Wednesday, October 17, 2012

UPDATE: Bestway opens region's first Materials Recovery Facility

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Well, it turns out that "It wasn’t Landfill Larry, but you weren’t that far off," says Maddy Wold, assistant account manager at Vladimir Jones, on behalf of Bestway Disposal.

She's talking about my earlier guess as to the special secret guest who appeared at last month's unveiling of our new local materials recovery facility.

In fact, the man of mystery turned out to be MRF Man, who'll surely turn up again soon at a local school or organization, lecturing on recycling:

MRF Man Bestway Disposal
  • Just dig the recycled paper cape ...

——-ORIGINAL POST, FRIDAY, SEPT. 28, 4:35 P.M. ——-

Free pizza and giveaways, a ride on a trash or recycling truck ...

Say no more: I'm in.

Yes, it's a party, to celebrate Bestway Disposal's new materials recovery facility — the first of its kind in the area.

Between 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 (tomorrow), head to 4005 Interpark Drive to tour the new plant. Here are the details on it, from a press release:

The facility, which created 20 jobs and has an economic impact of $2 million annually, allows Bestway Disposal to process thirty to fifty tons of locally collected recyclables a day. The MRF processes aluminum, paper, plastics, cardboard, and other materials, which are compressed into bales and shipped by rail or truck to be reprocessed and reused.

Also, a "very special secret guest" will make an appearance around noon.

As to who that is, your guess is probably better than mine. The mayor? The governor? Landfill Larry, the friendly public-service announcement guy who preaches faithful recycling habits? (Just made him up.)

Anyhoo, my guess is there'll be plenty of places to recycle your paper plates and plastic cups at event's end.

bestway colorado springs
  • Truckin' for a good cause — to honor those cyclical recycle arrows.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

GOCA's 1,000 Crane Platters Project

Posted By on Sun, Sep 30, 2012 at 9:55 AM

It's one part conceptual art, one part fundraising effort, and all ceramic. "It's an experiment," says Galleries of Contemporary Art director Daisy McConnell.

It's the 1,000 Crane Platters Project, an initiative in which local artist Mark Wong will create 1,000 handmade platters emblazoned with cranes to both be sold and to hang on GOCA 121's walls next February, as part of its Ceramica: Contemporary Clay show.

Something a little sturdier than origami.
  • GOCA
  • Something a little sturdier than origami.

Here's how it works: You can purchase a platter for $40 from now through Dec. 15. For now, you'll receive a card and a lottery number; that number will get you one of the platters (you can't choose a specific one) after the show closes next year. The platters, which come in a variety of designs and two sizes, are safe to eat from, and are dishwasher- and microwave-safe. Most are tan, but a few will be glazed in red.

As of now, McConnell says they've sold around 200, and expects they'll have a big sales boom with the impending holidays. Either way, though, Wong will make all 1,000.

You can see sample platters at either GOCA location now, and McConnell says they'll install a display case with more platters in the Plaza of the Rockies lobby soon. Wong will also be on hand at most GOCA events to answer questions about the project.

For more information about the project, visit, and order a platter at

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Still on the Hill returns next weekend in Breck

Posted By on Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Heads-up, spirit-lovers.

No, not you religious types. I'm talking about hooch — booze — spirits! (Though God-fearing drinkers are, of course, welcome.)

The Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival returns Oct. 5 through 7, with its very worthwhile Still on the Hill grand tasting taking place from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. (Tickets here.)

Check out an extensive look at the event I provided around this time last year, here.

Breckenridge Still on the Hill Craft Spirits
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Breckenridge Distillery helps host spirit-makers from around the region for an awesome tasting at Breck's Riverwalk Center.

The deal: $20 gets you admission and a souvenir tasting glass, unlimited samples and gourmet snacks all set to the tune of live bluegrass.

