Wednesday, November 28, 2018

UCHealth pays COS health foundation $675,475 in revenue sharing

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2018 at 10:27 AM

Memorial's stroke center includes an emergency vehicle to respond to stroke patients throughout the community. - PHOTOS COURTESY UCHEALTH MEMORIAL
  • Photos Courtesy UCHealth Memorial
  • Memorial's stroke center includes an emergency vehicle to respond to stroke patients throughout the community.
The city's lease of city-owned Memorial Hospital to UCHealth is again paying off, with a $675,475 revenue-sharing check issued to the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, UCHealth said in a release.

It's the fourth consecutive year UCHealth has issued such a payment since the lease began on Oct. 1, 2012. Revenue sharing totals $4.45 million over the four years. The money is used by the foundation to improve the health of the community.

This year's payment is lower than previous checks due to UCHealth's investment in the local system, including achieving the first Level 1 Trauma Center designation for a facility outside the Denver metro area at Memorial Central and obtaining certification as a comprehensive stroke center. (Despite Memorial having the only such stroke center label in Southern Colorado, the city has instructed emergency crews not to give preference to Memorial for stroke patients, but to also transport them to Penrose Hospital.)
UCHealth Memorial is operated under a 40-year lease that includes participation in providing training to medical students.
  • UCHealth Memorial is operated under a 40-year lease that includes participation in providing training to medical students.
In addition, UCHealth invested in Grandview Hospital to expand the innovative orthopedic care the hospital can provide, UCHealth said in a release.

“Grandview now offers advanced orthopedic specialties from a host of talented surgeons using state-of-the-art equipment," Joel Yuhas, president and CEO of UCHealth Memorial, said in the release. "While such investments in physician growth, new services and new facilities in fiscal year 2018 resulted in a decrease this year in our revenue-sharing payment, we are confident these investments will benefit the health of residents in southern Colorado for years to come.”

Revenue-sharing payments stem from earnings in excess of baseline percentages outlined in the 40-year lease, under which UCHealth also pays the foundation roughly $5.6 million a year, among other provisions.

From the release:
Growth this past year included:
• A 19 percent increase in hospitalized patients at Memorial Central and North
• A 39 percent increase in Emergency Department visits at both campuses
• A 25 percent increase in outpatient visits
• The addition of 70 physicians to the UCHealth Medical Group, improving access to primary and specialty care

Among the many advancements made in the past year:
• In April, the State of Colorado designated UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central as a Level I Trauma Center, making it the only hospital in southern Colorado to achieve the highest classification for trauma care.
• The expansion of Memorial Hospital North continues, with eight additional exam rooms, including two new trauma suites, recently added to the emergency department. Two new operating rooms were also opened, and a new 47-bed tower is scheduled to open to patients in February. The new tower adds additional bed capacity for maternity and medical/surgical services, as well as an expansion of the cancer center.
• In January, Memorial Central became the first hospital in southern Colorado designated as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, a classification given to programs that offer the highest and most advanced level of stroke care.
• A new state-of-the-art air ambulance helicopter was added to UCHealth LifeLine’s transport fleet to ensure patients throughout southern Colorado and northern New Mexico receive rapid and safe transport to needed medical services.
• Pikes Peak Regional Hospital in Woodland Park joined UCHealth.
• Grandview Hospital became fully owned and operated by UCHealth.

“UCHealth has advanced the level of care in Colorado Springs, and those are dividends that play out in multiple ways – in the health of our families that receive care there and via the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, which will use the funds to address crucial needs in our region and support organizations that encourage healthy living,” City Councilor Merv Bennett said said in the release. “This is not only a tribute to the entire team at UCHealth Memorial, but also a reminder to the citizens of Colorado Springs that they made an important decision in 2012 in choosing UCHealth to lead the hospital.”
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A little Giving Tuesday inspiration from Give! nonprofits

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 12:31 PM

Now that you're done splurging on Black Friday doorbusters, small business steals and cyber deals, you may have a hankering to give back this Giving Tuesday.

The annual Give! campaign — featuring a whopping 93 local nonprofits — is a good place to start. The campaign, now in its 10th year, is the civic arm of Colorado Publishing House, which owns the Colorado Springs Independent, Colorado Springs Business Journal and the Pikes Peak Bulletin.

Give! has helped 180 local nonprofits raise more than $9.6 million from over 74,000 donations since its start in 2009. The campaign also helps nonprofits access matching grants, media exposure and capacity-building training.

Each week through December, we're profiling two nonprofits in the Independent to help you get to know them. Check out the stories we've published so far, for your Giving Tuesday inspiration:

Peak Military Care Network
"When members of the military need expanded assistance, it can be difficult for them to find exactly what they need. Since 2004, Peak Military Care Network has endeavored to change that, creating a centralized hub of support that guides those seeking answers to the proper services and information."
Angels of America's Fallen provides kids with opportunities for growth through activities like making art, playing music or sports, baking and dance. - COURTESY ANGELS OF AMERICA'S FALLEN
  • Courtesy Angels of America's Fallen
  • Angels of America's Fallen provides kids with opportunities for growth through activities like making art, playing music or sports, baking and dance.
Angels of America's Fallen
"Angels of America's Fallen devotes itself to mentoring children of those who have given their lives to protect others, by providing positive outlets for them to develop while missing one of their most important mentors."

