Good morning and happy Friday in what has been one of the wildest weather weeks in recent history (sorry, that alliteration just kind of happened naturally). While the worst we dealt with down here in Denver was a frozen rain that coated most of the city in a layer of gravelly ice, the high country has been pounded with a biblical amount of snow.
So much of it that news crews on their way to cover an avalanche that buried cars between Copper Mountain and Leadville (everyone is safe, thankfully, but the photos are nuts) were stuck on Interstate 70 when the highway was closed by another avalanche in Tenmile Canyon. There is so much snow that ski resorts are closing (at least for the morning) and there is more on the way.
All of that is to say that if you’re going anywhere near the mountains this weekend, stay safe and read our explainer on exactly what’s going on with the snowpack right now that is making these slides a daily occurrence.
We had a busy couple of days, so let’s bomb this slope (see below) already, shall we?
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>> ABOVE THE FOLD
Telluride vs. avalanches: WWII-era howitzers, 3D mapping and discipline
Telluride Ski Patrollers Erik Aura and Craig Prohaska prepare to fire “Gun 3” Avalauncher located on the top of Gold Hill toward targets across the basin at Palmyra Peak. (Brett Schreckengost, Special to The Colorado Sun)
If you read our explainer about why avalanches are happening on less rocky slopes that haven’t slid in decades, you might be wondering how a place like Telluride Resort, with its famously steep and deep terrain, takes on avalanche mitigation. Well, wonder no more, thanks to Jason Blevins’ behind-the-scenes look at the literal arsenal of techniques that the ski area’s team of patrollers use to keep slides at bay, from stomping early-season snow to firing World War II cannons directly into the slopes.
Teachers living in campers: How rural Colorado districts are coping with systemic teacher shortage
Simla Elementary School kindergarten teacher Holly Koehn lives in a camper outside Simla because she can’t afford housing on her teacher salary. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)
It’s not as cheap to live in rural areas of Colorado as people might think. Teacher pay that is regularly 30 percent below an area’s cost of living is just one of the factors behind an epidemic of teacher shortages in Colorado’s rural schools. Some districts, grappling with 30- and 40-percent turnover every school year, have turned to recruiting from places as far away as the Philippines and as close as a nearby dive bar, where one district persuaded waitress to teach science. Christopher Osher breaks down why the shortage is happening, how districts are coping and what lawmakers are trying to do to encourage more people to get in the classroom, as well as plans to help rural areas “grow their own” educators.
Is your city trying to ban plastics? State law banning the ban of plastics may be getting in the way
Local government preemption. No unit of local government shall require or prohibit the use or sale of specific types of plastic materials or products or restrict or mandate containers, packaging, or labeling for any consumer products.
— Section 7 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, 25-17-104
Banning straws, plastic grocery bags and Styrofoam takeout containers is a pretty popular way for a city to show that it’s being progressive on the environment. But one little section of a recycling law passed in 1989 makes such bans illegal in the state of Colorado. While none of the nine cities and towns that have banned bags have been sued over the statute, the law is enough of a sword of Damocles hanging over these efforts that some cities are slowing or reducing their plans.
As Hickenlooper introduces himself to the country, it’s time to examine the nuance of his actual political record
“It’s truly offensive that he’s including climate change in his platform.”
— Suzanne Spiegel, Colorado Rising, an advocacy group pushing for oil and gas regulations
“He wasn’t on the front page of the paper every day … But he just gets the job done.”
— Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Arapahoe County
John Hickenlooper’s résumé in Colorado was the centerpiece of his presidential campaign kickoff yesterday in Civic Center park (you can watch/read his speech here), but it’s one that requires a series of asterisks, as our political writers John Frank and Jesse Paul detail. Whether you’re a new Coloradan or an old salt on the Colorado politics beat, you’re going to want to take a minute to look back at the unvarnished version of Hickenlooper’s political record as he hits the road with the campaign-ad-friendly version.
>> MORE: If you don’t want the watch the whole speech, John Frank and Jesse Paul have the top takeaways from how Hickenlooper introduced himself to America.
>> THE FUN STUFF
// Jim Morrissey on setting kids straight on vaping.
// When it comes to illustrating Hickenlooper, Drew Litton and Jim Morrissey ended up on similar pages. 16 years of branding works!
// This week’s “What’d I Miss” is all about confidence, potential and hiding your shameful past. I say it every week, but just start this strip from the beginning if you haven’t dipped your toes in yet.
