Wednesday, January 20, 2016

UPDATE: The cowardly lions — overly conservative Council delays EIRP's final hurdle, again

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 3:16 PM

This just in from the Colorado Springs Utilities board meeting, in progress now:

—— ORIGINAL POST: TUESDAY, DEC. 22, 2:43 P.M. ——

Last we checked in on Colorado Springs Utilities Electric Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP), in late November, the Utilities Board (City Council) had just made a cautious move to adopt Portfolio D, taking the advice of its staff, which included input from the citizen-comprised Customer Advisory Group (CAG).

But the board failed to drive its wooden stake all the way into the heart of the vampire, leaving one last bit of business in need of doing in order to complete the EIRP: a decision on the more immediate fate of Drake Unit 5, even though units 6 and 7 will currently be allowed to run until 2035. (Many engaged citizens and business leaders believe we'll never get that far, but more on that below.)

That decision on Unit 5 was supposed to come at Wednesday, Dec. 16's meeting, but a 4-4 vote (with Councilor Keith King not present) delayed the decision once again, until the next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20. 

That may all sound like business as usual, but local activists and stakeholders with whom we've been in contact — CAG member Jacquie Ostrom; Barb Van Hoy, who advocates on behalf of the Denver-based Western Clean Energy Campaign; and attorney Leslie Weise, among others — see it otherwise. 

Mainly, it's rare to see Council not take the advice of its staff, tasked to facilitate the EIRP and present the portfolio options to the Utilities Board — namely acquisition, engineering, and planning general manager John Romero and principal engineer Katie Hardman, who showed thorough data and make a convincing case. 

Very clearly, on page 61 of this attached agenda (following EIRP notes that begin on page 50), they recommend that Unit 5 be decommissioned on or before Dec. 31, 2017.

Keep in mind this recommendation comes after roughly a year of evaluations and footwork. (Nothing near as willy nilly as one councilman's decision in November to tack six years onto Drake's death date, as outlined in Portfolio H, moving it from 2029 to 2035). 

In the preceding pages, you see the staffers' pros and cons columns (requested by Council in November's meeting). Notably on the pro side, decommissioning avoids a $1 million investment in burner upgrades, offsetting $400,000 in annual labor and maintenance costs, resulting in a $2 million savings for 10-year net present value. 

  • Matthew Schniper
Note also on the cons side of converting Unit 5 to natural gas, the "model results show it generates for only 650
hours per year operation (2018-2030 average)." And on the mothball option, it would cost ratepayers $4.6 to $6.2 million to mothball it and restart it after three years (or more money after that). 

"It's ironic that the most conservative people on the board voted the least economical option," says Weise. "They see Drake 5 as a security blanket. To me, they vote on ideology, not the best representation of the citizens ... why wouldn't they pay attention to all of these experts?"

Doing some more math, Unit 5 only provides 46 MW of dispatchable capacity, while according to CSU spokesperson Amy Trinidad, CSU's currently operating at 100 MW of excess electrical capacity, with another reserve margin of 145 MW currently. 

Makes Unit 5 look pretty unnecessary, huh?

Trinidad says that CSU predicts only an 8 MW per year growth in demand over the next 10 years, meaning CSU would still be at excess capacity — and Council's decision for a 12-percent Demand Side Management (DSM) goal, which equates to conservation initiatives while not incurring more than a 2 percent rate increase, will offset some of that demand growth. 

Weise had actually made a case last year, after the fire at Drake, to leave Unit 5 turned off. She and a group of volunteers, who she says "were all pros," submitted the following document, which insists it now costs ratepayers $7.4 million a year, having restarted the unit. 

And currently, as reported in the Gazette today, Weise is underway with a case against CSU regarding "the wrongful withholding of public records by the Colorado Springs Utilities in violation of the Colorado Open Records Act." 

You can read her petition here:

Lastly, regarding the mention above of people who don't believe this whole debate over Drake will last until 2035, here's a perspective from former councilman Tim Leigh of Hoff & Leigh Commercial Real Estate, who relatedly was investigated (and later cleared) by the city's Independent Ethics Commission for possible "conflict of interest based on direct or indirect financial interests in downtown properties affected by Drake closure."

Tim’s Market Report

The Colorado Springs Utilities Board finally took a step in the right direction. They set a retirement date for the Drake power plant. Unfortunately, it’s not for 20 years! Heck, in 20 years, health care will provide free face-lifts & liposuction, social security will make everyone rich, and I’ll still be running the Incline daily. More realistically, since the announcement, I’ve made several nickel bets that Drake will be gone in 10 years.

