Thursday, August 15, 2019

City introduces draft historic preservation plan

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2019 at 10:11 AM

A mid-20th century postcard depicting The Antlers hotel (in its second iteration). The building, which replaced The Antlers hotel that burned down in 1898, was torn down in 1964. - BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
  • Boston Public Library
  • A mid-20th century postcard depicting The Antlers hotel (in its second iteration). The building, which replaced The Antlers hotel that burned down in 1898, was torn down in 1964.

Colorado Springs residents first mobilized to preserve the city's historic character in the 1950s, notes the city's new HistoricCOS draft plan.

When a 14-story hospital was proposed at the northern edge of the Old North End neighborhood, at North Cascade Avenue and Madison Street, residents successfully opposed the construction in an effort to maintain the character of their community.

The original First National Bank Building, The Antlers hotel and Ute Theater buildings were not so lucky — these historic properties were demolished around the same time, according to HistoricCOS.

The 80-page draft plan (presented to City Council at a work session Aug. 12) chronicles some of the city's historic preservation efforts over the years, and provides a blueprint of sorts for how city government and elected leaders should work to preserve the city's character into the future.

"Colorado Springs will be a community knowledgeable about preserving its unique history and cultural heritage," the plan's vision statement reads. "We will be a community proud of its past and ready to share its heritage story with residents and visitors. We will actively protect and utilize our irreplaceable historic and cultural resources as part of our ongoing economic and community development strategy."

The city's effort to update the last historic preservation plan from 1993 started in late 2017. A team of consultants led by Stan Clauson Associates (a landscape architecture, planning and resort design firm) met with neighborhood organizations and other groups, and asked community members what they'd like to see in terms of preservation.

The $60,650 project was funded mostly through grants, including $29,900 from the State Historical Fund.

The draft plan still has a ways to go before it's finalized. Staff will present it to the Planning Commission in September, and once again to Council in September or October.

Like PlanCOS and neighborhood master plans, HistoricCOS doesn't explicitly commit Council to funding certain initiatives, but it does provide a vision for how to preserve the past as the city grows.

In that vein, the plan lays out a series of recommended tasks for the city. Here are just a few:

- Survey the public on which properties should receive historic designation.
- Determine which city-owned properties are historic (normally buildings that are at least 50 years old, and meet other criteria) and institute a documentation system so that the city can add new properties as they're acquired, or as properties age.
- Expand historic overlay zones, which require new development in those zones to meet certain design requirements.

The city will host an open house 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Colorado Springs Pioneer's Museum, located at 215 S. Tejon St., with a meet-and-greet, presentation and Q&A session on the draft plan.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

10 local stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 7:14 PM

Colorado ranked as the No. 12 most dangerous state for kids online, according to CenturyLinkQuote.

At an event Aug. 12, advocates protested against alleged inadequate medical care at ICE’s immigration detention facility in Aurora, run by private contractor GEO Group.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife was on the hunt for an “aggressive bear” that reportedly chased a hiker’s dog in Red Rock Canyon Open Space on Aug. 8.

Bustang to Broncos resumes service for the Aug. 19 game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Broncos in Denver (ridebustang.com).

Colorado Springs won’t prosecute 3G Venture, a cryptocurrency operation, for violating the city’s noise ordinance, the city said in a letter to a resident near the plant.

There were 96 hate crimes reported in Colorado in 2017 and 185 in 2018, Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management via CPR.org.
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Supporters of De’Von Bailey, a black teenager who died in an officer-involved shooting, planned an event Aug. 13 (after the Indy’s deadline) to call for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the incident. Body-worn camera footage from the incident was expected to be released by the end of the week.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Aug. 9 she won’t run for U.S. Senate.

On Aug. 12, the Trump administration proposed broad changes to how the Endangered Species Act is enforced, prompting conservation groups to warn the changes will curtail protections for endangered and threatened species.

