Friday, December 13, 2019

Lower Drug Costs Now Act passes U.S. House along party lines

Posted By on Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 11:45 AM

LENETSTAN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • LENETSTAN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
On Dec. 12, the U.S. House voted to pass legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug costs with pharmaceutical companies.

The legislation — known as the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, or simply H.R. 3 — passed on a largely party-line vote. It's a priority for Congressional Democrats, who celebrated their victory in the House. In the Republican controlled-Senate, however, the bill faces an uphill battle, and President Donald Trump has threatened a veto.

So what does H.R. 3 do?

It requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to negotiate with drug companies to set maximum prices for certain drugs, including:

• insulin;
• at least 25 single-source, brand-name drugs "that are among the 125 drugs that account for the greatest national spending"; and
• at least 25 that are among "the 125 drugs that account for the greatest spending under the Medicare prescription drug benefit and Medicare Advantage," according to a Congressional summary.

The negotiated maximum prices would also be offered under private health insurance plans unless the insurer opts out.

Under H.R. 3, maximum prices couldn't exceed 120 percent of the drug's average price in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom — or, if that data isn't available, 85 percent of the U.S. average manufacturer price. Drug companies that fail to comply with these requirements incur civil and tax penalties.

Plus, H.R. 3 would require drug companies to issue rebates for covered drugs that cost $100 or more and for which the average manufacturer price increases faster than inflation, and it would reduce the annual out-of-pocket spending threshold.

H.R. 3 also includes provisions to add dental, vision and hearing coverage for Medicare patients.

The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that H.R. 3 would increase federal spending by about $40 billion and increase revenues by about $46 billion between 2020 and 2029 — reducing the federal debt by about $5 billion over those 10 years.

But their analysis also identified a drawback: Drug companies may be less likely to develop new drugs.

"Those effects would occur because the potential global revenues for a new drug over its lifetime would decline as a result of enactment, and in some cases the prospect of lower revenues would make investments in research and development less attractive to pharmaceutical companies," the CBO noted.

In a Dec. 3 statement, the White House cited an estimate by its own staff that the bill could prevent as many as 100 drugs from entering the U.S. market. Trump is widely expected to veto the bill on the slim chance it passes the Senate.

"Heavy-handed government intervention may reduce drug prices in the short term, but these savings are not worth the long-term cost of American patients losing access to new lifesaving treatments," the White House statement argued.

Colorado's four Democratic representatives voted in favor of the bill, while its three Republicans, including Rep. Doug Lamborn of El Paso County, were opposed. Reps. Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter, both Democrats, signed on as cosponsors.

"People in our community cannot continue to be gouged by these historically high prices, while at the same time Big Pharma makes historically high profits," Rep. Jason Crow, another Colorado Democrat, said on a press call Dec. 6.

State Rep. Janet Buckner, a Democrat from Aurora, also noted on the press call that Colorado recently became the first state to pass a bill capping the cost of insulin.

"I'm a member of the health insurance committee, and I heard so many stories of people who were struggling with these costs of health care and prescription drugs, and they sometimes have to choose between their basic living needs and their prescription drug," Buckner said. "This is unacceptable."
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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

De'Von Bailey dominates City Council meeting Dec. 10

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 5:11 PM

Rachel Stovall speaks to City Council on Dec. 10. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Rachel Stovall speaks to City Council on Dec. 10.

On the morning of Dec. 10, drivers heading southbound on Interstate 25 into Colorado Springs were greeted by a slightly different version of the "Olympic City USA" sign recently installed west of the highway.

Red paint had been splashed on the sign along with the words "De'Von will not RIP," the Associated Press reports. The graffiti references 19-year-old De'Von Bailey, who died in August after Colorado Springs Police Department officers shot at him on Preuss Road, near Adams Park in Southeast Colorado Springs.

The officers responded Aug. 3 to a report of an armed robbery and asked Bailey to put his hands up so police could conduct a search. Bailey, instead, turned and ran, his hands dropping out of sight, at which point the officers shot him and later recovered a gun from his gym shorts. The officers' actions were later deemed justified by a grand jury.

But months after the shooting, the incident continues to polarize Colorado Springs residents. While some defended the officers' actions, others called for a third-party investigation, saying Bailey's death was unjustified.

Most recently, community members were angered when city code enforcement officers, accompanied by police, dismantled a makeshift memorial to Bailey, which included spray painted graffiti on the road.

Some of those community members made those feelings known at the Dec. 10 City Council meeting.

