Local News

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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Get tickets to see Newt Gingrich on Friday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 11:03 AM

  • Courtesy Colorado College
  • Newt Gingrich
After watching the Presidential Town Hall Debate, Americans are itching for more political events.

Errr, OK, so maybe that's not exactly true. But surely there are some folks in Colorado Springs who wouldn't mind seeing former Speaker of the House and Republican Party legend Newt Gingrich speak. While Gingrich doesn't wield the influence he once did, he's still in the game. Most recently, he warned his fellow Republicans to think twice about abandoning Donald Trump

Anyway, Gingrich will be speaking at Colorado College on Nov. 2. While the tickets are free, you do need tickets, and they're likely to go quickly. You can get your tickets starting Friday. Here are the details per CC:

Congressman Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, is on campus next month as part of the Sondermann Presidential Symposium. Tickets are free but required, and will be available beginning Friday, Oct. 14, at 8 a.m. at the Worner Desk in the Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis for the event which will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Kathryn Mohrman Theatre. One ticket per person please.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Lamborn still supports Trump despite "locker room" talk

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 12:31 PM

Rep. Lamborn: Still a Trump fan. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Rep. Lamborn: Still a Trump fan.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, who's running for his sixth term in Congress, supports Donald Trump for president, despite his misogynistic comments that came to light last Friday from a 2005 back stage conversation prior to taking part in an episode of Days of our Lives

The comments went viral and have led dozens of Republicans to withdraw support, including Sen. John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

So we asked Lamborn's spokesman where the congressman stands, and this is the statement we were given via email:
It is good that Mr. Trump has apologized for his 2005 remarks. He must now take every opportunity he has to show our nation that this sort of behavior is in the past and that he is dedicated to treating people with respect and dignity. Despite his flaws, Donald Trump remains a far superior candidate than Hillary Clinton.
As first reported by the Washington Post on Oct. 7, some of the comments Trump made.
Here are some of the choicer quotes from a man who has said that he “would be the best for women”:

“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.”
“I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Meantime, Darryl Glenn is calling for Trump step aside and allow vice presidential nominee Mike Pence be the Republican torch bearer in the presidential election.

First reported by the Gazette over the weekend, Glenn's news release issued Saturday afternoon said:
"As a father, as a Christian, and as a Republican, I believe that we simply cannot tolerate a nominee who speaks this way about women.

This is the most important election of our lifetime. Hillary Clinton is a threat to the rule of law, and to our safety and security. But Donald Trump is simply disqualified from being Commander in Chief—America cannot have a man who speaks this way about women be the face of our country to the Free World.

I am therefore calling on Donald Trump to do the honorable, selfless thing—voluntarily step aside and let Mike Pence be our party's nominee so that we can defeat Hillary Clinton, keep control of the Senate, and put our nation back on a path of safety and security.

If Trump is truly committed to making America great again, then this is the only way forward."
This comes after Glenn supported Trump vigorously, and even embraced some of Trump's platforms, including the ban on Muslim immigrants.

Beating Glenn to the punch was Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, who called for Trump to step aside on Friday, the day news broke of Trump's 2005 boasts of sexual overtures toward women.

Sen. Michael Bennet, who Glenn hopes to unseat but is trailing in double digits in polls, issued this statement on Saturday:
As recently as last night Darryl Glenn refused to back down from his steadfast support for Donald Trump, and Glenn’s eleventh-hour act of political self-preservation rings about as hollow as Donald Trump’s apology to voters. Darryl Glenn praised Donald Trump as a ‘patriot’ even as Trump insulted immigrants as ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals,’ mocked people with disabilities, praised dictators like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Un, and denigrated a Gold Star family. Voters will remember that up until this day, Glenn has been Trump’s highest-profile supporter in Colorado, and unfortunately for him, the time to take a principled stand has already passed.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Check out that new bike lane on Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 1:03 PM


The city is hosting a community bike ride on Saturday so that cyclists can check out the new buffered bike lane on Research Parkway. 

The #RideOnResearch Community Bike Ride will start at 11 a.m. and stretch for four miles. Riders are also invited to visit Pizza Time, where participants can grab some food and talk to Paralympic Cyclist Chris Murphy.

