Monday, October 21, 2019

Clerk and Recorder urges early voting, releases list of errors

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2019 at 4:37 PM

More than 104,500 ballots have so far been returned statewide for the Nov. 5 coordinated elect
  • Shutterstock
ion, and the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office released a list of common mistakes seen this election cycle. Corrections for the most common errors are as follows.

1. You must sign your own ballot envelope: Verify your name and address before signing on the back of your ballot envelope. If you sign the incorrect envelope (such as your spouse’s), draw a line through your signature and have the correct voter sign above.

2. I.D. Required: If your ballot instructions state you must return an I.D., you have to include a copy of an acceptable form of I.D. (acceptable forms listed in your voter instructions) to ensure your ballot is counted in a timely manner.

3. Change your mind on a candidate or question/issue? Clearly state your intentions by drawing a line through the incorrect selection and darken the oval of the correct one and circle your choice.

4. Identifying Marks: Do not sign or initial your voted ballot, even when making a correction. Your signature should only be on the outside of your ballot envelope. This ensures voter anonymity.

The Clerk and Recorder’s Office is urging voters to return their ballots early — before Election Day, Nov. 5 — and strongly recommends voters return ballots at one of the secure 24-hour ballot drop boxes.

“Mail ballots give voters time to learn about candidates, questions and issues, decide on their choice, and then vote in the comfort of their home,” Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said in a news release. “It is tremendously helpful for our office when voters return their ballot early. We are able to release results more quickly on election night and that benefits everyone anxious to know the outcome of the races.”

Ten additional ballot drop boxes have been installed, totaling 26 strategically located boxes throughout the county. All ballot drop boxes are open 24/7 and are under video surveillance.

A complete list with a map showing drive times is available at Voters can type in their address and search for the nearest location to them. All ballots must be received by the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5, to be counted. Postmarked ballots received after the deadline cannot be counted.

For ballots returned by mail, $0.55 standard postage is needed. The Voter Service and Polling Center located at the Citizens Service Center is currently open and the remaining four clerk and recorder branch locations will open Oct. 28 as VSPCs. Two additional VSPCs will be operating Monday, Nov. 4, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 5, 7 a.m-7 p.m., at Victory World Outreach and Monument Town Hall.

Voters who need to get a replacement ballot, update their registration, register to vote, or vote in person, may do so at any of the VSPCs. Beginning today, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is releasing a daily update reporting the number of ballots returned to county clerks for the coordinated election. As of 1:50p.m. Oct. 21, that number stood at 104,558 statewide.
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Construction of pedestrian bridge from Olympic Museum appears at hand

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2019 at 4:00 PM

An aerial view in an artist's rendering of the bridge linking to America the Beautiful Park. - COURTESY DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO
  • Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • An aerial view in an artist's rendering of the bridge linking to America the Beautiful Park.
It's hard not to miss the progress made on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame at Vermijo and Sierra Madre streets. Officials have previously said it will open in early 2020.

Now, the pedestrian bridge that will link the museum with America the Beautiful Park is about to get underway, according to a resolution due to City Council for consideration on Oct. 22.

The resolution, if approved, would hand over the property beneath the bridge's landing spot to an entity controlled by Nor'wood Development Group, which is helping to fund the bridge and has major designs on that entire area of lower downtown.

The $11 million contract to build the bridge was awarded earlier this year, and now the city must transfer the property to enable the work to begin.

Or, as the city put it in backup materials for the Council's Oct. 22 action, "The construction of the bridge is imminent, thus the conveyance of 125 Cimino [Drive] is urgent."

In those materials, the city says Nor'wood will build the bridge's landing, staircase and elevator at a cost of approximately $2.6 million while also donating cash for the bridge.
Looking east from America the Beautiful Park where the pedestrian bridge will connect with the museum. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Looking east from America the Beautiful Park where the pedestrian bridge will connect with the museum.
The resolution, which can be read below, doesn't change the commitment Nor'wood made in early 2017 to clean up remnants of a coal gasification plant located at 25 and 125 Cimino that left carcinogenic coal tar beneath it, says city spokesperson Kim Melchor.

After signing off on the deal to clean it up and take possession of the property, Nor'wood and the city have failed to close the land transaction. As of today, Oct. 21, the property remains in the city's hands.

From an earlier Indy story:
Records show the city and Nor’wood have postponed the land transaction a dozen times, and that Nor’wood might have second thoughts about assuming responsibility for the Cimino property cleanup, which a city contractor, LT Environmental Inc. of Arvada, estimates will cost $4.5 million.

In a Nov. 1, 2018, email to Nor’wood’s attorney, a senior city attorney wrote, “The City’s position is that Council wanted Nor-wood to assume the costs of cleaning the property, no matter what they were. So, at this point, we won’t be agreeable to a change in the agreement that would allow Nor’wood the option to decline assuming responsibility for any required cleanup.”
The resolution:
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Friday, October 18, 2019

Recall fails against Sen. Leroy Garcia; only 4 signatures submitted

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 4:21 PM

Senate President Leroy Garcia is in the clear on recall attempt. - COURTESY COLORADO GENERAL ASSEMBLY
  • Courtesy Colorado General Assembly
  • Senate President Leroy Garcia is in the clear on recall attempt.
Republicans in Colorado who have attempted to recall several state officials are batting zero.

On Oct. 18, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office deemed petitions to recall Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, as insufficient. Petitioners submitted a mere four signatures, when 13,506 were needed.

Republicans earlier this year tried to recall Democrat Gov. Jared Polis, Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood.

The GOP was sore after losing every state level office in November 2018, and Republicans were really steamed when Democratic lawmakers began carrying out the agenda on which they campaigned.

For example, here's the wording on the recall petition for Lee:

Senator Pete Lee, representing Senate District 11, should be recalled because he sponsored legislation to create a paid family and medical leave program to be funded by a mandatory tax on businesses and employees, disingenuously referring to it as a “fee” instead of a tax, and he voted for the passage of:

1) SB 19-042 (National Popular Vote), enacting and joining Colorado into an interstate compact to elect the president of the United States by national popular vote;
2) SB 19-181 (Comprehensive Oil and Gas Reform), reforming the regulation of the oil and gas industry in Colorado despite the voters’ defeat of Proposition 112’s drilling regulations;
3) HB 19-1032 (Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education), mandating comprehensive human sexuality education and appropriating one million dollars annually in grant funds for its dissemination; and
4) HB 19-1177 (Red Flag), creating the ability for a family or household member to petition the court for a temporary extreme risk protection order to prohibit an individual from possessing a firearm.
Here's what Democracy First Colorado had to say in a release:

"The scammers behind this year's recalls have flamed out in spectacular fashion — but not before lining their pockets and loading their databases with money and personal data from unsuspecting Colorado voters," said Curtis Hubbard, a spokesman for Democracy First Colorado. "These efforts have been deceptive to the bitter end, and we are not at all surprised by this outcome, despite recent reports to the contrary. Senator Garcia is serving Pueblo well — a sentiment voters across the district reaffirmed in the thousands of conversations we have had over the last 60 days."
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Thursday, October 17, 2019

District 38 school board election questionnaires

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 2:20 PM

Editor's note: The article has been updated to include candidate Adam Cupp's responses to the questionnaire.

