Editor's Note: In order that Lora and I, and all our wonderful volunteer contributors might enjoy some time off to be with our families and friends during the holidays, the Lyons Recorder will continue our tradition of using the last week of the year, and the first week of the new year, to bring our readers “The Year In Review.”
On behalf of everyone connected to the Lyons Recorder, we extend Season's Greetings and best wishes for a Happy New Year!
Joseph Lekarczyk and Lora Gilson
TOWN GOVERNMENT, ETC
It didn't take long for the Board of Trustees (BOT) to get a sense of what was on the minds of residents.
At the first BOT meeting in February, a packed house of about forty to forty-five people came to voice their concerns about a possible sales agreement between the Town of Lyons and Keith Bell for a parcel of land in Lyons Valley Park for the construction of as many as forty-three affordable housing units (duplexes and triplexes). Most expressed concerns about increased traffic, decreased safety for children, and possible adverse affects on the value of their homes. There were also some accusations of “back room politics” and concerns about the speed with which the project came forward, and the transparency of the proposal. Normally, the Board doesn't address issues raised in audience business but both Mayor Connie Sullivan and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Greenberg could not let the accusations go unaddressed. Sullivan explained that deadlines were in play in order to keep a $4 million affordable housing grant on the table, while Greenberg pointed out that in all real estate deals, whether between private entities and/or municipalities, are generally done (strategies, offers, etc.) in private and, he added, the Board would have been remiss to have discussed possible real estate purchases in public. Both elected officials assured the public that the required public process, i.e., public hearings with the BOT and the Planning & Community Development Commission (PCDC) etc., would be held. Eventually a developer, the Summit Housing Group out of Missoula, Montana, was chosen to develop the project. The ongoing process has been revised and expanded to include a number of single family rentals while lowering the number of duplex/triplex units.
Good news; bad news. In early April Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen was pleased to announce that in doing some work in Bohn Park, crews uncovered a “treasure” worth an estimated $600K. Apparently an old manure pile from back in the day when the site had been used as a dairy farm had morphed into “Iowa-like top soil” in the intervening decades. The plan is to use this top soil for various recovery projects that would otherwise require the purchase of top soil. The bad news was just about the same time, Boulder County announced that ash trees all over the county had been infested with the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that eventually kills off the tree. Ash trees all over the town are infected, and nearly every one in Sandstone Park.
Electing people to represent your interests in Town government is always an important event in small towns, and 2018 was an election year in Lyons. Sullivan ran unopposed for her second term as Lyons' mayor. She ran unopposed last time too. Come to think of it, John O'Brien ran unopposed for his term as mayor, and Julie Van Domelen's last two runs for mayor were unopposed as well. We haven't had a contested mayor's race in Lyons since 2009, when Van Domelen and Trustee Tina Schooler squared off in a special election to replace Mayor Chis Hicar (Hicar defeated Walt Kinderman and David Goranson). Either everyone has confidence that the first candidate to throw their hat into the ring will do a good job, or not many people are eager to tackle the duties of mayor (probably the latter). Greenberg was term-limited so he could not run (rumor has it he is enjoying his time away from the grind), and Trustee James Kerr chose to take a break and not run for a third term. Incumbents Barney Dreistadt, Juli Waugh, Michael Karavas, and Wendy Miller were all successful in their bids for re-election (Dreistadt became the new Mayor Pro Tem), and “newbies” Mark Browning and Jocelyn Farrell secured the other two seats on the Board of Trustees. The group was “sworn in” at the second BOT meeting in April and will now be “sworn at” in the local coffee shops and watering holes.
On a state and national level our elected officials paid us a visit. U.S. House Representative (now Governor Elect) Jared Polis, State Senator Steve Fenberg, and State Representative Jonathan Singer stopped by Oskar Blues to inform the electorate about bills and measures they were working on, and to host a little Q&A session to find out what is on the mind of the voters.
Out-going Governor John Hickenlooper paid a couple of visits to Lyons this year. The first was in May to sign into law a bill that would enhance the state's emergency preparedness for natural disasters. His second visit was to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 2013 flood. Hickenlooper was joined by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, many officials from federal and state agencies, elected state, county, and Lyons officials, Town staff, military and National Guard personal, and dozens of Lyons residents for the ceremonies, which included a tour of various recovery projects around town, and the planting of a tree in Bohn Park to honor Gerald Boland who perished in the flood. Hickenlooper was also honored by having a loop trail in the park, The HickenLOOPer, named after him.
A week later the Town of Lyons hosted a Five-Year Reflection & Community Picnic in Bohn Park. Residents reconnected with old friends, recounted flood stories, sang songs, and just plain healed .
The Eco-Pass, a bus pass for people living in the 80540 Area Code, reputed to be worth $2000 was continued again this year. The price did go up though; to $40! It took a while to work out the bugs, both audio and visual, but the Town staff is now live streaming the BOT meetings so that residents can follow the goings on at Town Hall without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes. Nor do they have to miss all those great Monday Night Football games! The new and improved ice rink in LaVern Johnson Park was very popular with free skaters and hockey players alike. And with the cold weather now upon us, the rink should be open in time for the Christmas school break, but as always, it is totally weather dependent.
The Town was the recipient of a Boulder County grant continuing to support a part-time sustainability coordinator (Toby Russell) to implement recommendations identified in the Lyons Environmental Sustainability Action Plan.