And here's some more info on the larger weekend, via the Breckenridge Resort Chamber's Rachel Zerowin:

Dine for $18.59: Homage to Breckenridge’s founding year, restaurants will offer specials that incorporate craft spirits. Oct. 4-14, look for 1859 signs in the windows of participating restaurants

Downtown Poker Run & Pub Crawl: Try a few of Breckenridge’s best drinks and pick up cards at each location. Start at any of the participating restaurants and try for prizes at the grand tasting. Friday, Oct. 5 5:00 p.m. — close

Historic saloon tours: Visit the town’s early-day watering holes and hear stories of Breckenridge’s past. Call the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at 970-453-9767 to reserve space; tours cost $10 per person. Friday, Oct. 5 4:00 and 5:30 p.m.

Sidewalk Sale Days: Fall is the season to gear up for winter and get great prices on sale merchandise. Friday, Oct. 5 — Sunday, Oct. 7 throughout town

Event lodging at Beaver Run Resort starts at $99 per night. Visit or call 888-251-2417 to book.

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Rep. Pete Lee talks restorative justice

Posted By on Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Rep. Pete Lee
  • Rep. Pete Lee

Democrat Pete Lee is running for re-election to the Colorado Legislature in House District 18. He is facing a strong, and well-funded, challenge from newcomer Republican Jennifer George.

The term of state reps is two years, and during his second session, Lee ran into trouble getting any of his bills passed. It was a disappointment for Lee, and somewhat of a surprise since his first year at the state Capitol was marked by the high-profile passage of his restorative justice legislation.

Now, with only weeks left before the general election, Lee has put out a video discussing his signature legislative effort.

It's an interesting video that dips into his personal experiences as an attorney, as well as brings up the background on the restorative justice model.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Business backs sheriff's tax proposal

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 9:33 PM

With just over five weeks to go until the Nov. 6 election, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has picked up some crucial endorsements for his tax increase.

Maketa: Making the rounds, with some success.
  • File photo
  • Maketa: Making the rounds, with some success.

The newly named Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance voted on Thursday to back the .0023 percent sales tax hike to pay for additional deputies and equipment, as did the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs. In addition, a group of small-town mayors in the county also have endorsed the tax hike, Maketa told about 25 citizens who showed up at the Stetson Hills Police Station on Friday night for Commission Chair Amy Lathen's town hall meeting.

"It's been positive from community groups," Maketa said, adding he's spent nights and lunch hours meeting with citizens to promote the tax hike, which would raise about $17 million annually and sunset after eight years.

What's surprising about the Business Alliance's endorsement is that the group, formerly the Chamber and EDC, has generally been in lockstep with Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach — yet Bach has indicated he opposes the tax hike. He even raised concerns that the county's use of the police station for a town hall meeting to discuss the tax increase would suggest to voters that the city supported it, Maketa tells the Independent.

Friday night, Maketa talked about the dire straits of his budget, noting that he has no more deputies on patrol today than in 1990, though the population has grown 61 percent. Since 1997, he said, calls for service have exploded by 137 percent. Yet, El Paso County's per capita spending on law enforcement is the lowest among comparable Colorado counties, and even with the tax hike would remain the lowest, Maketa said.

"All I'm asking is that we support those who go out and protect us," he added, noting that deputies often are in remote areas of the county where backup is a half-hour away. "We're asking them each night to make sacrifices and keep us safe."

Earlier, County Administrator Jeff Greene, who emphasized he was appearing at the meeting on his own time, said, "Things are not safe. If you think we're living in a really safe community and everything is going well, that's a complete falsehood."

Lathen also said she supported the tax hike, though she is "a very, very conservative Republican." She also said the resolution behind the ballot measure assures there would be maintenance of the sheriff's budget — meaning commissioners wouldn't bait and switch the voters by claiming for general-fund purposes the new tax revenue.

"I'm standing here saying I know what the numbers are," she said. "I know what's happening within the budget of El Paso County. I will stand in partnership with [Maketa]."

