Local News

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"Fun Facts About Homelessness"

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2016 at 10:43 AM

The Coalition for Compassion and Action, which describes itself as "the activism arm for the movement to end homelessness in Colorado Springs" has released a video called "Fun Facts About Homelessness," that is, to be frank, not very funny. 

The video discusses the plight of the local homeless, who have been without emergency shelter through the last few snow storms, and criticizes the city for not responding quickly enough.

For instance, the video notes that the city did not spend federal dollars on homelessness that instead sat in an account for years. The city does get funding for certain homeless programs from the feds that is spent every year. But it's true that the city left years worth of money it receives from Community Development Block Grant Funds sitting in an account for years. You can read about it here. (It should be noted that CDBG funds didn't necessarily have to be spent on the homeless, and could have gone to other community needs had the homeless not been identified as a priority by the city.)

The video also criticizes the city for a lack of emergency shelter beds. It is true that winter shelters have closed, and that the city has fewer shelter beds than needed. But it should be noted that many normal shelters are still operating, even if they do fall short of the true need.

Finally, the video points out that without adequate shelter, the homeless are forced to camp on public lands, which is illegal. That's true. The city police, however, are supposed to provide campers with a shelter bed if they force them to pack up camp. The city is meeting soon to discuss how to handle homeless camps this summer, when there will be a severe shortage of shelter beds.  The upshot: People will be allowed to camp.

Enjoy the video. Or don't. Really it's pretty depressing.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

UPDATE: The go karts are coming ... in July

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 10:31 AM

The go karts are still coming, but they won't be here until June. According to Overdrive Raceway:

The Grand Opening of Overdrive Raceway in Colorado Springs has been delayed due to weather. Because of all the recent snow we can no longer open Memorial Weekend as planned. The new opening date is July 2, 2016. 

——- ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 20, 3:12 P.M. ——-
  • Overdrive Raceway

I have always liked to drive fast.

Back in the 1990s, I was the teenager that made you cuss in front of your kids — the crazy person driving 120 mph and weaving between traffic. I was the one flashing my lights at you when I zoomed up behind you in the fast lane, signaling for you to get your slow ass over. I was the one who passed you in the no-passing lane on that scary mountain road.

That was me, and I am sorry. I was a total jerk.

As a real, bonafide adult, I have taken out my love of going fast on other things, like mountain bikes and — on a special occasion — go karts. Yes, I'm an adult and I like go karts. Go karts are fun

The problem with go karts, however, is that they are only in Denver. There used to be a trailer along the highway on the northern end of the Springs that advertised a new go kart track coming soon — and got me all excited for like three years — but the track never seemed to show up.

So imagine my excitement when I received a press release this morning stating that the "first two-level indoor electric go kart facility in the country" was being built in Colorado Springs. Apparently, this fancy new track will even have cars that can accommodate people who don't have legs or don't have the use of their legs. Here's the whole release:

Jim Mundle, a double amputee, will offer hand-controlled go karts for amputees, paraplegics and disabled racers

Colorado Springs, CO - On May 28, 2016, Colorado Springs will be home to a new indoor recreation business – the first two-level indoor electric go kart facility in the country. The new entertainment project is being built at Polaris Pointe, a new retail complex southeast of Interstate 25 at North Gate Boulevard, east of the Air Force Academy, next to Bass Pro Shops. “This was the perfect location for us,” says Owner Jim Mundle, “Bass Pro Shops gets 2 million visitors a year. We’re hoping to capitalize on that traffic and become a destination for visitors and tourists in Colorado Springs and the entire Rocky Mountain region.”

Overdrive Raceway will be a housed in a 68,000 sq. ft. steel building and will feature two ¼ mile Formula One race tracks on two floors. The first level will be a technical track with adult and child karts, the second level will be a track built for speed. The race track has a $6 million dollar price tag and will offer a concession area, pro shop, arcade, party area, bar & lounge and conference rooms. “I expect this to be the perfect destination for birthday or office parties and corporate retreats, but I also want to help the disabled.” says Mundle.

Mundle is a double amputee, having lost both his legs below the knee to staph infections as a result of Type 1 Diabetes. But despite his setbacks in life, he keeps a positive outlook and wants to help others. That’s one reason he’s purchasing four hand-controlled go karts for those who cannot use their legs to drive. The specialty-made karts cost more than $12,000 each and currently in development at the kart manufacturer in Italy. Mundle says he plans to order them as soon as they’re available. The hand-controlled karts are for amputees, those who are paralyzed from the waist down, or disabled in a way where they can’t drive a car, but can still use their hands. “We really want to be inclusive to everyone,” says Mundle. “Businesses can be a vehicle for good and I want to give people experiences they couldn’t otherwise have.”

