There are at least 1,171 homeless people in El Paso County, a one-day headcount revealed, up from 1,127 in 2012.
Performed as a requirement of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the headcount shows how many people were accessing services for the homeless on Jan. 29, 2013. The survey found that the county had more "sheltered" homeless than last year and fewer "unsheltered" homeless and homeless vets. The number of chronically homeless individuals increased over last year, though that was thought to be due to better data.
The survey noted that Colorado Springs School District 11 and Harrison School District 2 reported a total of 755 homeless children.
I kid you not: The lack of apostrophes in the names of landmarks — Zebulon Pike's peak, for instance — is on purpose. This heinous bit of punctuation slaughter is actually condoned and encouraged by the federal government, comes the word from today's Wall Street Journal.
"The U.S., in fact, is the only country with an apostrophe-eradication policy," writes Barry Newman. "The program took off when President Benjamin Harrison set up the Board on Geographic Names in 1890. By one board estimate, it has scrubbed 250,000 apostrophes from federal maps. The states mostly—but not always—bow to its wishes."
It has something to do with possibly confusing somebody that the geographic feature in question is actually owned by the person it's named after — and either I have that wrong, or the government assumes we're all fucking mentally short — but that argument's trash.
And there's no hope, either, according to one committee staffer quoted by the Journal: "We don't debate the apostrophe."
So, screw it. I've never met a law I didn't break after deciding it was created by dullards, so get ready, Colorado Springs. Get ready for Pike's Peak. (And just to beat the critics to it: Thanks Obama.)
Yesterday, Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights filed suit against the city in its ongoing effort to put a ban on fracking before local voters.
As explained in this week’s paper, the Initiative Title Setting Review Board last week rejected CSCCR’s proposed amendment to the city charter that would prevent “the extraction of natural gas or oil, including but not limited to, the processes commonly known as hydraulic fracturing and/or directional natural gas and oil well drilling, within the City of Colorado Springs.” The board contended the amendment violated the city’s rule against having multiple subjects addressed in a single ballot measure; CSCCR disagrees with that assessment, and even argues that the single-subject rule itself may not be legally valid.
The University of Denver Sturm College of Environmental Law Clinic will take up the cause, pro bono. That clinic is also representing a quartet of environmental groups aligned with the city of Longmont, which is being sued by the state for enacting a ban on fracking there.
“They’re very up to speed on the issue,” says CSCCR’s Dave Gardner. He adds that “the supervising attorney actually taught three classes about fracking at DU in the law school this last semester.”
With the suit filed in the 4th Judicial District, the city will be expected to file an answer. Gardner was unsure of the timeline for that; we have asked the city for more information, and will provide an update if and when we receive it.
Asked about a best-case scenario for his group’s effort, Gardner says that would involve the city simply backing down from its current stance.
“There’s still plenty of room for the city to do the right thing and not waste their resources in court and not waste everybody’s time fighting this in court.”
Here’s the group’s filed complaint:
Inspired by user grapeormelon's posting of a playful tiger at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to Colorado Springs' Reddit page, we collected a few other videos of the zoo's big kitties. There's something vaguely terrifying about watching them move — primal instincts, y'all — but we still can't get enough.
This isn't about the cadet invite that already went viral and got a lot of national news this week.
Instead it's about the video invitation to attend the May 24 Air Force Academy Ring Dance, made by cadet Aileen Herrera to celeb Ellen DeGeneres.
Time's ticking Ellen. As Aileen (who looks like a pretty snazzy dancer) asks: Want to help "make asking this question of someone of the same gender a little less scary" for future generations?
Think of it as a really strange, online garage sale.
As Colorado Springs School District 11 prepares to close several schools, it is offloading excess supplies. The assortment of items is somewhat comical: Steamers big enough to feed that dinner party of 100 you've always wanted to have; plastic serving spoons; power drills and hand saws. But hey, there's a little something (or a big something) for everyone.
As part of the District 11 Optimization of Utilization plan, many activities are taking place in order to move several schools and repurpose buildings. This is a BIG Job!
In an effort to be wise stewards of taxpayer money, the District is taking several strides to ensure materials and equipment that are no longer needed in our district are responsibly recycled or auctioned to the public. Therefore, the District is hosting an online auction, which is open to the public who may bid on auction items by visiting this URL.
An onsite public viewing to see some of the auction items District 11 has available will be May 8, 3:30-5 p.m., at Wasson High School, 2115 Afton Way. The media and the public are invited to attend. In addition, the District is collaborating with Goodwill Industries to determine how to reuse or recycle old, outdated materials. The Optimization of Utilization project manager will be available for interviews.
Yesterday the Pikes Peak Road Runners hosted a 5k to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Stephanie Wurtz, coordinator of the quickly organized event, estimates that 400 to 500 runners came out. And though participation required no registration fee or purchase of any kind, they were able to raise approximately $500 for onefundboston.org, which financially assists those affected by the tragedy and, at the time of this blog, had raised more than $29 million.
