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Sunday profile: Community egg hunt is more than a church gathering

For senior pastors Mark and Tasha Bintliff and children’s pastor Shawn Roessler, the New Creation Church annual Easter egg hunt is much more than a game.

“The Easter egg hunt is really dynamic lesson in that it is less about the Easter Bunny, and more about really understanding God’s giving in Christ and the eggs, and the gifts that are in them,” Mark Bintliff said.

Bintliff said that when he first started brainstorming with his team 13 years ago, he wanted to have a bigger impact and benefit to the community through an event, bringing a broad group of people together.

That’s when a team member came up with the idea for a free community Easter egg hunt.

“We just decided to go for it,” Bintliff said.

It began with a strip of grass and about 100 children.

“Even at that, we underestimated. So we had to run up to City Market to get some extra candy,” Bintliff said. “It’s gone from about a hundred, to last year when we had almost a thousand.”

Bintliff said he had no idea if it was going to be a bust or a boom.

Over a decade later, the Holy Saturday event is still going strong, growing every year at the church property just beyond Canyon Creek east of New Castle.

“I love having the Easter Egg hunt on our property. I love having all the kids come out,” Pastor Tasha Bintliff said.

“Really, for many people it is an introduction, just coming out for that. It lets them know we are here,” she said. “There are new people every year that we get to meet from our community — just knowing there are great things happening here, the Easter egg hunt really brings people to that.”

Every year, it takes 150 volunteers for the church to organize the event that usually spans less than two minutes.

“The people that volunteer are incredible,” Mark Bintliff said. “We have an amazing group of volunteers, they are the key to pulling off the event.”

Shawn Roessler has been coordinating the event since 2011.

“We start planning in January, bringing our volunteers on board,” she said.

After ordering supplies, the church asks its church members to adopt a box and help fill the plastic eggs with candy and prizes.

“It is incredible how much planning goes into the event that only lasts moments,” Tasha Bintliff said.

With the help of 20 volunteers, the church hides 16,000 eggs for the event.

“It takes about an hour and a half to spread them out,” Roessler added.

Some of the eggs have white tickets hiding inside, and the children can bring those back to church on Easter Sunday, where they have the opportunity to win more prizes.

“It is a really fun day for the kids, and it’s the best thing we do all year,” Roessler said.

“The reason we have this, is because we really love our community and just want to be able to reach out to them, not just in something that’s fun, but reach out and draw them into the message about how much God loves them and how much Christ did for them because of that love,” Mark Bintliff said.

“This is just one way that we can make it really fun, family oriented, but the impact of it is really much deeper.”

kmills@postindependent.com

#PostSnaps — Reader-submitted photos from across Garfield County

Reader submitted photos from around Garfield County. Use #postsnaps on Instagram to be featured. This week’s picks:

@juzzigrams

@outsidener

@sethjandersen

@simply.blessings.photography

20 years after school attack, Columbine remembers 13 lost

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado community will mark the 20th anniversary of the attack on Columbine High School on Saturday with community service projects and a ceremony remembering the 13 people killed by teenage gunmen.

Saturday’s events in and around the suburban community surrounding Columbine end a three-day slate of somber ceremonies honoring the 12 students and a teacher who were killed and lending support to their families, survivors of the attack and the school’s students and staff.

The days surrounding the anniversary remain emotionally fraught for survivors of the attack, including hundreds who escaped the building without physical wounds. Some describe their response to the month as an “April fog,” dominated by their own memories of the sunny Tuesday in April that shocked the world.

Since 1999, American schools have tried to prevent a threat that had once been unthinkable.

Districts across the country formed teams to assess threats and cooperate with law enforcement on a response. Drills training students to evacuate their school or “lockdown” and hide from a shooter are routine. School security has become a multibillion-dollar industry, adding specialized doors, surveillance video and other technology.

This week brought a new demonstration of that burden as federal authorities led a manhunt for a Florida teen described as “infatuated” with the 1999 shooting who traveled to Denver on Monday and purchased a shotgun.

On Tuesday, authorities published the young woman’s name and photo after learning of her obsession with Columbine and the gun purchase. They said she had not made specific threats but dozens of schools, including Columbine, locked their doors Tuesday.

More than 400,000 kids stayed home on Wednesday when schools shut down across the metro area.

The 18-year-old was discovered dead of an apparent suicide Wednesday morning in the foothills west of Denver, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Columbine.

Long-planned events marking the anniversary continued as scheduled, beginning with a Thursday evening church service and a community vigil Friday night at a memorial constructed within sight of the school.

