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Noted: HCA-HealthONE's Memorial offer 

HCA baits Memorial hook

HCA-HealthONE dangled $325 million in front of the community this week as its net bid for city-owned Memorial Health System. The Nashville, Tenn.-based, for-profit enterprise, which owns seven hospitals and numerous clinics in the Denver area, wants to make Memorial its flagship in southern Colorado, says Kevin Walker, local business consultant working for HCA on the deal.

HCA pledged to invest $1 billion over the 40-year lease to "maintain commitment" to charity care, and promised to retain Memorial's employees for six months, until an analysis can be done to show whether to keep all 4,400 of them.

Details weren't disclosed by the other bidders: Centura Health, owner of the local Penrose-St. Francis system; Community Health Systems; Memorial's current management and board; Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System; and the University of Colorado Hospital Authority.

"We're pleased with the number and variety of bids," says Jan Martin, City Council president pro tem and chair of the Memorial Task Force. "It represents a wide range of hospital systems: for-profit, not-for-profit." Martin says the proposals will be reviewed by consultants Larry Singer and Mike Anthony, both of Chicago.

"The task force will meet with bidders on Dec. 2 and have a chance to ask questions and have dialogue with them," Martin says. "On Dec. 7, the public will have the same opportunity."

Before that, the task force is hosting a town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, at City Hall to discuss the lease process. On Friday, Nov. 18, the task force will meet to finalize scoring sheets and priorities. The panel plans to send its choice to Council by Dec. 27. If approved, the bidder's proposal will be put before voters next year. — PZ

FutureSelf shuttering

Local youth arts organization FutureSelf announced last week that it will dissolve its operations. The 10-year-old enterprise couldn't continue with its current funding, which has been decreasing during the past few years.

In a release sent to media, FutureSelf executive director Abby Laine Sienkiewicz explained, "This decision was made in order to be responsible and respectful to our donors, our stakeholders, and our youth." Asked earlier this week about FutureSelf's legacy, Sienkiewicz says, "I think it really has impacted our youth and provided a place for any kid, no matter what background they are, to belong."

FutureSelf will host a studio sale from noon to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, at its office, 29 E. Bijou St., #20. Items for sale include artwork, art supplies, furniture and power tools. For info, call 323-6262. — EA

Try again on maps

"Keep counties whole" became one of the chief slogans for Republicans during this year's reapportionment process, and Tuesday the Colorado Supreme Court backed that idea.

As it does every 10 years, Colorado is redrawing lines for the state House and Senate districts. There are strict constitutional expectations that the 11-person Colorado Reapportionment Commission must observe, such as respecting boundaries of municipalities and keeping the districts roughly the same size.

The court ruled that the commission failed in too many instances to respect boundaries of counties, and ordered that it come back to the court with new maps by Dec. 6, according to the Denver Post.

In a statement released after the decision, state GOP Chairman Ryan Call said, "The State Supreme Court's decision today validates what Colorado Republicans have been arguing all along." — CH

Bensberg ends race

Former two-term El Paso County Commissioner Jim Bensberg withdrew from the state House District 16 Republican race this week, calling it a "personal decision." The 2009 Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce's Elected Official of the Year had been campaigning for a year before issuing the press release Tuesday. In it, he said his "talents, experience and accumulated career skills may best be applied elsewhere in my life."

Bensberg tells the Indy that he will be returning all donations to his campaign contributors, adding, "I'm not planning to do anything for now except sit back, evaluate and see what options come my way."

Current term-limited HD 16 Rep. Larry Liston reportedly is backing Mike Garner, a staffing executive for Goodwill Industries who filed his candidacy on Oct. 3. Owen Hill, an Air Force Academy grad and failed candidate for the state Senate District 11 seat last year, also filed Oct. 3. — PZ

Give! off to fast start

Two weeks into the Independent's third annual Give! campaign, donations are far ahead of 2010's two-week total. As of Wednesday morning, they'd reached $98,206; last year at this time, the campaign had received about $59,000.

"In the season when it's tradition to give thanks, I am truly grateful for the outpouring of community support — for the thousands of donors and collaborators — embracing Give! and the nonprofits it serves," says Carrie Simison-Bitz, Indy associate publisher and Give! co-chair. "All of the donations stay right here and help the Give! organizations continue to offer valuable programs and services right in our backyard."

This year's Give! will continue for six more weeks, through Dec. 31, with an overall goal of $555,555.55. — RR

Governor coming to speak

Gov. John Hickenlooper will help Colorado Springs celebrate the groundbreaking of SunShare, the area's first community solar project. Festivities will take place at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Venetucci Farms.

City Councilor Brandy Williams says she's excited by the jobs SunShare will bring to the community, and thrilled that the governor is coming to the celebration. — JAS

UCCS plans expansion

Students at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs one day will have a new health sciences building, the school announced last Friday. Thanks to a $4 million donation from the John E. and Margaret L. Lane Foundation, as well as Margot Lane of Colorado Springs, UCCS will start construction next summer on the estimated 56,000-square-foot building at the corner of North Nevada Avenue and Austin Bluffs Parkway.

Working in collaboration with UCCS will be Peak Vista Community Health Centers, which will locate a senior health center in the space.

According to a UCCS press release, "The building, which will integrate primary healthcare services for aging adults with UCCS academic programs, will be named the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences in the Lanes' honor." — CH

Rents hit record high

Colorado Springs apartment rents hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2011. Average rent is now $778 a month.

That news comes shortly after an Independent article about the booming market in developing apartments. The Nov. 3 news story, "Complex equation," delved into the question of whether apartments would be overbuilt due to current high demand and the difficulty of building alternative projects in the commercial and single family residential markets. — JAS

Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Chet Hardin, Ralph Routon and Pam Zubeck.

  • Also: FutureSelf shuttering, Bensberg ends race, UCCS plans expansion.

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