Monday, September 10, 2012

UPDATE: Earning gold at Old C's

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 1:44 PM

The next mini tour at Old Chicago launches Wednesday, Sept. 12, with a kick-off party from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Tejon Street location.

The theme is of course Oktoberfest, as it's that time of the year.

See a full list of the eight beers featured at each Old Chicago location here.

The Tejon Street location will be pouring: Hacker-Pschorr Dunkle Weisse, Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn, Ayinger Oktoberfest, Samuel Adams Oktoberfest, Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Bristol Octoberfest, Boulevard Oktoberfest and Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale.

You've got until Sept. 30 to drink all eight and earn the t-shirt, pictured below.

Oktoberfest Old Chicago
  • Lookin' good in diamonds.

——- ORIGINAL POST: FRIDAY, AUG. 3, 5:43 P.M. ——-

Baskin-Robbins is known for its 31 flavors.

Southern Hospitality for its bevy of bourbons.

And Old Chicago for its 110 beers.

That is, if you're a beer drinker. Otherwise, CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries' biggest brand earns customers for its deep-dish pizza and Big Cookie dessert, among its wide list of menu offerings.

Old Chicago Colorado Springs beer tour
  • Matthew Schniper
  • As our Olympians rack up metals, enjoy a list of award-winning beers during Old Chicago's August Mini Tour.

Which leads us to a quick look at restaurant branding — which is ultimately about making sure customers get who you are and what you're about.

Regular guests will notice some changes coming soon to Old C's, including an overhaul of part its logo, from "pasta & pizza" to "pizza and taproom" says Tejon Street location bar manager David Lux. (No relation to local Concept Restaurants guy Dave Lux, who happens to coincidentally own the building in which Old Chicago is located.)

But even as the company image is refreshed, certain popular company traditions won't change a bit, and in fact will see some reinforcement. Hence the invite we received from a Denver-based PR firm to meet Lux for a free sampling of the latest beer mini tour, which is part of Old C's larger World Beer Tour.

Old Chicago Colorado Springs beer tour
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Bar manager David Lux, a Jack White lookin' dude, displays the prize T-shirt that Old Chicago guests can earn by finishing this month's mini tour.

I confess I'm a newbie to both tours, which became quickly embarrassing last night when I learned that my food colleague Bryce Crawford already possesses several of the reward T-shirts from the program (which you earn by completing individual mini beer tours, of which there are around eight per year).

So in case any of you are also late to the party, which has been ragin' here since 1983, allow me to share what I learned about the whole affair last night, as well as details on the current Gold Medal Mini Tour, running through Aug. 19 and themed around the Olympics. (Side note: Michael Phelps did visit this Old C's with friends a couple of months ago for a meal, says Lux, exciting the staff.)

How the larger World Beer Tour works is, you're issued your own beer card (like a credit card - a nice piece of plastic) that tracks each beer you drink at any Old C's location. Once you've tried all 110 brews — with perks along the way, such as a deck of playing cards after 10 beers, a bottle opener after 20 and a shirt after 50 — you get your name added to the Hall of Foam (literally a giant wooden commemoration board with little engraved metal plaques, like a big-ass drinking trophy for a whole community).

Do the whole tour 10 times and you get a VIP beer stein with continued VIP drinking discounts.

Cool? Cool.

Old Chicago Colorado Springs beer tour

So let's look at the current Gold Medal Mini Tour before you end up needing a beer just to finish reading this blog post. The deal is, each of these beers has won a gold medal at some point in recent years at a respected brewing competition, such as the Great American Beer Festival or World Beer Cup, or otherwise hails from a gold medal-winning brewery.

Tours differ a bit from location to location because of staff and manager picks on two of the selections, plus regional specialties. In this case, Ska and Avery brewing companies collaborated on a Colorado-exclusive for Old C's (and their own taprooms) called Wheelsucker Wheat. Only 40 kegs made.

And Lux chose Singapore's Tiger Beer for his pick, while the Tejon Street staff opted for Rogue Ales' (maker of the awesomely weird maple-bacon beer) excellent Juniper Pale Ale.

