May adjusts to DA cuts
Dan May won a hard-fought primary race in August to take over as chief prosecutor for El Paso and Teller counties in January. Now he faces huge budget cuts and other potential pitfalls. One might wonder if he still wants the job.
May, however, seems cheerful as he prepares to become the district attorney. Though El Paso County commissioners have yet to finalize the 2009 budget, it appears the DA office's 2008 allocation of around $10 million will drop about $1.1 million in 2009, factoring in the withdrawal of most of an extra $400,000 requested to staff three new courtrooms expected to open next year.
Though the county clerk's office, health department and various county departments have made or planned layoffs, May plans to balance the DA office budget by letting some positions stay vacant, and by implementing a two-week freeze before replacing departing attorneys.
May also will be increasing rates for defendants seeking investigative documents and looking at creative ways to keep the office's diversion program, which lets minors keep their records clean the first time they are charged with a crime. The plan now is for the program to remain an option, but with a $200 price tag for offenders. AL
Study cites emergent troubles
On the bright side, Colorado has a high rate of seniors getting vaccines and a relatively low rate of adult obesity. The negatives: The state's hospitals are crowded and many residents have no health insurance.
In its national report card on the nation's emergency medical system, the American College of Emergency Physicians gives Colorado an overall grade of C+, with the lowest of five marks, a D-, in access to emergency care.
Dr. David Ross, incoming president of the Colorado Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, planned to help present the findings to state Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, Wednesday at the state Capitol.
One problem, Ross explained before heading to Denver, is that emergency rooms become a bottleneck when emergency physicians have no beds in the hospital to take their patients, and too few nurses and specialists to care for them. AL
Cripple Creek to vote Dec. 16
Cripple Creek voters will have the chance on Tuesday, Dec. 16, to approve the expansion of gambling as passed statewide by Nov. 4 voters in the form of Amendment 50.
The special election, required by the amendment, will have one ballot question, asking voters to authorize casinos staying open 24 hours a day, adding the table games of roulette and craps, and raising maximum single wagers from $5 to $100. Registered voters in the Teller County town may cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the city clerk's office, 337 E. Bennett Ave.
Colorado's other mountain gambling towns, Black Hawk and Central City, will conduct their special elections in early 2009. For more information on the Cripple Creek election, call the clerk's office at 719/689-2502. RR
Skate park opens Saturday
At last, the Memorial Park Skate Park is becoming a reality. A dedication ceremony for the long-awaited facility will take place at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 13, the same day as the park's opening.
Team Pain, a design firm from Florida, designed the professional-grade park, which features 40,000 square feet of various skateboarding luxuries including bowls, a street course, a backyard-style pool and a unique "hole-in-the-wall" feature. The dedication ceremony will depend on weather; the park will open as scheduled, regardless.
The skate park is located just north of Sertich Ice Center, near Union Boulevard and Pikes Peak Avenue. For more information, contact Julie Smith at 385-5256 or 660-7933. KK
Utilities' increase decreases
If cold temperatures and a grim economy are getting you down, look to Colorado Springs Utilities for a bit of heart-warming news yes, rates will go up, but not as much as officials once said they would.
The market for natural gas has actually gone flat, meaning Utilities is only planning now to increase rates for water, sewer and electricity, translating to an average monthly bill increase of around $18.
A public hearing on the proposed rates is scheduled for 1 p.m., Jan. 13 at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. AL
Hurray! Free parking!
The city, apparently flush with holiday cheer, is offering shoppers a deal: free parking on Saturdays in December.
The gift is expected to cost the city's Parking Enterprise a hefty $20,400 in lost revenue. But city officials think they can partially offset the loss through increased sales tax collection. In other words, they think you'll buy more stuff if you don't have to feed a meter.
The deal is good in downtown and Old Colorado City at all metered on-street parking spots. You still have to pay if you park in a public garage or lot.
And gleeful shoppers beware: Restrictions do apply. Meter time limits and parking restrictions in loading zones are in force. Don't get Scrooged! JAS
New way to giveaway
If Nick Venetucci is the local saint of Halloween, Bob Telmosse is the Christmas equivalent.
Venetucci gave kids pumpkins. Telmosse gave them clothes, food and toys. Both men have passed in recent years, but the community has worked hard to preserve their traditions. This year, even the city plans to lend a hand to help make the annual Bob Telmosse giveaway a success.
On the day of the giveaway, Dec. 23, the city's Mountain Metro Transit will offer free bus service from the downtown terminal to Mr. Biggs, where the giveaway is now held. Buses will run every 35 minutes. The first bus leaves the terminal at 7:30 a.m. and the last one returns to the terminal at 4:26 p.m. JAS
Snow removal up to you
City code requires that property owners clear any snow from around their property line including pedestrian ramps, sidewalks and adjacent sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowstorm. The city urges property owners to be aware of the code, as they may be fined and also held responsible for injuries that occur as a result of uncleared snow.
To report an uncleared sidewalk 24 hours after a snowstorm, call 385-5977, or visit springsgov.com/snow for more information on the city code. KK
Compiled by Kevin Kehl, Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon and J. Adrian Stanley.