Sunday, September 25, 2016

Opinion: Manitou Springs' war on hikers

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 2:02 PM

FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
For a town that is heavily dependent on tourism, many of whom are hikers, runners and cyclists, it certainly isn't putting out the welcome mat.

In case you missed it, the Manitou Springs City Council moved earlier this week to once again raise the price for parking on Ruxton Ave., this time from $5 to $10 per hour — up from only $1 per hour a year ago. Parking violation tickets will now cost you at least $70. The impetus behind the extraordinarily high parking fees is complaints from residents of Ruxton Ave. Hikers and incline users, they say, are noisy. Traffic is unbearable, and there's no place for residents to park. All are valid complaints.

Although it may seem to the contrary, city officials say the high fees aren't a money grab, but a method of decreasing traffic on Ruxton Ave., and make life easier for residents. City officials point out that they have free parking and a free shuttle on the east end of town for hikers to use. And while the shuttle is free and convenient, it's not nearly sufficient. The shuttle runs year round, but while the schedule is fine for the Incline or the adjacent Ute Pass Trail user, it's not much good for the Barr Trail hiker.

In the summer months, when Pikes Peak hikers are apt to start at or before dawn, and possibly get back at or after sunset, the shuttle doesn't start until after sunrise and stops running an hour or more before sunset. The shuttle parking lot is also inadequate during summer months, often without any available spaces during peak hours. Users are then forced to either abandon their plans to use the Incline or nearby trails or try to find a spot on Ruxton Ave., much to the dismay of local residents. For hikers who do make it at least to Barr Camp, a voucher is available that can be redeemed to Manitou Springs to get $5 of the Barr Trail parking lot fee returned, but it creates a burden on the Barr Trail user who may be on a multi-day backpacking trip on Pikes Peak.

The Barr Trail parking lot is frequently full, and Manitou Springs charges $10 per day to park there. Manitou Springs defines a "day" as from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., having set those hours based on what it determined were "safe hiking practices." How Manitou Springs determined what the appropriate "safe hiking practices" are, or why it should play a role in policing how well suited or equipped someone is for hiking the Barr Trail at any time remains a mystery. And I'm curious how the city is able to regulate the use of National Forest land.

The Incline was closed for a period of time in 2014 while the City of Colorado Springs performed several million dollars worth of improvements, and now closed again for another million dollars worth of improvements. So, while the City of Colorado Springs is working to make the Incline safe and sustainable, the actions by Manitou Springs may make the Incline less accessible to people who can't afford the higher parking fees. The is also affecting the use of the Ute Pass Trail, which was recently improved and re-routed by El Paso County. (Full disclosure: I serve as the chair-person of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board).

Tourists will pay the high parking fee. I get it. When I'm on vacation, I will pay whatever I can afford to experience an attraction I may only see once in my lifetime. There are die-hard incline users who will pay it, or find a way to park without paying a the fee. But there will be those local area users, who also help support Manitou Springs, who may finally think that enough is enough and go elsewhere for exercise.

If Manitou Springs was truly concerned for the residents of Ruxton Ave, and also wanted to be welcoming to hikers, the city would close the street to all parking except for residents. It would increase the available parking for the shuttle and expand the hours the shuttle operates.  And if Manitou Springs wanted to stop the use of the Barr Trail parking lot by Incline users, it could close the trail connecting the lot to the foot of the incline.

One has to wonder if raising fees and fines is really the only way to cure the woes of Ruxton Ave residents.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Brother falls to Castro

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 5:25 PM

Earlier this week, Till hosted a friendly Knife Fight between chef Brother Luck of Brother Luck Street Eats and Till's Gerry Castro. Simultaneously, Sean Fitzgerald of the Wobbly Olive battled Till's Alejandro Sanchez in a bartender's battle. 

I judged, and I dove wholeheartedly into dining and drinking rather than note taking, so check out Dionne Roberts' work over at the Rocky Mountain Food Report for more of a play-by-play, with lots of pics. Till's Facebook page also shows some of the action. 