The Columbine perpetrators, who took their own lives during the attack, have inspired cult-like admirers including some who have committed other shootings or were prevented from doing so.

Officials overseeing security at Columbine and other schools in Jefferson County acknowledged the dark interest this week and warned off those who would treat the school as a destination.

“We are not a place to come visit if you’re not a student, if you don’t have business there,” John McDonald, security chief for the school district, said Wednesday. “We’re not a tourist attraction and we’re not a place for you to come and gain inspiration.”

Security remained heightened at Denver-area schools through the week. People who plan to attend the public remembrance ceremony Saturday afternoon at a park near Columbine also have been warned of security checkpoints.

The school itself will be closed to the public.

Rifle rallies to find lost dog after car wreck

When a Tuesday car wreck in Rifle sent the driver to St. Mary’s Hospital via helicopter, the search was on for her dog Raptor, who was in the back seat and darted from the crash site in fear.

The family of the driver, Tina Leyba, also went to the hospital to be with her, so the Rifle Police rallied the community to make sure her bad day didn’t get any worse.

Raptor was found the next day, thanks in no small part to the voluntary impromptu community search that was conducted that afternoon and evening.

Tina’s husband, Carlos Leyba, said the community’s response was overwhelming and he and Tina were absolutely stunned by the response.

Tina has since returned home, but with serious injuries following the crash. Carlos Leyba was in Grand Junction while the search for Raptor began.

He said it was hard to be in the hospital knowing the dog was lost, and admitted he didn’t sleep that night.

Fortunately, the community responded.

“There’s no way I can thank everybody,” Leyba said. “I appreciate what everybody has done, from the police department on down.”

Shortly after arriving to the crash site, the Rifle Police Department posted to Facebook asking for the community’s assistance in locating the missing boxer.

All Tuesday afternoon and into the late evening hours, people could be seen driving around town or walking on nearby trails yelling for Raptor.

Dee Stiers, who works at the Riding Institute of Disabled Equestrians in Silt, said she drove near the crash site and around town on Tuesday looking for Raptor for a couple hours in the afternoon, and again a couple of hours in the evening.

She said hers was one of dozens of cars on the road searching for the dog with just as many people seen on foot calling for Raptor.

As a longtime Silt Mesa resident, Stiers said both Carlos and Tina are so beloved in the community. Those 48 hours just goes to show that, she said.

“They just give,” she added.

So, the community decided to give back.

“I’ve never seen [such a response] from the community,” she added.

Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein said the takeaway is just how much the Rifle community can look out for one another.

“What I thought was really neat, as we were riding around looking for the dog, we would stop to ask people on the street to help look for him,” Klein said. “They all would say they were already looking for him.”

He added that when he was out walking his own dog later that night, he could see and hear people still searching for him.

After multiple sightings in the area, Leyba used his truck, which he called “Raptor’s truck,” to attract the dog using dog toys, clothes and other tools to help bring him to the scent.

Some 25 hours after the crash, the dog was found in the area of Columbine Ford, looking at the truck with intense curiosity.

He’s now back home and ready to celebrate his one-year birthday on Saturday.

While it’s going to be a bit of a recovery for Tina, at least it’s made easier with Raptor back home.

“It makes me incredibly proud to say the citizens of Rile and throughout the area would step up in a situation like this,” Rifle Mayor Barbara Clifton said. “It just shows the spirit of town.”

“We saw people all around looking for him,” she added.

The search got so much positive attention, Klein said the police department’s updated post on Thursday letting everyone know Raptor was found reached 46,000 people on Facebook.

azorn@citizentelegram.com

Judge denies motion to suppress Miller’s comments in Lake Christine Fire case

A judge Friday denied a motion to suppress statements Richard Miller made to law enforcement officials when he was questioned at the Basalt shooting range immediately after the Lake Christine Fire broke out July 3.

Eagle County District Judge Paul Dunkelman ruled that prosecutors would be able to use Miller’s comment regarding the type of ammunition being fired by the rifle used by his girlfriend, Allison Marcus.

In a hearing Thursday, Heidi McCollum, Assistant District Attorney in the Fifth Judicial District, said Miller initially was uncooperative with investigators about the type of ammo used in the rifle he and Marcus borrowed from Miller’s dad.

McCollum said when an Eagle County deputy sheriff asked to look in an ammunition box, Miller replied, “Well, if I can be honest, it was tracer rounds.”

