Monday, May 22, 2017

Concerns remain over new Penrose-St. Francis hospital project

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 4:50 PM

The eastern portion of the hospital property is shown to be in a landslide-susceptible zone. - COLORADO GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
  • Colorado Geological Survey
  • The eastern portion of the hospital property is shown to be in a landslide-susceptible zone.

A plan to again change plans for the Penrose-St. Francis hospital project at Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street has received pushback from neighbors.

According to the agenda item for the May 23 City Council meeting, Penrose-St. Francis wants to cut the height of the proposed hospital from 200 feet to 165 feet, add 28 acres to the 51-acre site and expand the facility from about 1 million square feet to 1.8 million square feet.

See the proposal here.

Penrose-St. Francis is seeking modifications of its earlier plan, including rezoning.

After one public meeting on the proposed hospital last fall, a group of residents formed and worked with Penrose officials, but concerns remain.

In a nutshell, those concerns are, according to the city:
• The proposed maximum building height of 200 feet (which had already been approved with the prior zoning);
• The impacts of the building height to the character of the Mesa area;
• Geologic issues associated with the property and placement of the building;
• Traffic concerns along both Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard;
• Light and noise pollution;
• Drainage from the site and impacts to properties to the east.

Anthony and Sandra Wells wrote a letter to the city expressing concerns about the "black eye" the hospital will create on the skyline and how the hospital's size "is not in harmony with the other nearby properties developed."

The Wellses also raise the question of traffic volumes to be generated by the hospital, notably "the accessibility in the winter due to Fillmore Hill could be an issue."

Also, the Fillmore Heights Owners Association, members of which live directly east and downslope from the proposed hospital, have hired attorney Bruce Wright. Wright wrote to the city in August and again in March expressing "concerns over the geologic stability of that slope [being] heightened if additional overburden (from either fill or, even more significantly, from the proposed hospital building) are placed on top of what appears to be a currently unstable slope."

There's concern over drainage as well. If you'll recall, the veterans clinic was built with faulty drainage, as noted by the EPA in a report to the city a couple of years ago.

We'll try to circle back after Council acts on the changes to the hospital plan.

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Colorado GOP announces new flack

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 3:50 PM

Cole: State GOP's communications director - COURTESY OF DANIEL COLE
  • Courtesy of Daniel Cole
  • Cole: State GOP's communications director
It seems that El Paso County is sort of taking over the state Republican Party, which probably is fitting considering the county is ruled by Republicans.

The latest announcement comes via email from Daniel Cole, a campaign consultant, who's just been hired to handle the state party's communications via a contract.

Cole handled the City Council campaign of Keith King, for example, and served as the county party's executive director for a time before branching out on his own.

The state party chair is Jeff Hays, former El Paso County GOP chair, and its vice chair is El Paso County resident Sherrie Gibson.

Now Cole joins the team.

"It's true we're the largest Republican county in the state, so you would expect a larger percentage of the state party's representation to come from here than from any other one county," he says.

Cole moved from the Washington, D.C., area as a child and later attended Kansas University on a full-ride scholarship. That's a fact he notes in his mini-bio provided below in his letter to Colorado media outlets.

But he omits his short-lived pursuit of a law degree at Columbia University, because, he says he didn't consider it one of the most interesting facts about himself. "And still don't," he says.

"I went through the first year [of law school], and I performed pretty well," he says. "I was in the top third of my class. But I decided I didn't want to be a lawyer, and that growing realization combined with how tight the legal market was at that time convinced me to get out while my head was still above water."

Here's his missive to media:
I’m writing this introductory letter instead of a press release in the traditional format because a letter (personal, efficient, informal) better reflects the spirit in which I’ll approach my new position as communications director of the Colorado Republican Committee.

I’m hugely excited for this opportunity to work, once again, with Jeff Hays, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Committee elected April 1. Jeff is a brilliant guy, personable and expansive yet analytical and acute. If you’re like everyone else, you’ll enjoy getting to know him.

Jeff was the chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party from February 2013 – February 2017. I served as the county party’s executive director during the first three years of Jeff’s tenure, then, in June 2016, left as an employee to start my own company, Cole Communications. I have been running communications systems for various clients since then, and I will continue to service other contracts alongside my 1099 contract with the state party.

