Thursday, January 19, 2017

CSPD bestows honors on its own and citizens

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 1:00 PM

A sampling of the awards bestowed by the Colorado Springs Police Department on officers, civilians and citizens at a Wednesday ceremony. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CSPD
  • Photos Courtesy of CSPD
  • A sampling of the awards bestowed by the Colorado Springs Police Department on officers, civilians and citizens at a Wednesday ceremony.

Wednesday night, the Colorado Springs Police Department honored citizens and their own at a ceremony at the Stargazers Theatre.

Here's an account of those honors, provided by the CSPD:
The Colorado Springs Police Department Honor Guard was formed in 1974. The Honor Guard was established to reflect the honor and integrity of the Colorado Springs Police Department on various solemn or auspicious occasions.

Each year an “Honor Guard Member of the Year” is selected by a vote of the team in order to recognize that individual’s extraordinary dedication and service to the Honor Guard and the Department.

In 2014 members of the Honor Guard voted to change the name of the award to the “Laura Cochran Honor Guard Member of the Year” to honor our fellow officer, teammate and friend who passed away in December of 2013. Laura’s dedication and commitment to the Honor Guard were an inspiration to all who knew her.

The department's drill team was on hand to perform during the ceremony.
  • The department's drill team was on hand to perform during the ceremony.

This year’s recipient is Detective Nancy Gifford. Detective Gifford has been a member of the Honor Guard since December of 2001. This is the third time she has been selected as Member of the Year. The Honor Guard was involved in 50 events in 2016 and Detective Gifford participated in 29 of those events.

Detective Gifford exemplifies the commitment and dedication required of all members of the CSPD Honor Guard and we are privileged to present her with the “Laura Cochran Honor Guard Member of the Year.”
Officer Robert Lichti is being recognized for his untiring efforts following the Planned Parenthood shooting on November 27, 2015.

Within 20 minutes of being notified, Officer Lichti responded to the shooting scene with the police department’s mobile command post, and remained on scene for 20 hours following the call-out.

During his time on scene, he successfully worked with Planned Parenthood personnel in Denver to get a video feed from the cameras inside the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility. Officer Lichti was able to maintain the feed during the entire incident, which provided invaluable information to the staff responsible for decision-making and safety for officers inside the Planned Parenthood building.

For his dedication to duty and ingenuity, Officer Lichti is presented a Department Commendation.
Detective Jerry Schiffelbein is receiving a Department Commendation for his remarkable efforts following the Planned Parenthood shooting on November 27, 2015.

Understanding the incident required an extraordinary amount of investigative resources; detectives and supervisors undertook a variety of critical duties. Detective Schiffelbein, assigned to the Homicide Unit, was assigned as the lead detective on the case and was responsible for interviewing the suspect once he was taken into custody.

In addition to getting the suspect’s confession, Detective Schiffelbein worked countless hours interviewing witnesses and compiling evidence for the anticipated prosecution phase. He also coordinated efforts and resources among local, state, and federal agencies that responded to the shooting, sometimes working full-time with the prosecution team from the District Attorney’s Office.

To keep up with the enormous work volume generated by this case and organize the indescribable complexities of its investigative processes, Detective Schiffelbin worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office – reaching far beyond the normal daily demands of an already rigorous homicide detective’s job.

Detective Schiffelbein’s dedication, teamwork and professionalism contributed immensely to a successful investigation and is worthy of this Department Commendation.
Commander Adrian Vasquez is being recognized for his efforts throughout 2015 to develop and implement a new policy on officer involved shootings.

Working in conjunction with several law enforcement partners, Commander Vasquez painstakingly developed a policy that was subsequently adopted by both the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

The policy, developed in accordance with a new statutory requirement, provides investigative support to every police agency within the 4th Judicial District.

His efforts included developing training materials used by all the participating agencies to ensure all entities were well informed and on board with how these sensitive and difficult incidents would be investigated, culminating in all the 4th Judicial District agencies signing a Memorandum of Understanding adopting the policy. Throughout the entire process, Commander Vasquez continued to handle the duties of the Violent Crimes Lieutenant.

The new policy was crucial to the successful investigations of four officer-involved shootings that occurred in the final months of 2015, being the Halloween and the Planned Parenthood shootings, which both involved an active gunman and multiple victims, drawing national attention and intense public scrutiny. Due to his leadership, the Colorado Springs Police Department successfully navigated through these events while still finalizing the policy itself.

Throughout, Commander Vasquez displayed the highest level of leadership, organizational ability, and dedication. His efforts led to the development of a policy impacting the entire 4th Judicial District. Commander Vasquez is awarded a Department Commendation for going well beyond his normal duties. 

Civilian of the Year Award
Heather Edwards works in the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Human Resources Section and is receiving this year’s Civilian of the Year Award.

Heather was nominated for her extreme dedication to all Colorado Springs Police Department employees. She believes human resources should provide superior service to ensure officers and other staff are able to fulfill the department’s mission.

She’s always seeking to do the right thing for the long-term interests of the city, the department and its employees.

Besides being humble, Heather is a great communicator, a great organizer, and believes responsiveness is a key to success.