Wild Blue Cats
"Envision 1,750 cats at large across the county, with no homes, having kittens, starving. Thanks to Wild Blue Cats, that same number of felines found shelter and food at the nonprofit's Black Forest-area refuge, which also neuters or spays and provides veterinary care."

Paws N Hooves
"Thousands of animals ... annually pass through the rescue, also known as Black Forest Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter. Located on 35 acres, the nonprofit began as a wildlife rescue, but now handles domesticated animals that include cats, parrots, lizards, horses, miniature donkeys, goats, sheep, ducks, llamas and a Holstein steer named Homer."

High Plains Helping Hands
"On the grounds of Mountain Springs Church, Helping Hands boasts a clean and comfortable waiting room for those who use its food pantry, a fully stocked storeroom with everything from packaged pies to fresh vegetables, an outdoor garden area and an aquaponics greenhouse — all geared toward giving individuals in its service area (20 ZIP codes) a fresh start."

Finding Our Voices
"[Joyce] Aubrey established Finding Our Voices in 2009, hoping to provide a platform for survivors of sexual assault to share their healing journeys through artwork. It began as an annual art show, still held every April at Cottonwood Center for the Arts."

You can browse the full list nonprofits and make donations on, which includes information about each organization's mission, matching grants, leaderboards and more.

If good karma isn't enough, Give! partners offer exciting rewards for those who donate as little as $25. Young donors are eligible for their own unique prizes.
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Lorena Garcia announces challenge to Cory Gardner in 2020

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 11:56 AM

Lorena Garcia: Hoping to unseat Cory Gardner. - COURTESY LORENA GARCIA
  • Courtesy Lorena Garcia
  • Lorena Garcia: Hoping to unseat Cory Gardner.
Three weeks after the midterm election, Colorado's U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has his first opponent in Lorena Garcia, the head of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition.

Garcia, a Democrat, said in a news release she will challenge the Yuma Republican for his Senate seat in the 2020 election and becomes the first challenger to Gardner, who some see as vulnerable, especially in light of the blue wave that washed over the state on Nov. 6, leading Democrats to capture all constitutional statewide races, as well as majorities in the state House and Senate.

Garcia, who has been active in the nonprofit world and on women's and Latina rights, is also married to a woman — notable because the midterm proved pivotal for LGBTQ Colorado candidates, with the election of the state's first gay governor and other major wins for LGBTQ people.

From Garcia's news release:
Garcia is running on a platform with a core focus on economic equity for all, the cornerstone of which includes access to healthcare and education. As a veteran organizer, Garcia supports women’s rights, funding for public transportation and civil rights protections for women’s reproductive independence.

“It’s time for a new voice in the U.S. Senate,” said Garcia. “We are at a crossroads in our history where we can no longer accept the status quo and must take action to fix our broken government systems. I’m running because we need innovative leaders who will work on behalf of the interests of every Coloradan, not for political self-interest.”

Dedicated to serving nonprofit organizations over her entire career, Garcia has acted as Executive Director of Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition since March of this year. Garcia has also served as Executive Director for Namlo International since 2017. Namlo is an international nonprofit organization that works in Nepal and Nicaragua, supporting local communities to achieve economic self-sufficiency through grassroots development projects.

Tirelessly working toward uplifting the dignity of marginalized communities, Garcia served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Organization For Latina Opportunity and reproductive Rights and prior to that as the Colorado State Director of 9to5, National Association for Working Women.

As a 7th generation Coloradan on her father’s side and first generation on her mother’s side, Garcia’s family background mirrors the diversity families represent in Colorado and across the country. She is the youngest of six siblings and aunt to 16 nieces and nephews and has been married to her wife for seven years. 
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Springs' RV parking ban heads for December vote

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 11:55 AM

RVs like this one have proliferated on city streets, triggering an ordinance to bar them from parking on the streets of Colorado Springs. - GREG GJERDINGEN ON FLICKR
  • Greg Gjerdingen on Flickr
  • RVs like this one have proliferated on city streets, triggering an ordinance to bar them from parking on the streets of Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs has long banned parking RVs on city streets in residential neighborhoods, but soon, City Council will cast a vote on whether to expand that prohibition to all city streets.

The proposed ordinance is part of the city's efforts to address the city's homeless problem, with Police Commander Sean Mandel telling Council that many of the complaints received over the last year involve homeless people living in RVs parked all over the city.

The biggest issues are safety of drivers and pedestrians, environmental impact from RV occupants dumping human waste and other refuse on city streets or into storm sewers and quality of life of residents who observe such activity.

Mandel said during a Council work session on Nov. 26 the Colorado Springs Police Department has seen "a dramatic increase" in complaints over the last year.