Investigators suspect that incendiary tracer rounds ignited dry grass on the edge of the rifle range. The fire eventually burned 12,500 acres of national forest and private land.

The attorneys for Miller and Marcus claimed that his comments should be prohibited from use at trial because no law officer read him his Miranda rights, which inform a suspect that any comments could be used in prosecution.

Attorney Stan Garnett for Marcus and attorney Josh Maximon for Miller tried to establish in Thursday’s hearing that deputy Josiah Maner kept the defendants at the shooting range for about 69 minutes before releasing them. That qualifies as police custody and the questioning as “custodial interrogation,” the attorneys argued.

“They’re being ordered by an officer to stay where they are at least five times over a 69-minute period,” Maximon said in Thursday’s hearing.

McCollum countered that Maner didn’t detain Miller and Marcus. He didn’t question them for the entire 69 minutes they were all at the shooting range, she said. He also was assessing the rapidly growing fire and coordinating response with fire and other police officials. He was speaking with Miller and Marcus as conditions allowed, she said.

When McCollum asked Maner why he didn’t read them their Miranda rights, he replied Thursday, “They weren’t in custody. I did not restrain them in any way. I did not put them in handcuffs.”

In his order Friday, Dunkelman wrote Maner did not restrain or restrict Miller in any manner, plus he gave him access to move his vehicle.

“Maner was not confrontational or intimidating towards Miller,” the ruling said. “In fact, he was the opposite. He was sympathetic and to a degree supportive of Miller and Marcus.”

None of Maner’s actions “are consistent with a deprivation of freedom to a degree associated with a formal arrest,” the judge wrote.

The judge’s decision will now require the DA’s office to make a tough call. McCollum had filed a motion to combine the trials of Miller and Marcus into one. Dunkelman on Thursday conditionally approved the request. However, he said if they were combined, Miller’s comments couldn’t be used in the joint trial because it would be prejudicial to Marcus. He gave the DA’s office until the beginning of next week to determine if they want to proceed with a combined trial or keep them separate.

Miller and Marcus each face three charges of fourth-degree arson, a Class 4 felony, and setting fire to woods or prairie, a Class 6 felony. Miller and Marcus are free on a $7,500 bond each.

As the cases stand now, Miller’s trial is scheduled for May 28 to June 7 with the trial for Marcus on June 17–28.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Journalist who covered Columbine reflects on lives unlived

NEW YORK (AP) — Daniel. Rachel. Isaiah.

“You can’t prove a negative,” our teachers and parents sometimes tell us when we’re young.

Yet when I look back upon my time in Colorado covering the almost-adults who were killed in the Columbine High School attack 20 years ago this week, all I can see are the negatives: the people who aren’t there anymore. I think of their names — names I typed and said and thought of, over and over, for a time.

Corey. Kyle. Kelly.

Nearly half my life later, when I think of Columbine, it isn’t what actually happened that occupies my mind. Instead, my brain goes to what’s no longer there. It goes to the undefined, usually unnoticed holes in the fabric of today — the spaces where people I never met are missing from the world for longer than they were here. To the long, silent aftermaths where lives used to be. To the names that fleetingly became part of my moment-to-moment life and then, as for so many, receded and faded.

Cassie. Steve. Daniel again.

So often now, Americans find themselves confronting days in which shots are fired, children fall and futures are stolen. In moments of gunfire, worlds of possibilities are wiped away. Millions of things that would have happened melt into nothingness.

John. Matt. Lauren. Coach Dave.

Covering Columbine, I witnessed that feeling of unthinkable school-day chaos up close for the first time. Looking back, I realize now: It was, really, a preview for an entire era of tears yet to be shed, of unwelcome gaps yet to be created. Of negatives yet to be proven.

I’ve chronicled tragedy for all of my adult life, from rural Pennsylvania to urban China, from Afghanistan to Iraq. During my first job as a police reporter right after college, after I returned from a particularly harrowing murder scene, one of my mentors said to me: “You’ll get used to it.” That turned out to be wrong.

It was never the details of tragedies that lingered with me. It was the quiet aftermaths, the times when families and friends began to let in that a life had ended, that a future so many loved ones had counted on was no longer potential but had become, purely and simply, fiction.

Would one of them have discovered a cure for cancer? Become an NBA star? Traveled the world and learned from its people? Raised a family, been part of a community, paid a mortgage, shopped for groceries on the weekend, coached a youth sports team?

Made the world better, smarter, kinder?

