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Part 3: Whatever happened to ...? 

In our final issue of 2012 (as in our last two issues), we're following up on a spate of stories you may remember from earlier in the year. But feel free to ask for an update on something anytime, at newsroom@csindy.com.

Flu blues

Two Memorial Hospital employees were fired, and another three resigned, rather than acquiesce to the influenza-vaccine mandate imposed this year ("Calling the shots," Oct. 17).

With patient safety in mind, the state now requires licensed health care facilities to report on vaccinations among employees. From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 this year, 60 percent must be inoculated. Next year, it's 75 percent, and after that, 90 percent. (The rule doesn't apply to non-licensed facilities, such as doctor, dental and chiropractic offices.)

Memorial Hospital, operated under a lease with University of Colorado Health, allows exemptions only for those with life-threatening allergies to eggs or other vaccine components, and those who acquire Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of getting the vaccine. Doctor's documentation is required of both groups. (Exempted workers must wear masks when they're near patients and visitors and patient areas during flu season.)

Spokesman Brian Newsome says 1 percent of Memorial's approximately 4,000 workers documented a medical reason for bypassing the shot. "We got the compliance we were looking for, and that's recommended for the safety of our patients," he says.

A Memorial nurse who spoke angrily (and anonymously) against the policy in October gave in and got the shot, but says she's now exploring other employment options.

At Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center, says spokesman Chris Valentine, 98 percent of workers got vaccinated, and the other 2 percent qualified for exemption. No one was fired or resigned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, is in some flu vaccines, but says it's safe. Others argue that it, and other vaccine components, "produce delayed reactions and long-term health consequences," as put by naturalnews.com. — Pam Zubeck

Maneuvering the market

When Vikki Walton, co-chair of the Downtown Public Market Task Force, discusses the potential impact of a culinary-driven community hub on Colorado Springs, she likens it to a single domino lined in symbolic connection with many others.

"Which one will get them all going?" she asks. "We feel maybe this is that piece."

This yet-to-be-officially-named collaboration ("Pikes Peak Market?" Side Dish, June 27) is in the vein of the Bristol Brewing Company-anchored Ivywild community space, and aims for a significance akin to Seattle's Pike Place Market: a local food mecca, group gathering and education space, and tourist attraction. But also, says Walton, a self-employed grant writer, it would be a supportive environment for small-business incubation alongside key organizations like Ranch Foods Direct, Arkansas Valley Organic Growers, Colorado Coffee Merchants and the Colorado Farm & Art Market.

In 2013, "leadership teams" will seek to finalize plans for everything from a final location — the former Crissy Fowler Lumber building at 117 W. Vermijo Ave., has not been secured — to optimal business and governance models. Walton says the market likely will take shape either as a nonprofit or L3C (low-profit limited liability company) to reflect social-enterprise interests.

Potential break-ground and opening dates are on hold until plans jell further, but Walton says to watch the group's Facebook page and website (cspublicmarket.com) for announcements, and to engage in discussion or activity. She adds, "We want this to be a community project." — Matthew Schniper

To fight another day

Haven House is still chugging, but it will need more help if it's going to survive 2013.

On May 23, we reported that the 21-year-old nonprofit, which offers free peer-to-peer counseling for people with mental illness, was facing closure ("Desperate times," News). For most of its history, Haven House received the majority of its funding from the local, multimillion-dollar mental health center now called AspenPointe. But that arrangement ended in 2010.

Director Tim Shaw, who earns about $6,000 a year, found himself scrambling to keep the tiny west side center open. He held rummage and art sales, and solicited other organizations. Nothing seemed to work until homeless advocate Steve Handen appealed to local nonprofits. Thousands in donations kept Haven open, and projects to last another six months.

But Haven still lacks ongoing resources. So Shaw is planning a sale of client art between Jan. 14 and 20: "If we can generate $9,000 that will cover us for the rest of the year," he says.

AspenPointe has also loaned Haven a professional grant writer, and Shaw is waiting to hear back on two loans that are worth a total of $1,500. Meanwhile, he's asked guests to pay for their own coffee, and ended his lease of a copy machine. (AspenPointe donated a machine to the organization to replace the rental.)

"The only thing I know to do with any budget," Shaw says, "is to reduce expenses as much as possible." — J. Adrian Stanley

BAC and better

Jana Rush, former event coordinator at Manitou Springs' Business of Art Center, arrived to work Aug. 16 to find police on site and an inch of standing water in her Venue 515 office.

Overnight, an unknown group or individual had gotten into the building, blocked the drains, and turned on the faucets. Rush's computer, records and books were heavily damaged, as were the building's walls, and its artwork.

But many of the three dozen paintings, including a $10,000 work by Lance Green, were salvageable. Insurance covered much of the $100,000 in repairs, and according to executive director Natalie Johnson, community members pitched in to help with $10,000 in ancillary costs. Along the way, 90 new people became members.

Venue 515 reopened at the beginning of November, notably brighter with upgraded lighting, which Johnson says allowed them to gain another proper gallery and a space being used as a reading room, lending library and community art gallery.

"You know, I almost want to shake their hand," Johnson says with a laugh, "if I ever meet the person that did that and be like, 'You, potentially, changed us financially so we're good as an organization.' ... Their goal, I guess, was to destroy the institution, and instead we're much stronger."

At this time, the Manitou Springs Police are still working on the case, but will not release further information. — Edie Adelstein

Demolition on tap

Since we reported about dilapidated houses surviving years of city Code Enforcement scrutiny ("Ramshackle blues," News, May 30), the wrecking ball has moved closer to one house.

An abandoned home at 1726 W. Colorado Ave., owned by Mark Cunningham, will be demolished Feb. 14, the city engineering office says via e-mail, under a contract to be awarded sometime after Jan. 10.

Last spring, the city said it was to be razed in June. But it was found to contain asbestos, adding complications and delays, according to the city.

The other house featured in the story, a fire-gutted building at 405 S. Cedar St., is owned by Norma and Sam Dunlap Jr. After visiting the house 100 times over the years, officers apparently got the Dunlaps' attention by threatening to impose fines of $2,000 annually.

"We issued Mr. Dunlap a summons and that seemed to light a fire under him," says code enforcement chief Ken Lewis via e-mail. "He abated all of the exterior violations prior to the court date and the case was dismissed. Recently, a retaining wall in the front yard was beginning to fall. Sam was notified and he took care of the problem."

Last May, it had 77 buildings on its condemned list, meaning occupancy is forbidden. Today, there are 102. Of those 14 are considered "dilapidated," meaning they've had three or more code violations within the previous year, are a blight, and raise safety concerns. — Pam Zubeck

  • Taking one more look back at a few stories that somehow stood out in 2012.

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