"I’ve lived in Colorado Springs a majority of my life, and I have never seen so many citizens afraid of the police," Rachel Stovall, a Southeast community activist and Gazette columnist, told Council. "Colorado Springs leadership needs to formally apologize for desecrating the memorial of De’Von Bailey." 

Stovall also accused Councilor Yolanda Avila — who represents the Southeast City Council district that includes the "K-Land" neighborhood where Bailey lived — of "silence" on the subject of the shooting.

"How dare you say that I have been silent," Avila responded, telling Stovall that she had held conversations with community members but refused to sensationalize the issue.

"A lot of this fueling of the fire has happened from within, [with] people that really don’t care about the De’Von Bailey family," Avila said. "It’s about your 10 minutes of fame."

Other speakers called out city councilors for not showing up to a recent NAACP Colorado Springs meeting, though several councilors claimed they had not received an invitation, or had missed it with flooded inboxes.

"With the short-term rental issue, we were [getting] 800 emails at a time," Council President Richard Skorman said.

Henry Allen, president of the Pikes Peak Southern Christian Leadership Conference, advised a "City Council-wide" approach to the De'Von Bailey shooting, "or the thing is going to blow up on you." Allen also voiced concern that the police department has de-emphasized community policing under the new leadership of Police Chief Vince Niski.

Several City Council members, including Skorman, Avila and Councilor Andy Pico, said they were concerned about the memorial's removal.

"When we look at all the trash around the city — ... We need to not even have a scrap of paper left before we look at desecrating a memorial," Avila said.

Meanwhile, the graffiti on the Olympic City sign has been removed, police spokesperson Lt. Jim Sokolik confirmed the afternoon of Dec. 10. Sokolik says the police department doesn't have much information and is still investigating the incident.

Editor's note: This story has been revised to show Rachel Stovall is a columnist at the Gazette, in addition to her activist work.
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7 stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 3:14 PM

REGAN FOSTER
  • Regan Foster

On Dec. 3, Gov. Jared Polis toured Harrison High School and was briefed on the groundbreaking Dakota Promise Scholarship. The program — backed by the Colorado Springs-based Dakota Foundation and local education-advocacy organization the Legacy Institute — provides a two-year, full-ride scholarship to all qualifying Harrison seniors who apply for and are accepted by Pikes Peak Community College, starting with the class graduating in 2020. Polis met with seven members of the class of 2020 to get first-person accounts of the scholarship’s potential impact. “This makes college more realistic for first-generation collegegoers,” Polis said at the time. “The Dakota Promise model is very exciting.”

The Progressive Turnout Project
, a national voter-engagement organization, identified Colorado as one of 16 battleground states for the 2020 election. The organization plans to invest $45 million nationally. Field offices will be established in Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder.

Manitou Springs City Council passed a resolution urging Congress to adopt the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would enact a fee on carbon emissions.

Colorado Springs Utilities and Next-Era Energy Resources announced the launch of a new solar energy facility near Calhan, which will power around 13,000 homes a year.

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on a proposed action to transfer around 17,700 acres of land to the state of Colorado, to satisfy a debt dating back to the 1876 Statehood Act. Learn more and comment at go.usa.gov/xp8yU by Dec. 23.

Four years after the fatal shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, accused shooter Robert Dear has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 68 counts. Charges could carry the death penalty.

COURTESY CANINE COMPANIONS FOR INDEPENDENCE
  • Courtesy Canine Companions for Independence

EDCare, a Springs-based eating disorder treatment center, recently received a new staff member. Lammon, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, was trained by Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that breeds, raises and trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities. He will provide physical and emotional assistance to those in treatment at the center.

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De’von Bailey memorial removed

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 2:54 PM

newsdevonbailey1-1-cropped.jpg

A longstanding memorial to De’Von Bailey, the 19-year-old man shot and killed by Colorado Springs police in August, was removed Friday by Colorado Springs Code Enforcement, escorted by Colorado Springs Police Department officers, as first reported by KRDO.

Bailey’s memorial featured a section of road that was spray-painted with messages of support, which isn’t allowed, per Colorado Springs city code.

But KRDO reports that just minutes after code enforcement left the area, people returned to the site and painted new messages on the street.

On Tuesday, the "Colorado Springs Olympic City USA" sign in north Springs was vandalized by an unknown party. Red paint was dumped on the sign along with a  message stating: “De’Von WILL NOT RIP.”

Bailey, who was carrying a handgun at the time, was killed while fleeing from officers after they’d stopped him for questioning about an alleged armed robbery 

The officers involved in Bailey’s shooting were later deemed “justified” in their use of deadly force by a grand jury.