"What we’re hoping for is to enable ourselves to go out and contact these owners of vehicles and inform them of the fines associated with the ordinance change," he said. "With the possibility of fines, we can get these vehicles to move and park somewhere outside the city limits."

Those fines are $75 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $125 for the third. It would be a non-jailable offense, but officers could impound the RV, although that would be a last resort.

Councilor David Geislinger, who said he opposes the ordinance as currently written, said he foresees creating a "Whack-a-mole" situation where RV dwellers would merely move the problem from place to place.

He also said he views the ordinance as criminalizing homelessness, though the city's legal advisor said the offense is a parking violation, not a criminal charge.

"I would like to see this ordinance and this problem addressed as part of the ambit of homeless diversion program in our city courts," he said. "The first approach is to bring these families, these individuals into the ambit of services. We heard that the homeless community is expressing frustration that every time they move, they’re losing all their possessions. So with this ordinance, the RV is impounded because of a violation of this statute, and all of a sudden we’ve taken that situation for that family and made it worse."

Mandel told Council the Homeless Outreach Team would likely carry out checks on RVs seen as breaking the ordinance, although all officers could issue citations.

But Geislinger was adamant that the ordinance doesn't truly hit the homeless problem head on. "This is part of the homeless issue that many people are not aware of," he said. "Now that it is out in the open, it is our job collectively to do what we can to address it."

Council is set to vote on the ordinance on Dec. 11.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Senate bill could help Colorado's wildlife hit hard by brain disease

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 4:44 PM

At least 37 percent of Colorado's elk herds are affected by chronic wasting disease. - COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE / DAVID HANNIGAN
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife / David Hannigan
  • At least 37 percent of Colorado's elk herds are affected by chronic wasting disease.

A fatal neurological disease that affects more than half of Colorado's deer herds is getting renewed attention on Capitol Hill.

Colorado's Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet joined Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in introducing a bill Nov. 15 that would authorize a national study on how to prevent chronic wasting disease from spreading. (A similar bill was introduced in June in the House, where it currently sits in committee.)

The disease is caused by a protein that "attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose, causing the animals to display abnormal behavior, become uncoordinated and emaciated, and eventually die," according to information on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) website. It's been cited by city councilors as one reason Colorado Springs should authorize urban hunting or hire professional shooters to control the deer population.

The bill, of which Barrasso is the lead sponsor, would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to review data and best management practices from state agencies. The goal is to "give state wildlife agencies and wildlife experts information to conduct targeted research on how the disease is transmitted, determine which areas are most at risk, and develop consistent advice for hunters to prevent further spread," according to a statement from Bennet's office.

CPW calls chronic wasting disease — which affects at least 57 percent of the state's deer herds, 37 percent of its elk herds and 22 percent of its moose herds — a "significant threat to the future health and vitality" of deer, elk and moose.

City Councilors Andy Pico, Don Knight and Merv Bennett had hoped the city would be able to hire professional hunters to cull a few dozen does within city limits in January. Though allowing urban bowhunting was one option councilors had originally discussed, they concluded at an August meeting with city and state officials that it was too close to the end of the season to implement such a policy.

The city issued a request for proposals on Aug. 20 for deer management, which called for a plan to be submitted by Sept. 30. "The deer management program is intended to maintain deer as an asset to the community; prevent disease due to overpopulation of deer; reduce the public safety risks of deer-vehicle conflicts; and preserve and protect the land of private and public property owners," the RFP said.

From there, the councilors had hoped the city could issue a new RFP for a culling company to carry out the management plan.

When asked whether that timeline was still in place, Pico said in a Nov. 21 email that one firm submitted a response to the RFP for a management plan, but it recommended the city not proceed "based on several factors."

"Also, the state has to approve such a plan and none have been approved in the state that I’m aware of," he wrote. "So culling in January isn’t going to happen."

In the meantime, Pico points out that City Council will consider a "don't feed the wildlife" ordinance for final approval Nov. 27. The ordinance would implement a $500 fine, on top of the state's $50 fine, for providing food to bears, skunks, raccoons, wolves, coyotes, foxes, deer, elk, moose, antelopes and other urban wildlife. The city contends that feeding wildlife "endangers the health and safety of both residents and animals" via vehicle crashes and wildlife's reliance on food from humans.

"And in the near term," Pico writes, "we will continue to cull using Fords, Chevys and Toyotas."

The city reports that a CPW survey counted about 2,700 deer in an area west of Interstate 25, or about 70 deer per square mile. From January to November 2017, Public Works removed 306 dead deer from roads and elsewhere, and police report about 50 traffic crashes involving deer each year.

CPW estimates about 200 does per year need to be eliminated to have an impact on herds within the city limits, the city says.

Read the full text of the Senate bill here:

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Canada lacks resources to fully cover NORAD obligations, auditor finds

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 2:52 PM

A CF-18 flying over Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. - DOD PHOTO BY MASTER SGT. JOHN GORDINIER
  • DoD Photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier
  • A CF-18 flying over Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada.

