Howdy, Boulder! 🤠 Let’s get right to it, shall we?

This morning’s top story by John Herrick has details on the air monitoring program launched Monday by Boulder County Public Health, allowing anyone to sign up for real-time alerts to get notified when the air might be unhealthy to breathe.

Then I’ll introduce you to local artist Jennifer Hohlfelder, whose solo exhibition People & Places opens today at the Museum of Boulder. Plus an update on tax credits for Marshall Fire victims filing on extended deadline; today’s Parks & Rec summer job fair at the North Boulder Recreation Center; the latest Covid-19 data and more.

Until Friday,

– Jezy, managing editor

People & Places: Paintings by Jennifer Hohlfelder opens today at the Museum of Boulder. Running through June 16, the show features 35 oil paintings by the homegrown artist featuring local landmarks and distant locales. Pictured: Pearl Street (2020) by Jennifer Hohlfelder

Quickly

🌧️ Chilly and wet: Expect highs in the low-40s today with plenty of cloud cover. Flurries are possible early, followed by isolated showers in the afternoon.

🗓️ Tax credits for fire victims: Residents affected by the Marshall Fire who are eligible for the IRS extension to file their taxes through May 16 can do so and still receive the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, state officials told us. We had previously reported a statement in this newsletter from Get Ahead Colorado urging residents to file their taxes by April 18 in order to receive those credits.

💼 Summer job fair: Boulder Parks and Recreation hosts a job fair today at the North Boulder Recreation Center, 4:30–6:30 p.m. The department is seeking to fill more than 300 summer positions, including nearly 100 lifeguards needed to keep city pool facilities fully operational when the weather warms up. 

🚌 Sound off on transportation design: The city is looking for feedback as it updates several design standards related to transportation infrastructure in the public right-of-way. Submit your comments here through Sunday, April 24. 

🎓 CU president finalist named: Todd Saliman has been selected by University of Colorado System Regents as the sole finalist for the position of president across the college’s four-campus system. Saliman was named CU System interim president in June 2021.

👷 Apprenticeship funding: Workforce Boulder County is providing Scale-Up Grants to enhance and expand local registered apprenticeship programs. Per the county: “The Office of the Future of Work at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is investing in launching, scaling, and diversifying registered apprenticeship programs. Funds will support capacity-building projects that are employer-driven and prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in apprenticeship.”

🔥 Prescribed burn continues: Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain may be closed for a prescribed burn scheduled from Wednesday through Friday, April 13-15. OSMP says the park will be open if burn conditions aren’t favorable, and fire personnel will stop burning if it becomes unsafe.

👮‍♂️ Campus officer on leave: A University of Colorado Boulder Police Department officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation into “allegations of racism, antisemitism and unprofessional conduct.” The decision was in response to a Twitter thread by SAFE Boulder, a local advocacy group affiliated with the Boulder County chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which released what it said were screenshots from Officer Drew Matthews’ personal Reddit account.

🏆 Local landmark takes home the gold: Boulder’s beloved Colorado Chautauqua has won the ELGL Knope Award, celebrating the country’s “best local government historic and cultural sites.” The city-maintained park and event space clinched the title against Greenmead Historical Park in Livonia, Michigan.

Top Stories

What’s the air quality index in the Marshall Fire burn area? You can now sign up for real-time alerts to find out.

Boulder County health officials worry warm and windy conditions could stir up toxic ash from the Marshall Fire, potentially posing a health risk to residents living around the burn scar and students attending nearby schools. 

On days when the ash is visible in the air, Boulder County Public Health urges people to stay inside and to wear an N95 mask. It suggests students remain indoors, too. 

To help residents understand at least some of the potential health risks on a given day, the health department launched an air monitoring program on Monday, April 11, allowing anyone to sign up for real-time alerts to get notified when the monitors indicate the air might be unhealthy to breathe. 

