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Drones at Carson, cops downtown, fruitcakes in Manitou, more 

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Drones on Carson's horizon

Christmas Eve was the start of a 45-day comment period for adding drone training at Fort Carson, a component not included in prior environmental studies on the addition of a Combat Aviation Brigade at the Mountain Post.

Carson says in a news release that Gray Eagle drone training at Carson, which would begin in Fiscal Year 2017, has already been found to pose "no significant impact" in a draft version of an Environmental Assessment. It would mean building facilities on eight acres at Butts Army Airfield. Drones will operate within existing restricted airspace, Carson said in the release.

"I object to it," says Bill Sulzman, a pacifist who opposes military expansion. "The history of how these things have been used raises tremendous legal and moral questions." And referring to the short comment period and Carson's failure to initially acknowledge that drones would be part of the CAB, he asks, "How can you bury it in such a cloud of secrecy?"

To comment, write to Fort Carson National Environmental Policy Act Program Manager, Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division, 1626 Evans Street, Building 1219, Fort Carson, CO 80913-4362; or call 526-4666; or email usarmy.carson.imcom-central.list.dpw-ed-nepa@mail.mil. — PZ

Cops set up downtown post

The newest Springs cop shop opened Dec. 17 in a downtown storefront, but it will have limited hours and won't be a full-service post. Rather, the idea is to give 16 Colorado Springs Police officers who work downtown and on the Homeless Outreach Team a convenient place to do their reports.

Located at 6 N. Tejon St., in the same building as the Gazette, the Peak Station "allows officers to stay downtown which increases their presence in the area," says police Lt. Catherine Buckley, adding the station's hours aren't specific, because it's staffed by volunteers.

Mayor Steve Bach noted in a news release the station increases public safety downtown and is "another part of the City's ongoing effort to build community." — PZ

RBA gets new chairperson

Debbie Chandler of Colorado Springs Health Partners has been appointed Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance's board chairperson starting Jan. 1. She succeeds Tom Neppl, president and CEO of Springs Fabrication, Inc.

While Chandler is the first female chair of the RBA, women have chaired the two organizations that combined a couple years ago to create the RBA, namely the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. and the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Chandler said in a news release the RBA is "working with some exceptional prospects," and termed interest in the Pikes Peak region as "the best" in more than five years.

The RBA also has two new board members: Pam Keller with Keller Homes, and Margaret Sabin, president and CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. — PZ

Pride board expands

The Colorado Springs Pride Center has expanded its board from eight to 20 members, according to a news release, "so that we may more actively participate in community growth, knowledge and understanding." The LGBT-advocacy nonprofit did not name the new members in its release, but spokesperson Laura Ettinger says the website will be updated soon with that information.

The release noted that volunteers had logged 500-plus hours monthly in 2014, and more than 8,400 people had contacted the office "seeking assistance, advice and support for everything from mental and medical health services, community events, support groups to businesses, products, publications and interaction with an understanding audience."

In 2014, the Pride Center moved into new headquarters at 410 S. Tejon St., a smaller space than its previous site at 2508 E. Bijou St., and experienced some financial challenges ("Pride and payments," News, March 5). — PZ

Fruitcakes will fly

On Saturday, Jan. 31, the Manitou Springs Great Fruitcake Toss rises again.

"It's the 20th year — it started in 1995 — and we're going old-school," says Manitou resident Annie Schmitt, who, along with Douglass Edmundson and others in the Manitou Springs Collaborative, has stepped up to resurrect the city's fruitcake-tossing tradition. That means a return to Manitou's Memorial Park, and to competition that eschews pneumatic and mechanical devices for "pure feats of strength, and talent," as it was put on the event's Facebook page.

The internationally recognized Fruitcake Toss was long put on by the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce. But the Chamber canceled the 2014 event, citing unpredictable weather and dwindling attendance attributed in part to a relocation to Manitou Springs High School.

By doing away with the catapult-related categories, Schmitt and Edmundson — who have received the Chamber's blessing — have allowed the event to return to the cozier confines of downtown. Attendees can expect a beer garden, hot wine, a "too good to toss" bake-off, and perhaps even a Fruitcake Throne awarded to the winner of the most events. For more, see the Facebook page or email annie.schmitt88@gmail.com. — KW

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