Monday, January 16, 2017

Colorado Springs Forward holds fundraiser for select council candidates

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:13 AM

Colorado Springs Forward is wasting no time trying to influence who's elected on April 4 to the six district slots on the nine-member Colorado Springs City Council.

Two days after the Jan. 23 filing deadline, the group is hosting a fundraiser for the candidates it's supporting. The announcement went out on Jan. 9, so I guess CSF isn't interested in waiting to see who files.

It seems clear CSF has already chosen its candidates. One is Lynette Crow-Iverson, a former CSF board member, who's opposing incumbent Jill Gaebler in District 5.

We reported in depth on CSF here. ("Calling the shots," Cover, Nov. 16, 2016.)

For information on how to file to run for Council, go here.

As for the fundraiser, we don't know who got invitations, but it doesn't appear to be a public event. Therefore, if you decide to show up, be aware you might be turned away if you're not in the inner circle.
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We've asked Amy Lathen, former El Paso County Commissioner who left her elected job six months early to run CSF, who the chosen candidates are. We'll update if and when we hear back from her.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Colorado Native releases more seasonals

Posted By on Sun, Jan 15, 2017 at 12:36 PM

Colorado Native imperial porter - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Colorado Native imperial porter
AC Golden made a quality sour ale. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • AC Golden made a quality sour ale.
Once again, MillerCoors' experimental arm AC Golden Brewing Company has sent us a few sample bottles of their new wares. This time, we received Colorado Native Peche, a sour golden beer aged in oak wine barrels with peaches, and Colorado Native imperial porter.

Seeing a beer from an AC Golden brand sporting a 9.5 percent ABV came as a bit of a shock, but that's what we got in the imperial porter. For the style, it's pretty light in color, pouring reddish brown with an espresso crema-colored foam. It sips smooth and roasty, with some coffee notes, hiding the alcohol beautifully. It's a blend between fresh-fermented porter and a batch aged six months in AD Laws whiskey barrels, which adds a little complexity, as does mild smokiness from smoked wheat. There's a crispness or thinness that I'm not 100 percent behind, though, coming from the fact that it's brewed as a lager as well as a lot of wheat. Still, this is far and away the best thing we've had from Colorado Native.

We're happy enough with Peche, as well. It has a punchy, sharp tartness that mellows into a mild peach flavor with some oak taste on the backend. With a well-handled 7 percent ABV, it's comparable to quite a few other sours on the market. Really, the most notable thing about this beer is that the folks behind Coors have brewed an competent sour beer, at the worst. Given the choice, I'll drink Paradox or Trinity brews first, but this isn't a bad brew at all.

It's surprising that we're getting well-made, interesting brews from one of the macrobrew companies that remains the Great Enemy of the local-centric craft brewing movement. But I guess it's true that a rising tide lifts all boats.

In any case, we'll continue to review whatever beer shows up in the mail. Cheers!
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Avoiding disaster from the start

Posted By on Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 1:34 PM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Towards the end of December, it was hard to miss the news reports of the family that was stranded in deep snow on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

According to media reports, the Klein family, visiting Las Vegas from Pennsylvania, set out to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, not knowing that that part of the park is closed during the winter. They followed GPS directions that led them onto a hiking trail rather than the main road to the canyon — that's when they got stuck.

In need of help, and without a cell phone signal, the mom walked 10 miles through three-feet of snow to the main road, only to find it closed. She then walked another 14 or so miles to what she thought was another road into the canyon, all the while drinking melted snow and eating twigs. She finally stumbled upon a cabin, broke into it and stayed there until rescuers found her. She suffered frostbite injuries.

Meanwhile, her husband and son walked 10 miles in another direction through the snow until they found a cell phone signal and called for help. Eventually, search and rescue crews found all the family members and transported them to safety.

The ending to this family's ordeal could have been much worse, but, at the same time, all of this could this have been avoided.