Before I started working for the El Paso County Republican Party in 2013, my gigs included a weekly op-ed for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, a couple of years teaching high school English and journalism at Colorado Springs Early Colleges, and work as a translator: I reviewed French books for Zaccheus Press and translated from Italian the biography of a woman since declared venerable by the Vatican, The Spiritual Experience of Itala Mela. I also managed local issue and candidate campaigns.

In 2006, I graduated with a degree in English from the University of Kansas, which I attended as a National Merit Scholar.

The field of communications is constantly in flux. (Under Russia’s last tsar Nicholas II, the minister of communications was responsible for the supervision of railroads.) But my approach to media relations won't change. Especially because I want the state party to play a larger part in the public discourse, I will always be happy to receive your calls. Be in touch when you’d like a comment from the party, an interview with the chairman, a recommendation as to whom you should approach on a given topic, or anything else I could conceivably provide.

It will be my honor to work alongside Adam Johnson, the state party's new political director. Adam is a fourth-generation Coloradan and currently lives in Centennial. He has been assisting Republican candidates in Colorado for 15 years, having first worked on Governor Bill Owens's re-election campaign in 2002. Since then, Adam has helped with nearly a dozen candidate and issue campaigns. Adam agreed to serve as political director in order to ensure the Colorado GOP has a robust ground game headed into the 2018 election cycle.

Adam and I started with the state party on May 15. I will write with information about other staff appointments before long. 

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AF Thunderbirds due here today

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 2:05 PM

Four F-16s assigned to the Thunderbirds, the Air Force's air demonstration squadron, fly off the wing of a KC-135 before receiving fuel en route to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., May 18, 2017. - AIR FORCE PHOTO BY 2ND LT. CALEB WANZER
  • Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Caleb Wanzer
  • Four F-16s assigned to the Thunderbirds, the Air Force's air demonstration squadron, fly off the wing of a KC-135 before receiving fuel en route to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., May 18, 2017.

One of the quirky benefits of living in Colorado Springs is the annual spectacle available to anyone who can look up.

It's the Air Force Thunderbirds flying team, who swoop in for the Air Force Academy's graduation. As usual, they'll arrive early and take to the skies for some practice runs.

Here's the academy's news release about this year's appearance. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for clear skies the next few days.

The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Team, the Thunderbirds, will perform May 24 at the end of the Air Force Academy Class of 2017 Graduation Ceremony.

They will practice their full performance May 23, 11 a.m. to noon. The practice will be centered over the Academy’s Falcon Stadium, and is subject to weather cancellation.

The majority of the Thunderbirds aircraft will arrive May 22 and fly over the Academy around 10 a.m. that day as part of their arrival to Colorado Springs. There will be no impact to traffic patterns.

The Thunderbirds’ graduation day performance start time will depend on timing with the end-of-ceremony hat toss, but is expected to take place at approximately 12:30 p.m. The performance will last approximately 30 minutes.

For the safety of the general public, certain roads will be closed on base during the practice and graduation day performances. These closures are mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the performance area is free of all personnel.

The general public is reminded not to stop along Interstate 25 to watch the performances.

For more information about the Thunderbirds, visit www.afthunderbirds.com. For information about the Academy’s graduation, go to www.usafa.edu/about/traditions/graduation/ 

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Friday, May 19, 2017

D11 workers testing Doherty for air quality

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 5:09 PM

DOHERTY WEBSITE
  • Doherty website
Officials at Colorado Springs School District 11 aren't saying how long it's been since the ventilation equipment at Doherty High School was cleaned, but they're sure to be cleaned now.

The school has been basically closed since May 11 when two fires broke out, and testing in the buildings has revealed "higher levels than normal for ash, soot and carbon in certain areas of the building," D-11 spokeswoman Devra Ashby says via email.

Those areas have been closed off to students and staff, she said, and D-11 facilities workers are cleaning and further testing vents and ducts, a process that will take several more weeks.

Rules and regulations governing schools in Colorado include this requirement: "Ventilation system filters shall be cleaned or replaced regularly to prevent excessive accumulation of dust or debris."