All the department’s sworn and civilian staff knows they well get a quick answer and their concerns will be addressed promptly by Heather.

With Heather’s leadership, the department has implemented a new injury reporting software and a new examination process for police recruits.

She is a great asset to the Colorado Springs Police Department and Heather deserves this recognition for all she does.
Here are the awards given to citizens:

And here's a list of department life-saving awards:

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Cirque du Soleil's OVO impresses

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 11:22 AM

I’m not saying I rate circus acts based on how many times it looked like the performers could’ve died if someone had made a mistake, but if I did, then Cirque du Soleil’s OVO would get a 10/10.

  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • Case in point.
These performers (or artists, as Cirque rightfully calls them) are on a level that is frankly unimaginable. It’s fitting that the aesthetic of Cirque shows is, by nature, surreal. Because when you see someone hanging by a single strap from a 30-foot ceiling — while holding a grown woman by the ankle as the pair swirls around the stage like a beautiful, high-flying blender — you start to feel like you’re dreaming.

Like most Cirque premises, the concept for OVO is a little opaque, but nevertheless enjoyable. The performers represent insects living in a thriving ecosystem, but it’s disrupted when someone brings a mysterious egg into their midst. I’m still struggling with the metaphor of the egg, but my companion guessed it could represent creativity or new beginnings. Both, or neither, might be accurate, but it’s fun to watch at any rate. Especially considering the plotty bits are acted out by the circus’ clowns (a beetle, a mosquito and a ladybug), who are just hilariously over-the-top.

The most impressive part of the whole thing, though, is how the the acrobatic performers somehow manage to act their parts (as spiders or crickets or whatever else) even while they’re, say, balancing on their chin on a unicycle on a slackwire.

This spider's slackwire routine caused more than a few audience-wide gasps. - COURTESY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • This spider's slackwire routine caused more than a few audience-wide gasps.

The costumes, too, deserve a mention, especially the grasshoppers, who had angled "legs" attached to their pants. It made for an excellent effect as they danced. Throughout the show, there was hardly a moment I doubted these people were supposed to be insects, and most of the time I felt I could accurately guess at which ones they were.

The ensemble did an excellent job diffusing the tension after acrobats flung themselves dangerously all over the arena. - COURTESY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • The ensemble did an excellent job diffusing the tension after acrobats flung themselves dangerously all over the arena.

Last night’s premiere at the Broadmoor World Arena was frankly flawless, at least as far as I could tell. I gasped, shook my companion by the shoulder and pointed wide-eyed at the stage more times than I care to admit. It really makes you feel like a kid again.

OVO will run daily through Jan. 22, so don’t miss your chance. The tickets might be a touch pricey (starting at $43), but it's certainly a memorable enough performance to warrant the splurge.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Local developers make two picks for Colorado Springs City Council

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:58 PM

It's clear from the most recent round of campaign finance reports that the development community has chosen their darlings in the April city election in Colorado Springs, and they are Lynette Crow-Iverson and Deborah Hendrix.

Hendrix: Making her second try. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES
  • Photos courtesy of the candidates
  • Hendrix: Making her second try.
Crow-Iverson is challenging incumbent Jill Gaebler in the city's central District 5, while Hendrix is taking another run at Helen Collins in southeast District 4. Hendrix also was the one who carried the ball to try to oust Collins in a recall election two years ago but failed.

Those two challengers have raised $11,000 each from businessman Phil Lane and Classic Companies, $2,500 each; Ralph Braden Jr., with Norwood Development Group, $1,000, and Nor'wood Limited, Inc., $5,000. Crow-Iverson also gave her campaign $100.

Crow-Iverson: The choice of developers.
  • Crow-Iverson: The choice of developers.
Those are their donors. Nobody else.

We're going out on a limb here and guessing those will also be the choices of Colorado Springs Forward, a local political activist group that wants to change the governance of Colorado Springs Utilities from the current panel comprised of City Council. CSF wants an appointed board. It's headed up by Amy Lathen, the former El Paso County commissioner who left her elective office early to take the CSF job.

In contrast, Gaebler has raised $10,870 in 78 separate donations, some of them heavy weights by virtue of their past community service. Among them, former Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin, former Council President Scott Hente, former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman, former Councilor Mary Ellen McNally, former NORAD commander Ret. Gen. Gene Renuart, neighborhood advocate Jan Doran and former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

In District 4, Collins has yet to file a report. Another southeast District 4 candidate who's challenging Collins, Yolanda Avila, an advocate for the disabled — herself being legally blind — has brought in $2,781 from 34 donations.

While six of the Council's nine seats are up for election, developers have yet to give money to candidates in the northwest District 1, north District 2, southwest District 3 and eastern District 6. That might become more clear at a CSF fundraiser slated for next week.

The filing deadline for candidates is Monday.

Check in with the Independent next week for election coverage.

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UPDATE: UCCS will host Milo Yiannopoulos — but only because it must

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Since posting, we heard back from UCCS spokesperson Tom Hutton on a few questions we posed. So, in case you were wondering whether the university will pay for additional security, should it be necessary for the event, the answer is "no."

