CenCON

 

 Monthly Reports by Sue Rosser

 
        
        CenCON July 2024

Highlights from the Monday, May 20th CenCON meeting

Jill Meakins, CenCON’s treasurer, included information about Nourish Meals on Wheels:

  • This worthy nonprofit prepares 550-650 hot nutritious meals each day from scratch, M-F, and 500+ dedicated volunteers deliver them directly to older clients in need throughout Centennial, Littleton, and Englewood. These meals are supplemented with weekly breakfasts and frozen meals for the weekends. Nearly their entire annual operating budget comes from individual donors, community partners, businesses, and more.
  • Nourish MOW now has need for additional volunteer drivers, even for just one day a week per month!
  • Their pantry also currently needs food supplies.  The link to the kinds of items needed can be found on CenCON’s website, www.cencon.net.  For more info on this valuable community organization, visit www.nourishmealsonwheels.org or call 303-798-7642.  Food donations may be delivered to 92 E Arapahoe Rd, M-F, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or call me at 720-201-9358 and I’ll pick up and deliver them for you.

18th Judicial District’s Community Engagement Director Aurora Ogg gave this reminder:

As detailed in the May CenCON article, the 18th Judicial District’s very informative Senior Law and Safety Summit will be held on Saturday, July 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Charles Schwab Conference Center (9899 Schwab Way).  The three areas covered will be: 1) Law/Legal-related topics, 2) Fraud protection, and 3) Crime Prevention and Safety.  The cost is $10 and includes a light breakfast and a box lunch.  For much more information, Google “2024 Senior Law and Safety Summit”, call 720-874-8487, or email jsorrells@coda18.gov.  Sign up at: www.ea.da18.org/slss/attendee.aspx

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Bureau Chief Lt. Adam Burson gave this update:

  • To date, overall crime in Centennial, including motor vehicle theft, is down from 2023.  The only crime not down is drug-related - drug paraphernalia and possession, and associated mail and other theft.
  • Drug cartels are present in rural eastern Arapahoe County, but thus far, not in Centennial. Cartels typically come into an area and buy secluded land and/or homes to process and store drugs.

James Linden, Senior Environmentalist, Southeast Metro Stormwater Authority (SEMSWA), and Chairman of SPLASH, was the first of two main presenters:

  • Since 2007, SEMSWA (www.semswa.org) has provided stormwater management services for drainage and flood control facilities within Centennial and unincorporated Arapahoe County.
  • SEMSWA also works to preserve water quality, and with area partners has established SPLASH, the cooperative for education and outreach, detailed on the website www.splashco.org. SPLASH partners educate the public on simple ways to reduce pollution in local water bodies.
  • The simplest way homeowners, HOAs, parks, etc. can preserve water quality and prevent toxic algal blooms that kill fish and other water life in waterways is by using lawn fertilizers that contains little or no phosphorus.  All fertilizer bag labels show three numbers describing the amount of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) contained.  For example, a 40-pound (lb.) bag of 20-10-5 fertilizer contains 20% (8 lbs.) nitrogen, 10% (4 lbs.) phosphorus, and 5% (2 lbs.) potassium.  The other 26 lbs. are “fertilizer carriers, including sand or ground limestone.
  • Because most of our area soils are naturally rich in phosphorus, SWEMSWA and SPLASH highly encourage going “P free,” using only fertilizers having a zero (0) or near zero percentage of phosphorus—the middle of the three numbers shown on the label—to preserve our South Metro water quality.

Josh Phillips, Director of Planning and Implementation, High Line Canal Conservancy shared this info:

  • Following the 1859 Colorado gold rush, the 71-mile long High Line Canal was completed in 1883, from Waterton Canyon to the plains northeast of Aurora, bringing South Platte River water to settlers and farmers along its length.  Today the canal no longer provides water to farmers, but its partner trail survives as a treasured recreation outlet to a growing number of Centennial and other metro area residents.
  • Formed in 2014, the mission of the Conservancy is to preserve, protect, and enhance the High Line and its vegetation and wildlife in partnership with the communities it crosses.  Without the continual water supply that created the rich greenway and habitat for wildlife, the Canal is challenged and in transition.  To learn much more, visit www.highlinecanal.org.
         
                   
        CenCON June 2024

Highlights from the Monday, April 22nd CenCON meeting

District 3 Arapahoe County Commissioner Jeff Baker gave this update:

  • Arapahoe County is facing future financial challenges, and without new revenue from voter-approved sales or property taxes, the county commissioners will have to consider making cuts to essential programs and services. These might include continued partnerships with Centennial on critical road projects (including the expansion of several major thoroughfares on Centennial’s east side), consolidation of the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s Office operations, possibly including closure of Centennial’s motor vehicle office at Lima Plaza, elimination of regional homeless programs that include Centennial, delayed response by human services to over 100 daily cases of child or adult protection incidents, delays in restaurant and child care center inspections, and more. 
  • Centennial’s law enforcement contract with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) would not be impacted, because Centennial pays for those services.  Impacts could occur in sending lawbreakers to county detention centers/jail and in investigations and task forces involving ACSO.
  • To maintain services, the five county commissioners are considering placing either a property tax or sales tax increase question on the November 2024 ballot, and they are seeking constituent input over the next weeks.  To share your opinions on this topic, Google: Arapahoe County Budget: Home and follow the links.  The property tax increase being considered is 4.615 mills, which would add an additional $16-$27/month to each WC 2 home’s property tax, depending on home value.  The sales tax being considered is an additional .25%, raising Centennial’s total sales tax from 6.75% to 7%. 

