Take a minute to consider learning a little more about El Paso County government from those who know it best: the employees and elected officials.
From assessment of property to zoning, lessons on various functions of the county are provided in two Saturdays in October. Here's more details and info on how to sign up:
El Paso County’s enrollment for the 2012 Citizen’s College is in full swing. This year’s College will take place on consecutive Saturdays, October 13 and 20, with classes beginning 8 a.m. and concluding at or before 5 p.m. both days. Citizens’ College provides participants the opportunity to learn in a classroom-style, accelerated-education environment about the multi-faceted, statutory functions and services that El Paso County provides to its residents. County Officials, Administrators and Affiliated Agency leaders serve as College instructors for the attendees. Citizens’ College is an annual activity sponsored by the Citizen Outreach Group (COG) — a citizen-based volunteer committee appointed by the El Paso County Commissioners to help build understanding of and encourage participation in County Government.
The 2012 Citizens’ College syllabus will cover a wide range of topics, including: County Government 101, Child/Adult Protection and Economic Assistance Programs, Criminal Prosecution and Investigation, Public Health and Safety, Road and Bridge Operations and Maintenance, Land Use and Zoning Regulations, Parks and Recreation Programs, Environmental Services, Property Tax Assessments and Collections, County Budget and Finance, Q&A With County Commissioners and more. This year’s College will incorporate video and other media to help illustrate County government in action and will include “field trips” to the Criminal Justice Center and El Paso County Coroner’s Office so that students can learn, first hand, about the County's public safety and justice operations.
El Paso Board of County Commissioner Chair Amy Lathen and Commissioner liaison to the COG has participated in Citizens’ College as both a student and instructor: “As a former graduate of the Citizens’ College, I highly recommend this experience to anyone who wants a better understanding of how local government operates and what distinguishes us from other governing bodies.”
For more information about El Paso County’s 2012 Citizens’ College and to apply online, visit
http://www.elpasoco.com/citizenscollege. The application deadline is Friday, September 28.
There's been a lot said about the heroic efforts of firefighters to squelch the Waldo Canyon fire, which ignited on June 23 and put 32,000 people out of their homes in the following days due to evacuations.
But there are lots of hero stories to be told, and one of them involves a small band of Air Force Academy cadets who pitched in to help make sure that residents of Ute Pass didn't return to a pig sty when they were allowed to to back to their homes July 1.
Sheriff Terry Maketa says bears infiltrated the Cascade, Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls area during the evacuated days, and as we all know, bears aren't very good housekeepers.
Their rummaging left those towns and their environs pretty trashy. Maketa didn't want residents to be depressed by such a sight when they returned, so he was happy when 20 cadets stepped up to do a dirty job that most of the rest of us would shun.
Academy spokesman Meade Warthen tells us that 20 cadet civil engineering majors volunteered to clean up trash created by bears, raccoons and other wildlife in the Ute Pass residential area.
"They spent about three hours on Saturday morning cleaning up before residents returned home after evacuating because of the Waldo Canyon fire," he writes in an e-mail. "This effort is part of an on-going civic outreach endeavor by our cadets, who conducted more than 31,000 hours of their time last year on various volunteer projects. They expect to match or exceed that number this year."
Friends of the Howard Miller family want people to know that a fund for his son's education has been established. Here's information about that:
Howard C Miller Memorial Fund – Account 587317, Ent Federal Credit Union, 719-574-1100. Please contact Stacey Forte with any questions - 719-550-6438 or sforte@Ent.com.
Miller's family has been evacuated because of the Waldo Canyon Fire, so his memorial service is pending.
——————————ORIGINAL POST June 22, 1:47 P.M.————————————————————
El Paso County Retirement Plan administrator Howard Miller, 44, died of an apparent heart attack today, the plan says in a news release.
