County Gov

Friday, December 2, 2016

Inmates riot over food

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 3:32 PM

The Criminal justice Center had a riot break out last month due to inmate food, according to authorities. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • The Criminal justice Center had a riot break out last month due to inmate food, according to authorities.
Bad food and short rations have inmates in an uproar, literally, with nine men charged on Thursday with crimes in connection with a Nov. 19 riot in the county jail over the food. One charge is riots in detention facilities, a Class 5 felony.

According to the affidavit, at 5:42 p.m., after one ward at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center was served the dinner meal, "Several inmates became upset over the food portions and demanded extra food. Inmates began to yell, became angry, threatened to flood their cells, kicked open the food traps and also kicked their cell doors."

They also covered their cell windows, obstructing the view and threatened to assault staff if they came into the cells to remove the coverings, the affidavit says. The so-called rioting continued until 10:15 p.m. One deputy was struck in the chest but the extent of his injuries isn't known.

Charged were Michael Martinez, 40; Sean Hazlett, 26; Ronnie Faubush, 30; Aucus Bone, 30; Henry Bukowski, 22; Paul Myles, 26; Scott Brushwein, 24; Jonathan Hernandez, 19, and Tero Rhame, 24.

El Paso County changed contractors on Sept. 1 from Aramark Correctional Services, LLC, to Trinity Services Group, Inc. Trinity has contracts with 28 jails in the state of Colorado and untold correctional outfits across the country. The reason for the change, county officials say, is the jail food contract came up for renewal and so it was competitively bid.

In 2015, the county paid $1,890,980 to the food contractor. This year, the cost will total about $1.88 million, and next year, the county expects to pay just under $2 million.

According to a week's worth of menus obtained by the Independent, a typical breakfast consists of one cup of oatmeal, two links or patties of sausage, a biscuit, a tablespoon of jelly, one cup of a beverage and one cup of milk.

A typical lunch is three pieces of turkey salad, whose size is not specified, a hoagie roll, tortilla chips, four carrot sticks, iced cake and two cups of a beverage.

A typical dinner is comprised of one and a quarter cup of stew, a half cup of mixed vegetables, a piece of cornbread, one tablespoon of margarine, a brownie, and two cups of a beverage.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

UPDATE: Junk trailers ordered removed

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 1:16 PM

These shabby mobile units have been drawing vermin and who knows what else for nearly three years. Now they've been ordered removed. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • These shabby mobile units have been drawing vermin and who knows what else for nearly three years. Now they've been ordered removed.
UPDATE:
From the county:
The County will let the judge know that the order has been ignored and the judge will probably appoint a receiver for the property for the purposes of bringing it into compliance with the order. Alternately, he could also authorize the county remove the structures and recover its costs from the owner. Either way, we know the neighbors have put up with this situation through the long legal process but we want them to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hard to say if its as soon as thirty days but its certainly a lot closer to resolution.

—-ORIGINAL POST 1:15 P.M. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 2, 2016——————-

Remember the eye sore we told you about in January near Austin Bluffs Parkway? ("County squares off with a government contractor over zoning violations," Jan. 6, 2016)

Well, the shabby trailers are still there, but El Paso County has won a judgment that might force their removal.

We say might, because not everyone conforms to a judge's order. If the owners of the property fail to remove the 16 units, which have been there about 2.5 years, it's unclear what the county could do. But in similar cases, the county could hire a contractor to remove the trailers and dispose of them and file a lien against the property for the bill.

In any event, the owners have 30 days to get rid of the obnoxious deteriorating trailers. Here's the order: (There are two petitions, because there are two landowners involved.)

For Defendant Security Management:

HEREBY ENTERS THE FOLLOWING ORDER:
1. Judgment is hereby entered against Defendant Security Management and Integration Company, a Washington corporation (“Security Management”) and in favor of Plaintiff Board of County Commissioners of the County of El Paso, Colorado.

2. Defendant Security Management shall, within thirty (30) days of this Court’s order, remove from its property the modular components identified in Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment, its Brief in Support, and accompanying exhibits, which are not permitted by the El Paso County Land Development Code. In doing so, Defendant Security Management shall also remove any debris and/or rubbish from the subject property, which resulted from the modular components deteriorating over time.

3. That any failure to follow this Court’s order shall be enforced by and through contempt proceedings pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.

