Local News

Friday, September 30, 2016

Win a $10,000 bike for $10 and support a good cause

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 10:59 AM


The American Diabetes Association of Colorado
has their work cut out for them.

Yes, Colorado is usually rated as one of the healthiest states in the nation. But that doesn't mean that we don't have a problem with diabetes. As the Association notes, "Coloradans are increasingly feeling the effects of diabetes as 410,312 Coloradans suffer from the disease, and an additional 1.3 million more have prediabetes. It is estimated that one out of every three children born after 2000 in the United States will be directly affected by diabetes."

Since diabetes causes more death in a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined — and is a major risk factor for heart attacks — that's a serious problem. A number of factors contribute to a person developing Type 2 diabetes (by far the most common type), including genetics and ethnic heritage. Being overweight, as most Americans are, is a contributing factor as well. 

Thus, eating healthy and exercising regularly is a good way to lower your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, as well as managing the disease if you already have it. Which brings me to this $10 bike.

On Oct. 7, the American Diabetes Association of Colorado is hosting a Cycling Social at Bar K,  124 E. Costilla St., at 6 p.m. Attendees can buy $10 raffle tickets for the "Johnson & Johnson Bike," which was made locally by  Jeff Tessier of Tessier Bikes at the show, but they can also buy them in advance. It's all a part of the 2016 Tour de Cure event. 

Here's a little more information about this beautiful bike from the Tour de Cure:

• The bike is made out of Stainless Steel, which DePuy Synthes uses to create trauma products.
• The headset is made from highly polished stainless steel which represents the material and processes used by DePuy to create joint reconstruction parts.
• The red paint represents the American Diabetes Association and the Red Riders (cyclists riding with diabetes) and Red Striders (walkers or runners with diabetes) that we support! Go Red Rider!
• The chevrons on the top tube represent the lancets that people with diabetes use every single day.
• The red drops on the top tube and chainstays represent the blood needed to test blood sugar every single day.
• The wheels represent that DePuy Synthes is a one world company.
• The head tube badge represents our commitment to quality and living our CREDO
• Life with diabetes isn't always easy - but you aren't in it alone! Team DePuy Synthes participates in Tour to make a difference in the lives of people living every day with diabetes.
• The bike includes Enve Fork, White IND Hubs, Custom-Made Head Set, FSA Stem & Bar, Custom Seat, Seat Bag, & Handlebar Tape, and Campagnola Super Record 11 Groupset - total worth is over $10,000!

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UPDATE: ATTN: Cyclists. Tell the city you want these bike lanes.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 9:59 AM

Adam Jeffrey, president of SoCoVelo, has a message for any cyclists that don't think new buffered lanes on Research Parkway are a big deal: You're wrong.

Jeffrey sent out an email today to supporters calling the city's change "a crucial moment for cycling" and urging cyclists to show their support for the change. He notes that the reaction to these lanes will likely impact whether the city chooses to install more lanes in the future.

I've posted the majority of his email below:

A section of Research Parkway has been improved to reduce from 3 lanes of travel down to 2 lanes and a buffered bicycle lane. You can see some photos of it here. Which as I'm sure many of you know is a big deal for our area and sort of a crucial moment for cycling in our community ...

It is my own fear, and I believe many cycling advocates fear, that if this project fails it could set back the future development of cycling infrastructure in our region. The paint is hardly dry on the new set up and the negative comments are already coming into the city. Progress can be hard fought, just as an example lanes like this are even sometimes removed in the most cycling friendly locations like Boulder.

This is a moment where we can't let the negative voices drown out the potential. You might not live in an area of town where you'd ever considering riding on this section of road. But if this is successful I can see a potential future where perhaps the next infrastructure improvement is one you might ride. But that future won't come if we don't show support for projects like this now.

So I'm asking you do whatever you can to help support it but here are some simple things that won't take much time but can collectively matter.
Complete the city's ride on research survey found here, along with many more details: https://coloradosprings.gov/rideonresearch.

There is an event in the works on October 8th to collectively ride the new infrastructure, look for more details on it in our meetup and I hope on other social media soon. (or just reroute your next ride over there).
Share this email with your organizations and networks and encourage them to check it out / complete the survey.

Thanks for reading

Adam Jeffrey
SoCoVelo President


Buffered bike lanes could provide a safer way to ride the roads. - COURTESY KIDS ON BIKES
  • Courtesy Kids on Bikes
  • Buffered bike lanes could provide a safer way to ride the roads.

If you like to ride a bicycle in Colorado Springs, then I'm guessing you have a few gripes.

