Elections, budget constraints and developments pretty much sums up the year for Jefferson County. Here is a list of the Top 5 stories of the year that made a huge impact on the county:
School board tide turns
The Jefferson County school board took a sharp turn to the right after three reform candidates were swept into power in November.
District voters overwhelmingly supported the candidacies of Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams. The conservative trio soundly defeated their progressive opponents.
Their victories came on the same night that voters across the state soundly rejected a major school finance ballot measure, and where reform candidates also took over seats in Denver and Douglas Counties.
The election results highlighted an eventful year for Jeffco Schools; one which saw two board members decide against running for re-election, while another resigned after having moved out of the district. After the results, longtime Superintendent Cindy Stevenson announced that she will retire at the end of June.
In July 2003, a week before their divorce was to be finalized, Daniel DeWild lured Heather DeWild — mother of his two children — into the garage of his Edgewater home.
There he killed her while their children, 3 and 5, watched TV in the next room. He hanged her body from the rafters while he wrapped it up for disposal. He then instructed his twin brother David DeWild to drive the body into the mountains to be disposed.
Heather DeWild’s body would be found in Clear Creek Canyon only a few months later, but it would be nearly a decade before Daniel DeWild would be held accountable for the crime, pleading guilty to the murder.
In March 2013, Daniel DeWild was sentenced to 74 years in prison in a courtroom not far from where Heather’s body was found, a final chapter of a case that had haunted Heather DeWild’s family, and county investigators.
Residents rally against community corrections
County commissioners received a flood of protest from Jeffco residents during their business meeting on Aug. 6 after the public learned about a land exchange agreement between the county and Colorado Investment and Development Company.
The agreement allowed the company to buy property near West Colfax and Wide Acres Road in order to build a new community correction facility for ICCS, and then swap the site for the New York building on Kendall street, which is where ICCS is currently located.
Commissioner Tighe who is leading the relocation initiative decided to abandon the deal. In September, Tighe announced he would be holding an educational tour to municipalities in the county to present information on community corrections, its functions and why the county is interested in relocating the proposed correctional facility.
The commissioners plan to meet with Edgewater in early January, and pick a new location soon after. As part of the tour, commissioners will request city council members for their input on potential site locations and financial assistance options.
“One of the lessons we learned is we needed to engage the community more,” Tighe said. “Our process wasn’t as good as it could have been.”
Floods roar through county
Summer ended with a gush of water as record rainfall wreaked havoc in parts of the state including Jefferson County. Residents in Coal Creek Canyon faced similar situations seen in Boulder County with residents leaving their homes via rescue efforts with washed out drive ways, exposed culverts and gas lines, and not running water or electricity.
To date, Jeffco has not released numbers regarding county damage, but in September damage was assessed at $6 million. Highway 72 was left in pieces with a culvert break that caused severe flooding making large portions of the highway impassable.
Two months later, Highway 72 re-opened with complete repairs before the winter season. Jeffco Open Space suffered $605,000 in damage with most of Jeffco’s parks open with the exception of a few trails at North Table Mountain and West Wild Iris Loop at Alderfer Three Sisters Park.; Apex Park still closed.
A total of 12 parks were hit with flood water damaging trails with sink holes, rock and boulder debris and erosion.
Curling center glides into Lakewood
The Denver Curling Center officially broke ground on Oct. 29 at the site’s location at 14100 W. Seventh Ave., near the Colorado Mills shopping area.
The Denver Curling Center will be the first of its kind in Colorado and house the Denver Curling Club, who has had trouble with ice time for practices at the Ice Ranch in Littleton. Now they will be able to have tournaments.
The facility is estimated to cost $2.5 million with a goal to complete construction by spring 2014.
Sitting on 4.7 acres, the Denver Curling Club will share the spotlight with the future Colorado State Patrol Museum and Learning Center who have expressed their excitement for a building to house the state patrol’s long history in Colorado.