What You’ll Find At Colorado’s Corners – All Four Of Them

Journalist Matt Masich of Denver travelled to the furthest reaches of Colorado – he literally visited every corner of the state. His quest took him from the remote eastern plains to the rugged country of the west. He wrote about his adventures in the May/June issue of Colorado Life.

Listen to Masich’s conversation with Colorado Matters host Andrea Dukakis.

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Colorado Author Nick Arvin’s “Mad Boy” Goes On A Strange And Fascinating Journey through the War of 1812

When you think of the War of 1812 , what comes to mind? Perhaps you know it as the time the British burned the White House. You might also remember that the Star Spangled Banner was written during the war. But did you know the New England states almost seceded from the Union? Or that looting was rampant in and around the battlefield? Denver author Nick Arvin weaves the complex history of the War of 1812 into his latest novel, “Mad Boy.” Just a few pages into the book, a cow falls through a roof, killing the mother of ten-year-old Henry Phipps and launching him on an apparently insane quest.

Arvin spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel about choosing this little-known period in American history as a setting for the story.  Listen to their conversation at cpr.org

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Double Amputee Aims To Summit Pikes Peak, Without Prosthetics

Climbing the Manitou Incline’s infamous 2,744 steps is hard. Scaling the 2,000-foot elevation gain using only your arms and backside? That’s even harder. Double amputee Mandy Horvath did just that on April 23. The Colorado Springs woman’s legs were crushed by a train four years ago. She talked to Colorado Matters about her plans to tackle the Incline again on June 10, and continue to the top of Pikes Peak.

After spending months in recovery and falling into depression following her double amputation, Horvath decided to change her attitude and her life. She even got a tattoo on her upper chest saying, “Tell me that I can’t, and I’ll show you that I can.” She anticipates climbing her first 14er to take several days. Someone will carry her prosthetic legs up so Horvath can “stand on the top of Pikes Peak” when she summits. She is also crowdfunding donations to nonprofits the Battle Buddy Foundation and Operation Ward 57.

Listen to Mandy Horvath tell her story on Colorado Matters

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Mike The Headless Chicken Lives On, And On, And On, At Festival In Fruita, Colorado

It’s a story even Barnum, Bailey and Ripley would be impressed by: A rooster living in 1945 in Fruita, Colorado loses his head to farmer Lloyd Olsen’s ax. But to the man’s surprise, the animal was still alive, and would continue to live for 18 more months without the crucial appendage. Now the legacy of the decapitated chicken, later christened Mike, lives on in Fruita’s annual celebration of Mike’s will to live, the Mike The Headless Chicken Festival.

Self-described “weird historian” Marc Hartzman spoke to Colorado Matters about the origins of the bizarre festival. Back in the day, Mike’s owners took him on tour and people lined up to pay 25 cents to see Mike. While you can’t meet Mike at the Fruita festival, you can enter a peeps and wings eating contests and even play chicken poop bingo.

Listen to the Weird Historian on Colorado Matters at cpr.org

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A Violent 1928 Bank Robbery In Lamar Made Forensics History

On May 23, 1928, a heinous crime went unsolved for months, until a fingerprint specialist was able to match a single print from memory. It was the first time a fingerprint had been used to actually find and identify a criminal, and not just prove the guilt of a known suspect.

The story begins when gunshots rang out at a bank in southeastern Colorado. Two men lay dead, and the bank robbers sped away with what would be more than $3 million in today’s dollars. The fugitives committed two more murders, before seeming to vanish. The crime was so violent it grabbed national attention.

Colorado Life editor Matt Masich recently wrote about the bank robbery in Lamar, notable not just for its violence but for its place in forensics history. Investigators pursued the four men for more than a year and 150,000 miles, by car, train and airplane. But it was a single fingerprint that brought the criminal Fleagle Gang to justice.

Listen to Masich tell the story on Colorado Matters on cpr.org

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Pueblo City-County Library District Receives National Medal

The Pueblo City-County Library District is receiving the nation’s highest honor from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Pueblo’s libraries are among the 10 institutions being recognized for their community work. Jon Walker, executive director for the library district, says libraries aren’t just warehouses for books anymore. Instead, he says, they’re places where anyone can access the information they need to live in the 21st century.

