The Denver Broncos need to pick a QB to help calm fans

Fans of the Denver Broncos set records with their attendance at training camp this year. It was an impressive show of support for the team, and not an uncommon theme. Broncos country is one of the best fanbases in the NFL. However, Broncos Country is a little uneasy right now.

There is a dark cloud over the franchise. Every report, tweet, or crow about the Broncos is met with fear, anger, arguments, and consternation. The reason for this uneasiness? The obvious football cliche that all franchises hope to avoid. If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none.

There is an interesting phenomenon in football that Denver fans have been dealing with over the summer. With no true QB, every little issue seems like the end of the world. As Ian St. Clair and I discussed on the MHR Radio podcast, not having a solid starter at the QB position makes everything else murky.

Just think back to August 12th. Derek Wolfe goes down with an injury, and Twitter blows up with the end of the season. Losing Wolfe would have been detrimental to the season, but the cloud of darkness crept in pretty quickly. Then Chris Harris Jr. seemed to tweek something. Nothing major, but the reaction on Twitter was deep fear and panic.

Derek Wolfe is not putting any weight on his right leg. Now being carted back to the main building. Awful news.

— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 12, 2017

The observation here is actually a simple one. There is a calming affect a starting QB has on a franchise. Imagine the reaction of Broncos Country during the Peyton Manning era. Yes, fans would have been unhappy. Yes, a small amount of panic may have set in. But no, it would not have been the apocalyptic scene of today’s fans.

At this point, the Broncos need a starting quarterback to simply act as a Xanax for the fans. Whether Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch is named the starter, the sooner it happens the better. It seems as if this will all be over soon. The second preseason game will be Lynch’s chance to impress the coaching staff. Siemian looks like he has done enough to retain the starting job for now. Of course, even after a starter is named everything could change.

Not only is the season far from over, it is far from started. If the last few weeks have been hard on your ticker, you may want to get some heart medication. Until the Broncos have the QB situation figured out, even the smallest blip will cause the sky to tumble. It might be time to buy an umbrella.

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The Denver City Council has approved a $1.8 billion public-private partnership project to redesign the Jeppesen Terminal of Denver International Airport. P3s, which are more commonly used in Europe, Australia and Canada, are typically made up of a private consortium of companies to design, build and finance a project while ownership remains with the public entity. The project is expected to create 400 to 450 construction jobs, more than 800 permanent jobs and "generate an additional $3.5 million in annual taxes and general fund revenue for the City of Denver," the airport said in a statement.

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – A cottonwood tree that provided shade for the Ute tribes of western Colorado before the arrival of white settlers has grown rotten and unstable and must be trimmed into a memorial that recognizes its once-imposing stature.

The Ute Council Tree in the western Colorado town of Delta is believed to be about 215 years old. But the cottonwood can no longer be considered safe, The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel reported .

The Delta County Historical Society reports that the last surviving limb fell on a windless morning Aug. 1.

The Ute tribes whose forebears lived in western Colorado before 1881, when the region was opened up for settlement, will be consulted about what steps to take next, Jim Wetzel, director of the Delta County Historical Society Museum, said Friday.

“Culturally, it’s important to the Utes,” Wetzel said.

Related: This Fort Collins man wants a ban on big, brittle trees

There are some who say the tree was a meeting place for Utes and the settlers, but he has found no evidence to support that claim,, Wetzel said.

It could be, however, that Utes met there to discuss such things as treaties with the United States, but no documents were signed under its shade, he said. Most of those events took place in Washington, D.C., he said.

The tree, which once was part of a cottonwood gallery along the Gunnison River on the east side of Delta, has withered over the last 25 years, having lost all but its crown.

The lower trunk was filled with concrete in 1961, but it’s become clear that the tree core has been hollowed out with rot, the society said.

David Bailey, curator of history for the Museums of Western Colorado, said he hoped a cutting from the council tree could be planted nearby as a living tribute to the Utes and their history.