Howard Miller was hired as El Paso County Retirement Plan Administrator in 2009. He was accredited as a certified financial planner at the University of Houston and had worked exclusively in public retirement plan funding for twenty-two years. For six years prior to taking the position in El Paso County he had served as the Director of Employer Services for the 190,000 member Texas County and District Retirement System. Miller was born at the Air Force Academy but moved away from the area as a child. He is survived by his wife and son.
Bureau Chief Joe Breister of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, who is currently serving as Chairman of the Retirement said, “It’s a great loss to the retirement plan and to the entire community. Howard was hired at a time when we needed great leadership following financial collapse in 2008. Everything he did was out of his dedication and commitment to the financial stability of the plan for the benefit of plan members.”
The El Paso County retirement plan covers approximately 3,680 employees, beneficiaries and retirees of El Paso County, El Paso County Public Health, Office of the 4-th Judicial District Attorney, El Paso County Board of Retirement, and the Pikes Peak Library District.
Miller may be known to Indy readers as part of the controversy surrounding the retirement plan's decision to split its IT functions from El Paso County and hire a Denver-area consultant for the work. But he's also been named a Rising Star in the public funds investing community by publishers of Institutional Investor News.
There was no mention in the release of any initial plans to replace Miller.
The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office is at the ready to help those displaced by the Waldo Canyon Fire get and cast a ballot in Tuesday's primary election despite any hardship.
Deputy Clerk Alissa Vander Veen issued the following release this morning:
For voters who have been displaced by the Waldo Canyon Fire and who still need to cast their ballot in the June 26 Primary Election, the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder will issue them a replacement ballot. Voters just need to appear in person at the Clerk’s Office and the staff will assist them with the process for receiving a ballot. If the voter cannot appear in person, please contact the Election Department and the staff will work with individuals on a case by case basis to get them a ballot.
Voters can come to any one of the four Clerk & Recorder’s Offices to receive a mail ballot.
The Clerk & Recorder’s branch offices are:
o Main – Citizens Service Center – 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road
o North – 8830 N. Union Blvd (Research Pkwy and Union Blvd)
o Southeast – 5650 Industrial Place (Powers Blvd and Airport Rd)
o Downtown – Centennial Hall – 200 S. Cascade Ave (Cascade and Vermijo)
All Clerk & Recorder’s Offices will be open today from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and tomorrow from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Voters can also contact the Election Department directly at 719-575-VOTE (8683) or by email: email@example.com. Voters also can verify the status of their ballot at www.GoVoteColorado.com.
El Paso County commissioners will consider appointing Amy Folsom as their new county attorney following the resignation of Bill Louis.
Folsom formerly worked in the Fourth Judicial District District Attorney's Office, and has been with the county for a few years.
Her appointment seems assured, considering the county posted the employment agreement as backup material for the June 28 agenda item. Her salary will be $129,388.57. Read it all, after the jump:
Earlier this week, El Paso County commissioners honored County Attorney Bill Louis as he heads out the door later this month, leaving 15 years of government work and diving into private sector law practice.
There were nice words all around for Louis, who clearly was pushed aside after he warned commissioners their plan to buy the Arrowswest building in northwest Colorado Springs would bring "another black eye" to the county, much like the sneaky term limits extension had.
"We took a hit with term limits," Louis wrote to commissioners. "I am counseling you to avoid another black eye.... Sorry to do this, but I felt compelled and duty bound to do so."
For his trouble, Louis soon announced his departure, and to their credit, commissioners didn't follow through with the Arrowswest deal.
Before we convey the accolades bestowed on Louis by county officials, let me say this about Bill Louis: I've never met a government attorney who had a clearer picture of and commitment to sunshine laws than he does.
Whenever I asked, Louis willingly opened his records for inspection, including e-mails, lawsuit documents, contracts and correspondence. I don't ever recall a record being redacted, though there probably were one or two.
He was the one who disclosed, when asked, why the term limits ballot measure was written the way it was. He was frank and forthright.
