The Town of Lyons held elections for the positions of Mayor and the six Trustee in April. Mayor Julie Van Domelen, running for her “official” second term again ran unopposed, and won in a landslide, garnering 77 percent of the vote (she might be slipping, last time she ran unopposed she got a little over 82 percent).Mayor Van Domelen’s first one-year term [April of 2009 to April of 2010] to replace Mayor Kris Hicar, who resigned mid-term in December of 2008, didn’t count against Van Domelen’s term limit status. Five of the six Trustee incumbents; Sandy Banta, Ed Bruder, Cathy Jacobson, LaVern Johnson, and Kirk Udovich, decided to stand for re-election. Only Trustee Kathy Carroll chose not to run. Refreshingly, seven other citizens also threw their
hats into the ring; Chrystal DeCoster, Dan Greenberg, Lee Hall, Andrea Oetting, Randy Pollard, Connie Sullivan, and Dawn Weller. The final vote tally re-elected Udovich, Johnson, and Banta, and added the new perspectives of Sullivan, Greenberg, and Weller. Since Udovich got the most votes for Trustee, he was named Mayor Pro Tem.
Also on the April ballot was, in case you had forgotten, was a referendum to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within the Town limits. This item failed to pass in a 312-for, 432-against vote. This was not the last we would see of marijuana on the ballot in 2012. In November, a state-wide ballot measure to make possession of limited amounts of “recreational” marijuana legal passed by a fairly comfortable margin, making Colorado the first state in the Union to pass such a measure (Washington state did likewise, but since Colorado closed their polls first, technically we were first!). This time, the Trustees decided to be pro-active about the issue. In their final meeting of the year, the Board passed a temporary moratorium prohibiting the issuance of business licenses for retailing, growing, manufacturing, or testing of recreational marijuana within the Town of Lyons. The moratorium is in effect for at least ninety days after the state comes up with its own rules and regulations regarding the issue (the state has a deadline of July 1, 2013 to do so).
Since the BOT didn’t have marijuana (medical or otherwise) on their agenda for most of the year, they were able to tend to other items that concerned Lyons. In February, they lowered the base user rate for all water users in Lyons. They also set up a schedule for regular capital improvements to the Town infrastructure. This meant digging up the streets in Old Town (Stickney and Seward, between Third and Fifth Avenues) to replace and repair water, gas, and sewer lines and resurface the streets. Unexpected problems meant delays, and it seemed like the streets were under construction all summer long.
Two other issues took up a large portion of the BOT’s time. The first was horse trading and hammering out the terms for the new Inter Governmental Agreement with Boulder County, which was successfully negotiated and approved in April after years of back and forth. The second was the back and forth with the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) over the creation and eventual look of a Commercial Eastern Corridor zone. The sticking point still seems to be “franchise businesses, and maintaining small town character.” The two groups, the BOT and the PCDC, are still trying to come to terms with design standards and use by review issues. Hopefully things will be ironed out by early in the New Year.
Delays in street repairs weren’t the only challenge the Town dealt with. Water seemed to be a concern of the BOT all year long. After grappling with trying to lower the water rates for months, and finally succeeding in March (the monthly base rate dropped by about eight bucks for most users), and after the long drought-like summer, Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen was informed by the City of Longmont (our water supplier) that Lyons was using too much water on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and “overage” charges would have to be paid. Perhaps as much as $315,000 worth! This set the Trustees into water rationing mode to try and get the consumption down to reasonable levels. When this had no noticeable affect, Public Works crews started looking for and discovering leaks in the antiquated system. It took a few “false positives” but the leak, which Town Engineer Jim Blankenship estimated could have been responsible for “millions of gallons” was located and repaired.
But it wasn’t all bad. Through grants that the Town Staff and volunteers applied for, Lyons got to continue the free EcoPass for all residents, plus we got a new bus route to and from Longmont. Sadly, this route is not getting much ridership. But we also got added evening bus routes to and from Boulder during the summer months, plus weekend service, which was extremely popular. By the way, you can pick up your new SmartCard EcoPasses for 2013 at Town Hall.
Also because of a grant secured by the Parks & Rec. Staff, Lyons constructed a new multi-sport court (basketball, pickleball, shuffle board, and tennis) in Bohn Park.
Betsy Burton of the Sustainable Future Commission and soon to be Trustee Connie Sullivan organized a “Lyons Bucks” campaign, giving each utility user in town a free dollar with a special serial number to be spent and tracked at local businesses. The idea was to get people to make a point of buying local.
The Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission (LAHC) helped bring art to the community. They began a very successful quarterly group art show in the Council Chambers at Town Hall. They were also able to get funding to bring more sculptures on Main Street. A fun filled fashion show at Reruns on Main Street was put on by the LAHC and benefited the Lyons Community Foundation. And in December, the LAHC organized a delightful Art Walk that included stops at Town Hall, The Stone Cup, Ferg’s Inn, and The Corner Studio. Look for more of these this spring and summer.
Since it was an election year, not surprisingly, the town received several visits from state and national candidates who were seeking re-election. U.S. House of Representative Jared Polis came for lunch with the Trustees and returned for a Q & A in Town Hall. State Senator Rollie Heath stopped by The Stone Cup for a “Friendrasier” organized by Mayor Julie Van Domelen, and State Representative Jonathan Singer would occasionally pop in to different social functions around town.
The Lyons Polar Bear Club got the year started with a plunge and a shiver at Black Bear Hole on New Years Day. The group, which holds fundraisers for good causes in the area, is always a big hit in the Halloween and Christmas parades.
The 9Health Fair was again very successful, with approximately 500 Lyons area residents taking advantage of the low-cost or free screenings, examinations, and consultations. A big thank-you to Jonelle Tucker and her dedicated team of volunteers.
After almost a decade of being run by the Lyons Parks & Rec. Department and a volunteer group, this year the Lyons Outdoor Games came under the professional management of Human Movement Management. The event still included many kayak events, high flying bike competitions, K9 events, plus retail and food vendors, live music, a BBQ, and a beer garden, mostly in the Bohn Park area
The 36th annual Lyons Good Old Days was again held on High Street. Despite the scorching temperatures, good crowds came out after the sun went down, and everyone, especially the kids, seemed to have a great time. This year Parks & Rec. brought in even more rides, along with added food vendors and the Chamber of Commerce’s Beer Garden. Combine all that with some terrific local musicians, the very exciting 5K River Run, a vintage car show, and LaVern’s history programs, and you had a little something for everyone.
At a certain point around mid-July, it started to feel like we were having a special event every weekend. Between a very busy Fourth of July weekend, RockyGrass in late July, Folks Fest and Kinfolk Celebration in August, and on Labor Day weekend we managed to fit in the Golden to Boulder stage of the USA Pro Challenge bike race, the Venus de Miles Women’s bike ride, and the Devil Dash. Pheeew! Things were hoppin’ in Lyons. The Pro Challenge race was particularly exciting. Thousands of people lined Rte. 7, Broadway, and Rte. 36/66 to watch the racers (and all the accompanying sponsor cars) go whizzing through town.
Thanks to the efforts of Lee Hall, who set up giant screen HD TVs in the trees in Sandstone Park, the large throng could follow the stage, from downtown Golden, all the way to the final climb up Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder. A small side note, former Lyons resident and Lyons High graduate, Julian Kyer, competed in this event riding for the Bissell Team. He warmed up for the event by winning the USA Cycling Road National Championship in Georgia earlier in the summer. According to several Main Street merchants, it was one of the better retail weekends of the year.
The Devil Dash where contestants ran a 5K complete with obstacles to simulate the seven deadly sins (actually there was more like 14 obstacles) was well attended. Building on last year’s success, the event grew to even bigger and better proportions. In an effort to get better weather (last year rain and snow added to the challenge), organizers moved the event from mid October to Labor Day Weekend. They added lots of food and merchandise vendors, live music, and the always-popular Beer Garden. All that tweaking of a successful event paid off. This year, the number of entries was so large (approximately 1,500 people) that the race had to be scheduled over two days.
Somewhere in between all the other summer happenings, we somehow managed to fit in the community BBQ to kick-off the LHS football season. With hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, corn on the cob, live music, and plenty of friendly neighbors, it was the perfect way to end the summer.
It looked for a few days like we might have sub-freezing temperatures and snow for the Halloween Parade. But, in the end, the weather gods smiled benignly on our little berg, and the parade went off without the youngsters (and almost as many oldsters) having do don winter apparel over their costumes. Main Street was packed with witches, goblins, zombies, vampires, fairies, princesses, wizards, monsters, super heroes, and cowboys of every ilk. Afterward, High and Main were abuzz with children trying to gather as much candy from the local merchants as they could carry. Dr. Dennis Johnstone and his dedicated staff tried to entice the little ones with free toothbrushes, but seriously, it wasn’t much of a contest (Don’t worry Dennis, you’ll win at the back end when it comes time for those annual winter checkups).