Per Hutton: "the event sponsors are responsible for any additional security as determined by the UCCS Chief of Police." And about the university's preparations for protestors, Hutton says that "the university is anticipating the possibility of demonstrations. If demonstrations occur, there will be an area that is designated to ensure the safety of all participants."

——- Original post, JAN. 18, 1:57 P.M. ——-

Troll incoming! Today, a press release from the
University of Colorado in Colorado Springs announced that right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is officially scheduled to speak on campus. Two student groups — chapters of the College Republicans and Turning Point USA — invited the guy and will pick up the tab. To repeat: No university dollars will be spent on the affair.

The university does not endorse this speaker’s views (which, as we previously reported, are pretty repugnant), but because the university’s public, cannot turn him away for it. Yiannopoulos — who has been scorned by some in the so-called alt-right movement he purportedly speaks for because of his identity as a gay jew — will also speak at CU-Boulder on the 25th. Students there organized an event featuring Laverne Cox, a black trans actress, to speak at the exact same time, hoping to draw attention away from the smug, transphobic misogynist.

Yiannopoulos lives to insult. - WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikipedia Commons
  • Yiannopoulos lives to insult.

UCCS’s release also highlighted another event going on at the exact same time that was planned months ago. The “university appreciation event,” the release says, will “include comments by [Chancellor Pam] Shockley-Zalabak, music by members of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, who will perform works by composer Leonard Bernstein, and a brief video presentation with campus community members stating support for the university's core values.”

Shockley-Zalabak penned a letter on the matter, found below:

A response to elected officials concern over the rhetoric Milo Yiannopoulos

I absolutely reject this type of rhetoric.

The statements that Mr. Yiannopoulos has made at other campuses are clearly in opposition to the values of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and its commitment to creating an inclusive community that welcomes all.

Moreover, his tactics of personal denigration, as well as racist and misogynist comments, are both personally reprehensible and contrary to the university's values of civil, respectful discussion of difference and difficult topics. We ascribe to The Board of Regents' Guiding Principle that the University of Colorado shall always strive to be "provide an outstanding, respectful, and responsive living, learning, teaching, and working environment."

At the same time, the University of Colorado system adheres to the freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution, which include the freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment. Under well-established constitutional principles, when a student group invites a speaker, the University of Colorado does not censor the speaker because it disagrees with his viewpoints.

In doing so, we draw guidance from, and I quote the words of, the United States Supreme Court, which recently reaffirmed that speech touching on social and political matters are within the bounds of constitutional protection. When speech is on a matter of public concern, even though it it racist or sexist, it "cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt" and we "must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate 'breathing space' to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment."

Mr. Yiannopoulos's attacks on others constitute "vehement, caustic, and unpleasant expressions" that "can stir people to action" and "inflict great pain." We can, and do, condemn his words, but, as a nation, "we have chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate." As a public university, we know of no legal grounds to prevent Mr. Yiannopoulos from coming to our campus based on his comments elsewhere.

UCCS will, however, require the organizations that invited him to campus, the College Republicans and Turning Point USA, to be responsible for all costs, including security. Additionally, the university will handle all ticketing to ensure that fire codes and other legal requirements are met. I will continue to emphasize that while Mr. Yiannopoulos may be speaking at UCCS, he in no way represents us as a campus community or our values.


Pam Shockley-Zalabak


Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists are still planning to protest the event. “We’re planning a direct action as well as a more general nice picket thing for those that are less militant,” says a representative of the group, who would direct anyone who’s interested in participating to keep an eye on the event page for an upcoming planning meeting.

Plans to get the biracial, progressive comedian Trevor Noah to speak on campus concurrently appear to not have materialized.

Find tickets and other time/place details about the Yiannopoulos event here.

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Ultra Petroleum, in bankruptcy, settles pipeline lawsuit

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 12:59 PM

Remember when Ultra Petroleum was making headlines locally? It bought most of the  undeveloped Banning Lewis Ranch on the city's east side with plans to drill for oil and gas?

When tests weren't promising, Ultra Petroleum's subsidiary, Ultra Resources, sold the property to David Jenkins in late 2014 but retained the mineral rights. Jenkins is the biggest developer in the region.

The latest on Ultra is that the Houston company is in bankruptcy and has just reached a settlement with a pipeline company. Here's the news release:
HOUSTON — Ultra Petroleum Corp. ("Ultra") (OTC: UPLMQ) announces that it has reached an agreement to settle Rockies Express Pipeline LLC's ("REX") $303.0 million breach of contract claim. The settlement will be submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval and will be implemented in connection with Ultra's chapter 11 plan of reorganization.

The settlement includes a cash payment of $150.0 million to REX six months after Ultra emerges from chapter 11, but no later than October 30, 2017. Additionally, Ultra has agreed to enter into a new seven-year firm transportation agreement with REX commencing December 1, 2019 for service west-to-east of 200,000 dekatherms per day at a rate of approximately $0.37, or approximately $26.8 million annually.

