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News briefs from the Front Range

No more recycling at Safeway near Manitou
For the past few years, Manitou Springs residents have come to the parking lot of the Safeway at 3275 W. Colorado Ave. and dumped their recyclables in the big bins of the recycling center. Three times a week, Bestway Disposal emptied the often-overflowing bins and threw out the trash left by some less-green visitors.

The recycling center was the brainchild of community group Manitou Springs Recycles. Della Garelle, a representative for the group, says the bins were so well used that she was working with Bestway to co-fund a second set of bins.

But that didn't happen. Instead, this week Bestway removed the bins, citing community complaints that the center was an eyesore, and that on high-wind days, trash was blown around the area.

"It's been a labor of love, and it's gone," Garelle says of the center.

Manitou Springs Recycles will look for another site nearby. The group is considering asking for donations to set up a center in memory of Kathy Verlo, community activist and former Manitou Springs City Council member, who had been active in Manitou Springs Recycles.

In the meantime, locals can check for other places to drop off their recycling by reviewing the directory at elpasoco.com, within the "Parks & Environmental" section of the "Residents" link. JAS

Vigil plans commission bid
Three El Paso County commission seats will be up for grabs in November's election, but so far only one Democrat has announced plans to seek a spot on the Republican-dominated board.

Andre Vigil, who lost in 2004 to Dennis Hisey, now chair of the commission, is planning another bid to represent District 4, which covers southwestern El Paso County, including Fountain and the Security-Widefield area.

John Morris, chair of the El Paso County Democratic Party, says he does not know of anyone planning to challenge Amy Lathen, just appointed to fill the large District 2 covering eastern El Paso County, or Sallie Clark, whose District 3 extends west from central Colorado Springs. AL

Study on Fountain Creek points to more questions
After long months collecting and analyzing water samples from upper reaches of Fountain Creek, the word from the U.S. Geological Survey is that, yes, there is indeed some yucky stuff in there. It's just going to take more time to determine if the contamination comes from animals or people. Also, if people are the cause, whether it comes from sewage leaks or more direct sources (yes, that would be people pooping in the woods).

Donald Stoeckel, a USGS microbiologist, presented the findings at a public meeting Jan. 24, handing out sheets showing the highest levels of contamination were found on the stretch of the creek from where it is joined by Ruxton Creek and where it passes under Eighth Street.

Tests pointed to a minor leak along Ruxton Creek in a Manitou Springs sewage pipe, but repairs did not control the contamination, Stoeckel said, meaning there must be other sources.

The USGS testing only covers a short upper stretch of the creek, while other groups have examined the creek downstream, particularly as it nears Pueblo.

A trial opened Monday in federal court to determine if Colorado Springs owes additional fines for sewage discharges into the creek over a period of years. The Sierra Club filed the suit against the city in 2005, arguing the releases violated the Clean Water Act. AL

Colorado outgunned on Cyber Command
As Colorado's lawmakers wrote a letter last year asking the military to bring its new computer-war command to Colorado Springs, a Louisiana representative, aided by officials in his state, waved lots of cash. That seems to have been the difference in the outcome.

Among provisions buried in the 2008 defense appropriations bill was a $4 million earmark for the Cyber Command to stay at its initial location, Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, La. The money was an earmark by Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., whose district includes Barksdale.

Colorado Springs, already home to the military's Northern and Strategic commands as well as North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), had room for Cyber Command, which is meant to stymie hackers and international terrorists from harming financial, government and military computer networks.

Colorado's seven congressional representatives and two senators wrote a letter in October encouraging Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne to visit the Springs, boasting of its affordability, military programs at colleges and lack of hurricanes.

Around the same time, the state of Louisiana and Shreveport's neighboring Bossier City allocated $100 million to build a cyber innovation center to be a civilian counterpart to the command near the Barksdale base. New Mexico lawmakers had also lobbied the Air Force to bring Cyber Command to their state. MdY

Nolan gets four years
A 71-year-old Colorado Springs funeral operator was sentenced to four years in prison last week, found guilty of stealing more than $200,000 in a scheme involving pre-paid funeral services that were never rendered.

In a packed and emotional courtroom, El Paso County District Court Judge Barney Iuppa scolded Neva Nolan, who operated Nolan Funeral Home despite the closure of its physical location on North Weber Street about four years ago. Iuppa said he passed down the harsh sentence for the non-violent crimes because he did not hear Nolan take responsibility for her actions.

Nolan's defense attorney argued that Nolan did not intend to defraud her customers and was herself the victim of a Nigerian investment scam.

Nolan had already pleaded guilty to felony theft and abuse of a corpse in the complicated legal case. Citing cases like Nolan, Rep. Debbie Stafford, D-Aurora, is seeking licensure of Colorado's funeral practitioners, among other provisions to protect consumers.

Once Nolan is released from prison, she will also be required to serve three years mandatory parole. MdY

Local events will highlight Darfur killings
A screening of the film The Devil Came on Horseback Saturday at Colorado College launches a month-long exhibit entitled Genocide: 1900 Darfur at the Pikes Peak Library District's East Library.

The film, focusing on the experiences of Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain who spent six months as an African Union monitor in Darfur, begins at 7 p.m. in Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache la Poudre St.

The exhibit opens Sunday, Feb. 3, from 1 to 5 p.m. at East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd. Steidle and others will speak at a reception starting at 1:30 p.m., and Steidle and his sister Gretchen Steidle Wallace will be available to sign their book, The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur.

The exhibit, with photographs and a historic timeline, runs through February, and all of the events are free. More information is available at thegreenbergcenter.org. AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane, J. Adrian Stanley and Michael de Yoanna.

  • Recycling woes, Fountain Creek's E-coli, Cyber Command, commission candidate.

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