Having been privy to more food competitions than I can count in the past decade, I can say this was one of the closest battles I've seen on the food side, ever. Bear in mind that Brother Luck beat Bobby Flay in competition and Castro came out of Napa and formerly managed the Culinary Institute of America's teaching kitchen there. Both chefs and their teams performed brilliantly, but ultimately, Castro clinched the win. 

On the bartender side, Fitzgerald knocked out Sanchez, formerly of Cowboy Star, bringing Wobbly's might to bear as a creative cocktail house on the cutting edge of the scene. 

Here's a batch of my own pics from the night, conspicuously missing any cocktail photos. What can I say? I was thirsty. 
From the left: Luck, Castro, and crew members. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • From the left: Luck, Castro, and crew members.
The coursing. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The coursing.
Luck and Castro in action between courses. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Luck and Castro in action between courses.
Gorgeous flavors via sea urchin and Barclay Bay oysters. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Gorgeous flavors via sea urchin and Barclay Bay oysters.
Alejandro Sanchez at work behind the bar. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Alejandro Sanchez at work behind the bar.
Sean Fitzgerald rocking tunes while mixing. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Sean Fitzgerald rocking tunes while mixing.
Awaiting the judges verdict. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Awaiting the judges verdict.
Still smiling after the verdict. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Still smiling after the verdict.
A great show of camaraderie despite only one victor emerging. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A great show of camaraderie despite only one victor emerging.

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Chalfin takes over Morning Edition set

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 4:17 PM

When you tune in to Morning Edition on NPR at KRCC, you'll now hear local news director Andrea Chalfin, according to a news release from KRCC.

Andrea Chalfin, longtime news director at 91.5 KRCC, Colorado College’s NPR-member station, is taking over as host of the station’s daily broadcast of “Morning Edition.” The show is NPR’s flagship news magazine program.
Andrea Chalfin: Taking a new step. - COURTESY KRCC
  • Courtesy KRCC
  • Andrea Chalfin: Taking a new step.
Chalfin brings more than decade of experience as a reporter and broadcaster to the role. She has helmed 91.5 KRCC's news department since 2008, overseeing the station’s coverage of the Pikes Peak region and Southern Colorado. Her reporting has been recognized by the Associated Press, the Colorado Broadcasters Association, the Radio Television and Digital News Association, and Public Radio News Directors Inc., and has been heard on NPR, BBC, and other public radio stations across the country.

“I'm looking forward to this opportunity to not only shepherd a growing news operation, but also to help shape the sound of the most important program of the day,” says Chalfin. As the host of “Morning Edition,” Chalfin will contribute top-of-the-hour live newscasts and continue to direct the station's local news coverage.

“I'm very excited to have Andrea in this new role,” says Tammy Terwelp, the station’s manager. “She brings the journalistic skills needed for us to stay competitive and serve our audience with a deeper connection.”

Chalfin replaces Shawn Rosvold, who has hosted the show since February 2014. Rosvold is retiring after 50 years in the broadcast business, but will remain connected to 91.5 KRCC, occasionally filling in as a substitute host for “Morning Edition.”

Program Director Jeff Bieri expects Chalfin’s news experience will enable 91.5 KRCC to continue to develop the local profile of the morning drive-time program. “NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ is the gold standard of national news magazines,” Bieri says, “and it will be enhanced even further by Andrea’s contribution of local news and her on air presence.”



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Greenway Flats homeless enclave announced

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

COURTESY NOR'WOOD DEVELOPMENT GROUP
  • 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:
Greenway_Flats_Renderings.pdf
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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Thursday, September 22, 2016

LGBTQ group endorses both candidates in HD17

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 3:28 PM

Rep. Kit Roupe - FILE PHOTO
  • 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 repre
Tony Exum - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Tony Exum
sentative 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:

screen_shot_2016-09-22_at_3.13.09_pm.png

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The latest on Peterson AFB's Bible dilemma

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 1:59 PM

The Bible at a work station at Peterson Air Force Base some weeks ago. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • The Bible at a work station at Peterson Air Force Base some weeks ago.
Remember the brouhaha over the open Bible at a work station at Peterson Air Force Base?

Well, here's an update.