Continued spending on an old and inefficient coal plant [Drake] is one of the worst business decisions our community can make, especially since (with modern power plant technology] there are substantially better alternatives that don’t carry the same EPA emissions and attendant cost burden as coal plants. Recall the best way to get out of a hole - stop digging!

After the NSG scrubber is in place, the cost of power from Drake will be much higher than the alternative (a combined cycle natural gas power plant) which I’m told could easily be located on the Front Range or Nixon power plant sites south of Fountain, along I-25.

The basic principle of a combined cycle power plant is simple. Combined cycle plants burning gas in a gas turbine produce (not only) power (which is converted to electric power) but also produces a very hot exhaust gas. Routing these very hot exhaust gases through a water-cooled heat exchanger produces steam which can be turned into more electric power. It’s a Christmas miracle! It’s Doublemint gum!

From 5 minutes on the web, I learned

Conventional power plants produce 33% electricity and 67% waste. Combined cycle power plants produce 68% electricity and 32% waste. {Plus the waste is convertible to additional power! – Doublemint, doublemint!}
A combined cycle power plant would burn about ½ as much fuel as Drake to generate the same amount of power.

Because combined cycle plants burn gas, they’re not subject to costly EPA regulations regarding coal emissions clean-up.

When I was a member of CSU’s board, I recall learning coal power plants “with plans for decommissioning and a date certain” could be exempt from EPA mandates for the installation of emissions control devices. Under those rules, with the Board’s pronouncement, we shouldn’t need the Neumann scrubber (or any scrubber).

CSU management should immediately stop the spending! CSU management should immediately place the call! The executives need to quit spending on the scrubber and call the CDPHE or the EPA and begin a conversation where we receive a waiver for installation of the scrubber (and future scrubbers) which would save us millions!

Consider, once the NSG scrubber is in place (2017) CSU’s own report says the cost of power from Drake will be between, (approximately) 5 to 6 ½ cents per KWh. Alternatively, I’ve been told power generated from a combined cycle gas power plant would only cost about 4 ½ cents per KWh. KWh costs add up quickly!

Based on Mrs. Vedesas’ simple 4th grade math, it looks like postponing Drake’s retirement 20 years means we’ll pay an extra $24.7 million (each & every year)! Ergo, over time, under the current CSU plan, our community will spend nearly a ½ a Billion Dollars unnecessarily. That’s a ½ Billion dollar direct tax paid by the ratepayers because of the delay in decommissioning Drake!

I wonder what a ½ Billion dollar (alternative) investment would mean to the local economy.

With the ongoing spending at on the Scrubber and Drake, we’re digging deeper and deeper. Recall the best way to get out of a hole - stop digging!

If you want to join the conversation call 719-337-9551 or email

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ten songs to hear while it's still 2015

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 at 3:47 PM


At a time when 100,000 albums and singles are being released every year, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that there’s more going on in contemporary music than just Taylor Swift and Drake.

So, with that in mind, our year-end issue includes a feature on ten of the best 2015 songs you've never heard of. They range from Janelle Monae’s strident “Hell You Talmbout” to punk duo Slaves’ jeering “Cheer Up London.”

You can go read about and listen to all of them here. In these waning hours of 2015, they just might make you feel a little better about the year gone by.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

City proposes filling in the gaps

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2015 at 4:47 PM

Here's a graphic of how this plan came to be. Reassuring, eh?
  • Here's a graphic of how this plan came to be. Reassuring, eh?

A new chapter of the city's comprehensive plan that addresses infill development is ready for public comment, according to a news release.

This plan undoubtedly will bring more projects like the the multi-story student housing apartment buildings to be built in the Cragmoor neighborhood just south of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Not a single neighbor spoke in favor of the development, which will raze Bates Elementary to make way for the 621-bedroom complex that will rise to 60 feet, according to the Gazette's report in September about City Council's 5-4 vote allowing the project to move forward.
The newspaper quoted neighbor Helen Panczykowski as saying, "A five-story apartment building in our little old neighborhood is a nightmare. It's going to be devastating. It's going to destroy our way of life."

Nevertheless, Councilor Jill Gaebler, who chairs the City Infill Steering Committee, called the project "a classic infill project" and supported it.

Here's the news release about the new infill rules, which could help to bring a giant, densely populated housing project to your neighborhood.
The public is invited to review and comment on a proposed new chapter of the City Comprehensive Plan that provides direction, priority and emphasis for infill and redevelopment throughout the mature areas of Colorado Springs. The City Infill Steering Committee has been actively working to develop this new Comprehensive Plan chapter, and is recommending a separate more detailed and updateable Infill Action Plan that includes several dozen strategies for City action (some of which are already are being implemented). During its more than 15 months of work the Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Jill Gaebler and co-chair Councilman Andy Pico, heard from a wide variety of other infill experts and stakeholders. The Committee also includes representatives from the Planning Commission, neighborhoods, infill developers and other community interests.