The North Rim is approximately 8,000-feet above sea level, 1,000 feet higher and as much 10 miles from the South Rim. It sees tremendous amounts of snow and closes every winter, as clearly stated on the NPS website. The family didn’t research the trip, presumably, which led them into this life-threatening situation. The lesson here is that a little research would've revealed that the North Rim is inaccessible in the winter, and a trek there would be ill-advised.

The family relied on a GPS device to tell them where to go, instead of maps or other park information. But the GPS led them astray. GPS's are great devices and a useful tool, but as with anything else, you have to know how to use them and the data. In this case, they didn’t correctly interpret the data the GPS was giving them.

Not only did they overly rely on a GPS, they also relied on a cell phone to summon help. The unfortunate truth is that many parts of the Rocky Mountains and the southwest have little or no cell phone service. An outdoor rule-of-thumb: Your cell phone will likely not work when you need it the most. When venturing out, especially into territory you may not be familiar with, tell someone where you're going and when they can expect to hear from you. Technology-wise, consider buying a personal locator beacon (PLB) that can signal for help, even when there is no cell phone coverage.

Once stranded, not only did the Kleins venture away from the shelter of their car, they split up. Search and rescue experts advise not to do either. STAY PUT. If you don't, not only are you more likely to become a victim of the elements, but you'll be harder to find in the vast wilderness. When you split up, more rescuers are needed, since more than one search has to be conducted.

The over-arching lesson here is to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Whether in a car or on foot, make sure you have food, water and clothing, and have blankets in your car. Don't leave without a full tank of fuel, both for you and your car. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back, and research your destination and the route there. Otherwise, we may reading about your near-death experience in the news, if not worse.

For more information on winter survival, see this earlier blog.

Speaking of National Parks, all National Park Service sites have FREE admission on Monday, January 16th for Martin Luther King Jr. birthday.

And finally, the US Forest Service has announced that Forest Service road 383, which leads to the popular Crags and Devils Playground trails will close Tuesday January 17th for tree-removal and other work. There will be no access to those trails, possibly until April.

Happy (safe) Trails!


Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Friday, January 13, 2017

U.S. Olympic Museum wants money from Colorado Springs

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 3:26 PM

An artist's rendering of the project. - U.S. OLYMPIC MUSEUM & HALL OF FAME
  • U.S. Olympic Museum & Hall of Fame
  • An artist's rendering of the project.
The U.S. Olympic Museum & Hall of Fame wants tax money to help build the museum southwest of downtown, according to a recent filing.

The museum has filed an application for Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax money from the city, seeking $500,000 over three years.

Using LART money for capital improvements isn't unheard of — upgrades to tennis courts to be used for pickle ball is one example — but it's rare.

The museum, part of the city's City for Champions tourism venture that features four venues, needs money fast. It lacks some $8.6 million of making its $75.3 million goal. Projected completion is sometime in 2018. The museum and other three projects — a sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, an Air Force Academy visitors center and a downtown stadium — must see substantial progress within five years in order to receive state tax money under the Regional Tourism Act. The state granted the city $120.5 million in December 2013.

Here's a description of the LART program:
The City of Colorado Springs’ Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) fund is administered by City Council, with the guidance of the LART Citizen’s Advisory Committee. LART funds are required to be used for tourism or economic development purposes — events, projects and services that attract visitors or enhance the economy of the City and Pikes Peak Region.
Read the application here:
USOM_-_2017_lart_application_-_SMALL.pdf
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Red Leg brews for Broadmoor, releases military promo can

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 10:51 AM

Prospector's Pick kölsch: a light, year-round brew. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Prospector's Pick kölsch: a light, year-round brew.
The veterans at Red Leg Brewing Company have been busy. Over the last year, they've been collaborating with representatives from The Broadmoor to come up with a new brew. Prospector's Pick kölsch-style ale will be available on tap or in cans at every Broadmoor restaurant, plus 1858 at Seven Falls, the pool and golf course. The only place to get this brew outside of the Broadmoor will be Red Leg's own taproom.

It's been in the works for a year, according to Krista Heinicke, food and beverage office manager and public relations for the resort. With beer coming back to fine tables around the country, Heinicke wanted to get a locally brewed beer in The Broadmoor's eateries.

