It’s Monday, Boulder. Here’s what’s going on.
For today, John Herrick covers a sculpture to memorialize the King Soopers tragedy that happened two years ago this week. Scott Osborne, an artist from South Boulder, has finished an art piece that will soon be installed on the patio of the Museum of Boulder. The installation will be the second iteration of the piece, the first of which was damaged by the Marshall Fire when flames razed Osborne’s Marshall Road studio.
Also, the county announced it’s extending a pilot program for Pano AI through the end of this year. A camera system meant to detect smoke in Boulder’s foothills, Pano AI should give responders a jump on flames. Thus far, however, Boulder residents are proving more diligent than the technology.
Enjoy your Monday, a day easily in the top seven of days.
— Tim, reporter
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What to know today
- Nice temps and better rain: While temperatures hover in the 50s this week, there might also be some early April showers. Wednesday has the highest chance of rain, with other days promising mostly clouds.
- Boulder’s lawsuit against Exxon gets incremental push: The federal Office of the Solicitor General recommended that the Supreme Court deny Exxon and Suncor’s request for certiorari — or a review of a previous court’s decision — and allow the City of Boulder and Boulder County’s climate accountability lawsuit to proceed in Colorado state court. In 2018, Boulder communities filed a lawsuit against Exxon and Suncor for decades of misinformation and other contributions to the climate crisis. The companies sought Supreme Court review on whether federal courts had exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The Tenth Circuit decided that the case belonged in state court, and the Supreme Court requested the views of the U.S. government on whether to hear the case. The Supreme Court will now decide whether to follow the Solicitor General’s recommendation and allow the Tenth Circuit’s decision to stand, or grant certiorari and hear the case.
- The City and County of Boulder want the fossil fuel companies to pay their share of costs associated with climate change impacts. The companies have repeatedly sought to delay court proceedings, moving the case from one court to another. Whether to hear climate liability cases in federal or state court has been a central dispute in the roughly 20 such lawsuits filed around the country. In legal cases, home court matters.
- “The Boulder community is already feeling the effects of the climate crisis. Fires, floods and extreme weather not only pose threats to our community, but they are also very costly to taxpayers,” said Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett. “The companies responsible for these costs must pay.”
- Read BRL’s previous coverage of this lawsuit.
- Pano AI update: The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has decided to extend its AI fire detection pilot project — initially slated for six months — through the end of 2023. The project utilizes special cameras, costing $25,000 a piece, to try and catch wildfires sooner than was previously possible by using AI to analyze images of the foothills for wisps of smoke. Every minute counts when a fire is starting, so the hope is the cameras will enable firefighters to prevent burns from gathering steam. By extending the pilot, the county says it will be able to “thoroughly assess the benefits…throughout all four seasons of the year before potentially expanding the program.”
- Brian Oliver, Boulder Fire-Rescue’s wildland chief, said that for now, Pano isn’t proving faster than Boulder residents. “We had a meeting about a week ago to look at the data, and the Pano notifications were anywhere from a minute to several minutes behind the 911 center getting calls,” he said. “So in reality we are finding out about fires before Pano can tell us.”
- This doesn’t mean Pano should be deemed a loss yet, however, as efficiencies are still being worked out. Seth McKinney, fire management officer in the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, said even though high population 911 centers are receiving smoke calls from residents before the cameras alert crews, it’s still good to have another source to rely on. And in less populated areas, the cameras could prove vital.
- Oliver said the county is planning to run a full Request for Proposal process to see what other tools are out there to make sure Pano really is Boulder’s best option. “This is a pretty new technology space and it’s evolving faster than most can keep up with,” he said.
- McKinney agreed, saying when the pilot program started, Pano was the only company using AI for wildfire detection. “We have since been reached out to by several other companies offering similar and competing services,” he said. To assess these competing services, the county will likely do a full view of the technologies available in 2024.
- Read BRL’s previous coverage on Pano AI.
- Reminder — King Soopers memorial: Almost two years ago, 10 people were killed by a shooter in the South Boulder King Soopers. This Wednesday, on the second anniversary of the shooting, a remembrance event will be held at eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St. in Boulder from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The event is free but registration is required.
- “Our community has demonstrated incredible resilience in the two years that have passed since the tragedy. We remain committed to supporting all who were impacted while moving forward, together,” said Mayor Brockett. “The Day of Remembrance is a way for us to honor the victims, acknowledge the collective trauma our community has experienced and bring community members together with art and music.”