Some local runners in attendance had actually participated in this year's Boston Marathon, and all runners were encouraged to sign a banner which will make its way to the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the marathon.
It's interesting. As somebody who has lived here my whole life, I notice I find myself annoyed at the Colorado College students who seem to — what's the opposite of "consciously"? — wander into traffic and dare you to run them over. Actually, the word "dare" implies way too much forethought ...
Anyway, but then the Indy's also got an office full of CC grads, some of whom take the curious standpoint that it's the drivers — all who are just trying to navigate the flooded clustercuss that is the college's campus so they might get home for some turkey and gravy — who are at fault.
Who's right? Well, me of course, but that doesn't mean we can't all come together and shout about it in public. So, attend the Citizens' Transportation Advisory Board Meeting, tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., at 1015 Transit Drive. There, recommendations on the Colorado College Transportation Master Plan will be discussed.
"A road system traffic analysis to establish existing and projected future traffic volumes will be included in the draft plan," reads a press release. "Colorado Springs city staff is reviewing the recommendations for cost implications, feasibility and technical acceptability."
And if it's decided that the education of Colorado Springs' finest liberal-arts majors can be better advanced by them finding out exactly what happens when their 19 years of life experience tells them there is no bad time to walk? Well, I live real close, and I can be over — straight through the campus — in a jiff.
Yes, I too love driving to downtown Manitou, dodging zombie-tourists with their eyes fixated on the Peak, making aggressive turns through the roundabout, cutting off other cars, and honking at the people parked in the median — all in my singleminded, lustful search for the perfect parking spot.
We all love it. It satisfies our thirst for competition, and our need to be an ass to people we won't have to be accountable to later.
Plus, it gives us a chance to play the part of "smarty-pants local," who knows all the side streets. It's just plain satisfying to park in front of some poor schmuck's house knowing that the mobs of out-of-towners are circling the clock tower. Dummies.
And then there's the obvious: I'm cheap — most of us are when it comes to parking. We'll pay up the nose for a latte, then act disgusted about having to feed a quarter into a meter. Because, well, I don't know. Because.
But anyway, parade's over, no more free parking.
Manitou is going to operate its paid parking on a kiosk system starting May 13. You'll be able to use change or a credit card, and the city is offering a neat system where you can add extra time via your smart phone. So get ready to suck it up and fork over a few bucks the next time you visit the scenic town at the foot of Pikes Peak. You know, the one full of jerky drivers like me.
Read on for the details: Press_Release_Standard_Parking_May_2013.pdf
Often at the Independent we look forward to brightening your week with fun articles, witty commentary, and entertaining local news. But sometimes we find ourselves affected by non-local news, as was the case a few weeks ago when the country became transfixed by the events at the Boston Marathon.
That sad and tragic time, however, once again showed how we as a country bond tighter in the face adversity. This Monday, May 6, the Springs will do its part as the Pikes Peak Road Runners (sister program of the Boston Athletic Association) hosts a 5K to honor and remember those who were lost and injured in the tragedy.
See attached flier:
If you were planning on taking the kids to the unveiling of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Encounter Africa exhibit today, your plans have changed.
The exhibit won't open until Friday because the weather today is too nippy for the African elephants to come outside. The much-celebrated pachyderms will be among the animals making a special appearance Friday during the exhibit's ribbon-cutting.
Let's be honest. We're talking about a laborious and detailed examination of how stormwater and sediment will move off the hills, flowing into our streams, joining with other streams ... and on and on. Watching paint dry might seem entertaining by comparison.
And yet, this study has been awaited somewhat breathlessly by the community. Ever since the Waldo Canyon Fire charred our hillsides, Colorado Springs and the small communities that dot our foothills have been at extremely high risk for flooding. The WARSSS is an escape route — a detailed plan on how best to control the water, mud and debris.
The WARSSS will tell us how water moves and how to trap it. It will show us where to build the detention pond that will prevent the Pleasant Valley neighborhood from drowning, and how to control a wild rush of water out of Williams Canyon that is pointed at the center of Manitou Springs.
Thus, it is with excitement that I tell you the study will be presented to the El Paso County Commissioners on Thursday, May 2. Woo-hoo, indeed.
Waldo Canyon Fire WARSSS to be Presented May 2
Colorado Springs, CO, Thursday, April 25, 2013 — The Watershed Assessment of River Stability and Sediment Supply (WARSSS) Study will be presented by Dr. David L. Rosgen of Wildland Hydrology at 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, 2013, in the Hearing Room at the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center located at 2880 International Circle, Colorado Springs.
WARSSS is a technical procedure for water quality scientists use in evaluating streams and rivers impaired by excess sediment. It will predict how water, sediment and debris will move along and off the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar. Based on its findings, it will assist in providing a list of prioritized mitigation projects.
