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Strange but True

Kenny Be

DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS

In July, the Boulder City Council approved an ordinance substituting the term "pet guardian" for "pet owner" in the city's books. The change, which carries no legal value, was made at the request of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, whose members believe it will foster a kinder, more caring attitude toward pets.

Popular polar bear cubs Ulaq and Berit, who'd left Denver in June for Cincinnati, were renamed Imaq and Sedna in August-- after the Ohio zoo officials held a naming contest without telling participants that the bears already had names. The change upset a Denver woman who'd paid for the right to name one of the bears here, as well the woman who won the right to change Berit's name to Sedna. "I really didn't know they had names," said Madonna Jaeger of Cincinnati. "I had no clue at all. I thought they were no-name bears coming in."

A three-mile cattle drive down U.S. 550 between Durango and Silverton resulted in two criminal convictions, a seriously injured cowboy, a rattled cowboy, a dead horse and several bruised cows. In March, a jury convicted Silverton schools superintendent Larry Ranney of careless driving for hitting the cattle drive's lead flagger, Mike Jones, and seriously injuring him. Jones's horse, which was also hit, had to be euthanized at the scene. Later in the year, 77-year-old Leslie L. Patrick pleaded guilty to reckless driving and cruelty to animals after he admitted to bumping several cows and another cowboy on horseback with his car during the same cattle drive. Patrick, a former cowboy himself, told police he was hurrying through the herd because his wife was having an asthma attack.

An eight-month-old puppy named Murphy was returned to an Elizabeth family last January after he'd been snatched out of the back of their truck by a couple who later tried to sell him to a pet shop. A store employee had heard about the dognapping, though, and called police, who arrested the couple. Five days after Murphy made it back home, he was hit by a car and killed in Aurora.

Renee Black, 28, a volunteer at the Prairie Wind Wild Animal Refuge near Kiowa, found her right arm being devoured by a Siberian tiger named Boris after she reached into the cage to show a friend how harmless the animal was. Although other volunteers rushed to save her, Black nearly bled to death before a helicopter got her to the hospital. Since the May 20 incident -- which inspired an investigation by the Colorado Department of Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture into unauthorized tours and animal-care violations -- Black has repeatedly blamed herself for Boris's banquet and pleaded with officials not to euthanize the tiger.

ARRESTING BEHAVIOR

In December, Andrew Michael Shaw, 28, was sentenced to five years of probation and one hundred hours of community service for getting into a fistfight after he barked like a dog at a neighbor. Shaw, whose girlfriend told the judge that he often barks, was drunk at the time, police say, and became agitated after the neighbor told him to be quiet.

A 34-year-old Federal Heights woman who was arrested after a bank robbery in January may have used her thirteen-year-old daughter as a lookout, Arvada police said. According to witnesses, the woman had handed a note to the bank teller while her daughter stood by the door.

In March, a man accused of robbing the World Savings and Loan bank on South Colorado Boulevard was apprehended shortly after the theft a few doors away at the Healthy Habits restaurant, where he was eating a salad. Bank employees had followed Stephen Munce after he left the bank with about $1,000. He was about ten bucks lighter when they found him.

A Watkins woman who divorced her husband after he allegedly tried to have her killed decided to remarry him this past April. Thomas Mason had been accused of offering an undercover cop $5,000 to kill Stephanie Mason in 1998. The happy couple credited their reconciliation to faith in God.

In April, Englewood police arrested 350-pound Darrell L. Moore and accused him of lying on his wife during an argument and suffocating her to death. The thirty-year-old Moore told police the couple had been arguing about money and beer.

Three Aspen men were arrested in March after police said they shot a woman in the buttocks with a staple gun. The woman was not injured.

Thomas A. Robinson, 26, was arrested in July and charged with growing more than fifty pot plants on open-space property belonging to the City of Boulder. Sheriff's deputies were tipped off to the ganja garden after they repeatedly saw a man carrying a five-gallon water bag in the area near Eldorado Springs.

