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Theater fest shuts down 

Organizers cancel all plans for 2009

They've brought us legendary composer Stephen Sondheim.

They've brought us Broadway director Lonny Price and maestro Paul Gemignani, and a lengthy list of Broadway stars.

But after bringing superb international theater to Colorado Springs for the past five years, the Colorado Festival of World Theatre organizers have decided to cancel their planned schedule for 2009.

After confirming on Wednesday the cancellation of April and May programming, the CFWT organization sent out word Thursday that September's festival has also been eliminated.

The word came from CFWT operations manager Patricia Reed that "the Board of Directors has decided to terminate the Festival before we enter into contractual obligations for productions that we may not be able to fund."

In a letter passed on by Reed from CFWT president Suzy Bassani and board chairman Jerry Dickman, the organization says: "We have decided that you want an event that is worthy of definition as a world theatre festival, not just a theatrical event that brings nothing particularly unique."

The letter, which is said to come after a month of "intense survey of all possible funding prospects," calls the decision tough and sad, but realistic.

Earlier, company manager Tim Muldrew had said this year's Singing with the Stars competition was off, along with the the slated May 29 performance of Sibling Revelry, to have starred Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway (and this year's SWS winner).

"It just kills us. Last year was such a great thing for local artists," says Muldrew, who is having to call 62 hopeful applicants individually. MS

Roth, passenger hurt in wreck

The chairwoman of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce faces multiple criminal charges after an apparent drunken driving crash Saturday night sent her and a passenger to the hospital.

Police say Kelly Roth, 40, was speeding on a winding road near her home in Kissing Camels Estates when she collided with a tree on the median. Her 2002 Lexus hurtled another 60 feet before coming to rest, according to reports, and emergency crews had to extricate Roth and her passenger, Loren Lancaster, from the wreckage.

Dave Csintyan, the Chamber's chief executive, had little comment except to say, "We wish them both a speedy recovery."

Roth, owner of the consulting firm Delta Solutions & Strategies, still occupies the chamber's top volunteer spot. The charges, which police say they intend to file after Roth leaves the hospital, include DUI, reckless driving and felony vehicular assault. AL

FEMA finally pays up

Proving it was as useful to the heroes of Hurricane Katrina as it was to the victims, the Federal Emergency Management Agency waited a full 3 years to reimburse Colorado Springs landlords kind enough to open their doors to evacuees.

Fifteen local landlords who handed out one-year leases on the promise that FEMA would pay the rent, were paid only recently after tireless efforts by the city's Office of Emergency Management officials. FEMA used rule changes to dodge the payments until now.

Among the local landlords were Jenna Dombrowski and her husband, Daniel. In 2005, they were moving their family into a bigger home and planned to sell their old home. But after the hurricane, they decided to offer their home as a FEMA rental.

"We're an American family, and we wanted to make sure we were helping other Americans," Dombrowski remembers. "We were wanting to take in a big FEMA family because we didn't think many people would do that."

The Dombrowskis felt good about housing a family of eight in their rental. But a year later, the family had done $50,000 in damage and FEMA hadn't paid a dime of rent.

"We trusted our government," Dombrowski says, "that we would do a good thing and that if anything was wrong they would do something good in return for us."

Her family lost money on the FEMA deal, but Dombrowski was still overjoyed to receive the $8,000 check. In fact, she says, it "renewed my faith in government." JAS

Locals oppose Army growth

Though President Barack Obama has said he plans to start pulling the military out of Iraq, local activists want to see him go a step further by stepping back from plans to expand the military.

"We need a reversal of policy," says Bill Sulzman, arguing that the expansion is not needed and doesn't make sense given the country's current economic circumstances.

The "Grow the Army" plan started by George W. Bush's administration is supposed to add a newly formed brigade to Fort Carson in coming years, adding close to 4,000 troops to a base that already will be swelling with new troops from base realignments.

Sulzman now has close to 300 signatures on his online petition at thepetitionsite.com/1/do-not-grow-the-army, as well as about 150 hard-copy signatures. A final environmental impact statement for the Grow the Army plan at Fort Carson was released Feb. 5; Sulzman has 30 days from that date to submit his petition for possible inclusion with the final report. AL

Pion manager removed

A strange hush has greeted news that Tom Warren, a civilian overseeing expansion of the Army's Pion Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado, has been reassigned to other duties during an "administrative investigation."

"I don't know what to think," says Lon Robertson, a leader of opposition to the expansion proposal.

Warren, who has been involved with Pion Canyon since it was established in 1983, has gotten mixed reviews from that area's residents. They've watched him limit environmental impact, but also have come to see him as the face of the Army's Pion Canyon expansion goals. (The Army has scrapped its aim to grow the 238,000-acre training site by more than 400,000 acres, but still wants approximately 100,000 acres.)

Col. Eugene Smith, Fort Carson's garrison commander, says the investigation of Warren has nothing to do with the proposed expansion, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. AL

Elroys under the bridge

"Artformance": That's what visual artists Tom and Lisa McElroy (Atomic Elroy and Zelda Bubbles) call the style of performance/dance/multimedia art they'll soon be offering at Watch This Space, a new performance arts venue moving into most of the Smokebrush Gallery's former space at 218 W. Colorado Ave., #102.

"As a studio space, Studio 802 (McElroy's venture on North Weber Street) is great," Tom says. "But as a venue, it's tiny. We're looking at doing projects that are a little bigger, more experimental. When the space became available, it was a perfect opportunity."

Watch This Space's lease becomes active March 1. Its first production, L'Esprit, written and directed by Lisa, is scheduled to open in mid-April. Tom says he aims to do "at least one show a quarter ourselves," in addition to hopefully hosting guest performances.

Visit watchthisspacecos.blogspot.com or call 633-8409 after March 1 for more. MS

Cops offer abuse resources

After a spate of recent severe child-abuse cases, some resulting in death, the Colorado Springs Police Department has released a list of resources for parents.

The list, which can be accessed at springsgov.com/Page.asp?NavID=7491, includes contacts for agencies like KPC Kids' Place, Zach's Place and the Center on Fathering, which provide information and/or classes on parenting.

There have been several cases of children dying at the hands of frustrated parents in recent months. On Feb. 18, 3-year-old Kiera Lynn Taylor died from blunt head trauma. A suspect in the homicide case has yet to be named. JAS

Electricians go solar

The Colorado Springs branch of an international electricians union will come close to going "off the grid" with the Feb. 25 installation of a 31-kilowatt solar power system.

According to a news release, the panels will meet close to 80 percent of the electrical needs for IBEW Local 113's building at 2150 Naegele Road.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has more than 700,000 members in the United States and Canada. AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane, Matthew Schniper and J. Adrian Stanley.

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