ACSO Captain Adam Burson shared this information:

  • With summer here, theft both from unlocked vehicles and of vehicles themselves is again on the rise. 
  • To report a homeless situation, call the ACSO non-emergency number, 303-795-4711, or contact Vanessa Gates, Centennial’s Homeless Outreach Liaison at 303-738-5645.
  • Catalytic converter theft has decreased, because catalytic converters are now being laser-inscribed and otherwise marked, and converter buyers are being located, shut down, and punished.
  • Car theft throughout our south metro Denver area is also on the decline, due to area law enforcement, including SWAT team officers, targeting crimes of theft.  Denver’s primary issue and focus is violent crime, so vehicle theft is still a larger problem there and in the north metro area.
  • Centennial has added two traffic officers to target problem areas for accidents and speeding, including within school zones.
  • Law enforcement is now cracking down on unregistered vehicles and expired license plate tags.

Arapahoe Libraries District (ALD) Manager of Events Holly Whelan included these updates:

  • The summer reading program began on June 1 for children ages 0-18, with the theme “Reading: Your Passport to Adventure.”  Kids may visit any ALD library to choose a free book of their choice.  The libraries will also host events and activities for all ages all summer long.  To learn more, visit www.arapahoelibraries.org/summer-reading or call 303-LIBRARY (303-542-7279)
  • The annual used book sale is Fri-Sun, June 7-9 at Southglenn Library, featuring a wide variety of adult and children’s books and much more.  Visit www.arapahoelibraries.org or call.
  • Five award-winning Colorado authors will discuss writing a book, from first ideas to publishing, at Koelbel Library on Monday, June 10 from 6:30-8 p.m. Register at www.arapahoelibraries.org.
  • ALD and Centennial will host a free concert on Friday, June 14 from 6-8 p.m., at Centennial Center Park, featuring That ‘80s Band, who will play favorite hits from pop to hard rock. Bring blankets or low lawn chairs and dress in ‘80s attire if desired.  `

Correction:  In last month’s CenCON article, an error was made in editing the bullet point referring to current South Metro Fire Rescue Chief Bob Baker. Chief Baker (not former Chief Qualman) is SMFR’s current fire chief.

         
                   
        CenCON May 2024 

Highlights from the Monday, March 25 CenCON meeting

 18 Judicial District Community Engagement Director Aurora Ogg shared this information:

The Senior Law and Safety Summit will be on Saturday, July 13.  The three areas covered will include:

  •  Law-related topics – POAs, living wills, advanced directives, estate planning, probate, and renewing contracts
  •  Fraud protection – ID theft, elder financial exploitation, online scam threats, investment fraud, and companionship scams
  •  Crime Prevention and Safety – Home and community safety, improvement and fall prevention, and dementia risks

South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) Deputy Chief of Emergency Services gave this update:

  • 65+% of the calls in Centennial revolve around emergency medical calls,
  • For all calls, the average response time from when dispatch receives the call to ambulance/fire apparatus arrival is less than six minutes.
  • The completion and reopening of Station #15, located immediately east of the intersection of University and Dry Creek, has been delayed now until September, because of stormwater mitigation issues that needed to be corrected.
  • 20 new fire recruits entered the fire academy in early February and will graduate in early May.
  • Cardiac health is the number one killer for those in the line of duty. SMFR is partnering with UC Health, South Denver Cardiology, and National Jewish to monitor and improve firefighter heart health. Currently 50 line firefighters of the total 620 have gone through a pilot program.
  • Fire Chief Bob Baker, who became SMFR’s Fire Chief in 2014, will be succeeding Fire Chief Dan Qualman, will retire in May of 2025.  Chief Baker has had a 40-year career in fire services, beginning as a firefighter with the Parker Fire Protection District in 1984.  Chief Baker has been an excellent, experienced, knowledgeable, and well-liked chief, and he will be missed!