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Ethics Watch calls out local Republican club

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

On June 9, the Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum, hosted a fundraising dinner. It must have been a lovely event, with cocktails, dinner and a silent auction at the DoubleTree Hotel, with a presentation by the charming Michelle Malkin.

The $65-per-person charge was going to "support efforts to elect Republican candidates."

Invite to fundraiser
  • Screen grab from Ethics Watch complaint
  • Invite to fundraiser

Today, Denver-based Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's office. According to a press release, the Republican Forum was operating as an unregistered political committee when it raised funds for candidates.

The president of the forum, Kay Rendleman, was unavailable for comment.

Luis Toro, with Ethics Watch, points out that Rendleman is a long-time Republican activist, having served as chair of the El Paso County Republican Party.

"This is not a bunch of newbies who don't know that there are disclosure requirements," he says. "We've been in touch with them for a while, but we've had a lot of excuses and stalling, to the point that we feel that we have to initiate the legal process."

From the release:

According to the Secretary of State’s website, there is no active political committee registered with the Secretary of State for Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum. However, also according to the Secretary of State’s website, 12 candidates for state legislature reported receiving contributions of $400.00 each from an entity named “Cheyenne Mtn Republican Forum” or similar.

In El Paso County, Rep. Mark Barker, who is seeking re-election in House District 17, was one of those recipients. (Toro confirms this despite his name being spelled "Barber" on the press release.)

“The point of campaign finance laws is to make sure that money flowing into political campaigns does not fly under the radar,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “While the candidates did the right thing in reporting these contributions, it appears the entity making the contributions is trying to avoid scrutiny. Coloradans are entitled to know who is funding this mysterious PAC.”

The Colorado constitution defines a “political committee” as “any person, other than a natural person, or any group of two or more persons, including natural persons, that have accepted or made contributions or expenditures in excess of $200 to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more candidates.” Therefore, Ethics Watch believes that Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum should be registered as a political committee and should have filed reports on September 4 and September 17.

Read the full release after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Pride Center burgled, vandalized

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 4:47 PM

In an e-newsletter, the Colorado Springs Pride Center confirmed today that it was burgled on Sept. 11.

The newsletter said that Center employees could not give details about the robbery, because it was an open investigation, but it said that the crime happened in the morning hours before it was open and that the Center was also vandalized. No one was hurt.

The Indy has contacted the police for further information, but has not received a return phone call thus far. This blog will be updated if police provide more information.

The Center did share pictures of the crime:

  • Colorado Springs Pride



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Parents: Sex predator targeting kids in Fountain

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Little girl on swing.
Fountain parents need to keep a close eye on their kids until a dangerous predator is caught.

The Fountain Police Department is warning the public about a suspect that has already approached several children in the area, exposing himself and/or trying to force the children into his vehicle.

Read on to learn more:

Fountain, Colorado — The Fountain Police Department wants to inform the public of an individual that has been reported to expose himself to children or has attempted to lure children in to his vehicle.

These incidents occurred in the City of Fountain with the first reported incident in November of 2011. The incidents are actively being investigated by the Fountain Police Departments Investigations Division and we are asking for the public’s help in identifying this individual.

The suspect is generally described as a white male, between twenty and thirty years of age and who has been seen driving a red or maroon in color sports utility vehicle.

The suspect has typically approached the children during the afternoon and early evening hours.

The Fountain Police Department would like to remind parents to discuss with their children what to do if their children are approached by a stranger and to have a safety plan.

The Fountain Police Department would like anyone with information to call Sergeant Gilbertsen at 719-382-6936, or Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP (7867) and as always, you can remain anonymous.


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Saturday is 'Museum Day Live'!

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 11:35 AM

From the listings desk: OK, I don't know what the "Live!" part of the equation is about, but the point is, Saturday, Sept. 29, you can visit a number of Colorado museums for free as part of this Smithsonian Magazine initiative. You need to download the ticket, which is good for two. (For families, only two people per household are permitted to get in free; the rest will have to pay.)


