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NASA Planned to Send 3 More Mars Landers InSight in 2 years



3 more Mars landers planned to follow NASA’s InSight in 2 years - National
As Mars’ most recent homeowner works out in, World Planet is working with 3 even more landers as well as at the very least 2 orbiters to sign up with the clinical Martian brigade.

NASA’s Understanding spacecraft touched down on the sweeping, red equatorial levels Monday, much less than 400 miles (640 kilometres) from Interest, the just various other functioning robotic on Mars.

That has to do with the range from San Francisco to Pasadena, The golden state, residence to Goal Control for Mars.

Understanding– the 8th effective Martian lander– ought to be concluding 2 years of excavating as well as quake tracking by the time vagabonds get here from the UNITED STATE, Europe as well as China.

NASA’s Mars 2020 will certainly search for rocks that may hold proof of old microbial life as well as stash them in a refuge for go back to Planet in the very early 2030 s. It’s targeting a once-wet river delta in Jezero Crater.

The European-Russian ExoMars likewise will certainly seek feasible previous life, piercing a pair meters down for chemical fossils. A spacecraft that became part of an ExoMars objective in 2016 crash-landed on the red world.

The Chinese Mars 2020 will certainly include both an orbiter as well as lander. The United Arab Emirates, at the same time, intends to send its initial spacecraft to Mars in 2020; the orbiter is called Hope, or Amal in Arabic.

It appears our neighbor Mars holds an alarm track for Earthlings, also as NASA changes its instant interest back to our.

Simply 3 days after Understanding’s touchdown, NASA revealed a brand-new business lunar shipment program. The area firm has actually picked 9 UNITED STATE business to complete in obtaining scientific research as well as innovation experiments to the lunar surface area. The initial launch might be following year.

NASA intends to see exactly how it precedes attempting something comparable on Mars.

” The moon is where it goes to now about business area,” claimed Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA’s scientific research objective workplace, which is leading the lunar haul task.

It the exact same time, NASA is promoting an orbiting station near the moon for astronauts, at the Trump management’s instructions. It would certainly function as a stepping-off factor for moon touchdowns, according to NASA Manager Jim Bridenstine, as well as supply crucial experience near residence prior to people start a 2- to three-year objective to Mars.

Bridenstine visualizes a journey to Mars for astronauts in the mid-2030 s, undoubtedly a “really hostile” objective.

” The fact is, yes, your country now is incredibly devoted to reaching Mars,” Bridenstine claimed adhering to Understanding’s goal, “as well as utilizing the moon as a device to accomplish that goal as rapid as feasible.”

Mars is the evident location for “boots on the ground” after the moon, claimed Zurbuchen.

What makes Mars so engaging– for robot as well as, at some point, human expedition– is its reasonably simple gain access to, claimed Understanding’s lead researcher, Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Research laboratory. One-way traveling time is 6 months, every 2 years when the worlds are closest. Problems are rough, however reasonably welcoming. “Sort of like remaining in Antarctica without the snow,” claimed Banerdt.

In addition to that, Mars might be just one of one of the most likely locations to locate life beyond Planet, according to Banerdt.

Jupiter’s moon Europa might have nurtured or perhaps still hold life, however it would certainly take a lot longer as well as expense a lot even more to arrive that Banerdt claimed it’s tough to picture accomplishing such an objective anytime quickly.

life-seeking objective to Europa may transpire every years, Banerdt claimed, while it’s possible to have robot sniffers introducing to Mars every 2 years. That’s 5 Mars goals for each solitary one at Europa, he kept in mind.

Mars presently has 2 operating spacecraft externally– Understanding as well as Interest– as well as 6 satellites in functioning order from the UNITED STATE, Europe as well as India. The UNITED STATE is the only nation to effectively land as well as run a spacecraft on Mars. Interest has actually been strolling the red surface area considering that2012 NASA’s much older Chance vagabond was functioning up until June when an international black blizzard impaired it.