One issue the Trustees have been grappling with all year long is the stunningly high BOD (Bio-Chemical Oxygen Demand) levels, or the “organic gunk” that goes into the wastewater treatment plant. What to do about it, who is responsible, and who should pay for it? Were the pre-flood BOD numbers not accurate because too few samples were taken? Was the engineering not adequate for the actual load? Are restaurants not using/cleaning grease traps? Are a couple of commercial endeavors dumping too much into the system, rather than “side-streaming,” and throwing the BOD numbers out of whack? How do we quantify the levels of the offenders? Should the offenders foot the added costs? Should everyone on the system shoulder the financial burden? Should Honeywell International be on the hook for not meeting their projected cost savings guarantees? No final answer has yet been determined, although the BOT did pass an ordinance late in the year aimed at those who contribute the most to the problem being made to pay extra for the solution.
A less thorny wastewater issue, that none the less took up a large part of the Trustees' time, was the sewer line on upper Fifth Avenue. Was it a main? Who owned it, the Town or the residents? How long have they owned it? Should it be upgraded to meet code or just cleaned out and repaired? Who should pay for maintenance/repairs? Would utility easements and rights-of-way be granted? In the end, the Town took possession and responsibility of the pipe going forward, without acknowledging prior ownership, and the residents paid for the repairs they authorized. No one got everything they wanted, so it can be said, they reached a compromise.
Another item the Board has been mulling over for quite some time is amending the outdoor activity overlay district. This pertains to when and where businesses can feature outdoor music, amplified or not. Currently along parts of Main and High Streets, between Third and Fifth Avenues there is a patchwork of three classifications: open, limited, and restricted. The original intent of the amendments seems to be to limit the hours of outdoor music so as to not to heavily impact the school and/or neighborhoods, while promoting the opportunity for businesses that would like to provide outdoor music, and at the same time not stifling the business of those that already do. Finally, in December, after months of workshops and discussions, an amendment to the current overlay district was worked out. Again, not everyone got what they wanted, but that is the essence of compromise. It may take a while, but at least our local elected officials do eventually get things done, which doesn't often seem the case at the federal level.
In early March the long-awaited work on the new and improved McConnell Bridge began in earnest with the pouring of concrete. Just a couple months later with all the required pomp and circumstance, Mayor Sullivan cut the ribbon and declared, “The bridge is now officially open!”
On a somewhat smaller scale, and with slightly less fanfare (there was no ribbon cutting), the main streets through Lyons got a new much needed striping from the Colorado Department of Transportation. Now how about those blinking pedestrian crossing signals we have been promised?
Also in early March the Trustees got an update on the shooting range that Boulder County is proposing be created at a soon-to-be-unused CEMEX quarry just outside of Lyons above Rte. 36 near the Loukonen Stone Yard. Not much had changed since the original presentation to the BOT months before. Project Manager Gary Sanfacon stressed that everything was still in the early stages, nothing had been decided, and Lyons would be kept in the loop. However, he did indicate that the five other possible sites had been whittled down to two, the CEMEX quarry site and the Boulder Rifle Club in North Boulder. Not much else was heard until just earlier this month (December 2018) when Sanfacon and County Commissioner Deb Gardner returned speak to the Trustees again. They both still insist that everything is still in the “early stages and nothing has been decided.” Except now they are in talks with the Boulder Rifle Club because it turns out two shooting ranges for Boulder County will be needed. One to serve the souther part of the county (the rifle club site), and one to serve the northern portion of the county (the quarry site). According to Sanfacon and Gardner no letter of intent to purchase with CEMEX has been signed yet. If and when this happens the county will then allocate funds to do traffic, environmental, noise, and land use studies, then the development of a draft site plan will occur. After all that, “the county will convene a community meeting with the Town of Lyons to solicit feedback from the residents,” says Sanfacon.
Garima Fairfax, of the Rocky Mountain Botanic Garden group presented the Board with an interesting proposal to create a Botanic Garden on the 404 Buyout property that previously housed a mobile home park between Fourth Avenue and Rte. 7 as you head out of town. She provide a concept drawing with different zones, plants, paths, fencing, and parking. The garden, which would be open from dawn to dusk, would be managed by volunteers from her group, and there would be a small entry fee for visitors. Fairfax is scheduled to address the Trustees with an update at their final meeting of the year in late December.
The Town's annual Clean Up Day was again combined with a community yard sale to help residents get rid of some of their stuff. Too bad the weather didn't cooperate; yard sales are never too successful on a cold rainy day. But, junk was hauled off by the truck loads.
This past year may go down as the “Year of the Bridge.” Not only did the McConnell Bridge officially open, but so did the bridge at the upper end of the Old South St. Vrain Road. And, according to Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen, FEMA has finally approved the design for the reconstruction of the Second Avenue Bridge. If all goes well from here on out, Simonsen expects the project to begin in early 2019.
The BOT got an earful from several Moms earlier this summer. They were upset with the “poison in our parks.” What they wanted was to discontinue the use of extremely toxic herbicides in public spaces, or at the least, better signage in the parks alerting Moms that the area has been sprayed so they don't let their kids roll around and play on the grass. They even volunteered to pull those nasty weeds by hand if that was the only solution. The Town, through the Lyons Volunteers currently sponsor the “Weed Posse” armed with rakes, hoes, and clippers to just do that .
About the only one not upset by the herbicides in the parks were a mother bear and her cub that was seen hanging out in LaVern Johnson Park for several weeks during the summer.
