Good morning and happy Friday! I’m going to skip the rest of the pleasantries and get right into Eric’s Trivia Corner: Did you know that the famed Pony Express passed through Colorado? Well, “passed through” might be overselling it, as the 1,900-mile route only very slightly dips into the northeast corner of the state to water the horses in Julesburg before continuing on through Nebraska.
(National Park Service)
It just so happens that some courageous folks are traversing a complete Pony Express reride this month, but if you were hoping to meet the riders on Colorado soil, you should have been awake at 3:30 a.m. yesterday (Thursday). You can keep an eye on the progress here.
But this isn’t a Pony Express fan newsletter, this is The Sunriser, and we’ve got a saddlebag full of interesting news from all over this state.
So let’s saddle up and get riding, shall we?
>> ABOVE THE FOLD
Colorado’s kindergarten landscape will even out, with benefits flowing to state’s wealthiest, poorest families
“When you let ZIP codes determine opportunities, that can become really inequitable, especially when you look at parents’ pocketbooks. At the district level, it becomes pretty nuanced.”
— Bill Jaeger, vice president of early-childhood initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign
A decade ago, then-Gov. Bill Ritter pushed for a full-day kindergarten plan, and some districts said, basically, “that would be nice, but we have way bigger problems.” Fast-forward 10 years and two administrations, and most now consider full-day kindergarten essential.
>> HOW FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN WILL WORK Chris Osher has an excellent breakdown of the real-world effect that Gov. Jared Polis’ free full-day kindergarten project will have on existing programs in the state, including how the new funding to districts will put more money back in the pockets of some of the state’s richest families while giving new opportunities to some of the poorest.
When the new oil and gas regulation package was signed into law in April, Gov. Jared Polis said that he hoped the state’s “oil and gas wars” were over. But as the bitter, drawn-out process of dealing with the rewriting of a few rules begins, it’s evident that the fight has merely moved up the pipeline.
>> WRITING THE NEW RULES Mark Jaffe gets into the new trenches in the oil and gas wars — the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s rulemaking hearings — to explain how the battles are being waged.
Shelby Kendall, a realtor for Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, shows a home to Faviola Barr, who was looking for a home for her mother-in-law. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)
The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority — the state agency that has been investing in homeownership through loans and down-payment assistance since the 1970s — pulled together some data from the first half of the year. The Front Range received a lot of assistance (of course). But on the Western Slope, Mesa County stood out.
>> “BOOTS ON THE GROUND” IN GRAND JUNCTION Kevin Simpson looks at the factors that have Mesa County surging in terms of new homeownership, from inventory to a growing economy.
Colorado’s tech ecosystem still hasn’t found its Amazon or Apple, but there is a group of seasoned entrepreneurs quietly helping some of the state’s maturing startups take their first steps toward growth.
>> TOWARD A “BILLION-DOLLAR TOWN” They don’t sell anything. They don’t consult for hire. They don’t ask for equity. Tamara Chuang writes about the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, which is helping bolster Colorado’s startup scene.
More from The Sun
“Wrong about what? It’s not the decision I made for my kids. I gave my kids their shots, their immunizations. I encourage all parents to give children immunizations. We have in our state Christian Scientists, we have people who have objections, and nobody should be forced to do anything to their bodies. I’m pro-choice. I think it’s your body and it’s your decision.”
— Gov. Jared Polis, when asked if anti-vaccination parents are “wrong”
- Fresh off failed legislation that would have tightened Colorado’s loose policy for personal-belief vaccine exemptions, Gov. Polis has doubled down on education and outreach in the fight over vaccinations just as public-health officials announced that the state’s worst-in-the-nation rates continue to worsen.
- RIP, “the greatest owner in sports,” Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. The Denver Post has a great video of some of the biggest names in Colorado remembering the man who put Denver on the sports map. // The Athletic 🔑, The Colorado Sun, The Denver Post 🔑
- “You fall in and you are not getting out”: The Rio Grande near Del Norte in southern Colorado closed because of unusually high runoff.
- Presidential candidate John Hickenlooper (who made the first debate along with Sen. Michael Bennet) seems to have found his way to stand out from the Democratic primary crowd: railing against socialism.