Changes in rules at the Department of Homeland Security could soon mean immigrants deemed likely to enroll in benefit programs could be denied green cards.
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Colorado Springs Council refers two measures to voters to protect parkland

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 6:14 PM

Garden of the Gods Park - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Garden of the Gods Park
In a "unprecedented" move, Colorado Springs City Council moved to refer competing measures to the Nov. 5 ballot on August 13.

First, Council voted to refer a measure that would allow citizens to decide whether they want a chance to vote on future sales or trades of city parkland. The measure comes in the wake of the city's controversial 2016 land swap of city-owned Strawberry Fields, a 189-acre open space tract next to North Cheyenne Cañon Park, to The Broadmoor. (In exchange, the city received about 400 acres of wildlands and trail easements.)

Council also voted to refer a competing measure that would leave those decisions in Council's hands and require a 6-3 majority to approve such conveyances, either through sales or trades.

Favoring the first measure were Council President Richard Skorman and Councilors Jill Gaebler, Tom Strand, Bill Murray and Yolanda Avila. It was opposed by Councilors David Geislinger, Wayne Williams, Andy Pico and Don Knight.

The 6-3 measure was opposed by Avila, Gaebler and Murray.

"Welcome to messy democracy," Skorman said after the vote at 5:35 p.m.

But Council must vote a second time in order to refer each measure. That vote is expected next week, and it's unclear whether both measures will ultimately come before voters.
That's because City Attorney Wynetta Massey told Council the city has never had two competing measures on the same ballot, and she wasn't sure how to reconcile the two. She also said she would be "uncomfortable" trying to decipher what message the voters intended if they approve both measures.


Kent Obee, leader of nonprofit Save Cheyenne which advocated for voters weighing in on parkland conveyances, said he was "delighted and relieved" by Council's decision to submit the Protect Our Parks (POPs) measure, which would allow voters a say in conveyance of parkland to other entities.

That relief comes after nearly four years of advocacy by Save Cheyenne, which formed amid debate over the controversial trade of city-owned Strawberry Fields.
North Cheyenne Cañon Park - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • North Cheyenne Cañon Park
Save Cheyenne challenged the deal in court but lost in late 2018, triggering efforts to get the POPs measure on the ballot. In January, Council refused to refer it to the April city election, but told backers to participate in a city working group to come up with a mutually agreeable measure. That group included city officials, Council members, the Trails and Open Space Coalition, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club and others and spanned about four months.

In late May, Councilor Williams suggested a substitute measure that would keep trades and sales in Council's hands but require a 6-3 majority to dispose of parkland.

In a twist, during the Aug. 13 debate, Williams said that the Council supermajority measure wouldn't necessarily have to replace the POPs measure, should they both pass. Instead, he called the dual measures a double layer of protection for parkland transfers and added that offering both measures "gives voters an opportunity to decide." (A marked change from his earlier stance that voters shouldn't get a say in parkland transfers.)

Mayor John Suthers told Council he opposes allowing voters to weigh in on parkland exchanges or sales, saying, "I think you are wholly capable of deciding what's in the best interest of the people." He also said there might be urgency to a swap that would be undermined by having to take the deal to the voters for approval.

Murray called Williams' push to get the supermajority measure on the ballot, favored by Suthers and the Parks Advisory Board, "subverting the majority of this Council."

The discussion grew contentious several times as POPs opponents — notably Williams and Geislinger — repeatedly argued against referring it to voters, saying not enough definition had been given to which parks would be subject to a vote of the people should a sale or swap proposal arise and that a longer and wider public process is needed.
Reminding the audience he's a lawyer, Geislinger said Council could enact a parks preservation list following the Nov. 5 election that contains a fraction of the parks that POPs backers hope to protect.

"It’s not every park; it’s the parks City Council elects to put on the list," he said. "I don’t know what parks I would take off the list. I don’t know what parks other members would take off the list. I don’t know what parks the Parks Department say should come off the list. I am a lawyer. People know I’m a lawyer. Language matters."

He also said, "We haven't talked to the citizens about what they want."

