Conspiracies From the Past

FRCC is not without its own set of mysteries. Let us explore one mystory pulled from the past archives by Seth Ciancio. (All transcriptions are printed as is)

Volume 12, Number 4 February 1st 1999

Hidden Camera Found

In a scenario that still mystifies the staff, The Front Page student newspaper office at the Westminster campus appears to have been secretly set up for video surveillance – or used in a clever hoax by a disgruntled former college employee. 

A time lapse camera and recorder were discovered in the office ceiling November 18, 1998. Since then, after several interviews with key personnel at Front Range Community College and an ongoing investigation by the Westminster police- plus a private investigator hired by the college- there are still many unanswered questions. 

On November 17, The Front Page received an anonymous letter warning that surveillance cameras had been used in the past at FRCC, and specifically one in The Front Page office. The letter appeared to be some sort of confession by a former employee of FRCC. The writer explained why a camera was placed in the office, expressed remorse and apologized to The Front Page staff. According to The Front Page policy, the letter could not be printed because it was not signed. 

After the staff read the letter, one member noticed an acoustical ceiling tile slightly askew from its grid. When he removed the tile, the ceiling revealed its secret- a video surveillance set-up. The surveillance camera and videocassette recorder were found and removed by the newspaper staff. The camera was not hooked up to the VCR, nor was the VCR plugged in. The power cord was hanging down the wall near an electrical outlet. A video tape, marked “Public Safety , #1” was in the VCR, but the tape was blank. A note, taped to the top of the VCR was written on a page from a desk-top calendar, dated Thursday, March 5, 1998. It said, “Put Back. (Expletive.) We Need One Camera.” 

The anonymous letter further indicated that cameras were hidden to catch people or departments with which campus security allegedly had experienced problems. The letter also said The Front Page had published an article that made derogatory remarks about campus security. 

Specifically, the article referred to a theft that had occurred in the FRCC west parking lot on January 27, 1998. The article appeared in the February 1998 edition of The Front Page. It gave examples of how security allegedly used cameras to catch posible thieves at FRCC. According to the author of the letter, students deserved an apology for any surveillance of The Front Page staff. Because the letter came without a signature, the staff admits its (page break) validity is left open to doubt. Simply addressed “Dear Front Range Newspaper,” the letter shows some knowledge of the procedures at FRCC. The use of surveillance cameras to combat theft is a fairly standard and legal practice in many public and private facilities. However, the legality of secretly using surveillance equipment on employees is questionable. 

The Front Page adviser Mark Shaw reported the incident to FRCC administration on November 23, five days after it occurred. However, it was two weeks before the administration authorized a police investigation. The Monday following its discovery, Shaw informed FRCC Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Rizzuto that a surveillance camera had been found in The Front Page office. Rizzuto said he was “shocked…l wanted to find out why.” 

On December 3, Westminster police arrived at the newspaper office to take a report and seize the equipment. The two officers said the case was being treated as a theft because the

head of campus security, George Smith, indicated that the equipment had been stolen from his office several months before. According to police, this theft was never reported. 

That night, police notified Smith of the developments. When the officers asked him about the camera, Smith said, “That disappeared six months ago.” Later, when asked to verify ownership, Smith said that he could do so not because it was “so old,” but he said “that looks like our equipment.” Smith told police, ‘That’s the one that was stolen,” and went on to say that public safety no longer has any surveillance equipment. 

However, Bill McCracken, current head of facilities at FRCC, retains the only two surveillance cameras locked up as ordered by Vice President Michele Haney. Before McCracken assumed the position of facilities director in March of 1998, he said that a surveillance camera and VCR had been stolen from the college. He said that surveillance equipment had been utilized in “strategic locations to monitor activities” because there was a high incidence of theft around the school at the time. 

When questioned about the authorization of surveillance equipment, McCracken said, “I personally do not put cameras anywhere; that has to come from the vice president.” McCracken, when told that a stolen property report had never been filed with the Westminster Police Department for the camera setup, said he did not know why. 

