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Ranch changing beef, name

Ranch Steakhouse & Market has gone the way of, well, most other eateries.

The restaurant at 575 W. Garden of the Gods Road opened in 2005 as a platform for Mike Callicrate's grass- and grain-fed beef. But last week it began serving cheaper, mass-produced meat processed by Iowa Beef Packers (IBP), a monopoly owned by Tyson Foods. Callicrate sold his partnership as a result.

Restaurant general manager Steve Abeyta says he's saving money on the new meat, but would not disclose how much. The eatery's name will be changed to Red Rocks Steakhouse.

"[Co-owner Neil McMurry] said the food these other restaurants serve isn't killing anyone," Callicrate says. "I would say he is wrong ... all the trans fat, hydrogenated oils and chemicals are the reasons for the terrible decline in our nation's health."

Callicrate says he won't open another restaurant; instead, he'll sell his Ranch Foods Direct beef to more area eateries.

The move still burns him, though; 10 years ago, he launched an anti-trust lawsuit against IBP. "It is like dealing with the devil to me," he says of the mega-corporation. "It is putting ranchers out of business and treating its workers so poorly. That is the worst alternative you could imagine." NZ

QueerWatch critical of SoulForce

A coalition of gay and lesbian activists has criticized the effort of two SoulForce activists, who were arrested at Focus on the Family for a nonviolent protest trying to convince Focus patriarch James Dobson into "reconciliation" with the gay community.

"To try to reform Focus on the Family is irrational," says William K. Dobbs of QueerWatch, a network of activists that gained national attention for opposing the death penalty in the Matthew Shepard case. "There are a lot better ways to create some more space for gays and lesbians than to engage in these kinds of tactics."

Police arrested lesbians Dotti Berry and Robynne Sapp of Blaine, Wash., on Monday at Focus headquarters.

"... I believed Dr. Dobson's teachings for many years, and it almost led to my suicide," Sapp said in a SoulForce e-mail update on Tuesday. "My healing came from my acceptance of myself and my acceptance that God loves me exactly as I am."

Dobbs says the SoulForce protest reinforced the idea that gays and lesbians must identify with Christianity to be accepted.

QueerWatch also criticizes SoulForce's recent backing of military-enlistment protests where activists identify themselves to recruiters as gays and lesbians.

"It seems like you've got to reckon with the war today," Dobbs says. "Because of SoulForce's silence on the war, they're essentially supporting it and trying to help the military fight it." MdY

Asking for anorexia aid

Lindsey Purkett, an anorexia sufferer ("A hard place," csindy.com/csindy/2007-02-08/news2.html) who cannot afford the hefty price tag for specialized treatment, is contacting lawmakers in hopes of improving access to care for uninsured people with anorexia.

After Mary Cornell, who took Purkett into her Pueblo home in December, and Purkett contacted the office of Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., the office requested letters from them. Also, a Cornell e-mail indicates the office of U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., might be getting involved.

Marked by a frequent refusal of food, anorexia nervosa is regarded as a curable mental disorder, but only after years of extensive, specialized treatment. Untreated, sufferers risk death. Even people with health insurance face barriers accessing care, which the Independent found may cost $900 a day.

Purkett, 26, weighs 85 pounds and has struggled with anorexia for more than a decade.

"I don't want to die," she wrote Allard. "Could you please help me?" MdY

Army stonewalling?

As the Pentagon last week green-lighted movement toward expansion of Fort Carson's Pion Canyon Maneuver Site, a nonprofit watchdog announced a lawsuit alleging the Army is withholding documents explaining the plan.

Not 1 More Acre!, an alliance of conservationists, American Indians, archaeologists, paleontologists and others, in December asked for documents that could further explain Fort Carson's plans in a region rife with ranches, federally protected grasslands and historic sites.

The federal suit alleges more than two months have passed without response. Freedom of information law requires a response in 20 days, the suit argues.

"There is no doubt that increased numbers of troops and vehicles, heavier equipment and more frequent training will harm significant natural and historic resources," the suit states.

Fort Carson wants to expand the 235,000-acre site about 25 miles south of La Junta by more than 417,500 acres. MdY

Bill's intent: Buckle up or else

State Sen. Peter Groff says Senate Bill 151 would "save lives." Sen. Chris Romer terms it a "stupidity tax." Other Colorado lawmakers argue a law allowing cops to stop drivers for not wearing seatbelts would create a "nannyist state" and a potential increase in police targeting people of color.

Among those opposed are local Sens. Dave Schultheis and Ron May. Schultheis argues a free-market solution already is in place reminding him to wear his seatbelt: his wife, grandkids and the car alarm system that beeps until he straps in. May wonders if law enforcement might set up traffic stops simply to generate revenue.

Wearing a seat belt is required by state law, but cops can cite adults for not being strapped in only if they are pulled over for something else. Groff and others want to make not wearing car restraints a primary offense.

In 2005, of 444 people killed on Colorado roads, 250 weren't wearing seatbelts. Already, 25 states and Washington, D.C., have primary-offense seat belt laws. CD

Drinking independently

Colorado Springs' left-leaning politics and booze club, Drinking Liberally, has moved its meetings to the independently owned Coffee Exchange on South Tejon Street.

The group, which draws around 20 regulars on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, had met at mega-chain Old Chicago for a year and a half. But the restaurant's seating arrangement (mainly booths) precluded the club's goals to foster liberal mingling.

Club host JJ Courtright, who started the local chapter with his wife Amanda, recalls one "pretty awkward" night when he forced unwilling guests to switch seats and greet their neighbors. "It should be more like a cocktail party than a dinner party," he says.

The group, part of a nationwide network, rose to "rock star" status in the months leading up to November's election, with the highest turnouts in the country. NZ

Compiled by Cara DeGette, Michael de Yoanna and Naomi Zeveloff.

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