October Snow, Teens Under Stress, Community Handball, A Struggling Library And More Photos From The Week

November 1, 2019
Martin Lomeli hits a jump on a saucer sled at Ruby Hill Park on a snow day, Oct. 29, 2019.Martin Lomeli hits a jump on a saucer sled at Ruby Hill Park on a snow day, Oct. 29, 2019.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Martin Lomeli hits a jump on a saucer sled at Ruby Hill Park on a snow day, Oct. 29, 2019.

“The snowstorms we typically have in October aren't really associated with air that is this cold,” said Becky Bolinger with the Colorado Climate Center. “This is more consistent with the cold air we might expect to see in December or January. So I think those two combined really make it pretty rare, not completely unprecedented.”

What has been most interesting to Bolinger about the weather in October is how cold it has gotten since September. Last month was the hottest September on record, with temperatures in the 100s. 

“It pretty much feels like we went from a summer month to a winter month."

Indie Cass McCombsHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Boarding an eastbound bus on 23rd Avenue in the Park Hill neighborhood. Denver woke up to several inches of snow Monday, Oct. 28 2019, making for a cold and slippery commute.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Moose plays with his human, Luke Yeager, in the snow on Capitol Hill in Denver on Oct. 28, 2019.
Denver Aurora Snow Storm October 29 2019Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Clearing snow from the platforms at the Peoria station. A second day of snow swept across the Front Range on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019.
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Teens Under Stress

Teens in America are struggling. It's especially true in Colorado, where rates of mental health issues, substance abuse and suicide are rising. We're investigating the causes — and possible fixes in a months-long special report. Dozens of teens have shared intimate stories about the pressures they face, and explained what they’d like to see change.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Clarise at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax Avenue in Denver.
Teens Jose Garza Shawn MashallJenny Brundin/CPR News
Teens Jose and Shawn.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
David, an 8th grader at Alameda International Junior/Senior High School, speaks to John Daley and Children’s Hospital Colorado psychiatrist Joel Stoddard about phone use on Oct. 2, 2019.

VA Doesn’t Cover Service Dogs To Help With PTSD

Air Force veteran Ken Morrow was never deployed, but his time in the service left him with injuries anyway. For years, he was subjected to loud explosions and he suffered a severe head injury on the job. He lives with a traumatic brain injury as well as hearing and mobility problems. 

Today, Morrow relies almost exclusively on Toby, his black German shepherd, to cope with those lingering conditions, as well as long-standing anger issues. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will help veterans obtain and care for service dogs to help with certain physical conditions, like blindness. But, the agency has stopped short of providing significant resources for service dogs to help with psychological symptoms.

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Air Force Veteran Ken Morrow relies on his service dog Toby to help him deal with conditions ranging from vertigo to anger issues.

Creepy Moment At The Museum

Happy (belated) Halloween! So, the Denverite folks wanted to do something super on-brand to celebrate. It happened in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s vertebrate zoology lab and collections. The Halloween tie-in: we were looking at lots of dead animals. Spooky, right?

An actual orangutan hand in a jar seen during a spooky science tour of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for Denverite members, Oct. 25, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Bats inside a Denver Museum of Nature and Science collections cabinet, Oct. 25, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A barn owl that's been processed in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's vertebrate zoology lab, Oct. 25, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Meet Whittier's Handball Community

The beat-up old court in Denver's Whittier neighborhood, owned by the local Salvation Army, isn’t much to look at. But it often attracts dozens of Latino families daily, with even larger crowds on weekends. Guys hunch over card games while they wait to play. They bring their kids and spouses, and sometimes throw cookouts and play Norteño music on boomboxes. They're taking part in one of the oldest games in the world, with roots going back to ancient Egypt.

191009 HANDBALL DENVERHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Daily when the weather's good, Latino families gather at the handball court in the Whittier neighborhood to watch and play after work.
191009 HANDBALL DENVERHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Handball in the Whittier neighborhood.
191009 HANDBALL DENVERHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Handball in the Whittier neighborhood.

Will Delta County Libraries Wither?

Some years, the number of cows outpaces the number of people in Delta County. Its 30,000 humans are spread between one small city and a handful of tiny towns that dot an irrigated desert. Almost none have a movie theater, bowling alley or stoplight available nearby.

But nearly all of them have a library, started by residents, some more than a century ago. Generations later, voters in the same communities are deciding whether to fund those libraries with a tax increase or effectively scale them back.

Delta Library VoteStina Sieg/CPR News
Anya Ullmann reads in the children’s section of the Hotchkiss Public Library. Delta County Libraries, like many library systems across Colorado, have been hit hard by state tax law that has dramatically cut their revenue. Now, they’re asking voters to approve a tax increase to help restore the services, hours and staff that have been lost.
Delta Library VoteStina Sieg/CPR News
Senior librarian Sarah Smith leads Cederedge’s weekly storytime, which parents say is one of the only activities for little kids in this rural town of a few thousand people.
Delta Library VoteStina Sieg/CPR News
While the Cedaredge Public Library has this spooky donation jar available, what it’s really hoping for is generosity from the community at the ballot box. A similar tax increase was voted down in 2013, but library advocates say they’re hopeful, and have a coordinated “yes” campaign.

The Report On The Deadly Firestone Home Blast Is Out

For two and a half years, Erin Martinez waited for the federal government to finish its investigation into what caused the home explosion that killed her husband and brother. The National Transportation and Safety Board released that report, and Martinez is disappointed.

“There are no recommendations on how we can keep these things from happening again,” she said.

Weld County Oil DrillingHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Drilling operations exist in close quarters with homes, farms and epic mountain scenery in Weld County.
FIRESTONE HOME EXPLOSION SITE OCTOBER 2019Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
In the fall of 2019, there are very few signs remaining of the home that exploded in 2017 on Twilight Avenue in the Oak Meadows subdivision of Firestone. The blast was blamed on a leaking, disused gas flowline owned by the former Anadarko Petroleum. Mark Martinez and his brother-in-law Joe Irwin, both 42 years old, were killed in the Firestone blast. Martinez’ wife Erin was seriously injured.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Erin Martinez, left, holds her 11-year-old daughter Jaelynn's hand as they watch Gov. Jared Polis sign Senate Bill 181 into law. The law calls for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to elevate public health and safety in its regulations. Martinez's brother, Joey Irwin, and husband, Mark Martinez, were killed in a gas line explosion in Firestone two years ago.