Good morning! Today, most of Colorado will be feeling the dog days of summer (named by the Romans because they thought the “Dog Star” Sirius was so bright that it sent extra heat to the planet when it was visible in July and August.)
But as you do whatever it is you need to do to prep for temperatures that feel more like Phoenix than Denver, we’ve got a whole bundle of fascinating stories worth your time. No joke, you need to sit down and actually read at least three of the stories linked below. No excuses.
Let’s slam this Slurpee, shall we?
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>> ABOVE THE FOLD
A slain deputy. A political brawl. A school shooting: How Sheriff Tony Spurlock is handling years of turmoil
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock talks about the shooting at STEM School in Highlands Ranch on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
“I don’t see you that much, except bad news on the TV.”
— A restaurant worker to Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock
There has been one man right in the middle of three of the biggest stories in Colorado: Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.
>> DEATH, POLITICS AND OTHER TRAUMA Spurlock’s time at the helm of the 800-person department has been rough — including the death of Deputy Zack Parrish in late 2017, a political fight over the red flag law and the recent STEM school shooting. Jesse Paul spent a lot of time with Spurlock, a Colorado native, to find out how his once-sleepy county has dealt with what he calls the most trying of his 40-plus years in law enforcement. Take some time to read this one.
Gunnison’s farm season has grown by 28 days. The proof is in “Barometer” Bartleson’s weather records.
In a chart based on Bruce Bartleson’s collected data, the growing season in Gunnison — defined as the number of days between the last frost and the first frost of the year — has been steadily getting longer since the 1960s.
Despite his nickname, “Barometer,” Bruce Bartleson doesn’t actually use a barometer for his work. “I tell them I don’t forecast: I am a weather historian. I only backcast,” he told reporter Nancy Lofholm.
>> FEWER FROST DAYS, LONGER GROWING SEASONS There are two reasons to read this great story by Nancy. First: The story of how Bruce, an 85-year-old retired geology professor, turned an interest in weather into a full-blown obsession that debunked some of the deepest-held myths about Gunnison weather (no, it’s not the coldest town in the country, and it’s not even the coldest in Colorado.) Second: By mining more than a century’s worth of data, he’s showing the real-time effects of a changing climate right in his own backyard.
Dave Arnold works at Warrior’s Revolution in Longmont on July 13, 2019. The store, which sells ammunition and survival supplies, is one place where people can sign a petition to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. (Sandra Fish, Special to The Colorado Sun)
We’ve reported about how much of a long shot the attempt to recall Gov. Jared Polis is, requiring an unheard-of number of signatures (more than 10,000 per day) in a state where the governor won an election just last year by 8 points. Sandra Fish talked to some of the people who are pushing the effort along to find out why they are committed to the cause.
>> OIL, GUNS AND SOME MISCONCEPTIONS From agricultural supply stores in Platteville to tactical gear stores in Longmont, Sandra reports on why these residents feel so strongly — while also correcting some misconceptions when the voter’s beliefs don’t match up with facts. This is a really interesting story that you should make time for no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.
BONUS: Sandra also explains the significance of the “Polis penny” — a penny stapled to a card that looks like a little souvenir for donors to the recall effort — but that is actually a way to skirt campaign finance reporting requirements.
Colorado’s child abuse hotline can’t process tips from social media or email — despite a memo urging change
“There are enough gaps in this system that concerns are bound to fall through. We need to be proactive and preventative to ensure the safety of kids.”
— Katie Facchinello, who wrote a memo concerning gaps in reporting while working as a communications manager for the Colorado Department of Human Services
You likely saw the story: An email inbox at the Colorado Department of Human Services went unchecked for four years, resulting in lost cases. But The Sun’s Jennifer Brown dug deeper into the story — learning that none of the emails in the inbox were from the public, only from inside CDHS, and finding a memo written a year ago that served as a warning.
>> NO EMAIL, NO TEXT, NO SOCIAL MEDIA The state’s child abuse hotline (1-844-CO-4-KIDS) was designed to make reporting abuse easier, but as Jen writes, some advocates are worried that without more modern methods of collecting tips, cases are bound to fall through the cracks.
Grand Junction will, in fact, become the Bureau of Land Management’s new headquarters — but not quite as expected
Monday afternoon, the news that many Coloradans had been anticipating for months — if not years — came down: the new headquarters for the Bureau of Land Management would be coming to the Western Slope.
>> LAKEWOOD GETS MORE JOBS UNDER THE PLAN But as more details were revealed about the reorganization, it became clear that the impact wouldn’t be quite as large as some boosters anticipated, with just 27 jobs coming to the Western Slope and more than 50 heading to Lakewood’s Federal Center. Jesse Paul has more details, plus the still-happy reaction from the head of economic development in Grand Junction.