The rest of the list at the Tejon Street location: Blue Moon Belgian White Ale, Michelob Ultra, Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss and Schneider Weisse Tap 7 Original.

Old Chicago Colorado Springs beer tour

What's immediately clear up-front is that this is a very light tour of largely low ABV beers with blond, Belgian and wheat bodies. All easy drinkin' in the summertime heat.

What's also clear is that in any given tour, you're likely to not love or even like a beer or two. (Berry Weiss, I'm looking at you, you over-sweet beast of fruity foulness.) But I can totally respect the intent to make people try new beers and get out of their comfort zones.

In this case, Blue Moon is a fine macrobeer with which I find no fault, the Widmer Hefe is also great for its style, and the Schneider Weisse is a very challenging beer that kept me studying it sip after sip to try to wrap my head around exactly what I was tasting, almost in an extreme, love/hate fashion as sweetness and malt yielded to more complex flavors, including a strange spice element.

The Wheelsucker I actually enjoyed less than the Widmer Hefe, as wheat beers go. And hands-down, the staff pick of the Rogue Juniper Pale Ale was my favorite, the beer I'd return for. (To be clear: You do have to purchase, but not finish, a pint of each beer to complete a tour. Yesterday we sampled mini four-ounce pours of each brew, as if doing two four-beer flights, which Old C's offers for $4.79.)

Old Chicago Colorado Springs beer tour
  • Matthew Schniper
  • If it's fried, it already goes well with beer. If it happens to have cayenne and chipotle chile thrown in the mix, and it's fried — look out, world.

Some peripheral notes: $2 Tuesdays, from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m., are great for drinking and eating at Old C's. Lux says they're so popular that every manager and staff member is scheduled, and he's usually on a wait until 11 p.m.

Lux also treated us to a few appetizers to pair with and soak up the beer tastings. I can tell you that beer could do a lot worse for table-mates than the beer-battered fried spicy pickles ($2.79) with a nice cayenne pepper bite and piquant chipotle ranch dip; fried mac n' cheese ($3.89), which is as guilty and awesome as it sounds, yet far less messy; and Sicilian pepperoni rolls ($8.49) which are housemade dough strips rolled around the meat with green onions and melted pepper jack and mozzarella, served with a house tomato sauce dip.

One last confession: I don't often eat at our corporate restaurants when there are so many local, small independents to support. But Old C's stands as a fine example of just why places like this have grown to around 100 locations — they're pretty damn good overall. A good concept is just that.

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Friday, August 31, 2012

El Paso County leads state in motorcycle fatalities

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 6:50 PM

This one hits home — so forgive the tone if I sound lecture-y.

You see, back on June 22, I was involved in a motorcycle accident that was not my fault, in which the driver of the car I impacted with never saw me, even though I had the right-of-way, was wearing bright yellow reflective gear, and was traveling below the speed limit.

Screen_shot_2012-08-31_at_4.29.45_PM.png
In the accident, I broke my leg, requiring two surgeries, and I've been doing extensive physical therapy ever since. I'm very grateful my accident wasn't worse, and consider myself fortunate, compared to many others who have either had worse injuries or perished in their crashes.

So for my part, I'm thrilled to see the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) launching two new campaigns over this upcoming Labor Day weekend to hopefully bring down the sad number of motorcycle deaths in El Paso County, which leads the state.

One campaign, called Don't Ruin the Ride, focuses on keeping bikers from drinking and driving. According to a CDOT press release, one in four riders killed from 2009 to 2011 was under the influence.

The second campaign, more relative to my accident, is called Look Twice. This campaign asks motorists to keep their focus on their driving and "to take a couple of extra seconds to look carefully for motorcycles."

The statistic provided there is that in Colorado last year, "drivers of motor vehicles were at fault in 20 percent of motorcycle fatalities. However, in El Paso County, motorists — not the rider — caused half of motorcycle-related deaths."