  Arapahoe Libraries Manager of Events Holly Whelan’s report included these updates:

  • Applications are being taken through July 1 for the annual Teen Art Show, to be held this fall at the Eloise May Library.  This gives teens a great opportunity to showcase their talents.  To learn more, visit www.arapahoelibraries.org/teen-art.
  •  The “Unconventional Women of the West” program will be presented on Thursday, May 16 from 2-3 p.m. at Koelbel Library.  The Legendary Ladies of Colorado will present stories from fascinating women in first person living history, showing how they overcame various personal hardships, with their lives becoming part of western lore.  To save a spot visit www.arapahoelibraries.org or call 303-LIBRARY (303-542-7279).
  • The Older Adults Resource Fair will be held on Friday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Koelbel Library.  Learn about different health resources and programs to help aging in place, chat with representatives from local nonprofits, and meet with older adult services librarians to learn about social and educational opportunities at the library.  Light refreshments will be provided.
  • Arapahoe Libraries Community Conversation series’ May 30 topic will be “Individual Freedom and Public Protection,” and will be held on Thursday, May 30 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Southglenn Library. The series conversations are guided by an expert facilitator and a diverse panel of experts, offering participants a unique opportunity to make connections and consider topics from different perspectives. To reserve a spot, visit Arapahoe libraries.org or call 303-LIBRARY (303-542-7279).
  • Reminder - the walking group “Meet and Move” is now gathering twice each month at Koelbel Library on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month from 9:30-10:30 a.m., through October 23.  This is a chance to get a little exercise while exploring beautiful nearby paths/trails with old and new friends.
         
                   
        CenCON April 2024 

Highlights from the February 26 CenCON meeting:

As mentioned last month, the monthly CenCON meetings are being held in locations other than the Arapahoe Libraries Ad Building until renovation is completed there.  The meeting on April 22 will again be held at the Centennial Center of Generations in the Streets at SouthGlenn (6972 S. Vine Street #366) beginning at 6:45 p.m. Please feel free to call me for more info at 720-201-9358 or visit www.cencon.net.

South Suburban Parks and Rec District representative Michelle Kitchens’ report included these updates:

  • SSPRD is now hiring teenagers and others for summer jobs—pools, park maintenance, camp helpers, customer service representatives, and more.  The lower age limit is 14 for intern positions; paid positions begin at age 15. Google careers.ssprd.org to learn more and apply online.
  • The Hudson Gardens and Event Center has a number of activities and events of interest. Visit www.hudsongardens.org and then view the public events calendar.

Arapahoe Library Districts’ Manager of Events representative Holly Whelan’s report included these updates:

  • The walking group “Meet and Move” will begin gathering again twice each month at Koelbel Library on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, from April 10 through October 23 at 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.  This is an opportunity to explore beautiful nearby paths/trails with old and new friends.
  • A “Music Sparks Memories” concert will be held on Friday, April 12 from 1-2 p.m. at the Smoky Hill Library.  This concert is for everyone, but it will be especially dementia-friendly, with the Denver Brass 5, a quintet playing familiar favorites that spark memories in all audience members.
  • There will be two screenings of the award-winning documentary “The Quiet Epidemic,” a film about chronic Lyme disease, at Koelbel Library on 1) Fri., April 19 from 1-3:30 p.m. and 2) Wed., April 24 from 5:30 - 8 p.m.  The screenings will be followed by a community conversation with experts from the Colorado Tick-Borne Disease Awareness Association.  To register, Google www.arapahoelibraries.org and then click on the Events tab along the top bar, and find these dates to register or call 303-LIBRARY (303-542-7279).

Centennial D2 City Council member Tammy Maurer gave an update on three bills of concern now in the legislature: Nearly all Colorado cities are actively opposing all three, because they preempt local control. They are:

  • HB24-1152, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – As introduced, the bill would give the state control on how ADUs would be regulated, preempting all city ADU ordinances and HOA covenants/by-laws, including eliminating the requirement that ADUs be architecturally compatible with the existing residence.  This could have a major impact on how Willow Creek 2 would look in the future.
  • HB24-1304, Off-Street Parking Regulations – As introduced, this bill prohibits municipalities from having or enforcing any/all minimum off-street parking requirements for all land use types. 
  • HB24-1313, Transit Oriented Communities (TOCs) – this bill is being lauded as a way to incentivize local governments to create more dense housing in transit areas, primarily along the I-25 corridor.  As introduced, it mandates that a minimum of 40 units/acre be built within ½ mile of light rail stations.  It also contains punitive measures, including the revoking of a city’s monthly distribution of Highway User Tax Funds (HUTF), historically collected and used for maintaining roads and highways.  For Centennial, this would be an annual loss of around $3 million/year that the city now uses for street maintenance.

As of this writing, all three bills have fiscal notes, have been heard in committee and amended, and may likely not see further action until the Budget Bill is finalized.

 

Centennial Homeless Outreach Liaison Vanessa Gates & Arapahoe County Sherriff’s Office Capt. Chris Gulli discussed homelessness in Centennial and Arapahoe County.  Ms. Gates was hired in March 2023 on a two-year contract.  She conducts street outreach and monitoring on trails, under bridges, and at libraries, fast food places, convenience stores, and light rail stations.  There are currently 10 “hot spots” within Centennial, including seven encampments.  Working with area agencies, her four goals this year are to reduce the number of 1) homeless individuals, 2) families/children in homeless situations, 3) encampments, and 4) to find affordable housing and housing resources for those who need it. Ms. Gates highly encourages anyone identifying a homeless or camping situation to contact her at 720-910-7216.
         