Mr. Michael Watford, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, said, "Our settlement of REX's claim is another major achievement in our in-court restructuring. This settlement removes the uncertainty around this very significant claim and represents a critical step towards the implementation of the plan of reorganization we filed last month. We appreciate the cooperation of REX and are pleased to be working with them again as business partners."

About Ultra Petroleum

Ultra Petroleum Corp. is an independent energy company engaged in domestic natural gas and oil exploration, development and production. The company trades over-the-counter under the ticker symbol "UPLMQ". Additional information on the company is available at

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

UPDATE: New website blasts El Paso County Sheriff Elder

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 5:47 PM

From the website that was recently mounted in opposition to the sheriff who promised to heal the Sheriff's Office. - DIRTYELDER.COM
  • From the website that was recently mounted in opposition to the sheriff who promised to heal the Sheriff's Office.
This just in from El Paso County in response to the website, including the County Commissioners' statement of confidence in the Sheriff:
The Board of County Commissioners has recently received anonymous letters regarding allegations involving processes and personnel at the Office of the Sheriff and has been made aware of an internet site outlining similar allegations, also made by unidentified individuals. El Paso County has in place robust processes and procedures for investigation where needed and where allegations are made with such specificity and credibility that an investigation is warranted.

All allegations in the anonymous letters recently received have been investigated and/or evaluated with the advice and oversight of the County Attorney’s Office. This is particularly relevant to allegations surrounding policy changes and changes to promotional and disciplinary processes. Since January 2015, the El Paso County Attorney’s Office, and not counsel selected only by the Sheriff, has been providing legal advice and counsel to the Office of the Sheriff. This ensures consistency and transparency with the Board of County Commissioners.

As to allegations made in one letter that a female deputy was “forced to a full physical touching of her entire body captured on jail security video” and subject to multiple “sexually explicit text messages,” the Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that no evidence exists to support these claims, and no member of the Sheriff’s office has made these claims.

The Board of El Paso County Commissioners this morning received legal advice as to the processes and procedures in place at the Sheriff’s Office for conducting investigations and legal advice that had been previously given surrounding changes to promotional and disciplinary processes. The Board of County Commissioners hereby expresses confidence in Sheriff Elder and his staff; that the processes and procedures are sound and if there are sustained improper work actions, there will be an immediate response. 
Simultaneous with the above statement, we received this comment from Sheriff Bill Elder through a spokesperson: "Sheriff Elder has sent a response to the latest anonymous letter to the Board of County Commissioners. He will not be making any comments to the media about anonymous letters contained within the website."

——————ORIGINAL POST 3:37 P.M. MONDAY, JAN. 16, 2017————————-

Sheriff Bill Elder has been in office for two years and apparently someone or some group thinks things are so bad in the department that they have created a website called

The site's professed goal is "to stop the corruption, intimidation and nepotism." Regardless of the veracity of the allegations and implications contained on the website, it's worth noting that someone has mounted such a website and already populated it with a lengthy batch of complaints.

While many links on the site don't have anything to offer yet, some do.

Under "Character Counts," there's this:
Bill Elder promised to follow all policies. He even signed a copy of the policy that states all policies apply to the Sheriff. Since then he has pretty much done what ever he wants. If he doesn’t like a policy he just changes it or gets rid of it.

Bill Elder promoted and/or rehired 6 individuals on his first day on the job. What policy says individuals can be promoted without going through a promotion board? So the same day he promised to follow policy he broke it. I wonder how many contributed to and/or worked on his campaign? We will get to that in an upcoming article.

Bill Elder promised to create an impartial promotion board, evaluation process and create an independent disciplinary board. How’s that working out? More to come…
Sheriff Elder talking with the media some time ago. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Sheriff Elder talking with the media some time ago.

The Indy has made its own observations on some of this behavior. For instance, Elder adopted a Disciplinary Action Board, and a year later he abolished it.

When we asked about this a while back, we got this explanation on Dec. 22 from Lisa Kirkman, an attorney who works for Elder:
With respect to the change in the Disciplinary Action Board, please be advised that the review of the Disciplinary Action Board (DAB) procedure began in September, initiated by EPSO legal advisor, as a result of a decision made in 2015 at the time the Board was enacted. The DAB was a novel procedure and it was decided that it would be reviewed at the one year time frame. At the lieutenant/command staff meeting in September 2016, the legal advisor announced that the matter would be reviewed. The Sheriff made the decision to suspend the Board at a time when no cases were completed and ready to go before the Board. The Sheriff was concerned about the lack of appeal, except for termination and that the Sheriff had no review authority with respect to the Disciplinary Action Board. Also, please be advised that not all investigations per the previous policy were heard by the Disciplinary Action Board.
The website also has this under the heading "Broken Promises":
When Bill Elder was elected sheriff in 2014 he stated things would change. They did; for the worse.

This website is dedicated to the hard working men and women of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office who deserve better than to have to work in a hostile work environment for corrupt leadership. Law Enforcement requires complete and total honesty and transparency. Command staff should be held to a higher standard and the Sheriff to the highest standard. Bill Elder has shown his campaign promises were nothing more than fiction. He has created a hostile work environment that includes intimidation, corruption and nepotism. This website will expose Bill Elder for what he is with documented and verified facts.