In search of the geological however not organic keys deep inside Mars, Understanding currently is giving impressive photos of a place “no human has actually ever before seen prior to,” explained JPL supervisor Michael Watkins. These pictures advise us that in order to do scientific research similar to this, “we need to be strong as well as we need to be travelers.”

NASA’s Mars 2020 launch home window opens up July 17 of that year. Goal would certainly be Feb. 18, 2021.

” You’re all welcomed back,” Watkins informed Monday’s pleased landing-day group.


Teddy Bridgewater’s leadership approach has made positive impact on Broncos: “He knows what it takes”



Broncos up-down drill: Highs and lows for Denver against the Jaguars

Moments after losing a red zone fumble and dropping a touchdown pass, respectively, second-year Broncos Albert Okwuegbunam and KJ Hamler received sideline pep talks from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Shortly after he fell to the turf with an aggravated ankle injury, outside linebacker Bradley Chubb looked up and saw Bridgewater, who left the bench, offering support.D

During or after every quarterback meeting, any player who wants to go over any aspect of the game plan finds a willing partner in Bridgewater.

“He knows what it takes; he’s seen what it takes,” running back Melvin Gordon said.

And what this Broncos offense, in a five-year slump and young throughout the depth chart, has needed is Bridgewater’s steady play/work ethic and consistent voice.

Businesses worldwide participate in “Ted Talks.” The Broncos, 2-0 entering Sunday’s home opener against the New York Jets, have “Teddy Talks.”

Bridgewater’s tone is low-octave and high-impact. The message: It is all about the team and winning.

“Dialogue and little conversations are my ways of trying to lead,” he said.

That approach has resonated.

“Just a fun-loving, very cool, calm, collected guy and he just wants to win games,” receiver Tim Patrick said.

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2,000-mile kayak trip of Missouri River ends soon for environmental activist



2,000-mile kayak trip of Missouri River ends soon for environmental activist

An organizer for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign has paddled his kayak for more than 60 days now in order to draw attention to climate change.

Graham Jordison started his 2,341 mile paddle on July 19 on the Missouri River in Three Forks, Montana. His paddle will end in St. Louis in the next few days. As of 1:00 p.m. Thursday, Jordison was in Saline County, Missouri. He approximately paddles 35 miles daily.

Jordison’s Facebook post also gave links to a GoFundMe page and a GPS findmespot.

Jordison wrote on the GoFundMe page, “I’m taking this life changing adventure in partnership with the Sierra Club to raise awareness about the work we do to protect the environment.”

He also said he wants his journey to benefit his hometown, Lincoln, Nebraska, and has set a goal to “raise at least one dollar for every mile that [he] paddles.” He said the money will go to Blue Stem Sierra Club Group and Indian Center Inc.

Jordison chose to kayak the Missouri River because 12 coal power plants are located along it. Throughout his journey, he has been documenting the coal plants and educating the community on environmental issues.

Six other kayakers are making the trip with Jordison.

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Police make an arrest in connection to stolen catalytic converters in Maryland Heights



Police make an arrest in connection to stolen catalytic converters in Maryland Heights

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo – The Maryland Heights Police Department (MHPD) has announced an arrest in relation to a surge in stolen catalytic converters.

Police say that a number of vehicles had the car part stolen in public parking lots including a city owned vehicle and many post office vehicles.

MHPD says on Sept. 22, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. they conducted a traffic stop in which the officer recognized the vehicle for its connection to the thefts.

Police say the occupants were arrested and interviewed after the officer saw blades and two catalytic converters in the vehicle.

MHPD says the interview led them to an apartment in which officers found 39 catalytic converters. One suspect confirmed that 36 were stolen in Maryland Heights.

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Passenger on JetBlue flight tried to storm cockpit, choke flight attendant with necktie, FBI says



Passenger on JetBlue flight tried to storm cockpit, choke flight attendant with necktie, FBI says

BOSTON (WPRI/NEXSTAR) — A passenger on a JetBlue flight is facing federal charges after allegedly choking a flight attendant and trying to enter the cockpit on a recent flight, according to an FBI affidavit.

