Tuesday, September 30, 2014

About that Ebola patient in Dallas

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Ebola: A nasty little virus. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Ebola: A nasty little virus.
I watch too many zombie flicks. 

And yes, maybe that influenced my thinking when I told my editors in August that Ebola would hit America. How, I asked, could the country prevent the infection from coming to the U.S. when patients can be asymptomatic, and airlines are still running between the U.S. and infected portions of Africa?

Furthermore, when Ebola does present symptoms, which is also when it becomes contagious through bodily fluids, it looks an awful lot like the flu. A person may not know they have the virus. And let's face it, they also may not want to admit to themselves that something so deadly is what's causing them to feel sick. 

Well, the bad news is, I was right. Ebola has officially spread to the U.S. via a patient in Dallas who recently flew in from Liberia. The good news is that health experts don't expect Ebola to spread here the way it has sadly spread through parts of Africa, killing thousands.

Our health systems are advanced, and the virus is expected to be easily contained. But if you're interested in what the risk is in the Springs, and how we're preparing for any possible outbreak, you could read my story from August on that very subject.
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Collecting federal help while living in the Broadmoor area

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Funny, this doesn't look like the Broadmoor area. - EDMUND GARMAN
  • Edmund Garman
  • Funny, this doesn't look like the Broadmoor area.
How many farmers do you know who live in the Broadmoor area? Turns out, there are more than 400. At least that's how many individuals who give 80906 as their zip code are listed as recipients of farm subsidies from the federal government from 1995 to 2012.

Together, they've been paid $13.1 million during that 17-year period, according to the Environmental Working Group website, which tracks farm subsidies.

The top farmer is Jay W. Kriss Farms Inc., which has received nearly $1 million during that time from land in Kansas and Colorado, mostly Kansas. The biggest subsidies came from land in Thomas County, Kansas, which is in northwest Kansas. Colby is its county seat. And the corporation's subsidies were mostly for wheat.

But that's peanuts compared to the $280 million collected from 1995 to 2012 in the Finney County, Kansas, area — my old stomping grounds from many a year ago — by 2,793 different recipients. Interesting that this staunchly Republican county has received so much largesse from the big, bad, evil federal government. In fact, Kansas ranks sixth highest for farm subsidies at $16.4 billion, which makes Colorado's $5.4 billion look like chicken feed. 

According to EWG, here's the top 10 states ranked by money received:


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Downtown says 'yes' to stormwater ballot measure

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 11:27 AM

A measure that would generate about $39 million annually for flood control projects for 20 years has won the endorsement of the Downtown Partnership, which calls the proposal "reasonable."

The measure also has been endorsed by the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, Colorado Springs Forward, Norwood Development Group and the Broadmoor resort. Find a complete list here.

Voters will have their say at the Nov. 4 election.

Here's the downtown group's release:
Downtown Partnership announced today its support of ballot issue 1B, providing a regional stormwater authority formed cooperatively by El Paso County to address stormwater projects, emergency needs, master planning and maintenance.

“For Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region to thrive, we must address our seriously inadequate stormwater infrastructure. This plan – the result of two years of citizen-led research and planning – is a reasonable and responsible solution to this very important issue,” said Hannah Parsons, chair of the Downtown Partnership board. “We have a vested interest because Downtown resides at the confluence of Monument and Fountain creeks, but more importantly Downtown Partnership supports this initiative because it is a regional solution bringing together leadership and representation from across the county. Water knows no boundaries, and neither should we.”

Also today, September 30, Downtown Partnership released responses by candidates up for election or re-election in November. Candidates for County Commissioner, State House District 18 and Senate District 11 answered a series of short questions about downtown, their leadership priorities and regional issues. Candidate responses can be found at Downtown Partnership’s website, www.DowntownPartnershipCS.org. Downtown Partnership did not endorse candidates but expressed a willingness to work with any of the candidates should they be elected.

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BLM sets hearing on chopper training

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 10:58 AM

As we reported earlier this year ("Hard landings," March 19, 2014), the Army is seeking a permanent arrangement with the Bureau of Land Management for high altitude helicopter training over land southwest of Colorado Springs.

A hearing will be held next week, and people who wish to comment can do so as advised in this news release:
Helicopter pilots need to be trained in how to fly in high altitudes. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Helicopter pilots need to be trained in how to fly in high altitudes.
CANON CITY, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office wants your input on Fort Carson’s proposal to use public lands for helicopter training.