"The kölsch directive came from us," she says. "We asked for something that was universal, easy to drink, not too complex, and not too heavy so it could be an year-round beer. We really wanted to have something that is enjoyed by the novice drinker and someone who is a lot more experienced... It's a nice introduction beer. For people coming to visit, it's a great way to introduce them, and then they can move on to the heavier, more complex styles."

It's also a versatile style. Red Leg's sales manager Paul Ferrante says the beer will pair with just about anything, owing to its relatively restrained, balanced taste.

"To go with something darker... wouldn't serve that purpose, especially if you're trying to pair with food, as well," he says.

Now for some obligatory tasting notes:
It's a very clean sip, lightly fruity with a notable biscuity sweetness — a little malty for the style, but delicious. The beer is crystal-clear and golden in color. It's not a true kölsch, per se, as it's brewed as an ale instead of a cooler-fermented lager. But stylistic hair-splitting aside, it's a quality, easy-drinking beer with just enough detail to stay interesting.

Drop by The Golden Bee between 6 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 17, for a tapping and pint night, free promo pint glasses included. But make no mistake, this isn't a limited-run brew. It'll be on tap for a long time to come.

Beer lovers may have noticed a new Red Leg can kicking around town, too. But this isn't a new brew, it's just their beloved Howitzer amber ale, taking on a new design to celebrate a military anniversary. December 10th, 2017, will mark the 100th anniversary of the Fort Carson-based 4th Infantry Division, nicknamed the Ivy Division for their use of the roman numeral IV. Through the 10th, Red Leg will be canning and selling Howitzer as Ivy 100.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with corrected event listing information.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Colorado Springs parks report shows good value

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 5:04 PM

Parks Director Karen Palus gives media interviews at The Broadmoor regarding a new study that shows parks are a gem for the city, including for economic development. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Parks Director Karen Palus gives media interviews at The Broadmoor regarding a new study that shows parks are a gem for the city, including for economic development.
Thursday, the city participated in what seems like a futile exercise by introducing an $85,000 study called "The Economic Benefits of Parks and Recreation in Colorado Springs."

The study was funded and conducted by the Trust for Public Lands, a nationwide conservation organization that's done many such studies.

The study was unveiled at a gathering at The Broadmoor, which recently closed on its land-swap deal with the city that's in litigation.

But why the study?

City Council recently voted 6-3 not to place a small sales tax hike on the April city election ballot to fund parks maintenance. The three who were interested in a ballot measure were Tom Strand, Bill Murray and Jill Gaebler.

As one park supporter who showed up said, "If parks are the golden goose, why would you starve it?"

So promoting the parks system as a boon for the city at this point in time seems to be inconsequential. (Some say the study was done in order to provide ammo to persuade voters to cough up another .1 of a percent sales tax.)

But don't say that to Karen Palus, parks director, who says it's important for citizens to understand how valuable parks, trails and open space are to them and the business community.

"It's an important message for our community," she tells the Independent.

You can view the report here.

But here are a few highlights:

• There are 38,900 homes within the city limits that sit within 500 feet of parks, and those homes have a value that's enhanced by that location by $502 million.

• Parks, trails and open space have the capacity to remove air pollution. That tallies to 338,000 pounds of bad stuff ranging from carbon monoxide to ozone.

• Direct travel spending by visitors comes to nearly $1.5 billion; of that, $135 million is how much tourists spend a year whose primary reason for coming here is to visit parks, trails, open space and "facilities."

• People can save $1,180 per year on medical costs by exercising regularly, presumably in parks, on trails and in open spaces.

• More than 45,000 people use parks, trails and open spaces here regularly every year, a total health care benefit topping $50 million.


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A handy guide to upcoming local actions around inauguration day

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 2:09 PM

Do you have a gnawing pit of dread in your stomach? You know, the one that wells up every time you see, hear or even think about what’s going on in our federal government right now? If so, this post is for you!


Find below a handy guide to all upcoming opportunities for good, ol’ fashion direct action in the Springs area. Showing up not only strengthens the resistance to certain people and policies, but it also strengthens the networks we’ll need if we’re to have any say over our fate in the coming years.

