• With perseverance, enthusiasm and a plucky little four-wheel-drive robot, the Clear Creek High School Robotics Team is headed to the state championships the last weekend in February.

    Last Thursday the team C2 Botz met in a classroom to tinker with its robot in preparation for the prestigious FIRST Tech Challenge state competition.

  • Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a series about the growing senior population in the mountain area.

    Depending on whom you ask, the baby boom generation either popularized self-indulgence or helped create a more egalitarian America. But whether rotten or visionary, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 isn’t a kid anymore, and its final chapter promises changes and challenges to match any that have come before.

  • With dark, early-morning shadows still clinging to the buildings in Idaho Springs, a handful of people crowd into the small kitchen, roll up their sleeves and get to work.

    Today’s menu consists of barbecued country-style pork ribs, succotash, cornbread and peach cobbler.

    Employees and volunteers cook, clean, organize and prepare for the Volunteers of America Meals on Wheels program in the Project Support Senior Center on Miner Street.

  • It wasn't just a Jeep. It was a Jeep with teeth, and as it came around the corner of the racetrack on Georgetown Lake, its spiked tires went into a sideways slide, sending a spectacular 10-foot wave of ice into the chilly air.

    Nearly 30 other drivers, in vehicles of all shapes and sizes, eagerly awaited a similar turn on the ice track during the Our Gang ice-racing club's fun day on Friday. The event was open to the public, and gave die-hard ice-racing enthusiasts and beginners a chance to test their mettle on the slick surface.

  • Several hundred balloons waited in a net high above 30 pint-size New Year’s Eve revelers at the Idaho Springs rec center on Dec. 31.

    The balloons were ready to be released at the age-appropriate strike of noon. With minutes to go on the clock, the students hula-hooped, danced and took “tourist” photos in front of a poster of New York City’s Times Square.

    The festivities took place under the direction of the rec center’s after-school program director, Nicole McGrath.

  • (Reprinted from Dec. 30, 2014)

    The birdfeeder below my window is still bringing a variety of birds into view. One of these is the tiny, beloved pygmy nuthatch. Almost daily, a few of these tiny guys are busy gleaning the ponderosa pine above the feeder, gathering insects, which keeps the pines healthy as well as the birds.

  • The Courant takes a look back at the local stories that made headlines in the past year.

    Highway 103 bridge over I-70 quietly reopens

    An expanded Highway 103 bridge in Idaho Springs reopened late in February 2015 without fanfare.

    The bridge at Exit 240 — a major access point into Idaho Springs from Interstate 70 — closed Oct. 19, 2014, and was closed for about 120 days through the holiday season, angering local business owners and officials.

  • Last month, nearly a dozen sturdy men of the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office put down their razors and picked up the country-wide No-Shave November gauntlet to benefit Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice.

  • Clear Creek seventh-grader Isis Wales will have a chance to show off her musical ability in a big way with the Colorado middle school all-state choir.

    Isis tried out for and was the only Clear Creek Middle School student accepted into the prestigious choir performance, which showcases the talents of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. The choir concert will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, in the Bellco Theatre at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

    Six Carlson Elementary sixth-graders are in their second year of performing in the all-state choir.

  • Once a month, Scott Courson takes a break from corporate America by helping out at Carlson Elementary School.

    Last Friday, he helped a kindergartner read in Kathy Lewis’ classroom.

    Courson is among 25 local dads who volunteer at the school as part of the recently started Watch D.O.G.S. program, or Dads of Great Students. The program is a national effort to bring more fathers into schools.

    Carlson social worker Lauren Courtney said the program has become a surprise hit among fathers, students and teachers.

  • Clear Creek exchange student Madelyn Fahnline woke the morning of Nov. 14 and saw dozens of messages on her phone from friends and family asking if she was OK.

    The high school junior is staying with a host family in Lorraine in northeastern France about 90 minutes from Paris. The previous night, extremists had killed 129 people in a series of coordinated attacks across Paris.

  • With a cloud of dust billowing behind her, Deb Zack drove her black Jeep along the narrow dirt roads high above Idaho Springs. She navigated the sketchy dirt lanes on the north side of Virginia Canyon with familiarity.

    Zack is a project manager and reclamation specialist with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety’s inactive mine program.

    And she’s been quite busy.

    It’s estimated that Clear Creek County has some 3,000 inactive mines, with 22,000 abandoned mines in the state.

  • Looking to escape the small town where she grew up and see the world, Tina Barber-Matthew joined the Air Force in 1989.

    What she described as a fairly normal office job in the military changed forever on Sept. 11, 2001. In the subsequent years leading up to her retirement in 2011, Barber-Matthew, 48, deployed multiple times to Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Sometimes under fire, the mother of two young children worked with translators and taught American-style journalism to Afghani reporters.

  • After warming up by dancing like angry leprechauns, it was time for the serious business of rehearsing the works of William Shakespeare.

    Well, maybe not quite so serious.

    On Oct. 28, Clear Creek High School students practiced their lines for the fall production of "I Hate Shakespeare!" The play is a parody of the works of the legendary bard, yet the cast also hopes it serves as a gateway to his more famous works.

  • Every morning before Steven Zacharias comes to work, he walks 2 miles up Guanella Pass to get ready for his day, which entails walking around Idaho Springs.

    “I just got in the habit of doing it when I first moved here,” Zacharias said. “It gets my day started. I get a clear head. … I like to get the cobwebs out first thing in the morning.”

    Zacharias, Idaho Springs’ new code compliance officer, spends much of his day moving at a brisk pace through the city’s streets and alleys.

  • Classes at the Edgar Mine in Idaho Springs offer a hands-on experience for the estimated 250 Colorado School of Mines students who attend each semester.

    Most of the students who come to the mine these days are majoring in petroleum engineering, while the mine was originally built to produce gold and silver. But the skills the students learn and the projects they work on at the mine are similar to what they’ll need in their own industry, according to School of Mines professor Bill Eustes.

  • “Love what you do and do what you love.”

    — Ray Bradbury

    Retired Clear Creek High teacher Conradt Fredell willingly gave up his hobbies —woodworking, gardening and music — for seven weeks to return to his other love: teaching.

  • The mood-altering, atmosphere-warping sounds of club music spilled onto 16th Avenue moments before the Idaho Springs block party started on Sept. 24.

    Surrounded by a group of fellow high-schoolers, 15-year-old disc jockey Josh Reagon tested his equipment while several people in Citizens Park began to dance.

    Josh, a Clear Creek High School sophomore, was recently hired by the city to DJ for the block party. Josh started DJ’ing almost two years ago.

  • Editor’s note: Clear Creek County is home to a budding recreational marijuana industry — an industry that has blossomed statewide since recreational sales became legal on Jan. 1, 2014. Since then, the state has received $76 million in fees and taxes from this burgeoning business. This is the fourth installment of a series that will trace the marijuana process over the next several months from seedling to sale, and will follow the money that flows into state coffers.

  • Idaho Springs resident Amadee Ouellet calls herself a "homeless business owner" who makes and sells artistic wands and hunts mushrooms in the woods.

    In the summer, Ouellet said, she "moves around" — living out of her tent on U.S. Forest Service land. In the winter, when it gets too cold to live in her tent, Ouellet said she lives in a motel where she can pay rent by the week. (People are allowed to camp at a Forest Service site for 14 days, by law.)