Latest Colorado news, sports, business and entertainment

ESTES PARK, Colo. (AP) — COLORADO SHOOTING

Colorado theater shooter's sister takes stand

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Chris Holmes, the sister of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, is testifying for the first time as his lawyers try to persuade jurors to spare his life.

Their parents have attended every day of James Holmes' trial, but the family has not spoken publicly. The 22-year-old sister described family photographs displayed in court, including one of a vacation to Hawaii.

The jury is considering whether Holmes should serve life in prison without parole or be executed for killing 12 people and injuring 70 others at a crowded movie premiere in 2012.

Holmes' attorneys say he committed the crime because of a severe psychotic break.

Before the trial began, Holmes' parents begged for a plea deal that would spare his life. They said he is gripped by a severe mental illness.

ARTIST HOUSING

Colorado to sponsor affordable housing for artists

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) — Colorado plans to help find affordable housing for artists in nine rural communities.

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the plan Monday at an artists' community in Loveland. The governor says that the state will help sponsor a $50 million plan to create artist housing in nine rural communities, starting with Trinidad.

The other eight communities have not been chosen yet.

The housing will have income caps. Artists who qualify for housing can't make more than 60 percent of their area's median income.

Private foundations are joining the effort. A state spokeswoman says it's not clear how much of the $50 million will be paid by the government.

The program will have a generous definition of "artist." The program will accept architects, filmmakers — even beer and liquor makers.

TRAIL RIDGE ROAD-REPAVING

(Information in the following story is from: Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, http://www.reporterherald.com/)

The highest continuous road in the nation needs a new paving job.

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park will be re-paved before the summer season ends. Park officials say to expect 15-minute delays starting Wednesday as road crews go to work.

Built to boost visitation at Rocky Mountain National Park, the road crosses the Continental Divide and is closed during winter.

The (Loveland) Reporter-Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1GV5EoQ) that re-surfacing work will continue through Sept. 1 along a 14-mile segment between Lava Cliffs and the Colorado River Trailhead.

The road workers planned to perform "fog sealing" at the end of August to increase durability of the road. The Timber Creek Campground will close Aug. 17- 20.

COMING OUT-GRADUATION

Lawyer: School that blocked gay speech didn't discriminate

(Information in the following story is from: Daily Camera, http://www.dailycamera.com/)

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — A school that pulled a graduation speech by a valedictorian who wanted to disclose his sexual orientation didn't discriminate by blocking the speech.

That's the conclusion of an outside attorney hired by Twin Peaks Charter Academy to investigate the decision.

The conclusion will be sent to the St. Vrain Valley school board. The Daily Camera reports that the school board is expected to review the report next month.

Eighteen-year-old valedictorian Evan Young was blocked this spring from giving a graduation speech in which he planned to out himself as gay, prompting criticism from gay rights activists.

The Twin Peaks board is sharing the lawyer's conclusion along with a note decrying opponents for trying to "twist this situation into a politically polarizing gay and lesbian issue."

MONKS-STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Buddhist monks from India to return to Steamboat Springs

(Information in the following story is from: Steamboat Pilot & Today, http://steamboatpilot.com/)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Buddhist monks from a monastery in southeast India are making their way back to Steamboat Springs for the first time since their initial visit in 2010.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports Drepung Loseling Monastery monks are making a mandala sand painting Wednesday at the city's library, one stop in their Mystical Arts of Tibet world tour.

Community members can watch the monks make the mandala, a symbol for protection and happiness. They will also be given a chance to contribute each day of the visit, scheduled through Sunday.

Drepung Loseling Monastery monks have been touring the world demonstrating their mandala sand paintings since 1988.