Latest News – July 7

Skeeter: Not Just One More Clown Around Town

Skeeter the Clown from the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus.

Skeeter the Clown from the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus.

Clowns seem to be a subject that evoke strong emotion, as well as an endless supply of one-liners when notice of their pending arrival hits the newsrooms.

Regardless, most kids love them, and if yours is one of them, then be sure to come and meet Skeeter-the-Clown from the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus this Friday, July 10.

As a front runner of excitement for the upcoming circus, which will be in Leadville on July 17 & 18, kids are invited to come can get a “sneak peak” Meet -n- Greet for Skeeter-the-Clown at the Healy House Museum, 912 Harrison Ave at 11 a.m.

Circus_2015_LionsThe Culpepper & Meriwether Circus is sponsored by the Leadville Lions Club. Please note the venue change as this year the big top will be at the Lake County Rodeo Grounds 6th & McWethy – should be a great, bigger location for all the fun!

The dates and show times are as follows: Fri, July 17shows at 5 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. and Sat, July 18 at 2 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. Advance Tickets are $6 for children and $10 for adults. Circus Tickets are Available at: Peoples Bank,  Saturday’s Discount and Centennial Real Estate.Obit_Spacer_Thin

Friday Nights in Leadville Continues with Song Circle

Friday Nights in Leadville continues this Friday, July 10 with Kelli McCall who will be hosting a Song Circle event at St. George Church, 200 West Fourth Street.

Sponsored by Zuni Canyon Institute, the music forum is free and open to anyone with or without singing ability. Song Circle involves learning and singing international melodies, often in rounds. Call 719-486-1282719-486-1282 for information.

Latest News – July 6

Independence Day Sparkles at 10,200 feet in Leadville!

It was an action-packed Fourth of July weekend in Leadville. From the Firecracker 5k, to fireworks to a BBQ with root beer floats, and nearly perfect weather to match, when it comes to the 2-mile-high Independence Day Celebration, it was sparkles all around!

July 4th kicked off with the Firecracker 5k, seeing a sizeable increase in registration, with 200 racers lacing up to the start line. In the end, it was the hometown Leadville racers who rose to the top of the podium. Bob Sweeny took first place with a time of 18:30. He was followed closely by second place winner, Charles Bedford.

The Firecracker 5k saw a record 200 racers participate in this family-friendly event sponsored by the Leadville. Lae County Sports Hall of Fame. Photo: Leadville Today

The Firecracker 5k saw a record 200 racers participate in this family-friendly event sponsored by the Leadville. Lae County Sports Hall of Fame. Photo: Leadville Today

Rounding out the leader’s podium was third place winner and Highlands Ranch resident Bryce Urabel coming in at a time of 19:16. For the women, it was Leadville native Kelli McCall who took top honors, crossing the finish line at 23:59.

The Firecracker 5k is put on as a fundraiser for the Leadville/Lake County Sports Hall of Fame; this year’s event also benefited the Skyline Youth Baseball League. For full race results: CLICK.

The parade crowds on Historic Harrison Avenue were spilling out into the streets, with the kids scrambling for their share of the candy being thrown by parade entrants.  This year’s Annual Fourth of July Parade, sponsored by the Leadville/Lake County Chamber of Commerce, was a sparkling sea of red, white and blue as businesses, individuals, and organizations patriotically marched down the avenue. The gigantic Eagle from the folks at Greater Heights Academy was particularly impressive, towering above with Harrison Avenue’s historic gems – nice job!

The Greater Heights parade float soared overhead at the July 4th Parade in Leadville.

The Greater Heights parade float soared overhead at the July 4th Parade in Leadville.

After the parade, hundreds of residents and spectators headed up to the Leadville/Lake County Airport afterward for the FREE BBQ provided by airport and Lake County Public Works staff. People waited in long lines to enjoy their tasty hot dog or hamburger while enjoying live music.  

Attendees were then treated to an All-American root-beer float served up by the Leadville /Lake County Fire Rescue. In the past, the firefighters have held their annual ice cream social at the fire house downtown, but when they combined efforts with the airport BBQ this year, it turned into an all-out Leadville party! Hundreds not only enjoyed the food and music, but there were airplanes on display for the kiddos to see up close, as well as the classic car show, which was a big hit!

Free BBQ and Ice Cream?! Hundreds lined up at the Leadville/Lake County Airport for the Annual FREE Cook-Off. In addition, this year the Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue moved their annual July 4th Ice Cream Social up to the airport to join the festivities. The result? One big celebration of America's Birthday in Leadville. Colorado!