I know I do.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the crazy aggression that cyclists often face from drivers. The roads can feel so dangerous, in fact, that many cyclists would prefer to avoid them.

You may think city staff doesn't know that. Or that they are ignoring it. But actually, city staff is perfectly aware of the problem and are working, albeit slowly, to address it.

Case in point: Wednesday and Thursday the city will have demonstration buffered bike lanes on Research Parkway between Chapel Hills Drive and Austin Bluffs Parkway. The idea is to get some bike infrastructure in northern Colorado Springs and try out protected bike lanes — which make it so that cars can't just swerve into bikes. 

The city wants you to ride these test lanes, and then let them know what you think. If you like these lanes, the city may put in permanent buffered bike lanes on the road.

Read on for all the details:

City Tests New Bicycle Lanes in Northern Colorado Springs
Demo Bike Lanes Designed to Promote Safer Driving, Add Needed Bike Facility

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo— The City of Colorado Springs will be installing a demonstration buffered bike lane on Research Parkway between Chapel Hills Drive and Austin Bluffs Parkway, Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 28 and 29.

Public input from local bike studies has identified a need for additional bike facilities and enhanced bicycle connections in northern Colorado Springs. Research Parkway was identified as one of the top 21 Corridors in the Pikes Peak Region for connecting multiple bike facilities with local destinations.

Because this is a new type of bike facility and the roadway will be resurfaced in 2017, the City decided to take the opportunity to test the buffered bike lanes knowing the project can be reversed or made permanent with the scheduled overlay. City crews will install the demonstration lane roadway markings with paint and flexible delineators to separate bicyclists from motorists. This method of testing has been used by other cities to evaluate the benefits of new bicycle infrastructure with minimal cost to taxpayers.

The demonstration project includes a painted buffer with vertical delineators to raise awareness of the presence of bicyclists on Research Parkway while providing separation from traffic. Research Parkway is ideal for this type of project because it uses existing infrastructure to add bicycle facilities in northern Colorado Springs and because existing and projected traffic volumes on Research Parkway are more consistent with a four-lane versus its current six-lane roadway configuration. Because minimal traffic on multiple lanes encourages speeding, modifying Research Pkwy to four vehicle lanes and two bicycle lanes should enhance safety overall by reducing vehicle speeds, providing dedicated space for bicycles outside of vehicle travel lanes and offering an improved walking environment for pedestrians.

The proposed bike lanes will provide connections to several existing bicycle facilities in the area connecting cyclists to destinations such as the future John Venezia Community Park, local schools, the Briargate YMCA, and several local shopping centers.

· Summerset Drive Bike Lanes (connects south to Chapel Hills Mall)

· Skyline Trail (near Chapel Hills Drive)

· Briargate Trail just West of Austin Bluffs (connects to east/west Woodmen Trail and Cottonwood Trail)

· Rangewood Drive Bike Lanes

· Neighborhood/local trails

What’s Next:

The City will monitor the project and continue to collect data to understand any safety and mobility changes that occur for all modes of travel. Prior to resurfacing, the City will evaluate the success of the demonstration project based on metrics of safety and roadway operations for both bicycles and vehicles. If the demonstration is determined to be a success, the facility will be re-installed with green bike lanes in high conflict areas and long-life markings.

The City has launched an online survey to gather input from people utilizing Research Parkway. Residents may learn more about buffered bike lanes and right sizing of Research Parkway, and complete the survey by visiting https://coloradosprings.gov/rideonresearch.

Colorado Springs is home to an active and vibrant bicycling community. With more than 110 miles of on-street bicycle routes, nearly 120 miles of urban bike trails and more than 60 miles of unpaved mountain bike trails, our city is committed to ensuring that biking is a convenient, safe, and connected form of transportation and recreation. Colorado Springs has achieved Silver status in the League of American Bicyclists-Bicycle Friendly Communities Program. Colorado Springs was recently recognized in the American Community Survey (ACS) as #38 for the nation’s fastest growing cities for bicycle commuting and is funded in part by a self-imposed bicycle excise tax to fund bikeway improvement within the City of Colorado Springs. For more information about bicycling programs, mobile-friendly bike racks, safety information and a map of bike lanes around the city visit www.coloradosprings.gov/bike.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Prescribed burn scheduled for Woodland Park area

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 2:23 PM

The 2013 Black Forest Fire, and the Waldo Canyon Fire the year before, made many locals fear smoke on the horizon. - FILE PHOTO
  • The 2013 Black Forest Fire, and the Waldo Canyon Fire the year before, made many locals fear smoke on the horizon.