Each track can accommodate 10 racers at a time. The goal is to record the fastest time. Electric karts offer more torque than traditional gasoline karts. Adult karts have a top speed of 55 mph, while the child karts top 25 mph. Overdrive Raceway will provide helmets and safety training to everyone before they ride. The facility will also offer summer camps for kids, league racing for adults, private parties and full track rental.

As for the customer experience, Mundle, who used to work as a chef at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in Orlando, Florida, is using the personalized training he received at Disney to offer world-class customer service here in Colorado. “This won’t just be an attraction, it will be an entire experience. This has been my dream for the past four years. We want people to feel good when they leave and to know we exceeded their expectations. We have a fun business but we want customer service to be our motto and our focus. In this country, a lot of that has been lost.” 

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Keyser back on the ballot, others still trying

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 5:31 PM

Jon Keyser
  • Jon Keyser
Former state Rep. Jon Keyser is back from the dead.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the U.S. Senate candidate failed to make the Republican primary ballot. Keyser needed 1,500 valid petition signatures from Republican voters in each of Colorado's seven Congressional districts, for a total of 10,500 signatures, to make the primary ballot for the seat, but the Colorado Secretary of State's Office announced that he fell 86 signatures short of the mark. Keyser, however, legally challenged the ruling and won. 

At issue was the signatures collected by a single petition gatherer, who had not updated the address on his voter registration as legally required. The petitioner had recently moved. Thus, any signatures gathered by the petitioner that listed his new address were not counted as valid.

The court, however, ruled that: " Mr. Keyser substantially complied with the Colorado Election Code."

That ruling meant the signatures were counted and Keyser made the ballot. He joins El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and Jack Graham, a former Colorado State Athletic director.

Two other candidates, Robert Blaha, a Colorado Springs businessman, and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, also failed to make the ballot yesterday due to insufficient valid signatures. Frazier told the Denver Post he would appeal the decision.

Blaha released the following statement:

Late this afternoon we were notified by the Secretary of State that our petition was insufficient, and we are currently evaluating the Secretary of State's report. After we have concluded a thorough evaluation, we will have further comment regarding our next steps in seeking the Republican nomination for U.S Senate. We believe that after our review, the final analysis will validate that we are in substantial compliance.

The winner of the primary will go on to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, in November. Unsurprisingly, the Colorado Democratic Party has been delighted by the circus on the Republican side of the race. Chris Meagher, spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, released the following statement after Keyser won his legal challenge:

After being handpicked by the national Republican Party and blowing off grassroots Republicans, Jon Keyser had to sue his way onto the Republican primary ballot. Now he's back to limping through the primary with no momentum and practically no money, while Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier prepare their own lawsuits to get back on the ballot.

Keyser was anointed by the same national Republicans who have spent years creating gridlock in Washington, and like a typical politician Keyser has refused to take positions on issues that matter to Colorado while blowing off the grassroots to jaunt off to locales like Las Vegas in an attempt to raise money from billionaire establishment megadonors. Keyser has pledged to support Donald Trump if he’s the nominee and it’s clear that if elected to the Senate, Jon Keyser would only add to the dysfunction in Washington.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Safety sizing" plan up for debate

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 2:25 PM

Should Nevada Avenue be narrowed from four lanes to two south of Penrose Hospital? How about Cascade Avenue?

Those are among questions the city wants to hear from residents about at a public meeting slated for May 3, 5 to 7 p.m., at the City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.

We wrote about the proposal a couple of weeks ago (Trimming the lanes," April 13, 2016), and the Old North End Neighborhood reportedly is far from unanimous on the idea of putting those streets on a "diet," as urban planners call it.

From the city's news release:
Colorado Springs residents are encouraged to provide input on a plan to modify travel lanes on five streets near the Colorado College campus at an open house Tuesday, May 3 at the City Auditorium.

The open house will include displays and exhibits showing the proposed concepts and constraints, allowing citizens to talk directly to City engineers and planners who will be on-hand to answer questions and gather public input.

The project will address safety concerns for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists on Cascade, Nevada and Wasatch avenues and Fontanero and Weber streets.

