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Colorado Edition: A Clear Mission


Today on Colorado Edition: We break down the appointment of the new head of Weld County Public Health and Environment. We also discuss the Colorado businesses that received federal loan money from the Paycheck Protection Program. Plus, we hear from a Colorado man who worked on an upcoming NASA mission, and we have a conversation with the author of a new book all about avocados.

Public Health In Weld County

At the end of May, and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the director of the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment retired. Weld commissioners recently selected a replacement. Deputy Director Mark Lawley will – at least temporarily – serve as the head of the county health department. But recent reporting from the Greeley Tribune shows that despite receiving nearly 300 applications for that position, county officials only interviewed Lawley, raising questions about his appointment.

Kelly Ragan has been reporting on this story. She is the founder of the NoCo Optimist, a digital news organization that, like KUNC, serves Northern Colorado. She joined us to discuss Lawley’s background and the hiring process at the Weld County health department. You can read Kelly’s reporting on Mark Lawley here.

Paycheck Protection Program In Colorado

Earlier this week, the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration published information about which companies received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program, also known as PPP. The program was designed to help small businesses keep workers employed during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. Dan Mika from BizWest analyzed the local data for Northern Colorado about this PPP funding, and he joined us to discuss his findings.

And a quick note: KUNC, operated by the nonprofit Community Radio for Northern Colorado, applied for and received money under the program.

Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission

This summer, a new Mars rover named Perseverance will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, to go on a two-Earth-year-long exploration mission to the red planet. And, it turns out, parts of that rover were built right here in Colorado. Ahead of its launch, which is slated for July 30, KUNC’s Matt Bloom spoke with Jesse Austin, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, to learn more about the Mars 2020 mission.


All About Avocados

Avocados are extremely common today, but they weren’t always so easy to find. To learn more about the history of the fruit, we spoke with Jeff Miller, an associate professor in the Colorado State University Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and the author of a new book, “Avocado: A Global History.”


Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you!

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions:

  • “Le Marais” by The Sweet Hots

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman (@HWZimmerman), and produced by Lily Tyson. The web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai. Managing editor Brian Larson contributed to this episode. We get production help from Rae Solomon. 

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a news magazine taking an in-depth look at the issues and culture of Northern Colorado. It's available on our website, as well as on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can hear the show on KUNC's air, Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Stories written by KUNC newsroom staff.