Friday, April 27, 2012

UPDATE: Dickey's Barbecue Pit to open

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Following up on our original story from February, it seems the Rusnaks have found a spot and will open at 1466 Garden of the Gods Road, #160, near Trinity Brewing Company, sometime in July.

"Everyone is excited to hear a new barbecue restaurant is coming to town," says Bob in a release. "Many people here have lived in Texas and are familiar with Dickey's. They are extremely happy that we are coming to Colorado Springs."

——— ORIGINAL POST: Feb. 8, 12:11 P.M. ———

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A press release reveals the sticky news that soon Dickey's Barbecue Pit will open a Colorado Springs location. We've e-mailed the company, which seems similar to Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q, for the where and when, and will update when we hear back.

In the meantime, what we do know: The restaurant will be run by Robert and Barbara Rusnak, who are, according to the release, "excited to become a part of this community and really get involved in the schools and local organizations."

The Dallas-based chain, which started in 1941, sports over 200 locations in 36 states and is apparently "well-known for their hot pit-smoked signature meats, complimentary ice cream and the big yellow cups."

"But, we are growing, and growing fast!" says a statement on the company's website. "Dickey’s only began franchising in 1994 and today, we are the largest quick serve chain in the country with locations coast to coast!"

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bader on the postal closure

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM

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Chuck Bader, treasurer of the local postal workers union APWU-CSAL #247 and vice-president of Colorado AFL-CIO, sent out this press release on the closure of the Springs-based processing center for the United States Postal Service.

In it, Bader, a longtime employee of the Postal Service, argues that the closure — one of hundreds — will "have a devastating impact on millions of individual citizens who rely on the mail to connect them to their communities and the nation at large. Nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t have broadband Internet access, and 28 percent of Americans have no Internet access at all. Approximately 55 percent of consumers still receive hard-copy bills and statements."

The USPS, he says, is at the "heart of a $1 trillion private-sector industry that employs 9 million people and generates more than $65 billion worth of mail annually."

And, as he has argued all along, the fiscal crisis within the USPS is not solely of its doing. Nor, he says, is it just a sign of the times, but due mostly to a misguided policy thrust upon it by Congress.

Although first-class mail has declined over the past four years, online bill payment and other forms of electronic communication are only part of the problem.

The primary cause of the Postal Service’s dire financial situation is a mandate imposed by Congress in 2006 that requires the USPS to “pre-fund” healthcare benefits for future retirees. This obligation drains approximately $5.5 billion annually from postal accounts to fund a 75-year obligation — in just 10 years. No other government agency or private business bears this burden.

Were it not for the financial chokehold Congress created in 2006, the Postal Service would have netted a $611 million surplus during fiscal years 2006-2010 instead of racking up a $21 billion deficit.

The whole release after the jump.

Continue reading »

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UPDATE: Incline deal takes giant step

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 4:47 PM

A little extra information, courtesy of the city:

Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs City Councils approve agreement to manage Manitou Incline

Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs city councils yesterday approved a milestone inter-governmental (IGA) agreement to manage one of the Pikes Peak region’s most-popular trails. The agreement is one important step in a lengthy process to facilitate the legal use of the former Mt. Manitou Incline Scenic Railway for public recreation. Currently, hikers are trespassing each time they scale the steep slope, which gains some 2,000 feet of elevation in one mile. An estimated 350,000 trips are made up the trail annually.

Colorado Springs Council President Scott Hente said, “This project is a great collaboration between two communities and three landowners to mitigate the impacts of unmanaged recreational activities and establish another iconic outdoor destination for Pikes Peak Region residents and visitors. I’m so grateful that Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are again leveraging their combined resources to enhance the quality of life in both of these great cities.”

The IGA is essentially a good-faith agreement between neighboring communities on how to manage the trail — once it is open. Approving the IGA did not open the Incline to legal public use and no opening date has been set. Challenging issues must be resolved before the cities will agree to open the Incline such as: managing parking in Manitou Springs, particularly along Ruxton Avenue and in surrounding neighborhoods, and making trail and trailhead improvements. In addition, legal agreements are still required with the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company, and United States Forest Service. Congress must also abandon the railway, which is being handled by U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs.