The meeting location is wheelchair accessible. In accordance with the ADA, this meeting will be held in an accessible location, anyone requiring an auxiliary aid to participate in this meeting should make the request as soon as possible but no later than 48 hours before the scheduled event. Auxiliary aids could include, but are not limited to a sign language interpreter, CART Services or a loop system. Please notify Tim Roberts at troberts@springsgov.com 719-385-5481.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

UPDATE: Council action on land swap delayed two weeks

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 4:11 PM

This photo has been photo-shopped by opponents of the land swap to identify the Strawberry Fields area by the tag applied by the city to it during the appraisal process, which called it the North Cheyenne Cañon Park Disposal Project."
  • This photo has been photo-shopped by opponents of the land swap to identify the Strawberry Fields area by the tag applied by the city to it during the appraisal process, which called it the North Cheyenne Cañon Park Disposal Project."
We were just provided a copy of an appeal of the Parks Advisory Board's recommendation to City Council to approve the land swap. Here's a copy:
———ORIGINAL POST MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2016, 4:05 P.M.—————-

City Council will delay action on the exchange of city open space to The Broadmoor until May 24, it was stated during Council's informal meeting today.

Council had planned to act on May 10, one day after an appraisal review is due on appraisals conducted on the city's 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space and a half-acre parking lot at the base of Manitou Incline. The city hasn't released those appraisals and has said it won't until the deal is done. It's unclear if appraisals done by The Broadmoor of its 400+ acres of land involved in the trade will ever be released.

Meantime, comments provided to the city during its public process over the exchange show that nearly 70 percent are against the proposal, although Parks Advisory Board Chair Jackie Hilaire told Council today that "the minority is being very vocal" and that she's heard from more people who are in favor of it. (The board has recommended Council approve the deal.)

That prompted City Councilor Bill Murray to say, "My emails are 40 to 1 against it. We’re losing a lot of good will in this process."

More on Hilaire later.

The city's refusal to release the appraisals prompted attorney Bill Louis to tell City Council he plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of those opposing the Broadmoor land exchange to seek disclosure of the appraisals. He said the Colorado Open Records Act doesn't prohibit their release but rather says they may be withheld if it's in the public interest to withhold them.

Louis also threatened to mount legal challenges to the deal based on The Broadmoor's plan to shut off 8.5 acres of Strawberry Fields for the exclusive use by its guests at a stable and picnic pavilion.

"Fencing off 8.5 acres for use by exclusive guests of a five-star resort is not use by the public," he said, which is what park zoning requires. "Use by the public is right down here in Monument Park where a man or woman working in any business in Colorado Springs at minimum wage can afford to reserve a pavilion. That’s open to the public. Open to the public doesn’t mean open to the six-figure incomes."

Several Council members countered with other existing park zone uses that allow commercial operations to regulate who uses the facilities, such as the Switchbacks soccer team's field in northeast Colorado Springs.

Louis, who served as El Paso County attorney for at least eight years before resigning a few years ago, also urged Council to simply put the issue to a vote of the people.

But mostly, the hours of discussion came from city officials and people associated with The Broadmoor speaking in favor of the exchange, such as Gary Butterworth, who works for El Pomar Foundation, which offices at The Broadmoor and was established by The Broadmoor's founder, Spencer Penrose.

"I don’t take lightly the fact they [parks staff] worked on this proposal," Butterworth said. "They’ve got to be thinking what’s in the best interest of this community."

Now, as for Hilaire, some have raised questions about why a non-city resident sits on the city parks board.

Here's the answer, as provided by Parks Director Karen Palus via email: 
We have had several Boards members and TOPS Committee members who have resided outside the City over the many years. Jackie does live outside the City limits but is adjacent to City owned Corral Bluffs. We have had members who have lived in Manitou Springs, in the county and Monument. This was allowed by our ordinances. We have recently updated our ordinances to require all board and committee members to reside in the City. All future members of the Parks Board and the TOPS Working Committee members will be required to be City residents. Jackie is one of our last folks to transition out her term ends this summer.
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

City Council approves $460M deal with Pueblo County

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 3:24 PM

A group of officials gathered back in March 2013 to break ground on the new Edward Bailey Water Treatment Plant for the Southern Delivery System. Next week, the pipeline and plant could be made fully operational. - COURTESY SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Springs Utilities
  • A group of officials gathered back in March 2013 to break ground on the new Edward Bailey Water Treatment Plant for the Southern Delivery System. Next week, the pipeline and plant could be made fully operational.

As expected, Colorado Springs City Council voted to approve a $460-million, 20-year deal with Pueblo County that shovels loads of cash into the city's stormwater drainage system.

