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Cultural White Knight

Tim Muldrew, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (csfineartscenter.org)

"Gee — I don't have any armor. I guess I need to go out and get some."

That's Tim Muldrew's reaction to learning that he's our 2010 Cultural White Knight. That, and he says he's "honored and flattered."

Having only come to Colorado Springs in 2005 to become company manager for the now-defunct Colorado Festival of World Theatre, Muldrew has made quick work of immersing himself in the local theater scene.

The first month he was in town, he volunteered his time with Star Bar Players, building sets. When he'd send out press releases from CFWT, on his own initiative he'd include other area stages' performance schedules, in hopes of helping them attract a few more people to their shows.

"Everyone was really concerned when [CFWT] started, that we were taking their piece of the pie, their audience," he says. "But we're all the same pie. It's all the same donors and benefactors and audience members. It's not how much of the audience we get, but how we keep them artistically happy and thriving."

That kind of camaraderie and diplomacy doesn't usually come from newbies, and Muldrew certainly isn't green. Now 49, the New York City-born stage man has been in the industry since he was 14. He worked at Disney for roughly 10 years and on national tours for more than 20, including a stint as company manager for Cirque du Soleil. Even while at CFWT, he'd work several months out of the year to stage-manage major productions in Los Angeles.

After CFWT made a final curtain call in March 2009, Muldrew made an obvious move: He became a craps dealer and pit boss in Cripple Creek. "I'm great at math," he jokes.

He joined the Fine Arts Center in September, was named co-interim director with regular production manager Chris Sheley in August, and he's applying for the permanent spot that Alan Osburn left behind. Since he's arrived at the FAC, he's further engaged the community with programs like holiday fundraisers for Care and Share food bank and the Southern Colorado AIDS Project.

Having long worked in children's theater as well, he has a goal of creating an acting troupe and reaching out to local schools in the near future. Riding off the enthusiasm of the FAC's youth repertory program, Muldrew says, "We need to build our next generation of audience and performers ... we have to make sure we're instilling the future of cultural arts in our kids."

Muldrew's parents, after all, took him to Broadway shows at age 5. "Because they shared that experience with me, I now love performance and theater," he says, adding, "I see every show in town. ... I want to give that stamina and excitement to those kids." — Matthew Schniper

Music Station | Talk Station | HD Radio Station

KRCC-FM 91.5 (krcc.org)

Independent readers have picked KRCC, Colorado College's National Public Radio affiliate, as their favorite station for 17 years. "I think our appeal is that we know how intelligent our listeners are, and we feed them stuff we know they can handle," says general manager Delaney Utterback. Of course, those same listeners are constantly surprising him, which Utterback loves — whether the caller's "an 11-year-old that knows everything about Car Talk or a woman that's obviously well into her 60s or 70s who calls up and wants to know what Caribou song we just played."

Local radio in five years: "It's going to be [public radio's] time to shine and become a global force in the way people gather their information, because I think there's only so much you can take of commercially driven, fear-based news." — LB

Local Radio Show

KRDO's Morning News (KRDO 105.5 FM and 1240 AM, krdo.com)

From Mike Lewis: "Lee Richards deserves a lot of the credit. We have good chemistry and we like working with each other and I think it shows on the air. We work hard to make sure the news we report each morning is actually news, either brand new or, if it's a follow-up story, we bring a new angle. We don't recycle news from the previous day. And we strive for accuracy. We don't put it on the air unless we have verified it."

View from the studio: "We can have a great future. But we have to remind each other that there's a certain level of investment that has to be made in the town. We have to realize as a community that there are certain things we have to pay for." — RT

Radio DJ

Vicky Gregor (KRCC-FM 91.5, krcc.org)

Vicky Gregor uses her show, which follows Morning Edition, to riff on the day's news with a playlist of old favorites and indie sounds — think Frazey Ford and Dhani Harrison. The goal, she says, is to let listeners know that "a real person is going to be on the other end of that set of music ... and they're going to comment in ways that, you know they truly are just across town. It really brings it back to where you live."

Radio's Orwellian future: "Fifty years from now ... some chip's going to get embedded in us. All you have to do is conjure up with your thoughts what you want to zero in on in any given moment. So you could have the thought, 'KRCC. Overnight Free Form. Go!' And you'll just pick up the waves directly." — CAS

Local Talk Radio Personality

Richard Randall (KVOR-AM 740, kvor.com)

"We're not from Mars or something. If you talk to people, you'll know what's important to them." It's this simple little nutshell of wisdom that's helped make Richard Randall a guy who nails current issues to the wall — and a multi-year winner for his morning talk show. Indeed, to hear Randall tell it, there's really not much of a science to what he does; you won't hear him prattle on about how his background in law or documentary filmmaking gives him a hard-won, unique perspective on the day's news. "I've been given a heart and a mind," he says, "and that's what people hear every day." — SC