 

Mrs. Commerce City 2000, Christine Corso-Delaney, was stripped of her crown in June after authorities learned that she owed more than $7,000 in child support to her ex-husband and three children.

A notorious Peeping Tom, who liked to stand at the bottom of the sewage vault in a park outhouse near Fort Collins and videotape women using the latrine, was finally apprehended in January. Robert Thomas Cobabe, 42, had eluded police for more than a year before they finally compared fingerprints at the scene of the crime to state records. Cobabe had recently submitted his prints to the Colorado Department of Education because he was pursuing a teaching license at Regis University.

Two gunmen who broke into a southeast Denver apartment last January forced two couples in the apartment to strip naked and have sex before robbing them of their money and valuables.

In November, John D'Angelo was sentenced to two years in prison for leaving toxic chemicals in rented storage spaces and abandoning barrels of chemical waste in his ex-girlfriend's yard. D'Angelo, who had been a hazardous-materials recycler in Lakewood, was previously convicted in the 1998 death of a fifteen-year-boy who drank hazardous waste from a plastic bottle that he thought contained water.

A 78-year-old Englewood woman with a bad back and a heart condition managed to free herself after being bound and gagged by two robbers by scooting twenty feet across her basement floor to reach a pair of scissors. The robbers made off with money, jewelry and a car.

Bandits in Weld County stole $8,000 worth of cheese from Crystal Farms, according to police. The thieves took the cheese sometime between April 14 and April 17 and tried to sell it to local stores.

A 62-year-old woman working for Census 2000 was punched and stabbed by three teenagers in May after she was flagged down by a woman asking for directions. The census worker, who also had her van stolen, was treated and released from the hospital.

The sight of a bunch of cops descending on a South Broadway doughnut shop isn't unusual. What was different this time was that the cops were raiding the place. J&S Donuts turned out to be a cover for a back-room meth lab; four people were arrested in the January incident.

THAT STINKS!

Zeke William Ragsdale, a junior at the University of Colorado, was arrested in May and charged with criminal mischief and tampering after police concluded a yearlong investigation into a series of pranks. CU police believe Ragsdale is responsible for hiding stinky squid parts and rotting eggs and meat in the ceilings at several dorms, sickening several students in the process.

A can of solid air freshener that overheated after it was placed next to an elevator's mechanical system was responsible for making 32 people ill at an Army community service building, according to health officials there. Toxic fumes from the hot air freshener caused people to experience nausea, burning eyes, headaches and vomiting.

Police thought a small package someone had left on a statue at the entrance to City Park might be a bomb. When they attempted to detonate it, however, they discovered it was a box of industrial air freshener.

A ten-year-old boy at Henderson Elementary School in Brighton was given a good shower after he jumped into the school's septic tank in February. The tank's concrete cover had been inadvertently removed by a snowplow earlier in the day; extremely charitable police, firefighters and school employees rescued the boy.

Rocky Mountain National Park announced in May that it would spend nearly $300,000 to install nine state-of-the-art toilets with better ventilation. The new commodes replace older, stinkier toilets that campers had complained about.

GOD BLESS IT

Reverend Nelson W. Koscheski of Dallas resigned as a delegate to the Episcopal national convention in Denver after he scattered salt under the tables of gay and lesbian delegates. Scattering salt is a traditional way of warding off the devil; Episcopalians were battling over whether to allow gay ministers and same-sex marriages.

Five nuns, who said they belonged to a group called Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares, were arrested at a public air show at Peterson Air Force Base in early September after they beat a multimillion-dollar fighter jet with hammers and then poured a bottle of their own blood over other military equipment. Originally brought up on felony criminal mischief charges because of high monetary-damage estimates, the nuns were later released from jail when prosecutors said the damage was much less than they had believed. None of the nuns were from Colorado, but according to their lawyer, they are opposed to the militarization of space and see the state as a center for military power.

 

St. Francis of Assisi became Colorado's official patron saint on August 1, after Pope John Paul II approved a request from Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver and two local bishops. The three had petitioned the Holy Father for the designation after the Columbine High School massacre.