The flight, which originated in Boston, was about an hour out from landing in Puerto Rico when the attack occurred Wednesday.

Investigators say the passenger, identified as Khalil El Dahr in an FBI affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast, became agitated when he was unable to make a call on his cell phone. A short while afterward, he ran toward the front of the plane yelling that he wanted to be shot, according to information obtained by an FBI investigator.

A flight attendant was able to intervene before El Dahr reached the cockpit door, per the affidavit. A member of the flight crew then opened the door to the flight deck, at which point El Dahr began again demanding to be shot.

The man also began choking the flight attendant attempting to keep him away from the cockpit by grabbing and pulling on the crew member’s tie.

Several crew members were eventually able to restrain the man using seat belt extenders and, as one witness noted, the very tie that belonged to the flight attendant, which was fastened around the man’s ankles.

The passenger now faces charges of interfering with a flight crew, according to the affidavit.

A representative for the San Juan field office of the FBI confirmed the incident but could not disclose additional details.

The Federal Aviation Administration said this week that the number of incidents involving unruly passengers was still “too high” despite dropping sharply amid the FAA’s announcement of a “zero-tolerance” policy, first enacted in January.

“Our work is having an impact and the trend is moving in the right direction. But we need the progress to continue. This remains a serious safety threat, and one incident is one too many,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a news release issued Thursday.

The FAA further said that reports of unruly passengers were still coming in at twice the rate they were reported at the end of 2020. Since January 2021, the agency has received reports of at least 4,385 such incidents, the majority of which involve passengers refusing to comply with mask mandates.

The FAA has also proposed over $1,100,000 in civil penalties (collectively) against some of those disruptive passengers since enacting its zero-tolerance policy.

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SLU doctor amasses 350k followers on hilarious TikTok account



SLU doctor amasses 350k followers on hilarious TikTok account

ST. LOIUS – Dr. Benjamin Schmidt is a GI fellow at the SLU School of Medicine and he decided to combine his passion for film making and his career as a doctor to make some videos about being a doctor and educate people about all kinds of things.

Dr. Schmidt explained his inspiration to join TikTok out on the Lakeside Renovation and Design Weather Deck.

He has 350,000 TikTok followers and works to humanize doctors.

Click here to check out more of his videos.

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Getting ahead of the curve: A proactive approach to downsizing leads to a seamless sale in a great market



Getting ahead of the curve: A proactive approach to downsizing leads to a seamless sale in a great market

Gene and Dorothy Lomme have a spacious, appealing ranch with a 3-car garage in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Centennial. The pair are in good enough health to keep enjoying it—but this weekend, they’re putting it on the market with help from their Realtors, The Steller Group.

“The kids are asking, ‘Who’s going to have Christmas?,’” says Dorothy Lomme.

“We love it so much,” she adds. Nevertheless, the couple started looking at retirement communities three years ago and were prompted along when she took a spill and broke her hip.

The Lommes, married 65 years, are off to Wind Crest, a senior living community in Highlands Ranch. The pair carefully studied the options there, taking note of the fact that unit availabilities in Wind Crest and other senior communities can’t be taken for granted in this market—something that’s urged them to move now, rather than wait.

Steller agent Blair Bryant says the market couldn’t be better for sellers than it looks to be this fall.

“Last weekend, the level of activity reminded me of last spring,” Bryant says. The lull that agents had talked about during midsummer never really brought anything close to a balanced market, and home inventory in the Denver area has now dropped beneath a paltry 2,000 available homes.

“People are having to compete for homes,” he adds. That looks all the more competitive in Mira Vista, the Lommes’ neighborhood of just 93 homes, wrapped in the rich resources of South Suburban Parks and Recreation, including the golf course, Kettle and Medema Parks, along with Lifetime’s huge pool/ fitness/tennis center; all served by well-rated schools including nearby Newton Middle School with a brand-new campus.