He understands that government business is the people's business and acted accordingly. Most government attorneys are super secretive about executive sessions to the point of shying from even naming the topic unless forced to do so under the law. Then they're as crafty as possible in labeling it in a generic way. Not Bill Louis. He was always open about the topic commissioners would discuss, though he protected the precise legal matters that needed to remain confidential for the time being in the best interest of taxpayers.
This is no small balancing act when the assets of the county are at risk.
And talk about courage. It takes some moxie to tell your bosses they're about to make a mistake. Elected officials don't cotton much to being told they're wrong.
So the county loses a good public servant, and the media loses a partner in keeping government transparent.
Adios, Bill Louis. Enjoy never again opening an e-mail that says, "Pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act...."
Comments from those bidding Louis adieu at Tuesday's commissioner meeting, according to a press release:
"Mr. Louis’ significant talent, legal skill, and breadth of knowledge in all areas of county government is recognized and appreciated by the Board of County Commissioners,” Chair Amy Lathen read from the resolution. “Mr. Louis’s knowledge, expertise, and dedication to El Paso County have significantly contributed to the citizens of El Paso County; and while his departure is a loss to the County, we wish him well in his future endeavors with great appreciation and much gratitude.”
“Our memories dim over time, but Bill Louis was the County Attorney during some of the most difficult times in the history of El Paso County,” said Jeff Greene, County Administrator. “A period of time that threatened to tear this County apart. Bill, at his own personal and professional peril, always did the right thing. He held this County together. He advised the Board of County Commissioners well, he has served me, and all the administrative departments well, he served my predecessor, Mr. Harris, very well. He will go down in history as one of El Paso County’s greatest County Attorneys.”
In the release, Louis is quoted as thanking county employees and crediting them with his success.
"I didn’t teach them to be good County employees," he said. "They taught me how to be County Attorney. I am very grateful for that knowledge because that is what helped me to grow as a lawyer.”
Louis will join the firm of Flynn Wright & Fredman, LLC.
His successor at the county has not yet been named.
El Paso County announced in a press release Friday it's saving a lot of energy by making its facilities more efficient. But the county can't say how much money will actually be saved.
Absent from the release is any dollar figure in savings and when asked about it, spokesman Joel Quevillon writes in an e-mail: "That’s a question we don’t have an answer for today. We’ll have to contact staff and put some numbers and info together next week."
Nor does the press release tell taxpayers how much the county is spending on the energy savings. However, the Indy obtained a breakdown several days ago, which shows it's spent $2.3 million of the $7.7 million it plans to spend on energy "performance contracting."
Here's the release:
Tejon street traffic detours signs between Vermijo and Costilla during the weekend of June 8-10, 2012 were also highly visible signs of El Paso County’s ongoing program to save money and energy by making its facilities more energy efficient. The detours were in place to allow the installation of underground pipes necessary to connect the Robert L. Russel Professional building to El Paso County’s highly efficient Central Utilities Plant (CUP) which now provides heating and cooling for buildings throughout the County’s downtown Colorado Springs campus.
"Connecting the Russell building to the C.U.P. will result in significant energy savings for many years to come," said Deputy County Administrator Monnie Gore. "It also allows us to remove a number of old, inefficient air conditioning units on the roof of the building which are well beyond their useful life expectancy."
While the installation of the pipes in Tejon Street is a large highly visible energy efficiency improvement, nearly all county buildings and facilities have received money-saving energy efficiency upgrades, many of which are much less visible. These upgrades range from installation of new technology light bulbs and motion sensing light switches which turn off lights automatically when a room is not use to computerized control of heating and cooling to reduce utilities consumption when buildings or portions of building are not in use.
Funding for energy efficiency upgrades has come from a variety of sources including operational savings recognized within County offices and departments, performance contracting where reduced utilities costs are guaranteed by the contractor to pay for the upgrades, an energy efficiency grant and improvements made as part the 2010 Strategic Moves Initiative.
El Paso County Facilities is responsible for the operation of 275 buildings totaling more than 4.2 million square feet. Facilities maintained by the County range from small equipment storage buildings to the Criminal Justice Center and the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex. El Paso County Facilities Maintenance also provides routine maintenance and operations services for a number of City of Colorado Springs facilities through an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City.
