Shared from The Denver Post: http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/DenverPost/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=TDP%2F2019%2F06%2F26&entity=Ar00104&sk=12EB7313&mode=text
Sheriff has $462 million solution that could mean a tax hike
Inmates are booked at the jail in Arapahoe County. Built in 1986 to house 386 inmates, the jail has nowhere to grow, the sheriff says.
Inside the crowded Arapahoe County Detention Center, inmates often sleep triple bunked in cells the size of an office cubicle. Between a cell’s bunk bed, toilet and desk, inmates have little room to move in the 70-square-foot space.
And triple bunking isn’t the only problem inside one of the state’s largest jails, Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown said. The pipes are leaking, the kitchen is too small, staff members work out of former visitation rooms, and there is only one classroom for nearly 1,200 inmates. The rapidly populating county has outgrown the outdated, too-small facility that was built in 1986 to hold 386 inmates, Brown said.
For a decade, the sheriff’s office has repaired and retrofitted the jail to expand its capacity. But there are no more efficiencies to be made, Brown said. That’s why he wants a new $462 million jail that will increase the number of beds by 200 and create more space for services meant to limit the number of inmates who set foot in the jail in the first place.
“The space that we need isn’t more beds, it’s processing and programming,” said Vince Line, detention bureau chief for the sheriff’s office. “We could be doing so much more.”
Newly elected Brown joins the ranks of many other Colorado sheriffs who for years have pushed for new jails to ease overcrowding and replace outdated facilities. Even when counties built new, larger facilities, many filled quicker than expected. Although the number of arrests statewide has declined since 1997, the state’s jail population has grown more than 60 percent in that time, federal statistics show.
Sheriffs, lawmakers and criminal justice reform activists point to a wide range of explanations and solutions for the phenomena, which became the focus of a number of bills in the 2019 legislative session. Brown in part attributes the high number of inmates to a rise in the number of serious crimes in the area, resulting in longer stays and higher bond amounts. Activists, however, point to bail practices and how the criminal justice system handles addiction as some of the main drivers.
Arapahoe County is not exempt from the trend. Arrests by the eight agencies that use the county jail dropped steadily to 24,332 in 2017 from 31,418 in 2008, according to federal statistics. The jail’s population dipped to a low average of 976 inmates on any day in 2014 but has risen every year since then. This year, the average daily population regularly has numbered more than 1,100 and sometimes has exceeded 1,200.
More than half of those in the jail have not been convicted and are waiting for their case to be decided.
The jail’s inmate population regularly hovers at or above 80 percent of its 1,458 beds — the limit considered functional capacity in jails — and the building’s design means it has nowhere to grow. That many people jammed together creates stress and danger for inmates and staff alike, Brown said. Twenty-four deputies were injured by inmates last year, the highest ever recorded in the jail.
“It’s a pressure cooker,” Brown said.
But other Colorado sheriffs’ campaigns for new jails in recent years show a new Arapahoe County Jail may be a long way off.
Inmates splashed through a puddle in the kitchen of the Arapahoe County Jail last week as they prepared lunch for their 1,180 peers. The tile-covered concrete floor has been damaged by decades of use. Inches-deep gashes in the middle of the kitchen fill with water daily as thousands of meals are prepared in a kitchen designed to feed 386.
The sheriff’s office tried to hire a contractor to fix the floor, but the damage was so bad no company would put in a bid, Line said.
The booking area is the busiest part of the entire facility, Line said. It’s where new arrivals are processed, departing inmates are released and inmates traveling to court or medical appointments wait for transport.
It’s difficult to keep inmates who are enemies or co-defendants apart from each other in the small space, he said. Deputies and officers dropping off people who have been arrested sometimes have to wait in long lines to access the limited spots in the jail’s secure unloading area. On one night last week, 81 inmates stayed in the booking area designed for 29.
“It’s kind of like playing Tetris,” Line said as he gave a tour to a Denver Post reporter.
