Local News

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

UPDATE: PPACG's MacDonald sees contract canceled

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

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

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

The notice was given without cause, Pico noted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check back for updates.


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Modbo and SPQR plan to go in different directions

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Monday, January 9, 2017

UPDATE: Save Cheyenne raises money to challenge Strawberry Fields land deal

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 3:37 PM

Strawberry Fields photograph by John Fielder.
  • Strawberry Fields photograph by John Fielder.

UPDATE: New tallies are in for the Save Cheyenne fundraiser, pushing the total raised to $7,878, reported Richard Skorman, the group's president.

———————-ORIGINAL POST 3:37 P.M. MONDAY, JAN. 9, 2017———————-

On Sunday, backers of an effort to overturn the city's deal to trade Strawberry Fields open space to The Broadmoor got together at Rico's downtown to raise money to fund their legal challenge.

Save Cheyenne, a nonprofit that sprang amid debate last year over the land swap, has appealed a district judge's ruling in the city's favor to the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing that the 189-acre tract is dedicated park land. Voters approved its acquisition in 1885. Therefore, it can't be sold or traded without voters' permission, Save Cheyenne argues.

We checked in with Save Cheyenne president Richard Skorman to see how things went. Here's his report:
At yesterday's fundraiser, we sold 10 framed pastels of Strawberry Fields by Missye Bonds, 3 John Fielder photographs of Strawberry Fields and a dozen calendars of Strawberry Fields wildflowers. We also raised some cash. The total of everything was $3838.00. Well over 125 people came to the event yesterday and enthusiasm for our cause is still strong.

The goal, he says, is to raise $40,000 to $50,000 for this next phase of legal challenges for the Appeal. So there's a lot more to do.

If you want to donate, here's how:
• On paypal on-line at savecheyenne.org or through Save Cheyenne on Facebook.
• Or donors can write a check to Save Cheyenne P.O. Box 60298 CS, CO 80960 or drop cash or check by Poor Richard's Bookstore, 9a.m. to 9p.m. everyday.
• Also, the Missye Bonds and John Fielder Art Show will be up for 3 months, (there are 20 more Missye's to sell, and three more John Fielder photos).
• On Sunday, February 12th, a pre-Valentine's Day fundraiser is planned, called "Be Mine, Strawberry Fields Forever Steve Barta and Friends Concert" at the Gold Room of the Mining Exchange from 3-5p.m. Contact 578-5513 or skormy@aol.com for tickets and information. Tickets can be bought at the door. More details to come, including another book signing opportunity with Fielder.

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UPDATE: Colorado Springs wind storm wreaks havoc

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 10:09 AM

Between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Monday, a tree toppled onto a car in the Pioneer Museum block. - RYAN HANNIGAN
  • Ryan Hannigan
  • Between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Monday, a tree toppled onto a car in the Pioneer Museum block.

UPDATE: And to close out the day, this just in from the city:
The Colorado Springs Emergency Operations Center activated today as several City departments, along with Colorado Springs Utilities respond to impacts from high winds in Colorado Springs today.

· The Colorado Springs Fire Department responded to 450 calls for service from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, 90 percent of which were requests for assistance for a variety of wind-related issues ranging from downed trees in the public right of way, damage to buildings and vehicles, electrical concerns, and numerous grass and structure fires.
· As of 4 p.m. today Colorado Springs Utilities is responding to 307 outages, with 8,157 customers affected. Progress is being made as wind conditions slowly improve.
· Several City departments including the Parks Department’s Forestry Division, Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division, Colorado Springs Fire Department and Colorado Springs Utilities continue to respond to a high volume of calls for downed trees throughout the city.

Calls for Downed Trees

· The Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division received 46 storm related calls for service, the majority of which were downed trees in roadway.
· The City’s Forestry Division received approximately 150 calls for service for downed trees, which include downed trees in parks and medians. Please note that some calls for downed trees may overlap across departments.
· Residents can call 24-hours-a-day to 719-385-ROAD or may also use GoCoSprings, the City’s mobile app, to report a downed tree in the public right of way. https://www.coloradosprings.gov/gocosprings. Report a new issue and select “downed tree”. Reports to the mobile application will be processed Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
· For downed trees in a street median or city park call 719-385-5942 (Monday- Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).


Traffic Signals

Motorists are advised to stay off the road if possible as there are reports of twisted traffic signal heads that can fall on the roadways. Numerous traffic lights are also experiencing power outages. Darkened intersections should be treated as four-way stops.

Colorado Springs Utilities Update

· As of 4 p.m. today Colorado Springs Utilities is currently responding to 307 outages, with 8,157 customers affected, so progress is being made as wind conditions slowly improve.
· To date, Colorado Springs Utilities has received 150 calls for downed trees impacting power lines and 75 cases for downed electric lines.
· Four restoration crews are currently dispatched and more crews will return to the field tonight as wind conditions continue to improve.
· In addition to Springs Utilities line crews, three contract crews have augmented restoration efforts along with nine tree trimming crews.
· CSU will work through the night to restore power to affected customers, but due to the extent of the damage to utilities infrastructure, the number of outages and wind conditions delaying the ability to make above-ground repairs, more complicated restoration efforts could extend beyond Tuesday.
· Customers are encouraged to check on the status of power outages via our online outage map at www.csu.org.

UPDATE: Courthouse will reopen at noon Tuesday. From the county:
El Paso County hopes to do an initial assessment of the roof damage and make temporary repairs with the goal of re-opening the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex by 12 Noon Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

Hurricane force winds tore of large sections of the South Tower roof and toppled a communications antenna on the top of the building this morning. The complex was evacuated and the Sheriff’s Office set up a temporary closure of streets and sidewalks surrounding the building to protect drivers and pedestrians from falling and blowing debris.
Courthouse staff should plan for the building to be re-opened at 12 Noon. Jurors should report at 1 PM. All others with scheduled appointments should call (719) 452-5000 for additional scheduling information.


