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Features

  • The odds were stacked against Lesley Ingram.

    The 29-year-old, addicted to crystal meth and alcohol, faced a handful of serious charges in Jefferson County’s 1st Judicial District.

    Ingram, unemployed and without prospects, was nonetheless given an unexpected second chance — a transfer to the newly established Jefferson County Recovery Court, a program designed to help struggling addicts overcome abusive habits and give back to the community.

  • By Chelsy Woods Klein

    For the Courier

    Nine Girl Scouts from Powderhorn Elementary School spent a year collecting donations to help kids entering Denver’s foster care network. And when they delivered the goods recently, the Scouts also imparted a message: “There are people out there who love you.”

    Those are the words of 11-year-old Skylar Lotus, a student at Powderhorn and a member of Troop 2035, which braved heavy rain and waterlogged streets on May 18 to deliver 250 care packages to the Denver Department of Human Services.

  • It’s a Friday afternoon at B’nai Chaim, and Rabbi Joel Schwartzman is running between the building’s two floors, trying to reconcile temperatures between the freezing ground level and the balmy basement.

    In about two hours, 200 congregants would pack the small Reform Judaism synagogue for a night of musical devotion, a treat Schwartzman and his wife, Ziva, provided a few weeks before his July 2 retirement.

  • Editor’s note: The Courier has been following Ashley Bissel in her fight against a rare form of brain cancer. This is the final installment in the series.

     

    Ashley Bissel wears a simple charm bracelet, a chain of loose silver links adorned with a single a accoutrement, a small ribbon of the same metal.

    She grasps the tiny charm between her thumb and forefinger, absorbing its smooth texture and savoring the significance.

    Every May 15, she plans to add another.

  • Prom was different this year for Chatfield High School junior Hally Burns.

    Dressed to the nines and meticulously groomed, Hally arrived at the dance looking as glamorous as a trendsetting musician attending the Grammy Awards.

    “We’re going to make her like Taylor Swift tonight,” said stylist Shauna Morris, as she ironed Hally’s hair into thick strands of loose curls. “That is who she picked out.”

  • A small gathering of local residents waited patiently on April 13 at Columbine High School, where each made a ceremonious stitch in a patch for the National 9/11 Flag.

    The partially restored banner — which was found in October 2001 hanging from wreckage at 90 West St. across from the Twin Towers — now contains pieces of flags from across the country, including threads from the historic Lincoln Flag and, now, shreds from a former Leawood Elementary School flag.

  • Just as the metro area’s weather took a dramatic turn last weekend, shifting from highs above 80 on Saturday to a snowstorm the following morning, far stranger things were happening on Neptune.

    The planet, for example, may have been experiencing a rainstorm — with liquid methane precipitating in beach-ball-size drops.

    And nearby, on Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, the entire atmosphere over one hemisphere may have been frozen to the surface during an unimaginably cold winter.

  • During his flights from Denver to New York and Los Angeles, Dakota Ridge High School student Graham Stookey has more on his mind than most of his peers.

    As many of his fellow seniors begin stressing about prom dates and college acceptance letters, Graham is negotiating terms with record labels on both coasts, choosing a deal that could help solidify his musical career and make him a household name.

  • A week of life is missing from Marcus Uribe’s memory.

    The Columbine High School graduate awoke last November in a hospital bed at the University of Texas, a machine controlling his breathing via a tube in his throat.

    The Marine, burly from a weight-training regimen, struggled to free himself upon regaining consciousness, an early show of hope that he might recover from the brain injury he sustained when he was run over by a speeding truck days before.

    He was a hero — or so people tell him.

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  • Clarinet cases and water bottles are scattered haphazardly in the outfield grass on Chatfield High School’s baseball field. More than 100 students, most wearing shorts, stand at attention, waiting for cues from the marching band’s drum majors.

    It’s a Saturday — homecoming day — and the band members have been rehearsing since 8 a.m. They get their first substantial break at 11:15. Fifteen minutes later, they’re back in formation.

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    Jackson was only a few weeks old when his guardian, Connie Rivera, noticed something peculiar about him.

    Just like other bulldog puppies, he would snort, chew and run amok — but Jackson would curiously flop over, winded, after only a few rambunctious minutes.

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    Blasts of distorted electric-guitar chords compounded with a capricious flow of drums and cymbal crashes on Sept. 18 as the Summerset Festival audience absorbed the hard-rock performance of local student band Chapter 4. A teenage crowd edged up against the stage, transforming a small section of grass in Clement Park into a mosh pit, pushing and laughing as they bounced off of one another.

  •   Gary Rower waved to the Midwesterners far below as he piloted his red-and-white-striped World War II-era biplane across the country in his annual pilgrimage to the Jeffco airport.

    Visible in the open cockpit, the aviator, protected from the elements in antique-style cap and goggles, demonstrated an arsenal of aerobatic maneuvers at the Colorado Sport International Air Show on Aug. 29 and 30.

  •   Racers roll up to the Bandimere Speedway starting line, waiting with sweaty palms for the staging-tree lights to turn from yellow to green. Then they break from the start and travel 60 feet in about eight seconds. In wheelchairs.

    Bandimere for the first time hosted the Craig Hospital Motor Sports Day and Wheelchair Drag Races on Aug. 26, with all proceeds benefiting Craig’s Paralympic Sports Programs. Some 20 participants ages 10 to 72 competed not for prizes but for fun and thrills.

  •   Garrison Keillor delivered his unique brand of folksy charm to a South Jeffco audience Aug. 30 at the Chatfield Botanic Gardens, along with a little taste of life in Lake Wobegon.

    The revered radio host and author, along with Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band, sound effects man Fred Newman and musician Sara Watkins, gave thousands of fans of the radio variety show “A Prairie Home Companion” an hours-long performance that included staple sketches such as “News from Lake Wobegon” and “Guy Noir, Private Eye.”

  • Editor’s note: The Columbine Courier is following Ashley Bissel’s journey through her treatment for brain cancer. This is the second installment in an ongoing series.

     

     

    An oversized three-month calendar hangs on the wall above Ashley Bissel’s bed. The days are crossed out with a heavy pink marker, the way a student would mark off the weeks till the end of school or an overworked professional would note progress toward a tropical holiday.

  •   Ashley Bissel is staring at the ceiling, trying to think of butterflies.

    She lies on a platform, her head held motionless by a white mesh mask that looks like a prop from a low-budget sci-fi movie. Technicians in white coats circulate around a sparse room and prepare equipment, as her mother cradles her hand.

    Then the time comes for everyone to leave — everyone except Ashley, who raises her fist. In it is a novelty foam brain, which she gives a pronounced squeeze. The symbolism is lost on no one.

  •   Call South Jeffco pianist Lisa Downing an impressionist. Call her a neoclassical artist, or even a closet metalhead. But avoid the term “new age” at all costs.

    “It’s kind of an unfortunate religious label that isn’t appropriate for the music,” said Downing, whose most recent album, “A Delicate Balance,” has fared remarkably well — on new age charts. “I think we all wish there was another thing to call it. … I personally tend to call it ‘piano impressionism.’ ”

  •   Thriftiness and space exploration may not seem like words that rest well in the same sentence, but a visit to education entrepreneur Mark Palmere’s summer camp might cause one to reconsider that notion.

    At Space Voyage Academy, which is not affiliated with NASA, students ages 5 to 16 combat summer brain degradation with flight simulations on antiquated computers and exploration in inflatable space vehicles crafted of sheet plastic and duct tape.