As other media has previously reported, a piece of wood was found smoldering in an art room and a short time later a dryer in the laundry room was found on fire.

For information on how students are finishing out the year, including graduation, go to this link.

Ashby reports:
The District has tested several areas throughout the building to determine the extent of potential contamination from the two events last week. Although several samples came back Œpositive¹ for higher levels of ash, carbon, and/or soot, the information was inconclusive. To avoid any potential issues, the D11 facilities provided two independent ventilation systems to accommodate the scheduled activities for the last two weeks of school.

To develop a more comprehensive clean-up plan, the District is pulling and testing more samples throughout the building. This testing and analysis process will probably continue over the next 2-3 weeks. Based on this information, we will work with the D11 procurement team to develop a competitive bid package to properly clean the impacted areas.
Doherty, 4515 Barnes Road, was built in 1976.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dennis Hisey files for Colorado state Senate seat

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 12:47 PM

Former El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey has filed as a candidate for State Senate District 2, a seat now held by Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican, who is barred by term limits from seeking another term.

The election will be in 2018, so the Fountain Republican is getting a head start.

He appeared in the Cañon City Music and Blossom Festival parade on May 6, as seen here on his Facebook page:
At the Cañon City parade.
  • At the Cañon City parade.

Hisey then followed up by filing his candidate affidavit with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office on May 15.

So far, he's the only one who's filed for the seat, which represents an area that includes Fremont, Teller, Park and Clear Creek counties and the rural parts of El Paso County, wrapping around Colorado Springs to form a horseshoe.

Hisey served three, four-year terms as county commissioner, leaving office in January only to return to the public payroll in February as interim director of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center.

That gig was to last three months, and it might already have ended.

His campaign website can be found at www.dennishisey.com where his background is outlined and those who endorse him are listed, among them 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May and Terrance McWilliams, El Pomar Foundation's director of military and veteran affairs.

We've reached out to Hisey and will update when we hear back from him.

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Former Colorado Springs reporter named as finalist in prestigious contest

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 9:42 AM

Here's the Facebook entry about Hobbs' being named a finalist.
  • Here's the Facebook entry about Hobbs' being named a finalist.
It's always great to see a young journalist make good, and then be rewarded for it.

Such is the case with Stephen Hobbs, a reporter who worked at the Gazette from June 2014 to December 2015 before accepting a job as data/general assignment reporter at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

There's been no mention by the daily of this, but it's worth mentioning to the community that Hobbs has been named a finalist in the Livingston Awards, which recognizes journalists 35 or younger. More about the awards themselves is below.

His three-part series about abuse of mentally ill inmates in a jail run by a contractor, titled "Death on Their Watch," is the reason for his nomination in the local news category.

Here's a snapshot of the investigative series:
Armor Correctional Health Services of Miami, the private company paid to handle jail health care, has failed to protect some Broward inmates endangered by their mental illnesses — with deadly consequences, a Sun Sentinel investigation has found.

An examination of inmate deaths since 2010 and a review of thousands of pages of court, medical and jail records shows:

• Armor has left severely mentally ill inmates unmedicated and malnourished, despite having the authority to help them. Lack of medication can worsen mental health symptoms, leading mentally ill people to not eat and to harm themselves.

• Despite longstanding concerns about the impact of isolation on mentally ill inmates, seven killed themselves or suffered dramatic weight loss while being held alone in cells.

• Armor staff acknowledged mishandling the care of at least four mentally ill inmates before their deaths.

• Though the Sheriff's Office pays Armor $25 million a year in taxpayer money to provide health services in the jails, Armor does not share its death investigation reports with the Sheriff's Office.

• County taxpayers since 2004 have paid more than $1.5 million for federal court monitoring of Broward jails. Yet attorneys appointed to oversee the jails weren't aware of Herring's death until the Sun Sentinel inquired about his case.

Hobbs is competing with young journalists from some exceptional news agencies, including The Washington Post and ProPublica.

The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists honor outstanding achievement by professionals under the age of 35 in local, national and international reporting.

