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Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

New West Daily Roundup for Mar. 20, 2017

Today in New West news: Rocky Mountain Land Library, Denver-based SquareTwo Financial Services declares bankruptcy, and Montana State University Youth Writing Camp registration open.

Buzz has been building around an old Colorado cattle ranch one group is hoping to transform into the Rocky Mountain Land Library, a “place-based” haven for artists and nature lovers. Indeed, the group’s Kickstarter has received considerable coverage, earning a “Project We Love” designation from the company.

As of writing, the group has raised nearly $60K of their $125K goal to renovate the “Cook’s House” and turn the ranch into a viable facility. Indeed, according to the Denver Post, visitors have camped there and contributed to repairs, but none of the facilities have running water or electricity:

“If we get that funding, it’s just a question of the timing of the permits and things like that,” Lee said. “With the funding, we can just move forward.”

The all-or-nothing crowdfunding effort is the first big public capital campaign the organization has undertaken. Grants and partnerships, with organizations such as HistoriCorps, have provided both workers on the ground at the ranch and funding, and the idea for the Land Library has inspired a corps of dedicated volunteers who have given their time and expertise.

“It’s kind of surprising, because we’ve been talking about the demise of the book, but people kind of love to be around books,” Martin said. “And actually staying at a library — living at a library for a while — that has an appeal, and it goes across all ages.”

“Wouldn’t this be wonderful in Colorado?”

Lee and Martin both come from “reading families,” they said. Growing up, “books were part of everything,” Martin said. (She’s currently reading “Jellyfish: A Natural History,” by Lisa-Ann Gershwin, and Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology.”)

“I have vivid memories of going to our local library every Saturday with my father, and how fun that was, and exciting — books I’d never seen before that I could actually take home with me,” Lee said. (His current read: “The Shepherd’s Life,” by James Rebanks.)

They met working at the Tattered Cover. Both celebrated their 30th anniversaries at the bookstore last year. The store sent Lee and Martin to the London Book Fair in the mid-1990s.

“Ann had heard of this residential library in Wales,” Lee said. “We thought, ‘What’s a residential library?’ ”

They scheduled a weekend there; it’s now called Gladstone’s Library.

“It was this amazing library side by side with just a plain, dormitory-like environment,” Lee said. “We totally loved the library, but we also used it for a jumping-off place to explore the Welsh countryside.

“The combination of the books, the place, the landscape got us thinking about, wow, wouldn’t this be wonderful in Colorado?”

There were snags along the way. In 2012, Martin and Lee had to move out of their rental home — which meant they also had to move the 30,000 or so natural history books they had collected. After a story about their dilemma ran in The Denver Post — complete with photos of rows of books stacked floor to ceiling in their basement — Acme Distribution Centers made them a stunning offer to move and store most of the books for the Land Library. They accepted.

According to Lee, over 95 percent of the Rocky Mountain Land Library collection is in storage in Denver. The Library is also hoping to open an urban location in Denver’s Curtis Park neighborhood.

Keeping with the Mile High City, according to the Denver Business Journal, promising asset recovery and management company SquareTwo Financial Services has announced it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with most of its assets going toward Greenvile, South Carolina-based Resurgent Holdings LLC:

“Unfortunately, changes in the regulatory and business environment over the last several years have had a significant economic impact on the company. We reviewed many strategic alternatives over the past nine months to find a path that would allow us to operate competitively and continue operations with our workforce in place. We ultimately determined that the sale to Resurgent and the attendant wind-down was the most value-maximizing approach,” said J.B. Richardson, Jr., chief operating officer of SquareTwo, in a Sunday statement.

According to Denver Business Journal research, revenue at SquareTwo fell to $202.65 million in 2015, down from $338 million in 2013.

In 2013, SquareTwo was the fastest-growing private company in the Denver area for companies with more than $45 million in revenue, according to the Denver Business Journal, which profiled the company in a story.

Finally, over in Montana, registration is open for Montana State University’s summer Youth Writing Camp, sponsored by the Yellowstone Writing Project. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, participants will play writing games, go on walking tours, and cultivate their writing:

The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and is open to students entering grades 5-12 in the fall. It is led by teachers and junior counselors from the Yellowstone Writing Project. Based in MSU’s English department, the Yellowstone Writing Project comprises teachers who write and writers who teach.

An evening reception from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 13, will let parents join their campers to celebrate the students’ creative writing.

Early registration is available for $150 per camper until April 26. After that, the cost will be $175 and will remain open until the camp is filled. All campers will be provided a journal, writing utensils and a T-shirt.

For more information or to register, visit http://eu.montana.edu/YWP or contact Nicole Soll at 406-994-6683 or nicole.soll1@montana.edu.

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