Trump resistors join hands in solidarity after the November election. - NAOMI PUEO WOOD
  • Naomi Pueo Wood
  • Trump resistors join hands in solidarity after the November election.


Sunday, January 15

Our First Stand: Save Healthcare


Congressional Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, have called for rallies across the country to show opposition to Republicans’ health care agenda. Unite Colorado Springs, a progressive activist organization, has honored the request, calling on all those who don’t want to see Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or Planned Parenthood totally decimated to come express that in public. “Our First Stand,” organizers have dubbed the rally, signaling that, yes, there’s more to come.


Bring yourself and a sign to the steps of City Hall at 1:30 p.m.


Sunday, January 15

COS SURJ community meeting


Learn about strategies for resisting deportation and other threats to immigrant, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. This local chapter of “Showing Up for Racial Justice” works to call white people into the struggle against racism, bigotry and systemic oppression through supporting groups led by people of color. Per organizers description:

This community meeting falls within a moment of national calls to action by MoveOn.org and coalitions of concerned democratic congressional leaders. We will be unveiling our Front Range SURJ campaign: ‘100 Days of Resisting Trump’ and discussing concrete daily actions that we can all take to make our voices heard and pressure our representatives to respond to our concerns.


Feel free to bring the kiddos, and, remember, it’s timed so you can go to Unite’s health care rally right after.


Show up at the Casa Verde Co-Housing Community (1355 Lindenwood Grove) at 12 p.m.


Friday, January 20

Inauguration Day bannering


The inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be a shit-show, but, luckily, you can stay far, far away from it. Citizens for Peace and Space — a pacifist group led by Indy contributor Loring Wirbel — will hold what’s likely to be a far more benign gathering here in the Springs. Bring signs, bring banners, bring a friend.


Join at noon at Acacia Park.


Friday, January 20  Saturday, January 21

Women’s March on Denver


Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend this march in our state’s capital city that’s designed to support a similar one in D.C. The organizers are women unaffiliated with any activist group who got a permit from the city to hold this massive event, replete with a badass lineup of lady speakers and performers. The Pikes Peak Dems have organized two buses to Denver, leaving from their downtown office at 7 a.m. There are only a few spots left so call to reserve yours at 473-8713. (Warning: some attendees will be sporting knit pink pussy hats which may or may not be seen as trivializing a dead-serious cause.)


Activities will span 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Denver’s Civic Center Park.


Saturday, January 21

Day 1: March on Colorado Springs


Don’t waste any time after the President-elect gets sworn in. This sister march” to the ones in Denver, D.C., and around the country will take place the day after the inauguration and is meant to usher in the first hundred days of resistance. Co-hosted by COS SURJ and the NAACP State Conference, the event will include marching, bannering and a benefit concert featuring hip-hop (by locals Kevin Mitchell & Lord Damage and Stoney Bertz), spoken word poetry (by local wordsmith, community organizer and sometimes Indy contributor Nico Wilkinson) and other speakers yet to be announced. From the co-hosts:

“We strive to provide an outlet and support for those who wish to: 1) Advocate for and defend the most marginalized members of our community. 2) Connect with like-minded individuals and organizations within local Colorado communities. 3) Serve as a model of peaceful demonstration for future generations. 4) Honor those who have fought before us for human, civil, and women's rights.”

Meet at Acacia Park at 1:30 p.m.


Saturday, January 21

Silence in Solidarity


Omtastic Yoga Studio, in the Roswell neighborhood just north of the Old North End, provides a break from all the noise. For a half hour after the march downtown, gather in candlelit silence before another half hour of mingling. The opportunity is meant for people unable to participate in loud, outdoor, ambulatory protests but still want to be apart of the public conversation. It’s also meant for those who do participate in those kind of actions, but just need a little break to take care of themselves. Bring food or drink.


Silence begins at 5:00 p.m.; mingling at 5:30 p.m. The studio is at 2727 N. Cascade, suite 140.