UPDATE:
Bus service will resume shortly. From the city:
Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) will resume regular bus service at 3:30 p.m. Earlier today, due to extreme wind conditions, MMT suspended service for three hours at the direction of CDOT regarding high profile commercial vehicles. We will continue to update the media and post the most current information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, #MMTRA, on recorded phone messages and at 385-RIDE (7433).
Mountain Metropolitan Transit provides local fixed-route bus service and Metro Mobility ADA paratransit service for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. All buses are wheelchair-lift equipped. Mountain Metropolitan Transit also provides other services such as Metro Rides’ ridesharing, vanpool, and bicycling programs. For added convenience, there are bike racks on all buses for riders who want to utilize the bike-n-bus program. For additional information regarding Mountain Metropolitan Transit please visit www.mmtransit.com, or call (719) 385-RIDE (7433).

UPDATE:
City Response to Downed Trees

· The Forestry Department is responding to a high volume of calls for downed trees throughout the city with downtown and the city’s west side most impacted.
· Residents should report downed trees that are blocking roads to 719-385-ROAD
· To report a fallen tree in street median, parks and parkway strips 719-385-5942
· Residents can also report a fallen tree by using the City’s GoCoSprings app https://www.coloradosprings.gov/gocosprings


Colorado Springs Utilities Update

· As of 11:30 a.m. Colorado Springs Utilities is currently responding to more than 200 reported electric outages in its service territory caused by high winds. Approximately 18,000 customers are being affected by these outages.
· The outages are concentrated in the southern portion of Springs Utilities’ system, which has the highest percentage of overhead lines.
· Most of the outages are being caused by blowing debris, construction materials and metal siding getting into our lines causing circuits to trip.
· Customers should be on the lookout for fallen power lines or trees that have come into contact with a power line. If a customer witnesses either, they should stay away from the line and/or tree, and call us at 448-4800 or call 911.
· To help reduce call volume and expedite emergency-related calls during this wind storm event, Springs Utilities is asking customers to use its online outage map at csu.org (http://stormcenter3.csu.org.s3.amazonaws.com/default.html) for electric outage information and status updates, and to not call 448-4800 unless a customer is reporting a downed electric line, a tree into an electric line, or some other utilities-related emergency that poses a safety risk.


UPDATE:
Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) will suspend bus service temporarily at 12:00 p.m. today due to extreme wind conditions. Drivers will finish their current routes and return to the bus depot and wait out the wind. This is per CDOT’s direction of the safety concern regarding high profile commercial vehicles. We will continue to update the media and post the most current information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, #MMTRA, on recorded phone messages and at 385-RIDE (7433).
UPDATE: This just in:
Due to extreme high winds in the area, Colorado Department of Transportation is restricting travel of high profile vehicles in El Paso County. Semi, tractor trailers, commercial buses and all other high profile vehicles aren’t allowed on the roadways in El Paso County at this time.

Wind gusts are estimated at more than 100 miles per hour and it isn’t safe to have these vehicles on the road. El Paso County is under a high wind advisory until 5pm.

——————ORIGINAL POST 10:09 A.M. MONDAY JAN. 9, 2017———————

The El Paso County courthouse is being evacuated after high winds dealt severe damage to the roof. And the county emergency center also has been opened.

The release:
Due to extensive roof damage the El Paso County Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex is now being evacuated. County facilities staff is working to mitigate damage but strong gusty winds are making it impossible to do a damage assessment at this time.

Preliminary damage reports indicate extensive damage to the south tower roof. El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputies have closed portions of Tejon Street in the area of the building and pedestrians are being asked to avoid the area as roofing materials continue to be torn from the building.

Courts appointments have been canceled today.

The El Paso County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has now been activated to assist in coordinating resources needed to respond to this storm. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.
Mean time, trees are tumbling down all over town.

Here's advice from the county:
The El Paso County Office of Emergency Management is reminding everyone to stay away from downed power lines. Ongoing hurricane force winds have broken tree branches, toppled signs, turned over vehicles and pulled down power lines countywide.

Downed power lines can look relatively harmless, but don’t be fooled. They likely carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. Here are some electric energy safety tips can help you stay safe around downed lines:

* If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it.
* The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage one—and it could do that through your body.
* If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.
* Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even normally non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and electrocute you.
* Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
* Do not drive over downed lines.
* If you are in a vehicle that is in contact with a downed line, stay in the vehicle. Honk your horn for help and tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
* If you must leave your vehicle because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid making contact with the energized vehicle and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the vehicle to the earth.
* Do not touch or attempt to move communications wires that might not normally be electrically charged as the high winds may have brought them into contact high voltage electric lines.


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Friday, January 6, 2017

CDOT accelerates I-25 project north of Monument

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 11:17 AM

JOSEPH SOHM/SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock
The four-lane stretch from Monument to Castle Rock could be readied for construction within 2.5 years and be finished in another 2.5 years, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Friday, offering one important caveat:

"If funding is identified for construction."

Still the word that CDOT was speeding up the environmental and planning processes for the highway was greeted with enthusiasm for improvement of the only remaining four-lane stretch between Colorado Springs and Denver — a cause that only recently became the top priority for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments planning agency.

State Rep. Terri Carver, R-HD20 in Colorado Springs, issued a statement saying:
I had advocated to CDOT that the full environmental review for the I-25 widening project start immediately. We should not waste time and money to first do the PEL study, then still have to do the required environmental study before we can widen I-25. Today’s CDOT announcement is an important step to getting this vital road construction project done as soon as possible!

I will continue to fight for this I-25 widening project as a priority for CDOT and for state transportation funding.

