Another Monday, another edition of BRL Today! 📨 We’re back with your regular dose of news and community information to help you get your week started on the right foot. 

Today’s newsletter features a Q&A with Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett. We talked to the software developer and two-term council member about his new role, and how he plans to represent a politically polarized city. We also talked about housing, equity, homelessness and more. 

Lastly, we’re excited to announce the launch of a new community photo feature we’re calling Lens on Boulder. Below is our first entry into the series, from local photographer David Harwi, who snapped this photo from the Women’s Night of Connection 2021 at Rembrandt Yard — an event presented by the Boulder Chamber to spur conversations around mentorship, inspiration and networking. 

Want to have your photo featured in BRL Today? Send your submissions to photos@boulderreportinglab.org. 

– Jezy, managing editor

Youth leader Janell Tarma Camposano speaks at the Boulder Chamber’s Women’s Night of Connection event on Dec. 2. Jean Dubofsky (left), Colorado’s first woman State Supreme Court justice, was also a panelist. Moderating (center) was Cynthia Case of Alpine Bank. Credit: David Harwi

Top Stories

Q&A: Meet Aaron Brockett, Boulder’s new mayor

Aaron Brockett, a two-term council member, takes over as mayor following an election that shifted the balance of power in city government. “Any significant actions the new council works on should be done through an open and public process,” Brockett told the Boulder Reporting Lab. “I think it’s important for the new folks who are elected by the voters to steer a somewhat different course from the path before.” Read full interview

Climate change: A warm, dry fall is creating challenges for Boulder firefighters

Winter is around the corner, and firefighters have been facing fire conditions they mainly used to face only from late spring through the summer. Boulder County was unusually vulnerable to wildfires this first week of December, raising questions about preparedness for future fire seasons. “I’m understaffed for the conditions,” said the fire management officer for the Boulder County Sheriff’s office. Read full story

Quickly

⏱️ It’s cold out there. Highs in the mid-30s today. Light snowfall expected in the mountains this evening.
⏱️ A Red Flag Warning covered the entire I-25 corridor on Sunday, due to dry and windy conditions. “There have been too many fire starts today!” National Weather Service in Boulder wrote in a tweet.
⏱️ Boulder Valley School District is still in need of bus drivers. Starting wage is $20.60/hour. Signing bonuses of $2,500 for drivers with a commercial license.
⏱️ The City of Boulder hired David Gehr, the former chief deputy city attorney who retired in June, to fill in as the interim director for the Planning and Development Services Department. He replaces Jacob Lindsey, who we spoke with last week about Boulder’s housing challenges.
⏱️ Colorado will get more than $121 million for wastewater and drinking water projects through the federal infrastructure law. KC Becker, EPA regional administrator and Boulderite, called it an “historic opportunity.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Dec. 6, 2021*

  • 98 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔻Down 15% over last week.
  • 81 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 37.
  • 50% of ICU is occupied by Covid patients 🔺Up from avg. of 22%.
  • 68% percent of ICU is occupied in total 🔻Down from avg. of 72%.
  • *Data. Here’s what we’re tracking and where the data is from.

Latest Covid news

  • Omicron. The first case of the new variant was detected in Boulder County, according to the county health department on Friday. A local health care provider notified Boulder County Public Health of a patient who recently traveled to South Africa and later tested positive for Covid-19, according to a news release.
  • More data needed. “We are still gathering information about whether [Omicron] is more contagious and whether it will cause people to have more severe disease. However, what little we do know would indicate there is still some protection from vaccines, and that masking and other mitigation strategies are still highly effective,” said Michelle Haas, BCPH Chief Medical Officer. 

BRL Picks

📷 Photography: A Lens Toward Healing. That’s the name of a free event being held in honor of the South Boulder community this month, on behalf of the Boulder County Crisis Fund, The Community Foundation, Museum of Boulder and more. Featuring photos by CU Professor Ross Taylor. Attendees are invited to share their own photos and video clips. Details: Dec. 14 from 6–8 p.m. at the Chautauqua Community House, 301 Morning Glory Drive.
🍲 Holiday Harvest food distribution. BVSD’s School Food Project is offering supplemental food bag to families before the winter break begins. Pick up is at BVSD Culinary Center, 6500 Arapahoe Rd. Map is here. Date and time: Monday, Dec. 13 from 3–6 p.m.
👩‍🌾 Super Santa 5K is back. The run, held by T.E.A.M., supports Boulder Voices For Children and its mission to provide court-appointed volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in Boulder County. Participants are asked to bring a toy to donate. Details: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Twisted Pine Brewing Company, 3201 Walnut St. Suite A.
🏥 Health insurance assistance. Got questions about coverage before open enrollment ends on Jan. 15? You’re not alone. That’s why Boulder County Housing and Human Services is here with answers about pricing, plans, premiums and more. Schedule an appointment for “free, unbiased and confidential phone support” on the county’s website, or call 303-441-1000 for help in English or Spanish.
🍺 An iconic local beer returns. Hog Heaven Imperial Red IPA, one of Avery Brewery’s “iconic ales and arguably one of the most influential beers brewed in Boulder County” is back, Boulder Weekly writes. But just for a limited time. Find it at the brewery in Gunbarrel, or in stores as part of Avery’s Hop Variety pack.

What We’re Reading

  • Laid-off and furloughed library workers get a lift. The Boulder Library Foundation dispensed grant checks last week totaling almost $45,000 to 57 Boulder Public Library workers who are still furloughed or were laid off during the Covid pandemic. The donations came out of its HALO (Help a Library Worker Out) Fund. Local library employees were hit hard by Covid-fueled budget cuts. Many of these jobs have not returned. “We are pleased to partner with our generous donors to help our hard-working library workers out during a difficult time,” Alicia Gibb, president of the foundation’s board of directors, said in a press release Friday. [Boulder Library Foundation]

ICYMI from BRL

🏭 The city’s lofty carbon-reduction target of 70% by 2030 got a boost from the Covid-19 pandemic. Now what? Some 65% of Boulder’s total emissions come from buildings. And that’s a problem, because switching out houses isn’t nearly as easy as closing coal plants, reporter Allen Best writes.
👩🏻‍⚕️ Colorado State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy on Covid-19, and what she’s learned about bringing public health science to the public. “We’ve learned that we need multiple strategies,” Herlihy said. “We need to meet people where they are. We really need to understand the community we’re serving.”
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– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I 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. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.