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AFA coach to carry U.S. flag in Beijing 

Lomong will run in Olympic 1,500 meters

Lopez Lomong of Colorado Springs, a volunteer assistant cross-country coach at the Air Force Academy and Sudanese refugee, was chosen Wednesday to be the Team USA flag bearer for the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony Friday night in Beijing. Lomong, who finished third in the 1,500 meters at the Olympic Trials last month, was selected by a vote of captains from the sports on the Summer Games program.

"This is the most exciting day ever in my life," Lomong, 23, said in a U.S. Olympic Committee news release. "It's a great honor for me that my teammates chose to vote for me. The Opening Ceremony is the best day and the best moment of Olympic life."

Lomong was the 2007 NCAA outdoor 1,500-meter and indoor 3,000-meter champion competing for Northern Arizona University, before moving to the Colorado Springs area. He fled Sudan at the age of 6 and, separated from his family, spent 10 years in a refugee camp in Kenya before writing an essay that led to him being moved to America. He became a U.S. citizen in July 2007. RR

Voting cutoffs near

If you still want to avoid the lines and vote by mail in the Aug. 12 primary, your time is running out. The deadline has passed for the county election department to accept applications for a mail-in ballot, but you can complete an application and pick up a ballot at the election office at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., by 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8.

Early voting also ends Friday at Centennial Hall (5 p.m.), Chapel Hills Mall (1710 Briargate Blvd., 7 p.m.) and the Citadel (750 Citadel Drive East, 7 p.m.).

If you've received a mail-in ballot, send it pronto. The Clerk & Recorder's Office will accept your ballot if received or dropped off by 7 p.m. on Aug. 12, when polls close. For more information, contact the election department at 575-VOTE (8683). JAS

Army moving on Pinon

Keith Eastin, assistant secretary of the Army, conducted a public forum Wednesday morning in Trinidad after meeting with Las Animas County commissioners, all related to the Army's latest plans for adding 100,000 acres to its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site on ranchland east of Interstate 25.

Opponents of the Pinon Canyon expansion had issued news releases early in the week, condemning the Army for moving forward with its plans. Congress last year had specifically prohibited the Pentagon from spending money on expansion in 2008.

Eastin previously had announced publicly that it would be at least another decade before the Army would need more than the scaled-back plan for 100,000 additional acres, adjacent to the current 235,000 acres. However, the Pueblo Chieftain reports that Eastin has admitted the Army is accelerating the effort to acquire the 100,000 extra acres before a new president moves into the White House in January 2009. RR

Cimarron bridge delayed

City spokeswoman Mary Scott says completion of the Cimarron Street bridge will be delayed into September by additions to the project.

The city has decided to extend the overlay of the roadway past the construction site and all the way to the I-25 intersection, she says, giving motorists "one smooth stretch." The city also wants new concrete barriers for the southwest side of the bridge.

The additions mean the bridge won't be finished until at least Sept. 8, and the project could drag on for up to a week more. The bridge will not close for the final phase of construction. JAS

Police department reaccredited

The Colorado Springs Police Department was again accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The award is given every three years to qualifying law enforcement agencies around the country. Colorado Springs police have earned the recognition continuously since 1991.

To qualify for accreditation, departments are judged on 459 standards that address policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services. Nine other Colorado agencies also received the honor. JAS

New St. Francis is opening

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for its new full-service hospital, St. Francis Medical Center.

The new facility, located at Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard, will serve a city whose population has shifted north. The hospital will serve as a replacement for Penrose Community Hospital, a fixture on North Academy Boulevard for decades. The older hospital will close later this month, though Penrose does plan to offer an urgent-care facility in the same area.

The $207 million medical center features 156 patient beds, with the capacity to expand to 300. It opens to the public Aug. 16. JAS

Council gives Memorial a shot

Following an Aug. 1 meeting with leaders of Memorial Health System, City Council appears ready to step back from recent criticisms and give the city enterprise's new CEO, Dr. Larry McEvoy, a chance to prove his leadership skills.

"The problems that we've encountered over the last year really weren't under Larry's watch," City Councilwoman Jan Martin says. "I think the air has been cleared and we're ready to move forward under new leadership at the hospital."

Martin says Memorial's board of trustees addressed all of Council's recent concerns, most of which questioned the hospital's fiscal responsibility, during the meeting. She says she left feeling reassured that the governance model at the hospital is working, and that past problems won't be repeated.

Vice Mayor Larry Small, one of the hospital's fiercest critics, was also satisfied, noting that Memorial leadership had done a better job of laying out the responsibilities and limitations of the CEO and making Council-suggested changes to the policy manual.

Council will continue to work with Memorial to look for solutions to the skyrocketing costs of uncompensated care, which have taken a toll on Memorial's budget. A task force including three Council members will meet Aug. 15 to begin discussing the problem. JAS

Focusing on ... themselves

While some have speculated about the declining influence of its evangelical leader, Focus on the Family seems tickled that someone sees the Christian ministry in the thick of the upcoming presidential election.

According to a news update from Focus' political outlet, CitizenLink, "Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are receiving some 'straight advice' from columnist Mark Joseph," who says each candidate needs to win support from Focus founder James Dobson and other evangelical leaders to prevail in the election.

Joseph wrote letters to both candidates, which were published on foxnews.com, saying the path to the White House essentially leads through Colorado Springs. Dobson has blasted McCain in the past and announced he was considering not voting for him, but recent reports suggest he is warming to the Republican candidate. AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon and J. Adrian Stanley.

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