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County surfacing Myers Road anyway 

Highway commissioner gets her wish

Last week's decision by county commissioners to put a hard surface on Myers Road pleased residents living on that dusty strip in southern El Paso County. All 12 of them.

Actually, the road has more residents than that and is the only east-west road for miles in that area. But plans to gravel and chip seal 13 miles of the road are largely thanks to Maria Jindra of the county's Highway Advisory Commission. She and her family own about 1,100 acres along the road ("Pave my road," News, April 10).

After the HAC overruled in February Jindra's effort to include Myers among roads to be paved, Jindra took her case to county commissioners. They deferred a decision in April pending a discussion on how to use maintenance money. On July 10, commissioners voted to gravel Myers and cover it with chip seal, a hard surface that's less expensive than traditional paving but can create problems with maintenance and durability.

The board voted unanimously for the Myers gravel work, costing $334,000. Wayne Williams alone opposed Amy Lathen's proposal to also chip seal Myers using an estimated $300,000 in highway funds. Transportation department director John McCarty notes the road gets fewer than 200 vehicle trips per day, the threshhold above which his department would have to take steps to control dust.

Commission Chair Dennis Hisey said Tuesday the funds for Myers are restricted, so the decision does not affect other county departments hit by recent budget cuts. AL

A bad week for Newsome
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will look into whether District Attorney John Newsome broke the law last fall when he reportedly used county funds to extend a trip for a homicide investigation so he and a police detective could take in a Southern Cal-Notre Dame football game last year.

Colorado Springs police announced the investigation would be handled by the state agency, just as many Republicans in El Paso and Teller counties are starting to vote in the DA primary race between Newsome and challenger Dan May. With no Democrat running, the race will decide the next DA.

Democratic state Sen. John Morse asked police to investigate the matter in a July 14 letter, alleging Newsome claiming reimbursement after investigative work was concluded constitutes felony embezzlement, even if he later reimbursed the county. AL

Herpin eyes Council return
As promised, Bernie Herpin will run again for City Council in 2009. Herpin was appointed in 2006 after Richard Skorman left in the final year of his term to accept a job with U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar. The appointment drew criticism because Herpin, a staunch conservative, seemed an unlikely candidate to fill the shoes of Skorman, the most liberal Council member. Herpin lost his seat in the 2007 election to Jan Martin.

Herpin now is running for term-limited Margaret Radford's District 4 (southeast Colorado Springs) seat. Herpin says his top issues will be funding for public safety and completing the Southern Delivery System. He says the city must find sustainable funding to continue the same services. He hopes voters will approve the county's proposed 1-cent sales tax.

"As our city is growing, we're being strained to the limit," he says. JAS

Kiss your asphalt goodbye
Apparently, the petroleum industry and growth of new world markets will do more than rob you of cash and send your once-secure job to India. Now it may also hamper your commute.

We're experiencing an asphalt shortage, and the state may delay 34 road projects including the Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road interchange, Interstate 25 from the Northgate exit north to the Douglas County line, and the I-25/Colorado Highway 16 interchange at Fort Carson.

According to the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association, the shortage is caused by two problems: The petroleum industry has been processing less heavy crude, the major source of asphalt, and there's a shortage of a polymer used in asphalt to protect it against wear and tear, caused by the closing of two European manufacturers, and increased demand from China and India.

CDOT could delay some projects to next year, extend completion times, use a different pavement material or partially complete projects until asphalt is available. JAS

New city forester named
A replacement for retired City Forester Jim McGannon (recalled with lighthearted tenderness in Rich Tosches' Feb. 28 "Ranger Rich" column) has been named.

Paul Smith, the acting city forester, has accepted the job. Smith, who served 19 years as forestry crew supervisor, was picked from 39 candidates. A city release praised Smith's "outstanding background in urban forest management." JAS

Penrose-St. Francis honored
U.S. News & World Report named Penrose-St. Francis Health Services one of "America's Best Hospitals" in a July report that compared 5,453 hospitals nationwide before selecting 170 for the honor. The report ranked hospitals on excellence within specialties. Penrose was 42nd for treating gastrointestinal disorders and 33rd for treating respiratory disorders.

The report also included the nation's 19 best overall hospitals. Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital took first; no Colorado hospital made that list. JAS

Poll: Dems lead in Colorado
A July poll of 1,050 likely Colorado voters by Public Policy Polling found that Barack Obama leads John McCain, 47-43 percent, while U.S. Rep. Mark Udall leads Republican Bob Schaffer 47-38 percent in the U.S. Senate race. Of those responding to the automated telephone poll, 40 percent said they were Democrats, 36 percent were Republicans and 24 percent were "other." The poll has a 3 percent margin of error. JAS

  • Also: Newsome, Herpin, asphalt, hospital ratings and more

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