Here's a few of the participating Colorado museums (each location on the Smithsonian website has an info page with links to the museums' websites, Facebook and Twitter pages):

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

Edward C. Rochette Money Museum

May Natural History Museum

World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame

Miramont Castle Museum

Cripple Creek District Museum

Victor Lowell Thomas Museum

Museum of Colorado Prisons

Denver Botanic Gardens

History of Colorado Center

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

And now you have something to do tomorrow. Unless of course you're like me, in which case you plan to pass out this evening and wake up sometime Sunday afternoon for a snack.

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Naming rights at NORAD

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM

The building at Peterson Air Force Base that houses Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command will be named for two retired generals at a ceremony Monday.

The building, commonly called Building 2, will bear the names of Air Force Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart and Royal Canadian Air Force Gen. Eric Findley.

NORAD and Northern Command
  • Eberhart: Commander when 9/11 happened.

Eberhart was the first commander of NorthCom and NORAD, and Findley the deputy commander of NORAD, when NorthCom was created in October 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

It's the first time the name of a U.S. military combatant command headquarters will include a Canadian military officer's name. NORAD, formed more than 50 years ago, is a joint command of the United States and Canada.

On that fateful day, Sept. 11, 2001, Eberhart was in charge of NORAD and U.S. Space Command and was headed to the NORAD headquarters at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station after the terrorist-controlled planes smashed into the World Trade Center. But his cell-phone call with then-Vice President Dick Cheney got dropped, and it took him 45 minutes to get to the mountain bunker. The blast doors there were closed for the first time in response to a bona fide emergency since the Cold War ended, as I reported when I worked for the daily newspaper here some years ago.

The drive meant Eberhart wasn't at his battle station when needed, and NORAD didn't deploy fighter jets in time to shoot down the terrorist jet liners, including one that crashed into a Pennsylvania farm field. NORAD took a lot of criticism for the mixup, although NORAD's mission at that time was to monitor for incoming threats, not those that originated from within the United States.

How NORAD and NorthCom operate has radically changed since then to include a bevy of agencies within its control center, notably among them the Federal Aviation Administration.

All of that was among the factors that led to the Defense Department's controversial decision to move the NORAD headquarters to Peterson. Now, the Cheyenne Mountain base is used for training and kept on "warm standby" but not fully staffed.

Eberhart commanded NorthCom its first three years and helped found the National Homeland Defense Foundation in 2004, a nonprofit that strives to secure the nation "through sharing of innovation, research, education, and information in the fields of homeland defense and security," according to the organization's website. He's still a member of the board.

NORAD and Northern Command
  • Findley: Making history.

A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Eberhart has more than 5,000 pilot hours in various aircraft, including the F-15. He also served as vice chief of staff of the Air Force and as commander of Air Force Space Command and U.S. Space Command at Peterson.

Trained as a pilot, Findley was a staff officer in the Directorate of Peacekeeping Operations Centre and executive assistant to the Deputy Chief of Defence at National Defence Headquarters, according to NORAD. He also served as chief of staff for Personnel, Training and Reserves at Air Command Headquarters and 1 Canadian Air Division, chief of staff for operations at 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region, and director of operations at NORAD.

Eberhart, Findley and current NORAD and NorthCom commander Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. will be on hand for a ceremony Monday to commemorate the creation of NorthCom and the naming of the building.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Garbage and Girl in a Coma reschedule Colorado dates

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Girl in a Coma
  • Girl in a Coma
All good things come to those who wait. Unless you're waiting for, say, a Beatles reunion, in which case you're pretty much out of luck.

But if you've been waiting for two female-fronted bands to make good on their canceled Colorado dates, your time has finally come.

Shirley Manson and company, who canceled their Denver show just as our Garbage feature story was going to press (read it here) will be playing Denver's Ogden Theatre on October 6. The rescheduled performance will also be broadcast live on AXS TV.