Mike Redmond, director of facilities at FRCC until December 16, 1997, confirmed that some theft had been occurring at FRCC during his tenure. According to Redmond, his administration purchased and had been using surveillance equipment since 1996. Cameras were used to catch thieves at the change and soda machines as well as the tool and equipment sheds in the rear of the school. This surveillance, Redmond said, was authorized by FRCC President Tom Gonzales. 

Redmond said, however, that Gonzales never autho- rized the use of cameras for surveillance in private offices. Redmond said that such surveillance would have to be done in conjunction with a police investigation. He went on to say that no cameras or other surveillance equipment were stolen while he was director of facilities. “At least not any that were reported to me,” he said. 

Haney later said: “…my surprise was…God, I mean why would you put them (surveillance cameras) in The Front Page? I mean, that’s never been in any discussion I’ve ever been a part of. We would not even suggest that would be appropriate. That’s just not something you do.” Haney took over the position of Westminster site director in March 1998. She is responsible for the facilities department and must authorize the use of any surveillance equipment at FRCC, When facilities became her responsibility last year, Haney ordered the surveillance equipment locked up. Haney said she has not authorized any use of surveillance equipment on the Westmtnster campus since that time. However, Joe Valdez, a retired FRCC maintenance employee, was involved in an alleged surveillance incident that occurred in one of the maintenance department offices in February 1998. Valdez said that he and another maintenance employee found a working surveillance system in the ceiling of their office. Valdez said they removed the system, which was plugged in and turned on, from the ceiling and took it directly to Haney’s office in the middle of the night. They left a note with the equipment explaining the situation and later filed a grievance with the college. 

According to Valdez, they had three or four meetings with administration about the incident but “they never did give us a satisfactory answer as to why that camera was put in our office.” They were repeatedly assured that the incident would not be swept under the carpet and the people involved would be reprimanded. Valdez said, to his knowlege[mistake in original paper, lol] nothing had ever been stolen from his office. “There was no reason whatsoever for that camera to be in our office,” he said. 

Confronted with information that surveillance equipment was discovered in the maintenance offices last February, Haney said, “There were some situations that by privacy I can’t divulge to you. I really can’t share some information that occurred just as I took over.” Haney later said, “It was a personnel issue. It did not involve students.” Bob Rizzuto, while acknowledging that FRCC has two surveillance cameras locked up, denied any knowledge of the third surveillance camera found by The Front Page staff. 

Bob Rizzuto told The Front Page the use of surveillance equipment had to be authorized by the vice president, but that it was a past FRCC practice to set up cameras to catch thieves. One incident was the placement of a surveillance setup in English instructor Tim Rizzuto’s office window to monitor the activities of people using the tool sheds and buildings on the northwest side of the building. Tim Rizzuto consented to the use of his office by security. According to him, that particular camera stayed in place “roughly a month” and when the thief was caught, the camera was removed. 

The need to find out “why” all of this occurred led FRCC administration to hire Littleton private investigator Bill Blake of Blake and Associates. Rob Rizzuto, when asked why FRCC administration felt it should hire an investigator, said Westminster police are only handling the case as a stolen property claim. 

He went on to say, “It’s really something that I didn’t want our security department to look into. That didn’t make any sense.” He said the school needed a “third party opinion.” Blake, accountable only to the FRCC administration, questioned The Front Page staff, its advisers, members of security and other faculty. “He has talked to a lot of people in the last several days,” Rizzuto said. 

To date, George Smith, head of security, has had no comment for The Front Page and calls to the president’s office were not returned. Westminster police and the private investigator are continuing their investigation of the newspaper office incident. So far, no sources, including the police, have been able to determine whether a crime was actually committed.

Spring Poetry Contest Second place winner, The Hope of Spring—

Written By Leni Checkas

Sometimes it’s hard to see the signs of spring,

because they’re hidden

in the buds of the apple tree

and the tingle of warmth on the breeze.