Sallie Clark, trying for her third term as an El Paso County commissioner, has received the most campaign dough among those seeking county office this cycle.
Clark has hauled in $22,249, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday, which is more than your run-of-the-mill commissioner campaign attracts. She's spent $12,304.
Karen Magistrelli, Clark's opponent in the June 26 primary, has brought in $8,900 and spent $5,535.
Dennis Hisey, who's also seeking a third term, reported $11,654 in contributions and $9,114 in campaign expenses.
His Republican primary foe, Auddie Cox, drew $6,330 in contributions and spent $4,017.
Commission Chair Amy Lathen, who's seeking her second term, has no primary opponent but still raised $13,365 in contributions and spent $7,359.
As for where the money is coming from, all three commissioners' campaigns are being padded by high-ranking county employees. Money has come to one or all of them from such people as County Administrator Jeff Greene, public works official Max Rothchilde, County Attorney Bill Louis, coroner Robert Bux, and Imad Karaki, who works in employee benefits and IT.
Clark has snagged a lot money from development interests, such as Nor'Wood officials, Chuck Murphy and the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association.
Like Clark, Hisey got $750 from the HBA.
Also like Clark, Hisey got $2,000 from Jim Johnson, owner of G.E. Johnson, which has been paid more than $13.5 million for contractor work under the county's Strategic Moves Initiative, a $61 million shuffling of county offices that included purchase of the former Intel building on Garden of the Gods Road.
Hisey also has received $1,000 each from Robert and Steven Norris, members of a ranching family that's trying to build a reservoir southeast of the city on a site targeted by Colorado Springs Utilities for its own reservoir as part of the Southern Delivery System pipeline project.
A footnote on Hisey's spending: He claimed $50 as a campaign expense for attending the CASA of the Pikes Peak Region's Light of Hope event held in April. Interesting. So he was there campaigning, rather than simply supporting the organization. Got it.
Most of the cash for the two challengers, Magistrelli and Cox, has come from the Mark J. Bogosian Trust. Bogosian is securities trader and investor who lives in the Broadmoor area and has supported groups opposed to city and county tax increases. He also has given thousands of dollars in the past to presidential candidate Ron Paul, Bob Schaffer's U.S. Senate campaign and Doug Lamborn's congressional races.
He gave Magistrelli $5,000 and Cox $5,000.
Hisey and Clark might not be facing challenges within their own party except for their approval of a ballot measure in 2010 that asked voters to "limit" them to three terms, wording some voters cried foul over, considering commissioners at that time already were limited to two terms.
The measure passed, voters protested, and both Hisey and Clark refused to allow a new ballot measure in 2011 that would attempt to overturn the 2010 measure. If successful, Hisey and Clark couldn't have run for a third term. But it didn't happen. Instead voters have been promised the measure will be on the November ballot.
If elected, both Hisey and Clark stand to gain hundreds more dollars per month in retirement pay, along with four more years of their $87,300 annual salary.
Trails lost out today when the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners voted against including a line-item for trails projects in an upcoming ballot measure.
Or as trails supporter Lee Milner said, "No crumbs."
The Pikes Peak Transportation Authority 1 percent sales tax expires at the end of 2014, so local elected officials are preparing for a ballot measure this year. (If it fails this year, they'd still have another year to take a second run at voters.)
The tax generates about $70 million a year for roads and bridges in the county, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and a couple of other small towns.
Today, commissioners were presented with several options to include trails in the new RTA 2 proposal to be decided by voters Nov. 6.
The one drawing the most discussion was a measure that would include $106,000 for trails, which would help fund 20 percent of any project's cost, requiring the other 80 percent come from "partners" such as Great Outdoors Colorado, grants and private contributions.
A couple members of the county's Highway Advisory Committee said accommodation for bicycles shouldn't be included in the transportation system funding package because trails are used for recreation at least 90 percent of the time. In other words, trails aren't used by commuters.
