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Motocross stars Jett Lawrence, Haiden Deegan win at 20th running of Thunder Valley National

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Motocross stars Jett Lawrence, Haiden Deegan win at 20th running of Thunder Valley National


LAKEWOOD — A pair of the sport’s preeminent stars lived up to their billing on Saturday at the 20th rendition of the Pro Motocross Championship’s Thunder Valley National.

Jett Lawrence won the 450 class by edging his brother, Hunter Lawrence. Hunter won the first moto while Jett took second, then the Australians flipped finishes in the second moto to give Jett the overall win.

And in the 250 class, rising star Haiden Deegan continued his early-season domination by claiming his third overall win in as many races. The 18-year-old phenom finished first in the opening moto and then second in the second moto to land atop the podium.

For Jett Lawrence, the defending 450 class series champion who won all 22 races in 2023, the victory at Thunder Valley was a bounce-back showing after crashing last week at Hangtown. That crash snapped his 24-race win streak and forced Jett to ride injured on Saturday as he was still dealing with a cut on his leg and a sore shoulder.

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“Going into the second moto, my legs were shot, so I had no legs at the start,” Jett Lawrence said. “I dug deep, and just told myself in my head, ‘Stay there, stay there.’ I was able to capitalize on a mistake by Hunter in one of the turns (late in the race).”

Professional motocross racers Jett Lawrence, left, and his brother, Hunter Lawrence check their starting gates before Moto #1, 450 class of the AMA Pro Motocross Thunder Valley National at Thunder Valley Park in Morrison, Colorado Saturday, June 08, 2024. Hunter Lawrence won Moto #1, Jett took Moto #2 and the Thunder Valley National overall. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Justin Cooper earned the holeshot in both 450 motos and led for much of those races before fading, finishing third in both and third overall.

In Deegan’s overall win in the 250 class, he passed Frenchman Tom Vialle with a lap to go in the first moto, then held on. In the second moto, Deegan took second to Chance Hymas while Vialle was fourth.

Deegan remains atop the 250 championship standings with a 23-point lead over Hymas, while Hunter Lawrence is first in the 450 championship standings. The older Lawrence brother (who won the 250 class circuit title last year) has 129 points, with Chase Sexton second at 123 points and Jett Lawrence third at 113 points.

The Pro Motocross Championship’s fourth 2024 stop is next Saturday at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Penn.

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Local racer’s higher calling. While no Colorado rider qualified for the 250 or 450 motos, Elizabeth resident Brett Stralo was one local who competed in the 250 consolation race.

Stralo placed 18th, but for the U.S. Army veteran, his motivation for being at the track was about more than results.

The 36-year-old races for the Veteran Motocross Foundation, an organization that uses motocross to empower veterans. Stralo — whose service included two combat tours in Afghanistan as a helicopter mechanic — also started Warrior MX, which pays for veterans to come out and be part of his team on race day as a “mental health solution for combat vets.”

“My goal at this age is to make the fast 40, and to make the main (race),” Stralo said. “But every time I show up here and am able to get those (veterans) those wristbands and give them this experience, and introduce them to this community, it’s a win.”

Stralo says “throttle therapy” helped him re-adjust to civilian life, and that his ultimate goal is to help prevent veteran suicides. Saturday marked his sixth time competing as a pro at the Thunder Valley National.

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“When I got on a dirt bike, I found myself realizing that everything kind of disappeared,” Stralo said. “I started releasing endorphins, started be able to smile again, started feeling good. I started sleeping again.

“… There’s no noise other than the motor so you’re able to focus on what’s right in front of you. That’s all that matters in those moments. It’s like white noise, everything dissipates and you get a great mental clarity. This sport has been incredibly therapeutic for everything I had been through in nine years of military service, and I wanted to do something with it for other veterans.”

Colorado’s most notable pro racer, Eli Tomac, did not compete Saturday due to a thumb injury. The Cortez native won the 450 class circuit championship 2017-19 and 2022, and also won the circuit’s 250 class title in 2013.

Haiden Deegan (38) pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line during the second 250 Moto at AMA Pro Motocross Thunder Valley National at Thunder Valley Park in Lakewood, Colorado on June 8, 2024. Deegan finished second in the second Moto and first overall on the day. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)
Haiden Deegan (38) pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line during the second 250 Moto at AMA Pro Motocross Thunder Valley National at Thunder Valley Park in Lakewood, Colorado on June 8, 2024. Deegan finished second in the second Moto and first overall on the day. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

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Denver, CO

Denver Stiffs Show: preparing for the 2024 NBA draft and fee agency

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Denver Stiffs Show: preparing for the 2024 NBA draft and fee agency


The guys are back to preview the upcoming NBA Draft and free agency and what moves they think the Denver Nuggets will make. First, Zach Mikash and Gordon Gross talk about their favorite targets for the Nuggets at pick #28. Next they talk about how the talent pool in the draft changes the strategy and that Denver can and should try to find an immediate contributor in the right role and situation. For the second half of the show the guys look at the upcoming free agency period. They talk about Vlatko Cancar’s option being declined by the Nuggets and what they think will happen with the looming free agency of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Finally they finish up the show talking about some taxpayer mid-level exception targets the Nuggets could have if KCP does indeed end up not coming back.

