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Early county voting favors GOP, new hospital to be built, and more 

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Early voting favors GOP

Ballots are slowly rolling in.

In a Monday email, the Colorado Secretary of State reported that nearly 80,000 ballots had been turned in statewide. As of midday that day, the El Paso County Clerk had received 13,367 ballots, including 7,559 from Republicans and 2,962 from Democrats. (The rest were from other parties or unaffiliated voters.)

To put that number in perspective, in 2013, 151,321 El Paso County residents voted. In 2012, during the presidential election, 292,698 votes were cast from the county.

Recent changes to election laws have meant that all registered voters now receive a ballot in the mail and have a chance to vote before Nov. 4, election day. There are also voting centers for those who would prefer to vote in person. To learn more about how to return your mail ballot, or where to vote in person, visit epcvotes.com. — JAS

New hospital to be built

A Dallas-based company paid $2.22 million two years ago to Fellowship Bible Church to buy 11 acres of land in the North Nevada Avenue corridor, and now it's working on building a three-story hospital there.

For planning purposes, the facility proposed by First Choice Emergency Room is being called Colorado General Hospital. First Choice operates walk-in ERs in Colorado and Texas and bills itself as the "oldest and largest freestanding emergency room system" in the country.

The developer, Hummel Investments, on behalf of Willmax OPR, is seeking a variance to allow a 52-bed, 86,600-square-foot hospital to be built to a height of almost 57 feet. The maximum now permitted is 45 feet, according to city planning documents.

The hospital is planned for 5623 Pulpit Peak View, which is just north of University Village and west of Nevada. If opened, it would compete with the city's two existing hospital systems: Centura Health and University of Colorado Health-Memorial, both of which operate two hospitals each. — PZ

Slowly getting hitched

Perhaps there simply wasn't the pent-up demand that many suspected. Or maybe, with their right to marry secured, same-sex couples are simply taking the time to plan weddings rather than dashing to the clerk's office.

Whatever the case, there hasn't exactly been a mad rush to get marriage licenses in El Paso County since the unions were legalized Oct. 7. El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Ryan Parsell says the office had issued 53 licenses as of midday Oct. 20. (Forty-five couples have been married so far.)

Neither is Pueblo County seeing a stampede. Though it issued 39 licenses before Oct. 20, during a legally gray period, it had only issued six licenses between Oct. 7 and mid-day Oct. 20. — JAS

Council assured of support

Several Springs City Councilors fumed earlier this week that Mayor Steve Bach's 2015 budget proposes to cut Council's access to legal services, reducing the time of its appointed attorney from full- to half-time.

But that's not the case, City Attorney Wynetta Massey told Council on Tuesday. She said the half-time allocation is merely a bookkeeping note, and that Council will receive time necessary. She also noted that 1,088 hours were spent by her office on Council legal issues from January through September, which averages 57.3 hours per week. "Council is getting more than one full-time attorney," she said.

Councilor Don Knight still complained of a "massive backlog of Council requests," and suggested Massey address that backlog before Council sets the city attorney's budget. — PZ

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