Breaking News

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Royal Gorge Fire at 20 percent containment

Posted by on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 9:22 AM

While they're still facing a "Red Flag Weather Warning, downed power lines, and active fire moving in stands of beetle killed trees" for Thursday, firefighters battling the Royal Gorge Fire can say they've got some containment.

Royal Gorge Fire reaches 20 percent containment

Key Facts as of 8:30 p.m.
· Fire size is estimated at 3,100 acres and 20 percent containment
· 20 structures have been lost
· The Royal Gorge Bridge is intact

The Royal Gorge Fire continues to burn west of Canon City in piñon and juniper forests. Fire behavior throughout the day was active with visible torching, spotting and running in heavy fuels.

All road closures and evacuations remain in place west of Canon City throughout the evening. Firefighters continue work to establish anchor points and build line around the fire. Road closures are in place to allow firefighters to operate safely in the area.

The Royal Gorge Rodeo grounds are available for those needing to shelter their livestock.

“We have made good progress on the fire today without any accidents or injuries thanks in large part to our many partners,” said Dennis Page, Incident Commander for the Royal Gorge Fire. “Crews from Canon City, Fremont County, and the State of Colorado are working alongside firefighters from the BLM and U.S. Forest Service.”

Some challenges firefighters will face Thursday include a Red Flag Weather Warning, downed power lines, and active fire moving in stands of beetle killed trees.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team will take command of the fire Thursday morning. The team is working on planning a community informational meeting for Thursday evening. Details will be provided in the Thursday morning informational briefing.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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UPDATE: 360 homes now categorized as 'total loss,' according to sheriff

Posted by on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 9:16 AM

According to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, at today's 9 a.m. press conference:

"Right now we have verified the immediate burn area ... 1205 homes that are confirmed to be unaffected by the fire so far ... we have 14 that are partially damaged, and we have right now 360 homes that are complete losses."

Maketa says about 20 deputies worked throughout the night to reverify the list. That said, 79 additional addresses are unable to be listed, generally due to accessibility problems.

Again, here's a link to the full list, which is being updated as the sheriff's office gathers new information:

http://www.epcsheriff.com/bff/Black%20Forest%20Fire%20-%20Residences.pdf

——— SECOND POST, 5:20 P.M., WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12 ——-

According to Sheriff Terry Maketa at today's 5 p.m. news conference, the PDF'd version of the list below is already outdated. Since it was assembled, the fire has changed directions and probably has consumed some of the properties originally listed as appearing "unaffected."

Maketa urges the public to click on the link below, as it is a "live" document — in other words, workers in his office are updating it as they come upon new information. (That said, a crush of web traffic has overwhelmed this link in the last half hour, so please be patient.)

http://www.epcsheriff.com/bff/Black%20Forest%20Fire%20-%20Residences.pdf

———- ORIGINAL POST, 5 P.M., WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12 ————

At 4:43 p.m., the El Paso County Sheriff's Office released via Twitter a list of residences affected by the Black Forest Fire. According to our count, 92 homes have been confirmed as "total losses," with another five noted as having been partially damaged.

Here's a screen shot from the first page of the list:

The PDF is 10 pages long, as it also lists homes that appear unaffected. Here it is in full:

Black_Forest_Fire_-_Residences.pdf

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Shelter opens for military families, DOD employees

Posted by on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 9:08 AM

1361462862-carson_statue2.jpg

While the military has been providing firefighting support for much of the last couple days, Fort Carson now announced it'll be helping in another way.

Fort Carson opens shelter for military evacuees

FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Fort Carson Youth Center is open as a shelter for military Families and Department of Defense civilians who have evacuated due to the southern Colorado fires.

The center is located at 1518 Ware Street, Building 5950. Pets are welcome, but the center asks pet owners to bring their own kennels, leashes, food and feeding bowls.

The center can house up to 100 people and is available on a first come, first served basis. To contact the center please call 526-2794 526-2680.