Canada doesn't have enough pilots or aircraft to cover obligations under NATO and North American Aerospace Defense Command, the bi-national command located at Peterson Air Force Base, according to a report by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, and other news agencies report.

The problem stems from an aging fleet of aircraft, pilots leaving the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at a swifter clip than they can be replaced and a shortage of aircraft technicians. RCAF Capt. Cameron Hillier, spokesperson at NORAD, tells the Independent that while aware of the report, the command is confident there is no gap in coverage of the North American continent.

"We can pull assets from both countries," Hiller says. "NORAD is in a position to pull assets from both countries to address the threat. It's a matter of where the assets are and timely response. The RCAF and U.S. Air Force are meeting those needs."

According to the auditor's report, the RCAF has only 64 percent of the trained CF-18 pilots it needs to meet its commitments and that pilots are leaving faster than new ones can be trained, reports.

“According to National Defence, between April 2016 and March 2018, the Royal Canadian Air Force lost 40 trained fighter pilots and produced only 30 new ones. Since then, an additional 17 fighter pilots left or stated their intention to leave,” says the Auditor General.

Also from the Auditor General's report:
Since 2014, departures of experienced CF-18 technicians have reduced the overall expertise of the fighter force, which has negatively affected fleet maintenance. Because of these departures, from 2014 until 2018, the average maintenance hours needed for every hour that a CF-18 flew increased from 21 to 24. In addition, as the fleet ages, it will become more difficult and take longer for technicians to maintain the CF-18s.
The report also notes in the 2017-18 fiscal year, 28 percent of pilots flew fewer than the required 140 hours, partly due to the shortage of personnel to maintain the aircraft.
Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds aerial demonstration team perform a flyover during the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s 60th Anniversary Ceremony on Peterson Air Force Base on May 12. The ceremony and static display of various NORAD aircraft was the culmination of a three-day event, which included a media tour of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, the dedication of a cairn outside the commands’ headquarters building memorializing the Canadians who have passed away while serving NORAD, and a fly over in missing-man formation performed by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds aerial demonstration team. - DEFENSE DEPARTMENT PHOTO BY JHOMIL BANSIL
  • Defense Department Photo By Jhomil Bansil
  • Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds aerial demonstration team perform a flyover during the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s 60th Anniversary Ceremony on Peterson Air Force Base on May 12. The ceremony and static display of various NORAD aircraft was the culmination of a three-day event, which included a media tour of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, the dedication of a cairn outside the commands’ headquarters building memorializing the Canadians who have passed away while serving NORAD, and a fly over in missing-man formation performed by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds aerial demonstration team.
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Manitou Springs City Council OKs new agreement with Cog Railway

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 2:46 PM

The Cog has remained idle since October 2017 awaiting an upgrade that could cost $100 million. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • The Cog has remained idle since October 2017 awaiting an upgrade that could cost $100 million.
Manitou Springs City Council approved a revised agreement with the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway on Nov. 20, setting the stage for a 50-year pact that will enable the Cog to be refurbished for a 2021 opening, the Colorado Springs Business Journal reported.

From that report:
The cog’s owners, The Oklahoma Publishing Co., must now decide whether to spend nearly $100 million to rebuild, renovate and upgrade the railway, which has been closed since fall 2017. And under the terms of the new agreement, both parties must sign it by Nov. 30.

The agreement replaces one that the council approved June 26. That agreement was first publicly proposed two weeks earlier, drawing criticism from citizens that the process was rushed and lacked public input. Citizens also objected to the 50-year term of the agreement and said it placed too great a burden on Manitou Springs’ taxpayers.

Since then, negotiations have continued between the cog’s owners, who also own The Broadmoor, and Manitou’s team.

Under the original agreement, the city would have rebated a portion of the city’s 5 percent excise tax on ticket sales and all of the 3.8 percent use tax on the improvements. The cog offered to pay Manitou Springs $500,000 this year and a similar amount in 2019 to compensate for loss of revenue during construction....

The new agreement retains a cap on excise tax payments during the first 25 years of the agreement. After that, the cog would pay at least 3.8 percent on ticket sales and would remit the full 5 percent excise tax in any year in which ticket sales exceeded 375,000 — provisions intended to offset the effects of inflation and ridership growth. The cog also agreed to pay an additional $250,000 to the city in 2020, since the owners estimate the railway wouldn’t be able to reopen until spring 2021.
The Cog closed in October 2017 citing the need to revamp and replace the railway to Pikes Peak.

Oklahoma Publishing is owned by multi-billionaire Philip Anschutz, who also owns The Broadmoor resort.
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USA Gymnastics refuses to relinquish governing body status, triggering hearing process

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 2:43 PM

Who will manage the USOC gymnastics stars of tomorrow? - DONALD JUDGE/FLICKR
  • Donald Judge/Flickr
  • Who will manage the USOC gymnastics stars of tomorrow?
USA Gymnastics has refused to relinquish control of the national governing body to the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Olympic Committee, triggering a hearing process that USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland says could take weeks or months to complete.