For Defendant Miquel Avery:

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED as follows:
a. Default judgment is hereby entered against Defendant Miquel Avery and in favor of Plaintiff, Board of County Commissioners of the County of El Paso, State of Colorado.

b. Outdoor storage of modular components is not permitted on the subject property pursuant to the El Paso County Land Development Code. Accordingly, Defendant Miquel Avery shall, within thirty (30) days of this Court’s order, remove all modular components from the subject property. In doing so, Defendant Miquel Avery shall also remove any debris and/or rubbish from the subject property, which resulted from the modular components deteriorating over time.

c. Plaintiff shall serve a copy of these Findings of Fact, Judgment, and Order by Certified Mail, with a Domestic Return receipt, or by personal service as provided for in Colo.R.Civ.P. 4.

d. The terms of these Findings of Fact, Judgment, and Order shall be enforced by contempt proceedings pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

County proclaims "Jan Doran Day"

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 3:09 PM

Jan Doran, center, stands with Commissioners Darryl Glenn, Dennis Hisey, Peggy Littleton and Mark Waller - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Jan Doran, center, stands with Commissioners Darryl Glenn, Dennis Hisey, Peggy Littleton and Mark Waller
The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners — like most governing boards — will sometimes choose to proclaim a day in honor of someone or something.

Like breast cancer survivors. Or a fallen police officer. Or — if it's the El Paso County Commissioners — the NRA. But it's rare to see a living person honored by such a proclamation for simply volunteering their time, steadily, over many years.

Jan Doran is the exception. County Commissioners proclaimed Wednesday, Oct. 12, "Jan Doran Day," in honor of her many years of service on boards in the community. Read on to learn more about what makes Doran special: 
October 12 Proclaimed Jan Doran Day in El Paso County
Neighborhood Advocate Recognized for Decades of Volunteer Service and Community Engagement


El Paso County, CO, October 11, 2016 – The Board of El Paso County Commissioners during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting officially Proclaimed October 12 as “Jan Doran Day” in El Paso County and urged all El Paso County residents to follow her example of community participation and engagement in local government.

The Proclamation was read into the official record by Commissioner Dennis Hisey noting, “Jan Doran grew up in a small community where everyone knew and watched out for each other and has for decades worked tirelessly to share and grow that same sense of caring and protective community throughout the Pikes Peak Region.”

Shortly after moving to El Paso County Jan Doran became a member of her homeowner’s association and then went on to serve eight years as President of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) which represents neighborhoods throughout the region. Commissioner Hisey personally thanked Doran for the help she had given him in assisting a neighborhood in his district get a better understanding of government processes to ensure that their voices were heard and concerns addressed.

The Proclamation of Jan Doran Day noted her passion for public process and helping people to understand the process in order to become responsible and fully engaged citizens. As a result of that passion, she became a charter member of the El Paso County Citizen Outreach Group (COG) and served as its Chair for many years. Under her leadership, the COG promoted and facilitated multiple “El Paso County Citizens Colleges,” through which hundreds of citizens took learned about El Paso County government, meet with County leaders and visited county facilities.

“You have built a legacy by sharing your knowledge and expertise with others and that is a true mark of leadership,” said Commissioner Peggy Littleton. “You have spread your tentacles far and wide duplicating and replicating yourself in others who are now better equipped to be effective and engaged citizens.”

“You have been a role model,” said Commissioner Vice-Chair Darryl Glenn, “when it comes to bringing communities together and finding thoughtful ways to talk through the issues.”

"Jan Doran is an incredible role model for others to follow in volunteerism", said Board Chair Commissioner Sallie Clark. "She has been able to effectively work with neighborhoods and local government to find solutions to complex issues. Jan is respected for her ability to advocate and find common ground at all policy levels. I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this recognition

“I am deeply honored and also greatly surprised by the Proclamation of Jan Doran Day in El Paso County on October 12, 2016. Thank you for all the accolades and appreciations that you personally expressed and outlined in the Proclamation,” Doran told Commissioners. Over the years it has always been a pleasure to volunteer for the various Boards and Commissions in El Paso County. I have learned so much about County government from so many wonderful people and enjoyed the challenges each opportunity presented.”

The Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) will read the County Proclamation as it honors Jan Doran during its annual meeting on October 12, 2016, Jan Doran Day in El Paso County.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

UPDATE: Citizens Service Center reopens

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 12:00 PM

The Citizens Service Center has reopened and all offices are operating on their regular schedules.

The county also offered this reassurance:

The County has received several calls from concerned citizens who are worried that they may face a property tax penalty because they were unable to make their tax payments today which is normally the last day to make the second payment for those who choose the two payment option for paying property taxes.

The County Treasurer wants everyone to know that the August 31 deadline to pay without penalty will be extended to tomorrow because of the unexpected office closure due to the water line break. There will be no penalty on tax payments made tomorrow when the office reopens.