Bill Koerner of the Trails and Open Space Coalition disagreed, saying many people pedal to and from work. Problem is, many trails are interrupted.
"The key thing is connectivity," he said, adding that roads "need to connect with city trails and other county trails. We feel the RTA can play a role in making these connections."
Dan Stuart, chairman of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC's committee that will advocate for the extending the tax, also spoke in favor of the $106,000 option.
"We know trails are not just for commuting," Stuart said. "Trails are for quality of life and they also improve economic vitality. The county’s list of trails when combined with the city’s list provide faster and safer ways to get around the region."
Commissioners Sallie Clark, Dennis Hisey and Amy Lathen balked at the $106,000 proposal, saying it would be too complicated to include a line-item with only 20 percent funding, which would remove RTA's control over whether the project gets funded. If no donations came in, they argued, projects couldn't be funded, undermining the RTA slogan of "promises made, promises kept."
"How does that play, when we have to say, '[Promises were kept], except where we didn’t have the right partnership'?" Hisey said.
Said Clark, "A lot of intersection improvements could be done with $106,000. I’m just real concerned about eroding what most folks think of as transportation." She added that trails aren't as important as vehicular roads in the mission of moving people from point A to point B.
Commissioners eventually voted unanimously to accept another option, which includes $85,000 for the B Street trailhead and trail that will connect with a city trail and the newly constructed pedestrian overpass on B Street.
Clark, Hisey and Lathen stressed that their opposition to the $106,000 option wasn't because they oppose trails. (Commissioners Darryl Glenn and Peggy Littleton favored the $106,000 option.)
"It's not about whether we like trails," Lathen said. "It's about what this model looks like going forward." She was referring to the definition of transportation contained in the first RTA ballot measure, which restricts spending to vehicular traffic and transit.
To that, Milner, who had earlier pleaded with commissioners to include the $106,000 in the RTA package as "a crumb" for the hiking and biking community, said, "You put money behind things you support."
Milner also noted that the RTA tax extension, given the economic times, might face a tough road with voters who are strapped and don't want to extend the sales tax. Including trails projects, he said, could have helped generate enthusiasm from trails supporters.
The county's package does include accommodations for bicycles of twice that amount, from $8 million to $10 million of the county's total of $160 million for its project lists. County engineer Andre Brackin said several road improvement and widening projects will include wider shoulders; some will be built with parallel bicycle trails. Brackin couldn't explain why commissioners were so dead-set against funding trails separately but voted to approve spending millions on trails when they coincide with motorized vehicle roads.
As a footnote.....
The RTA board, comprised of representatives from entities who get a stake from the tax, are haggling over ballot wording, Lathen said during today's commission meeting.
Some board members don't want the measure to conform to the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which requires tax measures begin by stating, "Shall taxes be increased by (insert amount here)...."
Because the RTA tax is an extension of an existing tax, the reasoning goes, the measure could begin by asking, "Shall the RTA tax be renewed" or "extended" or some other kind of term that might not be so off-putting to taxpayers. After all, this camp argues, the city's measure that extended the trails, open space and parks (TOPS) tax some years ago used language that deviated from the TABOR requirement. Here's the ballot wording for that measure:
But Lathen said that's because the TOPS tax extension was used to tackle the same list of projects that the original TOPS tax was designed to tackle. RTA 2 will tackle a whole new set of projects not listed in the RTA 1 ballot measure, she said.
"Therefore," Lathen said, capping this argument, "It’s a new tax and must comply" with TABOR.
In coming weeks, the RTA board will finalize the ballot language and the list of projects from all participating governments.
Election season usually means voters need to crank up their lie-o-meters to detect whose pants are on fire. So, from our Fib Factor File:
In her latest campaign piece, El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark takes credit for several projects constructed with money from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority tax measure that appeared on the November 2004 ballot.
Clark was elected to her first term in the same election, so it's impossible for her to have had a direct hand in crafting the ballot measure.