USOC's complaint, filed on Nov. 5, stems from USAG's failure to act to protect gymnasts from sexual assault by doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced earlier this year to essentially life in prison for his molestation of dozens of gymnasts.

In a statement, Hirshland wrote:
As we’ve said before, this is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions. Seeking to revoke recognition is not a decision that the USOC came to easily, but we continue [to] believe it is the right action. While there are important questions to answer as we move forward with this process, we are eager for the hearing panel to begin its work and for our board to come to a final determination.
In a letter to gymnasts and the gymnastic community dated Nov. 21, Hirshland notes that the USOC's complaint filed on Nov. 5 seeks to revoke USA Gymnastics' recognition as the governing body in the United States, which allowed USAG to surrender its recognition.

But on Nov. 19, the USAG refused to relinquish control and instead asked questions about the hearing process. A series of questions and answers about the process are below.

She says in her Nov. 21 statement the next step requires her to choose an independent, three-person hearing panel with representatives from the USOC board of directors, the NGB Council and the Athletes’ Advisory Council. The panel will review her complaint and USAG’s response, hold a hearing, create a report and make a recommendation for the full USOC board, which will then take action.

"A formal timeframe is not described in our bylaws, so I don’t know exactly how long this process may take," Hirshland says. "At minimum, we expect it will take several weeks, perhaps a few months."

If the process concludes by USAG losing recognition, the USOC, on an interim basis, would assume control of USAG’s program. From Hirshland's letter:
The USOC would remain in that role until a new or existing organization has been identified to assume the responsibility of serving as the recognized NGB for gymnastics. It will be the critically important responsibility of that organization to lead gymnastics in the United States and rebuild a supportive community of athletes and clubs that can carry the sport forward for decades to come. The USOC is prepared to identify and help build such a culture for current and future generations of American gymnasts.
Read the Nov. 21 letter here:
The Q&A issued by the USOC:
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Monday, November 19, 2018

'Manny the beaver' lives: Video captures evidence

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2018 at 7:00 PM

  • Illustration by Dustin Glatz with assets from

Our Nov. 14 cover story (Beavers drive a wedge between Manitou Springs environmentalists, business owners) drew responses from readers empathetic to both the plight of Manitou's euthanized beavers, and to the decision of a motel owner to protect her property.

Two readers' letters are printed below. But perhaps the most intriguing development since we published the story is this video from Roy Chaney, director of aquatics and fitness at the Manitou Pool and Fitness Center.

A camera donated by Defenders of Wildlife proves Manny the beaver is still living in Schryver Park. We can't say exactly what he's doing, but it looks like he's moving with a purpose! Share with all your coworkers who need a little midday motivation to do the same.

Below, Heidi Perryman, founder of California nonprofit Worth a Dam, shares her thoughts:
I was sorry to read about the difficulties with beavers in Manitou Springs this morning, beaver challenges have become more common and many cities struggle to find resolution. Unfortunately, trapping is a short-term solution since population recovery means beavers will return to adequate habitat often within the year. In my city of Martinez California we faced a similar issue when beavers moved into our city creek in 2007. There were concerns from local business and residents about the potential for flooding and damage to trees. While the initial plan was to trap the beavers, residents protested this plan and recommended an alternative solution. We weren’t lucky to have an experienced woman like Sherri Tippie near by – so we had to bring in expert Skip Lisle (Sherri’s colleague) 3000 miles from Vermont to solve the problem.

That was a long time ago, the Castor Master Skip installed controlled flooding in our city for a decade which allowed the beavers to safely remain, bringing birds, wildlife, steelhead and tourism to the creek. We wrapped established trees and planted new ones. We even celebrate with a yearly beaver festival, and were featured in National Geographic and Ranger Rick Magazine this year.

Luckily for you, it is MUCH easier to solve beaver problems than it was a decade ago. There are now books, websites and even videos to teach you how. There are plenty of reasons even businesses should appreciate beaver, including drought and fire protection. I am hopeful that you can work together to make a plan on how to solve this issue next time. We would be happy to consult along the way.

Our motto is, any city smarter than a beaver, can keep a beaver – and knows why they should.

Heidi Perryman, Ph.D.
President & Founder
Worth A Dam

And here's Stacey Kaye, an educator in Lake George:

As a current educator and former landscape business owner, I was both sickened and exhilarated after reading "Leave It To Beavers."

In September, my students studied beavers with vigor, and enjoyed a field trip to view a beautiful beaver lodge and scout out beaver "signs." They are still talking about beavers to this day. The children embraced a beaver's place in our ecosystem, and after viewing the PBS Nature  film Leave It to Beavers, they realized that awareness and education allows for all of us to coexist peacefully.

