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Denver, CO

Volunteers team up to preserve Denver City Park’s historic Lily Ponds

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Volunteers team up to preserve Denver City Park’s historic Lily Ponds


HistoriCorps and Denver Parks and Recreation will lead volunteer efforts to rehabilitate City Park’s historic Lily Ponds in Denver this month.

More than a century old, the Lily Ponds in City Park have deteriorated over the years and are in need of many repairs.

Parks and Recreation (DPR) officials noticed the deterioration and reached out to HistoriCorps to help restore the stone retaining walls and mortar joints, according to spokesperson Stephanie Figueroa.

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Supervising and funding the project is DPR, which plans to cover the cost of repairs, pay the HistoriCorps staff, and provide volunteers with food and housing for duration of the project, said Erika Schroeder, the program coordinator at HistoriCorps.

“City Park Lily Ponds provides a special opportunity for our staff and volunteers to engage in a historical landscape project in an urban core that will serve the local communities of Denver,” Schroeder told The Denver Gazette via email.

Historicorps is a nonprofit based in Morrison, Colo., that preserves historic places around America.

While it oversees projects throughout the country, the organization has worked on restoring many historic sites in Colorado as well.

In 2023 alone, HistoriCorps worked on the Centennial House in Jefferson County, Red Mountain Open Space historic horse barn near Wellington, the Yellow Creek Schoolhouse outside of Meeker, the Buckhorn Work Center west of Fort Collins, and the Hunter Creek Road House outside of Aspen, according to Schroeder.

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Right now, its main focus in Colorado is Lily Ponds in City Park.

Two, week-long volunteer opportunities will run from July 14-19 and July 21-26.

During these weeks, volunteers will work together on flagstone and mixed stone repointing, as well as repairing stone retaining walls, according to a news release.

HistoriCorps and DPR will provide all necessary tools for the project, group housing for the week, and three meals a day — though local volunteers are welcome to commute.

The upcoming volunteer opportunities at the Lily Ponds reflect a history of pond preservation through volunteer efforts since the pond’s institution.

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In 1916, Rev. John L. Houghton started the ponds by donating a variety of pond lily bulbs from his personal collection to Denver City Parks. Nine years later, a new lily pond was constructed during a larger urban-planning movement called City Beautiful, according to Schroeder, who pulled from internal research done by DPR.

The ponds lasted until 1970 when Lily Ponds shut down, and it wasn’t until the late 1990s that DPR and volunteers began to restore the pond through cleaning, planting, and new construction, Schroeder added.

DPR and Division of Motor Vehicles recently suffered a budget cut of $5 million in February that impacted DPR’s daily operations, including seasonal workers, recreation center hours, annual flower beds, and permits for public events, according to Denver Park Trust — the official nonprofit of DPR.

When asked about the connection between DPR’s budget cuts and its request for volunteers on the Lily Ponds, Figueroa said the two were “unrelated.”

In April, Mayor Mike Johnston reversed the budget cuts and planned to return DPR to regular operating hours by June 7.

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However, budget cuts still affected the city’s parks, as seen in the spring when Denver citizens complained about parks being overrun with weeds due to an understaffed DPR.

In response, Denver Park Trust encourages volunteers to take care of the parks when budget cuts arise.

“By coming together and supporting one another, we can bridge the gaps left by these financial hardships,” said Denver Park Trust on their website.

July’s volunteer efforts at Lily Ponds are part of a larger project to make improvements to the landscape around the pond, Figueroa told the Denver Gazette in an email.

HistoriCorps is still accepting volunteers for both weeks. Those who want more information on the project or are interested in volunteering should visit HistoriCorp’s website under “City Park Lily Ponds.”

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The Denver Gazette’s media partner 9NEWS contributed to this article.



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Denver, CO

Denver man shoots and kills home intruder in University Park neighborhood, police say

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Denver man shoots and kills home intruder in University Park neighborhood, police say


A Denver couple returned to their apartment early Sunday morning to find an intruder inside, according to Denver police. The man who lived there shot the intruder several times, killing him.

The shooting was first reported around 1 a.m. in the 2300 block of East Evans Avenue, just west of South University Boulevard near the University of Denver.

A police presence was seen at the One Observatory Park building at 2360 East Evans Avenue.

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CBS


The couple was “surprised” by the man in their apartment, police said.

Few other details were immediately available but police say the resident who shot the intruder is cooperating with the investigation.

Colorado law allows someone to use deadly force to protect themselves or others from death, serious injury, sexual assault or kidnapping.

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Zach Lyons, a resident in the building, got home around 8:30 or 9 a.m. after staying the night at his girlfriend’s house. He arrived to see police cars all over the place.

“It’s definitely pretty alarming,” he said. “I wasn’t here last night, I don’t have any first-hand accounts or anything but it’s definitely alarming to know something like this happened in your own community right down the hall.”

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Zach Lyons, of Denver, talks to CBS News Colorado about a shooting that happened on the floor of his apartment building on Sunday, July 21, 2024.

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He described the apartment as “not cheap” but “a nice place to live,” and “fairly vacant right now with it being right across from DU.”

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It’s scary,” he said. “I guess it would have been fortunate if it happened to me since I wasn’t home and it’s just property, but it’s definitely concerning, knowing there was a break-in down the hall and it resulted in a loss of life.”