The Lyons Community Foundation’s November Gala continued to be the social occasion of the year. Hundreds of Lyons area residents took the opportunity to reach into the back of the closet and pull out their “razzle-dazzle” wear. The event was held at the beautiful Lionscrest Manor, high atop Indian Lookout Road, with Spice of Life Caterers serving the vittles. This year, a live auction was added to the traditional silent variety, and the final take at the fundraising event ensured that the foundation will again be helping to improve the quality of life in this very giving little community. All told, LCF handed out 25 grants to various community organizations, totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000. Nice neighborhood. Congratulations and thanks LCF.
Two of the final events of the year that everyone looks forward to are the Christmas Parade, and the Holiday Bazaar. Both experienced a little change this year. Despite worry by the Parks & Rec. Department that parade entries were down this year, the townspeople stepped up at the last minute,and the parade was, quite frankly, as good or better than ever! With lots of lights, fire trucks, dancers, floats, fire blasts, and marching bands, it was a good time. Sgt. Kevin Parker “guess-timated” that the crowds seemed to be the biggest yet. And everyone seemed to understand the “wildfire danger” and the need to postpone the traditional post-parade fireworks.
Four dedicated Moms (Cassi Rosenkranz, Erin Maniscalco, Lynn Johan, and Arianne Powell) took over organization of the Holiday Bazaar, brought in dozens of new vendors, and pumped new life into the event. After all their hard work, they then presented the Lyons Golden Gang with a check for $2500, and the Lyons Historical Society with $500. Bravo ladies! Of course, you realize that the Bazaar is now “your baby” for the fore seeable future.
The Lyons Community Montessori School held their annual Earth Day Pageant in Sandstone Park, with the children, in full costume, putting on a short play and singing songs. The school also opened up a “toddler” program in the parsonage house next to the Lyons Community Church.
The students at Lyons Elementary ran their little hearts out at their annual Jog-A-Thon fundraiser in late September. The proceeds from which enabled the PTO to sponsor the book fair, field trips, and various educational assemblies such as the “Choose Your Life” program, which taught the children about bullying, and how to effectively deal with it. The kids also enjoyed field trips including a trip to the Denver Art Museum to take in the “Becoming Van Gogh” exhibit, as well as sending the entire fourth and fifth grades to Ameritowne in Denver. Prior to the latter field trip, the students applied and interviewed for jobs, held elections for Mayor, Judge, etc., and while at Ameritowne they got hands-on experience about running governments and businesses, received salaries, and spent their hard earned cash at stores and shops that were operated by their classmates. Speaking of learning how real life works, Logan and Isabel Gilbert learned the power of a petition, when they collected signatures to “Save Sloppy Joe,” their favorite school menu item.
With the help of the Lyons Fire District volunteers, the students learned during Fire Prevention Week how to “stop, drop, and roll,” how to give information to a 911 operator, got to experience being in a smoke filled room, and learned how to safely evacuate a burning building. Sadly, the students had to say good-bye to everyone’s favorite marimba teacher, when Mr. Wasowski took his Beatles sheet music and moved to Maine. He did hold a couple of marimba camps in Meadow Park over the summer as a final good-bye. Matt was replaced by Ben Lewis, who will continue to school the students in the finer points of marimba, but also secured a grant from the Lyons Community Foundation, to create a ukulele program at LES.
At the Lyons Middle School, the Student Activists continued to find ways to help the community and those in need and less fortunate than themselves. They staged a coat, hat, and glove drive, made decorative hats and blankets for children battling cancer, worked on environmental projects, and hosted fundraising chili and spaghetti dinners.
It was a banner year athletically at Lyons High School. Two wrestlers, Cameron Grossnickle and David Plute, competed at the State Championship in the Pepsi Center in, while the girls basketball team captured the District Championship. In track and field, the boys and girls ran faster, threw farther, and jumped higher than everyone else in Colorado, and both teams took home championship trophies at the 2A State Championships! They didn’t stop there; training hard all summer, when the fall cross-country season rolled around, so did the runners. The boys team took first place in the State 2A Championships, and with underclassmen Joel Such and Paul Roberts making major contributions to the team (Roberts was the Individual State Champion for 2A), the team looks to be a powerhouse for years to come. Meanwhile, the girls were edged out for the State Title (bringing home the silver) otherwise it would have been a historic “double-double” for the 2012 track & field and cross-country teams! The resounding success of the teams brought well-deserved Coach of the Year honors to Coach Mark Roberts. Speaking of Coaches, 2012 saw the dawning of a new era for the Lyons High School football team. Coach Brandon Wilkes took over the reins for John Nichols and had a pretty successful first season. The boys won all their home games (always fun for the spectators) and made it into the post-season play-offs before losing to eventual State Champion Buena Vista.