The release goes on to share the story of Colorado Springs police officer Matthew Tyner, one of six motorcyclists killed so far in El Paso County in 2012, who was killed by "an unassuming driver who did not see him." (There have been 49 motorcycle deaths statewide thus far.)

Lecture over. I think you get the point.

But if you need one more reinforcement of why you should keep extra vigilant of your biker brethren, click for more to see a picture of my big-ass scar (don't worry, not bloody).

Continue reading »

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Weekend preview: What's Left and Live Loud N Local

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Whats Left Fest
If you're not getting up before the crack of dawn to watch a bunch of hot-air balloons rise up from Memorial Park, there are two ambitious music festivals going on this weekend that you may find interesting. Here are the details, courtesy of this week's Reverb column:

On Friday and Saturday, more than three dozen bands will be playing the Live Loud N Local Back to School Jam at Sunshine Studios. Springs-area stalwarts like Aesthetic Delirium, From Slaves to Kings and Last Savior of God will be joined by out-of-town ringers like 12 Stones and iwrestledabearonce, and you can find the full lineup at sunshinestudioslive.com.

Also on Saturday, get ready for the third annual What's Left Fest (tinyurl.com/LeftFest), featuring an eclectic lineup of local bands ranging from the Conjugal Visits and Murder Hat to BullHead*ded and Milogic. Hosted by the politically inclined music zine of the same name, the event will also include the works of numerous local artists, including Heather Barlow and Phil Lear. The all-ages show gets under way at 1:15 at the DIY Event Center, which, if last June's Front Range PunkFest is any indicator, is a great place to kick out the decibels.

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Mayor leading citywide clean-up

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Presumably, this photo was taken in Texas.
  • purplepix
  • Not our trash. But not unlike our trash.

It's another lovely day in the Colorado Springs — only slightly marred by the airborne plastic bags, the lawns filled with cigarette butts, and the remainders of someone's fast-food lunch sitting in the creek bed.

Sad to say, but the Springs is often so trashed that it's like driving through Texas.

Mayor Steve Bach wants to change that. But not by raising taxes and hiring more city workers to maintain the place; by getting you and your kids off the couch to go clean it up yourselves. Yeah, we know, you can't even get your kids to clean their rooms. But that's not curbing the mayor's enthusiasm. He's hoping citizens will join him, trash bags in hand, Sept. 15 for a citywide clean-up.

Read on, litterbugs:

Spruce up the Springs: Community Clean - Up

The City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services team is inviting all residents to “spruce up” their neighborhood’s, right-of-ways, medians, easements and roadways on Saturday, September 15th from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The City is partnering with numerous neighborhood organizations, volunteer organizations and Fort Carson to assist in a day dedicated to “Spruce up the Springs.”

“We want to bring the community together as part of the Spirit of the Springs initiative and beautify our neighborhoods. Working together, we can improve the look of our major corridors, gateways and neighborhoods,” said Karen Palus, Parks Director.

Neighborhood associations are working to assign team captains to choose a meeting place. “This is an excellent way to build community in our own neighborhoods — all across our great city,” said Mayor Steve Bach. Neighbors are encouraged to “spruce up” common areas for the GOOD of the entire Community. For more information please email: Stacy Fritts at sfritts@springsgov.com or call 385-6519.

Those wishing to participate who are not a part of a neighborhood group can meet on the event day, at Sand Creek Soccer Stadium, 4385 Tutt Boulevard (next to Security Services Field), by 7:30 a.m. All volunteers must be at least 16 years old. Participants are advised to bring their own work gloves, sunscreen, sunglasses and water.

Join the City Team, Ft. Carson and others for a few hours on Saturday to make an impact and give back to the community. Make a difference and come together in the Spirit of the Springs!

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Inconceivable! The Princess Bride turns 25

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Twenty-five years ago, a journey of love began for Buttercup and Westley, Inigo Montoya and Fezzik, and all the hilariousness that is The Princess Bride.

The Princess Bride
  • A kissing book? Perish the thought!

Why do I mention this?