The largest all-media, general reporting prize in American journalism, the Livingston Awards judge print, broadcast and online journalism against one another, a practice of increasing interest as technology blurs the traditional distinctions between the branches of journalism.

Each year three prizes of $10,000 are presented by the judging panel at a New York luncheon. Leading media figures and the winners’ families and colleagues attend to honor the winners. By recognizing the best young talent early in their careers, the Livingston Awards seeks to support the work of young journalists, create modern role models for the next generation of news consumers and advance excellence in journalism.

A fourth prize, the Richard M. Clurman Award, honors superb on-the-job mentors who improve journalism by exemplifying excellence in nurturing, critiquing and inspiring young journalists.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jay B. Silveria nominated for Air Force Academy superintendent position

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 5:42 PM

Maj. Gen. Jay B. Silveria - COURTESY AIR FORCE
  • Courtesy Air Force
  • Maj. Gen. Jay B. Silveria
President Trump has nominated Maj. Gen. Jay B. Silveria to take over as superintendent of the Air Force Academy, the Academy announced in a news release Wednesday.

A 1985 Academy grad, Silveria is a command pilot with more than 3,900 flight hours in a variety of aircraft, including the F-35A and F-15C/E.

He's currently serving as deputy commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and deputy commander, Combined Air Force Component, U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will replace Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, who recently was named a finalist for the position of chancellor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs but was not chosen for the post.

Here's the release:
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced May 17 that President Donald Trump has nominated Maj. Gen. Jay B. Silveria for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, and for assignment as superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy.

Silveria, a 1985 Academy graduate, most recently served as deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and deputy commander of the Combined Air Force Air Component, U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia.

He will direct the Academy’s undergraduate academic program, cadet military and athletic training and character development, leading to a bachelor’s of science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant.

The general has nearly 4,000 hours of flight-time. He’s flown combat sorties over the Balkans and Iraq and served as vice commander at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Silveria is a command pilot who has flown T-37 and T-38 trainer aircraft, the F-15 Eagle, the HH-60 helicopter and F-35 Lightning.

He will take over command from Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson who has commanded the Academy for four years and is slated to retire later this year.

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Inside/Out Youth Services to move, looking for volunteer assistance

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 3:43 PM

Executive Director Mary Malia is excited about the opportunities presented by their new location. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Executive Director Mary Malia is excited about the opportunities presented by their new location.

Inside/Out Youth Services, our local LGBTQ youth center, will be moving on June 3, and they’re looking for community support to help it happen.

After a notification last September that their current building at 412 South Tejon St. was going to be torn down, they started a mad search (aided by Club Q owner and real estate agent Nic Grzecka) to find a space near or within the area that would fit a nonprofit budget.

The new space at 223 North Wahsatch Ave. is a bit bigger than their Tejon location, but nearly the same price in rent (about $2,200/month). While it’s still a major expense, it will hold more amenities than they’re used to.

Executive Director Mary Malia is particularly excited about its more practical features. Instead of her whole team sharing one office, there will be three offices available, one of which will host a new mental health-focused intern who will be starting with the organization soon.

There will also be a full service kitchen, which will cut down on stress for facilitators and volunteers. “We’ve been making meals for our youth for years on a hot plate,” Malia says with a laugh.

In addition, youth with anxiety or sensory troubles will be able to make use of a new library, which will also function as a quiet room, and Inside/Out's support groups can now make use of a multi-purpose meeting room. Considering the organization plans to add two support groups to their schedule (a group for parents of transgender children and a collaborative group with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) in July or August, the extra space will certainly be utilized.

Inside/Out plans to make June 3 its official moving day, and will need plenty of volunteer support to load furniture and boxes into trucks. In the meantime, Malia says they still have painting and cleaning to accomplish, and would love to hear from anyone who might be willing to pitch in.

Those who can’t volunteer are encouraged to donate. Or, there are currently three rooms available in the new space for business sponsorship (a $2000 donation).

Anyone interested in helping with the move or the preparation may contact Mary Malia at 719-328-1056.

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Bike to Work Day on June 28, or any day

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 12:28 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
This year's Bike to Work Day will be June 28, and the city is promoting the idea, along with help from the Independent and KOAA News 5.