These days, one of the things I sometimes do at work is called a “gap analysis.” It’s corporate jargon for an exercise in identifying the places in a business where things are lacking, or needed, and it’s the first step toward figuring out how to make them whole.

Twenty years later, I still find myself doing a mental gap analysis of Columbine, though nothing can ever make anything whole. What I always come back to, which makes me dizzy, is contemplating what the world is lacking because these 12 young people and this teacher were abruptly removed from humanity’s equation one April morning as the last millennium’s final days waned. All because of two young men who decided that violence would be their final path forward.

I’d like to say that I understand things a bit better now. I’ve written hundreds of stories since then about all corners of the world. I’ve seen parts of the planet I never thought I’d see. And now I have kids in schools that do emergency drills as a matter of routine. It is the background hum of a world that, to them, has always been this way.

I’d like to say those things have helped me make sense of Columbine when I look at it over my shoulder from two decades on. I’d like to say that, but I’d be lying to you. I’m still trying, though. Not as a journalist, necessarily, but as an American.

In daily journalism, the job is often to cover what has just happened, and it is frequently very loud. But more than you’d think, the quieter stories — the more important stories, even — are the ones that didn’t happen. Those are the more complex ones, too. And in the cacophony, they’re harder and harder to find.

But my profession is, at its heart, a quest not only for fact but for context. And that may be where we can actually help.

What we can do is look back on the traumatic things we’ve covered, revisit them, study them to hone and sharpen what we do. We can understand that even as we show the world the facts and the stories behind them, we also can create unintended consequences by amplifying people and actions that can be held up by ailing minds as accomplishments to be replicated. And we can use this information to do it all better the next time.

Coach Dave. Lauren. Matt. John.

“You can’t prove a negative,” they say. Maybe not. But you can notice one, and keep noticing it.

Daniel. Steve. Cassie.

You can remember, as a journalist, the people from the stories you covered who are no longer here. You can wonder about their lives, and the people they left behind, and the ruthlessness of continuity that allows the world to fill in the gaps they left and move on to other spectacles, other triumphs, other tragedies and losses.

Kelly. Kyle. Corey.

And now and then, on a milestone anniversary that is no cause for celebration, you can sit in a quiet room and say, out loud, the names of people you never knew and hear them echo in a world that no longer contains them.

Isaiah. Rachel. Daniel. Again.

___

Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, covered the Columbine High School shootings and their aftermath in 1999. Follow him on Twitter at @anthonyted

Motorcycle crash victim identified as 61 y.o. Avon man

The man killed in a motorcycle crash on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon Friday evening has been identified as Daniel Schaub, 61, of Avon, according to the Garfield County Coroner’s Office.

The wreck happened a little after 5 p.m. Friday in the westbound lanes at mile marker 122 near the Hanging Lake Tunnels, about eight miles east of Glenwood Springs.

The wreck did not involve any other vehicles, but the westbound lanes were closed for more than two hours while the crash was being investigated.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler said Schaub was ejected from his bike into the median. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, according to the coroner’s release. An autopsy is scheduled for early next week.

Eastbound I-70 was closed for a short time immediately after the crash. Westbound I-70 was closed from about 5:30 until 7:45 p.m. when traffic backed up for several miles east of the tunnel was allowed to proceed. Traffic was also being diverted off I-70 at Dotsero.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Colorado River Water Conservation District now heading for 2020 tax ask

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The directors of the Colorado River Water Conservation District supported a recommendation Tuesday from General Manager Andy Mueller to research asking voters in November 2020 to restore a portion of the district’s original property-tax rate, or mill levy, and increase its annual revenue from $4 million to $8 million.

In February, the 15-member river district board was leaning toward asking voters this November to remove the revenue restrictions imposed upon it by the Gallagher Amendment, which was seen as easier to pass than a direct tax increase.

But now the residential taxing rates set by Gallagher appear to have stabilized, putting off a potential $370,000 hit to the river district’s budget for two years.

Plus, there may now be a competing water-funding question on the this year’s ballot. So the district is looking to 2020.

“It alleviates the immediate threat but not the long-term threat to the river district’s property tax-based revenues,” Mueller said of the Gallagher rate.

The district gets 97% of its revenue from property taxes on residential and commercial property, and the expected Gallagher rates would have cut the district’s revenue by 15%.

Mueller said it now makes more sense to ask for an increase in its mill levy from 0.252 mills to 0.5 mills — and possibly to ask voters to eliminate the revenue restrictions in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, and include a sunset provision of 10 to 15 years.