Because Dave Minkus, of the locally run film and TV review site ScreenGeeks.com, has organized a 25th anniversary big-screen showing of the film for 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 12.

There's one catch: He's got to have at least 95 people reserve tickets ahead of time in order to make it happen, and he's got until Sept. 5 to do so. As of this writing, he's just 19 shy of that figure.

If you've always wanted to see the Cliffs of Insanity insanely big, now's your chance. For just $10, you can join in on the fun at Chapel Hills Carmike Theater, AND even maybe win prizes.

Get all the details here, but don't let it go to your head.

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Be prepared. Go to Sky Sox Stadium.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 12:28 PM

If you're looking for something to do tonight that can entertain and help you prepare for an emergency, make plans to attend the third annual Community Emergency Preparedness Night at Security Service Field. There's no charge for the pre-game festivities.

Colorado Springs National Preparedness Month
  • Littleton: Be prepared for a YOYO.

The event is staged in observance of National Preparedness Month (September), sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Other agencies participating include El Paso County, the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management, American Medical Response and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. (Interesting that city-owned Memorial Hospital isn't in the mix.)

“In the wake of the Waldo Canyon fire, we have a heightened awareness for how important it is to be prepared for any emergency be that natural disasters such as fires, flooding, blizzards, or man-made emergencies such as a cyber attack on the electrical grid or a financial meltdown," Commissioner Peggy Littleton said in a release. "We each are our own first responder and have to be prepared for a YOYO (you’re on your own) situation at any time. I implore the citizens of El Paso County to take emergency preparedness seriously. Waiting until the event occurs is simply too late. Make time during September, National Emergency preparedness month, to get your family ready. Go to ready.gov or peggylittleton.org to get preparedness information.”

Colorado Springs National Preparedness Month
  • Hickenlooper: Dropping in.

Promoters promise fun for the whole family, and Gov. John Hickenlooper even plans to make an appearance at 4 p.m. outside the stadium.

Here's a lineup of activities as provided by El Paso County:

• When — Friday, August 31 at 5:00 p.m.
• Where — Sky Sox’s Security Service Field in Colorado Springs
• Highlights —
o Helicopter flyover from the Penrose St. Francis Flight for Life
o Mascots from many agencies will be there to greet the kids

Participating organizations and activities for this year’s event include:
• Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management
• Penrose St. Francis Health Services is doing a blood drive from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. and the Trauma Center is doing Bike Helmet Safety Checks
• American Medical Response will have an ambulance on display
• Pikes Peak American Red Cross is doing activities for children
• Care and Share is doing a food drive
• Pikes Peak United Way 2-1-1 will show you how to register for the emergency evacuation registry
• Colorado Springs Fire Department will have a fire truck and Sparky
• Colorado Springs Fire and El Paso County Wildfire Mitigation teams will be there to talk about mitigation strategies
• Serve Empower Transform - SET Clinic will be doing free blood pressure checks
• Colorado Springs Police Department will have a police cruiser there
• Colorado Springs Police Department and El Paso County Crime Prevention staff will present neighborhood and business watch information
• Colorado Springs Utilities will have interactive electricity and natural gas exhibits
• El Paso Teller County E-911 Authority will be doing cell phone registry and the safety trailer
• Community Animal Response Team will be teaching small animal CPR
• Community Emergency Response Training (CERT)
• El Paso County Emergency Services Division, Public Health, Sheriff’s Office, Medical Reserve Corps and Search and Rescue will all be offering information and will have displays on getting prepared
• Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) staff and volunteers will teach fire extinguisher training and provide education on emergency preparedness
• Salvation Army will be there to show how you can get involved
• The Independent Center
• READYColorado

Admission to the Sky Sox game is standard ticket rate if you stay for the game against the Las Vegas 51s. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Indy Music Awards Festival schedule: See 22 of the Springs' best for free

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Indy Music Awards 2012

In this week's cover package, you can read profiles of the newly announced Indy Music Award winners, as voted by Indy readers.