For more information contact the Fort Carson Public Affairs Office at (719) 526-4143/7525 or (719) 524-2446. After hours, please contact the 24-hour Fort Carson Operations Center at 526-5500 and ask for the On-Call Public Affairs Officer.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Emergency clothing vouchers for fire evacuees made available

Posted by on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado has jumped into action, making clothing available for free for evacuees of the Black Forest Fire.

Please note the press release below reflects a newly updated location, directing people to the county's Citizens Service Center.

Discover Goodwill Assists Black Forest Fire Evacuees with Material Needs
Emergency Vouchers Focused on Clothing Provisions

Colorado Springs, CO, June 12, 2013 — Through a partnership with El Paso County, Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado is providing relief assistance to Black Forest Fire evacuees through the issuing of emergency vouchers redeemable for clothing items at designated retail centers. Beginning Thursday, June 13, Discover Goodwill will issue emergency vouchers between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the County’s newly-established Disaster Assistance Center located in the Citizens Service Center at 1675 Garden of the Gods Rd.

Fire evacuees can redeem their emergency vouchers at the following Discover Goodwill Retail Centers:
Circle Retail Center
2007 S. Circle Dr.
Mon. — Sat., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sun. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Powers Retail Center
2655 Waynoka Dr.
Mon. — Sat., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sun. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

North Retail Center
1070 Kelly Johnson Blvd.
Mon. — Sat., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sun. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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CSPD patrolling voluntary evac area

Posted by on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

From the City of Colorado Springs, CSPD is patrolling voluntary evacuation area "A," west to I-25 and all areas north of Old Ranch Road within the city limits.

Colorado Springs Police Conducting Patrols in the City’s Voluntary Evacuation “Area A”

Colorado Springs, Colo.—Colorado Springs Police Department is patrolling throughout the City’s Voluntary Evacuation Area A to provide security for residents’ homes while they are out of the area.

Voluntary Evacuation Area A: West to I-25 and all areas north of Old Ranch Road within the City limits of Colorado Springs.

As a reminder:

A Voluntary Evacuation means that the fire is moving closer to you. A mandatory evacuation order may be issued at any time. Now is the time to prepare for immediate evacuation. If you think that you may have complications evacuation, or need assistance evacuation now may be the best time to leave.

Be sure to take essential items—medicine, special foods, personal items, baby supplies, clothing, money, and valuable papers — but do not overload your vehicle. Families are encouraged to take only one vehicle to avoid congesting the evacuation routes. Secure your home before you leave. Be sure to check on any neighbors who may need assistance.

Residents who cannot stay with family or friends outside the evacuation area, go to one of the shelters listed below:

· Palmer Ridge High School- 19255 Monument Hill Rd, Monument

Pets will not be allowed in the shelters. If residents cannot make arrangements for someone outside the evacuation area to take care of their pet the following places may be able to house their animal:

Animal Shelters:

· Powers Pet Emergency- Powers and Stetson Hills — Offering small animal assistance, medical & kennel. Ph (719) 473-0482
· Falcon Animal Hospital- Phone (719) 495-1457, is now accepting dogs and cats. Address: 860 Swing Line Road.

Do not allow pet to run loose. If residents cannot make arrangements for your large animals the following places may be able to provide assistance:

Large Animal Shelters:

· Elbert County Fairgrounds (95 Ute Avenue, Kiowa, CO. 303-718-3343).
· El Paso County Fairgrounds in Calhan is now accepting evacuated large animals.

Residents with no means of transportation or who are physically unable to evacuate on their own, should ask a neighbor to assist them or call the following number: (719) 444-7000.

“BE READY!” If you are not in the current evacuation or pre-evacuation areas there is currently no immediate danger to your home, family, or business, but the fire is growing and may be moving toward you as weather and wind conditions change. Now is the time to get ready. Refine your evacuation plans, and gather the things you’ll need if you must evacuate.