This week’s SunLit selection ventures into the competitive and creative world of young adult fiction. And while the book, “A Messy, Beautiful Life” looks like a great read for the YA fan in your life, the backstory from author Sara Jade Alan is a rollercoaster (improv flirtations, bone cancer, “cry-typing” and more). Check out an excerpt of the book here.
JOHN FRANK’S BEER PICK
Collaboration Fest pairs brewers together to make unique beers. And this year’s collaboration partners include great tandems: New Image and Chicago-area More Brewing. Colorado hazy IPA masters Cerebral and WeldWerks. TRVE and New York’s Other Half Brewing. Lone Tree and California’s Mason Ale Works. It’s a week away, so get thirsty and get tickets.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// This could be big. Democratic lawmakers want to ask Colorado voters this year to permanently set aside TABOR, but Gov. Jared Polis isn’t so confident it’s the right move. John Frank has the scoop. // The Colorado Sun
// Regular Sun opinion columnist Mario Nicolais has a tribute to the Colorado political operative who died in a helicopter crash in Kenya last Sunday: “The life led by Kyle Forti will shine through the darkness cast by his death.” // The Colorado Sun
// Two big water leaks forced the town of Paonia to cut off water supply to a third of its users. // Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
// Meanwhile, 12 miles away, a plan to frack 35,000 acres of shale switched techniques from using nitrogen foam or gel to one that would use a half-million gallons of water per well. // Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
// It’s getting more dangerous to be a pedestrian in Colorado, with deaths in 2017 running 75 percent higher than in 2008 (note, the number is not adjusted for population growth, but it’s still way too many deaths). // StreetsBlog Denver
// Someone defaced a home in north Denver with some truly vile racist graffiti, but the property owners made the decision to leave it visible, at least for a few days, to force a conversation about it. // The Denver Post 🔑
// Meat is bad for the environment, leading to a growing movement to create lab-grown meat (though we’re a ways away from picking up lab meat at Safeway). But about a quarter of the climate change impact of meat comes from trying to get enough raw protein for dog and cat food, which is why a Boulder company is trying to streamline the creation of lab-grown chicken specifically for your furry friend. // CPR News
// Rockies manager Bud Black makes players do homework and present their work to the class during spring training. // Vic Vela on Twitter
// The New York Times has a story focused on the grim ritual of a Denver family who has treated every dinner before their father’s check-ins with immigration officers like it could be their last together. // NYT 🔑
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>> TODAY’S THING
The Thing: “Dating Around” (Watch it on Netflix)
Why You Might Like It: Now, “Dating Around” isn’t going to be something you binge watch. It’s not going to be Friday night appointment streaming. But that’s fine. In the show, A Single goes on a series of dates at the same New York City restaurant while wearing the exact same clothes and you just kind of … listen in as the producers edit as many as six blind date conversations into one seamless little narrative. It’s not meant to be gripping. Some of the would-be suitors get gently dismissed early in the night, some of them close down the bar with each other and the big denouement is learning who The Single decides to go on a second date with. Simple stuff, but with its gentle soundtrack, bokeh-heavy nighttime photography and conversations highlighting just how different modern dating is from its pre-internet forms, it’s pleasant and more than a little informative. A real bonus is the fact that it’s the rare reality show that is diverse not just in gender, race or orientation (though it is on all three accounts), but also in age. I’d argue the episode with Leonard, a widower in his 60s, is one of the highlights of the season. So keep this one in your queue for when you run out of Great British Baking Show episodes.REMINDER: Do you have a thing you can’t stop raving about? Email us at email@example.com and you could be published in a future Sunriser.
I say this a lot, but making it all the way through this edition of The Sunriser took some effort and I applaud you for getting here. And there’s no shame in bookmarking it to come back to over the weekend when you’ve got a little more time to dig in to what we’re offering here.
It’s been six months (almost to the day) since The Colorado Sun published its first article and I’ll end this newsletter writing out what I (and my colleagues) feel every day: We are so grateful that Colorado readers have embraced us in the way that they have and with the support they’ve given so far; we are excited about growing.
So thanks again for reading and sharing our articles and, for those of you who have become members, helping ensure we get to stick around (if you haven’t, it’s never too late to jump over to coloradosun.com/join and get involved).
Have a great, safe, rejuvenating weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.