“On behalf of the Steering Committee, I am excited about both the culmination of this planning effort and the prospect of even greater focus on infill and revitalization, which are essential to fiscal integrity of the City and quality of life of all of our residents”, notes Councilwoman Gaebler, “I’m looking forward to using these documents as guides to support both public and private reinvestment in our community.”

“The City has already made progress on several of the recommendations included in the Action Plan and we are poised to move forward with others. As part of the review and adoption process for these documents we welcome public input including suggestions for making them better,” Planning and Community Development Director Peter Wysocki said.

Drafts of both the Infill Chapter and the Action Plan are available for review here or by visiting and typing in the word “Infill” in the search function. A formal recommendation on these documents is anticipated to be made by the Planning Commission at its January 21, 2016 meeting, followed by action by City Council in February to recommend adoption of the chapter. A complete list of upcoming meetings is available on the City’s website.
City Council is expected to take action on the plan in February with final approval slated for March.
Here's the plan.
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Monday, December 28, 2015

Lucha Cantina to become Red Gravy

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 5:14 PM

Following a nearly two-year run, Lucha Cantina will cease operations in Colorado Springs after close of business on New Year's Eve. 

Co-owner Chuck Holcomb says he was making money, but he's having better success in the Denver marketplace and wants to focus his efforts there, as well as on some impending expansions elsewhere in state. 
Coming very soon to Tejon Street. - ERIC BRENNER
  • Eric Brenner
  • Coming very soon to Tejon Street.

Conveniently, as he was looking to move on, former Colorado Mountain Brewery chef Eric Brenner — a recent transplant to town who I recently interviewed here in Side Dish — was looking to get his foot into the downtown corridor with a restaurant of his own. (Brenner last operated his own spot in St. Louis in 2010 and has done extensive consulting elsewhere since.) 

Turns out Holcomb was so enthusiastic about Brenner's plans for the space that he's signed on as a minority investor in the project. 

In Brenner's words, Red Gravy will offer "upscale casual modern Italian that is fast, hot and a great value."

Brenner, now 45, says he's wanted to have a restaurant like this since he was 18. He talks up St. Louis' Italian eatery scene, which has helped inform his approach, a scene he describes as full of regional specialties, from Neapolitan and Sicilian to Norther Italian and Venetian. 

He spent his first decade in the industry inside of Italian kitchens, before heading to culinary school and, eventually, opening more of a fine, allergy-friendly bistro/fusion place called MOXY. 
Brenner says he's "super excited" about opening his own Italian place, finally.
  • Brenner says he's "super excited" about opening his own Italian place, finally.

"Some of the dishes I'm bringing to this menu, it's me coming back to where I started," he says, "and celebrating the food I know down to my core." 

One of those dishes is actually his tomato bisque, with which he won an episode of Guy's Grocery Games on Food Network.

"That dish only has five ingredients," he says, "but it's all about the perfect balance. And that gets back to the essence of good Italian food: quality ingredients, very few, in perfect balance. It's a diferent part of your brain you're using than when you're cooking French. French is about technique. You're going through a well documented process, handed down generation to generation. It uses more skill and understanding, and it takes a long time."

And that gets to the name Red Gravy, which, for him, evokes the idea of "a traditional family recipe" and the "Italian sensibility."  

Brenner says the downstairs bakery once operated by the Olive Branch will soon ramp up again to churn out house breads, homemade pastas, pizza dough and desserts. Down the road, he may also begin making house cheeses and gluten-free goods, which he'll procure elsewhere in the interim to ensure good gluten-free options. (One purveyor he'll work with is Bold Organics, with whom he developed a gluten-free pizza dough.) 

Two other dishes from his repertoire that he's excited to share with Springs diners are his Caesar salad, which substitutes fried calamari in place of croutons, and his butternut squash ravioli with balsamic brown butter, sage sauce and pistachio gremolata

Red Gravy will host a "really accessible" wine list, five local beer taps and traditional cocktails.

Expect it to open — and this is the crazy part — just a week after Lucha shuts down, on January 6. That's the goal, at least, says Brenner, who likes the 1-6, 2016 numerology of it all. (He jokes that he could of course push back to January 16, if truly necessary.) 

