12/12/2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Typhoid Epidemic

Today the Denver Post published a list of the leading causes of death in Colorado.  You will see that nowhere on this list is typhoid fever.  Yet when I searched old health reports to find the leading causes of death in previous decades, typhoid fever kept showing up.  The 1879-1880 Biennial Report of the State Board of Health, available online from our library, reports that there were about 700 cases of typhoid fever in Denver in 1879.  (Denver's population at this time was only about 35,000).  The report contains an essay about the Denver epidemic.  "There was scarcely a physician in the city...who had not from one to several cases, and in not a few instances, one dozen on hand at the same time."  The essay noted that "death from the disease was not infrequent."  The numbers in 1880 were down a little, as "the streets and alleys in the more populous portions of town were freed, to a considerable extent, of old accumulations of a great variety of filth." Numbers of cases still remained high, however.  The essay further examines the causes of the epidemic, including polluted air, soil, and water. (Tip, don't read this section while trying to enjoy your lunch).

The 1894-1900 report also documents a typhoid epidemic, this time in Fort Collins.  Dr. William C. Mitchell describes his investigation of the Fort Collins epidemic:  "An inspection of the ditch [at a patient's house] was made, and it was found to be tapped from a larger ditch further above...presumably to act as a sewer to carry away refuse matter.  After winding around the house this little ditch ran again into the main street and...joined the Poudre just below the bridge at Bellvue." 

With the knowledge that typhoid fever epidemics were in large part due to poor sanitation, the state worked to improve sanitary conditions and accordingly the number of typhoid cases dropped in subsequent years.  The State Board of Health reported 2,707 cases of typhoid in 1906, down to just 34 cases thirty years later in 1936

So, in comparison to today, what were the leading causes of death 80 years ago?  The statistics from 1936 report the fifteen leading causes of death as:

  1. Heart disease, 2,507 
  2. Pneumonia, 1,389
  3. Cancer, 1,223 
  4. Accidents, 1,045
  5. Cerebral hemorrhage, 991
  6. Nephritis (Bright's disease), 959
  7. Tuberculosis, 755 
  8. "Congenital debility and malformation," 669
  9. Influenza, 379 
  10. Diarrhea and enteritis, 336
  11. Suicide, 220
  12. Arteriosclerosis, 208
  13. Appendicitis, 204
  14. Diabetes, 192
  15. Hernia, 176


12/11/2017

Renovations at the Capitol

If you work or live near the State Capitol you have probably seen all of the scaffolding and construction work that has been going on this summer and fall.  According to Legislative Council, the exterior work includes roof work, gutter replacement, and the recreation -- using old plans and drawings -- of historic chimneys that were removed some time ago.  Inside, there is a great deal of work going on as well, including renovations of some of the committee rooms and the basement.  Historic mouldings and archways are being uncovered as part of the project.  For details on the work that is going on through 2018, see the Legislative Council's LegiSource blog post, which includes some great pictures of the renovations.

The current renovations follow the highly-praised restorations of the House and Senate Chambers over the last several years.  Work on the chambers included removal of 1950s acoustic tiles, recreation of historic wall stencilings, and restoration of the huge chandeliers as well as the stained glass windows and skylights.  See the Capitol Building's historic structure assessment here.

To learn more about preservation and restoration of the Capitol, see the webpage for the General Assembly's Capitol Building Advisory Committee as well as the Office of the State Architect's Capitol Complex Master Plan.  For the history of the State Capitol Building, check out the following books from our library:
  • Art of the House: Paintings in the House of Representatives, State Capitol, Denver, Colorado (1990)
  • The Colorado Capitol Building (1960)
  • Colorado Capitol Buildings (1951)
  • Colorado State Capitol (1983, 1992)
  • The Colorado State Capitol: History, Politics, Preservation (2005)
  • Visitor's Guide to Colorado's Capitol (1990, 1991, 1994, 2004, and 2005 editions)
The Colorado House Chambers following restoration. Photo by Tony Eitzel courtesy of Colorado General Assembly.

12/07/2017

Laws Relating to Service Animals

Many people are confused by what legally constitutes a service or assistance animal and how (or if) they need to be marked (such as a vest).  The General Assembly recently enacted a new law that clarifies these issues as well as provides some assistance for ways business owners can deal with customers who try to pass off non-service pets as service animals.  For help understanding the new law, see the Colorado Legislative Council's Issue Brief entitled Laws Addressing Service Animals and Assistance AnimalsAdditionally, if you have questions about the new law or want to file a complaint, you can contact the Colorado Civil Rights Division.


12/05/2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Tracking Colorado's Climate

It's been a mild and dry November and December -- but is this unusual for Colorado?  How does this year compare to temperatures in Colorado over the last century? 

Ninety years ago, the Agricultural Experiment Station at Colorado Agricultural College (today's Colorado State University) published The Climate of Colorado: A Forty-One Year Record, which you can read online courtesy of our library.  Table 2, on page 17 of the document, shows the daily low temperatures for each day in December from 1887 to 1927.  You can see by the table that on today's date, December 5, the warmest low (minimum) temperature, 38 degrees F, occurred in 1896 (the coldest was in 1909, with -19 degrees F!).  Also, the warmest high (maximum) temperature for the month of December during the 1887-1927 period was 71.7, in 1921 -- so highs in the 60s and 70s aren't exactly new, as you can see from Table 15 on page 30 of the document.

