Casa volunteers Anahi Russo Garrido, left, and Shelby Mattingly, center, exit the ICE facility with Yoandy, right, one of the detainees. As detainees are released from the GEO ICE Processing Center, volunteers from Casa de Paz are waiting outside to offer help. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

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

Good morning and happy Friday the 13th! If I wasn’t starting to get a cold, this may have been the day I finally took advantage of the many tattoo shops doing cheap ink marathons in honor of the unlucky day (or at least, I’m telling myself it’s the cold stopping me).

We have a newsletter packed with interesting news, from ill-prepared skiers to some extremely useful health care guides and some signs that Comcast is preparing for a future without the Nuggets or Avalanche. But first, some reminders:

  • Our next book club event is this Monday! And while you could spend the weekend cramming Nick Arvin’s fascinating “Mad Boy” before then, you could also just show up and have a glass of wine/cup of coffee and talk to him at BookBar in Denver, no reading required. Details are here, and we’d appreciate it if you could RSVP if you can make it.
  • I want your favorite Colorado (or just useful + cheap) gifts! On Monday, we’ll publish a little crowd-sourced gift guide here in The Sunriser, so if you want to share your favorite cool, useful, affordable gift (Colorado products preferred, but any great idea will do), send it to me before the end of the day today.
  • Buy a membership with The Sun for yourself (or as a gift) and its value is doubled: We still need a few more memberships to get the whole $5,000 matching grant from The Colorado Media Project. So if you need a gift for the news lover in your life who has everything or if you’ve been thinking about a membership for yourself, head to It just takes a minute (you can do it from your phone!) to help strengthen our local democracy. Help us hit this goal!

OK, we’ve already dillied and dallied enough. Let’s import these foreign drugs, shall we (more on that below)?

CORRECTION CORNER: In Wednesday’s Sunriser, in my haste to get out the story about Chevron’s $10 billion writedown of its assets, I incorrectly said it was Colorado’s biggest oil producer after buying Anadarko. What I had forgotten was that Chevron’s huge bid for Anadarko was trumped by Occidental Petroleum, which acquired the company for $38 billion in August (in what activist investor Carl Ichan said at the time was “one of the worst deals he’s ever seen”). Occidental is currently trading at $9/share lower than the day it finalized the purchase ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


The Latest from The Sun


Asylum-seekers find compassion, resources at “House of Peace” once released from Aurora immigration center

Sitting with volunteers Anahi Russo Garrido, left, newly arrived guest Juan Carlos is comforted by Rebeca Torres, right, as he breaks into tears and thanks them all for their kindness and for bringing him to the Casa de Paz. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The privately owned ICE detention center in Aurora is filled with immigrants who walked up to the U.S. border, requested asylum and then were shipped to Colorado to continue their case. But what happens when they are released, to legally reside in the country, in the middle of a Colorado suburb with no contacts, very little money and nowhere to go? Well, they might head to the nearby gas station.

STORY AND PHOTOS: Moe Clark has a great feature on Casa de Paz (“House of Peace”) that has been helping asylum seekers immediately get a hot meal and a place to stay in those first, confusing hours — and then make the connection to long-term services to get settled.


BLM demands intensive review of test bores needed before mine above Glenwood can expand, cites public ire

The massive expansion of a limestone quarry directly above downtown Glenwood Springs will be subject to a large environmental review by the Bureau of Land Management — and the field office has cited hundreds of complaints from the community (and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton) as a reason for the extra scrutiny.

REPORT: Jason Blevins breaks down the latest move — and why the mine owner’s influence with the Department of the Interior is still in question.

+ BLM MOVE PUSHBACK: Yesterday was the deadline for BLM employees to tell their managers if they would relocate from D.C. to the West, including Grand Junction (reminder, the White House chief of staff told Republican party-goers in August that relocating the office was a “wonderful way” to shed federal employees). And now congressional watchdogs — including three Colorado reps — are investigating the move. // AP, Government Executive, CPR News


Survey: Backcountry skiers are “shockingly” ill-prepared for dangerous territory

The backcountry gate at the Vail ski area boundary heading toward East Vail. (Jason Blevins, Colorado Sun)

“I wanted to test my theory, not that people were being reckless, but maybe they were a bit more cavalier about avalanche dangers. It was pretty shocking hearing so many people talk about getting caught in avalanches.”