This Website is sponsored by concerned citizens with the goal of bringing the corruption at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to an end. It is also to keep employees informed of all the activities being done by Bill Elder and his command staff. This website is not to spread rumors, make personal attacks or get into politics.

We are empowered by you. Everyone knows a little bit about what’s going on at the Sheriff’s Office. Silence is the endorsement of corruption. We need your help to continue our mission. All material will be anonymous and verified. It’s time for employees to take a stand and demand integrity from their leadership!

Articles will show Bill Elder misled our community and evidence he committed multiple crimes to include official misconduct. We will present evidence that suggests Bill Elder could even be guilty of accessory to murder. We will show evidence of corruption by his current command staff and other personnel within the office. We will present the evidence, and you can be the judge.

One of the first promises Bill Elder made to staff and the community is that all policies would also apply to the Sheriff. We will show he has broken this promise and ultimately does what ever he wants. Below is Bill Elder, early in his term, signing the new policy. We will provide more information in an upcoming article.
 Should the El Paso County Commissioners launch some kind of probe? In the past, commissioners have taken a hands-off approach until smacked in the face with visual evidence of things going haywire — just look at the  Sheriff Terry Maketa fiasco.

For now, we don't know if any of the complaints referenced on the Web site, with one exception, has been forwarded to the commissioners. The one exception deals with a record we've been trying to get for some time. It references a potential lawsuit, and has been denied by County Attorney Amy Folsom. In response to the Independent's Colorado Open Records request, she gave these reasons for refusing to release it:
1. Pursuant to 24-72-202(6)(a)(II)(C) this document is not a public record because it is a communication by constituent to an elected official that clearly implies by its nature or content that the constituent expects that it is confidential on a matter not yet public.
2. Pursuant to 24-72—204(1)(b) and (c) inspection of this record would be contrary to federal rule or regulation and rule promulgated by the state supreme court; namely FRE 408 and CRE 408; and
3. Disclosure of the document is prohibited by 24-72-204(3)(a)(II)(A) in that it contains information pertaining to a personnel matter and which would otherwise be contained in a personnel file. 
We've invited the Sheriff's Office to comment on the new website and will update if and when we hear back.

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North Nevada renewal draft plan revealed Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Blue indicates the area of focus for the study. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • Blue indicates the area of focus for the study.
A long process that dates back six months comes to at least partial fruition this evening with the unveiling of the draft plan for North Nevada Avenue.

Now, Nevada is a hodgepodge of motels, restaurants and some retail stores in the study area, which lies north of the Rock Island Trail.

Here's the city's release about tonight's meeting:
A draft plan to renew the North Nevada Avenue corridor from Garden of the Gods Road/Austin Bluff Parkway to the Rock Island Trail/railroad right-of-way two blocks south of Fillmore Street will be unveiled at an upcoming community open house to be held on:

Tues, Jan. 17 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The Mortgage Solutions Financial Expo Center,
3650 N Nevada Ave. Colorado Springs 80907

Those interested in the project are encouraged to drop by any time between 6 and 7:30 p.m. to view displays, visit with the project team, and submit comments about the draft plan. There will be a brief presentation and question-and-answer session beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Media please note: If you are unavailable to attend the meeting, interview opportunities are available with Project Manager, Nina Vetter on Wednesday between 11-12 p.m. RSVP Krithika Prashant at

Since July 2016, the City of Colorado Springs has been conducting a community involvement process to create a plan that will result in continued investment in the North Nevada Avenue corridor. Community roundtables, an online survey, and a series of four community workshops have generated the involvement of over 825 residents. Results from the process to-date can be found on the website:

The final recommended plan will be considered for approval by the Colorado Springs Planning Commission in February and by City Council in March.
The plan will be available on line after the meeting, a city spokesperson says.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Colorado Springs Forward holds fundraiser for select council candidates

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:13 AM

Colorado Springs Forward is wasting no time trying to influence who's elected on April 4 to the six district slots on the nine-member Colorado Springs City Council.

Two days after the Jan. 23 filing deadline, the group is hosting a fundraiser for the candidates it's supporting. The announcement went out on Jan. 9, so I guess CSF isn't interested in waiting to see who files.

It seems clear CSF has already chosen its candidates. One is Lynette Crow-Iverson, a former CSF board member, who's opposing incumbent Jill Gaebler in District 5.

We reported in depth on CSF here. ("Calling the shots," Cover, Nov. 16, 2016.)

For information on how to file to run for Council, go here.

As for the fundraiser, we don't know who got invitations, but it doesn't appear to be a public event. Therefore, if you decide to show up, be aware you might be turned away if you're not in the inner circle.
We've asked Amy Lathen, former El Paso County Commissioner who left her elected job six months early to run CSF, who the chosen candidates are. We'll update if and when we hear back from her.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Colorado Native releases more seasonals

Posted By on Sun, Jan 15, 2017 at 12:36 PM

Colorado Native imperial porter - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Colorado Native imperial porter
AC Golden made a quality sour ale. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • AC Golden made a quality sour ale.
Once again, MillerCoors' experimental arm AC Golden Brewing Company has sent us a few sample bottles of their new wares. This time, we received Colorado Native Peche, a sour golden beer aged in oak wine barrels with peaches, and Colorado Native imperial porter.