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Colorado Springs announces progress on homelessness

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 2:37 PM

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The city launched a volunteer clean-up program, in partnership with Springs Rescue Mission, to help people staying at the homeless shelter gain work experience that could provide a bridge to successful long-term jobs.

Crews of Rescue Mission residents involved in the HelpCOS My City Project will collect trash once a month in the Mill Street neighborhood south of downtown, the city announced Dec. 3. The volunteers will receive work referrals and a reserved space at the shelter in exchange for participating.

In a statement announcing the partnership, the city also noted that $500,000 from the general fund will be dedicated to increasing low-barrier shelter bed capacity next year.

Meanwhile, a local agency that is part of the Homeless Family Solutions Collaborative plans to open a low-barrier family shelter later this month.

“I’m encouraged by the progress we have made this year on addressing homelessness in a meaningful and sustainable way,” Andy Phelps, the city’s homelessness prevention and response coordinator, said in the statement.

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Affordable housing gets scarcer

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 2:34 PM

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  • Shutterstock.com

Colorado Springs had the fourth-highest year-over-year rental cost increase among the country’s large cities, Apartment List announced with the release of its December 2019 rent report.

Rent in Colorado Springs increased 3.3 percent between December 2018 and December 2019, according to the report.

Mesa, Arizona, topped the list with a 5 percent increase over that same time frame.

Median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Colorado Springs is currently around $1,270, Apartment List reports. Denver’s median two-bedroom rent is just $80 above that.

Meanwhile, more than 100 residents of Thrive at The Incline, a complex in Southeast Colorado Springs formerly known as Shannon Glen Apartments, were asked by the property owner to evacuate due to asbestos.

New owner Slipstream Properties was in the process of renovating the apartment complex when evacuation notices appeared on residents’ doors, according to local media reports. 

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Feds issue new guidance on banking with hemp industry

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 2:30 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com

Federal financial regulators issued new guidance Dec. 3 to banks and credit unions regarding working with the hemp industry.

“Because hemp is no longer a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, banks are not required to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) on customers solely because they are engaged in the growth or cultivation of hemp in accordance with applicable laws and regulations,” the memo states.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, lauded the move. In June, Bennet wrote a letter to regulators explaining how “farmers and processors generally continue to lack access to the banking system even though hemp is no longer a Schedule 1 drug.”

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, tweeted that the new guidance was “a good step forward and will help Colorado’s hemp industry and hemp businesses across the country.”

The next step for the hemp and marijuana industry will be passing the SAFE Banking Act, Perlmutter added.

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D-20 Board gets sued

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 2:27 PM

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  • Shutterstock.com

A lawsuit has been filed against the Academy School District 20 Board of Education, claiming the board circumvented Colorado transparency laws in hiring its new superintendent.

According to the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, Melanie Knapp, a parent in the district, submitted her lawsuit in El Paso County District Court on Nov. 8, claiming the board violated Colorado Open Meetings law by making hiring decisions behind closed doors and failing to convene executive sessions.

Knapp’s lawsuit also alleges that the district wrongfully withheld the names and applications of superintendent finalists from her after she requested them under the Colorado Open Records Act.

“Such practice is inconsistent with the plain requirements of CORA and the OML (open meetings law), which require disclosure of the final group of qualified candidates in order for the public to observe, and possibly participate in the vetting process,” Knapp’s complaint says. 

The district declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

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Friday, December 6, 2019

How to survive a night on a fourteener

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 3:19 PM

By Zach Hillstrom

I recently traveled up to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora to sit down and speak with Nick Noland, the 34-year-old career school teacher and father who nearly lost his life (see the Dec. 4 Indy for Nick's story) — and did lose both of his feet — after becoming lost and stranded overnight, alone on Mount Shavano in Chaffee County.

Noland shot this photograph of the sun setting from Shavano's summit. - NICK NOLAND
  • Nick Noland
  • Noland shot this photograph of the sun setting from Shavano's summit.
One of the things that was most striking to me about what happened to Nick was that he was by no means an amateur hiker making his first attempt at a fourteener. He’s been spending copious amounts of time outdoors since he was a young boy in South Carolina; he’s an Eagle Scout; he’s hiked the Appalachian Trail; he knows all about wilderness first-aid; he’s even researched and read books about disasters on fourteeners.