The jail in 2005 added two more pods to the original building to make room for more inmates, but those pods filled quickly. The sheriff’s office double bunked cells, then triple bunked them. The facility often does not meet the standard ratio of square feet per inmate in day rooms and outdoor exercise space required for its accreditation, Line said.
“We’re efficiency-ed out,” Brown said.
Repairing the facility’s troubled plumbing sometimes means that dozens of inmates have to be moved from their cells and day room area and then crowded into an open-air yard during rain or snow because there’s nowhere else for them to go. Over the past 10 years, the jail and the courthouse have sucked up 20 percent, or $32 million, of the county’s total building improvement budget, said Michelle Halstead, Arapahoe County spokeswoman.
But the biggest problem, Line said, is that there is no space to provide the programs and services shown to reduce recidivism and prepare inmates to re-enter the outside world. There are 10 computers, one classroom and limited services available to the more than 1,100 inmates in the facility on any given day. The jail has one full-time and one part-time employee overseeing inmate programs. The limited space has forced Line to turn down grant money for new services, he said.
“Even if I got another employee I have nowhere to put them,” Line said.
Plans for the new facility include 1,612 beds, a new booking center, a medical and behavioral health unit, 11 classrooms and a new outpatient health facility. The facility would also require more employees and different operating costs that are not included in the $462 million estimate.
“It’s a large price tag, there’s no doubt about it,” said Jeff Baker, chairman of the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners. “The biggest challenge is figuring out how to fund it.”
Current county revenue could not pay for the new facility, he said. Instead, the county will have to explore grants and the possibility of property or sales tax increases. A 25-person planning committee will make recommendations for solutions in July.
“Nothing is off the table,” Baker said.
Baker recognized that it might be hard to convince voters to raise taxes to improve conditions for inmates.
“It’s not to make it easier for people to do their time,” he said. “It’s to make it safer. Our job is to treat these prisoners with respect, human dignity and give them the resources necessary to excel, to return to the community better than when they came into the jail.”
Brown’s recent push for publicity about the jail adds him to the ranks of several other Colorado sheriffs trying to win over public support for renovation or rebuilding of their facilities. Brown’s predecessors, Dave Walcher and Grayson Robinson, also campaigned for a new Arapahoe County Jail.
Many of Colorado’s jails are overcrowded, and it can take years for counties to address the problem. When they are built, they often fill quickly.
Before even approaching the question of funding, sheriffs first have to convince taxpayers to care about the jail and the people who live there, Ted Mink, interim executive director of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, said. It can be easy for people not involved in the justice system to not pay attention, he said.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle pushed for solutions for his overcrowded jail for years before voters in November approved funding for an alternative facility. Denver city officials persuaded voters to build a $378 million justice center downtown that included a new jail, intended to relieve overcrowding at the Smith Road facility. That new jail, the Downtown Detention Center, soon became overcrowded as well. Pueblo County jail deputies went door to door in 2017 to ask residents to approve a tax hike for a new facility, but voters still said no.
“You need to keep beating the drum,” Mink said. “Sheriff Brown is doing the right thing in beating the drum and making people aware. At some point, they’re going to have to do something about it.”
A snapshot of jail populations on a single day in November 2017 shows that 21 of the state’s 57 jails were more than 80 percent full, including Adams, Denver and Jefferson counties, according to data compiled by the ACLU of Colorado.
The Arapahoe County Justice Coordinating Committee also has tried a number of alternative solutions to minimize jail population, said Kally Enright, criminal justice planner for the county.
Crowding of the state’s prisons and jails inspired a number of bills passed by lawmakers in the last session intended to limit the number of people in jails and how long inmates stay there before trial. Laws included eliminating and defelonizing some drug crimes, eliminating cash bail for petty offenses and creating timelines for setting bail and releasing those who pay it.
