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Bob Holmes resigns, FEMA helps with flood recovery, and more 


Homeward head resigns

Bob Holmes, executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak, has resigned.

Homeward Pikes Peak has long served as the umbrella agency for service providers. Holmes says it's moving away from that function and focusing more on the homeless programs it runs directly.

Both the city and United Way have been moving into leadership roles as the city seeks to redirect grant funding to its homeless priorities and bring the city into compliance with new federal regulations. In the future, that will likely mean that Homeward Pikes Peak has less of a part to play as a leadership organization.

"I've had a good 11-year run coordinating homeless services, and it's a good break point for me," Holmes tells the Independent. "I'm very happy with what we've accomplished."

Holmes made headlines several years ago when he started a shelter program at the former Express Inn on Cimarron Street. That program later moved to the Aztec Motel on Platte Avenue and shifted its focus to helping homeless families. Holmes shut it down in November and vowed to start an addiction recovery program for mothers with children in its stead. But the turnaround has not been as quick as planned.

Holmes plans to start a for-profit addiction recovery program in Cascade at the end of the month. — JAS

FEMA spends on floods

Six months after devastating floods hit Colorado, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says more than $284 million in federal funds have been distributed to Coloradans to offset losses.

Of that, $222 million has gone to individuals, families and businesses affected by the floods as direct payments, flood insurance payments or low-interest loans. Another $62 million has gone to state and local governments for response and recovery from the disaster.

While areas to the north were hardest hit by the floods, Colorado Springs saw some heavy damage. There were 769 eligible applicants for assistance in El Paso County. — JAS

Tax-free zone proposed

Giving up $200,000 in annual revenue from use and sales tax collected in a 1,000-acre zone at Colorado Springs Airport could return several times that value in new jobs and businesses, a coalition of businessmen argued Monday.

In a presentation to City Council, they noted that general and corporate aviation has declined by 21 percent at the airport since 2008. More than 50 jobs from six companies have been lost since then, they said.

Most other full-time-towered airports in Colorado don't charge sales and use tax, they added. Andy Merritt with the Regional Business Alliance said a tax-free zone could lead to 1,000 new jobs for mechanics, pilots and engineers, most of whom earn more than the region's median salary.

Council is slated to vote on whether to abolish the sales and use tax in the zone on March 25. — PZ

Maketa takes on Gazette

Following the Independent's Jan. 29 story on sheriff candidate Bill Elder's discipline file, which Sheriff Terry Maketa says was stolen and Elder claims never existed, the Gazette has been running stories critical of Maketa.

Now the sheriff has taken the unusual step of calling out the paper and reporter Dave Philipps for "bias" and "inaccurate reporting." In a lengthy March 6 press release, the sheriff's office claims Philipps left out vital pieces of information provided to him while also sometimes getting the facts wrong.

Concerning a story the Gazette ran about the missing file, Maketa says Philipps failed to include information provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, which considered investigating the matter, instead stating the bureau couldn't be reached. Philipps says he didn't receive CBI's response in time for deadline.

The sheriff's office also complained about another story Philipps penned, which stated that Maketa recently unilaterally rewrote sheriff's office policy so that it would exclude him from the rules, including rules that govern political activities. The sheriff, the article states, then went on to violate the rules he no longer had to follow by discussing disciplinary files, including Elder's.

The sheriff's office says Philipps neglected to note that the change brought the sheriff's policies in line with county policies, which provide exceptions for elected officials; and that the change was made in December 2012, not December 2013, as Philipps wrote. The Gazette subsequently corrected the date. — JAS


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