The new bike lanes on Research are a pilot project. The city is taking comments on the new lane  and will decide later whether to make them permanent. Though cyclists have long asked for buffered bike lanes, the response to the lanes so far has come largely from motorists who do not like the lanes. 

Cycling groups have been urging area cyclists to try the new lanes and fill out the survey. They note that if these lanes are successful, the city would likely add more of them. But if the lanes are shot down, the city would likely be hesitant to install them elsewhere. 

Here are the ride details:

Calendar Event Date:
Sat. October 08th, 2016 - 11:00am
Try out the city's first buffered bike lane demonstration project at out #RideOnReseatvh Community bike ride.

Bike Ride
This 4-mile community bike ride will take riders along Research Pkwy to try out this new project and we’ll stop along the way for a special celebration with food and bicycle fun! Other connections available for riders looking for more of a challenge.

Ride departs Briargate YMCA, 4025 Family Place Saturday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. Riders meet in Children’s Hospital parking lot north of the YMCA.

Bicycle Event
11 a.m.-2 p.m. in front of Pizza Time in the Union Town Center (Union Blvd/Research Pkwy)

Meet Paralympic Cyclist Chris Murphy who just returned from competing in 2016 Rio Games, and the many organizations that support bicycling in Colorado Springs.

Giveaways for younger riders, and bicycle safety tips and games.

Great deals on pizza, shaved ice and drinks.

After the ride, be sure to check out our survey on the bike lanes: www.ColoradoSprings.gov/RideOnResearch

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Can't make the rent? Help is on the way.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 1:02 PM

Greenwood Flats will help people out of homelessness — but they'll still need somewhere affordable to live permanently. - COURTESY NOR'WOOD DEVELOPMENT GROUP
  • Courtesy Nor'wood Development Group
  • Greenwood Flats will help people out of homelessness — but they'll still need somewhere affordable to live permanently.

According to a recent study by the National Housing Conference
, Colorado Springs ranks 100th out of 180 metro areas for the most expensive market to rent a two-bedroom home.

And our affordable housing stock isn't keeping up. That's why it was welcome news when Nor'wood Development Group, the biggest developer in the region, recently announced that it was working with Springs Rescue Mission to build a $14 million transitional housing complex called Greenwood Flats that will house 65 people working their way out of homelessness.

Now, there's more good news. Greccio Housing and Commonwealth Development Corporation  have been awarded $1.1 million in Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) by Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA). They will use the money to build the Broadmoor Bluffs Apartments, a 60-unit affordable housing complex.

The development  will offer one, two and three bedroom homes, which will be available to those who earn between 30 and 50 percent of the Area Median Income.

Additionally, the City of Colorado Springs and the Community Development Division are hosting a series of five meetings to get citizen input on affordable housing needs. Comment will help shape plans for the use of annual block grants provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Those include the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG).

The city notes, "The funds can be used for projects that improve neighborhoods and housing, provide community facilities and services and expand economic opportunity, principally to benefit low-and moderate-income people."

Here are the dates:

Meeting Dates:
October 4 @ 6 – 7:30 p.m. October 6 @ 6 – 7:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers YMCA -Southeast
107 N. Nevada Avenue, 80903 2190 Jet Wing Drive, 80916

October 6 @ 2:30 – 4 p.m. October 13 @ 4 - 6 p.m.
Marian House Soup Kitchen The Independence Center
14 W. Bijou Street, 80903 729 South Tejon Street
*Focused on needs of people *Focused on disability services*
experiencing homelessness*

October 14 @ 1:30 – 3 p.m.
Colorado Springs Senior Center
1514 N. Hancock Avenue *Focused on senior services*

• You may also SUBMIT your comments via email to HousingDevelopment@springsgov.com or voicemail at (719) 385-5912.

• A SpeakUp! Survey for the plan is available at: https://coloradosprings.granicusideas.com/surveys/2017-action-plan-survey

• Information about the Community Development Division is available at: www.coloradosprings.gov/communitydevelopment

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Oil and gas give big to Amendment 71

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 12:59 PM

click image SMELINDO
  • SMelindo
Raise the Bar, the campaign aimed at making it more difficult to amend the state constitution, has now raised $4.1 million, largely from groups connected to the oil and gas industry, Colorado Secretary of State records reveal. I wrote about the initiative in this week's issue. 

