Wake-Up Call: Let it snow, let it snow...

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Cocktail party conversation isn't easy this holiday season -- if anyone's holding cocktail parties, that is. Two safe topics: the Broncos (since the team's still winning) and the weather -- which is as Colorado-wacky as ever. A beautiful weekend, then snow today; record highs last Tuesday, record lows on Thursday.

And spirits only got lower on December 4 with the announcement that the Rocky Mountain News is for sale -- putting hundreds of jobs in limbo. Then came Friday's grim news of a half-million jobs lost across the country last month.

The state won't be releasing Colorado's specific job-loss unemployment figures until December 19, but some people aren't waiting around to take action. Gordon Miller, a nationally recognized career expert and exec veep of Denver-based Dovetail Solutions, offers a free jobs workshop for laid-off workers from 7:30 to 10 a.m. tomorrow, December 9, at the PPA Event Center, 2105 Decatur Street. For more information or to RSVP, go to www.dovetailsolutions.com. And the governor's office is holding "Surviving Tough Times: Counseling, Tools and Resources for Small Businesses," a series of six small-business finance forums across the state. The first runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pueblo Community College on Thursday, December 11; the next will be December 16 on the Auraria campus. To sign up, e-mail kyle.miller@state.co.us.

Need distractions from your personal situation? Plenty of local issues are heating up this week, too.

The Downtown Denver Partnership is looking for a consultant to assess existing conditions along the 16th Street Mall; the deadline to apply is today. Our advice (free!): Convince landlords to let local artists use the empty space, giving visitors something to buy besides souvenirs made in China.

Tuesday through Thursday, the nine-member Colorado oil-and-gas commission will consider formal approval of new rules it's been studying for sixteen months. And the Colorado Department of Transportation will hold three public hearings on its five-year environmental impact study of solutions for the stretch of I-70 through north Denver. The first is 5 to 8 p.m. December 9 at Sable Elementary School in Aurora; then it's on to Commerce City and, finally, Denver, from 5 to 8 p.m. December 11 at Bruce Randolph Middle School.

On Wednesday, December 10, Denver City Council's Blueprint Denver committee will take up the issue of rezoning 208 acres in West Washington Park to limit multi-unit development. The discussion moves to the full council on Monday, December 15, with a public hearing starting at 5:30 p.m.

You don't need to wait for New Year's to watch the fireworks! -- Patricia Calhoun

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