For fans of less vintage artists, San Antonio's amazing Girl in a ComaIndy interview here — may have taken a year to get around to it, but today they finally announced a November 5th date at Denver's Summit Music Hall, where they'll be performing with Cursive and Minus the Bear.

To help celebrate, here are videos of each:

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Firefighters say thanks for the support in radio ad

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 1:51 PM

The days surrounding the Waldo Canyon Fire saw buildup of all kinds of pressure in the community. The best thing, though, was where much of that energy went: to helping, to thanking, to caring for the people affected. We broke records for the amount of food donated; money was raised in all corners of the globe; and we sang and danced to benefit the burn victims.

And we did one more thing right: We gathered on the corners and thanked the people fighting the fires. Here's what columnist Rich Tosches wrote on July 4:

For days, people have begun lining the sidewalks by 7:30 each morning in the neighborhoods near 31st and Fontanero streets. They return each evening before 8 o'clock. And in the morning and evening they wait, young and old, men, women and children, some holding American flags, some holding handmade signs of thanks, and some just trying to hold back the tears.

They come then, the firefighters, in pickup trucks and giant fire trucks and school buses, too. Dirty, battered men and women head up the hill to their camp at Holmes Middle School as others come down the hill to begin another shift, another round of dragon-slaying inside the lines amid the flames and glowing embers and lung-scorching smoke. ...

And then, when you think your heart can't bear another moment, a hand slowly emerges from a bus or a fire engine window, a hand caked with dirt and blackened by the ash. It waves a tired greeting toward the adoring throng and then another hand pokes out from a window, then another, and soon the firefighters ease their faces toward the windows and the people on the street roar and car horns blare in the smoky orange light.

Those scenes were pretty emotional then, and it feels just the same writing about it again now. Anyway, it's because of that memory that an ad I heard on the radio the other day stayed with me; so much so that I tracked it down. It was created by local agency Vladimir Jones, who graciously provided it to me, and has actually been running on select stations since August.

Here's the text, with the audio below:

"Hi, I'm Jeremy — and I'm Rudy. We're with the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Local 5. We entered the Waldo Canyon Fire armed with hoses, shovels, axes and trucks. We fought those fires with something even more important: you. You brought us water, energy bars and plenty of clothes. You also brought us your heart, your optimism and your notes of appreciation. You were the reason we would never quit. So, while so many of you thanked us for our efforts, we thank you, Colorado Springs, for yours."

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City of Fountain eases citizens' access

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 12:59 PM


The city of Fountain has rolled out a new online request-management system, and it actually sounds kind of cool. Mawkishly called MyFountain, it lets citizens enter requests online, or to staff via the phone, in person or by mail, which are then tracked and updated.

"Requestors will receive a message informing them of the expected turnaround time of the service request and will receive a tracking number so they may easily check the status of the request either online or by calling City Hall," reads the release. "The appropriate City staff member will review the request and follow up with the resident directly, if necessary. Employees will log all contact with the resident in the system and the requestor will be notified of the solution to ensure the issue has reached a satisfactory resolution."

There are also apps for Android, iPhone and iPad available, wherein "MyFountain application users simply open the application, select an issue, take a picture, and tap submit — the phone records the GPS coordinates for an exact location and sends the request directly to the appropriate employee."

As to the why, city spokesman Jay Baker writes in an e-mail, "The City of Fountain pursued this technology as a result of a 2008 City Council plan that requested that the City explore a '311 city information call center' to allow citizen access to government 24/7. MyFountain has been live as part of our website for two months and citizens have been using it to communicate with the City, especially inquiries related to Code Enforcement."

Considering that the city of Colorado Springs' website has only recently become a little less of a clustercuss to navigate, it all sounds pretty good.

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Chamber announces new label

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance
  • A new logo and a new name for the eco devo and chamber bunch.

Step one came earlier this year when the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce merged with the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., retagging the organization as the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC.

