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Know the West

Fall brings professors, pedalers and presidential candidates

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet stops by our office, and we wish a fond farewell to a longtime staffer.


Cooler nights and changing colors hint that fall is just around the corner — a welcome break from the heat for many of our staff.

Associate Editor Paige Blankenbuehler has begun her first semester as a journalism instructor at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, her alma mater. Her attempts to make her HCN colleagues call her “Professor Paige” have so far failed, but she hasn’t given up.

Assistant Editor Anna V. Smith spent 10 days at the Bristol Bay Institute in Alaska, sponsored by the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources. Along with nine other journalists from across the country, Anna learned about a myriad of topics, including Indigenous sovereignty, resource management, salmon ecosystems, climate change’s impact on the Bristol Bay region, and the controversial Pebble Mine — a massive copper and gold project proposed for the headwaters of Alaska’s best salmon fishery.

Jodi Peterson edits a radio piece for KVNF. We will greatly miss her talents at HCN, but are glad that the KVNF studio is right down the street from the Paonia office.
Luna Anna Archey

HCN would like to wish a fond farewell to our longtime colleague, Jodi Peterson, who has taken on the role of director of news and public affairs for KVNF, the community public radio station in Paonia, Colorado. During her nearly 15 years at HCN, Jodi worked with at least 80 interns and fellows, saw more than 300 issues off to press, edited at least 400 stories and another 400 book reviews, and wrote around 300 stories. We already miss her, and we wish her the very best. 

The Paonia office had the pleasure of a visit from longtime reader Mike Ryan, a former U.S. Forest Service researcher and now part-time researcher and teacher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Mike came over McClure Pass from Carbondale — about 60 miles — by bicycle, sporting a “Ride the Rockies” jersey. Mike has stuck with us since the 1990s, he says, because HCN “writes positive stories at least some of the time.” That’s not always easy these days, but we do our best. The Paonia office also welcomed another longtime reader named Michael — Democratic presidential candidate and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who was later spotted walking down the sidewalk, attempting to balance a large and melting ice cream cone from an HCN favorite, Ollie’s Ice Cream.

Longtime readers Andrew Melnykovych — an HCN contributor in the late 1980s and early 1990s — and his wife, Debbie, stopped by the Gunnison satellite office in late June. They’d come to Colorado from Louisville, Kentucky, for a wedding in Fort Collins and took the opportunity to enjoy some birding in the mountains. They didn’t manage to see any Gunnison sage grouse, but were delighted to glimpse some black swifts in Ouray.

And finally, the Aug. 20 story “When Arizona catches fire, prisoners step up” has been corrected to reflect that in 1990, five incarcerated wildfire fighters and a correctional officer died in a blaze near Payson, Arizona, not in Arizona’s White Mountains. We regret the error.

With that, we go into an issue break. We will see you again on Oct. 14.