As early as October 1, you might see smoke rising from the area around Woodland Park.

Don't panic. The Pike National Forest-Pikes Peak Ranger District is planning two prescribed burns in the area of up to 500 acres, plus some slash pile burns near Divide. The burns are expected to produce a lot of smoke, but are necessary to clear out some of the fuel that could otherwise lead to an out-of-control blaze.

Read on for details:


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., September 29, 2016 – The Pike National Forest-Pikes Peak Ranger District is preparing to continue with prescribed burning efforts. This may include up to 500 acres of broadcast burning, which involves the ignition of surface fuels within prepared units. There will be locations of broadcast burns this season. Highway 67 west project is located approximately 1/2 mile north of Woodland Park and Trout Creek project is located approximately eight miles north of Woodland Park in Teller County.

Burning may begin as early as Oct. 1 and last through the fall. Ignition will take place when weather and fuel conditions are such that the fire behavior will be within the burn plan limitations and substantial smoke impacts are unlikely to surrounding communities. If burning does take place it may continue from one to several days. Expect smoke to be visible from Woodland Park, Highway 67 and as far away as Colorado Springs and Denver. Smoke may linger in the air for several days after ignition is completed.

Vegetation types are predominately ponderosa pine, grass, mountain shrubs and aspen stands. Surface burning of the area is designed to reduce the amount of timber needles and woody debris on the forest floor and to remove a portion of small diameter trees and low-hanging branches of larger trees. In addition, prescribed burning helps to restore the health of conifer and aspen stands by improving soil nutrients and resprouting grass and shrubs for wildlife habitat.

The Pikes Peak Ranger District is also planning to conduct several pile burns north of Divide. Crews will burn slash piles on days weather is within burn plan limitations and residents can expect to see smoke in the area on those burn days.

Follow @PSICC_NF on Twitter for up-to-date information on these prescribed burns. Use #TroutCreekRX, #Hwy67WestRX and #PikesPeakRD for current prescribed fire information.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Good news for the Olympic Museum

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 10:03 AM

An artist's rendering of the museum.
  • An artist's rendering of the museum.
This news release was waiting in our inbox this morning from the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame. The project is expected to get under way this fall with utilities work at its site at Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue.

The United States Olympic Museum recently announced $4 million in new fundraising moving the project significantly closer to the goal of breaking ground in early 2017. With approximately $6 million dollars left to raise for construction, and $18 million remaining for the total project, museum supporters are confident in the new energy heading into the final stage of fundraising. “We are close.” said Dick Celeste, United States Olympic Museum Chairman. “We have renewed enthusiasm from many stakeholders and we’re confident that the construction process will begin in the next few months.”
Amidst this new momentum, the Museum Board met last week to approve the appointment of Robert Cohen as the newest member of the Board of Directors. Rob is Chairman and CEO of IMA Financial Group in Denver and has a long history of leading major efforts within Colorado as well as the United States. He has led fundraising and capital campaigns for a number of non-profit organizations including but not limited to Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation, Colorado Succeeds, Denver Zoo, Downtown Denver Partnership, and Visit Denver, as well as MSU-Denver where he was the chair of the Board of Trustees through numerous capital projects. In addition, he has a particular interest in amateur sports and the Olympic movement. He is the founder of the Denver Sports Commission and is on the Board of Directors of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. He also serves on the board of a number of for profit companies including Atlas Advertising, Commerce Bank, Dovetail Solutions, and Southern Hospitality.
“Rob is a proven leader both in the Denver community and in the world of amateur sports. We are delighted that he has agreed to join the effort in support of the United States Olympic Museum and we look forward to his engagement in this exciting project. His connectivity in Denver and throughout the United States is another great victory for us.” – Dick Celeste, US Olympic Museum Chairman
Additionally, the Board of Directors approved the appointment of Peter Maiurro to the role of Interim Chief Operating Officer. Peter is an executive on loan from El Pomar Foundation and will commit 20-30 hours per week in support of the U.S. Olympic Museum project. Peter is Vice President at El Pomar Foundation where he is Director of Penrose House and El Pomar’s other legacy properties, the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun and The Penrose Heritage Museum. Peter has been involved with numerous community organizations such as Discover Goodwill, Big Brothers Big Sisters Colorado, the United States Olympic Endowment, and The Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU).
“The Trustees of El Pomar believe strongly that The United States Olympic Museum will be an important asset for the Pikes Peak region and we are pleased to make Peter available to support the next phase of the Museum’s development.” – William J. Hybl, El Pomar Chairman and CEO.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

UPDATE: LGBTQ group endorses both candidates in HD17

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 3:54 PM

Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, was nice enough to give me a call this morning and offer a deeper explanation for the dual endorsements in House District 17.