(It's worth noting that during an Aug. 12 work session on the POPs measure, Parks Director Karen Palus said the city held many public meetings spanning "eight or nine months" about the city's trade of Strawberry Fields. But that process actually spanned just over four months. The exchange was introduced by a news release issued Jan. 14, 2016, and Council voted 6-3 to approve the swap on May 24, 2016.)

Williams disputed that constituted a robust public process. "There's a very large difference in an interested stakeholders meeting and a public meeting."

He also said decisions on parkland should remain with Council, not the voters. "I believe in the constitutional principles this nation was founded on, and I don’t think a representative democracy is a bad thing," he said. He noted the POPs measure wasn't supported by the Parks Advisory board or the Trails and Open Space Coalition, which instead supports the 6-3 Council majority option.

Others countered Geislinger's and Williams' arguments, saying POPs supporters were invited by the city itself to participate in the working group and that the City Attorney's Office and Parks Department fashioned the wording that defines which parks are subject to voter protection.

Responding to Williams', Geislinger's and mayor's Chief of Staff Jeff Greene's pitch for a longer public process, Obee noted that Council referred a sales tax measure for roads and a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights retention issue to the ballot earlier that day after virtually no public meetings.

"Parks belong to the citizens," Obee said. "What we’re asking you to do is just consult with the citizens if they would like to have a say in the disposition of their parkland. Maybe they’ll say they don’t. I do think here in Colorado there are some issues that are so important you do need to go back to the voters. This is one of them."

Judith Rice-Jones with the League of Women Voters reminded Council of numerous instances over the years in which Council wanted to dispose of key parklands but were blocked by citizens via lawsuits or opposition actions. Among those: elected officials' desire to tear down the old courthouse, which today is the Pioneers Museum; a move to sell Rock Ledge Ranch; attempts to use a portion of Monument Valley Park, and later, the Fine Arts Center property, for road extensions.
Strawberry Fields open space - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Strawberry Fields open space
"Honor the vision of Gen. [William] Palmer," she said, referring to the city founder's bequest of hundreds of acres as parkland. "Vote for option 1 [POPs}."

As to which parks would be covered by a vote of the people, Skorman recited the city's definition as stated in the ballot measure and noted, "It’s every park that’s been dedicated and is in use. Why all of a sudden does Council want to go back and change, add and delete? The work has been done and it’s been done in all the other places that have put this in place. When a new park is in use, it will be put on the list."

Skorman also noted voter protection already exists for land purchased using Trails, Open Space and Parks tax money, because that provision was contained in the ballot measure.

POPs supporters noted 80 to 90 percent of cities in Colorado have vote-of-the-people protection for sales or trade of parkland.

Donna Strom said she couldn't "for the life of me" understand how all those cities could make parks protection work through a vote of the people and Colorado Springs insists it cannot.

Avila made short work of the debate over how much public process is enough, saying, "By putting it on the ballot, we are doing the ultimate public process."
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Teen fatal crashes rise

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 6:04 PM

PIYAWAT NANDEENOPPARIT / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Piyawat Nandeenopparit / Shutterstock.com
Colorado reports a 34 percent increase in teen drivers who were involved in fatal crashes in 2017 and 2018. That’s a big rise after the number of such crashes had dropped by nearly 50 percent in the last 20 years.

In 2015-16, the state averaged 64 young drivers involved in fatal crashes per year, the Colorado Department of Transportation reports.

In 2017-18, the number was 86 per year.

Noting that teen drivers’ inexperience makes them among the most dangerous drivers on the road, CDOT launched a safety campaign to encourage them to drive more safely and increase awareness of Colorado’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. This year is the 20th anniversary of the law’s passage.

GDL laws help teens gain driving skills while imposing restrictions on the number of passengers permitted in their vehicles, banning cell phone use, and requiring seatbelt use, among other rules.
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Safe2Tell breaks July record for number of student reports

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 5:01 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK/ STANISLAW MIKULSKI
  • Shutterstock/ Stanislaw Mikulski
Safe2Tell Colorado, a platform through which students can submit anonymous tips to law enforcement, received a record number of submissions for the month of July.