Here's an excerpt from her promotional piece:
The condition of our roads matters. It impacts our ability to attract new business and jobs to El Paso County, impacts our military, and costs each one of us in time and additional car repairs.
That’s why I’ve been working hard, here in El Paso County, and traveling to Denver and Washington, D.C. to work with our transportation officials, state legislators, our United States Representatives and Senators, to get our El Paso County and Pikes Peak regional projects done and to fight for our fair share.
The campaign piece then gives Clark credit for these "completed" projects, among others:
• Cimarron Bridge reconstruction
• Highway 16 interchange at Fort Carson
• Bijou Street and 1-25 interchange
• South Academy improvements at Pikes Peak Community College/Broadmoor Bluffs connection.
We checked with the Pikes Peak Council of Governments, which oversees the RTA program, and were told that the Cimarron Bridge project, 1-25 companion projects to the Bijou Bridge which improved the east and west ramps, and the South Academy improvements, called the South Metro Accessibility Phase 1, were all included in the 2004 ballot measure.
We asked Clark why she's promoting these projects as her own when they were approved before she was in office. We got this e-mail response, which doesn't specifically answer the question:
[Below] are some links regarding my vocal support for the Cimarron Bridge before and after the passage of PPRTA. As my fellow PPRTA board members know, structural integrity of the bridge was a particular concern and This was addressed many times, prior to sections of the bridge falling onto the railroad tracks below.
I have been working with various entities on many area projects over my years in service as a public servant, an individual citizen and neighborhood activist. Thanks to the success of the PPRTA and the approval of the voters who supported the transportation authority, the city was able to get this project completed. I am particularly proud of all the entities that worked together to get this done for the safety of our community and the viability of our downtown and Westside economy.
Clark has a primary election on her hands for her third term, with Karen Magistrelli winning top ballot line at the county assembly this spring. Ballots are scheduled to go out June 4, with primary winners decided June 26.
One reason Clark's opponent got into the race stems from Clark's vote to put a term-limits extension measure on the November 2010 ballot. The measure allows her and other county elected officials to seek a third term by lifting the statewide voter-approved measure to limit elected officials to two, four-year terms.
The measure passed. But voters later protested, saying the ballot language was misleading, because it asked whether terms should be "limited" to three terms instead of "extended" to three terms.
Some voters demanded a second shot at the measure, but Clark was among those commissioners who refused to allow a re-vote in November 2011. Instead, she supported a vote at this November's election, which, even if the term limits measure is defeated, wouldn't prevent Clark and Commissioner Dennis Hisey from winning third terms.
Hisey is locked in a primary race with Air Force and Army veteran Auddie Cox.
Clark and Hisey have good reason to want to extend their service. They're paid strong>$87,300a year, and their lifetime pensions grow to $1,938 from $1,292 a month if they add four more years of service.
More money was collected for child support in El Paso County last year than in Denver County, according to a report being heard today by El Paso County commissioners.
YoungWilliams Child Support Services of Jackson, Miss., says it answered more than 85,000 customer service calls and had a customer service rating of 3.8 out of a possible 4.0 last year.
The company, reporting on the first year of a five-year contract, also says it brought in $45.3 million in child support, compared to $41.7 million collected in Denver County.
It's workers collected $827,969 each, compared to Denver's rate of $340,225, the report says.
YoungWilliams started a program to assist parents with job searches and other assistance and also gained cooperation from the local military bases, including Fort Carson, Schriever and Peterson Air Force bases and the Air Force Academy.
In addition, the office met two of four performance goals set by the state. First, 90 percent of cases that needed paternity determinations got them, and 80 percent of cases have a child support order. The company's report wasn't clear on the state goals and how its performance compared.
Earlier in the month, I wrote about the conflict over including trails on the project list for PPRTA II (see "Fork in the road".)
Long story short, city groups think it's a grand idea; county groups think road projects need to come first.
