Highlands Ranch Herald 1231

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  • Bright lights bring prizes Winners announced in annual HRCA contest

    By Alex DeWind adewind@coloradocommunitymedia.com

    Highlands Ranch Community Associa-tions annual Holiday House Decorating Contest had 17 entries this year. Partici-pants were asked to complete an online entry with a photo by Dec. 5, and the community voted online Dec. 7 through Dec. 11.

    Meet the winners:

    First placeThe DePoty family, at Blackbird Place,

    near South University Boulevard and South Quebec Street, went with a Star Wars theme this year following the pre-miere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ron, his wife Megan, and their two boys spent three consecutive weekends deco-rating their home. Every year it gets bigger and better, Ron said.

    What will they do with the $200 prize?Probably pay the electrical bill, Ron

    said, jokingly.

    Second placeHunter Bogle, 13, at Bentwood Circle,

    off Wildcat Reserve Parkway near South-ridge Recreation Center, sketched out a plan with his mother and stepfather before decorating their home, which took about a month. Their theme was all things Christ-mas with a dancing Santa on the doorstep and candy canes scattered throughout the yard. Hunter was initially interested when a neighbor down the street participated in the contest and won.

    What will they do with the $100 prize?We will go out and buy more decora-

    tions for next year so we can try to win fi rst, Hunter said.

    Third placeThe Rohr family, at Cottoncreek Drive,

    in south Highlands Ranch off Lincoln Avenue, had a wooded wonderland theme this year with a number of unique trees decorated in their front yard. The

    family participates in the contest because of the enjoyment it brings to them and the neighborhood.

    What will they do with the $50 prize?We will put it right back into the house

    for next years decorations, Jeff Rohr said.


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    The DePoty family received rst place for its movie-inspired decorations on Blackbird Place, off South Quebec Street. We are big Star Wars fans, Ron DePoty said. Photos by Alex DeWind

    Hunter Bogle, 13, and his mother and stepfather took second place for their festive display on Bentwood Circle, off Wildcat Reserve Parkway. We wanted to take on the Christmas spirit, Bogle said.

    The Rohr family received third place for its wooded wonderland theme on Cotton-creek Drive, near Lincoln Avenue. We really enjoy decorating our house, Jeff Rohr said. We do a big display for Halloween and Christmas.


    A year to remember: Valor Christians state softball championship was one of many titles for area teams in 2015. Turn to Page 7 for the stories of the year.

    Education continues on Page 11

    Proposal for new school debated It would serve students in grades K-8 with emotional and behavioral needs

    By Mike DiFerdinando mdiferdinando@coloradocommunitymedia.com

    The Douglas County School District has proposed a new K-8 school that will be modeled after Plum Creek Academy which caters to high school students with signifi cant emotional and behavioral needs to service the same population of children at the elementary and middle school levels.

    The proposed school is expected to have a maximum enrollment of about 120 students, depending on the size and space of the facility.

    District offi cials said they would like to fi nd a location near the I-25 corridor, but a potential site has not yet been found.

    Plum Creek Academy, in Highlands Ranch, serves about 50 high school students from throughout the district with severe emotional and behavioral needs. But for younger students, the district purchases services from outside of the district. At this time, nearly 30 of those students are sent to out-of-district options.

    We feel this is something that is an ab-solutely imperative and needed for kids, said Jason Germain, the districts chief stu-dent advocacy offi cer. We feel like even

  • December 31, 20152 Highlands Ranch Herald2

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    Apply for 2016 Philip S. Miller GrantsDouglas County is accepting grant applications for

    2016 Philip S. Miller funds.The funds, received by the county annually from

    the Philip S. Miller Trust, are distributed to a variety of programs that focus on enhancing the quality of life for Douglas County residents, through emergency food assistance, medical care, youth development or crisis counseling, and have an emphasis on self-suffi ciency.

    To qualify, applicants must be a 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 tax-exempt organization, serve residents of Douglas County and provide a service that supports health and human services for at-risk and underserved popula-tions.

    Each of the fund recipients has a pivotal role in providing a safety net for our more vulnerable fami-lies and individuals, including seniors, said Douglas County Commissioner David Weaver. As Philip S. Miller and his wife, Jessie, dedicated so much of their lives to helping others in Douglas County, we honor and thank them by continuing their legacy of philan-thropy.

    In 2015, more than $131,000 in grant funding was awarded to 16 nonprofi t programs.

    Grant applications are due Jan. 31. For more infor-mation, call Dru Campbell at 303-660-7401. To apply, visit www.Douglas.co.us.

    Douglas County recognized for excellence in nancial reporting

    Douglas County has been awarded the Certifi cate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Offi cers Association of the United States and Canada.

    The award, given for the countys 2014 Compre-hensive Annual Financial Report, is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and fi nancial reporting that the county is eligible to receive.

    The attainment of this award is representative of our ongoing effort to being a transparent government, providing our citizens and taxpayers with complete and convenient access to fi nancial records, said Jill Repella, Douglas County commissioner and board chair.

    Recipients must go beyond the minimum require-ments of generally accepted accounting principles, while preparing comprehensive annual fi nancial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, the GFOA website states.

    Douglas County was one of 17 counties recognized in Colorado and among 514 recognized nationally.

    Still nding Faces Never Forgotten Project aims to match photos to Vietnam veterans

    By Jennifer Smith jsmith@coloradocommunitymedia.com

    Last June, Janna Hoehn reached out to Colorado Community Media for help with a huge project, and readers stepped up in a big way.

    The response has been amaz-ing, she said. Our heroes stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

    She is working on the Faces Never Forgotten project, created to find a photo of every single one of the 58,300 soldiers listed on the

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

    Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of the wall, she said. It keeps our fallen heroes memories alive and will honor them.

