Happy trails to Tustin Amole

“Tustin and I are proof that you can be on different sides of the political spectrum and remain close friends. However, I still remember the shock in her voice when she said, ‘You voted for Bill Owens?'”

Five former staffers for the Rocky Mountain News gathered this week to pay tribute to Tustin Amole. After she left the Rocky, Tustin became spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District, a job she is retiring from this month. Left to right: Kim Young, Deb Goeken, Amole, Tonia Twichell and Lynn Bartels.

My very good friend Tustin Amole retires at the end of this month as the spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District.

Gene Amole.

I was touched that the district asked me to speak at her going-away party Wednesday night, where the three superintendents she has worked for gushed about Tustin — and deservedly so.

As I said in a Facebook item I posted after the party, her late father, the famed columnist Gene Amole, must be busting his buttons in heaven.

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Secretary Williams to present award to Ouray High School

Evan Vann, a junior at Ouray High School, helped his school receive an award for voter registration.

When Evan Vann approached his fellow students at Ouray High School and asked if they wanted to preregister to vote, he got some lukewarm receptions.

“A few them said they really had no interest,” Vann recalled. “One of them told me, ‘I really don’t plan on voting — ever.'”

But Evan persisted, which is why Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Saturday will present the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Ouray High School for its outstanding voter registration efforts. The award is given to schools where more than 85 percent of eligible seniors are registered to vote.

The presentation will be made at Ouray’s senior high school banquet. Vann, a junior, will be present.

Colorado is one of 11 states that allows residents as young as 16 to preregister to vote. The group Inspire Colorado has been working around the state to make it happen.

“Achieving the award at a smaller school is an impressive feat,” said Inspire Colorado’s Ryan Drysdale. “At Ouray, Evan and his teachers had to register nearly a dozen seniors in order to reach 85 percent.”

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2017 Go Code challenge winners focus on water, noise and farmers

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Andrew Cole, the program manager for Go Code Colorado, which held its final competition Wednesday night. (SOS photo)

Wednesday marked the end of another successful year for Go Code Colorado, a statewide business app challenge housed in Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office.

After months of preparing, the top 10 teams gave their final pitches to a panel of judges. A member from each team spent five minutes explaining their app idea, followed by a three-minute question-and-answer period.

“I don’t know if this is uniquely Colorado, but it’s the best of Colorado,” Andrew Cole, program manager for Go Code, said after Secretary Williams announced the three winning teams.

The Seawell ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts filled with cheers from the winning team members and their friends and families, and some groans from those who made it as far as the finale but did not win. Some vowed to return next year.

The three teams — Drip, Hud Buddy and Magpie Supply — will each receive $25,000 contract from the state and a sponsor incentive package.

“I continue to be impressed by the creativity and collaboration of the Go Code Colorado teams,” Secretary Williams said. “Teams continue to show the value of public data if we can get it into the hands of innovative and entrepreneurial people who have a different perspective on how to use it.”

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Peak to Peak High School receives award for voter registration effort

Robin Peterson, a junior at Peak to Peak High School, is flanked by Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, left, and Ryan Drysdale, Inspire Colorado’s program coordinator.

Another Colorado high school received top honors for voter registration.

Peak to Peak charter school students in Lafayette were the recipients of the Eliza Pickrell Routt award presented by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Robin Peterson, a junior at Peak to Peak, worked with Ryan Drysdale, the program coordinator for Inspire Colorado, and the school’s English teachers to register 85 percent of the senior class and a majority of the junior class. Principal Kyle Mathews praised Robin’s efforts in getting her peers registered to vote.

“She really had her boots on the ground with this,” he said. “She is very civically engaged and brought that political passion to our campus.”

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert made the trip to Boulder County in the middle of Colorado’s spring snowstorm to present the award to P2P’s juniors and seniors.

“Congratulations to you. This is what democracy is about, being engaged and making a difference in your community,” she said.

The award is named after Eliza Pickrell Routt, wife of Colorado’s first governor, John Long Routt, after whom Routt County is named. She was the first woman to register to vote in Colorado.

Kit Carson and Eads high schools also received the same honor this month. Ouray High School students will be awarded it on Saturday. Last year, Yuma and Eaglecrest high schools were the first recipients of this award.

Colorado youth making an effort in voter registration

Secretary Wayne Williams with Kit Carson High School seniors Jaxon Crawford, left, and Bradley Johnson, right, who registered students to vote at Kit Carson and Eads high schools.

Check out the video from Secretary Williams’ day on the eastern plains here.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams shared his high school experience when honoring two Colorado high schools on Wednesday for its effort in registering juniors and seniors to vote.

Students Bradley Johnson (back left) and Jaxon Crawford (back right) look on as Secretary Williams presents the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Eads High School administrators Dawn James (right), Glenn Smith (center), and Betsy Barnett (left).

Students at Eads and Kit Carson high schools were winners of the Eliza Pickrell Routt Award for Outstanding Voter Registration Efforts from the Secretary of State’s office.

Williams told a story he often tells to groups of young people. His high school in Virginia didn’t have a graduating class in 1959 because the town leaders closed the school rather than follow orders to integrate it.

Twenty years later when Williams attended Warren County High School, the leadership hadn’t improved much.

“I moved there and didn’t like the way the leadership was going so I got involved and I was 16 years old. I got all my friends from the high school and we stood outside all the polling places and we completely changed the leadership for that county for the first time in 100 years,” he said.

“So you can have an impact, even without having the ability to vote.”

Kit Carson seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson worked with the group Inspire Colorado to register 100 percent of the senior class at Kit Carson High.

Secretary Wayne Williams with Kiowa County Clerk and Recorder Delisa Weeks at Eads High School.

Not only did Jaxon and Bradley make the effort at their school, but they went to their rival high school, Eads, to get the juniors and seniors there to register.

“I think that all of us adults can learn a little bit about that bipartisan spirit, that we can engage with the people we compete with,” Ryan Drysdale, Inspire Colorado’s program coordinator said.

The award is named after Eliza Pickrell Routt, wife of Gov. John Long Routt after whom Routt County is named. She was the first woman to register to vote in Colorado.

Ouray High School in Ouray and Peak to Peak High School in Lafayette will receive the same honors later this month. Last year, Yuma High School and Eaglecrest High School were the recipients of this award.

To win, 85 percent or more of eligible students must be registered to vote.

Williams also praised the county clerks that serve those two high schools, saying,  “Their purpose really is to try to make it easy for you to participate in the process and that’s what we try to do, but we need you to step up and make those decisions.”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Pat Daugherty, Cheyenne County clerk and recorder, at Kit Carson High School.

Pat Daugherty, Cheyenne county clerk and recorder, spoke briefly to Kit Carson students about her office and how grateful she is for the help she receives from various students and teachers on field trips.

“It’s as hard as showing up and letting somebody know you want to get involved,” she joked. “We gladly accept youth judges in the elections.”

Williams left the seniors with praise for their accomplishments and advice as they set off to their next chapter.

“Take that effort you’ve made and keep going with it as you head off into the world.”