Here's CDOT's news release:
DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced plans to accelerate the environmental and planning process for improvements on I-25 from C470 to Colorado Springs, with attention to the gap area from Monument to Castle Rock. By accelerating the environmental planning for I-25, CDOT will have a project ready for construction by summer of 2019, with a project fully constructed between Castle Rock to Monument in five years, if funding is identified for construction.

“As congestion continues to build along I-25, CDOT has decided that this project can't wait,” said Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “We're going to do our part and get ready for construction in two years. Now we need others to help us come up with the $300 to $400 million we need to build it.”

CDOT is able to accelerate the funding of the environmental planning thanks to the financing of the C-470 Express Lanes project. CDOT plans to use funds that otherwise were allocated to serve as a “backstop” for loans that will be financing the project. As the details of the loans have been finalized in the last two weeks, it became clear that fewer of those funds would be necessary, allowing CDOT to redirect $15 million of those funds to I-25 environmental and preconstruction work. Those funds, along with the $6 million that is already programmed for the current Programmatic & Environmental Linkages (PEL) study, will allow the department to prepare for a construction project, should construction funds become available.

“Douglas County obviously shares CDOT’s prioritization of this project and has demonstrated our support as a funding partner, committing $250,000 to the early study and associated process,” said Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge. “As history shows, CDOT and Douglas County, and many others have successfully partnered to improve many of the seven state highways running through Douglas County during the past decade, with a few projects underway right now. With that in mind, we are committed to doing what is required to organize this coalition of like-minded leaders, working with CDOT, the City of Colorado Springs and the FHWA, on a construction-funding solution so that we can meet our 2019 ground-breaking commitment.”

“We urge the state of Colorado to make the widening of the I-25 corridor between Monument and Castle Rock a vital and immediate priority. As the area experiences record growth, we simply can’t afford to wait the previously proposed 10 years, dragging out the impacts of congestion restricting commerce and travel between Colorado Springs and Denver,” noted John Suthers, Mayor of Colorado Springs. “This is an improvement that will have immediate positive impact on safety and the economy and we commend CDOT and our neighboring governments for their support in working to streamline the process and get that section of the interstate construction-ready as quickly as possible.”

CDOT does not plan to only provide the newly available funds to the planning project, but is also committed, in participation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to streamlining and accelerating the environmental and pre-construction processes, including running a NEPA process on the “gap” (the 2-lane section between Castle Rock and Monument) concurrently with the Planning and Environmental Linkage Study that looks at the complete corridor, from C-470 to Colorado Springs.

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UPDATE: Will Colorado Springs' mayor be tapped for federal judgeship?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 10:59 AM

Will Mayor Suthers be waving goodbye to his mayor's job? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Will Mayor Suthers be waving goodbye to his mayor's job?
UPDATE 10:59 A.M. THURSDAY, JAN. 12:

Mayor John Suthers, appearing on the Richard Randall show on KVOR radio, apparently gave a stronger response to the idea of being tapped for a federal judge position than he gave us. He tweeted: "Richard, I am not going after a federal judgeship. Have people called me & asked if I was interested? Yes. But I said, 'No, I'm not.'"
——————————
UPDATE:
Glenn Sugameli, of Washington, D.C., who's headed the Judging the Environment judicial nominations project since 2001, set us straight on openings on the federal bench. He noted the openings referred to in the 10th Circuit are on district court benches, not the appeals court:
... they are all on the district courts within the Circuit- including Judge Blackburn's seat in Colorado- there are no vacancies on the U.S, Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit itself (unlike the four on the 9th circuit indicated by CCA for Circuit Court of Appeals).

More importantly, Senators Bennet and Gardner jointly recommended and strongly pushed for action on a nominee. There is every reason why they should continue to do so given the caseload and need to move quickly to fill this seat that they both cited, and the continuing need for both home-state senators to approve any hearing (scroll down).
See these press releases:

Sens. Bennet, Gardner Urge Judiciary Committee to Consider Regina Rodriguez Nomination: President Nominated Rodriguez in April Following Bennet, Gardner Recommendations
(Republican - Colorado) 07/12/16
Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner today urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to work swiftly to consider the nomination of Regina Rodriguez to fill the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The Colorado senators wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy urging them to schedule a hearing and a vote on confirmation as soon as possible.... "Given the court's caseload, it's crucial that the Judiciary Committee move quickly and thoroughly to consider this nomination," Bennet said. "Regina Rodriguez is eminently qualified to serve on the District Court. We're confident that her impressive background in both the public and private sectors will serve her well on the federal bench." "Regina Rodriguez has a long record of service to Colorado," said Gardner. "She is immensely qualified to serve on the federal bench, and I'm certain that her broad experience will allow her to better serve Coloradans in a new capacity as a judge on the U.S. District Court for Colorado."

—————————-ORIGINAL POST 10:59 A.M. FRI., JAN. 6, 2017————————-

News over the past two months has focused on who Donald Trump is choosing to fill various cabinet and other posts.

Now, we hear that our own Mayor John Suthers might be in line for a presidential appointment, and he's not denying that he might be interested.

After he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Trump will nominate people to fill 114 judgeships across the land, as reported by CBS News.

Word is that Suthers is currently being vetted by the Republican Attorneys General Association, though RAGA has yet to confirm this to the Independent. When we hear back, we'll update.

A place on a federal bench would be a natural culmination of Suthers' career. He's served as district attorney, U.S. Attorney, Colorado Department of Corrections chief and Colorado Attorney General. He was elected mayor in mid-2015.

Trump is looking for people who "will reflect conservative opinions on a wide array of issues, from gun control and abortion access to regulatory reform," according to CBS News, and Suthers seems to fit that bill perfectly.

He's adamantly opposed to recreational marijuana, for example, and his Catholic background translates to opposition to abortion.