Seeing a beer from an AC Golden brand sporting a 9.5 percent ABV came as a bit of a shock, but that's what we got in the imperial porter. For the style, it's pretty light in color, pouring reddish brown with an espresso crema-colored foam. It sips smooth and roasty, with some coffee notes, hiding the alcohol beautifully. It's a blend between fresh-fermented porter and a batch aged six months in AD Laws whiskey barrels, which adds a little complexity, as does mild smokiness from smoked wheat. There's a crispness or thinness that I'm not 100 percent behind, though, coming from the fact that it's brewed as a lager as well as a lot of wheat. Still, this is far and away the best thing we've had from Colorado Native.

We're happy enough with Peche, as well. It has a punchy, sharp tartness that mellows into a mild peach flavor with some oak taste on the backend. With a well-handled 7 percent ABV, it's comparable to quite a few other sours on the market. Really, the most notable thing about this beer is that the folks behind Coors have brewed an competent sour beer, at the worst. Given the choice, I'll drink Paradox or Trinity brews first, but this isn't a bad brew at all.

It's surprising that we're getting well-made, interesting brews from one of the macrobrew companies that remains the Great Enemy of the local-centric craft brewing movement. But I guess it's true that a rising tide lifts all boats.

In any case, we'll continue to review whatever beer shows up in the mail. Cheers!
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Friday, January 13, 2017

U.S. Olympic Museum wants money from Colorado Springs

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 3:26 PM

An artist's rendering of the project. - U.S. OLYMPIC MUSEUM & HALL OF FAME
  • U.S. Olympic Museum & Hall of Fame
  • An artist's rendering of the project.
The U.S. Olympic Museum & Hall of Fame wants tax money to help build the museum southwest of downtown, according to a recent filing.

The museum has filed an application for Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax money from the city, seeking $500,000 over three years.

Using LART money for capital improvements isn't unheard of — upgrades to tennis courts to be used for pickle ball is one example — but it's rare.

The museum, part of the city's City for Champions tourism venture that features four venues, needs money fast. It lacks some $8.6 million of making its $75.3 million goal. Projected completion is sometime in 2018. The museum and other three projects — a sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, an Air Force Academy visitors center and a downtown stadium — must see substantial progress within five years in order to receive state tax money under the Regional Tourism Act. The state granted the city $120.5 million in December 2013.

Here's a description of the LART program:
The City of Colorado Springs’ Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) fund is administered by City Council, with the guidance of the LART Citizen’s Advisory Committee. LART funds are required to be used for tourism or economic development purposes — events, projects and services that attract visitors or enhance the economy of the City and Pikes Peak Region.
Read the application here:

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Red Leg brews for Broadmoor, releases military promo can

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 10:51 AM

Prospector's Pick kölsch: a light, year-round brew. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Prospector's Pick kölsch: a light, year-round brew.
The veterans at Red Leg Brewing Company have been busy. Over the last year, they've been collaborating with representatives from The Broadmoor to come up with a new brew. Prospector's Pick kölsch-style ale will be available on tap or in cans at every Broadmoor restaurant, plus 1858 at Seven Falls, the pool and golf course. The only place to get this brew outside of the Broadmoor will be Red Leg's own taproom.

It's been in the works for a year, according to Krista Heinicke, food and beverage office manager and public relations for the resort. With beer coming back to fine tables around the country, Heinicke wanted to get a locally brewed beer in The Broadmoor's eateries.

"The kölsch directive came from us," she says. "We asked for something that was universal, easy to drink, not too complex, and not too heavy so it could be an year-round beer. We really wanted to have something that is enjoyed by the novice drinker and someone who is a lot more experienced... It's a nice introduction beer. For people coming to visit, it's a great way to introduce them, and then they can move on to the heavier, more complex styles."

It's also a versatile style. Red Leg's sales manager Paul Ferrante says the beer will pair with just about anything, owing to its relatively restrained, balanced taste.

"To go with something darker... wouldn't serve that purpose, especially if you're trying to pair with food, as well," he says.

Now for some obligatory tasting notes:
It's a very clean sip, lightly fruity with a notable biscuity sweetness — a little malty for the style, but delicious. The beer is crystal-clear and golden in color. It's not a true kölsch, per se, as it's brewed as an ale instead of a cooler-fermented lager. But stylistic hair-splitting aside, it's a quality, easy-drinking beer with just enough detail to stay interesting.

Drop by The Golden Bee between 6 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 17, for a tapping and pint night, free promo pint glasses included. But make no mistake, this isn't a limited-run brew. It'll be on tap for a long time to come.