In the meantime, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are establishing a review committee to address issues related to the opening and management of the Incline and a volunteer group, Incline Friends, is proceeding to improve the trail and address safety concerns. The cities will continue to update the public as progress is made to formally open the Incline to legal, public recreation.

# # #


——-ORIGINAL POST, WEDNESDAY, 11:07 A.M. ——-
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A deal to legalize hiking on the wildly popular Manitou Incline trail is one step closer to reality.

Despite concerns about everything from liability to parking to overcrowding in Manitou Springs, both the Manitou Springs City Council and the Colorado Springs City Council unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement that divvies up responsibilities for the trail once it's opened.

Springs City Councilor Bernie Herpin said he was excited to see the project move forward, even if he never plans to use the trail.

"Being a law-and-order guy, I've resisted the urge to kill myself by taking three steps up the Incline," Herpin joked.

The Incline, a steep trail up Mount Manitou that is illegally hiked 350,000 to 500,000 times a year, sits on property owned by Colorado Springs Utilities, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and the U.S. Forest Service. Colorado Springs would manage the trail alongside a friends group, while Manitou Springs tackles traffic and parking issues.

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Governor orders formation of an oil and gas task force

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 4:46 PM

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With local government officials causing a dust-up over the state's primacy in overseeing oil and gas drilling, Gov. John Hickenlooper is apparently trying to calm those complaints of local officials being closed out by creating an oil and gas task force.

Problem is, so far there are no local government officials on the panel, only reps from organizations of local officials, such as Colorado Counties, Inc., and the Colorado Municipal League.

El Paso County commissioners had a run-in with the Attorney General's Office earlier this year after commissioners wanted to retain control over groundwater monitoring. Eventually a deal was reached in which the county's local designated representative, assistant county attorney Diana May, will work with state officials in enforcing rules on groundwater testing before and after drilling occurs.

But lots of natives are restless over other issues, including setback requirements of wells from property lines and structures, dust and air pollution and other issues. In a court case in Gunnison earlier this year, a judge ruled in favor of the local officials in imposing regulations. Several bills are floating around the state Legislature that deal with local control as well.

Here's the governor's executive order:

STATE OF COLORADO
B 2012-002
EXECUTIVE ORDER

John W. Hickenlooper, Governor

Cooperative Strategies Regarding State and Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Development

Pursuant to the authority vested in the Office of the Governor of the state of Colorado, I,
John W. Hickenlooper, Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issue this Executive Order
creating the Task Force on Cooperative Strategies Regarding State and Local Regulation of Oil
and Gas Development
.

I. Background, Need and Purpose
As oil and gas activity expands throughout Colorado, in large part due to horizontal drilling
combined with hydraulic fracturing that together are launching new shale oil and gas plays,
counties and municipalities ("local jurisdictions") are evaluating whether to adopt their own rules
governing development activities.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act, C.R.S. § 34-60-101 , et seq. , charges the Colorado
Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ("COGCC") with fostering the responsible development
of Colorado's oil and gas resources in a manner consistent with the protection of public health,
safety and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife. Pursuant to this
statutory directive, the COGCC has broad powers to further the state's interest in oil and gas
development. This includes the power to pass regulations governing development and the
COGCC has comprehensively updated its regulations to address both surface and subsurface
protections. The state's regulations also provide multiple opportunities for local government
participation.
At the same time, local jurisdictions have the duty to provide planned and orderly development
within Colorado and have statutory authority to balance basic human needs and environmental
concerns when regulating the use of land within their boundaries. The increased oil and gas
activity that is occurring in new areas and that involves new technology has caused a number of
local jurisdictions to revisit the adequacy of their own regulations.
Colorado case law established the operational conflict rules. Industry, the State, and local
jurisdictions successfully operate within the parameters established by the courts. Occasionally,
however, parties disagree whether a local rule is in conflict with a state rule. Parties hesitate to
pursue resolution in court because proving operational conflict is an adversarial, cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive process. It is in the interest of all parties to seek ways in which
the concerns oflocal jurisdictions, operators, and the State can be addressed collaboratively.
The State, local jurisdictions, and industry share an interest in efficient and effective regulations
that provide for the responsible development of the state's oil and gas resources. As such, the
State and local jurisdictions, in collaboration with the oil and gas industry, seek to fashion
mechanisms through which they can coordinate their efforts and achieve a complimentary
regulatory structure that benefits our economy, health, environment and wildlife.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate support this Task
Force and it is hereby established with the following mission and scope and will examine the
many facets ofthese issues and strive to reach consensus on how best to achieve its mission.

