Local News

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dear Gazette, I don't think that word means what you think it means

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 12:40 PM

They say those who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones. And hey, we all make mistakes. But the doozy on the front page of the Gazette Tuesday morning is a little too comical not to comment on.

Apparently, neither writer Chhun Sun, nor his editor, knows what the word "unnerved" means. I say this because in the first sentence of the Gazette's top story today, Sun says Mayor John Suthers was "unnerved" by road construction going on near him. (The piece was about the progress made on road projects with funding from voter approved Ballot Issue 2C.) In the very next sentence, Sun says Suthers was wearing "an ear-to-ear grin."

Just a clarification here, readers: Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "unnerve" as:

Full Definition of unnerve
transitive verb
1
: to deprive of courage, strength, or steadiness
2
: to cause to become nervous : upset

So if Suthers was unnerved and also wearing an ear-to-ear grin, then, well, he was being really creepy. It appears, however that the Suthers was actually acting normally, since the Gazette has since updated the story online, replacing the word "unnerved" with "unfazed."

Here is the original:

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And the new version:

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Monday, October 31, 2016

PPACG looks for a consultant

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 4:21 PM

PPACG covers El Paso, Teller and Park counties.
  • PPACG covers El Paso, Teller and Park counties.
Since its founding in the late 1960s, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, a regional planning agency, has never had a strategic plan.

Now, under pressure from the PPACG board to create one, the agency has posed a request for proposals, according to a news release.

We reported on the PPACG and its issues last week, including its executive director Rob MacDonald. ("What about Rob?" Oct. 26, 2016)

Here's the news release:
The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments today released the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Strategic Plan. The PPACG Board and staff propose to develop a strategic plan for the agency to determine the future direction of the Council of Governments serving its 16 local government, military installations, the business community and the state agencies we now partner with for our program activities.

The RFP has been posted to the PPACG website at www.ppacg.org. To get to the RFP, interested bidders can visit the website and view the RFP content and additional documents. Proposals are due by November 21, 2016.

Questions regarding this RFP should be directed to Jessica McMullen, PPACG Policy and Communications Manager, PPACG at (719) 471-7080 x139 or jmcmullen@ppacg.org. Further information is posted on the PPACG website (www.ppacg.org).

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Tuesday vigil to honor Halloween shooting victims

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 10:49 AM

Noah Harpham fatally shot three people at random one year ago. - FILE PHOTO
  • FIle photo
  • Noah Harpham fatally shot three people at random one year ago.
Last year, on Halloween, Noah Jacob Harpham shot and killed three people before police ended his life in a shootout.

The mentally unstable Harpham shot a bicyclist, Andrew Alan Myers, in front of his apartment building, and two women, Christina Rose Baccus-Gallela and Jennifer Michelle Vasquez, outside a house on Platte Avenue on Saturday morning. The women had been working past their drug addiction and were living at Alano House, a "sober living home" on Platte Ave. Myers was a veteran. All three victims were parents.

One year later, the community is banding together to hold a candlelight vigil to honor the lives of the victims. The details are below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On November 1, 2016 from 6PM-8PM, a candlelight vigil will be held to honor the lives of victims killed in last year’s tragic Halloween shooting. The vigil will be held at Shooks Run Park where it goes over Platte Avenue. All are welcome.

"Victims of this tragedy and their families, along with this neighborhood and our city, have been through a lot this past year," says Nori Rost, pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church, who will offer opening prayers at the vigil. "This is our way to collectively grieve and honor those who were killed on October 31, 2015."

To respect the victims, please refrain from parking on Platte Avenue, and instead please park on Boulder Avenue or Kiowa Street where it intersects with Shooks Run.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Tony Exum endorsed by Obama

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 12:18 PM

Tony Exum - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Tony Exum
The President of the United States doesn't often endorse candidates in state house district races. Apparently, President Barack Obama must think Tony Exum is pretty special.

Exum's campaign sent out a release today saying that the HD-17 candidate — who won the seat in 2012 only to lose it to Republican Kit Roupe in 2014 — had scored an endorsement from the leader of the free world in his 2016 bid to take the seat back.

HD-17 tends to swing back and forth between Democrats and Republicans every two years — going to the Democrat in higher turn-out presidential election years. Although, given the strange politics of 2016, it's possible this year could be different. 