The deal, approved on Wednesday, got the nod from all Council members, except Helen Collins, who didn't comment on why she voted against the intergovernmental agreement.

Now, Pueblo County Commissioners will vote on Monday, after which the Southern Delivery System water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir can be activated, possibly as soon as April 27, utilities officials say.

The votes end a rigorous negotiation made necessary by the Springs largely ignoring stormwater needs after voters approved Issue 300, which essentially called for an end to the "rain tax" in November 2009 and Council responded by abolishing the city's fee-based stormwater enterprise the next month. The enterprise had been noted in the city's 1041 permit issued by Pueblo County the previous spring, so when it was dismantled, Pueblo County officials were furious.

From planning to completion, SDS has spanned well over a decade, involved payments for land to more than 300 landowners, several court cases and a few missteps, including spending more than $6 million for property for a reservoir on Jimmy Camp Creek and later abandoning that site.

The city is currently in court with a developer over the value of land used for SDS in the Fountain Valley, and faces another court case in May with David Jenkins, owner of the Banning Lewis Ranch, where SDS and a pump station also are built.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Medical marijuana advocates rally for growing rights on 4/20

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 3:20 PM


In addition to all the consumption oriented festivities going on today, a march on City Hall brought a small but mighty crowd of medical marijuana supporters out to vent some frustrations. Their message? Leave our plants alone.

Amendment 20 may have legalized medical marijuana back in 2000, but patients now feel their rights are under attack. That attack comes in the form of a proposed ordinance to limit all residences in the Springs to 12 marijuana plants total, period, no matter how many adults, patients or caregivers live there.

Around 30 diehards turned out to voice their discontent on council’s turf.

Medical marijuana advocates take to city streets for 4/20 rally
Medical marijuana advocates take to city streets for 4/20 rally Medical marijuana advocates take to city streets for 4/20 rally Medical marijuana advocates take to city streets for 4/20 rally Medical marijuana advocates take to city streets for 4/20 rally

Medical marijuana advocates take to city streets for 4/20 rally

By Nat Stein

Click to View 5 slides

Notable among the crowd of patients, their family members and supporters were two people who say they plan on becoming candidates for city council — Joseph Carlson and Hemp Hurd — both of whom intend to make cannabis a central part of their campaign.

Carlson’s take on the matter as a would-be elected official: “I say leave it alone, let them grow. We should be focusing on the rapists, the murderers — not the patients.”

Both federal and local law enforcement have raised concerns about so-called “home invasions" — when out-of-staters move into Colorado’s legal marijuana haven, grow a ton of plants in a residential home then ship it to thirstier markets throughout the country. Fear of that kind of criminal activity is what’s driving plant count limits here in the Springs and in municipalities around the state.

Legitimate medical marijuana users, like 47-year-old Tammie Bruner, worry about shouldering the consequences of a few bad actors. She moved to the Springs in September from Kentucky to get better access to the one medicine that works against her seizures: cannabis.

“I was shocked to come here and find out they were still coming after my medicine,” she told the Independent.

If she can’t grow all her plants at home she’ll have to make up the difference at a dispensary. And that, Bruner says, is an expensive prospect.

“It costs like $45 a gram and that only lasts me two days if I’m really careful. It takes a lot (of cannabis) to control my seizures. And that’s the only reason I have my life back,” she says. “I don’t want to become a criminal again, I just was to be healthy and happy.”

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City's making life better for oldsters

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 1:06 PM

First, so-called young professionals were the category of citizens the state and Colorado Springs were trying to attract.
Mayor John Suthers, looking vibrant and youthful, wants to make things easier for those who are aging. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mayor John Suthers, looking vibrant and youthful, wants to make things easier for those who are aging.

Now, Mayor John Suthers has appointed chairpersons to a collaborative that will work toward making Colorado Springs an "age-friendly" community, which is loosely defined in the news release below as being welcoming for individuals of all ages. However, the initiative is in partnership with the American Association of Retired Persons, so that's definitely a target group.

A wise public official from years ago once made the point that lawmakers need to be careful in what policies they adopt, because retired-friendly laws and programs undoubtedly will attract more retired residents to a state, and those people spend less, while requiring much more government support than younger people, most notably on health care and other aging programs such as meals on wheels.

But hey, I fall into that "older" category, so I'm all for making life easier for seniors.

In any event, older people are more consistent voters than younger people, so they often have a lock on elections and have the ear of those elected officials. To wit, the older folks installed as Springs City Council members in the 2015 election, despite many candidates who were considered young professionals.