When we posed the question of a federal court appointment to the mayor's office, we got this response from city spokeswoman Kim Melchor:
Mayor Suthers has had several inquiries about his interest in various positions. This is not uncommon after a Presidential election. But as he has indicated in the past, there are very few positions he would seriously consider at this point in his career. The press would undoubtedly become aware if he was being considered for a position he was interested in. 
According to this website, there are six vacancies with the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, Denver.

So what if Suthers is chosen and answers the call? The City Charter says Council President — currently Merv Bennett, former CEO of the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region — steps into the mayor's shoes.

The Charter says:
If a vacancy occurs in the office of Mayor, duties and responsibilities of that position shall transfer according to section 4-20 of this Charter, and Council shall call an election within ninety (90) days, unless a general municipal election will occur in one hundred eighty (180) days and nominations for the office of Mayor can be timely filed in accord with municipal election law, for the purpose of electing a qualified person to the unexpired term of the office of Mayor. If a general municipal election will occur within one hundred eighty (180) days, the provisions of section 4-20 of this Charter shall apply until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter. (1909; 1961; 1975;
1987; 2010)
And here's section 4-20 from the Charter:
(a)Whenever the Mayor is unable, from any cause, to perform the duties of the office for more than a temporary or short-term absence, the President of the Council shall be the acting Mayor and shall hold such office until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter, at which time the President of the Council may return to his or her seat on Council. (2010)

(b)If the President of Council refuses or is unable to discharge the duties of the Office of Mayor, the Council shall elect one of its members acting Mayor, who shall hold such office until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter. (2010)

(c)Whenever the President of Council becomes the acting Mayor, Council shall elect a new President of Council to serve during the absence as provided in this Charter. (2010) 

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CoCo Crafted to open in Mountain Fold space, and more downtown development to come in 2017

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 11:08 AM

COCO Crafted founder Mundi Ross. - COURTESY OF COLORADO SPRINGS BUSINESS JOURNAL
  • courtesy of Colorado Springs Business Journal
  • COCO Crafted founder Mundi Ross.

2016 was a year littered with losses, as you may well remember. But amidst all the geopolitical absurdities and tragedies was a local loss that left the Springs’ small but mighty scene of artists, queers and progressives without what had become a downtown hub of creative activity.

After three years in business, Mountain Fold Books closed in November with an estate sale to off-load all its unique furnishings and bid adieu to loyal customers. But its emptied Costilla Street location will remain that way no longer, as the artisan promoting Colorado Collective prepares to move in.


Founder Mundi Ross announced the new venture via a Facebook video. “You’re looking at the future of COCO Crafted,” she says, gesturing at blank walls behind her. Ross explains the storefront will become a craft studio for the “makers” featured in Colorado Collective’s high gloss quarterly magazine to make and sell whatever it is they make. Facilities will include woodworking and jewelry making tools, Ross says, and a small kitchenette. Also expect skill-shares and other events for and about the city’s growing community of creative entrepreneurs.



“Now, I know for many the Mountain Fold space brought hope. It was a sanctuary; it was safe haven for many,” Ross noted. “I can’t be another Mountain Fold, but I’m really excited about what I’m about to bring to this space.”


COCO Crafted will join other buzzy businesses in that downtown nook termed the "New South End," with the likes of Loyal Coffee, Iron Bird Brewing and Fox & Jane Salon that bring that Springs closer to resembling bigger, hipper and pricier cities that attract and retain more young people.

That kind of development is precious to the Downtown Partnership, which touted 2016 as a record-setting year for street-level business growth.

The New South End is sticking with the arts. - GRIFFIN SWARTZEL
  • Griffin Swartzel
  • The New South End is sticking with the arts.


“We are seeing tremendous growth in our urban core,” says Sarah Humbargar, Director of Business Development & Economic Vitality for the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs, in a press release.

23 new retailers, restaurants and other businesses opened up in 2016 and so far, 12 new ones are poised to do so in 2017. There’s a retail vacancy of less than four percent downtown, according Humbargar, who also emphasized new apartment and condo construction that’ll add much needed (though questionably affordable) housing inventory.


The Partnership's release also highlighted some notable newcomers to the downtown culinary scene, including Chef Brother Luck, who’ll open a new restaurant in the spring, and Oskar Blues brewery which will soon move into the Old Chicago building on Tejon Street.


So, if you spent 2016 wishing you had more opportunities to spend money, 2017 is about to provide.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

TheatreWorks founder Murray Ross remembered

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 5:10 PM

Our local theater community suffered a hard blow this afternoon when it was announced that Murray Ross (74), artistic director and founder of TheatreWorks, had passed away following a “short illness,” according to a release from UCCS chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak.

click image Ross (right) accepted his Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award at last October's Pikes Peak Arts Council awards. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL / FILE PHOTO
  • Griffin Swartzell / File Photo
  • Ross (right) accepted his Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award at last October's Pikes Peak Arts Council awards.

Following the news, friends, family and members of the community took to Facebook to share their experiences with Ross and express their condolences to his family. In between recurring words like “remarkable” and “visionary,” and stories recalling some of the 100-plus productions with which he was involved, it’s clear to see the effect that Ross has had on this community since starting TheatreWorks in 1975.

Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents and longtime friend of Ross', posted on TheatreWorks Facebook Page, "I have known and worked with Murray for over twenty years. And while I was the Executive Director of TheatreWorks we were essential to each other. We were best friends. I already miss him terribly. Once more, to quote Murray, 'In play we are free, and we are human, and in the theatre we are free and human together. We wish you joy.' I share his wish for joy for you all."

Here is what UCCS has to say about Ross and his accomplishments. Out of respect to his family’s wishes, the language is unchanged.