The BLM and Fort Carson are hosting a public meeting on Oct. 7 at the Abbey Event Complex, Benedictine Room, 2951 E. U.S. 50, Cañon City, CO 81212. The public meeting will run from 5:30-7:30 pm, with a presentation scheduled for 6 pm.

Fort Carson has used public lands in the Royal Gorge Field Office for High Altitude Mountain Environment Training since 2010 on a temporary and infrequent basis. In 2013, Fort Carson requested a longer term agreement with the BLM for HAMET activities. The HAMET program is designed to provide pilots experience flying and landing helicopters in high elevation, mountainous terrain.

Fort Carson has submitted a Plan of Development to the BLM. The BLM is analyzing this plan through an open public process, and would like your help to identify what issues and concerns should be addressed in the environmental assessment before the BLM begins drafting the document.

For more information about the use of BLM lands for HAMET activities, please visit the Royal Gorge Field Office website at: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/rgfo/planning/hamet.html

This scoping period will run from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1, 2014. Comments concerning the proposed action, alternatives and identification of environmental issues are most helpful. For additional information or to submit a comment, please contact Nancy Keohane at 719-852-8531 or email comments to rgfo_comments@blm.gov. Keep up with Royal Gorge Field Office planning efforts here.

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Who's speaking for the seniors?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Tomorrow — Wed., October 1, is Senior Citizens Day, as declared by the City Council. A proclamation will be read at 11 a.m. at the Hillside Community Center (925 S. Institute St., 385-7900). But no one is sure who will be reading it.

Earlier this month, Councilman Keith King signed the following proclamation:
WHEREAS, it is imperative that we make use of the vital resources within our older American community; and
WHEREAS, we continue to see the contributions these individuals have made to the community of Colorado Springs through volunteerism, working in the schools; our public agencies and many of our non-profits; and
WHEREAS, these are the people that survived the depression; fought in a world war and conflicts to keep democracy alive; built businesses; grew food that fed our nation; improved our American cities; and all the while raising future generations; and
WHEREAS, never before in the history of our country have youth been in greater need of the wisdom and counseling of older people, and perhaps much of our present day problems could be averted by the timely advice of an older American; and
WHEREAS, coming together within a community relieves isolation and makes for a healthier happier senior citizen, provides the benefits of good fellowship, encouragement, support, and the opportunity to help themselves and each other.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Keith King; President of the Colorado Springs City Council, do hereby proclaim Wednesday, October 1, 2014 as SENIOR CITIZENS DAY
I urge every citizen to join in the Observance and Celebration to be hosted by the Savvy Seniors.
City Council has not confirmed, however, that one of its members will be at the event to read the proclamation.

Miguel Lausell says he's had problems getting anyone to commit to participating in Senior Citizens' Day – which he's been sponsoring since 2012.

"The seniors do not get the recognition they deserve," Lausell says. "We have a parade for our soldiers, we have a parade for St. Patrick's Day, we have a parade for Cinco de Mayo. Why not for the seniors?"

Joan Clemons, facility manager for the Hillside Community Center, says the city will put out a press release this year to mark the day. But Lausell's event is privately organized, she adds.
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Monday, September 29, 2014

New radio station seeks to reveal the Springs' underrepresented

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 2:17 PM

There's a growing sentiment, most easily seen in this manifesto, that Colorado Springs' media doesn't do an adequate job of giving voice to those in the minority by virtue of their race, income or sexual orientation. And while the charge is probably accurate, the effort is always being made — at least by everybody I know — so it's nice to see additional sources springing up, sources like new radio station KCMJ.

Founded by former Colorado House of Representatives member Dennis Apuan and launched Sept. 21, 93.9 FM plans to start broadcasting community radio in 2015 from a station near Jet Wing Drive and South Academy Boulevard. (Programming airs online, currently.) It's a low-power station, meaning it will only reach approximately a quarter of the city at first, but it will headquarter in, and tell some of the stories of, one of the poorest, most economically neglected areas of town.