Now, the group has a new name: the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

The new title shaves one word from the group's title, but still is a mouth full. Chamber officials say the new name signifies that the alliance is covering both bases for the two organizations. (The chamber used to provide support to existing businesses, and the EDC recruited new business and industry.)

"These two leading organizations dedicated to business growth and prosperity are now working as one, powerfully bonded and strategically aligned with our partners in the region and with the broader Front Range," the alliance said in a news release.

“One of the primary focuses of this new organization is its commitment to serving our existing companies in the region, both those engaged in interstate commerce and those that survive on the local economy,” said Joe Raso, president and chief executive officer of the Business Alliance. “Businesses already operating and prospering in our region play a vital role in our efforts to grow the local economy and recruit new enterprises. They know the resources that have madetheir companies successful, and are excellent ambassadors for our market. They are also the first to identify opportunities for changes that will help ourbusiness community grow, and that is why they are the primary focus of our work.

“Our name and logo establishes a single identity for two organizations that merged in February 2012,” said Raso. “This is a big step as we set our new course and continue to work as the primary advocate for the business community in the Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak region dedicated to serving businesses of all sizes and to building regional economic growth and prosperity.” While the two organizations merged earlier this year, they moved under one roof in late August with offices in downtown Colorado Springs at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 430.

Alliance board chair Doug Quimby also said in the release that the change "brings synergy, energy and focus to what is one of the most important challenges our community faces — embracing a path toward a strong, united community vision for competing regionally, nationally and globally.”

The board is working on a 20-year "vision for our region," the release said, focusing on existing businesses of all sizes, pumping up its "leadership role in government affairs," improving communications, creating a way to develop the workforce to satisfy businesses' needs, and "establishing a culture of innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit that will attract and retain the young, diverse and educated minds important to the survival of our businesses and region."

The merger of the Chamber and EDC, both of whom claim to want to create jobs, ironically, resulted in layoffs within its own organization. Several of those wound up with government jobs, most notably Stephannie Finley, now working at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs in a newly created half-time position that pays $57,500 a year.

But Raso says in an interview that there's no irony. He says the two merged organizations, which at one time had 35 positions combined, now have 20 and will rely on outsourcing for some functions. It's hired Lisa Bachman for communications work and Kevin Walker to handle governmental affairs, for example, he says.

"The first thing we need to do is be effective with our resources," he says. "Our job is not to make our organization grow." He adds the alliance will continue to change to meet the needs of the business community.

The alliance will continue and enhance the Chamber and EDC's role in the following public initiatives, according to the release:

· Supporting the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority sales tax extension for transportation infrastructure improvements, which will be voted on this November, and will pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy and contractors' hands.

· Exploring governance/ownership of Colorado Springs Utilities, owned by its customers for roughly 100 years, and the future of the Drake Power Plant, which provides more than a quarter of the city's base load of power.

· Supporting the lease of Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health, a 40-year deal that closes Monday and gives the city an upfront payment of $259 million that's already tied up in a lawsuit the city filed to try to get out of paying money the Public Employees Retirement Association on behalf of Memorial's 4,000 employees.

“We’re also visiting national leaders for discussions on the military, transportation, sports economy, fire mitigation and education,” Raso said in the release. “These are sectors critical to our economy and the Business Alliance is going to establish itself as a visionary leader in designing a strategic plan of action and community vision based on our assets and competitive advantages.”

The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, with more than 1,500 members, is the primary advocate of the Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak region business community.

For information, go here.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bonus CineFiles: 5 DVD reviews

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.