Apparently, Obama has endorsed a select group of state legislative candidates this year in addition to Exum. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA ENDORSES TONY EXUM FOR COLORADO HD-17
Support Underscores Crucial Nature of This Race

WASHINGTON —Today President Barack Obama endorsed Tony Exum in his race for Colorado’s State House of Representatives. Exum is among a select group of state legislative candidates from around the country to be endorsed by the President. HD-17 encompasses the southeast end of Colorado Springs.

This contest has caught national attention due to Exum’s lifetime of public service as a firefighter, and the successes of his previous term in office, such as providing breakfast for low-income schoolchildren and providing tax credits for childcare expenses.

“We are thrilled that President Obama is endorsing our candidates in some of the most competitive races across the country,” said Jessica Post, Executive Director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “His endorsement highlights how crucial state legislative elections are to building on the progress the President has achieved and to continuing to move our nation forward.”

“I was honored today to receive an endorsement from President Obama in support of my candidacy here in Colorado Springs,” Exum said. The candidate, who has a wide base of support in the district where he has lived for 59 years, continued: “I am humbled, hopeful, and extremely thankful that the President of the United States believes that my contribution will be meaningful to our state and local government, and that he sincerely cares about what is going on with the citizens of Colorado Springs.”

Exum has also received the endorsements of Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Dianna Degette, in addition to every major labor union in the state. 

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Turmoil in transportation agency

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 10:29 AM

In this week's Independent, you can read about some waves being made at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. The agency oversees regional transportation improvements, among other things.

With all the turnover at PPACG in the last couple of years, about half of the staff has been there less than five years, as shown on this graphic provided to the board by Executive Director Rob MacDonald.

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An investigation into turnover and other issues is under way. A report on its findings is expected within a few weeks.
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Monday, October 24, 2016

Emerald Valley Ranch noted for historic renovation

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 4:15 PM

The main lodge. - FILE PHOTOS
  • File photos
  • The main lodge.
The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley was one of the winners of the historic preservation awards announced last week by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs.
Interior of the lodge.
  • Interior of the lodge.

The makeover of the ranch created a forest getaway worthy of The Broadmoor label.

The alliance also honored other work. Here's the news release:
The Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs celebrated its fifteenth Preservation Awards Gala on Oct. 19th at the historic Patty Jewett Clubhouse. The event celebrates the preservation work of our community in a gala dinner and awards ceremony in which projects were judged this year by Cathleen Norman from Monument, CO and Cindy Nasky from Denver. Cathleen is an author and preservationist and project director for Donner Publishing Co. Cindy Nasky is a preservation services director for Colorado Preservation, Inc.

The evening awards began with a recognition of a District 11 teacher, Dedra Montoya for her many years of teaching a block of study about the Victorian Era to second graders at Steele Elementary. Some of her students were present and in costume.

The awards were presented in the HPA’s traditional competition in the following categories, a tie award for:

Excellence in a Historic Residential Restoration: Mr. Vic Appugliese for his Historic Williams House restoration at 222 E. San Miguel St., Architectural Historian: Jennifer Lovell.

Excellence in Historic Residential Restoration: The First Sharp Residence, 1609 N. Nevada Ave. to Peter Frantz and Jill McCormick owners, Tony Peterson, General Contractor.

Award for Excellence in an Historic Commercial Restoration: The Ranch at Emerald Valley, owner: The Broadmoor Hotel, Architect: OZ Architects, GC: Bob McGrath Construction.

Award for Excellence in an Historically Compatible Landscape: The Historic Reverend Dicky Residence, 1206 N. Cascade Ave., owners, landscape designers and laborers: Rob and Mary Ellen Harrison, and their daughter Elizabeth.

Award for Excellence in Preservation and Stewardship: Grace and St. Stephens Episcopal Church Exterior Stabilization Project, 601 N. Tejon St., Architect: RTA Architects, GC: Bon McGrath Construction.

Award for Excellence in Historically Compatible New Construction: Porch Additions to 1323 N. Tejon St, owners: Amanda Puskar and Guillermo Rojas, Architect: J. Mark Nelson, GC: Charlie Paterson Construction.

Award for Excellence in Historically Compatible New Construction, Runner-Up, A Spanish Colonial, owners Tony and Vicki Batman, 24 Broadmoor Ave. Architect: J. Mark Nelson, GC: Bob McGrath Construction

Award for Excellence in Trades and Crafts of Preservation: Queen Ann Porch Restoration Project, 1601 N. Nevada Ave., performed by Mr. Ed Rinker and Mr. Rock Wiley, owners: Charles and Cordelia Martin.