And this coming Thursday, Sept. 6, you'll be able to see for yourself why they won, as 22 of Colorado Springs' best musical acts perform on three stages at the second Indy Music Awards Festival.

The free indoor/outdoor celebration will take place at Stargazers Theatre & Event Center, with performances running from 6 to 11 p.m.

There'll be no award presentations or acceptance speeches, just nonstop music — from indie rock to hip-hop, jazz to metal, and all points between — by the bands you voted best in the city.

This year's festival will also feature plenty of food and drink concessions, plus a full bar, so you can stay onsite and hear all your favorite acts.

Here's the full schedule:

IMA_Schedule_PDF.png

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Sneak peek: Colorado Mountain Brewery No. 2, opens Sept. 7

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 4:22 PM

As a person who trades in restaurant news, I can vouch for the unusual amount of excitement that's currently surrounding the opening of the second Colorado Mountain Brewery location in the Roundhouse at 600 S. 21st St.

The buzz dates back to this time last year, when announcement of the expansion was first made. But it's grown recently, as fans have grown seemingly impatient waiting for the doors to open. It's a tremendous location, with rich history and countless pints of potential. (CMB will be the third tenant in 120 years; they've sunk between $1.5 million and $2 million in this brewery installation and renovation.)

It doesn't help the anticipation factor that the Gazette reported it'd be open the weekend of Aug. 24, and we reported in the Indy yesterday that it would be opening this upcoming weekend of Aug. 31.

As new information has it — we humbly apologize for our part in perpetuating early dates provided to us by a CMB person not fully up to speed — the location will now be opening on Friday, Sept. 7. For reals this time, people ... this comes from general manager Paul Dehner directly.

So please, hang tight another week, then you have our blessing and encouragement to go storm the castle with the rest of the horde.

But for now, I offer you a sneak peek behind the scenes, as the team puts the finishing touches on the building. The photos and details that follow come from a tour earlier today with Dehner and brewmaster Andy Bradley, and also from a chat with investment head Scott Koons.

Colorado Mountain Brewery
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Let's start with the real focal point: beer. This new system is a five-barrel system, compared to the north location's 10. Brewmaster Andy Bradley will devote a portion of the capacity to brewing lagers (which take longer to make).

Colorado Mountain Brewery
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Roundhouse's history plays strongly into Colorado Mountain Brewery's design of the new space. You'll dine where the train engines used to park.

Colorado Mountain Brewery
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Like I said, they're really paying homage to their digs. CMB had custom metal work designed that incorporates its logo into the former Colorado Midland Railway stamp.

Colorado Mountain Brewery
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The new menu will include wood-oven pizzas, as well as wood-fired entrée specials off the grill in the bottom right of this photo. Everything sure is shiny when new.

Colorado Mountain Brewery
  • Matthew Schniper
  • This is going to be one hella-nice bar when all these TVs are broadcasting sports games and some 30 tap handles are made to flow.

Colorado Mountain Brewery
  • Matthew Schniper
  • You want patio? They've got patio. View of Pikes Peak? That, too.

Colorado Mountain Brewery

Colorado Mountain Brewery
  • Matthew Schniper
  • From the left: Andy Bradley, Paul Dehner and Scott Koons, the bros behind the brew madness.

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Memorial's new partner recruiting doctor groups

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Colorado Springs Memorial Health System
  • Schroffel: "Nothing is more important than Memorial."

University of Colorado Health, the city's new partner in Memorial Hospital, is doing some poaching. That comes from UCH CEO Bruce Schroffel in an Independent interview yesterday, less than 24 hours after 83 percent of Springs voters approved leasing Memorial to UCH for 40 years.

The lease pays the city $259 million up front, of which $185 million has been designated as available to pay any liability to the Public Employees Retirement Association on behalf of Memorial's workers, who will shift to UCH's retirement plan. UCH also will pay $5.6 million a year for 30 years, plus an annual margin sharing payment, if there is one.

One of UCH's top focuses here will be recruiting doctors and other staff for Memorial, which has lost a lot of talent in the last couple of years to the Penrose-St. Francis system, owned by nonprofit Centura Health.