Three seats on the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 school board are up for general election Nov. 5.

Five school board candidates Matthew Clawson (candidate for Director District 5), Adam Cupp (candidate for Director District 5), Ryan Graham (candidate for Director District 4), Theresa Phillips (candidate for Director District 2), Ron Schwarz (candidate for Director District 4) are vying for three open seats on the district’s board of education.

Ron Schwarz and Adam Cupp were the only candidates to respond to a questionnaire sent by the Indy.
Ron Schwarz
  • Ron Schwarz

Ron Schwarz

Age: 58   

Occupation: Technology Executive (retired), Veterans Non Profit VP (VSAV),  Business Consultant

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of CA at Davis and have done post -graduate coursework at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, in finance.

My wife, Tamara, and I have lived in Monument for 27 years. Both of our children went through D38 from K-12. We logged 100’s of volunteer hours assisting teachers, students and administrators. One highlight was the 5 foreign exchange students we hosted from 2009 - 2014.  

I have 35 years of business experience and have led large teams with sizable budgets. Power listening and managing large budgets is an area where I can bring skills and lessons learned to the district.

Building teams and strategies that deliver lasting results is a core competency that I intend to bring to the team. 

My capacity to dive into the details and keep an "eye on the goals" is a unique skill I believe the board would welcome, especially given the complexities the board often encounters. 

Passion for student success is a key characteristic that I will bring to the board. Having no children or relatives in the district enables me to be 100% objective in reviewing projects, programs and policies.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

My vision is to unify the community to achieve three results:

  • That our students and graduates become positive contributors to their peers, communities and to our country. 
  • That they will be qualified to compete on the stage of their choice, act with integrity, a strong work ethic and respect for others.
  • That our District serves as “the” example of how to do it right, and how to make it last.

3. How would you achieve that?

I would strive to keep and evolve what is working, fix what is not.

I intend to engage the community in early education, vocational and life skills programs and to drive the faculty to work on un-locking our students passions/talents.

I intent to have the community pre-approve major spending measures based on the merits of the spend vs. the vehicle. Once this is agreed to, I intend to ask the community which spending method is the best fit for them/us, and to deliver it to them. 

Finally, I intend to work with the faculty to understand where its morale challenges lie, and what the origins are.  Once this is validated, I intend to deliver lasting resolutions so that we don’t fall back into the current scenario.

4. The district is endeavoring to get voter approval for a Bond (4A). If approved, how would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

The proposed District 38 measure is a single purpose lending vehicle. It is solely intended for the constructing and outfitting of an elementary school. This capital expenditure is independent of the District’s operating budget, which is currently balanced. 

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

Student and faculty safety is NON-NEGOTIABLE nor is it open to compromise!

Physical security can be broken down into three (3) areas of focus:

Prevention: Human presence, Deterrence, Technology, Table top and full scale exercises

Response/Triage: Law Enf., Fire, ATF, FBI. Actions by those in the building and those outside

Remediation & Lessons Learned: Follow up to harden what may have been vulnerable, to generate new drills

My vision for safety is

  • to understand what the district has already done in these areas,
  • drill the prevention and response skills,
  • ensure the district is fully invested in the technologies, deterrence and best practices to avoid an event versus learn from one.

My philosophy is that a semester can always be made up but a long-term injury, or worse, cannot.

Adam Cupp
  • Adam Cupp

Adam Cupp

Age: 40

Occupation: Engineer & Project Manager

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

My bachelor’s degree in Engineering provided me the technical skill set to understand complex issues, processes, and systems. Earning my Master of Business Administration amplified my aptitude in program management and has enabled me to be extremely successful working for a Defense Contractor supporting our armed forces cybersecurity protection.

I’ve been a resident of this district for the last 10 years. I have followed school board activities for years, as I wanted to have a positive impact in the community. I believe my unique skill-set as an engineer in long-term planning, project management, and cybersecurity can steer the district toward effective solutions, particularly in the area of balancing management of existing resources with growth in the community.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

District 38 is Accredited with Distinction as a top tier school system in the state.

Teachers I’ve spoken with tell me that parents who are engaged in their student’s education is the primary element of student success. We should continue to empower parents to engage with their children and teachers to ensure the continued success of our district. School Districts are similar to households in that they have to balance their checkbook. Every dollar we can get into the classroom is another opportunity to engage and enhance a students education.

3. How would you achieve that?

Partnering with parents and promoting open communication is the most effective way to ensure that schools meet the unique needs of students. Educating parents on available resources encourages families to express concerns or needs and to gain support. Ensuring the District hires and retains the best teachers is pivotal to our continued excellence. Several factors draw teachers to a district: positive School culture, student and parent engagement, Feeling of impact, and of course compensation. Culture in any organization starts at the top; the School Board and the Superintendent. I will engage with teachers and administrators to ensure that our teachers feel they have the support they need to be successful. We are fortunate to have very high student and teacher engagement in our school district, and I seek to ensure that we encourage parents to participate in all aspects of their child’s education. District 38 is in the top 20% of teachers pay in the state. We have other local school districts that are competitive, and even with this, we have comparatively very low teacher turnover. Teachers I’ve spoken with share that they are rewarded by a strong desire to learn from their students and appreciate working in a community with engaged parents.

4. The district is endeavoring to get voter approval for a mill levy override. If approved, how would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

I have publicly voiced my opposition to the 4A bond this year because of the financing structure that overspends taxpayer’s dollars by a minimum of $3.8M. Any waste of taxpayer dollars ending in M for Millions is too much. I want taxpayer to know that when the district asks for a new tax, every dollar possible will go toward supporting education directly, not into the pockets of a bond holder in interest.

I’m concerned that the 4A proposition does not properly plan for operational funding, which will have a detrimental impact on teacher hiring, retention, and pay. I want teachers compensated fairly for the value they provide. Opening an additional middle school without adequate enrollment to provide critical funding puts teachers and support staff at risk. I favor a well-rounded plan that considers every aspect of a successful expansion and growth. Current district enrollment numbers and immediate year over year predictions support my concern that we have inadequate enrollment to fully and appropriately support an additional middle school. This approach improves the likelihood that when a school district requests local funding, they’ll receive what they need.

