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.


Time Machine Tuesday: Silas Soule and the Sand Creek Massacre

Tomorrow, November 29, is the 153rd anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.  That morning, approximately 675 U.S. Volunteers under the command of Colonel John Chivington attacked a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, many of whom were women, children, and old men.  Over the next eight hours the soldiers butchered as many as 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people.  Captain Silas Soule, however, followed his conscience and refused to fire on the unarmed villagers. 

After Soule and another soldier, Lt. Joseph A. Cramer, wrote letters to their former commander Lt. Edward "Ned" Wynkoop describing the atrocities, Congress and the U.S. Army investigated and declared what had previously been termed a "battle" was really a terrible massacre.  Coloradans were shocked, Colonel Chivington was disgraced, and Territorial Governor John Evans resigned.  Yet the massacre still had its supporters and, after testifying before the Army Commission, Silas Soule was murdered.  He was just 26 years old.

The Soule and Cramer letters were re-discovered in 2000 and provide a shocking picture of the events of November 29, 1864.  "I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized," Soule wrote.  The tragic story told in the letters led to a greater understanding of what horrors took place that day, and as a result the site in southeast Colorado has been dedicated by the National Park Service as the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.

You can read more about Silas Soule in the Colorado Virtual Library's mini-biography, or see "Captain Silas S. Soule: A Pioneer Martyr" in the November 1935 issue of Colorado Magazine.  The National Park Service has transcribed Soule's letter and made it available online.  You can also read more about the discovery of the Soule and Cramer letters in "Written in Blood: The Soule-Cramer Sand Creek Massacre Letters," an article in the Winter 2001 issue of Colorado Heritage, which you can check out in print from our library.  Other Colorado Magazine and Colorado Heritage articles on Sand Creek include:

Two months prior to the Sand Creek Massacre, Wynkoop (kneeling, front, left) and Soule (kneeling, front, right) arranged for a delegation of Cheyenne and Arapaho leaders to meet with Governor Evans at Camp Weld, near today's I-25 and 6th Avenue interchange.  Territorial Secretary Samuel Elbert, a future territorial governor, is second from the right in the back row.  Photo courtesy History Colorado.


Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping

The holiday shopping season has arrived, and unfortunately, there are "grinches" out there who want to scam you.  Take a look at the Attorney General's Consumer Holiday Guide for some great tips about secure shopping as well as information about charity fraud.


Additionally, here are some tips from the Colorado Division of Banking on how to shop securely, whether online or in person:

  1. Budget for your expenses so you do not place yourself in recurring debt after the holidays.
  2. When shopping online, ensure you are using secure websites. Hackers and scammers can create duplicate websites that mimic your trusted retailer.
  3. Check the authenticity of the website by going directly to the company website for a direct link versus searching online for the retailer.
  4. You will never be asked for your PIN number online, do not enter it for any reason. PIN numbers give scammers and thieves direct access your banking information.
  5. Report any suspicious activity on your account or card immediately.
  6. Make sure the seller has a listed address or toll-free number that you can contact if you are not satisfied with your purchase.
  7. If purchasing an item online, never send cash. The safest way to make a purchase online is through credit card.


Time Machine Tuesday: Researching Past Colorado Legislators

Our library receives many questions about finding biographical information on state legislators from the past.  Many of these questions are geneological ("my great-grandfather served in the Legislature") but we have also received questions about whether certain legislators are still living; how many legislators belonged to a particular profession; where to find a photo of a deceased former legislator; which party a legislator belonged to; and other similar questions.  Luckily, we have a number of resources in our collection that can help answer these questions, and many of these resources are (or soon will be) available online.

Colorado Senators, 1885.  Courtesy Denver Public Library.
The first place to go when researching a legislator is Colorado Legislators Past and Present, a database developed by the Colorado Legislative Council.  Here you can find a variety of facts about every legislator who's ever served in Colorado.  Information in each record includes (if known/applicable):
  • political party
  • chambers served in (House, Senate)
  • years served
  • occupation
  • district number (for legislators after 1964)
  • county and city of residence
  • other government positions held
  • gender
  • birth date and place
  • death date and place
  • legislative committees served on
  • bill sponsorship
Many records contain supplementary information as well.  If a legislator was memorialized at the time of their death, the text of the memorial is provided, as scanned from the House and Senate Journals.  Other legislators gave oral histories, and these are included in audio form and/or transcript.  If a photo of the legislator can be located, it is also included in the record.  For those looking for statistical information rather than information on one specific legislator, the data can be sorted by district, party, chamber, or county.  The database also includes a search feature, which you can use if, for example, you wanted to find every legislator with occupation "attorney."