I sympathize with Evelyn Waggoner when the beavers felled trees and shrubs on her property.  That is devastating! For 25 years, I attempted to manage voles, deer, and bunnies in residential gardens. The damage caused was monumental, frustrating and costly. However, the very best control I found was barrier methods. Live and let live! If they can't get to the plants, they will move on.

I believe that education and awareness will help protect these amazing creatures!

Stacey Kaye
Lake George, CO
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Rocky Mountain Vibes replaces Sky Sox

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2018 at 4:57 PM

  • Images courtesy Vibes Baseball
In case you've been on the edge of your seat for the last several months waiting for it, here it is: The Rocky Mountain Vibes.

Back in July, the Elmore Sports Group went looking for a new name and supposedly narrowed a field of thousands to just a few:

Colorado Springs Happy Campers
Colorado Springs Lamb Chops
Colorado Springs Punchy Pikas
Colorado Springs Throttle Jockeys
Rocky Mountain Oysters

But then, they took a turn in a whole new direction (or was it planned all along?) and chose the Vibes as the mascot of the Colorado Springs professional baseball team, which in the 2019 season will be downgraded from Triple A to a low level team with a dramatically shortened season. The new team will be several steps from the majors, not just one as under the Triple A sanction.

The official lingo calls the Vibes a "Rookie-Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers in the Pioneer League."

In a news release, Elmore Sports Group president and general manager Chris Phillips said, "We were truly inspired by all of the submissions that we received, and we're thrilled to bring the Rocky Mountain Vibes brand to life. We are looking forward to the 2019 season and beyond and making Vibes Baseball an integral part of the Colorado Springs community."

You'll have to wait awhile for the season to open, however. While the Sky Sox, the Triple A team, opened in April like the majors, the Pioneer League squad won't kick off its 76-game season (38 home games) until June 14 against the Orem Owlz in Utah, and on June 21 at home at Security Service Field.

While most teams have one color or two colors, the Vibes will have five: rubine red, navy, gold, sky blue and tan. The primary logo features the team name in a "fiery font" resting on a marshmallow roasting stick.
There's also a little character as well, that appears to be a s'more. (More tasteful than a testicle — we think so.)

As the team noted in the news release, "freshly unveiled Vibes merchandise featuring these logos is now available for purchase online and at the team store." To buy online, go to

The store at the stadium, out at Powers Boulevard and Barnes Road, is open Tuesday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 1-4 p.m. You know, for all those hard-to-buy-for types on your Christmas list.

To stay up to date with all the latest Vibes news, check out, visit the team on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @VibesBaseball.
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Friday, November 16, 2018

Recycling report: Colorado still lags behind U.S.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 7:05 PM

Last year, the first-ever statewide survey of recycling rates showed Colorado recycled only 12 percent of its waste. Compared with the national average of 34 percent, it wasn't pretty.

This year's survey results — released Nov. 14, the day before America Recycles Day — aren't better. Colorado's rate stayed exactly the same.

The report, written by Eco-Cycle and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group and titled "The State of Recycling in Colorado: 2018," shows that in 2017, Coloradans created more than 9 million tons of waste. That's an average of 1.45 tons per resident.

“Colorado’s low recycling rate comes as a shock to most people who think of us as a ‘green’ state,” Kate Bailey, Eco-Cycle’s director of research and policy, is quoted in a statement. “The truth is, 95 percent of what we throw away could have been recycled or composted. With strong state leadership, Colorado is well-positioned to move forward quickly to realize the environmental and economic benefits of increased recycling."

On a county-by-county basis, Boulder County had the highest recycling rate: 40 percent, with Pitkin County coming in second at 30 percent. Denver County recycles 22 percent of its waste. But many counties, including El Paso County, don't track recycling rates.

Out of cities that collect data (most, like Colorado Springs, don't), Fort Collins came in first with a 55 percent overall rate. Boulder was a close second at 51 percent.

The report cites 2011 data from a one-time study that showed El Paso and Teller counties recycled just 11 percent of their waste.

The May closure of GOALZERO, a recycling program that provided a free drop-off point for recyclable materials in Colorado Springs, probably didn't help. There's currently just one place left in the city where residents can simply drop off recyclables: the Household Hazardous Waste Facility for El Paso County at 3255 Akers Drive.

The report did indicate some bright spots elsewhere in Colorado. Longmont increased its recycling rate by 5 percent, which researchers credit to a new curbside composting program. The city of Boulder bumped up its overall rate to 51 percent, attributed to a new ordinance that requires all businesses, apartments and homes to recycle and compost. And Pueblo opened its first public drop-off recycling center, possibly a first step to boosting the area's dismal 5 percent rate.

In Colorado Springs, waste disposal has long been a private service and the city doesn't have immediate plans to change that, says Skyler Leonard, city digital communications specialist. (El Paso County does have a recycling directory with information on how and where to recycle.)

Colorado's Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission adopted statewide and regional recycling goals last year that aim to increase the statewide rate to 28 percent by 2021 (32 percent for "Front Range" counties, which include El Paso County). Reaching that target would decrease carbon emissions at a level that is the equivalent of taking 485,000 cars off the road each year, the report says.

