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New West Daily Roundup for Dec. 19, 2016

Today in New West news: refurbishing the Hotel Boulderado, West Elk Mine expanding in forestland outside Denver, Girls Go Digital to merge with CodeChangers, and Ed Buttrey announces intent to run for Zinke seat.

The Hotel Boulderado has been a fixture of downtown Boulder since it opened New Year’s Day, 1909, but like any old building has seen its share of wear and tear. That’s why, in part, Boulder restaurateur Frank Day (who has owned the hotel for 36 years) has decided, per the Boulder Daily Camera, to “wake the old girl up” with an extensive refurbishment:

Boulder is in the midst of a major hotel boom, with the number of new rooms set to jump by roughly 25 percent by next September, rising from 2,106 to 2,633, according to the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau.

To ensure the red brick Italianate and Spanish Revival structure can compete, and remains as alluring as it’s ever been, Day has been systematically going through and hitting the refresh button on the hotel, which was built more than a century ago.


“You can be old, and interesting and beautiful,” Day said. “Or you can be old and dowdy. We intend to be the former.”

To that end the lobby, after a roughly four-month renovation is completed, and during which time the hotel and its restaurants will remain open, will see its gift shop vanish, its historic front desk turned into a bar, and Pearl Street’s Boxcar Coffee installed to make those lattes.

This will occur almost 118 years to the day after the hotel welcomed the community into its lobby and guests to its rooms. Back then, dinner in the main dining hall cost 75 cents; guests were required to spend at least 25 cents to be seated. A hotel room cost $1 to $2.75 and a giant coal furnace in the basement generated hot water for guests’ bathrooms.

Though early on it was the only hotel in Boulder and was the defacto go-to community room. Guests spent the majority of their time in their rooms, surfacing briefly for meals.

But that’s been changing in recent years in Boulder and elsewhere, said Mary Ann Mahoney, executive director of the Boulder Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“These days so many people feel the lobby is part of the community. Our customers have more of a need for public spaces. Because the Boulderado is historic, I’m not sure they’ve ever envisioned the lobby this way before. It’s going to be interesting to see this in an historic structure.”

Keeping with Colorado, according to the Denver Post, the U.S. Forest Service has granted an exception to its “roadless rule” to the Somerset-based West Elk Mine, which is seeking to expand into the North Fork Valley:

That decision enabling construction of temporary roads and drilling pads on 19,700 acres — to be published Monday in the federal register — reflects the latest version of a compromise Colorado officials have demanded for years.

A national roadless rule since 2001 has prohibited construction of new roads and other development that could hurt intact forests, and a Colorado version of it adopted in 2012 covers 4.2 million acres in the state.

But Colorado leaders have pressed for the coal mine exception, even after a federal court in 2014 rejected it as likely to worsen climate change. Last week, Forest Service regional director Dan Jiron revealed, via e-mail, the decision to grant a recrafted exception. Jiron could not be reached to discuss it.

This exception could help Arch Coal’s West Elk Mine extract hundreds of million of tons more coal from under the Gunnison National Forest by giving access to surface forests — needed for expanding underground tunnels. West Elk Mine crews would have to carve out temporary roads and clear pads to drill vents that remove methane gases from tunnels so miners could produce safely.

Western Colorado environment advocates blasted the Forest Service decision as bad for wildlife habitat and for the climate — because of the emissions of heat-trapping methane and carbon dioxide from burning coal.

“It is wrong to make a decision that is going to result in a significant cost to the world economy and the environment and to Colorado’s environment,” Earthjustice staff attorney Ted Zukoski said.

Over in Utah, according to Utah Business, St. George-based startup CodeChangers has announced it is merging with education outfit Girls Go Digital, which runs coding camps for young girls across the state:

Girls Go Digital has been working to address the gender gap in computer science and technology, offering camps and workshops for girls and young women to learn key skills and spark an interest in these career fields. Their all-girls camps teach web design, digital photography, pixel art and computer programming skills in accessible modules over a four-day program.

CodeChangers has developed a proprietary education platform for web development and a computer science curriculum specifically targeted to students in elementary and secondary schools. The overlap in key age demographics and goals to expand education opportunities for students ages 8 to 18 makes the merger a natural choice.

“The addition of Girls Go Digital to the CodeChangers platform enables us to extend our national computer training curriculum. The Girls Go Digital curriculum is synergistic to our coding modules plus brings a product component adding games and kits as teaching aids to our online training,” said Mike Wilstead, CEO of CodeChangers.

Finally, over in Montana, we previously reported that U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke (R) was named as the top contender for Interior Secretary in the incoming administration. We also reported that, should Zinke accept and be confirmed, Governor Steve Bullock would have to call a special election to replace him. Each party (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian) is expected to name a candidate. And according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, State Senator Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) announced his candidacy over the weekend:

Buttrey, a friend of Zinke, turned 51 last week. A real estate agent and local developer, Buttrey is a leader among the establishment faction of Republicans. He has served six years in the state Senate. In 2015, he sponsored the Medicaid expansion bill passed by moderate Republicans and Democrats and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

According to source speaking on background, Zinke is aware of Buttrey’s campaign to replace him. Like Zinke, Buttrey was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign.

With Zinke’s resignation and confirmation as secretary of the interior expected in late January, Montana law would require a special election to fill the congressional vacancy 85 to 100 days later – late April or early May.

Members of Republican County Central Committees would nominate their party’s candidate for the special election. According to a letter obtained by the Chronicle, Buttrey told those committee members on Sunday that he shared Zinke’s values.

Zinke’s Democratic challenger, Denise Juneau, is expected to run again, although it is not confirmed. Incoming state auditor Matt Rosendale of Glendive is also expected to seek the GOP nomination. If confirmed, and if he wins, Bullock would be free to appoint a new auditor.

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