One of many stoop statues to be found in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Compiled by Eric Lubbers,
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Good morning, folks. The gravitational pull of the Fourth of July is already changing our tides, so my challenge to you is to read this Sunriser, share any stories that catch your attention, then tackle your pre-holiday to-do list with gusto. The more you get done now, the less you have to worry about over the weekend (he repeats to himself, over and over).

We have a little bit of everything for you today, from a blockbuster story on the full-day kindergarten program to a story that might put a dent in your optimism about the state’s wet year.

Let’s dig this ditch already, shall we?




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The Latest from The Sun


BREAKING NEWS: The state of Colorado has expanded its lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, to include its owners, the embattled Sackler family. Jesse Paul has the details, including why this move could mean stiffer penalties for the company.


Gov. Polis’ full-day kindergarten program could bust its budget by $40 million in first year, state survey predicts

“That is going to have an impact. It’s going to be big.”

—Jennifer Okes, chief operating officer in the school finance division of the Colorado Department of Education

The passage of free full-day kindergarten was Gov. Jared Polis’ top priority, and one that succeeded after some significant back-and-forth over how the TABOR-limited state would pay for the program. But as Chris Osher reports, the way some of those numbers were calculated could end up busting the agreed-upon budget in the program’s first year.

>> DISTRICTS JUMPING ON BOARD FASTER THAN EXPECTED The heart of the issue is the fact that lawmakers’ estimates assumed there would be an 85% attendance rate in the first year of the program, but a recent CDE study showed there will be only a single district among the state’s 180+ that won’t offer full-day kindergarten this fall. Chris has all the details, plus the governor’s plan to pay for the overage.


Death rates among pregnant women in Colorado are climbing. Suicide and overdose are to blame.

The overall death rate of pregnant women is dropping in industrialized nations around the world — but it’s rising in the U.S., including here in Colorado.

>> PREGNANT WOMEN, NEW MOMS DYING OF SELF-HARM Jennifer Brown looks at Colorado’s maternal mortality review committee — which has met since 1993 but was only made official by law this year —to see what efforts are afoot to combat the spiking rates. 


Even after a rush of snow and rain, the thirsty Colorado River Basin is “not out of the woods yet”

Morrow Point Dam stands upstream of the Gunnison River. Morrow Point Dam was completed in 1971, as part of the Colorado River Storage Project. The Gunnison is the 5th largest tributary to the Colorado River. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

13 years

Sure, we had an extraordinary water year here in Colorado. But after two decades of drought, it could take 13 years exactly like this one  to make up the water deficit in the Colorado River Basin. 

>> WATER OFFICIALS AREN’T BETTING ON RAIN Sun contributor Katie Klingsporn has an excellent longread on the state of the Colorado River Basin — the main artery of the American West — and its continued march into aridification. You need to take some time to read this one, folks.


Stand-up paddler dies Saturday on Arkansas River, marking Colorado’s eighth water death of the season

“Dude, that guy has been surfing all day long. I bet he’s tired.”

Jason Belvins has a stunning first-hand account of the latest death in Colorado’s waterways this season — Michael James, 40, of Boulder who was last seen in the Buena Vista whitewater park.

>> BE CAREFUL, SERIOUSLY This incident highlights the fact that even some of the most popular, man-made attractions can turn deadly with the amount of runoff the state is experiencing.


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From the Opinion Page




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// PUT DOWN THE VAPE (if you’re indoors in Colorado as of midnight, when the new Colorado Clean Indoor Act provisions became law). // 9News

// There are few — if any — people working in journalism in Colorado that I admire more than RJ Sangosti. “The Long Shadow” — his absolutely stunning project looking at the families in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods struggling with asthma at the heart of the massive I-70 expansion project — is as beautiful as it is revealing. Take some time and really absorb this one. // The Denver Post ?

// I’m writing this while wearing my Yard Goats cap, because I love the freedom of minor league baseball teams. But a good-natured push by a fan of the Grand Junction Rockies to rename the team after the humble humpback chub – a swift water canyon fish – taught the team a lesson in the Streisand Effect. // KUNC

// A bipartisan research organization has the numbers: Colorado’s 555,000 immigrants (about 10% of the population) pay billions in taxes and had close to $13 billion in disposable income to be spent in the state. // Westword

// Not Colorado, but still an absolutely shocking story, appropriately tucked into the category “PROFITING FROM THE POOR”: Low-wage workers are being sued for unpaid medical bills by a nonprofit Christian hospital in Memphis that employs them. // ProPublica

// If you’re looking for coffee north of Greeley, there’s a new cafe in Eaton that is also a nonprofit that donates profits to women and children at risk for sex trafficking. // Greeley Tribune




Today’s Thing


One of many stoop statues to be found while hiking through Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Today’s thing comes from reporter Jesse Paul. Got a thing of your own? Shoot us an email at  and you could be published in a future Sunriser.

The Thing: Urban hiking 

Why You Might Like It: Sure, there’s a lot of talk about walking in Colorado’s majestic mountains, taking in the rivers and peaks and huffing and puffing up steep inclines. But you don’t have to venture too far from home to really find yourself some adventure. Lately my girlfriend and I have simply been taking long walks in the Denver neighborhood where we live, focusing on a different street each time we venture out. It’s kind of amazing how much you can learn about your community by just walking a few miles in it. Yeah, I know it’s not as Instagrammable as a foray into say, the Maroon Bells Wilderness (Ed. note: I beg to differ — Eric), but we’ve found that just by enjoying the things around you a bit more you can feel more connected to the place.

It’s become our new routine on weekends or weekday nights where we don’t have enough free time in our schedule to go deep into the woods. If you find yourself with only a sliver of time to get outside this weekend, maybe try going on an urban hike instead of searching for hours for that perfect high-country trail.



And that’s the end of the first Sunriser of the second half of 2019! Thanks for reading and as always, you (yes, you, reading this right now) are the best marketing The Colorado Sun has. Share the stories you read today with your networks (or forward this Sunriser!) and tell people why they should get on board by signing up for The Sunriser over at

Every new reader help us strengthen the community we’re building to provide Colorado with the journalism it deserves.

Now if you’re lucky, you’ve only got a few days of work left before a long, well-deserved weekend, so buckle in and finish strong.

We’ll see you back here on Wednesday!

— Eric

Eric Lubbers

Eric Lubbers is the Chief Technology Officer and one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun. A native of Yuma, Colorado, he writes The Sunriser newsletter in addition to handling most of the behind-the-scenes tech stuff. Email: