Friday, October 26, 2012

Best Of 2012 restaurants on the radio

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Call it self-promotion, but let me defend myself.

You see, I'll be on The House Chef Radio Show on KFEZ 101.3 FM tomorrow morning (Saturday, Oct. 27) from 8 to 9 a.m. speaking with chef Robert Brunet about the Indy's 2012 Best Of winners.

Remember now that it's not me who voted for the winners, but you. So really I'm just representing you there by discussing the victors, so how could that be considered self-promotion on my behalf?

Agreed? Agreed.

Anyway, please tune in if you aren't still sleeping and would like to wake up with some food banter between chef Brunet, me (on behalf of you) and guest chef Daniel Bartlett.

You can even call in at 597-7283 with questions or comments.

Everyone tells me that I have a face for radio ... so come find out.

Here's a look at Brunet's current show calendar:

House Chef radio show

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Marijuana: Information on disproportionate arrests, and voting recommendations

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 3:05 PM


Because nobody can get enough of either these electoral days, here are some bits dealing with marijuana and the coming election.

• First, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, a national research organization, yesterday released a report saying that between 1986 and 2010, roughly 210,000 Coloradans were arrested for marijuana possession, with more than half of those coming in the last 10 years.

Some other findings, as quoted in the press release:

— In the last decade, Colorado arrested Latinos for marijuana possession at 1.5 times the rate of whites, and arrested blacks at 3.1 times the rate of whites. But young blacks and Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites.

— Latinos are 19% of the Colorado's residents, but they are 25% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. This is the first study to show arrests of Latinos in Colorado

— Police made 108,000 marijuana possession arrests in just the last ten years.

— African-Americans and Latinos are less than a quarter (23%) of Colorado's residents, they made up more than a third (35%) of the people arrested for marijuana possession.

— Marijuana possession arrests in Colorado rose sharply over the past 25 years, from 4,000 in 1986 to 10,500 in 2010, totaling 210,000 arrests.

"Marijuana possession arrests create permanent criminal records easily found on the internet by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, licensing boards, and banks," said Loren Siegel, co-director of the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, in the release. "A criminal record for the 'drug crime' of marijuana possession creates barriers to employment and education for anyone, including whites and the middle class."

Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of NAACP for Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, issued a statement in agreement.

"Marijuana prohibition is taking a toll on all Coloradans, and it is our communities of color that are paying the biggest price," she says. "Law enforcement resources should be used to address violent and otherwise harmful crimes. They should not be directed toward the enforcement of irrational marijuana laws that disproportionately impact African-Americans and other people of color. It is time for a more sensible approach.”

• Second, national advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access launched a website yesterday "that provides patients and their supporters with the tools they need to make informed decisions about the candidates in their districts," says the release.

Here's how they grade Colorado's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives:

DeGette, Diana L. CO-1 Honor Roll
Polis, Jared CO-2 Honor Roll
Tipton, Scott CO-3 Fail
Gardner, Cory CO-4 Fail
Lamborn, Doug CO-5 Fail
Coffman, Michael CO-6 Fail
Perlmutter, Ed CO-7 Pass

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One in five have voted so far in El Paso County

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Just a little more than 20 percent of registered voters in El Paso County have already cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election, county Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams reports today. The turnout breaks down like this:


Here's the clerk's footnote:

*This is the more accurate denominator to use for determining turnout. Total registered voters includes those who have moved and do not live here anymore. While there are some who may still be eligible to vote (e.g., they moved within the county and did not update their mailing address) who are not included in the active + IFTV sum, it is a more accurate number to use for turnout than the total registered voters number. (As you may recall from a prior e-mail, this is the number we used for our ballot order as the base and we then subtracted PMIV voters to determine the number of ballots to order.)

Early voting continues through Nov. 2. For more information on voting, go here.