The One Colorado PAC, he says, really just looked at candidates' positions on two issues, which are One Colorado's legislative priorities. The first is the ongoing effort to ban gay conversion therapy — or therapy that seeks to convince people to change their sexual preference or gender identity. The second is the effort to pass a law that allows transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates.

Ramos says that both Roupe and Exum support those bills. Roupe, who has been in the state legislature for the past two years, has voted in favor of the birth certificate bill, Ramos says, but was absent during the vote on conversion therapy.

The endorsements, Ramos says, offer a way for voters to make "sure that the candidates support One Colorado’s legislative priorities, and both candidates do.”

——- ORIGINAL POST, Sept. 22, 3:28 P.M. ——-
Rep. Kit Roupe - FILE PHOTO
  • Rep. Kit Roupe
One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy group, has released endorsements for the 2016 election in Colorado. The 50 candidates for the Colorado legislature were deemed to be "pro-equality."

But if you're hoping that list might help you decide who to vote for in House District 17, well, don't. One Colorado has oddly endorsed both the Democrat, Tony Exum, and the Republican, Rep. Kit Roupe, in that race. 

So how did that happen? Well, apparently, both candidates have supported the legislation and issues that One Colorado has monitored. (Exum is a former representative in the district, which tends to see-saw between political parties every election.)

Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado, has this to say in a press release:

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families know how important elections are — and we've seen firsthand the difference a pro-equality majority can make in the Colorado legislature. For the past two years, we've watched every bill that would improve the lives of LGBTQ Coloradans get voted down in our state legislature. We are happy to endorse a bipartisan group of pro-equality candidates and look forward to working with them on their campaigns.

Every candidate we have endorsed will be a champion for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families in the legislature. It is important we keep working to move our state forward — by removing everyday barriers transgender Coloradans face, banning the harmful practice of conversion therapy, and making sure religious exemption bills don't become law — so that no part of our community is left behind.
Here are the endorsements:


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Greenway Flats homeless enclave announced

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 11:54 AM

  • Courtesy Nor'wood Development Group
Nor'wood Development Group, the biggest developer in the region, will help build a $14 million complex for permanent support housing for 65 homeless people. That makes the cost per-person for construction $215,385.

Of course, the idea, hopefully, is to use the complex's rooms to transition people through the facility, not house the same people forever. The area's chronic homeless population is 355, according to the most recent count earlier this year, the city reports, so this will at least scratch the surface.

In any event, Nor'wood sent the news release to other news outlets on Thursday, but didn't provide one to the Independent until asked for it today.

The news release, which appears below, doesn't explain who's putting how much actual cash into the deal. While it appears there is some public money involved, through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority's tax credits and federal funds received by the city, there's no mention of whether Nor'wood will contribute from its pocket or actually make a profit on the construction.

Dubbed Greenway Flats, the building will be located on the campus of Springs Rescue Mission at 31 W. Las Vegas St., a good distance from Nor'wood's Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area where it hopes to build millions of square feet of apartments, retail and office space near the planned Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame.
Springs Rescue Mission and Nor’wood Development Group today announced a partnership to build Greenway Flats, designed to provide permanent supportive housing serving up to 65 people experiencing chronic homelessness. Permanent Supportive Housing is an evidence-based approach that provides ongoing housing with wrap-around supportive services for residents. The announcement comes just two weeks after Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers challenged city, nonprofit and business leaders to create innovative solutions to address the city’s need for affordable and low-income housing.

The 65-unit Greenway Flats apartments will break ground in 2017 and open in 2018 on the Springs Rescue Mission campus at 31 W. Las Vegas St., just south of downtown Colorado Springs. Nor’wood will build the apartment building, and residents of the new facility have direct access to the services and resources of Springs Rescue Mission.

Funding for the $14 million project comes from a variety of sources, including 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), El Paso County Housing Trust Fund and City of Colorado Springs HOME funds. The CHFA tax credits were awarded last week through an application and approval process.

“The new facility gives our most at-risk and vulnerable neighbors a place to call home,” said Larry Yonker, president and CEO of Springs Rescue Mission. “By meeting these individuals’ basic need of housing, we’re free to do what we do best: provide services and resources for those experiencing homelessness and help them on a track to full recovery in mind, body and soul.”