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

The schools primary purpose is to educate students, which should prepare them for real world successes in life. Students should enjoy an education safe from any distraction at their school including bullying and any other form of violence. Numerous forms of deterrents and response mechanisms exist to minimize impact to students. However, this is a complex problem which cannot be simply addressed through security measures, but should also strive to support parents who are often in the best position to assist struggling children.

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District 11 school board election questionnaires

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 2:19 PM

Four seats are open for the Colorado Springs School District 11 on Nov. 5. Candidates are Mary Coleman, Darleen Daniels, Jason Jorgenson, Parth Melpakam, Vincent Puzick, Joseph Shelton, Chris Wallis and Conner Sargent.

The following candidates responded to a questionnaire sent by the Indy.

Mary Coleman

Age: 37

Director of Philanthropy / Director, Board of Education


1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?
In 2016 I was appointed to the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education. In 2017, I was formally elected by the community to complete the remainder of my term. I am a committed and passionate leader who is experienced in leading a large school district. I understand the complexities, nuance, and relationships needed to be an effective leader.
In addition to my service on the D11 board, I am also the past president of the Leadership Pikes Peak Board of Trustees. I attended Harvard University on a Gates Family Foundation Fellowship studying Executive State and Local Government, where I learned how to be a transformational and bold leader. Additionally, I attended the Public Leadership Education Project in the summer of 2019 at Harvard University focused on putting outcome-oriented goals to the strategic plan of the district.
I am, first and foremost, a parent of two incredible children who attend D11 schools. My son is attending middle school and my daughter is in second grade. My children have attended District 11 schools since kindergarten.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?
Achievement and equity are my top priority for the school district. We must hold ourselves, as adults and leaders, to the highest standards of transparency and accountability so all kids can thrive. We must build a system of accountability that instills the community’s vision for the district for years to come. We have a great responsibility to educate the next generation of Americans. My vision for the district is that we see, hear, and engage with all students in our classrooms. We must teach relevant and challenging curriculum to see test scores increase across the district. We must be sure that our team of energized educators are focused on serving and educating all students.
I have been a clear and consistent voice for student achievement, and how we must have a focus on outcomes.
Whether students graduate to a four-year college, pursue a career, move on to technical training, or join military service – we must be sure they’re ready.

3. How would you achieve that?

Teachers are under immense pressure to manage large class sizes with an increasingly diverse and complex student population. Our community has transformed over the last 20 years, and we haven’t always done a great job of transforming alongside the community.
Teachers must teach, first and foremost. They must have the space to focus on educating, and not on solving all of society’s most pressing systemic issues (like poverty and behavioral health needs). It is the District’s role to supply teachers with a well-rounded support system so they can be successful for our students. I would ensure that support was available so teachers can teach, and students can learn.
The District must review our class sizes, must be clear in our expectations and the agreed upon definition of “success”, must offer teachers professional development to excel in their roles, and must surround our schools with a high-quality support system.
I will continue to work diligently to pass an equity policy, which requires the District to view our system through the lens of equity so all children can learn with adequate resources and opportunities.

4. In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

Having served as a Director since 2016, the passage of the MLO in 2017 was an exciting and pivotal point in the history of D11. I have been a component of MLO oversight for the last three years.
When the district first passed the MLO, we established an MLO oversight committee. This committee is comprised of committed community leaders who hold the district accountable for spending. The board relies on a variety of resources to hold the district accountable, and the oversight committee is a large component. When we first passed the MLO, we had so many applicants for the committee we couldn’t accept everyone onto the committee. We need to continue that excitement and engagement for service to have a well-rounded oversight process.
We made promises to our voters in the way we would spend and steward these new funds. I believe we, to date, have kept our promises and I will continue to work in that direction over the coming years. Whether speaking directly with a school PTA, a local business, or a single taxpayer, we have an obligation to update and inform the community on our process of spending MLO funds.

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?
During my tenure on the board, I have been an active voice for student safety. I believe student safety has two components – one physical and the other behavioral.
Physical improvements have been needed across the district to ensure we have a safe physical space for learning. We have pursued grants to meet this need, which is a strategy I would continue to focus on through another term. We must also continue to review our policies and procedures to ensure we are following current protocol for understanding who is in our school buildings throughout the day.
On the other side of the coin of safety is behavioral health. We must ensure our student’s feel safe and secure when they are learning within our walls. As D11 continues to phase in the community MLO dollars, I believe we will offer the most comprehensive and high-quality system in the state to ensure our students are cared for from an emotional/social/safety perspective.

Darleen Daniels 

Mary Coleman

Darleen Daniels
  • Darleen Daniels

Age: 50

Occupation: Mother of four, businesswoman, substitute teacher

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I am running for school board because I have a heart to see students succeed in public education. I have a heart for service to the Colorado Springs community especially after participating in the D11 Leadership Classes, DAC, SAC and substitute teaching for two years. Additionally, I have participated in various trainings, volunteering, committees and networking organizations in the Colorado Springs community at large. Each opportunity has developed and sharpened my skills for community engagement and leadership.

Board Member: Women to Women Mentoring

Board Member: Colorado Springs Black Chamber of Commerce

CO Founder: Thrive Colorado Springs

El Pomar Emgering Leaders Development Program

El Pomar Black Advisory Council

Graduate Class 2012: Leadership Pikes Peak Women Community Leadership Initiative (WCLI)

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Icehouse Entrepreneurial Graduate

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Next Level Graduate

El Pomar Board Governance Training

El Pomar Leadership Plenty Training

El Pomar College Readiness and Success Program, Ambassador

UCCS Pre-Collegiate Development Program, Ambassador

Leadership Pikes Peak Women Community Leadership Initiative (WCLI) Steering Committee

Step Up to Success Networking Group

Pueblo Business Women Networking Group

Diversity University Training

Business Network International (BNI) Member and Ambassador

Rodan +Fields Consultant Actor

What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

My priorities are developing in my role as a board member; building rapport with the Superintendent, incumbent board members, teachers, staff, janitors, etc. and doing what’s best for public education in Colorado Springs School District 11. But the truth is, it’s not just my top priorities, it’s the community’s as well. Colorado Springs School District 11 held World Cafés, conducted student and staff surveys, composed committees, for community members, parents, students, educators, staff, and Colorado Springs at large asking, “How can we work together for excellence in education?” We all constructed the strategic plan, mission statement and plan for equity developed in 2018-2019 school year for the future of District 11. You can find District
11’s Strategic Plan at

How would you achieve that?

As a participant in several World Cafés, surveys and committees, I will continue my partnership with the district and Colorado Springs community. Nothing will change as a newly elected Board of Education member. The first October 2019 World Café is held on Oct. 10. I will be there. And, District 11 is hosting three World Cafés in October 2019 for more community input. Please call the district office for more information. I am sure they will be excited to see you. You can view the previous World Café Summary Report here:

In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

A Mill Levy Override Oversight Committee is charged with the stewardship and oversight of the 2017 voter approved MLO. The committee is accountable and transparent with all efforts for funding and budget balances. Colorado is well below the national average in funding of public schools. See The Colorado School Finance Project article to keep you apprised of the challenges with teacher recruitment, retention and teachers’ salaries.

Realistically, layoffs and school closures may come; but, we will all have to work together and endure whatever challenges Colorado and Colorado Springs School District 11 might face. I can tell you this: I will be involved as a newly elected board member and/or community member.

School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

Colorado Springs School District 11 has safety for our students, staff, community and our buildings in the forefront of their daily operations. Constant measures are utilized to assure and evaluate student, building and staff, parental and community safety/security is in place inside and outside of the buildings. As a parent and substitute teacher, I have firsthand experience of being stopped for proper ID inside school buildings. The 2017 MLO has provided additional resource officers for our middle and high schools.

Dr. Parth Melpakam

Dr. Parth Melpakam
  • Dr. Parth Melpakam

Age: 51

Ocupation: Engineer

What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of

I am a parent of a sixth grade D11 student, who has attended D11 schools since
pre-kindergarten.  I served as the chair of the District Accountability Committee for the past two years, a member of the district Budget and Accreditation subcommittees and co-chaired the School Accountability Committee at Scott Elementary.  I received the El Paso County PTA Volunteer of the Year in 2018 and the “Friend of Education” award from Colorado Springs Education Association (CSEA) in 2019.

As the Chair of the DAC, I acquired broad insight into the various educational programs offered to our students, current operations of D11, financial realities of our district and provided detailed community feedback to the school board.  My involvement both at school and district level has helped me better comprehend all aspects of D11, from budget to curriculum to staffing, which will enable me to hit the ground running if I am elected.

I am passionate about public education and have a proven track record of engaging and building relationships with the D11 community by listening respectfully, communicating effectively, collaborating intentionally, and volunteering consistently.   Above all, I am committed to keeping the best interest of our students in all critical decisions.

What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

Educational equity, collaborative culture and advancement of the whole student (academic, social, emotional, physical and cultural) form the top priorities of the new D11 strategic plan. I was part of the Core Planning Team that drafted the language and content of this strategic plan, after extensive community input. 

If I am elected to the school board, my priority is to ensure that D11 public schools provide safe and welcoming learning environments, unique and innovative educational programs, and neighborhood schools that are focused on meeting the needs of the whole student. All students must have the opportunity and access to a high-quality education so they can excel and reach their full potential in their chosen pathway (prepared for college, career, and community).  In addition, we must improve graduation rates, lower dropout rates, and close achievement gaps, by providing a balanced curriculum with necessary supports and interventions for all students.

Every staff member must be provided the professional development and resources necessary to meet the unique needs of each individual student at optimal classroom sizes. We must eliminate disparities based on socioeconomic status, race, and ZIP-code so that our entire learning community, including all students and staff, can thrive.

How would you achieve that?

My unwavering commitment is to always put “students first” in all critical decisions. This student-focused approach will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are primarily spent in the classroom instruction that inspires each student’s natural curiosity, creativity, imagination, and desire to learn.

Academic outcomes are directly impacted by attendance and behavior issues, critical factors that can be addressed through Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). SEL provides a foundation for safe and positive learning, reduces isolation, stress, and depression, and enhances students’ ability to succeed in college, career, and community. It empowers our students to be responsible, resilient, and respectful of others, thereby promoting school connectedness and academic outcomes. Bullying, discipline, and chronic absenteeism decline as students thrive in safe, welcoming learning environments. I will ensure policies, practices, structures, and resources that continue positive whole student support.

By aligning the district resources with the new D11 strategic plan, removing systemic barriers that prevent equitable educational access for all students, exercising fiscal prudence and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and strategically collaborating with our community partners, D11 will be able to the achieve its mission of being the premier choice for students and parents in Colorado Springs.

In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would
you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

I first want to express my sincere gratitude to the voters for approving 2017 Mill Levy Override (MLO). It provided much-needed funds to compensate our staff fair living wages, address building renovations, hire additional school counselors and security officers, and focus on
improvements to student outcomes.

Transparency, communication, and responsible stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars are fundamental for building trust within the community.  As Chair of the District Accountability Committee, I consistently advocated for the implementation of all educational programs with fidelity, so all students could benefit.  I will continue to be a vocal advocate of honest conversations, responsible stewardship of district resources, and practicing financial accountability. I will support the independently established MLO Citizens’ Oversight Committee and the biennial external audits as they review, monitor, and assess performance of individual Program Implementation Plans (PIPs).

Staff layoffs and school closures are linked to declining student enrollment and resulting loss of per pupil funding dollars.  Creative solutions to reverse this trend include better marketing of our schools, continuing to offer and build the unique and innovative educational programs (traditional, career, or vocational pathways), ensuring that our students grow and achieve at their full potential, and promoting our schools as vibrant community hubs.

School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring
students are safe and buildings are secure?

Incidents of school violence across the country are on the rise, causing serious concerns
for parents and school administrators. There is nothing more important than the
safety of our students and staff and the security of our buildings.  The 2017 MLO provided critically needed funds to address school safety and hire additional safety resource officers, school counselors and psychologists. 

The D11 building security officers are trained professionals and are equipped with the
knowledge and resources to diffuse potential threats to the safety of our
students and staff.  In addition, it is necessary that all district personnel are trained to recognize and react to any type of threats or emergencies.

I am also a strong advocate of incorporating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills in classroom curriculum. Providing effective SEL tools empowers our students to take personal responsibility and accountability for their behavior and conduct in our schools. It reduces isolation, stress, and depression issues and lowers bullying and discipline incidents in schools. Building positive relationships in school with trusted adults will promote school connectedness and encourage
students to share potential struggles or problems, thereby decreasing youth suicides and violence.

Vince Puzick

Vince Puzick
  • Vince Puzick

Age: 62

Occupation: Education Consultant, freelance writer, retired

What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of

I have worked in public education for over 32 years: high school English teacher, literacy coach, district literacy content specialist, and the Literacy/Language Arts Content Specialist for the Colorado Department of Education. During the span of that career, I have had the opportunity to work alongside teachers, students, principals, district leadership, and state leadership toward school improvement and student achievement. While my experience has been more narrowly focused on literacy and English Language Arts, I have had extensive experience working with both developing and interpreting the results of student assessments, with analysis for data-driven decisions, efforts toward closing the achievement gap, and with systemic change initiatives at the building and district level.

What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

While there are several priorities competing for the “top,” providing access to rich academic curriculum and excellence in instruction remains No. 1. Academic achievement for all students has to remain the top priority. As a school district, our mission is to prepare our student population for future success regardless of the post- secondary paths. Academic achievement for all students means that we provide opportunities for artistic expression and appreciation, for STEM educational experiences, for student agency toward more personalized learning, for opportunities to grow in civic responsibilities, and for athletics with their ability to build perseverance, team- spiritedness, and sportsmanship. That being said, academic achievement does not happen in a vacuum. We must assure that students feel welcome and accepted in schools that are physically safe, emotionally and mentally supportive, and provide equitable

How would you achieve that?

As one individual on the board, I hope to impact the conversation by addressing the challenges in an inclusive manner: listening to the concerns of the public, considering the best research on complex issues, and tapping into the expertise of fellow board members, district staff and administrators, and community stakeholders. It will be important to include multiple voices to increase equitable educational opportunities for ALL students. We must ensure that our budget reflects the values and beliefs expressed in the district’s strategic plan, and its mission and vision statements. Because the board is charged with decision making around policies and budgets, we must look systemically at the current state of the district to shape its future. We are tasked with identifying and eliminating the barriers to an equitable education – and removing them from the system. We must build partnerships in order to access the different levels of expertise within the district and throughout the community to meet these challenges.

In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would
you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face
layoffs or school closures?

As mentioned above, we need to filter budget decisions through the strategic plan, the
mission and vision statements. We also have to face the challenges that being a landlocked district face. We have such little real estate to grow and expand, so we need to offer attractive education options in our schools to keep current families and students here, and to attract relocating families into our district’s boundaries. Layoffs and school closures should be seen as a last resort, even a desperate measure, to balance the budget – not as simply a “Plan B.” Because the issues around budget cuts, layoffs, and school closures call for critical discussions, we need board members who are capable of facilitating dialogue to include multiple perspectives, be innovative, and not settle for answers that serve the status quo, past “solutions,” or are mired in complacent thinking. I bring those skills to the table.

School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring
students are safe and buildings are secure?

First and foremost, we need to be proactive and attentive to the school climate and culture in each building. Many of the recent threats, even in our own district, have been by students in our district. We need to ensure that adults in the buildings are establishing relationships with students so that each child feels as if they can turn to an adult to discuss their own concerns or to talk about concerns they have regarding a fellow student. I am a big believer in the idea of students connecting with “one caring adult” in every building – and we never know which adult that may be. In addition, while Social-Emotional Learning is not the end-all and be-all, we do need to provide instruction and guidance so our students see that they have decision-making power regarding their school environment. To that end, we need to continue to tap into resources like Safe-2-Tell and encourage students to use that and similar resources to keep
schools safe. Finally, while the presence of guns does impact a building’s climate, we need to ensure that our security personnel are well-trained and seen as a part of the community for safety and not as an indicator of a system under threat.

Conner Sargent

Age: 20

Conner Sargent
  • Conner Sargent

Occupation: Security Guard

What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

As a recent high school graduate and college student, I can understand a lot of the issues facing students attending our schools presently. I have also worked extensively with Colorado Springs Teen Court a restorative justice program that helps at-risk teens in the community, and helped to craft my school's first-ever student government and severed as it’s very first senior class representative.

What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

My vision for Colorado Springs School District 11 is to once again make it the pinnacle of education in the city, much like it was when I first moved here 15 years ago. Today District 11 faces many challenges like the fact that have lost over 1,300 students in the past 2 years and we have 23 percent of students who live in D11 choosing to go to other school districts, which ranks us at third in the state for most students who live in our district choosing to go elsewhere. We also face the issue of our schools are struggling to bring in new teachers, or retain teachers that we have currently, and we have schools that don’t have floor plans, hail damage on roof that are 5+ years old, and nine schools that don’t have A/C units. And while these problems seem daunting, I believe that we as a community can come together to right the ship and once again make D11 the premier choice for education in Colorado Springs.

How would you achieve that?

The way in which we achieve that goal is to begin getting students to come back into the district. My plans to do that are: Switching to a college schedule in high schools, as well as offering more credit reimbursement to help give students who need to work part or full time jobs — as I did — the flexibility to do so while still being able to graduate on time. I’d also like to partner with businesses to give students internships and apprenticeships in career fields that students are interested in pursuing as well as focusing on reducing the amount of homework students have to do and focus the in-class time to be more focused on hands on learning projects that help students learn to think critically, problem solve, and prepare them to thrive after high school. To fix our teacher retention issue I’d like to put more teachers aides in classrooms as well as reducing classroom sizes and switching to a more performance based pay scale so teachers can receive the raises they deserve. And for fixing school infrastructure I’d like to partner with various building associations and construction workers in our communities to help us upgrade our schools.

In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

Honestly, with the current enrollment situation which has been losing 1,000 students last year and as of the most recent enrollment numbers we’ve lost another 300 students this year and are projected to lose another 400 students as well, it is not possible to guarantee there won’t be layoffs, program cancelations or school closures. However the way we can minimize layoffs and hopefully avoid closing schools or canceling programs would be by switching to a student budget system like they have in D49, which would allow schools to take care of things like infrastructure problems, ensuring that students have all the necessary tools they need for classes, and other items they and the community believe the school needs. By doing this we free up the school board to focus more on big picture spending like advertising, teacher pay, and other district wide programs like improving free school lunch programs. Switching to a Student Based Budgeting system has helped keep D49 afloat and I thoroughly believe it will do the same here by allowing the schools to focus on their immediate communities freeing up the school board to make decisions to get the district headed in the right direction.

School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

As a security supervisor for Empower at Mile High Stadium (Broncos stadium), it is my job to make sure 18-40 employees are doing their jobs so that roughly 80,000 people get in and out of events safely and I take making sure roughly 26,132 students get to school and back home safely just as seriously. Which is why I believe the best way to ensure the safety of all of our students will be to partner with CSPD and private security contractors who have hundreds of hours of trainings to protect our students, as well as upgrading the security doors and kiosks at all of our schools so that parents and students needn’t worry
about their safety and security while at a D11 school.