The surprise of spring can bursts through

with the first instance of a single pastel tulip

the soft buzz of a bumblebee over a dandelion

and the sudden burst of sun on your face.

The signs get hidden by darkness and chill

but soon, the renewal will be all around.

Spring Poetry Contest Third place winner, Overwhelm.

Written By Melia Henrichsen

The great unknown 

What does the future hold for me? 

Unfamiliarity 

Uncertainty 

Am I capable of being 

Thrown into the real world 

Will I drown? 

Or 

Will I learn to swim 

Amongst the rest of society 

Engulfed in the ocean 

Waves crushing me 

burying me 

pushing me further and further 

down 

until I’m 

Buried neck deep 

Drowning 

My breath gone, 

dissipating 

into 

thin air 

Floating away like a balloon 

Immense stress that is 

Humongous 

Gigantic 

Enormous 

Becomes its own person 

Takes over my body 

Debilitating 

No room for me 

I am powerless 

I am broken 

I am no longer me 

I am no longer in control

Why? 

Overwhelm. 

My brain transformed 

Sponge 

to rock 

Can’t think 

Hit on the head with a boulder 

Blank 

Blackout 

Block 

I tell myself 

Ignore the stress 

Push through 

But it doesn’t work 

How will I succeed in life? 

What is success? 

Is it the American dream? 

Is it a good career? 

Is it power? 

Is it money? 

I think 

True success 

Is happiness 

Is joy 

Is love 

Success is surrounding yourself with people 

People who can support you through your overwhelm People who watch with you as your overwhelm dissipates Like water evaporating 

Finally the sun reappears 

After a stormy night 

Left with a rainbow 

Stronger than before

A Note from the Editor

Written by Joe Fisk

Photo by Mindy Kinnaman

With the start of the 2021 spring semester, The Front Page student newspaper will continue to bring readers relevant news to Front Range Community College. Classes at FRCC will continue to be taught over real time remote and online learning for the semester in order to adhere to COVID-19 protocol. The Front Page is excited to announce the return of the Wolfcast podcast, bringing listeners conversation, updates, news and events happening on campus. On February 4, readers will have an opportunity to meet the staff as well as sign up for The Front Page newsletter at the FRCC Westminster club engagement fair.

How to safely celebrate winter break

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

While 2020 has been a very long year for all of us, it still isn’t over. With the holiday break beginning this week and many people planning to gather with their loved ones, it’s important to keep social distancing in mind. We still have months before the vaccine for COVID-19 is distributed to the general public, so in the meantime, we need to be vigilant about not spreading the virus to the immunocompromised and elderly. There are still ways to enjoy the holiday season safely! Here are a few.

You can try a meal train approach, where everyone picks an entree or side dish off a list then does a socially distanced swap. This way, you get to try a variety of foods, but don’t have to gather to do so. If you feel up to it, you can eat all the different dishes with your family and friends over Zoom.

If you plan on seeing family, quarantining for 10-14 days before and getting a negative test prior is likely the safest approach. It isn’t foolproof, as traveling incurs risk, but choosing to drive rather than fly may be a better option this year.

You can also use this holiday as an opportunity to get all the chores you didn’t have a chance to tackle over the semester out of the way. That way you start the new year with a cleaned out closet, which is never a bad thing. It can also be fun to plan for next year’s festivities, knowing that next year you will be able to safely celebrate in person. 

There has been a lot of good news over the last month, including FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. We should all be celebrating (just not at a party!). If you made it through this semester, or even if you took a break and plan to come back at a later point, you can be proud of your progress and determination this year. 2021 should be a year of positive changes and hopefully, safe holiday gatherings.

Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Contest First Place Winner, Men Among Monsters

Written and read by Anna Lee

Her screaming woke me but the guttural howling forced me out of my tent. 

Her cries were muffled by a wolfish gurgle as I entered the forest.