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Prayer allowed at USAFA games

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 12:20 PM

The image of Falcon football players kneeling in prayer is apparently here to stay. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • The image of Falcon football players kneeling in prayer is apparently here to stay.
The U.S. Air Force Academy has ruled football players' prayers in the end zone at games is allowed under its rule dictating religious practice and observance.

Much to the chagrin of Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation who protested what he called the Tebow kneel, named for Tim Tebow, a former Denver Broncos player.

Here's the academy's ruling:
The United States Air Force Academy places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religion or to observe no religion at all. Recently the United States Air Force Academy received a complaint about its football players kneeling in prayer. An inquiry was initiated, which found the football player's actions to be consistent with Air Force Instruction 1-1 and its guidance on the free exercise of religion and religious accommodation. The United States Air Force Academy will continue to reaffirm to cadets that all Airmen are free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all. The players may confidently practice their own beliefs without pressure to participate in the practices of others.
So that means Falcon football players most likely will kneel in the end zone tomorrow when Air Force plays University of California Berkeley in Fort Worth in the Armed Forces Bowl, starting at noon mountain time on ESPN.

Weinstein called the academy's review of the issue "a pathetic sham and transparent farce of the highest order."

He continues via email:
Let us not forget that it was hardly a respected, deconflicted and disinterested third party entity or outside agency that inquired into MRFF’s charges against the Academy of unlawful, orchestrated, Christian-sectarian team praying by its football players. Indeed, having the Air Force Academy's very own Athletic Dept. essentially “investigate itself” in this sordid unconstitutional matter of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism and supremacy is about as "impartial and effective" as having Pol Pot “investigate" himself for his killing field crimes against humanity or having Bernie Madoff direct the “investigation” of his investment business for allegations of pyramid or Ponzi scheme illegalities.

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DA rules officers justified in shooting man

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Two officers who shot and injured Dana Bruce Ott outside his home in northwest Colorado Springs did the right thing, District Attorney Dan May's office ruled. The decision was released on Christmas Eve.

Colorado Springs Police Officers Matthew Peterson, hired in 2013, and Derek Wilson, an 18-year veteran responded to a domestic disturbance on Lanagan Drive. When they arrived, officers saw Ott, who the DA's office says was armed with a firearm. "Mr. Ott verbally and physically threatened the officers with the rifle," the DA's report says. "Both officers ordered Mr. Ott to drop the rifle. Ott, still advancing, raised the rifle and assumed a shooting stance with the rifle at his shoulder pointed toward Officer Peterson."

The officers then drew down on Ott and fired. Ott was in critical condition for several days before being taken to jail and charged with felony menacing. The investigation determined Ott's rifle was a loaded air rifle mounted with a scope, which didn't have an orange safety tip that would have suggested it wasn't a real rifle. 

Ott, who's an attorney, is free on bond, awaiting a court appearance on Feb. 8.

The DA's report also notes:
Colorado Revised Statutes 18-1-707 provides that an officer is justified in using reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to defend himself from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force while effecting or attempting to effect such an arrest, or if he or she reasonably believes it necessary to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be imminent use of deadly physical force, or otherwise indicated that he is likely to endanger human life or to inflict serious bodily injury to another unless apprehended without delay. In addition, Colorado Revised Statutes 18-1-704 provides all citizens with the right to defend themselves with deadly force if they reasonably believe they are in imminent danger of being killed or receiving great bodily injury and reasonably believe a lesser degree of force is inadequate. 
Here's the entire report:

The DA's Office rarely finds officers at fault in shooting investigations. According to the DA's Office, from 2004 through July of this year — a period that spans three different administrations — the DA's Office has considered 44 cases of officers using excessive force. All but three involved an officer firing their weapon. In seven of the 44, the officer fired his or her weapon but missed. 

Of the 41 people shot at, 22 died. Of those 22, three were ruled suicide by the El Paso County Coroner's Office.

Since July, the DA's Office ruled on Dec. 14 that Officer Jonathan Kay in Fountain was found justified in shooting and killing Patrick O'Grady on Sept. 24.

Investigations pending include the shooting by police of Noah Harpham, who shot and killed three people at random during a shooting spree east of downtown on Halloween morning.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

The holidays is a great time for weddings and engagements

Posted By on Sun, Dec 27, 2015 at 9:13 AM

I always look forward to making pictures around the holidays. Every year I will have a handful of weddings and engagements to photograph and it’s just so much fun.

