Sentinel Blogs
Picture this: Hoops Marla Keown

Picture this: Hoops

Restoration Christian Fellowship is holding a basketball camp this week at Hoops Park. I certainly got sucked in watching the little tykes dribble and shoot balls half their size!

PICTURE THIS : Old Red Cross on Anschutz Marla Keown

PICTURE THIS : Old Red Cross on Anschutz

I FINALLY got to go inside the old Red Cross building on Anschutz Medical Campus this morning. I don’t know what it is about deteriorating and abandoned buildings, but I sure do love them.

PERRYBLOG: Crafty Supreme Court pact brings that old time religion into your life Dave Perry: Preoccupations

PERRYBLOG: Crafty Supreme Court pact brings that old time religion into your life

Dear fellow employees:

The noble Supreme Court decision this morning, ensuring that the Creator and not the Obamanator dictate your health care plan, brings good news — to us.

I’m sure you’re aware that the better-than-average-people who own the Hobby Lobby women’s emporium were saddened and dismayed that Obamanation Care forced them to offer birth control to female employees, who have graciously been offered positions there. They, like the rest of us who not only read the Good Book but live it, know that birth control for womenfolk means two things: wanton tarts doing salacious things when they’re not at work, and uppity wives empowered to decide when the brood should arrive, rather than the man of the house or the Man Upstairs.

It’s not that Hobby Lobby, nor I, would dare to intervene in your personal lives, because as devout-ees, we’re rugged individualists. In respect for my religion, however, I must thank the five, clear-thinking Supreme Court Justices who get it — the religious thing. They understand that things like ulcers, alopecia, Saturday night headaches and erectile dysfunction are medical problems that warrant real medical care. And they understand that a little pill that interrupts Aunt Rosie visits or casual uterine implants have nothing to do with medicine, any more so than does a woman who just can’t handle her monthlies and keep them to herself. The Good Book makes it clear that it was women’s original sin that brought cramps and endometriosis upon their kind, not The Company.

Thanks to Justice Scalia et al,  I think you’ll understand now that it isn’t The Supervisors who need to intervene in what is and isn’t covered in health care, it’s The Guy.

So I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that nothing but good will come from our decision to require our health-care provider to drop coverage for any drinking-related ailments, as well as any treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Likewise, any treatment needed for smoking or tobacco-related issues is not covered by our medical plan. If you have been smite with lung cancer or COPD for your irresponsible and evil ways, we suggest you repent rather than undergo costly chemotherapy. Clearly, medical attention for those vices and sins is offensive to even tepid believers. The Supreme Court understands why The Company shouldn’t have to pay for the loose morals of employees, so should you. On a related note, you might not previously have been aware of the Sin of Sloth. You will be soon, because our insurance company has been instructed to deny claims for anyone whose maladies include or are related to being fat and lazy. If your body mass index is above 22, you need to pray for strength or good genetics.

Similarly, we have instructed our insurance company to not pay claims for non-church-related injuries that occur on the Lord’s Day. If you choose to ski or bike on Sundays rather than repent your evil ways, as instructed throughout the Good Book, then you can either wait until Monday to get your twisted knee looked at or pay out of pocket. There are no exceptions for Jews and their erroneous sabbath. They are, however, not excluded entirely from the plan in ways other than are all heathens.

Rest assured, however, that good men injured in the acts of The Truth, such as stoning their adulterous wives or trying to wrestle Satan from the naked bodies of homosexuals, will certainly be eligible for proper  treatment.

We thank the high court for understanding that when corporations are people, and when companies are people, all the right things happen, and they will soon be happening to you.

— Aurora Sentinel Editor Dave Perry

GOLDSTEIN: The last story behind the art of storytelling for The Aurora Sentinel Adam Goldstein

GOLDSTEIN: The last story behind the art of storytelling for The Aurora Sentinel

It was still tough to ask about the scars.

I’d been a guest at the Cheley/Children’s Hospital Burn Camp in Estes Park for three days, and I was just starting to feel like an adopted member of a very impressive family. It was 2010, and photographer Gabriel Christus and I had made the trek up to the picturesque Cheley Campsite just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. We came as strangers, a pair of journalists looking to get a good story about this summer camp specifically dedicated to young burn victims. But after spending a full weekend with these 84 campers and 20 counselors, the trip no longer felt like a regular newspaper assignment.

Teenagers with burn scars crisscrossing their face, arms and hands welcomed us at campfires and mess tables. Camp veterans in their early 20s — some with similar marks — never missed a beat when we asked to join a rock-climbing expedition or take a front seat for the weekend talent show. Most impressively, no camper ever refused when I asked about their injuries. No refusals came when I demanded with no small amount of hesitation, “Can you talk to me about your burns?”

That note of uncertainty still underlined my questions on this last day, as I sat with Lorin Smith, a 15-year-old camper from Oregon. His face bore the red and pink traces of flames that had burned him eight years before, and my obvious nervousness didn’t get in the way of forthrightness. He was calm and confident and honest, qualities he chalked up to his four years at this camp. “It makes you realize that your scars are nothing,” he told me. “It’s how you feel, it’s how you deal with them.”