About 10 feet of the trunk will remain as a memorial, Wetzel said.

Outdoors: What’s in the worst shape at Rocky? The stuff you can’t see

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DENVER — The Denver Sheriff’s Department paid out $14 million in overtime in 2016, and despite efforts to lower costs, is on pace to match that number this year.

The Department hired nearly 200 new deputies in the past year and vowed to change employment practices to help solve the problem. But a union leader tells the FOX 31 Problem Solvers that deputies are concerned.

“We had 80 slots just today alone to fill,” said FOP Lodge #27 Vice President Mike Britton. “And that’s on a regular basis.”

Britton says he has already worked 438 hours of overtime in the first six months of 2017.

“Today I worked 14 hours,” he said. “Tomorrow I’ll work 14 more. Right now we don’t have a safe jail. When you start having officers work this amount of overtime.”

Britton tells the Problem Solvers that each officer can work a maximum of 32 hours of overtime each week, in addition to their regular hours.

“You’re talking well over 100 hours in a given two-week period,” he said. “You cannot sustain that without people breaking down and without mistakes being made.”

After paying out $14 million in overtime in 2016, in the first six months of 2017 the Department has paid out nearly $7 million, according to the Department of Public Safety.

One deputy cashed in more than $111,000 in overtime in 2016, while three others made at least $90,000 in overtime alone.

Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman was unavailable for an interview request from the Problem Solvers, but said in a statement:

“While overtime use remains a focal point, the Department recognizes that recruiting and employee retention are the larger, underlying issue and work is underway to employ strategies that will increase staffing level.”

Britton says deputies have been calling for more hires, but it’s not working.

“These officers see the dysfunction of this Department and the way it is being managed and they exit as quick as they get in there,” he said. “It’s a mess here. Total mess, and it’s not getting any better.”

Despite the overtime pay, the Department came in under their total budget by $126,000 in 2016 and is on pace to come in under budget in 2017, according to Sheriff Firman.

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt visited the site of the devastating Gold King Mine spill in Colorado that spilled 3 million gallons of contaminated mine water into the Cement Creek and Animas River, saying the Obama EPA “failed” at its mission to protect the environment.

“EPA should be held to the same standard as those we regulate,” Pruitt said about the visit that took place on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the spill.

“The previous administration failed those who counted on them to protect the environment,” Pruitt said.

The press announcement of the visit noted that in January 2017, the previous EPA administration denied 79 administrative claims filed by farmers, ranchers, homeowners, businesses, employees, state and local governments, as well as other individuals seeking damages in connection with the Gold King Mine incident.

“Despite the release of 3 million gallons of contaminated water tainted with arsenic, lead and other heavy metals, which turned the Animas River mustard-yellow, and moved along the San Juan River through Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and American Indian land to Lake Powell in Utah, the EPA Administrator at the time, Gina McCarthy, nor President Obama nor Vice President Biden, ever visited the site of the spill itself,” the press release announcing the visit said.

The visit fulfilled the promise Pruitt made during his confirmation hearing to visit the site. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper joined Pruitt for a tour of the site.

Following the tour, EPA political appointees participated in a town hall in Durango, Colo. with local residents about how they were affected by the spill.

“We want to listen and learn directly from the community,” Ken Wagner, senior advisor to the administrator for regional and state affairs, said.

“The local community is ground zero in environmental disasters, and we want to hear their concerns and do our best to coordinate and provide assistance,” Wagner said.

The Denver Post reported that Pruitt pointed out the hypocrisy on this disaster compared to the Obama administration’s anti-fossil fuel agenda.

“I think it’s safe to say if this had been any other company, a BP-type of a situation, there would have been an investigation that would ensue by the agency and there would have been accountability,” Pruitt said. “That didn’t take place here.

“The federal government should not be able to hide behind sovereign immunity when the facts don’t meet the protections,” Pruitt said.