II. Mission and Scope
A. The Task Force shall identify and strive to reach agreement on mechanisms to work
collaboratively and coordinate state and local jurisdiction regulatory structures for
the purpose of benefiting Colorado's economy and protecting public health, the
environment and wildlife, and to avoid duplication and conflict of state and local
jurisdiction regulations of oil and gas activities and to help foster a climate that
encourages responsible development.

B. The issues that the Task Force addresses shall include, but not be limited to:
1. setbacks of oil and gas facilities or roads necessary for oil an gas operations
from any building, public road, above-ground utility line, railroad, or water
body, or other restrictions on the location of an oil or gas well and its related
production facilities;
2. floodplain restrictions;
3. protection of wildlife and livestock;
4. noise abatement;
5. operational methods employed by oil and gas activities;
6. air quality and dust management;
7. traffic management and impacts; and
8. fees, financial assurance, and inspection.

C. The Task Force shall explore any and all options that address the issues in
paragraph B and helps clarify and/or better coordinate the regulatory jurisdiction
over oil and gas operations between state and local jurisdictions. Such options
examined shall include, but are not limited to:
1. utilization of local government liaisons and local" jurisdiction designees
regarding permitted oil and gas activities;
2. state training workshops for local jurisdiction representatives;
3. memorandums of agreement, intergovernmental agreements, and letters of cooperation and consent between the state and local jurisdictions;
4. changes to existing laws or regulations; and
5. suggested new laws and regulations.

III. Membership
A. The Task Force shall be chaired by the Executive Director of the Colorado
Department of Natural Resources.
B. Members of the Task Force shall be limited to the following:
1. the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, or his
or her designee;
2. two members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as
determined by said Commission;
3. the President of the Board of Directors of Colorado Counties, Incorporated, or his or her designee who must also be a member of said organization;
4. the President of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Municipal League, or his or her designee who must also be a member of said organization;
5. the Chief Executive of the Colorado Petroleum Association, or his or her designee;
6. the Chief Executive Officer of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, or his or her designee;
7. the Executive Director of Colorado Conservation Voters, or his or her designee;
8. one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
9. one member appointed by the President ofthe Senate; and
10. the Colorado Attorney General or the Attorney General's designee.

IV. Duration
This Executive Order shall continue in existence until the Task Force reports its
recommendations and findings to the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
and the President of the Senate but no later than April 18, 2012, unless it is either terminated or extended beyond that date by further Executive Order of the Governor.

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We've asked a few local folks, including Board of County Commissioners Chair Amy Lathen, for comments on this latest development.

Here's Lathen's take, via e-mail:

After the exhaustive process that we went through here in El Paso, it looks like the state is working on going through a similar process. Many have commented on how well things have been handled here and I hope that is something on which they can build. This certainly mirrors our Local Government Designee (LGD) process and we have already forwarded the Executive Order to Diana May, our LGD. I'll be checking into the local government possibilities.

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Red Rocks Update: Opening acts you don't want to miss

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 1:31 PM

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Being the opening act at a venue like Red Rocks can have its drawbacks. Compared to the headliner, support acts generally are paid less, play a shorter set, and get a lot less attention.

All of which is kind of unfortunate, especially in those rare — but not unheard of — cases where the artists opening are arguably better than the headliners.

As Red Rocks rolls out its summer schedule, there are two shows where this is almost certainly going to be the case.

On July 4, Blues Traveler will return to the venue. The band is, of course, a household name, especially if your household has been around for 25 years like they have.

Now I have nothing against John Popper and his blues-rock brethren (apart from not liking their music), but I'm pretty sure that opening act Fitz & the Tantrums can, and will, blow them off the stage.

Meanwhile, "Pumped Up Kicks" purveyors Foster the People will be playing Red Rocks that same week (July 3, to be precise), and the situation is likely to be much the same.