The NBA Draft is right around the corner

  • Favorite prospects for the Denver Nuggets
  • Should Denver just go best player available and forget position
  • Do you anticipate any trades

A week from the open of free agency

  • Surprised the Nuggets declined Vlatko Cancar’s option?
  • What happens with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson’s player options?
  • Who is a taxpayer MLE target?



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Denver, CO

Denver police host bike registration stations for Bike to Work Day

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Denver police host bike registration stations for Bike to Work Day


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DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Police Department will offer free bike registration at several locations in the city for Bike to Work Day on Wednesday, June 26.

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The city partners with 529 Garage for its bike registration system, which it said enhances bicycle theft prevention, lost or stolen bike recovery and stolen bike investigations, among other things.

Registrations document things like the bike’s serial number and make, model and color for easier identification and return if lost or stolen.

Volunteers will be at five locations throughout the city on Wednesday to encourage people to register and help people register:

  • Denver Zoo from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • REI at 1416 Platte St. from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Cherry Creek Trail at South University Boulevard and Cherry Creek North Drive from 6:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • East 29th Avenue Town Center at East 29th Avenue and North Roslyn Street from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • Skyline Park at 16th Street and Arapahoe Street from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

According to police, more than 400 bikes that were recovered in 2022 were never claimed or returned to their owners due to lack of registration.

People who register at the locations will receive a 529 Shield decal, which police said could let thieves know that the bike is registered, as well as help police in stolen bike recovery.

People can also register their bikes online for free either through the DPD website or the 529 Garage app.

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“Christian privilege” in Colorado mountain town’s amphitheater fuels church-and-state storm

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“Christian privilege” in Colorado mountain town’s amphitheater fuels church-and-state storm


DILLON – Town leaders’ refusal to reconsider a longstanding practice of letting a Christian church use the Dillon Amphitheater for Sunday prayers has hurled the town into a national storm over worship in public facilities.

They now face potential lawsuits from pressure groups. Freedom from Religion Foundation attorneys are demanding an end to any preferential treatment for the Dillon Community Church. The rival First Liberty Institute sent a countervailing letter urging continued use, warning that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions favor greater mixing of church and state.

Town staffers hit with multiplying requests from a diversity of religious groups to rent the amphitheater had proposed to shut down access by all outside groups and allow only town-sponsored events such as rock concerts. But town council members on June 11 rejected that approach and voted 5-1 to allow continued use by the church. Two members derided Dillon’s Denver-based contract attorney Kathleen Kelly for creating roadblocks after she raised constitutional concerns. Kelly resigned the next day.

The drama lit up chat sites — Friendly Athiest commenters decried “Christian privilege” — and led to a special meeting Wednesday night where town leaders faced a cacophony from residents. Then leaders accepted advice from a new attorney and back-tracked, temporarily prohibiting the use of the amphitheater by all groups until leaders set a legally defensible policy.

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Dillon town manager Nathan Johnson, right, and town council member John Woods listen to a member of the public speak during the open comment period of a special meeting held to discuss the use of Dillon Amphitheater at Town Hall in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

“There needs to be a separation of church and state. We cannot favor one denomination over another,” town manager Nathan Johnson said in an interview. “Now with the popularity of the venue we have more and more people reaching out. Everybody wants to be down there,” he said.

“If we are going to open up the amphitheater, we have to open it up for everybody.”

For more than 40 years, Dillon leaders have let the Dillon Community Church, a non-denominational Christian organization that owns a building a few blocks away, run evangelical “outreach” events appealing to Colorado high country visitors.

The amphitheater was built in 1993 as a low-key community band shell. Town officials have transformed it into one of the nation’s trendiest concert venues by investing $10 million, including a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, for an overhaul completed in 2018. Seats on a grassy hillside look out on the blue waters of Lake Dillon, a Denver Water reservoir, and majestic snow-splotched mountain peaks. Town officials charge a $25,000 fee for promoters of town-sponsored concerts. The venue holds up to 3,656 people. Town-sponsored activities also include country line dancing and yoga.