    In June, Hoehn was specifi-cally looking for 10 names from Arapahoe County and seven from Douglas County. With the help of readers throughout those coun-ties, shes down to just six and four, respectively.

    Once found, all photos will be submitted to the Wall of Faces online memorial with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, as well as to the planned education center

    expected to be built adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

    I had always hoped I could to do something for the Vietnam vet-erans, said Hoehn. The way they were treated when they returned, it was disgraceful.

    Even just the name of the schools the person attended can help, she says, and any bit of infor-mation somebody might have cant hurt.

    To submit a photo or for more information, email Hoehn at neverforgotten2014@gmail.com. To see photos of lost and fallen soldiers that have already been collected, visit www.vvmf.org.

    Since Colorado Community Media ran the story in June, Hoehn has received photos of: James D. Hakes Jr., Martin E. Loving, Michael F. Matthews, Donald L. Senti and John P. Wright from Arapahoe County; and Jimmy E. Marchesi, Alva N. Myrick II, Jerome J. Rigenberg and Robert Worrell from Douglas County.

    Robert Worrell

    Jerome Ringenberg

    Alva Myrick

    John Paul Wright

    Michael Matthews

    James Hakes

    Donald Senti

    Jim Marchesi

    Martin Loving

    Photos are still needed for these soldiers from Douglas County:

    David W. Heck 1949-1968

    John R. Helms 1948-1970

    William E. Hopkins 1949-1969

    Gale S. Pritchard 1946-1969

    And these six soldiers from Arapahoe County:

    Richard A. Eckvall 1937-1966

    Ivel D. Freeman 1926-1967

    James R. Lemon 1948-1967

    Richard L. Martin 1949-1968

    Dennis M. Smith 1942-1970

    Michael J. Whalen 1950-1971

  • Highlands Ranch Herald 3December 31, 20153

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    10-year-old nds miracle in canine friend Stink Bug Project pairs sick children with companion dogs

    By Alex DeWind adewind@coloradocommunitymedia.com

    Patrick Kaplan, 10, walked out of his house on a wintry, mid-December day to fi nd a Labra-dor retriever in his yard. The dog, named Bindy, would help Patrick cope with his longtime illness called cyclic vomiting syndrome, or CVS.

    I was so happy, Patrick said. I fi nally got my miracle.

    Patrick, who lives in Centenni-al, was diagnosed with CVS when he was 8 years old. The chronic condition involves episodes of nausea and vomiting, which of-ten occur while he is sleeping. The condition is rare and affects about 2 percent of school-age children, according to Mayo Clinic.

    When Patricks parents, De-nise and Scott, discovered there was no fi x for their sons condi-tion, they contacted the Stink Bug Project through Rocky Mountain Childrens Health Foundation, at 5349 Marshall Street in Arvada, in hopes of getting their son a com-panion dog.

    The family couldnt have asked for a better solution, Denise said.

    The Stink Bug Project started in 2010 with a girl named Alli-son Winn and her dog Coco. At 6 years old, Allison, of Colorado, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that required sur-gery and chemotherapy. After many visits to the doctors offi ce, Allison started calling her cancer stink bug.

    To help her cope with her

    stink bug, she got a puppy from the Prison-Trained K-9 Compan-ion Program, where prisoners train dogs that are rescued from humane societies.

    Allison, who survived and now studies at Denver School of the Arts, saw the difference a dog could make in a sick childs life and she wanted to help others like her.

    I began selling homemade dog biscuits and lemonade and raised enough money to pay for the adoption of a trained com-panion dog for a child with a brain tumor, she wrote on Stink Bug Projects website.

    The Rocky Mountain Chil-drens Health Foundation carried

    on Allisons deed and partnered with Prison-Training K-9 Pro-gram at Colorado Correctional Industries to form the Stink Bug Project.

    The process works like this:A prisoner spends 12 weeks

    training a dog. The pair spends every day together and shares a cell at night. The prisoner is re-quired to keep a log of the dogs progress and is supervised to guarantee a thorough job.

    They really work very hard and they become committed to it, said Lee Shaughnessy, pro-gram director for the Stink Bug Project.

    The Stink Bug Project then adopts the dog, covers medical

    costs and gives it to a child with a pediatric diagnosis from a chil-drens hospital.

    And its been successful.The Stink Bug Project has pro-

    vided roughly 55 dogs for ill chil-dren across Colorado, according to Shaughnessy.

    The unconditional love you get from a dog is really comfort-ing and reassuring to a kid who is sick, she said.

    When Patricks mother, De-nise, saw the Stink Bug Project in a mailer, she immediately reached out.

    Patrick was paired with Bindy, originally bred to be a guide dog for the blind. But when she failed her initial training test, she was

    donated to the Stink Bug Project.And she was the perfect match

    for Patrick, who can vomit unex-pectedly in his sleep. Bindy is a companion and an alert dog. She will act up and bark or whine if Patrick is showing signs of his illness, providing a sense of secu-rity for the entire family, Denise said.

    We fi nally have peace of mind, she added. We dont con-stantly have to question or won-der because Bindy tells us before Patrick gets sick. Its like she has an internal sensor.

    The Stink Bug Project has helped Patrick cope with his very own stink bug and live like a normal kid. Hes now able to do activities that his illness once prohibited, like going to school, sporting events and birthday parties.

    With Bindy beside him, through it all.

    Just knowing she is here, Patrick said, calms me.

    Patrick, 10, and Bindy, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, share a unique relationship of work and play. Just knowing she is here calms me, Patrick said. Photo by Alex DeWind