Joseph Shelton

Joseph Shelton
  • Joseph Shelton

Age: 23

Occupation: Program Assistant at Inside Out Youth Services

What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I am not a teacher nor a parent nor someone who has worked in schools. I am a former D11 student who went through the education process and has seen the inside to what our schools hold and what our district holds. During my junior year (Aug 2013 -May 2013), I was on Superintendent Dr. Nick Gledich's Student Sounding Board as a student representing Palmer High School. Currently, I am the Program Assistant at Inside Out Youth Services working to represent an underrepresented group of students inside of our community.

What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

My top priority is bringing the students voice back to our Board of Education. I want to make sure our staff and community is being heard as well, however, Dr. Michael Thomas has hosted World Cafés to connect with the staff and community on the issues to which they hold. I want to make sure that our students are getting a well representation as much as every other person.

How would you achieve that?

I would achieve representation of our students by having five student representatives (Palmer High, Doherty High, Mitchell High, Coronado High and the Wasson Academic Center) that would sit on the board and have one vote with the majority taking that vote. I believe by doing this, our students will fully have a voice inside of their education and see what goes into their educations. I believe this will help support a student in speaking out for change and working on making change for their schools and the surrounding schools.

4. In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

Colorado Springs School District 11 has done a great job in making sure the mill levy override is well spent and being used correctly. They have done this by holding an oversight committee and making sure every payment has been published on their website. If I am to get the honor of being elected, I want to get a whole line of the current budget and look to where anything may not align or may be getting misspent and make sure that we are able to properly move funding to where it needs to be in order to support our students, staff and community at large.

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

I believe that teachers are meant to educate not eradicate. I do not support arming our teachers with any type of weapon as I believe it is a threat to other staff, students and law enforcement
as they respond to emergencies. The National Association of School Resource Officers has already stated that they are against arming teachers. I do support of the arming security guards when they have completed rigorous training. In 2014, D11 approved arming school security guards. I also support having one main entrance in schools and having that as an area for signing in. Palmer High School currently has one entrance with a security guard at a desk. This entrance is the only area where students and the community can come into. This will allow for safety of all who enter the buildings, as it will make sure all people who are in the building are known and are seen by a staff official.

Chris Wallis

Chris Wallis
  • Chris Wallis
Age: 36

Occupation: Operations Supervisor

What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I am a PTA dad and member of the School Accountability Committee at my daughter’s school. I regularly attend school board meetings and work groups. I am a Colorado native with a degree in communications from the University of Denver. I am committed to serving the community by adopting a “listen first” approach and implementing solutions that are supported by meaningful research.

Professionally, I have had the opportunity to be part of a variety of teams, both big and small. I
have had the privilege of managing teams as small as 10 and am currently managing a team of nearly 100. My management style and philosophy is grounded in the idea of service. To me, an effective leader is one that is proficient in removing obstacles from front-line staff so that front-line staff can operate to the height of their potential.

What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

As a community, I would like to see us all commit to attaining the district’s goals outlined in the recently established strategic plan. The Colorado Springs community was heavily involved in the development of this plan and it is essential that the community continue to be involved during its implementation and ultimately its evaluation. The most pressing challenges of D11 are ensuring students are offered a world-class education across all schools, provided with the support necessary to develop their emotional competency, and prepared for the careers of tomorrow. Society is changing and education needs to change as well to meet the needs this changing world will present. While we might not fully know what the challenges of tomorrow are, we can make some good assumptions about the skill set that will help future leaders meet those challenges. In doing so we will be making sure that students can meet the height of their potential and prepare them to lead in a world that needs leaders.

3. How would you achieve that?

I intend to address these challenges by working with educators to implement a curriculum that emphasizes curiosity, creativity and kindness and aligning resources to meet children where they are. The needs of a student can vary dramatically on an individual level and from school to school. We can develop a world-class curriculum that is effective for all students and still allow for programs that seek to meet the unique needs of the community in which a school lives. On a practical level this means working to develop and expand special classes that will emphasize the process of inquiry and a multi-sensory approach to learning, building curriculum around Social and Emotional Learning in kindergarten and reinforcing this learning at all levels, and developing a budget that is considerate of the unique needs of each school and the particular neighborhood it serves.

In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or
school closures?

Budgets are the real-life manifestation of our values. As we pursue the goals of the district we must ensure that the budget we create aligns both with the strategic plan outlined by the community and the needs of students on the ground. In other words, our budget must address our aspirations and our realities. The 2017 MLO was a tremendous success for the students of D11 and with it comes the tremendous responsibility of good stewardship. One critical element of our success is ensuring that we can attract, retain, and continually develop outstanding educators. If elected director of the school board, I will prioritize a wage that reflects the essential role the play in society and professional development that will allow them to remain at the forefront of effectiveness in education. In demonstrating the value we place on educators, we will establish D11 as a highly desirable place of employment that will in turn establish the district as a highly desirable place of education.

School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

A sense of safety is a foundational element to the learning environment. It is not an understatement to say this country is facing a crisis with regard to school safety. While there are many factors that may contribute to this crisis, one thing we can introduce proactively are programs that integrate social and emotional learning into the curriculum. In conjunction and concurrently with this curriculum, we can ensure that students that might need additional attention beyond the scope of an educator’s training are identified and referred to a robust safety net that may involve the assistance of outside mental health professionals. Student resources officers (SROs) also play an important part in the safety of schools. It is essential that SRO are extensively trained in healthy communication skills and de-escalation techniques that should generally be their first response. Lastly, it is important that we consistently audit security procedures to ensure they are being applied with the sense of vigilance they require. A well-developed security plan will only be as effective as our commitment to its consistent implementation.

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Widefield District 3 school board election questionnaires

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 2:19 PM

Two seats on the Widefield School District 3 school board are up for general election Nov. 5.

Neil Nelson, Carlos Gonzalez, Victoria Latrell and Edward Mouchette are running in the general election for Widefield School District 3 school board at-large.

The following candidates responded to a questionnaire sent by the Indy.

Edward Mouchette

Age:  58

Occupation: U.S. Military (Ret.)

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I am certified by the Department of Education to be a surrogate parent for children with [the] Individual Education Program (IEP), evaluate, write and make placement decisions, I majored in adolescent psychology and justice studies/juvenile justice. I have adopted 10 children out of the Arizona state foster care system and I worked with DLS as a community adviser.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

I would like to see our District strengthen in special education programs, support our school safety program, fight for salary’s [sic] so we can stop turnover of educators, lobby to bring families back who have left the district for services offered by neighboring districts.

