Christmas Tree Recycling

It's that time of year when the holiday decorations are coming down, and the Colorado State University Extension reminds us that, if you had a live tree, it is now "bedraggled and has probably become a terrible fire hazard. It's time to get it out of the house. Please don't just put it out for garbage pickup." While it depends on your county/municipality, in many cases regular garbage service will not even pick up discarded trees, especially if they are left whole.  In any case, it is better, says the Extension, to recycle them.  Their PlantTalk Colorado website includes tips on Christmas tree recycling, as well as links to Extension fact sheets on mulching and composting.  Start the new year by being as "green" as your tree used to be!


New "Colorado Talent Pipeline" Report

The Colorado Workforce Development Council has just released a new Colorado Talent Pipeline ReportIssued through a partnership between several state agencies, this report "explores issues related to the supply and demand of talent in Colorado."  Here you can find data on "top jobs," pay, and job openings; the state's efforts to attract and utilize a skilled workforce; and programs and strategies for "better aligning the skills of our workforce with employer demand."  


Holiday Pet Safety

The holidays can mean confusion -- or new temptations -- for your pets.  Some holiday foods and decorations can be hazardous to your pet.  Other circumstances, like traveling or parties/guests, can stress out our animal friends.  Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital has published some excellent tips for keeping your pets safe and stress-free during the holidays:

Enjoy The Holidays While Keeping Your Pet Safe.  Many traditional holiday foods contain ingredients that are toxic to pets, and this article offers a list of foods to keep away from your pets, as well as decorations that could be hazardous -- including poisonous plants (holly, ivy, and mistletoe), Christmas tree water that contains hazardous chemicals or preservative agents, or even small ornaments and tinsel which are attractive to pets, especially cats, but can be hazardous if ingested.  Also in this article you will find tips on how to tell if your pet is under stress.

Watch for Pet Poisons Around Your HomeThis article also discusses poisonous foods and plants, and how you can respond if your pet does eat something he shouldn't.

Help Pets Avoid Hazards During the Holiday SeasonLike the above articles, this one also discusses poisonous plants and foods, but it also contains tips for keeping pets safe when you have houseguests.

Veterinarians Offer Seasonal Tips to Ease Travel With Pets and Prevent 'Pupsicles.'  This article is twofold: first, it offers helpful tips for traveling with pets, including what kinds of carriers to use and what items to pack.  Secondly, the article discusses ways to keep pets warm and safe in frigid winter weather (just in time for today's freezing temperatures!)

To Blanket or Not to Blanket?  This article for horse owners discusses whether, and how best to, blanket your horse on cold, snowy days like today.

Finally, there's the old debate over whether poinsettias are poisonous to pets.  A fact sheet from the CSU Extension tells us that "poinsettia plants are not harmful to household pets unless the leaves and bracts are eaten in very large quantities. Since cats and puppies frequently chew on new plants introduced in the home, it is prudent to place the plants out of reach."


Time Machine Tuesday: Christmas Traditions at Palmer Lake

One of Colorado's most beloved Christmas traditions is the Yule Log Ceremony held every year in the town of Palmer Lake, in El Paso County.  The tradition was started in 1933 by Lucretia Vaile, who had seen a similar event in Lake Placid, NY.  Yule Log ceremonies date back to the ancient Norsemen as a way to celebrate the winter solstice.  In Palmer Lake, the ceremony usually attracts about 500 revelers each year, who hunt for a previously-hidden log and, when finding it, haul it back to the town hall where it is burned while spectators sing carols and sip toddies.  A piece of the log is retained to burn in the next year's event.  The town of Beulah, in Pueblo County, also holds an annual Yule Log Festival, begun in 1952 with a splinter of a log from Palmer Lake.

Lucretia Vaile, who started the Palmer Lake ceremony, was the daughter of a prominent Denver attorney.  The family had a summer home in Palmer Lake, and young Lucretia fell in love with the town, spending as much time there as she could.  She continued to own a summer home in Palmer Lake until 1968, when she donated it to the town for an arts center.  Today, the town's museum and library are named for Lucretia Vaile.  Lucretia herself was a librarian at the Denver Public Library. 

In 1934, the year after Lucretia started the Yule Log ceremony, Palmer Lake began a second seasonal tradition.  Each year a 500-foot-wide Star of Bethlehem is brightly lit on a mountaintop above the town. The star is so big that it can be seen from I-25.

You can read more about the history of these two Palmer Lake traditions in this 1952 article published in the Colorado Magazine.  Here you can also find the words to "Song of the Kindling Log" and other Old English yuletide tunes, as well as the town's recipe for wassail punch.  Also be sure to check out the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, which contains a number of articles about the Palmer Lake festivities through the years.

A photo postcard from the 1940s shows the lighted star above the town of Palmer Lake.


Colorado's Conservation Districts

Did you know that Colorado has seventy-six Conservation Districts?  Nearly every part of the state falls under one of these districts.  Overseen by the Colorado Department of Agriculture's State Conservation Board, the districts were established in 1937 to "represent private landowners' interests in conservation planning and practices."  According to the agriculture department's website,

The Colorado State Conservation Board (CSCB) is comprised of Conservation District representatives from Colorado’s 10 watersheds and provides guidance to the Department of Agriculture for:
  • Dispersing state grant funds and direct assistance to the Conservation Districts
  • Developing training tools for long and short term planning, budgeting, and laws pertaining to local governance
  • Performing as a board of appeals for landowners appealing Conservation District activities
  • Facilitating local conservation programs that improve soil health, water quality, water conservation, wildlife habitat, forest health, plant communities and energy conservation.
Check out the website for more information, including the online Conservation District Reference ManualOur library also has cataloged profiles of several individual Conservation Districts:


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


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.


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.


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:


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:
  • 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.


'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.

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