The ReWall Company, an Iowa-based business that recycles paper and plastic cartons into building materials, could help Colorado reach that goal thanks to a $1.5 million grant it received through the state's Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Grant Program. The company plans to launch operations next year.

The report outlines several steps Governor-elect Jared Polis could take to improve recycling programs in Colorado:

1) Appoint a statewide recycling coordinator to coordinate with other state agencies and local governments to "create a comprehensive approach to building our new recycling economy."

2) Launch a "recycling market development initiative" to attract more remanufacturers (like ReWall) that keep recycled materials in local communities.

3) Create a statewide waste diversion funding task force to find ways to increase funding for recycling and other waste reduction programs.

4) Expand recycling and composting at state agencies, purchase compost for state projects, and set recycling goals for state construction projects.
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District 11 says it's testing school floors for mercury vapor

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 6:39 PM

  • Photo by ecodallaluna via Flickr
Flooring in several Colorado Springs School District 11 schools have been found to release mercury vapors, the district said in a news release, but added, "There are no indications that the flooring is cause for any immediately health and environmental concerns or alarm."

Testing showed rubberized flooring of this kind at the following schools:

Doherty High School
Sabin Middle School (main gym floor was replaced with hardwood in August 2018)
Russell Middle School
Chipeta Elementary School
Fremont Elementary School
Grant Elementary School
Henry Elementary School
King Elementary School
RudyElementary School

However, to be safe, the district plans additional testing as "a necessary precaution."

Read the news release here:
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Local troops deploy to southern border, small planning group to California fires

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2018 at 2:42 PM

Soldiers from the 541st Sapper Company board an Air Force C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas Oct. 30, 2018, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. As directed by the Department of Defense through Army headquarters, the 541st Sapper Company are deploying Soldiers, equipment and resources to assist Department of Homeland Security along the southwest border. - U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY AIRMAN FIRST CLASS DANIEL A. HERNANDEZ
  • U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez
  • Soldiers from the 541st Sapper Company board an Air Force C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas Oct. 30, 2018, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. As directed by the Department of Defense through Army headquarters, the 541st Sapper Company are deploying Soldiers, equipment and resources to assist Department of Homeland Security along the southwest border.

This blog has been updated to reflect the number of soldiers from Fort Carson who have deployed to the southern border.

Remember that "crisis" at the southern U.S. border with Mexico? The one that President Donald Trump called an invasion?

Turns out, about 100  300 Fort Carson soldiers have been deployed as part of Trump's dispatch of more than 5,000 troops ahead of the arrival of the so-called caravan of immigrants, who are walking through Central America and Mexico seeking asylum in the United States from poverty and violence.

The list of units deployed under Operation Faithful Patriot — which the Pentagon switched to "border support mission" last week to more accurately reflect the military's role, according to ABC news — includes only two companies from the Mountain Post. Fort Carson has declined to reveal information about soldiers being deployed for caravan duty, referring questions to the Defense Department.

Soldiers will provide assistance to Customs and Border Protection in the way of support, but it's not considered a military mission. And while thousands of military members will likely miss having Thanksgiving with their families due to the deployment, Trump seems to have lost interest in the situation.

U.S. Northern Command, based on Peterson Air Force Base, has released a complete list of all units deployed to the border, which can be found below.

In addition, about 20 people with NorthCom's JEC (Joint Enabling Capability) Team also have been deployed to the border, says NorthCom spokesperson John Cornelio.

In addition, Cornelio tells the Independent that a handful of NorthCom officials, part of the command's defense coordination element, made the trip to California to assess "if DoD help is required, what would be required" in battling or in the aftermath of the Camp and Woolsey fires that so far have claimed 50 lives with dozens still missing.

"We did send out that planning team," he says. "If DoD is called in to assist, we will know how best to do it."

So far, no active duty aircraft have been dispatched to California, says NorthCom spokesperson Michael Kucharek, though the National Guard has provided aircraft to run reconnaissance to identify hot spots.

Also, he notes, the 146th Airlift Wing, based in Oxnard, California, is flying the fire, but under state active duty status, not federal.

Here are the units deployed to the southern border:

Fort Bliss, Texas
• Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, 93rd Military Police Battalion
• 24th Press Camp Headquarters, 1st Armored Division
• 47th Heavy Composite Truck Company
• 202nd Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion
• 212th Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion
• 591st Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion
• Contingency Contracting Teams
• Contracting Support Brigade Commander

Fort Bragg, North Carolina
• 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
• 51st Medical Logistics Company
• 503rd Military Police Battalion (Airborne)
• 172nd Preventive Medicine Unit
• 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
• 329th Movement Control Team
• 403rd Inland Cargo Transfer Company
• 602nd Area Support Medical Company
• Headquarters & Headquarters Command, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command
• Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 16th Military Police Brigade
• Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, 503rd Military Police Battalion
• 248th Veterinary Service Support unit
• 690th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance)