CSU still tracks Colorado's climate data.  Visit their Colorado Climate Center website to download temperature and precipitation data from weather stations across the state.  Available current and historical data includes daily, monthly, and yearly temperatures and precipitation; normals and extremes; state records; archived monthly climate reports; and much more.


Here are some other online resources from our library that give the history of Colorado's climate:

12/04/2017

Fact Sheets from the Colorado Department of Education

Are you a parent interested in learning more about Colorado's education system?  An educator seeking to familiarize yourself with a new program?  Or a researcher or reporter looking for quick facts?  Then be sure to check out the Colorado Department of Education's series of Fact Sheets and FAQs for quick answers on a variety of education topics.  Find answers about:
    http://www.cde.state.co.us/communications/coeducationfactsandfigures
  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Capital Construction
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • Dropout Prevention and Student Re-engagement
  • Early Learning and School Readiness
  • Educator Effectiveness
  • Marijuana Tax Revenue and Education
  • Postsecondary Readiness
  • READ Act
  • School Finance
  • School Nutrition
  • Social Media
  • Standards
  • Statutory Waiver Requests Guidance
  • Technology
...and much more!  Also, be sure to search our library's online catalog for further resources.


12/01/2017

'Tis the Season for Parking Problems

Holiday parties and crowded shopping malls, not to mention the possibility for winter weather, can make parking your car a major headache this time of year.  The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) wants you to be prepared so that your holiday festivities don't get spoiled by having your car towed.

The Public Utilities Commission, a division of DORA, posted these tips in a recent press release:

1. Park on private property only if you have permission; otherwise park only in public lots.
Private property owners, as well as individuals or companies that have been authorized in writing to act as agent for the property owner, have a right to remove vehicles that are parked on their property without permission. This applies to businesses, apartment complexes, residences and any other private property. So before you leave your car, first do a thorough search for any signs that may indicate that the lot you chose is private.  
2: Private property restrictions can be can be enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
That party you're attending is just across the street from a business with a private lot. The business is closed. It's ok to park there, right? 
Not unless you have explicit permission from the property owner.
Even if a business is closed, at night or on weekends, it can still have non-authorized vehicles removed from its parking lot. And it doesn’t matter how long the vehicle has been parked there. If you park in a private lot and run across the street just for a few minutes to complete an errand, your vehicle could be towed.
3: Be prepared - getting your car back will be expensive.
The PUC regulates the rates for non-consensual tows, but a private property tow could still end up costing you several hundred dollars once all the charges for the tow, mileage and storage are added up.
So you got towed ... now what?
The PUC has adopted rules that provide some consumer protections in cases of non-consensual tows.
·  Towing carriers are required to obtain proper authorization from a property owner before a tow can be made;
·  Authorization must be filled out in full, signed by the property owner, and given to the towing carrier at the time the vehicle is to be removed from the private property;
·  If a consumer attempts to retrieve their vehicle before it is removed from private property, the towing carrier must release the vehicle if the consumer agrees to pay the “drop charge”;
·  And a towing carrier must be available within the first 24-hours of having stored a vehicle to either release the vehicle from storage immediately upon demand during normal business hours or with one hour’s notice during all other times.
DORA also reminds holiday partygoers and hosts that many homeowners' associations (HOAs) have parking restrictions.  Spaces may be reserved for owners, or what look like spaces could be designated fire lanes.  DORA recommends homeowners in HOAs familiarize themselves with their HOA's visitor parking regulations before the guests arrive.  Guests having their cars towed would be a sure way to spoil the party!

Finally, if you're traveling with passengers who are elderly or disabled, you can learn about parking rules in the Colorado Department of Revenue's brochure Persons with Disabilities Parking Privileges.

For further information on parking rules see the Colorado Driver Handbook.

11/30/2017

Understanding Capital Development

Governments and universities need buildings in order to function, and the acquisition, construction, and maintenance of these buildings is a large part of the state's budget.  These expenses are overseen by the General Assembly's Capital Development Committee.  Each year this powerful committee puts together a prioritized list of construction and maintenance projects for state-owned buildings across Colorado.  In budget terms, these projects are generally referred to either as capital construction, which refers to "the purchase of land or equipment, or the construction or renovation of facilities" while controlled maintenance refers to "the repair or replacement of capital assets or equipment, such as a roof or fire alarm system at a state-owned, state-supported facility." 

The above definitions come from the Colorado Legislative Council's publication Capital Construction and the Role of the Capital Development Committee, part of their "Issue Brief" series.  This handy publication not only defines these budget processes but also explains the Committee's role and presents some basic financial data.  For further explanation and data, search our library's online catalog where you will find the Committee's annual reports back to 2002; earlier iterations of the aforementioned Issue Brief; recommendations for legislation; audit reports; budget requests; and a number of reports that specifically discuss capital construction at state-owned higher education campuses.

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