But after catching some flack for that stance from trails advocates, the El Paso County commissioners decided to reconsider the recommendations of its PPRTA groups.
The county will meet on the issue tomorrow, and trails advocates, especially the Trails and Open Space Coalition, are seizing the opportunity to advocate.
Read on for TOSC's take:
El Paso County Trails projects were on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority draft list approved by the Commissioners on Feb 28, 2012. Subsequently they were removed. The Commissioners are now holding this public meeting on PPRTA-2, where trails projects will be considered for re-inclusion, due to TOSC advocacy efforts.
Where: Centennial Hall, Cascade Ave and Vermijo, Colorado Springs
When: Thursday, April 26, 7-9pm
Why: Ask the County Commissioners to add Transportation Trails projects back into the proposed Capital Program list for PPRTA-2, which will go to the voters in November.
• Trails are an important part of the multi-modal transportation network solutions for the Pikes Peak Region.
• Commuters need trails to get to and from work efficiently and safely.
• School children need trails as a safe way to get to and from school
• Trails provide environmental benefits, including cleaner air by reducing the use of fossil fuels.
• Trails reduce traffic congestion by getting people out of their cars.
• Trails reduce our personal and governmental transportation costs by using human power.
• You don't have to be 16 to ride on a trail, they are open to all ages.
• The Cities of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and the Town of Green Mountain Falls all have included non-motorized trails projects in their transportation project lists. The County should also.
• Trails need continuity between points A and B. The County needs to be a player so trails don't stop at the City limits.
• Having bike lanes included in City and County road projects absolutely helps address our transportation needs, but may not meet the needs of users who feel unsafe or don't have the skills to ride next to moving traffic.
• Trails have been and must continue to be part of our multimodal transportation solutions for our region.
• Trails provide health benefits for commuters and trails users.
Urge the County Commissioners to put County trails back into PPRTA-2.
Monday is the deadline for bids to build the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex near Gate 20 off Interstate 25 at Fort Carson.
El Paso County is handling the bidding process, which will not be based on low bid, according to the specifications, which state:
NOTE: Proposers are advised that THIS IS NOT A SEALED BID OR LOW BID PROCESS. The
County intends to make an award using the evaluation criteria to determine the “Best Value” for the
County as indicated in this Request for Proposals (RFP).
The bid is to be awarded in mid-May and the project completed before the end of September, the bid documents state.
No cost estimate is included in the bid announcement, but county officials previously have given the cost in the $750,000 range. Funding will come from grants and contributions from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, National Forest Service and others.
The project includes construction of shooting lanes for handguns, small-bore rifles and high-powered rifles. The contractor also will improve the access road, build an unpaved parking lot, install gates and a barbed wire perimeter fence, and develop erosion control measures.
The respondents are advised that the stormwater and erosion control features reflected on the plan are conceptual and not fully developed. The contractor will have to prepare the full storm water erosion control plan for this site. Estimated quantities for typical temporary erosion control measures have been included in the cost proposal tab and will be used in determining the contract amount. These quantities may not represent the actual quantity of temporary BMP’s required, based on the contractor’s plan.
The following elements reflected on the drawings will be furnished and installed by others: overhead
shelters for the shooting area, picnic benches, vehicle gates, post and dowel fencing, parking blocks,
shooting benches, targets, a marquee entrance sign with a timber support structure, and range signing.
The shooting range is being built as a replacement for the Rampart Range shooting area, which was closed by the U.S. Forest Service in summer of 2009 after a man was killed there in a shooting mishap.
UPDATE: County Administrator Jeff Greene says the commissioners' dais was reinforced against gunfire after commissioners were concerned with their safety due to attacks on public officials in other parts of the country and a stalking incident of an El Paso County commissioner last year. He wouldn't identify the commissioner, and nothing came of the stalking, though he described the individual as "menacing." He didn't know if a police report was ever filed or whether the person was armed.
