Mile-High Headlines for Friday, November 28

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Shop Talk
More than 1,580 Thanksgiving meals were served and five tons of clothes given out at Jackson’s Hole Sports Grill on Thursday, according to The Denver Post, just one of many large-scale efforts meant to lend a helping hand at a time when more people are asking for one. Alan Briggs, who leads Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, is trying to convince kids in his city to give up two Christmas presents this year and donate the money to helping the needy, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Meanwhile, Dana Parsons at the Los Angeles Times feels guilty about not shopping today. Sure, he’s cheap and doesn’t like to shop, but he knows the economy could really benefit from a few of his spending dollars this year–although it seems he won’t rise to his own challenge. People like him are up against tempting, door-busting sales, which began early, according to the Rocky Mountain News, “flooding” metro-area retail chains this morning with local shoppers, as both The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News reveal.

Slope Slump?
As of Thanksgiving, 11 Colorado ski resorts were open, but hopes for a strong season–at least at some resorts–seem to be fading. Yesterday saw some crowds, but they had little terrain to ski because of the lack of snow, according to CBS4. And forecaster Rick Bly hesitates to predict a powderific year. Add economic concerns, including layoffs announced at some resorts, and the picture is a bit dismal. But not at Aspen, where The Aspen Times notes that “it’s refreshing to see the Aspen Skiing Co. staffing up as it would in a normal year, and encouraging all Aspen business owners to put on their friendliest face despite what could be an economically disappointing winter.” Aspen won’t skimp on service or heavily discount in order to retain its “prominent” position among resorts. But most resorts are prone to offer discounts, and the “further into the season we go, the better those deals could be,” according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, World Cup ski champ Lindsey Vonn is expected to compete in Aspen this weekend despite a training crash last week–her only chance to enjoy the home slope advantage, according to Reuters.

State Business
Governor Bill Ritter and a delegation of business leaders have returned from their 10-day trip to Japan and China, a journey Ritter called a “huge success” during a press conference at his Capitol office earlier this week. But the governor came back empty-handed, reporting no major business deals–at least not “as of yet,” according to the Denver Business Journal. The trip cost $190,000–about $70,000 of it coming from state coffers–and has its critics, like state Representative Frank McNulty, a Highlands Ranch Republican. He says the governor should have focused on helping Colorado businesses instead of taking the trip, specifically calling for breaks for the oil-and-gas industry, according to The Denver Post. But the governor says he was hoping to get the Asian nations interested in investing in an economic triad: Renewable energy, bioscience, and tourism. China is the third largest market for Colorado exports, following Canada and Mexico, and Japan is the fourth largest, according to 9News, which reports the “most tangible and immediate” result of the trip is that All Nippon Airways will now research the idea of flying into Denver International Airport by 2010.

Lethal Challenge
Fifteen years ago, Nathan Dunlap shot four people dead at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora. Now, after he has exhausted his appeals in the state of Colorado, a federal judge, who held a brief hearing earlier this week, will consider a constitutional challenge to his death-penalty conviction, according to The Denver Post. A judge will also consider the stiffer sentence Dunlap received for a separate robbery-kidnapping at a Burger King in 1993. Dunlap’s counsel argues that his defense was ineffective because, at the time of his trial, not enough evidence was presented to show that he was abused as a kid and suffered mental-health problems. 5280’s Patrick Doyle and Natasha Gardner look at Dunlap’s case this month in “The Politics of Killing.”

Springs Church Raided
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 20 Colorado Springs police officers cordoned off the area around one of the city’s grandest old churches, Grace Church & St. Stephen’s, according to The Gazette. Inside, detectives raided offices, seizing financial records and computers. Meanwhile, Rev. Donald Armstrong, the church rector who last year rallied the congregation to sever its ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church, “wandered the sidewalk” with a copy of the warrant in his hand. Police were looking for records that could indicate Armstrong embezzled as much as $400,000 from the church before aligning it with Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a mission established by the Anglican Communion‘s Nigerian province for Episcopalian exiles. The Episcopal diocese in Denver concluded in a defrocking hearing last year that Armstrong stole the funds. “This investigation is predicated from the diocese. The investigation was prompted by that,” police Lt. David Whitlock tells 11 News. Meanwhile, the former members of Grace who did not cut ties with the Episcopalian faith are waiting for a trial in February. They’re hoping to win back their church.

Denver an Olympic City?
In 1976, Denver became the only city ever to decide it didn’t want to host the Olympics. Voters rejected the idea because of the games’ potentially negative impact on the environment. And there were financial concerns. But now Governor Bill Ritter is positioning Denver for a second chance and a possible bid on the 2018 Winter Games, according to The Associated Press (via the Rocky Mountain News). The reality hinges on whether Chicago lands the 2016 Summer Games. If it does, the U.S. Olympic Committee will not bid for games again until 2022.

Buffs Bust
If you count the University of Colorado’s inexperience, its 10 season-ending injuries, three academic disqualifications, and offensive problems, you may conclude, as The Denver Post does, that a “football season full of hope turned into disappointment, if not disaster.” The team, which has a 5-6 record (2-5 in the Big 12), could be put out of its misery today as it faces 7-4 (4-3 in the Big 12) Nebraska. Without an upset, the Buffs’ shot at the Insight Bowl or Independence Bowl are dashed.

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