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A Double-Sized Bonus CineFiles: Six new DVDs to check out

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 7:46 AM

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

The Complete Hammer House of Horror (NR)
Synapse Films

No other genre studio is as legendary as Britain’s Hammer films. They ruled the terror scene in the ’50s and ’60s, introducing us to the likes of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Bully on them! After their popularity died in the ’70s, they came roaring back to UK television with the superb Hammer House of Horror series. Encompassing everything that made those classic films so great, each one-hour episode of this anthology series is creative and fun, with scads of guest stars and the creepiest plots that even HBO’s Tales From the Crypt couldn’t compete with. Out of all 13 episodes, the one that really sold me on the must-haveness of the set was “The House That Bled to Death,” about a house that literally bleeds to death, most graphically during a children’s birthday party. Pipes full of blood explode and spray all over the tykes' cherry British faces. It’s wonderful black humor that the Brits specialize in, but also never takes away from the point of the series: to scare you. Forget dreck like American Horror Story; for true scares, get Hammered!

8:46 (NR)
Virgil Films

I don’t know if you know this or not, but 9/11 kinda sucked. It was pretty crappy and affected a lot of people, especially filmmakers looking to make a couple of bucks on the backs of the tragedy. 8:46 is one of a long line of movies based around that fateful September day when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and turned America into a paranoid war-zone that’s one election away from Orwell’s wettest dream ever. Most of 8:46 takes place the day before, focusing on numerous different people who would become directly affected by the attacks, no matter how superficially. It’s not a bad movie per se, and aficionados of 9/11 porn will absolutely dig it, but for everyone else, the whole affair comes off melodramatic and unnecessary. How many more stories about that day do we need until it becomes comically exploitative overkill? Depending on whom you are, 8:46 answers that question in spades.

The Victim (R) (Blu-ray)
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

I love Michael Biehn. I really do. He’s an amazing character actor who always infuses every film he’s in — genre or otherwise — with depth and humor, subtleness and sadness, perfectly mastering every role he takes. So as I sat down to watch The Victim, his directorial debut, my hopes were up way higher than they probably should have been, because the disappointment I felt in watching it was far worse than if it were done by some other Joe. It’s a very basic story of backwoods revenge, with Biehn starring as a forest-dwelling recluse who reluctantly takes in a bedraggled woman who’s being pursued by two sleazy cops intent on killing her for witnessing the murder of her friend. There’s no real connection to any of the characters and no real attempts to make any, leaving us the real victims here. Biehn is a competent director, but could use a class or two in screenwriting. Still love him, though.

The Tall Man (R) (Blu-ray)
Image Entertainment

The cover of the recent Jessica Biel vehicle, The Tall Man, features the actress looking ahead in catatonic fright, with a towering, hooded, menacing figure of evil standing behind her, as if he were going to wrap his arms around her and take her straight to Hell. As you actually watch the movie, about a small town plagued with missing children taken by the titular height-blessed gentleman, the feeling that this is a supernatural thriller of some sort takes hold and a real sense of dread and mystery surrounds the whole thing. And then, about 45 minutes in, the movie takes a bizarre twist into Lifetime movie-of-the-week territory as we learn the truth about Biel and the missing children and who’s behind all this and why. French horror director Pascal Laugier, who shocked audiences with Martyrs, tones things down here considerably in the name of some sort of plot-hole-filled social justice allegory, and while it really isn’t all that successful, the twists alone are worth a conciliatory viewing.

The Holy Roller (NR)
Image Entertainment

The latest in a long line of faith-based pictures that seem to be all the rage with Middle America as of late, the New Zealand-lensed dramedy The Holy Roller, is a formidable contender as the best one I’ve seen in quite a while, mostly because I had a real moment of identification with the themes of finding strength to move past failure. But that’s just me, I guess. Pastor Luke (Angus Benfield) has a Pied Piper-like ability to inspire and move the parishioners of his tiny congregation. But when he moves to the city and onto bigger and better things, the seductive lure of that megachurch/televangelist fame that causes the Pastor to be more important than the Word takes hold. And when it all goes to Hell, he has to re-evaluate his life and, even more important, the meaning of his life. Of course, being a faith-based film, the answer is God, but there’s also a bit more going on that will inspire even the most Godless among us.