"At first, our local, original program offerings will be limited," says programming chair Arlene Hall in a press release, "but we'll add programs as hosts, producers and needed equipment come online." Hall later expanded in a roundtable that the focus will be on two things: talk and music. Talk will include public affairs, local news and spoken word, while music will be eclectic, similar to what you might find on KRCC: jazz shows, Celtic hours, '80s playlists, local bands and independent artists.

But the bootstrapped effort can't do it without equipment and transmitters and towers, so the station is running an Indiegogo campaign until Nov. 13 in an attempt to raise $20,000. So far, it's brought in around $2,400. As far as rewards, $35 gets you a one-year radio membership; a sticker; discounted drinks at the Nov. 13 launch party at Ivywild School; and a pound of free beef from Ranch Foods Direct.

"There is a thirst in our city for radio that plays more than Top 20 Hits, radio that focuses on everything local, and radio that celebrates all the good that’s happening here," reads the campaign. "A station that respects its audience, promotes diversity, and gives a voice to those who are under-represented."

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Finally, Venezia Park gets go-ahead

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Mayor Bach shaking hands with third graders from Academy International School. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • Mayor Bach shaking hands with third graders from Academy International School.

In 2008, the city planned to borrow the money to build Venezia Park, because the city's northern neck of the woods hadn't been getting its fair share of park land. But when the economy went bust, the city abandoned those plans. Since 2011, the city has promised the park would be built, but it hasn't been.

Now, there's new hope that the 30-acre park, at 9330 N. Union Blvd., will get built. At least, the city hosted a kickoff for the park last week.

While the park was said to cost $8.7 million in 2011, KOAA.com reports the cost now is $9.8 million. Sources of the funding, according to KOAA.com: $2 million from the trails and open space tax, $7.6 million from fees Briargate homeowners have paid over time, and $225,000 from a Great Outdoors Colorado.

Here's an account of the kickoff provided by the city:
The site of the John Venezia Community Park was filled with third graders from Academy International School on September 25 to celebrate the project kick-off of the new park. "This is a momentous occasion for the northern part of our city," said Mayor Bach. "It will be a place for family and friends to enjoy."

In 1978, John Venezia and Lew Christensen worked with the Urban Land Institute to develop a Briargate master plan that was aesthetic in design and functional for future growth. It was a vision of a planned community with parks and trails interspersed with homes and retail centers. The land for the soon-to-be Venezia community park was donated by Laplata with special thanks to the Loo family.

The park will have a ranch theme with elements designed to resemble what would be traditionally found on a homestead. Elements such as the homestead (picnic pavilions), the corral (playground), watering hole (spray ground), fruit orchards, and the range (sport fields) will take park visitors back to the time when much of Colorado was used for ranching. Venezia Park will also have the second Universally Accessible Playground in Colorado Springs.
See a rendering of the park here:

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grocer X: Apple anarchy

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 7:28 AM

  • Shutterstock
Red Delicious apples have been taking some heat lately.

“Alluring yet undesirable,” The Atlantic says of the american favorite, “the most produced and arguably the least popular apple in the United States. It lurks in desolation.” And The Washington Post’s “Why the red delicious no longer is” might as well be an obituary — as noted in the article by apple historian Lee Calhoun.

Now, I’m not about to bring up a defense for the Red Delicious — I can’t stand it — but I will point out that the majority of the apples you can name off the top of your head should be considered in the same boat.

Granny Smith: Forever jaded by the “sour green apple” flavor stereotype. If I had a watermelon-flavored Jolly Rancher for every green apple I pitched growing up, I’d certainly be sporting a bigger waistline. As far as I’m concerned, the only way to make a Granny Smiths palatable is to take it out of its apple-form, say in pie or covered in caramel. Let's be honest — there are only a few ways to eat a Granny Smith.

Gala: They’re not as bad as a Granny Smith or Red Delicious, but I’m sure you’ve had sweeter. This raises the question: What are you doing here, Gala? If I’m not using you baking, and I can find a sweeter apple for eating, who are you to add to my shopping bill? Galas used to be a top seller in my stores — nicely sized, familiar and versatile — and I’m sure they still do OK, but their reign will be short-lived with the growing popularity and availability of more tantalizing apples like the Honeycrisp.