Suthers' news release:
Colorado Springs, CO - Innovations in Aging Collaborative along with the City of Colorado Springs and AARP have launched the Age-Friendly Colorado Springs initiative. The purpose of Colorado Springs joining the network of AARP Age Friendly Communities is to serve as a catalyst to educate, inspire, and promote improvements that Colorado Springs can implement to make our community known as a remarkable place to age. Age-Friendly Colorado Springs (AFCS) is a partnership between governmental agencies, nonprofits, businesses, committed volunteers and funders. The purpose of AFCS is to develop an action plan that guides and builds strategies to make Colorado Springs livable and welcoming for individuals of all ages. The affiliation with AARP provides value, networking, and best practices of other Age Friendly Communities.

Mayor Suthers has appointed the following Colorado Springs citizens to serve as Chair people for the eight Age-Friendly Colorado Springs Subcommittees:

Transportation: Craig Blewitt, Transportation Services Manager, Mountain Metropolitan Transit, City of Colorado Springs
Housing: Dan O’Rear, Executive Director, Myron Stratton Home
Social Participation: Jody Barker, Executive Director of Aging Initiatives, YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region
Community Support and Health Services: Kent Matthews, Family Caregiver Support Center, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Area Agency on Aging
Respect and Social Inclusion: Carrie Schillinger, Program Development, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Area Agency on Aging
Civic Participation and Employment: Susan Presti, Community Relations and Information Management, Colorado Springs Utilities
Outdoor Spaces and Buildings: Carl Schueler, Comprehensive Planning Manager, City of Colorado Springs
Communication and Information: Jeanne Devant, Editor, Life After 50

To learn more about the Age-Friendly Colorado Springs Initiative, visit www.innovationsinaging.org.

The mission of Innovations in Aging Collaborative is to convene the community to promote creative approaches that address the challenges and opportunities of aging. 

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Jack Graham gives Darryl Glenn competition in Senate primary

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 11:13 AM

Jack Graham will appear on the June 28 primary election ballot. - GRAHAM CAMPAIGN
  • Graham campaign
  • Jack Graham will appear on the June 28 primary election ballot.
Jack Graham's campaign announced today that he's become the first candidate who filed petitions to be certified for the June 28 Republican primary election ballot in the U.S. Senate race.

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn won a spot on the ballot at the April 9 state Republican Assembly by winning about 70 percent of the vote and keeping numerous other candidates off the ballot who had sought a slot through the assembly.

The primary winner will take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in the November election.

From Graham's news release:
Fort Collins businessman and former CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham today became the first candidate who filed petitions to be certified for the Republican primary election ballot for the U.S. Senate. Secretary of State Wayne Williams confirmed Graham submitted enough qualified Republican signatures.

"Ginger and I are grateful for all the help and support so many Coloradans volunteered in our successful quest to petition onto the primary ballot," Graham said. "We look forward to the primary election campaign and making our case to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate."

Graham was the last candidate to formally enter the Senate race but he was the first candidate to formally submit petitions to the Colorado Secretary of State for approval on Monday, March 28. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams confirmed today that Graham's petitions qualified. Three other candidates filed after Graham and are still awaiting word from the Secretary of State whether they qualify for the ballot.

Colorado election law requires the signatures of 1,500 registered Republicans from each of Colorado's seven congressional districts in order to petition onto the Tuesday, June 28 Republican primary election ballot. Graham submitted a total of nearly 20,000 signatures to the Secretary of State.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hunger, the Onion, Seth MacFarlane, and one surprised local woman

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 5:22 PM


The woman in this Onion  screenshot is Jenny Bealis-Schell, the co-owner of Design Rangers, a local Colorado Springs mom, and, apparently, something of a sudden celebrity.

In the last month, Jenny, who says she generally dodges cameras, has been featured in a web commercial seeking to raise money for hungry people and been featured in the aforementioned satirical article on the Onion, a story that was retweeted by Seth MacFarlane (the television producer, filmmaker, actor and singer who created Family Guy). She's also been the subject of many a commenter, including one who has insulted her "acting" and another who called her "annoying."

To say this has been surprising for Jenny is an understatement.

The genesis of this brush with fame began in the late 1970s. Jenny was 4 years old when her parents divorced. She says her dad didn't pay child support, and her mom, who worked as a waitress, often had little money. Mother and daughter moved to a piece of property that her mom got in the divorce, which was located in a ghost town just outside Victor, Colorado.

