Time capsule honors history of Highlands Ranch

Community leaders cap celebration of 40-year anniversary

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Leaving a legacy for the future, the Highlands Ranch Community Association, or HRCA, capped off a months-long project by burying a time capsule at the Eastridge Recreation Center on Jan. 31.

The capsule, filled with items donated by community leaders, will be opened for new community leaders to see in the year 2056.

The time capsule was an idea brought to light by Julianne Hennings of the HRCA. Hennings worked to pull together donations for the capsule, which was done in honor of Highlands Ranch celebrating the community’s 40-year anniversary in 2021.

Through monthly presentations held last year, the Highlands Ranch Historical Society provided residents with a history lesson of how modern-day Highlands Ranch became the community it is.

When Mission Viejo Company started developing the area into a suburb in the 1980s, the area population was under 3,000. Today, Highlands Ranch has nearly 100,000 residents. Shea Homes bought Mission Viejo in 1997.

The time capsule was the final touch to a year of celebrating.  With plenty of community leaders attending the Jan. 31 burial of the capsule, several took time to remember the early days.

Being in the area for 42 years, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock joked about the days of chasing antelope through the 22,000 acres that has grown into a master-planned community over the last four decades.

“Back then, Douglas County was poor,” Spurlock said. “Shea Homes even bought (the sheriff’s department) cars. It was a county with a small population but a lot of land. We are incredibly blessed to have the forethought that went into to create this development.”

Also attending the ceremony was Jeff Capas, former vice president of Shea Homes. In talking about how far Highlands Ranch has come, Capas said the word that comes to mind is “pride.”

Capas said a lot of work went into make “this beautiful place it is today.”

Jaime Noebel, director of community relations for the HRCA, said the time capsule was a fun way to bring anniversary-year celebrations to a close.

In talking about the contents of the capsule, Noebel said she is impressed with the creativity of the community leaders who participated, while noting some of the contents are about today’s world.

Besides a copy of the local newspaper, the Highlands Ranch Herald, from this year, the capsule contents also have masks and photos of people wearing COVID masks.

Noebel said by the year 2056, those who unearth the capsule will be able to remember or talk about the years the pandemic took over the world.

Hennings said the capsule also has historical photos to mark the progress as Highlands Ranch grew, newsletters, a sheriff’s office flag flown on the last day of 2021, and photos of current HRCA employees.  

To make the time capsule official, Hennings registered the process through the International Time Capsule Society.

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