"The commissioners are pro-gun. They support the Second Amendment. They want people to have concealed carry and to carry unconcealed. There was a concern of some of the commissioners when this [stalking] happened last year," he says in an interview. "We do have a security guard that sits at the entrance of the facility [Centennial Hall]. Also, we have a security guard dressed in plain clothes that will observe the proceedings as well.
"Some of the commissioners were concerned about their safety," he adds, refusing to name which commissioners. "We live in a very different environment today. There's been countless events across the country where public officials have been in harm's way."
He says the county decided that installing Kevlar in the dais was better than placing a metal detector at the door to the meeting room.
——————ORIGINAL POST WEDNESDAY, April 18, 10:37 a.m.————————
El Paso County commissioners spent nearly $7,000 to install "ArmorShield" in their dais in Centennial Hall.
In other words, they bullet-proofed the desk where they sit to conduct meetings.
ArmorShield's website says the company "prides itself on its ability to design and manufacture soft and hard armor products."
We have strived to identify those issues that have plagued officers for years and offer simple and well-thought solutions that make the wearing of armor easier than ever before.
ArmorShield USA provides the end user with leading edge technology in soft ballistic armor packages. We are proud to have developed our patented Blunt Trauma System (BTS) which decreases the potential trauma a person receives when taking live fire.
We also provide the option of hard armor insert plates to protect against High Velocity Threat (HVT) ammunition.
Another document provided by the county shows that Infinity Composites Inc., Ashtabula, Ohio, provided "Kevlar Bullet Resistant" panels. The protection rating and panel size was redacted by the county before releasing the documents.
Asked how come commissioners are concerned about the possibility of taking live fire, Commissioner Sallie Clark begged off, claiming no part in the decision.
"I haven't been involved in that. I really haven't," Clark tells the Indy. "Facilities obviously was involved. I didn't ask for it. I know there are security issues that others consider when they're designing buildings, but I really can't speak to it because I wasn't involved in the design. I leave that up to the experts who deal with security issues to work that out. If that's something they felt was important, that was part of the design of the entire facility. I don't get involved in the security issues of El Paso County."
County spokeswoman Jennifer Brown says the installation, which cost $6,676.88, according to county records obtained by the Indy, was to protect commissioners. But she says she doesn't know whether a specific incident led to the addition. She says she'll check and get back to us.
We found only one instance of a governing body considering the installation of Kevlar, a bullet-proof material, in a dais. It was discussed by the Bloomington, Minn., City Council in 2001 but we don't know if it was installed. We've called the town to find out.
Check back with us later for more.
Because this year's political schedule is so much different than past years, we're happy to pass on information from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office on the political process.
The all-mail primary election will be June 26, and in mid-May the county will mail notices to people saying you must declare a party to get a ballot. It's all explained in this release:
This past weekend both major political parties held their state assemblies to select delegates for the national conventions. The election process is not over in Colorado. The next step for voters is to participate in the June 26 Primary Election.
Last year legislation was passed to change Colorado's Primary Election from August to June. This will be the first June Primary Election under the new law. Also, another first for El Paso County is that this Primary Election will be conducted as an all mail ballot election. Unlike past primaries that were polling place elections, voters will have to cast their ballot by mailing it or by dropping it off at one of the designated drop-off locations.
The El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s Election Department will be notifying all voters who are unaffiliated that they must declare an affiliation in order to receive a mail ballot for the June 26 Primary Election. Voter Information Cards (VIC) will be mailed mid May.
Voters who currently are affiliated with a political party and wish to change parties have until May 25 to change their affiliation to another political party.
If a voter wishes to verify their voter record and check their affiliation they may do so by going to www.GoVoteColorado.com. Voters can change their affiliation at www.GoVoteColorado.com or by completing a Voter Registration form and returning it to the El Paso County Election Department, PO Box 2007, Colorado Springs, CO 80901. Voter Registration forms are available on the Clerk & Recorder's web page http://car.elpasoco.com/elections or at any of the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder's offices.
For information contact Alissa Vander Veen at 719-351-9626 or AlissaVanderVeen@elpasoco.com.