Fuji: Expensive. Though they can be grown stateside, the Fuji bears an “exotic” name and it seems like that’s what we’re paying for when they’re not on sale. I’ve had some bad experiences, and eaten Fuji apples from the U.S., New Zealand, Chile — actually, possibly from everywhere they’re grown except for Fujisaki, Japan. And if you’re another Red Delicious hater, you might like to know that the Fuji is a hybrid with Red Delicious DNA.

Golden Delicious: Don’t get me started on this waste of orchard space. I’m not a baker, or one who uses Goldens for anything else, but I still don’t see why anyone ever began buying these things in the first place. They’re milly, the skin feels weird, and you can’t even pick one up without bruising it, let alone get it home in an edible state.

Specialty apples”: Let me preface this one by saying that specialty apples are the way to go if your store carries a good stock. Outside of the staples, most stores carry at least a handful of seasonal apples during the fall and winter, and you're bound to find one that suits your fancy. The main issue you’ll run into with these is quality; that’s where the store’s stock comes in. All too often you’ll find these with wrinkled skin and hallow weight, due to a prolonged stint on the display. On top of all that, we’re going to charge you an arm and a leg for any specialty apple. And no, they’re never on sale.

Maybe there are no winners in the apple game anymore.

The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter (@_CraigLemley) or send questions/comments to clemley@csindy.com.
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Seasonal changes on the farm

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 7:00 AM

This year's harvest: Peach jam, apple sauce, tomato sauce and peach chutney. - LINDSEY APARICIO
  • Lindsey Aparicio
  • This year's harvest: Peach jam, apple sauce, tomato sauce and peach chutney.
I look out at the leaves changing color on the trees and give thanks that fall is here and winter is coming. It's the beginning of the farm's down time. I used to resist the first freeze of the fall, hating to see the tender summer annuals so vibrant the day before and dead as a doornail the next morning. I used to dread fall and winter, looking upon them as seasons of darkness, as seven months of tolerating life before finally seeing the first leaf buds again.

But as the busyness of summer gardening, milking, cheese making, canning, and classes slows down, we can slow down with it — it's part of living seasonally. It's part of bringing all of your energy in, preparing to curl up for winter and rest so that in the spring, you are rejuvenated and ready to burst forth and flower again.

We can watch YouTube and learn more about forest gardening, greenhouse growing, soil building, and cheese making. It gives us time to ponder why every last one of the 25 cucumber seedlings I planted in May kicked the bucket before even reaching ankle height; to be thankful the tomatoes and beets were so prolific; and to notice that completely shaving the caterpillar-eaten leaves off the kohlrabi plants did serve the purpose of eliminating caterpillar habitat, but also stunted their growth to kohlrabi peanuts.

We think back to the spring kidding season, when we had the most goat births ever (12), and also the most deaths (six). We saw a bobcat down in the ravine for the first time in four years, but saw no bears for the first time in five. We put 40 chickens in the freezer and contemplated eating rattlesnake for supper.

Fall and winter is when twice-a-day milking dwindles to once-a-day milking, and once-a-day milking slows to no milking. The goats are bred (recall Mr. Stinky?) and their energy goes to keeping themselves warm and fed for the winter. Our goats are all around 6 years old — slightly past peak milking age — and although not ready to head for the geriatric ward yet, their bodies realize they have no more babies to feed over the winter, and their biological clock slows down sooner.

All in all, no milking means our carpal-tunnel-stricken hands can get a rest. They can leave the repetitive, index-to-pinky-finger-drumming milking motion in our memories and join in the debate of whether or not to buy a mechanical milker next season, and so can we. We've actually had two enforced "sleep in" days in the past few weeks — almost unheard of at our house.

Last year at this time, and again this year, we realized that although we love where we live, we want a smaller house and more land. There is no time to think such thoughts in spring and summer, but fall and winter provide a clean slate on which to write all the ideas for the future. Some will take hold, some won't. (Perhaps we'll open a creamery, perhaps not.) But whatever we do and decide over winter, we'll be ready to go, full steam ahead, when the first goat kid arrives and the first spring garden seed gets planted.