— Vail avalanche safety instructor Kellie Rohrig

An experienced avalanche safety instructor has been asking people headed into the backcountry a lot of questions over the past few seasons — including during last year’s deadly season of slides — and she is worried that many lack basic safety skills.

SURVEY RESULTS: Jason Blevins talked to Rohrig about her concerns, how safety isn’t keeping up with the boom in backcountry skiing and more.

+ SKI GRANBY RANCH SURRENDERED: After 24 years and facing foreclosure, Granby Ranch ski area’s owner is walking away from the resort.


Comcast raising local TV fees 57% in January; Altitude Sports missing from 2020 lineup

If you’re a Comcast customer (which is going to be a lot of you, as the cable company is the largest pay-TV provider in the state), prepare for a bigger bill next month. The fee on the rise is the cost to get local TV  — which you can technically get for free over the air via antenna — piped through cable. But tucked into the latest rate card is a sign that the company is preparing not to carry Altitude for a while to come.

LOOKING AHEAD: Tamara Chuang analyzes what these changes mean for every Comcast customer in Colorado — and the health of local TV stations.


A procrastinator’s guide to buying health insurance in Colorado

If you still haven’t bought your health insurance on Colorado’s individual market — meaning not through your employer — then stop what you’re doing and click that link ^^. But even if you get your insurance through your employer, it’s worth reading John Ingold’s guide to understand exactly how the state market is changing and to get some tips on how to pick a plan.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Seriously, if you haven’t gotten your plan yet, you shouldn’t have even read this far. Just go get started already.

+ LOOKING BEYOND CANADA FOR CHEAP DRUGS: Gov. Jared Polis still wants to lower Colorado’s drug prices. But with Canada not fully on board with the original plan to import drugs from the Great White North, lawmakers are drafting proposals to expand to other countries with cheaper drugs than here in the U.S.


More from The Sun


The Fun Stuff



Start the weekend with one of Colorado’s coolest beer release parties. Ratio Beerworks will pour its 2019 Genius Wizard bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout and four more variants in a mystical immersive art installation at the brewery with tasty bites from some of the best Denver restaurants. The event starts at 7 p.m. Friday (more info here). Tickets are $45 and include a bottle to take home.

But save energy for one of the craziest beer festivals Saturday. The 8th annual Denver Beer Festivus is a carnival of ugly holiday sweaters that showcases the city’s best beers. The event starts at 2 p.m. with general admission at 3 p.m (more info here). I’ll be signing copies of “Beer Lover’s Colorado” at the event, so see you there. 

And a final note: Don’t forget to take our 2019 Beer of the Year survey!


// This song may not exactly be a holiday tradition in your house, but it obviously stuck with Jim Morrissey over the years. So when he read about how poorly Colorado drivers ranked nationally, well, he just couldn’t help himself.

// Is there a statute of limitations on shame? In “What’d I Miss?” Ossie and Myra address what actions ought to be called out and what to let slide. Hair styles remain an open question.

// Meanwhile, Drew Litton got wind of a wave of last-minute orders flowing in to the North Pole. Pity those elves.


Sometimes the difference between regular adult literature and “young adult” literature is so slim that it doesn’t really matter. That’s definitely the case with this week’s SunLit excerpt from “All About Julia Morgan,” which introduces us to California’s first female architect — and her adventures designing and building William Randolph Hearst’s sprawling “vacation home,” the castle at San Simeon. Author Phyllis J. Perry relates Morgan’s considerable trials in making Hearst’s dream a reality in smooth, accessible language that anyone can enjoy. And in the SunLit interview, you’ll learn that Perry’s respect for her subject went well beyond the pages of her book.


The Colorado Report


“Many Americans probably have a stronger opinion of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) than they do of their own state delegates. And that fixation on Washington, D.C., politics can have a detrimental impact on civic involvement — drawing our attention away from the issues that most viscerally impact us, and weakening our knowledge of important community problems.”