The revolving loan fund, a federal grant program set up in early 2013 by John O'Brien when he was with the Lyons Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the Lyons Economic Growth Group (LEGG) was in place after the flood, and helped businesses get back on their feet. With all the other recovery projects and work being done, the fund kind of fell off most people's radars. In 2018, under Mayor Sullivan's leadership, the fund received an additional $35K to help business growth and job creation.
The Lyons Regional Library District seemed to be a regular item on the BOT agenda throughout the year. A “card catalogue” of details in the intergovernmental agreement of the memorandum of understanding between the Town and the District needed to be hammered out, and of course when the “suits” get involved, the billable hours start to pile up. But things did finally get worked out. The skate park was moved. Ditto the recycling center and the RV dump station. Costs were shared, various fees were waived, ground was broken and work has been continuing throughout the fall and winter.
Along the way, an anonymous neighbor donated a beautiful hand carved chess set to the library's “Fun Chess Club” program for kids in honor of Frank Adams who passed away unexpectedly in late December of 2017. Adams was a volunteer mentor/teacher/coach with Aaron Kaplan.
The Friends of the Library collected seventy to eighty boxes of donated books and held a book sale to help raise money for the library. They raised over $600, and then took the left over books to The Bookworm in Boulder and got an additional $232 for the coffers.
Two intrepid hikers from Lyons, Sarah Catchpole and Erica Ellingson, a.k.a. the “Blister Sisters” decided to give the library's building fund a little boost. The two women rounded up sponsors to donate money for each mile walked on their trek across the wilds of Jolly Olde England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. They kept us updated via emails of their progress and adventures on a weekly basis until they dipped their boots into the waters at Robin Hood's Bay. Sisters: 104 miles. Blisters: 5.
In August the Library District announced that Library Director Katherine Weadley was stepping down to take a prestigious position with the Colorado Libraries Consortium. Library staff member Kara Bauman was named Interim Director while the Board conducts a search for a new permanent Library Director.
The Town of Lyons, the Economic Development Commission, and the Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce put together a successful “Shop Lyons” campaign that promoted local businesses and encouraged residents to do their Christmas shopping locally for a chance to win prizes and gift certificates.
The events calendar for Lyons is starting to fill in with some new additions to the lineup of old favorites. Estimates of more than a thousand bikers and runners turned out for the third annual Old Man Winter Race. The frigid temps were off set by gallons of vegan red lentil dal and a hearty chicken quinoa and kale soup for the participants and spectators.
The first annual Chill Fest sponsored by the Town was held in LaVern Johnson Park. Among the activities to warm the soul were live music, bonfires, hot chocolate, and snacks, and there were some activities that were more befitting the Chill Fest name: ice skating, that confusing Canadian game with brooms called curling (sort of horseshoes of the north), and the Lyons Polar Bears were on hand to give everyone a vicarious shiver
On a warmer note, the Lyons Outdoor Games/Burning Can Festival brought nearly thre thousand athletes, beer drinkers, kayakers, dirt bike jumpers, and spectators (and loads of dogs) to our little township. A family friendly event held in the off-leash dog park, there were slides, bounce houses, and hamster balls for the kids to enjoy, a corn hole tournament, slack line kayak competitions, high flying bikers, and the always popular K-9 leap returned and was a big crowd pleaser.
Clark Hodge founder of the non-profit “Chase the Music,” which commissions original music for children who are bravely coping with maladies and diseases, staged another successful blood drive with Bonfils on Easter Sunday morning over at Planet Bluegrass just before the community service. Thank you Clark, for all you do.
Another new addition to the event calendar that was well received was the Taste of Lyons – With a Splash of Blues. Organized as a fundraiser for the Lyons Regional Library, this event at Planet Bluegrass featured tastings from some of the finest area eateries: Mojo Taqueria, SNACK Soda Fountain, Oskar Blues, Smokin' Dave's, The Greenbriar, Greenspoint Catering, Spice of Life, La Mariposa, Pizza Bar 66, and Bella La Crema. The Splash of Blues were supplied by Hazel Miller & her Big Band. I would do this one again, even if the library doesn't need the money!
Good Old Days was shortened to a Good Old Day, but it was still fun for those who attended. There was a car show, a kids' fun area, vendors, food, lots of live music, balloon animals, face painting, history programs, square dancing, and a beer garden.
The Boulder Sheriff's Office again hosted their National Night Out in Bohn Park as a community-building event. There were free hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and soft drinks; as well as K9 demonstrations, bomb squad robots, fire trucks, SWAT vehicles, and a helicopter landing.
We also had to say good-bye to one of our “Only in “Lyons” events. The Little Red Rocks music event, organized and hosted by Clark and Tracy Hodge at their home in Spring Gulch took its final bow after a couple of decades. The annual end of summer event was a cornucopia of musical styles and genres. Clark and Tracy, thanks for all the good music. Maybe next year in Italy?
Yet another new event on the Lyons social calendar was the Emergency Preparedness Fair sponsored by the Lyons Fire Protection District and Lyons Prepared to promote emergency awareness. It was held at the fire station and gave residents safety demonstrations, an opportunity to meet their local fire fighters who explained the roles officials play during a disaster and helped them identify neighborhood points of contact in the event of an emergency. There was a fun side too, with activities for the kids, door prizes, giveaways, and snacks.
Halloween got underway in Lyons at the annual LEAF fundraiser “Rave to the Grave” at the Wildflower Pavilion at Planet Bluegrass. The music and light show provided by Arthur Lee Land and GoGo Lab was fantastic, and the costumes were, in two words, other-worldly. The winners of the costume contest were Jay and Lori Stott for their portrayal of “Middle-Aged Ken & Barbi” complete with original packaging!