- It’s just about the most-asked question in the state: “Where does all that marijuana tax money go?” To mark the state’s 1 billionth dollar of marijuana tax revenue, the revenue department tried to answer that question with … a pretty lackluster flow chart. (Psst: Keep an eye on our site next week if you’re interested in weed money and data visualization.)
- It’s easy to forget that the most lucrative ski resorts in the country are actually renting some of their land from the federal government. Jason Blevins went out and got the data on the rent payments (based on resort revenue) from the 2017-18 ski season and found that they set a new record, even with a bad snow year.
>> THE FUN STUFF
As climbing heads toward the Olympic stage, a Boulder-based crew is setting some gripping route standards
Chris Danielson sets a climbing problem at the 2014 Adidas Rockstars competition in Stuttgart, Germany. (Berti Wille, Special to The Colorado Sun)
You’d be forgiven if you think of climbing as a fun thing people do on weekends and not necessarily as a competitive event. But as competitions such as the GoPro Mountain Games have shown over the years, climbing can be a dramatic spectator sport — enough so that it will get a preview at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But to maximize that drama, someone has to actually place the grips on the walls.
>> HERE COME THE OLYMPICS Jason Blevins has a very cool story about Boulder’s Chris Danielson, one of the leading routesetters in the world, as he and his team hone their skills while the sport prepares for the biggest stage in the world.
This story was first published in The Outsider, The Sun’s premium outdoors newsletter. Head over to coloradosun.com/theoutsider to learn how to sign up to get it.
// What’s it like to work behind the counter in a pot dispensary? “What’d I Miss?” finds Ossie dealing with a customer who makes him rethink his job choice.
// Drew Litton, trying to imagine the craziest visual to represent the state’s super runoff, accidentally collided with the reality of river surfing.
Author L.S. Gardiner has written a book about climate change — but maybe not the kind you’d think. In “Tales from an Uncertain World,” she examines how we have understood and responded to previous calamities throughout history to find a way forward to deal with this challenge to our environment. In her excerpt, she begins with the basics: how we regard what we understand, and what we don’t. In her interview, she reveals the odd confluence of circumstances that led her to write her book.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// I saw someone refer to this record-setting 48-inch lake trout (sea monster?) caught by Colorado’s Matt Smiley in Utah as “child-sized” and I have to respect that kind of comparative language work. // Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
// Most of the stories about the Discovery Channel founder’s massive ranch for sale near Gateway focus on the gob-smacking price tag, but I always appreciate a niche perspective like this one: “Colorado car museum on sale for $280M, sprawling ranch included” // Denver Business Journal, Motor1.com
// Backers believe that I-25 has gotten so unbearable that the pipe dream of Front Range rail may stand a chance. // Coloradoan 🔑
// It’s the first season that Hanging Lake has had restricted access and the initial verdict from hikers is clear: The plan is working. // Glenwood Springs Post-Independent
// “Every day you’re stressed and upset. Every day.” Donna Bryson has a powerful piece from the homeless camp sweeps in Englewood. // Denverite
>> TODAY’S THING
This thing brought to you by Sun reporter Jesse Paul. If you have something that you just can’t stop raving about, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be published in a future Sunriser!
The Thing: Fortune Wok to Table (Google Maps)
Why You Might Like It: Good, traditional Chinese food has been hard for me to find in Denver. But this Cherry Creek restaurant is bridging the gap in a big way. It has two concepts: an upstairs where you can get a fancy, Shanghainese meal that you spend hours enjoying, or a downstairs and patio section for some really affordable street noodles, dumplings and fried rice. The menu is limited, so if you are expecting a long list of Americanized items, like sesame chicken, you’re not going to like this place. But as someone who lived in China, I haven’t had food this good from the country since then. I’m 100% going to regret telling you about this place, but I know you’ll become a Colorado Sun member as a “thank you.”
If you’re heading out to enjoy Colorado’s outdoors this weekend, be careful near creeks and rivers. Otherwise, keep this newsletter around to revisit when the afternoon thunderstorms inevitably roll through.
Stay tuned for next week, when we’ll be back with more stories of life in Colorado — and a little bit of celebrating.
Have a great weekend!