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Favorites (NR)

When I was a young child, back in the age of independent UHF television, these small local stations would pad much of their nighttime programming with old syndicated television shows, often without rhyme and reason. This is probably the reason why, while my peers have fond recollections of The A-Team and Knight Rider, all I can remember is That’s My Mama and Sanford and Son. Late-night, however, said stations would compete with prime-time network chat-shows by showing the stellar line-up of Benny Hill, Carson’s Comedy Classics and, of course, the Carol Burnett Show. Time-Life’s new six-DVD best-of set — dubbed Carol’s Favorites — is not only a fun blast from the past for the whole family, but also made me realize how much of my own comedy was inspired by the show. It’s amazing how not only is the show spectacularly undated, but filled with just as much infectious laughter as when I first saw it. And that's why the show has continued to stand the test of time and gone on to legendary status.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Colorado's viticultural areas get some love

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 5:53 PM

It's been six years since I last visited Palisade for a wine tour.

But acclaim for the area has continued to grow, thanks in part to the popular annual Colorado Mountain Winefest.

And today, we received a heads-up from the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board that Palisade was recently named among the Top 10 Wine Destinations in the United States by TripAdvisor.

Listed among the likes of Sonoma County and Napa Valley (Nos. 1 and 2, respectively), Palisade came in ninth place, with special call-outs to the Meadery of the Rockies, Carlson Vineyards, Plum Creek Winery and Hermosa Vineyards.

The town was also recently featured in a Men's Journal article on Colorado wine country, by bike.

And a recent Smithsonian Magazine article about wines in unexpected places gives Colorado a brief shout-out for successfully growing at altitude.

So cheers to some state acclaim on the wine scene. It's clear we aren't a beer mecca only.

Colorado Wine
  • Colorado Wine Industry Development Board

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Fun fact: Most Xcel workers are unionized

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 4:30 PM

As Mayor Steve Bach licks his chops over the prospect of selling Colorado Springs Utilities' electric division, it's interesting to note that one of the prime potential bidders has a union shop.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, which serves customers in eight states, has 1.4 million electric customers in Colorado, including the Denver area.

Colorado Springs Utilities Xcel Energy
  • Xcel Energy website

On its website, Xcel gives extensive information about its employees, including this:

Labor Union Relations

Approximately 53 percent of our employees are represented by unions. We work with our represented employees to build collaborative and mutually respectful relationships. We recognize that all parties benefit by working together to achieve mutual goals. Interim bargaining has been used for the past 13 years to improve union relations and promote collaboration. We hold regular meetings between management and labor unions in order to address grievances and avoid arbitration when possible.

While each collective bargaining agreement is negotiated with a specific local union, we include equal opportunity clauses in all our bargaining contracts. We also operate in compliance with the policies of the National Labor Relations Board, the statutes of the National Labor Relations Act and the guidance of the Department of Labor.

Historically, Colorado Springs hasn't been a very organized-labor friendly town, but if Xcel became the owner of the electric utility here, there's a likelihood some or all of those workers would join the unions, one of which is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

A study is under way to determine the value of Springs Utilities' power division, with a report due in May. Bach and others have said the money from a sale could be used on other municipal needs, such as stormwater drains and channels.

However, the city's own Sustainable Funding Committee recommended against selling in 2009, which we reported here.

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How to get a meeting with the mayor

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Waldo Canyon fire Mayor Steve Bach
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Fire Marshal Brett Lacey, center, announces he'll hand over his Pro Cycling Challenge jersey, held by city employee Donna Nelson, to Bob Cutter, as Mayor Steve Bach watches.

After standing for 15 minutes toward the end of Mayor Steve Bach's neighborhood meeting last night, Dr. Mary Harrow finally got her chance.

She started by demanding the mayor's resignation, in light of the the treacherous evacuation of Mountain Shadows where she and 344 others lost their homes to the Waldo Canyon Fire.

"We weren't evacuated at all," Harrow said. "It was a huge mistake. Two people died. In my profession, when two people die, you know what happens."

She also wondered how City Council President Scott Hente's house survived when homes all around it perished.

The mayor took umbrage, saying, "I think our people did everything they could to save every home. Our people did everything humanly possible to save what they could."

When Harrow pressed the issue, Bach offered her a private meeting. "Let's make an appointment with my assistant. Let's answer your questions. I want more of a chance to listen to you."

It was the most controversial moment during the 90-minute meeting at Eagleview Middle School, the place where homeowners gathered in late June to visit the burn area after the fire swept through the subdivision.

