Headlines – September 15, 2023

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Jury Trial To Begin In Elijah McClain Case

Jury selection begins today for the trial of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old black man who was killed in police custody after he was wrongly detained for walking home from a gas station in Aurora in 2019.  McClain’s family is charging Aurora police officer Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt with reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault. 

McClain’s death sparked national outcry in 2020. In years since the protests have resulted in a wave of police reform efforts that continue to affect the Aurora Police Department. Jury selection is expected to last through Monday.


Denver Mayor Unveils First Budget Proposal

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston introduced his first city budget proposal on Thursday. The $4 billion dollar budget would come from multiple funding sources, including city, state and federal dollars.

Johnston’s plan earmarks millions of dollars towards affordable housing and supporting the unhoused. It includes $242 million dollars for transitional housing and support services, almost $40 million dollars towards micro-communities and hotels, and $20 million dollars for migrant sheltering services.

Over $100 million dollars was allocated towards affordable housing and rental assistance programs. Other funding targets boosting policing staff, and police alternative programs, such as mental healthcare services.

Johnston also addressed goals to transition transportation away from fossil fuels, with more e-bike vouchers, funding to convert the city’s fleet to EVs and infrastructure changes like bike paths and pedestrian crossings.

The Denver City Council will review the proposal and suggest amendments to the mayor in October.


USDA Funding Urban And Community Forestry Projects 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding grants to increase tree canopy coverage in disadvantaged communities. 

The USDA has announced the Forest Service will receive more than $1 billion via the Inflation Reduction Act to fund around 400 nationwide projects. Of that total, roughly $37 million will go towards planting trees in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Rocky Mountain region. 

The expanded tree canopy will help tackle climate change while supporting local jobs and ultimately, aiming to improve health and quality of life in the areas. 

This initiative comes after a summer of record-breaking heat waves in many parts of the country. 

Under President Joe Biden’s Investing in America initiative, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the USDA is “combating extreme heat with the cooling effects of increased urban tree canopy.” The focus of the investment is on disadvantaged communities where tree canopy is limited. 

Grant recipients include the cities of Aurora, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Westminster.


Thieves Attack, Rob Postal Worker For Master Mailbox Key

A man arrested by postal investigators earlier this month was accused of attacking an Aurora postal carrier, then stealing her master key to access mailboxes.

According to 9News, federal court documents say Dravell Emon Ross and an accomplice demanded the letter carrier hand over her “arrow key” while she was eating lunch in her mail truck on September 1st.

By law, only postal employees can use arrow keys. However, the postal service is converting almost 50,000 arrow locks nationwide to electronic systems to help stop robberies in response to reports of over 300 robberies against mail carriers across the country in the last 11 months.

Postal officials say people have been making copies of arrow keys using 3D printers. They are urging customers to send mail more securely by depositing it inside post offices, at their place of business or by handing directly to a mail carrier.


Bears Relocated From Louisville To Natural Habitat

A mother bear and cub spotted this week in Louisville were caught and relocated to a more suitable habitat, according to the Daily Camera

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials set up traps in a Louisville park that were trailers the bears walked into. Mama bear walked in around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Her cub followed at around 1 a.m.

Earlier Wednesday, Louisville Elementary School brought students indoors for several hours after the two bears were seen in the area.


Thunderstorms Bring Flight Delays And Mudslides

Severe thunderstorms grounded departing flights at Denver International Airport Thursday evening. Over 650 flights were delayed and six were canceled by around 7 pm.

The storms also created flash floods in Larimer County, with reports of flooding in Buckhorn Canyon that receded around 5 p.m.

And in Grand County, officers closed Colorado 125 between U.S. 40 and Forest Service Road 124 due to a mudslide.

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