People participate in a Yoga at the Amp session hosted by Summit Sol Wellness at Dillon Amphitheater in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)
People participate in a Yoga at the Amp session hosted by Summit Sol Wellness at Dillon Amphitheater in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

But religious worship is now canceled.

Dillon Community Church officials had lauded town leaders’ initial stance. “We are grateful that the council voted down the new policy that would limit all non-profit organizations that are not city-sponsored,” their posting said.

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Senior pastor Jim Howard said Friday he’s confident town council members will sort out future access. “If they say we can’t use it while they figure out the legalities, we’ll stay in our building. We definitely don’t want a lawsuit,” Howard said.

The church paid a $1,100 annual rental fee, town officials said, and Howard said his 220-member church draws 300 to 800 people to the Sunday worship events.

Church members have mobilized. “Dillon Community Church should be grandfathered into whatever contract. They’ve been here for over 40 years,” church representative Wendy Myers told leaders at the packed special meeting. “It attracts an incredible number of our visitors who come to the county every single summer and love coming to church.”

She and others advocated opening the amphitheater to all religious groups. Former council member Tim Westerberg supports that but also spoke out against new council members’ political tactics. “They don’t seem to care about what the community thinks. They don’t seem to care about what their attorney says. They don’t seem to care about what the Constitution says. It’s just damn the torpedoes full speed away, bulldoze ahead our agenda.”

LEFT A packed room of people stand up to leave after the Dillon town council voted to move to a closed session during a special meeting held to discuss use of Dillon Amphitheater at Town Hall in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. RIGHT Mike Smith, a 53-year resident of Dillon and three-time member of the town board, stands in the middle of council chambers to address the crowd as they are leaving after the council voted to move to a closed session at Town Hall in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photos by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)
LEFT– A packed room of people stand up to leave after the Dillon town council voted to move to a closed session during a special meeting held to discuss use of Dillon Amphitheater on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. RIGHT— Mike Smith, a 53-year resident of Dillon and three-time member of the town board, stands in the middle of council chambers to address the crowd as they are leaving after the council voted to move to a closed session. (Photos by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

Problems around prayers in the amphitheater arose earlier this year when other religious groups, including a Jewish synagogue, Native American tribes, and people of various faiths planning weddings asked to rent the facility, Johnson said. “Everybody is attracted to the lake, the natural beauty of the lake,” he said.

“It’s a dilemma because an expectation has been set” in allowing the Dillon Community Church events.

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When other religious groups requested access, “we put them on hold,” he said. “That’s what started this conversation. We haven’t told anyone ‘no’ – at least that I’m aware of. We want to have clear and definitive direction from the town council on what is allowed and not allowed in this setting.”

If Dillon officials excluded any other religious group, members of that group could file a civil rights lawsuit, said Madeline Ziegler, staff attorney for the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has filed a legal petition seeking town communications with the Dillon Community Church and other groups to explore a possible lawsuit.

Dillon’s practice has sent “a signal to the town residents that their government prefers Christianity and that Christians will be treated better than other people in this town. That’s not a message that the people’s representatives should be allowed to send,” Ziegler said.

Dillon could avoid a lawsuit by setting a formal policy that includes “a welcoming and inclusive message that all are welcome and equally allowed to use the town’s facilities,” she said.  Otherwise, town leaders would be acting to ensure “the continued dominance of one church that has the backing of the town over all other religious organizations.”

Attorneys with the Texas-based First Liberty Institute, a conservative Christian legal organization devoted to”restoring religious liberty,” have prevailed in cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices have decided that “history and tradition” must be considered in determining whether government is too intertwined with religion.

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Senior attorney Lea Patterson, in her letter sent Tuesday, encouraged Dillon leaders “to continue to allow the church to rent the amphitheater” so as not to invite a lawsuit.

Finding space for religion in Colorado increasingly presents challenges. Soaring real estate prices mean church groups can be hard-pressed to afford buildings, said Jon Stavney, director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, which supports local leaders. “Look at the cost of housing. If you are a church, it makes sense to use public space at a reduced cost,” Stavney said.

In the Eagle Valley west of Vail, the Redeemer church rents space for Sunday worship at the public Brush Creek Elementary School.

For elected leaders, deciding to end a longstanding public worship tradition such as the Dillon Community Church’s use of the town amphitheater can be politically perilous because leaders in small towns typically have to face down residents in grocery aisles, he said.

“If I were in their shoes, and this entity had been using a public space for a long time, I would have some loyalty to the history of that group using that facility.”

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Beams of sunlight shine onto the landscape behind Dillon Amphitheater on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Dillon, Colorado. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)
Beams of sunlight shine onto the landscape behind Dillon Amphitheater on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Dillon, Colorado. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

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