Jefferson County's 2020 year in review

Posted 12/31/20

Well, what can we say? 2020 will surely be a year no Jeffco resident who lived through it will soon forget — no matter how much we might want to. So, before we (finally) say good riddance, lets …

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Jefferson County's 2020 year in review

Posted

Well, what can we say? 2020 will surely be a year no Jeffco resident who lived through it will soon forget — no matter how much we might want to. So, before we (finally) say good riddance, lets take one last look back at the events that defined one of the most wild, and difficult, years the county has ever seen.

Now hand over a party horn and bring on 2021, a year which we hope will be memorable for some altogether different — and more positive — reasons. Because if there is one thing 2020 has taken from us, it’s our hope for better times ahead.

Fairgrounds saved from budget-cut closure

When Jeffco county manager Don Davis announced on Jan. 21 that the county was considering closing the county fairgrounds in Golden as a result of budget cuts, the outcry from kids and parents who have been involved in activities at the fairgrounds was swift. However, that community got some good news on Feb. 25 when the commissioners reached an agreement to direct county staff to pursue options for the fairgrounds that would preserve the space for agricultural and equine activities for kids while eliminating buildings and costs that do not directly support that purpose.

Jeffco sees first case of COVID-19

It was impossible to know just how much COVID-19 would come to define the county’s year on March 10, when county health officials announced that a man in his 50s had become the first in the county to test positive for the virus. Since then, Jeffco has seen over 27,000 more cases of the virus (as of Dec. 18). Nearly 600 people in the county have died from the virus.

Remote learning blues

Jeffco Public School students left for Spring Break, and never did go back to their classrooms this year. The start of the new school year was delayed two weeks, and even then, weeks of remote orientation, hybrid schedules and frequent COVID-19 quarantines kept disrupting classes. The public school district was forced to move to a 100% remote approach again this December, and the return to some semblance of in-person learning this January is very much contingent on community health figures improving.

What remote learning innovations, and new student skill-sets might emerge during this tumultuous period? How bad will all this disrupted learning be for this generation?

Bandimere Battle

Face masks were rare and MAGA hats and red, white and blue were plentiful on Sept. 1 at Bandimere Speedway as a crowd descended on the race track to protest what organizers called “unconstitutional Public Health Orders and Executive Orders.”

The event, promoted by the speedway as the “Stop the COVID Chaos” rally, put the track back into the spotlight it has occupied for much of the summer as it held a July 4 event in violation of Public Health Orders and later faced off against Jefferson County Public Health in court over health orders. Since then, the speedway has remained a flashpoint for opposition to county and state public health orders.

Lucky fire season

While many areas of the state were devastated by wildfire, Jefferson County remained mostly unscathed from the 2020 fire season. This was lucky, because the chance of a catastrophic fire here is high.

In fact, according to a count wildfire task force, the Evergreen and Conifer areas are currently the worst spots in the state in terms of wildfire risk. In fact, the areas rank in the top 10 for potential disaster, according to a national insurance analysis.

The task force has risk-reduction ideas, but both the time and money to avert the worst of the danger are in short supply.

Black Lives Matter

Peaceful protests against police brutality and in favor of racial justice within law enforcement sprang up across the county. Organized groups in places like Arvada, Lakewood and Golden pushed for systemic change.

In contrast to the repeated violent clashes between police and protesters, and vandalism in downtown Denver, the suburban events were never so contentious.

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