Murray joined UCCS in 1975 and is considered the founder of Theatreworks, the professional theater based at the university, as well as the academic theater program at the university. He produced classic and contemporary plays in classrooms, buses, warehouses, basements and the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater. Among his credits are directing, adapting and creating more than 100 works for the stage including the original scripts "Monkey Business," "The Last Night of Don Juan," "The Lady of Camellias," "Dar-al-Harb" and "I Am Nikola Tesla." He also wrote stage adaptations of classics such as "Huckleberry Finn" and "A Christmas Carol." His most recent adaption of "A Christmas Carol" was successfully staged this December. His first love and greatest passion was always Shakespeare, and his 1984 production of “The Comedy of Errors” in a circus tent started a tradition of outdoor summer productions that continues to anchor the Theatreworks season today. In 1988, noted scholar Stephen Booth wrote in Shakespeare Quarterly that Murray’s summer production was “The Best Othello I Ever Saw.”

Theatreworks received a Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1994, a Henary Award for Oustanding Regional Theatre in 2013 as well as numerous local accolades. The program celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015, the same year UCCS marked the 50th anniversary of its founding. Murray directed four plays in 2016, and during his recent days in the hospital Murray was making active preparations for his next production.

In addition to his work with Theatreworks, Murray was a respected teacher and scholar. He taught theater as well as English literature. Murray and his wife, Betty, were fixtures of the Colorado Springs arts community. They were ardent supporters of the arts and the development of the under construction $70 million UCCS Ent Center for the Arts which contains a space named in their honor.

Murray worked with thousands of students, artists, actors and staff and left an impression on each. He was funny, smart, a bit of an anarchist and a great lover of life. Adventures, storytelling and spirited debate filled his life.

Murray earned a bachelor's degree from Williams College, a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and also pursued doctoral studies at UC Berkeley, where he began directing. He served in the National Guard from 1963-1969, and taught and directed at the University of Rochester before joining UCCS.

Survivors include his wife, Betty, his sisters Susanna, Christina and Kit, and his sons Felix, James, Orion and Matthew.

Please join me in offering condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Murray Ross. Notes may be sent to the family in care of the Office of the Chancellor, 401 Main Hall. At the request of the family, donations can be made to the Murray Ross Artists Endowment Fund with the CU Foundation.

There will be a campus memorial service Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater in University Hall. Those who wish to make a donation in his honor may contribute to the Murray Ross Artists Endowment Fund with the CU Foundation.

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Colorado Springs city election gets under way

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 5:09 PM

Crow-Iverson: business experience on Council missing. - COURTESY CROW-IVERSON CAMPAIGN
  • Courtesy Crow-Iverson campaign
  • Crow-Iverson: business experience on Council missing.
Those wishing to run for Colorado Springs City Council can pick up a petition starting today. Click on this for more information.

Deadline for filing is Jan. 23.

Already, a race is shaping up in the central District 5 between incumbent Jill Gaebler and Lynette Crow-Iverson, who recently resigned from Colorado Springs Forward, a politically active group that's sure to spend freely on the April 4 city election.

Another race is in the making as well between challenger Yolanda Avila and incumbent Helen Collins.

Here's Crow-Iverson's announcement:
Lynette Crow-Iverson a community leader who led the effort to pass Referendum 2C (the “Pothole Fix”) in 2015 is an entrepreneur and innovator. Iverson as a single mother raising 2 girls on her own built a successful franchise business in the medical field which continues to expand today. Conspire! provides industry compliance for a safe and drug free workplace.

“Noting the lack of many business experienced Members currently serving on City Council many of my colleagues have encouraged me to run. In a competitive environment and the need to lift our community in so many ways the feeling in the community and in the District is one of disappointment at the lack of leadership,” noted Iverson “I believe my experience and my innate leadership skills will be a good addition on Council and to support Mayor Suther’s vision for our City going forward.”

A community activist Lynette Crow-Iverson currently serves as a Trustee for the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, Vice Chair for the Pikes Peak Work Force Board, serves for Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak’s Regional Connect board, is a Member of the Regional Leadership Forum and past Chairwoman for Colorado Springs Forward.

“As a businessman and a colleague of Lynette’s I was thrilled to hear that she was running for City Council. I have served with Lynette on the Colorado Springs Health Foundation and I know firsthand her business acumen and creativity,” stated Jon Medved “Lynette Crow-Iverson is a first class leader and exactly what our City Council needs.” Jon Medved is a Co-Chair on the Friends for: Lynette Crow-Iverson Committee.

City Council District 5 includes much Colorado Spring’s Old North End, the Patty Jewett neighborhood and runs as far east as Powers Blvd.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Update: Tim Mitros leaves his city job

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 2:48 PM

This flooding on Pope's Valley Drive is an example of the headaches that marked Tim Mitros' years with the city. - COURTESY DEAN LUCE
  • Courtesy Dean Luce
  • This flooding on Pope's Valley Drive is an example of the headaches that marked Tim Mitros' years with the city.
UPDATE:
According to the city's severance agreement with Tim Mitros, he's required to provide the city a letter "announcing his retirement effective Jan. 13, 2017."

He'll get six months of his annual salary of $117,051.43 in severance pay and other benefits if he abides by the agreement:
If Employee signs and does not revoke this
Agreement, and executes the Supplemental Release attached hereto as Exhibit A on or after
the Separation Date and does not revoke it, the City agrees: (i) to pay Employee an amount
equal to 6 months of Employee’s current base salary, to be paid within 5 working days following
the date the Supplemental Release becomes binding and non-revocable; (ii) to pay the
employer’s share of the cost of premiums to continue Employee’s current medical and dental
coverage through July 31, 2017, so long as Employee timely pays Employee’s share of the
contributions to the City; and (iii) to allow Employee to continue, if currently enrolled, in the
vision plan through July 31, 2017, so long as Employee timely pays the cost of the premium. All
payments shall be subject to legally-required withholdings. Further, the parties agree that no
PERA contributions will be made on these payments as they do not constitute salary for PERA
purposes. 
If he violates the agreement, he has to pay the city $30,000. Here's the non-disparagement section:
Mutual Non-disparagement. Employee shall not make negative or disparaging
comments relating to the City, its elected officials, employees or representatives, its services, or
Employee’s employment with the City. In addition, Employee will not disclose to any person or
entity the circumstances surrounding Employee’s departure from the City’s employment. The
City shall not make negative comments relating to Employee’s employment with the City or the
circumstances surrounding Employee’s departure from the City’s employment. All parties
acknowledge the City is subject to the CORA. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if either party is
subject to a valid subpoena or court order, or is otherwise required by law, to provide truthful
testimony in a proceeding, such testimony will not be a violation of Section 7 of this Agreement.