The Lommes’ ranch—four bedrooms, over 2,000 sq. feet plus added finish in the basement—has a unique floor plan by Genesee Company, a smaller well-regarded builder that only created five ranch plans in the entire enclave. Theirs has a very private feel, looking into a wooded gulch between homes; but the home site is relatively low maintenance.

It’s had recent remodeling and needed very little work, but The Steller Group, experts in these senior moves, supplied its contractors for some tasks needing to be done—something for which the Lommes are particularly grateful, in a market where finding any help is difficult.

Steller’s Bryant, with loads of experience in these sales, praises the Lommes for their proactive approach to downsizing—doing their research early, and getting ahead of the process of decluttering ahead of the sale.

Their ranch comes on the market this weekend at $765,000 (Steller can arrange a showing at 720-443-2804).

Meanwhile, Dorothy Lomme says the couple is grateful they waited until now to move, so they were able to stay in their very private surroundings during the height of the pandemic.

Steller’s next free seminar on downsizing is set for this Tuesday, Sept. 28, 9:30 to 11 a.m., at Southglenn Library. You can sign up for that, as well as for a 4-part webinar on downsizing, at

The news and editorial staffs of The Denver Post had no role in this post’s preparation.

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Rolling Stones send message to fans ahead of Sunday concert at Dome



Rolling Stones send message to fans ahead of Sunday concert at Dome

ST. LOUIS– The Rolling Stones kick off their “No Filter Tour” at the Dome at America’s Center on Sunday and the band has a special message for fans about keeping safe at their upcoming shows.

This weekend’s concert launches the band’s 13-date tour. It will be the band’s first St. Louis show since 2006 when they performed at the Savvis Center, now known as Enterprise Center.

The Instagram video says they are excited to be back on tour and want it to be a safe night. The band members say they’ve all been vaccinated and are encouraging fans to get the vaccine too.

In the video, Mick Jagger says if you aren’t vaccinated, get tested. He also says if you have symptoms don’t come to the show.

The band’s “No Filter Tour 2020” was going to include a June 2020 show at the Dome at America’s Center, but because of the pandemic, they had to take an unscheduled break and relaunch the tour. After the unscheduled break, the tour relaunches this weekend at the Dome at America’s Center.

The Rolling Stones have been touring since 1964, and this is the Stones’ first tour without late drummer Charlie Watts. The band announced this summer that the longtime drummer was ill and would be sitting out the tour. He died last month, not long after the announcement. Watts is being replaced on this tour by Steve Jordan, known for his role in the John Mayer trio.

The St. Louis City ordinance requires wearing a mask indoors. However, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is not required to enter the Dome at America’s Center. The concert begins Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

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Colorado’s urban-rural divide put to the test in new 8th Congressional District



Colorado’s urban-rural divide put to the test in new 8th Congressional District

Outside Eddie Braly’s window, empty fields roll northward from the edge of Adams County into Weld County, marking the spot where Denver’s northern suburbs seem to finally fade into farmland that’s dotted with grain elevators and oil pumpjacks.

Braly, a 10-year resident of Thornton’s North Creek Farms subdivision, said he and his wife “bought the view on purpose,” but he’s under no illusion it’s going to stay this way.

Nor will Colorado’s soon-to-be-formed 8th Congressional District, a mashup of fast-growing suburban neighborhoods that ooze into prime agricultural land and high-yield oil and gas territory between Greeley and Commerce City.

“At some point, the cities will grow together in a Dallas-Fort Worth type of way,” said Braly, whose neighborhood likely will be swept into the new district.

Via the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission

The third map of new proposed congressional boundaries was released on Sept. 23, 2021.