Besides the database, there are many other helpful resources, as well.  If the subject of your research held a leadership position, check out Presidents and Speakers of the Colorado General Assembly: A Biographical Portrait from 1876, also produced by Colorado Legislative Council.  Here you can find lengthier biographies on the House and Senate leaders from 1876 to 2011, along with photos.

Hundreds of biographies of important Coloradans prior to 1927 are also available online in volumes 4 and 5 of the Colorado Historical Society's History of Colorado.  Many of these biographies include photos.

Finally, you can view the official directories of state legislators back to 1972 via our library.  These directories include not only names, parties, and Capitol contact information, but also in many cases home addresses, occupations, spouses' names, committee information, and even seating charts for the House and Senate Chambers.

A few legislators, such as Helen Ring Robinson, Richard Castro, and William Hamill, have even had stand-alone biographies written about them, which you can check out from our library.  Other information can be found in reports of committees and state agencies; for these and other resources search our library's online catalog.


Colorado's Canines: Coyotes, Foxes, and Wolves

Coyotes, foxes, and wolves all belong to the scientific Family known as Canidae, or canines -- just like your pet dog.  There are some big differences, however, between all of these types of canines.

Native American legends often refer to the coyote as a trickster.  Colorado Parks & Wildlife calls them "opportunistic" and "naturally curious."  Many people think coyotes are only found in more rural areas or in the high country, but this is not true - they are being found in increasing numbers along the Front Range due to continued loss of their natural habitat.  They've even been spotted in neighborhoods near downtown Denver.  Coyotes will usually leave humans alone, but they can be a danger to your pets, so be sure to closely supervise your pets.  If coyotes are in the area, you should make sure your cats stay indoors.  When walking dogs, make sure they are leashed and within your sight, and don't ever let dogs and coyotes interact.  If you see coyotes nearby, it may be best to carry your dog, according to this brochure from Colorado Parks & Wildlife.  You can also learn more about coyotes in the publication Who is Coyote?

Foxes are also frequently found in urban areas and can also be a danger to small pets.  The species most commonly found in the Metro area is the red fox.  Red foxes can run at speeds of 30 MPH and have excellent sight, hearing, and smell.  Like coyotes they are "opportunistic" so to avoid attracting foxes, be sure food garbage is properly stored.  Learn more about red foxes at this "living with wildlife" page from Colorado Parks & Wildlife.  Other fox species, including gray, kit, and swift, are found in more remote areas.  The swift fox is a threatened/endangered species; you can read about Colorado's swift fox conservation efforts in this report.

Of the different types of canids, wolves are certainly the most rare in Colorado.  For many years there were no wolves in the state, but recently there have been reintroduction efforts.  Unlike foxes and coyotes, which rely on their keen intelligence to find food, wolves are much stronger, fiercer predators, and as a result their reintroduction has been controversial.  To learn more see the publications Wolves: Knocking at Colorado's Door and Findings and Recommendations for Managing Wolves that Migrate into Colorado.

Learn more about wolves, coyotes, and foxes by searching our library's online catalog or visiting the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website.

Images courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife.


The Future of Transportation

Travel between Denver and Boulder in just 8 minutes?  It could become a reality.  Yesterday the Colorado Department of Transportation released plans to study the Hyperloop system, a high-speed track system where cars are loaded onto pods and pushed through vacuum-sealed tubes at a speed of 670 miles per hour.  CDOT says a half-mile test track will be built alongside E-470 near Denver International Airport.   You can read more about this futuristic transportation system in CDOT's Hyperloop One report/proposal.  See also this CDOT video about Hyperloop.

Autonomous vehicles are also on the horizon.  Over the past year CDOT has been testing self-driving work zone trucks and other innovations as part of its RoadX program.  CDOT put together this video demonstrating the world's first self-driving work zone vehicle.  Check out CDOT's RoadX webpage for more information and videos.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Aviation

A jet crosses the runway over I-70 at Stapleton International Airport in 1969.  Photo courtesy History Colorado.
In honor of National Aviation History Month, this week's post takes a look at the state of aviation in Colorado fifty years ago.  In 1968, the Colorado House of Representatives appointed a committee to look at the growth, challenges, and future of air travel in Colorado.  You can read the committee's report online from our library.

The report discusses the planning and legislation needed to address the growing industry.  At the time of this report, aviation technology was rapidly expanding.  Many airports, including Denver's Stapleton, were constructed in the early days of flight.  But after WWII, air travel "took off" as technologies were expanded.  For the first time in 1959, a jumbo jet flew out of Stapleton Airport, a facility that had been designed for much smaller aircraft.  Smaller airports around the state were also being pushed to capacity as air travel in all forms became more widespread.  Safety had also become more of a concern, as the Denver metro area had experienced two major crashes in the 1950s.  In 1951, a B-29 bomber taking off from Lowry Air Force Base crashed into Denver's Hilltop Neighborhood; and in 1955, Mainliner flight 629 exploded over Longmont, the result of a bomb planted in a passenger's suitcase, killing 44.  It was the United States' first incidence of air sabotage and still ranks as the state's largest mass-murder.