Again, don't get me wrong: I'm the first person to whistle along when last summer's feel-good-hit-about-a-future-mass-murderer comes on the radio. But FTP is less talented and interesting than blue-eyed soulman Mayer Hawthorne, and can't hold even the dimmest candle to Kimbra, who's already huge Down Under — and, thanks to the success of her team-up with Gotye on the single "Somebody That I Used to Know," will soon be here as well.

So the takeaway message, if you're going to either show, is to get there on time. As for the May 8 Styx/REO Speedwagon/Ted Nugent bill, I'll let you figure that one out for yourself.

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Urban renewal appointments cause a tiff

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 12:49 PM

The Urban Renewal board is charged with helping blighted areas, like this one in Washington, D.C.
  • AgnosticPreachersKid
  • The Urban Renewal board is charged with helping blighted areas, like this one in Washington, D.C.

Despite some concerns from City Councilor Bernie Herpin on one appointment, Mayor Steve Bach’s choices of David Neville, Jim Raughton, Wynne Palermo and Robert Shonkwiler for the Urban Renewal Authority Board were approved by Council Tuesday.

Their terms begin on April 1.

The mayor has been interested in the Urban Renewal board due to recent run-ins he’s had with it, as well as concerns about the authority’s finances. Thirty-six people applied to fill the positions.

Neville is a real estate attorney; Raughton has worked in planning, higher education and real estate development; Palermo is a realtor and volunteer; and Shonkwiler is retired from a career in planning and development that included the creation of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall.

It was Shonkwiler whom Herpin had reservations about, because Shonkwiler also serves on the City Planning Commission, and the two roles will intersect. Herpin wanted Shonkwiler to resign from the Planning Commission to accept the Urban Renewal position.

Herpin's request caused Mayor Steve Bach to become visibly frustrated, raising his voice and saying that Herpin should have come to him sooner with the concern. When Herpin mentioned that he had brought it up the day before, at an informal Council meeting that the mayor ducked out of early, the mayor complained that the discussion was "at the end of the meeting."

Actually, Herpin discussed the item at the proper time, when the scheduled agenda item came up. Since the mayor takes part in creating those agendas, he would have been aware of the planned discussion, even if he wasn't aware that it would be contentious.

Technicalities aside, Herpin was not able to marshall the support he needed to push Shonkwiler's resignation from the planning board. Council approved all the mayor's appointments to the Urban Renewal board.

Shonkwiler said he will recuse himself when his two roles intersect.

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Freedom settles with carriers again

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 9:18 AM

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Freedom Communications, the parent of the Gazette, has settled a class action lawsuit brought against its officers and directors by carriers who alleged they were unfairly labeled contractors and not paid for break time, mileage and overtime.

In a case filed in 2003, the carriers initially agreed to a $28.9 million settlement, but that was pared to $14 million during Freedom's bankruptcy a couple of years ago.

Subsequently, the carriers sued the officers and directors, leading to the recent settlement, which the Orange County Business Journal reports will be paid by insurance.

Meantime, back at the Gazette, the search is on for a publisher, according to this ad posted at Andrew Hudson's Jobs List.

Publisher
Colorado Springs Gazette
Colorado Springs, CO

Publisher Opportunity
Colorado Springs

Freedom Newspapers, Inc. is seeking an experienced, high impact player to serve as publisher for the Colorado Springs Gazette, a 75,000 circulation daily newspaper as well as its family of print and on-line portfolio (8.5 miliion page views). The Gazette, based in Colorado Springs, provides print and on line information services to El Paso and Teller counties of Colorado. Located just 70 miles from Denver, the population is diverse, among the most "wired" in the country and out door oriented. The area has a strong military presence and is home to both high tech and aerospace industries. We are looking for a strong, visionary leader with the ability to transform our organization and our product portfolio to meet the ever changing needs of our readers and advertisers.

Qualified applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a minimum of 5-7 years experience managing progressively larger media properties. Demonstrated ability to develop and drive overall business strategy and revenue initiatives is essential.