Becca Curry, staff attorney at the ACLU of Colorado, said Arapahoe County and other agencies considering a new jail should hold off until there’s enough time to see how the new laws affect jail populations. Once a jail is larger, those working in the criminal justice system lose the incentive to try alternative methods to reducing inmate populations.
“It ends up being a Band-Aid on the much bigger problem of over-incarceration in Colorado,” she said.
Summer is the season for sales, and the community is invited to take a stroll through the Used Book Sale on Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13, from 9 am-6:30 pm, and Sunday, July 14, 12-4 pm, at Southglenn Library, 6972 S. Vine St., Centennial. Shoppers will find gently-loved books, collectibles, DVDs and audiobooks for all ages.
Through the sale of used books, the Friends of Arapahoe Libraries, which is coordinating the sale, raises funds to support programs and projects for library events, materials, equipment and more. Last year, the Friends of Arapahoe Libraries granted more than $100,000.
For more information, or to join the Friends of Arapahoe Libraries, call 303-LIBRARY (303-542-7279), or visit arapahoelibraries.org.
About Arapahoe Libraries
Arapahoe Libraries serve 250,000 patrons and includes eight community libraries, a jail library and a Library on Wheels in Arapahoe County, Colorado. For more information, visit arapahoelibraries.org.
(LITTLETON, COLO.) After a nationwide search, Centura Health and Littleton Adventist Hospital have named Jillyan McKinney, MBA, as Chief Executive Officer at Littleton Adventist Hospital. McKinney has been serving as the CEO at Centura Health’s Avista Adventist Hospital since October 2017. She will transition to Littleton on July 14, 2019.
As a mission inspired, executive leader, McKinney brings more than 10 years of operational experience. Most recently, at Centura Health - Avista Adventist Hospital, she led a team that maintained a Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade “A” rating and Avista was ranked in the top15% nationally for patient experience. Prior to joining Centura Health, she worked as the Vice President of Strategic Business Development for the Lake Nona and Sunbridge communities for Florida Hospital in Orlando, Fl.
Jillyan is an impressive and enthusiastic leader who is on a Mission to bring greater physician alignment and lead her team to a collective goal of improving the health and lives of her community. “Whether working on expanding service offerings, physician recruitment, the opening of a new facility or developing my team, I focus on results and the patient experience,” stated Jillyan. “I am dedicated to creating a culture that revolves around the patient and hope to engage my team to continuously improve performance for the benefit of the entire Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and Centennial communities.”
Throughout her career in health care, Jillyan has always placed the organization’s mission at the forefront of every initiative. Examples of improvement by her team have been in throughput in emergency and surgical services, improved employee and physician engagement and outstanding strides in clinical excellence.
Centura Health and Littleton Adventist Hospital are already regional leaders in health care. McKinney’s appointment will prove to continue that trend. She believes that together, Centura Health and Littleton Adventist Hospital will continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and caregivers as they fulfill their mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ by caring for those who are ill and by nurturing the health of the people in our communities.
ABOUT LITTLETON ADVENTIST HOSPITAL
Littleton Adventist Hospital provides comprehensive, compassionate care, serving the south metro Denver area and specializes in neurosciences and stroke care, emergency and trauma services, Level III NICU, and cancer care. Littleton Adventist Hospital is sponsored by Adventist Health System and is part of Centura Health, Colorado’s largest hospital and health care network. Our strength lies in the ability to offer a team of connected networks and shared resources to deliver accessible, reliable and cost-effective health care across the state. For more information about Littleton Adventist Hospital, please visit the Littleton Adventist Hospital website.
ABOUT CENTURA HEALTH
Centura Health connects individuals, families and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and 21,000 of the best hearts and minds in health care. Through our 17 hospitals, two senior living communities, neighborhood health centers, physician practices and clinics, home care and hospice services, and Flight For Life® Colorado, our caregivers make the region’s best health care accessible. We’re on a mission to build flourishing communities and whole person care. We’re Centura Health, and we’re your dedicated health partner for life. For information on Centura Health or any of the facilities in our network, please visit the Centura Health website.