——- ORIGINAL POST, WEDNESDAY, 12 P.M. ——-
If you are thinking of heading to the El Paso County Citizens Service Center today, don't. It's closed due to a water main break. 
Underground Water Leak Forces Closure of El Paso County Citizens Service Center
All Offices and Agencies Located at CSC Will Close Contractors Working on Repairs


El Paso County, CO, August 31, 2016 – Due to an underground water main break, all El Paso County administrative and elected administrative offices and affiliated agencies, located in the Citizens Service Center at 1675 West Garden of the Gods Road will be closed for the remainder of today. This closure includes El Paso County Department of Human Services, Clerk and Recorder, Public Health, the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, El Paso County Treasurer and County Assessor.

Branch offices of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder which are not located at the Citizens Service Center will continue to provide all customary services.

El Paso County Public Works has determined that large underground service line has broken. Although it has not been determined at this time, the water supply line may have been undermined during recent heavy rainstorms and high water flows in adjacent drainage channels.

A contractor is on site now and will be working overnight, if needed, to restore normal operations as quickly as possible.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Flooded basements, piles of hail and zombies

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 1:36 PM


OK, I want to talk about two things:

1) ZOMBIES!!!

2) Those two crazy storms we had Monday and Sunday that wiped out everyone's gardens, sent cars floating down the street, piled hail in people's yards deep enough to consider building snowmen, and made me really glad I don't have a basement.

What do these two things have in common? Well, actually not a whole lot. But El Paso County does host a really fun Annual Zombie Run and PrepareAthon (it's coming up on September 24) in which you are chased around by people dressed as zombies and then taught about preparing for disasters. 

The basic premise here is that if you don't know how to save yourself when a natural disaster is threatening your life then you are sort of like a zombie. Which is bad. And dangerous.

Anyway, if you want to learn some strategies to save yourself from the next major Colorado disaster and also get chased by people wearing a lot of fake blood, then you should read this:

The 4th Annual Zombie Run and PrepareAthon is Set for Sept. 24
Emergency Preparedness the Focal Point of the Event


El Paso County, CO, August 29, 2016 – El Paso County’s Bear Creek Regional Park will host the 4th Annual Zombie Run and PrepareAthon on Saturday, Sept. 24, to promote emergency preparedness.

“The PrepareAthon is not just a fun zombie run, but an event for entire families,” said County Commissioner Peggy Littleton. Littleton reminds area residents that emergency preparedness is a matter of personal responsibility because emergencies frequently cutoff communications and disrupt travel. “It is our personal responsibility to know what to do when You're On Your Own, YOYO. We each are the first responders to any event—fire, flood, power failure—and we need to be well informed and prepared.” Everyone is invited to join the zombies as children make preparedness pillowcases, Boy Scouts demonstrate how to 'live off the grid' and others provide education and tools to be prepared.”

The annual 3K run and PrepareAthon encourages local residents to understand the importance of being prepared for emergencies like the fires, flash flooding and blizzards the Pikes Peak region has seen in recent years. At home, at work, or at school, residents need to have their own specific emergency plans. The family friendly PrepareAthon offers everyone an opportunity to talk with emergency responders and vendors and learn more about emergency preparedness establishing personal emergency plans.

“The whole family can have free fun and become better prepared at the same time,” said Robin Adair, El Paso County Community Preparedness and CERT coordinator. “Everyone will find a valuable takeaway, if you’ve already well-prepared and want to take it to the next level, or if you’re just starting to pack your first emergency kit.”

The Zombie Run is a traditional 3K with minor obstacles and zombies. The runners will wear “life flags,” similar to flag football. The fully costumed zombies try to steal the flags from the runners as they move along the trail. Runners who lose flags must correctly answer emergency preparedness questions to get their life flags back. For those who like a little more fun, they can also modify their traditional running apparel to dress as zombies.

Zombie Run and PrepareAthon
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
Pre Registration is required for runners and zombies.
Register at www.PikesPeakZombieRun.com

Cost:

$30 for the 3K Run/Walk: Early Bird and Team discounts available.
You can also register to participate as a zombie to chase the runners for $10.

A commemorative event t-shirt is included in your registration fee.

Time: The first of multiple heats begins at 10 a.m.