Qualified candidates will possess a track record of successful management experience and a desire to become actively involved with their team and within the community.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume via e-mail to freedomjobs@freedom.com attn: Marcy Bruskin, Vice President, Human Resources.

At the moment, the interim publisher is Mike Burns, Freedom's vice president of sales and market development, who presided over a Dec. 1 layoff of about a dozen employees — the latest of many layoffs there since 2007. Among those who departed in that wave was editor Jeff Thomas, who resigned. He was replaced by Carmen Boles, who has headed the paper's online operation and was given the new title of "content coordinator."

From Freedom's website:

Freedom Communications, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., is a national privately owned information and entertainment company of print publications, broadcast television stations and interactive businesses. The company's print portfolio includes more than 100 publications, including 26 daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and other specialty publications. The broadcast stations — five CBS, two ABC network affiliates and one CW affiliate — reach more than 3 million households across the country. Freedom's news, information and entertainment websites and mobile applications complement its print and broadcast properties.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

County making it harder on the poor

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road.
  • Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road.

Just as gas prices are soaring, El Paso County finds another way to make a poor person's life even harder.

Starting May 1, El Paso County Public Health will close two Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) centers in Colorado Springs, forcing clients to drive to the county's sprawling Citizens Service Center at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road. Public Health is located on the second floor.

The closings affect two locations: 4360 Montebello Drive, nearly eight miles from the Citizens Service Center, and 1257 Lake Plaza Drive, more than 12 miles away.

A clinic at 97 Widefield Blvd. in Widefield will remain open.

Here's how Public Health explains it in a news release:

These closures were necessary to maintain client services after Public Health lost federal funds totaling $298,654 for the WIC program. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides vouchers for nutritious foods to supplement the diet of pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children under the age of 5 years, who both meet the income guidelines and qualify as “nutritionally at risk.” Purchases made with the redeemable vouchers put slightly more than $9 million back into the community last year.

Participants also receive nutrition and breastfeeding education, along with referrals to health services. El Paso County Public Health currently has 16,300 total WIC clients. There was an average caseload of 14,952 in 2010, and 14,954 in 2009.

As of January 2012, the Lake Plaza Drive office had seven staff members serving 3,259 clients, and the Montebello Drive office had 11 staff members serving 5,085 clients. All clients will continue to receive services with their WIC educator at the new location.

For more information about WIC, driving directions or public transit options to the Citizen Services Center available, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.

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UPDATE: Notes from the Over the River county meetings

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Fremont County's decision as to if it would grant Over the River a temporary event permit has been pushed back a month.

Though still on the agenda for today's meeting, Over the River spokesperson Miles Graham says the county is expected to delay consideration on the permit until its March 13 or 27 meetings, due to Over the River's new projected dates of display, which were recently rescheduled for August 2015.

——- ORIGINAL POST, 5:55 P.M., FRIDAY ——-

Both sides stated their case and felt heard. Now it's out of their hands.

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  • Wolfgang Volz, Christo

Wednesday and Thursday's public hearings in Cañon City and Cotopaxi were productive and filled to the hilt, according to Over the River spokesperson Miles Graham and Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR) vice president Ellen T. Bauder. Even though Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude's Over the River installation has received a green light from the Bureau of Land Management, it must still obtain temporary event permits from Fremont and Chaffee counties.

Graham estimates there were more than 100 people at each meeting. As far as those who spoke, Graham says in Cañon City it was 2-to-1 for the project. (Organizations who spoke in favor of the project include Action 22, as well as Blake Milteer from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.) In Cotopaxi, it was about 50-50, but as they expected, he says.

For her part, Bauder says it would be impossible to tell how many at the meetings were for or against — beyond those wearing T-shirts OTR handed out.

Bauder was struck by the 15-some officers from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office in attendance at the Cañon City hearings. "I was kind of taken aback. It was like walking into a, I don't know, the hearing of a major criminal or something. It was just a spooky feeling."

She doesn't know why so many were there (only a handful were at the Cotopaxi hearing), but it highlighted the concern of one county resident who pointed out that with so much law enforcement in one place, the rest of the county was probably left unprotected. Same thing could crop up should the project happen.

Fremont County commissioners will continue to collect written public comment through 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, and then table the issue, possibly working on conditions, until their end-of-the-month public meeting, Graham says.

