Top stories of Southern Colorado in 2022

Some of the most memorable stories from KRCC staff in 2022.

This year was full of challenges for southern Colorado. Neighbors got creative when grocery prices soared amid high inflation, abortion access was tested in Pueblo and Colorado Springs became the scene of a mass shooting at a local LGBTQ club. 2022 was also filled with uplifting stories throughout the region. 

So before we start the new year and leave the past behind us, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable southern Colorado stories of the year. 

Here are KRCC’s top picks.

Colorado Springs man becomes fourth person to push a peanut up Pikes Peak with his nose

This past summer, we followed the story of Bob Salem, also known as the “peanut pusher,” of Colorado Springs who succeeded in pushing a peanut up Pikes Peak with his nose as part of a decades-long tradition. His efforts were also philanthropic, as he also raised awareness for a charity he partnered with to help house people experiencing homelessness. 

On 80th anniversary, Camp Amache families remembered and honored by Sect. of Interior Deb Haaland

In February, ​​U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, and Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse, gathered at Camp Amache to commemorate its 80th anniversary and the camp's inclusion into the National Park Service. Thirty-one U.S. military service members were among the 1,000 Japanese Americans forcibly interned at Camp Amache who volunteered to fight during World War II. 

Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado adds 9,000 acres

Visitors of Great Sand Dunes National Park were happy to find out that more than 9,000 acres of the San Luis Valley land will be accessible to the public. The site was designated a national monument in 1932 and is also designated a Dark Sky Park. 

Jess Hazel/KRCC
A Colorado Brown Tarantula rests on festival volunteer Warren McClure’s hand at the educational pavilion in the La Junta senior center during Tarantula Fest on October 8, 2022.

Hoping to become the world’s tarantula capital, La Junta hosts first-ever festival dedicated to the tiny critters

Those suffering from arachnophobia may want to tread lightly when hanging out in La Junta. Not only is the region known to attract crowds for its tarantula migration season but the city is now trying to become the tarantula capital of the world. “Instead of the home where the buffalo roam,” said La Junta Mayor Joe Ayala, “it’s gonna be, ‘Give me a home where the tarantulas roam.’ That’s gonna be our slogan.”

Mapping search and rescue data shows dangerous patterns in Southern Colorado mountains

In southern Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo mountains, the 14,000-foot peaks are known to regularly claim the lives of climbers and hikers. They are also the site of dozens of rescue missions. Using GIS mapping technology, researchers were able to determine incident patterns, helping search and rescue personnel. 

Local investors are hoping to reinvigorate the Union Printers Home in Colorado Springs, but they’ve got a lot of work to do

Once a convalescent home for union workers who developed “black lung” while inhaling carbon-based ink, the 130-year-old Union Printer’s Home will get a new chapter with the help of local investors. If you’re not familiar with the building, check out the photos of its past and present in the story as well as a diary excerpt showing what life was like inside the building.

‘People can’t do their work’: High case loads, turnover leave social workers overburdened in El Paso County

An investigation into El Paso County’s Department of Human Services revealed major problems in the last few years, including high employee turnover due to massive workloads. "I kind of felt like day to day was what fire needed to be put out first," one former employee said."I had to look and think which kids could make it another day or two and which one couldn't." Agency officials say the budget is tight and continue to request state and federal funding.

Watery OJ and dollar store bread: How some Coloradans are surviving inflation

Inflation led to some high food prices this year and in southern Colorado, residents shared with KRCC how creative they got to ensure they could afford to buy groceries. Some resorted to alternatives or watering down juices to make them last longer. Others cut out unnecessary items or switched their shopping to more affordable stores.

Abigail Beckman/KRCC
Colorado Springs residents attended a vigil following a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ club.

‘We’ve lost our family’: LGBTQ community mourns after shooting at Club Q

Members of Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community mourned at a local church the day after five people were killed during a shooting at Club Q in mid-November. KRCC got to learn about their thoughts and reflections in light of the incident.

District 3 voters react to potential Lauren Boebert upset by Democrat Adam Frisch

One of the biggest headlines to come from the midterm elections focused in on the 3rd Congressional District race between Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert and Democratic contender Adam Frisch. KRCC spoke to constituents in Pueblo when the race was too close to call (and before Boebert officially won) to get a sense of what made the election so close.