It is imperative that all citizens stay away from all evacuated areas. Please do not stop in these areas for any reason as it can endanger evacuees and emergency personnel.

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Cottonwood will store art for evacuees

Posted by on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Cottonwood Center for the Arts

Artwork may not be the first priority for some people forced out of their homes by the Black Forest Fire, but if there's a family memento, a beloved piece of art, or, really, your own work that needs safe keeping, Cottonwood Center for the Arts will take it.

Per a press release today:

Our thoughts go out to everyone in Southern Colorado currently affected by the fires. We are offering space to store your art if you have or will be evacuated. Give us a call at 719-520-1899 on your way in and we will start getting space ready for you, or if you can't call just feel free to show up. We hope all of you are safe. Please let us know if we can help in any way.

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See or smell smoke? Head inside, if you can

Posted by on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

According to El Paso County Public Health, there's little to be gained from spending time outside today — unless you're on your way to check in on a neighbor.


El Paso County Public Health advises people to take precautions to protect from wildfire smoke

As smoke from the Black Forest Fire and fires in surrounding areas continue to affect air quality in El Paso County, Public Health recommends that people monitor air quality and if needed, take precautionary steps.

El Paso County Public Health is advising people, especially young children, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work and those who have respiratory disease (such as asthma) to reduce or limit strenuous outdoor physical activity. If visibility is decreased in your neighborhood to less than five miles, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.

“If you can see or smell smoke, it is a good indicator to reduce your exposure by going indoors,” said Jill Law, R.N., M.H.A., El Paso County Public Health Director.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a wildfire smoke health advisory for the Black Forest Fire. To monitor current air quality, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.

For those individuals without indoor air conditioning, consider moving to cooler areas when possible. Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol or decaffeinated fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool.

“This is the time for people to reach out to their friends and neighbors,” Ms. Law said. “If you know someone affected by wildfire smoke that doesn’t have air conditioning, help them in any way you can, by inviting them over or helping them find a safe place.”

Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing should consult their medical provider.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Following the Black Forest Fire (and other fires)

Posted by on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 4:55 PM

With our fire season having exploded in a matter of just a couple hours today, the Independent urges you to follow the latest news on local television and radio, as well as social media.

As you might expect, the latter has proven to be most quickly advancing the narrative; Twitter users were the first to report Black Forest homes on fire. But aerial images from TV are now horrifying as well.

Here's the latest info on hashtags being used on Twitter. In addition to these, users are asking the larger Twitter community to add 24-hour timestamps to all fire-related tweets to help decrease some of the confusion that happened during the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Screen_shot_2013-06-11_at_4.20.09_PM.png

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Pueblo recall effort takes next step

Posted by on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Pueblo Freedom and Rights is already declaring victory in its attempt to force a recall election of Democratic state Sen. Angela Giron.

It would seem to be a bit early, given that all the 501(c)(4) has done is hand over about 13,570 signatures to Secretary of State Scott Gessler; Gessler's office still has to verify the legitimacy of 11,285 of those. By contrast, in the case of Colorado Springs Sen. John Morse — who, of course, led Dems like Giron down the "anti-freedom," gun-regulation path — petitioners turned in more than 16,000 signatures early last week, when they only needed 7,178 valid ones for a recall.

But according to Pueblo Freedom and Rights, the ones they've gathered are "known to be carefully gathered highly-reliable signatures." So there's that.

Recall of anti-2nd Amendment Colorado State Senator Angela Giron Succeeds

Pueblo Grass Roots Group Makes More State History* With Successful Recall Effort

Pueblo, CO, June 10, 2013— Pueblo Freedom and Rights, www.pueblofreedomandrights.org is a 501(C) (4) Colorado grassroots group heading the recall of anti-2nd Amendment Colorado state senator Angela Giron (D - Pueblo Colorado). The group submitted over 13,570 District 3 voter recall petition signatures to the Colorado Secretary of States' Office exceeding the 11,285 signatures necessary. Additionally these are known to be carefully gathered highly-reliable signatures.