Colorado’s newest congressional district, which will become active for the 2022 election and contain exactly 721,714 people, is being drawn up due to the state’s rapid growth over the last 10 years. The latest 8th District map was released Thursday. It still must be finalized by the state’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission and sent to the Colorado Supreme Court by Tuesday; the court is expected to approve it in December.

The supercharged growth north of Denver will undoubtedly stoke simmering political and cultural tensions, often highlighted in the state’s urban-rural divide, and hand Colorado’s newest member of Congress the formidable task of stitching together the 8th District’s divergent interests.

The new district will also have the heaviest concentration of Latinos — nearly four of every 10 residents — among Colorado’s congressional districts, according to 2020 Census data compiled by the redistricting commission. And that segment of the population is only projected to grow.

Long-time Weld County resident Terry Wiedeman, who farms corn and sugar beets on 650 acres outside Gilcrest, worries whether anything can stop the impending wave of development. He’s already seen farmland around him steadily overtaken by homes and shopping centers over the last 50 years.

“Eventually there won’t be any farms in this area,” Wiedeman said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Add to all of that the fact that the new district pulls together two counties — Weld and Adams — that lean away from the other on the blue-red political spectrum. Two-term Adams County Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio said finding common ground will be a challenge.

“Whoever represents this 8th Congressional District has their work cut out for them,” he said.

Colorados urban rural divide put to the test in new 8th

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Farmer Terry Wiedeman checks the moisture in his corn silage as he dumps it into piles at a feedlot on Sept. 21, 2021, in Gilcrest. His silage is a high-quality feed for cattle. Wiedeman has run TWC Farms near Gilcrest for decades and has been a farmer his whole life.

Rapid growth

The last time Colorado added a congressional district — the 7th — was 20 years ago. It currently splits much of Adams County’s big cities with the 6th District. Once established, the 8th District will cover just about all of Adams County’s significant population centers.

Weld County is currently in the 4th Congressional District, a conservative district represented by Republican Rep. Ken Buck.

“There’s excitement to have an Adams County-anchored congressional district,” said state Sen. Faith Winter, a Democrat who represents Thornton, Northglenn, Federal Heights and a portion of Westminster. “Even if the (new congressperson) doesn’t come from Adams, they have to pay attention to the votes.”

And those votes are becoming more plentiful with every passing year.

Data from the 2020 Census showed Weld County was the No. 2 county in Colorado for growth over the last decade — trailing only Broomfield — with a more than 30% gain in residents. Projections from the state demographer’s office show both Weld and Adams counties, which make up the bulk of the 8th District, continuing their population surge.

1632503237 674 Colorados urban rural divide put to the test in new 8th

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Heavy traffic moves along State Highway 52 at rush hour near the Silverstone subdivision in Frederick on Sept. 21, 2021.

“We are forecasting the fastest growth in Weld and Adams over the next decade,” state demographer Elizabeth Garner said.

In raw numbers, Adams County’s population will leap from nearly 520,000 to about 613,000 in 2030, while Weld County will add nearly 100,000 people to the 331,500 it has today. Most of that growth, demographers say, will happen in the new congressional district.

Starting out, the 8th Congressional District should be one of the most competitive in Colorado. Though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 12,000 voters out of nearly 430,000 total, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 1.7% in the 2016 presidential contest, according to an analysis from the redistricting commission.

However, placing populated areas of Adams and Weld counties together for the first time could make for some strange bedfellows. Even within Weld County itself, the clash of old and new is revealing itself in the 8th District’s future footprint.

Matt Boddy just moved out of a townhouse in Broomfield to a newly built single-family home in the Silverstone subdivision in Frederick, a neighborhood that sits a mile east of Interstate 25 on Colorado 52. Builders haven’t even broken ground on hundreds more planned homes in Silverstone, along with retail space.

1632503237 565 Colorados urban rural divide put to the test in new 8th

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Matt Boddy stands outside of his new house in the Silverstone subdivision in Frederick on Sept. 21, 2021. Boddy, who grew up in Colorado, was excited to be able to buy a house after living in a townhome in Broomfield.