Nick doesn’t just respect Mother Nature, he reveres it. The man who’s trail name (yes, trail names are a thing in the hiking community) is “Smiles” because, “It’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles,” doesn’t view getting outdoors as an activity. To him, it’s deeply spiritual. He calls it going to “church.”

So how did someone with so much experience and so sturdy a grasp on how to safely summit a mountain end up breaking nearly every rule about mountaineering safety, winding up alone, with no real survival supplies, after dark, in late October, on a mountain 14,231-feet high?

The long answer is that Nick made a series of cascading mistakes — he went alone, he got a late-morning start, he dropped his pack near timberline to more quickly reach the summit (he planned to come back for it, but got lost on the way), he took a shortcut, etc.

But the short answer is that Nick’s past experiences in the mountains made him very comfortable — perhaps too comfortable, in retrospect — with the risks associated with climbing a fourteener.

Nearly everything he did on the mountain that day was something he’d done many times before, and never experienced any negative consequences.

“I think the biggest mistake was having all that experience and all that knowledge — even book knowledge of potential dangers — and then just not having the awareness to see the pieces falling into place that put me on this route,” Nick told me.

“I don't want to sound like I'm not owning up to my own fault in this is because I know I shouldn't have been alone. Maybe I should have done more planning. … I shouldn't have dropped my pack; shouldn't have taken a shortcut. I shouldn't have loosened my shoelaces [to improve circulation], I guess. But at the time, I didn't recognize any of those decisions as being mistakes. And I think that just kind of came from … just that experiential confidence.”

According to search and rescue personnel, Nick is far from the first experienced hiker whose supreme confidence and comfortability put them in a dangerous position.

“It’s the arrogance of experience,” says Pat Caulfield, the vice president of the nonprofit Colorado Search and Rescue Association.

“We see that, where, maybe they were in a similar situation and they made it out, so now they’re not thinking as critically about running into a situation again. But it happens. … So you can’t be arrogant about what you’ve had happen before, thinking, ‘I can get by.’ Because you might not be able to."

Whether a hiker is going to attempt to summit a fourteener for the first time, or is an experienced peak bagger checking another summit off of their list, Caulfield advises they always begin with the end of their trip at the forefront of their minds.

As world-renowned mountaineer and author Ed Viesturs says, “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory."

Here are some of Caulfield’s tips to safely summit a Colorado’s fourteener:

• Be sure to pack the 10 essentials:
First-aid kit
Map and compass
Pocket knife
Matches and fire starter
Emergency shelter
Flashlight
Emergency food
Extra water
Extra clothing
Sunglasses and sunscreen

• Don't go alone. Make sure people know your plan.

• Have a way to call for help. Mountains like Shavano have pretty good cell phone coverage. But  some don't. So have a personal locator beacon or a satellite messaging device — some way to contact help when you need it. And then have some way to tell them where you are. That can be as simple as having a GPS and knowing how to provide your coordinates.

• Carry a backup battery pack for your phone.

• Make sure you have a repair kit. A repair kit can be something as simple as duct tape to fix a  shoelace or the sole of a boot.

• Carry enough nutrition for an emergency. A lot of people carry food they need for the hike, but you need to think about if you’re going to be sitting out there for another 12 hours, waiting for help. People burn more calories when they're cold.

• Have an emergency shelter and follow "the rules of three." You can go about three minutes without oxygen. You can go about three hours without shelter in bad conditions. You can go about three days without water, and you can go about three weeks with food.

• Put on traction devices before you need them. If it looks like you’re going to get into some mixed terrain, to include snow and rock, get your devices on before you get in there and realize you need them.

• Stay the trail. Don't try and shortcut it.

• Make sure you’re wearing the gear you need. This is not the time of year to be going up and down in running shoes, but rather invest in a good pair of hiking boots.

• If you’re looking for somebody to summit with you, check out some mountaineering social media sites.

• Never leave your gear.

As for what to do if a hiker does become lost, Caulfield’s advice is simple: Stay put.

“The biggest thing you can do is don't make yourself a moving target,” Caulfield says. “Stay where you’re at. Even if you’ve had no communication to tell people you’re in trouble, don't keep moving. Generally if you keep moving, you’re increasing the area that we need to look in. So hug a tree, stay where you’re at, get up next to a boulder or rock, hunker down, get under your shelter and wait for help.”
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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Bitcoin mining operation shipping containers tumble in high winds

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 8:39 AM

Remember the saga of the noisy neighbor up in the northwest part of the city? Things are still in turmoil, it seems.