Here's a rundown of the idea behind the event and where you can find breakfast en route.

June is Bike Month for Colorado and there are many great events and activities recognizing the importance of bicycling in our community. Mayor John Suthers invites the Colorado Springs community to participate in Bike to Work Day June 28.

Registration for the 24th annual Bike to Work Day, sponsored by KOAA News 5 and the Colorado Springs Independent, is now open. Riders can sign up to ride to any one of several breakfast locations across Colorado Springs. Bike to Work Day encourages bicycling for personal and community health, alternative transportation, recreation and sustainability.

New this year, breakfast locations along our trail network are designed to support how people actually ride their bikes to work while highlighting local businesses that support bicycling in our community. Now, instead of having one main location supported by the City, there will be multiple locations supported by the community.
Breakfast station include:

· YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region
o Southeast Armed Services
o Briargate,
o Downtown
o East Side
o Memorial Park
o Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center
o Garden Ranch
· PopCycle Bridge- Pikes Peak Greenway at Van Buren -KOAA News 5
· Shooks Run Trail at Sierra Madre -Urban Steam Coffee House
· Buffalo Bicycle Lodge- 2 El Paso Blvd
· Santa Fe Trail at USAFA North Gate Trailhead- Café Velo
· UCHealth- Memorial Hospital- East Boulder and East St. Vrain
· Shooks Run Trail at Boulder Avenue - Colorado Springs SustainaCenter
· Criterium Bicycles -Pikes Peak Greenway at Corporate Drive
· Templeton Gap Trail at Nevada Ave/Monte View- Mountain Metro Transit
· Good Neighbor Meeting House- Shooks Run Trail at Corona Street
· Angler’s Covey- South of Midland Trail at 21st Street and Cimarron Avenue
· Rock Island Trail at Homestead Trail (Academy Blvd/Constitution Ave) -Council of Neighbors and Organizations
· Pedestrian Bridge over I-25 at Monument Valley Pool - Organization of Westside Neighbors
· Wild Goose Meeting House- 401 N. Tejon St.
· Lincoln Center, Cafe Red Point and Building Three Coffee Roasters- 2727 N. Cascade
· Ivywild School- 1604 S. Cascade Ave.
· Sinton Trail at El Paso County Citizens Service Center- El Paso County Public Health

Mayor Suthers and his wife Janet will kick off Bike Month with a community ride Saturday, June3. More information on the ride will be available soon at www.coloradosprings.gov/mayorsride.

Special thanks to Bike to Work Day organizing sponsors: Bike Colorado Springs, Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) and Mountain Metro Transit.
To view an interactive map of breakfast locations and for more information visit www.coloradosprings.gov/biketowork or email BTWD@springsgov.com.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

UPDATE: Read Routon's column for an idea on filling PPACG exec slot

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 10:17 AM

PPACG board chair Andy Pico: Finding a new director is a priority. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • PPACG board chair Andy Pico: Finding a new director is a priority.
UPDATE:

Here's the column about leadership at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

—ORIGINAL POST 10:17 AM TUES., MAY 16, 2017—

The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments has been waiting awhile for a permanent leader, and in tomorrow's Independent, executive editor Ralph Routon offers a solution.

The Independent has written several stories about the turmoil at the regional planning agency, most recently this one, which reports the departure of the top two people there.

After Executive Director Rob MacDonald's contract wasn't renewed earlier this year, PPACG has been advertising for a new director.

That's where Routon comes in. Be sure to check his "Between the Lines" column in the May 17 issue.

Meantime, 22 people have applied for the job, a PPACG spokesperson says.

PPACG board chair Andy Pico reports via email that all of those applicants "are still in consideration."

That said, the agency has decided to expand the search, Pico says, and is looking to hire a search firm. "No decisions on how much or which firm yet," he says, adding, "This is a priority but not certain yet on timeframe. We'd like to get this done as soon as possible."

All the more reason for PPACG board members to take a look at Routon's column.

