Good morning! If you have four minutes to spare today, have a listen to BRL’s collaboration with KUNC that aired on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday. The segment features Marshall Fire survivors mining for memories, so to speak, with stories that are sure to move you. But first: Don’t miss today’s news and community information, including a look at the Frasier Retirement Community’s new $2.1 million endowment and entrance into the local philanthropy scene.

As always, thanks for reading.

Stacy, publisher

Old family photographs that Zuzanna Jaszczak recovered from the ashes of her father’s destroyed Superior home are shown here. This photo is one of many in our feature story this week on objects recovered by survivors after the Marshall Fire. You can listen to an audio version of our project with KUNC and NPR on NPR’s Morning Edition. Credit: Eli Imadali

Quickly

🌤️ Warm, t-storms possible: Expect highs in the upper-80s today under partly cloudy skies, with a good chance of a thunderstorm after noon. A cool-down should be in store for the weekend, with highs in the 70s along with increasing chances of showers and storms through Monday.

🌊 Flash flood threat in burn areas: That weekend rain could mean trouble for Boulder County burn areas, where flash flooding will be possible near Cameron Peak, East Troublesome, Calwood and Williams Fork, per the National Weather Service.

🏛️ Supreme Court and Boulder’s gun laws: The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that prohibits people from carrying guns in public spaces, potentially setting off a wave of lawsuits aimed at overturning state and local gun violence prevention measures, such as those passed by the Boulder City Council earlier this month. A spokesperson for the City of Boulder told Boulder Reporting Lab the city is evaluating the decision and cannot yet say whether the ruling will impacts Boulder’s gun laws.

💬 Survey says: Perceptions of “how things are going in Boulder County today” are the lowest in decades, according to a survey commissioned by the Board of County Commissioners. About 50% of Boulder County residents believe the county is on the “right track,” the lowest percentage since 1999. The top reason for the negative perception was housing costs and the cost of living. And when asked, “what is the most important issue facing” the county, affordable housing got the most responses.

‘Yes’ to fire mitigation tax: The survey also found a majority of residents would support a sales or property tax increase to pay for wildfire mitigation, likely a response to the Dec. 30 Marshall Fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes in the county. The survey was conducted by Drake Research & Strategy, Inc, a Boulder-based market research firm. It was based on 604 phone interviews from April 24 to May 2, 2022.

👩‍💼 BoCo Public Health announces interim director: After a year at the helm of the county’s health department, Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Camille Rodriguez will resign, effective July 1, the county said in a news release this week. Deputy Director Lexi Nolen will serve as the interim director for at least six months. Rodriguez served during a period of compounding health crises — the Covid-19 pandemic and the Dec. 30 Marshall fire, which has prompted concerns over mental health and air quality impacts. She has also been the subject of online criticism from residents opposing mask mandates as a public health measure in K-12 schools. The county has not responded to a request from Boulder Reporting Lab for an interview.

🆕 Woman charged for Tally Ho wildfire: The 48-year-old resident of unincorporated Boulder County was cited for the petty offense of “firing woods or prairie” after spreading ashes from a fire pit (which she believed to be out) on her garden as fertilizer. The act was deemed criminally negligent “because it amounted to a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances,” according to a press release from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. The resulting April 19 grassfire caused more than $20,000 in damage.

🚫 Gross Reservoir will stay closed for weeks following death: Denver Water announced Wednesday that recreation at Gross Reservoir — including on-water recreation, hiking and picnicking — “will remain closed for multiple weeks following the June 18 fatal accident at the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project.” Matthew Liu, a 28-year-old civil engineer from Arvada, died tragically after the construction truck he was driving plummeted 40 feet into the water, after a road gave way. Via Denver Water: “The first step in removing the equipment from the reservoir is to complete a survey of the area to ensure the resources brought in are capable of extracting equipment of this size from complex underwater environments.”

🚲 Head’s up — Bicycle events this weekend: Via the county: “Two cycling events will be taking place in Boulder County this weekend, Bike MS: Colorado on Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26; and the Boulder Sunrise Triathlon on Sunday, June 26.” Road closures and other info can be found here.

Correction: In an item from Wednesday’s edition of our newsletter, we incorrectly reported that Boulder City Council would be taking a month-long summer break. The recess will only last three weeks. Council will reconvene on Thursday, July 14.

Top Story

‘Seniors for Seniors’: Boulder’s Frasier Retirement Community launches endowment and becomes grantmaker for underserved residents

By Sally Bell

Manufactured homes damaged by fierce Marshall Fire winds in need of repair. New hearing aids and eyeglasses. Raised vegetable gardens. Access to recreation center programs.