Special recognition was made of retiring vice president of the HPA, Mrs. Sherry Neese, for her dedication and stewardship of the organization since 2003.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

UPDATE: Is this your ring?

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 2:14 PM

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UPDATE:
CSPD Lt. Howard Black says the search is over for the owner of the ring. According to this news report, the owner has been found in Indiana.

Black reports to the media via email:
 A school class ring was discovered in the course of a motor vehicle theft investigation. We wanted to find the owner, so we posted a message on Facebook and Twitter with photos of the ring. Response was immediate and the Facebook post reached 140,664 and was shared 2,331 time and had 105 comments. It was liked and retweeted on Twitter as well. The post was shared in Lafayette, Indiana.WTHR-TV in Indianapolis and WLFI TV in LaFayette shared the story as well. 

——-ORIGINAL POST 2:14 P.M. THURSDAY, OCT. 20, 2016———————

Colorado Springs Police are trying to reunite a class ring found during the investigation of a motor vehicle theft with its rightful owner.

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The ring is dated 1964 and from Lafayette (Indiana) Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School. It's a female ring.

If you recognize the ring, contact Detective Marcus Yanez at 444-7234.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

UPDATE: Peterson AFB announces week-old pollution discharge

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Peterson Air Force Base's 21st Space Wing reports today that there was a significant discharge of contaminated water on Oct. 12.
  • Peterson Air Force Base's 21st Space Wing reports today that there was a significant discharge of contaminated water on Oct. 12.
UPDATE:
Peterson Air Force Base got back to us late yesterday with additional information in response to our questions, as follows:
It's important to note that this discharge was unplanned and even though there are no EPA mandated reporting requirements, as good neighbors and residents of the community, we reported the unplanned discharge to CSU within 24 hours after discovery. Our environmental professionals are working with their counterparts at CSU to explore the notification process moving forward.

To answer your question, the tank is visually inspected quarterly, and
before and after any training at the simulator. The last quarterly
inspection was conducted 29 July, and the last training was held 22 Sept before the discharge was discovered. 
Also, KRCC reports, quoting a Peterson source, that it wouldn't be simple to drain the tank, because that requires opening not one, but two valves as well as activating a lever. Officials are investigating the cause of the discharge.

——-ORIGINAL POST TUESDAY, OCT. 18, 2016, 3:23 P.M.———————-

Peterson Air Force Base says 150,000 gallons of water containing "an elevated level" of perfluorinated compounds were discharged into Colorado Springs Utilities' sewage system, unbeknownst to the base, sometime prior to Oct. 12.

To put that into perspective, that's enough water to fill about a quarter of an Olympic size swimming pool.

The water went through CSU's Las Vegas Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is not equipped to remove those compounds from the water before it's dumped into Fountain Creek. From there it flows to Pueblo where the creek meets the Arkansas River as it flows to Kansas and beyond.

Pueblo Board of Water Works was not notified of the discharged, says CSU spokesman Steve Berry. It's the responsibility of the discharging agency, not CSU, to make notifications, he noted.

"It's kind of hard for us, because it was limited what we can do as a utility," Berry said. "By the time Peterson notified us — they did notify us within the 24-hour requirement — it had already gone through our system and through the Las Vegas treatment plant."

He adds that he's not aware of any treatment plants in the country that remove PFCs, "unless they're using some sophisticated reverse osmosis" process.

CSU received notification from Peterson verbally and in an email on Oct. 13. The base is required to file a report with the state and the EPA, Berry says.

Here's Peterson's release, which is sure to ramp up concern over the PFCs, which already have triggered lawsuits and outrage in the Fountain Valley due to contaminated wells that residents fear will permanently affect the values of their properties, not to mention pose a risk to their health.
An unplanned water discharge from a Peterson fire training area was discovered Oct. 12.

About 150,000 gallons of water being held in a fire training area retention tank was discharged into the Colorado Springs Utilities sewer system sometime in the last week. The tank held water that contained an elevated level of perfluorinated compounds, a residual component of aqueous film forming foam, a firefighting foam historically used at the base for emergency response.

Air Force officials reported the discharge to Colorado Springs Utilities within 24 hours after discovery, and an official report was made within a five-day window, as requested by CSU.

Authorities at Peterson discovered the discharge during a routine tank inspection Oct. 12. The tank is part of a system used to recirculate water to the fire training area.