Dead Season (NR)
Image Entertainment

Thanks to recent living-dead successes like The Walking Dead, typical zombie tropes have shifted from bloody immediate survival stories to tales exploring the long-term lasting effects on those that have survived in the aftermath. Maybe that has to do with the current nihilistic mind-frame of our society? In the past, we believed such an apocalyptic scenario would be a horrifying experience that, if we banded together, we could survive and reach a brighter new day. Not so much anymore. Decades of being beaten down have taught us we could survive anything, but we’d wish for death regardless because nothing ever truly changes. The low-key, Romero-esque riff Dead Season, about a handful of survivors who reach an island only to face worse horrors, is a pitch-perfect example of this new dark turn in an already pitch-black genre. Hope is truly a dying ideal.

Mia and the Migoo (PG)
EOne Entertainment

French animation is ugly. There, I said it. As much as I want to get into it and its current renaissance of sorts with films like A Cat in Paris and The Secret of the Kells, I think the only animated French flick I’ve ever truly dug was 1973's Fantastic Planet, and that was mostly thanks to its massive creep factor and heavy Czech influences. Taking this into account, the latest French cartoon to infect these shores is the environmentalist yarn Mia and the Migoo, filled with eco-friendly children, rainforest destruction, clichéd "Tree of Life" nonsense, globby spirit fairies and the off-putting voice of James Woods. As far as who this is for, I think adults would find it too simple and childish, while kids will be bored outright by the pro-green storyline that is bogged down in boring lore and side plots. But one thing everyone can agree on: it’s certainly a pretentious eyesore.

Joe Sarno’s Inga Collection (R)
Retro-Seduction Cinema

Erotic cinema was just so much simpler in the ’60s. A little skin here or there, an elongated scene of simulated dry-humping, and, of course, scores of unsubstantiated political undertones because, hey, if you’re gonna commit self-abuse, you might as well learn about something while you do it. (I think that’s actually in the Bible, if I’m not mistaken.) You can keep your I Am Curious (Yellow) and your WR: Mysteries of the Organism — I’ll take the Joe Sarno Swedish trash-trilogy of Inga flicks any day of the week. In the introductory movie, Inga, a young girl named, aptly enough, Inga, moves in with her aunt and discovers her sexuality. Fair enough. The follow-up, Seduction of Inga, is more of the same, but with some Swedish pop music thrown in for good measure. Finally, The Indelicate Balance is all about marriage, how it sucks, and how infidelity will cure all of your marital woes. Those Swedes might be on to something there!

Lovely Molly (R) (Blu-Ray)
Image Entertainment

Remember the final five minutes of The Blair Witch Project, where characters are running around and screaming and crying in a basement and the film just ends and you’re left there just thinking “WTF?” Did you enjoy it? Was it your favorite part? If you said yes, you’re in luck because Eduardo Sanchez, one of the original directors of Blair Witch, has made a movie that is seemingly inspired by that one scene. When recovering drug addict Molly moves into her childhood home with her truck-driving husband, the long days alone start to eat away at her: She begins to hear disembodied voices offer ominous warnings. Pretty soon, the voices turn into a malevolent force that turns on her in the most disturbingly violent of ways. I think. The last half of the movie is ambiguous and baffling, which is annoying for me — but, like I said, fans of Blair will be on likably familiar territory.

The Moth Diaries (R)
IFC Films

Cult director Mary Harron, the genius behind such ahead-of-their-time works as American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol and The Notorious Bettie Page must have gotten tired of making movies that are critically acclaimed but open to little box office. Because with the vapid Twi-lite tween terror tale The Moth Diaries, she seems to just throw her hands up in the air and say, “Paycheck, please!” In what is basically an Anglicized rip-off of the 1973 Mexican horror flick Alucarda, a group of girls in a posh boarding school fall under the spell of the creepy, Kewpie-Goth theatrics of the new girl. Central figure Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) has an obsessive attachment to her BFF, and when said creepy Kewpie-Goth chick Ernessa starts to steal all her gal-pals, Rebecca has to decide if Ernessa is an unholy creature of the night or just the personification of her pangs of unrequited sexual love. And while these themes are interesting, the movie would rather instead pander to the Team Edward crowd. A wasted opportunity from someone who should know better.

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