This week the Colorado budget writers, members of the Joint Budget Committee, heard the June revenue forecast from both Legislative Council and the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB). Both illustrated signs of slowing economic growth for Colorado, but still foresee strong gains over last year between six and ten percent.
Legislative Council predicts that the General Assembly will have $763.1 million more to save or spend in FY 2020-2021. When population and inflation growth are taken into account, this number is reduced to $338.2 million. According to Legislative Council, revenue is expected to come in $342.1 million above the Referendum C cap in FY 2020-21, resulting in a FY 2021-22 TABOR refund obligation. There is also enough of a TABOR refund in FY 2019-20 to fully fund the senior and veterans homestead exemptions and return money to tax-payers through a six-tier sales tax refund mechanism (est. avg. $69 per taxpayer).
OSPB’s forecast is more conservative in its projections for FY 2020-21. 20-21 is the year that is not yet budgeted. OSPB estimates around $623 million will have to be refunded. Senior and veteran property homestead exemptions, the six-tier tax refund and a temporary lower rate for the income tax will all be in place if these predictions prove true.
Both forecasts in the larger picture are closely aligned predicting continued, but slowing, growth. There is agreement in the uncertainty of the forecasts due to national and global dynamics and trends like the trade war with China. Aiding in the uncertainty is: a rumor about a special session, and Proposition CC.
State Sen. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City), chair of the JBC, told the Colorado Sun that legislators are discussing a bill that would increase the revenue limit in TABOR by $200 million, meaning the state could pay out smaller refunds. If supported by some key members and the governor, this would be debated during a special session. There is a legal opinion from the legislature’s legal counsel which indicates lawmakers could increase the cap without going to the ballot for a vote in order to reduce the size of the tax refund scheduled for calendar year 2020.
The conversation is taking place as Democratic leaders prepare their campaigns to support Proposition CC on the Nov. 5 ballot. The question will ask voters to allow the state to keep the taxes it collects in future fiscal years. If approved, the measure will allow money in excess of the Referendum C cap to be kept by the state, instead of refunded to the voters, and invested only in K-12 education, higher education and transportation.
The political picture will become clearer once and if these two questions are answered. For now, voters have a better idea about the money at stake in the decisions that lay ahead of JBC members and a detailed look into what the state’s economy could look like in the coming years.
You can find the full forecast documents here:
Legislative Council Forecast
The City of Centennial is currently accepting applications to fill openings on the Senior Commission. This is an Advisory Board to City Council to foster a greater understanding of the concerns of senior citizens and their contributions and to encourage greater senior citizen participation in community issues. Applicants should be at least 60 years of age and residents of the City of Centennial.
All terms are for a period of two years. Meetings are from 2 – 4 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the City’s Public Works Facility located at 7272 South Eagle Street, Centennial, CO 80112. An application may be obtained on the City website, or from the City Clerk, 303-754-3324. The deadline for applying is Friday, July 12, 2019 at 5 p.m.
In a tour coordinated by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce on Monday, June 17th, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner visited with a number of small business owners in Old Town Littleton. The tour was similar to a number of business-focused tours he’s made across Colorado this year. Gardner told business owners he wanted to learn how they’re faring and asked what he can do in Congress to help them be more successful.
“We were pleased to help facilitate these meetings between our members and Senator Gardner,” said Andrew Graham, Chairman of the SMDC Board who walked with Gardner as he made his tour. “We appreciate that the senator made the time to have this dialogue.”
The feedback Gardner received, in short, was that business is good.
Lauren Thome Burgess, founder of Dirt Coffee, a coffee shop employing persons on the autism spectrum, told the senator one of her challenges is finding places to seat all her customers. She said she’s now planning to do some modifications to her shop to accommodate, and asked Gardner to advocate for legislation that supports employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum.
