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College kids OK to vote here 

Balink corrects earlier information about eligibility

Democratic Party leaders spoke out Wednesday morning at Colorado College against false information previously released from the El Paso County clerk and recorder's office, which said college students could not register to vote in Colorado if parents living elsewhere still claim them as dependents.

Liz Olson, the county's election manager, confirms there is no such restriction on registering to vote.

Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink released a statement Tuesday "correcting a previous misinterpretation of state statute regarding the qualification for college students to register to vote in Colorado." The inaccurate information was contained in an attachment to an e-mail sent in March to Colorado College from the clerk and recorder's office, according to Martha Tierney, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party. Tierney says the information was intended for publication in the school newspaper.

Pat Waak, the state party's chair, says the e-mail raised concern that students could improperly be kept from registering.

In his latest release, Balink removed any doubt about whether students can register: "I want to be very clear, that students who qualify on residency standards under applicable registration law, including those whose out-of-state parents claim them as dependents, are eligible and encouraged to register to vote in El Paso County." AL

City manager talks money

City Manager Penny Culbreth-Graft compared harnessing the current local economy to flying a jet at Mach 2 during a Sept. 18 presentation. Noting that the Springs' housing, construction, manufacturing and sales tax numbers are down, with foreclosures and unemployment rising, she said the city must hang on to its hat as it navigates through and out of hard times.

The city manager is working to lower costs through cuts and reorganization, while tucking away cash for capital and unexpected needs. But our needs and wants are outpacing our means, she says, even as the city's primary sources of income continue to erode.

Property tax revenues will continue to decline under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, Culbreth-Graft said, while sales tax is not the ideal source of income in a service-based economy. Besides, she notes, there's no sales tax collection on Internet sales, an increasingly popular option for consumers.

"By design," she told the crowd, "we are actually cutting our throats."

On a brighter note, Culbreth-Graft says the city has a lot to look forward to, with the expected next population boom and new development in the works. JAS

Bus system gets Web-savvy

The city's bus system just became easier to navigate. Now, with a simple trip to google.com/transit, locals can get the scoop on how to get from here to there on a city bus.

The nifty feature is designed for the spatially challenged with maps, walking and transfer instructions, and estimated arrival times.

"Google Transit allows us to reach out to new customers and provide them with an alternative to driving," city transit manager Sherre Ritenour stated in a press release. "In the face of rising gasoline prices and concern about our environment, this new online service ... It is helpful for anyone, from the first-time to the frequent bus rider." JAS

Record enrollment at UCCS

In this dismal economy, jobs and profits are scarce, but that isn't stopping young people from pursuing higher education. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has announced a record 7,960 enrollment to begin the 2008-09 academic year, a 4 percent increase over last year. The school also has a record freshman class of 1,157 students a 14 percent increase over 2007 and is doing a better job retaining students after their first year at the university.

CU's campuses are also enjoying robust enrollment, with the Denver campus tallying record numbers and the Boulder campus boasting its largest-ever freshman class.

UCCS administration says growth has been fueled by students interested in technology, engineering, high-tech fields, chemistry and other sciences. JAS

Better get that flu shot

Officials of the El Paso County Department of Health and the Environment say there should be plenty of flu vaccine available this season, and they're urging locals to get pricked. They note that last flu season, flu cases in the county were almost 400 percent higher than in the previous year.

The flu shot is especially important for kids ages 6 months to 18 years, seniors, people with a compromised immune system, pregnant women and health-care providers. Also, a healthy adult who fails to get the shot risks exposing vulnerable family members, friends and coworkers to the illness. JAS

PPAC honors arts stars

The Pikes Peak Arts Council, comprised of local artists, curators, musicians and cultural advocates, doled out recognition Sunday during its eighth annual awards ceremony at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Among those honored: FAC curator Blake Milteer, performance poet Kevin Rorke, choreographer Patrizia Herminjard, artist Matt Barton, director Susan Dawn Carson and musicians Ashley Raines and the Jack Trades. Martha Hopkins Booth, longtime music instructor and 22-year chorus master of the Colorado Opera Festival, received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

A complete list of winners will be available soon at pikespeakartscouncil.org. MS

Compiled by Anthony Lane, Matthew Schniper and J. Adrian Stanley.

  • Also: Transit on Google, city's money message, UCCS enrollment, Arts Council honors.

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