After command decided that Major Steve Lewis could rightfully display his Bible for other service members to see in the work place, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation submitted a Freedom of Information Act request. The FOIA was aimed at records of the investigation conducted into whether the open Bible violated or complied with an Air Force instruction that prohibits proselytizing but allows expressions of faith.

MRFF's founder and CEO Mikey Weinstein reports today that the Air Force responded to the FOIA by saying no records exist.

Now, this is rather perplexing. While it's possible the request went to the wrong unit, because there's no option in the Air Force's FOIA process to select for the unit in which the Bible episode took place, seems pretty far fetched for the service to fall back on such a weak argument.

In any event, Weinstein is furious.

"There is simply NO excuse for the USAF to say that there are 'no records' or that they have no idea of any other agencies where the records might be," he tells the Indy via email. "We also asked for records on the 'climate survey' done earlier this year where the open Bible was specifically brought up and nothing was done."

The result was the same: The Air Force says there aren't any records of that.

Meantime, MRFF reports that as of late this morning, Maj. Lewis has not restored his Bible to the place at his work station that caused the investigation in the first place, even though, as Weinstein notes, "the Air Force says it is 'well within standards' for the Bible to be there."

We've reached out to the public information officer for Air Force Reserve Command, the unit to which the FOIA was submitted, but haven't heard back. We'll update if and when we hear something.

Weinstein says MRFF is considering a federal lawsuit over the matter.
 
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How to dig a hole and build a mountain

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 10:27 AM

As the old saying goes, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Said another way, when you dig a hole, the dirt has to go somewhere.

That's the case on a downtown project where excavation is taking place for multi-story apartments planned at the southwest corner of Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Street by Nor'wood Development Group to fulfill a badly needed stock of downtown housing.

Excavation is under way for an apartment building at Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Street. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Excavation is under way for an apartment building at Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Street.

Well, that dirt has to go somewhere, so it's being hauled a block or two east to the parking lot of the former Gazette building. Here's what it looks like.
Pikes of dirt now occupy a parking lot behind the Gazette building at Prospect Street and Colorado Avenue. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Pikes of dirt now occupy a parking lot behind the Gazette building at Prospect Street and Colorado Avenue.
There's so much dirt sitting next to Shooks Run creek that one might wonder if a permit is required. According Regional Building Official Roger Lovell, a permit would be required if that property was located in the floodplain. But it's not, so a permit isn't needed from the Regional Building Department, he says.

"The question is, is it legal from my standpoint," he says, adding, "Yes. If they were putting [the dirt] in a floodplain, then they need a permit."

Chris Jenkins with Nor'wood says that yes, indeed, the city requires permission to pile dirt like this. Via email, he says:
Approval to stock pile dirt within city limits is required by the Engineering Development Review group from the City. We submitted a stock pile and erosion control plan with the City. It was approved. We are stock piling the dirt on our property for future use at the former Gazette building site and other downtown projects needing fill dirt.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Suthers preaches against MJ legalization in Arizona

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 2:01 PM

PAIGE FILLER
  • Paige Filler
Mayor Suthers trekked to Arizona to speak against legalizing weed. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mayor Suthers trekked to Arizona to speak against legalizing weed.
Mayor John Suthers is so passionate about marijuana — he's against Colorado's legalization of it — that he traveled to Arizona to help out opponents of a ballot measure there that would allow possession of small amounts by adults, among other things.

According to a report in The Phoenix New Times, Suthers spoke against Proposition 205, which would allow those 21 and older to consume MJ in private and grow a few plants for their use.

The New Times' story reports that Suthers blamed lots of societal ills on pot, including a growing homeless population here.

He spoke on behalf of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, which opposes the ballot measure.

Suthers and City Council are on the path to completely abolish marijuana here, having adopted ordinances that require phasing out of pot clubs and reducing the number of plants patients can grow for their own medicinal use.

We've asked the city who paid for his jaunt to Arizona this week — he spoke at a news conference on Tuesday — and will circle back when we get an answer.
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Officer charged with felonies got to keep his badge and gun

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Dave Henrichsen faces felonies, and has retired from the CSPD. - DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Douglas County Sheriff's Office
  • Dave Henrichsen faces felonies, and has retired from the CSPD.
In this week's edition of the Independent, we provide further information about a former Colorado Springs police officer who's charged with multiple felonies after working for years on a counterfeit sports gear scheme. ("Taking leave.")

