Featured Business: The Chocolate Therapist

chocolate-therapist

By Carol Fey

The Chocolate Therapist, located at 2560 W Main St. in downtown Littleton is a wonderful chocolate store. But it’s also the home of chocolate pairings classes—with wine, with whiskey, with beer, with tea. If you are looking for a special gift, try giving the big adventure of chocolate. The store will even make suggestions of which chocolate bars go with which wines.

The store’s name is the same as a book written by founder, Julie Pech. Pech, a professional nutrition educator, published The Chocolate Therapist: A User’s Guide to the Extraordinary Benefits of Chocolate. She soon became a speaker on radio and TV, and a guest lecturer on cruise ships. Once that was going, she needed her own chocolate. In 2008, in the midst of the economic downturn, she opened The Chocolate Therapist store. At the time her daughter and son, now college students and still involved with the store, were young. They grew up in the business.

The store employs 14 people and is looking to expand.

Pech describes has chocolate as “an extraordinary product at a decent price.” That means it has to be what Pech calls “clean”–the right blend of perfect ingredients: organic flavoring oils, local nuts, without excess sugar or anything artificial. Discovering the ideal blend is like bringing together the right people.

When asked her favorite products, Pech named two:
– The peanut butter meltaway is dark chocolate, natural peanut butter, and Maldon sea salt. Pech say that she and her staff blind-test many different products to discover the right blend—including the salt. Yes, even the type of salt makes a difference.
– The superhero bar is 72% dark chocolate with tart dried cherries and almonds.

A good deal of The Chocolate Therapist’s business is from the website www.chocolatetherapist.com. They ship all over the country. But if you’re local, just drop in to find a perfect gift or to treat yourself. Use the coupon below by Dec 31 to save 40%!

ctcoupon

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Littleton City Council Repeals Three of Four Urban Renewal Plans

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Months after councilman Jerry Valdes asked staff how they could “unwind” urban renewal, council finally voted. The urban renewal board (known as LIFT, which stands for Littleton Invests for Tomorrow) is on life support with only one plan left to implement, Columbine Square. The Santa Fe, Littleton Blvd., and North Broadway urban renewal plans were repealed after being approved almost two years ago. No projects for those areas had been put in place.

A number of citizens attended the meeting to voice their support for the repeal of the three plans and abolishment of LIFT. Only a handful of citizens were opposed to the repeal. Concerns about Resolution 88 and subsidizing developers were among the primary reasons for supporting the repeal of the three plans.

Resolution 88 was passed by the city council in Sept. 2014. It provides each of the taxing entities impacted by the tax increment financing (TIF) scheme with veto power of urban renewal projects. Arapahoe County, from the very beginning, expressed their opposition to all four plans, which would, per Resolution 88, render the projects without the ability to be moved forward for lack of the County’s “full support and approval.” At one point the three councilmembers that were in favor of retaining all the urban renewal plans, chose to utter unkind words about the County’s position as if they had forgotten that they had actually given the County the veto power for any project.

But the most easily understood reason for repealing the plans is that citizens do not favor diverting tax dollars away from the schools, parks and county for the next 25 years to subsidize development. This was a real point of contention for Jerry Valdes who asked more than once about why the tax dollars had been diverted when the council had been told that there would be none taken from the taxing entities. He never got an answer to this question.

Doug Clark, Peggy Cole, Bruce Beckman and Jerry Valdes voted to repeal the three plans. Debbie Brinkman, Phil Cernanec and Bill Hopping voted to keep them.

After the three plans were repealed, the next item of business was to abolish LIFT. If LIFT had been abolished it would have automatically repealed the Columbine Square urban renewal plan. Several citizens spoke about the disregard for the community displayed by the owner of Columbine Square Shopping Center, Carl Chang. He has allowed the property to fall in disrepair after forcing his tenants out by not renewing their leases. He now wants to use our tax dollars to redevelop the 15-acre site. Citizens are not happy with him or the loss of tax revenue to Littleton.

