department – Mancos, Cortez Police Department – I would like to see them start putting the Constitution first. Colorado laws like the red flag law are totally unconstitutional. Well, I’m not going to obey that number one, and number two, I’m not going to enforce it,” Sikes said.“Some people just take that ‘Well, the government said.’ No, what did the Constitution say,” he added.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sikes said, Gov. Jared Polis’ shutdown orders should have been sent back to him with a copy of the Constitution. Sikes said the government shouldn’t have a say in whether businesses and churches can keep their doors open.“The Fifth Amendment and the 14th Amendment say we shall not be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law, he said.Sikes also said he would tackle drug trafficking.“I’d really like to see them (deputies) more aggressive on drugs,” he said. “It needs to be stopped coming in, and it needs to be kicked out. I don’t see anyone trying to stop drugs from coming in.”With the increase of fentanyl smuggling, Sikes says he would want drug traffickers to be terrified to step foot in Montezuma County, and he would want the Sheriff’s Office to have more of a plan than, “If you see something, say something.”“Why is there not someone in Montezuma County that they fear?” Sikes asked. “Somebody ought to scare the hell out of them.”Along with working on his campaign, Sikes has faced reports from news reporters stating that he suggested that transgenders and drag queens should go to jail.In an article published by Rocky Mountain PBS, Sikes was quoted as saying that the Montezuma County sheriff should have arrested a drag queen “set to read stories to children at a local library.” “I think the sheriff should’ve gone in there and said, ‘You need to get out of this county and never come back or you’re going to jail,’’' Sikes said at a meet-and-greet. “It’s child abuse, and they wanted that at our library.”0VideoYouTube480360Sikes maintains that the news organization made up the claim.“They just made that up,” he told The Journal. “I am not anti-gay. I don’t agree with that lifestyle, I don’t agree with transgenders and all that, but I said, they have a Constitution too. Their rights are protected just like mine are protected, however, they don’t have the right to force that on someone else.”“If a parent has knowledge of (a drag queen reading to children in the library), and gives permission for that, that’s their business … but if these people put this on for children, and their parents have no knowledge of it, I’d put them in jail,” he continued, referring to the PBS article.He said he is against critical race theory as well, but never said he would arrest teachers who taught it, countering a concern raised by a parent quoted in the PBS article.He also said during the meet-and-greet that he would attend school board meetings.“I think we ought to show up and say, ‘Look, that's junk. I’m not going to teach that to our kids,’“ he said.Sikes said he hopes he could help build trust between the people of Cortez and the sheriff and his deputies, and see the Sheriff’s Office develop relationships with students by teaching a Constitution class.“I think maybe once a month or so a deputy or even the sheriff themselves should … maybe give a class, because the Constitution is not taught to people. That’s one of the main reasons we went through these last two years, is that people don’t know their rights,” Sikes said.The election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Candidate cites support from leader of Freedom Rides, says ‘I think like you’
Colorado climbers who summit buildings instead of mountainsUrban climbing, called buildering, has a rich history, especially on college campuses, dating back to the mid-1900s1200800Colorado College student Noah Kane uses the crack climbing technique with a building on campus Sept. 15 in Colorado Springs. Buildering is a term used for climbing on building structures rather than on natural elements, such as rocks and mountains. (Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun)In the spring of 2018, a University of Colorado graduate decided to climb up the north face of the Macky Auditorium, a building he had worked in for over a year. Drew Herder would leave work at 2 or 3 a.m. and gaze longingly at the face, hoping one day to climb the stacked redstone facade overlooking Boulder. After months of scoping, Herder discovered what he considered a relatively easy route up through a boulder problem – a short series of climbing moves – to a link-up of ladders leading to the roof.Things were going smoothly the night Herder scaled Macky. Just past the halfway mark he noticed he was in the center of a literal and figurative spotlight. A crew of university police officers were at the base of the building, commanding him to come down. Any other night, their escapade might have gone undetected, but there was a performance of “Sweeney Todd” going on inside.At that point, Herder thought it would be easier for him and his belayer to finish the climb and wait for police at the top of the historic building. Authorities escorted Herder and his friend down through the rafters unseen by performers and attendees, but able to view the show from a unique angle before facing trespassing charges. This type of urban climbing, called buildering, is an illicit activity with a rich history in Colorado, especially on college campuses, dating back to the mid-1900s. Many of the state’s climbing guides and professional athletes have stories to tell of how late-night ascents on their campuses, or of climbs up buildings and public art in downtown Boulder and Denver, were a formative aspect of their passion or careers. 