Local TV Newscast (tie)

KOAA News First 5 (newsfirst5.com)

KRDO NewsChannel 13 (krdo.com)

Some choices are tough — boxers vs. briefs, paper vs. plastic, Team Edward vs. Team Jacob — and some are so impossible, we never take sides. That's what happened in this year's race for Best TV Newscast; Indy voters picked two at the top. While there may be no sparkling vampires or bare-chested werewolves among them (though they stay suspiciously young), the news teams at KRDO Newschannel 13 and KOAA News First 5 drew equal measures of love. We won't name everyone, but a few favorites include KRDO's Eric Singer, Heather Skold and Jon Karroll along with KOAA's Lisa Lyden, Rob Quirk and Georgiann Lymberopoulos. Better yet, apparently there's even affection between the stations — last year KOAA anchor Nicole Vandeputte married James Jarman, who's now a KRDO investigative reporter. Now that's paranormal love.

Likelihood that in 50 years we'll watch the news via computer chips in our foreheads: "I wouldn't go that far," says Baaron Pittenger, KRDO assistant news director. "I think we'll still have our own minds." But he adds, "It's almost impossible to say what it's going to be like even in 10 years ... with the continuing progress in technology." — JT

Local TV News Personality (tie)

Lisa Lyden (KOAA News First 5, newsfirst5.com)

Georgiann Lymberopoulos (KOAA News First 5, newsfirst5.com)

These two KOAA news professionals finished 1-2 in the Local TV Anchor category from 2006 to 2009, but this is the first year that they wound up in a dead heat. Lymberopoulos takes care of the early shift (5 to 7 a.m.) and sometimes the 5 p.m. newscast, while Lyden handles the 6 and 10 p.m. shows. Both have told thousands and thousands of news stories on KOAA Channel 5 — Lyden started in 1983, and Lymberopoulos in 1994. And that almost certainly has something to do with why they're so popular year after year. As Lyden puts it, "This is my home. I'm impacted by what's happening in our community, just as our viewers are. Someone we all know and love dies — I'm sad, too. Something funny happens — I laugh, too."— LB

Local Blogger

Carrie Isaac, Springs Bargains (springsbargains.com)

Colorado Springs' Carrie Isaac says that it's because she grew up in Kansas that she refers to soda as "pop" and pronounces coupon as "cue-pon."

That's actually noteworthy, in Isaac's case, because she's the coupon clipper and bargain hunter behind springsbargains.com, a local website that reaches some 5,700 people a day. "I don't know what the right pronunciation is, but yes, I have some friends who give me a hard time about that," says Isaac, who started the blog back in late 2008.

Prior to that, Isaac had already spent a few years doing personal blogs. "That seems like the dark ages of blogging," she says, recalling a period when folks still relied on the primitive Blogger publishing platform, back before the more sophisticated WordPress took over.

In its mission statement, Springs Bargains aims to "help Colorado Springs families save money on the things they have to buy, and enable them to do things they couldn't otherwise afford." To that end, Isaac constantly updates the site with coupons and local sales alerts.

But while frugality remains the site's core value, Isaac recently began a series of posts called "Behind the Label of Your Food," in which she writes about what terms like "organic" and "all natural" actually mean when it comes to the products found on store shelves.

And on Fridays, she says, "we share tips and advice on what to make with what's on sale."

Not surprisingly, Isaac was among the first subscribers when Groupon ventured into the Colorado Springs market back in May. "It's the latest and greatest way to save money," she says of the national deal-of-the-day enterprise. "I think it's reached people who wouldn't otherwise use coupons."

As for Isaac, she long ago graduated from the kind of coupon wallets you order from the back of Sunday newspaper supplements, moving on to the full-fledged box she gets her 5-year-old to carry while she "wrangles" the other kids.

Meanwhile, back in the land of "cue-pons," Isaac says her parents have yet to take the plunge: "I haven't been able to convert them yet to the wonders of using grocery coupons." — Bill Forman

Big News Story (tie)

Monument child death

City budget cuts

To be honest, some of us assumed this category would be no contest. As much as the city's financial troubles have dominated local news for more than two years, affecting everyone in some way, this looked like a no-brainer. But many of you disagreed, enough to create a tie. Sharing first place was the story that broke in mid-May when the remains of a young girl, Genesis Sims, were found by workers in the crawlspace under a vacant townhome in Monument. The child's father, Hanif Sims, and his girlfriend, Monique Lynch, were arrested six weeks later in Nevada. They've maintained they found Genesis dead and then decided to bury her under the house, but Lynch has been charged with first-degree murder and Sims with child abuse resulting in death. The two are in custody awaiting trial. — RR

Local Celebrity You'd Like to Meet at Happy Hour

Goose Gossage, Baseball Hall of Famer

There's a good reason, beyond star status, why our readers pick Goose Gossage every year as the person they can't believe lives here, or in this year's case, the celebrity they'd like to meet at happy hour. It's because anyone who's met him — which isn't too hard to do, considering he says he actually hits a few local happy hours regularly — can attest to him being super-down-to-earth. He's also generous, and truly part of our community. Early last year, he donated a signed Cooperstown bat to a fundraiser for a family who tragically lost a loved one to carbon monoxide poisoning. When asked how winning this award compares to making it into the Hall of Fame, he takes the joke in stride: "It's nice to be recognized, but only the birth of my kids compared to getting in the Hall."