The moonlight cast a light through towering trees. A metallic scent cascaded down the mountain and settled in the mist. 

The smell frightened me, but the sight of the monster tearing and feasting on the women terrified me. 

The beast was hunched over the woman. His eyes raised and met mine. “Ezra, go back to the tent. It isn’t safe out here.” My father turned away, focusing his gaze again on his prey.

The Acreage (Stem Ciders) Restaurant Review

Written by Grey Zander  

Illustration by Madison Otten

A specialty restaurant is going to be better than your uncle Joey buying a slab of ground beef and throwing it on the grill, right? Well, not always. It is hard to run a restaurant. However, when some restaurants do it right, you’re in for some of the best food you’ll ever taste. The restaurant I’ll be evaluating is called Acreage, owned by Stem Ciders. It was founded in 2013 by Eric Foster and Phil Kao. I chose this place because it’s near my home. The criteria I’ll be comparing  it to are these: atmosphere, service, food quality, and beverages.

Written by Grey Zander  

Illustration by Madison Otten

A specialty restaurant is going to be better than your uncle Joey buying a slab of ground beef and throwing it on the grill, right? Well, not always. It is hard to run a restaurant. However, when some restaurants do it right, you’re in for some of the best food you’ll ever taste. The restaurant I’ll be evaluating is called Acreage, owned by Stem Ciders. It was founded in 2013 by Eric Foster and Phil Kao. I chose this place because it’s near my home. The criteria I’ll be comparing  it to are these: atmosphere, service, food quality, and beverages.

We went in at 3 p.m on Friday, and even though it just opened, customers were already there. When you walk into this restaurant, it has a warm, rustic feel, with wooden tables and the smell of wood-burning ovens and meat on the grill that hits you when you walk in. There’s indoor and outdoor seating, each of them great. You’re greeted with the sounds of families playing lawn games. The outdoor area has picnic tables, fireplaces for colder days and bean bag toss, if the weather is fitting. The Acreage has the overall feel of friends and small-town community, an important draw for customers to consider when deciding on a restaurant.

The two complaints I have were the music and the bathrooms. While the bathrooms were nice for the most part, the sinks were scratched but still high quality, and the floor was clean, the complaint I have was about the urinals: there weren’t any. When I walked into the men’s room, I thought, “Am I in the right restroom?” and then realized I was. 

However, the biggest complaint I have about this restaurant is the music. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever heard, but it sounded like some weird mix of country and folk music. The best way I can describe it is this: imagine a failing farm trying to get back into business and their one idea to save it is to make an inspirational video about how they can give you some fresh beets. This would have been the music used in that video. It was unappealing and a distraction from the friendly atmosphere in the restaurant.

The service, overall, was good. Getting a table was very fast and easy, and it didn’t take long to get our first drinks. We had a friendly waitress, but we had to ask for refills. The nicest thing about the service was the wait time. Within seven minutes of ordering our appetizers and 15 minutes of ordering our entrees, they arrived. The speed of preparing the dishes did not affect their taste at all.

Besides a few small complaints, the taste and the quality of the food was great. We started with the Acreage fries and the Basque fries. The Acreage fries were more traditional style fries; they were crispy, but not dry. They tasted fresh and came with a side of a sweet tangy dip. The Basque fries were not my favorite. The flavor they were tossed in had a bit too much lemon, with parmesan cheese on top. Another appetizer we got was the Salami Platter. The seasoning was good and spicy, but there was almost too much of it. The bread had a sweet flavor to it, as did the pickled vegetables.

The entrees we ordered were the pork chops, bratwurst, and burger. The pork chops by themselves were plain and needed seasoning but came with a sweet and spicy dip. The bratwurst was well flavored, marinated in cider and had a very particular taste. The burger was good, had high quality flavor and was very juicy. The only complaint I had about the burger was that it was messy; the bread was just a tiny bit soggy from all that juice. 

