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FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2021

Because it’s Friday, I’m bringing you a fun little story going into the weekend: the short, but incredible, existence of Pong Island 🏓

Recently, Denverite Tom Filippini wanted to bring a little joy to his community just south of Cheesman Park. So, in the wee hours of a Sunday three weeks ago, Tom lugged his personal ping pong table onto a grassy traffic island in his neighborhood. He left it anonymously with just a QR code that people could scan to reserve the table and leave comments.

He dubbed it “Pong Island,” with an official sign and everything. One complaint, and Tom swore he’d remove the table. But instead of complaints, the comment board he’d made was flooded with praise. Community members loved the table and even helped upkeep the equipment.

But as mowing season rolled in and the city’s parks and rec crew caught sight of the table, an inevitable notice appeared saying the fun had to end. Tom came forward as the mastermind behind it all, and despite his bargaining attempts with the city to keep Pong Island, it was a no-go. Though the era of his Pong Island had come to an end, Tom was happy to see a new ping pong table has suddenly popped up a few blocks away on the sidewalk at the end of someone’s driveway… 😉

Read the full story here 👉 [Westword]

Today’s weather: Breezy and warm with highs in the 80s 😎

—Peyton Garcia (@peytonmgarcia)

🚧 PSA: A major chunk of I-70 will be closed this weekend
Interstate 70 will be closed in both directions between Washington Street and I-270 beginning tonight at 10 p.m. until Monday at 5 a.m. This closure is part of the state’s extensive “Central 70” project to reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of the highway. [9News]
👉 What you can do: Check out my newsletter from last week for more details on the project.

💼 The state will pay you to go back to work
In an effort to lure Coloradans off unemployment benefits, Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order earlier this week that will give Coloradans earning unemployment benefits up to $1,600 if they return to full-time work before the end of May ($1,200 if it doesn’t happen until June). [CO Politics]
👉 What you can do: Think you qualify? See if you’re eligible here.

Park Hill SOS lawsuit dropped
A lawsuit that was filed by a group of Park Hill residents opposed to the incoming Safe Outdoor Space housing program has been dismissed. Someone filed an appeal against the space’s permit, but chances are, by the time it makes it to the board of adjustments, the site will already be up and running. [CBS4]
👉 What you can do: Listen to City Cast Denver’s episode on Denver’s Safe Outdoor Space program.

📃 City extends homeless shelter contract
This week, Denver City Council agreed to pay the Salvation Army $10.7 million to continue to run the Crossroads Center homeless shelter in Five Points through 2023. At the peak of the pandemic last year, Crossroads shifted from an overnight shelter to 24-hour services, which is still how it’s currently operating. [BusinessDen]

🩹 At-home COVID tests flop in Colorado
A health company offering at-home COVID-19 rapid tests, eMed says it paid $53 million for roughly 2 million test kits that state officials agreed to hand out. The problem? They’ve hardly dented that cache, and now 1.86 million tests are in danger of expiring. The company says Colorado is still on the hook for the full bill. State officials argue it’s not their fault the tests weren’t popular. [The Gazette]

With the support of their teacher, a group of students in Denver started a company called Mamabird Interviews. The idea was to help collect family histories through personal interviews, something that became increasingly crucial as many folks lost loved ones throughout the pandemic. Host Bree Davies sits down with Mamabird's Areyana Proctor and City Cast Denver's own Peyton Garcia (hey, that’s me!), who went through the process of documenting her own family's history.

+ SATURDAY: CO Governor’s Art Show & Sale
Celebrating 30 years, the Colorado Governor’s Art Show & Sale kicks off this weekend and runs through June 27, showcasing 60 of the state’s top-tier artists.

+ SUNDAY: “Each/Other” at Denver Art Museum
Launching this weekend, “Each/Other” is a collaborative installation featuring the works of two leading indigenous artists, Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger.

+ MONDAY: Job Fair at Stanley Marketplace
A dozen employers from an array of local businesses will be waiting for your resume at the Stanley Marketplace public job fair from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Jean Jackson is 95 years old. She has been volunteering at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park for three decades — and she has no intention of stopping now. According to park and museum employees, Jean’s been there longer than anyone on staff and she’s the best walking-tour guide the center has ever had. More recently, Jean has been helping coordinate volunteer schedules. When asked why she volunteers, Jean responded with, “Oh, that’s like asking, 'Why do you breathe?'” [Denver7]
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