If the board does nothing, Mueller said the combined effects of Gallagher, TABOR and a shrinking oil-and-gas sector in western Colorado will cause the district’s property revenue to be less than its expenses, even with more cuts of staff, expenses and the district’s water-project grant program.

“The board and staff are concerned that the perfect storm of negative economic events and constitutional amendments will create a situation where we will be unable to meet our mission,” Mueller said. “We’ve been granted a reprieve to think about it and figure it out, but we are really concerned about having adequate financing to meet our mission. Today, we do a very good job of providing technical advice, legal representation and advocacy, the part that has been left out is actual meaningful cash contributions to projects and efforts by our constituents.”

The river district board also got another reason to avoid this November’s ballot when a bill was introduced in the state legislature Tuesday to ask voters this fall to approve legalized sports betting.

The betting bill is relevant to the river district because it calls for a 10% tax on the gambling revenue, which a 2017 study estimated could be as much as $300 million, and most of the money is to be used to pay for water projects and programs.

“We want to see what happens on that statewide question,” Mueller said in an interview. “Statewide tax measures are really difficult. We don’t want to: A) get in the way of it and contribute it to being defeated; and B) be defeated in its wake. We don’t want to be pulled down with it, if that happens. But either way, we support the effort.”

Mueller serves on an ad-hoc committee that has been exploring financial options for water projects and programs under the auspices of the state’s Interbasin Compact Committee.

“We’re not the architects of sports betting,” Mueller said of the committee.

The sports-betting bill, co-sponsored by state Sen. Kerry Donovan, says 10% of the tax revenue from gambling is “to fund implementation of the state water plan and other public purposes.”

The bill also includes language consistent with a demand-management — or water-use reduction — policy adopted in November by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency in the Department of Natural Resources.

For example, the bill says the money could be spent “to ensure compliance with interstate water allocation compacts” and on “projects and processes that may include compensation to water users for temporary and voluntary reduction in consumptive use.”

Mueller said even if the sports-betting bill passes, it might not meet the Western Slope’s water needs.

“We support a statewide effort, but we also understand the importance of doing things for ourselves on the Western Slope,” Mueller said. “And we understand that we can’t rely on others from the outside to do the things that we need to do to protect ourselves.”

Mueller cited examples of projects consistent with the district’s mission but short on funding, including building a bypass channel around Windy Gap Reservoir to add a more natural flow to the upper Colorado River.

He said building small, multipurpose reservoirs in the headwater counties could help provide water to ranchers, farmers and cities, as well as to downstream sections of rivers and streams stressed by climate change.

“Last year was a perfect example of where our reservoir releases were able to bring down the temperatures in the Fryingpan, Roaring Fork and upper Colorado rivers,” Mueller said, referring to releases from Ruedi Reservoir. “Before we started releasing water, all of those rivers were dangerously close to getting to a point where the fish were going to start massively dying.”

Mueller looked to the district’s history for his mill-levy recommendation, saying Western Slope residents in 1937 went to the state legislature and asked that the river district be created with a mill levy of 2.5% so residents could manage, develop and protect the water supplies and preserve the high-quality trout fishing on the rivers.

“Even back then, they talked about protecting the rivers. It was then recreation in terms of fishing, but that’s what they were looking for,” Mueller said.

Mueller said Western Slope residents knew it would be an expensive venture, but they were willing to tax themselves at 2.5 mills.

“The values have all gone up, but it was the same impact proportionally on each property as 2.5 mills would be today, but we’re now at a tenth of that,” Mueller said.

It’s on to more wine-making for outgoing Glenwood Mayor Michael Gamba

At the age of 5, Michael Gamba crushed grapes with his bare feet and by the time he was 8, the outgoing Glenwood Springs mayor accidentally discovered his love for wine.

“We just thought it was a good tasting punch,” Gamba recalled of the refreshment he dove into at a wedding he attended with his family. “I think that might’ve been the first time I over drank.”

When Gamba’s great grandfather emigrated from Italy to Glenwood Springs a significant Italian population existed in the western town at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.

“It wasn’t a question of if you are going to make wine if you were an Italian family in the area, it was how much wine are you going to make,” Gamba said.

Together, Gamba and his father, the late Jerome Gamba, would go down to the train tracks in town and retrieve wine grapes from the three boxcars loaded to the brim with them.

Today, utilizing Zinfandel and Barbera grapes, the fourth-generation Glenwood Springs resident continues his Italian family’s tradition by producing 1,400 bottles of red wine a year.

Rather than selling it, Gamba instead shares his wine with the community he loves.