We wrote about the bitcoin mining operation taking place in a building on Garden of the Gods Road last May, and again in July when the operator, 3G Venture, was having trouble complying with the city's noise ordinance, and again in August when the city decided not to cite the operator.

Now, the complaint — in addition to continued noise that a neighbor, Ron Graham Becker, says violates the city's noise ordinance — centers on potential danger from stacking shipping containers against the building to buffer the sound.

Some of those containers, stacked four high, came tumbling down in high winds on Nov. 29 and 30, as shown in this photo provided by Graham Becker.
screen_shot_2019-12-03_at_4.23.23_pm.png

Says Graham Becker in an email to officials with the city, Fire Department and Pikes Peak Regional Building Department: "As you may know, a wall of shipping containers came crashing down at Bldg 1625 — 3G Venture II — during the high winds of this past Friday and Saturday, 29 & 30 November, 2019. Fortunately, as far as I know, no one was killed or injured. Very fortunate, indeed."

Here's another photo supplied by Graham Becker.
screen_shot_2019-12-03_at_4.35.24_pm.png


Graham Becker reports that he reported the incident to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has filed an informal complaint against 3G, whose owner, John Chen, must file a response within five days.

His complaint, he says, states that "Approximately 10 employees exposed to 'struck-by hazards' in that shipping containers, used to isolate noise, are resting on uneven surfaces, stacked up to 40 feet high, and leaning precariously toward occupied areas. Contrary to Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act of 1970."

In response to Graham Becker's email, Colorado Springs Fire Department Fire Marshal Brett Lacy says the issue falls outside his purview.

We asked Regional Building about it, and got this response from RBD spokesperson Greg Dingrando, via email: "RBD would not be involved because the Building Code does not address, or regulate placement of shipping containers. A building permit is not required to stack shipping containers."

The Indy also asked the city to comment, leading to this statement from the city communications office:
The City of Colorado Springs Planning Department and Code Enforcement divisions have been in communication with the owner of 3G Venture II for the past several months. City employees made the owner aware approximately one month ago that a development plan must be submitted to our Land Use Review division by Wednesday, December 4th. This development plan should address the owner’s intent for noise mitigation, including plans to ensure safety on and around the property. If the city does not receive the development plan by December 4th, Code Enforcement can issue a summons.
Chen tells the Indy he restacked the containers within a day or so, and "Everything is back to where it was."

But Chen says he's getting just as tired of the complaints as the complainers are getting of making those complaints.

"At some point I think it's becoming — I don't know how to put it. Everyone is entitled to their thinking, it's becoming harassment," he tells the Indy by phone. "At some point, it's beyond reasonable."

Chen asserts the bitcoin operation complies with the city's noise ordinance, and it's cost him a bundle to achieve that, but the complaints continue.

"I'm doing everything I can to comply with everything. Every little thing they're calling everyone in the world," he says. "I think there has to be some reasonableness in the whole thing."

Meantime, we asked how his bitcoin mining operation is going, and Chen reports it's been successful.
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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

7 stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 4:26 PM

PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck

Mayor John Suthers is seeking City Council endorsement of his application to the state for $200,000 to support forming an Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan, which would encourage use of electric vehicles. Those vehicles would require charging stations like this one located in the city’s parking garage at Nevada and Colorado avenues.

Mountain Metropolitan Transit will receive a $1.6 million federal grant to purchase battery-run electric buses and charging stations to expand transit service on one of its busiest routes. It’s part of $423 million in transit grants nationwide, $18 million of which is earmarked for Colorado.

Groundbreaking for the downtown stadium is slated for 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the site, southwest of Sahwatch and Cimarron streets. Dubbed Weidner Field, after its sponsor Weidner Apartment Homes, the stadium is slated to open in spring 2021 as the home field of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer club.

State Sen. Angela Williams dropped out of the U.S. Senate Democratic primary race on Nov. 27, saying she’ll seek re-election in Senate District 33 instead.

Erin Hannan, director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, announced last week that she will be leaving her position with the arts center, where she has worked since 1999. She plans to remain in her role until a replacement can be found and trained.

You may see Community Advancing Public Safety (CAPS) Ambassadors, sporting red fleece vests, walking the streets of downtown and Old Colorado City through Dec. 22. They’re meant to assist the public and alert law enforcement to potential public safety issues.

COURTESY SAM BENCHEGHIB
  • Courtesy Sam Bencheghib

Sam Bencheghib, 22, has taken on a unique challenge that recently brought him to Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and will take him all the way to the West Coast. This activist has pledged to run 20 miles a day, six days a week, from New York City to Santa Monica, California, to raise awareness about plastic pollution in our world’s oceans. He has completed 1,870 miles of his 3,103-mile journey, and along the way spoken to students and politicians, including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, about reducing plastic use.