Rodney Lyle Scott, 34, of Byers was arrested in August and charged with destroying an unofficial roadside memorial along I-70. Although it is not legal to erect shrines -- which families often put up to recognize the loss of a loved one -- in a public right-of-way, prosecutors said it wasn't legal for Lyle to take the object down, either.

Richard Borelli of Aurora and Brian Byrnes of Colorado Springs were escorted out of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York after they reportedly began shouting during a service honoring Cardinal John O'Connor's eightieth birthday. New York City police charged the men with disrupting a religious service.

Focus on the Family followed the advice of bumper stickers everywhere by focusing on its own family after embarrassing revelations about two of its leaders this year. The right-wing ministry's 1,350 employees joined hands and encircled their Colorado Springs headquarters to pray for senior vice president Mike Trout, who resigned in October after admitting to an extramarital relationship, and for John Paulk, an "ex-gay" man and head of Exodus International, Focus on the Family's "ex-gay" ministry, who was caught hanging out in a Washington, D.C., gay bar in September. "Satan has thrown just about everything in his arsenal at us in the last several weeks," Focus president James Dobson told the crowd.

Fewer than 200 people showed up at Denver's Calvary Temple for Colorado 2000 Ten Commandments, a June rally designed to encourage prayer in the public schools and allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public places. The week before the rally, event chairman Reverend Don Swarthout said the Columbine tragedy wouldn't have happened if Denver were a more Christian community. "Denver isn't exactly a hotbed of Christianity," he'd proclaimed. "The Columbine killings back that up. Does that happen in a Christian town?"

CAR AND DRIVER

Alan and Gary Hatcher, two brothers from Texas, found themselves at the center of a political and sociological storm this summer after their four-wheel-drive vehicles got stuck on a steep slope on the side of 12,000-foot Houghton Mountain near Silverton. The men were driving in an area of fragile tundra that is off limits to motorized vehicles; their trucks, a Dodge Ram and a Jeep Wrangler, were tilted so precariously that the men couldn't move them. For more than a week, law-enforcement officials, environmental activists, the media and local residents tried to decide whether they should ridicule the brothers, prosecute them or simply have them shot. The impasse ended when a Durango man with a Humvee winched the two trucks back onto stable ground as a number of onlookers watched. The Bureau of Land Management eventually fined the Hatchers $300 each.

A Zamboni grooming the frozen surface of Keystone Lake crashed through the ice, then sank like a stone last winter. A giant crane was eventually called in to lift the three-ton resurfacing machine out of the lake and onto the shore. A spot of warm weather may have made the ice especially thin, Keystone officials said.

A vintage 1965 fire truck donated by the City of Glendale to the town of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which had no fire equipment, was seriously damaged in New Mexico in March after the flatbed truck carrying it overturned. Pumper 1 had been on its way to the eastern Mexico beach town when the accident occurred. The truck was eventually repaired in Juarez and driven the rest of the way to Playa del Carmen, where it was paraded through the streets by excited residents.

A 55-year-old Castle Rock woman was charged with assault and reckless driving in January after police said she slammed her car door on a Douglas County Envirotest station employee, then hit two more employees with her car as she left. The woman had complained that her vehicle's emissions test was taking too long.

The driver of a Dodge Dakota was tracked down after his vehicle rammed another car: The hit-and-run suspect's license plate number was imprinted on its victim's bumper.

The Regional Transportation District opened its newest light-rail line in mid-July amid copious amounts of pomp, circumstance and publicity. But very few of the 300 or so politicians and other dignitaries who'd showed up for the kickoff of the $178 million southwest light-rail line were still around in the middle of that evening's rush hour, when a power outage brought the entire system to a screeching halt, stranding passengers inside the cars for about twenty minutes.

 

In June, a man stole a $54,000 RTD bus from an Aurora garage and drove it up and down Colfax Avenue, picking up passengers and dropping them off. Authorities tracked the bus by satellite, but by the time they caught up with it, the man had fled.

