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Noted: USAF may bring special forces to CO 

Osprey to train in Colorado?

The Air Force wants to expand its training playground into Colorado for its Special Operations Forces based at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, N.M. A proposed map shows the flight area for C-130s and CV-22 Ospreys reaching from the southern Colorado border to a line roughly from Black Forest and Monument Hill to Grand Junction, and from La Junta westward to the Utah border.

Public comment closes Oct. 4, and letters should be addressed to Cannon AFB Public Affairs, 110 E. Sextant, #1150, Cannon AFB, NM 88103 or e-mailed to 27SOWpublicaffairs@cannon.af.mil.

The Air Force says planes would fly as low as 200 feet. More space is needed, the service says, because existing military routes controlled by Cannon's 27th Special Operations Wing are "generally narrow corridors over flat terrain designed for use by F-16 aircraft." Plans call for three sorties on most days, nearly 700 annually.

Local activist Bill Sulzman says that by compiling an environmental assessment instead of an environmental impact statement, the Air Force sidesteps public hearings. He says he will urge that hearings take place in Pueblo and Alamosa.

"I know this is a military-friendly area, but when is enough enough?" Sulzman asks. "That map looks like such an overreach."

The Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. will not take a position, EDC chief Mike Kazmierski says. Brian Binn of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce says training is critical to the Air Force mission, and it's not unusual for a base to send planes over neighboring states. But the Chamber, he says, will stay neutral on the proposal. — PZ

Section 16 moves onward

The city parks department's purchase of Section 16, after years of trying, finally is imminent. The Trails, Open Space and Parks working committee was scheduled Wednesday to vote on purchasing the popular west-side, 640-acre parcel, with the parks board set to vote Thursday, Sept. 9. Assuming both approve, Colorado Springs City Council soon could be asked to give its final blessing.

The parks department wants to buy the property from the State Land Board using a $1 million Great Outdoors Colorado grant and money from the Trails, Open Space and Parks sales tax. The land board and parks department couldn't agree on a price, but that changed this year when a new law allowed the land board to negotiate exclusively with the parks department, and the asking price dropped to $3.8 million.

It's anticipated Council will approve the purchase of Section 16 if asked. — JAS

Media shuffle continues

The Gazette saw three high-profile departures from its newsroom this summer: news reporter Bill Reed and sportswriter Jake Schaller, both of whom resigned to pursue law degrees, and news reporter Eileen Welsome, a Pulitzer Prize-winner in New Mexico during the 1990s. She resigned after less than a year.

Schaller had covered Air Force football, and that beat now belongs to former Gazette Broncos reporter Frank Schwab, leaving the Broncos beat uncovered by the local daily for the first time in memory. Editor Jeff Thomas didn't respond to an e-mail.

The Gazette's Fresh•Ink family is also losing team leader Travis Duncan, who's going to work for the Pikes Peak Library District.

Lastly, former KOAA News First 5 investigative journalist and weekend anchor James Jarman started Wednesday at KRDO NewsChannel 13 in a similar role. — PZ

Three city questions on ballot

City Council agreed late last week to place three issues on the Nov. 2 ballot: the petition-driven "strong mayor" question, a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights revenue retention request, and a proposed amendment to the Trails, Open Space and Parks structure.

Since enough signatures were collected for the "strong mayor" question to qualify, Council was obligated to place it on the ballot. Councilors also unanimously agreed to ask voters to retain about $600,000 collected above TABOR limits in 2009.

Voters will also decide whether to use about $500,000 a year from the TOPS sales tax for city parks, trails and open space maintenance. Currently, the TOPS program has a limited budget for maintenance, which can only be expended on TOPS-acquired properties. If approved, the $500,000 would be used for any city parks properties the next two years.

Trails and Open Space Coalition executive director Susan Davies said voters would think they had fixed the parks funding problem, when in fact the money would water about 25 parks for two years. — JAS

Bruce not in contempt

Anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce won't be held in contempt of court, a judge ruled Tuesday, but he will need to answer questions about three 2010 ballot initiatives.

A judge had considered holding Bruce in contempt after he dodged 30 attempts to serve him with a court order to show up for a deposition in May. The courts were attempting to serve Bruce because they wanted him to talk about his involvement in funding and/or orchestrating the campaigns behind Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, three anti-tax measures on the Nov. 2 state ballot. Opponents say the trio would financially devastate local and state governments.

Bruce's attorney, David Lane, has said Bruce should not have to talk about his involvement in the initiatives. — JAS

Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

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