Location: Bear Creek Regional Park, 2002 Creek Crossing, Colorado Springs.
The event is on the east side of the park near the Park’s Office and community garden.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psnPVLKwmYs

PrepareAthon: is free, open to the public, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
No need to be a runner or a zombie to enjoy the PrepareAthon.
Family activities, information, & demonstrations to include:

• Emergency Responders, Vehicles, and Equipment
(fire trucks, bulldozer, bug-out car)
• Personal and Family Readiness for Disaster
• Off-grid camping and survival demonstrations
• Disaster First Aid
• Fire escape planning smoke demonstration trailer
• Backup and portable power alternatives
• Preparedness supplies and gear (plus zombie novelty items)
• Animal Readiness for domestic pets & livestock (plus petting zoo)
• Readiness Activities for children (with take-home kit)
• Community Emergency Response Team
• Community Gardeners
• Games and prizes (free stuff!)
• Hands-on Fire extinguisher practice (real flames)
Food Trucks on site

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Elder holds court with media

Posted By on Mon, Aug 8, 2016 at 5:40 PM

Sheriff Bill Elder - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Sheriff Bill Elder
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder hosted a pizza lunch with the media Monday and discussed topics ranging from staffing to the murder investigation of Tom Clements.

Asked about the "Fight Club" investigation in the Criminal Justice Center, Elder said a internal affairs probe is underway of a situation he disputed as similar to the movie of that name. He said more interviews are being conducted before the investigation concludes in two to three weeks. He said he won't make the entire IA report public, but something will be released.

Sources have described a game inside the jail in which detention deputies kept score of how many inmates they could brutalize and get away with it. One former deputy told the Independent he reported what he viewed as "a lot of deputies' use of force" but his concerns were dismissed.

"A lot of deputies are there who just want to go to that next step and fight somebody," the source said.

As for the Clements murder investigation, Elder said it's still active in coordination with more than a dozen agencies, including the FBI, CBI, ATF and Denver Police Department, but that the investigation has unearthed "no evidence that anyone other than Evan Ebel was involved in the homicide."

Clements, Colorado Department of Corrections director, was shot dead March 19, 2013, at his front door in Black Forest by Ebel, who had days before been released from prison. Ebel was believed to be part of the 211 Crew, a prison gang.

Elder told other law enforcement officials earlier this year he was preparing to close the investigation, but Gov. John Hickenlooper intervened, and the case remains open.

Elder told media Monday to be mindful that every time a story appears regarding the case, "It's like tearing off a scab" to the family. Clements left a wife and two daughters.

Pressed by a Denver Post reporter, Elder insisted, "There's no evidence that anyone but Evan Ebel killed Tom Clements."

Theories abound about who might have helped Ebel kill Clements and about a so-called hit list found in Ebel's car after he was killed in a shootout with authorities in Texas two days after the Clements murder. The Post previously reported:
• A federal official who had no dealings with Ebel said he was named on a hit list found in Ebel’s black Cadillac DeVille two days after Clements was killed on March 19, 2013.

• Another government official said Ebel’s hit list contained the names of more than 20 officials — far higher than previously known.

• That same source said one official on the hit list is concerned about the lack of information coming from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, the lead investigative agency in the Clements case.

On other topics, Elder said he's starting to meet with other officials about whether to seek voter approval to renew the sheriff's tax, which was approved by voters in 2012 to last eight years. Those discussions include steps the department could take to "wean us off" the total of at least $17 million a year raised by the tax.

Elder said of the 195 people hired in 2013 and 2014 with that tax money, 28 percent left for a variety of reasons, including the family moved away, they left law enforcement for other lines of work, or they took higher-paying law enforcement jobs elsewhere.

He said he's devised new practices he hopes will reduce attrition, including better training supervision and increasing pay for jailers.

Elder also noted that while law enforcement agencies across the country average about 14 percent women, his department is comprised of 21 percent women.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

UPDATE: Recount of District 4 race completed. Results unchanged.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 2:44 PM

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office has completed the recount paid for by the campaign of El Paso County Board of County Commissioners District 4 candidate Scott Turner. The results of the race remained unchanged, meaning Turner lost the race by 34 votes.

In a press release, Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said he was proud that the results held.

“We’re always happy to complete our work on behalf of our citizens, and the recount requested by Mr. Turner is no different,” he stated. “It’s important for voters to have confidence in election results, especially in close races. I’m proud of the work my staff did in completing this recount—including a retesting of the counting machines to ensure accuracy—a day and a half earlier than allotted by law.”

Turner, likewise, emailed a press release about the results, stating:

I would like to thank the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office for their time and effort in validating the primary election results. They hold themselves to the highest standards and perform with efficiency and professionalism.

I would like to formally congratulate Mr. Gonzalez on his primary victory and wish him good fortune in the general election. I’m sure he will serve the people of our district well.