The young and young at heart pulled out all the stops for this year's Town of Lyons “Spook-tacular Halloween Parade.” Before the parade the kids enjoyed fun and games at the elementary school playground.
Afterwards hundreds of creatively costumed residents paraded down Main Street behind the LHS marching band much to the delight of the swarms of spectators who lined the street two and three deep. Then the children got a leg up on their trick-or-treating with the candy passed out by local businesses.
Prior to the parade, the Lyons Garden Club hosted their annual Chili Cook-Off fundraiser in the parking lot of The Stone Cup.
In November supporters of the Lyons Community Foundation took a step back in time for a very retro evening of fun and frivolity, and all for a great cause. This year's LCF Gala theme was The 60s, and it certainly appeared that some participants didn't have to dig too far back into their closets to find appropriate clothing. The annual event was held at Lionscrest Manor and catered by Spice of Life Catering.
The holiday season officially kicks-off in Lyons on the first Saturday of December. The two-day Holiday Craft Bazaar at the Lyons Elementary School gets things going on Saturday morning, the annual Holiday Light Parade down Main Street, followed by Christmas carols, cookies, and hot chocolate in Sandstone Park, and culminating with the most spectacular “small-town” fireworks display anywhere! Santa even stopped by for a visit this year.
Music is of course fundamental to Lyons. I've heard it said that “You can't throw a stick in Lyons without hitting someone who has been nominated for a Grammy Award.” That might be a slight exaggeration, but there is no doubt talented that the musician per capita ratio is quite high here in Lyons.
KC Groves, she of too many bands to mention here, debuted her latest group Hazel at a house concert in January. With KC on the mandolin, Helen Simms on guitar, and Christina Union on bass, Hazel features many songs by the late Hazel Dickens, a bluegrass songwriter from West Virginia. Erik Yates on banjo sat in for a few songs.
The venues for music in Lyons is almost as varied as the artists. Besides house concerts, you can hear incredible music at Wyld Style Studios, Spirit Hound Distillery, Smokin' Dave's, Oskar Blues, Pizza Bar 66, The Fork, The Stone Cup, High Street Concerts at Rogers Hall, Wildflower Pavilion, the occasional special concerts at Stonebridge Farm, The Lyons Farmette, Riverbend, and Western Star Gallery, and of course everyone's favorite, the Vasquez Stage in Sandstone Park for the free Thursday night summer concert-in-the-park series sponsored by the Town of Lyons and LCF.
The lineup for the summer concert season included: Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams, Joe Kuckla & Irons in the Fire, Jesse Garland & Good Manners, Dan Rodriquez & Friends, Erik Yates Band, Sally Van Meter & the True Bluegrass Band, and old friends Jammin' Jimmy Sferes & Jennifer White, Woodbelly, and Take Down the Down “Unhinged.”
High Street Concerts brought in the likes of Masontown, Twelve Mile, Laurie Lewis & Nina Gerber, and the second annual November Project with the Michele Castro Trio, the 89s, and Samba Tonk. And this year marked High Street's 16th year of bringing music to Lyons.
And then there are the festivals at Planet Bluegrass. “Festival Season” begins with the RockyGrass Academy bringing hundreds of those looking for instruction at the feet of the masters to Lyons for four days of an unparalleled learning opportunity, whether your instrument is guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass, or mandolin. As soon as the Academy wraps up, it time for the headliners. This year, the 46th for RockyGrass, they included Old & in the Grey, the David Grisman quintet, the Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Peter Rowan, and Hot Rize.
The 28th annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, known locally as FolksFest, is the “pesky younger sibling” that follows RockyGrass. The week begins with another learning event, Song School, which brings hundreds of musicians/singers/songwriters to the bucolic riverside setting of Planet Bluegrass for four days of instruction.
There is also a little bit of competition involved because the winner of the Song School competition gets to play the main stage at the next year's festival. The FolksFest lineup routinely brings in eclectic acts from across the globe and this year was no exception. This year the Festivarians got to hear Las Cafeteras, Jeff Tweedy, Los Lobos, Les Poules a Colin, the Martin Sexton Trio, Indigo Girls, Tinariwen (Grammy winners from the Saharan region of Mali), The Milk Carton Kids, and Regina Spektor on the main stage, as well as favorites Vance Gilbert, Rebecca Folsom, Arthur Lee Land, Steve Seskin, and Ellis at the Wildflower Pavilion. And, no festival season would be complete without the obligatory deluge; just ask the Indigo Girls!
This year saw a new festival grace the grounds of Planet Bluegrass. The Kind Fest was a two-day festival in mid-September that featured the music of Motet, Yonder Mountain, and the String Cheese Incident. “All things being equal,” Planet Bluegrass and Lyons celebrated the autumnal “equinox” (pun intended) with the Mabon Festival at the Wildflower Pavilion with the high-energy, foot-stompin' music of the Irish quartet JigJam, and special guests Bonnie Paine & the Dandelion Seeds.
The Lyons Arts & Humanities Commission (LAHC) took a page from Vivaldi's “Four Seasons” and this year hosted quarterly art shows at Town Hall titled Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Local artists displayed thematic works of arts in multiple mediums. To kick off the Winter display local children were encouraged to write poetry describing snowy days.
Area artists were also featured at Western Star Gallery throughout the year, including kinetic sculptor John King who installed his “Blue Butterfly Tree” outside of the gallery to commemorate Earth Day.