The cabin home had an outhouse, and no electricity or running water. For five years, mother and daughter scraped by, living in many ways as though it were the 1800s. Because money was scarce, Jenny was sometimes hungry. She fondly remembers neighbors who invited her to their homes for holiday meals, and a store that once gave her a bag of Christmas presents.

Her friend's family, she says, often watched her in the mornings before school when her mother worked early shifts. She remembers her friend's father making sourdough pancakes every morning. The food was a gift, as was the relief from her rugged circumstances.

“We didn’t have a TV and we had like kerosene lanterns," she recalls, "so just to walk into a house with electricity was a big deal.”

Because of her upbringing, Jenny has been eager to help the local food bank, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. Last year, she was the keynote speaker at Care and Share's fundraising luncheon and she says she was thrilled that the nonprofit was able to surpass its goal. Afterward, she said people would sometimes come up to her at random and tell her they heard her speech and were touched by it.

So when Care and Share called her again early this year, saying they wanted to submit her story for a commercial, she was excited. Every year, Walmart does a fundraising campaign with Care and Share's parent organization, Feeding America. Walmart stores send a portion of the proceeds from certain products, as well as donations made at cash registers, to Feeding America, which uses the money to buy food. The campaign is called  "Fight Hunger, Spark Change."  

This year, Walmart wanted to film profiles of people who volunteered with a Feeding America food bank and run them as ads on the web. After a national search, Walmart selected two stories from Colorado Springs, including Jenny's. A director from London and a film crew from New York came to the Springs to film the spots.

They even took Jenny back to her old hometown for part of the shoot.

“Having the film crew with me was so surreal and emotional,” she says.

In late March, the web ads started popping up. Then, on April 18, friends alerted Jenny to the Onion article.  Despite the less-than-generous headline, Jenny says she was thrilled. She and her husband love the Onion, as does her college-age son. And she was also excited about being in a MacFarlane tweet.

“It still think it’s like pretty cool," she says of the Onion article.

Adding, “Finally I’m going to get cool mom points.”

As for the negative comments, Jenny says she isn't really hurt. 

 “I'm not an actress," she says. "So I don’t care if [a commenter] calls me a shitty actress, because I’m not an actress.”
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Land deals could mean tax windfall for Broadmoor

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 1:49 PM

One view of the Ranch at Emerald Valley, a lease-hold The Broadmoor is hoping to own through a land swap with the Forest Service. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • One view of the Ranch at Emerald Valley, a lease-hold The Broadmoor is hoping to own through a land swap with the Forest Service.
The Broadmoor's land office must be abuzz these days, with work on its proposed land swap with the city, and also its pending deal with the U.S. Forest Service.

In both cases, The Broadmoor could realize a handsome tax benefit.

As we recently reported, The Broadmoor would claim a tax break of some kind totaling $1.45 million from the swap for city land. That's based on the idea that the city's land, including a 189-acre open space parcel known as Strawberry Fields, is worth much less than the parcels The Broadmoor would turn over to the city in the exchange.

From the proposed resolution:
"City Council hereby authorizes the acceptance of a donation of the difference in value between the City Property and the Broadmoor Property, if any, as determined by an appraisal conducted at the behest and expense of the Broadmoor."

(The city has refused to release the actual appraisals, but says The Broadmoor's land is worth about $3.6 million compared to the city's $2.2 million.)

Turns out, the same donation arrangement seems to be at work in the federal bill, which was introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., last August, and co-sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

The Broadmoor wants to trade 320 acres for forest land near The Crags for the 82 acres upon which one of its newest wilderness getaways is located, the Ranch at Emerald Valley. (The Broadmoor bought the 320 acres, located on the west side of Pikes Peak, for $1.3 million in September 2013.) The resort currently operates the ranch under a 20-year lease with the Forest Service.

From the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources report on the pending Crags, Colorado Land Exchange Act of 2015

Section 5(a) requires the Secretary to conduct appraisals
of the parcels of land. Section 5(b) requires the land exchange
to be of equal value. If the value of the Federal land exceeds
the value of the non-Federal land, Broadmoor Hotel, Inc., must
make a cash equalization payment to be deposited into the fund
established under P.L. 90-171 (16 U.S.C. 484a). Any cash
equalization payments received by the Secretary are to be used
to acquire land or interests in land in Region 2 of the USFS.
If the value of the non-Federal land exceeds the value of the
Federal land, the surplus value of the non-Federal land will be
considered a donation by Broadmoor Hotel, Inc., to the U.S.
Government. Section 5(c) directs that the appraisals should not
take into account the special use permit at Emerald Valley
Ranch or the Barr Trail easement when determining the value of
the parcels.