Monday, January 23

First 100 Hours Climate Justice Vigil


Faith communities across the country are holding vigils to mark a new era in the climate justice movement. Locally, the Colorado Springs Council for Justice, also active on refugee issues, will facilitate what’s described as “a moment to ground ourselves and create community to help us process our grief, our anger, and our fear.”

The action may be vague but the need is not: While President Obama may have not been the perfect ally to environmentalists, he’ll start to look like a downright saint relative to the gang of climate change deniers and fossil fuel executives set to be making climate policy decisions.


Gather around Uncle Wilbur’s Fountain in Acacia Park at 5 p.m.


If we missed anything, please speak up!


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Inside/Out Youth Services launches first satellite program

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:22 AM

Past members of Inside/Out Youth Services march in a pride parade. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Past members of Inside/Out Youth Services march in a pride parade.

Through a partnership with the Pikes Peak Library District, Inside/Out Youth Services, our local LGBTIQA+ youth center, announced an expansion of its after school program. They will establish a group in Library 21c in order to serve students in District 20, who may not always be able to reach the center’s downtown location.

Inside/Out’s after school youth program helps create a sense of community for LGBTIQA+ students, reducing the risk of suicide and self-harm. According to Mary Malia, executive director of Inside/Out, the El Paso County Public Health Department has said that LGBTQIA+ youth make up an estimated 60-70 percent of completed youth suicides. Malia has been working with the department on reducing that number.

According to Malia, the program’s goal is to “reach more youth, give them the chance to have that experience, to say ‘being LGBTQIA+ is okay, and I’m okay.’”

This expansion is a pilot program, hopefully the first of many across school districts in El Paso County. Provided Inside/Out can find the volunteers and the funding, they hope to make a decision about further expansion by this summer.

Inside/Out will hold an informal open house with more information about the program on Jan. 24, 4-5 p.m. at Library 21C in the ENT Conference Center. The program itself will launch on Jan. 27. This group, like Inside/Out’s downtown after school program, will be open to all LGBTIQA+ youth (whether they live in District 20 or not) between the ages of 13-22, or allies of the same age.

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Air Force Academy's Harmon Hall gets a makeover

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:18 AM

PHOTOS COURTESY AIR FORCE ACADEMY
  • Photos courtesy Air Force Academy
The Air Force Academy has spiffed up the foyer to the Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson's office, and the project wasn't cheap.

office_2.jpg
It cost $387,000 to replace deteriorated and scratched wall coverings, old suspended ceiling and lights and carpet. That pricetag also included bringing the area up to fire codes after construction revealed deficiencies, the academy reports to the Independent in an email.

The foyer serves five different offices, as well as a conference room where seven staff members work.

It's the latest in several projects at Harmon Hall. Since 2011, the Directorate of Admissions area has been restored and reconfigured at a cost of $144,000, and revamped the Communications Directorate, at a cost of $188,000, to accommodate a reorganization. In addition, carpeting in the hallways on two floors was replaced.

Other recent ongoing renovation projects:
office_3.jpg
• Cyber Worx, $2.6 million

• Remotely Piloted Aircraaft building, $50,000

• Planetarium, $2.5 million

• Bridge near South Gate, $9 million

• Remodel Preparatory School Lab, $120,000

The academy explains its approach to upgrades:
Every year, we follow an Air Force process to evaluate facility and infrastructure requirements, establish priorities and forward those to the AF for funding support. Our approach, "worst first," has allowed us to repair significant levels of infrastructure and repair key facilities such as two major bridges, one cadet dorm, cadet dining facility, cadet gymnasium, miles of roads, and roofs, and mechanical and electrical systems in many different facilities. There is more work to be done. We will continue to evaluate the condition of our facilities/infrastructure and restore them as AF funding allows.

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CO legislative leaders propose deal to bring more affordable housing

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:12 AM

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran - COLORADO HOUSE DEMOCRATS
  • Colorado House Democrats
  • Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran
You've probably at least heard of the "construction defects bill."

Considered a top goal for the state Legislature, some form of this bill has appeared in Colorado's legislative session for years. It's almost a ritual at this point. Early in the session, representatives and senators often say that this is the year the bill will pass. But it doesn't.