The submitted petition signatures and addresses will be submitted to and verified by the Secretary of State. It is expected that Democrats will further challenge the petitions and signatures to include court challenges to draw out the process. If the count still exceeds 11,285 Giron will be given five working days from that time to decide whether or not to resign her office.

If Giron resigns within the five-day period, state Democrats can appoint a replacement from their ranks. If she does not resign, a date for the special election is set. It is expected that that the Governor and Democrat Party including Bloomberg money may try to extend any election so as to prepare a campaign to try to save Giron should she try to run to stay in office.

"Giron's disregard for the majority of her constituents to vote no on anti-2nd Amendment issues and her general disregard of our Constitution and the rights of the citizens of Colorado demonstrates she must be removed from the senate." — Victor Head, President of Pueblo Freedom and Rights (PFR).

More information about PFR is available at the PFR website,
www.pueblofreedomandrights.org

Pueblo Freedom and Rights
P.O. Box 11891
Pueblo, CO 81001

*Before the Morse and this recall effort no Colorado state legislator has ever been successfully recalled.With the filing against state senator Giron and the massive recall count against Colorado Senate President Morse concerned Colorado citizens have made state history twice in eight days.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

NRA is gunning for Morse

Posted by on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 2:52 PM

This just in from Christy Le Lait, who's working to keep Sen. John Morse from being recalled:

A mass mailing funded by the NRA and coordinated with Basic Freedom Defense Fund has gone out to voters throughout Senate District 11 supporting the recall effort of Senate President John Morse and urging voters to join up with BFDF to remove Sen. Morse from office.

“Basic Freedom Defense Fund has released numerous statements to the media and on their website claiming to be a grassroots organization,” stated Christy Le Lait, representative for A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, the issue committee fighting the recall attempt. "But we know now that mailers and robo calls going out in our community are being funded by the national gun lobby. This isn’t about local voters anymore, this is about an influential outside group trying to come in here and push us around. SD11 voters need to know who’s really behind this recall.”

Here's the mailer:

John Morse recall

John Morse recall

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crimestoppers: We need you.

Posted by on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Yes, by assigning this blog post to the "Breaking News" category I am quite literally and intentionally punning.

Colorado Springs Independent

You see, our office building, located at 235 S. Nevada Ave. across from the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, has been broken into and burglarized three times over the past two weeks.

See: breaking news.

The first incident happened between Saturday, April 29 at 2 p.m. and Monday, May 1 at 8 a.m.

The second incident happened in the early morning hours, about 2 a.m. on Thursday, May 9 when power was also cut to the building.

The most recent incident happened sometime after 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.

Each time, the burglar(s) broke into our basement through various vents or windows facing the parking lot between our main building and our little side building on Vermijo Street.

They did their damnedest to get into all secure areas of the Independent building, and with every improvement in security we make, they get more violent and destructive with the damage.

They have stolen technology from both the Independent and Inside Out Youth Services (a nonprofit) including eight computers, a flat-screen TV, a Nintendo Wii, cameras, recorders, ear phones, cords, and even a box of one of our editor's Pop-Tarts (for real).

We are asking for the community's help.

If you happened to see anything strange on those dates, or anyone who looked to be casing out the joint or you've heard anyone talking about it, we'd love to hear from you.

Or if you run across a suspicious sale of iMac computers on craigslist or something.

If you see anything suspicious moving forward, we'd love for you to call the cops or contact us directly. You can reach our general manager Carrie Simison-Bitz at carrie@csindy.com or 719/577-4545.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Election unkind to incumbent Councilors

Posted by on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Now with another few hundred votes in — and, we would guess, only a few hundred more left to be counted — Helen Collins has opened up her lead over Deborah Hendrix in District 4 to almost exactly 300 votes (2,243 to 1,944). Andres Pico's lead over David Moore in District 6 has slimmed slightly, but still stands at more than 100 votes (3,767 to 3,652).