What they will say, neither Graham nor Bauder will speculate, but it could be a flat-out "no" or a "yes, with conditions." If rejected, Graham won't say how it will affect the project, but it would mark a significant victory for Bauder and ROAR.

Should Fremont accept, OTR will then move onto Chaffee County for the same permit approval process. Chaffee will vote on its updated temporary event permit process next week, Graham says, at which point OTR will begin to apply for that county's permit.

For more information on OTR and Fremont County, visit fremontcountyotr.com. Comments may be submitted to (planning@fremontco.com and cc: bocc@fremontco.com)

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Protestations: One bicyclist's take on the Tour of Colorado Springs

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

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  • Flickr / State Library of Victoria Collections

As we reported last week, the proposed Tour of Colorado Springs had bicycle enthusiasts in the community stoked about what could potentially draw thousands of people and continue to solidify the city's place as a biking mecca.

Then all that fizzled, at least for a year, when Mayor Steve Bach withdrew his support.

This has proven hard for supporters to take. One prominent individual put his thoughts into writing; he requested anonymity essentially to protect himself from political backlash from city leaders. Click below the fold to see it in its unedited form.

Continue reading »

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UPDATE: The Arts Alley District, new and improved?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:40 AM

HB&A's open house will be held Monday, March 5 at its office on 102 E. Moreno Ave. Twenty-minute presentations with discussions will be given from 9 a.m. to noon. No RSVPs needed, just drop in.

——-ORIGINAL POST, 12:17 P.M., FRIDAY ——-

Imagine a downtown alley that looked like this:

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  • HB&A Architects and Planners

Or this:

No dark puddles, no creepy corners, fewer Dumpsters stinking up the way.

It could happen. Not soon, but someday.

Last year, Brett and Lauren Andrus of the Modbo and S.P.Q.R. started pitching ideas for a proper Arts Alley District, which could include more businesses, more foot traffic and prettier surroundings for the alley that their galleries sit upon, stretching north to Platte Avenue and south to Kiowa Street, parallel to Cascade Avenue.

With financial help from the Downtown Development Authority and several other enterprises, HB&A Architects and Planners drew up these renderings for short- and long-term ideas to improve the alley.

“What the project is, is initially, just kind of an improvement investigation, what could be done,” says Andrea Barker, HB&A director of business development.

Small steps include better illumination of the pedestrian stairwells in the parking garage that abuts the alley. But one of the biggest goals — and obstacles — toward improving the area is revamping the trash-bin situation.

HB&A’s plans for Dumpsters include grouping them in clusters in unobtrusive parts of the alleys, and hiding them behind pens to make them less ugly. However, with businesses contracting with different sanitation companies, garbage disposal traffic in the alleys makes grander gentrification ideas harder to envision.

What planners would like is to not only group the Dumpsters better, but to follow Manitou Springs’ lead and contract with just one company. Barker also cites another option, happening in downtown Seattle, where there are no Dumpsters at all, but garbage pick-up twice a day.

She adds that ultimately what the alley needs to grow is “24/7 activity” of all types for all ages, and that includes downtown living. While this project would add other facets to, say, downtown’s club-only nighttime activity, it would need some planned to even get started.

Yet those ideas are years away and millions of dollars down the road.

“To just look at the two alleys, we’re now dealing with a microcosm of what is, the whole downtown,” she says. “You’ve got business operators, sometimes different than building owners, you’ve got city, you’ve got utilities, you’ve got the garbage carriers, you’ve got the Downtown Partnership, and the Partnership’s got a lot of parts …”

And even once all those entities are reached and pitched on the ideas, getting them to agree on a central vision brings up a whole new set of challenges.

The next steps involve meetings with City Planning as well as an open house HB&A is planning to host in the first two weeks of March, during which Barker says they’ll share their ideas with anyone who’s interested.

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Balls to the walls: kilt-blowing at GalaxyFest

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 7:06 AM

With freelancer Bret Wright taking the literary route to recapping some of GalaxyFest (see Wright's preview here), Matthew Schniper and I were more visually inspired, especially as we had arrived around 10 on Saturday night to take in the kilt blowing, um, event.