Another establishment that featured the work of local artists was The Stone Cup, which began the year with a show by Rachel Tallent titled “Same Moon 2018.
Sonny Smith began the year as the featured artist at The Fork Restaurant, while a little east of town Android Jones was selected to display six pieces of his work at the Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian, in Washington D.C.
Later in the year, artist and photographer Peggy Dyer hung her show “One Million Faces: Remixing Resiliency” at The Stone Cup. It featured photographs of Elementary Lyons School kids with inspirational messages that they had written about surviving the flood.
The LAHC put out a call for sculptures from artists throughout Colorado for their public art program. Several very interesting pieces were chosen and temporarily placed in the Town Hall Plaza before being moved to various locations along Main Street.
Kathleen Spring organized a quilt show as a fundraiser for the Oral History Project at the Lyons Redstone Museum. It featured antique quilts by several local residents, and a quest speaker, Jeanne Ann Wright, who talked about the unique patterns, and history of several of the quilts.
Spring also organized a poetry reading at the museum that featured historic local poems going back over one hundred years, as well as readings from contemporary local poets who read some of their own works. This event also paid homage to Kunga, a local Buddhist monk who was one of the founders of LIPS, the Lyons Itinerant Poets Society.
Mrs. LaVern was pleased to celebrate the 60th year of summer square dancing at the Lyons Elementary School. Mrs. LaVern and her husband Mr. LaVerne founded the Red Rock Ramblers in 1958 when they and some out of town guests were having trouble finding a weekly square dance along The Front Range they could attend. Not even a broken femur a few years back could keep the ol' gal from “promenading” across the gym floor. Never one to let an opportunity to talk about local history slip by, when Mrs. LaVern wasn't square dancing or attending nearly every social function in town, she somehow found time to conduct a free “History Talks” lecture series at the museum.
In March the discovery of the wreckage of the U.S.S. Lexington (WWII aircraft carrier) at the bottom of the Coral Sea made national news. As it turns out, there was a Lyons connection. A terrific new display at the Redstone Museum, from the family of Charles P. Swift, who was born in Lyons and served in the Navy during the Second World War.
His diary from his time aboard the U.S.S. Phelps describes his eye witness accounts of not only the sinking of the Lexington, but his recollections of the morning of December 7, 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In mid-February, Lyons Elementary School staff and students joined family, friends, and neighbors to plant a tree next to the kindergarten playground in honor of teacher Susan McCafferty.
The students also got an interactive family-oriented Zero Waste presentation from Eco-Cycle as part of their Green Star Community project.
As the weather warmed, work began on an expansion at LES; a new classroom was added to house the pre-school classes, and several other classrooms that were used for art and kindergarten were reconfigured.
Those hard-working PTO parents held another very successful and fun-filled “Casino Night” at the local restaurant La Mariposa. The theme was the “Roaring 20s.” LES students Marcos and Lukas Vavrina, and Katie Scott were each awarded trees for their Arbor Day essays, and they helped plant a tree on the playground.
It wasn't just about trees at LES either; the fifth graders hatched, tested, monitored, and measured hundreds of baby trout, and then trekked over to LaVern Johnson Park to release the fish into the St. Vrain River as part of their Science & Leadership program.
Just before summer vacation, Josh the Baby Otter, thanks to the efforts of the Lyons Lions Club, paid another visit to the youngsters to again impart important water safety tips in preparation for the upcoming summer season.
Speaking of summer fun, more than two dozen boys and girls from the Lyons baseball and softball teams attended a Rockies game at Coors Field and got to parade on the field in their uniforms.
It was repeat of regular season titles for the Lyons ten year old boys' baseball team. They went a perfect 11-0 to capture the title.
But as everyone knows, all good things must come to an end, and so too did summer vacation. In mid-August Principal Andrew Moore welcomed the students back to LES for the 137th school year of Lyons Elementary. Someone (probably Kim Doering) was keeping an eye on the LES Garden over the summer. Within two weeks, the students were harvesting vegetables and toting the fifty pounds of fresh produce over to the Lyons food bank. With the addition of their new hoop-house, the students hope to surpass last year's yield of over 300 pounds!
The kids all had a totally rad time at “Surf's Up,” this year's Jog-A-Thon fundraiser. The enthusiastic little runners circled the playground to the tune of well over $20K (and some old Beach Boys melodies), which will fund many of the special programs and extracurricular activities at the school.
Lyons Middle School
The Middle School Eco-Club organized and staged a very successful fork drive. They collected over two hundred and twenty forks, and over two hundred spoons that are now used at the school for hot lunches, rather than wasting plastic throw-away utensils every day.
In April, Mrs. Courtney's eighth grade Habitats Explore class worked with Alotera Restoration and the St. Vrain Creek coalition on their Apple Valley/St. Vrain flood restoration project. The students planted two hundred willow saplings, and mulched approximately one hundred plants along the river in Apple Valley.
A large contingency of students also made the trip to Denver to visit the Colorado State Capitol building and Coors Field. The eighth graders toured the Capitol to learn about government, while the seventh graders attended Science Day at the baseball stadium.
The two groups met up later in the day to enjoy a game between the Rockies and the San Diego Padres, and got a first-hand practical lesson in statistics and the intricacies of the game of baseball.
Ashley Booth, a sixth grader, competed in and won her age and weight division at the Brazilian Jiujitsu “Fight to Win” Colorado State Championship tournament at the Western Complex in Denver. Ashley competed against both boys and girls. She “submitted” two opponents and won the title on points to bring home the gold!
