Happy transit and sad tragedy mark Golden’s 2017

Posted 1/2/18

The 151st year of publication for the Golden Transcript was marked with big anniversaries for area attractions like the Astor House and the Calvary Episcopal Church, but time waits for no …

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Happy transit and sad tragedy mark Golden’s 2017

Posted

The 151st year of publication for the Golden Transcript was marked with big anniversaries for area attractions like the Astor House and the Calvary Episcopal Church, but time waits for no municipality. The puzzles and pressures of the region’s transit needs continue, as did the tragedies and triumphs of those that call this city home.

Here, in no set order, are the top stories that filled our pages in 2017.

Accidents and natural disasters

Mother Nature was not gentle to the Golden area this year. In February, a nighttime fire on Green Mountain threatened homes on the northern flanks of the mountain. A month later on March 9 came the South Table Mountain Fire. It grew from about a quarter acre in size to about 75 acres in the course of a day, just south of 32nd Avenue, near Coors facilities. The fire triggered some pre-evacuations, and knocked out power to part of the city.

A 30-year-old woman visiting Colorado from Europe was pinned under a boulder, estimated to be about 5 feet by 4 feet and 1,500 pounds, for about two hours on April 5 while hiking on North Table Mountain.

She suffered multiple fractures, but was successfully brought to the top of the mountain plateau by area rescuers, unconscious but in stable condition.

Then came the May 8 hailstorm, which lasted only 20 minutes, but coated the entire city in more than an inch of hail, as big as a quarter in diameter. Buildings and vehicles in Golden, particulariliy the southern end of town, was extensive.

Clear Creek claimed two lives this year, both tubers who came to the creek to cool off this summer.

On July 21, Claudia Cano, 48, of El Paso, Texas, died in a tubing accident on Clear Creek while on vacation in the area.

Cano was transported to the hospital where she was declared dead.

Amber Raye Presson, 31, of Denver died on Aug. 13 as she rescued her son, 11, from swift water in Clear Creek.

Presson was pronounced dead on the scene. Her son was not physically injured.

Lookout Mountain Road also proved deadly.

Donovan Bowen, 45, of Wheat Ridge died Aug. 7 after being in a one-vehicle crash. At about 6 p.m., Bowen was headed eastbound in a 1997 Dodge pickup truck when he failed to make a left turn on the windy road and hit a guardrail. The truck rolled down Lookout Mountain, and Bowen was ejected from the vehicle during the incident. He died on the scene.

A man died on Oct. 7 after he was bitten by a rattlesnake while hiking Mt. Galbraith in Golden. He was transported to St. Anthony’s hospital with life-threatening injuries. He was pronounced dead just after 5 p.m.

Happily, the story of a Golden High School student who fell down an approximate 100-foot mine shaft near Golden on Dec. 7 had a happier ending. He suffered no injuries more serious than a broken leg.

Home invaders doing time

The community was rocked by a brazen and bloody home invasion of two well-known community middle school teachers in May of 2016. All four of the people convicted of the crime were sentenced in 2017.

On Dec. 19, 2016, Cody Jones and Caleb Williams pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and first-degree burglary — class three felonies — and attempted aggravated robbery, a class four felony. Jones was 20 at the time of his guilty plea, and Williams was 21.

Jones was the first to be sentenced on Feb. 23, given 45 years in the Department of Corrections. Williams was sentenced on March 10, and the court imposed 42 years in prison.

Tyler Gorringe was 17 at the time of the attack, but was tried as an adult. He pleaded guilty to the same charges as Jones and Williams. On April 7, Gorringe was given a suspended 24-year prison sentence on the condition that he successfully complete six years in the Youthful Offender System — a medium security prison for juveniles/youth who were prosecuted, convicted and sentenced as adults. However, even after completion of the program at the Youthful Offender System, an adult felony conviction will remain on his permanent record.