Fort Campbell, Kentucky
• 74th Light Composite Transportation Company
• 372nd Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade
• 227th Quartermaster Composite Supply Company
• 632nd Movement Control Team
• 887th Engineer Support Company, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade

Fort Carson, Colorado
• Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
• Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division

Fort Detrick, Maryland
• 6th Medical Logistics Management Center

Fort Hood, Texas
• 89th Military Police Brigade, III Corps
• Headquarters, 62nd Engineer Battalion
• 937th Engineer Sapper Company, 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade
• 289th Quartermaster Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade
• 104th Engineer Company

Fort Knox, Kentucky
• Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, 19th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade
• 15th Engineer Company (Horizontal), 19th Engineer Battalion
• 541st Engineer Sapper Company, 19th Engineer Battalion

Fort Meade, Maryland
• 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera)

Fort Riley, Kansas
• Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 97th Military Police Battalion, 1st Infantry Division
• 977th Military Police Company Combat Support
• 287th Military Police Company Combat Support
• 41st Engineer Company (Clearance), 4th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade

Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia
• 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Headquarters, 3rd Infantry Division
• 90th Human Resources Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade

Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina
• 1st Combat Camera Squadron

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
• Headquarters, 864th Engineer Battalion
• 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, I Corps
• 66th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion
• 547th Area Support Medical Company
• 104th Engineer Construction Company
• 557th Engineer Construction Company
• 570th Engineer Sapper Company
• 571st Engineer Sapper Company

U.S. Transportation Command
• U.S. Transportation Command, strategic airlift using C-17s and C-130s

Joint Base San Antonio, Texas
• Headquarters U.S. Army North
• 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Assessment Team
• Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 505th Military Intelligence Brigade

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
• Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
• Joint Planning Support Element, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command

Peterson Air Force, Colorado
• Joint Enabling Capability Team and Aviation Planner from U.S. Northern Command
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

County hires defense attorneys for malicious prosecution case

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 11:30 AM

John San Agustin Jr. sued many officials from El Paso and Arapahoe counties, as well as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • John San Agustin Jr. sued many officials from El Paso and Arapahoe counties, as well as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
El Paso County might face some pretty steep legal bills in defending various parties named as defendants in a recent lawsuit.

Former Sheriff's Commander John San Agustin Jr. filed a lawsuit last month alleging wrongful prosecution in a case he said was railroaded by a plethora of officials, including Sheriff Bill Elder and District Attorney Dan May.

County Attorney Amy Folsom says the county is in the process of finalizing agreements with several law firms to represent various defendants. They need separate counsel because each person's interest may run contrary to another's.

So far, four firms have been chosen. Those firms and their clients in the case are:

• Sherman and Howard — Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Bill Elder and Undersheriff Joe Breister

• Vaughan and DeMuro — 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office, DA Dan May and former Chief Deputy DA Shannon Gerhart

• Wells, Anderson & Race — county legal advisor Lisa Kirkman

• Bruno and Bruno — former Sheriff's Deputy Robert Jawarski

"After consultation with our own ethics counsel, the County Attorney’s office has determined that we have conflicts that will not allow us to defend any named defendant in this matter," Folsom reports via email. "Purchase Orders for the payment of the attorneys’ services will be opened and approved by the Board [of County Commissioners]. A decision on the amount of the purchase orders has not yet been made."

The lawsuit:
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Lawsuit filed in Royal Gorge railway death

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 10:27 AM

The Cañon City & Royal Gorge Railroad is a popular tourist attraction. Now it's being sued. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Cañon City & Royal Gorge Railroad is a popular tourist attraction. Now it's being sued.
Devon Cacy filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court against Cañon City & Royal Gorge Railroad LLC and others in the May 28, 2016, death of his wife, Leslie.

While serving as the train’s conductor, Leslie Cacy attempted to secure a door, which the lawsuit says was defective, and fell beneath the train, on which her husband acted as engineer.

Other defendants include Royal Gorge Express, LLC,  and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.

The lawsuit, filed in May by attorney Martin Jackson of Conifer, says the train runs an 11-mile route and when it reaches an end, it must reverse to return to Cañon City. The couple met some years ago while Leslie was a passenger and Devon was a server in the dining care. They later married.

On the day of her death, Leslie Cacy served as the conductor and was training another person to be a conductor. The trainee tried to pull a rope to engage the emergency brake after Leslie Cacy fell but the rope was wrapped around a pipe preventing its deployment, the lawsuit says.

Devon Cacy, who witnessed his wife’s death, later left the company, which, the lawsuit says, “failed to accommodate his significant Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

The lawsuit also alleges the defendants failed to provide a safe working environment, and lists various deficiencies, all of which "failed to provide Plaintiff and Plaintiff's decedent with a reasonably safe place to work."

The suit seeks unspecified damages for medical and funeral expenses, physical pain and death, lost income and Devon’s PTSD and mental and emotional pain.

We've reached out to the defendants for a comment and will circle back if and when we hear back.

Here's the petition:

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