Until then, you’ll find me curled up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Lindsey is a city girl turned urban farm girl. She and her family are the proud stewards of a few milking goats, a lot of working chickens, an organic garden and a budding orchard. Just around the corner is the city. But she, and her farm, are hidden by the rocks. Follow her on Twitter (@goatcheeselady) and FaceBook (The Goat Cheese Lady) or visit her website (thegoatcheeselady.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Lindsey at: thegoatcheeselady@gmail.com.
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Purple problems

Posted By on Sat, Sep 27, 2014 at 9:02 AM

  • Shutterstock
Born in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, my earliest childhood recollections are dominated by a few recurring themes: catching minnows on the shores of a hundred different lakes; bright lights and cheese curds at the Minnesota State Fair; the great mounds of snow being plowed to the center of our cul-de-sac where the neighborhood children would collect, burrow and climb with delight.

In one way or another, these memories were all colored with the same palette. Whether it be a television set blaring play-by-play in the background of the family room or my snow-pants in the winter and T-shirts in the summer, all of my childhood memories are tinged with the purple and gold of the Minnesota Vikings.

I was bred to be a fan from birth. The Vikings are so dramatically imprinted and intricately woven into my psyche that they’re responsible for a portion of my identity. Unfortunately, that portion of my identity is littered with astounding disappointment.

From Jim Marshall running the wrong way for a touchdown to the horrible Herschel Walker trade that dismantled the franchise for a decade, and from Gary Anderson’s infamous missed field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship Game to being the most affected victim of the ‘Bountygate’ scandal in 2009, the heartache has outweighed the triumph many times over.

It’s common among the Viking faithful to discuss and dissect just which embarrassing incident or terrible tragedy was, or is, the most difficult to stomach. But after the events of the last several weeks, I feel as though it’s safe to say that the debate is over.

Adrian Peterson, my favorite player on my favorite team, was indicted on allegations of child abuse earlier this month, sending me into a hazy daze from which I have yet to emerge. The incident has me thinking and rethinking everything from social justice and corporal punishment to the National Football League’s handling of issues not related to the field.

First, I had to reconcile with the idea that Peterson, the face of the Vikings since his rookie season in 2007, may have played his last game in Minnesota — a thought that was unfathomable just a few days prior. My instinctual urge was to want him back on the field, even if I was only partially conscious of it. I was rooting for Peterson in a personal matter because I liked the way he played football and who he played for.

It wasn’t until I shifted my attention to the more devastating issue of child abuse, alleged or not, that I noticed something frightening going on in my brain: I was making excuses, looking for loopholes, and shifting my judgment as it pertained to abuse because the man involved was my personal, sports hero.

I had to revisit those early Minnesota memories to help myself divorce from the issue. It is, after all, the children innocently rooting for their favorite teams who could be facing abuse at home. My inner child knows that those are two very separate issues with very separate consequences and realities.

I don’t know exactly how to feel about a parent’s right to discipline their child in the manner they see fit; I’ve never had to think about it. I imagine it’s an opinion of mine that will slowly form and morph over time as I have new, personal experiences and perhaps children of my own. But I’ve learned that when the sports world shifts its focus to real societal issues, wins, losses, colors and logos need to be kept out of the conversation.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports. Follow him on Twitter @NicRKrause.
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Apple’s Groundhog Day

Posted By on Sat, Sep 27, 2014 at 9:02 AM

  • Andrey Bayda | Shutterstock
Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage to announce a few new products and demo videos of the company's latest technology. The event, though streamed online, was shown to a highly selective audience of industry analysts, tech bloggers and journalists.

Apple’s product launch is the one presentation each year that “fanboys” like myself watch with rapt attention, and the one that Microsoft or Google customers love to hate. But as I watched this year’s event, I noticed that it's starting to become a spectacle like Groundhog Day.

When Punxsutawney Phil pops out of his hole and "announces" six more weeks of winter or an early spring, some participants wind up happy, and some are disappointed. Similarly, financial analysts, app developers, graphic designers and even casual consumers split after an Apple product launch: some feel relief or excitement, and others sighs of frustration.

With this particular event, I find myself in the latter camp.

Case in point: Apple’s best selling product is still the iPhone, but this year’s new iPhones are quite uninspiring. Sure, we got all the standard fare with a product refresh — a thinner phone with better graphics, faster processing speeds, a better camera, a few new apps, etc — but there’s really nothing that compelling for an upgrade. These kinds of improvements to a product are to be expected, with no fanfare, in the way a car manufacturer improves its models each year.

This time around, Apple’s offering us a bigger screen as the impetus to upgrade, and if that’s not enough, you can get a much bigger screen; it makes me wonder if Apple’s running out of ideas for the iPhone. 