It wasn’t just athletics were the Lions excelled. Scholastically LHS was again recognized by US News & World Report as being in the top 5% of schools across the nation. According to data compiled by the state, LHS also had the highest CSAP scores of all the high schools in the St. Vrain Valley School District, and placed in the top ten of all public high schools in Colorado! Individually, a couple of students faired quite well too. Maddie Doering and Meagan Chriswell each earned a number of prizes and scholarship money for their hard .work, as well as the prestigious RBC Wealth Management Scholarship for Chriswell, and the Boettcher Foundation Scholarship for Doering. Officials at the school are also proud of the extracurricular participation from the student body. Earlier this year, the Lyons High School band was privileged to travel to Disney World in Florida, where they enjoyed the park, and got to perform. Nearly 85% of the students are involved with such after school activities as band, chorus, drama, robotics, and/or sports, showing that these kids are well rounded and involved. Art teacher Stephanie Busby also enjoyed a little after school activity. She was awarded an Eleanor Venture grant to take painting classes in the south of France over the summer. And of course the social and scholastic highlights for the Class of 2012 were prom and graduation!
Music always plays a big part of why Lyons is Lyons. For such a small town, it is nothing short of amazing the quality and broad array of music that is available without ever having to go to the “big city.” (Boulder or Denver). The free Thursday night concerts in Sandstone Park, sponsored by the Lyons Parks & Rec. Department, continue a “small town” summer tradition of being able to take the kids and the dog down to the village green for a picnic dinner while enjoying some good music. If classical and or avant garde music is more to your liking, MinTse Wu’s Sounds of Lyons music festival had world class musicians fly in from around the world to play at several venues around town, including a free children’s art/music project by the river in Bohn Park.
High Street Concerts, now in their tenth season, continue to sell out Rogers Hall with great shows. This year was no different with MilkDrive, Andy Hall, The Black Lillies, Betse Ellis, The Railsplitters, and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado.
The Wildflower Pavilion Fall/Spring Concert series at Planet Bluegrass continues to amaze with the talent that they schedule such as Grant Farm & Interstate Stash Express, Abigail Washburn, and Pert Near Sandstone. Many of the bands they book play the Main Stage at RockyGrass, Folk Fest, and Telluride. And when conditions permit, magic has been known to happen around a bonfire on the banks of the St. Vrain.
RockyGrass with its lineup of Who’s Who of the Bluegrass music world, and celebrating its 40th anniversary, sold out three-day tickets and camping passes in record time. Headliners included: Lonesome River Band, Trampled By Turtles, Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Bela Fleck, The Emmitt-Nershi Band, Peter Rowan & The Travelin’ McCourys, Seldom Seen, and Tim O’Brien & Friends. The week prior to the festival, town was filled with students eager to learn from the masters at RockyGrass Academy.
The RockyGrass lineup set the bar high, and the 22nd annual Folks Fest lineup card was equal to the task of measuring up. The entertainers brought in were: Amos Lee, Neko Case, Iron & Wine, Kasey Chambers, Justin Townes Earle, Darrell Scott, Peter Himmelman, Girlyman, Dawes, Elephant Revival, a tribute to Woody Guthrie featuring Steve Seskin & Friends, and to close the festival on Sunday night, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band, replete with black suits, white shirts, and thin black ties. They were hot.
This year, Planet Bluegrass went above and beyond. Not only did they have their traditional Mabon Festival to celebrate the end of summer and coming of autumn, but also this year, they threw in a special two-day concert (with camping) in August featuring the music of Yonder Mountain String Band.
The Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce handed out their second annual Spirit Award, given each year to a person or group “who seeking no reward other than the satisfaction of contributing to the community” makes Lyons a better place to live. This year the award went to Clark Hodge and Jeff Gagliardi, aka the Sketch-A-Paloonatics, for their efforts in organizing the “Sketch-A-Palooza” in the summer of 2011, which got Lyons into the Guinness World Book of records for most people Etch-A-Sketching at the same time.
Long time Lyons resident Rick Hammans and his family moved out of Lyons, which necessitated his resignation from the St. Vrain Valley School Board. Rick and his family will be missed.