——- ORIGINAL POST, JULY 19, 2:15 P.M. ——-
Scott Turner - FILE
  • FILE
  • Scott Turner

El Paso County Board of County Commissioners
District 4 candidate Scott Turner will pay for  a recount of the Republican primary election votes in his race, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office has announced.

Turner lost the race to Longinos Gonzalez Jr. by just 34 votes. An automatic recount would have been triggered only if the difference in vote totals had been 18 or fewer votes. Because an automatic recount was not triggered, Turner will pay for the cost of the recount.
screen_shot_2016-07-19_at_1.55.20_pm.png
Longinos Gonzalez - FILE
  • FILE
  • Longinos Gonzalez
"We were very close to just walking away from it," Turner says over the phone. 

The candidate says he discussed pursuing a recount with family, friends and supporters. He says he's received many phone calls urging him to pursue the recount. While he believes that the clerk's office is very capable, he says the count was so close that it "seemed like a recount was appropriate."

 "I didn't want to go to sleep for the rest of my life thinking I coulda, woulda, shoulda," Turner says.
 
A friend offered to foot the bill for the recount, and Turner agreed. Turner says if he is not the victor after the recount, he will likely focus his energy on supporting other candidates, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn

Here is the release from the clerk's office:
Clerk to Conduct Candidate Requested Recount for County Commissioner District 4

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – July 19, 2016] The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has received a formal request from candidate Scott Turner to recount the ballots for the County Commissioner District 4 race in the Republican Party Primary Election. The final results for this race did not meet the threshold set in Colorado law to trigger an automatic recount. The cost to conduct the recount will not be at taxpayers’ expense, therefore, but will be paid by the candidate who requested the recount.

The final official election results as certified by the bipartisan Canvass Board show 34 votes separating the two candidates for the Commissioner District 4 race. That vote margin is nearly twice the amount required by statute (C.R.S. 1-10.5-106) for an automatic recount in that race, which would have been 18 votes.

“This request for a paid recount by a candidate is the first in our recent institutional memory,” said Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman. “Our Elections staff will conduct the recount for the candidate, with their skilled expertise and resolve.”

The machines used for the election processing will be tested again prior to conducting the recount. The election equipment undergoes extensive testing before and after every election and passes with 100% accuracy.

After the equipment testing is complete, the ballot recount will begin on Friday, July 22, and should be concluded within a few days. It is not anticipated that the recount will change the results.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Waller is new District 2 county commissioner

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Mark Waller was sworn in this morning. - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Mark Waller was sworn in this morning.

The fight is over for Mark Waller.

The District 2 El Paso County Commissioner candidate won the primary for his seat in June, and didn't face an opponent in the November election. Then, this morning, he was sworn into the position early after being selected by a Republican vacancy committee to fill the seat that Amy Lathen exited early. Lathen is now leading Colorado Springs Forward. 

Waller, an attorney, previously served as a state representative in House District 15 from 2009-2014. He served as both Assistant House Majority Leader and House Minority Leader during his tenure. 
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Sallie Clark to address national groups in Cleveland

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Clark will speak on streets and storm drains. - EL PASO COUNTY
  • EL PASO COUNTY
  • Clark will speak on streets and storm drains.
Darryl Glenn isn't the only local making an appearance at a national event this week. He is speaking Monday night at the Republican National Convention.

El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, outgoing president of the National Association of Counties, is speaking Tuesday at a briefing and luncheon in Cleveland, sponsored by the association and the National League of Cities. She's served as president for the past year.

Other speakers include former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. The luncheon focuses on infrastructure needs across the country.

Clark finishes her third and final term on the county commission next January.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Longinos Gonzalez has won the District 4 primary

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 10:03 AM

Longinos Gonzalez Jr. - COURRTESY LONGINOS GONZALEZ JR.
  • Courrtesy Longinos Gonzalez Jr.
  • Longinos Gonzalez Jr.
Longinos Gonzalez Jr. is the Republican nominee for the District 4 El Paso County Commissioner seat, according to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office.

The announcement came Thursday, following a squeaker of a race in the June 28 primary. Final vote tallies show that Gonzalez prevailed over his rival, Scott Turner, 3,450 votes to 3,416 votes. The gap was too large to require an automatic recount. (The gap would have had to be 18 votes or less to require that move.)

Via an email to the Independent, Gonzalez says he's glad the race is finally over.

"It was a long nervous week, but I just wanted to again thank the grassroots effort, especially those that supported me, helped me campaign, and prayed for me," he writes. "I am tremendously grateful for their efforts. Our race showed how important every person's vote is, and I hope that will motivate even more people to participate in our election process in the years to come."