There was one big announcement that was very interesting, a brand new product that Apple’s never had before: the Apple Watch. It’s been interesting to see how tech bloggers have responded, with a lot more negativity than I expected, in the days since the unveiling.

I don’t wear a watch, and think it would take a lot to convince me to wear one. (I have an iPhone, why would I have a watch, too?) However, when analyzing Apple as a manufacturer of consumer tech products, I think it’s a step in the right direction. There’s a compelling case to be made that wearable technology is the next frontier in “the Internet of things.” Many tech companies have already begun the rush to develop all kinds of products that you can wear and take anywhere (Jawbone’s “UP” fitness wristband and Microsoft’s “Smart Contact Lenses,” for example).

I’m really quite optimistic about the Apple Watch — and thank God they called it the “Apple Watch” instead of the “iWatch." 

Most of the criticism I’ve heard so far about the Apple Watch is based on two kinds of comments, the first being, “Who needs a watch that does all those things?” I’ll be quick to point out that when the first iPhone came out in 2007, a lot of people were saying, “Who needs to have the Internet on their phone?” Yet clearly, half a billion iPhones later, plenty of people decided that the Internet on their phone is exactly what they needed.

The original iPhone was revolutionary in concept, but also a piece of junk in terms of quality; the camera was terrible, the Internet was unbelievably slow, and the battery life was horrendous by today’s standards. But it essentially launched an entirely new form factor for cell phones that didn’t exist before.

The second criticism I’ve heard of the Apple Watch — which I think makes even less sense — is the price point. The watch starts at $349 and will, ostensibly, go up significantly (perhaps even thousands of dollars) from there based on your choice of straps and accessories. But the base price is nearly half that of an iPhone, and there are no monthly contracts. This is not lost on me, and as I said, I don’t even wear a watch.

The only danger I see her is that Apple’s ventured far beyond its comfort zone, now creating products in a genre that are often purchased only for their stylistic value. Other manufacturers have done the same for a while — Samsung and Sony, for instance — but the jury is still out on whether the average consumer will purchase wearable tech or not. It remains to be seen whether Apple, though famous for their style and design ethos, will be able to overcome this hurdle, as technology has always been the backbone for their products’ appeal.

I’ll be watching with interest to see what the next step is for Apple, as it tries to retain its crown as one of the largest, most profitable tech companies in the world, and the one with the highest brand loyalty. For now, I think our friend the Groundhog is predicting an early spring, but since we know his track record is about as spotty as it gets, your guess is as good as mine. We may all get a snow day soon.

Ron is a web guy, IT guy, and Internet marketer living in Colorado Springs with his wife and five children. He can often be overheard saying things like "Get a Mac!" and "Data wins arguments,” wandering around the downtown area at least five days a week. Follow him on Twitter at @ronstauffer or email him at indy@ronstauffer.com. Questions, comments and snide remarks are always welcome.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Zombies will chase you for a good cause this Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 5:41 PM

El Paso County is trying to make a point with its second annual Zombie Run, and it isn't just that zombie costumes are a damn fun way to scare the kids.

The county wants citizens to use their still-working brains to put together emergency kits and plans before the Springs' next mini-apocalypse. (Think Waldo, Black Forest, the floods.)

Anyway, we at the Indy would like to formally encourage you to make those plans and kits. They're a really good idea. (Take it from this Manitoid.) We'd also like to encourage you to dress up like a zombie, because zombies are cool. 

Check out the run here:

El Paso County to Hold Second Annual Zombie Run on Saturday
Public Welcome to Watch the Zombie Run and Visit Emergency Preparedness Vendors

El Paso County, CO., Sept. 25, 2014 – El Paso County Parks is hosting the second annual “Be Prepared…Don’t Be A Zombie” Zombie Run on Saturday at Fox Run Regional Park. The event helps showcase the need for all residents to develop their own family and workplace emergency preparedness plans.

A false cancellation message went out on Facebook today for those who ‘liked’ last year’s event listing. Last year’s even listing was deleted because the date from last year was resulting in confusion. Participants, runners and zombies, who signed up for this Saturday’s Zombie Run have been notified by email that the event is still on as scheduled, starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday, September 27.