Bach began the meeting acknowledging the loss. "All of you had to evacuate with very little notice," he said. "I think about that every day. A couple in Mountain Shadows didn't make it out. It could have been much worse."

But he said the tragedy showed how resilient the community can be. He called it the best cooperative effort in his 45 years here.

Bach's chief of staff, Laura Neumann, outlined the city's budget for 2013, saying the top priorities are nurturing an environment for job creation; transforming city government from the council-manager form to the strong-mayor form; and building community.

Speaking to roughly 200 people, a good share of them middle-school students, Neumann flavored her remarks with school-related terms. She spoke of the city's reserve fund as a "savings account," labeled the city's revenue as an "allowance," and talked about "report cards" the city uses in measuring performance. She pledged the city would seek feedback from citizens quarterly on how it's doing, but didn't say how.

Among the top achievements in the 2013 budget:

Restoring evening bus service.
Re-lighting all city streetlights by Thanksgiving. (She didn't explain how, but officials told the Indy earlier that the money for this year's expense comes from the city's reserve fund savings within the department.)
Creating neighborhood health clinics at fire stations where people can obtain services, such as diabetes testing to save money.
Care of neighborhood parks.
Adding police and firefighters. More police will be deployed in high-service areas, such as South Nevada Avenue, the southeast area of the city and downtown.
Stormwater improvements, which we will further explain in another blog.

Bach seemed notably deferential to City Council when asked by retired City Attorney Jim Colvin if he would propose a charter amendment that would place the mayor, not Council, in charge of Springs Utilities. (Councilors Brandy Williams, Val Snider and Tim Leigh were on hand at the meeting, among more than a dozen other local officials.)

"I intend to not bring forward any charter amendments to the April ballot," Bach said. "City utilities does report to City Council, not to the mayor. In terms of accountability, I need to look at my own shop, honestly."

He said he holds every department accountable to performance measures, adding, "l hope that's a model that can be adopted by various entities in the city."

Bach also honored Bob Cutter, a businessman whom he asked to head of Colorado Springs Together, a nonprofit agency aiding the Mountain Shadows recovery effort.

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Rippling Christianity

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 7:44 AM

"We deeply want to see a God-movement that ripples outward from Colorado’s Front Range," says the organizers of the upcoming Multiply Conference at Vanguard Church.

It's not breaking news that the number of churchgoing Christians in this country is on a steady decline. In fact, that hasn't been breaking news for a while.

In an effort to combat this trend, and usher in a new age of Christian growth, religious leaders are trying to re-imagine the church's role in American culture and the methods they can use to prosthelytize and expand. Thus, we have things like the Multiply Conference, an outgrowth of Frontline Church Planting.

From the event site:

The church in North America faces curious times. The old operating system and status quo of the Church no longer resound with our culture. In the western U.S. we have sensed these things coming for a long time.

Church leaders are in process of making seismic shifts toward more mission-grounded and multiplication-based expressions of the Body of Christ, but we must move quickly.

They've lined up an interesting group of speakers, including New Life Church's Brady Boyd, Steve Holt (Steve Holt!) of Springs Mountain Springs Church, and author Alan Hirsch.

The event is being sponsored by Frontline Church Planting, Colorado Baptists, Pikes Peak Baptist Association, and Fuller Theological Seminary among others.

If you are interested, tickets are still available for this Nov. 2 and 3 affair at the event site.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

UPDATE: Mouth, meet money: Focus' values in action

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Jim Daly
  • Jim Daly

Update, 1:50 P.M., Friday, Oct. 26: Monica Schleicher, director of public relations for Focus and CitizenLink, sent this in a follow-up e-mail:

"CitizenLink does not contribute to candidates or coordinate with candidates or campaigns. Funds invested in this election were independent expenditures; not direct, in-kind or coordinated contributions/expenditures."


This Sunday, Oct. 28, is going to bring an interesting opportunity for the fine folks of Colorado Springs: a chance to hear conservative values juxtaposed with more liberal ones, as voiced by Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, and our own publisher John Weiss, respectively. It's called "A Civil Dialogue Regarding the Election: On the Disagreements Between Conservative and Liberal Values."