The Congressional Budget Office reportedly has worked up a cost estimate, and we're trying to find out more about that. We're circle back if and when we obtain additional information.

Meantime, when we reported on the federal land swap back in January 2014, then Broadmoor CEO Steve Bartolin indicated a tax benefit was a distinct possibility when he said, "They [The Forest Service] get a higher-value piece of property" in exchange. 

According to the pending federal bill, "It is the intent of Congress that the land exchange be completed within one year." That would be Aug. 5, 2016.

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Utilities' water quality notice cites teensy problem

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Water from Pueblo Reservoir has been affected by increased rains in the last few years. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Water from Pueblo Reservoir has been affected by increased rains in the last few years.
As required by state law, Colorado Springs Utilities will mail notices to about 47,000 of its roughly 200,000 water customers in coming weeks to notify them that the water quality standard level for Total Organic Carbon has been exceeded by water coming to the city via the Fountain Valley Authority treatment plant.

The plant is located on Ray Nixon Road in the vicinity of the Nixon power plant and treats water channeled via pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir.

Most of the customers affected reside in the south part of the city, says CSU spokesman Steve Berry via email.

The reason we say it's a teensy problem stems from the measurement. From the notice:
The FVA system is required to show that the amount of TOC in its treated water is less than 2.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L) calculated quarterly as a running annual average. The FVA’s first quarter of 2016 results showed that the TOC running annual average was 2.05 mg/L. 
Says Berry, "If you or a family member is immune suppressed due to illness or an organ transplant, they should consult with their medical team before drinking ANY tap or bottled water."

Here's more from the news release:
TOC originates from leaves, sticks, dirt, etc. TOC levels increased in Pueblo Reservoir (FVA water source) due to significant precipitation in 2014 and 2015 that transported more of this organic matter into the reservoir. While the FVA treatment plant – completed in the mid-1980s – is equipped to treat for TOC, the higher-than-normal TOC levels in the source water created a scenario that has temporarily exceeded the plant’s ability to meet the water quality standard in 1st Quarter 2016.

Although this exceedance does not pose an immediate health risk and is not an emergency, we are required by the State to send a notification to all potentially affected customers.

FVA, located south of Colorado Springs near the Ray Nixon Power Plant, is jointly owned and operated by Springs Utilities, Security Water and Sanitation District, Widefield Water and Sanitation District, Stratmoor Hills and the City of Fountain. The FVA system has a delivery capacity of 11 million gallons of water per day (MGD). In comparison, our Mesa Water Treatment Plant has a 50 MGD capacity and our Pine Valley Water Treatment Treatment Plant has a 92 MGD capacity.

Other partner agencies must notify their own customers of the TOC exceedance. Springs Utilities has asked these communities to only contact us if there is a concern about TOC and the treatment process. Springs Utilities is unable to address how partnering agencies operate their distribution systems.

Currently, the FVA is conducting extensive research on ways to further reduce TOC in the water both entering and leaving the treatment plant. 

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

President Obama will speak at USAFA

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 2:10 PM

The president is coming to the academy in June.
  • The president is coming to the academy in June.
The president will speak to the 2016 graduating cadets at the Air Force Academy this spring.

Here's the release:
President Barack Obama will be the commencement speaker for the Air Force Academy's Class of 2016 graduation ceremony, June 2 at Falcon Stadium here.

The White House announced the President's visit on April 14.
This will be his second visit to the Air Force Academy as President. He was the commencement speaker for the Class of 2012's graduation ceremony.

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GOCO shows us the money

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 1:47 PM

  • City of Manitou Springs
Lottery money from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) will go to fund the reconstruction of a baby pool in Manitou Springs, the expansion of sports fields in Ellicott School District, and a "facelift" for the county fairgrounds.

In all, the projects have been granted $699,413.

GOCO's board allocates funds from the Colorado Lottery around the state to preserve and enhance parks, trails and other outdoor spaces. 

Here are the details:
GOCO awards nearly $700,000 to El Paso County outdoor recreation projects

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded three grants totaling $699,413 Thursday to El Paso County communities. The City of Manitou Springs received $80,500 for the reconstruction of the public baby pool. El Paso County was awarded a $343,913 grant on behalf of the Ellicott School District to expand sports fields and a $275,000 grant for the county fairgrounds.

In Manitou, the existing pool for the city’s youngest swimmers is 44 years old, with unsafe and grossly inefficient structural issues. The pool, which is part of the larger community aquatic center, currently leaks beyond what yearly patching can fix. The pool was also designed with a hole built into one end that presents additional safety issues.