The middle schoolers wowed family and friends at their annual Arts Program. The evening featured music from the sixth grade band, the advanced middle school band, and the semester and advanced year-long middle school choirs.
Three members of the middle school choir, Arjen Wynja, Kasey Knapp, and Kayla Valente, auditioned for, and were selected to sing in the Colorado Middle School All-State Choir.
The Lyons 13/14 year old boys' baseball team also brought home a championship trophy last summer. They defeated a second Lyons team in the championship game of the Longmont league. Things look mighty bright for the future of LHS baseball.
Both the boys' and girls' cross country teams took first place honors at the middle school district meet held at Dawson School. The boys were led by Cole Thomas and Sage Wynja; while the girls were led by Jamieson Legh and Elizabeth Roberts. Then it was on to the state meet. A total of forty-nine middle school students participated in the middle school cross country program this year.
Lyons High School
The Lyons Leos, not technically connected to LHS but rather the Lyons Lions Club, are made up of mostly teenage students who attend the school. They organized round two of their “Hope for the Homeless” project collected, prepared, and distributed more than fifty bags of essential items (none perishable snacks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toiletries, laundry detergent, etc.) to area residents in need.
In winter sports, Colorado state wrestling champ Keegan Bean defended his title, and captured back-to-back championships in his weight class. He was joined at the state meet by teammates Konner Mauck, Oran Huff (finished 4th), and younger brother Karson Bean (6th).
Levi Nagy was chosen as one of only two musicians to perform on piano with the All-State Jazz band at a CMEA conference, and Jack Henry London was selected to sing in the Colorado All-State Choir at the Buelle Theater in Denver. London and seven of his fellow choir members, Devin and Shannon Isenhart, Maia Corsale, Raven Moe, Julian Nelson, John Hoffman, and Gabby Walker, were chosen to join the St. Vrain District Choir.
Because they were deemed one of the outstanding bands from the “small school” category, the LHS band was invited to perform at the Colorado Bandmasters Association where they earned “excellent” ratings from the panel of judges
The drama club and chorus joined forces to present a production of the musical “You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
And in addition to their annual performance in the Cafetorium, the Jazz band also wowed audiences at their gigs at Oskar Blues. For the third consecutive year the LHS band combined with the Skyline High band for their performance at the St. Vrain Band Night in Longmont. They performed the Time Warp song from Rocky Horror Picture Show.
In response to the horrific mass shooting in Parkland, Florida scores of middle and high school students staged a walkout, and read the names of the seventeen victims, to protest gun violence across the nation.
“Enough is Enough!” About a month later, a large group of students joined thousands of their peers from hundreds of schools across the country and participated in a National Walk Out Day on April 20, to continue their protest against gun violence in America.
The students gathered with their placards and signs on the corner of Third Avenue and Main.
Perhaps as a result of all the national attention brought about by the mass shootings, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office floated the idea of installing gun safes, for use by the School Resource Officer, at the more remote high schools in the St. Vrain Valley School District, including Niwot and Lyons High.
A group of home-schooled students collected data and measurements for neighborhoods in and around Lyons with the goal of influencing citizens to “Reclaim the Dark Sky” for Lyons and presented their findings to Boulder County Open Space and at a presentation at the Lyons Regional Library.
On signing day four athletes put their names on letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the next level: Sarah Stevelinck – volleyball at East Bay; Austen Clark – baseball at Augustana College; Gabe Paznokas – football at Western State College; and Field Soosloff – cross country and track at Montana State Northern.
And it was not just on the athletic fields that LHS students excelled; Cobey Faubus and Nathan Schneider brought home the cup from the seventh annual computer “Coding Quest” competition.
Andrea Smith officially began her tenure as the principal of Lyons Middle/Senior High School in August although she was hired shortly before summer break. She used the time to get “a lay of the land” and get to know the teachers, students, and staff. Before coming to LHS, Smith was the Assistant Principal at Niwot High School where she was named “Assistant Principal of the Year” for the St. Vrain Valley School District. Over the summer, she presented her dissertation for her PhD at CU – Boulder. Congratulations and welcome, Principal Smith.
Lyons welcomed a few foreign exchange students this past year, although not all of them attended LHS. Shih-Yu Huang, known locally as Vivian was hosted by the Oakes/Smith family and Vivian attended New Vista High School in Boulder, where Angus Oakes also matriculated. In July, Vivian returned to her native Taiwan. About a month later, Ahmed and “Nacho” arrived in Lyons for their big adventure. Ahmed Rayyan, who will visit Lyons through the end of the school year, hails from the West Bank of Palestine; while Ignacio “Nacho” Demain, from Chile, is scheduled to return home shortly after the New Year. Adios amigo. Via con Dios.
Coach Jahmiel McLawrence led the boys' basketball team to a 7 and 13 record in his first year at the helm. The Lions lost quite a few close games, or their record could have been closer to .500.
With seven experienced seniors on the 2018/19 squad McLawrence is looking to make the post season this year.
The girls' hoopsters did make it to the post season before getting knocked out in the Regionals by a powerful Meeker squad. Although it'll be a bit of a rebuild this season with the loss of seniors Ixchell Leeuwenburgh, Madison Johnson, Adele Walker, Shaeli Herman, Sara Hall, Sophie Powell, and Jackie Hiebert, the Lady Lions are confident that the experience gained in last season's playoff run will serve them well in the coming months.
Prom night was once again celebrated at Lionscrest Manor. Adele Walker was crowned Queen, and Nathan Christy was King.