Julia Johnson, the driver on the night of the attack, pleaded guilty to accessory to burglary, which is a felony, on Jan. 3. She was 19. On March 16, she received a six-year sentence of 600 hours of community service — 100 hours to be completed each year for six years.

Cyclist shooter sentenced

Scott Brown, 65, of Aurora was sentenced on Oct. 13 for shooting a Golden cyclist in the back with a pellet gun.

He will spend one-and-a-half years in county jail, serve two years of probation and complete 50 hours of community service. Conditions of his probation are that he undergoes mental health evaluation and treatment, he will not be allowed to possess a weapon of any kind, and a protection order will be issued.

The incident happened in the early morning hours on July 16. Golden business owners and lifelong cyclists Bart Sheldrake and Whitney Painter, husband and wife, were riding their tandem bicycle on Golden Gate Canyon Road.

Golden RV park homicide

After two days of conducting interviews with Austin Jeffrey Boutain, 24, and Kathleen Elizabeth Rose Boutain, 23, Jefferson County authorities named them as the sole suspects for the Oct. 27 murder of Mitchell Bradford Ingle, 63.

The two are in custody in a Salt Lake county jail after Austin Boutain allegedly shot and killed ChenWei Guo, an international student studying pre-computer science at the University of Utah, on Oct. 30.

At 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, Salt Lake City Police requested that the Golden Police do a welfare check on Ingle, who had a month-long lease at Clear Creek RV Park, because of the ongoing investigation of Guo’s death. Golden Police discovered Ingle deceased inside.

According to the arrest affidavit, Utah’s Deputy Chief Rick McClenon stated that Austin Boutain was interviewed and “he confessed to the murder in Utah and the murder in Golden.”

Mines’ proposed parking garage

Golden City Council gave Colorado School of Mines the go ahead to construct a parking garage near the historic district, but there are some conditions the school will have to abide by.

The parking garage will be located at 13th and Maple streets. It will be four levels and able to accommodate 650 parking spaces. A section of 14th Street will be opened up to increase access to and from the garage.

The School of Mines has yet to comment on whether it will proceed with the project, or what the time frame for construction will be.

Golden gets ‘linked’

The City of Golden hosted a grand opening celebration of the improved U.S. 6 and 19th Street interchange — a construction project called Linking Lookout — on Oct. 1.

The completed project is a user-friendly path that links downtown Golden and the communities at the base of Lookout Mountain. It provides a safer way for cyclists, pedestrians and cars to cross over U.S. 6 to 19th Street without hindering the flow of traffic.

Construction began in January, and was completed on time and within budget.

Cost of the project was $25 million. CDOT provided a grant toward the project, which covered $20 million of that cost. The Colorado School of Mines contributed land plus $1 million toward the project and the City of Golden payed the remainder.

That wasn’t the city’s only transportation project though. The northern end of Washington Avenue saw some rennovation too. The Complete Streets Project sought to increase useability for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders.

On the other end of the city, community debate kicked up this year concerning the roundabouts on Heritage Road. At least 100 community members attended a public meeting on Oct. 23 to hear some recommendations on improving the roundabouts on Heritage Road, and traffic calming on Eagle Ridge Drive.

The recommendations were presented by Bohannan Huston, an engineering firm, which was contracted by the City of Golden to conduct an independent, third party review of the corridor.

Bohannan Huston’s preliminary report is available on the city’s website.

CDOT announced in May that its transportation commission is providing $2.5 million in grant money to fund 14 Safe Routes to School (SRTS) projects this year.

One of them is a sidewalk project along West 50th Avenue, a road that services Fairmount, 15975 W. 50th Ave., and Cornerstone Montessori School, 15970 W. 50th Ave.

Currently, there is no safe pedestrian or bike path along West 50th Avenue. It is a narrow road with one traffic lane for each direction. There are no wide shoulders, bike lanes or sidewalks for students to walk or bike to school.

The grant award will fund 80 percent of the project, and construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

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