Here's the entire agreement:
Mitros_20161229135039.pdf
——————-ORIGINAL POST 4:03 P.M., TUESDAY, DEC. 27, 2016———————-

Tim Mitros, longtime city employee who worked on stormwater issues for many years, ends his service with the city today, he tells the Independent.

"Yes, I'm retiring from the city," he says — though it appears that he is being forced out.

Mitros came into the spotlight in recent years when the city got into a jam on failure to deal with its sizable stormwater drainage system.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a second report in August 2015 — the first came in early 2013 — blasting the city's failure to deal with drainage. Suthers has since struck a deal with Pueblo County in which the city agrees to spend $460 million in the next 20 years, much drawn from the city's general fund. Colorado Springs Utilities also will contribute.

But after that 2015 EPA report, Mayor John Suthers reassigned Mitros to the Office of Emergency Management as its engineering program manager. Many thought that Mitros, who was the city's development review and stormwater manager, was scapegoated for a funding problem for stormwater over which he had no control.

Mitros has been hailed by citizens as a hard-working, deeply caring city employee who worked long hours helping citizens understand the city's stormwater needs and finding ways to ease the impacts of the city's substandard system.

Mitros, 57, served for 25 years. He says he's prohibited from discussing his departure agreement or saying "anything that will disparage the city."

"I've enjoyed working for the city, and basically I've enjoyed serving the city of Colorado Springs," he says. "That's my joy."

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Colorado Springs: A great place all around

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2016 at 1:44 PM

City-owned Pioneers Museum might be one reason Colorado Springs is a good place for families. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • City-owned Pioneers Museum might be one reason Colorado Springs is a good place for families.
According to various magazines and online services, Colorado Springs this year was judged among the best places to live, best cities in the mountains, best mid-sized cities for new grads, best for vets, best for families, best for first-time home buyers and best place to retire on limited income.

Whew. If you believe all that, you'll enjoy the following wrap up of all those "honors" issued by the city communications office:
The City of Colorado Springs experienced positive growth and improvements in multiple areas during 2016, earning a place on no fewer than 12 notable “top 10” city ranking lists. New business startups and relocations, low unemployment and excellent quality of life were just some of the city’s attributes earning national recognition.

Already a major destination for travelers, prominent publications such as U.S. News & World Reports, Livability.com and WalletHub ranked COS as a “best city” within its top 10 lists proving that the 40th largest city in the nation is not only a great place to visit, but is also a great place to live.

Overall Awards:

· # 9 Best in the Mountains City by Money Magazine

o Reviewed metro areas (300,000+) with strong job growth, affordable housing, good schools, low crime and great quality of life factor i.e. transportation and green space.


· #5 Best Places to Live by U.S. News & World Report

o Cities were ranked an evaluated by the following indexes: job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration.


· #4 Best Midsize Cities for New Grads by OnlineDegrees.com

o Cities were graded on a 10 point scale for rents, population age, degree earnings, arts and entertainment, job growth projections and area unemployment rate.



· #4 Best Large City to Live in by WalletHub

o Compared 62 cities with population over 300,000 in livability, education health and local economy and taxes.



· #7 Best City for Veterans by WalletHub

o Cities were evaluated on: employability, economy, quality of life, and health along with the “most favorable conditions for veterans”.



· #9 Best City for Families by WalletHub

o 150 Cities were evaluated by five key dimensions: 1) Family Fun; 2) Health & Safety; 3) Education & Child Care; 4) Affordability; and 5) Socioeconomic Environment.


Economics-based Recognitions:


· #3 Best Large City for First-Time Home Buyers by WalletHub

o WalletHub reviewed over 300 cities for affordability, Real-Estate Market and Quality of life.



· #3 Best Place to Retire With Only a Social Security Check by U.S. News & World Report

o U.S. News analyzed 104 major metro areas for couples in covering essential in cost of living expenses.


· #6 Top 10 Housing Markets to Watch in 2017 by Trulia’s Housing Outlook report

o Markets were evaluated in 5 areas: strong job growth, low vacancy rates, high affordability, more inbound home searches and political affiliation.

Recent rankings in travel and tourism included:

· #5 Traveler’s Choice Destinations on the Rise for 2017 by TripAdvisor

o Rankings were calculated on “algorithm measuring year-over-year increase in positive traveler review ratings for accommodations, restaurants and attractions and increase in booking interest." The Gazette, Dec. 7, 2016



· #6, #13 Best Weekend Getaway by U.S. News & World Report

o Rankings are based on editor and user score votes, accounting for changing numbers.


· #9 Top 10 Downtowns by Livability.com

o Selections are based on community, amenities, growth, diversity, education, health care, resident engagement, transportation housing and economy.

Other notable rankings include:

· #11 2016 Best Metro Areas for STEM Professionals by WalletHub

· #12 Forbes ranked COS as Best place for business and careers in 2016

For more detailed information on the methodology that was used for these rankings please visit the website for each listed publication.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Western Museum cuts ties with Haunted Mines after 10 years

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 3:38 PM

Haunted Mines actors zombify the grounds of WMM&I at last year's haunt. - ROBIN SCHNEIDER / THE GALLERY BELOW
  • Robin Schneider / The Gallery Below
  • Haunted Mines actors zombify the grounds of WMM&I at last year's haunt.