3. How would you achieve that?

I will research what is available for the district. I will stay in touch with parents so they know what is being addressed with the board and lobby that parents attend meetings and become involved. Also lobby Congress for more funding and monitor our military students [sic] progress coming from out of state locations.

4. In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or
school closures?

Do more research into the program, make sure it meets the needs for the district. The goal is to make sure we don’t loose [sic] any of the workforce within the district.

Neil Nelson

Neil Nelson
  • Neil Nelson

Age:  67                

Occupation: Retired Educator

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I taught science in the Widefield School District for 32 years before retiring in 2006.  My first 23 years were at Janitell Junior High, and my last 9 years at Mesa Ridge High School.  I am a member of the first faculty at Mesa Ridge, and started at Janitell before the building was even completed.  During my teaching career I served on numerous committees and taskforces, which looked at a number of issues ranging from the district calendar to the screening of candidates for Superintendent.  I served many years on the Secondary Science Curriculum team.  I was always an employee who was willing to put in extra time to talk about district
or building issues.  I have been a parent, teacher, and public servant in the Widefield School District and understand the unique challenges and issues facing all of these parties.  I have served on the Board of Education for three years.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

I want
the Widefield School District to be a place where: students achieve theirmaximum potential, employees enjoy their jobs, and parents feel excited about sending their children.

3. How would you achieve that?

It’s important for schools to provide students lots of different experiences.  I support a wide range of curriculum opportunities as well as a full athletic program. Not every student is destined to go to four years of college, so we have programs that provide students opportunities that can lead into meaningful careers without a college degree. 

Students and parents have the opportunity to make choices about the schools students attend.  Four of our elementary schools have been designated Innovation schools.  Elementary students can attend schools that emphasize the arts, STEAM, project based learning, or computer
integration.  Full ranges of classes from the building trades to Advanced Placement classes are offered in our High Schools and at our state of the art building trades facility.  Our superior music programs are recognized across the state.

I want our employees to feel appreciated and be compensated to the best of our ability. They all work very hard and play a momentous role in shaping our future.

Our parents should know that we want their children to succeed, and always feel safe at school.  We want our students and parents to always have fond memories of their times in Widefield.

4. In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or
school closures?

In 2017 we asked the voters in Widefield to approve a mill levy override and a bond measure to:
build a new preK – 8th school, to attract and retain high quality employees and to upgrade our security systems in the district.  I proud of the fact that this year we opened Grand Mountain School, our employees have received increases the last two years, and we have added additional security personnel and equipment throughout the district. 

It had been almost two decades since the district asked the community to pass a mill and bond measure.

The boards in Widefield have always been fiscally conscience and look for ways to stretch the taxpayer’s dollar.  We are fortunate to be in a part of the county where growth is occurring, and our numbers of students are going up.  The prospect of layoffs or school closures thankfully does not exist. 

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

I will continue to vote to improve our district security. Each building has key card readers for entry and visitors are screened and must provide ID to enter the buildings.  We continue to upgrade and install cameras to monitor our buildings. We have increased our number of Campus Supervisors and armed our District level security personnel. School safety will always get a great deal of attention from me.

We need to continue to adequately staff our schools and district with mental health professionals and identify students who are struggling.  Students need to feel, and be safe while at school.  I want our students to be excited about going to school!  Years after graduating when students say: “When I went to school…”, I want the stories to be happy ones with good memories.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

District attorney candidates bring in the cash

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 5:32 PM

Commissioner Waller leads the fund-raising race. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Commissioner Waller leads the fund-raising race.
The battle for the Republican nomination for top prosecutor in the 4th Judicial District is shaping up to be a well-funded race on both sides, according to campaign finance reports filed Oct. 15.

El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller has brought in $35,895, of which $10,000 was a loan by the candidate and has $33,583 on hand.

Waller's backers include a number of developers, including Vince Colarelli, Gary Erickson, Mark Long, several employees of Classic Homes and Danny Mientka. So it's not surprising that he's also won support from the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael Allen - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael Allen

Waller also drew contributions from former State Sen. Bernie Herpin and his wife and fellow Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael Allen, who's not held elective office before, has raised $21,750 and has $14,928 on hand.

Notables in Allen's camp include downtown developers Sam and Kathleen Guadagnoli, former CEO of the El Pomar Foundation Bill Hybl and El Pomar board member Thayer Tutt Jr., downtown entrepreneur Perry Sanders, Mayor John Suthers, City Councilor Jill Gaebler and the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association.

So far, the two Republicans are the only ones seeking to succeed DA Dan May, who's held the seat for three four-year terms and is term-limited from seeking a fourth.
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Where to get flu shots in Colorado Springs

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 3:57 PM

  • Shutterstock
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you get a flu shot before the end of October, but getting vaccinated remains worthwhile late into the year.

"The question is typically, 'Will it last? If I get it early, will it last through the season?' And the answer to that is yes," says Cynthia Wacker, manager of Mission Ministry & Outreach for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. "It really does last — keeps that immunity for up to a year — but you do need to get a flu shot every year. It's critical."

Flu shots are especially important for members of high-risk groups, including children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, nursing home residents and those with certain medical conditions. People from these groups are prone to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections, according to the CDC.

But Wacker says the flu can affect everyone differently. For example, a 20-something with a poor diet might experience worse symptoms than a healthy, active senior.

Regardless of your own risk factors, don't just get a flu shot for yourself, Wacker says.

"It's important for your family," she points out. "If you're a grandparent, it's important that you are not going to get the flu so that your children don't get it, your grandchildren don't get it, the people in your church. All the people that you're around."

El Paso County Public Health recorded 458 influenza-related hospitalizations last winter. If that doesn't scare you, at least take pity on your neighbors, relatives and coworkers, and go get a dang shot.

Here's how...

Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder for a list of clinic locations. Your insurance should cover a flu shot without charging a copay, but may restrict the locations or health care providers — so check with your insurance provider if you're worried about that.

Most pharmacies charge around $20 to $45 per flu shot for people paying out of pocket.

Penrose-St. Francis Faith Community Nurses will also provide free flu shots for uninsured and underinsured adults, and children over 4 years old, at one-day clinics in various locations around the city.

The nurses have a limited number of free vaccines available, Wacker says, so they ask that if you do have insurance and can get a free shot elsewhere, to please do so.

Their remaining schedule for 2019 includes the following dates:

Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at Family Connections, 917 E. Moreno Ave.
Thursday, Oct. 17 from noon to 2 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument
Saturday, Oct. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m., and
Sunday, Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 2715 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Ecumenical Social Ministries, 201 N. Weber St.
Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Westside Cares, 2808 Colorado Ave.
Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Grace Be Unto You Outreach Church, 3195 Airport Road
Tuesday, Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Marian House, 14 W. Bijou St.
Wednesday, Nov. 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Springs Rescue Mission, Thanksgiving, City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

11 stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:52 PM

  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs

The Colorado Springs I-25 gateway sign was recently modernized. It maintains its original structure to honor those who worked on it from 1988 to its installation in 1993.