Turner, meanwhile, told the Indy via email that he was disappointed:

Yes this is difficult but it is also part of our process and as such must be respected. All votes matter, as you never know what the results will be until they are counted. I’m more disappointed that only 6866 people out of a registered voting population of 22,573 took the time to vote for the one office that directly affects each and every one of them. What that really means is that 15.3% of the registered republican voters actually voted for the winner, and only 50 people out of 22,573, (.0022%) actually made the decision for the rest of the population. Every vote counts in every race, our country was founded on principals of representative government, to let the people have a say in our republic and our communities. It is unfortunate that we have reached such a high level of apathy.

I would like to congratulate my opponent and do wish him well. He has a big job ahead of him and the people are looking to him to do the right thing for them and their community. He needs to remember that the people of District 4 did the voting, and it is those people he has a responsibility to serve.
 You can read more about the two candidates here.

Gonzalez will face Democrat Elizabeth Rosenbaum in November for the District 4 seat, which pays over $113,000 a year. The office is currently held by the term-limited Dennis Hisey, who endorsed Turner in the primary.
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

The county has a new engineer. Here is why you should care.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 6:32 AM

Jennifer Irvine - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Jennifer Irvine

Police and firefighters get all the glory. The county engineer? Yeah, not so much.

Chances are you don't even know who the county engineer is or what she does, let alone that her work keeps you safe every day.

In short, the county engineer ensures the safety of infrastructure like stormwater systems, utilities, and roads. It may not be sexy stuff, but it sure is important.

André Brackin was the El Paso County Engineer for 20 years until he retired in May. 

At the time of his retirement, then-El Paso County Commissioner Chair Amy Lathen noted in a press release that Brackin was, “instrumental in the execution of initiatives that have greatly benefitted the citizens of El Paso County, including: the development of 1041 permit process, the adoption of stormwater drainage and utilities placement specifications and requirements and the establishment of countywide transportation impact assessments for new development.” 

Jennifer Irvine, who joined the county as Engineering Services Manager and Project Management Supervisor in 2000, was appointed to serve as interim county engineer at that point. This week, she was given the job permanently, becoming the first female El Paso County Engineer. 

“She has shown excellent engineering, leadership and mentoring skills,” County Administrator Henry Yankowski said at a county meeting. “She has excelled in financial, budget and program management, and she has been a leader in regional collaboration. The big bonus to the County is the institutional knowledge she brings to the position. She knows not only what has been done in the past, but the why."
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Colorado Springs Forward endorses VanderWerf

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 2:02 PM

Stan VanderWerf
  • Stan VanderWerf
Colorado Springs Forward is endorsing Stan VanderWerf for District 3 El Paso County Commissioner. VanderWerf is the owner and president of two companies: Advanced Capitol LLC, an aerospace defense consulting firm, and CEM-Tek USA, a 3D printing company. The seat is currently held by term-limited Sallie Clark. 

CSF previously endorsed former Colorado House Minority Leader Mark Waller for the District 2 race and Scott Turner, a retired banker with experience on many community and governmental boards, in the District 4 race. All are Republicans.

The Political Action Committee of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs, another influencer in local elections, previously announced its endorsements of Waller, VanderWerf, and Turner. [Not sure what district you're in? Check the map here.] 

In related news, County Commissioner Amy Lathen recently announced that she would leave office early to take the helm as executive director of Colorado Springs Forward. Lathen's planned July 11 exit means that a vacancy committee will pick a replacement to fill her District 2 seat, following the June primary election. Given that there is no Democrat in the race, it seems likely that the winner of the Republican primary will be chosen.


Colorado Springs Forward announces

El Paso County Commissioner District 3 endorsement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 24, 2016 – With three veteran county commissioners retiring from the board due to term limits, the November elections will be crucial for the future of El Paso County. Colorado Springs Forward (CSF) is grateful for the long record of community service by Commissioners Sallie Clark, Dennis Hisey and Amy Lathen.

After extensive discussions with Stan VanderWerf and Karen Cullen – both candidates for El Paso County Commissioner in District 3 – Colorado Springs Forward is satisfied that both of these individuals have shown a deep understanding of business development throughout the region and the impacts of sound, local public policy.

The CSF board of directors believes that both of these candidates are strong choices for the citizens of District 3 and represent the pillars embraced by Colorado Springs Forward.

However, CSF’s board is most pleased with the significant and diverse experience as well as the depth of knowledge shown by VanderWerf. His history of leadership and ability to articulate sound principles, which support economic development, have led CSF to endorse his candidacy for County Commissioner District 3.