Free BBQ and Ice Cream?! Hundreds lined up at the Leadville/Lake County Airport for the Annual FREE Cook-Off. In addition, this year the Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue moved their annual July 4th Ice Cream Social up to the airport to join the festivities. The result? One big celebration of America’s Birthday in Leadville, Colorado!

Independence Day ended with another spectacular fireworks display put on by the Leadville Lions Club. The Tony Hren Memorial Fireworks show is one of the group’s many summer events. This pyrotechnic show is sponsored in part by a generous memorial donation from Hren, who was also a former owner of the Sayer & McKee drugstore. For those who knew him, it’s a fitting tribute to one of Leadville’s civic leaders for many years.

So that wraps up another celebration of America’s birthday at 10,200 feet. Summer is definitely underway in the high country – get out there and enjoy it!Obit_Spacer_Thin

Vacation Bible School For Children Runs July 6 – 19

Leadville’s Holy Family Parish will be offering its Vacation Bible School for all children ages 5 – 13. The two week summer program begins today, July 6 and runs through Sunday, July 19.

Last year's Vacation Bible School included outdoors activities as well as Bible story lessons.

Vacation Bible School includes outdoors activities as well as Bible story lessons.

The program will meet from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the parish office, located next to Leadville’s historic Annunciation Church, 609 Poplar Street. Children can attend any or all of the days of the program.

The program includes studying some exciting stories from the Bible as well as food, activities, story-telling, games, songs and lots of fun!

For more information about this program or to register your child, please contact Reyna or Kathy in the parish office at 719-486-1382. They are also looking for additional volunteers to help with this large, engaging group of children. Whether it’s a day or week, more hands always help.

Latest News – July 5

Should Local Enforcement Officers Use Body Cameras?

By District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial District

In the wake of police officer involved shootings from Ferguson, Missouri to North Charleston, South Carolina, there is no hotter topic among law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys than the routine employment of body cams for patrolling police officers.

DA Bruce Brown

DA Bruce Brown

In next year’s Colorado legislature, which has an enormous appetite right now for regulating police, there are bound to be proposals including requiring body cams for every police department.

An undercurrent of police distrust is driving a need to not to just hear their testimony in court but to see what the officer saw through the utilization of recorders mounted in their cars and upon their bodies. Similarly, police feel vulnerable to people they encounter who might make a false allegation of misconduct against them and the officers themselves view body cams as a tool to prove their own innocence with the tap of the “play” button.

The use of police body cams in the United States is growing. Last December Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans to deploy 7,000 police body cams and the Washington, DC Police Department recently announced that two-hundred officers are participating in a body camera pilot program that could be expanded to include 3,000 officers. The Denver Police Department recently completed a six-month pilot project that outfitted 102 patrol officers with video cameras.

Should Local Law Enforcement Officers Wear Body Cameras to collect evidence?

Should Local Law Enforcement Officers Wear Body Cameras to collect evidence?

Arizona-based Taser International recently reported that as of March 31 it had sold body camera equipment to more than 3,000 police agencies and that over 5,500 police agencies use through which a new video file is uploaded to its “Cloud” hosting service every four seconds.

Cameras and video in public have become a societal norm and there are web cams of city streets, keyhole cams, wedding chapel cams, dash cams, body cams, and today many of us are armed with a mobile devices equipped with video cameras.

Polls show that the American public is comfortable with our growing surveillance culture. According to a recent YouGov / Economist poll taken after the April police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina support for police body cams is high. In the poll 88% of Americans support police officers wearing body cameras with 8% opposed. In that poll 56% percent strongly favor police body cams.

The YouGov poll reveals that support for police body cams is nearly universal with 92% of Democrats and 84% of Republicans and 84% of African-Americans and 89% of whites agreeing that police officers should wear body cams.

With support for police body cams so high and their use by law enforcement agencies growing, what is the downside?

Imagine a scenario where a Colorado citizen dials 9-1-1 believing there is an intruder attempting to gain entry to their home. Within a short time, a Sheriff’s Deputy responds to the call wearing a body cam and is recording everything in their immediate, frontal view. As the officer enters the home within their view is the homeowner’s four-year old child who has toddled out of the nearby bathroom without clothes on in search of pajamas. 
The caller might be upset, barely able to put two words together because of a suspected burglar lurking outside, and they are unlikely to be dressed to receive visitors.