Colorado CASA
, Court Appointed Special Advocates, launched its ‘’Change a Child’s Story’’ campaign to recruit 2,000 volunteers by the end of 2020 to advocate for children in the welfare system.

The third annual State of the Outdoors will be held at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium on Oct. 29, and its focus will again be to elevate the outdoor industry in the Pikes Peak region.

  • Courtesy City Of Colorado Springs

The Starsmore Nature Trail was officially opened on Oct. 12, as was a new geology exhibit, “Mountains of Time” in the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center. The new trail provides better access to North Cheyenne Creek. The new permanent exhibit examines 2 billion years of geologic history.

The Pedal Station, a community biking center, is in need of bikes, according to nonprofit Kids on Bikes. Used bikes of any size can be dropped of at 1026 S. Tejon St. 

District 49 held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 10 to launch its new Construction Trades Building at the Falcon Legacy Campus, Peyton.

Vickie Tonkins was elected chairwoman of the El Paso County Republican Party on Oct. 12. Wendy Miller was elected vice-chairwoman.

About 40 Park County teachers and dozens of support staff began a strike on Oct. 14 after the Park County School District refused to discuss teacher pay. Classes were cancelled.

The Decker Fire southwest of Salida swelled to more than 8,100 acres and was 30 percent contained as of Oct. 14.

City Council will host town halls to discuss accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, on Oct. 29 and Nov. 19 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in City Hall.

  • El Paso County

New runners who sign up for Bear Creek Nature Center’s 5th Annual Bear Run receive a bear suit with registration — and those who’ve participated before can dust off their old costume and run or walk for a discounted rate. Visit for more information and to register for this event. Funds raised benefit the Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers group.

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Changes ahead for health care in Colorado

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:46 PM


People shopping for individual health insurance plans in Colorado can expect to pay an average of 20.2 percent less on premiums next year, Gov. Jared Polis announced Oct. 10. That change exceeds the 18.2 percent decrease predicted in July.

In the Colorado Springs area, premiums on individual plans will decrease by an average of 17.6 percent.

The reductions come after the federal government officially OK’d Colorado’s “reinsurance program” — a state enterprise that covers a portion of high-cost claims so that private insurance carriers can lower premiums. 

Meanwhile, the state’s Division of Insurance and Department of Health Care Policy and Financing released a draft proposal for a “public option,” or government-backed insurance plan to compete with private insurance plans.

According to the proposal, the plan would save Coloradans an average of 9 to 18 percent on individual premiums.

Visit to view the proposal and submit comments. 

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Abuse victims can receive compensation from the Church

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:43 PM


The state’s three Catholic dioceses in Denver, Pueblo and Colorado Springs launched a reparations program intended to compensate victims of childhood sexual abuse by clergy.

Those who have never reported abuse must file a claim for reparations by Nov. 30, by visiting or calling 833-521-0015. Those who have reported abuse in the past can file a claim until Jan. 31.

People who receive compensation through the fund must agree, before accepting the money, not to file a lawsuit against the dioceses (but are free to publicly share what happened to them). Victims who previously settled sexual abuse claims with the dioceses are not eligible for compensation.

An independent third-party review of sexual abuse of minors within the three dioceses is scheduled for completion this fall. 

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“Public charge” rule blocked (for now)

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:36 PM


A rule change allowing immigration officials to deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to use public benefits has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge in New York.  

The change, proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration, drew fire from immigrant advocates who said it would discourage legal immigrants from applying for benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Days before the rule change was to be implemented, U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels issued a preliminary injunction stopping it from taking effect.

He called the rule “repugnant to the American dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upwards mobility.” 

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, tweeted a challenge to Daniels’ ruling.

“An objective judiciary will see that this rule lies squarely within long-held existing law,” he wrote, signaling that the administration plans to continue pushing for the change.

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Bear-proof trash cans OK’d

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:31 PM


Beware of potential fines if you live on the Westside and don’t secure trash according to a new ordinance adopted unanimously by Colorado Springs City Council on Oct. 8. Second reading is Oct. 22.

Violators could face fines of $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second and $500 thereafter if they don’t use bear-resistant trash cans or put out their waste before 5 a.m. on trash collection day and take in the container by 7 p.m.

The new ordinance, to go into effect March 1, 2020, applies to areas in the city west of Interstate 25. The ordinance allows a resident to appeal a citation in certain circumstances.

The goal is to reduce confrontations between bears and humans, and to reduce bear euthanizations in Colorado Springs resulting from those confrontations.

Many regional mountain towns have similar ordinances, including Palmer Lake and Manitou Springs. 

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Be ready to vote Nov. 5

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:28 PM


If you want to vote on two state measures — one regarding tax refunds — or weigh in on a variety of municipal measures and school board races, make sure you’re a registered voter.

If you’re not registered, do so online ( or at a number of locations across El Paso County, some of which have Saturday hours.

To vote, you must be a United States citizen, 18 years old and have lived in Colorado 22 days before the election.

If you register less than eight days before an election, you won’t be mailed a ballot. Rather, you’ll have to go to a voting service center to get one.

Ballots for the Nov. 5 election have been mailed. If you haven’t received one and should have, notify the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 719-575-VOTE (8683).

Before you call, visit, which has specific listings of ballot drop-off points, a sample ballot and other important information.

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City switches EMS gears

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:23 PM

  • Courtesy Falck Ambulance

On Oct. 11, the city of Colorado Springs announced that negotiations for the city’s five-year emergency ambulance service contract (due to start Jan. 1) ended with Denmark-based Falck Ambulance, and new talks with American Medical Response had begun.

City spokesperson Jamie Fabos said in a statement that Falck Rocky Mountain and the city “mutually agreed” to end talks. Following city procedures, the city is obligated to open negotiations with the next highest ranked offeror, AMR of Greenwood Village.

Falck Rocky Mountain CEO David Patterson said that during negotiations, “the City indicated it wanted a contract with Falck that was considerably different” than what it proposed, which Falck believed would likely be unsustainable.

“[W]e are not willing to make unsustainable commitments,” he said.

AMR’s Vice President of Operations Scott Lenn says, “We appreciate the opportunity and look forward to sitting down to discuss the EMS system in Colorado Springs.”

AMR has served the city for decades.

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