// READ LOCAL: I don’t need to tell you, the reader of this newsletter, why local news should be the entree on your news plate, not just the vegetables you skip after gorging on national politics.  But this column (hyperbolic headline aside) is a pretty solid summary of the argument that is practically an advertisement to read (and support) news outlets like The Colorado Sun.  // The Week

// TRAINING FOR LIFE AFTER COAL: Over in Delta County, high school students who just a decade or two ago could have graduated immediately into good-paying jobs at the nearby coal mine are getting school credit by learning how to install solar panels// High Country News

// THE GROSS, CRUMBLING SIDE OF BEAUTIFUL BALLET: This story about The Colorado Ballet’s deteriorating costumes for “The Nutcracker” has way more references to “splotches of age-old grime” and caked on sweat and a box of something called “mouse goggles” than I was expecting. // CPR News 

// THE MOST ELECTED MAN IN COLORADO: The next chapter in Dave Migoya’s investigation into Colorado’s metro districts is about Oakwood Homes executive Bruce Rau, who has been elected to more than three dozen boards, each with authority to make taxing decisions that benefit his employer. // The Denver Post ?

// BUZZWORD BINGO: When I’m a crotchety old man, holed up on a mountain top somewhere to escape the rising ocean, and I’m asked “What were the late 2010s like?” I’m just going to point to this headline: “Denver startup turns oil well emissions into cryptocurrency, wins millions in VC.” // Denver Business Journal ?

// RADIO PRODUCER ACCUSATIONS: 710KNUS won’t comment on accusations that one of its producers wrote white nationalist social media posts and has connections to the far-right Proud Boys and neo-Nazi movements. // 9News

// ASH IN THE AIR, BUT FREE CAR WASHES: The Suncor Energy refinery yesterday triggered what officials called “an opacity event” that coated nearby cars with clay catalyst and other ashy materials. The company’s tests say the air quality was “within acceptable levels” but did offer free car washes for its neighbors ?. // The Denver Post ?

// MAKING METHANE VISIBLE: Speaking of opacity and things billowing into the air, The New York Times rigged up an infrared camera to capture the mostly invisible spewing of methane into the air at oil and gas rigs in Texas. // New York Times

// RACISM IN HOCKEY: Former Colorado Eagles and Calgary Flames right winger Akim Aliu relayed the racist incidents he experienced at every level of his hockey career, the most disturbing of which was when an Eagles equipment manager showed up at the team’s Halloween party dressed as Aliu — complete with blackface. The team, based in Loveland, has apologized for the incident and put the equipment manager on leave. // Wall Street Journal, Denver7

? = site with a paywall or metered access


Today’s Thing


The Thing: The harsh mirror of the Spotify end-of-year playlist.

The Other Thing: The Sunriser (The Playlist) on Spotify — The ongoing collection of every song recommended in the pages of this newsletter. Give it a follow (and let me know if you’d be interested in an Apple Music/YouTube version of the playlist).

Why You Might Like It: I think “Terminator” and “The Matrix” gave everyone the idea that the conflict between man and machine will be sudden and dark and violent. But just looking around, you can see the evidence that on the way to our clash with machines, it’s actually going to feel really … convenient. Every year, the Spotify robot spits out a playlist that reminds you it’s been watching and remembering all the music you listened to over the last 365 days. It’s both creepy and a shortcut to self-reflection that most of us wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

I’m going to bare my soul to you all a little and give you access to the last four years of my music listening history. Judge away and hopefully you find some old favorites and new stuff in my accidental musical diary:

GIFT GUIDE DEADLINE IS TODAY: Get me your gift idea at to make it into Monday’s guide! 

OK, you are an absolute champion for making it through another packed Sunriser (and a long pre-holiday week). There is absolutely no shame in snoozing this email and coming back to it this weekend before you head to the mall.

Thanks for spending some time with us and I’ll see you bright and early on Monday! Have a great weekend!

— Eric 

Eric Lubbers is one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun, focused on making technology work hand-in-hand with journalism. He was born and raised in Yuma, Colorado, and since starting his career with the Rocky Mountain News/YourHub in 2005...