8001200Tyler Rizzuto climbs the 85-foot Articulated Wall in Denver. The artwork in Broadway Park was Herbert Bayer’s final project before his death in 1985. (Will McKay/Special to The Colorado Sun)For some, the sandstone blocks and slippery limestone edifices were their first taste of indulging the primate’s desire to climb. But buildering is not just about college kids scrambling over their classroom buildings and dining halls, or for the simple thrill of scaling one’s freshman dorm.Urban climbing exists wherever there are buildings to tempt a climber. Timmy O’Neill, a professional climber with first ascents in South America’s Patagonia and a speed ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite, has climbed a vast swath of buildings in the Denver area – earning the title “Urban Ape” in the description of a 2003 film he starred in called “Front Range Freaks.”O’Neill points out the inherent human desire, or even need, to climb. “That’s why every little baby is called a climber,” he said. But he views urban climbing as a much different activity from rock climbing, indoors or outdoors.“They’re so different. One is sanctioned, certified, you know, there’s a payment required to do it.“You have to sign a waiver. The other one is the absence of all of that, right?” he said. “A climbing gym isn’t going to solve somebody wanting to have an experience that’s totally outside of convention.”This attitude, predating climbing gyms, continues to flourish even as training facilities for climbers have become commonplace, especially in climber hubs like Boulder which has at least five gyms within biking distance of CU. Having access to climbing gyms didn’t stop Herder and his ilk from wanting a taste of something more avant-garde during their student years and beyond.Fresh from probation after his Macky ascent, Herder climbed a perfect, parallel crack in the stone of the Boulder County Justice Center. The route would be dubbed “Justice Served.”Fellow CU graduate Josh Weinstein documented the moment on film – one of many shots to go into a short film the two made for ROAM Media on buildering.0VideoYouTube480360Footage used in “Real Rock: An Urban Climbing Experience,” was primarily gathered post-graduation and follows Weinstein and Herder pushing the limits of their buildering skills to objectives such as “Articulated Wall” – the 85-foot Herbert Bayer sculpture that looks like a stack of bright yellow french fries towering over Interstate 25 south of downtown Denver – or traveling to Tucson to put up urban routes in the city and on the University of Arizona campus. The routes they posted were later deleted by a local admin of Mountain Project, a website dedicated to offering information on climbing routes across the world.Will Gadd, a professional alpinist and guide, spent his years at Colorado College in the 1990s scaling buildings on the campus and said that attitude of seeking something outside of the acceptable might be precisely why buildering flourishes in those locations.Buildering, Gadd said, is “a little bit punk,” in line with the rebellious nature of youths.The soft sandstone used to construct buildings at CC and on university campuses all over Colorado was perfect for developing good skills, he said, and the rock type remains among his favorites to climb today. Well, that and buildings.“I never walk by a building today without wondering if I can climb it,” Gadd said. Gadd is not alone in using the sandstone to train in the last decades of the 2000s. Long before Herder’s ill-fated quest up the auditorium, CU was a stomping ground for builderers.So many people ascended buildings on the Boulder campus that the administration actually “designated” or rather decriminalized buildering on the Engineering Center, said Greg Johnson, a 1990 CU graduate who is now an associate professor and chair of the university’s religious studies department.“They would (still) chase you away and whatnot,” he said. But even the off-limits buildings, which are everything but the Engineering Center, were often scaled. “Some lines were just too good to ignore.”Of course, the CU official school policies prohibit the activity and the CU Police Department’s position is that attempting to scale or climb buildings is dangerous. “Please don’t attempt it,” spokeswoman Christine Mahoney said.Buildering was a bigger deal back when Johnson was an undergrad. Indoor climbing gyms had not yet entered the scene, making the readily accessible campus buildings the best option for training, with the added bonus of shelter during rain, said Johnson, who went on to builder at the University of Chicago campus while attending graduate school.“Climber has got to climb, and if the building is right there, gotta climb it,” he said. 750498The Engineering Center at the University of Colorado. (University of Colorado photo)And it is not just CC and CU where buildering has taken off – it can be found on college campuses all over Colorado.There are four routes listed on a Mountain Project climbing page for Fort Lewis College in Durango; six on the Western State Colorado University, “good for late night fun”; 38 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins; 13 at the University of Denver; and surely more hidden under nicknames and pseudonyms.‘We just started romping up buildings’Colorado College alumnus Soren Kodak said he grew up climbing buildings before ever getting into the sport of climbing itself. The habit began during a parkour phase. Within Kodak’s first month of college, he’d tracked down the Mountain Project page as he was trying to get into rock climbing and wanted to find routes close to campus. They were much closer than he imagined.But Kodak was sneakier with his buildering than others – as a student on scholarship and a residential adviser, he knew the consequences of getting caught were high. Just not high enough to stop him.