Here's a list of those serving on the search committee:
1. Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen (Chair)
2. El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton
3. CS City Councilmember Jill Gaebler
4. Manitou Mayor Nicole Nicoletta
5. Region 2 Transportation Commissioner Rocky Scott
6. Dave Munger from CONO
7. Rachel Back from Chamber/EDC
8. Joe Urban, PPACG
9. Ken Prather, PPACG
10. Rick Sonnenberg, PPACG

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Report: Service members diagnosed with PTSD bounced for infractions

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 9:43 AM

Fort Carson was among the posts identified in a series of stories that delved into the discharge of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Fort Carson was among the posts identified in a series of stories that delved into the discharge of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD and TBI.
A recently released Government Accountability Office report found that many service members who were discharged for misconduct had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury before their separations.

Here's a partial summary of GAO's findings:'
GAO’s analysis of Department of Defense (DOD) data show that 62 percent, or 57,141 of the 91,764 service members separated for misconduct from fiscal years 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed within the 2 years prior to separation with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or certain other conditions that could be associated with misconduct. Specifically, 16 percent had been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, while the other conditions, such as adjustment and alcohol-related disorders, were more common. Of the 57,141 service members, 23 percent, or 13,283, received an “other than honorable” characterization of service, making them potentially ineligible for health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The study is important, because it bolsters findings of Dave Philipps, former reporter at the Gazette, that soldiers were being issued "other than honorable" discharges for infractions that might be related to PTSD and TBI. The series of stories published in spring 2013 won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2014, and paved the way for Philipps' exit of the Gazette to accept a job with The New York Times.

Philipps' work is even cited in the GAO report.

Read the full GAO report here.

Philipps' series looked at discharges across the country in addition to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Free tickets for AFA graduation available

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 4:22 PM

COURTESY AIR FORCE ACADEMY
  • Courtesy Air Force Academy
If you want to witness the Class of 2017 graduate from the Air Force Academy, here's your chance for a free ticket.

The Academy just issued this release, telling you how and when you can obtain tickets.
Approximately 500 free tickets for the Academy’s Class of 2017 Graduation Ceremony will be available Wednesday, May 17. Tickets must be picked up by the general public in person at:

• The Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC office at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 430, in downtown Colorado Springs, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce office at 166 Second Street in Monument, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A maximum of five tickets per person are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets cannot be mailed and there is no will-call at the stadium. Lost tickets cannot be replaced.

The Air Force Academy’s Graduation Ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. on May 24 in Falcon Stadium. The commencement speech will be given by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. The ceremony will conclude with an aerial performance by the Air Force Thunderbirds, weather permitting.

Falcon Stadium gates will open at 7 a.m. Due to increased security requirements, please ensure you arrive early as traffic coming on base will be heavy and there may be long lines at the Stadium. All visitors should be prepared to show valid identification, vehicle registration and proof of auto insurance. Vehicles may be inspected upon entry.
If Force Protection Conditions change, some scheduled events may also change or require additional security precautions for the safety of all our guests. Any event changes will be announced via local media and the Academy’s official Facebook page.

If the graduation ceremony is moved indoors due to dangerous weather or security reasons, general public and staff ticket holders will not be able to attend. If the ceremony is moved, notification will go out by 7 a.m. on the morning of Graduation via local media and the Air Force Academy’s official Facebook page. 

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Friday, May 12, 2017

UPDATE: John Suthers on short list to replace Comey as FBI director

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 10:55 AM

Suthers: The next FBI director? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Suthers: The next FBI director?
UPDATE:
This just in from Suthers:
While I am honored to be listed as a possibility among some tremendous law enforcement professionals, at this point it would be premature to comment any further.

ORIGINAL POST 10:55 A.M. FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2017

Fox News is reporting that Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers is on the short list for those under consideration to replace fired FBI director James Comey.

Here's the list as reported by Fox:
According to the White House official, the candidates include:

Ray Kelly, the former and longest-serving New York City police commissioner
Mike Rogers, former House Intelligence Committee chairman and former FBI agent
Former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas
Paul Abbate, executive assistant director for the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch
Associate Judge of New York Court of Appeals Mike Garcia
Mayor of Colorado Springs John Suthers
Former federal appellate court Judge Michael Luttig, now executive vice president of Boeing
Larry Thompson, former deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe
The Denver Post also reported the list and also that Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, "confirmed in a Tweet that he recommended the longtime public official."