Dave Henrichsen was deeply involved for many years, he told investigators, and even after his involvement apparently surfaced, was allowed to continue collecting his pay. He needed five more months to become vested in the pension plan, and he was paid during that time leading up to his voluntary retirement.

One loose end of the story left dangling because the Colorado Springs Police Department failed to respond to an Indy request submitted on Sept. 7: Was Henrichsen allowed to keep his badge and gun after retirement?

Yesterday after the Indy's press time, Lt. Howard Black said via email: "Both gun and badge were given to Hendrickson (sic). The Chief waited several months wanting to see the outcome of the investigation. With still no info on the investigation, he allowed the items to be released based on our matrix."

Here's the matrix he's speaking of:
 
Retirement_Matrix.pdf

 
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Pollution control equipment protested

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 10:21 AM

Drake Power Plant: A workhorse but also an albatross? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Drake Power Plant: A workhorse but also an albatross?
An electric ratepayer of Colorado Springs Utilities has filed a notice of claim with Colorado Springs Utilities demanding tens of millions of dollars be refunded to customers due to an alleged faulty decision on pollution control equipment at the Martin Drake Power Plant.

Nicola Rosa said in an Aug. 11 letter, submitted by attorney Perry Sanders representing her, that she believes the amount due "will be tens of millions of dollars on the low side and in excess of 100 million dollars on the high side."

At issue is the Utilities Board's decision in 2009 to award a sole-source contract to Springs-based Neumann Systems Group for pollution control equipment at Drake, which is required to meet EPA standards beginning next year. The equipment was experimental in nature, although numerous tests conducted at Drake over several years proved the equipment feasible.

The letter asserts that other companies were able to provide the equipment in the small footprint at Drake, but that wasn't the case at the time, according to statements made by Utilities staff and Utilities Board members at the time.

It's no secret that Rosa has dogged Utilities on emissions levels from Drake for several years. She's among those who want Drake removed. The plant supplies roughly a quarter to a third of the city's power and burns coal, although it's able to burn natural gas. The Utilities Board has voted to decommission the plant by 2035, but that's not soon enough for many critics.

Read the letter here:
Rosa_Nicole-NOC.pdf  
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CSPD announces "do it yourself" policing policy

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 10:19 AM

Chief Carey: Trying to restructure his department. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Chief Carey: Trying to restructure his department.
Citing "diminishing" resources, the Colorado Springs Police Department on Tuesday announced "alternative response strategies" that consist mostly of having citizens fill out their own crime reports without the expectation of an officer responding.

The change comes after the revelation that the number of cops on the streets had dwindled to the lowest level in years while crime rates are surging significantly. Police Chief Pete Carey earlier announced he would beef up patrols by dissolving several specialized units and reassigning those officers to patrol.

Read all the details here:

Press_Release_1609-007__CSPD_Announces_Alternative_Response_plan_.pdf
The department also yesterday demonstrated how its body cams work and promised to roll them out soon. This comes nearly a year after the CSPD initially said they'd implement body cameras, as reported here. The release:
On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the Colorado Springs Police Department began the roll out of the Body Worn Cameras that will be assigned to each patrol officer. During the press conference held this morning, a demo of the Body Worn Camera was conducted. Attached to this release, please find a short clip that was recorded during that demonstration. This footage will be typical of the type of video that the cameras can produce.

Note to Media: There is an email address that is contained in the watermark of the video. This is an accountability measure and is not related to the video itself. We are also in the process of being able to condense the video clips, however, on this first clip; there is a small amount of superfluous footage. The first 30 seconds of the video is the portion that was intended for media use.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

First class-action suits filed on behalf of residents affected by water contamination

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Legal recourse has begun to shape up for residents concerned with their contaminated drinking water in the Fountain, Security, Widefield areas, though justice is still distant.