"I am concerned about that," Schroffel says. "We are talking to the physicians. A large group of physicians are leaving Penrose; we believe they will sign up with us [Memorial]. We are talking to other physicians.
We think others will come back, and we also will be recruiting. The University of Colorado Health has an incredible record in its ability to attract good physicians from around the U.S. We have a track record that’s pretty hard to beat. We hope to get those back who have left."

Schroffel wouldn't name the doctor group that will reverse course from Penrose and join Memorial, but said to expect an announcement soon.

On another matter, look for official word soon about Memorial's new management team. Will Mike Scialdone stay on as CEO? Scialdone, the former CFO, stepped into the top job a few months ago, when Dr. Larry McEvoy took $1.15 million in severance pay and left.

Colorado Springs Memorial Health System
  • Scialdone: Will he stay or go?

"We’re literally making that assessment now," Schroffel said of the management team. "I expect to have an answer over the next two to four weeks. I believe in local control. We want to have a CEO to make major decisions in Colorado Springs."

The UCH team is eager to whip Memorial into shape so that the entire system is prepared as the health care industry puts the squeeze on providers, he says.

"There’s going to be less resources for us," he says. "We’ve got to be more efficient. The goal is to raise the bar qualitatively and lower costs."

One way is to install the same electronic medical records system, called EPIC, in all of the UCH properties, which Schroffel says will save $35 million compared to installing separate system.

Although UCH has brought some other hospitals under its wing, Memorial is the big kahuna.

Here's what he had to say about it:

"We want to focus on Memorial more than anything. We’re taking on a big responsibility and significant risks, and it’s a very difficult time for the hospital the last three to four years. We think the physicians and staff are excited about us being there. We want to put most of our energy there. I'll be spending a couple days a week in Colorado Springs at a very minimum as we communicate with physicians and the community and really raise the bar down there — not that it’s really that low down there. We think that hospital is an excellent hospital and has potential to be great.

"Our board is very concerned about taking on too much at one time. Memorial is really big. Nothing is more important than Memorial. We’re fully at risk to make this work from a qualitative perspective.

"We feel like we’ve gotten a strong endosement from Colorado Springs and now we want to deliver.
We feel we can deliver. The whole country is looking at us. We pride ourselves on quality. We sincerely do. We want to make that consistent, so that you can walk into Memorial, University Hospital or Poudre Valley Hospital [Fort Collins], and it feels the same and the quality and service are the same."

As for charges, Schroffel predicts rates will decline, not only at Memorial but everywhere, because "that's the reality of health care in America. The country is challenged, and we want to make sure we provide a quality service at a lower cost."

While Schroffel identified the integration of Memorial as UCH's chief focus, the nonprofit is still casting its net to other players.

It's negotiating a management agreement with Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyo., after the board of directors issued a request for proposals earlier this year.

"We have signed a letter of intent. They chose us for a management contract. We will be managing that hospital with their existing team and taking advantage of our excellence in quality," Schroffel says.

Poudre Valley Health System secured a management of agreement with the Sidney Regional Medical Center in western Nebraska before the Memorial lease was worked out, he says, adding, "There's a lot of people we're talking to, frankly."

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Council district maps to bring political consequences

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 2:23 PM

City Council
  • Colorado Springs City Council

The City Clerk will announce new City Council districts on the 10th of September, and the public will be given a chance to comment on them Oct. 13.

A final "redistricting report" will be made a week after the November election, and then in April, six Council seats, a majority, will be up for grabs. Because of the recent change of governance, four Councilors elected only two years ago will need to run again or forfeit their seat: district representatives Lisa Czelatdko and Angela Dougan, as well as at-large Councilors Brandy Williams and Tim Leigh. Bernie Herpin, elected in 2009, will have to run again, too. Council President Scott Hente is term-limited, and will relinquish his seat.

The dividing up of the new districts is of high political importance. Depending upon where lines are drawn, current representatives could be drawn out of their current districts or pitted against another current Councilor.