There are all kind of values to talk about, but odds are good that gay rights — marriage, medical benefits, etc. — will come up.

Now, I've got no idea what Weiss is going to say with regard to that. (And I've got nothing to do with the event.) But I'm fairly sure it'll be along the lines of values the newspaper espouses as a whole: equality in all things for every single law-abiding person, regardless of anything, including whom they're having sex with.

What we might look at is how Daly feels about the topic in this new era of respect. Luckily, he's just put out a book that hopefully "inspires and motivates Christians to transcend political agendas and partisan battles."

And how does ReFocus: Living a Life that Reflects God's Heart begin? Why, with the topic of gay marriage — sort of. It begins with a recounting of the potential partnership between Focus and TOMS Shoes, and an appearance that the shoe company's founder, Blake Mycoskie, made at a Focus event, and for which he later took heat.

Here's a statement Mycoskie put out on his blog afterward, as quoted in the Washington Post:

“Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company’s part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.”

Well, as he writes in his new book, Daly just couldn't see why his organization's work to curtail the civil rights of millions of Americans should stand in the way of it helping a socially conscious company give poor kids shoes.

"What happened?" he writes. "How did we arrive at such a point that an organization like Focus on the Family is deemed unfit by some in our culture to help children in need simply because we hold to what we believe are biblical mandates about marriage and family?

"Something is wrong."

What does "simply ... hold[ing] to" those mandates look like in the real world?

It looks like everything else that's meant to make a difference these days: dollars and cents. Let's look at some of the political candidates to whom Focus' activist arm CitizenLink has donated a cumulative $2.2 million.

Well, we've got $1.4 million to Mitt Romney. He's a measured fellow who, in a 2006 event at Boston’s Tremont Temple Baptist Church said that when there's a ceremony to celebrate the love of two men or women, "the price of [it] is paid by the children." (Is that Jimmy Dobson I see on the guest list?)

We've got $203,000 to Ohio senate candidate Josh Mandel, who in 2009, as a state legislator, opposed a bill that would make discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity a crime.

And, hey, look at that: We've got $78,000 spent in support of a special Missourian who has the rosiest view of "legitimate rape" we've ever heard: Mr. William Todd Akin.

So, personally, I can't wait to hear all about the upside to conservative values. Maybe we'll even get a taste of Daly's plan for Christians to "once again be known by our love." I know I'm feeling it. Be there at 5:30 p.m. at Vanguard Church.

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More from Floyd Tunson

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Before I knew anything about the arts community, or the Indy, or really much of anything period, I used to gaze up from Manitou Avenue on the tall, plant-adorned windows of Floyd Tunson's studio.

All I knew at the time was that it was where an artist named Floyd worked. And that it was probably very beautiful, from what I could tell when I would snatch glances of it between working shifts at the Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant, and hanging out with my then-boyfriend, who lived above the restaurant.

So it felt like a personal accomplishment when I was able to go inside and look from those windows out below. Not that I spent much time doing that, because Tunson's home is more beautiful than anything I imagined.

Tunson himself is very welcoming and warm. He gave me a nice tour of the place, and twice offered refreshments, which I gave into upon leaving. I gingerly took a small cluster of grapes from a bowl on the table, to which he added a paper towel.

But then, of course, there was the interview itself, wherein we spoke about his life, artwork, and new show at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, opening later this week. Our full story is here, but there was much more that couldn't make it in.

Endangered 8 (1993)
  • Image courtesy of the artist.
  • "Endangered 8" (1993)

On his Endangered series (shown):

“Basically what draws me to those is the vulnerability of the young black males in this society. All the things that they’re going to encounter and have encountered as being young black males in this society, and most of it is not good. So I’m giving a voice to the voiceless. ... I’m bringing the underdog to the forelight, if possible. Or, I’m their advocate for things getting better, or I present their case, if possible, visually, aesthetically. I keep it out on the table. I keep the conversation going, possibly.”

On growing up in Denver:

“When I grew up, we almost knew everybody who was African-American in Denver. You knew their families, there was always some kind of connection.