“We bring the equivalent of about 10 cases a year to the Italian picnic, which is on the first Sunday in August, and we share it with everybody there,” Gamba said.

Spicy, like the former mayor’s opinion toward a moratorium on vacation rentals and bold like his public stance against Rocky Mountain Resources’ expansion plans for the limestone quarry, Gamba’s wine also yields a fairly high alcohol content.

“The higher the alcohol content, the less likely you are going to get any spoilage in it,” Gamba said of what some connoisseurs describe as a hot wine. “I grew up with it so to me it’s normal, and sometimes I drink commercial wine and think, wow, that’s really weak.”

While Gamba loves making wine as a hobby, he equally enjoys pairing it with his wife Karin’s cooking that celebrates local and international cuisines. Dishes like elk stroganoff, venison stew, Indian chana masala as well as German spaetzle and lentils.

“Dark chocolate goes really great with our wine, too,” Gamba said.

Whether at the Italian picnic or regular church potluck dinners, the former mayor and still-working civil engineer loves sharing his red zinfandel for a number of reasons.

“I think the best thing about wine is, it just brings people together,” Gamba said. “We have friends that we don’t agree with on politics, but whatever. …They come over and help us with the various winemaking steps and then we share our wine with them. It’s a good thing.”

Gamba, who served as the city’s Ward 4 council representative for eight years as well as mayor since April of 2015, also talked about his wine’s other, relaxing benefits; in particular following council meetings that ran past 11 p.m.

When asked if any of his fellow councilors ever made him want to switch to something stronger, Gamba joked, “Oh, there’s a number of them that have honestly made me want to drink more.”

Although Gamba has retired from his role as mayor and councilman, don’t expect the Glenwood Springs native to ever stop making wine and bringing people together over a bottle, or two.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Safety concerns force low-income New Castle residents from home

Residents of the old schoolhouse in New Castle understand the safety concerns leading to the court order to vacate by noon on Good Friday, but grieve the loss of a home and community.

“I feel like there could have been other ways to go about the situation, rather than kicking everyone out into the streets with nowhere to go,” said Kiana Pena.

Pena moved the last of her belongings out of the building moments before the noon deadline, with the help of Jonathan Ford, who assisted other residents, including a family with five children, in the days and hours before police arrived to ensure the structure was empty.

Four New Castle Police officers walked through the red doors of the schoolhouse, plastered with court notices, at 12:01. They exited five minutes later without incident.

SAFETY CONCERNS understood

The New Castle Municipal Court issued the notice to vacate April 11, after previous orders for building owner Rosie Ferrin to fix a slate of “life-safety issues,” code violations including electrical issues, no heating, missing smoke detectors and alarm systems, and blocked emergency exit windows.

The order “says that because of outstanding and long-standing code violations that had to do with safety, the judge felt that it was safer to get folks out of the building until such time as repairs can be made,” New Castle Town Administrator David Reynolds said.

Those who know the building said it was clear that it needed repair.

“It can be touched up. I’m not going to sit here and spackle and paint to make it what it ain’t,” Ford, who came to help the residents move, said of the building.

“But if you’re going to just drop people out of their home, at least give them a place where they can settle,” he said.

Many of the former residents moved to The Ranch, also owned by Ferrin.

“My big concern is for the community. Everybody knows the class of people that live here, and this is a safe place for those people to be,” said Mike Runia, an outreach minister with The Pointe church in Glenwood Springs.

“Now that that’s taken away, I’m curious to see how that affects the community,” he said.

place of recovery

After a court hearing about a month ago when it became clear the notice to vacate was coming, Runia, who lived in the schoolhouse several years ago, helped form a Wednesday Bible study for the residents “to pray, and just get into the world and build our faith up a little.”

The group will continue to meet in the park next door.

On Facebook, many New Castle citizens criticized the building as being a drug den for the people it attracts, something that Pena vehemently disagrees with.

“If you are not helping yourself, Rosie will kick you out,” Pena said. The schoolhouse is a place of recovery, Pena said, “but if you’re not trying, and you’re just using (Rosie), she’s not going to deal with that.”

Pena herself was homeless before she moved into the schoolhouse around two months ago. “Rosie definitely saved me,” she said. Pena did not blame Ferrin for failing to address the code violations, but hopes that the building will get up to code soon.

Until then, Pena is not sure where she will be living. She plans to keep up with the weekly Bible study, however, and hopes members of the broader New Castle community will check it out as well.

tphippen@postindependent.com