According to a statement from the Colorado attorney general’s office, Safe2Tell normally receives far fewer tips during the summer months, when students aren’t in school. But this July’s totals represented an 81 percent increase over July 2018.

“This past school year, Colorado was forced to reflect on past incidents of school violence while grappling with unexpected threats and tragedies,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser, who was quoted in the statement. “Safe2Tell data mirrored this reality with significant increases in overall tips and duplicate tips.”

About one-fifth of July’s 551 tips were reports of suicide threats, according to Safe2Tell’s monthly report. Another 11 percent involved drugs, and 5 percent reported cyberbullying.
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Peak Vista receives $1.5 million from El Pomar Foundation for new Southeast clinic

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 3:58 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK/ YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV
  • Shutterstock/ YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV
Peak Vista Community Health Centers received a $1.5 million grant from the El Pomar Foundation to help finance its new medical clinic in Southeast Colorado Springs.

The funding, to be paid out in three annual installments of $500,000, will help pay for extensive renovations for the Health Center at Jet Wing.

In other Peak Vista news, Dr. Lisa Ramey, the nonprofit’s former senior vice president of medical services, moved into a new role as chief medical and dental officer.

In addition to leading the medical, dental and behavioral health departments at Peak Vista, Ramey will “focus on effectively and strategically promoting the well-being of the organization to community partners for the benefit of all community members,” the nonprofit noted in a statement.
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Toxic algae closes Prospect Lake; bacteria can harm people and pets

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:55 PM

PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
The city of Colorado Springs closed Prospect Lake in Memorial Park Aug. 9 after a water sample taken that morning tested positive for a toxin, cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae.

The banks of the lake are dotted with closure signs and the swim beach is roped off. Swimming, bathing, paddleboarding, boating of all kinds and other water activities are banned. No pets are allowed in the water.

Fishing areas remain open, but anglers are urged to clean fish well and remove guts.
Media around the county have reported that blue-green algae can be deadly to pets. Dogs in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas died recently after being exposed to the algae in lakes.
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BLM seeks public comment on helicopter training over federal lands

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 12:06 PM

Fort Carson nears the end of the permitting process to use federal lands for helicopter training. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Fort Carson nears the end of the permitting process to use federal lands for helicopter training.
A proposal to fly helicopters for Army training over wildlands managed by the federal  government, landing periodically, has been deemed to have "no significant impact" on 43 sites in Teller, Fremont and Park counties, the Bureau of Land Management has determined.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) is available for public comment here.

Fort Carson plans to conduct High Altitude Mountain Environment Training (HAMET) on the property under a plan of development (POD). "The use of public land in Fremont, Park, and Teller Counties is considered necessary by Fort Carson to ensure the HAMET program exposes pilots to a wide variety of situations and challenges," the assessment states.

The Mountain Post proposes using landing zones that vary in elevation from 6,288 to 10,646 feet for 6,200 landings a year both night and day, seven days a week for 10 years.

Says military watchdog Bill Sulzman of Colorado Springs via email, "They keep pushing the envelope. By calling it temporary they disguise the precedent of establishing expanded boundaries for Fort Carson operations. They will come back to this over and over again. This is not a one off."

Carson has promised not to disturb wildlife, apparently. The EA states, "Since there is mitigation in all of the alternatives that states helicopters will not land if humans, wildlife, or livestock are
present on the landing zone, no issues have arisen in regards to environmental justice populations."

Send comments via the BLM's ePlanning site here, or mail to HAMET Public Comment, 3028 E. Main St., Cañon City, CO 81212, by Sept. 11.