Mr. Chang spoke to the council and audience, saying he was sorry for the state of his property. He provided a little history and stated that he did not want to use urban renewal, but needed money to add public amenities.

When the vote was taken as to whether or not to abolish all the urban renewal board (LIFT), Jerry Valdes voted with Debbie Brinkman, Phil Cernanec and Bill Hopping to keep it alive.

Now LIFT has some work to do. With the abolishment of three of the four urban renewal plans, thousands of tax dollars need to be returned to the rightful taxing entities. Debt needs to be paid back to the Littleton taxpayers.

City Council also has some work to do. We hope they will take some time, in the near future, to discuss just how they will implement Resolution 88. Now is the time to do that – not when a project comes forward.

Have Fun at Littleton’s Citizens’ Police Academy!

Want to drive police car with the lights on? Shoot at criminals in a training simulation? Meet a police dog? How about a ride along with a patrol officer or listen in on 911 calls?

You can do all of these things and more at the Littleton Citizens’ Police Academy. It’s free. The spring session starts March 9. The course is 10 weeks of classes, 6:00-9:30—dinner included–plus a graduation event.

The only requirements are that you fill out an application form, be 16 years or older, live or work within the Littleton city limits, or belong to a city-wide service club or organization, and pass the police department’s background check. Fill out that form soon because the course fills up. Find that and more info at littletongov.org/city-services/city-departments/police-department/programs-services/citizen-academy.
Instructors are Littleton police officers and civilian staff members.

Art of Civility

By Sherrie Chism

The Oxford dictionary defines civility as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.”  Originally it is derived from the Latin word “civilitas” and in early use the term represented the state of being a citizen, good citizenship or respectful behavior.

It has been noted at recent city council meetings that certain council members are having a difficult time with the art of civility.  People are passionate about what and how they feel but doesn’t it degrade the message if it’s delivered with put downs, innuendos and just plain bad behavior?   Can we still be polite and respectful even if we strongly disagree about an issue?  The answer to that should be yes.

I believe we have a responsibility to point out situations where elected officials are behaving in a non-professional or degrading fashion but may I offer an additional thought in that we must also lead by example.  It seems that in today’s day and age many people have forgotten how to conduct themselves in a polite and courteous manner and if we must point it out when it occurs, then isn’t that part of being a good citizen?

Cernanec Changes His Position on Urban Renewal Depending on the Office He’s Running For

Council member Phil Cernanec has flip-flopped in the last few months about whether or not urban renewal is good for Littleton.  It seems to depend upon whether or not he’s running for office.Cernanec had been in favor of urban renewal until—still on city council but running for county commissioner—he changed his mind for a few months.  In his campaign literature while running for county commissioner, Cernanec said, “FACT:  Littleton City Council has asked staff to research and provide the steps necessary to withdraw current Urban Renewal plans and disband LIFT (Littleton’s Urban Renewal Authority) since its use in Littleton is now impractical.”

When Cernanec lost the county commissioner election on June 28, 2016, he reverted to being a city council member.  He suddenly once again supported urban renewal—and its taking taxes that citizens intended for schools and parks.

Back to being a city council member, Cernanec voted on Dec 6, 2016 to keep urban renewal and all four of the urban renewal plans.  See the story in this issue about city council’s repeal of three of the four urban renewal plans.

Cool Gardening Ideas: Bee Serious

By Betty Harris

Those of us who get the creeps when a bug gets on us, those of us who are allergic to wasps (which most people mistake for bees) and those who just hate bugs in general may be unintentionally causing some serious issues for bees in particular and insects in general.

How to get over our “creeps” about insects is not my main focus here. What we need to think of is how our attitudes towards insects in general can be detrimental to our own survival. For a long time I’ve been of the opinion (right or wrong) that everything connects and breaking some of these connections can be detrimental to all living things.