                   
                   
        CenCON March 2024 

Highlights from the Monday, January 22 CenCON meeting:

Because of renovation now occurring at the Arapahoe Libraries Administration Building on East Adam Aircraft Circle in Centennial, the monthly CenCON meetings are being held at other places throughout Centennial over the next several months.  The January meeting was held at the Centennial YMCA Center of Generations at The Streets at SouthGlenn.  The February 26 meeting was held at Centennial Public Works (7272 E Eagle Street).  Centennial residents are always welcome to attend. 

CenCON’s VP of Plans, Rhonda Livingston, has scheduled our annual July fieldtrip for Monday evening, July 22 at The Project C.U.R.E. International Headquarters and main distribution center (10377 E Geddes Ave #200).  Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, humanitarian relief organization based in Centennial.  Begun in 1987, this organization is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world, collecting, sorting, and packaging medical supplies and equipment donated by hospitals and manufacturers, to then distribute to hospitals and clinics within developing countries.  Currently, Project C.U.R.E. has donated 2400+ shipping containers of medical supplies to 135 countries worldwide.  Forbes ranks it as one of the 20 Most Efficient Large U.S. Charities.  The WC2 HOA Board is invited to join CenCON on this fieldtrip, which will include a tour of the facility, a video, and possibly also an opportunity to help package supplies.  For much more information and for the many ways that WC2 residents, including families and older children, as well as business and civic groups can volunteer for this organization, visit www.projectcure.org or contact them at info@projectcure.org or 303-792-0729.

The Arapahoe Library District is again holding their second annual seed giveaway program this spring.  Beginning on Monday, March 4 through June 15, residents may pick up free seed packets and planting instructions at any library while supplies last, choosing from a variety of flower, herb, and vegetable seeds, all of which can be grown in Colorado.  Tagawa Gardens will work in partnership with the libraries to host how-to events on gardening and container gardening.  Visit the Arapahoe Libraries website, www.arapahoelibraries.org or call 303-LIBRARY (303-542-7279) for more information on this seed giveaway, and many other programs and events taking place in the coming months.

Centennial has convened a Futures Committee, comprised of city leaders and residents who are studying the ways Centennial is likely to change, and the challenges and opportunities the city will encounter over the next 20-30 years.  Throughout the US and within our community, buying habits are shifting, with more online shopping, so developers are currently reluctant to build more retail and commercial.  Some new restaurants and other businesses are coming in to Centennial, but more foot traffic is needed to support retail.  Shuttered stores and shopping centers are at higher risk for safety issues, crime, and blight.  There continues to be a housing shortage in Centennial. 

Paula Hillman, Program Engagement Representative, and Jason Yin, Esports Coach, both staff members of the Centennial YMCA Center of Generations, gave an overview and tour of this new facility, which opened last May and is located at 6972 S. Vine Street, Suite 366. This is just west of the north side of the now-shuttered Sears department store in The Streets at SouthGlenn (the closest parking place to the Center is the Sears east side parking lot).  The Center is a partnership between the City of Centennial and the YMCA of Metro Denver, bringing together youth ages 12 and up and older adults in a multi-generational space.  Fitness, cooking, art, games, and many other classes and esports (organized, multiplayer video games) are some of the activities offered at the Center.  Some programs have registration and a fee.  For monthly event calendars for both youth and older adults, and for more information about the center, hours, and programs, Google “Centennial YMCA Center of Generations” or call 720-918-6425.

         
                   
        CenCON January 2024

Remembering former Mayor Cathy Noon
CenCON’s Founder and first President (2001-2009) - and so much more

Centennial’s beloved former Mayor Cathy Noon passed away peacefully at home early Monday morning, December 11th, after courageously fighting pancreatic cancer for over 5 ½ years. Cathy’s friendships and influence, both locally and throughout Colorado, and her impact on numerous local and regional programs, initiatives, and improvements will continue to enrich all our lives and serve as her legacy for many years to come.  

 

Cathy’s Celebration of Life will be held at 2 PM on Thursday afternoon, January 18th, in the Embassy Suites Hotel ballroom, 10250 E Costilla Ave in Centennial.   

 

Cathy began volunteering for the Centennial incorporation effort almost immediately after she, her husband Jim, and their two children moved in 1999 to Chapparal, a neighborhood east of Parker Road that would soon become a part of the new city.  Only months after voters said “yes” to incorporation in 2000, Cathy founded and became the first president of CenCON, the Centennial Council of Neighborhoods, comprised of neighborhoods located within the city.  Under Cathy’s leadership, CenCON became—and remains—the voice of our neighborhoods, reviewing land development plans and providing homeowner input to the mayor and city council, as well as serving as a two-way conduit for information from law enforcement and Centennial’s special districts. Because of minimal city staffing in the early years, CenCON became the defacto information center for the mayor and first city councils.

