12.31.2012

Whooping Cough is Back -- Get Vaccinated

This year, don't just stop at getting a flu shot -- make sure you're up-to-date on your vaccination for pertussis (whooping cough) too.  Whooping cough has reached its highest numbers in 60 years, says the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment (see their press release here.)  The disease, which is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, is highly contagious.  So be sure and protect yourself and your family.  The CDPHE has a wealth of information on their pertussis webpage, including a fact sheet on the illness, resources for schools and childcare centers, manuals and best practices for health care professionals, and statistics by date, age group, and location.  Also, see the annual Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Colorado Surveillance Report, available online and from our library, for more information.

12.28.2012

Colorado Architects

You may be familiar with some of the historic architecture in Colorado, but how much do you know about the architects who designed the famous buildings?  You can learn about Colorado's talented architects by visiting the State Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation's Architects of Colorado Biographical Series.  Here's some trivia with just a few interesting facts you can find in this helpful online resource:

1) Which future Colorado architect helped rebuild Chicago after the disastrous 1871 fire?
2) Which architect went broke in the panic of 1893 and died after being hit by a train?
3) Which architect is interred in the Fairmount Mausoleum, which he designed?
4) Whose building featured the "hyperbolic paraboloid" in front?
5) Who designed the State Office Building (where the State Publications Library is located), as well as the courthouses for Weld, Jackson, and Moffat Counties?

Click here for the answers.

12.26.2012

The Early Denver Diorama Returns

If you've visited the new History Colorado museum since its opening last April, you might have wondered what happened to the Early Denver Diorama.  Among the old museum's most popular features, the large diorama with tiny details of 1860 Denver streets was always surrounded by viewers, and many have been asking where it is now.  Well, the answer is that it's been in storage since the move, and has recently been going through meticulous conservation...and, in February, will return to public view in the new museum.  (See the Denver Post article on the diorama's conservation). 

WPA artists and historians in the 1930s created this incredibly detailed diorama.  It was built as an exact replica of Denver near Cherry Creek and the South Platte in its earliest days as a pioneer town, before the great Cherry Creek Flood of 1864 wiped out many of the buildings depicted in the model.  Because photography was still not very common in the early 1860s, especially on the frontier, the diorama represents the best visual representation of the city at that time.  But the story of the creation of the diorama is as interesting as the model itself.  In our library you can find two articles detailing the creation of this and the Historical Society's other dioramas:  See "From Exhibits to Artifacts:  The Lasting Craft of the Society's Dioramas" in the Spring 1983 issue of Colorado Heritage, and a description of the diorama at the time of its creation in the July 1936 issue of Colorado Magazine.  For more on the History Colorado Center, visit www.historycolorado.org.

12.20.2012

Energy-Efficient Lighting

If you have a lamp that requires 75 Watt incandescent bulbs, you'd better stock up now, because production will cease next month.  If you need 60 Watt bulbs, you've got another year to stock up.  And 100 Watt incandescents have already been phased out last January.  Why?  Federal Regulations are calling for new, energy-efficient lighting including CFLs (compact flourescents) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes).  These new types of bulbs are much more energy efficient than the old incandescents, which were first demonstrated by Thomas Edison on December 20, 1879. 

Installing CFLs and LEDs in your home or business can save you money on your energy bills.  As with any new technology, however, it is important to monitor potential health risks.  Energy-efficient light bulbs may have a "dark side":  mercury and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.  Click the highlighted links to read more about protecting yourself from these risks.  For more ways to save energy in your home, visit the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment's "What Can YOU Do to Save Energy?" tips.

12.18.2012

Where is it Legal to Pan for Gold?

They say what goes around comes around.  The first great wave of settlers came to Colorado in the 1859 Pikes Peak Gold Rush.  Today, gold panning is seeing a resurgence, thanks to high gold prices and some popular tv shows that highlight the practice.  But if you're into prospecting, be careful where you pan.  Larimer County, for instance, is looking at outlawing gold harvesting from county property.  But the issue is not just limited to Larimer County. "On federal land or national forest land, the mineral rights would be owned by the federal government," Colorado School of Mines Professor Murray Hinzman told the Denver Post.  And if the land in question is private property, the issue of who owns the mineral rights must be determined before a prospector can stake a claim.  However, says the Post, "...in nonwilderness public areas, it is legal for an individual to stake a claim."

If you're interested in gold panning, it's best to consult the experts before heading out on your own.  One of the best sources is the Colorado Geological Survey.  They have published a popular book, Gold Panning and Placering in Colorado:  How and Where, which can be checked out from our library.  This guidebook "digs" further into the issue of where a prospector can legally harvest gold.  The Colorado Geological Survey website also warns,  "There are many opportunities for mineral collecting in Colorado but a person must be careful when evaluating a collecting site.  A given mineral locality may actually be a staked claim.  Collecting from such a site without permission is stealing.  Access to, and through, private land must be granted by the landowner prior to use.  Please be aware of all federal, state, and local laws; and be sensitive to the landowners wishes."

12.17.2012

Colorado School Safety Resource Center

Tragic events like those at Sandy Hook Elementary this past week are becoming much too frequent, and Colorado has dealt with its share of school shootings, including Columbine and Platte Canyon High Schools.  So the Colorado Legislature created the Colorado School Safety Resource Center (CSSRC) to work with educators and Coloradans to help prevent not only these large-scale terrible events, but also more common problems like bullying and suicide.  The CSSRC website offers a wealth of information on school safety topics.  Here you can find a message from the CSSRC director regarding parents' response to traumatic events; tips for talking to children and youth after traumatic events; tips for teachers on listening and talking to students; and guidebooks such as Essentials of School Threat Assessment.  On the website you can also find information on school safety trainings, grants, and a behavioral health service locator. 