“In my estimation, the EPA walked away from those folks and left them in a position of incurring damages without taking accountability,” Pruitt said.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrest a suspect in Los Angeles on Feb. 17. Under a proposal by two Denver City Council members, the Denver Sheriff Department no longer would send notification to ICE when an inmate wanted on an immigration detainer is about to be released from jail.

Re: “Latest ICE-dodging proposal in Denver goes too far,” July 25 editorial.

As a Denver resident, I have been appalled and scared since the election. I’m appalled at the level of hate coming from the federal administration that I now see in this city I love so much. I feel scared of the policies that threaten to tear apart thousands more families, including my own.

As a DACA recipient, I have been able to work doing what I love, contributing to our economy. I am anxiously awaiting the fate of DACA. Meanwhile, at the local level, our city’s collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement has me equally stressed.

Allowing ICE to enter schools, churches and courthouses and allowing ICE to pick up people in jail — when we know rehabilitation and a just and fair criminal justice system will always be more effective — has to end. The proposed city ordinance will do just this, and with it will come a truly safe and welcoming city for all.

Paul Yumbla, Denver

The writer is a Denver teacher and a fellow with Padres & Jóvenes Unidos.

I was frustrated to read your response to Denver City Council members Robin Kniech and Paul Lopez’s bill. To suggest that this bill is simply a knee-jerk reaction to Donald Trump is offensive and misses the bigger issue. The proposed bill is not in violation of any federal laws and repeatedly states that city officials must comply with federal law. Secondly, we’ve seen what happens when cities or states support anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona and Texas. Families are torn apart, more tax dollars are spent, anyone undocumented stops reporting crimes even when they’re the victims, and Latino people are even more the targets of racism.

Naomi W. Nishi, Denver

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Soon after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, Nancy Rose moved with her husband from Washington State to Colorado to help care for her mom.

One day, Nancy, 51, marveled at how a handcrafted multicolored pastel quilt designed to provide tactile stimulation —called a sensory blanket — calmed her restless mother down.

Rose finally had an answer for all the unused fabric she had lying around the house: she would make one of the quilts. “It was a way to cope and release stress,” says Rose, “and to help someone else out.”

Rose didn’t stop at just one. In the two years since, she has created and given away over 150 of her unique quilts, to people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Most nights and weekends, Rose, a hospital respiratory therapist, cuts and sews swaths of colorful fabric and adorns the cloth with a variety of objects: buttons, snaps, zippers, doilies and even baby clothes that can occupy a recipient’s mind for hours. Each quilt has a theme, including golf, football and a bed & breakfast designed for a former B&B owner.

She’s been offered payment for the quilts but always refuses. “I just do it for mom,” Rose says, “to honor her.”

Mom is Betty Muir, 81, of Westminster, Colorado, who once loved to sit in her backyard and garden, and drive around town. For years, Muir was becoming increasingly forgetful and repeating phrases. When she got lost while driving six years ago “that really scared her,” says Rose. Testing soon after led to her diagnosis.

As Rose has watched her mother’s transformation from a social butterfly to someone struggling to verbally communicate, it’s left the devoted daughter “sad, angry, frustrated,” Rose says. “You have to laugh at some of the things or it’s sad, like she can’t form sentences.”

“There are good days and bad days watching it, it’s hard,” says Rose. “But it has brought us closer. I had a new kind of bonding with her.”

Muir lives in a community for people with dementia called Greenridge Place, where Rose has donated some 30 of her quilts.

“I can’t be more grateful and more blessed and thanking her is not enough,” says Greenridge Place activities director Michelle Meyer. “Something so little as these blankets make a world of difference to our residents.”

Rose crafted 70 quilts as centerpieces for the Alzheimer Association of Colorado’s annual fundraiser in March, with each given to someone with dementia.

“It was amazing to see what she did,” says Michelle Nelson, who helped organize the event. “It was her way of coping, and I don’t think she understands the magnitude of what she did.”