>> GARDNER’S BIG MOMENT OVERSHADOWED? The relocation of the BLM to Colorado has been one of Sen. Cory Gardner’s most consistent goals during his term. But when that goal was finally reached, the good news had to compete for attention with the national conversation about President Trump’s racist tweets targeting four congresswomen. Read more about the latest way Gardner has had to deal with his relationship to Trump.
More from The Sun
A crack that emerged in the deck of the eastbound lanes of U.S. 36 on July 12, 2019, was declared a full-blown sinkhole as the supporting earthen structure slowly collapsed into Westminster’s Lower Church Ranch open space on July 15, 2019. People walked from the nearby shopping center to look at the damage. (Doug Conarroe, Special to The Colorado Sun)
- It’s still unclear who exactly is going to be on the hook for the defects that led to the massive sinkhole on U.S. 36, but Tamara Chuang dug into the data, from the public private partnership that built the structure to the state of toll revenue on the road, to get a clearer picture of what’s going on — and how taxpayers could be on the hook.
- The 90-day jail sentence for a former Westminster cop accused of raping a handcuffed woman in 2017 while he was supposed to be giving her a ride home from a hospital stoked outrage. Now the FBI is investigating and he could be facing years in federal prison if a case is ultimately brought against him by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado.
- There is a top tier of Democratic presidential candidates forming. Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and former Gov. John Hickenlooper are not in it.
- More than a third of Colorado students who graduated from high school in 2017 were flagged as needing additional help in reading or math to keep up with college-level coursework. Our friends at Chalkbeat have the whole story.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// What do you think about when you hear “working class?” If you picture car factory workers and coal miners, I’ve got news for you: The entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s. Fast-food, retail, warehouse and call center workers are the vast majority of the working class in America today. And this firsthand account from the front lines of fast food is shocking, not only for the conditions these workers endure, but how technology has made those jobs more stressful and unpredictable — on purpose — in the name of algorithmically squeezing out a little bit more profit for the conglomerates operating them. // Washington Post, Vox
// The Republican side of Colorado’s delegation had been pretty quiet about the racist tweets sent by President Trump aimed at four Congresswomen — until yesterday. All three of Colorado’s GOP reps in the House voted against a condemnation of the tweets as racist. Then in an interview with KOA, Sen. Cory Gardner said “I disagree with the president. I wouldn’t have sent those tweets. I think he shouldn’t have done it,” when asked about the tweets. // CNN, KOA NewsRadio
// A 17-year-old grizzly bear died following a struggle with arthritis shortly after being moved into the new bear habitat at the Denver Zoo. The Sun wrote earlier this year about the Harmony Hill exhibit and how zoo officials are hoping to help educate humans about how to keep bears (and themselves) safe. // 9News, The Colorado Sun
// As we reported, the effort to get the recall of Gov. Polis in front of voters is a Herculean task, requiring more than 10,000 signatures a day. But it’s illegal to offer anyone prizes to sign petitions, like a gun range in Douglas County seemingly did on Facebook (they’ve since clarified.) // The Colorado Sun, 9News
>> TODAY’S THING
Meet Toasty, the mascot for the
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Rocky Mountain Vibes.
The Thing: Rocky Mountain Vibes Baseball
Why You Might Like It: You know you’ve hit on something a bit different when a baseball team’s mascot is a s’more. The Vibes, who replaced the triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox, are the advanced rookie league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, which means these kids are young and several worlds away from The Show. But that’s the charm of this level of ball, where you’ll see mind-blowing skill one minute, sandlot miscues the next. And between innings in the Springs, we saw a tricycle race, T-shirt cannons and a sprint between human and dog, so you get the drift that this is a total entertainment package. We got great tickets for $11, but there are endless promotions, including $2 Tuesdays. Best of all, the baseball was immensely fun to watch. You can even get your picture taken with the mascot Toasty — marshmallow body, graham cracker arms and flames for hair. You can’t make this up.
You did it! You finished reading today’s Sunriser, hopefully somewhere with air conditioning or a nice breeze.
I received an email this morning telling me it’s been exactly one year since the end of our Kickstarter campaign, during which people who value the role of journalism in Colorado came together and smashed our initial fundraising goal.
That outpouring of support will always be a treasured memory for our staff, but to truly make The Sun a sustainable model that will stick around for years to come, we need the kind of direct, ongoing support that a membership provides.
If you haven’t already, becoming a member is fast, easy and starts at just $5 per month.
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And with that, we’re wrapped for today. Drink lots of water, stay cool and I’ll see you on Friday.