Still, it would seem this year will be different.  The new speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Crisanta Duran, and the new Senate president, Kevin Grantham, are cosponsoring the bill this session, having arrived at a compromise.

So why is this such a big deal? Because it's thought that getting the bill passed will lead to more building of affordable, multi-unit housing like apartments, condos and townhomes.

Why? Because builders and developers say that such projects are too risky currently — they say they are too liable for problems. The construction defects bill is meant to limit their liability, and entice them to build more multi-unit projects. Here's a story I wrote about that back in 2014. And here's one from 2015.

Anyway, the flip side of this is that HOAs and homeowners say that they should be able to sue if something is wrong with their homes.

According the the House Democrats, here's the deal:

Duran Brings Bipartisan Construction Defects Deal
New Speaker Says Bill Will Drive Down Insurance Costs to Spur Condo Builders


(Jan. 11) – The new speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Crisanta Duran, began the 2017 legislative session this morning by announcing a bipartisan compromise on construction defects reform, a perennial sticking point in the legislature.

In her opening day speech after being formally elected by the 65-member House, Speaker Duran said that she and the new Senate president, Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, had agreed to be prime sponsors of a bill intended to tackle the sticky issue of insurance, one of the issues identified by stakeholders as impacting new home starts.

The bill, with the co-prime sponsorship of Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial, and Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, is scheduled to be formally introduced this afternoon.

“By targeting insurance rates we’re addressing the problem without reducing consumers’ right to protect the property that they spent their life’s savings to buy,” said Speaker Duran, D-Denver.

The bill will allow insurers to go to court to apportion defense costs equitably among liability insurers who are required to defend a defect claim through an expedited process. The legislation seeks to address one of the root causes making it harder to build more condos, without compromising consumer rights.

In other highlights of her opening day speech, Speaker Duran said she was involved in “promising discussions” with members of both parties in both chambers to devise a comprehensive statewide plan to upgrade Colorado’s crumbling, overburdened transportation system.

“Anyone who’s been on I-25 at rush hour, anywhere from Fort Collins to Pueblo, knows the need is real,” she said, adding that the emerging plan “will provide new resources and will benefit our entire state.”

Speaker Duran also noted discussions about education funding and a long-term solution to the state’s chronic budget problems.

She closed with an appeal for “an inclusive Colorado” where bullying of people because of their gender, race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation is off-limits.

Speaker Duran is the first Latina speaker in Colorado history. She presides over a House where Democrats expanded their majority to 37-28, a six-seat swing, in the November 2016 elections. 



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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

UPDATE: PPACG's MacDonald sees contract canceled

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 11:52 AM

MacDonald: After nearly 20 years with PPACG, the board terminated his contract on Wednesday. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • MacDonald: After nearly 20 years with PPACG, the board terminated his contract on Wednesday.
UPDATE:

PPACG board chair Andy Pico reports that MacDonald's contract was terminated with the board giving the required 30 days notice. Cancellation is effective Feb. 10.

The notice was given without cause, Pico noted.

"So we just said enough, thanks for your service, goodbye," he says. "We're starting a nationwide search for that."

Pico also says two other staffers who were placed on leave in December are pending resolution.

———ORIGINAL POST 11:52 A.M. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 11, 2017 —————————

Rob MacDonald's contract with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments was terminated without cause today by the PPACG board.

The termination comes after MacDonald was placed on paid administration leave for an indefinite period last month.

No word on the status of two other employees, Craig Caspar and Bev Majewski, who also were placed on indefinite leave on Dec. 22.

Check back for updates.


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Council says no to parks ballot issue

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 8:44 PM

City parks will not get a chance for added funding in the April election. - COLORADOSPRINGS.GOV
  • ColoradoSprings.gov
  • City parks will not get a chance for added funding in the April election.

Supporters of a proposed ballot question to provide $8 million a year for Colorado Springs parks suffered a bitter defeat Tuesday, as the City Council voted 6-3 against sending the issue to the city attorney to prepare wording for a ballot issue.