 

After running unsuccessfully for a city council seat in our District 3 in November 2005, Cathy continued to grow the membership and influence of CenCON in guiding Centennial.  In November 2007, she was one of 21 citizens elected to Centennial’s Home Rule Charter Commission, which was charged with crafting Centennial’s charter to become a home rule city.  With one member absent at the first commission meeting, Cathy and another commissioner were locked in a 10-10 tie for the commission chairmanship.  When Centennial’s legal counsel determined that a coin toss could legally break the tie, another commissioner volunteered his Alcoholics Anonymous 18-year sobriety coin, and Cathy won the toss.

 

Throughout many long and arduous meetings drafting Centennial’s charter, Cathy’s leadership, centered approach, and willingness to listen to all opinions earned her the respect of virtually all her fellow commissioners, and after she led the successful effort to get the Charter passed in mid-2008, most urged her to run for mayor, promising to campaign on her behalf—and so we did.  In November 2009, Cathy Noon was elected as Centennial’s second mayor with wide voter support, succeeding Randy Pye—becoming one of only a very few Colorado mayors to ever be elected without first having served on city council.  Cathy often laughingly said that if she hadn't won the coin toss and then become known city-wide through her Charter Commission leadership, voters likely would never have elected her as mayor. 

 

Mayor Noon’s numerous accomplishments as mayor have been the subject of many other articles that can be found online, so because of limited newsletter space, they can’t be detailed here. 

 

Upon being term limited in January 2018, Mayor Noon happily passed the gavel to our current (third) mayor, Stephanie Piko, saying that she and Jim were looking forward to years of travel and spending more time with their four grandchildren.  But in a routine annual checkup less than four months later, Cathy was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer.  What followed was a 5 ½ + year battle through Whipple surgery and several grueling rounds of chemo and drug trials.  Throughout these years, she continued to actively hold local and statewide leadership positions, to advocate for senior meal programs and services, and to raise awareness and major funding for pancreatic cancer, also counseling those who later received this same diagnosis.

 

Cathy often said that she kept fighting so she could grow old with Jim and remain a part of the lives of her children and grandchildren as they continued to grow and thrive.  Throughout her last years, she earned heartfelt and widespread respect and love from so many throughout the greater Denver metro area for her continued selfless service and her valiant struggle against this disease.  We CenCON members and so very many others beyond who came to know and love her over these many years keenly miss her now.   She was an extraordinary visionary leader and a loyal friend. 

 
         
                   
        CenCON December 2023 

Highlights from the October 23rd CenCON meeting: 

 

Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, currently comprised of Arapahoe, Douglas, Lincoln, and Elbert Counties, holds quarterly townhall meetings each year, usually one in each of these four counties.  The October CenCON meeting was held in conjunction with the 18th Judicial’s Arapahoe County third quarter meeting, at Koelbel Library.  18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner led the meeting, with special guest Arapahoe County Sheriff, Tyler Brown. The 18th is currently the largest of Colorado’s 22 Judicial Districts, with a total population of just over one million residents.  Arapahoe County is the largest of the four member counties, with nearly 670,000 residents—about 2/3 of the total district population. The 18th employs around 250 personnel, including prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates, restitution specialists, diversion counselors, and other professionals.

State lawmakers passed a bill in 2020 to remove Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties from the 18th to form the new 23rd Judicial District, the first time a new district has been created in over 60 years.  Officially, the new 23rd will come into being in January of 2025, after the November 2024 General Election. This split has required the 18th to break out tens of thousands of cases, unraveling a district that has been together since 1960.  It is a huge staffing and personnel challenge to work through this transition with as little impact as possible to all residents of the four counties.

Following introductory remarks, Mr. Kellner spent the next hour detailing current issues and a number of cases that have come before the 18th Judicial in the third quarter.  These have involved theft, child exploitation, murder, assault, MS-13 (El Salvadoran violent gang) murders, and much more.  You can view the entire meeting and Mr. Kellner’s description of these cases by going to: https://da18.org/media/newsletter.  Once there, tap on the October newsletter link, and then on the townhall meeting link, in the information below John Kellner’s photo.  This meeting contains a wealth of information about all aspects of the 18th Judicial District and is well worth watching. 

The following information was provided in the CenCON meeting that followed the 18th Judicial presentation:

 

South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) EMS Division Chief Jens Pietrzk shared these updates:

  • For the first six months of 2023, SMFR responded to just under 5,000 911 calls in Centennial.  The majority (around 75%) of the calls were Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls—heart attacks, difficulty breathing, falls, household accidents, etc. Actual fire calls in Centennial have decreased this year.
  • SMFR receives around 600 cardiac arrest calls annually—up to 2-3 per day.  Dispatch gives CPR instruction to the caller over the phone, resulting in successfully restarting hearts 46% of the time before the EMS team arrives.
  • All medical calls to SMFR are increasing by around 10% each year, due to increases in population, traffic accidents, and average age within the district. The highest concentration of calls comes from senior facilities.
  • The old Station #15, east of the Dry Creek/University intersection, has been demolished, and a larger, state of the art fire station is now being constructed on that site.  For more info, visit www.southmetro.org and search for Station #15. A website link should soon be added there that will show construction updates every 15 minutes.