Making it more difficult to amend the state constitution is an idea that has widespread bipartisan support, because the process is so easy — relative to other states that allow citizens to ask for such changes — that Colorado can end up as the target of national special interest groups looking to test out new laws. The state constitution also has many laws that, in practice, contradict one another, making governing the state a challenge.

However, the Raise the Bar initiative also has bipartisan opposition from groups that say that it makes the process much too difficult. Interestingly, if the initiative passes, it may hit progressive causes more heavily, due to a new trend in political campaigns. 

One group that does support raising the bar, is the oil and gas industry. It's no secret why. This year, grassroots groups tried to petition several initiatives onto the Colorado ballot that, if passed, would have created more control over the industry, and allowed for local governments to reign in fracking or ban it outright. Making it more difficult to get such measures on the ballot might protect the energy industry from having to fight such battles in the future. 

In its latest filing, Raise the Bar has a $250,000 donation from the Colorado Petroleum Council (American Petroleum Institute), a $100,000 donation from Whiting Petroleum Corp., and another $1 million from Protecting Colorado's Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence. The latter group, which was formed to fight those failed ballot measures aimed at controlling the oil and gas industry, has given a total of $2 million to the campaign. 
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Police identify "cases of interest" to release online

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 10:37 AM

Ryan Brown is among those who felt he was treated differently  by police because he's black. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Ryan Brown is among those who felt he was treated differently by police because he's black.
Want to dive into police reports about a high profile incident? The Colorado Springs Police Department has started a new service that will allow citizens to study redacted police reports.

Called Cases of Interest, the site now includes only four incidents: the Halloween shooting in which Noah Harpham killed three people before being gunned down by police; the case of Ryan Brown, who's black and was pulled from his car by police for no apparent reason in March 2015, the Taco Bell shooting in which a man was killed by a citizen, and the Springs Creek Juvenile Detention Facility riot.

Missing are the Planned Parenthood shooting last November, a case that's pending after a judicial finding that accused shooter Robert Dear isn't competent to stand trial, and Officer Tyler Walker who left the department after an internal affairs investigation of his slamming to the ground of Alexis Acker in Memorial Hospital's emergency room. A video of the incident went viral after the Independent posted it on July 15, 2015. The city paid $100,000 to settle the case earlier this year. The matter wasn't investigated by police until Acker threatened to sue in 2014. Walker was not fired as a result but rather left on his own accord.

It's unclear who decides which incidents constitute a "case of interest," but it's fair to say the police make that decision.

Here's CSPD spokesman Lt. Howard Black's media advisory about the new site:
Welcome the CSPD's cases of interest. Here you will find redacted copies of police cases of a local or national interest that are frequently requested by citizens and the media. The information in these cases cannot be used to harass, intimidate, or seek retribution on any party listed in the case. All cases are redacted in accordance with the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act. There is not a charge to view or download the reports.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Policeman charged with brutality is found not guilty

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 9:42 AM

Biscaro: found not guilty.
  • Biscaro: found not guilty.
Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Steven Biscaro has been found innocent of all charges.

Biscaro was charged with menacing, a Class Five felony, and third degree assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor. The jury reached their decision after deliberating for a short time today.

Biscaro, a 23-year police veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, was charged after he responded to a traffic accident that turned into a disturbance. 

The Gazette, which covered the trial, reported that 43-year-old Michael Ferguson, who was involved in the traffic accident, reported that Biscaro punched, kicked and choked him and told him, "I'm going to (expletive) kill you."

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies, who were also on the scene, also testified in the case. One testified that he believed  Biscaro had used excessive force with Ferguson. 

Biscaro's name also surfaced in the Independent's reporting on accusations of police use of excessive force. 
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Friday, September 30, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've posted the majority of his email below:

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading

Adam Jeffrey
SoCoVelo President


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

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

I know I do.

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

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

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

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

Read on for all the details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· Skyline Trail (near Chapel Hills Drive)

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

· Rangewood Drive Bike Lanes

· Neighborhood/local trails

What’s Next:

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

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

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

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Prescribed burn scheduled for Woodland Park area

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

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

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

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

Read on for details:


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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Good news for the Olympic Museum

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

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

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

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

UPDATE: LGBTQ group endorses both candidates in HD17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Greenway Flats homeless enclave announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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