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18 Parker Chronicle

May 17, 2019M

Polis urges wildfire vigilance amid milder forecast Governor cautions against ‘false sense of security’ BY ELLIS ARNOLD EARNOLD@COLORADOCOMMUNITYMEDIA.COM

After an onslaught of raging wildfires in Colorado in 2018, this year’s fire season looks to be less severe, but state officials are urging the public not to let its guard down. “I don’t want it to lure people into a false sense of security,” said Gov. Jared Polis, speaking May 7 at the state’s 2019 wildfire outlook briefing. The event at Centennial Airport in unincorporated Arapahoe County, just south of Centennial, featured input from public safety officials who noted the wildfire season this year will likely be average to below average. “Today, we’re looking at 130 to 140 percent of average snowpack,” said Mike Morgan, director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. “It appears (this year) will have aboveaverage moisture and below-average

temperature.” Rising population and climate change have caused wildfires and other natural disasters to become more costly, Polis said. “Fires don’t know jurisdictional boundaries,” Polis said, noting that fires can start on federal land but spread to county or private areas. Officials emphasized the coordination between federal, state and local agencies to respond to blazes. Out of the 20 largest wildfires in Colorado’s history, five occurred in 2018, a fact sheet from the fire prevention division said. Thirteen happened since 2010, and all 20 occurred since 2000, according to the division. The 2019 outlook is “considerably better” than at this point in 2018, the division said. Although a repeat of last year’s severity is unlikely, an average year sees more than 6,000 fires that burn more than 100,000 acres on state and private land, with large fires still occurring, according to the division. In the Denver metro area, mountain communities in west Jefferson County bear risk because fires that start in vegetation can reach homes, Morgan said

Gov. Jared Polis gives an address on Colorado’s 2019 wildfire forecast May 7 at Centennial Airport. The event at 8082 S. Interport Blvd. in unincorporated Arapahoe County, just south of Centennial, featured addresses from public safety officials and upclose looks at aircraft and land vehicles used to fight wildfires. ELLIS ARNOLD

after his address. “We’ve been asked if what happened in California can happen in Colorado,” Morgan said, referring to that state’s recent, especially destructive fire season. “The answer is yes.” Stan Hilkey, executive director of

the state Department of Public Safety, joined other officials in a reminder that homeowners should take precaution. “While we all do our part as emergency responders,” Hilkey said, “individuals need to take proactive steps in preventing wildfires as well.”

Term-limit changes to be decided by voters BY NICK PUCKETT NPUCKETT@COLORADOCOMMUNITYMEDIA.COM

The Parker Town Council at its May 7 meeting agreed to place a question on this fall’s ballot asking whether to extend the term limits of elected officials to four terms, effective immediately following the Nov. 5 election. The original term limit was adopted from the Colorado Constitution Article XVIII, which has a standard limit of two four-year terms. If passed, the ordinance would institute a lifetime cap for any councilmember or mayor who serves a total of 16 years as either. Councilmember John Diak pointed to cities like Boulder, Denver and Aurora

that have a similar term limit ordinance and the effectiveness in which policy reform can get done with extended, more defined terms. “They have continuity. They have institutional knowledge that can serve their own municipalities better if you have that continuity,” said Diak. “Looking at what we’re doing from a trans standpoint it seems that we have momentum. I can only imagine, as we continue to grow, what the other members here…can do if they had the time and desire to serve their town as some of us have or would desire to do for the betterment of the town.” Mayor Mike Waid and Councilmember Debbie Lewis, who have served nonconsecutive terms, would both reach

their 16-year limit after their current terms are finished. The ordinance was originally slated for approval at the April 15 meeting, along with seven other clerical changes to the Parker Municipal Code to be put to a vote, which passed. After residents voiced concern over the vagueness of the language, the term-limit item was tabled for a third reading until revisions could be made. Residents were concerned about the ordinance’s lack of clarification on whether the proposed term limits applied to the mayor and council separately. The concern was that the proposed language could have allowed for three four-year terms to be served on council followed by three additional terms if

the councilmember was elected mayor, or vice versa. Residents also were concerned about the lack of an effectiveness date. Some suggested the ordinance be effective after the current members finish their terms to disable grandstanding or conflict of interest. “I think the way it was written before, it allowed somebody to essentially become a lifer and serve three terms, then three terms, then three terms to perpetuity or death,” said councilmember Josh Rivero. “I think this better addresses the want or desire of the people to have some term limits but still allows us to maintain historic knowledge and activity on very important regional boards and commissions.”

Former Merryhill worker gets probation for child abuse BY NICK PUCKETT NPUCKETT@COLORADOCOMMUNITYMEDIA.COM

A former Merryhill School worker in Parker was sentenced to 18 months of probation for misdemeanor child abuse May 13. Brenda Woodard, 47, pleaded guilty to negligent child abuse April 30 for using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove permanent marker from two children’s faces. Both children were 3 years old. The parents of one of the children, Caitlin and Josh Sims, spoke during the sentencing. Caitlin Sims said Woodard “attacked” her child and “ruthlessly” scrubbed his face. The children suffered chemical burns and trauma, the

Sims said. The incident was recorded by a surveillance camera. “You lost control and behaved in a punitive and oppressive manor,” Caitlin Sims said. “I watched in horror, in pain and shock with what happened to them by a person they trusted.” Woodard was cited in a December letter from the Colorado Office of Early Childhood in the department’s review of the school that includes a list of violations committed by the school during a 10-month probationary period from Jan. 4, 2018 to Oct. 29. The two children suffered chemical burns after Woodard attempted to clean marker off each of their faces using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge, which contains

formaldehyde. The product’s website,, labels it as an all-purpose household cleaner. On Dec. 17, the Colorado Department of Human Services sent a letter to Merryhill President Debra Pritchard informing her the school’s license renewal request had been denied following several violations during the school’s 10-month probation period in 2018. The letter listed the Magic Eraser incident as a founded concern of Stage 1 child abuse. Woodard was sentenced by Judge Susanna Meissner-Cutler, a Douglas County Court judge. In addition to the probation, Woodard must pay a $200 fine, which can be reduced to $100

if Woodard completes her required sentence, and was issued a mandatory protection order restricting Woodard from ever being a care worker for children again. “I can’t imagine what a 3-year-old would do to cause such a reaction to you that you would place these children in harm’s way and do so in a truly abusive manor,” Meissner-Cutler said. “The result is going to be you’re never going to work with these children again.” The parents of the affected victims, the Simses and Joel and Stacey Dant, are pursuing a civil lawsuit against Woodard, which is ongoing. The civil suit was filed in July 2018.

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