The crowd-pleaser was exactly what it sounds like: To thundering '80s music hits, women with electric leaf blowers attempt to get the lucky man's kilt to blow up, exposing some of his nether bits. Some of the participants thankfully hold down parts of the kilt that were blowing high and some ... don't. (Let's just say this is relevant.)

Anyway, we start with a few shots of the soldierly souls that had braved the long day, and then a few from the night's end.

A member of the D20 Girls Project, a promotional troupe that travels to various conventions.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A member of the D20 Girls Project, a promotional troupe that travels to various conventions.

Another member of the D20 Girls Project, a promotional troupe that travels to various conventions.

Does this look like the face of a man who will later have hot air blown up his skirt?
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Does this look like the face of a man who will later have hot air blown up his skirt?

Continue reading »

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Tales from Firkin 2012

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 7:32 PM

The genius behind the best beer at the party.

You're probably thinking that the annual Firkin Rendezvous, held by Bristol Brewing Company, happened on Feb. 18, and a week later is kind of a lame time to recap a small-barrel event that most people have moved on from. And you're probably thinking all this because it's true, and I applaud you for your judgment and clear thinking.

However, situations and life changes and lost notes conspired to keep us from the keyboard, so to hell with it, we're doing it live, as Bill O'Reilly would kind of say. Before we do, though, we just want to offer our condolences to the brewery, which just lost general manager Josh Osterhoudt to cancer.

On to happier thoughts — beer thoughts. (See previous recaps here and here.) First, the Firkin was divided this year into two sessions: an earlier VIP session that cost more ($50), and the general session ($35). (Disclosure: The Indy was comped.) It was an attempt to break up the constant butt-to-crotch action that has usually taken place while waiting in line.

I thought the early entry worked great; even when the regulars joined in, it didn't feel too crowded. This was also due to good planning, with Bristol including the attending brewery's staff in the anticipated total head counts.

Dishing em fast in furious, with Pikes Peak Brewing Co. owner Chris Wright in the foreground, in glasses.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Dishing 'em fast and furious, with Pikes Peak Brewing Co. owner Chris Wright in the foreground, in glasses.

So, the best frickin' beer at the Firkin? No question: Odell Brewing Co.'s Coconut Milk Cutthroat Porter. The brewery combined actual coconut juice, and a pound and a half of flakes, with its Cutthroat Porter. It was smooth, intensely accurate to the described flavors, and the talk of the ball.

Other highlights include a weird, but fun, honey-basil brew from Elk Mountain Brewing; a really nice and cider-y organic apple IPA from Three Barrel Brewing Co. that kicked harder than it looked; and a Scotch ale from Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. that not only rocked a kick-ass name — Second-Hand Electric Donkey Bottom Bitter Scotch Ale with Elderberries — but offered an intensity and clarity I don't normally associate with the place.

No need to overly knock locals, but I have to admit to being disappointed with offerings from Black Fox Brewing Co., Kevin Baity Kraft Beers and Pikes Peak Brewing Co. BF's Somnombulance with Raspberries seemed really interesting at first, before an ass-puckering tartness took over; and the other two's brews, an English pale ale and a whiskey stout, respectively, seemed like halfway done products, lacking any punch.

But it was a great event, as always, with more than 20 participating breweries — including food from Front Range Barbeque, McCabe's Tavern and others — so go next year, grab the still-best-commemorative-glass-of-any-festival and help support the Colorado Brewers Guild.

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Patients' house raided for marijuana by small army

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 5:41 PM

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At Bob Crouse's protest today, I talked to medical-marijuana patient Lynda Glandorf, who has been on the receiving end of some unwelcome police attention.

Last Christmas, Glandorf was contacted at her house by members of the Colorado Springs Police Department, asking if they could enter to inspect her grow. Glandorf, who says both she and her roommate have paperwork authorizing them to grow up to 30 plants each, declined.

Glandorf says she heard nothing further from the police until Feb. 10, when she found herself pulled over by a detective who had been following her for some way. The officer told her the department's Tactical Enforcement Unit was minutes away from raiding her household, partially based on another tip (that came from someone with a personal ax to grind, according to Glandorf). And he wanted to ask a few questions about its contents.

