Noted: Free HIV testing scheduled 

Free HIV testing scheduled

Local nonprofits will recognize National HIV Testing Day on June 27 by administering free, confidential Rapid HIV Tests.

Research conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identifies 708 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in El Paso County. However, Richard Blair, director of the Southern Colorado AIDS Project (S-CAP), believes that number represents only 75 percent of actual cases, which would put the total number closer to 950.

Rapid Tests yield results within 30 to 40 minutes, during which volunteers provide counseling and prevention education. June 27 testing will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at S-CAP (1301 S. Eighth St., #200, 578-9092) and from noon to 4 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center (2508 E. Bijou St., 471-4429). Testing will be available in Pueblo at its Department of Public Health and Environment office (4718 N. Elizabeth St., Suite E, 719/545-4650 ext. 17). Appointments are not necessary, but appreciated, at each site. — VL

GOP may have primary battle for clerk

With 14 months to go until the 2010 primary election, El Paso County already has a potential race for county clerk and recorder.

Sandra Damron, a Republican approaching the end of her second and final term as county treasurer, filed paperwork with the state June 9 to seek the position now held by Bob Balink, who is term-limited.

While stopping short of saying he is running, County Commissioner Wayne Williams, who's facing his own term limits, says he's having "conversations" about seeking the same Republican nomination for county clerk.

"There is a strong possibility that I might run for that," he says, adding that he'll decide by fall.

Damron's announcement kicks off what could be a busy period of shuffling. County Commission Chair Jim Bensberg, another term-limited official, says he's not decided whether he will seek another elected office. Rumors have suggested Bensberg will run for treasurer. Balink says he has not decided on his plans.

All six county-wide elected offices — clerk, treasurer, sheriff, assessor, coroner and surveyor — will be up for election in 2010. No Democrat has announced plans to run for any of them, nor has any Democrat been on the ballot for one of these positions in at least 10 years. But term-limited Democratic state Rep. Mike Merrifield is said to be considering a run for Bensberg's commission seat. — AL

D-49 cuts finalists to three

Falcon School District 49's board of education had planned to select a single finalist for superintendent by the end of last week. But after several discussions and lack of consensus, the board instead chose to whittle its remaining candidates from four to three, with a decision now expected around July 1-2.

Donna Howell of Steamboat Springs, who had the least support among the D-49 board members, was taken off the list of candidates still under consideration by the troubled district, which has been hurt by revolving-door leadership,lack of community cohesion, rapid growth and the threat of a recall election for some board members.

The three finalists are Mike Poore, Colorado Springs School District 11 deputy superintendent; retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn of Colorado Springs; and Bradley Schoeppey of Tulsa, Okla. Poore has received the most support from the D-49 community at public forums, and citizens involved in the recall effort also are pushing for him. Rayburn, however, might have a slight edge of board members on his side. — JAS

PPLD sees increase in use

Pikes Peak Library District is experiencing a noticeable increase in use as the economy forces the public to think twice about spending money on books. In 2008, PPLD's total circulation (books and other materials checked out) increased by 10 percent to approximately 7.7 million items. Total visits to PPLD facilities also rose by 10 percent, to approximately 3.7 million.

"Programs are attended by increased numbers as people cut back on movies, attractions, or other types of entertainment for the family," writes PPLD spokesperson Danielle Oller in an e-mail.

To cope with growing demand, PPLD has increased hours at the Old Colorado City Branch from 52 to 60 per week, renovated the Sand Creek Branch, and scheduled the groundbreaking of the High Prairie Branch (serving eastern El Paso County) for this fall. — KV

State workers face furlough

Spared much of the private sector's suffering during the economic slump, state workers can expect some unpaid days off during the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Gov. Bill Ritter's chief of staff e-mailed the news to thousands of state workers, informing them that at least four days of furlough will likely be needed to make 1.82 percent cuts to each department's payroll, according to the Denver Post. The news comes amid revelations reported by the Associated Press that outgoing Senate President Peter Groff spent $30,000 in bonuses for legislative staff before leaving to take a job with the Obama administration. — AL

Hiker dies on Incline

A 61-year-old man died Sunday while climbing the Manitou Incline, apparently after a massive heart attack, according to family.

Jerry Retherford, well-known local attorney and former president of the El Paso County Bar Association, had heart problems several years ago, says Susan Retherford, his wife. But with stents in place, she explains, he had remained active, climbing to the African continent's high point of Mount Kilimanjaro to celebrate his 60th birthday last year.

Despite the rigors of climbing the Incline, Steve Sperry, a spokesman for El Paso County Search and Rescue, said he could not remember any other recent fatalities there that required his group to respond. — AL

Shockley softens stance

On his way out as student government president at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, David Williams scored one last victory. Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak modified an earlier statement to conclude Williams did not violate the student constitution's requirement of viewpoint-neutrality. Instead, she writes, Williams engaged merely "in viewpoint discriminatory conduct."

Williams refused to sign a funding request from the student group Spectrum for a "coming out day" campus celebration. Though his decision only delayed funding, many felt he violated the student constitution that requires leaders to make funding decisions without considering the viewpoint of those requesting it. Williams said he could not sign the request because of his personal and religious beliefs.

Riding a wave of conservative support for his position on homosexuality, Williams has announced he will try to win a seat on the El Paso County Commission in 2010. — AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane, Virginia Leise, J. Adrian Stanley and Ken Voeller.


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