It may seem a little early to be thinking about Halloween, but the folks at Haunted Mines, a local favorite Halloween attraction, need to start planning for it now.

The organization announced on Facebook this morning that the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (where they have set up their haunted attraction since Haunted Mines began in 2006) has decided to go in a different direction, and has asked that Haunted Mines use 2017 as a “teardown year.”

The letter, delivered by a WMM&I board member last night, came as a shock to Angel Nuce, executive director of Haunted Mines. She says that the museum board hadn’t expressed that any kind of contract termination was on the horizon, and she doesn’t yet know the reason for it.

“All we have is that letter,” she says. At the moment, she hasn’t made any moves to follow up with inquiries to the board. “I spent the evening placating my volunteers, taking care of my staff. That’s the most important thing to me right now.”

Once the holidays are over, the organization will seek clarification from the WMM&I board and begin the process of moving on out, but so far they aren’t sure exactly where they’re going. Considering there are some large pieces to transport, including carnival rides, it’s important they find a new partner — and fast.

The optimistic Facebook post that announced the termination reads:

After 10 years and over $1,000,000 donated into our community - $340,000 in last 3 years alone to the Western Museum of Mining & Industry, they no longer wish to continue to be the recipient of our generosity. Excited for new possibilities - anyone need a roommate?

But Nuce is confident they will find a place, and their plans to do extra events (such as setting up a tent haunt at the Tiny House Jamboree) have not changed. Moreover, it looks like Wescott Fire Department may allow them to set up an office in an unused fire station, where they can start searching in earnest for a more permanent location.

Nuce’s dream is to have two or three acres of property to establish permanent attractions like a corn maze, but she said that if someone has a space — whether it’s an empty field or a warehouse — they’ll make it work.

“We’re not going anywhere,” she says. “You can slow us down, but you can’t stop it.”

When reached for comment, Executive Director Rick Sauers of WMM&I said that the decision to cut ties with Haunted Mines was “a board decision, purely business."

"It has nothing to do with Haunted Mines except the board would like something better professionally managed,” he said.

The museum will be seeking proposals soon.

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City kills bike lanes on Research Parkway

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 3:25 PM

The map shows a city-organized "Ride on Research" meant to promote the new lanes. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • The map shows a city-organized "Ride on Research" meant to promote the new lanes.

The bike lane demonstration project on Research Parkway in northern Colorado Springs has proved a PR disaster and will be terminated.

It's too bad because the protected lanes were a new kind of infrastructure for Colorado Springs —  one cyclists have longed for. But, in my humble opinion, the project seems to have fallen victim to two fatal flaws.

First: Location. Research Parkway isn't exactly the heart of the bike commuter universe here in the Springs, so it's unreasonable to expect that the lanes would be heavily used by cyclists or embraced by the car-dependent neighborhoods nearby. Most of the city's bike infrastructure should be in places where people already ride bikes — design should follow function. And if drivers are already battling bike traffic on a particular road, there's a good chance that they will embrace bike infrastructure because it stands to make their drive easier.

Second: Misunderstanding. When the project was unveiled, city staff tried to explain that the lane being closed on Research that would then accommodate cyclists, wasn't closed to accommodate cyclists. The lane was being closed because traffic engineers felt the road was oversized and that the extra lane was making Research less safe. The bike lanes just seemed like a cool project to put in that extra space. That's a key distinction — and one that the public never seemed to fully grasp. In fact, the lanes on Research Parkway may have served only to fuel resentment from motorists toward cyclists, because they mistakenly believed they were being forced to give something up so that cyclists could take it over.

Anyway, let's hope that the lesson that the city takes away from Research Parkway isn't that protected bike lanes are a bad idea. As a cyclist myself, I think they're a great idea. However, in the future, picking a strategic location where the lanes are likely to be embraced and heavily used, as well as communicating with people who live in the area, will be key to gaining acceptance.


City of Colorado Springs Will Terminate Research
Bike Lane Demonstration Project
Public Input, Traffic Data Contribute to Decision


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – The City announced today that the bicycle lane demonstration project along Research Parkway will be terminated. The bicycle lane striping and vertical delineators will be removed as soon as weather permits.

For the safety of the travelling public, the outside travel lane will continue to be a designated bicycle lane until lane markings can be changed to reflect vehicle travel.

In an effort to manage traffic speeds on Research Parkway, the Traffic Engineering Division implemented a demonstration project to “right size” the corridor between Austin Bluffs and Chapel Hills drive from six to four travel lanes and repurposed the outside travel lane as a buffered bike lane. The project’s goals were two-fold: To manage excessive traffic speeds and to utilize the remaining pavement to create additional bicycle connections along the corridor.

“The purpose of a bicycle lane demonstration project is to assess public sentiment as well as vehicle and bicycle traffic impacts,” said Mayor John Suthers. “The Traffic Engineering Division has prepared a report on the Research Parkway demonstration project. The bottom line is that the vast majority of residents in the area of the demonstration project are opposed to the project and the vast majority of people who support it do not live in the affected area. The amount of local resident use, even in favorable fall weather, was not significant.”

The study completed by Traffic Engineering reported that changes in vehicle speeds resulting from the lane reduction did not meet expectations and was not consistent with typical results from such an effort. The city plans to address excessive vehicle speed on Research through traffic enforcement.

“Colorado Springs will continue to promote bicycle transportation because we have a large number of residents and visitors who ride bicycles for both recreational and transportation purposes. We believe the city’s attraction to cyclists will be a growing part of our tourism economy going forward and providing multi-modal transportation options will make our city more attractive to a vibrant workforce. For this reason, I continue to support the development of the 2017 Bike Master Plan. With that, the city will continue to conduct demonstration projects to assess viability of routes and locations, while assessing levels of community support or opposition.”

