Brittany Parker surf the Arkansas River at the Pueblo whitewater park. (Heather Jackson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Compiled by Kevin Simpson,
Writer, Newsletter Understudy, @KevinJourno

Maybe I’m tempting fate, but I scheduled the sprinkler guy to come by this afternoon and switch on the system. It’s a leap of faith, weather-wise, but it just seems like — even with a cooler forecast for the weekend — it’s time to break out the summertime mindset. Pull out the shorts and T-shirts, pack away the sweaters. Dust off the grill. Pump up the bike tires.

Spring in Colorado lasts for a heartbeat, and we might already have missed it, somewhere between the bomb cyclone in March and the air-conditioner days earlier this week. So let’s proceed directly to summer, warmth, afternoon or evening thundershowers — and long days ripe with possibility.

We have a lot of ground to cover this morning. So let’s crank this lawnmower, shall we?


The Latest from The Sun



Don’t poke the bear. But especially don’t feed the bear, even unintentionally. The result could be fatal — for the bear.


One of the Denver Zoo’s two grizzly bears sits in Harmony Hill, the zoo’s new bear exhibit, on May 15, 2019. (Courtesy of Denver Zoo)

When humans and bears bump into each other, it’s usually the bear that gets the worst of it. A dozen bears already have been euthanized this year, and wildlife experts hope that humans will take steps to modify their behavior and, in the process, remove the temptations that unintentionally lure bears into populated areas — and potentially to their death. The Denver Zoo has joined the education push with an interactive exhibit that models bear-friendly habits.

>> John Ingold explains the toll of human behavior on bears and efforts to change it.


Who needs an ocean? Surf’s up right here in Colorado.


Spencer Lacy and Brittany Park surf on the Arkansas River in Salida’s river park last year. (Heather Jackson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

In Colorado’s rapidly evolving recreation scene, few activities have captured the outdoor imagination like river surfing. And the sport is ready for its close-up, now that massive snowpack and a slow melt promise prime conditions after last year’s dismal trickle. New riverside parks, underwater equipment that can create waves and adjust to variable flows, plus new and local board designs have added to the excitement. And look out for something called Big Sur.

>> Click here and Jason Blevins brings you up to speed on river surfing’s rapid rise. But you could have read this story earlier by subscribing to his newsletter, The Outsider.


Gold dust for beer. That’s how it all started in Colorado.

The exhibit is called “Beer Here.” So you knew Sun reporter John Frank, a true aficionado, would be all over it. With a thorough examination of the History Colorado display, which taps into the state’s longtime economic and cultural links to the brewing industry, Frank also draws parallels to today’s burgeoning beer scene.

>> Let the Sun’s resident authority lead you through Colorado’s colorful love affair with a timeless beverage.


“I don’t even worry about that stuff with this school”

It’s hard these days to say any school is immune to gun violence, but some parents at STEM School Highlands Ranch figured their kids were the least likely to become victims. The students there tend to be bright and tech-savvy, proud to carry the nerd banner and happy to be immersed in a welcoming culture that recognizes their particular gifts. So since STEM became the site of the latest school shooting, its community has rallied to push back against an anonymous report that trouble had been brewing.

>> Read Chris Osher and Jen Brown’s in-depth look at the culture within a school where the unthinkable happened.


If you think wide-open Las Animas County is the farthest thing from the Ivy League — think again

It’s a tale of southern Colorado history wound around a storied institution of higher learning: No fewer than 30 students from the sparsely populated (three people per square mile) and economically depressed region have found their way to Princeton University since the 1960s. Those students, and untold others who will follow, benefit from an unusual scholarship rooted in the family fortune of a young man who migrated to Trinidad in hopes of curing his tuberculosis.

>> Learn the history, as well as how current and former students coped with the challenges of Princeton, in this piece by Kevin Simpson.   


What drought? On the verge of drying up and blowing away, Colorado rebounds with a snowpack that keeps on giving.

Go mess around with our interactive sliding drought map>. It’s fun, I promise.

Talk about a turnaround. As recently as February, more than 90% of the state fell under some variation of drought status. Today, just 11% is abnormally dry, with zero drought status. Thank the slow melt that means this runoff season could refill parched reservoirs. But don’t get cocky. We’re just another dry spell from choking on our good fortune.

>> Jesse Paul explains it all, with the help of a very cool interactive drought map.


From the Opinion Page



// Former GOP state Rep. Cole Wist, who was unseated last year by Democrat Tom Sullivan, argues that while he disagrees with the Democrat on policy issues, the recall attempt aimed at him underscores a disturbing and undemocratic trend.

// Ken Toltz, founder of Safe Campus Colorado and a longtime anti-gun violence activist, calls on the state’s leadership to show creativity and resourcefulness in the wake of the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting that claimed the life of a student.


The Fun Stuff


John Frank’s Beer Pick: A recent trip to Portland, Oregon, renewed my love for West Coast-style IPAs, and a handful of the breweries distribute to Colorado, including Breakside and Ecliptic. Look for Breakside IPA, it’s a classic big-hop IPA with notes of pine and citrus and a clean bitterness that is refreshing after so many pints of hazy IPAs.