The Zombie Run is a traditional 5K with minor obstacles (and zombies) and a 3K shortcut for those that want a shorter run. The runners will wear “life flags,” similar to flag football. The fully costumed and made up zombies try to steal the flags from the runners as they move along the trail. Runners who lose flags get a chance to answer emergency preparedness questions to get life flags back. For those who like a little more fun, they can also modify their traditional running apparel to dress as zombies.

“Being prepared for any emergency is important for your family,” said Commissioner Peggy Littleton. “It only takes a little effort to make a plan and to be ready. Even if people don’t want to participate in the run or be a zombie, they are welcome to come out and visit the emergency preparedness vendors and displays that will be set up in the park. This is a great opportunity to purchase items for a 72-hour emergency kit.”

Run Information
Online: www.PikesPeakZombieRun.com
Registration: has closed for this event.
Time: The first of multiple heats begins at 10 a.m.
Location: Fox Run Regional Park is at 2110 Stella Drive, Colorado Springs.

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No GoG Visitor Center for you

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 5:41 PM

  • Kin Scott

Got relatives coming to town? Better plan ahead for that obligatory trip to Garden of the Gods. The Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center will be closed from Oct. 1 to Nov. 16 for renovations. 

Visitor information will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m at the Central Garden Trailhead next to the North Main Parking Lot, weather permitting. You can still visit gardenofgods.com to learn about nature walks and basic park information.

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Sheriff balks at OEM removal by county

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Sheriff Terry Maketa
  • Sheriff Terry Maketa
On Tuesday, the El Paso County Commissioners voted to remove the Office of Emergency Management from the authority of the El Paso County Sheriff's Department. 

The decision won't be finalized until December when more planning is in place, but it means that the commissioners will supervise the staff and operations for an emergency response to a disaster. County spokesperson Dave Rose says that's not unusual. A recent statewide poll, he says, found that out of 38 Colorado counties only eight had their OEMs under their sheriff.

Rose also said the move had been considered for years. But given that Sheriff Terry Maketa is under investigation for alleged sexual impropriety with employees, favoritism, and possible financial mismanagement, it's hard to imagine that the move wasn't at least a little personal.

Maketa apparently thought so. His office issued the following statement:
Date: September 24, 2014 [7:00p.m.]

OEM Move by County about Money, not Safety

In “The Marks of a Leader”, by Dr. Robert C. Chandler Ph. D. and available on the FEMA website under their training section, he encapsulates many of the most desired traits for Emergency Managers, some of which are:

1) Coordinated

2) Decisive

3) Experienced

4) Able to Communicate

5) Responsible

In seizing control of El Paso County’s Office of Emergency Management, the County Commissioners who voted to do so exhibit none of those traits, and did an extreme disservice to the citizens they purportedly serve. As examples:

Coordinated: By Colorado State Statute, the Sheriff is the Fire Warden in the county and the Commissioners cannot change that. By making this move, rather than enhancing coordination, they are fragmenting it, because that responsibility, along with Wild Land Fire response and arson investigation has to stay with the Sheriff’s Office. How many more layers of bureaucracy will now be created?

Decisive: In an emergency, seconds quite literally can mean the difference between life and death. Are the citizens now going to have to wait for the 5 commissioners to get together, form a quorum, follow Robert’s Rules of Order, discuss the issue, take breaks, and vote before something happens?

Experience: Commissioner Sallie Clark stated the county needs to take “control” of Emergency Management and bring it to a “higher stature.” She stated the Sheriff’s Office is good at emergency response, when time is of the essence, but communication and planning need to be improved. What experience does she or any of the Commissioners have in Emergency Management and communication during a crisis? Collectively, the staff of the Sheriff’s Office and the Emergency Services Division has decades of experience in planning for, responding to, and critiquing and correcting that response afterwards. Furthermore, Commissioner Clark stated on the record at the BOCC meeting yesterday that communication with the Emergency Services Division is good while Emergency Services Division Commander John Padgett was discussing the requests from the Commissioners that the Emergency Services Division fulfilled.

Ability to communicate: There was no notice given to the Sheriff’s Office about this resolution until Thursday, September 18th. There was no notice given to the community, no public discussion. The County Commissioners spent 4 hours talking about a campground that affects a couple of dozen people. They then gave the Sheriff’s Office Commander of Emergency Services 3 minutes to talk about a decision that affects every resident of the county, especially in a disaster.