“We appreciate Stan VanderWerf’s thorough research into local issues which are impacting the community right now and will continue to impact it long into the future,” said Lynette Crow-Iverson, chairwoman of the CSF board of directors. “We feel he is the best choice to influence local policy and business development.”

In February, Colorado Springs Forward endorsed Mark Waller for El Paso County Commissioner District 2, and Scott Turner for El Paso County Commissioner District 4.

ABOUT COLORADO SPRINGS FORWARD

Colorado Springs Forward is a non-profit, broad-based alliance of people and organizations that care deeply about and are committed to the success of the Pikes Peak region. Colorado Springs Forward was formed by a group of community leaders in April 2014, to re-establish Colorado Springs as the most inviting and respected city in which to live, work and play. Board members include: Lynette Crow-Iverson (Chair), Phil Lane, Kathy Loo, Douglas Stimple, Jariah Walker, and Tom Neppl.

Colorado Springs Forward’s mission is to unite the citizens, communities and organizations of the Pikes Peak region to educate, collaborate and coordinate so that, together, they can effectively address the challenges and opportunities faced by our region. They will lead with words and actions, with a sense of urgency, so that together we can reach our full potential and an excellent quality of life. For more information, visit ColoradoSpringsForward.org.



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Fountain mobile home residents to be relocated

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 12:03 PM

Bud Calhoun points to the creek's eroding banks. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Bud Calhoun points to the creek's eroding banks.

Back in January, I wrote about the Riverside Mobile Home Park in Fountain

Owned by Bud Calhoun, the aging park sits on a 30-foot cliff overlooking Fountain Creek. Most of the residents are in their golden years, and the homes provide affordable living in a spectacular setting. Calhoun, who is in his 80s, loves walking his dog through the golden fields here and looking out across the water and the open plains. 

The problem with Riverside is that it sits on unstable ground. The creek is eating away at the ground underneath it, causing chunks of land to collapse over time. And a large flood could endanger the residents here. 

"Erosion along Fountain Creek has been undercutting the bank leading up to the mobile home park for a number of years," the county reports. "The September 2013 flood brought the streambank unacceptably close to the mobile homes above. El Paso County initiated the grant application process and began meeting with residents in 2015 to discuss safety concerns and possible options to assist them."

El Paso County wanted to help the residents here to move to safer ground and sought grants through the state to do so. Now it appears they have been successful.

Earlier this month, the director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Irv Halter, accepted the recommendation from the State Housing Board into approve the county's grant application. That first batch of money will be used to relocated the residents of Riverside to new affordable housing. The moves should be complete in about three months.

The county is also asking for money to buy property in the area and to do mitigation work on the creek.
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lathen leaving BOCC early to head C.S. Forward

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 5:13 PM

Lathen: hanging up her government hat for a eco-devo job. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Lathen: hanging up her government hat for a eco-devo job.
El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen has taken a job with Colorado Springs Forward and will resign her office on July 11, the nonprofit said in a news release this afternoon.

Lathen, an unsuccessful candidate for Colorado Springs mayor last year, is paid $87,300 a year as a commissioner. Her pay at CSF was not disclosed.

CSF is a politically active group, formed a few years ago, whose political action committee backed John Suthers for mayor.

Lathen could have sought another term as commissioner but chose not to run.  Lathen is prevented from seeking another term by term limits.

Springs City Council legislative analyst Tim Geitner and former state Rep. Mark Waller are vying for the Republican nomination in Lathen's commissioner district. That race will be decided at the June 28 primary election.

Democrat Michael Seraphin had mounted a campaign in District 2 but shut down his bid after finding out he didn't declare as a Democrat soon enough to be placed on the ballot.

Lathen's replacement for the final six months of her term as county commissioner will be chosen by a vacancy committee comprised of Republican precinct people in District 2, who number about 90 to 100. The appointment must take place within 10 days of her resignation date or Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, would appoint her successor, according to El Paso County Republican Party executive Daniel Cole.

The obvious appointee will be the primary winner.

Here's the CFS press release about Lathen:
Colorado Springs Forward is pleased to announce that Amy Lathen will take the helm as executive director in July. Since 2008, Lathen has served on the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, for District 2. Currently, she is chair of the board, and for the past seven years has served as chair, vice-chair and third commissioner.

In order to give the vacancy committee sufficient time to prepare, she will resign from the county on July 11, after the June 28 primary election. This ensures that voters’ voices in District 2 will be heard – and the vacancy committee will be guided by the electorate when making the appointment. She is resigning six months early to lead Colorado Springs Forward.