"We take this type of event seriously, and will work diligently to determine the cause," said Lt. Col. Chad Gemeinhardt, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "We are committed to upholding environmental stewardship policies and procedures."

An investigation into the incident is ongoing to determine how the discharge occurred and a review is underway to determine if there are gaps in procedures or training.

"Peterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force are committed to protecting the environment and communities in which we call home," said Col. Doug Schiess, 21st Space Wing commander. "We take all environmental concerns seriously, and have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the discharge and to prevent it from happening again."

When PFCs were discovered earlier this year in well water south of the base, the Air Force proactively provided $4.3 million to filter and provide drinking water to affected residents while an investigation of potential source areas is conducted. Officials are confident these ongoing mitigation strategies are sufficient to address any potential contamination from the discharge.

We've contacted Peterson and asked when the water was discharged, how often the tank in question is inspected and why Pueblo authorities weren't immediately notified. If and when we hear back, we'll update.

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Colorado State Forest Service: Use more local wood

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 9:26 AM

click image Well, it's certainly one solution to forest fires. - NEIL TURNER
  • Neil Turner
  • Well, it's certainly one solution to forest fires.

Well, this is something you don't see every day: The Colorado State Forest Service urging all of us to kill more trees. 

But with fires burning near Rampart Reservoir and in Custer County, the Forest Service is blaming large-scale wildfires on overgrown forests. 

According to Ryan Lockwood, the Service's Public and Media Relations Coordinator, "[H]aving a robust wood products industry results in healthier forests and reduced wildfire risk." And indeed, it's hard to argue that there are fewer fires where there are fewer — or no — trees. 

Here's the release:

2016 Colorado Wildfires Highlight Need to Use Local Wood

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – October 17, 2016 – The large and destructive wildfires in Colorado this year, from the 38,000-acre Beaver Creek Fire still burning in beetle-kill timber in northwestern Colorado to the 16,000-acre Hayden Pass Fire southeast of Salida, are in part due to unhealthy forest conditions that made them prone to intense fire behavior. And with this week being National Forest Products Week, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to emphasize how having a robust wood products industry spurs not only widespread forest management, but the healthy forests and reduced wildfire risk that result from them.

“If we could increase the share of locally produced wood products that are purchased by Coloradans, the benefits would accrue not only to family-owned businesses, but to our forests themselves,” said Tim Reader, CSFS utilization and marketing forester.

More than 90 percent of the forest products purchased by Coloradans currently are imported into the state.

Kristina Hughes, another CSFS forester, is the program administrator for the Colorado Forest Products™ program, which encourages consumers to purchase locally made wood products from one of the state’s many wood-based businesses. She says that by purchasing locally harvested and produced wood products, citizens support the sawmills and other businesses that are improving forest health and protecting communities, property and critical infrastructure from wildfire.

Consumers looking to buy locally produced wood products or businesses interested in joining the Colorado Forest Products™ program can go to www.coloradoforestproducts.org. Coloradoans also can learn more about the way they can contribute to the wood products economy and how the state is supporting these businesses by visiting http://csfs.colostate.edu/cowood

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Fire breaks out near Rampart Reservoir

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 3:47 PM

The Custer County fire has been labeled the Junkins Fire. - FREMONT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Fremont County Sheriff's Office
  • The Custer County fire has been labeled the Junkins Fire.
On the heels of a fire igniting in Custer County early this morning and spreading to 13,000 acres within 12 hours, fire has broken out near Rampart Reservoir west of Colorado Springs.

El Paso County said in a news release that campgrounds and trails around the reservoir have been evacuated. The fire started off Rampart Range Road near Forest Service Road 953.

Other evacuations have taken place in areas south of Loy Creek and the Farish Recreation Area.

"Fire fighting teams, including crews from Colorado Springs Utilities and El Paso County Wildland Fire, are working, while evacuations are progressing," the release said. "As of 3 p.m., the size of the fire was estimated to be 10 acres and water was being dropped on the blaze."

To follow the county's updates, go to 

The Sheriff's Office announced the fire restrictions were imposed today. The release:
Due to the continued dry conditions and the National Weather Service forecast for continued dry and warmer than normal conditions, resulting in very high to extreme fire danger ratings, Deputy Fire Warden John Padgett has ordered Stage I Fire Restrictions for all of the unincorporated areas of El Paso County. The Stage I Fire Restrictions shall go into effect immediately and the following are prohibited:

1. Open burning, excepting fires and campfires within permanently constructed fire grates in developed
campgrounds and picnic grounds; charcoal grills and wood burning stoves at private residences in areas
cleared of all flammable materials.