Late Sunday night, the Denver-based Hannon Law Firm filed two class-action suits in federal court on behalf of residents affected by dangerous levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in the groundwater. One of the complaints seeks medical monitoring; the other, compensation for property damage. Crucially, the civil action pins wrongdoing not on Peterson Air Force Base (the likely source of contamination), but on the chemical manufacturers that supplied the contaminant itself.


The contaminant in question is Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) — a suppressant used to extinguish petroleum-based fires that contains the synthetic chemicals now linked to low birth weights, cancer and heart disease.


As was long anticipated, in August, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released preliminary findings confirmed that training areas at Peterson where AFFF has been sprayed for decades are “possible sources” of drinking water contamination that warrant further inspection.


But the Air Force apparently has no obligation to abstain from the perfectly legal, commercially available product. As such, spokeswoman Shellie-Anne Espinosa told the Indy that Peterson currently has 2,404 gallons of AFFF in stock, still authorized for emergency use — half of that having been purchased between 2013-2014 (well after the Environmental Protection Agency began heeding flags first raised by scientists about the hazards of PFCs.) The base does have plans to replace the AFFF with something more environmentally benign, she said.

Life goes on for residents on a contaminated private well in Security. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Life goes on for residents on a contaminated private well in Security.


So these new class-action suits leave Peterson alone. Rather, they name the base’s AFFF suppliers as defendants. 3M, Ansul and National Foam, the complaints allege, “knew or should have known that the inclusion of PFCs in AFFF presented an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment.”


Though the proceedings are sure to turn up more evidence in more detail, the suit does offer some evidence for this claim out-of-the-gate. In the mid-80s, for example, 3M (the original and primary AFFF manufacturer) found through personnel review that the fluorochemicals bioaccumulate. Then in 2000, when the company announced the phase out of two types of PFCs — PFOS and PFOA — private and public information contradicted themselves.


As the lawsuit maintains, an internal memo from the EPA stated that "3M data supplied to EPA indicated that these chemicals are very persistent in the environment, have a strong tendency to accumulate in human and animal tissues and could potentially pose a risk to human health and the environment over the long term... [PFOS] appears to combine Persistence, Bioaccumulation, and Toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree” while 3M’s press release insisted that "our products are safe" while back-patting their "principles of responsible environmental management" as motivating the phaseout.


The defendants have yet to issue a response — either to the court or to the Indy’s request for comment. U.S. District Court 
Judge Philip A. Brimmer has been assigned the case. 
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Get your Marie Kondo on with the help of the county

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM

click image CLOUD2013
  • cloud2013
Even my mother — who is hardly a minimalist — has jumped on the Kondo train.

You know who I'm talking about. Author Marie Kondo's bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has led countless people to cancel plans so they could reorganize their sock drawers. 

Kondo thinks you shouldn't own anything that doesn't "spark joy." For her, that's like almost nothing. And in an age where almost everyone is looking to simplify their lives, her stark minimalism has caught on like wildfire. (Even if most of us don't reach her extreme levels of simplicity.)

But here's a question: What do you do with all that stuff you own that isn't sparking joy? The thrift store and friends might take some of it, and some of it can be tossed, but there are plenty of hazardous materials that need to go to special facilities — like old TVs, computers, and half used cans of paint. 

Enter El Paso County. If you're willing to make an appointment, they're willing to take a lot of the toxic stuff on Oct. 1. Read on for details:

Dispose of Your Household Hazardous Waste and Tires Oct. 1
El Paso County Fairgrounds Is the Location of the County’s Fifth Clean Sweep of 2016
Reservations Required

El Paso County, CO, Sept. 19, 2016 – The El Paso County Environment Division will host Clean Sweep, a household hazardous waste and tire disposal opportunity from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, in the parking lot of the El Paso County Fairgrounds at 366 Tenth Street, Calhan.

The event is free and open to residents of El Paso and Teller counties, but you must make an appointment.