HAMET has proven controversial in the past. The Independent has written about here, and here also. A public meeting about HAMET conducted in 2014 drew a crowed.
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City says steady drone of cryptocurrency operation won't be prosecuted

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 12:03 PM

Shipping containers line the backside of a building on Garden of the Gods Road where Bitcoin mining is under way and fans used to cool the computers generate noise in a neighborhood about 350 feet away. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Shipping containers line the backside of a building on Garden of the Gods Road where Bitcoin mining is under way and fans used to cool the computers generate noise in a neighborhood about 350 feet away.
It's noise as usual in the Chelsea Glen neighborhood just south of Garden of the Gods Road.

After months of wrangling with the city to demand that a Bitcoin mining operation comply with the city's noise ordinance, neighbors received bad news Aug. 12 from city Planning Director Peter Wysocki.

He wrote in an email to neighborhood resident Ron Graham Becker that the city won't issue a citation.

From his email:
On July 30, 2019, Neighborhood Services staff reviewed the evidence collected on the aforementioned inspections with the Prosecution Division of the City Attorney’s Office. Upon conclusion of this meeting, the Prosecution Division did not feel there was sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution at this time.
Wysocki also advised the city hasn't closed the case, however, and more testing will be conducted in September, after 3G Venture owner, John Chen, finishes installing other devices to muffle the sound.
 
As expected, all that doesn't sit well with Graham Becker. First, Graham Becker says testing that averages the readings isn't valid. Second, the city never tested the noise over a long period of time, notably through the night when residents report the hum continues unabated and in violation of the city's 50 decibel limit.

Says Graham Becker:
The City's decision not to prosecute was not surprising. It was a predictable volley and I expected as much. Regardless, it was a disappointing blow and I feel the City of Colorado Springs has let the neighborhood of Chelsea Glen down tremendously. Mr. Chen's business continues to violate noise ordinances during nighttime hours almost 100% of the time, according to my readings. Mr. Chen has played the City for about a year, without incurring consequences for his actions. However, the residents of Chelsea Glen will keep fighting this until he is in compliance with the law. I suspect that there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye.
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Friday, August 9, 2019

Gannett and GateHouse plan to merge, creating newspaper mega-group

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2019 at 3:59 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
New Media Investment Group, the holding company that owns New York-based GateHouse Media, plans to acquire Gannett, the media companies announced Aug. 5.  Given that GateHouse and Gannett are the two largest newspaper chains in the country, the move has potential to change the face of local news — for better or worse.

"I'd love to say the mega-merger financed by private equity is likely to mean more investment in local journalism with new hires filling more beats, expanded circulation, and deeper coverage of their communities, but I doubt that's going to happen, at least in the short term," Corey Hutchins, the Colorado-based contributor for Columbia Journalism Review's United States Project, writes in an emailed statement.

"This is just where we are now in an era of hedge-fund journalism."

Colorado's GateHouse papers include the Pueblo Chieftain and La Junta Tribune-Democrat (dailies), as well as the Fowler Tribune and Bent County Democrat (weeklies).

Virginia-based Gannett, the group behind the USA Today national newspaper, counts the Fort Collins Coloradan among its many brands.

The combined companies — which will collectively own more than 260 daily newspapers, and more than 300 weeklies — will go by the name Gannett, the New York Times reports.

"Uniting our talented employees and complementary portfolios will enable us to expand our comprehensive, hyperlocal coverage for consumers, deepen our product offering for local businesses, and accelerate our shift from print-centric to dynamic multimedia operations," said Michael Reed, chairman and CEO of New Media Investment Group, who was quoted in a statement.

Both companies laid off employees this year. In May, GateHouse layoffs amounted to about 200 people out of its 11,000 staff, including two at the Pueblo Chieftain. Gannett laid off dozens in January, according to media reports, though an exact number was undetermined.


The layoffs and impending merger — which many fear will bring more layoffs — reflect an industry struggling to remain financially viable.

“Since GateHouse bought The Pueblo Chieftain the paper suffered cuts. Its journalists were protesting in the streets this summer," writes Hutchins, who is also a journalism instructor at Colorado College and a journalist at the Colorado Independent. "Earlier this year, Gannett's nationwide layoffs lashed the Coloradoan in Fort Collins and the paper scrap-heaped its weekly Opinion section to cut costs. Now these two companies are conglomerating. Great."

