It’s a tough week for the Boulder community, as we approach tomorrow’s one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers that killed 10 people and changed the city forever. In this morning’s edition of BRL Today, you’ll find a number of ways to honor the lives lost and celebrate the resilience of those carrying on through the aftermath.

Also in today’s newsletter: Join me on a tour of Voces Vivas: Stories from the Latino Community in Boulder, Past and Present, a fascinating and freewheeling new exhibition on display at the Museum of Boulder through February 2023. It’s the first story in our new Local History beat, made possible through our Community Leaders sponsorship program. (Are you a local business owner? Click here to learn more.)

We’re also re-upping our story from last month about the reopening of the Table Mesa King Soopers by long-time resident Sally Bell. She talked to shoppers on the first day back about what it means to reclaim a community hub after a senseless act of violence. We hope their voices add a ray of light to help navigate tomorrow’s dark anniversary.

– Jezy, managing editor

A new sign welcomes shoppers to the remodeled Table Mesa King Soopers in South Boulder. See our Picks section below for details on tomorrow’s commemorative events marking the one-year anniversary of the March 22 shooting that killed 10 people. Credit: Harry Fuller

Quickly

🌨️ Snow returns: Expect 1–3 inches today, with highs in the low 40s. Today’s morning commute could be “slick and slushy,” with wind gusts between 40–50 mph across the plains east of I-25.

❄️ Good news for statewide snowpack: It’s 100% of median, says the National Weather Service.

🍽️ City extends outdoor dining: The Boulder Business Recovery Program (BBRP) will continue through summer, thanks to the city’s extension of its Covid-19 emergency orders. That means extended outdoor dining and extra space for businesses through August 31.

💰 Funding for crisis intervention: Boulder’s Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT), which sends behavioral health specialists on police calls, will receive $255,000 in federal funding as part of the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act. We reported last year on staffing challenges facing the program.

🗑️ Curbside collection, Round 2: The county will be conducting a second installment of curbside collection for wind- and fire-damaged items from homes that were not destroyed by the Marshall Fire. Pickup begins March 24, weather permitting.

🗓️ Fire relief deadline: March 31 is the deadline to apply for Marshall Fire-related financial assistance from Boulder County. Check out the categories covered, and apply here. The county says funds will continue to be distributed through April 22.

🌳 1,200 trees for Earth Day. Celebrate Earth Day by ordering tree saplings from Boulder County high school students. The idea is to plant 1,200 trees through the Tree-Plenish campaign. Place your online order for Eastern Rosebud, Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir and Red Maple saplings ($5 a piece) through March 30.

Top Stories

‘It takes them home’: Latino history exhibition tells local stories of pride, pain and perseverance

When Joseph Monico Baca died in a coal mining accident near Trinidad, Colorado in the winter of 1944, his family back in Boulder County was left with questions. Baca’s daughter Phyllis Rodgriguez, four years old at the time of his passing, nearly went her entire life not knowing what happened to her dad in that Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) mine — until, at age 82, she sat down with Linda Arroyo-Holmstrom of the Latino History Project.

After getting the green light from Rodgriguez to investigate, Arroyo-Holmstrom began searching for details surrounding Baca’s death by exploring the archives at the Steelworks Center of the West inside the former CF&I medical center in Pueblo. That’s where she found a detailed fatality report of the accident that took his life on that February day 78 years ago. 

Baca and his partner Joe Maes had just finished a shift in the Frederick Coal Mine of Las Animas County when the pair set out to catch a rail-bound coal car that had come uncoupled from others on the track. Both men jumped on the back and rode it 132 feet downgrade, before the car became derailed and pinned Baca underneath.

Such dangerous working conditions were a part of life for workers who toiled in Colorado’s coal mines, many of whom came originally from Mexico or New Mexico. Accidents like the one that killed Baca may have been common for exploited coal workers at mid-century, but in the hands of Rodriguez and Arroyo-Holmstrom, the report on his death produced by CF&I — an intricate blueprint with precise times and locations surrounding the event — couldn’t have been more personal.

“I went to her house and I presented it to her, and it was a very emotional interview. She cried really hard,” Arroyo-Holmstrom remembers. “She said it was like reliving the death of her father. But she was so grateful to know what happened.”

This is the type of family history preserved by the Latino History Project, and it comes to life in vivid detail in a new co-curated exhibition at the Museum of Boulder — Voces Vivas: Stories from the Latino Community in Boulder, Past and Present, on display at the downtown local history center through February 2023. 

‘We are going back to life’: Voices from the King Soopers reopening

South Boulder resident Diana Lee said she “just had to” come to the reopening of the Table Mesa King Soopers supermarket on Wednesday. She has been a lifelong shopper at the store, where she worked her first job as a teenager.

King Soopers employees offered critical support during her near-daily trips to the store while her father suffered from Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic. “They would talk to me, gather around and check in on me,” Lee said. “They were all so supportive. And three of them were killed that day.”

For Lee, returning to the Table Mesa King Soopers provided closure. “They would want us to come back.”

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BRL Picks

🎗️ Day of Remembrance: Join the community in honoring the memories of those who died in the Table Mesa King Soopers Shooting tomorrow on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. A memorial for slain Boulder Police Department Officer Eric Talley begins at 2 p.m., followed by a citywide moment of silence at 2:30. The day concludes with a 4:30–6 p.m. gathering at the Glen Huntington Bandshell, featuring Gov. Jared Polis and Congressman Joe Neguse.

💪 Boulder strong. Celebrate the resilience of the community a year after the King Soopers shooting with the Boulder Strong: Still Strong, Remembering March 2021 photography exhibition at the Museum of Boulder. The show features portraits of affected community members by CU professor Ross Taylor, along with commemorative items collected from the site, on display at the downtown local history center through April 10.

❤️‍🩹 Youth-led healing. Head to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) next Saturday, April 2, for a day of healing after the King Soopers tragedy, led by Boulder-area youth. The all-ages event takes place 10 a.m.–noon, featuring interactive art stations and more, designed to help the community reflect and recover from the events of March 22.

COVID Updates: March 21, 2022

  • 72 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 68% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 7 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 54% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 71% since July 2020.

What We’re Reading

📖 Shooting videographer on his criminal charges. Dean Schiller, the self-described citizen journalist who recorded and streamed hours of the unfolding King Soopers shooting last March, responds to being charged with obstruction of justice: “They’re trying to make an example out of me.” [Westword]

📖 Boulder reflects on the violence, one year later. “‘One of the biggest things I had to wrap my brain around is that it’s not something that is ever really going to disappear from me,’ survivor Louis Saxton said. ‘It’s not ever going to be something I can just brush off, where if someone brings it up I won’t feel a wave of emotions.'” [Denver Post]

ICYMI from BRL

⚖️ What’s at stake in a former City Council candidate’s First Amendment lawsuit? The implications go beyond Boulder politics. The legal back-and-forth sets the stage for a court battle expected to carry on for a year or more. The outcome could have major implications for First Amendment protections under a 2019 Colorado law designed to discourage lawsuits known as SLAPP cases, according to lawyers interviewed for this story. 

🚌 ‘Where are the buses?’: Boulder neighborhood built for public transit could lose services. Depot Square Station was once the heart of Boulder Junction Transit Village, a fast-growing area designed for public transit. But after RTD cut services due to Covid-19, its future as a “transit-rich neighborhood” is unclear.

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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.