Assuming things stay as they are, your new Council looks like this:

District 1: Don Knight
District 2: Joel Miller
District 3: Keith King
District 4: Helen Collins
District 5: Jill Gaebler
District 6: Andres Pico
At-large: Merv Bennett
At-large: Jan Martin
At-large: Val Snider

——- ORIGINAL POST, 8:02 P.M. ——-

Current City Councilors Tim Leigh, Angela Dougan, Brandy Williams and Bernie Herpin are out; arch-conservative Helen Collins may have pulled a surprise in District 4; and District 6 is too close to call.

That's the way it looked as of 7:30 p.m., when the Colorado Springs City Clerk's Office released its first batch of unofficial results in the 2013 municipal election. Those numbers also indicate that there'll be no ballot-issue surprises, with TOPS reallocation a yes, and a Council pay increase a no.

The numbers aren't final, with City Clerk Sarah Johnson telling Indy reporter Pam Zubeck before 8 p.m. that some votes still are being counted. (Another set of numbers is due anytime.) But given that city spokesperson Cindy Aubrey was estimating a 38 percent turnout late this afternoon, and that the numbers below represent 35.84 percent, it would appear that Districts 1 through 3, and District 5, are pretty much decided.

Here are the results:

Don Knight

District 1
Julie Naye . . . . . . . . . . 960 (6.33%)
Tim Leigh . . . . . . . . . . 3,015 (19.89%)
Linda Mojer. . . . . . . . . . 880 (5.81%)
Don Knight . . . . . . . . . . 8,481 (55.95%)
Joe Barrera. . . . . . . . . . 1,822 (12.02%)

Council District 2
Angela Dougan . . . . . . . . . 4,435 (39.07%)
Joel Miller. . . . . . . . . . 5,936 (52.30%)
Bill Murray. . . . . . . . . . 979 (8.63%)

Joel Miller

Council District 3
Tom Gallagher . . . . . . . . . 1,038 (7.66%)
Jim Bensberg . . . . . . . . . 2,222 (16.41%)
Bob Kinsey . . . . . . . . . . 491 (3.63%)
Brandy Williams . . . . . . . . 4,454 (32.89%)
Keith King . . . . . . . . . . 5,339 (39.42%)

Council District 4
Gary L. Flakes. . . . . . . . . 220 (4.11%)
Deborah Hendrix . . . . . . . . 1,865 (34.80%)
Dennis R. Moore . . . . . . . . 1,133 (21.14%)
Helen Collins . . . . . . . . . 2,141 (39.95%)

Council District 5
Bernie Herpin . . . . . . . . . 4,443 (31.65%)
Roger McCarville . . . . . . . . 3,420 (24.36%)
Jill Gaebler . . . . . . . . . 5,031 (35.84%)
Al Loma . . . . . . . . . . . 1,144 (8.15%)

Jill Gaebler
Council District 6
Andres G. Pico. . . . . . . . . 3,672 (34.25%)
David H. Moore. . . . . . . . . 3,540 (33.02%)
Ed Bircham . . . . . . . . . . 3,509 (32.73%)

Here are the numbers on Issue 1, the TOPS question (with "yes" indicating support for financial reallocation):
YES: 53,039 (71.65%)
NO: 20,983 (28.35%)

And Issue 2, Council pay (with "yes" indicating support for a raise from $6,250 per year to $48,000 per year):
YES: 14,879 (20.17%)
NO: 58,896 (79.83%)

King will probably get headlines for winning the most expensive Council race. Knight and Miller, both relative political neophytes, are noteworthy in how soundly they defeated Leigh and Dougan, respectively. But the biggest surprise may be Collins, who despite a failed Council run two years ago, lacks the name recognition of Hendrix, who's served as president of Harrison School District 2's board of education for years.