These may seem unrelated, but they’re among unmet needs for low-income seniors that a task force of Frasier Retirement Community residents hopes to help fill via a new $2.1 million endowment program for Boulder County organizations.

The Frasier Community Resource Fund Endowment will “go on as long as we can stretch it out — we hope 10 to 15 years,” said Julie Soltis, Frasier’s communications director.

The first five grants, totaling $75,000, were presented Wednesday, June 22, to mostly government organizations. Amounts ranged from $10,000 to $20,000.

“The grants have one significant feature in common: They will help fill needs that fall in the gaps between government funding programs,” Soltis said.

“We are targeting people who are not just low-income,” she explained, “but often are underserved.” Many are disabled, don’t have Internet access or transportation, or perhaps don’t know what social services are available to them.

The recipients are: Boulder Housing Partners Foundation ($20,000); Boulder Area Agency on Aging ($15,000); City of Boulder Older Adult Services ($15,000); Friends of Longmont Senior Services ($15,000); and City of Louisville Senior Services ($10,000).

Learn how your business can become a BRL sponsor.

BRL Picks

🎨 Vote for Boulder artwork: Adam Kuby’s 55 Degrees installation — the three monolithic steel sculptures located outside Boulder Public Library Main Branch — is among 100 artworks nominated for the 2022 International CODAawards, highlighting “design projects that integrate commissioned art into an interior, architectural, or public space.” Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open from June 20–30.  Winners will be announced in August 2022. Vote here.

🏗️ Rebuilding Better: Know a Marshall Fire survivor looking for resources on rebuilding? The Town of Superior, City of Louisville and Boulder County are hosting the second meeting in a series of in-person workshops on July 13, designed to help Marshall Fire survivors navigate the resources and tools available on the county’s Rebuilding Better website.

❤️‍🩹 Preserving memories: The City of Louisville hosts the next in its series of workshops on preserving objects found in the Marshall Fire burn area from 2–4 p.m. at the Louisville Public Library on Saturday, June 25. The workshop will focus on the care and cleaning of fire-damaged items and photo digitization, with the opportunity to tell your story.

Covid-19 Updates: June 24, 2022

  • 249 daily new cases (7-day avg.) Down 15% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 17 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) ⬆️Up from a high of 14 last week.
  • 49% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 69% since July 2020.

What We’re Reading

📖 Xcel Energy OK’d to collect $500M from Coloradans for storm: “The Colorado Public Commission on Wednesday gave Xcel Energy the go-ahead to collect a half billion dollars from its customers to cover the spiraling costs of natural gas during a winter cold snap in 2021 — but the commissioners weren’t happy about it.” They criticized the company “for failing to warn customers to cut back on their energy use during the holiday weekend to conserve energy during the peak period. ‘It is troubling how unseriously the company has taken conservation messaging,’ Commissioner Megan Gilman said.” [Colorado Sun]

📖 Rebuilding challenges for Marshall Fire survivors: “Six months after the Marshall Fire destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County, nine rebuilding permits have been issued. But a wide variety of challenges for residents — from underinsurance to local building codes — have meant most fire survivors are nowhere near ready to move back in. ‘We could never rebuild what we lost, but we don’t really want to,’ said Bob Gabriella, whose family has lived in the tiny community of Marshall for generations. ‘So we figure we can build what we need and what we want.'” [KUNC]

ICYMI from BRL

👩‍⚖️ City of Boulder seeks to dismiss lawsuit alleging civil rights violations under its camping ban. In a court motion, attorneys for the city defended its controversial ordinances prohibiting sleeping in public spaces in part by arguing it can’t let ‘tent cities’ prevent people from accessing parks and city property.

🏳️‍🌈 ‘It was the right thing to do, so she did it’: The legacy of former Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex, who issued the country’s first same-sex marriage license in 1975, leaves lessons for today’s LGBTQ allies. The 78-year-old Longmont resident died on June 19, during the penultimate weekend of Pride Month. Boulder Reporting Lab spoke to Out Boulder County Executive Director Mardi Moore about her bold but unwitting lunge into history.

🏊 Boulder Parks and Recreation aquatic facilities are operating at ‘reduced or constrained’ service levels this summer. Here’s what you need to know. Two city pools are fully closed this season due to lifeguard and other staffing shortages.

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– The BRL Team

Stacy Feldman

Stacy Feldman is the founder and publisher of Boulder Reporting Lab. She previously co-founded and was executive editor of Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit newsroom covering the climate emergency. She was a 2020-21 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she developed the concept for BRL.