Gardner wrote: “Colorado’s John Suthers would be an excellent choice to lead the FBI. I recommended him to the WH & am excited to see his name on this list.”

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Indy joins newsrooms nationwide to report on hate with your help

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 1:58 PM

DESIGNED BY DUSTIN GLATZ
  • Designed by Dustin Glatz

This week's cover story was a potent reminder that hate is not history yet. Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which advocates and litigates against groups like the Ku Klux Klan, spoke with the Independent's J. Adrian Stanley about the proliferation and emboldening of racism, sexism and Islamophobia in America. "Hate crimes just shot up after Trump got elected," he said, though measuring that is not-so-easy without good, hard data.

That's why ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization doing investigative journalism in the public interest, launched the Documenting Hate project. They describe it like this:

The 2016 election left many in America afraid — of intolerance and the violence it can inspire. The need for trustworthy facts on the details and frequency of hate crimes and other incidents born of prejudice has never been more urgent.

At this point, there is simply no reliable national data on hate crimes. And no government agency documents lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, such as online or real-life bullying. Documenting and understanding all of these incidents — from hate-inspired murders to anti-Semitic graffiti to racist online trolling — requires new, more creative approaches.

That's why we have marshaled a national coalition of news organizations, civil-rights groups and technology companies intent on creating a database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents.

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In addition to us, the project's growing list of partners include The Google News Lab, Univision News, the New York Times Opinion Section, WNYC, BuzzFeed News, First Draft, Meedan, New America Media, The Root, Latino USA, The Advocate, and Ushahidi. We're also working with civil-rights groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and schools such as the University of Miami School of Communication.

We will for the first time be able to take a rigorous look at hate crimes in America — combining data analysis, social media newsgathering, and ambitious investigative storytelling.

You can follow along with the project on Facebook and Twitter. We'll use these to share good journalism about hate crimes, and to let you know what the partners in our project learn along the way. 
The database this coalition seeks to amass is built on verified stories submitted by victims and witnesses. So, as a local partner, the Indy asks you to let us know if you, or someone you know, has experienced bias, hate or any crime thereby motivated. That way we, and media across the country, can better report on the trends as they really are — not as fear or speculation would lead us to believe.

You can use the form below to tell us about incidents we should look into. Filling out this form will not notify police, and is in no way connected to law enforcement. And here's a list of resources, should you need them.



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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

St. Francis Hospital assigned higher value

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 1:00 PM

St. Francis Hospital, closed since 2010, has a new valuation. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • St. Francis Hospital, closed since 2010, has a new valuation.
In the latest edition of the Independent, you can read about how the value for tax purposes of a property just east of the downtown area changed after El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker took a second look.

From the report:
The value of an old hospital just east of downtown Colorado Springs skyrocketed after El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker undertook a special review in response to revelations reported by the Independent a year ago about details of its 2014 sale.

When the building, located at 825 E. Pikes Peak Ave., changed hands, the seller reported a $50,000 sales price to county officials via the deed. That amount then became its taxable value for the buyer, an entity controlled by developer David Jenkins, who's in the process of assembling swaths of land in the downtown area....

At the time, David Jenkins justified the $50,000 price to then-County Assessor Mark Lowderman (who's now county treasurer), with a report showing the building is rife with asbestos, and cleanup costs could top $2 million....

The Indy's report about that agreement ("The real deal," Cover, May 4, 2016) prompted Schleiker, who had since replaced Lowderman as county assessor, to revisit the value.
His findings: The property's value surged to $1,969,177, and the tax bill went up to $35,961, compared to the prior bill of $913 based on a value of $50,000.

We asked David Jenkins' son, Chris Jenkins, who reportedly was involved in negotiations to acquire the property, for a comment on the new value but haven't heard back from him. If we hear something, we'll update.

The Jenkins family owns Nor'wood Development Group, which has projects across the city, including the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area where the Olympic Museum will be built, the Banning Lewis Ranch to the east and development around the Interquest Parkway area.


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