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Noted: White Acres bill paid 

Bills paid for White Acres

Colorado Springs may have the bad, sad economy blues, but apparently we can still scrounge up the cash for the things we care about. At an Oct. 8 fundraising dinner at the Palisades at Broadmoor Park, volunteers announced that the public fundraising for the purchase of White Acres Open Space is complete — a month ahead of schedule.

"We have met the $25,000 challenge and gone over it a little bit," said Don Ellis of Friends of Red Rock Canyon. The money was raised by Friends, the Palmer Land Trust and other volunteers. (The majority of the purchase price for White Acres is being paid with Trails, Open Space and Parks sales tax funds.)

With White Acres socked away, open-space supporters say they'll concentrate on TOPS efforts to purchase the Section 16 Open Space. — JAS

Landrock leaves KRDO, TV

Tak Landrock, KRDO Newschannel 13's longtime award-winning news reporter, hangs up his notebook Friday. Next week he starts training to become a financial adviser for Edward Jones. He plans to be licensed in December.

Landrock, 34, graduated from Falcon High School and then Regis University with a communications degree. He worked at KKTV Channel 11 a short time before joining KRDO in 1997 as a producer for the morning show. He began reporting general assignments in 1999 and later became consumer and investigative reporter.

Landrock says his highlights include his coverage of New Life Church founder Ted Haggard's fall; an investigation of the School District 49 superintendent's spending practices; and a report about gas-guzzling postal vehicles that won an award. He also has won three first-place honors in the Independent's Best Of voting for best local TV reporter.

He says the stories he enjoyed the most were those that resulted in righting a wrong, such as when a company would agree to resolve a customer complaint after he investigated: "Those are the stories that had impact. That's what I loved about my job. I got to help people." — PZ

Visits cut to combat flu

As Pueblo County officials announced the deaths of two young people due to H1N1 flu in recent days, hospitals across the state tightened visiting guidelines to protect patients, visitors and employees from influenza.

Centura Health, which operates Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs, is prohibiting visitors 12 and younger. City-owned Memorial Health System says people are barred from visiting if they suffer from a fever, sore throat, sneezing, coughing, body aches and vomiting. Memorial also issued the following guidelines for pediatrics, pediatrics intensive care, neonatal intensive care, adult intensive care and coronary care units: no children 12 or younger, including siblings of patients; a limit of four adult visitors; and a willingness to wear masks or to take other precautions. All visitors should check in with a nurses' station prior to a visit.

Memorial also recommends that pregnant women and anyone with weak immune systems not visit the hospitals. As influenza strains spread and change, restrictions could be altered, so the Colorado Hospital Association urges the public to contact a hospital in advance or check its Web site before trying to visit a patient.

As of Oct. 10, the most recent report available, 62 had been hospitalized with flu in El Paso County since the state began tracking hospitalizations Aug. 30. — PZ

Bonds issued for city's USOC deal

The city’s Colorado Springs Public Facilities Authority has issued $31.47 million in debt for the U.S. Olympic Committee project, Mayor Lionel Rivera confirmed Wednesday.

After years of wrangling, the issuance of the certificates of participation cements the city’s contractual role in keeping the USOC here for 30 years through the use of a massive incentive package.

“This was a truly remarkable job by our financial team,” Rivera wrote in an e-mail to colleagues. “We went to market and hit within one day of the low interest rate for this cycle.”

The city was able to issue the insured debt at a true interest cost of 4.63 percent, and a first-year debt service cost of $1,539,675 — about $300,000 less than budgeted. Rivera notes that annual payments on the COPs will be less than projected to be two years ago, when the city first proposed entering into the debt. By saving that amount over 30 years, it would mean about $9 million less that the city will have to pay.

The COPs will be used to pay for the USOC’s downtown headquarters building and related projects. Attorney Lindsay Fischer recently lost a lawsuit claiming the COPS were illegal. He is appealing. — JAS

Ballots should be arriving

Though some eager residents may have voted by the time they read this, others should expect to receive their ballots for the 2009 election any moment now (or to find them piled haphazardly on the kitchen counter). The El Paso County clerk and recorder's office mailed 289,000 ballots to voters on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

For those who haven't yet voted, bear in mind that ballots are due to the clerk's office by Nov. 3. Ballots are pretty svelte this year, so you should only need 44 cents postage, unless you're asked to include extra paperwork to verify your identity.

If you haven't received a ballot, but believe you are registered to vote, call the clerk's office at 575-8683 or visit the election department at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave. Centennial Hall is open even on Fridays until the election is over. — AL

Cash flows into 2C battle

"A City Worth Fighting For," the campaign supporting the Measure 2C property tax increase, had raised $73,510 as of the first filing deadline Tuesday, with more than a third coming from police and firefighters.

The Springs Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 5 has given $18,000, while the Police Protective Association's chipped in $7,500. RE/Max Properties and G.E. Johnson Construction Co. have given $5,000, as has Lyda Hill of Dallas, who owns Seven Falls and the Garden of the Gods Visitors Center. The Pioneers Museum Foundation and Chief Petroleum each have given $2,000.

Most donations range from $20 to $100, with many coming from city employees. From City Council, only measure architect Jan Martin and Bernie Herpin have donated. Top city appointees, including the attorney, clerk, auditor, Utilities chief and Memorial Hospital CEO, also have taken a pass.

The campaign has spent $49,967, the largest expenses being $17,000 on TV ads with Comcast; $10,000 to O'Donnell & O'Donnell consultants of the Springs; and $5,000 to Sheila MacDonald, a Denver consultant.

Citizens for Cost Effective Government, urging a "no" vote, has brought in $27,775 and spent $2,842. The biggest gift, $20,000, came from Coloradans for Economic Growth of Denver. American Furniture Warehouse of Englewood has given $2,000, while Joseph Woodford, a Springs businessman who started a conservative think tank run by newly appointed Council member Sean Paige, has given $3,000. — PZ

Homeless services relocating

The hub of Colorado Springs homeless services has shifted with the demolition of the Wahsatch Avenue building that once housed Peak Vista's Homeless Health Center.

The free medical clinic's new home is next to the Salvation Army's New Hope Center shelter, 117 W. Rio Grande St.

The Resource Advocacy Program, which filled the upstairs of the clinic building, will now be a few blocks away at the Springs Rescue Mission, 5 W. Las Vegas St. That program, though not formally tied to the clinic, offers help to homeless clients trying to find housing, counseling or other services. Peak Vista intends to replace its old medical center building at 722 S. Wahsatch Ave. with a new facility aimed at coordinating senior services. — AL

Forest Service seeks comment

The Forest Service wants feedback on its South Rampart Travel Management Plan at a public workshop from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 15, before making decisions about which Pike National Forest roads and trails will be designated for motorized use. The meeting will take place at the Colorado Springs Utilities Leon Young Service Center, 1521 Hancock Expressway.

In February, the Pikes Peak Ranger District published the Motor Vehicle Use Map, identifying roads and trails where motorized travel is allowed. A map can be found at fs.fed.us/R2/psicc/mvum_pprd09.pdf. Public comments will be incorporated to make further changes to the map. A final environmental assessment and decision will be completed by mid-2010. For more information or to make a comment, contact Frank Landis at flandis@fs.fed.us or call 477-4203. — PZ

Compiled by Anthony Lane, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

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