Not to stress you out, but our sources are confirming that we are — somehow — halfway through December. 😳

If the thought of wrapping up your to-do list by year’s end is too much to bear, take a beat with us here at the Boulder Reporting Lab. We’ll catch you up on what’s going on in your community today.

In addition to our regular round-up of local news you can use — including on today’s high winds — you’ll find details on the Parks & Open Space $1.6 million capital improvement and stewardship budget for 2022. We’ve also got stories on Boulder’s goals for getting to zero waste by 2025, and solutions for helping narrow the digital divide at BVSD.

Don’t forget about our Lens on Boulder series. Send us your best images from around town, and you just might see them featured right here in BRL Today and on our Instagram page. Email photos@boulderreportinglab.org.

– Jezy, managing editor

Tom Horst, a Boulder County business owner and BRL Today subscriber, uses the recycling drop-off at the Boulder County Recycling Center on Dec. 14. He said recycling is the right thing to do: “I think we have enough junk in this world.” Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Top Stories

Boulder County to spend big on trails next year in its outdoors budget

Four trails will get built or upgrades in 2022. But the county’s capital improvement and stewardship budget includes less money for ecological restoration and outdoor inclusion projects. Read the full story

Boulder is leading the way on recycling and composting in Colorado. What will it take to get to zero waste by 2025?

Boulder is a recycling and composting leader in Colorado, but it has a long way to go toward its goal of 85% waste diversion by 2022. The state has even further to go to catch up. Read the full story

The digital divide is narrowing for kids in Boulder Valley School District. Why does it persist at all?

Years ago, the district’s ambitions to bridge the digital divide bumped up against restrictive federal policies. It has since found a workaround, but will it work for all families? Read the full story

Quickly

⏱️ High Wind Warning in effect today. Dangerous gusts could reach above 80 mph in Boulder. Highest winds look to be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
⏱️ Here are key messages and action items from NWS Boulder, which is warning of potentially serious damage. Impacts may include broken tree limbs and falling trees, scattered power outages, high fire danger, hazardous travel and more.
⏱️ This year’s meteorological fall (September–November) was the second-warmest in Colorado history. It was the 25th-driest.
⏱️ Colorado State Rep. Edie Hooton (D-Boulder) will run for re-election in 2022.
⏱️ Today is the last day to nominate “Boulder’s innovators, trailblazers and leaders” for the Boulder Chamber’s 2022 Celebration of Leadership awards.
⏱️ The Boulder County Motor Vehicle Office is closed today and tomorrow for carpet replacement, but many services are available online.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Dec. 15, 2021

  • 95 daily new cases (7-day avg.)🔻 Down 0.2% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 70 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 38 since July 2020.
  • 69% percent of ICU is occupied 🔻Down from avg. of 72% since July 2020.

Latest Covid news

  • 100,000 doses. That’s how many shots of the Covid-19 vaccine have gotten into the arms of Boulder residents to date, according to Boulder Community Health.
  • Another vaccine milestone. Yesterday marked one year since the arrival of the state’s first shipments of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. “Colorado’s mission to get the vaccine into our communities has kept our businesses and schools open and our economy on the path to recovery while other states fell behind,” Gov. Polis said in a news release.
  • Social media lockdown in Weld County. Commissioners say they will not allow the county health department to post information advocating for the Covid-19 vaccine, the Colorado Sun reports.

BRL Picks

🏠 Home for the holidays. Waitlists are now open through Dec. 17 for apartment homes at three “deeply affordable” Section 8 communities in Northport, Manhattan and Broadway East. Designed for older adults, families and people with disabilities, residents “pay approximately 30-40% of income towards rent,” according to Boulder Housing Partners.
🎞️ Mountain movie magic. Tickets go on sale Friday for the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival at Boulder Theater. The three-day event presented by The Access Fund “takes you on explorations of remote landscapes and mountain cultures to adrenaline-fueled action sports.”
🦬 Feed the stampede. CU Boulder’s food insecurity initiative helps fight hunger on campus. Donate today and help feed students in your community. “Money will be used to purchase food for distribution, meal swipes for on-campus meals, and grocery store gift cards for students in need.”
📚 Book it! After closing for renovations, the George Reynolds Branch Library in South Boulder is officially back open. Drop by 3595 Table Mesa Drive to check out the new digs and take advantage of the library’s many services.

What We’re Reading

  • Narcan at BVSD. Responding to a rising number of fentanyl overdoses, every school in the district now carries a dose of Naloxone (also known as Narcan) for emergency treatment. It’s the second district in the state to stock the lifesaving medication, alongside Clear Creek in Idaho Springs. “The BVSD Health Services team made the decision to have the opioid antidote on hand as an incredibly important preventative measure if needed — much like having first aid kits, AED units and Stop the Bleed kits in our schools.” [BVSD]
  • Sub standard. It’s not just Boulder Valley — the whole state is dealing with a substitute teacher shortage. “The struggle to keep schools open has become an all-too-familiar bind for Colorado districts as they seek to recruit enough substitute teachers to fill in for teachers who may be sick or on vacation. While some schools have had to temporarily close without enough subs or other staff to stand in for educators, others have asked top-level school and district administrators to assume the role of sub for a day.” [Colorado Sun]
  • Graduation hurdles. There are a number of factors contributing to the low college graduation rate for Latino men in Colorado, but solutions could be in sight — including predictive analysis, changes to campus culture and investing in mentorship. “‘To me, mentors make graduation attainable and reachable,’ said Chavez Gasca. ‘And I mentor because I see myself in those kids. Their stories are my story. By giving back, it’s refueling my community and giving students inspirational capital that people like me can graduate and be successful.'” [Chalkbeat Colorado]
  • One of every 100 older Americans has died from Covid-19. People over the age of 65 make up three-quarters of Covid deaths in the United States, and they continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic in more ways than one. “The relentless waves of new threats — a surge of the Delta variant and now the new Omicron variant — have been especially stressful for older Americans, prompting some people to consider tightening restrictions on their lives even more, during a period of life when socializing and staying physically and mentally active is considered essential.” [New York Times]

ICYMI from BRL

🌱 A Boulder County couple is growing a better future for young farmers. Travel with reporter Sophia Piña-McMahon to a 17-acre plot of farmland in Niwot, where the Treehouse Farm Collective is launching a delicious experiment in community agriculture.
🔥 New spending on wildfire mitigation. John Herrick reports on the county’s new $549.8 million budget — including $264,000 in one-time spending for recovery work at Heil Valley Ranch, along with $106,000 to create a new position to help plan bigger wildfire mitigation projects.
🦠 Omicron Q&A. Why do we keep seeing new Covid-19 variants? What’s so concerning about this one? And what can we do to protect ourselves and our communities? Answers to these big questions and more, from CU experts.

About Us

Hi. We’re Boulder’s new nonprofit newsroom. Our mission is to help you get more informed about the issues you care about and more connected to the city you love. To do this, we provide high-quality, original journalism on the most pressing issues plus curated community information — all paywall-free. Learn more about us here and here.

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– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

Jezy Gray was the former managing editor of Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, he was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more.