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Noted: Maketa leaves sheriff's race 

Maketa won't run again

While there's fierce competition for some El Paso County offices this year, the race for sheriff looked to be a non-starter: Sheriff Terry Maketa appeared set to walk into a comfortable third term. Not anymore — Maketa announced Wednesday that he is not running again, opting instead to choose from "several opportunities in the private and public sectors."

"I believe it would do a disservice to seek a third term with a high probability of not seeing that through the full four years," writes Maketa in a news release.

El Paso County sheriffs can serve three terms. There was no word at press time about who might run in Maketa's place. Check csindy.com for updates. — AL

Manitou trashes old system

Few experiences are more aggravating than being awakened by your trash guy at 4 a.m. Waking up because of your neighbor's trash guy is one of them.

Two years ago, Manitou resident Teri Christman was fed up with all the trash trucks. They wear down roads (one truck equals 1,500 cars), emit huge belches of carbon monoxide (burning one gallon of diesel per 2.8 miles) and can hit pedestrians and bicyclists (killing about 24 per 1 million miles traveled, according to one study). Plus, in Manitou, the piecemeal approach to garbage pickup inhibited the installation of any successful recycling program.

So Christman went to Manitou City Council meetings, pushing the town to contract with a single trash hauler that would provide recycling service. On Jan. 26, Manitou will post a request for proposals, asking trash haulers to compete for a one-year contract with the option to renew. A contractor could start as early as May 1.

"It's been two years in the works," Christman writes in an e-mail, "but it's finally happening!" — JAS

Williams picks on ACORN

In his candidacy for county clerk and recorder, El Paso County Commissioner Wayne Williams is trying to create a controversy where none exists.

"As your county clerk and recorder, I pledge to stand up against radical groups like ACORN who want to corrupt our election process and take away your right to vote," he says in a telephone message to supporters. "It is critical we elect a county clerk and recorder who will fight against these types of groups and who can make tough decisions under pressure."

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, based in New Orleans, has some 1,200 chapters nationwide and has been accused of voter registration fraud, among other things, in other states. But its activities in Colorado have been benign, says Secretary of State spokesman Richard Coolidge, who notes there have been no formal complaints filed with the state against ACORN and no state-initiated investigations.

Williams faces County Treasurer Sandra Damron for the Republican nomination. The winner will compete with Democrat Tom Mowle, the governor-appointed public trustee. — PZ

FREX dying after all

Despite high ridership and coverage of higher percentage of costs than other local bus routes, the FrontRange Express bus service connecting Colorado Springs and Denver is ending. And not everyone will be grieving.

Former City Councilor Jerry Heimlicher made FREX his personal punching bag, and Councilor Tom Gallagher always took a few stabs around budget season. To some, FREX was just a way to spend taxpayers' money on a non-local service, while sending retail sales (and taxes that come with them) off to Castle Rock and Denver. FREX defenders insisted the route eased Interstate 25 congestion while transporting Springs residents — who spend their money here — to Denver jobs.

Still, the popular shuttle will end by Feb. 15, barring some last-minute intervention. It was hoped FREX could continue if some buses were sold to supplement operating costs. But there were no bids on the buses.

Riders must use their FREX tickets by the closing date. No refunds, credits or exchanges will be granted. — JAS

Romanoff still running

Andrew Romanoff called a media event Tuesday in Denver to confirm he's still running for U.S. Senate. That may be underwhelming, but many of the nearly 200 supporters and reporters were far from certain what message was forthcoming.

"My speculation was that he was going to quit," one woman said, even as a volunteer handed out "Romanoff for Senate" stickers. After Gov. Bill Ritter announced he wouldn't seek a second term, people had wondered: Would Romanoff, former Colorado speaker of the House, jump into the governor's race? Or join Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's gubernatorial ticket?

Separate from all that, would he just respond to criticism over his fairly low-profile campaign and cease challenging Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet?

Romanoff said he's still running for Senate, despite "hundreds" of calls and e-mails encouraging him to switch races. ("To be clear," he joked, "not all of those calls came from Senator Bennet himself.") The economic and health care challenges many Coloradans face, he said, require "bold leadership" at the national level. He wants to clean up Washington by opposing backroom deals, getting tough on corporations and turning down contributions from political action committees. — AL

Caldara vs. health care

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank, has filed a ballot proposal with the state that would give Coloradans the chance to opt out of health insurance mandates that could be a part of health care reform.

"It's amazing that the federal government doesn't force me to buy home insurance, doesn't force me to buy life insurance or catastrophic insurance or an umbrella policy," Caldara told the Denver Post, "yet of my own wisdom I purchase these things."

Of course, those who do carry health insurance currently subsidize those who don't have any, one reason lawmakers are considering mandates. Also, it remains to be seen whether without a mandate it would be harder for Coloradans to access health care, especially if they are poor or insurance is not offered through employers. After all, it takes more than personal "wisdom" to pay for chemo. — JAS

Ethics alive at UCCS

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs just received a $1.25 million grant from the Daniels Fund to teach something called "business ethics." You could be forgiven for forgetting what business ethics are. Here's a quick refresher:

Remember all those stories you read about Wall Street fat cats lining their wallets with public money, corporations murdering civilians while in the employ of the U.S. government, and a certain developer taking the Colorado Springs government for a ride? That's the kind of shenanigans that business ethics are supposed to prevent.

The Daniels Fund already pays for business ethics programs at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and the University of Wyoming College of Business. In addition to UCCS, it's newly investing in a handful of other universities: Colorado State, New Mexico State, New Mexico, Northern Colorado and Utah. — JAS

Free way to wellness

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and the Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) are teaming up to offer Old North End residents free wellness service for six months. The program includes a health checkup, a coach and classes in fitness and nutrition.

Eligible residents have been notified. They must sign up online first, then schedule a consultation on Jan. 23 or 28 to participate.

Penrose decided to offer the program after CONO president Dave Munger and Penrose CEO Margaret Sabin met and decided they could work together to provide wellness services to the community. Penrose also will perform before-and-after health screens to see if wellness programs are effective in preventing major diseases and cutting back on risk factors, such as obesity.

"This is more the future of health care, rather than the past of sick care," Penrose spokesperson Chris Valentine says. As of this week, about 170 people had signed up. — JAS

Compiled by Anthony Lane, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck. For more briefs, go to csindy.com.

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