- Those dealing with traumatic memories of the event are encouraged to visit the Boulder Strong Resource Center at 2935 Baseline Road in Boulder.
- Allowing farmers to compost publicly sourced material: Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting wants the OK from Boulder County Commissioners to pursue a text amendment for “Composting Incidental to Farming Operations.” The update would support sustainability and climate initiatives, regenerative farming and a local circular economy by allowing farmers to get “composting material from the public, which could then be composted on the farm.”
- The request follows a community meeting held on Feb. 16 and an online questionnaire. Still, the project is in its conceptual phase, and a formal public comment period is yet to open.
- Correction on boards and commissions: In our last newsletter, we wrote that the City of Boulder may consider giving people serving on boards and commissions a “higher” stipend. That was inaccurate. As things stand, volunteers on boards and commissions don’t receive any stipend, though they are eligible for an RTD bus pass. Members of the Police Oversight Panel, however, earn $200 per month with co-chairs earning $250. Members on the city’s Tenant Advisory Committee, which monitors the city’s implementation of its rental assistance program, earn $1,000 per year. The committee is seeking applications for new members until March 31.
A sculpture to commemorate King Soopers tragedy was lost in the Marshall Fire. A new one is now slated for installation.
By John Herrick
March 20, 2023
On March 22, 2021, Scott Osborne, an artist from South Boulder, was working on a sculpture at his studio when he heard sirens. It was the sound of first responders heading to King Soopers, where a gunman had shot and killed 10 people inside the supermarket.
At the time, he was creating a steel structure standing 10 feet tall, with 10 facets colored in a rusted patina, forming something resembling a gemstone. One additional side near the top was high-polished stainless steel, sending back a reflection.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Osborne, who grew up in Longmont and lives about two blocks from the supermarket, decided he wanted to donate the sculpture to the community.
“Unfortunately, it takes something like this to make you see what a community is,” he told Boulder Reporting Lab. “Everyone sees what they want to in a sculpture. I just thought here you have this rusty exterior but inside is this beautiful, reflective material. I thought maybe I could give this back to the community. I just wanted to do something.”
Join us again at Boulder’s only large-scale, inclusive celebration of our community’s vibrant arts and cultural offerings and our city’s thriving creativity at the 10th Annual Boulder Arts Week from April 7 – 15, 2023. This year’s event includes art walks, exhibitions, performances, dance, music, theater, public art, lectures, readings, and workshops at venues throughout the city.
🍻 Beer HERE! A new exhibit opened last Saturday at the Museum of Boulder: The history of beer in the West, including Boulder. Starting with brews that accompanied miners in the 1800s, the exhibit delves into how Colorado became the industrial leader for the region before going dry in prohibition. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults.
🎾 Althea Gibson’s life at CU: Today, from 12 to 1 p.m., the Institute of Behavioral Science at CU will host a presentation by Ashley Brown about Althea Gibson, “the most famous black sportswoman of the mid-twentieth century.” From her start playing paddle tennis on the streets of Harlem to her professional golf career, Ashley Brown will narrate Gibson’s public career and private struggles. Based on archival work and oral histories, Brown will highlight Gibson’s accomplishments as the first African American to win titles at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, while providing context of the Great Migration, Jim Crow racism and second wave feminism among other historic happenings. Registration is required for attendance. The presentation will take place at Room 155A.
For more ideas on what to do this week, check out BRL’s Local Events page.
- Banning bolts in wilderness rock climbing: Boulder Congressman Joe Neguse jumps into the fight. “Colorado’s natural areas are home to some world-renowned rock climbing locations,” Rep. Joe Neguse said. “We are taking steps to protect our climbers and the spaces in which they recreate.”
- Boulder may ban cars from making right turns at some red lights, among other changes, to reduce traffic crashes. The intersection redesigns are part of the latest version of the Vision Zero Action Plan. The city is also planning to install more red light cameras and build safer bike lanes.
- ‘Entering a new zone’: Boulder’s all-volunteer mountain rescue group expands operations as calls for help increase. Rocky Mountain Rescue launched in 1947 to help locate a missing girl. Now, it’s one of the busiest rescue groups in the country, with growing needs as more outdoor recreationists flock to trails and prompt up to five calls a day in peak season.
- Read previous editions of BRL Today. Catch up on the latest Boulder news.