The vote effectively killed any chance of the parks question going to the voters in the April municipal election. The deadline for Council referring any measures to that ballot is not until Jan. 24, but barring a huge, unprecedented public reaction and Council change of heart, that cannot happen now.

A coalition of parks supporters, led by the Trust for Public Land and the Trails and Open Space Coalition, had commissioned a poll in December on alternatives for a parks-related ballot question. The concept of a 0.1 percent sales tax, providing $8 million a year for 10 years, was supported by a whopping 67 to 29 percent among poll respondents.

City parks don't have as much funding now as they did 10 years ago, mainly because the recession led to massive budget cuts. But the issue met a powerful opponent in Mayor John Suthers, who openly rejected the idea saying the city needed instead to continue focusing more on funding for infrastructure and stormwater.

Suthers' view obviously influenced Council, which gave the issue a brief glimmer of hope Monday by putting it on the Tuesday agenda, but then shot it down by the 6-3 margin. Supporters had asked only for Council to let the voters decide.

The three votes for moving the ballot issue forward came from Councilors Jill Gaebler, Tom Strand and Bill Murray.
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Glenn chosen as El Paso County Commission president

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 5:28 PM

Darryl Glenn: You can call him Mr. President. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Darryl Glenn: You can call him Mr. President.
For the first time since he was first elected six years ago, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn has been chosen by his fellow commissioners to chair the board.

Of course, now the position is called president, not chair, so it's President Glenn for the next year.

Newcomer Mark Waller, who was appointed in July to Amy Lathen's unexpired term and elected in November, was chosen as vice president pro tempore. Waller is a former state representative. (Lathen resigned early to take a job with a political activist group.)

Rounding out the board are Stan VanderWerf, Longinos Gonzalez Jr. and Peggy Littleton.

Glenn and Littleton are paid $87,300 a year, while the three newcomers are collecting an annual salary of $113,490 due to a change in the state law made in 2015.

After Glenn lost his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in November, he announced formation of his new political consulting firm with his new wife.

The commission president often is called upon to sign documents and represent the county at various functions.
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The Modbo and SPQR plan to go in different directions

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 1:02 PM

Modbo and SPQR's joint Small Works exhibit will still take place as planned next year. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Modbo and SPQR's joint Small Works exhibit will still take place as planned next year.


Big changes are in store for The Modbo and SPQR, two well-loved local art galleries that, historically, have functioned almost as one.

Modbo/SPQR co-owner Lauren Ciborowski announced this morning that, moving forward, the businesses are going to go in separate directions. Not to worry, though, the split is amicable, and it’s exciting news for our local arts community.

“We just felt we had plateaued,” Ciborowski says, “things were good, but they weren’t growing.” She says they had lost their “novelty edge” and considered ways to get it back. Since The Modbo’s lease was about to expire, co-owner Brett Andrus suggested Ciborowski take The Modbo space and “run with it.”

Ciborowski sees it as an exciting opportunity make a career in the arts, something she has wanted to do for a long time. She plans to turn The Modbo into a more self-sustaining, profitable business — a functioning commercial gallery that takes advantage of its unique space and downtown location.

She’s thinking of making the space available for rent (for small business get-togethers and parties), as well as hosting more performances. There’s even talk of a potential “Shakespeare in the Alleyway” production this summer, which is still in its planning stages.

Meanwhile, Andrus will keep the reins of SPQR and concentrate on his artistic career. The part of the business Andrus has always enjoyed most has been nurturing the next generation of artists through classes and mentorship programs, which he will still run out of the SPQR space. He will also use the gallery to exhibit his own work as well as occasional guest artists.

The business may be split, but Ciborowski assures us that The Modbo and SPQR will still collaborate on occasion, at the very least for their annual Small Works show, which is a local favorite.