Weddings and engagements this time of year are romantic. Bundling up in a wrap with your loved one outside or cuddling in front of a fireplace just makes for a great romantic photograph.
Caroline and Ben in a cozy embrace in the snow in Cheyenne Canon during their engagement sitting. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Caroline and Ben in a cozy embrace in the snow in Cheyenne Canon during their engagement sitting.

But besides the romance, there are other, more pragmatic considerations for having a wedding or scheduling an engagement during this time of year.

A bridal portrait of Madison married at the Air Force Academy Chapel in early January. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A bridal portrait of Madison married at the Air Force Academy Chapel in early January.

Getting married around this time can save you and your guests a ton of money! You can save on travel costs for your guests, since many will be traveling to be with family anyways.

And churches and reception locations are pre-decorated for the holidays so you can use the holiday decor of the church or reception location.

Keil and Joey in a formal portrait after their New Year's Eve wedding at St. Paul Catholic Church. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Keil and Joey in a formal portrait after their New Year's Eve wedding at St. Paul Catholic Church.

After a winter wedding, you can honeymoon in warm climate — I don’ t think there’s any better time of year to go south and spend a week or two. 

If you’re a photographer, make the most of this time of year. The quality of light is especially nice in late afternoon and, of course, Christmas lights and snow make the perfect backdrop for any wedding or engagement picture!

Caroline and Ben share a kiss in front of The Broadmoor's white lights during their engagement sitting. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Caroline and Ben share a kiss in front of The Broadmoor's white lights during their engagement sitting.

Colorado Springs wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at, his personal work at and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image - no more than two a week, please - to for consideration in upcoming blogs.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Some first friday openings delayed due to holiday

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 4:27 PM

  • The Owl and The Pussy Cat, artwork by Laurel Bahe, image courtesy of AHA Gallery.
In a press release Wednesday morning, the Downtown Partnership announced that several of its January First Friday openings will be delayed until the second Friday of January to account for New Year's Day. Some venues do plan on opening on January 1. For a full list of who's doing what, go to
Read the full press release below:
First Friday Downtown Launches in 2016 with Two January Dates
Culture in the Core of the City

DOWNTOWN COLORADO SPRINGS –First Friday Downtown continues in 2016 with monthly art openings, meet the artist events and performances. Free and open to the public, First Friday Downtown offers artwork and cultural activities the first Friday of every month from 5-8 p.m. at galleries, retailers, and venues throughout Downtown Colorado Springs.
Two Dates
Due to the New Year holiday, First Friday Downtown will be held one week later than normal, on Friday, January 8. However, many of downtown’s galleries and First Friday venues will be open in the evening on Friday, January 1 as well. See a full listing of openings on both January 1 and 8 at
Take a First Friday Walking Tour
Gain new insight into downtown Colorado Springs’ arts scene, with an Artist/Curator-Led First Friday Downtown tour. The free one-hour tour will visit a selection of downtown galleries. In January, the tour will be led on January 8 by Boulder Street Gallery and Framing (206 N. Tejon Street). The tour will leave at 6pm and then visit a selection of other First Friday venues. Tours continue monthly, featuring a different local artist/curator tour guide each month.
New Venues
· 313 Gallery and Studio (313 N. Tejon) presents work by local artists Michael Culley, April Lauren, Tim Salazar, Lydia Dudoit, Josh Kennard, Seth Weber, and Phil Dezellum.
Skate in the Park
Add ice skating at Colorado Springs’ only outdoor skating rink to your First Friday itinerary in January. January 8 is Neon Night at the rink, wear your brightest colors, glow necklaces available while supplies last, and live DJ from 4 to 8pm.

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Shooter ordered for mental evaluation

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 3:49 PM

Dear to submit to a mental compentency evaluation.
  • Dear to submit to a mental compentency evaluation.
Robert Dear, charged with 179 counts in the Nov. 27 Planned Parenthood shooting that killed three and injured nine, was ordered Wednesday to undergo a mental competency evaluation at the State Mental Hospital in Pueblo.

District Judge Gilbert Martinez ordered the evaluation over the objections of Dear himself, who blurted out that he has a constitutional right to represent himself. Martinez said he needs the evaluation before he rules on Dear's request, because Martinez must determine if Dear is making a "voluntary, knowing and intelligent" decision to represent himself.

Dear, who was surrounded by three sheriff's deputies throughout the 90-minute hearing, also interjected other comments, such as his fear he'll be drugged and turn into a zombie.

Martinez failed to rule on a motion to unseal arrest and search warrants in the case argued by Denver attorney Steve Zansberg, who represents a long list of media, including the Colorado Springs Independent, the Gazette, and every major television network, among others.