After having to turn away half of the families wanting to use the pool, GOCO funding will allow Manitou to accommodate up to 40 children. The larger pool also means new swimming classes for babies and preschool children. The GOCO grant will also build a kid-sized entry to the pool and update plumbing.

Manitou aims to have the project finished in fall 2016, aided by the local swim team that raised $1,000 for the new pool and will assist with minor construction and clean-up. Troop 18 of the Boy Scouts of America has also offered their support, including an Eagle Scout hopeful interested in the project.

In Ellicott, the school district partnered with El Paso County to receive funding for new sports fields. The current fields are at capacity, with football, baseball, and soccer all sharing fields. Expanding the athletic fields will impact the more than 1,000 students at the shared elementary, middle, and high school campus.

The school district site also serves as a community gathering place in this rural, unincorporated area of El Paso County. Many families of students come from nearby Schriever Air Force Base, and the school district serves a diverse, low-income population; 70 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch.

In addition to accommodating more student athletes, the new fields will also create the opportunity for outdoor science classes and will be used by Ellicott Metro District sports leagues. Sports fields at the school district site are the only public fields in the community.
Students will help with fundraising efforts for soccer nets and bleachers, with the school district hoping to have the project finished by September 2016.

In another rural El Paso community, the county fairgrounds will be getting a facelift to incorporate more outdoor recreation options. Located just south of Calhan, the fairgrounds support a variety of programming including El Paso County 4H, Calhan Schools, Eastern El Paso County Senior Services, and more.

Existing facilities at the fairgrounds are geared primarily toward agricultural and equestrian programming and the county fair, but the county intends to create a year-round hub for residents across the county. GOCO funding will construct an open-air pavilion, playground, splash pad, shade and landscaping, and picnic tables in addition to bringing electricity to the fairgrounds campground, fixing drainage issues on the dirt race track, and improving accessibility to the entrance.

The new pavilion will host events, including environmental educational programming, for up to 400 people, and the new playground and splash pad will be ADA-compliant. The county anticipates finishing the upgrades in September 2017 with the help of local boy scouts and 4-H members.

To date, GOCO has invested nearly $51 million in El Paso County has conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported the reconstruction of the Manitou Incline, flood restoration at Harlan Wolf Park , and recovery from the Black Forest Fire. The Pikes Peak Region was also recently named a GOCO Inspire pilot community and will be part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,700 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Did 5280 get it right? Some say, "no way."

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 2:37 PM

These people might disagree that the Springs is having an identity crisis, as reported by a Denver magazine. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • These people might disagree that the Springs is having an identity crisis, as reported by a Denver magazine.
Some time back, 5280 Magazine came out with a lengthy article about Colorado Springs that pretty much trashes the city at the foot of American's mountain.

Called "Colorado Springs' identity crisis," by Robert Sanchez, the article seems to rely heavily on reports from years ago about figures such as fallen New Life Church preacher Ted Haggard and citations from other publications in the 1990s.

Hello. It's 2016. 

The Colorado Springs Business Journal, a sister publication of the Independent's, published an editorial about the piece, saying, in part:
But Colorado Springs is a city of nearly 440,000 people in a county of 670,000-plus residents — it isn’t as simplistic as the article makes it sound. Colorado Springs isn’t painted olive drab and covered with religious symbols. The portrait in 5280 was one-sided and does a grave disservice to people who love living here.
Readers also weighed in, including Springs City Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler. Here's her take:
Six paragraphs written on Dragon Man and one to list all the great revitalization and happenings going on in Colorado Springs. Described as a city of suburbs, but no mention of a new Infill and Redevelopment Plan passed by the City Council that encourages mixed-use development and prioritizes downtown and other mature areas as prime for redevelopment that supports millennials and seniors alike. It seems that the shining city to the north is searching for fault in the state's 2nd largest city, because maybe, just maybe, Denver is just a tad concerned that Colorado Springs' downtown is becoming a bit too vibrant, its housing prices are much lower than Denver's, and its mountain is right outside its back door, with a one-of-a-kind Manitou Incline as part of its many park amenities. And in case you forgot, Doug Bruce is back in prison, we are fixing our roads with a new tax increase, and we were recently named Olympic City, USA...because, as the article didn't even mention, Colorado Springs is home to the US Olympic Committee, the majority of Olympic sport governing bodies, and the Olympic Training Center.

Enough said.
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