THE WILD SIDE

A deer that mysteriously appeared in Denver's Bonnie Brae neighborhood in July led police on a wild chase through the area before it was shot with a tranquilizer gun and turned over to wildlife authorities.

David Zajac, 32, of Frisco, and Adam Little, 27, of Fort Collins, were arrested on November 13 after police said they chased two elk cows onto the Breckenridge Golf Course and shot them. The golf course is surrounded by homes, and the men face charges of reckless endangerment and trespassing, as well as committing several hunting violations.

Dale Clay, 28, told Eagle County authorities that on October 24, a man posing as a "conservation officer" held him up at gunpoint, hit him over the head and stole the elk that Clay had just shot. Clay, who was on a hunting trip with friends and relatives in the White River National Forest, said the man also took his rifle and his coat.

A pet elk named Squeak was shot and killed by a Teller County sheriff's deputy in October after a woman reported that the animal had chased her children. The shooting, ordered by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, enraged the community of Woodland Park, which had helped raise Squeak after her mother was killed by a car two years earlier. The elk had become a local celebrity, even allowing people to dress it up. (Squeak had had an orange pumpkin costume around her neck when she was shot.) Officials countered that Squeak might have been a pet once, but that she'd gone bad.

Don Braeske went fishing for bass one May morning at a pond near his Thornton home and hooked a three-foot-long caiman instead. After showing co-workers the reptile, which is a cousin of the crocodile, Braeske turned it over to the Colorado Herpetological Society. It was the sixth time in three years that the society has had to pick up a caiman, which some people keep as pets; the animal was eventually given to the Colorado Alligator Farm near Alamosa.

Two angry robins kept Arvada mailman Dave Jackson from delivering the mail in the 6400 block of Welch Street for four days in June -- swooping down on him, knocking his hat off and pecking at his ears. The robins apparently stopped their attacks after an angry resident complained that he wasn't getting his mail.

John Spencer, a 36-year-old ranch hand employed by NYPD Blue star Rick Schroder, died after being chased off the edge of a ninety-foot cliff by a bull, according to Mesa County sheriff's deputies. The incident occurred on November 6, after Spencer went to round up cattle on Schroder's 16,000-acre Mesa Mood ranch near Glade Park.

Ten sheep visiting the Denver Pavilions in January for a National Western Stock Show promotion got loose and ran wild around the mall for several minutes at lunchtime. Sheepdogs eventually contained the escapees.

Federal officials based in Fort Collins revealed that they have been working on chemical contraceptives for animals that are considered pests. As an alternative to the controversial practice of killing nuisance animals, the contraceptives would be put in food near where the animals live. The list of potential safe-sex practicers includes Norway mice, brown tree snakes, white-tailed deer, prairie dogs, Canada Geese and coyotes.

Bowing to pressure from animal activists, Wynkoop Brewery owner John Hickenlooper replaced his annual October Running of the Pigs, which had featured leashed pigs walked around the block by local celebrities, with a Prairie Dog Preservation Day. The new event raised money for the embattled varmints by selling Prairie Pup Pale Ale in commemorative 'I Saved a Prairie Dog at the Wynkoop Brewing Co.' souvenir glasses.

FIRE WHEN READY

A first date that began with wine and a barbecue ended when Kim Barnes, 39, accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own gun. Barnes had wanted to show his gun to his date but it went off before he was ready. Luckily, the woman was a nurse and treated Barnes until help arrived.

Cops from the Weld County towns of Dacono, Firestone and Frederick had a hard time dealing with some borrowed automatic rifles during a September training exercise on private land near Fort Lupton. The officers, who hadn't handled the weapons before, had trouble hitting official targets and instead sent bullets flying into a nearby neighborhood and over the head of a man who was cleaning his yard after a weekend barbecue. No one was injured.