Zansberg made comments in court, in addition to filing a lengthy motion, saying the people are entitled to hear arguments for and against sealing such records and to hear reasons for a judge's ruling prior to the sealing of such records. That apparently didn't happen in the Dear case.

Martinez said he'd take the matter "under advisement" and gave no indication how long the media must wait for that ruling.

Dear is being held in the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center without bond.
The next court hearing will be on Feb. 24.
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Food waste — also drinkable?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 2:33 PM

In this week's Simplicity column, I bike a route with Colorado Springs Food Rescue, and learn about our world's excessive food waste problem, with one-third of all the food produced going uneaten. 

As much as there's nothing funny about that, I did find it amusing to see discover a Civil Eats article coincidentally posted today, titled  "Toast with Mario Batali’s Beer Made Out of Food Waste." 

The article highlights the big man's collaborative brew with Dogfish Head brewery's lauded Sam Calagione, who also co-owns Birreria with Batali. The beer's ingredients, likened to a prison wine, included "overripe tomatoes, rotten grapefruit, Ugli fruit (a type of tangelo), stale bread, and Demerara sugar," according to the piece. It says the recipe was based on a German hefeweizen, and the brew was cask-conditioned, released to very positive reviews. 

The inspiration came via wastED, conceived by chef Dan Barber, author of The Third Plate (a fantastic book which I happen to be in the middle of reading right now), and the Civil Eats article concludes with Batali and Calagione saying they aim to brew their food-waste beer annually in both Chicago and New York "to promote the wastED awareness." 

I'd also mentioned Batali in Simplicity last year, in relation to his pitch for the Green Restaurant Association, which tackles many other aspects of sustainability inside the eatery industry. Commercial composting of food scraps that can't be eaten also has a huge impact on the environment, as Rasta Pasta will attest locally. 

Before I share some extra photos from my ride and dinner with Colorado Springs Food Rescue, I'm posting this challenge to our bounty of local breweries and CSFR — just for fun: collaborate to make us a cool food waste beer. Maybe a portion of proceeds go to CSFR, and the brewery otherwise gets bragging rights? Who's up for the task? I'm down to document it all. 

Without further ado, some more CSFR pics:

Left to right: Seeds Cafe's Lyn Harwell, CSFR's Zac Champan, and CSFR co-founder Shane Lory. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Left to right: Seeds Cafe's Lyn Harwell, CSFR's Zac Champan, and CSFR co-founder Shane Lory.

Volunteer Meg Smeltzer recovering food at Penrose Hospital. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Volunteer Meg Smeltzer recovering food at Penrose Hospital.

Biking with CSFR volunteer and development director Elsa Kendall (left) and volunteer Meg Smeltzer. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Biking with CSFR volunteer and development director Elsa Kendall (left) and volunteer Meg Smeltzer.

Smoked pork belly with black-eyed peas and kale, from the CSFR/Seeds rescue dinner Indygive! fundraiser. Rescued food can be beautiful and delicious. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Smoked pork belly with black-eyed peas and kale, from the CSFR/Seeds rescue dinner Indygive! fundraiser. Rescued food can be beautiful and delicious.

Among contributing chefs to the Indygive! dinner were Springs Orleans' Jason Miller (far right), Adam's Mountain Cafe's David McDonough (gray hat), Odyssey Gastropub's Matt Wilcoxon (left of McDonough), Full Circle Cuisine's Kevin Campbell (orange hat), independent chef Jennifer Bostick (purple jacket) and District 11 chef Nate Dirnberger (two to the left of Bostick). - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Among contributing chefs to the Indygive! dinner were Springs Orleans' Jason Miller (far right), Adam's Mountain Cafe's David McDonough (gray hat), Odyssey Gastropub's Matt Wilcoxon (left of McDonough), Full Circle Cuisine's Kevin Campbell (orange hat), independent chef Jennifer Bostick (purple jacket) and District 11 chef Nate Dirnberger (two to the left of Bostick).

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Beatles albums to begin streaming Christmas Eve

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 12:07 PM

  • shutterstock

fans — at least those who don’t limit their listening to vinyl — will get an early Christmas present this year, as the Fab Four finally come to streaming music services.

It was announced Wednesday that the group['s 17-album catalogue will come to most of the major players, including Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Slacker and Spotify.

The Beatles were among the last holdouts. Others who belatedly took the plunge include 

Frank Zappa, whose original catalogue began streaming in 2012

Led Zeppelin, who succumbed to Spotify in late 2013, and then went stateside earlier this year, and

Taylor Swift, whose 10-second Apple boycott ended in June.

