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Noted: New detox facility update 

Soon, the new detox

The county's new detox facility is still on track to open in mid-November. Forty beds will be housed in a domed structure being built adjacent to the county jail at 2739 E. Las Vegas St. It will replace a temporary 20-bed detox facility that opened in August at the old metro jail in downtown Colorado Springs.

Sheriff Terry Maketa offered to take on responsibility for running a detox program after Pikes Peak Mental Health closed its detox facility in February. — AL

Principals flee D-20

Three Academy School District 20 principals have suddenly left for jobs with the United Arab Emirates National School, following their former D-20 superintendent, Ken Vedra, halfway around the world. Erik Fredell left Air Academy High School in early October. Gil Bierman left Rampart High last week, and Roy Getchell will leave Antelope Trails Elementary next week.

Until permanent replacements are hired, D-20 spokesperson Nanette Anderson says, the district will rely on retired administrators to serve this school year: Greg Pierson at Air Academy, Steven Morrison at Rampart and Jim Mahoney at Antelope Trails.

Vedra served as D-20 superintendent for seven years before resigning in 2007 to take a similar post in Bellingham, Wash. He resigned that job Sept. 30 to become school director for the Emirates National School. His LinkedIn page states he's responsible for the Model Schools Project under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs. The national school, located in Abu Dhabi, UAE's capital city, opened in 2002 with 150 students in one location and now operates on three campuses serving 4,000 students. According to its Web site, the school promotes "understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial and religious groups," and counts children of sheikhs "and other VIPs" among its enrollment.

Beyond salary, the school pays teachers' expenses including rent, utilities, daily transportation, health insurance and annual return airfare. Recruitment materials describe the UAE as a "crime-free tolerant society" where "alcohol is freely available." But they also warn: "No cruicifixes to be worn." — PZ

McInnis/Clark GOP ticket?

The buzz in political circles is that El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark is under consideration as Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis' running mate for 2010, and Clark isn't denying it.

"While it's interesting for some to speculate on lieutenant governor candidates, and my name has been mentioned as a possibility along with several others, my focus is on getting Scott McInnis elected as our next governor," Clark wrote in an e-mail to the Indy. She already chairs McInnis' El Paso County campaign.

Clark, who's lived here since 1985 and runs a bed and breakfast on the city's west side, has been on the rise in politics after a bumpy start. After losing a Colorado Springs mayoral bid in 1999, she captured a Council seat in 2001 but abandoned it to run for mayor in 2003, again losing. She then won a commissioner seat in 2004 and was re-elected last year. She'll be term-limited out of that office in 2012.

Although McInnis' campaign spokesman Sean Duffy praises Clark for her support, he calls talk of McInnis' selection "wildly premature."

"We have made absolutely no steps toward picking a running mate at all," Duffy says. "There's no list. We've got a number of elected officials all over the state Scott has said would be fine running mates." — PZ

Election nears end

Less than a week out from election day, about 64,700 ballots had been returned to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office in this year's mail ballot election. That's already beating the 2007 all-mail election, when 59,000 ballots were cast.

Election manager Liz Olson says counting began Oct. 26, though results won't be released until after the 7 p.m. deadline on Nov. 3. At that time, all ballots must be returned by mail or by drop-off at one of the clerk's three offices. Questions? Call 575-8683 or visit car.elpasoco.com. — AL

Have truck, will plow

Plagued by an aging snowplow fleet, El Paso County leaders are seeking proposals from private contractors interested in taking responsibility for some of the county's roads. The successful bidder will take over plowing and sanding in Cimarron Hills, a county enclave that includes portions of major roads such as Constitution Avenue and Palmer Park Boulevard in an area east of Powers Boulevard.

The outsourcing is described as a test to see if more county snowplowing can be handed off to private contractors. Bids are due Nov. 5, and a mandatory pre-bid conference is scheduled for Oct. 29 at 3:30 p.m. Details can be found at adm2.elpasoco.com/procurement/bids.asp. — AL

Anderson retiring from city

From a professional standpoint, it would seem the past few years have not been kind to Deputy City Manager Mike Anderson.

In 2007, after 23 years with the city, Anderson was chosen to serve as interim city manager when Lorne Kramer retired. But after leading the city through a difficult budget season, he was passed over for the permanent job, which went to Penny Culbreth-Graft. Anderson, known for his financial expertise, was also largely responsible for two economic development deals with the U.S. Olympic Committee, which he says drained his time and energy.

So after helping to craft the proposed 2010 budget — another slice-and-dice operation — Anderson announced he's leaving at year's end. Anderson has accepted a job as a partner in local firm Summit Economics.

"There's no way to measure the value of Mike's institutional knowledge about the city," City Councilor Scott Hente says. "You just don't replace people like that. He's also a really good guy." — JAS

Heating help grows

Colorado expects to spend roughly $70 million this year to help people with winter heating bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), which kicks off for 2009-10 on Nov. 1. That's several million more than was spent last year, due to the state having received a larger share of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families stimulus money.

"With this economy, we are seeing folks that are the working poor, recently unemployed or underemployed," Colorado LEAP director Todd Jorgensen says. "It's a newer, different population that's coming to LEAP these days."

Program officials expect a 15 percent increase in applicants, on top of last year's 15 percent rise. Last year, the state program helped 105,735 households. Of those, 13,132 were in El Paso County, second in the state behind Denver.

Recipients' incomes can't exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which means the income limit is $3,400 per month for a family of four and $2,250 for a household of two. To apply, call 866/432-8435. — PZ

Aches aren't enough

Fearing that Colorado emergency rooms will continue being overrun by people with swine flu, Gov. Bill Ritter and state health officials are turning to the Internet to tamp down fears. Those feeling well enough to type at their computers are instructed to visit amafluhelp.org, run by the American Medical Association, to find out if they really need to see a doctor. (For those not feeling well enough to handle all this, be advised that if you answer "no" to the first question, "Are you having trouble thinking right now?" you're advised to seek medical help immediately.)

Basically, if you have a fever and aches, but no complications, you're advised to stay home.

For those who haven't gotten the bug yet, the vaccine for H1N1 influenza continues to roll slowly into Colorado. So far, El Paso County has received 18,000 doses for people in high-risk groups, including health care workers, pregnant women and children between 6 months and 4 years. Check elpasocountyhealth.org for updated information about vaccine availability and scheduled clinics. — AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane, J. Adrian Stanley.

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