Beer lovers may have noticed a new Red Leg can kicking around town, too. But this isn't a new brew, it's just their beloved Howitzer amber ale, taking on a new design to celebrate a military anniversary. December 10th, 2017, will mark the 100th anniversary of the Fort Carson-based 4th Infantry Division, nicknamed the Ivy Division for their use of the roman numeral IV. Through the 10th, Red Leg will be canning and selling Howitzer as Ivy 100.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with corrected event listing information.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Colorado Springs parks report shows good value

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 5:04 PM

Parks Director Karen Palus gives media interviews at The Broadmoor regarding a new study that shows parks are a gem for the city, including for economic development. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Parks Director Karen Palus gives media interviews at The Broadmoor regarding a new study that shows parks are a gem for the city, including for economic development.
Thursday, the city participated in what seems like a futile exercise by introducing an $85,000 study called "The Economic Benefits of Parks and Recreation in Colorado Springs."

The study was funded and conducted by the Trust for Public Lands, a nationwide conservation organization that's done many such studies.

The study was unveiled at a gathering at The Broadmoor, which recently closed on its land-swap deal with the city that's in litigation.

But why the study?

City Council recently voted 6-3 not to place a small sales tax hike on the April city election ballot to fund parks maintenance. The three who were interested in a ballot measure were Tom Strand, Bill Murray and Jill Gaebler.

As one park supporter who showed up said, "If parks are the golden goose, why would you starve it?"

So promoting the parks system as a boon for the city at this point in time seems to be inconsequential. (Some say the study was done in order to provide ammo to persuade voters to cough up another .1 of a percent sales tax.)

But don't say that to Karen Palus, parks director, who says it's important for citizens to understand how valuable parks, trails and open space are to them and the business community.

"It's an important message for our community," she tells the Independent.

You can view the report here.

But here are a few highlights:

• There are 38,900 homes within the city limits that sit within 500 feet of parks, and those homes have a value that's enhanced by that location by $502 million.

• Parks, trails and open space have the capacity to remove air pollution. That tallies to 338,000 pounds of bad stuff ranging from carbon monoxide to ozone.

• Direct travel spending by visitors comes to nearly $1.5 billion; of that, $135 million is how much tourists spend a year whose primary reason for coming here is to visit parks, trails, open space and "facilities."

• People can save $1,180 per year on medical costs by exercising regularly, presumably in parks, on trails and in open spaces.

• More than 45,000 people use parks, trails and open spaces here regularly every year, a total health care benefit topping $50 million.

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A handy guide to upcoming local actions around inauguration day

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 2:09 PM

Do you have a gnawing pit of dread in your stomach? You know, the one that wells up every time you see, hear or even think about what’s going on in our federal government right now? If so, this post is for you!

Find below a handy guide to all upcoming opportunities for good, ol’ fashion direct action in the Springs area. Showing up not only strengthens the resistance to certain people and policies, but it also strengthens the networks we’ll need if we’re to have any say over our fate in the coming years.

Trump resistors join hands in solidarity after the November election. - NAOMI PUEO WOOD
  • Naomi Pueo Wood
  • Trump resistors join hands in solidarity after the November election.

Sunday, January 15

Our First Stand: Save Healthcare

Congressional Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, have called for rallies across the country to show opposition to Republicans’ health care agenda. Unite Colorado Springs, a progressive activist organization, has honored the request, calling on all those who don’t want to see Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or Planned Parenthood totally decimated to come express that in public. “Our First Stand,” organizers have dubbed the rally, signaling that, yes, there’s more to come.

Bring yourself and a sign to the steps of City Hall at 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 15

COS SURJ community meeting

Learn about strategies for resisting deportation and other threats to immigrant, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. This local chapter of “Showing Up for Racial Justice” works to call white people into the struggle against racism, bigotry and systemic oppression through supporting groups led by people of color. Per organizers description:

This community meeting falls within a moment of national calls to action by and coalitions of concerned democratic congressional leaders. We will be unveiling our Front Range SURJ campaign: ‘100 Days of Resisting Trump’ and discussing concrete daily actions that we can all take to make our voices heard and pressure our representatives to respond to our concerns.

Feel free to bring the kiddos, and, remember, it’s timed so you can go to Unite’s health care rally right after.

Show up at the Casa Verde Co-Housing Community (1355 Lindenwood Grove) at 12 p.m.

Friday, January 20

Inauguration Day bannering

The inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be a shit-show, but, luckily, you can stay far, far away from it. Citizens for Peace and Space — a pacifist group led by Indy contributor Loring Wirbel — will hold what’s likely to be a far more benign gathering here in the Springs. Bring signs, bring banners, bring a friend.

Join at noon at Acacia Park.

Friday, January 20  Saturday, January 21

Women’s March on Denver

Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend this march in our state’s capital city that’s designed to support a similar one in D.C. The organizers are women unaffiliated with any activist group who got a permit from the city to hold this massive event, replete with a badass lineup of lady speakers and performers. The Pikes Peak Dems have organized two buses to Denver, leaving from their downtown office at 7 a.m. There are only a few spots left so call to reserve yours at 473-8713. (Warning: some attendees will be sporting knit pink pussy hats which may or may not be seen as trivializing a dead-serious cause.)

Activities will span 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Denver’s Civic Center Park.