That still leaves the Dave Clark 5 — as well as King Crimson and Tool — but pretty much everyone else is now onboard.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Apartments coming to downtown

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 3:02 PM

This is an artist's rendering of the Wahsatch project. - COURTESY NOR'WOOD DEVELOPMENT GROUP
  • Courtesy Nor'wood Development Group
  • This is an artist's rendering of the Wahsatch project.

Nor'wood Development Group
and Griffis Blessing are teaming up on two apartment complexes in the downtown area, the companies announced recently. The two projects will add a total of 356 units.

Chris Jenkins, with Nor'wood, says rents will start at $1,000 a month for one-bedroom units and go up to $1,800 or more per month for the premium two-bedroom units.

That might sound pricey, but according to the news release, plenty of amenities will be available, including views, proximity to micro breweries and art galleries, parking and a swimming pool.

Here's the release:
The first purpose built urban apartment project of this size in Downtown Colorado Springs will be located at the southwest corner of Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Avenue and will anchor the emerging East End neighborhood with 169 new 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and loft style units located on the street and alley.

The building will provide residents with secure parking, fitness/yoga studio, resident clubhouse opening onto an outdoor pool/hot tub and lounge deck. Other building amenities include a dog wash, bike storage and repair shop, co-working spaces and a rooftop lounge with sweeping views of downtown and the Front Range. The project is steps away from micro breweries, art galleries, unique restaurants and more. Site preparations and demolition will begin in early 2016 and begin leasing to residents in the summer of 2017.

The second project, located in the 600 block of South Cascade Ave will have 187 new 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and will add life and vitality to an emerging area of Downtown; leasing to residents in 2018. Similar building amenities will offer residents a complete and active urban lifestyle in an established neighborhood setting adjacent to restaurants, coffee shops and recreation/trail connections.

“With these two apartment projects, the standard for urban living in downtown Colorado Springs will be set for years to come,” said Chris Jenkins, President of Nor’wood Development Group. “As our Downtown’s Renaissance gains momentum, urban living will be the cornerstone to transformation. We have seen urban living explode in every thriving middle weight city and believe now is the right time for our downtown. We are thrilled to
be working on such great infill projects in downtown.”

“More and more millenials and empty nesters are in search of a more compact and maintenance-free urban lifestyle rather than large suburban homes with time-consuming and costly maintenance and upkeep,” said Steve Engel, Chairman of Griffis Blessing. “A lock and go lifestyle, within walking distance to the best restaurants, boutique shops and cultural activities in downtown make these properties unique and desirable.

These properties will offer residents unprecedented access to leisure amenities that complement their urban lifestyle.”

Nor’wood Development Group is a locally owned full service real estate development and management company operating only in the Pikes Peak Region for more than 40 years with a diverse and growing portfolio of real estate. Griffis Blessing owns and manages over 8,500 apartment units throughout Colorado and Idaho.

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Christmas traditions on the farm

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 2:59 PM

Christmas traditions come in all sizes, colors, foods and forms. They started eons ago, or when you were a child, or maybe just yesterday. Traditions are the things that bring back memories and create new ones. Here are a few of ours.

We have an elf, Patches, who sneaks up underneath the Santa hat Christmas tree-topper and dangles himself upside down to peer out from underneath the furry white hat trim and ensure that our children are behaving themselves. When everyone is asleep, he'll head back to tell Santa how the kids behaved that day. Later, he'll return to a different hiding spot, keeping the children on the lookout each morning for his new locale.

We also have our Simpich dolls. Every year, with delicate hands, I unwrap them from their original tissue paper wrapping, where they have been safely cuddled for the past 11 months in their original boxes. I make sure to unfurl the snake-like roll of paper from under the Muff-lady’s dress and remove the protective layer from around the Lantern-man's lantern. Then the flute player, mandolin player and the fat man are placed aside their counterparts in proper caroling fashion, their hand-painted faces joyfully singing imaginary Christmas songs all season long.

Simpich dolls, gingerbread houses and a popcorn lamb, the makings of Christmas traditions. - LINDSEY APARICIO.
  • Lindsey Aparicio.
  • Simpich dolls, gingerbread houses and a popcorn lamb, the makings of Christmas traditions.

When the kids were younger, we added building gingerbread houses into our traditional mix. I actually made the gingerbread for the first year, cut out the house forms and let the decorating begin. I learned my lesson, though, that the building and decorating is more fun for the kids than me toiling over proper gingerbread walls and roofs. The next year I didn’t think twice and substituted graham crackers for the structure.