District 4 Centennial City Council member Don Sheehan gave this report:

  • Veronica Gates, Centennial’s Homeless Outreach Liaison, is continuing to reach out to unhoused individuals and families in Centennial, providing them with resources and services.  Ms. Gates has also been working with the business community and visiting several hotels, apartment buildings, and other establishments near her interactions with the unhoused, all to mitigate potential issues. 
  • The Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has formally accepted Centennial’s application to opt-in to Proposition 123.  The application includes a goal to increase the number of affordable housing units through new construction or conversion of 108 affordable housing units by the end of 2026.  DOLA’s acceptance enables Centennial and private organizations to apply for a range of grant programs operated by DOLA and Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA).  City staff will continue to monitor these grant programs.
  • Arapahoe Road Bridge over Big Dry Creek Reconstruction – Through November, crews have been continuing stream stabilization under the bridge, and preparing and paving the South Trail and sidewalks through the construction zone.  If the weather cooperates, construction should be completed by the end of 2023.
         
                   
        CenCON November 2023 

The Monday evening, September 25 CenCON meeting was a Centennial City Council candidate forum for those running for one of the two seats in each of the four city council districts, in the Tuesday, November 7 General Election.  For more info, go to www.centennialco.gov>home and then scroll down and click on Hot Topics: 2023 Election Information.

In the Centennial City Council election, District One (western Centennial) Councilmember Candace Moon is term limited.  Therefore, two new candidates are running: Amy Tharp and Andrew Spaulding.  District Two has two candidates: incumbent Christine Sweetland and challenger Rick Rome.  Our District Three (includes areas both east and west of I-25) has two candidates: incumbent Mayor Pro tem Richard (Rik) Holt and challenger Valdan Vandemark.  In District 4 (northeastern Centennial), incumbent Don Sheehan is running unopposed.  This article will concentrate on the highlights of the questions asked and the answers given by the two candidates who are on our WC2 ballots.

 

Mayor pro tem Holt, 57, a 22-year resident of Foxridge, spoke in introductory remarks about his extensive volunteering history in the Foxridge neighborhood, being on the Foxridge Board of Directors, and running numerous charitable and other neighborhood events with his wife Julie.  Since being elected to the Centennial City Council in November 2019, he has served on the Open Space Advisory Board, as the liaison to South Suburban Parks and Recreation, and the chair of the Fiberworks Commission (responsible for the 50 miles of fiber in Centennial).  With a B.A. in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, he has had a 20+ year career as a program and project manager/analyst in the computer industry.  Rik and Julie have been married for 30 years, raising their now-grown son and daughter in Foxridge and now enjoying their 2-year-old grandson.

 

Vandemark, 32, grew up in Boulder and moved to Centennial in 2018. In his introductory remarks, he emphasized that he runs a business and is responsible for thousands of details, and no one on the city council thinks about business the way he does.

 

Priorities: 

Holt: Public safety is his #1 priority—to support our law enforcement firefighters, and first responders, continuing to give them the tools to keep Centennial residents and property safe and protected; important also are fiscal responsibility and keeping Centennial lean, and continuing to deal with potholes, snowplowing, land use, and housing issues. 

Vandemark: Public safety and affordable housing are the two priorities he mentioned. Rising crime in his neighborhood and lack of follow-up by law enforcement have been of great concern to him; also important is finding ways to have affordable housing in Centennial.

Taxpayer-funded subsidies:  Holt: No.  Vandemark: Would have to do more research.

Responsibilities of a City Council member:

Holt: Primary responsibilities include being a connector—connecting constituents with services, various Centennial departments, advocating for solutions to problems, quickly becoming informed on a variety of issues. 

Vandemark: The biggest thing is listening to constituents and then doing research to get the facts to make informed decisions.

 

Safe injection sites, possibly mandated at the state level:

Holt: Hard no. The intention may be good, people want to help those addicted to drugs, but it’s not the way to do it.  It’s not right for Centennial, and we need the local authority to say no. 

Vandemark: Not for it being state mandated; if we are going to have them, this should be done at a local level. But where in Centennial would we put a site?  So, leaning more toward no.

 

Closing statements

Holt: Public service is noble, and if you have the time and the inclination to do it, you should.  I have served for four years, and I love serving and representing our community.  I’ve put my heart and soul into this.  Experience matters.  It took about three years for me to find my voice; I ask you to let me have that voice to serve you for another four years. 

Vandemark: Six months ago, I didn’t know I was going to be running for city council.  In this time since, my world has turned upside down. It has been wonderful, challenging, and scary.  I want to be of service to Centennial.  I will work with anyone to find a commonsense solution.  I will be available 24/7 to answer constituent calls if elected.
   

