County's $3.2 million deal
On Tuesday, El Paso County commissioners were expected to approve a deal to buy warehouse facilities located at 3755, 3815, 3825 and 3845 N. Mark Dabling Blvd., for use as the El Paso County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Management.
The $3.2 million purchase will be funded by the .0023 percent sales tax increase that voters approved for the sheriff's office last fall. The tax is expected to bring in about $17 million a year, so the new facilities will eat up a sizable chunk of the total.
Sheriff Terry Maketa stressed to voters that the tax was needed so that he could hire 120 needed personnel, cover increases in costs, and deal with long-ignored maintenance needs, like a new industrial dishwasher for the jail. However, the ballot question also allowed the sheriff to spend funds "constructing an emergency services vehicle response center."
Currently, wildland fire and emergency response equipment is stored throughout the city, with most of it at a rented garage.
County spokesperson Dave Rose tells the Independent in an e-mail that the new location was chosen because Maketa "has indicated that a location near I-25 would be best for maintenance, storage and deployment of Wildland Fire and Emergency Response vehicles." In addition to storage capacity, Rose notes that the location needed "very strong IT infrastructure."
The property is owned by Kaiger, LLC and is currently home to ELOPE, a costume and hat business. — JAS
Dean pick made at AFA
An Air Force Academy professor who heads the Department of Management has been nominated for the rank of brigadier general, a precursor to his becoming dean of faculty to replace retiring Brig. Gen. Dana Born.
Col. Andrew Armacost, commissioned through ROTC, was nominated by President Obama last week to become the 10th dean in the academy's history. He holds a doctorate in operations research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
If confirmed by the Senate, Armacost would command hundreds of personnel and oversee the annual design and instruction of more than 500 undergraduate courses for 4,000 cadets in 31 academic disciplines, the academy says in a release.
Born, who came under fire for her evangelical leanings and misstatements about faculty credentials, has accepted a faculty position with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. — PZ
Manitou offers free shuttle
Ever since Manitou Springs implemented paid parking in its central area, many regular visitors have been crying "no fair."
But wait, there is an alternative. From Sunday, May 19 through Sept. 7, Mountain Metropolitan Transit will operate a free shuttle along Manitou Avenue starting at Old Man's Trail and going west to Ruxton Avenue, where it will take riders up to Barr Trail, the Manitou Incline and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, before circling around. It will run every 20 minutes from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Commuters may park their cars for free in a lot just east of the Tajine Alami restaurant at 10 Old Man's Trail. Free parking is also available year-round east of City Hall.
All buses, which were funded with a federal grant, can accommodate wheelchairs and bikes. Find a schedule and route map at mmtransit.com. — JAS
Rockey pulls art from Adam's
Manitou Springs artist Charles H. Rockey has removed his artwork from Adam's Mountain Café due to concerns about warm-weather flooding off the Waldo Canyon burn scar. More than 50 pieces of Rockey's original art, as well as the many pieces stored in his home down the street, are now housed in a safer location.
While the Cliff House confirms that Rockey works that hang there remain in place, Adam's has been a major spot to see paintings and drawings by the somewhat reclusive artist. When Farley McDonough bought the restaurant in 2001, the works came with it.
"I just sort of inherited this obligation to protect them," she says.
For now, McDonough has hung a few personal pieces, as well as art that hung in the restaurant's original location 15 years ago. She says she hopes the works will return perhaps by September, but says there's no agreement made just yet. — EA
City fields fracking suit
Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights has filed suit against the city in its ongoing effort to put a ban on fracking before local voters.
The Initiative Title Setting Review Board twice rejected CSCCR proposals to push for a city charter amendment preventing "the extraction of natural gas or oil, including but not limited to, the processes commonly known as hydraulic fracturing and/or directional natural gas and oil well drilling." The board contended the amendment violated the city's rule against having multiple subjects addressed in a single ballot measure; CSCCR disagrees, and even argues that the single-subject rule itself may not be legally valid.
The University of Denver Sturm College of Law's Environmental Law Clinic will take up CSCCR's cause, pro bono.
Asked about a best-case scenario for his group's effort, Dave Gardner says that would involve the city simply backing down. "There's still plenty of room for the city to do the right thing," he says, "and not waste their resources in court and not waste everybody's time fighting this in court." — KW