“The Fireside Traverse” in Mathias Hall, first ascent by Kodak, became a regular of his when he worked desk duty in the dorm since, for the most part, he was the highest authority in the building during those times. Otherwise, this route may have been near impossible for its placement directly in the middle of the lobby. The route, Kodak said, “isn’t worth climbing” but was funny to put up because it was very “mischievous.”Even people who had plenty of experience climbing before attending college find themselves drawn to the unauthorized activity. Grant Perdue got his start in buildering while attending CU but had been climbing since the start of high school in Tennessee.Wanting to spend “a lifetime” climbing was a big factor in Perdue’s decision to come out West. He graduated from CU in 2021 and now works as an ambassador for the Swiss outdoor gear maker Mammut and guide for Mountain Trip in Telluride.“All of these guys were kind of rumbling about this thing called buildering: the urban climbing experience,” Perdue said. “So we all kind of started doing it around CU’s campus in between classes and that sort of stuff. You kind of have your climbing shoes, and your backpack and a chalk bag and we just started romping up buildings.”When asked about “the point” of buildering when there’s a plethora of gyms and even real rock nearby the Boulder campus, he said, “It’s one of those funny things, you know. It’s similar to climbing. There’s really no point to it other than having a passion and bringing you joy. ... It is its own beautiful thing that can be a lot of fun.”Some buildings are just begging to be climbedThough it is an entirely different beast than gym or rock climbing, buildering continues the tradition of the climbing community not taking itself too seriously, particularly in the naming of routes. Buildering on college campuses is even able to take the tongue-in-cheek humor further by playing up the dubious legality of the activity in the beta, which is climber lingo for useful hints or relevant information.For instance, the Colorado College “area” page on Mountain Project cites access issues as “questionable legality.” The description section pokes fun at the college’s culture, “navigate carefully through the hippies and day drinkers to find these lines.” And in lieu of physical directions, the writers of the page advise getting good grades in high school. The actual descriptions of the routes range from beta one might find on any route and potential physical safety concerns, like a long fall, to the threat of RAs on duty if one is attempting “The Fireside Traverse” inside one of the dorms.For protection, some routes recommend a bouldering pad or other safety equipment to prevent long falls, like cams or nuts on the serious side to “consult Weber liquor (Weber Street Liquor near campus) for conditions and a proper CC rack (the selection of gear needed to safely complete a climb)” and “if you get scared, you can ask your mom to come.”The protection and advice sections, however, are a little vague when it comes to avoiding getting caught – besides going at night. But even the cover of the night didn’t help Colorado College sophomore Liam Dietrich when he climbed a dorm last Halloween.Dietrich said he might have gotten away with it had the campus not been crawling with safety officers. He also made the error of immediately swiping into his dorm after being caught on camera and was confronted by safety officers waiting for him to make just that mistake. His climbing partner that night was also caught. Dietrich described the punishments they received as creative, including writing a three-page essay on peer pressure and making a short film interviewing a campus safety officer. 1200800Colorado College student Noah Kane was scolded by a residential life coordinator while being photographed for this story climbing barely 10 feet off the ground. (Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun)This wasn’t particularly dissuading for Dietrich who said he will focus urban climbing efforts off campus now, though he does plan to buildering on campus right before or after graduation. He has also recently purchased a grappling hook to aid in his endeavors.Getting away with buildering on campus seems to largely be an issue of luck. CC senior and “climbing influencer” Noah Kane spent an entire night not only buildering at CC but also filming the climbs and later posting the evidence to the internet, thus far without consequence. “All the power to them,” Dietrich said of those who have not gotten caught.Kane said he learned about the legacy of buildering almost as soon as he arrived on campus from his home in Vermont, but wasn’t particularly tempted until encountering a crack on the side of his sophomore dorm that “begged” to be climbed.Then in May, Kane and a few friends set out to climb as many routes as possible on campus, recording footage to later be condensed into a TikTok captioned “Rampage.” Even though Kane and company were fully aware of the Mountain Project, and a rumor that all CC buildering must be done naked, they decided to ignore any instructions or advice from the webpage and simply climb what called to them.Kane was not particularly worried about his video reaching hundreds of thousands of people – his follower count was over 400,000 at the time of posting with some videos receiving millions of views.“I highly doubt that anyone on the internet will go and call the college after watching that video,” he said.Kane was, however, scolded by a residential life coordinator while being photographed for this story climbing barely 10 feet off the ground.“People just see it and they’re like, ‘This is something not normal’ and don’t know how to react,” Herder said.The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.
Urban climbing, called buildering, has a rich history, especially on college campuses, dating back to the mid-1900s

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