The dessert we had afterward were doughnuts, with a nice consistency and had a funnel cake personality.

One thing the Acreage is very proud of and even sells at a small store next to the kitchen is their beverages, and, more specifically, their hard cider. Before I go into that, let’s talk about nonalcoholic options. There is soda, but it’s not the chain soda like Coca-Cola; it has a higher quality taste than normal. The kombucha I ordered was nice and had a peach-like flavor. Although it had a small bite to it, it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d usually like in that kind of drink.

The cider is held as their signature drink. Half of the restaurant, is in fact, a cidery. And even though I can’t drink, (since I’m underage), I brought two people with me who could try it. One of their favorite ciders is the Chilean Guava, and according to them, it “has a nice balance between dry and sweet, has just a touch of spice.” Another cider is the Jalapeno, which has “a subtle pear taste, but packs a little more heat than the Chilean Guava.”

Overall, my evaluation of the place is good, besides a few complaints. It’s a great place for a big family to go out and have a good time, especially if they are coming in from out of town and want to see the mountains. Keep in mind the in-house music could use some work, and that the bathrooms need some getting used to, but besides that, a great place for a night out.

INFOBOX

The Acreage

  Rating: 7.5/10

 Address: 1380 Horizon Ave, Lafayette, CO 80026

 Hours: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday,  noon to 9 p.m. Sunday

 Food: Comfort Food, Small Plates

 How much: $4-$14 appetizers; $7-$17 entrees; $8 desserts

  How loud: moderate

 Reservations: parties of 10 or more

 Information: (303) 227-3243

Sugarfire’s Stalemate, Restaurant Review

 Written by Griffin Seeley 

Illustration by Madison Otten

Sugarfire Smokehouse, originated in St. Louis, Mo., has multiple locations in the Midwest, including one Colorado location in Westminster. I ended up choosing this restaurant to review because of its close proximity and how well it seemed to be recommended on Google, Yelp, and by friends. I went into this restaurant with four criteria in mind: the customer service, atmosphere/cleanliness, entree, and dessert. 

 Written by Griffin Seeley 

Illustration by Madison Otten

Sugarfire Smokehouse, originated in St. Louis, Mo., has multiple locations in the Midwest, including one Colorado location in Westminster. I ended up choosing this restaurant to review because of its close proximity and how well it seemed to be recommended on Google, Yelp, and by friends. I went into this restaurant with four criteria in mind: the customer service, atmosphere/cleanliness, entree, and dessert. 

The atmosphere and cleanliness were the first things I noticed in the restaurant. The dining room seemed to be pretty clean, with BBQ sauce bottles on all of the tables, and a neat bar set up on the other side of the room. Reviews adorned the walls, and a big blue cow sat on top of the bar with a sign accompanying it that read, “C-Brisket,” which I took to be the cow’s name. A red sanitizer bucket sat on one of the tables, presumably forgotten. Two garage doors sat behind the bar, leading out to the patio, closed for the season. Nobody seemed to be in the restaurant, given that it was 4 p.m. on a Monday. 

When I went into the restroom, there were shreds of paper towel on the floor, and the sink had weird specks of something in it. The combined washer/dryer in the faucet was very interesting though. The lack of attention both inside the bathrooms and in the restaurant was clearly felt.  

While we were studying the menu, I looked at the line where we would be getting served, but nobody was behind the counter waiting for us. I assumed they would show up while we were deciding, but that wasn’t the case, and when we decided what we wanted to order nobody was behind the line still.

We looked down the line to the bar at the end, and wouldn’t you know it, a couple of men wearing Sugarfire shirts were sitting at the bar, just chatting. One of the more assertive people I came with walked over there and talked to them. With poorly hidden disgruntled looks, they entered the line and put on black rubber gloves.