The officer’s presence calms the situation and their quick and thorough investigation reveals that there was no intruder, only fear created by the wind blowing a branch against a window. The entire event, which is a potential embarrassment to the 9-1-1 caller, was recorded by the Deputy’s body cam. Later a curious neighbor learns of the incident and files an Open Records Request for the body cam video footage which includes scenes inside the caller’s home.

Body cam footage is a public record subject to potential disclosure and a government agency wrongfully withholding such records can be required to pay the attorneys fees of a requester. In order to comply with public record requests law enforcement agencies expend significant time and money to edit the tape, such as obscuring faces, before complying with the Open Records Request.

Ultimately the footage could be posted on YouTube subjecting the caller to embarrassment and regret for making the call. And there are many more serious, compromising and damaging scenes that could be posted to the Internet when police videos are in the public domain.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been grappling with the issue of privacy and protection of citizens from police brutality for years. In a 2013 White Paper the ACLU suggested that police departments should require that body cams be worn only by uniformed officers (except in SWAT raids) and that officers should notify people that they are being recorded.

The existence of body cams is not necessarily detrimental to the public interest but the movement towards requiring all police agencies to employ this technology demands a careful consideration from all of our communities to ensure that in advance of deploying body cams, all the associated risks are carefully considered.

During the 2014-2015 session the Colorado State Legislature created a new Department of Public Safety study group that will recommend policies for the use of body cams in a report to be issued by March 2016.

We encourage Colorado citizens to present their views and concerns to the study group to make sure that the people are part of the state’s decision on the use of police body cams.

Bruce Brown is the District Attorney for the 5th Judicial District, incorporating Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit Counties. He can be reached at


Latest News – July 4


Obit_Spacer_ThinGeologic Mosaic Mural Spans Climax to Independence

When you’re in downtown Leadville Today for all of the July 4th fun and festivities, be sure to check out the new The Courthouse Geologic Mosaic Mural located off W. 5th Street. The mural features a cross section of the geology from Fremont Pass, through Leadville and ending at Independence Pass.  It was designed and installed under the direction of the Leadville Arts Coalition Public Art Projects Manager, Amanda Good.

It's a family affair: The mural features a cross section of local geology and is sponsored by the Leadville Arts Coalition. Photo: Leadville Today.

It’s a family affair: The mural features a cross section of local geology and is sponsored by the Leadville Arts Coalition. Photo: Leadville Today.

“Everyone was awesome!” exclaimed Good, speaking to the community involvement. “On Saturday, it was Standing Room Only, people were waiting in line to be a part of the mural.” The timing of the installation was nicely planned, as hundreds of people were downtown for the Inaugural Leadville BBQ and Brew Festival on Saturday, June 27, and happily became part of this community art project.

For those interested in participating and not able to make it down to place a tile, there was an opportunity through tile and stone donation which allowed them to put a special touch to the piece of art. Look closely throughout the design and you’re sure to find a sentimental piece of ceramic from an old plate, or perhaps on old Leadville bottle, so popular among local collectors.

Video of how the geologic mosaic mural came together:


Murals have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years in downtown Leadville. Thanks to efforts by the Leadville Arts Coalitions (LAC), local artists and Harrison Avenue business owners, the historic downtown corridor has been getting its sparkle back. You can read the 2014 Mural story published on Leadville Today: HERE.

So what’s next? Word is the LAC is in the advanced planning stages of another new downtown mural installation. Here’s a hint to the theme: Giddy up, Ski Jorers! Stay tuned to Leadville Today as more details become available.

Latest News – July 3

A July 4th Pass to Celebrate  –  Independence Pass!

So much of Colorado history is associated with mining. Ultimately, it’s the reason that so many flocked to the region in the late 19th century. So it should come as no surprise that notable Independence Pass has a mining connection as well.

Thanks to HB-1021, getting stuck on Independence Pass will cost you . . .more!

Independence Pass at 12,095 feet.

In 1879, two prospectors – W.M. Hurst and Isaac Gadded – struck a rich ore vein on the west side of what is presently known as Independence Pass.  The two lucky miners named their claim for its date of discovery, July 4th – Independence Day! In the end, a newspaper article chronicling the discovery dubbed the pass “Independence,” and the name has remained ever since.

When it was first mapped out in 1873, Independence Pass has known as Hunter Pass, more than likely because it was an un-traveled game trail used to cross the Continental Divide down into the Roaring Fork area.