 

On November 8, the day after the elections, ultra-conservative former state senator Charlie Duke, who'd resigned from office in 1998 because, he said, God told him to, made news of a non-political nature: He was arrested for carrying a concealed and loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun into the Denver City and County Building. The gun was in a bag that Duke had placed on a security scanner as he entered the building. The former lawmaker, who is now a truck driver and was headed to court on a traffic charge, claimed that the incident was inadvertent. "I know the law. I just flat forgot that I had my personal protection in the bag," he said. Duke had tried to get back into politics this year -- again because God told him to -- but was prevented from doing so in September, when Secretary of State Donetta Davidson ruled that Duke, who'd switched from the Republican Party to the American Constitution Party, wasn't eligible to run for the state House of Representatives. American Constitution Party rules say a candidate must have been a member of the party for sixty days prior to being nominated as a candidate, and Duke hadn't switched his affiliation until the day after the nomination.

Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson was cleared of any wrongdoing after he accidentally shot his assistant outside his Woody Creek home near Aspen. Thompson, 63, was trying to scare off a black bear with a shotgun when Debra Fuller apparently walked into the path of the gun. She was wounded in the arm.

Two men were arrested in Ringwood, New Jersey, in January after they used a local elementary school as the set for a movie based on the Columbine massacre. According to police, William Apricino and Joseph Miller had filmed themselves walking around the school wearing black trenchcoats and carrying guns for Duck: The Carbine Massacre. They were charged with possession of firearms on school grounds, a felony.

In April, Republican representative Mark Paschall suggested an amendment to a safe-school bill that would arm 10 percent of school staffs, including teachers, across the state. The amendment surprised a number of Paschall's colleagues, who refused to even consider it. "I'm dead serious," Paschall told them.

Three girls -- ages twelve, fourteen and fifteen -- were charged with several felonies in February after they allegedly walked into a nail salon, threatened employees with a semi-automatic handgun and made off with a pile of money. "Put your hands up or I'll blow your head off," one of the girls was reported to have said.

Police in Wheat Ridge seized more than forty guns from two units in the Camelot Club Apartments after residents complained about children brandishing the weapons at one another.

HACK ATTACK

Kerry Bensman of Lafayette was nearly arrested after he discovered a security flaw in the town's Web site while he was trying to download a city council agenda. Searching for that information in August, he found a page that allowed him to delete items from the site -- so he did, replacing an outdated item with "TEST August 1, 2000." He then alerted city officials, who called the police. Bensman was given a warning.

In November, a nineteen-year-old former temporary employee of the Colorado Secretary of State's Office was charged with abusing public records after the Denver District Attorney's Office investigated allegations that he had tampered with campaign finance information as he was entering the information onto the department's Web site. Matthew Chidley, who was responsible for adding about 30,000 records to the site, allegedly changed an entry for a group opposed to the medical marijuana initiative to say that it had paid for "bribes," "propaganda," "chains and shackles" and "Nazi Party membership."

The same month that Denvergov.org was voted the best city Web site in the country by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, a hacker broke into the site and replaced the front page with a plea to save Napster, the embattled online music downloading service. A city employee noticed the attack just before midnight on October 3.

An anonymous e-mailer sent threats to eight Colorado lawmakers who the author apparently thought were supporters of tighter gun restrictions. "We will NOT tolerate the passage of these bills, we will NOT honor them, we will NOT obey them," the e-mail said. "You cowards and traitors want a war, we'll gladly give you one." The only problem was that at least one of the lawmakers, Representative Bill Swenson of Longmont, wasn't in favor of tighter gun rules.

A SPORTING CHANCE

Denver Broncos receptionist Maeve Drake fielded more than 800 phone calls in a 24-hour period from people who believed they might be able to replace kicker Jason Elam, who'd fractured two vertebrae in his back and had to sit out several games. Five guys actually showed up at the Broncos' complex on September 12, including one who said he had an appointment with special-teams coach Rick Dennison. The man, who was wearing cleats, was booted. "It's been a zoo here," Drake told the Denver Post. "Everyone and their mother and their grandmother and their great-grandmother now feels like they can be the kicker for the Denver Broncos."