When Sheriff Maketa was made aware of this resolution last Thursday, the same day the agenda was publicly distributed, he asked Commissioner Hisey in writing to specifically list the personnel and equipment the county planned to take from the Sheriff’s Office and has not received a response. Commissioner Amy Lathen stated that Sheriff Maketa had mentioned several times that the County could take the Emergency Services Division. What she conveniently didn’t say was the last time he stated this was in 2012 before the passage of 1A during budget hearings. During that time, he told the Commissioners the county needed to fund the operational requirements of the Emergency Services Division as the Sheriff’s Office could not strip other budgets further to support it. Why didn’t the commissioners make the decision to take it back then, in 2012, before the passage of 1A?

Responsible: Along those same lines, when accountability comes due, who will the citizens go to? Will they be forced to look at a group of politicians all pointing fingers at each other or at a single person, also elected and accountable, who has the ultimate responsibility? When there is a question during the crisis, to whom shall the boots on the ground go to? Which commissioner would they have go to for immediate answers?

Ultimately, this move is about money, not safety. There has been much ado made about nothing concerning the Sheriff’s Office finances. The Sheriff’s Office has asked the county to explain why $897,953.02 of 1A funds have not been appropriated to this restricted budget (OEM) and only has received a vague response that these funds are in the fund balance and “not always appropriated.” This is contrary to other appropriations to restricted business units. Why has the money not been appropriated to the 1A account, when the rest of the 1A revenue is there?

The Sheriff’s Office, with the taxpayer approved 1A money, has almost competed a new Emergency Management facility, with extensive capability to house Emergency Services personnel, to include the Wild Land Fire Crew, in addition to other OEM vehicles (HAZMAT, EOD, and all Emergency Response vehicles. What will now happen to that facility? The County has stated they will also unilaterally take that facility from the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s Office employees have spent thousands of work-hours on the design and equipage of that facility in anticipation of better serving the citizens of the county.

The Sheriff’s Office has also used the hard-learned lessons of recent past as a guide when obtaining new equipment. With this move, that institutional memory of how and why certain items were obtained will be lost.

The timing of this resolution is also extremely suspect. Why the urgency and rush to complete this now? The Sheriff’s Office is about to undergo a transition and what is needed is stability, not uncertainty.

The citizens of this county have been through a lot on the past several years. They do not need to have their elected leaders bickering about something as serious as this. This move shows that the commissioners are more concerned about wresting control of operations, money, and shiny new equipment than public safety. The citizens deserve better.

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Lamborn and Co. urge generals who oppose Obama to resign

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 3:07 PM

  • Courtesy Corey Hutchins

Following whatever the hell a "kiltman contest" is — hosted last Tuesday at the Dublin House by the local group Liberty First — our dear Rep. Doug Lamborn told a group of attendees his strategy for dealing with military strategy pushed by the White House that he disagrees with: Get the generals to quit.
“You know what, I can’t add anything to that, but do let me reassure you on this,” Lamborn said. “A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation.’”

“‘You know, let’s have a [public] resignation, and state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory,’” Lamborn continued. “And I haven’t seen that very much, in fact I haven’t seen that at all in years.”
The story comes courtesy of reporter Corey Hutchins, the Rocky Mountain correspondent for Columbia Journalism Review and former alt-weekly writer. Hutchins writes that a Pentagon spokesman had no comment, while Lamborn's Democratic opponent Irv Halter, a retired Air Force Major General, had plenty:

“Our elected officials should not be encouraging our military leaders to resign when they have a disagreement over policy,” Halter said. “Someone who serves on the House Armed Services Committee should know better.”

The congressman's comment comes during an election where he's repeatedly being portrayed as weak supporter of military vets, with Halter and opponents citing the large percentage of committee meetings Lamborn has missed. He also recently missed a widely attended veterans political forum.

Lamborn doesn't see a problem with any of this, including the fact that Halter is crushing him in the fundraising department. Here he is shrugging at the situation, as quoted by Hutchins: “If you’re perceived as being in a safe district, there is a limit to people contributing to you," he said. "I’m just not considered to be in a dangerous situation.”

Edit: Changed quoted "pubic" to bracketed "public."

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