Coloradans love their dogs — that’s no secret. So when Denver-based author Rory Kress set out to discover where puppies come from — her dog Iggy in particular — you could bet she’d leave no stone unturned. In her book “The Doggie in the Window,” a Colorado Book Awards finalist for General Nonfiction, she reveals the inner workings of the puppy industry, the bizarre inadequacies in the law regarding dogs and even the political connections that help keep breeders in business. In her SunLit excerpt, Kress also touches on an unexpected human aspect. And in the SunLit interview, she explains why.




// Jim Morrissey cuts close to the bone (actually, he cuts right through the bone) with his take on Colorado’s hospital prices.

// Once again, Alan Brooks and Cori Redford have collaborated on a special “What’d I Miss?” — a not-to-be-missed perspective on the metro area’s challenging recent developments.

// And Drew Litton perfectly captures the rude and abrupt seasonal transition for Colorado sports fans.  


// Just a month after the state’s new omnibus oil and gas regulation law took effect, some activists told the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission it should be further along in revising the regulations. In the meantime, they want new drilling permits to be halted. // The Associated Press

// Dean Williams, Colorado’s new head of the Department of Corrections, has changed prison policy that denied inmates greeting cards (or gave them black and white photocopies) because they sometimes contained drugs. Looking to make a “culture change” toward a more normal life in lockup, Williams also is looking at other issues, like the prison phone system that can be prohibitively expensive for inmates. // The Colorado Independent

// It could make a heck of a reality TV show, but the Meeker Mustang Makeover will test the horse-training skills of six contestants paired with wild mustangs over 100 days, after which they’ll show off the results of their efforts at Meeker’s sheepdog festival in September. // Grand Junction Sentinel

// The passing of architectural giant I.M. Pei at 102 marks a perfect time to revisit this 2017 interview with Westword art and architecture critic Michael Paglia, who spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about Pei’s influence — including his considerable imprint on downtown Denver (hello, 16th Street Mall) and Colorado — as he turned 100. // Colorado Public Radio

// Build it and they will…pedal? The city of Greeley continues to invest in more bike lanes in an effort to entice commuters to go green — in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that biking ranks as Weld County’s least favorite means of getting to work. // Greeley Tribune ?

// ‘Tis the season for property valuation protests, and in Larimer County they’ve been pouring in. One was so far out there — double that last valuation — that the homeowner was so sure it had to be a mistake that he couldn’t even be mad. Assessor Bob Overbeck promises a review. // The Coloradoan ?

// We all know Denver has grown. But did you know it’s also gotten taller? The city broke 500 in its tally of high-rise buildings, which has all kinds of ramifications for sightlines, traffic and, on the positive side, water. // Denverite

// Next week is National EMS Week, so hug a paramedic and learn more about the myriad challenges of a stressful environment and how these workers deal with them. // Durango Herald

// Will Jamie Giellis’ missteps on race matter in Denver’s mayoral election? Reporter Andrew Kenney touches all the bases in this comprehensive look at the issues, strategy and demographics in play for the runoff. // The Denver Post ?

// There’s one business that, for a century, has fit Pueblo’s Bessemer neighborhood like a comfortable shoe. Veges Shoe Repair was launched by a Hungarian immigrant in 1919 and has provided a living for three generations. // Pueblo Chieftain

// Hey, Colorado. Did you know you have an accent? And that it’s the 39th sexiest in the country? Party on. // Out There Colorado


Today’s Thing



The Thing:  “The Dawn Wall” (available on Netflix, or to rent from Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play).

Why You Might Like It: You’ve heard of “Free Solo”, the 2019 Oscar winner that chronicles climber Alex Honnold’s quest to climb Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan – a 3,000 foot wall of sheer granite – without a single rope. Tommy Caldwell, one of the climbers who helped Honnold prepare for his daredevil ascent, has had an incredible climbing career of his own. “The Dawn Wall” details Caldwell’s career and includes various climbing adventures ranging from being taken hostage while climbing in western Europe to losing part of a finger in a costly accident. This all serves as lead-up to Caldwell tackling a different route up El Capitan, one that has never been completed and is revered as the most challenging.  While Caldwell’s climb isn’t of the free solo variety, it includes both he and his partner facing – and overcoming – numerous obstacles as they spend weeks on end suspended above Yosemite National Park.

What’s your thing? If you have something that you just can’t stop raving about that you’d like to share, send us an email at and you could be published in a future Sunriser!


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That’s a wrap for this week. As always, thanks for reading — but please do us a favor. Tell five friends about us. Share a story link on social media or just in a text to a buddy. Better yet, if you haven’t already signed up to become a member, do it today. The more support we get, the more great journalism we can send your way.

Have a great weekend.

— Kevin

Kevin Simpson

Kevin Simpson

Kevin Simpson is a co-founder of The Colorado Sun and a general assignment writer and editor. He also oversees the Sun’s literary feature, SunLit, and the site’s cartoonists. A St. Louis native...