Due to the long lines at previous Clean Sweep events, El Paso County Environmental Division has changed to an appointment only disposal.
Please register atwww.fairgroundshazardouswasteandtires2016.eventbrite.com" target="_blank"> www.fairgroundshazardouswasteandtires2016.eventbrite.com

The following items will be accepted:
· Tires, light truck and passenger tires, limit of 10 tires per vehicle.
· Electronics: Televisions and computer monitors, but limited to only three total per vehicle. Computers, printers, fax machines, laptops, notebooks, ultra-books, net books, electronic tablets, DVD players, VCRs, radios, stereos, video game consoles, video display devices with viewing screens greater than 4” diagonally
· Paint and paint-related products (stains, strippers, thinners, varnishes, etc.)
· Household chemicals (aerosols, ammonia, bleach, cleaners, lamp oil, etc.)
· Lawn & garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, poisons, plant food, etc.)
· Automotive chemicals (motor oil, antifreeze, brake & transmission fluids, waxes, bug/tar/vinyl/chrome/engine cleaners, etc.)
· All types of batteries – lead-acid vehicle batteries and all types of household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, watch & hearing aid batteries)

Not Accepted:
· Business waste
· Containers larger than 5-gallons, fluorescent bulbs & tubes, lab-grade chemicals, mattresses, medicines, trash or recyclables, and unlabeled or leaking containers.

For additional information, call El Paso County at 520-7871.

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Glenn says he's winning; debates in question

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 11:21 AM

Glenn: "I can beat Michael Bennet on my own," the Durango Herald reports. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Glenn: "I can beat Michael Bennet on my own," the Durango Herald reports.
Political junkies are being deprived this year of the duke-it-out squeaker U.S. Senatorial race of two years ago when Republican Cory Gardner defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

But this year's race — between incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet, with loads of cash and leading decisively in the polls, and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who's trailing badly on both fronts — isn't without amusement.

First, there's this piece from the Durango Herald about Glenn's statement that the national GOP party isn't helping his campaign much because he's got it in the bag. The comment literally left Democrats rolling in the aisles, presumably the aisles Glenn refuses to reach across.
Bennet: Winning in the polls and in donations. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Bennet: Winning in the polls and in donations.


Here's a recap from the Bennet campaign about a Sept. 10 debate in Grand Junction:
Grand Junction, Colorado – Unfortunately for Darryl Glenn, nothing from tonight’s debate will change the downward trajectory of his campaign. While Michael Bennet was “hitting hard” during tonight’s debate, discussing his record of “bipartisanship” and “trying to build bridges between Democrats and Republicans” on issues like the farm bill, energy and immigration reform, Darryl Glenn doubled down on partisan obstructionism, said the Senate shouldn’t do its job by confirming a Supreme Court justice and made clear he won’t work across the aisle for Colorado.

Glenn even refused to answer a direct question about the many times he’s said the problem with Washington is too much bipartisanship. Here’s how Michael put it during tonight’s debate:

BENNET: Over the course of this campaign you’ve said, “I don’t know any elected Democrats I get along with.” You’ve said, “I’m running against Democrats. I’m running against Evil.” And you’ve said you’re, “Tired of hearing about Republicans reaching across the aisle.” Your policies and views, like privatizing the VA and calling for “the elimination and defunding of all agencies,” like the department of education and also EPA and energy, are far to the right of many Colorado Republicans. How exactly would you get anything done and live up to your own standards?

Glenn, naturally, refused to answer. The truth is Darryl Glenn has been clear about his opposition to bipartisanship in Washington throughout this campaign, and as we saw tonight, there’s no backtracking from that.

“The choice was clear during tonight’s debate: Michael Bennet discussed his record of working with anyone to get things done for Colorado, while Darryl Glenn doubled down on partisan obstructionism and proved yet again that he’s not interested in working across the aisle to make progress for our state,” said Bennet campaign spokesperson Alyssa Roberts. “Darryl Glenn’s poor performance won’t do anything to lift his sagging campaign.”

Then, Glenn backed out of a Denver Post debate because he didn't like the Post's editorials about his criminal history. In a nutshell, Glenn denied he was charged with third degree assault of his dad at his dad's bar while attending Doherty High in 1983 but later said he had forgotten about it, because he grew up in an abusive home and all such incidents just blurred together.