The future of baseball: "If baseball keeps changing the way it has in the last 25 years, Lord knows what the game will be like in another 25 to 50 years," he says. "The big issue on the horizon now is the replays ... I'm not a replay guy, I'm a traditionalist. ... We might as well get rid of the umpires — half the fun was the argument." — MS

Local Politician

Michael Merrifield, state House District 18 representative(460-0580, michaelmerrifield.org)

Eight years ago, Mike Merrifield won a close race that put him in the Colorado Legislature. Through four terms, the former Coronado High School music teacher has become one of the most rambunctious lawmakers in Denver, rising to become chairman of the House Education Committee. Talk to him, though, and he's most proud of having worked successfully with his Republican adversaries on legislation that has mattered to both political sides. This is Merrifield's second victory in three years in this category, and it comes at an opportune time — as he leaves the Capitol, he's running for county commissioner, trying to become the first Democrat in nearly 40 years to break into that group.

"When" he's elected: "We need to be marketing ourselves as an adventure destination for hikers, bikers and campers around the country. It's a gold-mine opportunity we should tap into — a different version of Pikes Peak or Bust." — RR

Nonprofit Organization

Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado (2605 Preamble Point, 528-1247, careandshare.org)

Earlier this month, KRDO NewsRadio's Dan Cochell earned a lot of attention by camping out on an east-side billboard for eight days. By the time he was done, Cochell's effort had persuaded locals to donate more than 4,000 pounds of food and more than $1,000 to Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. The nonprofit was effusive in its thanks, even as it launched into the real work to be done — getting those donations to people in need throughout the lower half of the state. And so it goes for the region's hub of food assistance; look at its Facebook page, and you'll see that Care and Share is partnering with groups every week to generate donations, promoting those partners as the heroes, and then retreating quietly to the warehouses, trucks, community gardens and desolate rural roads to quite literally save lives. Yeah, seems like a pretty good pick for Best Nonprofit, don't you think? — KW

Difference-Maker | Person You Wish Could Be Mayor

Richard Skorman, businessman (poorrichards.biz)

He came here in the mid-1970s to attend Colorado College, and he never has left. Richard Skorman has built a unique presence in Colorado Springs, as a businessman with his Poor Richard's bookstore-toy store-restaurant-wine/coffee bar complex; as a respected former City Council member; and as an environmentalist. Now, with the prospect of a strong-mayor government on the ballot, you have to wonder whether the city's Best Difference-Maker would be interested in returning to office. "It's flattering that people think of me that way, but I'm more comfortable these days in an apron than a tie," Skorman says. "After nine years of public life, I don't have patience for meetings anymore. I'd rather be doing something. There's nothing more important to me than helping lower somebody's utility bill and making our lives more efficient."

Looking ahead: "I feel more optimistic than a lot of people do. We need to not be taken in by the naysayers. We're on our way to a brighter future in Colorado Springs." — RR

Local Twitterer

Barrett Tryon (@barretttryon)

Things you can learn from KRDO reporter/digital content director Barrett Tryon's Twitter feed: His dog Bentley hates baths, he sometimes indulges in drunk tweeting ("miss.you. so...drunk"), and he thinks "peeing outside is fun." Actually, these last two are most likely related. — BF

Reason to Vote This November

Change

Take Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. Passage of all three would most certainly bring change. Today, for example, Colorado is known as the Alabama of the Rocky Mountains. If the tax-slashing measures are approved, we would be known as the Mississippi of the Rocky Mountains. We can sense change, too, across the nation. Delaware would see change if Christine O'Donnell, who says she "dabbled into witchcraft," is elected. I don't know about you, but I hope she's elected just so we can watch her brew a steaming cauldron of wing of bat and, of course, eye of Newt Gingrich. Also, we've never had a witch in the United States Senate. Oops. I forgot about Hillary. — RT

Local Who Makes You Want to Leave | Town Clown

Douglas Bruce, anti-tax activist (douglasbruce.com)

Colorado Springs' Claim to Shame (tie)

Douglas Bruce, anti-tax activist (douglasbruce.com)

Focus on the Family (focusonthefamily.com)

