Good morning, Boulder! We’re back with your latest dose of local news and community information, so roll up your sleeve. 💪 It’s BRL Today.

Our top story from reporter John Herrick looks at staffing challenges facing Boulder’s Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) program, which sends licensed clinicians on the city’s police calls involving people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The result is a slower rollout of one of the city’s strategies to help keep people experiencing homelessness or mental health issues out of jail.

We’re also taking you inside the ongoing POP! Gallery downtown, the temporary holiday makers’ market presented by local arts lynchpin Open Studios. I spoke with Executive Director Mary Horrocks along with exhibiting artists Mitch Levin and Cathy Faughnan about what visitors can expect from the pop-up on Pearl, and what the nonprofit organization means for artists in Boulder.

Lastly: #COGivesDay was yesterday, but it’s always a good time to support community journalism. If you’re in a position to give this holiday season, and you want to help us continue our mission to bring Boulder-local stories that matter straight to your inbox, hit the big blue button below.

– Jezy, managing editor

Cyclists illuminate downtown during the Lights of December parade on Dec. 4. Credit: David Harwi

Top Stories

Boulder’s program sending behavioral health pros on police calls faces staffing challenges, according to city report

Earlier this year, Boulder’s licensed clinicians started joining the city’s police on calls involving people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Now, a new report examines the results of the first six months of the program. The crisis team responded to 523 calls. Few arrests were made. But hundreds of calls came in when clinicians were unavailable, in part due to staffing vacancies. Read full story

Boulder artists get a holiday boost at POP! Gallery on Pearl Street

Open Studios’ social enterprise program launched in 2018 with the mission of helping local artists show and sell their work in the community they call home. Read full story

Quickly

⏱️ Expect milder conditions today in Boulder, with highs in the mid-50s.
⏱️ Boulder’s snowfall for this time of year is 3% of normal, according to NWS.
⏱️ That’s the case all across Colorado: “a very dry start” to snow season. Nine SNOTEL stations are at record lows; 13 are at their second-lowest.
⏱️ A 60-year-old man from Nederland died Tuesday at the Eldora Ski Area after colliding with a tree while skiing. It’s the second death in a week at the resort.
⏱️ Multimodal commuting is the topic of tomorrow’s virtual ETC Connect Boulder quarterly meeting, presented by Boulder Transportation Connections and the City of Boulder.
⏱️ Boulder police are still investigating a Dec. 6 call about shots fired on University Hill. “There was no threat to the public,” the department wrote in a tweet

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Dec. 8, 2021*

  • 102 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔻Down 17% over last week.
  • 69 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 38.
  • 53% 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

  • Vaccination clinic. Covid-19 vaccines will be administered during the ongoing free clinic at Boulder Library’s Canyon Theater from noon–5 p.m on Sunday, Dec 12. Boosters are available for those who qualify, with Pfizer shots for kids five and older.
  • Monoclonal antibody treatment. It might be a mouthful to say, but this can help prevent people who have tested positive for Covid-19 from getting really sick. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has everything you need to know about how to get treatment.
  • Something in the water. The mutation signature associated with the Omicron variant has been detected in Boulder’s municipal wastewater system, Colorado State Epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said in a press conference yesterday with Gov. Jared Polis. We don’t know how many cases this detection represents, according to Dr. Herlihy, but it likely indicates “some low level of community transmission.”
  • Don’t forget about Delta. During yesterday’s update on the state response to the pandemic, Gov. Polis said we still don’t know if the new variant is more transmissible than other strains. But he said there is one thing we do know: “It is the Delta variant that is the primary threat to our health, to our welfare. It is the Delta variant that has caused 417 Coloradans to be in the hospital. It is the Delta variant that is taking Coloradans from us before their time every single day.”

BRL Picks

🧦 Neighborly necessities. It’s getting cold out there, folks — and for our neighbors without shelter, it can be deadly. Drop off your clean, gently used clothing like socks, shoes and blankets at Trident Booksellers and Cafe.
🧠 Brain power. Youth in Colorado can take advantage of up to three no-cost behavioral health sessions with licensed clinicians through I Matter. Established by House Bill 21-1258, the state program is funded through June 30 of next year.
Star power. The new Boulder Star-themed holiday cards are here, and they’re adorable. Head over to the Boulder Chamber website for a list of retailers.
❄️ Winter wonderland. Chautauqua gets the full holiday treatment during WinterFest 2021 this weekend: carriage rides, cottage tours, live music and more. Check out the full schedule of free and ticketed events here.
👩‍🏫 Local smarties, for $200. CU Boulder professor Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders, who teaches U.S. and African American history, appears on Jeopardy! tonight during the show’s first-ever professors tournament.

What We’re Reading

  • Goodbye GMO ban. As part of an update to the county’s Cropland Policy, Boulder County Commissioners on Tuesday retracted a 2016 plan to prohibit growing genetically engineered crops on public land. The ban was supposed to take effect at the end of 2019, but was extended to the end of 2021. In a statement, the commission cited the approaching deadline and lack of “viable crop alternatives to keep these open space lands in agricultural production” as reasons for lifting the ban. “It is regrettable that the changes required by the 2016 direction from the Board of County Commissioners could not be implemented,” Commissioner Claire Levy said. “After five years of effort and the investment of almost a million dollars to bring them to life, we now know that the previous policy proved to not be consistent with the realities of agricultural practices and existing markets.” [Boulder County]
  • Get SMART. That’s the message from the Boulder Valley School District on gun safety, after four teenagers were killed in a shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan on Nov. 30. “Secure all guns in your home and vehicles. Model responsible behavior around guns. Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes. Recognize the role of guns in suicide. Tell your peers to be SMART.” [BVSD]
  • Teaching moment. It’s hard to overstate the importance of early childhood education for kids and their caregivers. Why is it out of reach for so many Colorado families? “Who can access it depends heavily on who can pay for it, and in Colorado demand outstrips the supply of child care facilities and workers. Since the grand days of a national push for preschool through the Head Start Program, intentions have been good. Delivery hasn’t matched those intentions.” [Colorado Sun]
  • Oh, baby! Giving birth in the United States is expensive. In fact, the average delivery costs more than $4,500, with insurance, according to a new study. “‘I don’t have many patients who have that kind of cash just lying around,’ says Michelle Moniz, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Michigan’s Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital and the lead author of the study. ‘I sometimes see patients struggling to afford their health care and sometimes choosing not to obtain health care because they can’t afford it.'” [The Atlantic]

ICYMI from BRL

🤝 Meet your new mayor. Reporter John Herrick talked to Aaron Brockett about his new role, and how he plans to represent a divided city. They also discussed housing, equity, homelessness — and, of course, tacos.
👩‍🚒 It’s been a warm, dry fall. That means trouble for Boulder firefighters. County management teams are understaffed as climate change extends the fire season across the state.
📝 New subscriber? You can find all previous BRL Today editions 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.