The City encourages the public to provide input on projects that affect traffic flow, and offers multiple opportunities for engagement, including neighborhood meetings, City Council presentations and SpeakUp!, the city’s online survey tool. Prior to implementing the demonstration project the City conducted three neighborhood meetings in Spring 2016 to notify the public of the plan and gather input.

“With projects such as this one, there are a number of factors that determine outcomes, but be assured, public input is a major element of our decision-making,” said Jay Anderson, Citizen Engagement Specialist for the City of Colorado Springs. “While community meetings have been a long-standing method for such engagement, we are pleased to continue offering new ways for citizens to engage directly with the city.”

The Ride on Research demonstration project generated over 1,300 responses, which were an impactful element of determining the path forward. Metrics are as follow.

SpeakUp! Survey on Demonstration project:
1,347 people participated
· 63 percent of respondents lived in neighborhoods surrounding the demonstration project
· 37 percent of respondents lived in other neighborhoods

Overall response to the demonstration project:
· 80.5 percent of respondents said they want the project reversed
· 14.3 percent of respondents said they really like it, and remaining respondents said they felt it required some changes to make the project more palatable.

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UPDATE: Senior staff at PPACG placed on indefinite leave

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 10:06 AM

PPACG spokesperson Jessica McMullen has provided a list of names of those placed on leave. They are: Rob MacDonald, PPACG executive director; Craig Casper, PPACG transportation director; and Beverly Majewski, PPRTA finance manager.

——- ORIGINAL POST, DEC. 22, 3:07 P.M. ——-
Rob MacDonald, left, and City Councilor Andy Pico, who chairs the PPACG executive committee, at today's meeting. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Rob MacDonald, left, and City Councilor Andy Pico, who chairs the PPACG executive committee, at today's meeting.

The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments executive committee voted unanimously on Thursday to place executive director Rob MacDonald on indefinite administrative leave.

The committee also voted to appoint Rick Sonnenburg as acting executive director, and also voted to place an unspecified number of senior staff on indefinite administrative leave. All of the leaves are paid.

Sonnenburg oversees the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority under the PPACG umbrella.

Committee Chairman Andy Pico, a Colorado Springs city councilor, said issues that led to the leaves will be resolved within a month.

Asked if the loss of multiple managers from the regional planning agency will hobble its mission, he said, “Absolutely not. We’re moving forward.

The actions come amid a board investigation of MacDonald’s oversight of PPACG, which was sharply criticized by employees, one of whom described the work environment as “retired in place,” and other issues.

Elected officials also have expressed a desire for more robust leadership on transportation issues. (“What about Rob?” Oct. 26, 2016)

Hired in 1999, MacDonald reported to a board composed of elected officials from 16 cities, towns and counties in the PPACG service area, which covers El Paso, Teller and Park counties.

PPACG, formed in 1967, provides a forum for local officials to deal with issues that cross boundaries, with primary focus on transportation, air and water quality and the federally funded Area Agency on Aging.

The agency also administers the PPRTA, supported with a 1 percent sales tax in El Paso County, and oversees millions of dollars in state, federal and local funding for roads.

MacDonald came under scrutiny after nearly a third of the agency’s employees left within two years. When reporting the departures to the board and posting the report on the agency’s website, MacDonald disclosed reasons they left. The report drew objections from at least three ex-employees, who called the reasons given by MacDonald as “false,” “wasn’t entirely true” and “blatantly false.”

In addition, one former employee, Dawn Meyer, filled an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint against PPACG alleging she was fired after being diagnosed with cancer. (“PPACG employee claims she was fired because of her illness,” Dec. 7, 2016)

Despite receiving bonuses for her outstanding work for years, Meyer described in an interview a hostile work atmosphere in which her supervisor yelled at her, her personal medical and financial information was disseminated to others without her permission, and she was refused accommodation for her illness, despite a doctor’s request on her behalf. She was pushed out in May 2016.

In addition, the agency has not been able to play a role in helping secure funding for widening Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock. While the 17-mile stretch isn’t within the PPACG planning area, it appears little has been done to rally support from neighboring jurisdictions and the state. Only on Dec. 21 did the PPACG issue a release saying that “gap” had been declared the agency’s top priority.

The PPACG executive committee — comprised of Colorado Springs City Councilor Jill Gaebler, El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, Green Mountain Falls trustee Tyler Stevens and Pico — took the three actions Thursday in a meeting at City Hall that lasted about five minutes.

Pico said after the meeting the senior staff members’ leaves are pending further performance review, and while MacDonald’s initial job review has taken place, other evaluation is ongoing. Committee member Norm Steen of Teller County did not attend the meeting.

MacDonald was on hand and declined to comment following the actions.
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Thursday, December 22, 2016

LGBTQ organization One Colorado planning to tour the state

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 9:47 AM

statewide-tour-sq.jpg
One Colorado, a statewide organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights and awareness, conducts an annual tour of Colorado. This year, it’s stopping in 13 cities, ours included.

The “We Are One Colorado” tour will, according to its press release, “address One Colorado's priorities for 2017 and the future, including continuing to ensure LGBTQ Coloradans have equal access to health care, making sure every school is safe for LGBTQ young people, and removing barriers for transgender Coloradans.”

In addition to the above, the organization will reveal the results of its 2016 needs assessment, which surveyed more than 3,600 LGBTQ Coloradans, asking questions about what they considered our community’s greatest needs both politically and socially.

The organization will be stopping in Colorado Springs on Jan. 31 and in Pueblo on Feb. 22. Please sign up if you’re planning to attend either event, or an event held in one of the other 11 cities.
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