Springs Rescue Mission is undergoing a phased campus expansion to increase overnight shelter operations to serve up to 180 people nightly by November 2016. Thanks to the commitment of partner organizations, Greenway Flats will provide much needed permanent and affordable housing, enabling Spring Rescue Mission to expand its reach to more than 300 individuals and families.

Greenway Flats was developed through the Pathways Home Colorado Supportive Housing Toolkit, a program created by the State of Colorado and CHFA in partnership with LeBeau Development, the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County.

“This project represents a major milestone in Colorado’s ongoing efforts to ensure that everyone has a safe place to call home,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “Greenway Flats will reduce emergency costs, improve health outcomes, and give residents the stability and support they need to thrive.”

“Addressing homelessness is a high priority of CHFA,” said Cris White, CHFA executive director and CEO. “Greenway Flats is a critical development for the Colorado Springs community and will make a lasting impact on those it serves.”

“It heartens me greatly to see our community and CHFA taking clear action in support of our community’s urgent need for augmented homeless services and affordable housing,” said Mayor John Suthers. “This partnership represents a tangible step forward in our efforts to address the issue of chronic homelessness. We are grateful to CHFA and the State of Colorado for heeding our call to action here in our community.”

“Greenway Flats brings the Housing First model to our city center, ensuring that those most in need are provided a home not just for a night but long-term, putting them on a surer path toward a more stable future,” said Susan Edmondson, CEO of Downtown Partnership.

Nor’wood Development Group, a local developer and owner of real estate in Colorado Springs, has committed to partner with Springs Rescue Mission because of their deeply rooted devotion to improving the quality of life for all citizens in the Pikes Peak region.

“We at Nor'wood are dedicated to do all that we can to help improve our City and help Colorado Springs achieve our collective goals, including bringing our professional experience forward as partners in active philanthropy to provide safe and affordable housing for those in our community hurting the most," said Chris Jenkins, President of Nor’wood Development Group. "Our partnership with the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, the State of Colorado and Springs Rescue Mission is proof that we are better together.”
Here are other photos of the project also:
Suthers pushed for an ordinance that would make it illegal to sit or lie downtown, a measure that won Council approval several months ago and clearly targets the homeless population.

Downtown merchants have complained about homeless people chasing away business in the core area, and some tourists have posted comments on tourism sites about vagrants in downtown Colorado Springs. 
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to dig a hole and build a mountain

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 10:27 AM

As the old saying goes, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Said another way, when you dig a hole, the dirt has to go somewhere.

That's the case on a downtown project where excavation is taking place for multi-story apartments planned at the southwest corner of Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Street by Nor'wood Development Group to fulfill a badly needed stock of downtown housing.

Excavation is under way for an apartment building at Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Street. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Excavation is under way for an apartment building at Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Street.

Well, that dirt has to go somewhere, so it's being hauled a block or two east to the parking lot of the former Gazette building. Here's what it looks like.
Pikes of dirt now occupy a parking lot behind the Gazette building at Prospect Street and Colorado Avenue. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Pikes of dirt now occupy a parking lot behind the Gazette building at Prospect Street and Colorado Avenue.
There's so much dirt sitting next to Shooks Run creek that one might wonder if a permit is required. According Regional Building Official Roger Lovell, a permit would be required if that property was located in the floodplain. But it's not, so a permit isn't needed from the Regional Building Department, he says.

"The question is, is it legal from my standpoint," he says, adding, "Yes. If they were putting [the dirt] in a floodplain, then they need a permit."

Chris Jenkins with Nor'wood says that yes, indeed, the city requires permission to pile dirt like this. Via email, he says:
Approval to stock pile dirt within city limits is required by the Engineering Development Review group from the City. We submitted a stock pile and erosion control plan with the City. It was approved. We are stock piling the dirt on our property for future use at the former Gazette building site and other downtown projects needing fill dirt.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Get your Marie Kondo on with the help of the county

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM

click image CLOUD2013
  • cloud2013
Even my mother — who is hardly a minimalist — has jumped on the Kondo train.

You know who I'm talking about. Author Marie Kondo's bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has led countless people to cancel plans so they could reorganize their sock drawers. 

Kondo thinks you shouldn't own anything that doesn't "spark joy." For her, that's like almost nothing. And in an age where almost everyone is looking to simplify their lives, her stark minimalism has caught on like wildfire. (Even if most of us don't reach her extreme levels of simplicity.)