To Hutchins and other media observers, the industry's prospects often look grim.

A University of North Carolina study found the U.S. lost nearly 1,800 newspapers between 2004 and 2018.

And newsroom employment overall decreased by 25 percent between 2008 and 2018, the Pew Research Center found. The number of newspaper newsroom employees decreased even more — 47 percent.

In May, GateHouse planned to hire an entry-level reporter at the Chieftain for $13.41 an hour ($27,892 per year). The median annual salary for reporters and correspondents across the industry was $41,260 in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Meanwhile, the new CEO of the combined companies, Paul Bascobert, will receive $3.9 million in Gannett stock and a sign-on bonus of $600,000, above his $725,000 salary, according to Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times.
According to the joint statement, the companies intend to cut costs by $250 to $300 million annually as a result of the merger. That's "not good news" for newspapers that "already have been cut to the bone," tweeted Eric Lipton of the New York Times.


Gannett and GateHouse already each have their "design hubs," which centralize design operations for local newsrooms around the country. (Disclosure: This reporter worked at Gannett's Phoenix design hub for two four-month internships.)

Presumably, by consolidating such hubs and other parts of their operations, the companies could save on overhead.

"I fear it's going to get worse before it gets better," Hutchins says. "Whatever happens to these newspapers after this deal, though, I hope they remain honest with their readers about it. I hope they let readers know the reasons why the way the papers are producing the news is changing instead of pretending it isn't happening or dressing up their own bad news in corporate Newspeak.

"I hope they bring their local readers into this conversation about one of the most challenging realities of our time. I also hope I'm totally wrong about all of this.”
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Thursday, August 8, 2019

El Paso County received more than 125 million prescription opioid pills in seven years, Washington Post database shows

Posted By on Thu, Aug 8, 2019 at 8:38 AM

SCOTYARD VIA SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Scotyard via Shutterstock
Last month, The Washington Post published a trove of federal data on opioids on its website, making the data accessible through an interactive database.

"The Washington Post sifted through nearly 380 million transactions from 2006 through 2012 that are detailed in the [Drug Enforcement Administration’s] database and analyzed shipments of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, which account for three-quarters of the total opioid pill shipments to pharmacies," the national news publication explains.

The database breaks down by state and county the amount of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills shipped in those seven years — a timeframe within which, the Post notes, prescription opioids led to the deaths of almost 100,000 people.

(While a figure for El Paso County in that same timeframe was not immediately available online, opioids claimed the lives of 78 people in the county in 2018, and 92 the year prior.)

The database also includes data on the largest suppliers, and the pharmacies that received the largest numbers of pills.

The Post found that three companies manufactured about 88 percent of the opioids: SpecGx, Actavis Pharma and Par Pharmaceutical.

We reviewed the Post's data for Colorado and included some of the findings below.

  • Colorado pharmacies received 1,022,073,725 prescription pain pills between 2006 and 2012. Of those, 46 percent were manufactured by SpecGx LLC, a subsidiary of global pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt.

  • The Omnicare of New York pharmacy in Golden received the highest number of pills in the state.

  • In El Paso County, pharmacies received 125,820,253 pills — enough for 30 pills per person, per year. About 44 percent of those came from Actavis Pharma Inc., a generic drug manufacturer that later merged with Allergan, a branded drug company, in one of the largest pharmaceutical deals of all time.

  • Walgreen Co. received more pills than any other distributor in the county.

How does El Paso County compare to other, similarly sized counties in Colorado? Denver County, though it has a similar population, received fewer pills than we did — 76,643,537 prescription pain pills, or an average of 18 per person, per year.

In Arapahoe County (the state's third-largest county, after Denver and El Paso), distributors received 99,985,887 pills, or 25 per person, per year.