After the formal festivities up on the hill, it was time to cut loose over at Wild Game in Longmont for After-Prom fun and games.
The Lyons boys' and girls' track teams enjoyed a very successful season. They capped it off with each squad bringing home second place trophies from the state championship meet. The deep well-coached squads battled the elements and were led by senior Logan Kuskie who not only brought home an individual gold in the pole vault to keep the championship in the family (her sister Brenna won in 2017), but she broke her sister's school record in the process. Capturing a state title for the boys' team was the 4x800 meter relay team of Isaac Roberts, Field Soosloff, Adam Crowl, and Colton Jonjack-Plahn.
Three pitcher/position players from the Lion's successful baseball squad, which made it to the Sweet 16 in the 2018 state championship tournament in Pueblo, garnered state-wide recognition). They were Justin Lear (First Team All-Conference & All-Region, and All-State Honorable Mention); Brandon Sanders (First Team All-Conference and All-Region Honorable Mention); and Austen Clark (All-Conference and All-Region Honorable Mention).
Of course the culmination of any high school year is graduation day. Family, friends, and neighbors enjoyed a beautiful sunny morning while seventy-one seniors, the largest class ever at LHS, received their diplomas and headed off on the first steps of their adult life. The occasion also marked the retirement of School Resource Officer Brit Fell of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office after nineteen years. Congratulations Class of 2018!
One class graduates, and the next one treks up the hill with paint cans and brushes to carry on the tradition of re-painting the “L” overlooking the school .
This year's Homecoming King & Queen were Colton Jonjak-Plahn and Kylen Christianson.
Coming off the high of a state championship last year, first year volleyball coach Heather Evans relied heavily on her two seniors, Ava McCall and Kylen Christiansen, to lead the young squad. The young Lions gained a lot of valuable court time and experience, which helped them in their post-season run.
And speaking of state championships, the Lion's cross country teams, always a threat to challenge for the state title, were giving everyone a “run” for their money all season. The girls, were led by Junior Katie Fankhouser and Freshman Quin Gregg who finished one-two at the 2A state championship race garnering All-State honors to lead the girls to a state title!
The boys battled valiantly against a seasoned Heritage Christian squad and took home second place honors for 2A schools. The boys were led by Junior Isaac Roberts' third place overall finish and Senior Colton Jonjak-Plahn; then came a pack of Juniors who were nipping at their heels all season. The future looks bright for both squads in 2019.
Although no longer technically a Lion (but always one at heart), LHS alum Paul Roberts earned All-American honors while leading his University of Wyoming Cowboy teammates to a 12th place finish in the NCAA cross country championships, their highest finish since 1977.
It's not just Halloween and Christmas parades for the LHS marching band. These talented musicians properly honored those who served our country at the Longmont Veterans' Day Parade.
The LHS student council, after learning about the absolute devastation of the California town of Paradise from the Camp wildfire wanted to do something to pay it forward. So they put together a volleyball tournament between the teachers and staffs of the Lyons Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. Everyone had a great time, and over $6,700 was raised in the effort! Well played student council, well played.
Sometimes it felt like the day would never arrive, but in January Habitat for Humanity was finally able to hold a ground blessing/breaking for the three duplexes that are being built on Park Street. Habitat Executive Director David Emerson and other dignitaries joined future home owners Carla Ogden, Cassie Walters and her daughter, and Doug and Kelly Zimmerman and their son for the much anticipated ceremony.
The homes are now in various states of completion as volunteers from across the community stepped up to help with the “sweat equity” construction.
Before long, all the perseverance and hard work paid off, and actual buildings began to take shape.
It will be a giant step in the flood recovery efforts when these Lyons residents are finally able to move back home.
Those crazy Lyons Polar Bears were at it again. They took their annual plunge, this time in February, to raise money for local charities. This year the funds raised were donated to the Lyons Emergency Assistance Foundation (LEAF). If they would just do this fundraiser in July or August I would be all over it!
Another feel good Lyons story was the efforts of Byron and Dot Fears of SimBLISSity (a tiny homes manufacturer just east of town) and Dr. Rick and Mrs. Claire Beasley of Allenspark. Together they helped local homeless handyman Micky Byrnes construct his very own tiny home.
It was a good day to protest with temperatures hovering around the fifty degree mark under sunny skies as Lyons was again well represented at the second Women's March in Denver in mid January. About seventy residents bussed and car pooled to attend the mass protest of Trump's unpopular domestic and foreign policies.
The utility companies always tell us to “call before you dig.” Someone forgot to pass that suggestion along to a CDOT crew that were doing some bank stabilization work near the bridge next to Fifth Avenue. A gas line ruptured and the workers scrambled to shut off the leak and avert a disaster. Another potential disaster was averted when high winds blew down the huge cottonwood behind the Barking Dog Cafe Fortunately no one was walking beneath the tree when it fell, although a fence did not fare so well.
About a month later more winds came down out of the canyon and knocked trees, limbs, and branches down all over town just in time for the Town's annual spring clean up day.
The Lyons Lions Club celebrated “serving our community for 72 years” in March. Well done gentlemen.
A large contingency of Lyons students and their parents took advantage of Spring Break to head down to Moab to run in the annual Canyonlands Half Marathon. They decided a post marathon hike up to Delicate Arch was just what the doctor ordered to get the kinks out of the old quads.
Lyons “tree guy” Ron Gosnell received a unique gift from a friend of the family who happens to work at the Electric Boat (submarine factory) in Groton, Connecticut. When the atomic submarine U.S.S. Colorado was commissioned earlier this year, the friend sent Ron a commemorative coin marking the event, which Gosnell mounted onto a wooden display.
The Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce invited a consulting firm to their March social to conduct a “fact-finding” session with business owners about transportation and parking issues. To no one's surprise, it turns out the business owners think we have problems on both fronts.
Speaking of transportation problems, a spectacular fireball erupted after a vehicle went off the road near the Apple Valley Bridge in late March. Quick action from the volunteers at the Lyons Fire Protection District averted a further disaster by getting the fire under control quickly in the dry conditions. Miraculously no one was seriously injured.
A new oenologist moved into town. For those of you who have forgotten what an oenologist is, it is someone who is learned in the science of making wine. Matt Pearce and his wife Leah purchased the Lumber Liquor Store after his travels had taken him all over the world.
The Stone Cup also added a new wrinkle to their business. They started serving a special dinner menu that featured the creative culinary stylings of Chef Modou. The Cup has also recently renovated their back room to serve as a venue for special occasions like wedding brunches, family reunions, graduations, etc.
Pizza Bar 66 changed ownership and they have now hosted two very popular and successful “Trivia Nights” to benefit the Lyons Regional Library.
The Farmer Girl Restaurant closed its doors, as did Snack (the former Soda Fountain). Green Goo moved into the space that was formerly occupied by Red Fox Sportswear, and after a beautiful renovation by owner Shauna Strecker, Bella La Crema, the new butter store and more, opened up where the Button Rock Bakery previously stood.
And Wyld Style Studios, an artists' gallery and recording studio, opened up just east of town next to John's Wells, which moved to Fifth Avenue here in town.
Thanks to the efforts of the Lyons Volunteers and others, the Lyons Redstone Museum got a bit of a facelift this past summer. Exhibits were updated and reorganized. LaVern says everything looks great, and she invites everyone to, “Stop by!”
There was massive excitement around Main Street when half a dozen government SUVs and a couple of Boulder County Sheriff's vehicles congregated in the lot behind the St. Vrain Pharmacy. There were BoCo Deputies, half a dozen officers in full tactical gear, and a couple of undercover-looking types milling around. Everyone assumed the place had been robbed again. Turned out that it had something to do with the DEA, and Mary Aronson, owner and operator of St. Vrain Pharmacy, was eventually charged with illegal distribution of narcotics in a Federal Indictment that was unsealed on October 17, 2018. According to the indictment, Aronson was charged with illegally distributing oxycodone, amphetamine, and lorazepam between December of 2017, and February of 2018. Unfortunately Mary, who has served Lyons well for years, in the process of trying to sort things out and defend herself against the charges was not able to reopen the pharmacy. So now Lyons is without a medical clinic or a pharmacy.
Another long-time business Gwynn' Green House & Garden Shoppe closed it doors after thirty-five years of serving the community's gardening needs. Ms. Owen decided it was time to retire and seek greener pastures; pun intended!
And Garima Fairfax, owner of Wild Sage, a natural beauty/health care products company that are sold locally decided it was time to pass the torch to Danielle LaFaille.
The Winter family was honored for their contributions to Lyons economic growth. The late Ken Winter was responsible for turning the former lumber yard into the town's keystone business developments, the Winter Plaza, which houses Oskar Blues, the Lumber Liquor Store, and the Bank of the West.
Our neighbors up in Pinewood Springs celebrated when their new fire station was opened in early April.
In what has become a summer tradition, Steve and Anne Haskew held an open house to allow the Lyons community the opportunity to enjoy their incredible miniature train display. If you haven't seen it, put it on your “bucket list.”
With the revival of senior programs sponsored by the Town of Lyons and Boulder County, Lyons' seniors enjoyed weekly meals at the Walt Self Senior Center as well as several trips around Colorado to enjoy plays, concerts, and an enjoyable trip to the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.
Of course with a short trip out to Apple Valley Road, they could have witnessed a family of bears foraging along the banks of the St. Vrain River .
There is little crime in Lyons, and this year was pretty much more of the same. According to Sgt. Bill Crist of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, we had a few automobile break-ins (these could be curtailed if residents simply locked their cars), a few garages were broken into, and there were the occasional vandals “tagging” graffiti around town. Way back in February, a suspect that was involved in a very bizarre burglary, kidnapping, and extortion case in downtown Boulder was taken into custody and arrested by a SWAT team at a residence just outside of Lyons. And, people still tend to drive a little too fast when passing through town. Sgt. Crist let it be known that in the future, those running afoul of the law here in Lyons will be attending court on the third Thursday of the month (instead of the second Wednesday) beginning January of 2019.
Not really a crime, at least not a recent one, but the mystery of a missing gravestone was solved.
Decades ago Gerald Armstrong purchased a farm property in Mead and found a gravestone in the barn inscribed “Fredrick Richardson, died 1876.” Armstrong did some investigating over the years, and it was finally determined that the stone came from a homesteader's private cemetery that is located on the property now occupied by CEMEX. Thanks to Armstrong's perseverance in getting the stone to its rightful place, and the CEMEX company's current stewardship of the land, Fredrick Richardson is hopefully again resting in peace.
Dale Katechis, founder of Oskar Blues and CAN'd Aid continued his philanthropic and do-goodery ways throughout the year with every natural disaster no matter the location. This time it was sending pallets of canned water from his brewery in Longmont to those beleaguered firefighter battling wildfires in the Kremmling, CO area.
So Happy New Year Lyons! We the coming year is prosperous and full of fun for all.