To keep up with the results yourself, refresh the clerk's page.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Oil and gas possibilities 'disappointing,' says Ultra

Posted by on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 2:56 PM

The petroleum that sits underneath El Paso County does not appear to present commercial possibilities. That's what Ultra Petroleum, which holds the majority of the approved permits for oil and gas drilling in El Paso County, had to say when it announced its results for the fourth quarter of 2012.

6417063815_3d06e76f69_m.jpg

Michael D. Watford, chairman, CEO and president, stated in an earnings call (registration required):

In Colorado's DJ Basin, our results in the Niobrara have been disappointing. Although our core and log data indicate the presence of oil in the rocks, the petroleum system is immature, under-pressured and not commercial. This has been verified by completion of test results from both a vertical and a horizontal well. Ultra assembled 139,000 low-cost acres and deployed it over the past 2 years and has no significant lease expirations until 2014. We'll continue to monitor industry activity in the region but have no immediate plans for additional exploration in the area.

In Ultra's annual report for 2012 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company stated:

In eastern Colorado, at December 31, 2012, the Company owned interests in approximately 154,000 gross (139,000 net) acres. The Company has no immediate plans for further exploration in this area.

...

In Colorado, our oil and gas leases are from private individuals and companies, as well as from the State of Colorado, and typically have primary lease terms of five years. All of our acreage in Colorado is undeveloped at this time, and the Company has no immediate plans for further exploration in this area.

...

The Company does not believe the remaining terms of its leases is material. At December 31, 2012, the Company had 12,245 net acres of leases in Pennsylvania, 2,000 net acres of leases in Colorado and no leases in Wyoming that expire in 2013 and it expects to maintain over 20% of those leases by production, operations, extensions or renewals. The Company does not expect to lose material lease acreage because of failure to drill due to inadequate capital, equipment or personnel. The Company has, based on its evaluation of prospective economics, allowed acreage to expire and it may allow additional acreage to expire in the future.

Hilcorp Energy Company also has active permits in the county.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

USA Today outlines Colorado's sequestration situation

Posted by on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Scissors

In a report out this morning, USA Today breaks down the potential impact of sequestration, or a series of across-the-board federal budget cuts, state-by state. Colorado certainly sees a big threat, with more than 4,800 Army-related jobs affected (either furloughed or lost) and another 6,000-plus civilian Air Force jobs furloughed.

In a small bit of consolation, though, those numbers are markedly lower than some of those bandied about during the first sequester scare, of a couple months ago.

The cuts are scheduled to be enacted March 1, unless Congress can find a way to avert them.

To see how Colorado’s Army situation stacks up to that of other states, you can scroll through the budget-cut breakdown on the left of the map at the top of the page. More detailed Army information, as well as Air Force numbers, follow after the USA Today story itself.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Philharmonic music director accepts new position

Posted by on Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Josep Caballé-Domenech
Josep Caballé-Domenech, who came onboard as the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s music director back in May of 2011, has accepted a position as general music director of German symphony orchestra Staatskapelle Halle. The Barcelona-born conductor will also continue on here with the Philharmonic, dividing his time between the two orchestras.

“The Governing Council of the theatre, Opera and Orchestra Halle confirmed my appointment after a selection process on January 18,” writes Caballé-Domenech on his official website. “I am very grateful and honored by the importance of this new challenge, stressing the high level and versatility of the Orchestra, excellent programming as well as the atmosphere of pleasant work in this historic institution.”

It was two years ago this month that Caballé-Domenech, after filling in at the last minute for ailing conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith, unexpectedly became an 11th hour finalist in the Philharmonic’s search for a new music director. The 21-month search for the retiring Leighton Smith’s successor resulted in Caballé-Domenech signing a five-year contract and going on to earn acclaim for helping reenergize the local orchestra’s performances.

Meanwhile, the Philharmonic has announced programming for Caballé-Domenech’s third season, which will range from pops concerts featuring the music of Abba and Queen to an ambitious undertaking of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony with more than 100 musicians.

You can find the full season schedule plus subscriber information here.

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