It’s a scene that’s mushrooming along the I-25 corridor in nearby Dacono and Firestone, too.

“I just wanted to get into a house while prices are still reasonable,” Boddy said, standing on his front porch last week while construction crews framed up homes on his street. “I’m definitely not a city guy — I like it less crowded and more quiet.”

A district divided?

Just 40 miles northeast of Boddy’s house, at the likely very northern end of the new 8th District, people live a far more rural life, where center-pivot irrigation equipment soaks farm fields and cattle sun themselves on grazing land and at feedlots.

Jeff Schwartz, a retired doctor who has lived in his 120-year-old Weld County home just outside Greeley since 1993, said development along I-25 has not only brought more traffic and noise but also changed the political complexion of the long-red county.

“Look at the map and it’s all blue up and down I-25,” he said. “It’s changing the whole state and the whole attitude.”

Schwartz referenced a movement that arose earlier this year calling for a potential ballot measure to break Weld County off from Colorado and merge it with its conservative and rural northern neighbor, Wyoming. Short of that, he said, Adams and Weld counties should keep a respectful distance when it comes to politics.

“I don’t know if anyone in the northern suburbs of Denver knows at all what’s going on up in Greeley,” he said. “They need to leave me alone and I’ll leave them alone.”

Farmer Terry Wiedeman and his crew ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Farmer Terry Wiedeman and his crew use a corn forage harvester to pulverize corn, stalks and leaves into silage, which was then put into a semitruck on Sept. 21, 2021, in Gilcrest.

Wiedeman, the Gilcrest farmer who also owns a real estate company and runs farm equipment auctions, said a Weld County secession “may not be a bad idea.”

“Our interests in Weld County are not represented by (the state) government,” he said.

He said there is too often a disconnect between the people who grow and process food and produce energy in rural parts of the state, and those who consume it in urban areas. Weld County is Colorado’s top oil and gas producing county and Thornton and other Adams County communities have a history of fighting drilling near homes.

“They gotta realize in the cities that you gotta allow production so that we can make the products you use every day,” Wiedeman said.

Whoever the new congressperson for the 8th District is, he said, he or she should be able to bridge the divide “if they have common sense.”

1632503237 517 Colorados urban rural divide put to the test in new 8th

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Farmer Terry Wiedeman, left, and his crew take a break for lunch in the cornfield during silage harvest on Sept. 21, 2021, in Gilcrest.

Weld and Adams counties have a long history of economic cooperation but “differing political philosophies do exist,” said Rich Werner, CEO of Upstate Colorado Economic Development in Greeley. He feels the redistricting commission created a map “that will perpetuate the urban-rural divide not alleviate it.”

“With all the attention and support being given to assist our rural communities, it seems counterintuitive to create a hub-and-spoke map that ensures a metro Denver urban voice in six out of eight districts,” he said. “The concern of using the urban density to fill in multiple congressional districts will perpetuate the likelihood that candidates come from the denser areas of those particular districts.”

Latinos on the rise

So far, only State Rep. Yadira Caraveo has declared her candidacy for the 8th District seat. No Republicans have jumped into the race but are likely to do so once the final boundaries of the district are established.

If Caraveo is elected, the Thornton Democrat and pediatrician would be the first Latina to represent Colorado in Congress.

“It’s a district that is driven by suburban moms and Latinos,” said statehouse colleague Winter, who backs Caraveo’s bid.

The state demographer’s office projects the Latino population in Adams County to surge nearly 30% over the next 10 years, to 284,000. In Weld County, the leap will be even more dramatic: a nearly 50% jump over the next decade.

By 2030, both counties together will account for just over a quarter of Colorado’s projected 1.7 million or so Latinos, with 436,000.

Aislin Dominguez, an 18-year-old high school student who lives in the Aristocrat Ranchettes subdivision just northeast of Fort Lupton, said she would love to see a Latino congressperson in the 8th District.