12.13.2012

Colorado Lottery: Where Does the Money Go?

Did you know that the Colorado Lottery, a division of the Colorado Dept. of Revenue, is entirely self-funded?  That means that no tax dollars go to support the program - it is entirely supported by the sale of the product.  But the lottery is about more than just games and winning.  The Colorado Lottery supports keeping our state beautiful.  According to the Colorado Lottery website,

Every time you visit a park, walk on a trail, or paddle a kayak course, you’re seeing Colorado Lottery dollars at work. More than $2.4 billion has been returned to the state for parks, recreation, open space, conservation education and wildlife projects since the Lottery started in 1983.  Profits from the sale of Lottery products are mandated to be distributed according to this formula: 50 percent to the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Trust Fund, 40 percent to the Conservation Trust Fund, and 10 percent to The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. GOCO funds are capped at $35 million, adjusted for inflation (this translates to $59.2 million for FY13), and funds that exceed the GOCO cap go to the Colorado Department of Education, Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund.

For detailed information on these "dollars at work," see the Annual Reports from the Colorado Lottery, the Colorado Dept. of Revenue, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), all available online and in print from our library.

12.11.2012

Cold Cases

The passage of HB07-1272 in 2007 created a Cold Case Task Force in Colorado in order to devote more resources to solving homicides and missing persons cases that have remained unsolved for a substantial amount of time.  To aid in the effort to solve these cases, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation as created a Cold Case Files database, where the public can search for and read about unsolved homicides and missing persons.  Each entry in the database has information about who to contact if you have any information; also, most cases include photos and other descriptive information.  Another resource on unsolved cases is the Denver Post Cold Case Blog.  By putting their names and faces on the web, law enforcement is hopeful that a greater number of these cases will be solved.  For more information on the work of the Cold Case Task Force, read their Annual Reports, available in print and digitally from our library.

12.10.2012

Wolves in Colorado

At one time, according to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the gray wolf could be found in every part of Colorado, but over time, ranching and wolves' impact on livestock caused their eradication and the last wolves in Colorado were killed around 1940.  Now, there are proposals to bring the wolf back to Colorado, partly to help keep down elk populations; however, many livestock owners are opposed.  There have been some suspected sightings of wolves in Colorado, but none have been confirmed -- however, CPW district wildlife managers believe they sighted a wolf near Walden, along the Colorado-Wyoming border.  You can view a video of the sighting and learn much more about gray wolves at the CPW's gray wolf species webpage.  Also, visit CPW's Gray Wolf Management webpage for more technical information.  Finally, the CPW publication Wolves:  Knocking At Colorado's Door presents information for all ages on the controversy over gray wolf reintroduction in Colorado. 

12.06.2012

Foster Families

"Colorado's County Departments of Human Services and Social Services are looking for some really special people to be adoptive and foster families.  Becoming an adoptive or foster parent is an important decision that will change your life and that of a child forever.  Hundreds of children in Colorado are waiting for a family.  One of them might be waiting for you."  -- Colorado Dept. of Human Services

An article in today's Denver Post, in conjunction with their recent investigative series on child abuse, reports that Colorado needs hundreds more foster families to meet the need.  If you're thinking about becoming a foster parent, the Colorado Dept. of Human Services' Foster Care Program can get you started.  They sponsor the website www.changealifeforever.org, where you can find out about foster parenting and adoption and take the first steps toward giving a child a better life. 

12.04.2012

Colorado Gives Day

Mayor Speer said, "Give while you live," and Colorado has for the past several years designated Colorado Gives Day as a day for citizens to give back to the many charitable and non-profit organizations that make Colorado such a great place to live. 

If you're thinking about giving but aren't sure which cause you'd like to donate to, search the Colorado Secretary of State's Charities and Fundraisers Database, or check out the Colorado Combined Campaign Resource Guide for ideas. 

Once you've selected some options, be sure to read the SOS's How to Evaluate a Charity guidelines to make sure your money is going where you think it is.  It's also a good idea to visit www.ChecktheCharity.com, a partnership of the Colorado Secretary of State and the Colorado Attorney General, to be sure and avoid charitable giving scams, especially if you're unfamiliar with the organization you've chosen to help.

Finally, once you've made your donation, don't forget that many contributions are tax-deductible.  See the "FYI" tax fact sheet Charitable Contribution Subtractions from the Colorado Dept. of Revenue for tips and instructions.

12.03.2012

Civil Defense in Colorado

One of the very interesting historical publications in our library is the Colorado Nuclear Civil Protection Plan, which was created in 1979 "to establish a state-level emergency organization...in the event of an international crisis that could result in a threat of nuclear war upon the United States."  Obviously, this publication is outdated and no longer used, but it offers an eye-opening historical perspective on the times in which it was written.

Today, we have the Colorado Office of Homeland Security, overseen by the Colorado State Patrol.  See Colorado's current Homeland Security Strategy document for what the state is doing now to help protect its citizens.  Other recent documents of interest include Governor's Office of Homeland Security Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan; Terrorism Protective Measures Resource Guide, Water Industry; Senate Select Committee on Homeland Security Report to the Colorado Senate; Homeland Security Research in Colorado; Water Supply Safety; Responding to Chemical Weapons Incidents; Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Terrorism Preparedness; Biological Threats; and Domestic Preparedness:  A Practical Guide to Help the Citizens of Colorado Prepare for Terrorism.

Finally, be sure to visit http://www.readycolorado.com, a state-supported website that gives Coloradans tips on keeping themselves and their homes protected from all kinds of disasters, whether they be natural or man-made.