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Panorama: Troubled Waters

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Mile-High Headlines for Thursday, November 13

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Rough Times for Crocs
It wasn’t long ago that Crocs, the Niwot company that manufactures those rubbery, clog-like shoes, was a homegrown international success story. Doctors, cooks, kids–everyone seemed to be wearing them, despite the fashion warnings. But these days, Reuters writes, Crocs is a “former Wall Street darling.” Shares in the company hit a lifetime high in October 2007, selling at $75.21 on Nasdaq. But at closing yesterday, shares had lost 97 percent of their value and were selling at just $1.90. The shoes, it turns out, might be trendy, but tastes are changing at the same time that the economy is weakened. Add that to the internal troubles that cropped up with Crocs’ founders, as reported in June by 5280. The Denver Business Journal notes the company lost $148 million in the third quarter as retail sales slowed in the United States and Europe. Crocs will close a plant in Brazil and consolidate distribution centers. Earlier this year, the company also closed a plant in Canada and laid off workers.

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Ted Haggard Returns
Just hours after a story hit that Ted Haggard was preaching again and claimed he was abused as a child, his website, TedHaggard.com, was taken down to be “rebuilt.” It had contained audio of his remarks, which ABC’s “Good Morning America” posted on its own site here.Haggard, the former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs whoquit two years ago amid a male prostitution and drugs scandal, said hissuccessful father had a lot of workers, and “One of those workers had asexual experience with me. I was seven years old.” Haggard’s commentswere made from a church in Illinois, where he also said the controversysurrounding his downfall, including his resignation as president of theNational Association of Evangelicals, was a missed opportunity to”communicate the gospel worldwide though the secular media…,”according to Christianity Today.Several church leaders in Colorado Springs with “ties to the disgraced”Haggard say Haggard is not spiritually or ethically ready to bepreaching, according to The Gazette.

Failing Grade for Premature Births
To try to put a positive spin on the failing “D” Colorado gets for its high premature birth rate: At least we’re like most other states. The nation overall gets the same deplorable letter grade in the March of Dimes’ first annual Premature Birth Report Card. No state earned an “A,” and just one–Vermont–received a “B,” according to The Washington Post. Michelle Sanders of Boulder, an honorary spokeswoman for the March of Dimes’ prematurity awareness month, developed a condition that caused her blood pressure to spike, leading her doctors to deliver her twin girls at just 30 weeks. One of the girls died, according to 9News, and Sanders wants to issue a warning to women to watch their health during pregnancy. The causes of premature birth are myriad and complex. A couple issues, though, stand out. The report notes that one in five women of childbearing age in Colorado don’t have health insurance and one in five smoke–both problematic for pregnancies.

Bones Under Cheesman Park
If you’ve ever been on one of those local tours of scary places, you know Cheesman and Congress parks, in east Denver, used to be one massive graveyard for the city’s initial dwellers, a place built on an Arapaho Indian burial ground following General William Larimer’s acquisition of the land in 1858. But Denver grew quickly, and starting with Cheesman, in 1893 the city decided the headstones and caskets would have to be moved elsewhere. While the headstones disappeared, some caskets remained quietly underground, as a construction crew building a parking garage at the nearby Denver Botanic Gardens recently discovered, according to The Associated Press. The caskets have been ravaged over the years, with many bones missing. The city’s chief deputy coroner has been unable to determine to whom the remains belong and might bury them at Mount Olivet Cemetery, according to 9News.

Blinky’s Antique Store Closes
For more than 30 years, Blinky the Clown, a.k.a. Russell Scott, entertained Colorado children on “Blinky’s Fun Club.” When KWGN-Channel 2 canceled the show in 1998, Scott remained in the public spotlight via his store, Blinky’s Antiques and Collectibles on South Broadway at Iowa Avenue, a fixture in the area for 22 years. Now the store is closed, and the items inside are going to auction, according to 9News. Scott, 87, often sitting outside in recent months with an oxygen tank, says his health is good but the economy is tight. Besides, he wants to paint birdhouses. In this Denver Post article, Scott’s cohorts on the old show recall some of the good times. Michael Berg, who performed as Otis, remembers Blinky’s fantastic comic timing. Blinky’s trademark, of course, was the stilted way he’d sing the “Happy Birth-a-day” song. I couldn’t find video of that, but here’s a tribute on YouTube. Merchandise at Blinky’s Antiques and Collectibles will be auctioned at Corbett’s Auction House on Sunday, November 23 at 11 a.m. There will be a preview the day before.

Avs Quick on the Draw
Peter Budaj, the Avalanche goaltender who started the season in shaky fashion, deserves to be compared to Roberto Luongo, one of professional hockey’s best. Budaj stopped 31 shots in a game that went into overtime and then two of the three shots he faced in the shootout, according to the Rocky Mountain News. His efforts propelled the Avs to a 2-1 win against Luongo’s Canucks in Vancouver.

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Audiodose: Those tasty but quirky beers from craft brewers are more than an experiment. It turns out the industry is an important economic sector. That’s according to Northern Colorado Business Report editor Tom Hacker, who speaks with KUNC radio about the state’s “Napa Valley of beer.”

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $1.82, Pecos Sun Mart, 7170 Pecos St. (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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