Since the Marshall Fire razed more than a thousand homes in the Town of Superior and the City of Louisville, leaving behind potentially toxic particles that can end up in the air, the county installed the monitors at 25 locations around homes, schools, a recreation center and open space. 

Anyone can easily sign up online for alerts at up to three of these locations using their phone number or email. 

The alert system requires users to choose the severity of harmful air pollution for which they want an alert. That severity is based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index (AQI), ranging from “good” to “hazardous.” 

An AQI of more than 150 is considered unhealthy for most people. For sensitive groups, an index above 100 can be unhealthy. On Tuesday night, amid dry and windy conditions, the county monitors were registering an index of around 6 (give or take). AirNow, a federal air quality monitoring program, was showing higher levels nearby, though it has no monitors in the burn area. 

Following gallery show on the King Soopers shooting, Museum of Boulder ushers in the hope of a new season with local painter Jennifer Hohlfelder

Jennifer Hohlfelder has lived many lives in her hometown of Boulder. The 56-year-old worked as a bookkeeper, a business owner and a salesperson before picking up a paintbrush and canvas in 2010. But it wasn’t until losing her last bookkeeping job at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, a year after Hohlfelder’s first public exhibition, that her newfound art practice became a full-time pursuit. 

With the world on lockdown, Hohlfelder says she found a captive audience on Instagram ready to be transported by her dreamy depictions of destinations near and far. 

“I want to take people somewhere else. I want to get them out of their head,” she says. “And with the scenes I was naturally depicting, it was like, ‘Oh, of course people are resonating with this. Because it’s taking them outside their four walls.’”

Locals can embark on this journey for themselves starting today, when People & Places: Paintings by Jennifer Hohlfelder opens at the Museum of Boulder. Running through June 16, 2022, the solo exhibition features 35 oil paintings of scenes from Boulder and beyond. 

BRL Picks

🌷 Tiptoe through the tulips: Mark your calendars and grab the kiddos on Sunday, April 24, when the Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival returns to downtown Boulder. The beloved springtime tradition features a visit from the Tulip Fairy and her pint-sized elves as they parade around the Pearl Street Mall, “waking up the tulips.” Expect live music, kids’ activities and more.

🎗 Parkinson’s Awareness Month: City of Boulder’s Older Adult Services team has put together a variety of sessions at the West Age Well center focused on Parkinson’s Disease, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Learn more about these programs — from music therapy to art classes and physical wellness sessions — and view the full program guide here.

👩‍🌾 Growing something good: Want to unleash your master gardener while using less water? Sign up for one of Resource Central’s free online Waterwise Yard Seminars, hosted by experts. Check out the complete webinar schedule, 6–8 p.m. on weekdays, and register here.

Covid-19 Updates: April 13, 2022

  • 62 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 30% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 0 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 45% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 71% since July 2020.

What We’re Reading

📖 EPA moves to downgrade Front Range air quality violation from ‘serious’ to ‘severe.’ “The action was widely anticipated after a string of smoggy summers in metro Denver. The new classification affects an area extending into nine counties from Fort Collins to Castle Rock, which has repeatedly missed deadlines to bring levels below the EPA’s 2008 ozone standard of 75 parts per billion. Four other metro regions would also be reclassified as ‘severe’ nonattainment areas under the proposal, including Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and the greater New York City area.”  [CPR News]

ICYMI from BRL

🏈 Boulder County commissioners punt vote on library district, prompting potential stalemate over long-sought plan to boost funding. In response to the delay, City of Boulder advocates for the district are moving forward to get their own measure on the ballot in November.

🏊 Boulder pool facilities need nearly 100 lifeguards for summer operations. Staffing challenges were an issue before the pandemic, according to Parks and Recreation officials, but Covid-related furloughs and a national lifeguard shortage are making the problem worse.

🏃‍♂️ City of Boulder plans to reopen East Age Well Center as soon as this fall, but it remains unclear what services will be restored. The ‘much-loved’ center providing popular social and exercise programs for older residents has been closed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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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.