Headlines – July 5, 2023

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    Headlines – July 5, 2023 Por Jaijongkit

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I-70 Construction Begins

A major reconstruction project along Interstate 70 is getting underway this week, and isn’t expected to be finished until 2028.

The $700 million project, from west of Evergreen to eastern Idaho Springs, aims to eliminate the Floyd Hill bottleneck and improve safety along the eight mile stretch. The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to include a westbound toll express lane, straighten sharp curves, rebuild bridges, and construct a 7,000 foot long bridge for westbound traffic. 

Construction will be divided into three sections with overlapping timelines. Most of the intensive work will happen off the highway, but motorists will see reduced speeds, traffic shifts, and occasional daytime traffic holds and overnight closures. 

The project is expected to improve traffic flow and enhance safety while reducing environmental impact.

CU Boulder Reaffirms Commitment to Diversity

Last week, the Supreme Court put an end to affirmative action in college admissions, prompting a statement from CU Boulder. 

The court ruled 6-3 against race-conscious admissions by overturning admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Colleges must now find other measurements to support diversity in the admissions process. 

University of Colorado Boulder’s Chancellor Philip DiStefano wrote in a statement that CU Boulder, “remains resolute in its commitment to the advancement of students of all races and backgrounds.”

Chancellor DiStefano said the university reaffirms its dedication to diversity for the sake of democracy and pursuit of the university’s educational missions. 

He said admissions will continue to consider a student’s entire experience as well as, “aggressively recruit students from minoritized backgrounds.” 

CU Boulder also plans on expanding the Southern Ute Scholarship, continuing to award financial aid, and developing programs and support for first-generation students.  

City Parks Close Early at 9 P.M. 

The City of Boulder is shutting down their parks at 9 p.m. on Thursday nights after recent vandalism incidents.

The rule, which is effective immediately, will be in effect from June 29 through July 27 and is slated to be a reoccurring rule. The rule is in response to groups of 200-250 youngsters ages 10-18 riding bicycles in the park at night. The city press release says since April, the city has reported damage to a porta potty, graffiti on playground equipment and fireworks damage to a vehicle. 

Community members who choose to visit the parks after 9 on Thursdays may receive a citation as the rule will be strictly enforced. While standard park rules will also be in effect, pedestrians are allowed to pass through city park facilities. 

In a press release, Deputy Director Scott Schuttenburg hopes that by, “implementing this ‘hours of operation’ change at our parks we can discourage any negative behavior group members demonstrate and we ask for the help of our community’s parents and guardians to deter this behavior.”

As the situation evolves, the City will reevaluate the closure rule and make adjustments as needed.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Web Designer Who Refused Services to Same-Sex Couple

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Littleton-based website designer who says she should have the right to refuse service to same sex couples based on her religious beliefs. 

The courts ruled 6 -3 saying that trade in “expressive” goods can potentially claim an exception to anti-discrimination laws based on free speech rights. 

This raises concerns about the impact on the LGBTQ+ community, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor highlighted that non-discrimination laws ensure equal access and prevent dignitary harms to marginalized groups. 

The definition of “expressive” will be crucial moving forward, according to CU Law Professor Scott Skinner-Thompson. He says businesses may try to classify their activities as expressive to avoid compliance with non-discrimination laws. 

The ruling bears similarities to the Masterpiece Cake Shop decision from a few years ago that happened just miles away. 

Professor Skinner-Thompson encourages LGBTQ+ allies to express solidarity and engage with civil society to advocate for change in laws and judicial interpretations. He says that the ruling’s implications are not limited to the LGBTQ+ community and could potentially apply to other groups, leading to greater market segregation.

SROs Will Stay at DPS Schools

Denver Public School officials will reinstate school resource officers.

The school board released the final version of its debated safety plan which includes restoring School Resource Officers, or SROs, in 13 of the district’s campuses.

DPS amended policy to effectively ban SROs in the summer of 2020, redirecting the funds used for the officers to social work in the city, in response to the wide scale protests that year.

The board temporarily overturned that policy, in the wake of the March shooting at Denver’s East High School.

DPS is rekindling their partnership with the Denver Police Department as well, as SROs will be managed by the Department.

In the final plan, DPS officials claim their new policies are trauma-informed, and define several other district policy changes, involving mental health protocol.

Improper Fireworks Disposal Leaves Two Homes Destroyed

Investigators are blaming improperly disposed-of fireworks for touching off a blaze that destroyed two homes south of Denver in Parker, Colorado early yesterday.

The incident occurred after the fireworks, which investigators said were legal, were left in a plastic bin outside a garage, causing a fire. 

South Metro Fire Rescue emphasized the importance of responsible fireworks disposal and cautioned that even legal fireworks may not be as safe as perceived. 

To properly dispose of fireworks, Fire Marshal Anthony Valdez advised submerging them in water first, then wrapping them securely. 

The National Fire Protection Association reports that fireworks caused over 12,000 fires in 2021, also causing about $60 million in property damage.

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