Attendee Dana Licht, 48, of Greenwood Village, Colorado, took a Bronco’s-themed quilt dotted with pouches and corks to her mother in Los Angeles.

“My mom loves the quilt, it’s calming and distracting in a good way,” she says. “I think Nancy is a blessing, and an amazing person to do that.”

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Colorado Springs City Council remains…

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The president of the Colorado Springs City Council says a majority of council members support letting local voters decide whether to allow recreational marijuana sales.

“We have five or six (of the nine) Council votes,” said President Richard Skorman. “I know the mayor (John Suthers) will oppose it. We’ll have a good community-wide discussion about it. But I don’t expect anything on the ballot until next year at the earliest.”

The Colorado Springs City Council holds a work session Monday.

Colorado Springs has not allowed recreational pot sales since they were approved by a statewide vote in 2013. Manitou Springs, with two dispensaries open, remains the only municipality in El Paso County selling the product.

One of two recreational marijuana dispensaries in Manitou Springs.

“It seems silly to ask voters to decide again after they already decided in 2013,” Skorman said. “If the citizens don’t want it, so be it. But let them decide if we should regulate it and keep the tax revenue.”

Most local authorities are still strongly opposed to recreational sales, a stance that was emphasized twice recently — at a joint meeting of the Council and El Paso County commissioners, and a private meeting involving Suthers and federal officials.

Councilman Merv Bennett is among the opponents.

“I don’t want the issue on the ballot,” he said. “That would mean I’m in favor of it, and I’m not. If the mayor, police chief, fire chief, district attorney, the military installations and school districts say they don’t want it, that’s good enough for me. They think there would be too many problems and not enough resources to deal with them.”

In other Council business, several city staff members and planners presented an update on an ongoing master plan for the southwest downtown area.

The plan now includes improving the area immediately east of the intersection of Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue where the Olympic Museum is currently under construction.

The city has been working on developing the downtown area since 1971, and has updated the plan 10 times.

Monday’s presentation provided another update and look ahead to plan over the next 20 years.

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A cross-country commercial airline flight was diverted Wednesday night, landing in Denver before taking off again.

Spirit Airlines flight 576, from Oakland, Calif., to Baltimore safely landed at Denver International Airport at 8:07 p.m., said Heath Montgomery, a DIA spokesman.

The flight was diverted by a “possible disturbance” on board, Montgomery said. There were no reports of injuries.

Denver police and the FBI “met the flight at the gate” to investigate, Montgomery said.

The flight was delayed by about 95 minutes and was due to arrive in Baltimore at about 3:45 a.m. Eastern Time, according to the Spirit website.

It was not clear Wednesday night whether anyone was removed from the flight or arrested.

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Jeremy Papasso, Boulder Daily Camera

Colorado wildlife managers and homeowners have killed at least 34 bears so far this summer, reflecting the bears’ growing reliance on human-derived food amid a seasonal shortage of forage in some areas.

This surge in what the managers call “lethal removals” builds on a pattern in Colorado, where people kill more than 1,000 bears a year. Hunters killed 1,051 bears in 2015 and 933 in 2016, Colorado Parks and Wildlife data show. Government wildlife managers and landowners kill additional bears deemed dangerous; last year, 334 bears were killed — 66 by state wildlife officials. At least 77 bears died last year when hit by vehicles.

Nobody is comfortable with what’s happening with bears, the largest surviving carnivores in the West. Some wildlife managers point to recent dry conditions and shortages of natural food that may be driving bears into cities. But there is evidence that some bears facing urbanization of their habitat are growing accustomed to eating human food in trash cans, campsites, cars and homes.

Even when natural foods are sufficient, about 32 percent of bears on Colorado’s Front Range still ate human food, a 2016 study led by CPW biologist Mathew Alldredge concluded. In western Colorado, 20 percent of bears still ate human food. The researchers analyzed hair and blood from bears killed by hunters to determine their diets.