 

The Federal Election Commission began investigating the Denver Broncos for possible campaign violations in May after the team held a March rally at its training camp for George W. Bush -- complete with cheerleaders chanting "No More Gore" and a smiling Mike Shanahan, who gave Bush a jersey with the number 1 on the back. Although the FEC wouldn't comment on the case, a law prohibits corporations from endorsing clearly identified candidates in most cases. Broncos spokesman Paul Kirk said the rally was held at Dove Valley because Broncos exec Joe Ellis is Bush's first cousin.

The air part of the Red Bull Rock 'n' Roll Air competition at Rock Rocks Amphitheatre was grounded in September after promoters discovered that the giant wooden ramp that was supposed to be used for a ski and snowboard jump competition was unsafe.

An Aspen man who skis almost every day at Aspen Highlands was charged with assault in February after he got into a disagreement with an Aspen Skiing Company employee about how many cookies he could take from a skier services building. Dave Silver usually takes quite a few cookies, police said, and when Stephan Shearer asked him not to take so many, Silver got mad. He skied one more run and then returned and grabbed Shearer by the thumb, tearing a ligament. Shearer required surgery.

Colorado Rockies officials announced in August that tens of thousands of promotional pewter key chains -- featuring either a baseball or a mitt -- handed out at games in 1998 and 1999 contained enough lead to endanger the health of infants who sucked on them. The key chains were recalled by the team.

South High School volunteer football coach Harold Johnson resigned in October after his brother Stephen Johnson, 47, was charged with menacing and unlawful possession of a weapon on campus stemming from an incident in which Stephen threatened two assistant coaches with a gun after practice, police said. The coach had allegedly called his brother to come back him up in a confrontation with the assistants. A day before Harold Johnson resigned, the team advanced to its first Denver Preps League championship in more than twenty years.

Denver Broncos fans watching a match-up against the New England Patriots in Mile High Stadium on October 1 set a Guinness world record, when they achieved the "loudest roar in a stadium." The planned halftime event produced a noise level of 128.7 decibels -- equivalent to that of a jumbo jet. Too bad the Broncos lost the game.

Hometown boxing hero and two-time World Boxing Council lightweight champion Stevie Johnston had a rough year. First he lost his title to Mexican boxer Jose Luis Castillo in a fight in June in California. Then he had to deal with one of the most ridiculous chapters in boxing history after a September rematch with Castillo at the Pepsi Center. Johnston was declared the victor in that fight by a one-point margin, delighting the crowd. But fifteen minutes later, boxing officials realized they'd made a mathematical error and that the score was really tied (in boxing, a tie means that the champ keeps his title). The mistake made national news. Adding to Johnston's troubles were two DUI convictions: Over the summer, he'd violated his probation in those cases by not attending alcohol-education classes while he was training for the first Castillo fight. In October, a judge gave him until February 22 to finish the classes or face jail time. Johnston is now dealing with questions about his future in the ring; he told the Denver Post that he was interested in going into the real estate business.

FOLLOW THE LEADER

In August, Englewood City Councilman Peter "Mike" Yurchick was arrested by Arvada police as part of an investigation into stolen auto parts and charged with theft for receiving stolen parts at his auto-salvage yard. Yurchick, 48, had taken office in November 1999. In May, fellow councilmember Ann Nabholz, 46, was charged with a DUI after she registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.20, twice the legal driving limit. Nabholz pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay a $100 fine and perform 48 hours of community service.

 

The head of Colorado's anti-drinking-and-driving campaign, who was charged with a DWAI in 1999 while he was in Grand Junction for a car rally, had his trial postponed twice this year (it's now set for January 2001). John Conger, 56, the director of the Transportation Safety Office of the Colorado Department of Transportation, had a blood-alcohol level of .09 percent when he was arrested, police said. He now works for a state program called New Century Colorado, which studies inefficiencies in government.

The head of Aspen's liquor-licensing authority was charged with a DUI in April after police said they watched his car jump over a curb. Sixty-year-old Terry Allen had been the chairman of the town's liquor board for several years.

A nineteen-year veteran evidence analyst with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was arrested in March after he allegedly stole some tablets of the illegal drug ecstasy from the bureau's Montrose lab. Gary Koverman, 51, was charged with five felonies in connection with the case. He is the first bureau employee to be arrested in the agency's history.