One of the men had an angry vibe about him, and he instantly made me feel uncomfortable. He brusquely said, “What would you like?” The friend who confronted them put in his order. While the two men were making the order, I kept a wary eye on the scary man and what he was doing with that foot-long knife. Luckily, all he did was slice portions of brisket and ribs. 

The other two friends were able to leave the line with their orders. I was not. Since mine had fried food in it, they needed more time to prepare it. The cashier, who had appeared out of nowhere, helped us out with a big smile on her face, before promptly disappearing into the back of the restaurant again. We went and sat down at a table without a sanitizer bucket. Soon after, the scary man brought my order out, plopped it down, and left without a word. He had me wondering if death by brisket nuggets was slow.

Now for the food itself. I had ordered the brisket nuggets, which was the special. Like the name sounds, it was breaded brisket, deep fried, and served with drizzled BBQ sauce.

While they looked dark, the nuggets were nice and tender, and when consumed, they melted in my mouth with bursts of brisket, plus fried, flavor. The special came with one side, and I chose the mac and cheese. While tasty, it definitely needed salt. Consistency or the texture was also missing.

My friends got the ribs/brisket combo plate and the brisket cheesesteak sandwich, respectively. They reported that the ribs were dry, tough, and lacked flavor, but the cheesesteak was nicely done. After looking at our check, the friend who got the cheesesteak determined that it was overpriced for what it was.

We decided to get dessert. Since they had shakes, cookies, and pies, we decided to get one of each. A chocolate shake and a smoked chocolate-chip cookie were decided right away, but we couldn’t decide what kind of pie we should try. The woman very adamantly suggested their signature Sugarfire pie, saying it was very popular, and telling us what it was, which seemed to be molasses and brown sugar with a wafer crust. We ended up choosing that pie to try.

We brought the pie and the cookie back to the table, with the woman saying she would bring out the shake shortly. The pie was actually very good, and as was the soft, salted cookie. When our shake came, there were chunks of vanilla ice cream still unmixed, but the flavor was nice.

Overall, this restaurant gets a B-, grade-wise. While the customer service was lacking with the people actually making our meals, the cashier did provide good service. The food was between good and bad as well, but more on the positive side. I may return, but if I do, I’m going to come back on a day when that scary man is not there.

Infobox

Sugarfire Smokehouse

Grade: B-

Address: 14375 Orchard Pkwy Suite 100, Westminster, CO 80023

Hours: 11 a.m to 10 p.m/Sold Out

Food: BBQ

How Much: Pricey

How Loud: Moderate

Reservations: No

Take-Out/Delivery: Yes

Information: (720) 639-4903

FRCC Staff Foils Extortionist’s Plan

Written by Lori Robinson 

Westminster Police and FRCC Campus Security are seeking information that could lead to the suspect in an apparent kidnapping scam phoned in to an employee’s desk on Jan. 13.

 Written by Front Page Staff

Westminster Police and FRCC Campus Security are seeking information that could lead to the suspect in an apparent kidnapping scam phoned in to an employee’s desk on Jan. 13.

The staff member received a phone call that afternoon from the telephone number 528-1256-66630 — originating in Mexico — from a caller who identified himself only as Ramon and told the staff member that he had kidnapped her daughter, according to a public service announcement issued Jan. 14 by the Department of Campus Security and Preparedness.

The staff member was able to reach her daughter and ensure her safety as the would-be extortionist attempted to compel the staffer to reveal her location and bring him money outside the building. 

Law enforcement officials have found no further developments, nor have they identified a suspect, in the Jan. 13 case, Campus Security and Preparedness Director Gordon F. Goldsmith stated in a Jan. 21 email. 

The Jan. 13 incident appears to be an isolated incident, Goldsmith stated in his email. “This is the first incident of this nature that we are aware of,” he stated.

Anyone receiving a call like the one in the Jan. 13 incident is asked to take note of the telephone number and any information that might help identify the suspect. Also people with information about the Jan. 13 case are asked to call Westminster Police at (303) 658-4360 and Campus Security at (303) 404-5411.