“We’re receiving more reports of bears investigating people, getting closer to people than we normally would expect,” said Matt Thorpe, a CPW area wildlife manager in Durango (population 20,000), a stronghold for bears. “They’re not demonstrating that natural fear of humans that we usually see.”

Up to 50 people a day are calling the southwest regional office and reporting problematic bear behavior. In the Durango area, an early lush spring gave way to a June 10 freeze and hot dry spells, promising fewer forbs, acorns and berries.

A woman in Bayfield reported a bear chasing her children. She told CPW officials she yelled at the bear and tried to drive it away but that it kept following her kids. A federal contractor used dogs to track down and kill that bear.

In cases like this, public-safety priorities give wildlife managers little option but to kill bears, Thorpe said.

“Nobody gets into this line of work for that,” Thorpe said. “My darkest days as a game warden have been those days when I had to put a bear down — especially if it could have been prevented if people were more diligent about securing trash and other attractants.”

CPW officials say a late spring freeze and a dry July could limit the quantity and quality of forage for bears in some areas.

“… With higher human population densities, bears can be expected to encounter human food more often unless people change their personal behavior,” Lauren Truitt, a CPW spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The closer a bear, or bears, live to populated areas the more we will have human-wildlife encounters due to the easy source of food available.”

The agency estimates a statewide bear population of 17,000 to 20,000, but officials say that number is based on extrapolations and concede significant uncertainty. State wildlife managers have allowed increased hunting, issuing 17,000 bear-hunting licenses in 2014, up from 10,000 in 1997.

State wildlife biologists have established that bears adapt to use human food at least when necessary, and that females foraging aggressively to boost their weight are more successful reproducing when they eat human food.

The recent killings were done by CPW and federal contract wildlife managers. A few bears in the southwestern region were trapped and moved, but biologists say that strategy often fails if bears are moved to habitat occupied by other bears or if a bear already is strongly habituated to eating human trash.

Typically, bears confronted by humans back off. Those turning to human food sources typically are curious young males. CPW’s Thorpe said inquisitive bears increasingly may have had experiences moving with their mothers as cubs into urban terrain near people to find food — rendering them bolder than bears in the past.

Government wildlife managers and landowners killed at least eight bears in the southwestern area between Pagosa Springs and Cortez, CPW officials said. One bear had been eating chickens. Ten more were killed in mountainous areas to the east.

A CPW spokeswoman said 16 bears were killed in the northwestern Colorado, and a couple were killed in the northeast region that includes metro Denver and the booming north Front Range suburbs. One bear attacked a camper west of Denver who was sleeping outside a tent. The bear bit his head.

Traditionally at this time of year, bears forage for forbs and bugs. But they are opportunistic omnivores who find food wherever they can.

Colorado’s booming human population and expanding suburbs mean bears face more people more often, learning to locate human food in trash cans, in pet food bowls outside houses — and occasionally enter houses and cars.

Thorpe said at least four bears this month broke into homes near Durango. The homeowners responded. “Justifiably,” he said, “they shot the bears.”

This summer’s bear-human conflicts reflect complex dynamics that CPW researchers are studying. A recent bear-tracking project over six years around Durango reached conclusions expected to inform a smarter approach to bears. Among the findings:

• Bear-human conflicts do not necessarily mean the bear population is growing but that bears are adapting to take advantage of urban expansion.

• Bears that eat human food do not become addicted — contrary to long-held beliefs that have justified a two-strikes policy of euthanizing “food-conditioned” bears.

• Rising temperatures around dens and urban development in bear habitat shorten bear hibernation, leading more bears out more often, potentially increasing clashes with people.

• Colorado’s bear population could decline. In southwestern Colorado around Durango, where researchers studied 617 bears starting in 2011, the female bear population decreased by 60 percent.

“Coloradans do care about their wildlife, and we need their help to keep these bears wild. It is on all of us to do our part by taking simple steps like locking up trash, taking down bird feeders,” Truitt said. “If more people would be willing to secure their trash we could significantly reduce many of the encounters we face each summer.”

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