“We’re going to try and plug you in and help you gain that information and that learning and knowledge,” Walker says. “We don’t do it for you, but we support you in that endeavor.”

One of the people the library helped is Puebloan Mandy Brown, who had experienced homelessness.

“My life was a series of picking bad people and I would start getting on my feet and I’d start doing better and boom there I was in a shelter again,” she says.

Brown initially went to Pueblo’s main library because she wanted to escape the heat and she knew the building was air conditioned. Then she says, even though she was so intimidated by technology she couldn’t even stand next to a computer, the staff got her to try a computer class. Once Brown had some basic skills, a librarian suggested places she could apply for work.

“I was like they think I can hold down a job? And then one day somebody brought up school. And they said well you’re going to go to PCC (Pueblo Community College) aren’t you? And I looked at them like you’ve got to be crazy,” Brown says, “the next time I came in I wanted them to be proud of me, and they were!”

She says it’s because of the library staff that she enrolled in the nursing program at PCC. Now Brown has her own apartment.

“They believed in me and so it made me start believing in me,” she says.

Because of work like this, Pueblo’s libraries are getting the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Services. And both Walker and Brown are headed to Washington, DC next week for the awards ceremony on May 24.

Earlier this year, as the result of a huge social media campaign, the district was also voted best library in the country—an award given by the group Engaging Local Government Leaders.

Listen on KRCC

Listen on CPR

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Last Chance To Comment On Pueblo’s Arkansas River Levee Recreation Master Plan

One of the last chances for the public to give input on future recreation along the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo comes during an open house at Pueblo City Hall Thursday, May 10  from 4 to 6:30 p.m. The city, along with the Pueblo Conservancy District, wants to combine repair work on the levee with recreational improvements in the river corridor.

Project engineer Kim Kock says the scope of the recreation project will depend on how much funding they can get. “We are looking at some wildlife improvements along the river — certainly trail along the top of the levee now that it’s wider is a huge component of this,” he says.

Boating and fishing are among the other amenities that are also part of the plan. Kock says repairs on the section of levee along the existing whitewater park will start in fall of 2019, so there’s more time to apply for grants and other monies. Work on the rest of levee will begin again this fall and is likely to take another two to three years to complete.

Project planners say they would like to take public comments at the city’s website later this month.

Listen to the report on 91.5 KRCC News

Looking downriver at Pueblo Levee Mural on the Arkansas River from nearby the 4th Street Bridge. Photo by Shanna Lewis


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Pueblo Teachers Strike For Pay & Respect

2018Pueblo D60 Strike-0103Hundreds of  teachers, students, parents and others picketed around the Pueblo School District D60 administrative offices at noon Monday as teachers and paraprofessionals went on strike.       -Photo by Shanna Lewis

Teachers will be on the picket lines again this morning, even as the district reopens all pre-schools.

See strike coverage at KRCC.org and CPR.org

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Why Folks in Southern Colorado Often Say, “We Didn’t Cross The Border, The Border Crossed Us.”

There are families in Colorado who didn’t move an inch, but found themselves in another country.

Let’s go back to 1848 — the end of the Mexican-American War. Mexico gave up a huge part of what’s now the southwestern United States. When the border moved, families in the region were split apart, lost their land and more. It’s the subject of a new exhibit called “Borderlands of Southern Colorado” at the El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo.

Dawn DiPrince of History Colorado spoke to Colorado Matters – listen to the conversation at cpr.org

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White Christian Colonialism Persists In Schools, Language, Politics, says Tink Tinker Of Iliff School Of Theology

When he looks around at schools, politics, and even language in the United States, Tink Tinker sees that what he calls white Christian colonialism is alive and well. A member of the Osage nation, the retired professor spent his career at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology teaching people about indigenous cultures. Iliff has launched a program to continue Tinker’s work.

During a wide-ranging interview, Tinker tells Colorado Matters that as recently as the mid-1970s, Iliff itself had a book on display that was a gruesome example of how colonialism was still evident on school grounds. The book was presented as a special gift to Iliff by a Methodist minister in 1893 shortly after the school’s inception. It was a rare book — a history of Christianity dated 1759 — bound in the flayed and tanned skin of a murdered American Indian.

Listen to Tinker on Colorado Matters at cpr.org

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