“My first real big experience was in Washington, D.C. I was overwhelmed by all the African-Americans that I saw at once, all the time, in an urban situation. We never witnessed that in Denver. Denver was a big cow town, basically, for everyone.” (laughs)

On Tintin and racism:

"My daughter, coming from Switzerland, coming from Europe, we had volumes of Tintin, all the Tintins. As a matter of fact, when I was growing up, we had a couple of Tintins, too, but we didn’t have that whole set. … It’s not a big thing in America, even the film that Spielberg did [The Adventures of Tintin] didn’t go over that big because people aren’t really entrenched with Tintin. That’s a real European thing.

"But that controversial Tintin in the Congo is so derogatory, and I extracted images from that because I wanted them to convey that at the same time Matisse and all them are doing this very sophisticated artwork, you still have this kind of racism going on that is so unsettling at the same time.”

On the Colorado Springs arts community:

"I think it's improved tremendously. And I think it needs to improve a lot more."

In a recent interview with The Big Something, Tunson is quoted as saying that the Springs is a "hotbed of nothingness," though interviewer Noel Black clarifies there are institutions, like the FAC, that Tunson feels are doing their part to support the arts. When asked about the comment, Tunson says, "We have a big populace that [isn't] supporting the arts in any way."

He adds, "I'm not pissing on the art community. I'm not pissing on the community. I'm just saying, 'What are you doing about it?'"

And while he says there isn't something to "compel him to leave the studio" he isn't holed up in there, really. He often bikes and hikes in the area, and heads west to ski. But this is also coming from a man who loves to work.

"You got to get back in there and pay your dues. That's what this is all about. You gotta work. ... you gotta take criticism well, too. That's part of growing up."

Blake Milteer, FAC museum director, recalls Tunson's ferocious work ethic, saying that at one point, after the two had culled through his studio for days looking for pieces for the show, Tunson requested they stop so he could get back to his art. “That’s what he’s all about," Milteer says, echoing Tunson's own words. "Gotta get back to work. Gotta get back to making the art.”

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Happy Cats: Finding a 'Haven' in Best Of

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Each year during the preparation for our Best Of Colorado Springs issues, we ask our writers to suggest "IndyPicks." The idea is to highlight a local business, person or event that deserves recognition in an area that our ballot doesn't cover.

This year, Kendall Kullman suggested we write about Happy Cats Haven, a young nonprofit on 21st Street. We said it sounded great, Kendall wrote up a little something for our "Services" section ... and then we failed to include it in today's print edition.

In hopes of getting Happy Cats the attention that we agreed it deserves, we've added it to our online edition. We're also highlighting it below. If you've got room in your house for a cat, this looks like an excellent place to seek one out.

Happy Cats Haven
1412 S. 21st St., 635-5000,
Happy Cats Haven is a no-kill shelter that, in less than a year, has rescued about 180 cats and kittens — while welcoming locals who just need their “cat fix,” as board secretary and volunteer program manager Sherri Albertson puts it. Even if you can’t adopt one, Albertson says, you can come in to pet and snuggle the felines during office hours, four days a week. "It's good for the cats and for the people to have that interaction," she says. Happy Cats will celebrate its first birthday from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4, with a party/fundraiser at the Old Colorado City Historic Center. The event is free, but your bids in a silent auction will help keep Albertson and her half-dozen other volunteers in business for 2013 and, hopefully, beyond. — Kendall Kullman

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How to help Wetmore fire victims

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Remember this? The Waldo fire burns our mountainside.
  • Remember this? The Waldo fire burns our mountainside.

Fourteen homes are gone in the still-raging Wetmore fire on the edge of Pueblo County.

The disaster comes at a time when memories of the Waldo Canyon Fire are still fresh. Over the summer, many residents opened their wallets to charity to help the Waldo victims, despite hard economic times. Now, charities are hoping that Springs residents will help out once again.

With the fire response still in its early stages, giving food is one of the best ways to help the victims of Wetmore. Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado will be offering food to displaced residents; it's accepting donations now.

Read on:

Care and Share Food Bank responds to Wetmore Fire

Colorado Springs, Colo. — In response to the Wetmore Fire, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, will be conducting a one-day food drive on Wednesday, October 24 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at our Pueblo warehouse located at100 Greenhorn Drive.