"I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado." With those words, spoken April 21, 2008, during a House debate on guest workers from Mexico, the rest of the state found out what we were already lucky enough to have known: Little Dougie must have had a really, really lousy childhood. Amazingly, he eventually lost his House seat. More recently, Bruce — think of Mad magazine cover boy Alfred E. Neuman if he really let himself go — embarrassed us by hiding under his bed when the state was trying to serve court papers in a campaign-finance case. Blame the lower profile for his having to share the Claim to Shame title with Focus on the Family. — RT

Category We Forgot

Community arts groups

With more arts programs getting the ax each year due to school budget problems, community arts groups provide increasingly important outlets that help young people tap into their creativity. Art classes are a fun way to develop a new hobby and a great way for families to spend time together. So listen to the voters: Go out and get involved in a vital part of the community. You might even discover that you have talents you never suspected. — LB

Local Nonprofit Leader • IndyPick

Trudy Strewler Hodges, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region (casappr.org)

Some charitable nonprofits live off their identity, national as well as local. Others rise or fall more on the quality and stability of their leadership. In the case of CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) of the Pikes Peak Region, there's a unique dynamic: a singular driving force. Director Trudy Strewler Hodges was the local CASA chapter's first employee, starting in 1989, and in her 21 years, has turned this agency into a national CASA role model. Locally, CASA has worked to improve the lives of 6,000 children in El Paso and Teller counties, with an impressive stable of volunteers who are the lifeblood, working directly with kids and their families. But the most amazing aspect of Hodges' impact has been fundraising. Just this past spring, CASA's annual Light of Hope breakfast and lunch events drew 1,800 inspired attendees, who pledged nearly $360,000 (an average of $200 per person) to help CASA serve hundreds more neglected and/or abused kids. That's worth recognition, starting at the top. — RR

Colorado Springs' Claim to Fame

Pikes Peak

For those who haven't noticed it yet, Pikes Peak is the really big mountain you see when you face north and look left. Due to its 14,115-foot elevation, the atmosphere up top isn't exactly oxygen-rich — just 60 percent of what you'll find at sea level — but it's still good enough to make passable donuts.

Peak prediction: According to the latest annual report from Google, which started leasing the historic landmark from the federal government on April 1, Pikes Peak's height is expected to increase by 87 percent during the next three years. — BF

Local on the Lam • IndyPick

Kitchi the river otter

It's been almost seven months since Kitchi escaped from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and questions linger. Was Kitchi resentful of sharing the limelight with Kuuyi, Pahapi and Liwanu? Did Kitchi's un-alleged other family find out about the foursome on Facebook, and demand his return? Why did the Gazette write more than 800 words in September on the otter's disappearance, almost six months after most people stopped caring? These, and more, we don't know. These and more, we must know. In any case, I think the second scenario the most likely, and the most likely to elicit another mind-numbing piece from the daily. It's like they wrote at the time: "The other otters are fine, and don't seem to miss him ..." — BC

Thing the Cops Have Done Right • IndyPick

The Homeless Outreach Team (springsgov.com)

The Homeless Outreach Team was formed in summer 2008 to deal with a growing problem.

The city was struggling to rewrite laws against camping on public lands that ensured the Constitutional rights of the homeless were being upheld. Until new rules could be put in place, public lands were open to camping, and the homeless were setting up large-scale tent cities along creek beds downtown and on the west side.

The only attempts to control the problem were city-sponsored cleanups. By fall 2008, the cleanups were being criticized and homeless activists were threatening lawsuits, saying cleaning crews were unlawfully seizing the belongings of the homeless.

The camps earned staunch defenders who said the homeless had a right to live as they wanted. But residents and business-owners around the camps complained of increased crime and land covered in trash and feces.

By the time City Council approved a new no-camping ordinance in early 2010, the mood in the city was explosive.

It was the HOT Team that defused the situation. The three-officer crew had long been working in the camps, getting to know the homeless and learning what it would take to get them off the streets. And instead of hauling people off to jail, the officers got people help, using the web of charitable services in Colorado Springs. Officers Brett Iverson, Dan McCormack and M.J. Thomson's dedication to helping people has made them heroes to the homeless and the larger community. They have yet to issue a single ticket.

This September, the HOT Team beat out 46 other police teams from around the globe to win the prestigious Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing. The award celebrates cops who think outside the box and find proactive solutions to problems in their communities. The Springs had never even placed in the contest before.

What's more, the Springs is now being looked to as a leader in addressing homeless issues. The HOT Team hosted its first training for police from around the country earlier this month, and plans more. — J. Adrian Stanley

  • Who's making news, for the better or the worse.

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Latest in Best of 2010 Vol. 2

  • Best of 2010

    Welcome to the second installment of our 17th annual Best of Colorado Springs coverage.
    • Oct 21, 2010
  • Winners Index

    The top finishers in every category from news makers to favorite places.
    • Oct 21, 2010
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