“It would be great to have someone represent us,” she said.

Dominguez’s mostly Latino neighborhood is a grid of dirt roads with no sidewalks. Many residents own horses and other livestock. Peacocks wander the streets. Last week, a man holding a stick guided sheep and goats as they ate weeds on the side of the road.

1632503237 324 Colorados urban rural divide put to the test in new 8th

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Suahil Dominguez, who’s with her dog Jack, tries to get her daughter Aislin’s horse back into his enclosure on Sept. 22, 2021, near Fort Lupton. Dominguez and her family live in the Aristocrat Ranchettes, a small rural neighborhood made up of one-acre parcels near Fort Lupton.

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Whistleblower fraud allegations about Colorado air quality division “unsubstantiated,” report finds



Whistleblower fraud allegations about Colorado air quality division “unsubstantiated,” report finds

State health officials said Friday morning that they don’t have enough guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency to know when to estimate whether “minor” polluters in Colorado exceed air quality limits on particulates, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

The Colorado Attorney General’s office released Friday an independent report on an investigation into a complaint filed by three whistleblowers in March. The report also found that claims of fraud and suppression were unsubstantiated, according to Shaun McGrath, director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s environmental programs.

The three, who worked for the state’s Air Pollution Control Division of CDPHE, said in that 14-page complaint in March that division director Gary Kaufman ordered managers to tell employees not to review or model estimated emissions at certain facilities for those gases and particulates less than 2.5 micrometers. All three contribute to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone.

The employees alleged that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was “suppressing information” and “approving air quality permits” that violated national air quality standards. Through the Maryland-based organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the whistleblowers said the state fosters a culture of approving permits for industrial polluters “at all costs” and to the detriment of public health.

Gov. Jared Polis and CDPHE Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan asked Attorney General Phil Weiser in April to investigate the whistleblowers’ allegations, and in July, state officials chose national legal firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP to lead the probe.

Ryan said Friday that the report highlighted that lack of federal guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment.

“The report does illustrate the need for more scientifically sound criteria and better processes for when to model minor sources,” Ryan told The Post.

Kaufman is still the director of the Air Pollution Control Division, Ryan said.

That surprised Chandra Rosenthal, who is the Rocky Mountain Field Office director for PEER: “They’re really sticking by (Kaufman), huh?”

Rosenthal said state officials have known for years that employees had concerns about how smaller facilities are monitored, and acted after the whistleblower complaint went public.

Her nonprofit is considering whether to ask law enforcement officials to examine whether Kaufman broke any laws.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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Glenwood Caverns workers didn’t properly check girl’s seatbelts before fatal plunge, report finds



Glenwood Caverns workers didn’t properly check girl’s seatbelts before fatal plunge, report finds

A 6-year-old Colorado Springs girl plunged more than 100 feet to her death at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park over Labor Day weekend because operators of the vertical drop thrill ride she was on did not properly check her seatbelts, according to a state investigation into the fatality.

Investigators found the girl, Wongel Estifanos, was actually sitting on the two seatbelts instead of wearing them across her lap, and the ride’s two newly hired operators never noticed even though they checked that everyone’s belt was fastened.

An alarm system warned of a problem, but the two workers weren’t trained well enough to know what to do about it, so one of them reset the system and sent the ride on its way, investigators with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s division of oil and public safety found.

Inspectors ordered the park to remain closed shortly after the Sept. 5 incident while outside trainers were brought in to retrain staff on how to safely operate the various rides there. It reopened nearly a week later but the Haunted Mine Drop ride remains closed.

Operators are responsible for “fastening and checking two separate seatbelts for each passenger prior to dispatching the ride,” the report says, noting an alarm system warned of a seatbelt problem. “Operators took several incorrect actions and reset the ride seatbelt monitors which allowed them to dispatch the ride.”

Estifanos died of multiple blunt force trauma from the fall, according to the Garfield County coroner. No other injuries were reported, officials have said, and the girl was found at the bottom of the ride’s mine shaft.

