Good morning! If July was all about the heat, August so far has been about the clouds. For the last two nights on the Front Range, well-timed thunderheads have caught the golden hour sunset light and made for some Instagrammable sights (here’s mine, but others had much better vantage points). Those same pretty weather patterns picked up steam as they headed east, resulting in twin tornadoes near Joes and Kirk in Yuma County.
In conclusion, Colorado is a land of contrasts.*
Let’s get our Pecos Bill on and lasso this supercell already, shall we?
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>> ABOVE THE FOLD
Liam Price, 16, washes dishes in the kitchen of Donita’s Cantina as owner Kay Peterson Cook works in the background on August 10, 2019. After 30 years in the historic Elk Mountain House building, Cook is closing Donita’s in September. The lease went up 50%, Cook said, and that along with a shortage of labor is causing her to close. Already short-handed, Cook closes Donita’s twice a week to save money. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)
When we were working on this headline, my suggestion was, “Tourist towns turning to teens to temper torrent of testy travelers.” The one we landed on was better in the long run and is a great intro to this fascinating story from Nancy Lofholm about the severe worker shortage facing shops in towns like Crested Butte — and how much worse off they’d be if basically every teenager in town wasn’t picking up shifts.
A tray holding dozens of various wasp specimens constitutes just a tiny fraction of the more than 3.5 million specimens at the Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)
There’s a museum on the CSU campus that holds more than 3.5 million bugs representing more than 60,000 species. It’s one of the most impressive collections in the country — and not just for people who like to look at bugs. As Kevin Simpson writes, studying our crawling buddies can tell researchers a lot about our environment, from climate change to water quality to the impact of development on fragile ecosystems.
No texts, no posts, just phone calls: Colorado child abuse hotline won’t change policy to accept social media tips
The statewide hotline to accept tips of suspected child abuse has been around for four years, but as we reported last month, employees inside the Colorado Department of Human Services have been concerned that the hotline left too many gaps in the system. But after a task force review this month, the hotline will continue to only accept phone calls — for now.
- MORE: Colorado’s child protection ombudsman is asking what took the state so long to shut down a Pueblo center for troubled kids that a new report shows had 243 abuse allegations in the year before it closed.
Ridgway Reservoir, via the European Union’s Sentinel 2B satellite
We’ve all heard about how great this winter and spring have been for Colorado’s constantly dire water situation, but what has that actually meant for our reservoirs? Well, a lot. We pulled satellite photos of five reservoirs to get an idea of just how big of an impact all the rain and snow have had.
More from The Sun
- Colorado voters will be asked in November whether to allow the state’s revenue caps under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — TABOR — to be permanently eliminated. A new poll shows it has a decent shot of passage, even if people still like Colorado’s complicated tax policy and want to keep its broader structure in place.
- It’s no secret that the future of the Colorado River is complicated and likely going to be very contentious. But a new effort to use technology to squeeze every last drop out of the waterway affecting the entire Southwest could help alleviate some of those issues.
- Colorado regulators are deciding this week whether to adopt a zero-emissions vehicle policy for the state. Reporter Tamara Chuang looks at the data and arguments for and against this change.
- Since the federal government decided not to make the sage grouse an endangered species in 2015, Idaho’s population of the bird has dropped by 52%. This comes amid a broader move by the Trump administration to weaken the Endangered Species Act.
>> YOUR THOUGHTS ON … RTD
Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts about the idea of a fare-free RTD. For some more context, yesterday the RTD board shared two pieces of information:
- They’re looking ahead to 10% fare increases in both 2022 and 2025, on top of what is already among the most expensive public transit systems in the country.
- RTD’s ridership drops weren’t as drastic as they first reported ( 🔑) because of a counting glitch, but they were still pretty bad. I wonder if those two things are related?
OK, now to some of your thoughts on the idea:
- Miles and Richard both pointed out that my rough math didn’t include the fact that it costs money to charge fares and ditching the whole ticket-buying/money handling infrastructure would result in instant savings on operating costs.
- Tyler argued that certain premium lines (A-Line, Flatiron Flyer, CDOT’s Bustang) should continue to charge in order to fund expansion of those services while making more local routes free.
- Branden pointed out that people may think of their car commute as “free” but every trip costs something, from car payments and insurance to the collective costs of road maintenance, traffic and smog.
- Ben was blunt: “LOVE IT. Raise my taxes.”
- Elisabeth is a former bus rider who gave it up because the local routes were cut in favor of trains. “If RTD wants people on transit … don’t assume everyone needs a train.”
- Ed would love to use RTD to get from Longmont to Denver for special events and Longmont to Boulder for work, but the routes just don’t exist.
- Sarah says spending on public transit should be treated as an investment in the environment and economy, not an expense (but also echoes the idea that RTD needs to up its service game, even if it was fare-free).
- Hamilton had a lot of thoughts, but this one stuck out to me: “Riding the bus or rails needs to be seen as almost as free and easy as getting in your car.”
So far, all the messages I’ve received have been in support of the idea, so I would love to hear from anyone with an argument against it, lest we get into too much of an echo chamber. No matter what your opinion, you can send me an email with your thoughts (or suggestions for other topics of discussion in a 300 Words segment) anytime.
Cars park inside the Star Drive-In movie theater in Montrose Colorado Saturday June 15, 2019. (William Woody, Special to the Colorado Sun)
>> THE SHORTLIST
// There have been plenty of accidents, but Denver has seen its first electric scooter-related death. Cameron Hagan, a Montana resident visiting the city, died five days after a collision in the Highlands neighborhood of North Denver, but there is some dispute over who was at fault for the accident. // Westword
// After a very public slapfight over costs and delays, DIA has fired its construction partners in the massive Great Hall renovation. Jon Murray breaks down how the relationship broke down (and what’s next). // The Denver Post 🔑
// A Cherry Creek resident who works for a Breckenridge real estate firm has filed the first lawsuit against Denver’s AirBnb/short-term rental regulations after her rental license was not renewed, with the city claiming the Denver house is not her primary residence. // BusinessDen
// Douglas County is planning to join other Colorado law enforcement in fully encrypting their police radios, leaving residents in the dark. // Douglas County News Press
// The criticism of the Trump administration’s decision to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction is getting louder. CPR analyzed the most prominent critiques. // CPR News
// The trial of Mark Redwine, accused of killing his 13-year-old son Dylan, has been postponed, in part because one of his public defenders was arrested. // Durango Herald
// Clear your calendar for Sept. 14. It’s Potato Day in Greeley. // City of Greeley on Twitter
// The case of Tom’s Diner in Denver is fast becoming the most-watched historic preservation vs. property owner rights battle in the country. // CityLab
// Even if precipitation remains constant, climate change is warming the water that supplies Carbondale and will make drought conditions worse and more prominent, a new report determined. // Glenwood Post-Independent
>> TODAY’S THING
Why You Might Like It: One of the best subgenres in film is “artificial intelligence grapples with its own existence” (Metropolis, Blade Runner, Terminator, War Games, Westworld, etc.). You might think that the story has been told from just about every angle, but “I Am Mother” a new Netflix release tells the story from a very original perspective in a really entertaining way. It’s got great acting and a very cool robot (that is mostly practical effects, not CGI) in a well-paced flick that clocks in at under two hours. Definitely worth adding to your watchlist.
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From water issues to state social services and politics, we’ve covered a lot of ground in today’s Sunriser. Remember if you ever have something you want us to dig into, you can drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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See you back here on Friday.