“They’re great employees, but not everyone knows that,” she said. “Employers are sometimes afraid of what they don’t know.”
Mickey Kempf, owner of Bradford Autobody, told Gardner that hail has kept his shop busy. He urged Gardner to work across the political aisle.
“(Consider) them people, not Republications or Democrats,” Kempf advised.
Julie Nygard, owner of The Chocolate Therapist, told Gardner that mandated increases in the minimum wage cost her $15,000 per year.
“When the minimum wage goes up, everyone has to get a raise, not just my minimum wage employees,” she said.
Nygard urged Gardner to assist with making low-cost loans available to businesses like The Chocolate Therapist. She added that she’d like to open a new production facility, but obtaining an affordable loan was a challenge.
Sharon Wilson, Executive Director for the Town Hall Center, stressed the importance of arts funding. Senator Gardner agreed, saying that the arts “is an important part of our communities and economy."
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (June 18, 2019) – UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital is now open and providing advanced, patient-centered care close to home for residents of Douglas County communities and beyond.
During a special ceremony at 5 a.m., the hospital celebrated the opening with a flag-raising, the singing of the national anthem and a blessing for the hospital, its staff and clinicians. At 5:30 a.m., Highlands Ranch Hospital opened its doors to patients.
“We have worked and prepared for this day for some time now, and we are proud to open our doors and welcome patients to our state-of-the-art facility designed for efficiency, safety, convenience and comfort,” said UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital President and CEO Diane Cookson. “Every detail of our new hospital has been developed with patient care as the priority, and I’m confident we’ll be able to provide the very best experience for our patients.”
With 74 inpatient beds and room to grow, the six-story hospital features a birth center including C-section operating rooms and Level III NICU, 18-bed intensive care unit, six operating rooms, a Level III trauma center and emergency department, advanced cardiac services and complete imaging capabilities including 3D mammography and PET/CT. The adjoining UCHealth Highlands Ranch Medical Center houses a two-story cancer center with advanced oncology services.
“We are excited to bring innovative care and an excellent experience to residents in one of the fastest growing areas of the state,” said UCHealth President and CEO Elizabeth Concordia. “It is important for us that our patients have access to advanced care close to home. With improved access to nationally recognized specialists, advanced treatments and clinical trials, we are making health care more convenient and effective, and helping people live their extraordinary lives.”
Many patients living in the Douglas County communities of Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Roxborough, Sterling Ranch, Ken Caryl and Columbine have been traveling to University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus for care. Now they have more options for care, including a cancer center, close to home. The two-story cancer center offers medical oncology, infusion, radiation oncology, clinical trials, surgical sub-specialties and affiliation with the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Specialists from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and University of Colorado Hospital offer clinical trials and innovative treatments sometimes years before they’re more broadly available, giving patients the best possible outcomes. This new hospital will allow patients in this area to receive many of these advanced treatments without having to travel to the Anschutz Medical Campus,” said UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Purcell, who is also the associate director for clinical services at the CU Cancer Center. “This is important, because it ensures patients receive the best and most advanced care.”
Additional services not previously offered in this community that patients may now receive here include:
Approximately 500 employees are on staff to care for patients, guests and the facility. They’ll be joined by hundreds more providers, as UCHealth partners with community physicians and the University of Colorado School of Medicine to provide care at the new hospital.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission will survey the hospital this summer. Following CMS accreditation, the hospital will be able to care for Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare patients.
UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. With over 23,500 employees, UCHealth includes 12 acute-care, full-service hospitals including Highlands Ranch Hospital and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth is dedicated to providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. With more than 150 clinic locations, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.
To be or not to be? That is the question that I am asking myself these days. I am a single mother of 5. I took a risk in 2016 and left California with my five children to Denver, Colorado. Since day one It has been a fighting journey for me. The first day I arrived in Colorado I went straight to Sears in Lakewood and put in an application and had a job, I lived in a motel with my kids for about four days, until I realized I was going to run out of money a lot quicker than I thought. So, I moved my children into The Samaritan House, a shelter for families. Living in a shelter really opened my eyes to what it means to be a mother and to care for my kids. I completed the shelter and moved into my own condo; I've been living in the same place ever since. mind you I just got up and left California, without telling any family or friends I was moving states over. If I would have told anyone I would have not made it this far.
I was always told I wasn't going to be happy, successful, or great in life because I had to many kids and I come from a rough background. I am 3rd generation of drugs and prostitution. I've brought me and my kids this far and this scholarship to EGTC would mean the world for me, it would be the beginning to my career. My short team goal is to finish Emily Griffith and to be around like minded people. My long term is to become an attorney and a motivational speaker. I come from the ghetto of Fresno, California and that's just where I started but it's not where I end.
I am very honest, loving, and teachable and I can change a lot of people’s lives with my story and intelligent mind. My children are depending on me and watch my every move, I received my high school diploma at the age 25 and I know If I keep pushing the way that I have, my kids won’t give up either. I've been abandoning, mistreated, and much more horrible things but that is no excuse. To be, is what I want for me. So, with all that being said and it's not even half of my story, this scholarship would help me out a lot. If I don't get it, well you most likely see me apply again. I know the difference between giving up and letting go and giving up is not what I do.
Read more about the great work that Hide in Plain Sight does at https://www.hideplainsight.org/!
Rolling Smoke BBQ to host family-friendly event with live music and great food
In partnership with the City of Centennial’s Spark Program, Rolling Smoke BBQ is set to host the first ever Blues, Bugs and BBQ event, in Centennial on Saturday, June 15. The family-friendly event on Father’s Day Weekend will feature live music, bar-b-que from Rolling Smoke BBQ’s award-winning menu and of course, plenty of “bugs” with a
crawfish boil. The event is from 1 – 9 p.m. Admission is free; food and beverages available for purchase.
“The City is so excited to be working with Rolling Smoke on our first pop-up event as part of Spark Centennial. We hope to see many people attend this unique event. The Spark Centennial program wants to spark curiosity, connection, pride and investment within our community,” says Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko.
The event will take place in Rolling Smoke BBQ’s parking lot, at the corner of Dry Creek and University Blvd in the University Towne Center shopping center. Local talent Austin Young and Grammy-nominated blues guitarist Trenton Ayers will provide the musical entertainment. There will also be a kids zone with activities for the younger crowd.
“I love the chance to bring our friends, neighbors and families together for an event like this,” said Rolling Smoke BBQ owner Terry Walsh. “I appreciate the City of Centennial launching their Spark Program to create events that highlight the great people and businesses in our community. I am confident this will be the first of many events like this at Rolling Smoke BBQ.”
Rolling Smoke BBQ was recently highlighted as one of the Top 10 BBQ Joints in Denver by Westword and is a preferred food vendor at Red Rocks Amphitheater for the second year in a row.
What: Blues, Bugs and BBQ
When: Saturday June 15th 1pm-9pm
Where: Rolling Smoke BBQ 7470 S. University Blvd, Centennial, CO, 80122
More information: www.rollingsmokebbq.CO
About Rolling Smoke BBQ
Rolling Smoke BBQ began five years ago as a food truck and now has two permanent locations. The first is at the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora and the second is in Centennial at the corner of Dry Creek and University. Rolling Smoke BBQ is also a preferred food vendor at Red Rocks Amphitheater, bringing our smoked meats up to every concert the venue holds.
About Spark Centennial
Spark Centennial is a pilot program launched by the City of Centennial to determine whether short-term pop-ups and events can invigorate our shopping centers and increase pride in Centennial’s neighborhoods. The City will assist citizens in the development of these events to help to spark interaction and connect the community by bringing new life to Centennial’s shopping centers. The hope is to provide funding for five events across the City this year. For more information about Spark Centennial, visit centennialco.gov/spark or contact [email protected]