         
                   
        CenCON October 2023  

Highlights from the August 28 CenCON meeting:

Several months ago, longtime CenCON President Gerry Cummins retired, and former Centennial District 4 City Councilmember C. J. Whalen was elected as the new president.  Since then, C. J. has made several changes, including working on enhanced communication with Centennial City Manager Matt Sturgeon on projects, programs, and challenges facing the city and residents. They also worked on implementing a Zoom option for the monthly meetings.  CenCON reps are still encouraged to attend in person, but they, and neighborhood residents now have this Zoom option, with the Zoom link being shared through each neighborhood representative.  Please call or text me at 720-201-9358 if you’d like to listen to any future meetings.  To be candid, though, the quality of the Zoom audio and visual of these meetings is still a work in progress.

Aurora Ogg, 18th Judicial District’s Director of Community Engagement included this update:

The 18th Judicial Quarterly Meeting will be held with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO) on Monday evening, October 23 from 6 to 7 p.m. At Koelbel Library.  District Attorney John Kellner and Sheriff Tyler Brown will discuss public safety.  Possible topics will include courtroom updates, current statistics from the DA’s Office, updated legislation regarding motor vehicle theft, and other topics of current interest. There will be time for questions at the end of the meeting and both officials will remain afterward to answer additional questions.

Rik Holt, one of our two Centennial City Council members, shared these future events and gave this update:

  • Sip in Centennial – 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at Centennial Center Park (13050 E Peakview Ave).  This is a new event, combining two community favorites: Brew-N-Que and Whiskey Warmer.  Food trucks, tastings, activities for all ages, and a live Irish band in the amphitheater will all be included.  The event is free and open to all ages, but guests must be 21+ and purchase tickets to take part in alcohol tastings.
  • Holiday Celebration – 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 2 at Centennial Center Park.  Items featured include youth choirs, Santa, family friendly activities, free cookies, cocoa, and cider.
  • Solar panels have been installed in the City of Centennial parking lot and they also serve as shade structures.
  • Centennial is the first municipality in the state to seriously tackle pickleball noise, imposing a moratorium on the building of new pickleball courts within the city, while the issue is studied.  As you may know, much has occurred on this topic since this CenCON meeting.  By the time you read this, the Centennial City Council will have decided what is/is not allowed regarding pickleball courts and play throughout the city.
  • Arapahoe Road bridge construction occurring immediately east of the Arapahoe/University intersection continues, with ongoing stream stabilization, bridge work, and utility relocation in partnership with Denver Water continues.  Traffic continues to travel in new lane configurations to accommodate construction and motorists are encouraged to use other routes around this construction, especially during rush hour. 

Ryan Thompson, Centennial’s Neighborhood Services Manager, shared this information on Centennial’s Community Grant Program for 2024:

This grant program was implemented in 2021 to increase communication among neighbors, build neighborhood identity and civic pride, improve neighborhood well-being and safety, and provide opportunities to bring neighbors together.  Two types of grants are available to residents, HOAs, and communities within the city:

  1. Neighborhood Engagement Grants—Up to $500 for block parties, movie nights, social gatherings, and other similar events.  Funds may not be used to purchase alcohol or controlled substances.  No more than one grant will be awarded per event. 
  2. Large Community Improvement Grants—There are eight larger grants for up to $10,000 each, two for each of Centennial’s four city council districts. This grant funding can include common area tree plantings, landscaping, community art projects, and other larger neighborhood improvements.  Training and more information for these larger grants will occur in mid-February, with applicants then contacting Ryan Thompson in February and March to “flesh out” their grant ideas.  Applications must then be submitted from early March to mid-April. In mid-April, the grant review team will determine the awardees. In early May, applicants will be notified of the status of their application.  Projects awarded the grant funding will then need to be completed by November 1.  For more information and specific dates, go to www.centennialco.gov/home and then search for ‘community grant program.’
         
                   
        CenCON September 2023  

Highlights from the annual CenCON July 24th field trip:

Traditionally, the July CenCON meeting is a field trip to a facility that serves Centennial, and often our larger south metro community, as well.  In July, with our host, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ken McKlem, we toured the Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training Facility (HRLETF), 6001 Ron King Trail, located east of Highway 85, Louviers and Sterling Ranch, in Douglas County.  Situated on 117 acres, this facility is the premier training ground for law enforcement professionals—deputy sheriffs and police officers-- throughout the Denver metro area, as well as for students and instructors from across the US and abroad.  The HRLETF includes eight firearms ranges, a driving track, and a 20,000 sq. ft. tactical training building with classrooms and extensive training rooms for all training mentioned below.

All who wish to become Colorado law enforcement professionals must first be hired by a member law enforcement agency and then successfully complete the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)-approved Basic Academy.  This facility provides this and all other training to all who are employed by member law enforcement agencies in Colorado, including the Arapahoe and Douglas County Sheriff’s Offices. 

