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PETA fights LTT, a move mistake, new county districts, and more 

PETA continues fight vs. LTT

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been on the warpath against the military's Live Tissue Training for years ("Can't Stop the Bleating," Jan. 23, 2013).

LTT uses live animals — usually goats and pigs — to train military members in battlefield medical treatments. Animals are required to be anesthetized before being injured and treated, and humanely euthanized afterward. However, that hasn't always happened, and the Department of Defense has limited the practice. Special life-like mannequins are often used in place of animals for training, and studies have shown them to be effective.

Recently, PETA obtained video footage of top military contractor Deployment Medicine International (which has previously worked in Colorado), performing LTT on pigs. The graphic footage shows the animals being shot and cut into. One animal had a metal rod shoved into its leg, its jaw shot off, and its intestines pulled out, all while it is still alive. One pig woke up during the exercise.

A trainer is also heard saying that he'd rather perform the exercise on Muslims, which he refers to as "Hajis." Sexual and homophobic comments, as well as joking about the animals, can also be heard on the recording.

In response, the U.S. Navy indefinitely suspended DMI from receiving contracts from any federal agency. — JAS

A 'vaguely hilarious' mix-up

Larisa Kuhar was one of a group of renters in a neighborhood near Colorado College who believed they weren't having their leases renewed because their homes were being torn down ("Hello, neighbor," June 10). CC, which owns property in the area, is planning to build a warehouse there to store library books.

Kuhar, who had lived in her home for 17 years, was sad to leave. She was also upset because she says the notice that she needed to move had arrived quite late. She said the college had tried to make it up to her by offering her full deposit back, letting her off the hook for carpet cleaning, and offering to pay for a motel, boarding for her pets, and storage for a limited time.

Kuhar moved out. But shortly afterward, on June 11, she received an email from CC's property manager saying there had been a mistake — her house isn't being torn down. She was free to move back in if she chose to.

Kuhar — who says she found the mix-up "vaguely hilarious" — says she'll pass.

Paige Stevens, director of operations at Sunflower Property Management, says CC's plans changed suddenly, and they decided not to tear down Kuhar's residence. Stevens says Sunflower immediately tried to contact Kuhar to let her know she could stay in her home, but despite multiple tries, couldn't reach her. She says CC will honor all their agreements with Kuhar. — JAS

County approves districts

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-0, with Sallie Clark absent, to approve "Option 3" for new commissioner districts. The districts had to be changed so the population in each would be approximately equal.

Of three options, County Clerk Chuck Broerman said that Option 3 changed the most precincts from one district to another and also created the greatest amount of population deviation between districts — both considered downsides. Option 3 changed 13 precincts, compared with five precincts for Option 1 and 10 precincts for Option 2. Option 3 also created a 1.6 percent deviation between districts, compared with 1.4 percent for Option 1 and .8 percent for Option 2.

On the bright side, Broerman said that Option 3 doesn't break up disaster areas and it helps establish a natural district boundary at Powers Boulevard.

Kathleen Ricker, chair of the El Paso County Democratic Party, spoke at the meeting, saying she wished the county had allowed input into the making of the options. She also wished the county had tried to keep "communities of interest," including neighborhoods with large numbers of minorities, intact. She said of the options, she preferred Option 1. Other public feedback showed a mix of support for the three options.

The new district map can be viewed at car.elpasoco.com. — JAS

Penrose to expand

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has started the ball rolling to build a new medical campus northeast of Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street by filing preliminary paperwork with the city's land-use planning office earlier this month.

As first reported by the Gazette, the project, which would cover 51 acres, includes a 775,000-square-foot hospital, a 227,000-square-foot medical office building and 24 acres of parking. Maximum height of the hospital would be 200 feet, the filing states.

Penrose, part of the Centura Health organization, runs Penrose Hospital at 2222 N. Nevada Ave., and St. Francis Medical Center, 6001 E. Woodmen Road.

The proposed hospital would be significantly larger than the seven-story St. Francis Medical Center, which is 472,395 square feet, according to assessor records.

Memorial Hospital, owned by the city and leased to University of Colorado Health, has two hospitals — at 1400 E. Boulder St. and at 4050 Briargate Pkwy.

A spokesman for Penrose-St. Francis declined to comment. — PZ

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