Michael Hannigan sounded an alarm earlier this month, as the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s executive director warned everyone that the storied Venetucci Farm might not have water for its crops, livestock or pumpkins in 2013.
“We have to do whatever we can to save this farm,” Hannigan said in the Between the Lines column of the Indy’s April 10 issue.
Friday, Hannigan announced that the crisis has been averted, allowing Venetucci to continue its normal farming operations in 2013.
We have a call in to Hannigan, but here are the details from a Facebook posting as well as a release:
We are thrilled to announce that the water needed to maintain Venetucci Farm for 2013 has been secured!
- File photo
- And with pumpkins comes ...
The community responded with a wonderful outpouring of donations and connections, which resulted in finding augmentation water to lease.
JV Ranches, which is owned by Sheila Venezia and her family, came to the rescue. Longtime residents of the Pikes Peak region, Sheila and her children, Dean, Kathleen, Rosemarie and other family members toured the Farm to learn what was needed. Almost immediately after the visit, they agreed to transfer some of their water to be converted to augmentation water and credited to Venetucci Farm.
Now, in 2013, the Farm will be able to grow healthy food for the community and lots of pumpkins for kids.
In addition, two other entities have since stepped up to lease additional water to the Farm. Special thanks are also in order for Al Testa and the Colorado Centre Metropolitan District, along with Perry Thompson of Osage Capital.
In March, Venetucci Farm faced a serious crisis when farm managers learned that there would be no “augmentation water” designated for the property during 2013. Under Colorado law, farms that rely on using their ground water rights to pump water for irrigating crops must purchase “augmentation water” — water that is allowed to flow back into the aquifer or down Fountain Creek.
Venetucci Farm is already looking at multiple options to secure water for 2014 and beyond. Farm manager Patrick Hamilton said: “We have identified several alternatives for a permanent source of augmentation water for the Farm. We look forward to working with the community to secure the augmentation water needed for the Farm’s future water needs, and to ensure Venetucci Farm is around for generations to come.”
Spring planting is already underway. And, most importantly, we can now gear up for the Summer 2013 “Raise The Barn” initiative to raise money for a beautiful, functional, multi-use (and much-needed) barn for the Farm. Stay tuned for more news about that important project in the near future!
In case you've missed it, Andrea Chalfin and Michelle Mercer at KRCC have been doing good fire reporting of their own in a series called "Flash Point," which explores "how wildfire is changing life in Colorado."
And though it's radio-centric, of course, the web reports have some cool features, like a timeline of major events in the history of forests and wildfires, or the intense video of live footage shot at the time by the Colorado Springs Fire Department. (Embedded below, the action gets going at the 1:39 mark.)
There's also a report that pairs nicely with our March 3 story about some of the tools the National Institute of Standards and Technology is employing to map the risk in our wildland urban interface. Here's Chalfin:
The Wildland Urban Interface spans more than 28,000 acres north to south, crossing Interstate 25, and touching Academy Boulevard in places near Palmer Park. [Now retired] Fire Chief Rich Brown recently put it another way.
“This is the most affected urban interface in the state of Colorado,” Brown says, “which is in our jurisdiction of Colorado Springs, and it’s the 9th most threatened community in the western United States, right over here west of I-25.”
Pieces entitled "The Double Bind: Forest Treatment in the Age of Megafires," and "Wildfires and Climate Change Perception," are scheduled to air today and Friday, respectively. Check 'em out, and maybe drop some dollars on the station's pledge drive while you're at it.
On Friday, Palmer High School students will gather in a courtyard to celebrate "unity, tolerance, and diversity." And though its Unity Fest is only an hour long — taking place over lunch break — It means a lot in light of the recent past.
Back in 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado took on Palmer High after it refused to recognize a gay/straight alliance club within the school. The ACLU describes the situation this way:
The ACLU filed suit on behalf of a group of students at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs who challenge the school's refusal to recognize their student club, the Palmer High Gay/Straight Alliance. The students started the club in January 2003, but school authorities have repeatedly refused to recognize it. Without recognition, the student group cannot meet on school property on the same terms as other student groups; cannot post club-related information at the school; cannot use the public address system to make announcements; and is omitted from the school's yearbook and official list of student-organized activities. Palmer High School had blocked earlier efforts to organize a similar student group in 1999. The lawsuit was resolved successfully in November 2005.
Nowadays, Palmer's alliance club is loud and proud — in fact it's one of the sponsors of Unity Fest, along with Palmer Live and the Student Council.
Perhaps most telling, Palmer's principal, Lara Disney, apparently sees the Unity Fest as a point of pride for the school as a whole. She's extended a special invitation to Wasson High School students — who will need to find a new school since theirs closes at the end of the school year — to join the party.