Pueblo County, which has less than a third of Arapahoe County's population, received 74,629,205 prescription pain pills, or 68 pills per person, per year.

The chart below shows some of the data for Colorado's 10 largest counties. Visit The Washington Post's online database to see data for other counties, and to compare Colorado with the rest of the country.


More than 1,600 cities, counties, states, Native American tribes, labor unions and other entities have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors, seeking payback for what they call fraudulent and deceptive marketing that sparked the opioid crisis.


Former state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma in Denver District Court last year, and her successor, Phil Weiser, has furthered the state's role in that lawsuit.

Besides Colorado’s lawsuit and others filed in state courts, hundreds more seek compensation in a multi-district federal lawsuit overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland. Colorado plaintiffs involved in that case include Huerfano, Pueblo, Jefferson, Conejos and Adams counties, and the cities of Lakewood, Thornton and Brighton.

In El Paso County, however, county commissioners elected to not pursue damages for lives ruined or stolen by addictive painkillers.


That's despite the fact that County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly estimated in April 2018 that his office alone had spent $219,810 in 2017 for autopsies conducted on 102 people whose deaths were related to opioids.
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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Children’s Hospital opens ‘first-of-its-kind’ pediatric mental health suite

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 11:30 PM

CHILDRENSCOLORADO.ORG
  • childrenscolorado.org
A “first-of-its-kind” unit in the emergency department of Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, addresses mental health and substance use issues for children and teens, the hospital network announced Aug. 1.

The effort, funded in part by a $500,000 gift from the Colorado Health Access Fund of The Denver Foundation, involves treating young patients’ physical and behavioral health emergencies in a new six-room suite. Once patients are stabilized, a team of medical providers and social workers works with patients and their families to determine next steps.

The statement notes that suicide is the leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 10 and 24 in Colorado.
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New campaign finance laws take effect in Colorado

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 10:30 PM

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  • Shutterstock
Three new campaign finance laws, meant to improve transparency in Colorado’s elections, took effect Aug. 1.

• House Bill 1318 — dubbed “The Clean Campaign Act of 2019” — prohibits foreign governments and corporations, as well as any person who is not an American citizen, from contributing to election campaigns. It also requires “Paid for by” disclosures on campaign communications, and tightens rules related to independent expenditure committees, including so-called super PACs, that raise money for political candidates before they officially declare an intent to run for office.

• House Bill 1007 sets contribution limits for county offices. Individuals can donate $1,250 to a candidate committee for each county primary and general election; small donor committees can contribute up to $12,500; and political parties may donate no more than $22,125 for each.

• Senate Bill 68 requires campaign communications sent to voters between the primary and general elections to also include “Paid for by” disclosures, closing a loophole in transparency law.
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New hours for fountains and spray grounds

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 10:00 PM

Julie Penrose Fountain - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Julie Penrose Fountain
As summer winds down, the city has changed hours for fountains and spray grounds. The new hours:

Uncle Wilber Fountain, Acacia Park, will be open noon to 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; noon to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, and noon to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Only the pop jets and lights will run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, not the full show. New hours kicked in Aug. 2.

• Starting Aug. 12, Deerfield Hills Spray Ground at Deerfield Hills Park narrows hours to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Julie Penrose Fountain at America the Beautiful Park scales back hours to 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays only, also beginning Aug. 12.
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Martin Marietta eyes quarry expansion

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 9:30 PM

BLM
  • BLM
A 30-day public comment period for a proposed expansion of the Parkdale Quarry west of Cañon City began on July 31.

The evaluation process results from an application from Martin Marietta Materials Inc. to renew a 10-year contract on 700 acres of Bureau of Land Management land. An expansion would give access to 400 million net tons of aggregate, BLM said in a release. The aggregate is used to make asphalt and concrete to accommodate development in Colorado and Kansas.

Public comments will guide the Environmental Impact Statement. Send comments through the BLM site or mail to Parkdale Quarry Expansion Comments, 3028 E. Main St., Cañon City, CO 81212.
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