So the need for space, safety, and adaptation to new technology led to the House committee's formation in 1968.  The committee suggested that the overcrowding at Stapleton be addressed by the construction of "new reliever (secondary) airports in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Denver." Stapleton would push on for another twenty-five years, but finally the expansion of air travel - including the addition of more international flights - as well as increased noise over Denver residential areas led to the construction of Denver International Airport.

Other ideas put forth in the 1968 report included state aid for community airports; development of air commuter services; an expanded safety program, including "the widespread use of navigational aids throughout the State;" and using air travel improvements to attract tourists to Colorado, especially skiers.  The committee recommended "exploiting all of Colorado's natural resources through the media of air transport. Such potentials as the skiing industry should be fully supported by both communities and the State."  Was this initiative successful?  Ten years after the report, the University of Colorado published The Airline Skier, 1977-78 Season: A Comparison of the Skiers Traveling by Commercial Air in Five Skier Studies Conducted at Aspen, Vail, Steamboat, Winter Park, and Copper Mountain.  This report is also available digitally from our library.  For other resources on the history of aviation in Colorado, search our library's online catalog.  


Student Data Privacy

The Colorado Department of Education takes many precautions to protect students' privacy and limit the availability of personally identifiable information.  To learn more, check out the following resources outlining the steps CDE is taking to ensure your children's privacy:
Also, be sure and visit the following CDE webpages for updated information:


CSU's National Western Center

Last week was the groundbreaking for the new National Western Center, a major project to revitalize the National Western Stock Show complex into a "year-round educational and entertainment hub."  The project includes both the construction of several new buildings as well as the preservation and restoration of several of the complex's historic structures, most notably the 1909 Stadium Arena.

One of the major partners in the project is Colorado State University, which will have three new facilities at the complex: the CSU Water Resources Center; a facility for equine sports medicine; and the "CSU Center," which will provide classroom, laboratory, and art spaces as well as a "K-12 Food Systems Exploration Center."  For details on the CSU buildings see their program plan.  You can also find out more about the project at http://nwc.colostate.edu/ and at the City of Denver's National Western Center webpage.

A rendering of the site, including the historic Stadium Arena and the new CSU buildings.  Photo courtesy Colorado State University.


Time Machine Tuesday: A Colorado Booklist from 1968

What were the popular books on Colorado, and by Colorado authors, half a century ago?  Find out by viewing the Colorado Booklist that was issued by the State Historical Society.  The list gives titles and brief summaries of fiction and non-fiction books for adults, young adults, and children, as well as Colorado-themed magazines.  The list is an excellent resource to use if you are trying to recall the name of a Colorado-themed book that you read as a child, or to get a sense of Colorado culture in the 1960s.  The list may also be of interest to book collectors and book sellers.  Some of the books on the list are still important reference books for today's local historians; others have been all but forgotten.

A few of the non-fiction books and magazines listed, such as the Colorado Yearbook, Colorado Magazine, and Colorado Outdoors, are available for checkout from our library.  Others may be available at your local public library or through interlibrary loan.  Search our library's online catalog or contact us for research help.


Western Slope Colorado Wine

Colorado wine enthusiasts may delight in the book An American Provence, published in 2011 by University Press of Colorado.  In this book, author Thomas P. Huber examines the many geographic similarities between Colorado's Western-slope wine country and the Provence region in France.  From the book summary:

In this poetic personal narrative, Thomas P. Huber reflects on two seemingly unrelated places-the North Fork Valley in western Colorado and the Coulon River Valley in Provence, France-and finds a shared landscape and sense of place. What began as a simple comparison of two like places in distant locations turned into a more complex, interesting, and personal task. Much is similar-the light, the valleys, the climate, the agriculture. And much is less so-the history, the geology, the physical makeup of villages. Using a geographer's eye and passion for the land and people, Huber examines the regions' similarities and differences to explore the common emotional impact of each region. Part intimate travelogue and part case study of geography in the real world, An American Provence illuminates the importance sense of place plays in who we are.

An American Provence is available for checkout from our library.  Also, you can learn more about Colorado's wine industry in the following state publications, also available from our library:


Governor's Budget

You've probably seen the headlines about the various budget proposals in the Governor's annual budget and the other state agency budgets, which were released yesterday.  You can examine any of the budget requests at our library; here you can also find past years' budgets, some going back several decades.

You can also view online versions of the current budget requests at the Governor's Office of State Planning & Budgeting website.  Search our library's online catalog for online budgets from previous years.

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