State treasurer Mike Coffman was embarrassed when he realized in July that he'd failed to pay the quarterly withholding taxes for his company. Coffman, who'd founded Colorado Property Management Group, which manages Denver-area residential communities, ten years ago, said he hadn't been keeping up with its day-to-day operations. Tory Brown, a CPA who handled the books for Coffman's firm, said the treasurer used $5,000 of his own money to cover the bill. Coffman sold the company in early August.

In January, an Arvada seventh-grader scolded Governor Bill Owens during his monthly radio show on KOA because she'd received a letter from his office that contained more than ten grammatical errors. Although Owens first tried to blame his staff, he eventually apologized to the girl, saying anything that leaves the office with his signature is his responsibility.

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was cited by authorities in August, after he chased a neighbor's dog onto public lands and started shooting at it. (He missed.) Campbell was sentenced to ten hours of community service at the Four Corners Iron Horse Motorcycle Rally, an event he helped found.

David Grimm, a former PR flak for both the City of Boulder and the University of Colorado at Boulder, was arrested in June and charged with assault and domestic violence after he allegedly threw something at his wife. "I was clearly drunk," he told the Boulder Daily Camera, adding that he planned to seek alcohol-abuse counseling.

Denver Public Schools chief operating officer Craig Cook was suspended without pay for five days in May after he made light of a 1999 incident in which he choked, pushed and threatened district spokesman Mark Stevens. During an April speech at a computer conference in Englewood, Cook had called himself the "Denver choker."

Sam Riddle, the controversial political consultant who'd served as a high-priced aide to late Colorado secretary of state Vikki Buckley and as the spokesman for the family of slain Columbine High student Isaiah Shoels, was found guilty in December of DUI and careless driving stemming from an arrest a year earlier. It was his second alcohol-related conviction in two years. Now living in Michigan, Riddle has been working as a Green Party organizer.

Autumn Black, an advocate for victims of domestic violence and an employee of the Parker Police Department, was arrested in May and charged with third-degree assault and domestic violence after an argument with her husband led to fisticuffs, according to Douglas County authorities. Black had been involved in the high-profile case in which Denver Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith was charged with domestic violence.

Three veteran Englewood cops who mooned a group of people during a June retirement party at the Englewood Golf Club were suspended without pay in August. Several women had complained when the cops -- a division chief, a sergeant and a detective -- dropped trou and exposed their backsides. Alcohol was involved, according to Englewood officials.

TIME WELL SPENT

Astronauts on the Space Shuttle Endeavor carried a Columbine bear with them into space on January 31. The bear, wearing a "We Are Columbine" T-shirt, was one of many made by Columbine High School student Stephanie Munson, who was shot in the ankle during the attack. Munson had offered the bears for sale for $10.95, with the idea of giving proceeds to other victims; she and her family traveled to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch.

Back in January, when producers for an as-yet-unknown show called Survivor showed up in Denver, who could have known that they would help make Gold Hill resident Greg Buis, 24, one of the most famous Coloradans of the year? Unfortunately for Buis, who was voted off the show on July 19, he also became known as one of the stinkiest Coloradans of the year after producer Mark Burnettin, in his book Survivor: The Ultimate Game, reported that Buis's "body odor was palpable from several feet away." Although Buis started dating fellow contestant Colleen, he apparently eschewed the limelight after the show, turning down the cheap publicity ploys in which other Survivor sluts participated. When last heard from, Buis was talking about making documentary films about plants and flowers.

 

The FBI revealed in January that it had kept a 33-page file on John Denver before he died in a plane crash in 1997. The file contains information about a narcotics investigation directed toward the Mafia, in which Denver's name surfaced; it also has mentions of threats made against the singer and his wife.

Colorado's former on-the-go governor, Roy Romer, took over as superintendent of the Los Angeles County public school district this past summer, and one of the district's first acts under its new leader was to auction off obsolete equipment, including printing presses, woodworking tables, typewriters and record players. Romer himself was not auctioned.

