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Much ado at airport

Renovated office space, a business lounge and restructured debt will help strengthen a weak Colorado Springs Airport, according to a new Air Service Task Force.

Appointed by Mayor Steve Bach in July, the task force is headed by Bill Hybl, El Pomar Foundation CEO, who outlined the changes in a letter last week.

First, the task force wants to spend $500,000 renovating the east terminal, which isn't used much, so the city can rent it as office space. The Transportation Security Administration has "made a commitment," the letter says, to lease part of the 5,200 square feet for 10 years.

Second, the task force supports Bach's proposal to build a business center and lounge. "Carriers have identified a significant need to retain and attract business travelers," the letter says. Business travelers and those who pay a membership fee would be admitted to the converted gate space on the concourse.

Lastly, money could be saved by refinancing the airport's debt, which costs the airport $5.2 million annually.

Council is expected to take action on the loan request and hear the other two requests in two weeks. — PZ

MMJ info compromised

Last week, the Colorado Board of Health denied an emergency petition submitted by the Boulder-based Cannabis Therapy Institute asking the state to stop giving medical-marijuana-patient information to some state law enforcement agencies. A recent audit found that the state Department of Public Health and Environment shared personal data outside of its guidelines.

The department defended its practices in a press release announcing the rejection: "Security protections are in place to maintain confidentiality of the registry," it reads. "Law officers are not able to 'fish' for names to determine whether an individual is in the registry."

The release says one board member voted against the petition because he didn't consider it worth an emergency rule. Others are awaiting an opinion from the Colorado attorney general's office, as requested in the original audit. — BC

Waters promoted, shifted

Mayor Steve Bach has promoted Bret Waters, manager of the Office of Emergency Management, to director and required the position to report directly to Chief of Staff Laura Neumann, instead of to the fire chief. Neumann called OEM a "key city function."

Having worked in the office since 2005, Waters oversaw the city's Emergency Operations Center during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and served in a similar slot during the Black Forest Fire in June. He also had a role in the city's achieving accreditation in emergency management.

In another move, 25-year Fire Department veteran Deputy Fire Chief Steve Dubay was named interim fire chief until Chris Riley of Pueblo takes over Sept. 9. Interim Chief Tommy Smith left last week for a post in Redmond, Wash. — PZ

Deadlines loom for victims

Two opportunities made available to Black Forest Fire victims are disappearing.

First, those who lost their jobs due to the fire may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), a federal program. But claims can be filed at coloradoui.gov only through Wednesday, Aug. 28.

Additionally, the Small Business Administration's Temporary Outreach Center in Black Forest will shut down permanently after Aug. 29. The center, which does not require appointments, can offer low-interest federal loans to homeowners, renters, and business owners affected by the fire.

The center is currently located in the Training Room at Black Forest Fire Station One, 11445 Teachout Road. — JAS

About those mail ballots

Those who can't make it to a polling place due to a serious medical condition, or because they work out-of-state or are living outside of the country, will have a chance to vote in the Sept. 10 recall election. To find out if you're eligible, visit tiny.cc/emerg-app.

As for everyone else, four voting centers will open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 5, 6, 7 and 9, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sept. 10. They are clerk and recorder's offices at: the Citizens Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road, #2202; the Downtown Branch, 200 S. Cascade Ave.; the Southeast Branch, 5650 Industrial Place; and the North Branch, 8830 N. Union Blvd.

Three other sites will be open from 8 to 5 on Sept. 9, and from 7 to 7 on Sept. 10. They are: Manitou Springs City Hall, Memorial Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. (weather permitting); the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, 2880 International Circle; and the Zalman Center at Harrison High School, 2755 Janitell Road. — JAS

UCH leaders bow out

Two big shots at University of Colorado Health, which leases city-owned Memorial Hospital, are stepping down.

President Rulon Stacey and CEO Bruce Schroffel "have decided that now is the time to transition to new leadership of the organization," UCH said in a news release. Schroffel is retiring, while Stacey is seeking "exciting new opportunities," as the release put it.

Their resignations are effective Jan. 31, 2014. Bill Neff, a doctor who serves as UCH's chief medical officer, will serve as interim president and CEO during a national search for the post, which will combine the two jobs.

Asked if the departures were forced, UCH spokesman Dan Weaver says via email, "This is the right time because University of Colorado Health has made such incredible progress over the past 18 months." — PZ

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