The nine-page report does not say who occupied the other five seats on the Haunted Mine Drop, but the girl was on vacation with her family at the time, officials have said. The state expects to issue violations and fines related to the incident but has not determined the extent.

The ride is equipped with two lap belts. The report describes one as using a special metal rod at the end that is affixed to a locking mechanism. The second is more akin to a seatbelt in a motor vehicle. Operations manuals for the ride say operators are expected to fasten both but do not tell them what to do if an error occurs.

Investigators said the manufacturer’s operating manual was not part of the workers’ training, nor is an explanation of the alarm system or what to do when there’s a problem.

The workers were apparently confused over whether the lap belts were actually across Estifanos’s lap when she was actually sitting on them, according to the report. No one from the previous ride had been sitting in one of the middle seats where Estifanos sat, so the seatbelt there had not been detached, investigators found.

Seatbelts are fastened even if there is no passenger in the seat so that the ride will operate, the report says. Operators are supposed to unfasten all the belts after each ride and passengers are unloaded so the next load of riders can be buckled in.

That didn’t happen for Estifanos’s ride, according to the report.

Instead, Estifanos sat atop the seatbelts and pulled the tail flap across her lap, making it appear as if she was buckled in.

“As Operator 1 tightened the seatbelts, the tail was pulled out of Ms. Estifanos’ hands, and Operator 1 did not notice that the seatbelts were not positioned across her lap,” the report says.

Because the belts on Estifanos’s seat had not been unfastened from the previous ride cycle, the alarm system showed an error. The operator went back to double-check all the rods and saw they were properly affixed.

The second operator arrived and, when told of the problem, unlocked the rods, went and removed them all, and then reinserted them “without understanding and resolving the actual issue — that Ms. Estifanos did not have the seatbelts across her lap.”

When the reset alarm system showed no more errors, the ride was activated. The operators didn’t notice Estifanos was missing until the ride platform returned about two minutes later, the report says.

Both workers were hired within weeks of the incident. The operator who activated the ride had been an employee for just two weeks, according to the report.

Jack Affleck, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park/Denver7

The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs.

Caverns workers in the past were required to take a six-page exam showing they understood the ride they were to operate as well as its safety features, according to copies of the exam from a 2011 accident the state investigated. The report does not address whether workers are still required to take those tests.

The exam asked what procedures are to be followed if a worker feels a ride is unsafe and whether they’re authorized to unload passengers as a result. It also asked about the instructions operators must give to riders, as well as safety checks they must conduct of each rider, such as whether seatbelts are fastened correctly.

Dan Caplis, the attorney representing the Estifanos family, and officials at Glenwood Caverns could not be immediately reached Friday morning.

The ride was designed without shoulder harnesses in order to make it more exciting, The Denver Post has reported. The investigation concluded the ride operated properly and there was no equipment malfunction.

The Haunted Mine Drop ride only uses seatbelts and has no safety bar, according to a promotional video by Coaster Studios in May 2019 in which a park employee was interviewed. The safety belt system relies on a metal rod that is locked into place across the riders’ laps, according to the video.

Riders sit facing forward and raise their arms and legs at an operator’s direction and then the six-seat platform is released, plunging down through a mine-shaft-like tunnel. The ride takes about 2.5 seconds and drops 110 feet.

A counterweight and a braking system are used to slow the ride as it approaches the bottom, according to the video.

Ride designer Stan Checketts of Providence, Utah, has not responded to Denver Post efforts to contact him at his company, Soaring Eagle Zipline.

Checketts founded and later sold S&S Sansei, one of the biggest amusement ride design manufacturers in the world. The company has about 150 tower drop rides internationally — the latest in China — and none are without a shoulder harness.

A spokesman at S&S, which did not make or design the Haunted Mine Drop, said modern rides cannot operate if any of their safety features are not properly affixed, but did not say whether alarms could be overridden.

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