In May, a new portrait of former governor Romer suddenly appeared on a wall inside the Colorado Capitol about a year after the old portrait had disappeared. Apparently Romer had decided that the previous portrait -- in which he was wearing his trademark leather bomber jacket -- wasn't formal enough, so he'd had a second one painted, showing him in a suit and tie. Although the first painting was a gift from the state, Romer said he paid for the second one himself.

And in September, a bust of Romer that had been surreptitiously placed in the Capitol rotunda just after he left office in 1998 was removed when the Capitol Building Advisory Committee decided it violated building rules. According to the committee, commemorative memorials of people who made significant contributions to Colorado may be considered for placement in the Capitol only 25 years after that person's death. Busts of former governor Dick Lamm and former lieutenant governor George Brown, who are both still alive and kicking, will remain in the Capitol because they were installed before the rules were put into place.

In February, Jonathon Soquet, twenty, suffered minor injuries when he crashed into a snow embankment while trying to soar over U.S. Highway 6 on skis. Jumping over the highway at Loveland Pass has become a popular pastime in recent years, according to police, but so far, no one who has done so has been charged with any sort of crime.

Benjamin Moore, an employee of City Street Bagels in Boulder, filed a complaint in April under a new city anti-discrimination rule, claiming that his boss wouldn't allow him to wear a pink skirt while on the job. Moore, 38, who was saving money for a sex-change operation, dropped the complaint in June after store owner Susan Gross acknowledged Moore's right to express himself. The city policy, which had been approved in February, protects transgendered people from discrimination.

In July, federal officials revealed that workers at the Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons plant took nuclear-weapons parts home with them as mementos after the plant closed in 1989. The non-radioactive parts, all filched from trash cans, were used as paperweights, candy dishes and shelf displays, according to a U.S. Energy Department report. All of the parts were returned in 1998, the DOE added.

In July, Denver Post reporter Trent Seibert appeared naked in a picture in his own paper -- strategically posed so as not to expose too much, of course -- alongside his glowing first-person account of staying at the Mountain Air Ranch family nudist resort near Conifer.

Boulder County sheriff's deputies began patrolling an out-of-the-way area called Dream Canyon in July after residents complained that the craggy cliffs and narrow gorges behind Sugar Loaf Mountain were becoming a mecca for gay men who wanted to sunbathe naked or have sex.

Residents living on Columbine Court, a street in a housing development in St. Augustine, Florida, asked that their street be renamed because Columbine Court constantly reminded them of the Columbine High School massacre. The developer agreed, and the street is now called Cloudberry Branch Way.

JAIL BAIT

Inmates who get involved in food fights at the El Paso County Jail are punished with something called "Nutraloaf" -- served three times a day for seven days straight. The loaf is a nutritionally complete mixture of ground beef, onions, eggs, powdered milk, cabbage, carrots, beans and potatoes.

A Denver jail inmate who was being treated for a leg injury at Denver Health Medical Center in May threw his crutches at sheriff's deputies and escaped. Since Kelly Bersagel, 22, was able to run away, police wondered if he had faked the injury. Bersagel is still at large.

 

Five inmates at the Larimer County Detention Center cordoned themselves off and held authorities at bay for four hours in October after they found out that their shaving privileges would be restricted. The men spilled water and soap onto the floors, pulled a phone out of the wall and covered the windows with paper. A confrontation was avoided, though, after they heard a police dog barking and decided to return to their cells. No one was injured.

WHAT A WAY TO GO

Charles Darun Tyler, 34, was electrocuted in April after apparently touching a backyard fence that he'd wired with 120 volts of electricity. Tyler's wife told police that the fence was electrified during the spring and summer to keep out dogs. An electrical inspector who investigated the scene said Tyler had used a twelve-foot extension cord to rig the fence; most livestock fences, he added, only use twelve volts.

Mario Villalva, 26, was killed in June after he leapt off a West Colfax Avenue bridge in an effort to elude police. Villalva had been speeding on I-25 and driving in a closed lane.


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