The POST Basic Training Academy required by member agencies for all newly hired law enforcement recruits is a 21-week course held at this facility.  Two academy classes are held annually, beginning in January and July, and most classes are composed of around 30 recruits from several law enforcement agencies.  The course includes extensive training on firearms, arrest control tactics, law enforcement ethics and anti-bias policing, the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS), report writing, CPR, day and night driving, crime scene documentation, tactical casualty care, building searches, sobriety testing, courtroom testimony, sexual assault assessment, and drugs—and much more.  And always, much testing throughout the 21 weeks.

The Colorado POST-regulated Refresher Academy is a two-week course designed for any former Colorado certified peace office whose POST certification has expired, or for POST certified officers from other states who seek POST certification in Colorado to be employed in our state. Skills training areas in this refresher course include training and testing on firearms, arrest control, and law enforcement driving.  The next Refresher Academy begins in early October.

In addition, frequent training of law enforcement professionals and other groups occur at this facility throughout their careers. During our evening tour, a ROTC class was training in one of the classrooms.

For much more information on this impressive facility and the training that occurs here, visit www.hrletf.org.  You can also view more details about the weekly training of the current POST Basic Training Academy recruits by searching “Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training Facility” on Facebook.

It’s reassuring to learn that our law enforcement agency, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, requires this and much more training for all those who serve us.

         
                   
        CenCON August 2023 

Meeting Highlights from the June 26th CenCON meeting:

Aurora Ogg, 18th Judicial Director of Community Engagement shared this news:

  • Are you interested in exploring the roles of various members of the District Attorney’s Office in different parts of the criminal justice system—and more?  Sign up by Friday, August 25 for the Fall 2023 Citizen’s Academy, a free 7-week course being held on Thursdays, 6 - 9 p.m. from September 14 to October 26, at the Arapahoe County DA’s Office (6450 S Revere Pkwy in Centennial). Questions? Email JSorrells@DA18.state.co.us.  For more info and to download the application, go to www.DA18.org/Community Outreach/Citizens Academy.  Past Academy attendees give it stellar reviews for being interesting and highly informative!
  • In 2012, the 18th Judicial became a national leader when it began using Pella, a specially trained dog to sit with children on the witness stand when their testimony was needed. Often in abuse cases, providing them with a sense of safety and comfort.  Before retiring in 2021, Pella provided comfort to children in over 450 cases.  A black lab named Fancy has now completed training and is carrying on Pella’s work. 
  • The 18th Judicial District has been the largest of Colorado’s 22 Districts, serving over one million residents in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties.  In 2020 a Colorado law was passed to remove Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties from the 18th, placing them in the newly created 23rd Judicial District. The split will be finalized in January 2025 after a new DA is elected in each district in November 2024.  The 18th will then be comprised solely of Arapahoe County, with nearly 700,000 residents at the time of this change.

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO) Capt. Ken McKlem shared this update:

  • For your safety, opt into emergency notification alerts by googling Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and then searching for Emergency Notification Alerts.  Then follow the steps to learn more and opt in.
  • The 17th Annual Centennial Under the Stars is Saturday, August 12 from 5 - 9 p.m. at Centennial Center Park (13050 E Peakview Ave). Enjoy live music, local vendors, food trucks, family friendly activities, and the announcement of the winning artists whose designs will wrap traffic boxes in three Centennial neighborhoods. Two of these boxes are on the north side of Willow Creek, along E Dry Creek Rd.
  • The Safety in Faith Seminar will be held on Thursday, August 21, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Highpoint Church in Aurora (6450 S Southlands Pkwy).  Law enforcement and other professionals will discuss ways to spot, protect from, and de-escalate potentially harmful/violent incidents in houses of worship. The seminar is free to all, but participants must register.  For more information, Google “Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Faith Seminar” and register on the Eventbrite website.

Arapahoe County Commissioners Carrie Warren-Gully (District 1) and Jessica Campbell-Swanston (our District 2):

  • $25 million of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funding the county received is helping vulnerable populations and homelessness. Of this total, $10M will go toward innovative affordable housing projects.
  • The commissioners are studying how to stabilize the county’s funding. Arapahoe County is projected to be the most populous Colorado county by 2030, and the need for all services is growing. The county has been strategically using funds but has a $500M backlog of infrastructure projects. Protests and increasing crime have put demands on ASCO for more policing, requiring additional funding. One option is to ask voters to approve a new county sales tax.  Another is to ask voters to remove the revenue cap of TABOR, commonly called “de-Brucing”—setting aside TABOR revenue limits.  51 of Colorado’s 64 counties have de-Bruced, including tax-averse Douglas and El Paso Counties. Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties must de-Bruce to maintain levels of all services and revive postponed infrastructure needs.
  • The deadline for the five Arapahoe County Commissioners to decide whether to move forward with these options is early August.  Voters would then make the final decision in the November 7, 2023 General Election.  
Two excellent articles summarizing Arapahoe County’s fiscal challenges can be found by Googling:
  1. the Denver Post article “For two Colorado counties that haven’t “de-Bruced,” the fiscal alarm is growing louder” 
  2. the Littleton Independent article “Arapahoe County Commissioners highlight budget concerns during annual State of the County address.”