See The Modbo’s full Facebook post with more details about the split below:



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UPDATE: Parks benefit Colorado Springs economically, study shows

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 11:06 AM

The Broadmoor is hosting a meeting that will likely lay the groundwork for a sales tax increase proposal. - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • The Broadmoor is hosting a meeting that will likely lay the groundwork for a sales tax increase proposal.
UPDATE:
Regarding the question of who's funding the use of The Broadmoor for this event, the city communications office offers this:

El Pomar’s Pikes Peak Recreation and Tourism Heritage Series is hosting the release event for the TPL economic benefit study and has arranged for the space. The TPL economic benefit study was privately funded for the City of COS. No City funding has gone into this program.

—ORIGINAL POST 11:06 A.M. TUES., JAN. 10, 2017—

A report showing how important parks are to economic development will be unveiled on Thursday at The Broadmoor, likely part of the effort to place a tax hike on the April city election ballot for parks maintenance.

Parks advocates apparently want to raise the sales tax by 0.1 of a percent, though no official presentation has been made to City Council so far.

We sought the economic development report, dubbed "Economic Benefits Study," last week under the Colorado Open Records Act, but the city denied access on both Friday and Monday saying the report remained in draft form at that time. Here's the city's denial:
A search of City files located no record responsive to your request, which we interpret as a request for the final Economic Benefits Study. At this time, the requested record is in draft form and has not been finalized by the third parties who are completing the study. However, it is the understanding of the City that a final report will be available on
January 12, 2017.
So if you want to see the report when it's presented on Thursday, feel free to attend, because the event has been posted as an open meeting for City Council, many members of which are likely to attend. The meeting notice is the third one down.
screen_shot_2017-01-10_at_9.20.33_am.png

Here's the city's news release announcing the meeting at The Broadmoor on Thursday:
The City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation System’s Economic Benefits Study will be released on Thursday, Jan 12 from 4-6 pm as a part of El Pomar Foundation's Pikes Peak Recreation and Tourism’s Heritage Series. The event will take place at The Broadmoor, Little Theater, 1 Colorado Ave. Colorado Springs, CO 80906. The report will be presented by the Trust for Public Land followed by a panel discussion.

A new report by The Trust for Public Land shows that the parks and recreation system in Colorado Springs generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits each year. “The economic benefits study gives us quantifiable information on the benefits of our park system that we have long recognized but considered too difficult to quantify. The report will be an asset for promoting Colorado Springs as an incredible place to live, work, and vacation,” says Mayor John Suthers.

Colorado Springs’ public parks and recreation system includes nearly 14,370 acres of parks and open spaces, over 150 miles of trails, and numerous recreation and cultural facilities. These amenities include: Garden of the Gods Park, Monument Valley Park, Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Meadows Park Community Center, Starsmore Discovery Center and many more.

The parks and recreation system provides seven major economic benefits that are measureable: health, tourism, economic development, property value, stormwater infiltration, clean air, and recreational use. “The strong results of this analysis demonstrate that the parks and recreation system in Colorado Springs provides real economic value to the community’s residents and businesses,” says Karen Palus, City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director.

The report was prepared for the City of Colorado Springs by economists at The Trust for Public Land. "For years, we have talked about the intangible benefits of the park and recreation system in Colorado Springs, but until now we have never had an economic analysis that put a dollar value on the benefits of the parks, trails, open spaces, and recreational facilities," says Jim Petterson, The Trust for Public Land’s Colorado State Director.

“El Pomar Heritage Series seeks to bring together key organizations, stakeholders and leaders to discuss how the region can best promote and protect recreation and tourism in a diverse economy with high quality of life,” says R. Thayer Tutt Jr. President and Chief Investment Officer, El Pomar Foundation.

About The Heritage Series

Utilizing the Penrose Legacy to inspire discussion, understanding, and promotion of our regional outdoor assets, El Pomar Foundation launched the Pikes Peak Recreation and Tourism Heritage Series in 2015. The intent is to increase knowledge and interest in an important part of the region's economy and quality of life.

About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.
It's worth noting that The Broadmoor just closed on a land swap deal with the city in which it acquired the controversial 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space. One argument for trading it to the resort focused on the city's limited resources available to maintain the property.

We've asked how much the city is paying, if anything, for use of The Broadmoor space for this event and will circle back if and when we get an answer.
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