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Piñon Canyon decision 

Military plans go south

It was a bad week for U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and others banking on military expansion to boost the Pikes Peak region. Gov. Bill Ritter announced he will sign a bill preventing the Army from buying land from the Colorado State Land Board to expand the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site southeast of Pueblo, according to the Pueblo Chieftain.

"Considering the state of Colorado's economy, and the fact that we remain a nation at war, I am extremely disappointed in Gov. Ritter's decision to sign [the bill]," Lamborn said in a release. Lamborn and others fear the bill could dampen the Army's enthusiasm for basing more troops at Fort Carson.

Also, a new Air Force unit dedicated to electronic and Internet security likely will be based in Texas instead of Peterson Air Force Base. Though Colorado Springs is a backup, the top pick is Lackland AFB in San Antonio. The unit likely would have brought several hundred airmen to the Springs and provided jobs for local contractors. — AL

Falcon schools' eye-catching finalists

While out-of-town finalists Donna K. Howell and Bradley J. Schoeppey may have substance in their résumés, Falcon School District 49's other two finalists for superintendent are likely to catch your eye.

There's Bentley Rayburn, the former Air Force general who ran two losing races against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn. And Mike Poore, deputy superintendent at Colorado Springs School District 11, who led the board's charge to close schools and then was passed over for the district's top spot. D-11 hired Nicholas Gledich as superintendent, even as Poore finished the thankless work of right-sizing the district at the board's request.

"I have a lot of passion for this district, and it's been a great place for me," Poore says of D-11. "But I've been here 21 of my 25 years [in the business]."

The D-49 school board is racing to select a new superintendent in time for the next school year after firing Grant Schmidt, D-49's sixth leader since 2004. Meanwhile, community activists are organizing a recall election for November, hoping to replace all board members. — JAS

Flu arrives in county

Just when the worst of the swine flu "panic" seemed to be past, El Paso County health officials report the first confirmed local cases of the disease, also known as the H1N1 flu. Lab tests confirmed a woman in her 20s and an infant both tested positive. The two are unrelated, and are thought to have caught the disease locally, according to Susan Wheelan, spokeswoman for the county Department of Health and Environment.

Both were hospitalized but are recovering, according to the department.

Even with swine flu popping up, officials are not advising surgical masks or stockpiling antiviral medications. They suggest you wash your hands frequently, avoid those who are sick, cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough, and stay home if you don't feel well. Find more at elpasocountyhealth.org, or call a state help line at 877/462-2911. — AL

CC faculty get more say

After a special meeting with Colorado College trustees here last week, faculty representatives came away satisfied they will have more involvement in budgeting, according to Judy Laux, an economics professor who chairs the budget and planning subcommittee of the faculty executive committee.

Laux hopes a new budgeting team comprised of faculty, students, staff and administrators will "open the lines of communication. ... We will be talking more."

A majority of faculty members approved a letter asking to meet with the college's governing board to voice concerns about CC President Dick Celeste's leadership style and financial management of the college. Budget deficits were projected even before the economy faltered last fall, the letter stated, possibly putting the college in a vulnerable position. Trustees agreed to the new budgeting process and also to a budget for next year that includes about $8 million in cuts, including elimination of football, water polo and softball. — AL

Gay rights activist dies

Prominent gay rights activist and Gill Foundation executive director Rodger McFarlane took his own life May 15 in Truth or Consequences, N.M. The local Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, a charitable organization known for its generous philanthrophy, is a Gill Foundation project.

McFarlane, who was 54, began his outspoken activism as the AIDS crisis was hitting in the early '80s. He continued his work through the Gay Men's Health Crisis and the Gill Foundation, as well as through several books he co-authored. McFarlane was also an accomplished outdoorsman and U.S. Navy veteran. He reportedly had grown sick and weak before his suicide. — JAS

UCCS student eyes bigger role

David Williams, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs student leader who came under fire for delaying funding for a student group supporting gay and lesbian students, will try to become a commissioner for El Paso County. Williams, 22, announced Wednesday he will run in 2010 for the seat now held by term-limited Commission Chair Jim Bensberg.

"The county needs a commissioner that will stand for what's right," Williams wrote in a statement.

As UCCS student president, Williams sparked controversy when he refused to sign a funding request for a "coming out" day celebration, citing his religious beliefs. Despite efforts to remove him, he now appears likely to finish his term June 1. — AL

Register to vote online

Gov. Bill Ritter has put the final stamp on a new law allowing citizens to register to vote or update voter registration online. Colorado joins Arizona and Washington as the only states to allow online voter registration. Supporters of the bill hope it will encourage more to vote, particularly young people. The bill mandates that the registration form go live on the Secretary of State's Web site (sos.state.co.us) by April 1, 2010. — JAS

Tuition creeps up at UCCS

Undergraduates at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs should see tuition next school year jump by about 5 percent, bringing the cost for in-state students taking 12 credit hours to $2,340 per semester, an increase of $108. The increase, approved Tuesday by the CU regents, was less than the 9 percent cap set by the Legislature.

Out-of state students will endure an increase of around 2 percent. Most graduate students will see tuition increases of about 5 percent. — AL

Up and away for CSPD

Just in time for summer, the Colorado Springs Police Department has a valuable tool back in its arsenal. The Air Support Unit, otherwise known as a pair of helicopters, is back in service after undergoing inspections to ensure its safety. Police say helicopter backup is invaluable because of its speed, ability to locate suspects, and its use as a "force multiplier." Local police have used helicopters since 1995. — JAS

No bus service Monday

If you were hoping to travel by bus on Memorial Day, it's time to make other plans.

All of Mountain Metropolitan Transit, including fixed-route bus service, Metro Mobility paratransit, the FrontRange Express, and the Ute Pass Express, will be closed May 25. Operations will resume May 26. — JAS

Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.

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