All food that is collected will directly help Care and Share partner agencies serving those who have been affected by the Wetmore fire.

Care and Share Food Bank is currently seeking the following items from our community:

- Canned meals (i.e. chili and soup)
- Boxed meals (i.e. macaroni and cheese and tuna helper)
- Canned meat (i.e. tuna or chicken)
- Spaghetti sauce and noodles
- Peanut butter and Jelly

“Care and Share Food Bank is very happy to be able to give the community a way to help our neighbors,” says Lynne Telford, CEO.

Care and Share Food Bank is the largest non-profit hunger relief agency in southern Colorado. Acting as a distribution hub, Care and Share works with a network of approximately 300 non-profit partners to reach 100,000 people across 31 counties in southern Colorado. Last year, the food bank distributed more than 18 million pounds of food and grocery items. For more information about how Care and Share Food Bank is ending hunger in southern Colorado and how you can help, please contact us at 719-528-1247 or visit


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Rake your leaves, save a drain

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

  • stevendepolo's photostream

When I was a kid growing up in a small town in Kansas, we raked leaves in the fall, piled them on the dirt street out front and burned them. Even now, the smell of smoldering leaves instantly transports me back to that bygone time.

But burning leaves in the city, of course, is illegal, and sweeping them into the street makes for a big headache for city crews charged with keeping storm sewers flowing.

Like, we don't already have a big enough problem with storm drainage that we should plug up the system with leaves?

That's why the city Street Division urges you to either mulch the leaves and use them for composting in your yard, or take them to one of the city's drop-off locations to be composted. The drop points are:

Saturdays, Nov. 3 and 10
Recycle Yard at Hancock (1845 S. Hancock Expressway)
Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

November 19 — November 30
Hancock Salt Shed (1202 E. Caramillo St.)
Staffed Monday — Friday, 9 a.m. — 3 p.m.

The city also advises:

If leaves are brought in plastic bags, the bags will need to be emptied and taken with the resident. Hazardous materials, plastics, branches and other items are not allowed. Leaves will be taken to the City Street Division’s recycle yard and turned into compost, which is given away free to residents each spring.
Rocky Top Resources (1755 East Las Vegas Street) also takes leaves for recycling (residential only) on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Recycling is free with a canned good donation for Care and Share.
Composting is a good option for leaves and yard debris because according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it is a form of recycling that prevents filling our landfills, helps prevent pollution, enriches soils and reduces the production of methane gas.

In coming weeks, street sweepers will start eliminating excess leaf build-up in streets to prevent clogging of inlets and drains, which in turn cause flooding. So do your part to prevent drainage problems. Keep your leaves to yourself or recycle them responsibly.

And remember, blowing leaves and yard debris into the street or drains is a violation of city code, which can trigger a fine.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Even more jobs to be found at the Gazette

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 2:07 PM


Whether or not there are further developments regarding a possible sale to Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, the Gazette continues to beef up its staff in surprising and laudable ways.

Of course, if one continues to draw a line from California to Colorado, maybe it shouldn't be so surprising. The Orange County Register, the parent company's flagship paper, continues its own transformation, most recently adding a hefty-sounding Sunday magazine to go with reviews from its new, James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic.

And with the departure of current reviewer Kate Jonuska to Boulder, that position is also open at our daily. And so are one-and-a-half features reporter jobs; page- and ad-designer jobs; and a night copy editor gig.

Interestingly, a previous ad for an arts and entertainment reporter includes the "need to easily switch gears when the need arises, including as back-up for our Society writer." Considering we've never heard of a "Colorado Springs society" section, and have little idea what would go in it, things could get interesting.

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City: We did a lot of things right in fire response

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Waldo Canyon fire

City officials were largely self-congratulatory this morning at a news conference to unveil the initial after-action report on the Waldo Canyon Fire. Considering two lives (those of William and Barbara Everett) and 345 homes were lost in Mountain Shadows, city officials said a lot went right with fighting the blaze.

Fire Chief Rich Brown said the Fire Department and Springs Police Department collaborated well. He also noted personnel performed soundly, from those on the front lines to the decision-makers.

Of course, those 26,000 people who had minutes to follow evacuation orders on Tuesday, June 26, might disagree with those statements.