I have boys, who lack much attention to detail — they’re kids who only value the amount of candy that can fit on their houses. Each year's house looks more like a candy bag explosion on a semi-arranged pile of graham crackers.
My quandary every year is what to do with them after Christmas. They tend to live in the china cabinet until long after St. Patrick's Day, when my husband or I finally sneak them to the trashcan. This year however, thanks to learning the tradition of our new friends here in Penrose, we will smash them with a hammer on New Year's Day and eat up the remains as a celebration of the year to come.

And, finally, this year, I was gifted with perhaps the most amazing Christmas tradition I have ever known: A popcorn lamb.

The family who made it for me explained that their great-grandmother raised six children on a ranch and had little money to spare. She had the children make popcorn lambs for their teachers and neighbors. The popcorn was cheap. Mixed with sticky syrup and pressed into the form of a large Christmas Lamb, it’s a gift that takes a lot of thought, time, strength — you have to press REALLY hard to get the popcorn into the mold, according to the child who gave it to me — and love. I am honored to be a recipient of this family's third generation tradition. What a simple, unique, and incredibly amazing gift.

Traditions are one of the things that make this time of year special. They tie us to each other, to our ancestors and to our futures. They bring with them memories from the past, and create stories for the future. So enjoy your family, your friends and your traditions this year. Thank you for reading, I am grateful for you.

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, a growing farm and soon-to-be creamery in southern Colorado. Follow her on Twitter (@goatcheeselady) and FaceBook (The Goat Cheese Lady) or visit her website ( E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Lindsey at:
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Skorman gives free parking

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 10:13 AM


For the third year in a row, Richard Skorman will provide meter money to those who park in front of his businesses in the 300 block of North Tejon Street.

Skorman, dressed as the "parking elf," will dish coin so that shoppers don't get hit with a $20 parking ticket while partonizing Poor Richard's coffee shop, toy store and book/gift store.

Free parking will run from Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"If Richard the Parking Elf didn’t catch you outside," a news release says, "and you need meter money, just ask for it in the Bookstore/Gift Store or Toy Store."

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Your community voice!

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 7:33 AM

  • Shutterstock
There has been a lot of debate recently about whether our local politicians, particularly our city council, effectively represent us. Not simply in terms of their qualifications, but more in their representation of the diverse make-up of Colorado Springs. When your nine-member city council comprises of all white people, seven of whom are men that I’ll generously suggest are over the age of 40, and your Mayor as well, I suppose the topic at least bears consideration.

It’s important that those with a broader voice within and on behalf of our community represent the wide-ranging interests and attitudes within our town. I think diversity, in its truest sense, is much more than ethnicity or gender. Diversity speaks to our social preferences; how we like to spend our free time, what we value within our community, and much more. And when you consider the myriad of factors of "diversity," you could make a good argument for Colorado Springs being one of the more diverse, increasingly progressive cities in America.

Consider that, according to, over half of our city’s population is female. And the median age in Colorado Springs is 34.5 years, one year less than the state average. In fact, over 30% of our population are under 40 years of age. And over 30% of our population represent minority groups, primarily Hispanic and African American. We also know that we have a large military contingent, including people originally from other countries, many of whom eventually settle in this great city of ours. So who represents all of those voices in the public arena?

Our local TV stations and newspapers do an excellent job of reporting on our community. Though their individual voices may not always be impartial, collectively they balance each other out. They undoubtedly represent an important source of local news and events, but also provide a crucial conduit for local voices.

So with TV and news-print well-covered, what of the traditional third-leg of the local communication stool: radio? Within the Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs area there are over a dozen regional radio stations on the FM frequency, which probably means everyone has something they like to listen to – but do those outlets provide opportunity for local voices to be heard?

Located in the heart of downtown, our newest radio station, KCMJ 93.9 FM, has the ambitious remit of being staffed entirely with community volunteers. The station will not be transmitting on an actual FM frequency until after the holidays, but has been offering some excellent on-demand programming online.

Like KRCC, which is perhaps our most prominent hometown radio station, KCMJ is locally-owned and operated, and take’s its remit very seriously. A large and expanding portion of the station's schedule is covered by local people offering locally-focused programs. The schedule includes local news, programming geared towards our young professionals, a variety of local music programs, shows highlighting our thriving local brewing community, the arts, food, photography, film, and yes, politics. KCMJ will even be accommodating a soccer-focused program starting in January (disclosure: I am a co-presenter of the upcoming soccer show).

So if you’re interested in hearing fellow Colorado Springs community members talk about a wide range of local issues and events – and even a little soccer – then check out KCMJ. Who knows? You might be inspired to add your voice to the mix.

Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for over 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer (football!), hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett.
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