Saturday, January 21

Day 1: March on Colorado Springs

Don’t waste any time after the President-elect gets sworn in. This sister march” to the ones in Denver, D.C., and around the country will take place the day after the inauguration and is meant to usher in the first hundred days of resistance. Co-hosted by COS SURJ and the NAACP State Conference, the event will include marching, bannering and a benefit concert featuring hip-hop (by locals Kevin Mitchell & Lord Damage and Stoney Bertz), spoken word poetry (by local wordsmith, community organizer and sometimes Indy contributor Nico Wilkinson) and other speakers yet to be announced. From the co-hosts:

“We strive to provide an outlet and support for those who wish to: 1) Advocate for and defend the most marginalized members of our community. 2) Connect with like-minded individuals and organizations within local Colorado communities. 3) Serve as a model of peaceful demonstration for future generations. 4) Honor those who have fought before us for human, civil, and women's rights.”

Meet at Acacia Park at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, January 21

Silence in Solidarity

Omtastic Yoga Studio, in the Roswell neighborhood just north of the Old North End, provides a break from all the noise. For a half hour after the march downtown, gather in candlelit silence before another half hour of mingling. The opportunity is meant for people unable to participate in loud, outdoor, ambulatory protests but still want to be apart of the public conversation. It’s also meant for those who do participate in those kind of actions, but just need a little break to take care of themselves. Bring food or drink.

Silence begins at 5:00 p.m.; mingling at 5:30 p.m. The studio is at 2727 N. Cascade, suite 140.

Monday, January 23

First 100 Hours Climate Justice Vigil

Faith communities across the country are holding vigils to mark a new era in the climate justice movement. Locally, the Colorado Springs Council for Justice, also active on refugee issues, will facilitate what’s described as “a moment to ground ourselves and create community to help us process our grief, our anger, and our fear.”

The action may be vague but the need is not: While President Obama may have not been the perfect ally to environmentalists, he’ll start to look like a downright saint relative to the gang of climate change deniers and fossil fuel executives set to be making climate policy decisions.

Gather around Uncle Wilbur’s Fountain in Acacia Park at 5 p.m.

If we missed anything, please speak up!

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Inside/Out Youth Services launches first satellite program

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:22 AM

Past members of Inside/Out Youth Services march in a pride parade. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Past members of Inside/Out Youth Services march in a pride parade.

Through a partnership with the Pikes Peak Library District, Inside/Out Youth Services, our local LGBTIQA+ youth center, announced an expansion of its after school program. They will establish a group in Library 21c in order to serve students in District 20, who may not always be able to reach the center’s downtown location.

Inside/Out’s after school youth program helps create a sense of community for LGBTIQA+ students, reducing the risk of suicide and self-harm. According to Mary Malia, executive director of Inside/Out, the El Paso County Public Health Department has said that LGBTQIA+ youth make up an estimated 60-70 percent of completed youth suicides. Malia has been working with the department on reducing that number.

According to Malia, the program’s goal is to “reach more youth, give them the chance to have that experience, to say ‘being LGBTQIA+ is okay, and I’m okay.’”

This expansion is a pilot program, hopefully the first of many across school districts in El Paso County. Provided Inside/Out can find the volunteers and the funding, they hope to make a decision about further expansion by this summer.

Inside/Out will hold an informal open house with more information about the program on Jan. 24, 4-5 p.m. at Library 21C in the ENT Conference Center. The program itself will launch on Jan. 27. This group, like Inside/Out’s downtown after school program, will be open to all LGBTIQA+ youth (whether they live in District 20 or not) between the ages of 13-22, or allies of the same age.

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Air Force Academy's Harmon Hall gets a makeover

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:18 AM

  • Photos courtesy Air Force Academy
The Air Force Academy has spiffed up the foyer to the Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson's office, and the project wasn't cheap.

It cost $387,000 to replace deteriorated and scratched wall coverings, old suspended ceiling and lights and carpet. That pricetag also included bringing the area up to fire codes after construction revealed deficiencies, the academy reports to the Independent in an email.

The foyer serves five different offices, as well as a conference room where seven staff members work.

It's the latest in several projects at Harmon Hall. Since 2011, the Directorate of Admissions area has been restored and reconfigured at a cost of $144,000, and revamped the Communications Directorate, at a cost of $188,000, to accommodate a reorganization. In addition, carpeting in the hallways on two floors was replaced.

Other recent ongoing renovation projects:
• Cyber Worx, $2.6 million

• Remotely Piloted Aircraaft building, $50,000

• Planetarium, $2.5 million

• Bridge near South Gate, $9 million

• Remodel Preparatory School Lab, $120,000

The academy explains its approach to upgrades:
Every year, we follow an Air Force process to evaluate facility and infrastructure requirements, establish priorities and forward those to the AF for funding support. Our approach, "worst first," has allowed us to repair significant levels of infrastructure and repair key facilities such as two major bridges, one cadet dorm, cadet dining facility, cadet gymnasium, miles of roads, and roofs, and mechanical and electrical systems in many different facilities. There is more work to be done. We will continue to evaluate the condition of our facilities/infrastructure and restore them as AF funding allows.

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