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Noted: Records request on Army helicopters denied 

Army refuses to share helicopter details

Local activist Bill Sulzman simply wanted to know how many training flights a new 120-helicopter combat aviation brigade, if approved, would make over forest land to the west and plains to the east of Fort Carson. But even those numbers are being kept secret, the Army tells him.

"I'd like to have it, so I could have a better informed comment," Sulzman says, with a nod to the public-comment period that ends next month. "But I don't have the information, and I've actually been told it's been denied to me." Sulzman doesn't yet know why.

A Wednesday morning message requesting comment from Fort Carson wasn't answered by press time.

Sulzman isn't alone in his concerns. In written comments, Eric Swab, board member for local environmental nonprofit Friends of the Peak, worries about the impact 120 helicopters will have on humans, wildlife and the forest, where at least 15 landing sites are used by an existing 24-helicopter unit. The brigade would bring 2,800 soldiers, their families and support personnel, requiring 20 construction and renovation projects at Carson, according to Army documents.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports opposition is mounting against an Air Force proposal to fly C-130 planes and CV-22 Osprey over southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Sulzman says the Army and Air Force proposals demonstrate a change in how the military accommodates training needs: "It's doing it in civilian air space so they don't have to expand a base." — PZ

Hernandez suit settled

Lawrence Hernandez lost the war. But he won the last battle. Hernandez is the former CEO and founder of the Cesar Chavez School Network, charter schools that served Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. For years, Hernandez and his schools were lauded for successes. But then media began uncovering reports and accounts that called into question how the schools were being run.

Subsequent audits found Hernandez ripped off taxpayers and played favorites. Hernandez was fired by his board along with his wife, Annette, and close associate Velia Rincon. The three sued the two Pueblo schools, Cesar Chavez Academy and Dolores Huerta Preparatory High.

On Nov. 19, the schools settled out of court for an undisclosed sum and issued an apology regarding the three. — JAS

Morrison steps down

Marcy Morrison looks forward to reconnecting with her home area of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs after stepping down Wednesday as Colorado insurance commissioner.

"I've put four years into this job and I always think a new governor needs to bring in his own team," she says, alluding to John Hickenlooper's impending inauguration. "I'm looking forward to getting back."

Morrison, a Republican and former county commissioner, state House member and Manitou mayor, was appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter in 2007. She says she's not sure what her future holds, outside of a few home projects she's been brainstorming. — PZ

County moves continue

El Paso County commissioners have persuaded the Pikes Peak Regional Building Commission to accept an addition to its International Circle building. With the added space, the site will house the offices of commissioners, the county attorney, administration, budget and finance, and public information, according to county spokesman Dave Rose. About 50 people would move to the addition and basement space now unoccupied; only about 20 county staff, in planning and development, work there now.

An early estimate sets the price at $1.5 million, which is included in the county's $55 million debt to acquire and remodel the former Intel building on Garden of the Gods Road. Retooling of other buildings in a musical-chairs move of county offices also is included.

Commissioners were initially slated to move from the County Administration Building at 27 E. Vermijo Ave., to Centennial Hall a half-block away, but Rose says the remodel estimates exceeded $4 million. The sheriff's office will take over the County Administration Building after the Regional Building addition is ready, probably by next summer. — PZ

Give! surpasses $127,000

As of 11 a.m., Wednesday morning, following the end of the "early bird competition" for donors, online contributions to the Independent's Give! campaign had reached $127,118.69.

The participating nonprofits recognized for attracting the most individual donors within their category are:

Animals: Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, 61; Arts/Culture: Imagination Celebration, 89; Community Building: Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, 83; Environment/Sustainability: Trails and Open Space Coalition, 147; Family: Women's Resource Agency, 61; Wellness: National Alliance on Mental Illness CS Chapter, 63; Youth: Children's Literacy Center, 96. Those winners will be featured in a December media campaign involving the Indy and 91.5 KRCC-FM.

The overall campaign goal, with donations accepted at indygive.com through Dec. 31, is $333,333.34. — RR

Police get a nonprofit

In what is surely a sign of the times, a new nonprofit has been established to help provide resources to Colorado Springs police.

"The foundation will not fund core functions or core assets of the police department," says Kyle Hybl, president of the new Police Foundation of Colorado Springs' board of trustees, in a release, "but it will provide resources for innovative and emerging technology, training, and encourage community-based crime prevention."

The foundation was modeled after similar organizations in other cities, including Denver, and already has a $25,000 donation and a $50,000 challenge grant. Police Chief Richard Myers says he expects the foundation to be a great help. — JAS

Compiled by Ralph Routon, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

  • Also: Hernandez settles suit, Morrison steps down, county moves continue and more.

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