But here's a question: What do you do with all that stuff you own that isn't sparking joy? The thrift store and friends might take some of it, and some of it can be tossed, but there are plenty of hazardous materials that need to go to special facilities — like old TVs, computers, and half used cans of paint. 

Enter El Paso County. If you're willing to make an appointment, they're willing to take a lot of the toxic stuff on Oct. 1. Read on for details:

Dispose of Your Household Hazardous Waste and Tires Oct. 1
El Paso County Fairgrounds Is the Location of the County’s Fifth Clean Sweep of 2016
Reservations Required

El Paso County, CO, Sept. 19, 2016 – The El Paso County Environment Division will host Clean Sweep, a household hazardous waste and tire disposal opportunity from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, in the parking lot of the El Paso County Fairgrounds at 366 Tenth Street, Calhan.

The event is free and open to residents of El Paso and Teller counties, but you must make an appointment.

Due to the long lines at previous Clean Sweep events, El Paso County Environmental Division has changed to an appointment only disposal.
Please register atwww.fairgroundshazardouswasteandtires2016.eventbrite.com" target="_blank"> www.fairgroundshazardouswasteandtires2016.eventbrite.com

The following items will be accepted:
· Tires, light truck and passenger tires, limit of 10 tires per vehicle.
· Electronics: Televisions and computer monitors, but limited to only three total per vehicle. Computers, printers, fax machines, laptops, notebooks, ultra-books, net books, electronic tablets, DVD players, VCRs, radios, stereos, video game consoles, video display devices with viewing screens greater than 4” diagonally
· Paint and paint-related products (stains, strippers, thinners, varnishes, etc.)
· Household chemicals (aerosols, ammonia, bleach, cleaners, lamp oil, etc.)
· Lawn & garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, poisons, plant food, etc.)
· Automotive chemicals (motor oil, antifreeze, brake & transmission fluids, waxes, bug/tar/vinyl/chrome/engine cleaners, etc.)
· All types of batteries – lead-acid vehicle batteries and all types of household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, watch & hearing aid batteries)

Not Accepted:
· Business waste
· Containers larger than 5-gallons, fluorescent bulbs & tubes, lab-grade chemicals, mattresses, medicines, trash or recyclables, and unlabeled or leaking containers.

For additional information, call El Paso County at 520-7871.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

UPDATE: Regional Building takes second look at questionable deal

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 10:32 AM

This vacant lot in lower downtown was one of two properties Regional Building planned to use to partner with Nor'wood Development Group. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • This vacant lot in lower downtown was one of two properties Regional Building planned to use to partner with Nor'wood Development Group.

UPDATE: It's worth noting that we've found out that the proposal for the land development deal was submitted verbally, not in writing, to the Regional Building Department board. This, along with the recent determination that the deal might not be legal, raises questions regarding El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey's statement in which he asserts "a great deal of research, due diligence and negotiation has gone into this Participation Agreement."

————-ORIGINAL POST 10:32 A.M. THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 2016—————————

A deal reported in this week's edition of the Independent, "Partnering up," that would give Nor'wood Development Group control of $2.1 million worth of property in the lower downtown area is undergoing further examination for its legality.

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department had agreed to pursue a "participation agreement" in which it would place two properties it owns near the Olympic Museum site into a new entity with Nor'wood properties. The new entity, with Nor'wood having a 63-percent stake, would then develop the property and have first right to buy the Regional Building land.

Now, Regional Building Official Roger Lovell tells the Indy the deal is on hold.

"We are investigating right now," he said today, "and it appears we may, indeed, have a problem here. We're starting back at square one to be sure we didn't miss something. We may have a violation [of state statutes] here. Initially, it appears we can't do this. State statutes prevent us from doing it. If that is the case, we are not going to push it."

Lovell didn't elaborate on which statutes are at issue, but state law dictates what government agencies can and cannot invest in.

When the Regional Building commission — comprised of El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, Springs City Councilor Larry Bagley and Green Mountain Falls town trustee Tyler Stevens — approved moving forward with the agreement on Aug. 24, officials weren't aware of the law, he says. (All of the commissioners voiced support of the deal, saying it would help economic development and be good for the community.)

"I thought what we were doing was in the best interest of the community, but if it's illegal, it doesn't matter what our intentions are," Lovell says. "No way in hell are we going to move forward until we know this is fully vetted and legal. We're digging into it and researching it, and if we did made an error, we're going to make it right."

Regional Building is represented by attorney Todd Welch.

The reversal, he says, stems from the Indy's story, which triggered a bevy of emails to him, but he didn't disclose what those emails said or who they were from.