2. The sale or use of fireworks.

3. Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped
in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

The Stage I Restrictions shall remain in effect until such time the restrictions are modified pursuant to El Paso County Ordinance #15-001.

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UPDATE: Road sign disparages Clinton

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 10:27 AM

screen_shot_2016-10-17_at_9.52.16_am.png
UPDATE:
This just in from CDOT, "From our preliminary investigation, the variable message sign on southbound I-25, south of Rockrimmon, was broken into, by someone who was not authorized to use the board, sometime over the weekend. The signs have been changed back to their original message and have been secured."

The CDOT spokesperson didn't mention whether the unauthorized use has been reported to law enforcement.

———————-ORIGINAL POST 10:27 A.M. MONDAY, OCT. 17, 2016————————

The Colorado Department of Transportation is investigating the possible hacking of a portable sign on the southbound side of Interstate 25 after a motorist reported seeing the sign say "Hillary for Prison" early Saturday morning.

"We're investigating," CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson says via email. "Our portable signs have been hacked before."

Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for president. The GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has empowered his supporters with vitriolic commentary about Clinton's use of a private email server while she served as Secretary of State, saying she should be imprisoned.

According to the motorist, who was driving home from work in the Denver area early Saturday,  
"I saw a flashing road sign - typical construction sign low to the ground and flashing between 2 two-line messages: "Hillary for Prison" and someone's name" that she couldn't make out.

"This might be some construction worker's idea of a funny prank, but there are too many crashes on I-25 right now and a construction warning sign should only be for that purpose," the motorist tells the Independent via email. "This is an inappropriate use of a construction alerting sign and a danger to the traffic on I-25."


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Friday, October 14, 2016

I-25 widening project absent from DRCOG plan

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 4:02 PM

JOSEPH SOHM/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • JOSEPH SOHM/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
We reported in this week's Independent about a crucial stretch of Interstate 25, from Monument to Castle Rock, lying outside the planning area overseen by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

Rather, it's part of the Denver Regional Council of Governments.

Doug Rex, DRCOG's transportation planning and operations director, now says that his agency is supportive of widening the 17-mile segment from four lanes to six.

Problem is, the project isn't listed in DRCOG's 2040 planning document as a priority. "We have to have reasonable expectations of revenue to fund the projects that are in the plan," Rex says. "This project is not listed in the capacity improvement portion of our plan. That doesn't mean we don't recognize it as a problem. It's just at this point in time, the recommended improvements and how to fund that project haven't been identified."

He says DRCOG is aware of a planning environmental linkage study now under way, funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation. "We are participating in that study and as anxious as anybody to see what the recommended improvements would be in that corridor."

But Rex admits it remains a mystery how the project would be funded. DRCOG updates its long-range plan every four years, and that means its next update won't happen until February of 2019. Meaning, the widening project won't make it onto DRCOG's priority list before then.

But he says while some local matching funds might be required, the bulk of funding for the project is expected to come from the federal government through CDOT.


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Planned Parenthood suspect returns to court next week

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 3:47 PM

Dear: Being held at the State Mental Hospital.
  • Dear: Being held at the State Mental Hospital.
Robert Dear, who's accused of killing three people in a Nov. 27 shooting rampage at the Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs, is due back in court next Tuesday.

The purpose is for a status hearing, and the question of which district court should deal with "involuntary medication issues" is likely to be one topic of debate.

Dear is currently housed at the State Mental Hospital in Pueblo, after District Judge Gilbert Martinez found him incompetent to stand trial.

While Dear is expected to attend the hearing, don't expect to see photos or video of him. Cameras are barred from the hearing, says Rob McCallum, public information officer for the Colorado Judicial Branch.



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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Springs Rescue Mission caves to city pressure, forces tent city to disband

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 10:40 AM

Campers living at 5 W. Las Vegas Ave got a rude awakening Wednesday as word of eviction quickly made way around the tent village. It came first from security guards with Springs Rescue Mission, the property owner, and later more emphatically from Colorado Springs Police Department’s HOT team. The message was unequivocal: everyone must pack up and leave by 3 p.m.


Anguish and frustration mingled with the harsh chill of the season’s first truly wintery morning.