An Air Force Academy grad, Glenn has refused to release his service record, commonly called a DD214. He says he's a retired lieutenant colonel. We again asked Tuesday if he would release and haven't heard back. 

Now, Bennet, too, is shying from a debate, as reported here by CBS4 in Denver.

Bennet's spokesperson Alyssa Roberts says Bennet already has appeared at debates held by Club 20, Colorado Water Congress, Colorado Oil and Gas Association, and United Veterans Committee. 

Upcoming debates Bennet will participate in will be sponsored by KUSA/Denver Business Journal (Oct 11), and Denver Chamber of Commerce forum (Oct 17).

From Bennet's communications director Andrew Zucker:
Darryl Glenn never engaged with our campaign to have a substantive conversation about debates and has instead blacklisted Colorado news reporters and become the first Senate candidate this millennium to refuse to do the traditional Denver Post debate. At this point we are moving forward with our campaign schedule and look forward to the remaining televised debate and joint appearances that have already been scheduled.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

We have playoff competition in the Springs AGAIN!

Posted By on Sat, Sep 17, 2016 at 10:49 AM

COURTESY ISIAH DOWNING
  • Courtesy Isiah Downing
The Colorado Switchbacks FC have had to plow a tough furrow this season. Last season, being their inaugural, they enjoyed the element of surprise. They were largely unknown and surprised many by reaching the USL (United Soccer League) playoffs at their first attempt.

Additionally, playing in Colorado has its advantages, with Switchbacks Stadium (aka Fortress Sand Creek) being higher even in elevation than the Rapids’ Dicks Sporting Goods Park. Visiting teams tried to go toe-to-toe with the Switchbacks only to find themselves sucking wind by the second half the game and practically on their knees in the final minutes. Not so this year. Traveling teams have wised-up, routinely battening down the hatches, taking a far more cautious and defensive "thrust and parry" type of approach to the game.

In the off-season, Colorado Springs fans applauded when the organization was able to re-sign 15 players from the 2015 roster. Great news, right? By and large yes; but that’s also meant the Switchbacks have had very few surprises to spring on their opposition in 2016. With a few notable exceptions (Christian Ibeagha, Taesong Kim, and the ever-present Josh Suggs), the squad has been largely familiar faces — and opposition teams have taken advantage of that. Last year’s most potent offensive players, Luke Vercollone and Miguel Gonzalez, have been marked men, stifling them somewhat, limiting the number of goals they've been able to score, frustrating them, the team, and the fans in the process.

In short, the Switchbacks have truly had to earn everything they’ve achieved this year. What they’ve achieved, despite all of that sophomore adversity, is a place in the USL Western Conference playoffs for the second successive season!

By beating the Vancouver Whitecaps 2, a team that has spent the majority of the year atop of the USL Western Conference table, the Switchbacks propelled themselves to second spot in the league with just a couple of regular season games to go. The team isn’t settling though. Speaking with organizational and team leadership, including head coach Steve Trittschuh and skipper Luke Vercollone, they won’t consider the league done until a top two spot is a lock — as either a first or second placing would secure a vital home-field playoff advantage.

I know the team would love to top the Western Conference at the end of the regular season, but having missed out on home-field advantage by a single point last season, which meant they had to take a tough and ultimately season-ending trip to Oklahoma City in the second round of the play-offs, they are determined not to fall into the same trap again this year.

This season certainly hasn’t been as straight-forward as the last, when much was made of the team’s free scoring status that put them at the top of the "Goals For" table in the Western Conference. However, it’s exactly that that ability to overcome whatever roadblocks other teams have thrown at the Switchbacks this outing that has made their latest playoff achievement all the more impressive. And it’s exactly that sort of character, resiliency and adaptability that will, I believe, see them secure one of those top two spots, starting by beating the Seattle Sounders 2 Saturday night. Having lost to the Sounders twice by a single goal, both times in Seattle, the Switchbacks will be keen for some measure of revenge.

This is championship competition right in our own backyard, folks. This is the business end of the season. This is when your Colorado Springs Switchbacks need you most. Let’s get out there and enjoy it!

Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for over 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer (football!), hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett, or the Back Chat show on KCMJ 93.9.
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