County Attorney Amy Folsom says via email she was not asked for legal advice on the agreement prior to its approval, nor should she have been. "The Regional Building Department has independent legal counsel so the County Attorney was not — nor should it have been —consulted," she says.

The City Attorney's Office hasn't responded to a similar question posed by the Indy on Wednesday.

Nor'wood is the biggest developer in the region, with projects under way throughout the city. Such an agreement between it and Regional Building would place the latter in a position of conducting building inspections and issuing permits to its business partner, which Colorado Ethics Watch's executive director Luis Toro says constitutes the appearance of impropriety.

Lovell didn't give a timeframe for determining whether to move forward with or scrap the agreement.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Glenn bows out of Denver debate

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Glenn: Won't show for debate in Denver. - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Glenn: Won't show for debate in Denver.
After an August 28 story in The Denver Post about Darryl Glenn's "failure to launch" his candidacy for U.S. Senate, Glenn has refused to participate in the Post's and Denver 7' s Senate debate, according to the Colorado Democratic Party and the Post.

He is willing to debate Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet at a Club 20-sponsored event in Grand Junction slated for Saturday, however.

Bennet has what the Denver Business Journal called last month "a commanding lead" in the polls. Bennet's fundraising also far surpasses Glenn's — by millions of dollars.

Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner, ran into a controversy in July when it was revealed that he was arrested for third-degree assault for striking his father at a bar in Colorado Springs when he was 18 years old, according to court documents. His dad, the late Ernest Glenn, also was charged. All charges later were dropped, and Glenn attended and graduated from the Air Force Academy.

Glenn at first denied he was charged and said he couldn't remember such an incident. He later said he grew up in a violent family and did recall the fight with help from his mom. 

Here's the Colorado Dems news release:
Denver, Colorado - On Monday, the Denver Post reported that Glenn will NOT participate in a proposed debate hosted by Denver Post/Denver7, two of the largest and most respected news organizations in the state.

The Denver Post has hosted a Senate debate featuring the major party nominees going back for the better part of two decades, at least. Glenn is the first candidate from either party to refuse the Post debate since at least 2002.

"Perhaps Darryl Glenn is finally realizing that his extreme policies won't resonate with Colorado voters, but by refusing to attend the Denver Post/Denver7 debate, he is depriving Coloradans an important opportunity to hear from the two candidates," said Chris Meagher, spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

CC already making major personnel changes to FAC

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 3:05 PM

FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler discuss the future of the Fine Arts Center. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler discuss the future of the Fine Arts Center.
Well that was quick. Less than a week after taking over the Fine Arts Center, Colorado College has appointed three of its own to positions within the FAC.

Associate professor of art Rebecca Tucker has been named the museum's new director. Much of her academic background is in Renaissance art and art by the so-called Old Masters — that is, pre-1800s European artists. While her page on the CC website says nothing about specific experience with Southwestern art and artifacts, a defining component of the FAC's historic mission, it does say that her work "examines issues of trade, cultural transmission, and artistic exchange between Europe, India, and the New World." The press release also notes that CC plans to select a Southwest art Curator sometime in the coming months.

Jessica Hunter-Larsen, best known for her work curating for the IDEA space at CC, will now also be acting as Director of Academic Engagement for the FAC, a new position that will "work with the FAC curatorial team to develop innovative approaches to curating, and to build educational connections between the museum, the community and the campus," according to the press release. Hunter-Larsen will be working with Briget Heidmous, whose Assistant Curator title will carry over from CC to the FAC. However, the press release notes that Heidmous will manage the IDEA space through 2017, before moving to the FAC.

There's also some news regarding Joy Armstrong, who was originally slated to take over the Chief Curator/Executive Director position. She has been hired as Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art. Of note, she is now an employee of CC along with Michael Howell, FAC registrar; Jeremiah Houck, FAC preparator; and Lauren Tyson, FAC special projects/admin, according to the press release. They're the first of the FAC employees to have their employment transferred — starting on July 1, 2017, everyone working at the FAC will be employed by CC.

Read the full text of the press release below:

FACCC new staff.pdf FAC at CC new staff press release.
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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.

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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Want to see Brazile, Gingrich and Axelrod? You need tickets.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 11:22 AM

  • Courtesy Colorado College
  • David Axelrod
  • Courtesy Colorado College
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Courtesy Colorado College
  • Donna Brazile

Colorado College
has quite a lineup planned for its 2016 Sondermann Presidential Symposium and tickets are expected to be in high demand.