Districts may also benefit the people whom Mayor Steve Bach admits he has "encouraged" to run. In fact, rumors have long swirled that the mayor has a hand-selected slate of candidates and huge war chest to fund their campaign. (With an agreeable Council, the mayor would be able to realize more of his goals.)

Read on to learn more:

City Clerk announces redistricting timeline

The City of Colorado Springs City Charter and City Code require that the City Clerk redistrict City Council districts every four years. Following is the timeline for the 2012 redistricting process pursuant to section 2-10(b) of the Charter and Sections 5.1.401, 5.1.402 and 5.1.403 of the City Code. City Code Sections 5.1.401, 5.1.402 and 5.1.403 succinctly outline the process for the City Clerk to follow. Council themselves passed these Code Sections in 2001 and created a process that deliberately does not include Council involvement in the redistricting.

Date Action

9/10 (Informal Council Meeting) Listen to Council Members' thoughts on the current
district map

9/24 (Morning of) Publicly release Preliminary 2012 Redistricting Map

10/13 (Saturday Morning) Hold Public Hearing on Preliminary 2012 Redistricting
Report

11/13 (Morning of) Publicly release Final 2012 Redistricting Report

This timeline complies with the City Charter and City Code and also the City Clerk's Office past precedent on the redistricting process.

Redistricting is required to ensure that districts are contiguous and equal in population. Media availability with City Clerk — today after 2pm and Friday before 2:15pm.

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Business of Art Center's Venue 515 to open soon?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM

It's been a few weeks since some unknowns slipped into Venue 515 and waterlogged the place, but the Business of Art Center is continuing the clean up admirably, and it's setting its sights on a Sept. 15 opening.

Business of Art Center
  • Business of Art Center

Though still tentative, BAC representative (and Indy freelance writer) Rhonda Van Pelt says it will likely be a celebration to officially christen Natalie Johnson as executive director, and a "fond farewell" for former interim ED Linda Boedeker and her husband, Greg Jamieson, a longtime accountant for the BAC.

Van Pelt adds that they've received "a large, gratifying number of members" — the BAC's preferred manner of donations — in the recent weeks, including those who purchased at the benefit J. Miller Band concert at Stargazers Theatre & Event Center earlier this month. More memberships, new and renewed are welcome.

Meanwhile, the Manitou Springs police continue to investigate.

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VA narrows cemetery sites to two

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 12:11 PM

VA cemetery El Paso County
  • Fort Logan Cemetery in Denver is the closest VA cemetery to El Paso County.

A list of four possible sites for a veterans cemetery in the Colorado Springs area has been narrowed to two, Rep. Doug Lamborn said in a news release Wednesday.

The two are Rolling Hills Ranch, in the vicinity of Bradley and South Meridian roads, and Bradley Heights, which is located near Bradley and South Marksheffel roads.

That means a site north of Highway 24 east of Colorado Springs has been eliminated, as has Kane Ranch east of Fountain, which had been identified for years as the probable location for the cemetery. Kane Ranch, though, didn't have a water source, meaning either El Paso County or the city of Fountain would have to extend a line to it. Because VA rules don't allow money to be spent on infrastructure off-site, the line's cost would have been the county's or Fountain's expense.

The county was given the Kane Ranch land several years ago when the VA was searching for a site. Commissioner Dennis Hisey has said that should the VA choose another place for the cemetery, Kane Ranch some day could become a regional park or open space.

“I am pleased the VA has further narrowed down their preferences for a new Veterans Cemetery site in El Paso County. Both of these finalists are much more accessible to Southern Colorado’s veterans and their families than Fort Logan near Denver. Veteran’s advocates have worked with dogged determination for more than a decade to bring a cemetery to our part of the state, and it appears their work will soon bear fruit,” Lamborn said in a release.

A final decision is expected late this year, with groundbreaking sometime in 2014.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Money trickling in to pro-PPRTA committee

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM

The name isn't very catchy, and it hasn't raised much money yet, but those backing a "yes" vote on the extension of the region's road-and-bridge tax are off and running.

Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa

The Coalition to Extend the PPRTA (Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority) was formed July 2 to back the continuation of the capital portion (.55 of 1 percent) of the 1 percent sales tax to support transportation and transit in El Paso County, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Ramah and Green Mountain Falls.

The tax, authorized by voters for 10 years in 2004, will expire in 2014, and the renewal will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The committee reports its address as that of Republican operative Sarah Jack, who also happens to be the consultant for the committee and has already collected $5,000 in consulting fees, according to the committee's July 26 campaign finance report.

It's raised a total of $11,000, which includes $5,000 each from the Colorado Association of Realtors, Englewood, and the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, and $500 each from consultant Becky Medved and contractor Danny Mientka, both of whom are 06ers (have Broadmoor-area addresses).

The committee has spent about $6,400 so far, including Jack's consulting fees and expenses such as postage.

The committee might face some competition on the ballot if El Paso County commissioners grant a request by Sheriff Terry Maketa tomorrow to place a .23 of 1 percent sales tax on the ballot.

Maketa argues that his department's ability to serve the public has deteriorated over the years. Although his budget has grown in dollars in the last five years, it's not been enough to fund upgrades to the jail and add personnel needed to assure statutory requirements are met, he says.

So far, a committee to support the measure hasn't filed paperwork with the Secretary of State, but then, there's no ballot measure to support yet. Expect commissioners to submit the question to the ballot on a split vote, with a majority arguing they'll let the voters decide. Commissioner Darryl Glenn has said he opposes placing the measure on the ballot without further public study and input.

The commissioner meeting begins at 9 a.m. in Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave.

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That's the ticket

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 2:59 PM

In today's article, Questioning the Witness, we reported on questions surrounding some court testimony of Cynthia Burbach, the head of the state's toxicology lab.

Attorney Tom Silverman's cross-examination of Burbach in a 2008 case plays a significant role in the article. In transcripts from that case, Silverman attempts to pin down Burbach on her educational background — notably whether or not she had a degree in chemistry. During a previous court case, she had said that she had a dual major in chemistry and biology from New Mexico State University.

Under questioning from Silverman, she first said that she had a chemistry minor; by the end of the questioning, she admitted that was not the case:

Later, Silverman asked, "The truth is that you are not listed as having a chemistry major or even a minor according to the Registrar at New Mexico State, isn't that true?"

"Well," she began, "I would probably agree with that. I still consider it a chemistry degree because I have a lot of hours in chemistry."

The toxicology lab that Burbach oversees is responsible, in part, for the blood tests that are used by prosecutors in DUI trials. Earlier this year it was discovered that some 1,700 blood tests would need to be redone due to possible errors.

It should be noted that perjury can be prosecuted as a class 1 misdemeanor or class 4 felony.

Amusingly, Silverman compared Burbach's testimony to Jon Lovitz's former character Tommy Flanagan from Saturday Night Live.

For your afternoon entertainment:


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Gazette has a new publisher

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Publisher Dan Steever
  • Publisher Dan Steever

Yesterday, Freedom Communications, the rebooted parent company of the Gazette, named Dan Steever as president and publisher of our daily newspaper.

"I am thrilled to have Dan join our team to lead the Gazette," says Freedom CEO (and publisher of the company's flagship paper, the Orange County Register) Aaron Kushner in a news release. "Dan is passionate about strengthening the Gazette and is uniquely qualified to lead our talented staff as we work to increase the value we provide to subscribers and our community."

Steever hails from Massachusetts, where he worked at the same greeting-card company as Kushner, but has spent the last three years in Chicago heading up the marketing company PromoWorks. At no point in his résumé is there any media experience, something Rich Laden brought up in an interview with the new boss — generally, asking Steever why he was qualified to be publisher, prompting a retort somewhere in the range of: "Just watch what we do in the next few months" — but that line of questioning has since been removed.

Anyway, look for a little bit more information in next week's Independent.

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