He said he hasn’t heard anything from Denver police aside from its tweets and hasn’t heard anything from the building’s management.

CBS News Colorado reached out to the management company Sunday morning and has not yet heard back.

Another neighbor said he heard about five gunshots. He described the building as “fairly secure,” but said “there are definitely some weak points.” He described the neighborhood as safe too, and didn’t realize the gunshots came from inside the building. 

Police have not said whether the intruder was a resident of the building.

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That neighbor also said he hasn’t heard anything from the building’s management company, something he hopes changes soon.



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Denver, CO

Conifer couple trying to recover after their home is destroyed in a fire

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Conifer couple trying to recover after their home is destroyed in a fire


DENVER (KDVR) — A Jefferson County man feels lucky to be alive a week after his home burnt down. While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, he and his wife are trying to pick up the pieces after losing everything.

“A little over 13 years,” said Kevin Clemmer. That’s how long he and his wife, Trisha, lived in the house.

But the goal was to not live there for much longer.

“We had a plan of, a lifetime dream, of getting a trailer and traveling around the western United States,” Clemmer said.

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That dream came undone last week when Clemmer first noticed smoke on Saturday morning.

“All the sudden there was smoke coming in the window,” he said.

His first thought was a forest fire, but he quickly learned otherwise.

“I opened the front door and there was just a wall of flame,” Clemmer said.

He called to his wife to wake up and climb out the bedroom window. She was able to get out while Clemmer dialed 911.

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“The smoke was so thick she couldn’t even see me a foot from the window,” he said.

Meanwhile, next-door neighbor Ryan Smith’s security camera caught a burst of flames and a loud bang through the trees.

“Sounded like somebody had thrown something really heavy into a big, empty dumpster,” Smith said.

Clemmer requires oxygen tanks to breathe. The fire had gotten to some of his extras and they began to explode. Smith ran down the hill to try and help.

“I could see Trisha and Kevin lying on the ground,” Smith said.

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Trisha had been able to get her husband through the window shortly before he passed out.

“If it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have made it,” Clemmer said.

Smith helped a first responder carry Clemmer away from the home, where he received CPR and regained consciousness.

“They hadn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have been here today,” Clemmer said.

While he and his wife lost everything they owned in the fire, Clemmer hopes their dream of exploring the country together wasn’t lost as well.

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“Ideally, we’d like to live that dream,” Clemmer said. “If it works out, it works out.”

The Clemmers also lost a dog and two cats to the fire. Their neighbors have set up a GoFundMe to help the couple.



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Denver, CO

Nonprofit aimed to help teen moms set to open early learning center in August

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Nonprofit aimed to help teen moms set to open early learning center in August


(ARVADA) Colo, (KDVR) — Hope House Colorado, a nonprofit that helps teen moms become self-sufficient and pursue their dreams of higher education, is taking on their newest venture opening up an early learning center.

“Our mission is to empower them to become self-sufficient,” said Lisa Steven, Founder and Executive Director of Hope House Colorado.

Steven started this mission 21 years ago.

“My husband and I were teenage parents and so we really saw the need and the struggle that teen moms face,” she said.

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Hope House Colorado serves about 265 teenage moms from across the Denver Metro Area. Their campus in Arvada has a residential program where six moms and their kids can live at a time.

19-year-old Rene Bruntmyer is one of them after joining the nonprofit in March.

“I found out about Hope House online, I was looking into pursuing to get my GED and a lot of other things for my son,” said Rene.

She had her son Leo when she was 17 and admits that times got challenging.

“So many things held me back before coming to Hope House,” said Rene. “It’s harder when you have a kid and you just don’t have those missing things to do the things you want to do.”

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Rene is also working to get her GED through the nonprofit’s resource center. Among learning about renting, parenting, and building credit.

“I’ve learned a lot about good and bad and ugly relationships. I learned so much about renting and credit just things overall that we don’t really get to learn about as we’re younger and they’ve helped me get my license, and I’m almost done with school,” she said.

She’s extremely excited about a learning opportunity for her son with Hope House Colorado’s early learning center set to open in August.

 “I’m just excited about the time I’m going to have to pursue college, and all the things I can do for my son and to know he’s going to be in a safe environment in a place I can trust fully,” said Rene.

Founder Lisa Steven told FOX31 that there is an incredible need for licensed child care in Colorado.

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“Our entire state is 90,000 spots short for child care, and for our teenage moms who all qualify for CCAP, which is the Colorado Child Care Assistance program, it’s even harder to find a spot,” Steven said. Very few childcare centers accept CCAP so it’s always been our vision to build our own learning center.”

The new center will have seven classrooms and will provide licensed care to 104 children.

“Our center will open with 50 spots and grow to 100 spots over the next 18 months or so,” said Steven. “We’ll serve kiddos between six weeks old and five years old. During the summer we’ll have a summer camp for the older siblings of our children.”

Steven says it’s an opportunity for teen moms to go to school or work full-time.

“I can tell you, teenage moms, they face so much stigma and so much judgment. People tell them they can’t do it and I’m here to tell you they absolutely can,” she said.

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Hope House Colorado is currently looking for about six qualified early learning teachers before their public opening date on August 15.

Everyone is invited. You can find out more information about how to get involved through their website.



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