Smith eloquently summed up the most durable and inspiring lesson of the weekend for me. The note of perseverence was one that I tried to convey to readers in the resulting story, and it’s one that I’ve since worked to apply to other realms of my life.

When I try to sum up my six years as a reporter at the Aurora Sentinel, Smith’s story of courage and conviction is only one of hundreds that come to mind. It’s the nature of this job. Whether you’re covering city hall, education or arts and culture, you’re working as a storyteller. The tales of others are your currency; telling your own stories isn’t how you earn your paycheck.

I’ve spent nearly every single week of the past six years and four months unearthing tales about this city of more than 300,000 where I grew up. I reported to my first day of work at an office that was a mere 10-minute drive from my childhood home. I sat through city council meetings and school board meetings near where I used to ride my bike as a kid. I met mayors and city council members, I quizzed county commissioners and school board members. I tried to keep up with every single theater production, concert or gallery opening that involved an actor, musician or artist that boasted even the slightest connection to the city.

Forget the cherished and noble objectivity of the trade for a moment. That kind of day-in, day-out interaction with a place can’t help but change you. Keeping libraries and pools open during budget shortfalls suddenly seems important. Standardized test scores from neighborhood schools start to really matter. The devoted artists who hustle and starve to bring culture to the community begin to take on the aura of heroes. And when tragedy erupts in the form of a vicious, bloody assault in a movie theater that’s within sight of your office window, you grieve and mourn with the victims in a way that leaves nightmares.

But other people’s stories are only one part of this job, albeit the part that drives the endless string of long nights spent reporting, writing and copy editing. I’m a different person than I was six years ago, largely because of the other storytellers I’ve had the privilege to meet in this newsroom.

They’re the ones who’ve kept me in check, who’ve always been willing to read over copy and offer blunt advice. They can jab with the most inappropriate and tasteless jokes, and I always know I can take it as a sign of affection. They can move to the other end of the country and still hold the honored status of a best friend.

I’ll still be able to call myself a storyteller when I move on to a new role at the Cherry Creek School District, working to tell the tales of teachers, students and all the other people who make that massive organization work. I’ll still be able to glean new insights about my own childhood roots, about the city I called home as a kid (My new office is at my old high school). What I won’t be able to do is laugh, gab, argue and commiserate with some of the world’s most talented writers, editors and photographers on a daily basis.

They’ve helped me write my own story, one that’s been made much richer by my six years at the Sentinel.

PICTURE THIS: Regular Day Marla Keown

PICTURE THIS: Regular Day

Being the only photographer for a weekly newspaper and a monthly magazine can be stressful, but then moments happen that remind you how fun it can be too.

Aurora Politics

CD-6 WATCH: Coffman chides VA for ‘incompetence’ in care

AURORA | Aurora’s 6th Congressional District incumbent Mike Coffman continues to blame the “bureaucratic incompetence” and “culture of corruption” for problems at the Veterans Health Administration.

Coffman, R-Colo.  said at a House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs conference committee meeting in Washington D.C. on Tuesday that leadership at the VA Health Administration never identified its dangerous practices and have continued to ignore the warnings of whistleblowers.

“If there is not adequate leadership in department, we will fundamentally not change it,” Coffman told the committee. “Somebody has to get in there as the new executive director for this agency, and clean at the top.”

The hearing was held to discuss House Bill 3230, the Veterans Access to Care Act. The bill would give veterans easier access to non-VA health care. The bill has come under scrutiny from the Congressional Budget Office for some of its provisions.

The CBO estimates the cost of requiring the VA to provide non-VA medical care to any enrolled veteran who can’t get to a VA medical appointment within 30 days, or who lives 40 miles or more from a VA medical facility (two provisions of the bill), would cost the VA $54 billion annually to implement.

Coffman expects the bill to be heard in the House next week.

— Rachel Sapin, Staff writer

PICTURE THIS: Scary church clown Marla Keown

PICTURE THIS: Scary church clown

I visited The Potter’s House today to cover a story about Texas Christian Youths visiting Aurora to help clean up the church’s food bank. It looked like a handful of other “spring” cleaning projects were going on – including organizing a variety of Halloween animatronics.

PERRYBLOG: First cats and dogs, now this for Aurora City Desk

PERRYBLOG: First cats and dogs, now this for Aurora

AURORA | Legalized pot and Focus on the Family. World-class skiing and cattle drives. Colorado is a land of stark contrasts. Aurora is no exception. Behind an office park is a field full of deserty prickly pear nestled among delicate, cold-loving wild lupine — both in bloom at the same time. You gotta love this state.

— Dave Perry, editor

PICTURE THIS: mmmmmushrooms Colorado Table

PICTURE THIS: mmmmmushrooms

I am always happy to go shoot food!!! Check out the yummy selection at The Source.

Dave Perry: Preoccupations

PERRYBLOG: Nothing says love like, “your writing makes me poop”

I’m all weepy over a reader’s call this morning thanking us here at the Aurora Sentinel for the “incredible public service” we provide —  not only to the community, but the world at large.

He went on to say that his “pipe has been clogged up for three days.” He takes a copy of the Aurora Sentinel into the can, starts reading this week’s Dave Perry column and, voila!, “better than any laxative in the whole world.”

Feeling the love and glad to know that at least one reader is no longer full of it.

— Dave Perry, editor