TEU did aggressively execute this raid, as seen in the camera footage below, breaking down what she says was an unlocked door. Preceding their entrance, a flash grenade was thrown; in a second video, Glandorf and her roommate say it burned the wooden floor and one of her five dogs' tails, and injured another with its shrapnel. (Most of these claims are made between the 14- and 16-minute marks.)

CSPD spokeswoman Barbara Miller says what Glandorf describes couldn't have happened, as the grenade doesn't produce shrapnel.

Lastly, the team comprehensively searched the house for contraband and found a handgun, says Miller. Glandorf still states that no weapons were present.

Upon returning home, Glandorf "saw that they just basically destroyed the place. And I ended up finding the search warrant by accident on the kitchen table," she says in the above linked video. "It was turned face down and it had handwriting on it I didn't recognize."

Police eventually took three pieces of mail and a plant clipping from among the pair's 48 combined plants. In the meantime, no charges have been filed, though Miller did provide this statement:

Prior to obtaining a Search Warrant, our officers conducted a “Knock & Talk” which is where they knock on your door and request permission to enter based on tips received. This affords the occupants an opportunity to provide the officers with any documentation disproving the allegations received in the narcotics tip. The occupants have a right to refuse entry to the officers and chose to exercise that right. While officers were not allowed in, they did report a very strong smell of marijuana once the door was opened by the resident. That led them to checking the electrical usage of the home which was found to be significantly higher that others in the area, {a tell tale sign that a “grow” could be underway} Further investigation and information led detectives to prepare a search warrant for this residence. This warrant was presented to a judge and found to have probable cause to believe that illegal activity may be occurring at that location. A criminal history check and other indicators were also revealed during a risk assessment prior to the warrant being served. Due to a history of criminal activity and the report of weapons being present, our TEU was tasked with executing the warrant. TEU was selected in insure the safety of all, to include citizens, residents and officers.

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5th Congressional race adds another candidate

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Doug Bergeron
  • Doug Bergeron

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has another challenger to contend with this year. Early on in his re-election bid to represent the 5th Congressional District for a fourth term, Lamborn picked up a primary challenge from political newcomer, Republican Robert Blaha.

He is also facing a general election challenge from independent Dave Anderson.

And now, a second political newcomer has launched a primary campaign: Doug Bergeron.

According to Bergeron's website, he is a self-made businessman, who has worked for 26 years growing his insurance agency.

Over the years I’ve worked at just about everything from loading trucks in a grocery warehouse, distributing newspapers at 2:00 AM seven days a week, working as a mason contractor, store owner, selling cars and real estate....

Life is good, but it hasn’t always been that way. When we first came to Colorado, we became another statistic in the real estate crash of the mid-eighties. To make ends meet, we sold our home and cars, put our furniture in storage, and moved into an apartment. When I look at you and say, "I understand," believe me I really understand.

Bergeron lists as his key issues many conservative tropes, such as a strong support of the Second Amendment, an opposition to government health care, and a pro-military posture with a pointed support for the war on terror.

However, on immigration, the environment and "Right to Life" he tends to moderate away from the much more ardently conservative Lamborn: On immigration, Instead of trumpeting a strict anti-immigrant stance, he has taken the more-moderate position that legal immigration is a value and ought to be supported; he takes a nuanced stand on the environment calling for "strong and fair" government protections; and while he expresses his personal opposition to abortion, he states, "I believe these issues are personal, moral issues between the individual and his/her God. This should not be a political agenda."

He also states that he would support a limit of 12 years for legislators serving in Congress.

His press release:


Colorado Springs man looks forward to Colorado 5th Congressional District race.

Unlike career politicians, Doug Bergeron has never held political office, but has been a successful businessman in Colorado Springs for 27 years. It is this background that makes him well suited for the job.

When first arriving in Colorado Springs 27 years ago, despite working seven days a week at two jobs, they lost their home, returned new cars, and fell behind on all their bills. When Bergeron looks at you as a constituent and says he can relate, unlike most politicians, he really can.

This moderate Republican believes in twelve year term limits, bi-partisanship, political accountability, personal freedom, and limited government.

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