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Council to consider new short-term rental regulations

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 4:21 PM

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  • Shutterstock.com

City Council will consider four options for regulating short-term rentals on Dec. 5.

Options A, B and C define an “owner-occupied” short-term rental, or STR, as occupied by the owner for at least 180 days each year. Option D increases the minimum for “owner-occupied” to 210 days.

All of the ordinance options require non-owner-occupied STRs to be spaced at least five lots apart in any direction.

Options B and D ban non-owner-occupied STRs in single-family zones, while option C requires that applications for non-owner-occupied units within single-family zones be reviewed by the Planning Commission.

Council will solicit public feedback on the four options Dec. 5, during the City Council meeting that begins at 8 a.m. in City Hall.

Meanwhile, short-term rentals marketed through one online platform are already bringing in the big bucks. 

Colorado Springs Airbnb hosts earned $1.4 million over six Air Force Academy football home game weekends this season, according to Airbnb booking data. 

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the date of the public hearing. It is Dec. 5.
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U.S. Census offers higher pay in Colorado

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 4:17 PM

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The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for Colorado workers to fill thousands of temporary positions this winter and coming spring, in time for Census Day on April 1, 2020.

Conducted every 10 years, the Census is a critical tool in determining federal funding, political representation and population statistics. Most people should receive a notice to respond to the government’s Census survey by April 1. The Census will conduct door-to-door visits between May and July for those who don’t respond.

Positions with the U.S. Census include Census takers, field supervisors, clerks and office supervisors. Some jobs require night and weekend availability.

Census takers will be selected starting in January.

The Census recently announced that Colorado workers can expect a pay increase from the rates initially advertised. As of Dec. 1, hourly wages for Census jobs in Colorado range from $16 to $22.50.

Visit 2020census.gov/jobs to learn more.

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UCHealth shares revenue with city

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 4:15 PM

FILE PHOTO
  • File photo

For the fifth straight year, UCHealth has made a revenue-sharing payment to the city via the Colorado Springs Health Foundation. This year's payment is $1.38 million, the largest such contribution so far.

Revenue-sharing results when earnings exceed a baseline percentage, as outlined in the 40-year lease. So far, UCHealth has made revenue-sharing payments  totaling $5.83 million.

The money is passed on to the foundation, which is charged with funding the community’s pressing health needs and encouraging healthy living.

UCHealth reports a 24 percent increase in outpatient visits in Colorado Springs and an 8 percent surge in urgent care visits compared to the prior year. UCHealth Medical Group also has added 44 physicians.

“We are working to create more outpatient locations and implementing virtual health and other innovative care delivery models to make health care more affordable as well,” president and CEO of UCHealth Memorial Joel Yuhas said in a release.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Independence Center announces dental offices to receive accessible equipment

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2019 at 12:36 PM

The Independence Center gifted accessible equipment to dental offices. - COURTESY OF VERSATILT
  • Courtesy of Versatilt
  • The Independence Center gifted accessible equipment to dental offices.

The Independence Center announced the names of dental offices it's gifting with accessible equipment to make dentist appointments easier for people with disabilities.

The local nonprofit spent $75,000 from its IC Fund this year on wheelchair lifts, medical masks that allow deaf individuals to read lips, and other tools to improve accessibility at the following offices:
In addition to the free equipment, those businesses will also receive an Americans with Disabilities Act audit and disability competency training for their staff.

This spring, The Independence Center surveyed people with anxiety, autism, blindness and low vision, deafness, mobility issues, chemical sensitivities and post-traumatic stress disorder about their visits to the dentist.

Over half of the 46 participants said they hadn't received dental care in more than a year, even though all ranked their oral health as "highly important."

Some respondents said they did not have access to effective communication at the dentist, "either because they did not have an American Sign Language interpreter or because while their providers were wearing facial masks, they could not read their lips."

Winning dental practices will get specially designed masks with a clear window so that deaf patients can read staff's lips.

They'll also get Versatilt wheelchair lift devices, which according to the survey report "allow patients to recline safely and comfortably in their manual wheelchairs during dental exams without the risk of hurting their spines."

Last year, the Independence Center used money from the IC Fund to pay for accessible exam tables, lifts and hearing loop devices at medical practices. An online, interactive map gives locations and information for those offices with accessible equipment.
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