Brown boasted, too, about the city's wildland fire plan and risk assessment, coupled with a "strong community education campaign" about fire potential in the wildland urban interface.

Still, it should be noted, homes surrounded by heavy vegetation and topped with shake shingle roofs were incinerated within the first two hours (Brown's time estimate) of the fire sweeping into the city.

Police Chief Pete Carey was a little more circumspect, saying the evacuation, though difficult, "went really well." He said the 55 on-duty officers that day were joined by an emergency call-out of 60 detectives to evacuate.


Bret Waters, the city's emergency operations manager, said the city had worked with Cedar Heights residents to clear brush from homes during the three years leading up to the blaze. It also trained on animal sheltering for years, and developed relationships with the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross that came in handy during the fire.

Communications, Waters acknowledged, posed a problem, as thousands of cell phone calls flooded and eventually shut down the 911 system. The city, he says, needs to get the message to the public that cell phones can't be relied upon during such an emergency.

Detailing the events of that fateful Tuesday, Brown noted, "We were expecting the fire to move north to the Air Force Academy," and that "the fire was going to move a quarter mile an hour, a slow-progressing fire."

When the fire "broke into the city with extreme speed," Capt. Steve Riker knew what his orders were and directed the firefighting effort. "The incident was managed to my satisfaction when the event blew into the city that afternoon," Brown said.

Responding to a question about who called mutual aid, Brown said early in the fire, El Paso County called for help for its area of the fire. When it came into the city, the city called for help, he said. Managing those resources proved challenging, though. "You can't [get] them into the fire quick enough," he said. "We weren't beefed up to handle that many people who came in and couldn't get into the fire."

Mayor Steve Bach told police and firefighters at the news conference, "You're all heroes in my book," and called the fire an "epic event."

He said U.S. Forest Service official Jerri Marr told him to expect four to five hours' warning to evacuate Mountain Shadows, but everything sped up when a pyrocumulus cloud that built over the fire on that Tuesday fell.

"The situation changed very dramatically and quickly," he said. "It's tragic we lost those two lives. It could have been many more."

He described seeing a sea of headlights as people fled the burning hills. "I thought, 'Those poor people trying to get out of there.' But they got out."

He also warned that another conflagration is possible, since there are tens of thousands of homes within the wildland-urban interface in Colorado Springs. "The risk is still here," he said. "We could have lost thousands of homes and thousands of lives ... Everyone who lives in a wildland area is at risk. People must take action."

The final version of the report will be released before the end of March.

Here's the initial report:


Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., also released the following:

Mark Udall welcomed a preliminary report released today by the city of Colorado Springs that detailed the magnitude of the Waldo Canyon Fire and reviewed the city’s response.

“The Waldo Canyon Fire was a catastrophic wildfire that tested agencies at the local, state and federal level. We can always improve our response to wildfires and we can always learn,” Udall said. “Wildfires are an unfortunate part of life in Colorado, but it is because of reviews like this one and those I led in the wake of the devastating 2012 fire season that we will be better prepared to protect life and property in future blazes.”

Udall, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been a leader on forest health and wildfire issues throughout his time working in Congress. Udall recently requested a federal review of the Waldo Canyon Fire and attended the 2012 Forest Health Summit in Denver, where he delivered introductory remarks.

“I look forward to working with Mayor Steve Bach, the Colorado Springs City Council, El Paso County Commissioners and the communities throughout El Paso County to provide them with whatever federal assistance is available to help them brace for future fires and to make their residents safer,” Udall added.

Udall also has been a champion of encouraging homeowners living in wildfire-prone areas to take the steps necessary to lower their wildfire risk. According to a U.S. Forest Service study of the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder County — a study Udall requested — the condition of the Home Ignition Zone, the design, materials and the maintenance of the home and the area 100 feet around it, is critical to determining if a home will survive a wildfire.

Udall has encouraged business owners and residents living in and around the areas affected by this year’s record-setting Waldo Canyon and High Park fires to utilize the available federal resources, including loan assistance and flood-insurance waivers, to help them and their communities recover.

For more information on how you can work on wildfire prevention for your home or in your community, please visit

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