What we do know is that about 40% of all the food we currently eat depends on pollinators. These pollinators are various forms of flying insects. For a few years I grew Crowder Peas and am still trying to find the actual variety that my family grew one year that I truly thought was worth putting in my mouth. The variety they did grow was not my favorite and they didn’t grow the one I liked because it made a small pea and was more difficult to shell. In my opinion it was the only one worth eating and most of the rest of my life I’ve avoided those other varieties. What I learned when I grew these Crowder Peas a couple of years back was that for these to produce well they needed a pollinator…unfortunately these appeared to be wasps and yellow jackets (wasps) which didn’t bother me unless I made the mistake of picking the peas when the wasps were active. So thinking about bees I got to researching to see what foods we commonly grow need what kind of pollinators.

Some plants seem to need different kinds of pollinators, some honey bees, some bumble bees and lots of them use native bees that we don’t usually have names for and mostly don’t notice.

How does this effect us, if at all? Farming feeds the world for sure but most of us think of gardening in a different light than farming. This is probably because we think of what we do as fun food formats and not survival. Farming sounds more serious and it is serious business that grows plants for food for animals and humans as well as for fuel. It is also the attitude of agribusiness toward chemicals and insect and weed pests that fuels that 70% of pollution that poisons our water and air. But learning more about insects and food is important for human survival too.

“In their 1996 book, The Forgotten Pollinators, Buchmann and Nabhan estimated that animal pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops. Each of us depends on these industrious pollinators in a practical way to provide us with the wide range of foods we eat. In addition, pollinators are part of the intricate web that supports the biological diversity in natural ecosystems that helps sustain our quality of life.” Source quoted from: http://www.pollinator.org/PDFs/ColoradoPlateau.rx2.pdf

It seems that stuff we plant in our gardens… squash, pumpkins, melons need honey bees for pollination. However, tomatoes and corn are wind pollinated. An aside: I don’t grow corn because I’m not particularly interested in feeding the raccoons and squirrels.

Some plants we grow do not need pollinators at all unless we decide to collect seeds… in that grouping are most all greens, kale, broccoli and cabbages, lettuces, Swiss chard, onions, carrots and radishes. So depending on what you are trying to grow for food in your back yard then honeybees might not be important to you.

So why worry about bees? If you eat animals they normally eat alfalfa which needs honeybees. If you eat fruit these need honeybees. Then there are nuts like almonds which require honeybees and other insects.. Maybe this isn’t important for us because we can’t grow them here but the honeybees that are used are hauled in by huge trucks and unloaded and left during the flowering season and then moved elsewhere. If in the environment they are affected by chemicals that interfere with their survival and masses of them die then there will not be hives to move to the almond groves in the future.

This is only a miniscule amount of info on the importance of honeybees and even native bees but we need to understand that like the chaos theory small changes in one area can have massive impacts in others.

With this in mind we can make our world beautiful by planting flowers in our yards that help feed the bees a variety of “foods” that help them survive. Doing so improves our lives and helps all kinds of bees survive. So when you are planning the landscaping of your yard, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to design, think seriously about including flowering plants that bloom at various times during the warmer months to provide food bee and insect food. Plan accordingly. Grow more perennials and fewer annuals (which have been bred for color more than anything else and may provide very little pollen or nectar for bee food).

Since I went back to gardening in 2010 I’ve learned a great deal by experimenting with various plants. For early bloom I’m crazy about grape hyacinths (even with their great tendency to spread everywhere), crocus and tulips. I grow iris for me because I’m passionate about them, regardless of insects or bees needs. But I grow masses of daisies, penstemon, salvias, coreopsis, nautica, penstemons, autumn asters, thyme, veronica, jupiter’s beard, blanket flowers, phlox, blue mist spirea and marigolds (yes, one annual flower because it seems to be the last to get frost bitten). Mostly from April to November there is something blooming for the bees. Each year I evaluate which are doing best. I also deadhead anything that I know I can get to bloom again and thus keep a steady supply of beauty for me and the neighborhood and the bees.

So bee serious about this. Understand how things in the universe connect and how they are important to life on this planet because if there is a planet B, the people with the money aren’t taking us with them.

Bee Serious in trying to save those parts of life on this planet that are responsible for our survival.