“Where am I supposed to go now?” asked a 20-year-old survivor of human trafficking who goes by Miss America. “When you’re a girl, everyone goes after you,” she said while hurriedly packing up her once cozy tent. “But they,” she said, gesturing to her neighbors on either side, both men, “they stop these creepy guys from raping me at night.”

During the sweep. - RAVEN
  • Raven
  • During the sweep.

The campers reluctantly disbanded, some pushing carts or bikes. One man in Army pants with visibly deformed ankles leans heavily on his walker as another man seems to have an anxiety attack facing a wall. There’s disagreement over whether it’s better to find a new spot together or separately, call motels or churches, go find food or warmer clothes. The cold drizzle veers into sleet as people step out into an even less certain future.


The Last Sanctuary — as the camp is called — was born with a longer life expectancy. As the Indy previously reported, people first set up in SRM’s parking lot in September to avoid trouble on trails, under bridges and in open spaces where camping is illegal. The Mission’s property is private, where camping can be legal.


Key words: can be. It’s dependent on owner permission and code enforcement.


The Mission originally gave permission for the camp to stay until November 10, when 185 new shelter beds are slated to open. “It wasn’t an intentional strategy,” SRM spokesman Travis Williams told the Indy at the time, “but we just recognized there [were] very few options for people to go where they feel safe.”


At the time, law enforcement was eyeing the situation but reported no major issues. Campers tried to keep it that way by convening meetings to strategize keeping the place tidy, orderly and limited in size.

Before the sweep. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Before the sweep.


It worked, but only to a degree. Trash accumulated in — and eventually around — the available bins. More people moved in and set up camp, crowding the village into close quarters. And interpersonal tensions arose as they’re wont to do in such circumstances.


Sign that city officials had had enough first came at an early morning “Coffee and Civics” event hosted by the Council of Neighborhood Organizations where Mayor John Suthers told attendees the issues at the camp were “insurmountable.” Later that afternoon, the city issued a notice to SRM giving them 48 hours to provide a “plan of action” for disbanding the camp. The next morning SRM issued the wake up call telling campers to leave by 3 p.m.


Making that call was “devastating” for SRM CEO Larry Yonkers, who told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference that “this has been one of the worst days of my life.” He emphasized that his nonprofit is “using all the resources we have” and “working as hard as we can” to get a new $28 million campus up-and-running, but that given “the legal liability we have since it’s on our property, I felt we had to take action today and move as quickly as we could to minimize risk.”


As for what exactly made the camp a violation now and not weeks ago, head of the neighborhood services division Mitch Hammes explained “it’s difficult in a code enforcement situation to say you can have 12 tents not 15 or three bags of trash not four [...] but we saw a proliferation of conditions and that’s the point we said we have to put a stop to this.”


Hammes said his division collaborated with the office of community development and CSPD but that the call was ultimately his — not the Mayor’s (though some have voiced speculation about top-down pressure coming from the executive who pushed for the sit-lie ordinance and plans to propose a new measure outlawing panhandling on medians).


CSPD spokesman Lt. Howard Black clarified that the 28 calls for service regarding the camp over the last three weeks became increasingly serious. Assault, theft and drug use have all recently been called in, but only one arrest was made.


Community Development manager Aimee Cox, who has been working on homelessness issues in the city for many years, also emphasized that the camp was unsafe, but conceded “it’s very likely these people will be dispersed back into camp settings on public rights of way.”


With SRM’s forthcoming shelter, there’ll be a total of 488 beds this winter in the city, compared to 463 last year. 234 of those will be “low-barrier,” meaning no sobriety or clean record requirements. The latest Point-In-Time count estimates there’s under 400 chronically homeless adults in the region, but advocates generally agree the real number is likely much higher.


About the obvious shortage, Cox said “there simply is not the capacity in our community right now for somebody to manage another facility.” Exasperated, she added “this isn’t just about a building [...] we need to find long-term solutions so we’re not in crisis mode every winter.”


Advocates worked diligently Wednesday afternoon to find shelter and resources for displaced people, but they worry that now, without a central locus, those in need will be harder to reach. Those wanting to lend a hand can find more information at the Coalition for Compassion and Action’s Facebook page.


“It’s so sick,” a camper, Raven, said about watching what she helped to organize, disband. “We try to do the right thing, to help ourselves and each other, and this is what we get.”


TV news crews arrived later in the afternoon to film the tattered remnants of the Last Sanctuary. 
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

County proclaims "Jan Doran Day"

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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