Shooting victims laid to rest
The three victims of the Nov. 27 Planned Parenthood shooting have been laid to rest.
Funerals were held for 44-year-old University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Police Officer Garrett Swasey, 44, Jennifer Markovsky, 35, and Ke'Arre Marcell Stewart, 29. All left behind young children.
Swasey's funeral took place at New Life Church and was followed by a miles-long procession. Thousands showed up to honor the police officer, who reported to the scene of the shooting to try to help. Swasey was recalled as religious, loving, stubborn, funny, talented and determined by family members and fellow officers.
The alleged shooter, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., a 57-year-old loner from Hartsel in Park County, surrendered after a prolonged standoff with police that also left nine people wounded, including five police officers. — JAS
County nabs SNAP award
El Paso County has been honored for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — better known as the food stamp program.
The American Association of SNAP Directors honored the county with one of its Distinguished Service Awards in November due to timeliness and accuracy in serving the needy. The county has done outreach to eligible people, including partnering with the Pikes Peak Library District to offer after-hours assistance at three libraries, and working with the Criminal Justice Center to help exiting inmates sign up for food stamps.
The latter effort is expected to reduce recidivism and save the county $500,000 this year.
Over the course of 2015, El Paso County has had an average of nearly 33,000 SNAP cases every month. A case can be an individual or a family. — JAS
Police donate unclaimed or stolen bicycles
Ever wonder what happened to the bike that disappeared from your garage? There might be an interesting answer.
The Colorado Springs Police Department takes in about 10 to 15 bicycles a month that have either been abandoned or stolen. After making a reasonable effort to find the bike's owner, unclaimed bikes are sold at public auction or donated after 60 days. Ecumenical Social Ministries, which assists the needy, and TwoCor, a vocational training program for local at-risk youth, are recipients of the bikes.
ESM gifts the bikes to low-income clients who have a job. Often, it's their only means of transportation. ESM checks the bikes and performs any necessary repairs before giving them to clients. The police have given hundreds of bikes to ESM since it started the donation program about five years ago.
"Donations to ESM started slowly with only about 50 bicycles donated in the first three years," Tracy Stout, who oversees the bike donation program at the police impound lot, stated in a release. "However, we've donated about 100 bicycles in the last year or so."
TwoCor, meanwhile, uses the bikes to teach young people how to repair bikes. The trainees are given the option of keeping the bike they repair. — JAS
Memorial reports progress
Memorial Hospital gained 36 spots in a national ranking for academic and leading hospitals nationwide, moving from 117th to 81st, according to a report given to City Council on Monday.
The report is required under the city's lease of Memorial to University of Colorado Health, which began Oct. 1, 2012.
Among other high points outlined by Memorial President and CEO George Hayes:
• UCH made a $1.345 million revenue sharing payment to the city for the 2015 fiscal year, and has invested $108 million since 2012 in new technology, facility upgrades, new services and investments in staff.
• UCH added six primary care locations in Colorado and Monument, offers cardiology and neurology services in Teller County and plans to open a new 22-bed community hospital near the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs next year.
• Memorial provided $52 million in uncompensated/charity care in fiscal 2015.
• Memorial has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission on Accreditation, and is participating in 102 clinical trials, including 65 in oncology.
• Clinic visits increased by 9 percent, deliveries were up by nearly 3 percent and acute inpatient admissions jumped by 28 percent from 2014 through October 2015. — PZ
Gazette buys weeklies
The Gazette announced last week it had acquired two local weekly newspapers — the Woodmen Edition and the Cheyenne Edition. Both were owned by Walter Publishing Co.
According to the Walter website, the Cheyenne Edition has published since 1982, and the Woodmen Edition since 1992. Both focus on neighborhood news and city and county news that is pertinent to the neighborhoods served.
Cheyenne Edition serves the Broadmoor, Skyway and Gates Ranch areas, while the Woodmen Edition serves the north part of the city. — PZ