Of course, once word got out that there was “gold in them thar hills,” miners began to arrive at a rate of over 30 a day. The initial claim indicated that the ore assayed out at $400 in gold and 20 ounces of silver to the ton. Before long, what was once a precarious footpath became a more developed route, allowing burro teams to haul the ore down from the mountain into Leadville smelters and return with supplies and mining materials.

The long, and winding road - Independence Pass' east side

The long, and winding road – Independence Pass’ east side

Now for anyone who’s ever traveled Independence Pass on a good day, in summer, the idea of traversing the route as part of a mule train in colder weather seems like a dangerous trek, requiring many days exposed to the harsh elements that a lofty 12,095 feet in elevation can offer.

Add to that the fear of retaliation from the Ute Indians who had already showed their disdain for the white man encroaching on their sacred territory with the well-known Meeker Massacre, and most miners were content to wait out the harsh winter in Leadville until travel conditions were safer.

However, it didn’t take long for someone to realize the business opportunity of increased travel over Independence Pass. In spring of 1880, the Twin Lakes, Roaring Fork & Grand Colorado River Toll Road Company was formed, clearing a 12-mile passage west from Twin Lakes up to the rich ore veins.

The first crossing of the pass in a wagon occurred on May 25, 1880. Four mules pulled the wagon as far as they could, switching out to sleighs once they reached the deep snows. It would take a week for the wagon to reach Aspen.

Easier by car or pack train? Hard to say! Photo:

Easier by car or pack train? Hard to say! Photo:

The Leadville and Aspen Toll Road Company formally opened its Independence Pass Toll Road for through traffic on November 1, 1881. And it’ll come as no surprise to locals, that it also promptly closed the passageway to all but sleigh traffic due to heavy snow. Snow removal outfits worked constantly throughout the winter to clear heavy snow brought on by avalanches, and winds creating drifts on both sides of the summit. And conditions didn’t seem to improve much over time either.

In fact, the Leadville Chronicle newspaper published an interview with freighter John Borrel regarding a hellacious 14-day mid winter crossing of the Pass to Aspen in 1885:

“It was the dead of winter and snow had been falling until it was ten feet deep. Although traffic was heavy, the snow drifted so badly that the road was not kept open. We were near the top of the range for three days and nights in a traffic jam. Someone got stuck in the snow, teams began to line up, unable to pass, until they reached in both directions for a great distance. We finally cleared the jam by carrying sleds, stages and wagons and their loads out of the road and to new positions. It was mighty labor and we were all exhausted.”

Regardless, the toll road was still profitable, charging round trip rates from Twin Lakes to Aspen at a buck for a pack animal, $6.50 for a double team, and $9.00 for a four-horse team.  Not small change in those days, eventually leading to increased competition.

Businessman and explorer Kit Carson.

Businessman and explorer Kit Carson.

In 1881, famed mountain man Kit Carson established the Leadville, Twin Lakes and Independence Stage and Express Company. One of two express companies providing regular stage service, Carson’s vehicles fought for position with over 50 freight wagons crossing Independence Pass daily. The narrow path, perched on steep mountainsides offered little chance to pass, and combined with the spring mud, made travel an arduous process.

In addition to the traffic, were roadside thieves taking full advantage of the slow moving freight wagons carrying high-grade silver ore. Although rewards were often posted for their capture, none was ever claimed because, quite simply, any thieves caught in the act were simply shot to death on the spot!

But as the story goes with so many stage companies, the railroads were not far behind and by fall of 1887, the Denver & Rio Grande’s rail line between Leadville and Aspen was operating, followed shortly by the completion of the Colorado Midland line to Aspen through the Hagerman Tunnel, putting the first nail in the coffin for the Independence Pass Toll Road. Carson’s last stage crossed the pass on October 24, 1887.

It wasn’t until 1927 that there was any interest in reviving the passageway linking Leadville and Aspen, prompted mainly by an increase in automobile travel. Eventually the interest prompted the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to extend Hwy 82 across the Divide as a graded, gravel road.  It would be another 40 years until CDOT paved the road, although only open seasonally, as it still is presently.

Thanks to hard-working CDOT crews, Independence Pass is traditionally cleared by Memorial Day. Photo: CDOT

Thanks to hard-working CDOT crews, Independence Pass is traditionally cleared by Memorial Day. Photo: CDOT

Today, Independence Pass stands as North America’s highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide. And tomorrow – July 4, 2015 it will celebrate the 136th Anniversary of the lucky gold strike that gave the high top it’s name! Have a great safe Independence Day weekend!

© Leadville Today