County wants restaurant info online 

Revamped site will include eatery inspections

The El Paso County health department recently launched a new Web site at elpasocountyhealth.org, which director Kandi Buckland describes as a work in progress.

One immediate goal for the site, Buckland says, is to make reports from restaurant inspections available in the first part of 2009. A chunk of the Web-related responsibility will fall to the department's three-person public information office, which was spared in a round of budget cuts that claimed 37 jobs.

Buckland, who has been acting director of the El Paso County health department for about a year, saw her appointment made permanent last week. AL

UCCS responds to uproar

Administrators at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs agree the student government president violated viewpoint neutrality when he refused to sign a funding request for an event supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students. But the plan to stop that from happening again centers on revising the student constitution, training and "affirmation" of the university's anti-discrimination principles.

The funding dispute erupted in October after David Williams, the student president, opted not to sign a funding request from the student group Spectrum, explaining in an e-mail he could not see signing the measure because he holds "certain religious beliefs that are in direct conflict with homosexuality."

Spectrum requested the funding for its annual celebration of National Coming Out Day. Though his decision didn't stop the funding the lack of a signature gives tacit approval to a funding request it delayed it, and Spectrum members felt his decision violated constitutional principles requiring student leaders to make funding decisions without regard to the viewpoint of those requesting it. Many called for Williams' removal.

The UCCS response stops short of that, but calls for a constitutional convention early next year to prevent similar uproars in the future. AL

Buildings make way for parking

Most of the nine buildings and homes surrounding the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, at 315 E. Costilla St., have been around more than 100 years. They've survived many a renovation, and have been packed full of people and asbestos.

Soon, they'll be a pile of rubble. The houses are being destroyed to make room for a parking lot of about 80 spaces, which will make it easier for people attending nonprofit events at the facility.

The Gay and Lesbian Fund wanted its own parking lot, but wasn't fully prepared for the difficulties that came when it bought the homes, several of which were occupied.

"They barely qualify as houses," says realty agent David Sellon. "I was aghast."

Worse, the old landlord hadn't given tenants proper notice. So the Fund stepped in, abating rent and offering to help find new housing. For one family, the Fund paid the entire cost of moving to Cañon City. Sellon even provided boxes and packing peanuts, along with a cat carrier.

"I think everyone was pleased that someone was approaching them respectfully," Sellon says. "I got a very positive response from all the tenants I talked to." JAS

D-11 wants closure input

With a shrinking student population, Colorado Springs School District 11 will need to make some changes soon. Those changes will likely include closing some schools and shaking up some others. They might even result in combined elementary/middle schools.

A large-scale report with recommendations is already complete, but the school board hasn't decided what advice to take quite yet. Instead, it's asking parents and community members for their input.

To get involved, attend one of the following meetings (each starts at 6:30 p.m.): Jan. 6, Mitchell High School, 1205 Potter Drive; Jan. 8, Coronado High School, 1590 W. Fillmore St.; Jan. 12, Hillside Community Center, 925 S. Institute St.; Jan. 13, Palmer High School, 301 N. Nevada Ave.; Jan. 15, Doherty High School, 4515 Barnes Road; Jan. 20, Wasson High School, 2115 Afton Way. JAS

Tire-some problem solved

More than 30 million tires littering a property south of Colorado Springs could be burned as fuel under a plan approved Dec. 18 by El Paso County commissioners.

The future of tires at Midway Landfill, located at the southern edge of the county, had been uncertain after its owner went bankrupt.

Now Colorado Energy Recyclers plans to process the tires and cart them away, possibly to be used as fuel in a specially designed kiln at a cement plant south of Pueblo. AL

Towns get green for green

In a way, Black Forest and Fountain just won the lottery: They were awarded lottery money grants from the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board.

Fountain was given $198,000 to help build athletic fields at Cross Creek Community Park, which is expected to serve 6,500 children in its first year of operation. Black Forest received $37,510 to develop a master plan for the 1,067-acre Pineries Open Space Park.

GOCO distributes about $53 million to Colorado communities annually. JAS

Oh, dead Christmas tree

El Paso County is again offering residents a green way to get rid of their dying Christmas cheer. Take the decorations off the tree, haul it to a "treecycling" location, and let the county grind it into mulch. You can even take some of the mulch for your garden. It's free, though the county is asking for a $5 donation to support El Pomar Youth Sports Programs.

You can treecycle on Jan. 3, 4, 10 and 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at: Baptist Road Trailhead, at Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway; Falcon Trailhead, at McLaughlin Road southwest of Woodmen Road; Cottonwood Creek Park, at Dublin Boulevard and Montarbor Drive; Security Service Field, at Barnes Road and Tutt Boulevard; Rock Ledge Ranch, at Gateway Road and 30th Street; and Memorial Park, at Pikes Peak Avenue and Union Boulevard.

Or, treecycle any day from Dec. 26 to Jan. 31, except Sundays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Rocky Top Resources, 1755 E. Las Vegas St. JAS

Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.


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