The wildfires that plagued Colorado captured many of the headlines across the nation. Fortunately, Lyons other than some poor quality air days, didn’t suffer too badly. Though in late February, a storm with high winds blew down a transformer in Stone Canyon, which started a scary fire. Whipped by the high winds, it looked dicey for a while, and the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office ordered an evacuation of dozens of homes in the neighborhood. Most displaced families stayed with friends or relatives, but a few had to temporarily wait out the “all clear” in the Lyons High School gym. Fortunately, the fast response by the Lyons Fire District kept the fire from damaging any homes. But that didn’t stop the network news trucks from Denver from camping out at the bottom of Stone Canyon for a few tense hours.
Lyons own Sally Austin, the Michael Phelps of the kitchen, again swept dozens of first place and grand champion honors at the Boulder County Fair for her cookies, cakes, canned fruits and vegetables, jellies, and jams. She claims she will now retire from competition and leave it to her daughter-in-law to carry on the family tradition. We’ll see if the “competitive itch” doesn’t get to her come late spring and early summer.
After a wild night of carousing, a pair of young burros were spotted being led back to their rightful owner by crews from the Parks & Rec. Department. The recalcitrant party animals made quite a “mess” of the skate park where they spent the night sleeping it off.
The Lyons 12-year old and under baseball team swept their way to a championship in the Longmont Baseball League.
Several businesses in Lyons changed hands or relocated. Leading the “re-lo” derby was the medical marijuana dispensary Headquarters. They were forced by ordinance in January to move from their location on Main Street (across from Bank of the West) to the old Red Hill Motorcycle WERX building just east of town. That lasted a few months before the building was sold to Spirit Hounds Distillery. It looked for a while like Headquarters might move into the retail portion of Gwynn’s Nursery, but in the end, they settled into a space in the Lyons Village Central Plaza where they are today. Dave’s Diner moved a couple of blocks into the Outlaw Saloon building. Julie’s Thai Kitchen moved into the space that Dave’s used to occupy in the Lyons Village Central Plaza.
Also opening up in the Plaza is the drastically revamped and improved Lyons Dairy Bar under the steady management of Juli Waugh (former Town Trustee). They are about to celebrate their one-year anniversary in January. Congratulations! Local “Cable Guy” Rob Jones took over operation of the cable TV company, and is now running Lyons Communications. Monica McGuckin opened the Lyons Mercantile on Main Street in January, and by mid-summer was doing so well, her husband Ron was knocking out walls to expand the operation. Stillwater Healing Arts Center opened January in the Lyons Recorder’s old office on Third Avenue under the direction of husband and wife James and Dr. Sara Hart. Also in January, Valerie Combs opened the doors to the Corner Art Studio, giving local artist a place to exhibit their art and teach classes. In late June, Chuck Wing became the new owner of Lyons Automotive. Later in the summer, the owners of Carve moved their operation from a small shed at the Lyons Farmette to a space next door to the Upholstery Shop above Lyons Automotive. In August, a new shop specializing in high-end quilts opened up in Ferg’s Inn. Wanda’s Sipping Lounge located in the Lyons Village Central Plaza recently morphed into the Gear Spot, a consignment store for gently used sporting and outdoor equipment. The Soda Fountain on Main Street is under the new ownership of Patrick Reddick and his father-in-law, Steve Thompson. The previously mentioned Spirit Hounds (Wayne Anderson, Neil Sullivan, Matt Rooney, and Craig Engelhorn) celebrated the grand opening of Lyons first legal distillery in December. Their tasting room is now open, and they have bottles of gin, infused vodka, and Rick England’s Richardo’s Coffee Liqueur for sale. The whiskey will take a couple of years to age in the oak barrels. Also in December, new Lyons residents Nathanael and Kylie Romig, bought the CrossFit gym at the bottom of Stone Canyon, and totally renovated and upgraded the facility.
Priscilla Cohan and Cathy Rivers and their band of dedicated volunteers continue their work to turn the old clarifier structure next to the Black Bear Hole pedestrian bridge into a spectacular mosaic work of art. If you haven’t checked it out, you should stroll by.
To blatantly borrow and paraphrase a line from a popular NPR weekend radio show, “that’s the news from lovely Lyons, where all the men are good looking, the women are strong, and the children are well above average.” If I left anything or anyone out, it was inadvertent, and without malice. I hope you enjoyed looking back on 2012, and Lora and I wish you the very best in the New Year.