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve the citizens of El Paso County for nearly a decade,” Lathen said.
“I look forward to bringing more success and prosperity to the Pikes Peak region by helping private-sector economic development through Colorado Springs Forward.”

Amy Lathen’s accomplishments with El Paso County
During her time with the county, El Paso County’s credit rating with Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s was increased twice. Lathen chaired the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, founded the El Paso County Groundwater Quality Study group, co-hosted the Regional Stormwater Taskforce/Steering Committee in 2012, increased the amount of Road and Bridge dollars for District 2 (through reprioritization of existing funds), founded the Barriers to Business group, and increased the County’s Sunshine Review rating for transparency to an A+, to name just a few accomplishments.

“Although we’ve had great success over the past few years, there is still plenty of work to do. We are thrilled to have Amy Lathen and excited to work with a full-time executive director to accomplish our goals around elections and a vibrant economy,” said Lynette Crow-Iverson, chairwoman of the CSF board of directors.

“With her extraordinary experience in this region and expertise in legislative policy development, Amy will be a powerful force for enacting positive economic changes in this community.”

Recent accomplishments and activities of Colorado Springs Forward
CSF had been instrumental in supporting Measure 2C, which passed in November, allocating 0.62 percent of sales tax for five years to repair roads, and Measure 2D, which also passed and allowed the city to retain $2.1 million in excess revenue above the TABOR cap, to invest in repairing local trails and parks sidewalks.

Acting as the governing board of Colorado Springs Utilities, the Colorado Springs City Council has been going through a public process to consider a separate board of directors to govern the multi-million-dollar municipally owned utility.

Colorado Springs Forward supports and provides public awareness for the creation of a separate board to govern the Colorado Springs Utilities, believing as the city continues to grow, that City Council and the utility functions both merit their own focused oversight.

CSF also believes any new separate board should be given the appropriate level of authority to do their job for the utility – most specifically both responsibility for their budget and for the setting of utility rates.

In addition, one of CSF’s functions is to encourage effective leadership. In the past 18 months, CSF endorsed John Suthers for mayor; Merv Bennett, Tom Strand and Jariah Walker for City Council; Scott Turner for El Paso County Commissioner District 4; and Mark Waller for El Paso County Commissioner District 2. (To date, CSF has not endorsed a candidate for District 3.)

The future for Colorado Springs Forward
With the advent of Lathen’s leadership as a full-time executive director, CSF will be able to strengthen its position in the community to help shape public policy that will benefit the region economically and politically.
ABOUT COLORADO SPRINGS FORWARD

Colorado Springs Forward is a non-profit, broad-based alliance of people and organizations that care deeply about and are committed to the success of the Pikes Peak region. Colorado Springs Forward was formed by a group of community leaders in April 2014, to re-establish Colorado Springs as the most inviting and respected city in which to live, work and play. Board members include: Lynette Crow-Iverson (Chair), Phil Lane, Kathy Loo, Douglas Stimple, Jariah Walker, and Tom Neppl.

Colorado Springs Forward’s mission is to unite the citizens, communities and organizations of the Pikes Peak region to educate, collaborate and coordinate so that, together, they can effectively address the challenges and opportunities faced by our region. They will lead with words and actions, with a sense of urgency, so that together we can reach our full potential and an excellent quality of life.

For more information, visit ColoradoSpringsForward.org

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

UPDATE: Chief deputy leaving law enforcement

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 4:38 PM

Todd Evans is hanging up his gun. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Todd Evans is hanging up his gun.
UPDATE: Fountain City Manager Scott Trainor says Todd Evans' salary will be $120,000.

Evans tells us in a voice mail received late yesterday: "It's a great opportunity for me to take police administration and increase it with city administration. I don't have a whole lot to prove in law enforcement. Great opportunities are few and far between."

—-ORIGINAL POST 4:38 P.M. MAY 17, 2016—-

Sheriff's Chief Deputy Todd Evans
has resigned to accept the job of deputy city administrator at the city of Fountain.

Evans had joined the El Paso County Sheriff's Office about a year ago after serving as Fountain Police Chief for several years, with Sheriff Bill Elder as his contracted deputy chief before Elder was elected sheriff and took office in late 2014.

At the county, Evans was paid $118,000 a year. His pay at city of Fountain wasn't immediately available. His resignation is effective June 1 and he starts vacation time on Friday, says Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jackie Kirby.

"It was a much better opportunity for he and his family," Kirby says.

Asked if Elder will replace Evans, she says, "At this time, no. They're going to take his duties and spread them around while the sheriff decides which direction he wants to go."



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