Speakers include:  Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee; David Axelrod, former chief strategist and senior advisor to President Barack Obama; and Newt Gingrich, a Republican strategist and the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

CC sent out instructions on securing tickets:

[T]ickets to the upcoming events will be available as follows at the Worner Information Desk in the Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave. Note that tickets are now required for the Donna Brazile event (Thursday, Sept. 1) and the David Axelrod event (Tuesday, Sept. 6).

• Donna Brazile: Publicly available tickets for Donna Brazile will be available tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 31. Any remaining tickets will be distributed at the door Thursday evening.

• David Axelrod: Publicly available tickets for David Axelrod will be available beginning Saturday, Sept. 3.

• Newt Gingrich: Publicly available tickets for Newt Gingrich will be available beginning Monday, Oct. 17. 

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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:


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


$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 29, 2016

Seven initiatives make state ballot, two fail

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 3:39 PM

  • Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious Follow
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has disqualified two proposed November ballot initiatives aimed at reining in the oil and gas industry.

In addition to not having enough valid signatures to qualify, one of the measures, Initiative 78, contained several “potentially forged signatures,” according to the Secretary of State’s Office. The questionable petitions have been sent to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for further investigation.

All of this year’s citizen-driven ballot measures need 98,492 valid signatures from voters to qualify for the ballot.

Initiative 75 aimed to give local governments the authority to regulate oil and gas development, a power largely reserved to the state currently. Initiative 78 would have created mandatory setbacks for oil and gas development of 2,500 feet from occupied structures or “areas of special concern.”

The backers of the two failed initiatives have 30 days from the date of rejection of their petitions to appeal the decision in Denver District Court.

The other seven citizen-driven initiatives that turned in petitions were approved for the November ballot. They are:

Amendment 69/ColoradoCare - ColoradoCare would amend the state Constitution to bring a tax-funded health insurance system to Colorado. Everyone not already covered under federal insurance like Medicare would be eligible for coverage, which would include copays for certain services but no deductibles. ColoradoCare would replace private insurance for Coloradans, though those who still want to purchase private insurance (while also paying the tax), would be free to do so.

An independent analysis by Colorado Health Institute estimates that ColoradoCare would bring in $36 billion in its first year and cover 4.4 million people. It would be run by a board of directors and would likely go into effect in 2019, after a preliminary period where it would charge a tax of .09 percent. When running, it would be funded mainly by a 10 percent income tax, two-thirds of which would be paid by employers, and one-third of which would be paid by employees. The self-employed would pay the full 10 percent tax.

Additionally, ColoradoCare would seek waivers to gain access to federal and state funds that currently flow into the health care system, including Medicaid dollars. There has been widespread bickering over the impacts of Amendment 69, with conservative leaders — and many liberals as well — opposing the ballot question.

Minimum wage — This Constitutional amendment would raise the minimum wage from $8.31 an hour to $12 by 2020.

click image VICTOR
  • Victor
Medical aid in dying — As the title suggests, this change to the Colorado Revised Statutes would allow a terminally ill, mentally-competent adult to obtain a life-ending prescription. The patient would need to be within six months of death, and would self-administer the lethal dose. There are protections written into the law to ensure the patient is mentally sound, and is freely choosing to die.

Amending the Constitution — Interestingly, this Constitutional amendment aims to make it harder to amend the Constitution in the future. First, it would require more signatures to place a measure on the ballot, setting that figure at “at least two percent of the registered electors who reside in each state senate district for the amendment to be placed on the ballot.”
Once on the ballot, the amendment would need to be approved by 55 percent of the votes cast rather than a simple majority.

Primary/Presidential primary elections— Try not to get confused by these two initiatives aimed at changing the Colorado Revised Statutes. Initiative 98 would allow unaffiliated voters to vote in a primary without joining a political party. However, the initiative gives political parties a loophole that would still allow them to exclude unaffiliated voters. The parties would be able to forgo a primary election and select all their candidates through an assembly or convention, so long as 75 percent of the party’s state central committee agreed to the move.

Initiative 140, on the other hand, would create a primary election for presidential candidates in Colorado, to be held before the end of March. Unaffiliated voters could participate in the election. 
click image CIGARETTE
  • cigarette

Tobacco tax— Initiative 143 would amend the state Constitution to triple the taxes on a pack of cigarettes (taxes would go from 84 cents per pack to $2.59 per pack). Taxes on other tobacco would increase 22 percent. The money collected by the taxes would be used for a variety of programs including smoking cessation, medical research, mental health funding and other causes.
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